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Across Europe, political leaders have lost the trust of their people
I have been impressed with how fast "left-leaning" economists who went to work in industry and finance became pro-business, anti-labor, and politically right wing. I think that what got to them was not only the impact of association with businesspeople, but the fact that business profitability became central to their own worldview and enumeration. From the point of view of corporate shill wage increases would seem bad — as encroaching on profitability as well as threatening inflation and business growth (and by extension stock prices).
Tough environmental rules would also hamper profitability; their relaxation by law or friendly (non-)enforcement would enhance it. So they pretty quickly slide to waht is called “bottom-feeders morality,” with positions on key issues dictated by bottom line effects, but of course rationalized with an ideology that made this despicable behavior looks benevolent, which these bottom-feeders into Good Samaritans as they collected their fat salaries and bonuses while the vast majority waited for trickle-down. That mean that phony "free market ideology" of neoliberalism has a lot of eager customers. On the fraudulence of this ideology, see David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, and Ha-Joon Chang, Bad Samaritans.)
With the steady increase in business’s economic and political power over the past 30 years and the parallel decline of organized labor, neoliberal (market-can-do-it-all) ideology has become even more firmly entrenched in establishment thought and practice. The novelist Ayn Rand, most famously the author of Atlas Shrugged, was an extreme proponent of so called positivism -- an far right individualist, "free enterprise", anti-government ideology, and it is no coincidence that one of her cult admirers and associates, Alan Greenspan, became a leading member of the policy-making elite in the 1980s and into 2006.
The morality of this elite became essentially a slight variation of mob morality. And in most case the difference is fairly superficial (Mob movie lessons American Gangster):
Plot: American Gangster tells the true story of Frank Lucas (played by Denzel Washington), the bad-ass gangster who hijacked the New York drug trade in the 1960s and 1970s. He inherits Harlem territory from his mentor Bumpy Johnson, the man he used to chauffeur.
Once in power, he ingeniously cuts out the middlemen and flies to the Golden Triangle of southeast Asia to personally form contacts with opium growers there. He then devises a brilliant, if somewhat brash, system of transporting the illegal cargo back to the U.S. in the coffins of dead American soldiers. He amasses a fortune in the process, but the authorities — both crooked and straight —are out to get him, as are rival drug dealers, once they figure out who he is. He eventually goes down, but not before cutting a deal to expose over three quarters of the NYPD’s drug squad as corrupt.
Mob lessons learned:
Let them underestimate you
When Frank takes over for Bumpy, nobody knows who the guy is, which is fine for Frank because he’s more interested in making huge amounts of money than in making a name for himself. Foolish pride never factors into Frank’s way of doing things, so he flies under the radar of the authorities for years. When it finally emerges that a new player has taken over the entire New York heroin trade, everyone thinks it must be the wiseguys behind it. They think there’s no way anyone other than the mob who could pull off such a feat. By the time they realize that it’s Lucas who’s responsible — a black man from Harlem, of all people — he’s already turned the trade on its head and created an empire.
Stay off the radar
“The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room,” Frank informs his younger brother Huey, who shows up to his party dressed like a pimp. He offers this advice very earnestly, since it’s a code by which he himself lives. When Frank goes out, he goes to his own club and surrounds himself with his own people. No gold medallions or spinning hubcaps on display, and absolutely no unwanted attention.
Cut out the middleman
Many of the lessons we learn from Frank can be applied directly to basic capitalist business practices. Before Bumpy dies, he hints at the state of affairs in the American world of commerce. He speaks of the lack of customer service and “pride of ownership.” Franks knows what he has to do, and brazenly takes the necessary steps to set up his very own cartel, even if it means taking on the Mafia.
Brand your product
In another scene (which could be taken straight from a Harvard Business School class), Frank speaks of the importance of creating a recognized product or a “brand.” A conversation takes place with rival gangster Nicky Barnes in which Frank warns the strung-out dealer not to tamper with his product, which he refers to as the “Pepsi of smack” or “blue magic.” It soon becomes so widely coveted that he’s making $1 million per day on drug sales alone.
More mob movies lessons from American Gangster...
The nest result is that both in Europe and the USA , political leaders have lost the trust of their people. I´d go further and say that the people despise their politicians, who are lying, greedy, self-serving morons doing the bidding of their masters, the bankers, rather than the people they pretend to serve.
We are mired in cheating and lying, and massive hypocrisy on the part of the rich and the technocrats who serve them, because that is the only way in which neo-liberal ideology can maintain its hegemony.
Fortunately for the self-serving and self perpetuating aristocracy of money, there exists an overwhelmingly servile media pumping out Chicago School propaganda 24/7.
Welcome to the world of financial fascism.
Apr 05, 2015 | Bloomberg View
Whenever buyers and sellers get together, opportunities to fleece the other guy arise. The history of markets is, in part, the history of lying, cheating and stealing -- and of the effort down the years to fight commercial crime.
In fact, the evolution of the modern economy owes more than you might think to these outlaws. That's the theme of "Forging Capitalism: Rogues, Swindlers, Frauds, and the Rise of Modern Finance" by Ian Klaus. It's a history of financial crimes in the 19th and early 20th centuries that traces a recurring sequence: new markets, new ways to cheat, new ways to transact and secure trust. As Klaus says, criminals helped build modern capitalism.
And what a cast of characters. Thomas Cochrane is my own favorite. (This is partly because he was the model for Jack Aubrey in Patrick O'Brian's "Master and Commander" novels, which I've been reading and rereading for decades. Presumably Klaus isn't a fan: He doesn't note the connection.)
Cochrane was an aristocrat and naval hero. At the height of his fame in 1814 he was put on trial for fraud. An associate had spread false rumors of Napoleon's death, driving up the price of British government debt, and allowing Cochrane to avoid heavy losses on his investments. Cochrane complained (with good reason, in fact) that the trial was rigged, but he was found guilty and sent to prison.
The story is fascinating in its own right, and the book points to its larger meaning. Cochrane, in a way, was convicted of conduct unbecoming a man of his position. Playing the markets, let alone cheating, was something a man of his status wasn't supposed to do. Trust resided in social standing.
As the turbulent century went on, capitalism moved its frontier outward in every sense: It found new opportunities overseas; financial innovation accelerated; and buyers and sellers were ever more likely to be strangers, operating at a distance through intermediaries. These new kinds of transaction required new ways of securing trust. Social status diminished as a guarantee of good faith. In its place came, first, reputation (based on an established record of honest dealing) then verification (based on public and private records that vouched for the parties' honesty).
Successive scams and scandals pushed this evolution of trust along. Gregor MacGregor and the mythical South American colony of Poyais ("the quintessential fraud of Britain's first modern investment bubble," Klaus calls it); Beaumont Smith and an exchequer bill forging operation of remarkable scope and duration; Walter Watts, insurance clerk, theatrical entrepreneur and fraudster; Harry Marks, journalist, newspaper proprietor and puffer of worthless stocks. On and on, these notorious figures altered the way the public thought about commercial trust, and spurred the changes that enabled the public to keep on trusting nonetheless.
The stories are absorbing and the larger theme is important: "Forging Capitalism" is a fine book and I recommend it. But I have a couple of criticisms. The project presumably began as an academic dissertation, and especially at the start, before Klaus starts telling the stories, the academic gravity is crushing.
Trust, to be simple with our definition, is an expectation of behavior built upon norms and cultural habits. It is often dependent upon a shared set of ethics or values. It is also a process orchestrated through communities and institutions. In this sense, it is a cultural event and thus a historical phenomenon.
No doubt, but after a first paragraph like that you aren't expecting a page-turner. Trust me, it gets better. When he applies himself, Klaus can write. Describing the messenger who brought the false news of Napoleon's death, he says:
Removed from the dark of the street, the man could be seen by the light of two candles. He looked, a witness would later testify, "like a stranger of some importance." A German sealskin cap, festooned with gold fringes, covered his head. A gray coat covered his red uniform, upon which hung a star Neighbors and residents of the inn stirred and peered in as the visitor penned a note.
Tell me more.
My other objection is to the book's repeated suggestion that Adam Smith and other classical proponents of market economics naively underestimated the human propensity to deceive and over-credited the market's ability to promote good behavior. Klaus doesn't examine their claims at length or directly, but often says things such as:
The sociability in which Adam Smith had placed his hopes for harnessing self-interest was not a sufficient safeguard in the sometimes criminal capitalism of the ruthless free market.
Of course it wasn't. Smith didn't believe that the market's civilizing tendencies, together with humans' instinct for cooperation, were a sufficient safeguard against fraud or breach of contract or other commercial wrongs. He was nothing if not realistic about human nature. And by the way, many of the subtle adaptations to the shifting risk of fraud that Klaus describes were private undertakings, not government measures. Far from being surprised by them, Smith would have expected their development.
Nonetheless, Klaus is right: Give the markets' ubiquitous and ingenious criminals their due. They helped build modern capitalism, and they aren't going away. Just ask Bernie Madoff.
To contact the author on this story: Clive Crook at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dec 03, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Jim Haygood , December 2, 2017 at 8:29 amtegnost , December 2, 2017 at 8:56 am
Renegade ( ex-? ) Republican David Stockman NAILS IT TO THE WALL:
To be sure, some element of political calculus always lies behind legislation. For instance, the Dems didn't pass the Wagner Act in 1935, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 or the Affordable Care Act of 2010 as exercises in pure civic virtue -- these measures targeted huge constituencies with tens of millions of votes at stake.
