You, my friend, are a slave.
Yes, I know you rest your head in the land of the free and home of the brave and you’ve pledged your allegiance to it daily as a school boy, but you are just as much a slave as the dark-skinned men and women our forefathers used to build this supposed free land. This soil, the one once trampled by wild animals and occupied by natives who didn’t believe men could own the Earth, is stained not with the red, white, and blue blood of those who fought for our freedom, but by the dark soled shoes worn by the living dead of the working class.
Welcome to Slavery
We are slaves to companies that refer to us not as fellow humans, but as “consumers,” for that is what we do. We consume. We are both the locust and the forest. We are the virus and the host. We feed off of each other.
We are all slaves for nothing but to serve to the currency printed by the private corporation that is the Federal Reserve. Before Dec. 23, 1913—two days before a holiday sold as a spiritual family affair and perverted by judgmental consumerism and other forms of insanity—the United States printed its own currency, but someone thought that was a bad idea. That day, the Federal Reserve Act was enacted into law.
The idea, according to the act, was “to establish a more effective supervision of banking in the United States,” but as we all know, that didn’t work. You see, the banks responsible for the financial crisis that began a few years back received federal “bailout” money because their “too big to fail” model fell because they gave too big of loans to people who couldn’t afford it (including propaganda advertising emphasizing the “American Dream” involving huge vehicles parked in the garage of suburban homes with every modern comfort: heated bathroom tiles, dual-sink bathrooms, dining rooms, living rooms, family rooms, granite-tiled kitchens fit to host Julia Childs, Ron Popeil, Martha Stewart, and an Iron Chef on the good China) but who would never made enough to afford it. This wasn’t a political or religious viewpoint, this was a real national anthem.
In essence, a private organization that is no more federal than Federal Express (See: Zeitgeist), became the keeper of our money. Not only that, but each piece of currency printed for the United States is loaned to that government with interest, thus making the country forever in debt to a bank it unconditionally and congressionally gave all power to.
Thomas Jefferson—a man who drafted the piece of paper that declared the Colonies as an independent entity from the tyranny of the British tax system, and later lead the fucked-up country we live in—once wrote:
“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered.”
(For those of you not familiar with American currency, this same man, this Thomas Jefferson, is also ironically featured on the $2 bill, a piece of currency about as outdated as his ideas on banks.)
Of course those children aren’t homeless—they’re living with their parents. The children who graduate college (which in a single generation went from a luxury of the privileged to a bare-minimum requirement for life-sustaining employment) now return to their high school bedrooms because the economy they help fund cannot sustain an adequate supply-and-demand chain to supply them with jobs they demand so they can fund said chain with their mindless purchasing of processed food, tasteless light beer, and 8-mile-per-gallon studio apartments on wheels. They’re taking their high school jobs slinging coffee at Starbucks, cleaning up the women’s clothing section at Target, or guarding parking lots of the local mall.
But when the banks failed, they took your money and gave it to private corporations to help them through the hard times. They slashed jobs, bankrupted entire cities, and posted tremendous profits without having to pay back a cent or create the jobs they promised.
Yes, yes it is.
Routine & Convenience
It is a very complicated system of interest, inflation, deflation, and numerous other factors that have led us to a scary place where our entire nation’s credit system—especially to other countries—has dwindled to a point where we’ve stopped producing and only consume, but the consumers have no means of which to support their consumption so they resort to cannibalism.
We are cannibalizing each other not by willful or malicious action (see: breaking into your neighbor’s house and stealing his TV) but by unknowingly listening to the rhetoric of advertising, politicking, and other means of entertainment because it’s the easy thing to do. It’s easy and it’s convenient. It’s part of our routine.
It’s the routine—and our willingness to accept it—that makes it possible. You go to work, run some errands, go home to eat (maybe you’re lucky enough to afford to eat out, at least one meal on payday), maybe sneak in a few minutes of a hobby, and go to bed so you have enough energy to wake up and do it again tomorrow. You probably want out of the routine, so you take convenience whenever you can find it, so you have more time to do what you love, or something as simple as catching up on your sleep. So you switch banks to the one with locations near work or home.
Most likely if you’re in a big city, you take the one with the most locations because you’re traveling around the city getting to your second or third job. You get convenience and your bank gets a few extra hundred dollars a year in fees while they loan out your money to others at a higher rate that you pay while they buy up smaller banks and expand to provide a better service to you. Your money also goes to pay lobbyists to influence policy drafted by people you elect to keep fewer regulations on people making money off of your money. It’s convenient, routine, and you support it.
Convenience is one way a giant can rise until you can’t escape its shadow. It’s become so big, it is crumbling the world around us. It pays billions to its highest earners that are the corporation CEOs, yet it doesn’t fund a sliver of that pie chart to fund the education of the children who will be operating those corporations at the base level. (Maybe that’s why the biggest corporations—Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, etc.—don’t need much education to keep it running.) Convenience is going through McDonald’s because it’s quick and cheap. Convenience is going to Wal-Mart because it is cheap and you can get everything in one spot, which is convenient.
