Siliconcowboy's Blog

Technology, journalism, social media and social responsibility

How Money is Made and Lost in America

making money2There are two ways to make money in America: Industry and finance.

Industry requires ideas, people and things. Finance involves interest rates, profits and risk.

Industry is the bastion of employment. Finance, if you are lucky to be well employed, gives you a retirement income.

However, finance is also the power broker over industry. The traditional Wall Street financial markets are the leader in this area. These firms have, by policy and strategy, consistently honed the wheel of fortune to minimize risk. In most cases, this also means minimizing the connection to labor.

Wall Street financial firms include a variety of subsidiary organizations whose job it is to consult with industry, with the goal of marginalizing capital intensive activities (hiring employees) and focusing on core business.

Most large companies have found that they can generate large profits by migrating into the finance market. This means more of what used to be industrial companies are now creating most of their wealth through financial markets. The pressure is on to relieve these companies of the burden of employees altogether. They want to divest, they want to merge, they want to outsource and they want to push employees into contractor status whenever and wherever possible.

Once this machine is set in motion – and it has been for decades – the pressure to marginalize labor will be tremendous. Unions will be smashed, benefits will be dropped, pension funds will be raided, and everyday people will be left to fend for themselves. Wages are allowed to wallow at relatively flat rates as the cost of living escalates rapidly,  creating a sustainability chasm within the  households of average Americans.

The pressure to further marginalize Americans without sustainable income is huge. These people are statistically more prone to homelessness, alcoholism, accidents, and chronic illness. Every insurance company, every community, every state has enacted policies that work against such individuals.

Even where support is available, the paper chase forced on service systems by cynical politicians, likely at the urging of lobbyists for anti-government industrialists, makes it all but impossible to create a sustainable environment.

The net effect is that we’re disenfranchising huge numbers of Americans every year.

This isn’t a political issue. This is us. We’re being kicked to the curb to fatten somebody’s purse. It is simply indefensible.

I find it horrific that anyone would buy into the narrative that says the disenfranchised want to be there. I just explained to you how, for the past several decades, the system created this.

Someone asked me, cynically, if government is a third way to make money. It is not.

Government is an instrument that all sides use to create structure, order and accountability. It is also used to gain strategic advantage through lobbying and, more recently, non-cooperation. Because of its dependence on taxation for income, government is largely dependent on high levels of employment and a growing economy.

However, the model I have suggested above clearly illustrates that underemployment will not adequately fund the government, and corporations and the ultra-rich have taken advantage of every available strategy for avoiding taxation.

This means the dynamic is rapidly evolving, such that even in a good economy, government is being severely constrained … which, I am sure, brings great joy to the capitalists, but it does nothing to ensure the sustainability of our society since this financial constraint also de-funds elementary and secondary education, higher education, a wide range of basic research programs, the military, and other infrastructure and safety net operations (public hospitals, infrastructure repair, etc) which the financial markets would be loathe to back on their own.

I think what is happening in venture capital, with angel financiers and crowdfunding, is a huge step in the right direction. More importantly, we have to break up the vacuum machine that is Wall Street. It works well for what it has become, but it’s only serving big investors and itself.


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This entry was posted on November 16, 2013 by in Art of Communication, Social Responsibility.
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