Still, threadbare theories and untoward effects are just that; they can't be redeemed by the risible claim that this legislative Rube Goldberg contraption being jammed through sight unseen ( in ACA redux fashion ) is for the benefit of the rank and file Republican voters, and most especially not for the dispossessed independents and Dems of Flyover America who voted for Trump out of protest against the failing status quo.
To the contrary. The GOP tax bill is of the lobbies, by the PACs and for the money. Period.
There is no higher purpose or even nugget of conservative economic principle to it. The battle cry of "pro-growth tax cuts" is just a warmed over 35-year-old mantra from the Reagan era that does not remotely reflect the actual content of the bill or disguise what it really is: namely, a cowardly infliction of more than $2 trillion of debt on future American taxpayers in order to fund tax relief today for the GOP's K Street and Wall Street paymasters.
On a net basis, in fact, fully 97% of the $1.412 trillion revenue loss in the Senate Committee bill over the next decade is attributable to the $1.369 trillion cost of cutting the corporate rate from 35% to 20% (and repeal of the related AMT). All the rest of the massive bill is just a monumental zero-sum pot stirring operation.
Stockman, who knows federal budgeting better than most of us know the contents of our own homes, goes on to shred the tax bill item by item, leaving a smoking, scorched-earth moonscape in his deadly rhetorical wake. And he's not done yet.
But Lordy, how he scourges the last hurrah of the know-nothing R party, just before it gets pounded senseless at the polls next year. Bubble III is the last hope of the retrograde Republican Congressional rabble. But it's a 50/50 proposition at best that our beloved bubble lasts through next November. :-(ambrit , December 2, 2017 at 9:19 am
thanks Jim, yes, this looks like it will knock the legs out of the "main st" economy, but over at versailles on the potomac they'll be listening to/playing the fiddle and watching the country burn while guzzling 300 dollar scotch and and admiring their campfire.nonclassical , December 2, 2017 at 2:14 pm
Right next to "Versailles on the Potomac" is the site of the former Bonus Army camp, Anacostia Flats. The burning of the Bonus Army camp at Anacostia Flats could be seen, as a red glow, from the White House. Historians charitable to Herbert Hoover suggest that Gen. Douglass MacArthur 'conned' Hoover into letting the Army 'disperse' the Bonus Army. The resulting spectacle can be said to be one of the prime reasons why the American public rejected Hoover when he ran for re-election against Franklin Roosevelt.
I don't know if Hoover played the fiddle, but MacArthur was known to be able to play politicians like one.
The lesson here, if there is one, is that the present occupant of the White House had better be very circumspect about taking advice from Generals.
"anacostia flats" bonus army raided by Wall Street General MacArthur which is reason in previous iteration of Wall Street power grab by "American Liberty League", ("The Plot To Seize the White House"-Jules Archer) Marine General Smedley Butler felt forced play whistle-blower, providing FDR leverage he needed to prosecute banksters.
Big River Bandido December 2, 2017 at 3:26 pm
The gist of the commenter's statement was true - Democrats are totally complicit in the end result of Republican economic and foreign policy. Until now, Republicans could only deliver on their promises when Democrats helped them out. The Democrats' enabling strategy eventually alienated their own core supporters. With this tax cut, the Republicans have shown, for the first time, the ability to enact and sign their own legislation.
The Democrats basically accommodated the Republicans long enough to ensure their own irrelevance. They will not rise again until their "mixed stances" and those who encourage them are purged.
marknesop.wordpress.comPatient Observer, July 23, 2016 at 7:07 pmAn interesting article on John McCain. I disagree with the contention that McCain hid knowledge that many American POWs were left behind (undoubtedly some voluntarily choose to remain behind but not hundreds ). However, the article touched on some ideas that rang true:
Today when we consider the major countries of the world we see that in many cases the official leaders are also the leaders in actuality: Vladimir Putin calls the shots in Russia, Xi Jinping and his top Politburo colleagues do the same in China, and so forth. However, in America and in some other Western countries, this seems to be less and less the case, with top national figures merely being attractive front-men selected for their popular appeal and their political malleability, a development that may eventually have dire consequences for the nations they lead. As an extreme example, a drunken Boris Yeltsin freely allowed the looting of Russia's entire national wealth by the handful of oligarchs who pulled his strings, and the result was the total impoverishment of the Russian people and a demographic collapse almost unprecedented in modern peacetime history.
An obvious problem with installing puppet rulers is the risk that they will attempt to cut their strings, much like Putin soon outmaneuvered and exiled his oligarch patron Boris Berezovsky.
One means of minimizing such risk is to select puppets who are so deeply compromised that they can never break free, knowing that the political self-destruct charges buried deep within their pasts could easily be triggered if they sought independence. I have sometimes joked with my friends that perhaps the best career move for an ambitious young politician would be to secretly commit some monstrous crime and then make sure that the hard evidence of his guilt ended up in the hands of certain powerful people, thereby assuring his rapid political rise.
The gist is that elite need a kill switch on their front men (and women).
Cortes , July 24, 2016 at 11:16 amSeems to be a series of pieces dealing with Vietnam POWs: the following linked item was interesting and provided a plausible explanation: that the US failed to pay up agreed on reparationsmarknesop , July 24, 2016 at 12:29 pm
http://www.unz.com/runz/american-pravda-relying-upon-maoist-professors-of-cultural-studies/Remarkable and shocking. Wheels within wheels – this is the first time I have ever seen McCain's father connected with the infamous Board of Inquiry which cleared Israel in that state's attack on USS LIBERTY during Israel's seizure of the Golan Heights.Cortes , July 25, 2016 at 9:08 amAnother stunning article in which the author makes reference to his recent acquisition of what he considers to be a reliably authentic audio file of POW McCain's broadcasts from captivity. Dynamite stuff. The conclusion regarding aspiring untenured historians is quite downbeat:marknesop , July 25, 2016 at 10:40 am
http://www.unz.com/runz/american-pravda-will-there-be-a-spotlight-sequel-to-the-killing-fields/Also remarkable; fantastic. It's hard to believe, and a testament to the boldness of Washington dog-and-pony shows, because this must have been well-known in insider circles in Washington – anything so damning which was not ruthlessly and professionally suppressed and simply never allowed to become part of a national discussion would surely have been stumbled upon before now. Land of the Cover-Up.
yalensis , July 25, 2016 at 3:40 pmSo, McCain was Hanoi Jack broadcasting from the Hanoi Hilton?
Nov 07, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Here's more reporting by Ronan Farrow that suggests a good reason why people were afraid to speak out about Harvey Weinstein's sexual assaults:
In the fall of 2016, Harvey Weinstein set out to suppress allegations that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women. He began to hire private security agencies to collect information on the women and the journalists trying to expose the allegations. According to dozens of pages of documents, and seven people directly involved in the effort, the firms that Weinstein hired included Kroll, which is one of the world's largest corporate-intelligence companies, and Black Cube, an enterprise run largely by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies. Black Cube, which has branches in Tel Aviv, London, and Paris, offers its clients the skills of operatives "highly experienced and trained in Israel's elite military and governmental intelligence units," according to its literature.
Two private investigators from Black Cube, using false identities, met with the actress Rose McGowan, who eventually publicly accused Weinstein of rape, to extract information from her. One of the investigators pretended to be a women's-rights advocate and secretly recorded at least four meetings with McGowan. The same operative, using a different false identity and implying that she had an allegation against Weinstein, met twice with a journalist to find out which women were talking to the press. In other cases, journalists directed by Weinstein or the private investigators interviewed women and reported back the details.
The explicit goal of the investigations, laid out in one contract with Black Cube, signed in July, was to stop the publication of the abuse allegations against Weinstein that eventually emerged in the New York Times and The New Yorker . Over the course of a year, Weinstein had the agencies "target," or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focussed on their personal or sexual histories. Weinstein monitored the progress of the investigations personally. He also enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some sources who received them, felt intimidating.
Weinstein's lawyer, the cream-of-the-croppy David Boies, knew a lot about this. Farrow also reports about how Weinstein allegedly conspired with the owner of the National Enquirer to dig up dirt on those who accused him.
Read the whole thing.
Harvey Weinstein is a monster. After reading this piece, it is easier to understand why people stayed quiet about his behavior.
Centralist ,, November 7, 2017 at 10:22 amThe sins of capitalism without ethics and a man without ethics, in perfect harmony.Siarlys Jenkins , says: November 7, 2017 at 10:43 am
The joke that this brings to mind is "What is the worst thing for capitalism?" "A pure capitalist". To have a good capitalist system you need sense of community and ethics to guide them. The sense of only "I" is the greatest cause of such abuse. Sadly though this is more in line with a return to old power politics of city states that use to dominate the Italy, Greece, and the Mideast. While often apart of larger empires with their own security forces individual wealth magnates and nobles had their own private forces to keep the rift raft in check because of legal grey area and coupled with official leadership to weak or to in the pocket of the rich to do anything about it.
The further forward we go, the more we go back. I think Mr. Dreher and interesting idea for a novel from you would be a Benedict Option Society in a cyberpunk post nation-state world. Just an idea.The monstrosity is hardly unique to Weinstein. After all, Black Cube must have quite a few other well-heeled clients with similar needs or it wouldn't be in business on several continents. That seems to be more of a threat to peace and freedom and democracy and liberty and public morality than one man's particular sins, or his desires to cover them up.TR , says: November 7, 2017 at 10:53 am
Perhaps men and women who enter into service in a national military or intelligence agency should be required to sign a life-time oath NOT to accept employment in any investigative or paramilitary outfit in the private sector, enforceable by a life prison sentence?
To have a good capitalist system you need sense of community and ethics to guide them.
