The thinning of the cities was no more a happenstance than the thinning of the electoral herd is now. After the civil rights era and the rioting in the cities, the powers that be took fright and embarked on an agenda to distribute the population — build suburbs and roads and sell people cages on wheels to get there. Disinvestment in the cities and the reduction of services was part of the agenda to promote “urban removal” and replace people with commercial structures and parking lots.
Taxes were structured to reduce regular flows to the general fund, forcing local governments to abandon maintenance and shift to capital improvements through bonds — a triple treat for investors, whose personal tax burden shrank even as the bonds provided a steady trickle of work-free income which the feds don’t tax.
Now the municipal bond markets are going to be in a dither. Even though the dividend return had shrunk because of the low base rate set by the Federal Reserve, state laws guaranteed that the interest on debt would always be paid first, regardless of how much local revenue shrank. That guarantee is now shattered and the financiers’ tactics are going to bite them on the nose.
The real culprit, of course, is Congress, which is tasked with managing the currency and has been using dollars to reward and punish constituencies. An electorate that votes for Democrats doesn’t get any. Because, you see, democracy, as in government by the people, is a threat to the rule of petty potentates and the Democratic party, albeit also home to autocrats, has more potential as a hotbed of popular reform.
OWS, btw, was a great disappointment. The powers that be were certain the uprising they’d been fearing for decades had finally arrived and they could now quell the herd as they’d been practicing. But, while instinct-driven people tend to follow old habits, thinking people don’t. People who know what they are doing adjust their behavior to new circumstance. So, the law enforcers with their billy clubs and worse ended up with egg on their face. This has made the powers that be very irked. The financiers’ revenue streams are all shrinking and that is largely the fault of the austerity mavens at the top. Congress rationing dollars has caused havoc. What they are doing with dollars is not very different from the effort to deny people access to the alphabet. Eventually, people will come up with other tools to communicate and engage in trade.
People are right to be angry. The mayhem is not a happenstance. It is the result of some people taking delight in other people being deprived of the comforts of life. It is the result of sadists having discovered that using two figments of the imagination, money and the law, they can inflict deprivation surreptitiously. Surreptitious deprivation has the advantage of being unlikely to be avenged.
If you don’t know who’s screwing you, you can’t take away his tool.