Carter: Middle class today resembles past's poor … Former President Jimmy Carter said Monday that the income gap in the United States has increased to the point where members of the middle class resemble the Americans who lived in poverty when he occupied the White House. Carter offered his assessment of the nation's economic challenges Monday at a Habitat for Humanity construction site in Oakland – the first of five cities he and wife Rosalynn plan to visit this week to commemorate their three-decade alliance with the international nonprofit that promotes and builds affordable housing. The recent economic downturn revealed that families living in even comparatively well-off, but expensive regions like the San Francisco Bay Area are economically insecure, he said. – AP
Dominant Social Theme: Jimmy Carter is very sorry you are broke and he deeply sympathizes.
Free-Market Analysis: These are surely “crocodile tears” that Jimmy Carter weeps in his AP interview, excerpted above. Carter is surely not rambling. This is a serious statement. When the former president of the United States declares that the middle class of the “richest nation in the world” is impoverished, it’s bound to make news. The question is … why?
And the answer no doubt is that we are to believe that Carter – and other top pols – care. They really care. They are an empathetic bunch. Obama virtually oozes empathy in a kind of cool, academic way. He’s made his living perpetuating that aura.
This AP article quotes Carter provocatively; in doing so it provides further evidence that elite pols, money men and others who calibrate the US’s economy are worried about the potential for civil unrest. Of course, Homeland Security is famously buying billions of bullets, but it’s news on the economic front that shows us the depths of the concern.
The Federal Reserve is printing money by the bucket-load, and the stock market has doubled from its low of 2009. Top central bankers may have worked closely with Wall Street to reduce the price of gold, but they are not willing to abandon the yellow metal entirely, and are net buyers these days.
The JOBS Act that allows owners of private companies to advertise publicly throughout the world without being thrown in jail will result in a great deal more private placement funding, no doubt. And these start-ups will move through the financing process, with some certainly becoming IPOs, which will further stimulate both the jobs market and the stock market.
Across the world, in fact, central bankers are printing money furiously, determined once again to give a growing pool of people the impression they are rich even when they are not. Here’s more from the article:
"Even in one of the wealthiest parts of the world there is a great deal of foreclosures and now a great deal of people who are fortunate to own their own houses owe more on them than the houses are worth in the present market, and that's all changed in the last eight years," Carter said during an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.
Taking a break from framing windows at a new 12-unit town house development in a section of East Oakland where Habitat already has built or repaired 115 homes, the 89-year-old former Democratic president said the federal government is investing less in affordable housing at a time of greater need.
"The disparity between rich people and poor people in America has increased dramatically since when we started," he said. "The middle class has become more like poor people than they were 30 years ago. So I don't think it's getting any better."
Years of tax breaks for the wealthy, a minimum wage untethered from the inflation rate and electoral districts drawn to maximize political polarization have reduced the quality of life for all but a small fraction of Americans and imperiled the nation's standing as "a real superpower," he said.
"Equity of taxation and treating the middle class with a great deal of attention, providing funding for people in true need, like for affordable housing, those are the sort of things that would pay rich dividends for Americans no matter what kind of income they have," said Carter, looking relaxed in a baseball cap, blue jeans and white sneakers.
"The richest people in America would be better off if everybody lived in a decent home and had a chance to pay for it, and if everyone had enough income even if they had a daily job to be good buyers for the products that are produced."
One can see Carter revving up the old, leveling Democratic platform as he speaks. According to Carter, the US’s lack of prosperity stems from the relaxed approach that the federal government has taken to confiscation and redistribution since perhaps the Reagan years.
Of course, the US does manage to spend some $US3.5 trillion or so annually, and those trillions come from somewhere. Either they are printed or generated as tax revenues. And wasn’t 2012 one of the most successful tax seasons ever?
But that is not enough for Carter. "The richest people in America would be better off if everybody lived in a decent home and had a chance to pay for it,” he warns.
There is a whiff of insurrection about this statement. It’s not exactly a threat, but it’s certainly a warning. And perhaps there’s a public banking odor about it, as well. As central banking fails, a new dominant social theme is surely being levered into place, and it’s one we’ve often covered: That central banking is really “private” and it will work much better if it is controlled by the “people.”
This elite meme is being methodically constructed, actually. It has roots in Henry George’s economic writings that proposed land could never be owned and must always be taxed. It evolved with the authoritarian literature of Silvio Gesell who wanted to stamp money monthly to assure it depreciated by 10 percent if you didn’t spend it in 30 days. Then came the Fabian Major Douglas of “social credit” who wanted to confiscate a portion of earnings from the private sector every year in order to redistribute it to workers who were rightfully entitled to it.
Adolf Hitler implemented portions of the public banking meme in Germany, though not the anti-usury part. And he never fully seized banks from the private sector. Hitler’s antics found fertile soil in both the US and Britain that had their own Nazi parties and public banking proclamations during the Reich’s heyday.
