A character in one of my upcoming novels is going to say, "The art of sheep-shearing began with Godfrey Bowen and his brother Ivan, in New Zealand of 1938. Before that, there were processes by which wool was cut from sheep, but nothing you could call an 'art form'. It was inefficient, hard on the animal, and hard on the shearers. The Bowens began a process of continual improvement in their techniques of shearing. They pioneered techniques now used worldwide. Not only do modern methods reduce stress on animal and man; they also produce a superior product at a much greater speed. It is an admirable advance of human culture.
"The shearing of human "sheep" is also an art which has seen explosive development in recent years. It has gone from artisanal robbery to mass-production graft. The continual improvement of its processes has resulted in a stranglehold on our economy. The needs of ordinary people, for education, retirement and medical care, cannot be met satisfactorily, because efficiently provisioning those needs does not create profit at a high enough level to satisfy the gougers. It is a lamentable regression of culture.
"We are approaching the multi-leveled enslavement of the Roman Empire - proletarian, slave, conquered people. The only thing that is missing is the severe physical abuse and deprivation of the enslaved, by the enslavers, at least inside America itself, and apart from the huge imprisoned population. That will come when the oil-based economy becomes too expensive for ordinary people to participate in.
"If we can develop the skills of maintaining tightly knit communities, we will stand a chance of overcoming the stranglehold. We can produce and trade among ourselves the tools, inputs, food, and services we need. And with the base of the tight -knit community, we will have the political clout to resist persecution. Non-violently, because no 1,2,10,or 100 of us can be made into effective examples."