The Tyranny Of Averages

How GDP can go up while people are dying

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Globally, the top 1% are capturing most of the money, but this gets averaged out into a figure politicians can regurgitate, to make it look like we’re all doing fine. Graph via Piketty et al.

Cabinet Secretary Marcia L. Fudge is fudging it. She said “The United States is the only major economy in the world where the economy as a whole is stronger now than before the pandemic.” This is both a bald-faced and beard-faced lie.

Bald in that China has actually grown faster without killing lots of people. Beard in that it’s hiding something.

The truth is that you are not an average. If you sit in a room with Jeff Bezos the ‘average’ net worth of that room is $94 billion. Do you have $94 billion? No.

The truth is that per-capita GDP doesn’t mean shit. It’s just a number that you can nationally feel good about, while it’s actually hoarded, untaxed, and often not even in the country.

This blind view of economic growth is like a body-building plan based on cancer. Yes you’re getting swole, in the lymph nodes, and you’re fucking dying. You’re not getting stronger at all.

As Richard D. Wolff said:

You judge an economic system by its results. US capitalism January 2022: a few hundred billionaires and millions of homeless. The richest 10% grab 52% of total income while the lower half (50%) of the people get 8% of total income. Fail.

The result of the capitalist system in America, especially, is terminally cancer. The body politic is being eaten alive by predatory healthcare, lending, education, and housing costs while the cancer has spread globally as endless war. And yet all of this shit makes GDP go up.

Keynes famously said that you can get economic activity by ‘digging holes in the ground and filling them up.’ Modern elites have perverted this into digging graves. People, of course, don’t rise from the dead, but the stock market has, and for the insider trading club that passes for governance in America, this is just fine.

Then they just point to these numbers while a million people have died, where thousands die every day, and where schools and hospitals are collapsing. They wonder why the population is dissatisfied, and think a bit of positive PR will fix it.

It’s fucking madness, the callous madness of elites so insulated from their own parasitic tyranny that they think it sublime. They ignore the most tragic number, which is that American life expectancy has declined. The nation is dying of terminal capitalism, and they’re broadly boasting about the size of the tumor.

Such is the tyranny of averages. Your wealth and the wealth of the man picking your pocket are combined, along with the wealth of the corporation burning your air, and hiding it all in some offshore double-blind. Then politicians can spit the laundered figure back at you, while you’re literally fucking dying.

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Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at www.indi.ca, or just email me at indi@indi.ca.