Doug Casey on the New American Dream: “You’ll Own Nothing and Be Happy”


by Doug Casey, International Man:

International Man: According to a recent study by Investopedia, the classic middle-class American Dream now costs over $3.4 million.

That’s the estimated lifetime cost of marriage, two children, cars, homes, healthcare, education, and retirement. It’s now entirely out of reach for many Americans.

What do you make of this? How did this happen?

Doug Casey: The fact is, despite the fact that his standard of living has been slipping over the past 50 years, the average American today lives much better and longer than a king during pre-industrial times. There were never any guarantees that Americans would live in the lap of luxury for their entire lives.


We got to this high standard of living for two reasons. One, people tended to produce more than they consumed and saved the difference. And two, technology has been improving at almost the rate of Moore’s law for the last 200 years.

However, there’s no guarantee that either of these fonts of progress will continue, especially since savings are being wiped out by the destruction of the dollar. A lack of savings means there won’t be a capital pool to finance further advances in technology.

But there are other serious things at work, termites eating away at the foundations of civilization. It’s become customary for Americans to think that it’s okay for some people to live their entire lives without producing at all and to live at the expense of others. A lot of the country is on welfare. And many more are buried in consumer debt, which means they’re either living off the capital others have saved in the past, or they’re mortgaging their own futures.

On top of that, since about 1980, the main export of the US hasn’t been Boeings or soybeans; it’s been dollars. Foreigners have accepted those paper dollars in exchange for real wealth. They’re really just another form of debt. At some point—soon—they’ll repatriate them in exchange for titles to land and companies.

Capital is also being destroyed by the constant wars that the US fights against trivial countries on the other side of the world.

The fact is that our institutions, from corporations to academia to government, have become corrupt, ineffectual, and bloated. The Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us that, in the physical world, things inevitably degenerate over time. That’s also true in the world of human action. In general, as any institution gets old, it winds down. That’s true of the US, and it’s apparent to everyone—at least anyone outside of the Washington Beltway.

International Man: As the American middle class continues to shrink, it seems the “New American Dream” is to merely get by and make ends meet.

People will have to rent instead of own. They may not be able to afford kids, pets, ribeye steaks, or retirement. They’ll have to take on a lot more debt.

The “New American Dream” looks more like the WEF’s “you’ll own nothing and be happy.”

What’s your take?

Doug Casey: It’s rather shocking that in a traditionally middle-class society like the US, that the “one percenters”—typically those wired to the State and major corporations—now own about one-third of the total wealth.

What’s even more shocking is that the bottom half of society only owns 2% of the country’s wealth. That kind of an imbalance makes for instability. No wonder it’s said that the average guy can’t lay his hands on even $500 cash if there’s an emergency. No wonder a criminal like Klaus Schwab can promote his “You’ll own nothing and be happy” meme and not be hung from a lamp pole—a lot of people now feel they’d be better off in that kind of world.

Increasingly, the wealth of the country is owned by corporations and their top management. It used to be said that “What’s good for General Motors is good for America.” I used to believe that because General Motors actually created cars, and that was good. But we’ve devolved. GM and other major corporations have become defacto arms of the State. Taxes, staggering regulations, subsidies, and bailouts have destroyed free-market capitalism.

The capitalist system in the US is long gone. We’ve devolved into classical Mussolini-style fascism, which is to say, State corporatism, where corporations and the State work hand-in-glove.

It’s euphemistically called a public-private “partnership.” The people in government and the people in top corporate levels scratch each other’s backs and reinforce each other’s positions. They feed each other power and money. This makes for a highly politicized society, where connections, not production, are what count.

For instance, in the last election, $14 billion was spent on campaign spending to get the hoi polloi to vote for one party or another. But only a fifth of that money came from small donors—the rest from the wealthy and corporations. Of course, the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer as our highly politicized society degenerates.

International Man: Many people look back on how they viewed the future and how it was portrayed in movies. Many thought we would have flying cars by now, among other futuristic luxuries.

Instead, we have a declining standard of living, and people look back on the good old days.

Where do you think this trend is headed?

Doug Casey: We’re heading in the wrong direction at an accelerating rate because there’s been a breakdown of moral fiber in society. People, in general, no longer understand what’s right and what’s wrong—or what’s good and what’s evil. They’re taking less responsibility for their individual lives and what happens around them.

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