Toxic Debt Wasteland



When I watch the stock market rally, I ask myself, is this rally really ‘our’ recovery’? In the framework of ‘recession/recovery’ does the market rise mean the ‘recovery’ of OUR economy from its recession? Does it mean WE are going to be pulled to the surface from the depths? Or did they only talk of ‘a’ recovery, and it was just our habit to assume it would be ours?

Does the evidence really point to the recovery including you? It seems to me it doesn’t. It seems to me that if there are any signs of recovery it is not in YOUR wages, or YOUR job prospects. The Bankers got bonuses while you will get the sack. Is there not a hint in there?

And then ask yourself this, if YOUR job prospects and YOUR wages don’t ‘recover’, then what exactly is your role, in this ‘recovery’? What importance or place will you have in the plan?

Everyone must have a part to play. Ours used to be clear. We were the consumers. The market had found people to make the stuff cheaper than we were willing to. But that was OK. Because we had a different job. We consumed. The miners dug stuff up. The poor Chinese and Indians worked long hours for a quarter of a minimum US wage to turn the raw stuff into all the things we used to consume.

The illness in the arrangement however, was that we weren’t earning what we were spending. In fact we couldn’t, because for a decade, our wages, real wages, didn’t actually grow. Our consumption did though. And so long as it did all seemed to be fine. The miners mined, the makers made, the workers worked and we, the consumers, did our part and gorged ourselves as fast as we could to use it all up, throw it away and reach for more. We thought we were still workers. But we had subtly changed job. From maker to consumer without realising.

And the magic, working all the time unseen, making this all possible, was debt. We spent debt. Our banks conjured it out of property price inflation, and leveraged every dollar and pound into 40 or 50 or 80 more pounds. Which they lent to us, so we could do our job – to consume – without quesion or care or thought. For a decade we spent and consumed and threw away, doing our bit for the system of debt and defecation. Turning our values and our selves to waste.

And then it stopped, didn’t it.

The spring was stretched out of shape. And for two years we have tried to push it back to the way to was. But it won’t go.

Oh I’m not saying a system of debts can’t be brought to life again. But not our system. Not our debts.

I think the bail outs are not about ‘recovery’. They are about quarantine. They are about dumping that debt in a pit, in some place the wealthy won’t live in, or even visit. ‘Our’ govenments are buying debts like any ignorant and corrupt banana republic buys up drums of toxic waste. We are going to be the debt dumping ground. The toxic debt wasteland. where the debts of the rich are left behind, to blight the lives of people the rich will never care to acknowledge. And once this is done, the Recovery will lift the ‘Golden’ up to the sunlight, but not us.

The recovery will be an airlift from a guarded airstrip where we will not be allowed. They will fly away. and we will watch them go.

How could this happen we might cry out? Surely we are still needed?

I wonder if we are any more?

There are only 70 million people in the UK. 250 in the US. 330 in Europe. But there are 1.3 billion in China. Another billion in India. What the market wants, the ONLY thing the market wants, is a place to get a return on their investment. Why invest in places saddled with huge debts. Where a decade of toil is going to do nothing more than pay off debts? Is that a place to build a recovery?

Or would it be far better to put the money to work in a place where growth is going to be ‘healthy’ – A place not poisoned with debts. A place where wages are low but increasing, rather than in our countries, where wages are high and going to decrease?

If I were a financial princeling I would want a place to dump my toxic waste. A place where, somehow, others could be forced to clean it up. If I could dump my debt there, not have to deal with it, or pay for it, or worry about it, just bury it in unmarked pits and get my lawyers to claim it was never mine in the first place, then I would be free to move on.

Then, what I would want is a new place to do my business. A new place to live, with people who thought I was their new friend.

Once my debts were dumped all I would need to re-create my old system, would be new consumers. New people to sell to. A new place without debts.

That’s what I might do if I were such a princeling of the golden class.

We are fooling ourselves. We think because we live in a democracy that this means everything must be done with us in mind. We overlook the fact that we also live in an economy , a ‘free-market’. That market is not democratic. It has no allegiance to democracy or to us. In the market, nothing has to be with us in mind. Nothing at all.

We are out of work. Out of a job. Perhaps for good. Perhaps the system has found or is finding, people who can do it better and for less. Those people are going to do the job of consuming. Not us. We don’t have the income any more.

Our new role, is to be the people who pay off, and clean up the toxic waste the old factory left behind when it went bust.

This article is reproduced with thanks to David Malone. He is the author of the book Debt Generation. You can read and listen to excerpts from his book here: