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Capital-is-Me: Conditioned to Cheer for the Rich as We Despair in Economic Anxiety

We’re told constantly that we should applaud economic “growth”. Say, has any of this “growth” actually helped you? Have you got more money in your pocket now? Or are you starting to suspect the scam? Let’s discuss how the constant need for “growth” actually kills the communities growth is allegedly going to bring prosperity to. First, though, we need to understand what is meant by “growth” and why this is intentionally deceptive.

American corporations and capitalism are built upon the premise that if they’re not growing, they’re dying. And the rate of that growth was established at 20% per year to be any kind of success. This is absurd, of course, but this has been the unquestionable dogma of American style capitalism for quite a few years now. This is exactly how the Housing Crash happened because the entire Housing Boom needed to grow 20% per year and they didn’t care how they accomplished that. Of course, they took dangerous risks (when not actually breaking laws) and it became not a matter of “if” but “when” the crash would occur.

As a result of this, we have ghost towns of half-built residential subdivisions that were being built when the crash happened. Huge swathes of land bulldozed and now left to generate dust storms of record-breaking proportions in Phoenix and the I-10 corridor. Tracts of complete houses, abandoned and left to dilapidate. Houses in cities sitting empty. All this is the result of needing “growth”. Needing to own a house was a scam engineered by advertising, the media, and the banks. Why else was it suddenly a fad that in the 2000s, everyone needed to own a house whether or not they had a job that could realistically support such a big purchase? And because people bought into this “growth is good” and fell for the scam, everyone paid the piper later.

Here’s another example. Up in Flagstaff, Arizona, the Northern Arizona University had been a pretty good community partner for some decades. However, there’s always been a problem with adequate student housing. That’s because affordable adequate housing itself tends to be at a premium in Flagstaff. One reason for that is wages are low and prices are high, as is the case in most mountain towns throughout the Southwest. Also, jobs are scarce in Flagstaff. Students have to compete with locals for those scarce jobs. And if the student needs the job to pay for housing, he might be unable to attend NAU if he cannot find that job. That’s the reality.

But there’s another dimension to this. Flagstaff existed before NAU. People live there wholly apart from the needs and wants of NAU. But NAU cadre came under pressure to “grow” enrollments. Now, why is that? Because tuition is money. And the only way to get more money is to create more enrollments. Add to this the fact that the entire student loan thing is a scam in and of itself, much like the Housing Boom in the 2000s (more growth for the lenders means more student loans.) But what happened in Flagstaff was NAU thought the solution to grow enrollments was to build more student housing. No one ever thought: “But where will the jobs for those additional students come from?”

See, there hasn’t been an influx of employers into Flagstaff that can support or sustain this soon-to-be-swelling influx of students. What will happen is greater competition for the few jobs and the locals will find themselves unable to live in their own town anymore. NAU went from being a good partner of the community to a dangerous adversary that is killing the town. Multistory housing units are going up all over Flagstaff. Whereas in the past just a two story building generated discussion and controversy, these new student housing buildings are just going up and that’s all there is to it.

Not even the locals get to help build these buildings, either. The contractors all come in from Phoenix because they have the power to outbid Flagstaff contractors. Even most of the building materials are trucked up from Phoenix. Nearly all of NAU construction for the past few years has been done by Phoenix contractors. But, after all, it takes a Phoenix contractor to turn Flagstaff into another Phoenix, after all.

So you’ll have all these people coming in to add additional strain on a water supply and roads not built to handle this great influx. Northern Arizona is water scarce. Roads are often in poor condition. This is due to scarce revenue in local government. Will NAU pick up the additional costs? Obviously not. Their priority is making more money, not spending it. This new student housing is probably private and not NAU funded, too. Basically, NAU is successfully killing Flagstaff. Going down Milton Road there looks like a drive down a street in Phoenix. The old is being torn down and replaced with multistory housing for people that will compete for the few jobs there are.

Change the name from NAU to Amazon or a military base and you have the dynamic that is going on in communities across America as “growth” comes to strip communities of prosperity and award it to people that don’t even live there. We’re told these bandits are bringing in “good jobs” but what they don’t tell you is those good jobs are for the people coming in to live there temporarily while the looting takes place. All over America are the eviscerated husks of American cities and towns who were promised that growth would create more community. Wrong. Growth is there to create profits. Period. Nothing else.

The need for constant growth is practiced by three things on this planet: Viruses, cancers, and capitalism. All three are the same thing in the way they operate. That being, they eventually kill their host. The victims who lose their jobs and communities are expected to just pick up and move somewhere else to find a job and a place they can afford to live. At no point are these universities, corporations, and rebranded urban renewal projects told, “No! YOU move!” Communities need to recognize that “growth” is the Trojan Horse by which their city will be entered and sacked.

While the wealth of the 1% continues to skyrocket, the economic pie of the bottom 99% is actually regressing. When is enough going to be enough?

We have an economic system now that moves into a community, grows itself there like a tick feeding on blood, displaces the original residents, then either gentrifies the few affordable areas left or just moves and leaves a ghost town in its wake. Entire neighborhoods are displaced as if a mass resettlement took place and the original inhabitants were carted off by trains. They often call that process “gentrification” by which the rich eject the poor. It’s an economic neutron bomb which eliminates the inhabitants but leaves the buildings intact to be used. People were horrified by the neutron bomb when it was first discussed, but it truly is a weapon inspired by capitalism: People are expendable, but not private property. Or, get rid of these people but let us occupy their funky cool 1920s architecture buildings.

Capitalism cannot deliver anything it promises. Its promises are all lies. How many times did Amazon promise “good jobs” to a community and then we discover the employees are all on food stamps? Amazon privatizes the profits and socializes the wages they should be paying. This is the same dynamic going on with NAU. They’ll pocket the money and leave the cash-strapped local government to fix the increasing wear on roads and find new water sources in a region where the water table is a thousand feet down and droughts last 30 years. This is what happened with the Housing Boom as haboobs of Biblical proportions blow into Phoenix and the I-10 corridor from vast lots bulldozed and abandoned, causing gargantuan pileups on I-10. Growth kills. Click To Tweet

Until we recognize this economic system as the enemy it is, we will continue to be priced out of our own communities. We will be told it’s up to us to pick up and move our lives to “go where the jobs are” so then we can compete with the poor souls already living there for those jobs. And there we are, all pitted against one another as the fat cats profit off of our misery. That’s what’s really growing for us: Misery. #CapitalisME

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Jack Perry
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Jack Perry

Jack Perry is a writer who lives with his wife in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. When talking about the ambitions and goals of the United States government, Jack warns: "Always Assume It's A Scam." Jack writes, bakes bread, and is a Path pilgrim and wayfarer of this world.
Jack Perry
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