Since 9/11, the rising cost of basic goods has put all Americans in a financial vise. Well, almost all.
The price of gasoline has increased dramatically, from about $1.46 a gallon, as a national average, to more than $3 today. Residential heating oil has ballooned from about $1.38 a gallon to about $3.65.
Average monthly rents have soared from about $715 to $1,100. Even after the real-estate bubble burst, the average price of a new home is at $242,000 today, up from $136,000.
In grocery stores, food costs have increased 50 percent to 100 percent, even on bread and flour. Eggs have more than doubled in price. Meat costs have spiraled, partly because the government’s ill-conceived ethanol program diverts corn from feed to fuel.
Meantime, the ravages of inflation have eaten into personal incomes. In just the past four years, 95 percent of the American population has seen their income increase barely $500 -- about $11 a month.
The top 1 percent of households, by contrast, have boosted their income by an average of more than $1 million during the same period.
Why the disparity?
The government’s 2009-2010 taxpayer-funded bailout “absolutely screwed the American population,” says Bill Roberts of LaRouchePAC, a group fighting to reinstitute the Glass-Steagall banking law and wall off the excesses of Wall Street.
“The American population has been lied to by the president about us coming out of this recession. The American population has been clearly lied to about the real cost of the bailout.”
While government officials peg the price of propping up Wall Street’s “too big to fail” banks at $700 billion, others analysts put it at more than $1 trillion.
Lyndon LaRouche, a former presidential candidate, sees two economies in the country.
“You have what the ordinary people and ordinary businesses are experiencing. Then you have Wall Street and its international counterparts” that benefit from hyperinflation, LaRouche explains.
“Everything that Wall Street represents, both in the United States and outside the United States, is intrinsically worthless. There is no justification for them receiving any money,” he argues.
The solution, according to LaRouche and a growing number of members of Congress and nearly a dozen state legislatures, is to reinstate the fiscal discipline of the 1933 Glass-Steagall banking act.
Congress repealed Glass-Steagall under pressure from Wall Street bankers, and the law’s return will come at a heavy cost to speculation-based bankers who continue to traffick in risky investments, courting another crash.
“Wall Street will be wiped out, as it should be, because its claims are absolutely worthless,” LaRouche said.
“The United States will collapse if we don't shut down Wall Street. That's inevitable. There's no way you can maintain Wall Street and the United States at the same time,” said the economist who opposes the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying program of “quantitative easing,” which supplies Wall Street with more inflated dollars.
The current costs to consumers “are absolutely unjustified,” LaRouche said. “They have to be
cut … and we're going to have to cut most from Wall Street because Wall Street is nothing but a swindle.
“If we were to make an honest case for Wall Street, they would get a pittance relative to what they have
outstanding. Wall Street has one kind of asset: gambling debts. If you cancel those gambling debts, Wall Street is finished.”
By rebuilding the protective wall between Main Street commercial banks and Wall Street’s paper traders, Glass-Steagall would effectively cut off the Street’s gambling cache, proponents say.
Kesha Rogers, a LaRouche official and former congressional candidate from Texas, likened the current economic morass to “battered wife syndrome.”
She cited opinion polls showing strong public distrust of Wall Street bankers’ behavior – notably the risky trading of worthless derivatives that triggered the 2008 economic collapse, the publicly funded bailout and an ongoing wave of home foreclosures.
On the other hand, Rogers noted that two-thirds of Americans tell pollsters, “We need Wall Street.”
LaRouche called the quantitative easing program “out-and-out fraud.” His group blames such policies for spreading municipal bankruptcies, looted pension funds and the inflationary cycle that is steadily shrinking America’s middle class.
“The only solution is to cancel Wall Street (through) Glass-Steagall. That will immediately force the collapse of Wall Street,” he said.
Glass-Steagall, LaRouche says, is far preferable to government “austerity” programs that aim more draconian budget cuts at middle- and working-class families.
“Getting Wall Street shut out of business is the only way the United States can be saved. The United
States will die if we don't cancel Wall Street.”