The fact that most of us have to work so hard for so little is no accident. It's by design. It is due to systems of theft that have been carefully planned and deliberately designed. Automated systems of theft.
In the city I live in there is only one grocery store where you can lay a $100 bill on the counter and walk out with $100 in groceries. It's called Winco Foods and it's part of a chain of grocery stores that serve the western United States. There are to be sure dozens of other grocery stores here, including larger chain stores like Safeway, Fred Meyer, Albertsons, etcetera, but if you were to lay a hundred dollar bill on the counter of one of those stores you'd only get $98 worth of groceries. It's not that they wouldn't want to give you $100 worth of groceries, it's just that they can't, they accept credit cards. Winco Foods on the other hand does not accept credit cards.
Now you may be wondering how whether or not a store accepts credit cards could have any effect on the price when you pay cash? What happened is that when the early credit card systems were being set up banks realized that in addition to the crazy high interest rates they could get from users of credit cards, they could also get money on the back end by charging merchants to process credit card payments. Automated Systems of Theft.
Of course the amount they could have charged merchants in an open and transparent marketplace would not have been very much compared to what they could charge if those fees could somehow be hidden from the consumer. With credit card consumers already facing high interest rates, they would not have accepted another fee at checkout, certainly not a fee that would tack on another 2% to the initial purchase cost.
And so the credit card companies formed an ad-hoc cartel, they told stores that in order to be allowed to accept credit cards they had to agree to hide the cost of using the credit card system from the consumer. There was only to be one price for any given item and no customer would be charged a processing fee or surcharge. Depending on the credit card company they charged the merchants anywhere from 1.5% to 3.5% of the total transaction cost. Automated Systems of Theft.
And so stores began padding their prices by about 2% to cover these fees. These hidden transaction fees allowed banks to also make money from those pesky credit card users who paid off their balance in full every month.
It wasn't however just the power of the banking establishment that caused the stores to accept the scam in the first place, because stores also knew that they would get to pocket that extra 2% every time the customer paid with cash or with a check. Automated Systems of Theft.
As a side note, in case you were wondering about debit cards, the cost to a supermarket when you pay $100 with a debit card is only about 30 cents. But you still have to pay the hidden 2% credit card markup if the supermarket also accepts credit cards.
Of course all this was and is highly illegal, violating the RICO Act in the United States, and the Sherman Act, and dozens of other Antitrust and consumer protection laws. But credit card companies aren't stupid, they know most judges and district attorneys are so corrupt that they would never do anything to truly hurt them unless they had people protesting in the streets in front of their homes. And they know that when most people are in the supermarket checkout line they are thinking about Brad Pitt's most recent breakup, Angelina Jolee, Jennifer Aniston, or one of the Kardashian's latest publicity stunts. They know they can pull a couple bucks out of people's pockets as they walk out the door and they won't even notice.
Of course this additional 2% hidden fee is not being added at the grocery store only, it is also being added at other places that accept credit cards. If your car insurance company or your Internet service provider for example accept credit cards then there is a hidden 2% fee that won't show up anywhere on your bill. Automated Systems of Theft.
Now not all theft is automated, not all theft is systematized, there is also manual theft like pick pocketing. Another example of manual theft would be if you were waiting at a red light and a man walked up to your car with a gun pointed at you, demanded the keys and stole your car. But these are small fish, and you can't get rich picking pockets or stealing cars. The real money is made is when theft becomes systematized and automatic.
Now you might be thinking "So what if prices are being padded by a hidden 2% fee? It's just 2%. Well there are many other automated systems of theft working against you at the same time and they add up to a hell of a lot more than 2% once you add them all up. Of course if you are a multimillionaire than these systems are working for you rather than against you.
Not all automated systems of theft are hidden, some are right out there in the open, take for example the devaluation of the U.S. dollar. Although money you put into savings is not subject to the 2% credit card surcharge, you still lose 2% a year due to inflation according to the U.S. government's own numbers for 2019. In the clown world of today that number has gone up a lot; the official admitted inflation rate for 2021 was 7%. So for every $100 that you had in savings at the beginning of the year 2021 by the end of 2021 you had $7 stolen. Automated Systems of Theft.
Of course believing the official numbers would be like trusting a thief to be honest with you about how much he was stealing. If you were to catch a thief red-handed, trying to escape from your house for example, and he told you that he only stole about 2% of the cash that was in your safe so that you wouldn't notice and wouldn't get mad, would you take him at his word?
So if you had $10,000 in savings in 2021 then if only 7% was stolen then that would be $700, $700 stolen the easy way, automatically, without anyone having to break into your house and risk getting shot. Automated Systems of Theft.
Now I could understand a 7% loss of the value of people's savings if for example we lived in a world without money. If we lived back when a person's savings consisted of things like stores of smoked fish or piles of firewood cut before the start of winter. Because back then a loss of even 20% of the value of one's savings over the course of a year would not have been uncommon. If some of your firewood were to get wet and rot or if you had a store of smoked fish and an animal were to eat part of it, sure it would suck but at least it would be understandable.
