First "Let them eat cake," then "Off with their heads."
Throughout history events come in waves and power cycles back and forth between poles. The new administration, which is about to take the reins of power demonstrate this polar cycle.
Business and Government have their primary traits in common; self preservation! Any Government or Business which ceases to exist is a failure. Either can be successful, and viable, for a long period and then fail. We see the world's territories strewn with the corpses of nations and businesses. Just as in the case of individual humans, governments and businesses have life cycles. Often they are inexoribly linked. The US is in its current predicament, due to that linkage.
We are very much like France was in the late 18th. century and Russia in the early 20th. We are now obliged to learn from their tragedies or be forced to repeat them.
It is only a myth that Marie Antoinette said, "let them eat cake." "Off with their heads" is most often associated with "A Tale of Two Cities," also a story about the French Revolution. The two phrases taken together symbolize the path to national destruction taken by many top driven societies. We are now faced with the outcome of the American economy and government having become top driven.
When the wealth of a society becomes concentrated into fewer and fewer hands certain things inevitably occur. First there is a creation of status based upon possession of luxury goods. The biggest house the grandest jewels, the finest foods, the most elaborte sytles of dress, and the largest staff of servants are part of that culture. Consequently there is always an inflationary result of competition among the wealthy elite which "trickles down" to all the lower strata of the society. As inflation drives prices up it also drives the real cost of government expenditures in all sectors. In these top driven societies the primary manner of dealing with this is to cut back services and increase spending on military and police.
This creates a downward spiral in the lives of the general populace. As prices elevate and incomes stagnate or deflate the standard of living for all but the elites decline. However the elites are not immune to the effects of the general decline. Therefore they take steps to maintain their mode of life that are carcogenic to the economy. The first is the reduction or removal of taxes on the richer and increase on the poorer. This is supported by control of the government and press (information markets). The quality of goods available to the masses deteriorate as the price they pay for these good continue to increase. Crime, always the employer of last resort draws more and more marginalized individuals into a shadow economy. The elites play a shell game with the masses and scapegoat the very criminal underclass they have created. They become a constant distraction and their pursuit and prosecution take the place of solving the problems which created them.
Meanwhile a cycle of excesses by the elite in the midst of erosion of the economy goes on and on. Eventually the system begins to break down. A drought may occur or a flood or some other natural disaster. There being no surplus the people suffer. The ruling class demands maintenance of their lifestyle and finally the whole thing collapses. When confronted with the outcome of their policies the ruling elite will blame the masses. "They are ungrateul and lazy." "They don't know the meaning of work." "If they are hungry they should work harder." "If they have no bread, then let them eat cake."
The same miopic ruling class acts like an abusive parent, who at the emergency room with the child whose leg they have just broken, doesn't want to talk about the past. They feel that it serves no good and that the discussion should only be on the future in which they will solve all the problems that have appeared so mysteriously. Finally the children (masses) have had enough.
There are always many times more in the masses than in the elite. That is how the elite is determined. When finally they are held to account, as in France or Russia, their jewels and palaces cannot feed a hungry people. Their fine clothes cannot clothe the naked masses. Their racing dogs cannot herd sheep. When the masses realize just how much has been squandered, they demand an atonement in blood. The guillotine is rolled out and the masses are appeased for a short time. This cycle has been played out over and over throughout history.
We can of course learn the lesson of history and be exempted from repeating it. We can create policies which are rational and determined by the common good and are dedicated to sustainability. We can create a paradigm based upon the needs of the many as opposed to the privileges of the few.
Some things are obvious. More for the same price, distributed to the many is better overall than one held by the wealthiest. An automobile like a Bentley costing $180,000 has actually less value to the society as a whole than does 6 Dodges costing $30,000 each. A single mansion costing $30 million provides much less to the society than 200 single family homes each costing $150,000. The small factory occupying a floor of a commercial building provided substantially more to the society; employing 22 people supporting their families than does a Condo conversion by a speculator who then cannot sell it in a saturated market.
Yet in all of these examples, governmental policies are crafted to favor the privileged and ignore the priorities of the majority. We see every day on our news broadcasts pundits and spokespersons rationalize the needs of the Investor class and ignore the needs of the working class. George H.W. Bush described the Reagan Revolution as "Voodoo Economics." He was right. The Voodoo failed. We now teeter upon the edge of the abyss and still the servants of the elites in the government talk about financing parties at the palace, while the masses starve in the streets.
A Governmental policy which leads to capital circulating among the people freely will have a much greater impact than policies which lead to the public treasure being placed unaccountably into the hands of the same speculators who have created the crisis.
There is no cake to be eaten. Cutting their heads off may provide temporary entertainment and a sense of justice being served, but the people will still be hungry in the streets.
Learn more about the author, Albert Anderson.
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- business cycles
- price spirals