Feb 102022
 

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The “Crapification” of the U.S. Economy Is Now CompleteFebruary 9, 2022

The crapification of the U.S. economy is now complete. The only thing left is the tiresome waiting for the implosion of the entire travesty of a mockery of a sham.

The U.S. economy has fundamentally changed, and not for the better. There are numerous dynamics behind this decay, and I’ll discuss a few of the more consequential ones this month.One consequential dynamic few mainstream pundits dare discuss is the “crapification” of the entire U.S. economy. That isn’t my description, “crapification” is now in common use. If the word offends you, substitute terminal decay of quality, competition, utility, durability, repairability and customer service.

One aspect nobody seems to notice is the transformation from a society that once drew its identity from producing quality goods and services to a society that draws its identity from consuming crapified goods and services. Now that Americans define themselves by consuming, they are enslaved to consumption: to limit consumption is to disappear–and ‘spending time” on social media is a form of consumption, even if no goods or services are purchased directly, as one’s attention / time are valuable commodities.

In other words, Americans have been trained like Pavlov’s dogs to consume, no matter how poor the quality and service. We just buy it anyway, and grumble over the decaying quality and service–but we won’t take the only action that would impact corporations and the government: stop buying the products and services. Opt out, drop out, make it at home, cancel the service, just stop buying abysmally made junk and pathetically poor services.

Corporations and the government are monopolies or quasi-monopolies, and so they don’t have to care whether customers are appalled by poor quality and service: they know the customer has to consume whatever is offered, no matter how crapified.

Go ahead and issue worthless warranties, products designed to fail, products designed to be unrepairable, software that is routinely declared obsolete so we have to buy the new crapified version that demands insane amounts of memory and processing power–go ahead, because the herd will continue buying the same garbage products and services because to stop consuming is unthinkable: I consume, therefore I am.

Governments know we have no choice and since we continue electing the same “best democracy money can buy” politicos, nothing will change. Those in power know the grumbling is just background noise because the herd will dutifully vote for the same crapified, corrupt, dysfunctional system every two years.

Consider the IRS, the agency with a monopoly on collecting taxes. I am sympathetic to the employees of the IRS, those tasked with the thankless task of collecting taxes, a task made more arduous by underfunding and understaffing. It seems the super-wealthy decided that if the IRS was starved of funding, the odds of their tax evasion being caught by an audit would plummet, and so voila, the IRS has been starved by the Demopublicans – Republicrats for decades, as Demopublicans – Republicrats all answer to the same small pool of super-wealthy donors and corporate sponsors.

Meanwhile, the average powerless taxpayer suffers the terminal decay of service and accountability. I am sorry to report that my Kafkaesque experiences with the IRS are also shared by many others. Our tax payments are immediately deposited (surprise!) but our tax returns that were delivered with the payment are declared non-existent– the agency reports no record of the return being received.

This has happened to me year after year. And of course the crapification of the nation’s core record-keeping– taxation–then bleeds into other agencies and crapifies their records. So the Social Security Administration reports my 2020 income as zero, meaning I get no credit for the immense sum I paid in Social Security taxes (being self-employed, I pay 15.3% of all earnings in Social Security taxes–both the employee and employer shares).

Since the IRS claimed it had no record of my 2020 tax return, I wrote the IRS a letter asking if they wanted me to resubmit the return. Some months later I received a reply to my previous address–despite the fact I’d submitted an official IRS Change of Address form–saying “we’re working on it.” Uh, sure. Fine.

After repeated tries, I finally figured out that the only tax year in my file the IRS system recognizes in 2016. If I want to pay my quarterly estimated taxes online, I have to enter the data from 2016. Any other tax year data will draw a blank. In effect, I only exist in the year 2016, six years ago.

My estimated tax payments are duly deposited, and my payment attached to my return is duly deposited, but my tax return doesn’t exist. Others have reported the same circumstance. News items report the IRS has a backlog of 10 million unprocessed returns, and you’d think our elected officials might show some modest interest in the crapification of the nation’s tax and Social Security agencies, but no–they have zero interest in the crapification of the nation’s core record-keeping as long as their super-wealthy donors and corporations can continue evading taxes via armies of tax attorneys and special giveaways slipped into several-inches-thick congressional bills.

