Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Feudalism

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

104248208I’ve long contended that I believe the end game of those Corporatists that run our world is a feudalistic state of affairs where they represent the “Nobility” of the Middle Ages. This theory of mine originally came about when I began to think about the mystifying rise of celebrities as cultural icons. The Kardashians, whatever it is that they do, certainly are among the most famous of today’s celebrities. Many of these celebrities are notable not for their talent, but for their ability to manipulate public relations and the media. The Kardashians were not the first intimation that came to me about what I see is a trend to use subtle propaganda techniques to pave the way for full blown Medieval Feudalism. One of the first indications that came to mind was the TV program “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” The show’s host was Englishman Robin Leach. With his upper crust sounding English voice, actually a worked over Cockney dialect, he would breathlessly show the viewers sumptuous estates and introduce them to the wealthy celebrity wannabe’s who owned this monuments to poor taste. Around that time Donald Trump, the scion of a real estate empire married his middle European wife Ivanna, who taught this twit how to get publicity to publicize the Trump brand of over the top extravagance, coupled with a taste for gilt everywhere. Ivanna aged and outlived her usefulness to “The Donald” and he cast her aside for a much younger woman to grace his arm and broadcast his “potency.” The man has filed for bankruptcy many times, ran his Casinos into the ground and is far from the Billionaire Entrepreneur image he projects. Yet he runs seminars on how to get rich (easy to do when your father is a real estate baron) and has a well-rated program where he acts as a Judge as to how people are skilled in management. He has even had the temerity to play at running for President. The Trump name is more recognizable to the public than the name of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

The recent birth of the Royal baby in England and the round the clock coverage by CNN illustrates my point. Our news shows give us more “news” on the box office from this week’s movies, than it does about deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq. The “Cult of Celebrity” in my opinion is propaganda to pave the way for a feudal system where we the citizens spend our time thinking about the doings of our “betters”, rather than our responsibilities as citizens. When there is this absorption about the wealthy class and their lives, the fact that many escape their duplicitous deeds by being so wealthy, becomes and accepted reality. There is much evidence and little doubt that the recession of 2008 was brought about by illegal activity on the part of the financial community. Yet almost all of that community has escaped real criminal punishment for their deeds and when light prison sentences have been imposed, they spend their time is minimum security federal prison camps, with many of the comforts of home.  Yes Bernie Madoff is in jail for life, but Bernie ripped off other rich people mainly and so had to be punished. Martha Stewart, though not to the manor born, acted like she was an arbiter of society. She was sent to jail for a minor violation because of fame and as an example to those who would rise above their station. This trend towards developing a “new nobility” to entrance us peasants is a difficult one to deal with since so many of us “low born” are fascinated by it. In truth “celebrity watching” has always been a human passion going back at least 5,000 years to ancient Sumer and Egypt.

We and many of the industrialized nations are supposed to be Republics, not Monarchies and to my mind we are fast elevating our “entrepreneurial and entertainment” class into our new nobility. The reality is that there is little any of us can do about this except to try to expose it and hope people wake up. I think though that having won the “celebrity war” there is coming an expansion by our “elite” into making ones status in society’s hierarchy, into ones’ privilege under the law and I’ll explain further the signs of this that I see occurring right now.One of the first signs of this change I perceive comes from the privatization of many of the Nation’s highways, making them high priced toll roads. The ostensible reason behind this is to defray the cost of maintaining these roads to the users rather than the taxpayers. Since the rise of the anti-tax movement led by Grover Norquist, our politicians are afraid to raise taxes overtly and so develop schemes to raise the money need to govern from hidden taxation, which  regressively gives the greatest burden to those least able to pay the fare. Since the country as a whole has a poor public transportation system citizens are forced to rely on vehicles in order to work and do the other needed business of living life. Tolls mean nothing to the wealthy and in essence road privatization becomes a further step towards inequality of the classes.

