Welcome to the World of the Wealth Class and Their Infinite Universe of Free Stuff
I was recently reading an editorial from a publisher of a New Hampshire newspaper, entitled “Why the Free Stuff Isn’t Free.” It was a diatribe not only against the Build Back Better Act, but also against anybody who gets any sort of “free stuff.”
While the author of this piece never identifies what they consider free stuff, it goes without saying that the author considers it anything that is part of the social safety net: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, welfare, food stamps, college grants, and all else.
And of course, the Build Back Better Act also has “free stuff,” in the form of the Child Tax Credit, hearing coverage in Medicare (the bill originally also expanded Medicare to cover dental and vision, but of course that would be too much free stuff), financial incentives to buy electric cars and install solar panels, expanding access to universal preschool, subsidies to pay for child care, and a lot more.
Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia, whose intransigence to “free stuff” caused the Build Back Better Act to be halved from its original $3.5 trillion price tag, said his reasoning was that he didn’t want to create “an entitlement society.” You know, too much free stuff.
And Republicans have been foaming at the mouth at the Build Back Better Act, claiming all the free stuff in it is part of the Marxist Democrats’ plot to destroy America and replace it with a socialist republic.
The Republican senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, recently got into the act, decrying what he considers the Marxist corporations that are also part of this plot. I guess when Nike has a sale on their sneakers, discounting the price from $200 to $150, that’s too much Marxism for Rubio.
The problem with this ranting and raving about “free stuff” is that it’s missing the point. Yes, there is a lot of free stuff floating around, but the people getting assistance through the social safety net are just getting the crumbs of the “free stuff.”
Let’s explore this further. We’ll start by examining the slimy underbelly of Donald Trump. I know, I know, that’s a pretty gross picture I just painted. But bear with me.
Actually Donald Trump’s slimy underbelly is just an expression of the slimy underbelly of the entire system, particularly the financial system.
First, about Trump. His slimy underbelly, and slimy paws, just got its hands on a ton of free stuff. You may have heard about Trump launching the Trump Media and Technology Group, with the first planned product being a social media platform called Truth Social.
Whatever you might think of the relationship between Trump and truth, what is true is that by virtue of nothing but free stuff, Trump became $2 billion richer recently, thanks to Trump Media and Technology Group.
This happened because a company called Digital World was created by a Trump crony, and Digital World used a Wall Street sleight of hand called a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC—which is a company that goes public without any reason to exist except to acquire another company—and then Digital World, after going public, merged with the Trump Media and Technology Group. And now the Trump Media/Digital World company, thanks to its Wall Street valuation, is worth over $2 billion.
Nice job, if you can get it. That’s a helluva lot of free stuff.
But Trump’s magic act is just another day at the Wall Street financial factory, where free stuff is the name of the game. And the game is gaming the system.
When I say Wall Street, I mean the largest banks and exchanges the world has ever seen. These banks and exchanges are sitting on the greatest piles of money the world has ever seen.
The banks have the power to digitally create money at a magnitude of ten times the amount of money they have in reserve, and then, thanks to the quants—the quantitative analysts who work for the banks, people with Ph.Ds in math and physics—the banks take the money and create derivatives that they buy and sell all over the world. These derivatives are designed by the quants in such a way that they never lose money.
It used to be commodities that were the main aspect of the derivatives that the banks were buying and selling, but after the financial crash of 2008, when the commodities were mortgages, once the housing market collapsed, so did the derivatives, taking the big banks with them.
The crash made the banks smarter, and after getting massively bailed out by the government, now the derivatives are more abstract, as opposed to containing concrete commodities like mortgages or food.
The derivatives now are mostly containers of money, trading at a dollar volume of $4 to $5 trillion a day in indexes on central trading platforms all over the world. They are based on interest rates and exchange rates of currency around the world.
One popular derivative of interest and exchange rates is a volatility index called the VIX, which is known as the fear index. It is the square root of an index of theoretical expectations of volatility based on all the options taken on the S&P 500. And if you want more, there’s even a daily double VIX and an inverse VIX.
Whew! Do you even understand what I just said? If not, don’t worry, because the only ones who do are the quants, the acolytes of quantitative finance. Their employers, the large banks, don’t worry either about understanding it, because all that matters to them is how much money is poring in—in other words, how much free stuff they’re accruing.
In my prior essay, The Opening of Pandora’s Box I talked about the hundreds of trillions, if not quadrillions, of dollars circulating in the offshore tax havens, money that is laundered all around the world and then hidden from view. The Wall Street banks are where the laundered money originates from, having been garnered from the abstract derivatives of currency traded all over the world as part of a system so rigged that the house never loses.
And this is where we are at now. While there are those who rant and rave about the people who are getting “free stuff”—these are the poor, working class and even middle class who need help to live, eat, and pay their bills—meanwhile, in another stratosphere, resides a universe of infinite free stuff, where the winners get to take all, and where the rest of us are, in essence, other people’s money.
The entire financial/economic system is one big greased and slimy underbelly, and Donald Trump is just one of the many lucky recipients.
The money—the free stuff—going to this stratosphere is way beyond our reach. Once we realize this, and start to do something about it, we can start to create a more humane, just, compassionate, regenerative and sustainable society and world.