Since Corporate America is now nothing but a collection of rapacious cartels and quasi-monopolies, they don’t care about the terminal decay of their quality or service, either. They know we’re going to show up and buy their garbage anyway because we have no choice, and they know the quality of their “competitors” (hahaha) products and service is equally noxious.

They can count on well-trained Americans continuing to fly, eat out, sign up, and buy, buy, buy no matter how wretched the quality and service because consumption is all we have.

In the Technicolor fantasy of corporate promoters, enterprises gain sales by making higher quality products than competitors. Two generations ago, this was still a cultural / economic dynamic.

But then everyone with a line of credit bought everything, and so now everyone owns everything. This saturation of all demand means sales can only decline, since durable goods last a long time. The only way to juice sales higher is by making insecure consumers crave the latest fashion, but this artifice has limits.

The solution was to crapify all products and services via planned obsolescence and endless loops of lousy, over-priced service. Products are now designed to be impossible to repair (eliminating cheapskate do-it-yourselfers) and by using the lowest-quality, lowest-cost components, manufacturers guarantee that the entire product will fail once the lowest-quality component fails.

And since many components are now digitized, the cheapest electronic component failing will cause the electronics to fail–a $1 chip fails and the entire $600 product fails–and so the entire product is then destined for the landfill– what correspondent Bart D. termed The Landfill Economy, a a term I now use to describe the entire global economy of planned obsolescence.

Discerning consumers have long noted the crapification of ingredients and the accompanying decline of value via shrinkflation. Discerning DIYers have noted how products are sealed, warranties voided, and simple maintenance jobs like changing the oil in a vehicle are now complicated by various perverse means.

As for service–Corporate America doesn’t have to care about poor quality because they know we have no choice. All the members of the cartel offer the same rapacious pricing and pathetically poor service, so no corporation or institution (hospital, university, local government agency, etc.) has to fear a competitor might disrupt the cozy profiteering–there is no real competition in healthcare, higher education, defense contractors, telecom providers, pharmaceuticals, fast food, agribusiness, etc.–none.

I discuss the end-game of these dynamics in my new book, Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States.

The crapification of the U.S. economy is now complete. The only thing left is the tiresome waiting for the implosion of the entire travesty of a mockery of a sham.

My new book is now available at a 20% discount this month: Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $8.95, print $20)

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

Recent Videos/Podcasts:

Charles Hugh Smith on Why Many are Resigning From Their Jobs (35 minutes, with Richard Bonugli)

My recent books:

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $25) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker’s Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print) Read the first section for free

Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

 



My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States ($9.95 Kindle ebook, $22.50 print)

What is the greatest threat facing the United States? The conventional answer is geopolitical rivals (China and Russia). But what if the greatest threat to national security isn’t geopolitical but the nation breaking apart? What if the greatest threat is the failure of the domestic status quo?What if growth at any cost is unraveling as abundance shrivels into scarcity?

All nations, including the United States, face systemic crises that are reinforcing each other at an explosive point in history. The threats to the republic are unprecedented, but the status quo is incapable of understanding that conventional responses are an accelerant of collapse: the status quo is now the problem rather than the solution.

These novel crises demand an entirely new Grand Strategy that recognizes the greatest threats are domestic. The emergence of solutions is not pre-ordained; the collapse of the state is also a possibility, though far from an ideal one.

The global crisis offers an opportunity to redraw America’s Grand Strategy from the ground up. Should we fail to make full use of this opportunity, the United States will fail, along with all the other nation-states that are incapable of redefining the problems so that new solutions become possible.

This revolutionary Grand Strategy will be the deciding factor between nation-states that fail and the few (if any) that will not just survive but actually thrive.

