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Breakfast at Noshville


I’m sitting at the counter in Noshville, Nashville’s New York-style Jewish deli, talking to a well-dressed fellow who tells me he’s a lawyer. Our conversation turns to the economy, and I thought I’d share his thoughts with you as best as I can recall them.

“Let’s face it: the United States is a plutocracy: a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. The only “people” that matter any more are corporations. You may think you’re voting for ideas or political parties, but politicians are owned by plutocrats who use both sides to further their own ends. They don’t care whom you vote for, because they win regardless. This is going to lead to one of five results:

“One: the emergence of an Ayn Rand dystopia, where the government serves the rich and the rest battle one another for the scraps tossed to them. This is where we seem to be heading at the moment.

“Two: the plutocrats will get too greedy and raid the corporations, and the corporations will rebel. The plutocrats have the military on their side, and the corporations will hire private armies. It would be a hot war between billionaires fought with armies poor people.

“Three: the plutocrats will misuse the military, failing to pay the brass sufficiently, and piling up casualties in quest of more power, and the military will rebel, side with corporations, and create a fascist state.

“Four: the "99%" will revolt, take to the streets in mass and demand changes. This will cause the plutocrats and the corporations to unite and crush the people militarily.

“Five, the 99% will stop playing the game. They’ll establish local barter economies of scale, opt for a simpler more self-sufficient existence, and allow the plutocrats and corporations to implode. This will cause the plutocrats and corporations to yield some of their wealth but none of their power, to the poor as they try to entice people back into service.

“Which of the five options do I see coming? In the short run I think we’ll put Gov. Romney and the Republicans in power and opt for the Ayn Rand dystopia. Then in 2014 we could see collaboration between Tea Party and Occupy folks against the plutocrats and corporations. It would look like a revolt, and some cosmetic changes would be made to delude the people into thinking they’ve won, but it will be business as usual at the top. By 2016 we might have a populist president and Congress, but they will be puppets of the plutocrats, just like most politicians are now, and nothing will change.

“In the long run I see a war between the super rich backed by the military and the corporations backed by mercenaries with the rest of us as collateral damage. No telling who will win, but I would back the corporations. Either way most of us lose.”

I know this seems very depressing. But I swear it went down better with eggs, latkes, and Diet Coke.

Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. In the print version of our magazine, he has an advice column, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” addressing reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more. His latest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art. Rabbi Rami hosts our podcast, “Essential Conversations.”

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