This step has been exceeded in recent years by an even further stratification of the “privilege” of driving. In many cities around the country “rush hour” is the most difficult times of the day for drivers. We now have paid “Express Lanes” in many Cities. These lanes, for a fee, allow those who can afford it to move more quickly to and from their City destinations. Route I-95 going to and from Miami has one such system. Since my impending heart transplant caused me to begin the long trip into Miami during rush hours perhaps two to three times a week I became quite familiar with these paid express lanes about 3 ½ years ago. The difference in travel time was quite significant and yet living on a fixed income my necessary use of these lanes was somewhat of a hardship. As my wife would drive me in and back all those times I watched the stalled. Slow moving traffic in the non-express lanes and mused about the difference it made to those drivers. My contention is what we see in this phenomenon is merely the beginning of further “legalized” division of this country by economic/social class, which is fast bringing on all the characteristics of feudal society to our former republic.  While I could give you further examples to prove my point I don’t have the space to make it replete with instances, nor complete with facts in this guest blog. I am expressing my viewpoint based on trends I perceive, the reader can agree or disagree with my suppositions.

If you disagree with my surmises, the following story may convince you to think again:

“Some prisoners at one California jail will now have the option to pay their way into a more comfortable stay, community news source the Argus reports.

The Fremont Police Department is now offering its inmates a “pay to stay” option. For a one-time fee of $45 plus $155 a night, prisoners serving short sentences on lesser charges can stay in a smaller facility while avoiding county jails.

“It’s still a jail; there’s no special treatment,” Lt. Mark Devine, a Fremont police official who oversees the program, told Chris De Benedetti of the Argus. “They get the same cot, blanket and food as anybody in the county jail, except that our jail is smaller, quieter and away from the county jail population.” .

Let’s be honest here who is this “Jail” being designed for. Let’s say that someone is to be jailed for a week the cost would be $1,130. How many people who are jailed would be able to afford that amount plus any legal fees that they would incur? What is a short sentence? I think people would see 30 days as a short sentence. Your jail stay for 30 days would be $4,695. How many among us could afford that amount? What does “away from the county jail population” mean. My guess is it means Blacks, Hispanics and White “riffraff”. Please watch the short video from the Warden that is embedded in this article and you will see that my surmise is not incorrect.

My question is how long before this “reform” spreads countrywide and what does it mean for us as a society when it does? The rationale for this is to lower the costs to government of the prison systems. What other rationales, for other government services, will be made? My title in this piece refers to the movie “The Wizard of Oz”, where Dorothy and her cohorts follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Wizard and discover that he is a sham, learning that they must think and do for themselves. I believe we are being led down the same sort of road, but at destination’s end rather than the Wizard confessing his powerlessness, he will proclaim his omnipotence. Perhaps I am merely a paranoid old alarmist with my musings that this is one of many dangerous trends that are sweeping this country and creating a feudalist state, where once a republic existed? I don’t think so, but what do you think?

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger.

54 thoughts on “Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Feudalism”

  1. The Hillbilly asks a very good question. Wonder why the Corporate stream media never asks questions like this?

  2. Warspite:
    You may not be aware of The Hillbilly, whose real name is James Pence. He is a Kentucky blogger. video reporter and humorist, who has practically made Mitch McConnell his hobby. Mitch and his advertising minions made the mistake of using a clip of Pence in one of their ads. The Hillbilly took quick notice, and made a video of his own. He has one overriding question for Mitch “Box Turtle” McConnell. Watch the 39 second video to hear the question. While you are watching, keep in mind Rep. John Lewis whom we have been discussing this week, has a net worth no more–possibly less–than the average participant on this blog, although he has been in Congress only two years less than Mitch McConnell.

  3. Warspite I have one quibble with your comment and that is downplaying the Bush family and upgrading the Clinton family. Bill clinton was definitely not a good President to my way of thinking and I doubt Hilary would be an improvement. However, financially and politically they are pikers compared to the Bush Family, which has being doing wrong for generations. My backup for this statement can be found here in a guest blog I wrote awhile ago:

  4. While I find our fascination w/ the folks mentioned in this post mind boggling, they are in the private sector. What I find much more disgusting and dangerous is MY MONEY, YOUR MONEY, OUR MONEY, being doled out in Washington to current and former legislators now working as “lobbyists.” There are actually rules for lobbyists so now when a pol retires they become “consultants” or “analysts” for lobbying firms. They lobby, but they aren’t “lobbyists.” These parasites take corporate money, the lobbyist pays a pol, and the corporation gets 1000 fold what they paid back in corporate welfare.

