The One Chart That Predicts our Future

The One Chart That Predicts our Future by Charles Hugh Smith for Of Two Minds

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That our “leadership” reckons “bread and circuses” is what the stripmined bottom 90% want is beyond pathetic.

There’s one chart that predicts our future, and no, it’s not related to Covid–it’s related to capital, specifically the concentration of capital and power in the hands of the few at the expense of the many.

The chart is a map, courtesy of Brookings, showing the roughly 500 counties Biden won and the roughly 2,500 counties Trump won. This might seem like a chart of political polarization, and superficially that’s clear, but the real polarization is economic-financial: there are two economies in America, and there’s very little commonality in the two economies.

70% of America’s economy is generated in fewer that 500 counties; the other 2,500 counties are left with the remaining 30%. The nation’s productive capital is even more concentrated in a few hands and regions, and since income and political power flow to capital, the financial disparity / inequality far exceed the 70/30 split depicted in this political map.

Ownership of capital is concentrated in the hands of the top 10%, as the chart of equity ownership reveals, but the concentration is actually much more limited: the top 0.1% control so much wealth / capital that they “own” virtually all the power.

I hope it’s not a big surprise that America is now a rigidly two-tier society and economy. If you’re an executive at a big Wall Street investment bank, you can rig markets and embezzle billions and you’ll never face any personal legal consequences such as being indicted for fraud and being imprisoned.

But try being an employee at a local credit union and embezzle $5,000–a prison sentence is very predictable.

If you’re one of the 500,000+ people busted for possessing cannabis in the U.S. every year, then you’re not rich and powerful, because when the spoiled-rotten child of the rich and powerful gets busted, the charges are quietly dropped, or cut to a modest fine and a misdemeanor, etc.

“Justice” is for sale in the U.S., along with rigged markets, political power, healthcare and everything else. Why should we be surprised that the economy is also two-tiered?

The lower tier of the U.S. economy has been decapitalized: debt has been substituted for capital. Capital only flows into the increasingly centralized top tier, which owns and profits from the rising tide of debt that’s been keeping the second tier afloat for the past 20 years.

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