There’s convenience and then there’s greed. Greed is something we’ll easily cast on others but we’ll never admit to being a part of. Yes, we may be in a routine and do what is convenient, but we never think we’re greedy. We just want the best. We want things, think we need things we want, we want what everyone else wants, we want what we think we deserve, and we want things at no consideration for its ramification to others (see: slavery, sweatshops, murders, poaching), but we’re not greedy. We dream like Americans because its the American dream.
We aren’t free because we give away our power daily.
Our farmers are too poor to grow real food because the corporations—the same ones killing us with tainted food and filing down the teeth of the FDA—have an authoritarian grip on the heartlands and coasts of this country. (see: Food, Inc.)
The poisons we ingest at the dinner table require medicine from another shadowy figure—the healthcare industry. Just like the way the Federal Reserve privatized our currency, a few businessmen helped a soon-to-be-impeached President take the care of its citizens from county budgets to shareholders by turning the health of people into a for-profit business.
This means that the rich stay healthy, the sick became poor while funding the rich, and the poor died. It became a Darwinian exercise of survival of the fittest through financial means. That model would only last for so long only if there were a steady buffer between the rich and the poor so someone could work the factories, lunch counters, and espresso machines, and fund the rich in the process. The rich need the poor to survive, so they created the middle class. They even gave them their own home: the suburbs, the massive geographical divide between the super rich and the super poor. It blankets the country for a reason.
But the only way the middle class could afford to live in the suburbs was through credit, a system developed by the banks that only created a willing slavery to the American Dream.
Occasionally, a few of these middle class heroes get a bright idea and become rich. Then others follow the idea and threat the stakes played most by the super rich. Like every bubble Americans have ever blown, each one has to pop sooner or later. When the blast dust settles, everyone is back in their places—the poor at the bottom and the enormously wealthy at the top. Only the people in the middle know the difference.
That Guy to Your Left
One of the most convenient and routine things we see everyday are the people around us (see: fellow slaves). We see them at the Safeway grocery store, at Walgreens, in line at Starbucks, at the drive-thru of Burger King, in the aisles of Wal-Mart, and working the AT&T kiosk at the mall. We see them, but they aren’t visible. They are people doing things, but they are replaceable. They are parts of a machine. That machine makes money, and you’re part of it, too.
Any engineer will tell you any machine will make the best products when all the pieces work together, but they can only do that by working in unison with the part closest to it. With the way America is chasing its own dreams, we’ve learned how to stop making things and only consuming them. Our production is at its lowest point, while our imports peak higher every day. If we can’t make things, what are we as parts doing, and who is going to fix us when we break down? Right now, a handful of people are letting us know what needs repair, who is holding the tools, and why we can’t get to them.
These and other issues are why people are occupying city streets in protest of the current shit-stained climate that every swaddling baby is born into. They are protesting the slavery. They are occupying spaces funded by their own dollars to cry out against a system that holds their dollars as the highest interest point in their existence.
They are being attacked, beaten, pepper-sprayed, and tear-gassed with the money you’re a slave to. Your taxes pay to house the Occupy movement, while it also pays to hurt the people resisting your slavery.
They key to our freedom isn’t hidden behind the locked door of legislation, the clubhouse of the rich, or the occupied sidewalks to dissent. Our freedom, our chance to be delivered away from our transgression, lies in our greatest gift—the center of our humanity. We have shied away from our greatest asset for too long, protected by ideals, morals, and the shadows of hate, fear, and remorse.
First, we must know that that for a few to live the American Dream, we have created a nightmare for so many others. This isn’t a time to continue dreaming.
Even if you disagree with the movement, there are things you can do to improve your world. Here are a few:
- Move your money into a small, locally-owned bank or credit union.
- Shop at local stores.
- Buy from farmer’s markets.
- Fuck Starbucks. Fuck Wal-Mart. Fuck McDonald’s.
- Support corporations that do not use slave labor, support charities, and give back to the communities.
- Do not buy things that can afford Super Bowl commercials.
- Use the barter system when applicable.
- Support people.
Our occupation shouldn’t extend to the financial districts or public squares of major cities. It should grip inside each one of us until we discover a tireless bravery to rediscover our humanity.
To do this, we don’t need reform from the top of marble steps or between the marble pillars of leaderships. We need to practice humanity at the basic level we experience our world—with feet firmly planted in the ground, our sleeves rolled up past our elbows, and the notion that every single act we do can either restore sanity to this country, or push it further into the cavernous, mindless, nonsensical hellstorm of distopian rhetoric we have let it become for too long.
We have no one to blame but ourselves and the listless apathy we call convenience. There is no need to apologize for what we have done, but we must promise to each other and ourselves to never let it happen again.
Until we find a better way, let’s support each other.
It’s either that, or we remain slaves.
We Need something better or we’ll all Blade or Die,
— Brian Krans
P.S. — I have other ideas about society, education, authority, responsibility, getting out of this shitty hellhole, and other perplexing subjects, but they’re in my books. You’ll have to buy one to read those ideas.