In April 2011, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit rating of the United States. Just to spite the black guy in the White House.
Ten years ago, I think I snapped.
I think. Yes, I might have indeed snapped. I’m pretty—no, more like kind of—yeah, I’m kind of sure that I snapped on April 18, 2011.
Then again…I dunno. Did I go off the deep end? Stark-raving cuckoo-bananas? Or did I attain real clarity and sanity?
Was I nuts…or did America’s high-net-worth individuals and corporations carry out an act of war against the rest of the citizens of the United States in April 2011?
If seeing your country’s true colors can drive a person crazy, then yeah: maybe I did snap and go cuckoo-bananas ten years ago this month. The richest citizens deliberately tried to strangle the beginnings of our rebound from the longest recession in US history. As a result, a lot of my confusion when it comes to America’s actual values got cleared up. If this makes me insane, I’m good with it.
In April 2011, the wealthy-folk pulled a major dick move. And yes, the downgrade of the credit rating of the United States should be thought of as a financial act of war. Though Standard & Poor’s didn’t make it official until August of that year, their announcement in mid-April that they intended to lower America’s tippy-top rating, AAA, to AA+ still delivered the shock that it was meant to deliver. S&P, on behalf of their rich owners, hurt millions of folks who had been struggling through the Great Recession, just to make President Barack Obama look like crap. Afterward, the media started to bat around the term “double-dip recession” more and more. And I began to comprehend how deeply the rich folks would hurt all of us just to hurt Obama.
You know why the downgrade shocked me? Because that oh-so-sexy-sounding, stellar AAA credit rating had always seemed untouchable, a key plank in the rich folks’ “American Exceptionalism” mumbo-jumbo. The Rush Limbaughs and Steve Bannons and Fox News viewers of the world LOVED how America could overpower everyone not only with our military, but our money as well.
To tell you the truth, our country’s credit rating might not have been very rock-solid then. At the same time, the rich fellas never would have deliberately dinged it. Their hatred for Obama twisted their minds. Rich fellas benefit most from the AAA rating. The S&P downgrade hurt their own bank accounts, too. Which is why it felt like something had snapped. This crowd loves their pile of coins more than they love their kids, so putting a few of these coins in jeopardy meant they were serious.
Look at it this way: if S&P tried this during the W years, Dick Cheney would have shot Mr. Standard in the face with two shotguns and Mr. Poor in the face with three shotguns—the third shotgun blasts to punish the bro even further because his last name was “Poor.”
The HNW crowd’s economic sabotage affected people who were trying to find employment or put food on the table. S&P’s downgrade prompted businesses to re-think their long-term plans. Building projects and developments hit roadblocks. Bankers—already hesitant to loan, due to the Great Recession—hesitated even further. It was like all of us were in a rickety boat out on the ocean and the folks wearing the expensive life vests and sitting in the safest seats rocked our vessel back and forth, freaking everyone else out. All because the 44th president existentially-threatened them.
The downgrade made me understand how artificial the Great Recession was. Artificial, as in…bullshit. The years 2008 through 2010 beat me up like they beat up tens of millions of folks. But before the downgrade, I figured that this pain originated from a natural event that occurred from time to time as part of the business cycle. Also, I felt that we were all in it together, rich and poor.
No recession ever cut as deeply or lasted as long as the Great Recession—or got followed by a jobless recovery. The fact that the rich got even richer during all of this, guess what? It’s okay to see a connection.
In the spring of 2011, it felt like the business world was turning the corner. Friends with corporate jobs told me things were less nutty. My own freelance writing projects increased. I almost began to breathe easy. Then the rich folks stepped in.
I was freelancing in those days. As the Great Recession delivered its ass-kickings, I worked part-time and did so thinking that the plan was to survive the chaos until good times show up once again. I viewed the contraction as the result of too many folks—from poor to rich, me included in this group—living beyond our means. According to the business-folks, we’d power through the economic downturn and resume rocking and rolling. When the recession dragged out longer and longer, the media pundits and economists could not answer why.
During those years, the finance-types received trillions of dollars in government handouts, but refused to lend. I began to wonder how deeply those fellas believed in the magic of the free market. Watching corporations use layoffs to pump stock prices got me questioning the motives of people in power as well. So S&P’s move, while infuriating, also enlightened me.
All that panic…just to piss off the black guy. The next election was just a year and a half away. The wealthy needed to get serious about undermining Obama’s chances at a second term.
Yes, finance-guys engage in warfare. Listen to the language they use when talking about their hostile acts. They love to sound all battle-hard when they talk about how they’re allowed to indulge their undiagnosed gambling disorders. They call their piles of money “war chests,” for chrissakes. They spent some of their war chests to downgrade America’s credit rating.
As anger-inducing as this moment in time ten years ago was, you know what? I never could have fathomed back then that a pandemic would hit and, during its critical first stages, wealthy people would intentionally slow our nation’s efforts to fight it—pushing the death toll even higher—just because they wanted to keep their beloved stock market healthy. Early on, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick stated that old people needed to die from Covid-19 because that will help keep the stock market strong. I did nazi that comin’ back in April of 2011.
When the S&P downgrade happened, if you told me that a pandemic would strike nine years later and the richest citizens would use it to push for tax breaks, handouts, and all sorts of other free stuff from Uncle Sam, I’d tell you that you sounded like a crazy-person wearing a tinfoil hat. The Right wing’s sheer indifference to the unnecessary amount of coronavirus deaths shocked me, but I guess shouldn’t have been shocked. They have shown their true colors many times before.
Fox Mulder, my fellow INFP, sounded the alarm about aliens taking over. I’m going to sound the alarm about rich people taking over.
To tell you the truth, I wish aliens were taking over. They have spaceships.
That’s my conspiracy theory and I’m sticking to it.
Read Part 2.
Some earlier posts:
• Harpo Marx: hi from Earth.
• John Wayne: hi from Earth.
• Jonas Salk: what a pussy.
• The era of Anti-Semitic tightwaddery.
• Showers of gold.
• Understand the “America” in “Make America Great Again. Watch the movie Porky’s.
I also write fiction. I have two dark comedies available, Fearkiller (Volume 1) and Notes from Trillionaire Island: Fearkiller (Volume 2), as well as Revolutionizer Alpha, the first book in a sci-fi series.