    The paying for an express lane doesn’t bother me. At least you know what the cost is and you get what you paid for. That’s pretty damn good for a govt. service in my book. The Kardashian, Trump stuff is vulgar. The lobbying, bribes, corporate welfare has grown exponentially since the 90’s. DC has become the new financial capitol of the world. And it’s OUR MONEY!

  5. The situation with the media is about to get worse, now that Jeff Bezos is buying the Washington Post. Bezos, who has achieved celebrity by amassing a fortune selling people not what they need, but what they want, will bring the same philosophy to journalism, telling readers what they want to hear and not what they need to. The Titan of algorithms tightens the algorithms.

    Nice observations, Mike. I would also add that this two-tiered society particularly obvious in airports

  6. Excellent…

    No longer three hots and a cot….. This is not your daddy’s incarceration…. Kinda reminds me of the goodfellas…. Privilege……

  7. Of course the military is also a Flawless God to worship, and the public (serfs) should sacrifice much to build massiver and massiver Altars.

    ” But given that the country is at war, and it’s a certain area of expertise of our nation, it’s a wonder why there isn’t more discussion surrounding the construction of the F-35 plane — the biggest project that the Pentagon is currently undertaking with weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin, at a current procurement and development cost of $392 billion.

    An exclusive report from Reuters, published on March 29 2012, indicated that the total cost to build, develop and operate the planes over the next half-century would be $1.5 trillion.

    What’s $1.5 trillion? Well, even if you reduce the figure to take into account inflation, it’s enough to cover any estimate of the outstanding student loan debt in America or patch up much of our the nation’s aging infrastructure.

    But did I mention that the jets aren’t even functional yet?”

  8. Excellent article and spot on. Someone correct me but isn’t “People” magazine the highest sales magazine in the U.S.?

  9. No doubt that Spindell points towards a clear problem in the U.S., but I respectfully suggest the point might be made a bit more clear by two examples not cited in the article.

    First, I don’t think the prospect, or certainly severe danger before the U.S. is brought home by the example of Brazil. A sprawling country of over 200m people, rich in resources and not dependent on petroleum (at least not to the extent of the U.S., Canada, West Europe, China, India), people who are not actually familiar with living there often cite Brasil as one of the future’s obvious economic/technological and even military powers. Ha!

    Brazil is what we should fear becoming, even as the U.S. creeps towards some worrisome similarities. Consider a country where perhaps 1% are wealthy, another 4% quite well-off, if not “rich”. Then 20% are the middle-class: doctors, lawyers, most businessmen, accountants and other trained professionals. Then there is 75% of Brasil that are poor. Some, poor beyond what most Americans can imagine (unless they’ve peeked over the Rio Grande, etc.).

    In a place like Rio de Janeiro, you have glimmering high rises, new Bentleys, beautiful beaches and women as stunning as anywhere in the world. Bookending the glamour is poverty, the Favelas. Essentially sprawling cities of the poor, lawless, built on drug money, prostitution and any type of criminal activity imaginable. The government’s “writ” literally does not run in these areas of poverty. A visitor enters on their own, and will get no help from, e.g., the police. (The aforementioned being operated based on bribery and graft).

    In between are the “middle class” of professionals, merchants, etc. This group, maybe 20% of the population pays pretty much all the taxes in Brasil. Both the poor and wealthy (or getting close to wealthy), for entirely different reasons pay no taxes. The poor have no money, and the wealthy, well, they just don’t seem to “have to” pay taxes.

    Brasil represents a possible future model for the U.S. A virtual oligarchy run by a small percentage of the nation’s wealthy or near-wealthy. The 1% holding an increasing amount of national wealth, with only the 20% or so of middle class shouldering the country’s tax burden. And besides that, 75% of the people poor, living on a monthly dole, with little chance for upward mobility except through crime or sports/entertainment fame.