The two are by and large antithetical. Now the weakness of socialism, to date, is that without a sense of community and ethics, it looks an awful lot like monopoly capitalism. Fidel Castro understood that, but his error was thinking he could inculcate community and ethics by decree (and if necessary force).I suggest opening the TAC link to Joseph Epstein's take-down of Leon Wieseltier in the Weekly Standard. A masterpiece.Potato , says: November 7, 2017 at 11:05 am
There are all kinds of reasons why Harvey W. was not outed earlier, some having to do with the culture at large, some having to do with the extreme insecurity of anyone in show business. But I am a little uneasy with the frenzy of accusations across the country that have followed. Some have got to be opportunistic rather than real.
For those interested in tales of the cssting couch of old, check out the life of Harry Cohn, the longtime head of Columbia Pictures.I am concerned about the part in all this played by attorney David Boies, and I think the Bar should initiate an investigation into his involvement. This falls seriously short of the ethical behavior we expect of people who are, after all, officers of the Court.Jason , says: November 7, 2017 at 11:23 am
I also believe that any claim of attorney-client privilege as to these materials, in a situation where Boies is claiming that he and his firm did not direct the investigative agencies involved and did not know much about their findings, is farcical, and would never have held up in court. Assuming that he is telling the truth about this ignorance of his, Mr. Boies should surely have known that a claim of privilege would not hold up, and should so have advised his client at the beginning of this entire transaction.
Or, alternatively, he is lying his head off about how much he knew, which is worse.
David Boies is now very understandably backing quickly away from this whole situation, but I believe that it may be too late for him to be in the clear.
One wonders, or I do, why Mr. Boies consented to be involved in the first place. Surely he personally and his firm both have plenty of money, so financial desperation cannot play a part. Is a man in his position so blinded by Fame and Fortune that his good judgment was compromised to this degree? He seems to be at least marginally good, at this late date, at naming all the reasons this was a bad idea for him. One wonders why all this did not occur to him sooner.
Another possibility is that Weinstein or someone closely connected to Weinstein "has the goods" on Mr. Boies, and was able to in effect blackmail him. Weinstein and his associates seem uncommonly good at that.
Or, I wonder, is it just One Of Those Things? You do things, then you do something that is a tiny bit questionable (but hugely profitable), and then the next thing is a tiny bit more questionable until, without really thinking about it, you find yourself in the position David Boies is now in, or worse, in commission of a felony. This kind of thing happens all the time, sadly, when someone like Boies has a moral compass which is a bit out of adjustment.Anybody who goes to the show right now, knowing what we know or will eventually discover – Weinstein is just the tip of the iceberg – is simply subsidizing evil.charles cosimano , says: November 7, 2017 at 11:43 amSeems he did everything right except the execution. He never would have made it in the mafia.Sam M , says: November 7, 2017 at 11:54 am"After reading this piece, it is easier to understand why people stayed quiet about his behavior."Captain P , says: November 7, 2017 at 1:07 pm
But also easier to believe that, "I didn't know."
This matters. It's one thing for a young aspiring starlet getting off a bus in Hollywood with $20 in her pocket to fall in line. But it's quite another for multi-millionaire power brokers who worked with Weinstein to sit back and watch him abuse one such aspiring starlet after another for 20 years.
There were plenty of producers and actors and directors who knew plenty and never raised a finger, despite having the financial and professional wherewithal to take that risk.PotatoFran Macadam , says: November 7, 2017 at 1:08 pm
> I am concerned about the part in all this played by attorney David Boies, and I think the Bar should initiate an investigation into his involvement. This falls seriously short of the ethical behavior we expect of people who are, after all, officers of the Court.
Sounds like the NYT is going to be suing Boies for his unethical behavior:
"We learned today that the law firm of Boies Schiller and Flexner secretly worked to stop our reporting on Harvey Weinstein at the same time as the firm's lawyers were representing us in other matters," Eileen Murphy, a New York Times spokesperson, told TheWrap.
"We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust, and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe," she continued. "It is inexcusable, and we will be pursuing appropriate remedies."
https://www.thewrap.com/new-york-times-david-boies-harvey-weinstein/Anybody who's lived in Hollywood, knows that the lure of fame is such that any compromise will be acceded to as the cost of obtaining it. Of course, those who prostituted themselves and violated their consciences, won't mind getting revenge if the opportunity someday arises.theMann , says: November 7, 2017 at 1:30 pm
And whatever happens on casting couches, is simply the behind the scenes sideplay of the same things acted out onscreen.
In a way, it's consensual if that is the bargain you agreed with yourself to make to get what you wanted.
We've already determined what you are, now we're just negotiating about the price.Weinstein is stone cold via RICO on extortion, multiple times. Any prosecutor worth his salt (very few of them actually, but another subject) can and should start rolling out the counts. All the people covering up for him, launch discovery and see just how far their accessory goes, also prosecutable under RICO.ludo , says: November 7, 2017 at 1:47 pm
hum .Hollywood. Lets all hold our breath until it happens.At least he didn't have anybody disappeared, unlike routinely happens in Mexico and so many other increasingly neo-medieval places in the world, so credit for that.pitchfork , says: November 7, 2017 at 2:02 pm"The monstrosity is hardly unique to Weinstein. After all, Black Cube must have quite a few other well-heeled clients with similar needs or it wouldn't be in business on several continents. That seems to be more of a threat to peace and freedom and democracy and liberty and public morality than one man's particular sins, or his desires to cover them up."Lllurker , says: November 7, 2017 at 2:19 pm
Indeed. And a common tactic seems to be to run everything through a law firm, thereby putting it all under attorney-client privilege. The cyber-security team that Bank of America hired to take down Glenn Greenwald a few years back was apparently organized through Hunton and Williams. At the DOJ's suggestion, no less.
And this kind of thing isn't confined to media moguls and banks, either. When I was a PhD student I was involved in organizing against certain development plans at my university. On one of the emails between myself, other organizers, and the university vice president, the VP had copied some university employees that had nothing apparent to do with the issue we were protesting. When I researched who _they_ were, one of them had just been hired away from Booz Allen Hamilton. Later on, after the protests were over (we lost, by the way), an insider in the administration told me directly, in great detail, that I, my wife, and other organizers had been carefully watched the whole time. Lucky for me, I'm a good boy with a squeaky clean past, but that's how this university VP rolled.Shades of Roger Ailes. One more story that shows how ignorant some of us who live out our lives in flyover country can be about this sort of thing. Until the Roger Ailes thing broke I pretty much assumed that hiring "security firms" of this nature was something that just took place in spy novels and westerns.Countme-a-Demon , says: November 7, 2017 at 2:20 pm
I wonder if these hired guns who stalk and intimidate people for a living are ever convicted of crimes like stalking and intimidating.Odd that the title of the article reads "Harvey Weinstein's Stasi", when "Harvey Weinstein's Mossad" was right there for the picking. Is Mossad a different kind of Stasi? Those agents should be arrested and charged as well. Then deported, if ICE isn't too overworked.JCM , says: November 7, 2017 at 3:20 pmI wonder why Mr. Weinstein didn't save himself the trouble and hooked himself up with A-list call girls. I can't imagine that a sense of morality would have kept him from consorting with prostitutes. He would have saved himself a word of trouble and money if he had been inclined to pay for services from the outset. Perhaps, he felt the need to denigrate the women that he so callously approached. Not a nice man, this Mr. Weinstein.Potato , says: November 7, 2017 at 3:49 pma common tactic seems to be to run everything through a law firm, thereby putting it all under attorney-client privilege.Dan Green , says: November 7, 2017 at 4:35 pm
Allegedly. Actually you have to do more than just get a lawyer involved somehow, or other in some capacity or other, to invoke the privilege. I haven't researched this transaction specifically, but it sounds to me like the assertion of privilege in this Weinstein business would have had more holes in it than a colander.
Sounds like the NYT is going to be suing Boies for his unethical behavior:
"We learned today that the law firm of Boies Schiller and Flexner secretly worked to stop our reporting on Harvey Weinstein at the same time as the firm's lawyers were representing us in other matters," Eileen Murphy, a New York Times spokesperson, told TheWrap. "We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust, and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe," she continued. "It is inexcusable, and we will be pursuing appropriate remedies."
Good, they have it coming. Among everything else that was wrong with it, this business was a very serious conflict of interest, and worse, Boies was well aware of the conflict at the time. (Actually the Bar will whap you good for conflicts of interest whether you were aware of them or not, taking the position that attorneys are supposed to keep track of such things. But doing it knowingly is worse.)
More cause for head-shaking. Why why why did David Boies consent to become involved?? What did these people have to threaten him with, if that's what happened?
As an irrelevancy, may I say yet again that Harvey Weinstein is one of the most physically unattractive men I have ever seen or seen pictures of. To call him a "pig" is an insult to pigs everywhere.Hooray for Hollywood, is anybody really surprised what goes on in that fantasy world?cka2nd , says: November 7, 2017 at 4:38 pmTR "But I am a little uneasy with the frenzy of accusations across the country that have followed. Some have got to be opportunistic rather than real."Our Thing , says: November 7, 2017 at 8:42 pm
I agree, some are. Corey Haim's mom is calling out Corey Feldman for trying to raise a millions of dollars for some documentary instead of just naming the names of those he claims abused him and her son, who she says was abused by just one person, not the hordes Feldman alleges.