Read Chapter One for free (PDF).         Read the Introduction

Podcast discussing the book: A Grand Strategy to Address the Global Crisis (54 min., with Richard Bonugli)

 



Recent entries:
The “Crapification” of the U.S. Economy Is Now Complete February 9, 2022

How Empires Die February 7, 2022

The Bear Awakens February 3, 2022

Can a Nation Prosper as its Institutions Fail? February 1, 2022

January 2022 entries        

2021 archives         Archives 2005-2021

 


 


            

 


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Extra-Special Bonus Aphorisms:

“There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity.”
(Douglas MacArthur)“We are what we repeatedly do.” (Aristotle)

“Do the thing and you shall have the power.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” (E.F. Schumacher, via Tom R.)

“He who will not risk cannot win.” (John Paul Jones)

“When we drink coffee, ideas march in like the army.” (Honore de Balzac)

“Progress is not possible without deviation.” (Frank Zappa, via Richard Metzger)

“Victory favors those who take pains.” (amat victoria curam)

“The man who has a garden and a library has everything.” (Cicero, via Lee Bentley)

“A healthy homecooked family meal and a home garden are revolutionary acts.” (CHS)

“Do you know what amazes me more than anything else? The impotence of force to organize anything.” (Napoleon Bonaparte)

“The way of the Tao is reversal” Or “Reversal is the movement of Tao.” (Lao Tzu)

“Chance favours the prepared mind.” (Louis Pasteur)

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” (Winston Churchill)

“Where there is ruin, there is hope for treasures.” (Rumi)

“The realm of gratitude is boundless.” (CHS, 11/25/15)

“History doesn’t have a reverse gear.” (CHS, 12/22/15)

Smith’s Law of Conservation of Risk: Every sustained action has more than one consequence. Some consequences will appear positive for a time before revealing their destructive nature. Some consequences will be intended, some will not. Some will be foreseeable, some will not. Some will be controllable, some will not. Those that are unforeseen and uncontrollable will trigger waves of other unforeseen and uncontrollable consequences. (July 8, 2014)(thanks to Lew G. for retitling the idea.)

Smith’s Neofeudalism Principle #1: If the citizenry cannot replace a kleptocratic authoritarian government and/or limit the power of the financial Aristocracy at the ballot box, the nation is a democracy in name only.

The Smith Corollary to Metcalfe’s Law (The Network Effect): the value of the network is created not just by the number of connected devices/users but by the value of the information and knowledge shared by users in sub-networks and in the entire network. (CHS, 4/6/16)

My Credo of Liberation: I no longer care if the power centers of our society–the distant, fortified castles of our financial feudal system–are changed by my actions, for I am liberated by the act of resistance. I am no longer complicit in perpetuating fraudulent feudalism and the pathology of concentrated power. I no longer covet signifiers of membership in the Upper Caste that serves the plutocracy. I am liberated from self-destructive consumerist-State financialization and the delusion that debt servitude and obedience to sociopathological Elites serve my self-interests. (Thank you, Klaus-Peter L., for reminding me)

“We’ve become a culture of excuses rather than solutions: solutions always require sustained effort and discipline.” (CHS 4/9/16)

“Fraud as a way of life caters an extravagant banquet of consequences.” (CHS 4/14/16)

“Creativity = problem solving = value creation.” (CHS 6/4/16)

“Truth is powerful because it is the core dynamic of solving problems.” (CHS 7/21/17)

“We live in a system of human emotions that masquerades as a science (economics).” (CHS 1/1/18)

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” (George Lucas)

“Diversity is for poor people. Sameness is for the successful.” (GFB)

“When power dissipates suddenly, it dissipates completely.” (CHS 7/14/19)

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.” (Henry David Thoreau)

“Markets cannot price in the value of non-monetized natural assets such as diverse ecosystems.” (CHS 7/14/19)

“Magical thinking isn’t optimism, it is folly.” CHS 1/3/22)

“Tune in (to degrowth), drop out (of hyper-consumerism and debt-serfdom) and turn on (relocalizing capital and agency).” (CHS 1/5/22)

click here for more Extra-Special Bonus Aphorisms.


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