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Playing Chess With Corporate America

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There are chess players who win by capturing as many of their opponent’s pieces as possible as quickly as possible. They space out the first two captures to lull the other player into complacency. Their third and subsequent captures come in rapid succession, thus putting the other player on the defensive, keeping them distracted from what could have been more powerful offensive moves.

This is what’s happening now. The space around the chess board is very crowded, but not everyone is in attendance. For instance, people who really think Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is the spawn of Satan and that corporate America is an angel – they’re not there. In attendance are the Occupy Movement (OM), the government, and Corporate America. But chess isn’t a three-player game. So what the hell is going on?

It’s important to note that capitalism is an effective and meaningful way to maintain a free, competitive market for goods and services. That said, capitalism has to have government regulation because capitalism attracts psychopaths who don’t necessarily murder people. When tax loopholes abound for the rich and capitalism is relatively unregulated, corporations will be run accordingly, not ethically. For anyone to say different is hypocritical.

We don’t all get to drive our cars any old way we want, and we bear the cost and consequences for problems we cause when we do drive any old way. So yeah, we’re all about red lights and fines for our neighbors, friends and family and even ourselves. But when an 18 wheeler driven by a bank is careening down the hill between a building and a student (or a little old lady, a single parent, a small business owner or a veteran), suddenly we’re all, “Oh no, the 18 wheeler is too big to hit an empty building. Let’s direct him to run over that human being instead.”

The OM isn’t seeking to appeal to and appease government into getting their way. The OM is seeking to win the game. Read: take over the government. Read again: Legally, by forcing the government to act defensively against what the OM is doing right now. Read yet again: Legally still, by appealing to the audience watching the chess game in hopes they’ll change the laws and the lawmakers.

At some point the student loan bubble will burst. There’s no way around it. Corporate America (banks, investors, etc) will call the burst of the student loan bubble something else and when that no longer flies they will blame someone else for it. The government, hopefully, won’t sugar coat the shit out of it as was done when the housing bubble burst.

Corporate America successfully convinced Americans that American homeowners caused the housing bubble burst. And it wasn’t just recent homeowners who were to blame, said Corporate America; it was all homeowners who still owed money on their homes, even those who had fixed rate mortgages from 1995 and prior. Yea, we love to skip over that tidbit o’ shit when railroading our fellow man.

But you can’t have two big bursts in 10 years’ time without a whole bunch of otherwise uninvolved people asking just what the hell is going on. Mark my words, Corporate America will soon come right out, and at point-blank range, they will blame the burst of the student loan bubble on students and their parents.

“But,” many already cry, “Sallie Mae is of and by the government just like Freddie Mac!” Here’s your tissue, criers: Sallie Mae and Freddie Mac aren’t the only loans involved. Too, Sallie Mae and Freddie Mac are just meats in a sandwich covered by government-made bread. Corporate America pulled those meats out because the government regulation that could have stopped them from doing so had been thrown out years prior. They then combined these with the meat off their own platters which they then sliced and diced and are currently serving up as hors d’oeuvres to their equally psychopathic partners and pals. You know these hors d’oeuvres by another name: buying and selling debt. Corporate America calls them “assets.”

Americans themselves are already blaming students and their parents for the student loan bubble that’s going to burst because Corporate America successfully taught them to blame the victims during the housing bubble burst. This is to say, rich people figured out a way to get people who aren’t rich to defend people who are rich. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled and all that. Once they convinced them of that, it was easy-peasy to get a government bailout.

In the runup to the student loan bubble bursting, Corporate America is tickled pink (those kinky bastards) by Americans who are distracted by whatever (sequestration, how much was spent on the Iraq War, a new Kardashian baby, etc) because it’s giving them plenty of time to fictionalize the cause of the upcoming student loan bubble burst. When the housing bubble burst, Corporate America used the best scapegoat available: the troops! My god, if you spoke out against Corporate America, you were speaking out against capitalism and that was the same as speaking out against our warriors fighting to defend the American way and how dare you!

