EDITOR NOTE: Financial author Charles Hugh Smith points out that while many Americans are focusing on “wealth” thanks to the “inexorable rise of stocks, cryptos, and housing,” they are missing the bigger picture. That picture shows that the country’s social order — which Smith sees as the true marker of wealth — is crumbling. Smith defines social order as “all the intangible social elements which serve to bind a nation's people beyond their legal rights.” You can also think of it as the American Dream. Instead, the only virtue for many Americans these days is self-interest, Smith explains, and it starts at the top with “politicians, Fed governors, insiders, and billionaires.” Smith says this is happening and lays out a convincing case, which should be both sad and scary to the majority of the country.
So by all means, focus on the inexorable rise of stocks, cryptos and housing as "proof" of America's soaring "wealth" while the social order unravels beneath our feet.
It is a supremely tragic irony that while the corporate media ceaselessly touts America's soaring financial "wealth," the nation's true wealth--its social order--is fast unraveling. While we're encouraged to cheer billionaires blowing a tiny sliver of their wealth on space tourism and $500 million yachts as evidence of "prosperity," our media and leadership (ahem) professes to being mystified by The Great Resignation, known here on Of Two Minds as The 'Take This Job and Shove It' Recession, and other unmistakable signs of unraveling.
(This era's anthem should be Johnny Paycheck's timeless classic, Take This Job And Shove It 2:31).
In my analysis, the social order is comprised of all the intangible social elements which serve to bind a nation's people beyond their legal rights. The social order includes (but is not limited to) social (upward) mobility--the ladder to advancing one's agency (control of one's life) and opportunities for improved security and well-being.
The social order also includes civic virtue, the willingness to share the sacrifices of one's fellow citizens for the common good in proportion to one's wealth and power, and equal treatment before the law, not just as an abstraction but in the real world of the judicial system.
The social order also includes the moral legitimacy of the governance system: does the state (government) serve the citizenry, or is it the other way around?
Lastly, the social order manifests social cohesion, which is the capacity for shared values and purpose and common ground, all of which generate a concern for the well-being of other citizens and a willingness to focus on shared interests.
America has lost all of these elements, as self-interest is the only value, purpose and goal that guides behavior, starting at the top: how do politicians acquire fortunes in excess of $100 million (cough, Pelosi, cough)? Through public service? (Don't bust a gut laughing...) How do billionaires gain additional wealth so effortlessly (cough, Federal Reserve, cough)?
The rot starts at the top and then seeps down into every fiber of the nation's economic, social and political orders. As noted here previously, America is now a moral cesspool, and "democracy" is merely the public-relations cover for a neofeudal autocracy.
Behind every PR narrative lies the corruption of self-interest. How is it that day-traders now rabidly follow Pelosi's stock portfolio, and super-wealthy Federal Reserve "leaders" front-run the Fed's policies to further enrich themselves while claiming the mantle of "public service"?
How does a child molester like Jeffrey Epstein end up entertaining Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, the Harvard elite, and a veritable who's who of America's wealthy and powerful players?
The evidence of irreversible social decay is everywhere: road rage is now ubiquitous in aircraft and other social settings, common ground has vanished, and the willingness or even the capacity to identify common interests has been pulverized by the supremacy of self-interest.
"Reform" is another insider joke. Real reform might impinge on the wealth and power of our self-interested elites, so what we have instead is simulacra of reform which only add additional friction to a system choking on bureaucratic sand in the gears.
Homeless encampments are now just another accepted reflection of "soaring wealth and prosperity" in America, along with the declining prospects and wealth of the bottom 80%. If you fail to repeat the party line with sufficient enthusiasm, Big Tech will send you to the Digital Gulag.
The more that politicians, Fed governors, insiders and billionaires bleat that they really, really care about commoners, the greater the gulf between the reality of their self-interest and their laughably transparent PR. As the apologists, toadies, lackeys, factotums and apparatchiks frantically spew rah-rah PR about the "recovery" (you mean we're all addicts and are now "recovering"?), the workforce is finally awakening to the emptiness of the PR and the decay of America's social order: the rewards of the economy have flowed to two classes, the Financial Aristocracy, the top 0.1% who now own more wealth than the bottom 80% of American households, and speculators, from the front-running scammers on Wall Street to the daytraders gambling their Pelosi portfolios.
So by all means, focus on the inexorable rise of stocks, cryptos and housing as "proof" of America's soaring "wealth" while the social order unravels beneath our feet. Self-interest never had it so good.
Originally Posted on Of Two Minds