By the way, I'm with Luke and Conewago on being careful about using the dehumanizing term "monster.""After all, Black Cube must have quite a few other well-heeled clients with similar needs or it wouldn't be in business on several continents. "Philly guy , says: November 7, 2017 at 10:29 pm
Anybody who hires a company called "Black Cube" deserves whatever bad things happen to them. And what stupid ex-Mossad hack chose the name? I can't imagine one better calculated to call forth an all-out international investigation. I mean, why not just call it SPECTRE and have done with it?Am pretty sure Uncle Chuckie said something about Weinstein's henchmen on a previous thread. In 2017 this must be outsourced i.e. Black cube. The words "private" and "security" when used together, make me cringe.Ben H , says: November 7, 2017 at 10:41 pmThis story just gets more and more extraordinary.Elijah , says: November 8, 2017 at 7:33 am
- What David Boies did was just about the worse thing a lawyer can do which is to betray a client. Not even a former client, a current one, and not by accident either. This was intentional betrayal made with a sober mind. This Harvey guy is so important to him that Boies has basically thrown away his integrity, hopefully his law license, and his reputation forever just to stop some rumors. That's why Boies spoke to Farrow, to try to cover his own butt. And the client he screwed is the most powerful media outlet in the world
- The Mossad (or "ex-Mossad") angle brings in the hint of state action on behalf of individuals. Groups like that one do not work for everyone, and how do we know if those agents really are "ex-" or not.
- I agree that it is not surprising that these tactics tended to work as how do you know when the intimidation will stop and direct action will begin if you are the target?
- Farrow has some very good inside information. Obviously someone is giving him stuff like the emails that he quotes from.
- Who's the unnamed 'freelance journalist' given a bunch of money to pretend to write a story?
- There is a scandal in Washington now, involving at least 60 Navy Admirals, bribes and hookers. All our institutions are crumbling. Hurray!"Why why why did David Boies consent to become involved?? What did these people have to threaten him with, if that's what happened?"
You really have to wonder if the lure of Weinstein's fund-raising prowess was that strong or if he was investigating and blackmailing hundreds of people all over the nation.
The more you read about this wretched Weinstein, the less outlandish the conspiracy theories sound.
Oct 22, 2017 | www.unz.com
Fran Macadam , October 20, 2017 at 3:08 pm GMTA credible reading of the diverse facts, Mike.Kirk Elarbee , October 20, 2017 at 8:27 pm GMTSadly, Brennan's propaganda coup only works on what the Bell Curve crowd up there would call the dumbest and most technologically helpless 1.2σ. Here is how people with half a brain interpret the latest CIA whoppers.utu , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:18 am GMT
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/10/everyone-hacked-everyone-hacked-everyone-spy-spin-fuels-anti-kaspersky-campaign.htmlAgain Mike Whitney does not get it. Though in the first part of the article I thought he would. He was almost getting there. The objective was to push new administration into the corner from which it could not improve relations with Russia as Trump indicated that he wanted to during the campaign.anon , Disclaimer Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:54 am GMT
Convincing Americans in Russia's influence or Russia collusion with Trump was only a tool that would create pressure on Trump that together with the fear of paralysis of his administration and impeachment would push Trump into the corner from which the only thing he could do was to worsen relations with Russia. What American people believe or not is really secondary. With firing of Gen. Flynn Trump acted exactly as they wanted him to act. This was the beginning of downward slope.
Anyway, the mission was accomplished and the relations with Russia are worse now than during Obama administration. Trump can concentrate on Iran in which he will be supported by all sides and factions including the media. Even Larry David will approve not only the zionist harpies like Pam Geller, Rita Katz and Ilana Mercer.
Pamela Geller: Thank You, Larry David
http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywood/2017/10/19/pamela-geller-thank-larry-david/OK.ThereisaGod , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 6:37 am GMT
The only part that is absurd is that Russia posed a bona fide threat to the US. I'm fine with the idea that he ruined Brennen's plans in Syria. But thats just ego we shouldn't have been there anyway.
No one really cares about Ukraine. And the European/Russian trade zone? No one cares. The Eurozone has its hands full with Greece and the rest of the old EU. I have a feeling they have already gone way too far and are more likely to shrink than expand in any meaningful way
The one thing I am not positive about. If the elite really believe that Russia is a threat, then Americans have done psych ops on themselves.
The US was only interested in Ukraine because it was there. Next in line on a map. The rather shocking disinterest in investing money -- on both sides -- is inexplicable if it was really important. Most of it would be a waste -- but still. The US stupidly spent $5 billion on something -- getting duped by politicians and got theoretical regime change, but it was hell to pry even $1 billion for real economic aid.jilles dykstra , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 6:46 am GMT" ..factions within the state whose interests do not coincide with those of the American people."
All the more powerfully put because of its recognisably comical. understatement. Thank you Mr Whitney. Brilliant article that would be all over the mainstream media were the US MSM an instrument of American rather than globalist interests.I am reading Howard Zinn, A Peoples History of the USA, 1492 to the Present. A sad story, how the USA always was a police state, where the two percent rich manipulated the 98% poor, to stay rich. When there were insurrections federal troops restored order. Also FDR put down strikes with troops.Logan , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 11:16 am GMT@jilles dykstraDESERT FOX , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 1:30 pm GMT
You should be aware that Zinn's book is not, IMO, an honest attempt at writing history. It is conscious propaganda intended to make Americans believe exactly what you are taking from it.The elephant in the room is Israel and the neocons , this is the force that controls America and Americas foreign policy , Brennan and the 17 intel agencies are puppets of the mossad and Israel, that is the brutal fact of the matter.TG , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 2:03 pm GMT
Until that fact changes Americans will continue to fight and die for Israel.Anonymous , Disclaimer Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 2:05 pm GMT"The absence of evidence suggests that Russia hacking narrative is a sloppy and unprofessional disinformation campaign that was hastily slapped together by over confident Intelligence officials who believed that saturating the public airwaves with one absurd story after another would achieve the desired result "
But it DID achieve the desired result! Trump folded under the pressure, and went full out neoliberal. Starting with his missile attack on Syria, he is now OK with spending trillions fighting pointless endless foreign wars on the other side of the world.
I think maybe half the US population does believe the Russian hacking thing, but that's not really the issue. I think that the pre-Syrian attack media blitz was more a statement of brute power to Trump: WE are in charge here, and WE can take you down and impeach you, and facts don't matter!
Sometimes propaganda is about persuading people. And sometimes, I think, it is about intimidating them.Whitney is another author who declares the "Russians did it" narrative a psyop. He then devotes entire columns to the psyop, "naww Russia didn't do it". There could be plenty to write about – recent laws that do undercut liberty, but no, the Washington Post needs fake opposition to its fake news so you have guys like Whitney in the less-mainstream fake news media.Jake , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 2:32 pm GMT
So Brennan wanted revenge? Well that's simple enough to understand, without being too stupid. But Whitney's whopper of a lie is what you're supposed to unquestionably believe. The US has "rival political parties". Did you miss it?The US is doing nothing more than acting as the British Empire 2.0. WASP culture was born of a Judaizing heresy: Anglo-Saxon Puritanism. That meant that the WASP Elites of every are pro-Jewish, especially in order to wage war, physical and/or cultural, against the vast majority of white Christians they rule.Logan , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:04 pm GMT
By the early 19th century, The Brit Empire's Elites also had a strong, and growing, dose of pro-Arabic/pro-Islamic philoSemitism. Most of that group became ardently pro-Sunni, and most of the pro-Sunni ones eventually coalescing around promotion of the House of Saud, which means being pro-Wahhabi and permanently desirous of killing or enslaving virtually all Shiite Mohammedans.
So, by the time of Victoria's high reign, the Brit WASP Elites were a strange brew of hardcoree pro-Jewish and hardcore pro-Arabic/islamic. The US foreign policy of today is an attempt to put those two together and force it on everyone and make it work.
The Brit secret service, in effect, created and trained not merely the CIA but also the Mossad and Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Presidency. All four are defined by endless lies, endless acts of utterly amoral savagery. All 4 are at least as bad as the KGB ever was, and that means as bad as Hell itself.@Grandpa CharlieWally , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:16 pm GMT
Fair enough. I didn't know that about the foreword. If accurate, that's a reasonable approach for a book.
Here's the problem.
Back when O. Cromwell was the dictator of England, he retained an artist to paint him. The custom of the time was for artists to "clean up" their subjects, in a primitive form of photoshopping.
OC being a religious fanatic, he informed the artist he wished to be portrayed as God had made him, "warts and all." (Ollie had a bunch of unattractive facial warts.) Or the artist wouldn't be paid.
Traditional triumphalist American narrative history, as taught in schools up through the 60s or so, portrayed America as "wart-free." Since then, with Zinn's book playing a major role, it has increasingly been portrayed as "warts-only," which is of course at least equally flawed. I would say more so.
All I am asking is that American (and other) history be written "warts and all." The triumphalist version is true, largely, and so is the Zinn version. Gone With the Wind and Roots both portray certain aspects of the pre-war south fairly accurately..
America has been, and is, both evil and good. As is/was true of every human institution and government in history. Personally, I believe America, net/net, has been one of the greatest forces for human good ever. But nobody will realize that if only the negative side of American history is taught.@Michael KennyLogan , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:20 pm GMT
Hasbarist 'Kenny', you said:
"There must be something really dirty in Russigate that hasn't yet come out to generate this level of panic."
You continue to claim what you cannot prove.
But then you are a Jews First Zionist.
Russia-Gate Jumps the Shark
Russia-gate has jumped the shark with laughable new claims about a tiny number of "Russia-linked" social media ads, but the US mainstream media is determined to keep a straight face
Yet Another Major Russia Story Falls Apart. Is Skepticism Permissible Yet?