First (in this generation) it was homeowners, and soon it will be students and their parents; and that’s just so far. Without reinstating regulations, the poor are right back on the chopping block, veterans are targeted, and the elderly will be next. History showed us why we needed regulation and so we got it (via Republicans). But then it was like teenagers took over.

Teenagers who claim to have learned from their parents’ driving records and who have never been in a wreck somehow think this means they’ll never be in a wreck, so lower the driving age and raise the speed limits! And so it came to pass that a bunch of people ascended to corporate power and told Congress they learned from the stock market crash of 1929 and that since they’d never personally experienced a crash, there would never be one, so out with regulations! And Congress abode. And then the shit hit the fan. And now their successors are painting Democrat Elizabeth Warren as an anti-capitalist bad guy for wanting to reinstate and update those regulations.

The American people do have to take the blame for one thing and I’ll name it shortly. Corporate America and the American government lulled the American people into complacency. (Seriously, what the hell was all that back in 2001 when America was attacked and our military went to war and America was told by its own president to resume shopping?!)

But you can’t lull someone without some measure of compliance. So what magical potion was used against the American people to convince them that a) they were so distant from the first war, another one would be no big deal, b) deregulating many things financial so as to put millions of people into debt for houses they couldn’t possibly afford was a good idea, c) healthcare isn’t a right of the poor and tax cuts are a privilege of the rich, and d) colleges are just businesses so they should get to jack up their prices in accordance with the ease with which the average consumer can get a loan/grant.

The magical potion is called nostalgia. My generation is fucking gaga for it. Under the spell of nostalgia, there is no terrorism or unemployment or high interest rates or insurance companies who demand payment every time they give you an involuntary colonoscopy and then only pay five percent of the bill.

In the alternate universe in which many in my generation live, young adults can easily get a job that gives you enough hours and pay that a second job is rarely necessary; you can get a student loan with interest you can pay off in less than 10 years; you can get a home loan at a reasonable rate or be justifiably declined because you don’t have enough for a down payment; and you don’t have to worry about being pounded in the ass by medical bills for procedures that vary in cost from facility to facility. You know, the good old days.

A lot of people in my generation think it’s still the way it was when they were looking for their first job, going to college and buying a home. And just like their parents, they think everyone crying foul is just a lazy, pot-headed, welfare-check-cashing, college-brainwashed hippie/Commie who feels entitled to everyone else’s stuff. Unfortunately, my generation (the tail end of the baby boomers) far outnumbers all other age groups and we wield heavy influence over those other age groups, especially the younger ones. Think I’m wrong? America’s reaction to the bankruptcy of Hostess is the perfect metaphor for how fucked up our priorities are and what we think is necessary for a healthy economy, populace and nation.

The irony is that Corporate America has never, ever been nostalgic. They have always been looking forward. They know nostalgia is no way to run a business, but they also know it’s a more powerful selling tool than sex (especially when selling to an older age group) and they use it to sell everything from loans and Twinkies to wealth accumulation and nightmares dressed up as dreams. And my generation has eaten that shit up like it’s the lamp-included-collector’s edition of A Christmas Story DVD.

The one thing Corporate America wasn’t counting on was that all those people going into all that debt for all that college education were going to come out the other side and be educated. Oh fuck. Now everyone’s got a degree. And they know things. And they read, like the whole First Amendment; and some of them are even getting elected. Shit!

They know about economics, law, taxes, government, capitalism and history. They now know firsthand how a one dollar bill won’t buy produce for one, but it’ll get you processed food for four; and if you only have enough to pay one utility, always make it water. And those people are pissed. They are not, however, employed full time or insured. They are in deep nightmarish debt for dreams they were sold. Too, with each passing day they are joined by more people in my generation who have checked their bank accounts and see how little interest they’re getting while the interest on the smallest loan skyrockets and their medical bills rival their mortgage.