Having stores of food, or stores of firewood for the winter was still better than not saving at all. Therefore saving money still makes sense financially, even if 7% of your savings is being stolen every year; it's just very hard emotionally to watch it get whittled away at by the Moneychangers.
Understand too that with modern money none of the wealth you have in savings is ever lost, that wealth is simply transferred, to other people; people who already have more than they could ever need. Therefore what you are experiencing at the pump and at the grocery store is not a loss of purchasing power but rather a theft of purchasing power.
Think about it this way: if inflation were not a means of transferring wealth there would be no reason to even have it. There would only be enough new money created as was needed to keep prices stable. As population increased the money supply would increase proportionately. Sure there would be some things would go up in price and others that would go down from time to time due to other factors like supply and demand, but overall the value of the dollar would be stable.
Back in 1913 when the Federal Reserve Bank was formed 1.5 ounces of Hershey's chocolate cost 4 cents. So today in 2022 the cost of a full-size candy bar might vary between 3 cents and 5 cents a given year depending on market conditions, but in general a full-size candy bar in 2022 would cost about 4 cents.
Let's talk about solutions, how do we fix this mess? What solution could there be for these automated systems of theft that steal so much from so many?
Many of our political so called "leaders", to me they seem more like misleaders, say that the way to fix this is to make predatory corporations even less accountable to government and to the people than they are today. That somehow if we could just get government out of the way then everyone's greed and self-interest would balance out in a way that would usher in an earthly paradise of healthy competition. What would achieve this miracle? Why the free market of course.
Now one thing you have to understand about these politicians who promote the quote unquote "free market" is that they would never agree to have an actual free market. They would never allow, for example, for people like you and me to compete on a level playing field with a company like say Apple Computer. Let's say for example you were to hire some guy to work for you in your house. Let's say you had him working about 60 hours a week and paid him only $391 dollars a month for assembling cell phones in your basement. Friend if you were to do that today in any civilized country, you'd go to jail and rightfully so.
Now in theory we could change things and implement a true free market system but I don't think that that would make the world a better place. Of course if you want to live in a world where a desperate mother can legally rent out her young child by the hour, or sell them to the highest bidder on Ebay, or if you want to live in a world where anyone who wants you dead for any reason can set up a GoFundMe page to crowd-source your execution, then the free market might be for you. But for the rest of us, a human-rights based solution would be a better fit.
Here's a thought. Maybe it's not the free market we should be worshiping, maybe it's free dom. Because we can't fix this by defending the rights of corporations, the only way we fix this is by defending human rights; individual human rights.
Some of our political misleaders seem to hate our current system. They are advocates of average everyday people, or at least that is how they wish to be perceived. They promote the idea of wealth redistribution, taxing the rich, the so called "billionaire tax". A 100% tax on everything wealthy people earn over a certain amount so they can redistribute it to defense contractors, the people, I meant to say redistribute it to the people! Oh come on don't you trust these guys?
Their solution is to keep in place the dozens of automated systems of theft that are robbing us blind. They want to continue to allow the criminal class to gather up all the wealth and then for us to trust our benefactors in the government to somehow go get that money back after it's been stolen and return it to us. Now I might fall for this scam had I been born yesterday, I might fall for this had I not seen these very same people and people like them reject proposals to make the income tax a flat tax year, after year, after year. They don't want to put billionaires on a level playing field with honest hard working Americans with one tax rate for all of us.
And so some of our misleaders tell us to put our trust in a government that is hopelessly corrupt, meanwhile other misleaders are directing us to put our trust in predatory corporations.
There is a real solution to the problem of wealth inequality but it's not anything you're going to hear about from your corrupt politicians. The real solution is to recognize these automated systems of theft for what they are and outlaw and dismantle them; the real solution is to stop making it easy for criminals to steal from us.
The good news is that a lot of these automated systems of theft can be eliminated if we just enforce the existing laws that are already on the books in whatever country we happen to be living in; because most of this shit is illegal everywhere.
Before you say something like "well that would never work" let me assure you that there are indeed ways to force the corrupt legal system in your country to respect its own laws. Sure you might have to spend less time on the couch watching Game of Thrones and playing video games like Call of Duty, but in the end we'd have a world worth living in.
Dismantling these automated systems of theft is the key. Imagine for a second how nice the world would be without automated systems of theft. Wouldn't it be nice if the only way a CEO of a credit card company could steal 2% from you on your way out of the grocery store was to physically take a candy bar out of your cart, or grab one of your energy drinks? I could imagine a CEO following someone out to their car, maybe trying to steal a bag of Cheetos or something as they were loading up and getting knocked out right there in the parking lot, laid out in his pin stripe suit.
If the J.P. Morgans of the world want to continue to rob us then let's at least make them do it the hard way, let's stop them from using the U.S. dollar as their own personal Ponzi scheme and make theft via inflation punishable by jail time, the only ways left for those criminals to steal should be manual theft, like one of them hiding behind a bush near an ATM machine and trying to surprise someone the moment they make a withdrawal.
Without automated systems of theft the name J.P. Morgan would not be atop any large building or skyscraper. It would be the long forgotten name of a petty criminal. Because the only place that name should be written is in the police and jail records of years long past.
This has been Michael Berger and Thank You.