    When I visit Brasil, except for a certain region in the extreme South, I see a frightening possible future for the U.S. I don’t want the U.S. to become akin to Brasil. A nation where technological abilities can, e.g., facilitate the quick construction of a nuclear weapon, but where the police won’t even bother to take a report (unless involving the well-off or tourists) unless the crime being reported is murder.

    My second fear for the U.S. are the Clintons. The thought of HRC becoming president is sickening. We are not an aristocracy, with families controlling wealth and political power on a generational basis. The Bush’s concerned me, but the grasping need not just for wealth, but for political power, amongst the Clintons is fundamentally anti-democratic.

    And one must keep their eyes on the ball. These are not the Kennedy or Bush family, even though both of those offered challenges to a republican form of government. The Clinton family wealth does not precede entry to politics, it actually derives from “public service”. Throughout Western history, there have always been those families that accumulated wealth due to proximity to power. But, I believe the Clintons offer a unique challenge to representative democracy. Let me suggest several reasons why.

    The Clintons entered the White House in 1993 as, essentially upper middle class folks. Hillary was a partner in the major law firm in Arkansas, and Bill was always at, or soon to be at, the centre of state politics. The Clintons left the White House, in early 2001, in essentially the same economic condition. Yet, within a whirlwind six to twelve months, they were almost as wealthy as Al Gore. (Nah, just kidding. With the Gores we’re talking some big money over time!).

    There has never been as brazen a campaign for wealth as Bill & Hillary, at least not outside of a TV Reality Show. But what happens with these mirror images of the American ideal (i.e., Cincinnatus)? The majority of the media eat it up, missing no chance for a puff piece. By virtue of its much smaller size and “politics on its sleeve” approach, the far smaller media critical of the Clinton Royal Family really assists the Clintons and their fellow-travellers by acting as a permanent strawman. Always ready and available to be held up & knocked down.

    When people get wealthy, genuinely wealthy, in a 12-24 months period solely because they just left high political office, representative democracy is very close to the “critical care” stage. If this sudden wealth, certainly not derivative of any honourable manner to gather a fortune, leads to eight years of the wife of a former president becoming president herself, American democracy has already been checked into a “hospice”.

  10. In order to solidify your ‘gut feeling’ that led you to wonder what’s going on here, may I humbly suggest that you watch “Manufacturing Consent” by Noam Chomsky [It is on YouTube]
    and the talks given by the economist Richard Wolff, mainly “When S**t hits the Fan”; These show in academic methods the REGULARITY and the TRENDS that the Corporations are bringing about in order to have absolute dominion on us and on US.

    Recently, John Nichols and Robert McChesney have recognized the situation and came up with “Dollarocracy – How the Money & Media Election Complex IS Destroying America”

    Keep up the good work, Mike, and stay healthy!

  11. I was beginning to think I was the only one questioning this outrageous trend of seizing our public roads and rights of way for private use. Here in Northern Virginia just outside of D.C., rights of way on the beltway were handed over to a private company to build toll express lanes. Recently completed, the toll lanes are guaranteed to be profitable for the builder because the contract stipulates that if no one uses the lanes, the state must pay the contractor a set amount to ensure profitability. Thus, as usual, corporate interests win big no matter what the outcome. The rich now enjoy a luxurious ride built on the backs of Virginia citizens as they drive to Dulles Airport , valet park, and then zip through “VIP” TSA security lines without having to take their shoes off like the rest of us. Goodbye, egalitarian America…we were just getting to know you.

  12. Home run again Mike. Your remarks reminded me of something I read more than thirty years ago.

    Dr. Roy Grinker wrote a book titled “The Poor Rich: Children of the Super Rich.” Grinker talks about doing psychotherapy with children of extremely wealthy parents. He characterizes these young people as emotional zombies. They had no sense of self. Children of the super rich bore a remarkable resemblance to children of the super poor in terms of emotional problems and being emotionally and socially stunted.

