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American Oligarchs Will Never Cancel the Debts Owed to Them

Alexander Reed Kelly
Associate Editor
In December 2010, Alex was arrested for civil disobedience outside the White House alongside Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, Pentagon whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, healthcare activist Margaret Flowers and…
Alexander Reed Kelly

University of Missouri economic historian and former Wall Street economist Michael Hudson explains one of the best-kept and most pernicious secrets of contemporary capitalism: Unless the financial scheme underpinning society is restructured, the bulk of debts owed by working and poor Americans can’t and won’t be repaid. The result is an ever-growing class of permanent debt slaves.

The clip below comes from a 2011 documentary called “Surviving Progress.” In it, Hudson states that the problem originates with the privatization of finance. “Every society in history for the last 4,000 years has found that the debts grow more rapidly than people can pay,” he says. “The problem is a small oligarchy of 10 percent of the population at the top to whom all of these net debts are owed to. You want to annual the debts to the top 10 percent. That’s what they’re not going to do. The oligarchy is running things. They would rather annul the bottom 90 percent right to live than to annul the money that’s due to them. They would rather strip the planet and shrink the population and be paid rather than give up their claims. That’s the political fight of the 21st century.”

Hudson’s belief that the problem cannot be solved without a radical reorganization of finance comes from his experience on Wall Street. “My job on Wall Street was to be balance and payments economist for Chase Manhattan bank in the 1960s. My first job there was to calculate how much debt could third world countries pay, and the answer was ‘Well, how much do they earn?’ And whatever they earned, that’s what they could afford to pay in interest. And our objective was to take the entire earnings of a third world country and say ‘Ideally, that would be all paid as interest to us.’ “

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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