+ review of other frauds@JakeGrandpa Charlie , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:25 pm GMT
Most of that group became ardently pro-Sunni, and most of the pro-Sunni ones eventually coalescing around promotion of the House of Saud, which means being pro-Wahhabi and permanently desirous of killing or enslaving virtually all Shiite Mohammedans.
Thanks for the laugh. During the 19th century, the Sauds were toothless, dirt-poor hicks from the deep desert of zero importance on the world stage.
The Brits were not Saudi proponents, in fact promoting the Husseins of Hejaz, the guys Lawrence of Arabia worked with. The Husseins, the Sharifs of Mecca and rulers of Hejaz, were the hereditary enemies of the Sauds of Nejd.
After WWI, the Brits installed Husseins as rulers of both Transjordan and Iraq, which with the Hejaz meant the Sauds were pretty much surrounded. The Sauds conquered the Hejaz in 1924, despite lukewarm British support for the Hejaz.
Nobody in the world cared much about the Saudis one way or another until massive oil fields were discovered, by Americans not Brits, starting in 1938. There was no reason they should. Prior to that Saudi prominence in world affairs was about equal to that of Chad today, and for much the same reason. Chad (and Saudi Arabia) had nothing anybody else wanted.@Michael KennySeamus Padraig , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:39 pm GMT
'Putin stopped talking about the "Lisbon to Vladivostok" free trade area long ago" -- Michael Kenney
Putin was simply trying to sell Russia's application for EU membership with the catch-phrase "Lisbon to Vladivostok". He continued that until the issue was triply mooted (1) by implosion of EU growth and boosterism, (2) by NATO's aggressive stance, in effect taken by NATO in Ukraine events and in the Baltics, and, (3) Russia's alliance with China.
It is surely still true that Russians think of themselves, categorically, as Europeans. OTOH, we can easily imagine that Russians in Vladivostok look at things differently than do Russians in St. Petersburg. Then again, Vladivostok only goes back about a century and a half.@utuSeamus Padraig , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:45 pm GMT
Anyway, the mission was accomplished and the relations with Russia are worse now than during Obama administration.
I generally agree with your comment, but that part strikes me as a bit of an exaggeration. While relations with Russia certainly haven't improved, how have they really worsened? The second round of sanctions that Trump reluctantly approved have yet to be implemented by Europe, which was the goal. And apart from that, what of substance has changed?@Grandpa CharlieLudwig Watzal , Website Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:46 pm GMT
That pre-9/11 "cooperation" nearly destroyed Russia. Nobody in Russia (except, perhaps, for Pussy Riot) wants a return to the Yeltsin era.It's not surprising that 57 percent of the American people believe in Russian meddling. Didn't two-thirds of the same crowd believe that Saddam was behind 9/11, too? The American public is being brainwashed 24 hours a day all year long.anonymous , Disclaimer Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:50 pm GMT
The CIA is the world largest criminal and terrorist organization. With Brennan the worst has come to the worst. The whole Russian meddling affair was initiated by the Obama/Clinton gang in cooperation with 95 percent of the media. Nothing will come out of it.
This disinformation campaign might be the prelude to an upcoming war.
Right now, the US is run by jerks and idiots. Watch the video.Only dumb people does not know that TRUMP IS NETANYAHU'S PUPPET.Miro23 , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 4:56 pm GMT
The fifth column zionist jews are running the albino stooge and foreign policy in the Middle East to expand Israel's interest against American interest that is TREASON. One of these FIFTH COLUMNISTS is Jared Kushner. He should be arrested.
[The key figures who had primary influence on both Trump's and Bush's Iran policies held views close to those of Israel's right-wing Likud Party. The main conduit for the Likudist line in the Trump White House is Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, primary foreign policy advisor, and longtime friend and supporter of Netanyahu. Kushner's parents are also long-time supporters of Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank.
Another figure to whom the Trump White House has turned is John Bolton, undersecretary of state and a key policymaker on Iran in the Bush administration. Although Bolton was not appointed Trump's secretary of state, as he'd hoped, he suddenly reemerged as a player on Iran policy thanks to his relationship with Kushner. Politico reports that Bolton met with Kushner a few days before the final policy statement was released and urged a complete withdrawal from the deal in favor of his own plan for containing Iran.
Bolton spoke with Trump by phone on Thursday about the paragraph in the deal that vowed it would be "terminated" if there was any renegotiation, according to Politico. He was calling Trump from Las Vegas, where he'd been meeting with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the third major figure behind Trump's shift towards Israeli issues. Adelson is a Likud supporter who has long been a close friend of Netanyahu's and has used his Israeli tabloid newspaper Israel Hayomto support Netanyahu's campaigns. He was Trump's main campaign contributor in 2016, donating $100 million. Adelson's real interest has been in supporting Israel's interests in Washington -- especially with regard to Iran.]A great article with some excellent points:CanSpeccy , Website Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:11 pm GMT
Putin's dream of Greater Europe is the death knell for the unipolar world order. It means the economic center of the world will shift to Central Asia where abundant resources and cheap labor of the east will be linked to the technological advances and the Capital the of the west eliminating the need to trade in dollars or recycle profits into US debt. The US economy will slip into irreversible decline, and the global hegemon will steadily lose its grip on power. That's why it is imperative for the US prevail in Ukraine– a critical land bridge connecting the two continents– and to topple Assad in Syria in order to control vital resources and pipeline corridors. Washington must be in a position where it can continue to force its trading partners to denominate their resources in dollars and recycle the proceeds into US Treasuries if it is to maintain its global primacy. The main problem is that Russia is blocking Uncle Sam's path to success which is roiling the political establishment in Washington.
American dominance is very much tied to the dollar's role as the world's reserve currency, and the rest of the world no longer want to fund this bankrupt, warlike state – particularly the Chinese.
First, it confirms that the US did not want to see the jihadist extremists defeated by Russia. These mainly-Sunni militias served as Washington's proxy-army conducting an ambitious regime change operation which coincided with US strategic ambitions.
The CIA run US/Israeli/ISIS alliance.
Second, Zakharova confirms that the western media is not an independent news gathering organization, but a propaganda organ for the foreign policy establishment who dictates what they can and can't say.
They are given the political line and they broadcast it.
The loosening of rules governing the dissemination of domestic propaganda coupled with the extraordinary advances in surveillance technology, create the perfect conditions for the full implementation of an American police state. But what is more concerning, is that the primary levers of state power are no longer controlled by elected officials but by factions within the state whose interests do not coincide with those of the American people. That can only lead to trouble.
At some point Americans are going to get a "War on Domestic Terror" cheered along by the media. More or less the arrest and incarceration of any opposition following the Soviet Bolshevik model.@utuThales the Milesian , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:53 pm GMT
On the plus side, everyone now knows that the Anglo-US media from the NY Times to the Economist, from WaPo to the Gruniard, and from the BBC to CNN, the CBC and Weinstein's Hollywood are a worthless bunch of depraved lying bastards.Brennan did this, CIA did that .AB_Anonymous , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:59 pm GMT
So what are you going to do about all this?
Continue to whine?
Continue to keep your head stuck in your ass?
So then continue with your blah, blah, blah, and eat sh*t.
You, disgusting self-elected democratic people/institutions!!!Such a truthful portrait of reality ! The ruling elite is indeed massively corrupt, compromised, and controlled by dark forces. And the police state is already here. For most people, so far, in the form of massive collection of personal data and increasing number of mandatory regulations. But just one or two big false-flags away from progressing into something much worse.Art , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 6:18 pm GMT
The thing is, no matter how thick the mental cages are, and how carefully they are maintained by the daily massive injections of "certified" truth (via MSM), along with neutralizing or compromising of "troublemakers", the presence of multiple alternative sources in the age of Internet makes people to slip out of these cages one by one, and as the last events show – with acceleration.
It means that there's a fast approaching tipping point after which it'd be impossible for those in power both to keep a nice "civilized" face and to control the "cage-free" population. So, no matter how the next war will be called, it will be the war against the free Internet and free people. That's probably why N. Korean leader has no fear to start one.An aside:Mr. Anon , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 7:07 pm GMT
All government secrecy is a curse on mankind. Trump is releasing the JFK murder files to the public. Kudos! Let us hope he will follow up with a full 9/11 investigation.
Think Peace -- Art@utuArt , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 7:11 pm GMT
The objective was to push new administration into the corner from which it could not improve relations with Russia as Trump indicated that he wanted to during the campaign.
Good point. That was probably one of the objectives (and from the point of view of the deep-state, perhaps the most important objective) of the "Russia hacked our democracy" narrative, in addition to the general deligitimization of the Trump administration.And, keep in mind, Washington's Sunni proxies were not a division of the Pentagon; they were entirely a CIA confection: CIA recruited, CIA-armed, CIA-funded and CIA-trained.Rurik , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 7:12 pm GMT
Clearly the CIA was making war on Syria. Is secret coercive covert action against sovereign nations Ok? Is it legal? When was the CIA designated a war making entity – what part of the constitution OK's that? Isn't the congress obliged by constitutional law to declare war? (These are NOT six month actions – they go on and on.)
Are committees of six congressman and six senators, who meet in secret, just avoiding the grave constitutional questions of war? We the People cannot even interrogate these politicians. (These politicians make big money in the secrecy swamp when they leave office.)
Syria is only one of many nations that the CIA is attacking – how many countries are we attacking with drones? Where is congress?
Spying is one thing – covert action is another – covert is wrong – it goes against world order. Every year after 9/11 they say things are worse – give them more money more power and they will make things safe. That is BS!