Now we come to the dilemma of chess being played by three people when it’s a two player game. Most of Congress isn’t playing. Those who aren’t playing lost to (read: were bought by) Corporate America. And rather than call Corporate America out for cheating, the losing members of Congress would rather rail against Elizabeth Warren and like-minded people because it pays better to chant, “Too big to fail” than even whisper, “Fuck off, Corporate America.”

The whole idea of too big to fail is dependent on there being those who are too small to succeed. At one time there weren’t enough small to support the big, so the big created them. Like the predators they are, they groomed the small into believing “I’m too small” and “You’re too big.” There are members of both parties working desperately to reinstate the rules of the game, but it’s going to take more time than it should as holdouts from both parties are off preparing refreshments because they’re about as useful to the legislative process as Martha Stewart.

So who’s sitting on either side of the chess board? Corporate America is the player who spaced two captures so far apart (homeowners and students) that many Americans think they’re still playing the game fairly. But someone has flipped the whole piece-capturing strategy on them. Unlike Corporate America, the challenger to this game of chess never thought their opponent was inept. They realized what was going on as soon as Corporate America leaned back in their chairs and rhetorically boasted they couldn’t wait for another challenger. They weren’t expecting anyone to sit down. They damn sure weren’t expecting the Occupy Movement to sit, much less play. And so it began.

Among the many ways the OM is slowly but surely taking back what Corporate America stole away while the government fiddled and is fiddling its thumbs, there are programs like Rolling Jubilee and Strike Debt. Instead of buying bulk debt and making money by collecting a percentage of it that is greater than the purchase price (currently done by a lot of companies to make a goodly amount of money), RJ and SD buy debt with donations and then write off that debt.

As of this writing, RJ has spent $573,861 to abolish $11,482,049 of debt. The fact that they’ve done this and our economy is no worse for the wear (and rich people are magically not homeless) is further proof in the first place of the artificiality of the prices charged that incurred that debt. The bulk of the debt is not irresponsible consumer spending. The bulk of it is medical bills followed by student loans, a significant portion of the latter being interest, not principal. Record profits were and are made by loaning institutions despite a $10,908,188 “loss.”

The French Revolution incurred many dead among those who opposed the peasants who spoke up for themselves. The French working class poor, however, had only themselves to lean on for support. The Occupy Movement isn’t confined to unemployment lines, coffee houses and Wall Street’s concrete.

The people who run Corporate America (and those Americans they’ve convinced of their angelic nature) can trash talk what they believe is nothing more than an empty, short lived, misguided threat by a bunch of layabouts; or they can prepare for the natural and logical consequences of a hard-working populace that is completely fed up. So far, their game plan consists solely of blaming the have-nots for not having; and we all know how well that worked out for King Louis XVI.

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About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.
  • Dr Dreadful

    “The whole idea of too big to fail is dependent on there being those who are too small to succeed.”

    QFT.

  • roger nowosielski

    “The Occupy Movement isn’t confined to unemployment lines, coffee houses and Wall Street’s concrete.”

    True, but then again, it didn’t get that much support from the black folk or even the working poor. I’m afraid your projections are overly optimistic, Diana. You underestimate the extent to which the capitalism’s ethos had permeated and molded the American psyche.

  • Igor

    Good article.

    The American peasantry is truly indoctrinated in the Capitalist ethos. I was just talking to an unemployed worker who is living in his jeep, bathing in a local park lavatory, and hopelessly seeking employment. But he’s an avid capitalist! when I pointed out that his medical problems would be solved by Universal Health Care, he spluttered “but that would be socialism!”.

  • roger nowosielski

    Except, Diana, that you’re making it out as though the abuses we typically associate with capitalism are, almost without exception, the doing of “the bad apples.” It’s reminiscent of Chris Rose’s complaint that our liberal democracies would be just fine if it weren’t for the corrupt politicians. In his case, it’s “the corrupt politicians”; in yours, it’s “the psychopaths.” If only we could keep the undesirable element out of politics and economics, everything would be just hunky-dory, both of you seem to be saying. But both of you are also ignoring the very possibility that the problems associated with the economic system in place are endemic and innate, and with the political system which justifies the former by providing a fine gloss on things, are just as endemic and innate for the very same reason(s).

