Friday, December 10, 2010

Echoes of Feudalism in America

What made the United States different from many other countries was that a solid middle class lifestyle was attainable by those who worked hard and sacrificed. This is evidenced by the statistics of middle class households. It is evidenced by the fact that immigrants barely speaking the english language came here and made millions. I know many of them as my father did exactly that. Political connections and affiliations to assist with getting good jobs, though helpful, were nowhere near as pervasive as other nations such as Russia, China, Brazil, Greece, most of Africa and others. Moreover, royal blood is a foreign concept in America as we have always been ruled as a republic. Unfortunately for all of us, royalty has returned, except in a completely different appearance but same in substance.

The new royalty is being a part of something that is big. Whether it be big government, big finance, big law, big pharma, big defense. And not just joining one of the behemoths, but gaining a position, a top position. I see the CEO's as knights and lords of the past. Knights had power as they had strong connections with the kings which way back in the middle ages were the government. Knights and kings had special relationships, just as corporations and governments do today. Knights were primarily smart businessmen which were either involved in the business of trade or the business of looting.

Consider Goldman Sachs as the House of Goldman, or JP Morgan Chase the House of Chase. There is the House of Sally Mae, the House of Target, the House of Walton, the House of Exxon Mobil and so forth. When these entities get into trouble the King (federal reserve) comes to the rescuse with multi trillions in dollars while the unemployed law grad (serf) watches his student loan debt explode higher.

Serfs, on the other hand were the working class. Serf is derivative of the latin word "servus" which means slave. Within serfdom in the Middle Ages there were four classes of serfs: freemen, villeins, bordars, and slaves. Interestingly the United States has turned into a "serfus economy" as we are now a service economy. Most jobs nowadays involve people working in hotels, restaurants, as clerks, secretaries, filers, etc. Only a few have the coveted "executive positions" which grant power and ownership, the same way that board members of "public" companies award themselves stock of the companies they run.

Lets meet the serfs.

Freemen: these serfs were rent paying farmers who owed little or no service to the Lord. These are the ones that today have no debt and own most of their land. Villeins: less rights and more duties owed to the lord. Bordars: less rights. Slaves: had to pay the highest amount in taxes and fees.

An excerpt from wikipedia describing the life of a serf:

A major difficulty of a serf's life was that his work for his lord coincided with, and took precedence over, the work he had to perform on his own lands: when the lord's crops were ready to be harvested, so were his own. On the other hand, the serf could look forward to being well fed during his service it was a poor lord who did not provide a substantial meal for his serfs during the harvest and planting times. In exchange for this work on the lord's property, the serf had certain privileges and rights. They were allowed to gather deadwood from their lord’s forests. For a fee, the serfs were allowed to use the manor’s mills and ovens.

Sounds like some serfs were offered better benefits then others lol. Also, the fact that people today work for big corporations is similar in that they aren't working for anything they own, but for what others own or control. Back then it was the nobility, today it is the executive class. The employee at best buy "serves" the corporation in exchange for $10 to $12 per hour. 40 hours are spent serving the corporation while his personal needs such as family and health are left on the back burner.

Modern day lower serf home:

Modern day noble home:

In todays society, the big corporations are involved with trade and looting. While the knights of antiquity had the power of the sword when the king fucked with them, the corporations of the day have the power of the digit. Mainly, the ability to influence government with the enormous amount of money they have. Corporations co-opt the government so that government makes rules that benefit the big corp at the expense of small business. As much as the media wants us to believe that big corp is the way to go, that is the furthest thing from the truth. For example, Citibank continues to solicit our business for the credit card transactions that my restaurants use. We ignore their calls and continue to use our small business debit/credit operation. We know from experience that when the machine malfunctions citibank will give us the dreaded 1800 number to call while our guy David has his cell phone available and comes within a few hours to fix the problem. Bigger is NOT always better, contrary to the corporate media whores. Hey CNN, FOX and MSN, fuck you!

One thing that I've noticed lately in movies that really pisses me off is that the majority of the characters work in a office setting. They have their fucking cubicles and desk and that’s what the good life is. Please. How about the plumber, the truck driver, the pilot, the teacher. They are always showing the fucking office cubicle. Yes sheeple, this is what your future needs to look like. Blah.
Sorry for the tangent. I had a super intense week at work and just found the opportunity to think some real abstract shit.

Back to my feudal knight/king analogy, I see people clinging towards the big corps for protection, safety and wages, just as the serfs worked the lands of the knights for protection from vandals, bandits and starvation. Sadly, the serfs of the past did not realize that they were performing the majority of the work while the kings and royalty were able to reap the fruits of the serfs labor. Now, the all wise CEO gets to reap over 500 times his average employees labor. Sadly, we are slowly reverting back to feudal times. The same entities which are causing our current predicament are the same ones that the people flock to for help.

A classic example is this: "the government needs to do something". Ha ha ha. It's the government that is making us broke in the first place. Just take a look at the housing market implosion and how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac "insured" all these horrible mortgages. Or how about the federal reserve when it lowered rates down to 1%post dot com implosion and 9/11 and how that led to the derivative/commodity/housing bubble. Now the fed has gone full blown lunatic with 0% rates for primary dealers and over 2.5 trillion in "quantitative easing". The list goes on and on.

And what about our beloved corporations? McDonalds serves people toxic waste chemical lab food which the FDA (gov) will never ever investigate as I'm sure that McDonalds has a swarm of lobbyists and biglaw lawyers making sure they are compliant with food safety. Please. Or how about Nike or apple or HP and how they outsource good paying jobs to third world sweatshops so that worker productivity gains at the expense of decent paying american jobs? Again, the government allows them to do these things. Pfizer and big pharma drug the fuck out of 1/4 of the nation with minimal legal ramifications.