9/11 has opened the flood gates to the US government attacking at will, the various peoples of this Earth. That is NOT our prerogative.
We are being exceptionally arrogant.
Close the CIA – give the spying to the 16 other agencies.
Think Peace -- Art@Ben10Mr. Anon , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 7:15 pm GMT
right at 1:47
when he says 'we can't move on as a country'
his butt hurt is so ruefully obvious, that I couldn't help notice a wry smile on my face
that bitch spent millions on the war sow, and now all that mullah won't even wipe his butt hurt
when I see ((guys)) like this raging their inner crybaby angst, I feel really, really good about President Trump
MAGA bitches!@jilles dykstraTradecraft46 , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 8:04 pm GMT
I am reading Howard Zinn, A Peoples History of the USA
A Peoples History of the USA? Which Peoples?I am SAIS 70 so know the drill and the article is on point.
Here is the dealio. Most reporters are dim and have no experience, and it is real easy to lead them by the nose with promises of better in the future.
Oct 11, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
Since January, though, we've also seen a new level of rapaciousness by corporate interests in Washington DC that seem intent on extracting as much wealth as they can from wherever they can: consumers, investors, public lands, student borrowers, the tax code and even the war in Afghanistan.
Longtime watchers of the .01% won't be surprised by this bifurcated picture. For over two decades, an ever more educated wealthy elite has trumpeted its belief in tolerance, diversity, and meritocracy – even as it's also helped usher in record levels of inequality that have left many Americans feeling economically excluded and increasingly angry.
Trump's retrograde presidency has revealed the profound contradictions at the top of the US income ladder.
... ... ...
Corporate leaders have already been supportive of Trump's sweeping push to gut regulations in ways that would tilt the rules governing the economy more in favor of business and the wealthy. Social inclusion may be a growing public mantra of the far upper class. But economic extraction remains among its core operating principles.
... ... ...
Social inclusion is a public mantra of the upper class. But economic extraction remains a core operating principle
The answer is that many corporate and financial leaders were, and still are, a big part of the problem. These leaders have fostered the economic conditions that have thrown the values of tolerance and diversity on the defensive in America.
Business practices aimed at boosting shareholder value – like outsourcing, offshoring, automation, union-busting, predatory lending, and a range of anti-competitive abuses – have undermined the security of large swaths of the country. In turn, a flood of business dollars for campaign donations and lobbying over decades has helped thwart effective government responses to rising pain on Main Street.
... ... ...
History tells us that societies with extractive and self-serving upper classes tend to fall into decline – whereas societies with inclusive elites are more likely to thrive. With the rise of Trump, we're seeing what an unraveling of the social fabric looks like after decades in which nearly all the nation's income gains have flowed upwards to a tiny sliver of households.
Rarely has the American experiment – the notion of a country united by ideas rather than shared heritage – felt more fragile than it does right now. It's an ugly picture of division and resentment, but a predictable one given the economic trauma inflicted on millions of people over recent decades.
... ... ...
David Callahan is the author of The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age. He is the founder and editor of Inside Philanthropy
Oct 11, 2017 | www.unz.com
JackOH > , October 9, 2017 at 11:08 am GMTalexander > , October 9, 2017 at 4:30 pm GMT
I'm a moderate admirer of Chris Hedges, but he is really cooking in this interview. Too much to praise here, but his thinking that corporations, the mainstream media, and the academy can and do successfully "game" dissent by suppression, divide and conquer, co-optation, and so on, is spot on.Anonymous > , Disclaimer October 10, 2017 at 4:10 am GMT
I think this was an excellent discussion, and I would like to thank you both for having it, and sharing it.
Among the crises effecting the United States, the one effecting us most profoundly is the absence of any accountability for the crimes committed by our oligarchic class.
Addressing this issue is ground zero for any meaningful change.
If there is no accountability for their crimes , there will be no change.
Certainly the greatest among these crimes was(is) defrauding the nation into " a war of aggression". which, being the supreme international crime, should be met with harsh prison sentences for all who promoted it.
It is important for everyone to recognize just how much damage these policies have done to the country, not just in terms of our collective morale or our constitutional mandates,not just in terms of our international standing on universal principles of legality and justice, but our long term economic solvency as a nation.
The "exceptionalism" of our "war of aggression" elites has completely devastated our nation's balance sheet.
Since 9-11, our national debt has grown by a mind numbing "fourteen and a half trillion dollars".. nearly quadrupling since 1999.
This unconscionable level of "overspending" is unprecedented in human history.
Not one lawmaker, not one primetime pundit, nor one editorialist (of any major newspaper), has a CLUE how to deal with it.
Aside from the root atrocity in visiting mass murder on millions of innocents who never attacked us (and never intended to) which is a horrible crime in and of itself,
There is the profound crisis , in situ , of potentially demanding that 320 million Americans PAY FOR THE WARS OUR ELITES LIED US INTO .
This is where the rubber meets the road for our "war of aggression-ists ", gentlemen.
This is the "unanimous space" of our entire country's population on the issue of "no taxation without representation".
WHOSE assets should be made forfeit to pay for these wars .The DECEIVERS or the DECEIVED ?
Ask "The People" ..and you will find your answer .very fast.
No wonder our "elites" are terrified to discuss this .
Absolutely terrified.jacques sheete > , October 11, 2017 at 11:20 am GMT
No wonder our "elites" are terrified to discuss this .
They're not terrified–they know full well that they don't have to discuss it. Control of the flow of information eliminates any such necessity.
We're right now in the consolidation phase, during which the last few remaining pockets of dissent are thoroughly vilified, rooted out, made illegal and worse: unthinkable.
The idiotic grievance warriors whom–to his credit–Mr Hedges identifies as such, are the verbal equivalent of the violent criminal shock troops with which the elites afflict us. The 'identity politics' they champion are an extremely useful cudgel in the endless divide-and-conquer strategy.jacques sheete > , October 11, 2017 at 11:35 am GMT
It is the result of the transformation of the country into an oligarchy.
Transformation into an oligarchy? Transformation ??? I like Hedges' work, but such fundamental errors really taint what he sez.
The country was never transformed into an oligarchy; it began as one.
In fact, it was organized and functioned as a pluto-oligarchy right out of the box. In case anyone has the dimness to argue with me about it, all that shows is that you don't know JS about how the cornstitution was foisted on the rest of us by the plutoligarchs.
"An elective despotism was not the government we fought for "
-Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XIII, 1782 . ME 2:163
The Elites "Have No Credibility Left"
Guess what, boys and girls Why did they have any to begin with?
Where do people get their faith? WakeTF up, already!! (Yes, I'm losing it. Because even a duumbshit goy like myself can see it. Where are all you bright bulb know-it-alls with all the flippin answers???)jacques sheete > , October 11, 2017 at 12:08 pm GMT
Newspapers are trapped in an old system of information they call "objectivity" and "balance," formulae designed to cater to the powerful and the wealthy and obscure the truth.
It's amazing that here we are, self-anointed geniuses and dumbos alike, puttering around in the 21st century, and someone feels the necessity to point that out. And he's right; it needs to be pointed out. Drummed into our skulls in fact.
Arrrgggghhhh!!! Jefferson again.:
Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day.
Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell, 14 June 1807
More deja vu all over again and again. Note the date.:
"This is a story of a powerful and wealthy newspaper having enormous influence And never a day out of more than ten thousand days that this newspaper has not subtly and cunningly distort the news of the world in the interest of special privilege. "
Upton Sinclair, "The crimes of the "Times" : a test of newspaper decency," pamphlet, 1921
https://archive.org/stream/crimesofthetimes00sincrich/crimesofthetimes00sincrichjacques sheete > , October 11, 2017 at 2:35 pm GMT
I find it most fascinating that none of what Hedges says is news, but even UR readers probably think it is. Here's an antidote to that idea.
The following quote is from Eugene Kelly who's excoriating government press releases but the criticism applies as well to the resulting press reports. I found the whole article striking.:
Any boob can deduce, a priori, what type of "news" is contained in this rubbish.
-Eugene A. Kelly, Distorting the News, The American Mercury, March 1935 , pp. 307-318
I'd like good evidence that the situation has improved since then. Good luck.
The Elites "Have No Credibility Left"
Who thinks they had any to begin with? The quote, below, is almost 2000 years old
Apollo, too, who pretends to be so clever, with his bow and his lyre and his medicine and his prophecies; those oracle-shops that he has opened at Delphi, and Clarus, and Dindyma, are a cheat; he takes good care to be on the safe side by giving ambiguous answers that no one can understand, and makes money out of it, for there are plenty of fools who like being imposed upon,–but sensible people know well enough that most of it is clap-trap
Leto. Oh, of course; my children are butchers and impostors. I know how you hate the sight of them.
-Lucian of Samosata, DIALOGUES OF THE GODS, XVI, ~150AD
Oct 05, 2017 | www.unz.com
Billionaires in the commercial conglomerates, like Walmart, exploit workers by paying poverty wages and providing few, if any, benefits. Walmart earns $16 billion dollar a year in profits by paying its workers between $10 and $13 an hour and relying on state and federal assistance to provide services to the families of its impoverished workers through Medicaid and food stamps. Amazon plutocrat Jeff Bezos exploits workers by paying $12.50 an hour while he has accumulated over $80 billion dollars in profits. UPS CEO David Albany takes $11 million a year by exploiting workers at $11 an hour. Federal Express CEO, Fred Smith gets $16 million and pays workers $11 an hour.