Today, we find the public banking banner carried high by such individuals as Bill Still, who claims to be a “libertarian.” The baton was passed to Ellen Brown who had never written a financial book in her life, but who claimed that reading Edward Griffin had inspired her to write her factually anti-usury tome Web of Debt.
Others, more viciously supportive, have launched an all-out attack on libertarianism and free-market economics in order to justify the authoritarian aspects of public banking “for the people.” Margrit Kennedy’s writings on alternative currencies have buttressed this meme as well, and one is not surprised to find she was a longtime employee of UNESCO. The UN itself is hip deep in the promotion of LETS alternative currencies.
Most recently, countries like New Zealand and Switzerland have suddenly begun introducing legislation guaranteeing a living wage. Switzerland will vote on such a proposal reportedly giving citizens 2,500 euros a month. Carter’s statement smells of this sort of thing.
In fact, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if Democrats begin to mention the necessity of creating a “living wage.” Carter, though he is old, would make a perfect pitchman for this sort of dominant social theme. An insider’s insider, he has always portrayed himself as a common man, both God-fearing and industrious.
David Rockefeller’s favorite son, Carter was plucked from obscurity, placed on the cover of TIME magazine and then ensconced in office … mostly because it was perceived he would do as he was told to do. The story is – believe it if you wish – that Dick Nixon had brought great trouble crashing down on his head through a romance with protectionism.
The end result was Watergate, and after Nixon’s departure, the power elite wanted no more surprises. First Gerald Ford and then Jimmy Carter provided a “free-market” inoculation, though thousand-page global trade treaties are anything but “free-market.”
Today Wikipedia informs us that Carter’s honorary duties, in addition to building houses, involve serving as the “Honorary Chair for the World Justice Project” that “strengthens the Rule of Law for the development of communities” globally and Honorary Chair for the Continuity of Government Commission.
In plain English this means that Carter is trying to spread the hyperactive US justice system around the world while overseeing top-secret plans to ensure that political and military elites have access to an extensive, unconstitutional network of underground cities in case of nuclear war or other man-made catastrophes.
Aboveground, Carter is not the only one sounding the warning about the gravity of the US financial system. The International Monetary Fund just came out with a report predicting reduced US and world prosperity yet again. Here’s something from the Guardian:
IMF cuts global economic growth forecasts for this year and next …The IMF report was critical of the way across the board budget cuts had been handled in Washington. Badly handled budget cuts in the United States and a slowdown in activity in big developing countries mean the global economy will expand more slowly than expected this year, the International Monetary Fund has said.
Revising down its forecasts for growth in both 2013 and 2014, the fund warned that the performance could be even more lacklustre and said the Federal Reserve, the American central bank, needed to take special care as it contemplated reducing its colossal stimulus to the world's biggest economy.
The IMF now expects the global economy to expand by 2.9% in 2013 and 3.6% in 2014 – down by 0.3 and 0.2 points respectively on its last predictions, made in July – despite signs of recovery in the euro area. "Global growth is still weak, its underlying dynamics are changing, and the risks to the forecast remain to the downside," the fund said in its World Economic Outlook (WEO).
The half-yearly analysis of global trends was critical of the way across the board budget cuts had been handled in Washington, noting that they had contributed to weaker US growth. "The US economy remains at the centre of events. Private demand continues to be strong, although growth has been hobbled this year by excessive fiscal consolidation," Olivier Blanchard, the IMF's economic counsellor, said.
"Politics is creating uncertainty about both the nature and the strength of the fiscal adjustment. The sequester is a bad way to consolidate, and conflicts around increasing the debt ceiling could lead to another bout of destabilising uncertainty and lower growth."
The concern is surely noticeable, is it not? It is one thing to run the West into the ground gradually, but too much too soon risks a popular revolt. Better to regalvanize economies with regulatory relaxation and yet more monetary stimulus. For good measure, continue to promote the public-banking meme and give people hope that they, too, may someday participate in the largesse of money-printing via a “living wage.”
Jimmy Carter, who is worth some $7 million – supposedly because people have bought millions of copies of his books (have you ever read a single one?) – now provides us with the voice of elite empathy. It is painful to hear.
He and other insiders have worked over decades to create the current economic collapse, which has been put in place via over-regulation, over-taxation and overly-enthusiastic monetary expansion. Carter seems sincere about his concern for the eroding, ruined US middle class, but the policies of his class are responsible for the condition he now claims to regret.
What can we gain from all this? We should take note that these sentiments indicate, once more, that the top elites seem to perceive they have gone too far. In practical terms, we may speculate that gold may fall, but not much farther; stocks may continue to rise “on a wall of worry”; money printing will be reduced … but not really. Yes, in the near term, the elites intend to voice their condolences while inflating away the possibility of serious regime change. Will it work? What do you think? We think we know …