Did I say impending oligarchy? I must be mistaken. I mean existing oligarchy. Well, whether you believe the United States is becoming or has become or will become an oligarchy is not the point of this article. The point of this article is to say, “Well, fuck it, we’re fucked. So how do we fucking unfuck ourselves?”
I’ve thought of a couple of ways, both of which I’ve tried with mild degrees of success. Way Number One is to follow with tiny footsteps in the giant footsteps of the giant capitalists ahead of you. What does this mean? This means that you find ways in which capitalists have exploited the law for their own gain and try to emulate their success to some small degree. After all, if someone is going to cheat by changing the rules to favor themselves, is it really wrong to crib from their answers?
Let me serve you an example! Did you know that some 9000 tax payers in the United States have accumulated over $5 million each in their IRA accounts? If they follow the rules of the IRA which limits contributions each year to $5500, then it would seem to reason that there are at least 9000 vampires in the United States who are over 900 years old! And one of them is Mitt Romney. I demand to see his birth certificate! He’s definitely a vampire!
Or perhaps there is a better explanation: We live in an oligarchy where the rules are bent for the extremely wealthy. Or maybe they simply have lawyers read the rules differently. If you want some ideas on how this is done, you can check out this Bloomberg article here. But you’d better act fast, because the anti-oligarchy minded Obama is onto this and has been working to close this particular loophole. In any case, some of those ideas might be doable for somewhat regular folks like you and me. We might own our own businesses or we might be a founder of a startup. The methods in the article are like doubling down 10 times in your own success.
Another way is a thing I stumbled into called HARP. Basically, due to the financial crisis caused unironically by our financial institutions, the US found itself in a recession. In order to stimulate the economy, the government decided that it would throw some liquidity into the gummed up economy in order to get the wheels of capitalism turning again. Greasing the wheels of the money machine, you might say. In layman’s terms, increasing liquidity means that they need to effectively print some cold hard cash and give it to people. If you want to understand why this needs to happen, I urge you to read Paul Krugman’s retelling of the baby-sitter co-op. It’s a lovely story which illustrates a liquidity crunch very effectively.
Usually, in a situation like this, the government would simply give the newly created money to the banks. This, mysteriously enough, is not called “giving money to banks” but is instead called increasing the supply of money. Now, if you’re anything like me, you too would like to increase your supply of money, but you have the inconvenient fact that you’re a person and not a bank and certainly not a person who owns a bank. This greatly hinders your efforts at increasing your supply of money by virtue of the Fed. (The Fed is a fancy capitalist insider’s way of saying The Federal Reserve Bank. If you’re going to follow in the giant footsteps of capitalists ahead of you, you should at least sound like them.)
In this unique situation in which the government needs to give out tons of money, but the institutions it normally gives it to were the cause of the problem in the first place (i.e. the banks), it then needs to give it out to people who won’t fuck shit up even more. And also, maybe punish the banks a little bit, too. But not too much. We’re a capitalistic oligarchy, not a socialist country, you Bernie Sanders loving fuck. Yeah, I’m talking to you. Why are you reading this if not to get your hands on that lovely free supply of money from the government? Socialists! Always trying to get the government to give you free money and you don’t realize that they’re already giving you money! (Well, not anybody… just people rich enough to afford a home. Sorry, renters! Maybe you guys should vote or something. Oh, also, I forgot. If you happen to own a struggling automobile manufacturer, you could also get some free money. But don’t worry about that. That money wasn’t really free. Haha! Government play joke on capitalists!)
Uhhh… where were we? Free money! That brings us back to HARP. What is HARP? Well, it’s a relief program for homeowners (hopefully you, though I know you kind of have to be a bazillionaire in Silicon Valley where I live to own a home). Basically, the whole housing market was artificially inflated by the bankers making money off of inventive new “financial instruments” which was basically writing so many I.O.U’s and insurance claims against bad I.O.U’s that they lost track of who was going to lose money. Some banks knew that they would lose money, but as long as they weren’t losing money at that moment, they were still making tons of money, so it was okay. Well, because the banks basically leeched tons of money out of the housing market, the government responded with HARP which is meant to even things out a bit with the homeowners and the bankers who robbed them.
Have you ever seen those click-bait ads that are like “Click here for this one trick which bankers don’t want you to know about!”? Well, that is literally HARP. You can literally only do HARP one time according to its rules. The bankers must offer you these loans if your house value is lower than what you owe on the house. Because basically, you might have thought you bought your house at a reasonable value. But due to banker shenanigans, it was actually way higher than it should have been. As a result of those shenanigans, the price plummeted thus leaving you in danger of forfeiting your house to… you guessed it: the bankers responsible for the shenanigans. So, the government decided to give those homeowners another chance to rewrite their mortgages at a better contract than originally signed. The banks would rather you forfeit your house, but the government is now looking over their shoulders, so they’re going to play by the rules rather than try any shenanigans, otherwise called irrational exuberance, by those in the know. Remember to walk the walk and talk the talk, little capitalist footstep-follower!
That’s an awesome deal! Here’s the rub. Not enough people actually qualified under those terms. So, they changed the terms. Rather than being underwater (i.e. you own more on the house than it’s worth), you needed some low equity value, less than 20%. Well, if you’re like me, you probably put 20% down and if the house value went down, you have less than 20% equity. Voila! You might qualify for HARP! Now sign up and force the banks to pay some institutional penance that is way too little for the shit-storm they caused, but still not bad considering we live in a capitalistic oligarchy!
So, in summary, we’ve examined a couple of ways of getting by in the post-oligarchy world.
1: Find an absurd thing a wealthy capitalist did and copy it.
2: Find a mistake that a capitalist institution made and be the beneficiary of its punishment.
Remember, little footstep followers, to be creative with the above two concepts. Capitalism is rich in absurd things you can do and also mistakes that need to get punished by the government! You are in a target rich environment! Now that we have the internet, it’s much easier to find out about these things and either copy their techniques or else take advantage of the rules meant to punish their irrational exuberance! Feel free to post some crazy things that you’ve seen capitalists do in the comments section. Happy hunting!
Stay tuned to next time for Way Number 2 Of How To Exploit Capitalism for My Own Gain: Or How I Enjoyed the Fruits of Capitalism Without Being Ground Up By Its Gears!