(links and images still need to prettify’d, but the text is set)

The first English that the International Harvester Company taught its Polish workers in 1870 was: “I hear the whistle. I must hurry.” America, he concludes, “was not a society but a means of making money.” We, Robots (Curtis White)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trickle-down_economics Raidernomics Wages to Make You Wabble Listen Jimmy, if you work hard enough you can become anything you want. Horseshit, metaphorically and in actuality. The same economic policy myth under different guises: supply side economics, trickle down economics, or “horse and sparrow theory”, the last referring to feeding the horse enough so that additional manure will pass to the sparrows (http://news.hamlethub.com/riverdale/politics/841-horse-and-sparrow-economics) , provides a more appropriate image to the concept of “trickle down”.

We see people working as hard as ever and getting less for it. US workers have been getting more productive over the past 7+ decades but their real wages have plateaued the entire second half of that period. It should come as no surprise that economic mobility is something that is particularly difficult in the US among like industrial countries (https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/02_economic_mobility_sawhill_ch3.pdf) .

As it has been quipped over the past decade, if you want the American dream go to Denmark (or Canada, or New Zealand, have your pick) (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/80/The_Great_Gatsby_Curve.png) . Meanwhile, we see executive pay distance itself from the average employee at a demotivating rate. Moreover, this focus on salary only skims the issue, it does not take into consideration total wealth (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth_inequality_in_the_United_States) . This last point needs to be demarcated and driven home more frequently: a high salary is gravy enough but the additional accoutrements that come along for the ride, tax credits, stocks, housing, etc. create a feedback loop that eats the rest and stuffs the already well fed. https://thecurrentmoment.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/productivity-inequality-poverty/ thecurrentmoment (wikimedia commons) An interesting analysis of the explosive economic growth of the 20th century attributes nearly the entire advancement to cheap energy (https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/the-economic-growth-engine?___website=uk_warehouse) , generally in the form of fossil fuels, specifically oil. At the end of the day energy is needed to get anything done. What you pay for the energy, what you spend it on, and what you get for the product or service determine success or failure. When you have access to free, cheap, or discounted energy it requires a real fool to not turn a profit (which didn’t stop George W from crashing a goddamn energy company (http://webpages.charter.net/alaricrh73/sci/bceo.html) ).

The antebellum southern economy was based on free labor, the sweatshops and overseas manufacturing plants on cheap labor, and the US employee has had their efforts discounted for the past 30 years. Instead of sharing in the advancements of production and a piece of the revenue they have had their wages suppressed.

One hundred years since scientific management it is still unclear how to predict who will be an effective CEO but cheap input energy certainly does not hurt. The industrial revolution and our modern society run on cheap and (for now) abundant energy. No one is perplexed by the riches of the oil producing countries and how they are able to continue making money. Why are we so in awe of CEO ability? They have been working with a stacked deck since the 1970s.

https://ourworldindata.org/ Our World in Data While some fly high others are scrounging to make ends meet. In a nation that stacks up impressively on GDP, GDP per capita, regional/state resources, as well as having standalone companies that would crack the top 100 highest world economies we have a lower half of the population struggling to make ends meet (http://www.businessinsider.com/cfpb-survey-americans-struggling-monthly-bills-2017-9) . Do we believe a sort of hunger games is the way of creating the next big industry? How is crushing one another helpful for society at large, those millions of faceless suffering people/parents/children/poor. This artificial survival of the fittest is hogwash. The ones who make it far too often overemphasize their hard work while overlooking the half of the “competition“ which never had a shot. This other half do not share anywhere near the connections and legacies afforded those on the tip of the iceberg. A floating block of ice is a good metaphor for this society, the vast majority of the slab underwater and out of sight.

Survival of the fittest, pfff. People get hung up on the phrase, the individual words, without digging into the concept to understand its real meaning, too often jumping to the conclusion that survival of the fittest means the strongest will prevail, further confusing the point by bringing along their own idea of what “strongest” means. Selection is based on the environment and is done according to which species, company, what have you, best fits the environment, the one that is most successful at navigating and acquiring resources for the least amount of (relative) energy.

In that sense, a government backed cartel that is run by a dictator‘s cousin is the most fit, and most likely to survive in a banana republic. This company need not have the smartest, hardest working, or most loyal employees. Usually retaining the favor of the dictator is sufficient to ensure success and propagation. The environment determines in large part the participants, their actions, and further development. It is not a linear process, each species impedes on others, and in turn influence the environment.

“In both cultures, wealth is no longer a means to get by. It becomes directly tied to personal worth. A young suburbanite with every advantage—the prep school education, the exhaustive coaching for college admissions tests, the overseas semester in Paris or Shanghai—still flatters himself that it is his skill, hard work, and prodigious problem-solving abilities that have lifted him into a world of privilege. Money vindicates all doubts. And the rest of his circle plays along, forming a mutual admiration society. They’re eager to convince us all that Darwinism is at work, when it looks very much to the outside like a combination of gaming a system and dumb luck. (Weapons of Math Destruction, 47)”

When the cream continue to skim off the top by positioning themselves and stacking the system to benefit their efforts they are technically right in claiming best fit but we should hardly grant them what they are really stating, that they are on top because they are smarter, harder working, and in some sense most deserving of the spoils. These “winners” had no hand in forming the environment they were born into, the advantages they accidentally stumbled on, or the good fortune that saw them achieve their station. Lastly, any reasonable person can see, stacked deck or not, there are almost always more qualified candidates then positions available, United States sitting president notwithstanding.

By looking at the environment we can get an idea as to what might be a good fit. With stagnant wages for the majority of workers and success/survival categorized as rising to the top 20th percentile, to pick an arbitrary measure, we can safely say that under the current conditions hard word is necessary but nowhere near sufficient to paying bills, saving money, and getting ahead.