    Some very wealthy people manage to stay grounded, and keep their children grounded. For example, Warren Buffet still lives in the Arts & Crafts style home he bought in 1958 for $31,500. I think his lifestyle is reflected in his politics. The other extreme is the Romney clan. Mitt Romney was so far out of touch with how real people live, he saw no clang association in wanting to build an elevator for his car while running for office, and then was surprised when people reacted negatively.

    On the celebrity culture, you are spot on. When people can become famous for the sole reason they are famous (think Paris Hilton), our civilization has gone off the rails.

  13. i know you said these were your own opinions but in reality it’s the opinion of many of us. just yesterday i lost a very good friend because in her opinion i wasted my time reading all the conspiracy sites who are about nothing but fear and intimidation when i pointed out certain facts that should have let her know they were not points of fear or intimidation but truth she cursed me out and decided i was as crazy as the rest. as hurt as i am by her assessment of what is going on. im much less hurt to have her out of my life. as i see the writing the wall and she doesnt. my parting shot to her was enjoy her ride on the fema train and hotel accomidations at the re education camps since she is one of the most hated of the races as i am and even poorer then me.

  14. If not the corporations, the banks. I think the banks are more likely, as they have been at it much longer. In fact, if you look at the big corporations, they are getting into the banking business, or moral equivalent. How long has GE Capital been in the game.

  15. As another indication of Encroaching Feudalism, consider “Lady Feinstein’s Law”, which is very reminiscent of medieval guilds, wherein one must be a member of the guild to practice their trade:

    California Senator Dianne Feinstein has proposed an amendment to the Media Shield Law – an irrelevant law ignoring protection already afforded by the First Amendment – that would limit the law’s protection only to “real reporters,” not bloggers and other upstart alternative media types.

    A real reporter, declared Madame Feinstein during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, is “a salaried agent” of a media company like the New York Times or ABC News, not a shoestring operation with volunteers and writers who are not paid.

    Feinstein voiced her concern “that the current version of the bill would grant a special privilege to people who aren’t really reporters at all, who have no professional qualifications,” like bloggers and citizen journalists.

    Wiki notes:

    The medieval guild was established by charters or letters patent or similar authority by the city or the ruler and normally held a monopoly on trade in its craft within the city in which it operated: handicraft workers were forbidden by law to run any business if they were not members of a guild, and only masters were allowed to be members of a guild.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  16. THought provoking article Mike, good work.

    I’m a bit pressed for time, so I have to be brief. I remember some time ago, maybe at least ten years, the county jail in a neighboring county where I worked was having some fiscal issues and it was decided to impose a “Booking Fee” of I think it was fifty dollars on every person that was booked into jail. The notice was posted on the glass of the sally port where arrestees were walked up to for frisking and removal of property. The sign read that a fifty dollar (I don’t remember the amount for certain) would be assessed against everyone booked into jail. The money for this was taken out of the arrestee’s wallet if he/she had enough.

    I thought this was blatently unconstitutional as it amounted to the state imposing a penalty against someone accused of a crime before they were found, or plead guilty. I don’t know what became of it but it was an injustice in my view.

    The articles you mention about the payment made for better accomodations at the jail is flat wrong ethically. When I worked in the jail as a cadet back in the 1980’s smoking was still permitted then inside. The jail had a policy to provide Bull Durham roll-yer-own smokes for free to anyone that asked for it. Regular cigarettes were paid by the inmates from their commissary cart. The reason for the free smokes was to break up any cigarette economy from forming where things like that could be used against poor inmates who needed a smoke and had to submit to other inmates’ demands in order to have cigarettes for their habit. Any time you give inmates special favors, aside from maybe working as trustees to get additional time off there sentences it leads to favoritism and takings of advantage of the inmate by other inmates or in this case the jail keepers trying to earn money for the jail via the inmates’ unpleasant interests.

    Jail is not a club and inmates should be housed according to their needs and or behavior issues. (violent etc)

  17. A lot to consider. Agree whole-heartedly about Trump, Kardashians, and other frauds or just images. Wishing each individual would take more interest in his or her own life and endeavors such as helping others, acting honorably, and setting good examples for others to follow.

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