Orwellian Economics

by Andrew Bosworth

Currently, the Party uses the phrase “Gross Domestic Product” as if people were rolling up their sleeves to build machines and harvest crops. But increases in “GDP” these days come from consumption , not production. And the bad news gets worse: the consumption is not coming from savings, but rather from credit-card debt. In a giant circle of nonsense, this ends up increasing our national “GDP.”

The housing boom accounts for much of the economic “growth,” but few people realize that “home owners” have little or no equity in their homes, and that each move in the creative-financing shell game (between banks, mortgage companies and speculators) only adds to the mighty “GDP.”

About 5 % – 10% of GDP, as it turns out, is Wal-Mart – a tsunami of cheap Asian stuff once made in the United States. Apparently, there is money to be made hollowing out America’s middle class. The failed-but-somehow-eternal war in Iraq also gets factored into the GDP. Halliburton, arms merchants, Madison-Avenue propaganda companies – it all gets to be included. So does the Vatican-sized embassy in Baghdad (outsourced) and the permanent military bases there (outsourced).

Let’s continue to scratch the surface of the rosy statistics being promoted by the Party’s portable speakerphone, George W. The “low unemployment” figures mask a reality of millions of part-time, poorly-paid and uninsured workers. The poverty rate over the past six years has jumped to nearly 40 million people, and the number of Americans with no health insurance has risen to some 50 million people. Now, there are even indications that life expectancy is beginning to decline in the US, especially for adult males. Not a good sign.

Only the most partisan hack can deny that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer under the Bush regime. Why is this happening? Joseph Schumpeter, the Austrian economist, recognized that free enterprise periodically gives way to “monopoly capitalism” – shorthand for clusters of oligopolistic firms earning supernormal profits, and this is especially true for industries with enormous economies of scale, like petroleum or pharmaceuticals. They begin to squeeze consumers and write laws to make that happen.

It boggles the mind that some Americans are willing to believe Party-backed economic data. The Party’s manipulation of statistics is now an established fact of life. The Party hid statistics regarding who really benefited from the “Middle Class Tax Cuts.” It suppressed records regarding who gets audited by the Internal Revenue Service. It manipulated the real financial costs of the war in Afghanistan and of adventurism in Iraq. And the Party, in order to make the manufacturing sector look more robust, even entertained including hamburger making as manufacturing. George Orwell once said: “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” So it seems.

Unfortunately, free enterprise has already given way to monopoly capitalism. It’s not a trend; it’s a done deal. The cars you drive, the gas you buy, the food you eat, the appliances you prepare it with, the clothes you wear, and the media you watch is all traceable to a half-dozen industries in each sector.

Previous Republican administrations (Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford) would have taken corrective action in the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt. They would have tried to break the stranglehold of corporate oligarchs on Congress, but the Bush regime’s empowers a predatory, parasitic form of capitalism, redistributing wealth from the bottom-up by cutting social programs like student loans and increasing corporate welfare. It’s drive-by, gangsta capitalism.

In a final tribute to George Orwell, the Outer Party’s Dear Leader celebrated having a 300 billion dollar deficit – lower than the politically propelled projection of more than 400 billion dollars. It’s a trick the Inner Party learned three years ago come up with pessimistic projections and then break out the champagne when the figures come in.

All of this is designed to take our eyes off the fact that the American economy is now underwritten by $9 trillion of debt and depends upon $2 billion dollar infusions of foreign capital every day, largely from China.

Alan Greenspan, Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, once made a comment regarding the economy several years ago. He said something along the lines that while that economic data appeared troublesome the “fundamentals” were sound. Today, it’s the reverse – at least at first glance.
Editor’s Note: Andrew recently spent seven years in central Mexico, laboring as an itinerant English teacher and university professor (in class adopting an impartial approach). Andrew earned a doctorate in Political Science from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1995. He studied the evolution of a world-city system, the rise and fall of empires, and the shift from Atlantic to Pacific-based systems, with research accomplished in Australia. Andrew lived in Guadalajara, Oaxaca, and Mexico City, where he taught international relations at the University of the Americas/Mexico City. He provides weekly news updates in Spanish to radio stations in Mexico City and Caracas. Andrew lives mostly on the Texas-Mexico border, has a son and a daughter, plays tennis, and gets to the beach as much as possible.

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