The 30-Year Debtors Crisis

What we saw on Tuesday night is not surprising to anyone calling themselves a liberal or progressive¬† in America’s great rural expanses. For years, rural progressives have been howling from the rooftops that a storm was brewing. I myself have said the phrase “if something’s going to happen in this country, it’s going to start in the small towns” so many times that my wife is sick of hearing it. As much as we didn’t want to believe it, we always feared in the back of our minds that it would happen.

Why? Because we see it every day.

People can’t afford to eat well, surviving on chemical-laced, bargain-basement pseudo-foods. People can’t afford to live well, with barely enough money after buying the basics of survival to afford housing, clothes, heat, bills, and somewhere 56 items down the line perhaps something for their life’s enrichment. People can’t afford to be well, with a half-measure of national healthcare that still leaves too many people too sick too often. After 8 years of promising hope and change and delivering next to nothing for average, troubled people outside the ivory towers of the establishment, how can you possibly be surprised when they strike back?

I wanted to use the word “workaday” when I was describing the folks up there, but then I realized I couldn’t… because the jobs are all gone. All the wanted was a house, kids, spouse, and a decent-paying job so they can put in their time, retire, and say they lived a good life. Instead, supposed “liberals” like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama sold these folks down the river by gutting welfare, pushing NAFTA, pushing the TPP, and being sure to tell them to buy a house with money they didn’t have (to further enrich Wall Street criminals) and offer them absolutely no help when the market crashed. Let’s face it: the only thing the past 30 years of Al From’s DLC-style Democrats were liberal with were bombs and bailouts.

Michael Hudson has a terrific article in CounterPunch magazine titled¬†Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun.¬† In the article, Hudson makes a terrific observation from someone you might remember from History class called Socrates. In short, Socrates says you shouldn’t have to repay a debt to someone if that someone is a lunatic. And in the eyes of most of us out here, outside of the Beltway and the bubble and the liberal fortresses, Goldman Sachs are lunatics. Citigroup are lunatics. Even someone like Hillary Clinton was a lunatic that we did not owe one more red cent. If someone is going to take your money to do evil, Socrates said, then they do not deserve to get your money.

And now, in their rage and their hatred and their righteous feelings of being cheated and swindled by what was supposed to be the Party of the People, they struck out. Unfortunately, instead of striking out and finding someone in which they could safely bank their trust (like a certain Democratic Socialist from Vermont) they struck out at the only other thing they could grab to stop their plunge into the despairing abyss.

For now, they have some footing, and only too late will we all learn that the rock we stand on today is not only hollow, but built on sinking sand. Our only hope is to find someone outside of this murky and disgusting abyss to throw us a rope and pull us out.

It’s time for outsiders. We’ve put off real change for far too long in favor of cosmetic, feel good politics that only bandaged over a festering wound of inequality. Now, we have no choice but to embrace the rapid change because we waited too long to take it slow, and that means it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

And for that, we’ll need strong, young backs to ride it out.

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