Sometimes the knights (corporations) battle amongst themselves for more profit as they used to in the past. Note the House of Best Buy and how they destroyed the House of Circuit City. Or the House of Goldman as it took down the Brothers of Lehman. Ford, Honda and Toyota brought down GM but since GM had good relations with the King (gov) GM was lent gold coin to be saved from utter destruction. The corporations battle against each other giving the illusion of choice amongst the serfs. While Coke and Pepsi battle for market share against each other, they work together in fighting off the smaller knights they attempt top grow from time to time.

For those that are struggling out there the only thing I can say is don’t believe the lie. Don’t believe the lie that the reason you are struggling is because you’re not good enough or smart enough. The reality is that the pie has gotten bigger for the new royalty at the expense of the rest of the population. They take more while we get less. How much longer this situation will last for I do not know but I fear that it may last for decades. The American people it seems have lost their will or guts to do something about it. To fight back against the oligarchs. The protests and civil unrests in the UK show the difference between us and the British. At least their youth show some passion and emotion while our youth shows quiet defeat. Not ONE of my struggling TTTT grads have expressed outrage or any anger at their current predicament. What a fucking shame. Is this what the new lawyer is? When I speak to the grads that could not pass the bar or went solo because they could not find jobs they tell me two things: that they are super depressed or that they are optimistic and are not too concerned with their debt. Anger is missing. Fucking eire isn't it??

For those that show some passion, some emotion, some humanity and soul at the fraud taking place, God bless you! At least some of us have fought back against the rampant injustice that is taking place.

The only thing we can do right now is educate ourselves, stay as healthy as possible and try as hard as possible to earn as much as we can. The putrid and corrupt system will much likely become even more putrid and corrupt so there is no point hoping for change any time soon. Know your enemy but know yourself even better.

Subprime JD, esq ttttoilet lawyer extraordinaire
PS: I have heard the plight of many lawyers working at tttoilet firms, thank god mine happens to be a very nice place to work at.


  1. First of all, congrats on the job, I've been following you for a long time and I wish you the best.

    I have never been so thankful that I have a dual UK and US citizenship (thanks dad for having a thing for English accents). The US has become a virtual plutocracy, that is run for the benefit of the rich at the expense of the poor and the young. I never thought I would abandon the US, but I see my young daughter I cannot let her grow up in a country that stacks the deck against her future.

    In eight weeks I'll be sitting at The Abbey Arms with my family, holding a pint in one hand and a bacon sandwich in the other. And hopefully I can go raise some hell in protest from my old friends from Uni.


  3. That interview was a breath of fresh air. If only it was here..

  4. Best post to date. But oh well, but in the U.S., you too can live in that Noble's manor, if you just work really, really hard. No job? Well you just aren't networking hard enough! Stuck in a dead end job? Don't complain; rather, prove to your noble lord that you are a good little worker and he will give you a little more bread. Gotta love the U.S.!

  5. Hi Subprine,
    The serf-noble analogy may be accurate in some ways, but we are not bound to the land like serfs were and the "corporate lords" do not have the power of life and death over us. We also have personal property - and my understanding is that many serfs did not. Also, the aspect of nobility relied on the society to hold the belief that some people were actually better than others - you obviously do not ascribe to such a belief. Also, your family will not eb killed or tortured if you quit your job.

    Instead, we are freemen - at least until we place ourselves under bondage (like student loans, for example).

    Also, is it the wages paid or the employer type that determine serf-dom? If I pay someone $10/hour to clean my house, are they my serf? If I pay someone $100/hour to fix my teeth, are they my serf? If I work for a large corporation but make $50K, am I a serf? What if I have a net worth of $1M, but am working for $50K - am I a serf then?

    I agree with what I think I hear as your main point - it stinks to not have leverage in the employeer/employee relationship - to find yourself having to do something that you hate and/or are not well-paid to do. I completely agree - but then it always has, at least until the employee gets smart, saves their money, and becomes an employer. One of the great things about America is *opportunity* - not guarantee. Here, the "barons" and "nobles" are prevented from killing you and taking your money. We only have to watch out for the "king".

    Don't get me wrong, there are certainly many things wrong about this country, but we aren't serfs yet.

  6. ANTHONY; Woodland Hills, CAJanuary 9, 2011 at 10:39 PM


    Your accurate analysis of the ever decreasing slice of the American pie is concise, thoughtful and brilliantly illustrates the problem of the those of us that are in a downward spiral toward Serfdom.

    I would respectfully suggest in the paragraph that begins with “In todays society, the big corporations are involved . . .” a citation to Simon Johnson, 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown. The relationship between big business and the U. S. Congress is exposed.

    The boys and girls of “M” Street, N. W., Washington, D. C. lobby members of Congress. They draft the laws, present them to the legislators, write speeches to be delivered to the interest groups, provide the transportation to the back country so the Congressmen can peddle the wares of the interested corporations, “banksters” and assorted crooks.

    Unbeknown to Congress that just passed the legislation (members of Congress do not read or analyze the bills), there are numerous provisions that provide a windfall for the big corporation, the object of the lobbyist’s affections. A second wave of legislation will be offered to the next session of Congress that will “remedy” the first legislation only to create more windfalls. And on and on.

    “M” Street runs the U. S. Congress, laws are drafted that maintain their position over the rest of us, regulation and taxation continue unabated and we are $20 Trillion in debt. Hyper-Inflation or a default will destroy the U. S. dollar and we’ll have to start over.

  7. Nice. I had just finished an article in today's NYT that was on the same topic.

    Check it out:

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