    You do have a knack, Diana, for shooting straight from the hip, and it works; otherwise, I wouldn’t go into so extensive a critique. So do consider it a compliment.

    As to the relative absence of comments by “the regulars,” not only on your thread but elsewhere, be aware that the site has been subject to vicious spam attack of late, and the commenters are reluctant to post under the circumstances.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Roger, I’ve not argued that “our liberal democracies would be just fine if it weren’t for the corrupt politicians” so either I haven’t expressed myself very well or you have misconstrued something.

  • roger nowosielski

    I kinda used a rather loose and hyperbolic take on some of your comments to make a rhetorical point with Diana. Wasn’t meant to represent your thinking in any precise kind of way, other than to make what I think is a valid point.

  • John Lake

    Corporate top brass are not supposed to be merciful and kind to people in general; they are supposed to make a profit, and secondarily, perhaps, provide employment. That last is only true about the conscientious top brass. Conscientiousness however is not a requirement.
    But Politicians are a horse of another color. They are allowed to be concerned about corporations, but should be forbidden to be supported by the corporations. Remember when the Supreme Court was beyond reproach?
    If the corporation big wigs do their job, and if the politicians remember their role, the whole thing might just work out.
    But we are still dependent on great new ideas, creating great new industries. If these fail to come about, we may find ourselves in a bad situation.
    This was a terrific article Diana Hartman, but it did get a little tedious toward page five. Page six was just fine. I’m kidding. It is a great piece of writing!

  • Baronius

    Any time you see a market distortion, your first question should be, how is government causing it? The tech bubble – government gave tax breaks to online purchases, causing .coms to overestimate their potential. The housing bubble – government secures loans and gives tax breaks for mortgage payments, as well as pushing banks to give loans to the less-financially-stable on the basis of skin color. The upcoming college bubble – government runs colleges, funds colleges, and secures college loans. Government is the reason that tuition costs are skyrocketing.

    Corporate America goes along with it, as do the people who think they’re getting something for nothing. But let’s not pretend that the government is the white knight in this story.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Of course the policies of successive governments are partly responsible, Baronius, but we can’t use that fact to allow corporations to wash their hands of responsibility for the economic crisis entirely. There’s no law forcing .coms to overstretch, or to provide mortgages to anyone. They did that all by their little lonesomes.

  • Baronius

    Dread, there were regulations requiring them to overstretch.

  • roger nowosielski

    @8

    “The upcoming college bubble – government runs colleges, funds colleges, and secures college loans. Government is the reason that tuition costs are skyrocketing.”

    We had government-run colleges in the sixties, if by that you mean the city colleges, the Brooklyn College, the Queens College, CUNY, etc (all in NYC, btw), without there being any “college bubble,” so what gives?

    Diana was right, after all, except that in addition to her stressing the “blame the victim” mentality, should ought to have included the government as well as sharing part of the blame.

  • Dr Dreadful

    @ #10:

    No, the regulations required banks not to discriminate. Preventing a bank from refusing a loan to someone purely because of where they live is not the same as compelling them to loan to someone. A bad loan is a bad loan. It’s not reasonable to blame the government if you give a mortgage to someone who can’t afford it just because you’re too lazy to do things honourably.

    That was the case with redlining, anyway. Likewise with dotcoms. I fail to see how a tax break forces anyone to do anything. Regardless of the regulatory environment, businesses that miscalculate their markets have only themselves to blame.

  • c i n d y

    Reading your comment Baronius makes me want to head to an east coast beach for some naked mad spinning.

    I’ll let you know if I see that Demon Dr.D.

  • c i n d y

    er, not:

    that “Demon Dr.D”,

    but,

    that demon, Dr.D.