Only Remnants Remain
Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “There were a lot of great, traditional things that went along with this. Number one, it was usually something that would be handed down familial. Father would teach son. Son would then teach his son.” Check out today’s transcript for the rest….
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: This is what Charles Hugh Smith is talking about here. In a truly free civilization, you would have, or you would see and you would bear witness to, and it would seem perfectly normal — as a matter of fact, what we do would seem out of the norm. What would seem perfectly normal is that you’d have men, mostly men — there would be women assisting. Since we’re all modern and stuff, yow would have men and women pursuing what used to be known as vocation. Of course, we talked about this before, how there used to be associations and guilds, for example. The associations and guilds would help set standards for how you would conduct your affairs inside the vocation or occupation, or whatever trade or skilled labor it was or is that you would be employing.
There were a lot of great, traditional things that went along with this. Number one, it was usually something that would be handed down familial. Father would teach son. Son would then teach his son. They’d pass it on for generations and generations. This is how you have the — there’s a couple of examples that may not seem like perfect examples, but I think they’ll serve to make the point. There’s these two guys, Anheuser and Busch, who pursued the vocation of making beer. I don’t need to bore you with the history of it. We still consume Anheuser-Busch beer today. Notice in modern ‘Murica what has happened. I don’t believe there’s a Busch that owns a part of Budweiser, a part of the Anheuser-Busch Corporation any longer. I think they sold it to InBev, didn’t they? The Krauts own it now. In any event, you’d pass the art of making beer down to the next generation to keep it in the family. You could build a big company, as they did. Of course, they would call it Budweiser, its principal product you would know — it’s branched out into so many other things. As I said, that’s not the best example. It’s just dawning on me that I can’t really think of great examples of this today because there aren’t very many.
Say, for example, you were a third generation cabinetmaker. Is there anyone listening to this program today that is a third generation cabinetmaker? I salute you,
my cabinetmaking brother. I know there’s a listener, I don’t know if he’s listening right now, but he’s donated to almost all our causes, that’s at least a first generation table maker. He makes tables, classic American tables. There’s probably a couple of you that are second or third generation farmers. We don’t perceive these as small businesses. They just hand it down from family to family and you can’t really get rich doing that. The purpose of work was not always the mass accumulation of wealth. The purpose of work was survival. The purpose of work also informed some of the things you would do when you were not working.
When Charles Hugh Smith writes about this, I think this is a subject of great concern, especially for those that are remnants. Remember, I hope by the end of today — I know this number and you people can’t second guess me on this one. We started the day with 23 official remnants. Will we end the day with 24? Here’s Hugh Smith wrote, in part, about Cubicle Hell.
We Americans pride ourselves on being entrepreneurial . . .
Mike: By the bye, I wrote about this in today’s Pile of Prep, that vocational has been replaced by entrepreneurial. Entrepreneurial, if you ask someone on the street, go out there and take a survey, what does an entrepreneur do? They make money. They invent new ways to create wealth and make money. What does someone that works at a vocation do? They do something that requires a skill and they do it very well. You see a difference?
We Americans pride ourselves on being entrepreneurial, and praise for the start-up culture that created Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb and other global success stories is a staple in the media. But the data paints a much different picture: when the self-employment rate is compared among the 34 wealthy countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the U.S. comes in dead-last at 6.6 percent. Germany and Japan both have self-employment rates above 11 percent; Italy and South Korea have rates above 25 percent.
Last time I checked, The American Dream was not “working for someone else.”
One common way to define the middle class is in terms of self-employment and the ownership of one’s work. As Marian Kester Coombs wrote recently, “Economically, the middle classes were once proprietors, self-employed owners of property and their own labor.” In Coombs’ analysis, “Middle class is not an income level but a material relationship to society,” specifically, ownership of one’s labor and income-producing capital: “the key middle-class elements (are) independence, self-sufficiency, ownership, entrepreneurship, and real social power.” [Mike: I take issue with some of that, but I won’t right now because time is short.]
So how many of America’s labor force of 147 million are both self-employed and middle class? We can throw around vague definitions and get nowhere, or we can dig into hard data. Are you game for the data dig? [Mike: He goes through some statistical stuff. I won’t bore you with this because it is extraordinarily boring. By the time he’s concluded going through his statistical analysis, we get to the chase.]
This is not an abstract topic to me. My wife and I are independent self-employed. We don’t get a paycheck from another employer nor do we have any income from trust-funds or the government. This is what the old standard of self-employed middle class meant: all of the household income is generated by assets and labor you own.
Mike: Think about that for a moment. How many of us can say that all of our income is generated by assets and labor that we own? If you’re trying to compete with Obama’s and before him Bush’s, and with Pelosi and Boehner’s political buddies, that have sanitized and franchised and corporatized American business, good luck with owning your own means of production and the labor that goes into it. Then he talks about how the biggest deduction that small business owner, as he describes it, would take is health insurance. For his family, it costs $13,000 a year to buy a health insurance policy. That’s a shocking number, isn’t it? I’ve heard horror stories from some of you that it costs up to $23,000 a year. I thought Obamacare was supposed to fix all that. No, it fixed it and rigged it in favor of the insurers is what it did.
This means millions of people with $50,000 or more in self-employment income paid no health insurance premiums. [Mike: He goes through his statistical breakdown.]
By this measure, only 2.5 million unincorporated workers are truly independent self-employed. That’s a razor-thin 1.7 percent of the nation’s work force.
Mike: If you wonder why you’re able to be bullied about by that circle that we talk about, the little dot in the middle is the actual elected class and the giant circle around it that prevents the four-trillion-headed hydra from being slain, that’s the parasitical class that’s in on the fix. If you’re wondering, if you’re looking for a statistical representation of that, I’m giving it to you, or Charles Hugh Smith is helping us get to it.
The incorporated self-employed have their corporations pay their insurance, so let’s add in the 4.5 million S-corporations/partnerships that reported income of $50,000 or more. That gives us a total of 7 million independent self-employed.
Returning to small businesses, the Census Bureau reports that about 5.1 million firms are “very small enterprises,” defined as having 20 or fewer employees.
Mike: By the bye, doesn’t this sound like a subject that might be a good debate topic in a presidential forum? No, no, we don’t want to debate anything like that.
End Mike Church Show Transcript