by Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds:
I know it hurts, but the reality is painfully obvious: the USA is now a 3rd World nation.
Dividing the Earth’s nations into 1st, 2nd and 3rd world has fallen out of favor; apparently it offended sensibilities. It has been replaced by the politically correct developed and developing nations, a terminology which suggests all developing nations are on the pathway to developed-nation status.
What’s been lost in jettisoning the 1st, 2nd and 3rd world categories is the distinction between developing (2nd world) and dysfunctional states (3rd world), states we now label “failed states.”
But 3rd World implied something quite different from “failed state”: failed staterefers to a failed government of a nation-state, i.e. a government which no longer fulfills the minimum duties of a functional state: basic security, rule of law, etc.
3rd World referred to a nation-state which was dysfunctional and parasitic for the vast majority of its residents but that worked extremely well for entrenched elites who controlled most of the wealth and political power. Unlikefailed states, which by definition are unstable, 3rd World nations are stable, for the reason that they work just fine for the elites who dominate the wealth, power and machinery of governance.
Here are the core characteristics of dysfunctional but stable states that benefit the entrenched few at the expense of the many, i.e. 3rd World nations:
1. Ownership of stocks and other assets is highly concentrated in entrenched elites. The average household is disconnected from the stock market and other measures of wealth; only a thin sliver of households own enough financial/speculative wealth to make an actual difference in their lives.
2. The infrastructure of the nation used by the many is poorly maintained and costly to operate as entrenched elites plunder the funding to pad their payrolls, pensions and sweetheart/insider contracts.
3. The financial/political elites have exclusive access to parallel systems of transport, healthcare, education, etc. The elites avoid trains, subways, lenders, coach-class air transport, standard healthcare and the rest of the decaying, dysfunctional systems they own that extract wealth from the debt-serfs.
They fly on private aircraft, have their own healthcare and legal services, use their privileges to get their offspring into elite universities and institutions and have access to elite banking and lending services that are unavailable to their technocrat lackeys and enforcers.
4. The elites fund lavish monuments to their own glory disguised as “civic or national pride.” These monuments take the form of stadiums, palatial art museums, immense government buildings, etc. Meanwhile the rest of the day-to-day infrastructure decays in various states of dysfunction.
5. There are two classes that only interact in strictly controlled ways: the wealthy, who live in gated, guarded communities and who rule all the institutions, public and private, and the debt-serfs, who are divided into well-paid factotums, technocrat lackeys and enforcers who serve the interests of the entrenched elites and rest of the populace who own virtually nothing and have zero power.
The elites make a PR show of being a commoner only to burnish the absurd illusion that debt-serf votes actually matter. (They don’t.)
6. Cartels and quasi-monopolies are parasitically extracting the wealth of the nation for their elite owners and managers. Google: quasi-monopoly. Facebook: quasi-monopoly. Healthcare: cartel. Banking: cartel. National defense: cartel. National Security: cartel. Corporate mainstream media: cartel. Higher education: cartel. Student loans: cartel. I think you get the point: every key institution or function is controlled by cartels or quasi-monopolies that serve the interests of the few via parasitic exploitation of the powerless.
7. The elites use the extreme violence and repressive powers of the government to suppress, marginalize and/or destroy any dissent. There are two systems of “law”: one for the elites ($10 million penalties for ripping off the public for $10 billion, no personal liability for outright fraud) and one for the unprotected-unprivileged: “tenners” (10-year prison sentences) for minor drug infractions, renditions or assassinations (all “legal,” of course) and institutional forces of violence (bust down your door on the rumor you’ve got drugs, confiscate your car because we caught you with cash, so you must be a drug dealer, and so on, in sickening profusion).