Inequality is not a result of 'technology' and 'education'- contemporary euphemisms for the ruling class cult of superiority – as liberals and conservative economists and journalists like to claim. Inequalities are a result of low wages, based on big profits, financial swindles, multi-trillion dollar public handouts and multi-billion-dollar tax evasion. The ruling class has mastered the 'technology' of exploiting the state, through its pillage of the treasury, and the working class. Capitalist exploitation of low paid production workers provides additional billions for the 'philanthropic' billionaire family foundations to polish their public image – using another tax avoidance gimmick – self-glorifying 'donations'.
Workers pay disproportional taxes for education, health, social and public services and subsidies for billionaires.
Billionaires in the arms industry and security/mercenary conglomerates receive over $700 billion dollars from the federal budget, while over 100 million US workers lack adequate health care and their children are warehoused in deteriorating schools.
Workers and Bosses: Mortality Rates
Billionaires and multi-millionaires and their families enjoy longer and healthier lives than their workers. They have no need for health insurance policies or public hospitals. CEO's live on average ten years longer than a worker and enjoy twenty years more of healthy and pain-free lives.
Private, exclusive clinics and top medical care include the most advanced treatment and safe and proven medication which allow billionaires and their family members to live longer and healthier lives. The quality of their medical care and the qualifications of their medical providers present a stark contrast to the health care apartheid that characterizes the rest of the United States.
Workers are treated and mistreated by the health system: They have inadequate and often incompetent medical treatment, cursory examinations by inexperienced medical assistants and end up victims of the widespread over-prescription of highly addictive narcotics and other medications. Over-prescription of narcotics by incompetent 'providers' has significantly contributed to the rise in premature deaths among workers, spiraling cases of opiate overdose, disability due to addiction and descent into poverty and homelessness. These irresponsible practices have made additional billions of dollars in profits for the insurance corporate elite, who can cut their pensions and health care liabilities as injured, disabled and addicted workers drop out of the system or die.
The shortened life expectancy for workers and their family members is celebrated on Wall Street and in the financial press. Over 560,000 workers were killed by opioids between 1999-2015 contributing to the decline in life expectancy for working age wage and salary earners and reduced pension liabilities for Wall Street and the Social Security Administration.
Inequalities are cumulative, inter-generational and multi-sectorial.
Billionaire families, their children and grandchildren, inherit and invest billions. They have privileged access to the most prestigious schools and medical facilities, and conveniently fall in love to equally privileged, well-connected mates to join their fortunes and form even greater financial empires. Their wealth buys favorable, even fawning, mass media coverage and the services of the most influential lawyers and accountants to cover their swindles and tax evasion.
Billionaires hire innovators and sweat shop MBA managers to devise more ways to slash wages, increase productivity and ensure that inequalities widen even further. Billionaires do not have to be the brightest or most innovative people: Such individuals can simply be bought or imported on the 'free market' and discarded at will.
Billionaires have bought out or formed joint ventures with each other, creating interlocking directorates. Banks, IT, factories, warehouses, food and appliance, pharmaceuticals and hospitals are linked directly to political elites who slither through doors of rotating appointments within the IMF, the World Bank, Treasury, Wall Street banks and prestigious law firms.
Consequences of Inequalities
First and foremost, billionaires and their political, legal and corporate associates dominate the political parties. They designate the leaders and key appointees, thus ensuring that budgets and policies will increase their profits, erode social benefits for the masses and weaken the political power of popular organizations .
Secondly, the burden of the economic crisis is shifted on to the workers who are fired and later re-hired as part-time, contingent labor. Public bailouts, provided by the taxpayer, are channeled to the billionaires under the doctrine that Wall Street banks are too big to fail and workers are too weak to defend their wages, jobs and living standards.
Billionaires buy political elites, who appoint the World Bank and IMF officials tasked with instituting policies to freeze or reduce wages, slash corporate and public health care obligations and increase profits by privatizing public enterprises and facilitating corporate relocation to low wage, low tax countries.
As a result, wage and salary workers are less organized and less influential; they work longer and for less pay, suffer greater workplace insecurity and injuries – physical and mental – fall into decline and disability, drop out of the system, die earlier and poorer, and, in the process, provide unimaginable profits for the billionaire class . Even their addiction and deaths provide opportunities for huge profit – as the Sackler Family, manufacturers of Oxycontin, can attest.
The billionaires and their political acolytes argue that deeper regressive taxation would increase investments and jobs. The data speaks otherwise. The bulk of repatriated profits are directed to buy back stock to increase dividends for investors; they are not invested in the productive economy. Lower taxes and greater profits for conglomerates means more buy-outs and greater outflows to low wage countries. In real terms taxes are already less than half the headline rate and are a major factor heightening the concentration of income and power – both cause and effect.
Corporate elites, the billionaires in the Silicon Valley-Wall Street global complex are relatively satisfied that their cherished inequalities are guaranteed and expanding under the Demo-Republican Presidents- as the 'good times' roll on.
Away from the 'billionaire elite', the 'outsiders' – domestic capitalists – clamor for greater public investment in infrastructure to expand the domestic economy, lower taxes to increase profits, and state subsidies to increase the training of the labor force while reducing funds for health care and public education. They are oblivious to the contradiction.
In other words, the capitalist class as a whole, globalist and domestic alike, pursues the same regressive policies, promoting inequalities while struggling over shares of the profits. One hundred and fifty million wage and salaried taxpayers are excluded from the political and social decisions that directly affect their income, employment, rates of taxation, and political representation. They understand, or at least experience, how the class system works. Most workers know about the injustice of the fake 'free trade' agreements and regressive tax regime, which weighs heavy on the majority of wage and salary earners.
However, worker hostility and despair is directed against 'immigrants' and against the 'liberals' who have backed the import of cheap skilled and semi-skilled labor under the guise of 'freedom'. This 'politically correct' image of imported labor covers up a policy, which has served to lower wages, benefits and living standards for American workers, whether they are in technology, construction or production. Rich conservatives, on the other hand, oppose immigration under the guise of 'law and order' and to lower social expenditures – despite that fact that they all use imported nannies, tutors, nurses, doctors and gardeners to service their families. Their servants can always be deported when convenient.
The pro and anti-immigrant issue avoids the root cause for the economic exploitation and social degradation of the working class – the billionaire owners operating in alliance with the political elite.
In order to reverse the regressive tax practices and tax evasion, the low wage cycle and the spiraling death rates resulting from narcotics and other preventable causes, which profit insurance companies and pharmaceutical billionaires, class alliances need to be forged linking workers, consumers, pensioners, students, the disabled, the foreclosed homeowners, evicted tenants, debtors, the under-employed and immigrants as a unified political force.
Sooner said than done, but never tried! Everything and everyone is at stake: life, health and happiness.
conatus > , October 5, 2017 at 9:02 am GMTjacques sheete > , October 5, 2017 at 2:29 pm GMT
Ronald Reagan can be blamed for the excess of billionaires we now have. His lauding of the entrepreneurial spirit and how we are all brave individual risk takers makes it seem you are an envious chickensh$t if you advocate against unlimited assets.
But even Warren Buffet has come out for the estate tax saying something like now the Forbes 400 now possesses total assets of 2.5 trillion in a 20 trillion economy when 40 years ago they totaled in the millions. The legal rule against perpetuities generally used to limit trusts to a lifetime of 100 years, now some states offer 1000 year trusts which will only concretize an outlandishly high Gini coefficient(a measure of income inequality).
The rationale for lowering taxes and the untouchable rich is usually the trickle down theory but, as one of these billionaires said, "How many pairs of pants can I buy?" It takes 274 years spending 10,000 a day to spend a billion dollars.
Better Henry Ford's virtuous circle than Ronald Reagan's entrepreneur.
Ban all billionaires. Bring back the union label. Otherwise .. what do we have to lose?
http://nobillionairescom.dotster.com/advancedatheist > , October 5, 2017 at 2:53 pm GMT
@Wally "According to the US Internal Revenue Service, billionaire tax evasion amounts to $458 billion dollars in lost public revenues every year – almost a trillion dollars every two years by this conservative estimate."
No, it's $458 billion that the government has not managed to steal.
An income tax is the most degrading and totalitarian of all possible taxes. Its implementation wrongly suggests that the government owns the lives and labor of the citizens it is supposed to represent.
Tellingly, "a heavy progressive or graduated income tax" is Plank #2 of the Communist Manifesto, which was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and first published in 1848.
To provide funding for the federal government, Ron Paul supports excise taxes, non-protectionist tariffs, massive cuts in spending
"We could eliminate the income tax, replace it with nothing, and still fund the same level of big government we had in the late 1990s. We don't need to "replace" the income tax at all. I see a consumption tax as being a little better than the personal income tax, and I would vote for the Fair-Tax if it came up in the House of Representatives, but it is not my goal. We can do better."
No, it's $458 billion that the government has not managed to steal.
There was a time that I would have agreed with that, and technically still get the point, but what it really means is that the government merely allows the corporations which they favor, subsidize, and bail out to keep the chump change they've stolen from the workers, besides that which the government steals from the workers and hands to the corporations.
Corporations and government work hand in hand to fleece the herd and most of the herd apparently think it's just fine.
Never forget that thanks to government, corporations socialize risk while privatizing profit. They are partners in gangsterism.anonymous > , Disclaimer October 5, 2017 at 3:05 pm GMT
Private, exclusive clinics and top medical care include the most advanced treatment and safe and proven medication which allow billionaires and their family members to live longer and healthier lives.
Sorry, I don't buy the notion that billionaires have access to some super-healthcare that the rest of us don't know about. In the real world rich people notoriously waste a lot of money on quackery, like the current fad of receiving plasma transfusions from young people as a phony "anti-aging" treatment.
More likely the kinds of men who become billionaires just enjoy better health and longevity for genetic reasons. They tend to have higher IQ's, for example, and some scientists think that IQ correlates with "system integrity" in their bodies which just make higher IQ people more resilient. Look up the growing body of research on cognitive epidemiology.MarkinLA > , October 5, 2017 at 3:29 pm GMT
I'm disappointed there was no mention of the "Billionaires" use of social media. They've always controlled the press of course: startin' wars, hatin' on those guys, gettin' the blood up, jailin' the 'bad guys', preaching an empty delusion of social justice propaganda, payin' Ken Burns to propagandize and put a new coat of paint on the industrial scale killing of Vietnam. Probably just in time for more violence.
Let's face it, many of the workin' stiff will blow a hedge fund manager and kneel before the so-called free market corpse of Sam Walton but most importantly they'll grab their guns outa' patriotic fervor and social media will be right there with 'em. "I love Elon Musk!"
It's a great thing we're watched and datamined for our own good – information is how billionaires became billionaires along with a lot of help from the Government they usually encourage you to dislike. Keep posting!
Rich conservatives, on the other hand, oppose immigration under the guise of 'law and order' and to lower social expenditures – despite that fact that they all use imported nannies, tutors, nurses, doctors and gardeners to service their families. Their servants can always be deported when convenient.
BZZZZ – wrong. Rich conservative support massive immigration so they can get cheap labor while simutaneously virtue signaling. I thought you just got done sayiong they don't pay for the costs of the working poor? The middle class is who is against immigratioin. They bear the burden and pay the taxes that support it.
Jul 21, 2017 | www.zerohedge.comAuthored via InternationalMan.com,
... ... ...
The typical American day laborer has gained little.
And job competition from overseas made him feel like a loser. Now he wants walls – to keep out foreigners and foreign-made products. He wants win-lose deals that guarantee to make him a winner again.
He has no idea that he was set up by his own elite.
Former Fed chiefs Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan got their pictures on the cover of Time magazine. Most people think they are heroes, not rascals. Most people think they saved the economy from another Great Depression by dropping interest rates and injecting it with trillions of dollars in quantitative easing (QE) money.
Most people – even the POTUS – believe we need more fake money to "prime the pump" and get the economy rolling again.
Almost no one realizes it, but it was these stimulating, pump-priming, new credit-based dollars that fueled the trends that ruined America's working-class wage earner.
Overseas, his competitors used cheap credit to gain market share and take away his job. At home, the elite imposed their crony boondoggles their regulations and their win-lose deals – all financed with fake money.
The average American's medical care now costs him more than seven times more than it did in 1980. His household debt rose nearly 12 times since 1980.
... ... ...
Recently we've been wondering if it's possible that America could be on the brink of a second civil war. We did some digging and while the stuff we found may offend and shock you We recommend you take a look anyway by clicking here.
TeamDepends , Jul 21, 2017 6:32 PMCaptain Chlamydia -> TeamDepends , Jul 21, 2017 6:34 PM
Everything "the elite" does betrays the working class.Sonny Brakes , Jul 21, 2017 6:37 PM
https://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.htmlsilverer , Jul 21, 2017 6:42 PM
And the working class played along knowing full well that they were being duped. Got to support the team.GRDguy , Jul 21, 2017 6:42 PM
Money creation without productivity is a truly inspiring phenomenon.
They're not "elite," they're sociopaths. They lie and steal without empathy nor conscience.
People running independent businesses are not usually sociopaths. But top executives of major corporations usually are.
pantaraxia | Jul 2, 2017 9:08:27 AM | 64
Careful about that 'parasites' thing.
The conflict is systemic, deeply rooted in the current (dominant) socio-economic order. Reducing it to a narrative of 'parasitic global elites' risks encouraging simplistic 'answers', i.e. laying the blame on certain groups of people.
Last time it was the Jews...who's turn now?
...Your obvious apprehension over the demonization of 'parasitic global elites' is addressed here:
New Rule: Save the Rich Fcks | Real Time with Bill Maher
PS: Its interesting to note that in the context of discussing 'parasitic global elites' you bring up the subject of Jews, contextually implying some sort of association. There are numerous Jewish organizations that would accuse you of practicing 'dog whistle politics' here.
Apr 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.comhttp://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/robert-rubin-who-made-a-fortune-on-the-housing-bubble-argues-for-preserving-wall-street-s-power-over-the-fed
April 12, 2017
Robert Rubin, Who Made a Fortune on the Housing Bubble, Argues for Preserving Wall Street's Power Over the Fed
The Federal Reserve Board has more direct control over the economy than any other institution in the country. When it decides to raise interest rates to slow the economy, it can ensure that millions of workers don't get jobs and prevent tens of millions more from getting the bargaining power they need to gain wage increases. For this reason, it is very important who is making the calls on interest rates and who they are listening to.
Robert Rubin, who served as Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, weighed in * today in the New York Times to argue for the status quo. There are a few important background points on Rubin that are worth mentioning before getting into the substance.
First. Robert Rubin was a main architect of the high dollar policy that led to the explosion of the trade deficit in the last decade. This led to the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs and decimating communities across the Midwest. Second, Rubin was a major advocate of financial deregulation during his years in the Clinton administration. Finally, Rubin was a direct beneficiary of deregulation, since he left the administration to take a top job at Citigroup. He made over $100 million in this position before he resigned in the financial crisis when bad loans had essentially put Citigroup into bankruptcy. (It was saved by government bailouts.)
Rubin touts the current apolitical nature of the Fed. He warns about:
"Efforts to denigrate the integrity of the Fed's work, and to inject groundless opinion, politics and ideology, must be rejected by the board - and that means governors and other members of the Federal Open Market Committee must be willing to withstand aggressive attacks."
It is important to recognize that the Fed is currently dominated by people with close ties to the financial industry. The Fed Open Market Committee (FOMC) which determines interest rate policy has 19 members. While 7 are governors appointed by the president and approved by Congress (only 4 of the governor seats are currently filled), 12 are presidents of the district banks. These bank presidents are appointed through a process dominated by the banks in the district. (Only 5 of the 12 presidents have a vote at any one time, but all 12 participate in discussions.)
It seems bizarre to describe this process as apolitical or imply there is great integrity here. Rubin's claim is particularly ironic in light of the fact that one of the bank presidents was just forced to resign ** after admitting to leaking confidential information on interest rate policy to a financial analyst.
There is good reason for the public to be unhappy about the Fed's excessive concern over inflation *** over the last four decades and inadequate attention to unemployment. This arguably reflects the interests of the financial industry, which often stands to lose from higher inflation and have little interest in the level of employment. It is understandable that someone who has made his fortune in the financial industry would want to protect the status quo with the Fed, but there is little reason for the rest of us to take him seriously.
-- Dean Baker
Feb 01, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.comanne : January 22, 2017 at 08:09 PM , 2017 at 08:09 PMhttp://econospeak.blogspot.com/2017/01/auerbachs-tax-and-clone-wars.html
January 22, 2017
Auerbach's Tax and the Clone Wars
Menzie Chinn * introduces a new asset to economist blogging. Joel Trachtman ** provides an excellent discussion of whether the Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax violates WTO rules concluding that it does. He adds:
"If enacted, the plan would likely lead to lengthy litigation at the World Trade Organization. A (likely) ruling that the tax is an income tax, and is applied in a discriminatory manner, would mean that exempting exports would be considered an illegal subsidy and taxes on imports an illegal tariff. This could lead to trade sanctions against the U.S. and open the door to counter sanctions and the start of a trade war."
President Trump strikes me as someone who could care less about WTO rules. And starting a trade war fits his grand design of governance. As Yoda noted:
"Begun the clone war has"
President Trump is Lord Palpatine.
Feb 01, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. -> Peter K.... February 01, 2017 at 11:33 AM , 2017 at 11:33 AMLarry Summers:
"Third, the tax change will harm the global economy in ways that reverberate back to America. It will be seen by other countries and the World Trade Organisation as a protectionist act that violates US treaty obligations.
Proponents may argue that it should be legal because it is like a value added tax, but the WTO is very clear that income taxes cannot discriminate to favour exports.
While the WTO process would grind on, protectionist acts by other nations would be licensed immediately."
Oct 06, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
pgl : Thursday, October 06, 2016 at 01:34 AM"Multinational firms may invest in tax havens to avoid taxation in non-haven countries, but other motives, such as business opportunities in these countries, may also drive such investment. This column uses data on German firms to investigate the motives for tax haven investment. Tax avoidance does appear to be a motive, particularly for manufacturing firms.
Policies that raise the costs of reallocating profits maybe be effective in attenuating firms' use of tax havens."
VoxEU also notes that not every multinational uses tax havens to massively evade taxes. Rudy G. would have their shareholders sue over this. Of course Rudy G. is an idiot. Of course multinationals source production in regions with low costs as in "always low wages".
But I have a question - how many factories are located in the Cayman Islands?
Aug 29, 2015 | Zero Hedge
Last night we heard the best 'excuse' yet if you are caught with an Ashley Madison account, from Dan Loeb - "due diligence." Today, not to be outdone by a married hedge fund manager, Vice-President Joe Biden's son "Hunter" has unleashed his own set of excuses for member ship of the extramarital affairs website, as Breitbart reports - Biden thinks international agents, possibly Russian, who objected to his board membership with a Ukrainian gas company set up a fake account to discredit him. However, IP mapping suggests otherwise...
As Breitbart reports,
Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden's account on the extramarital dating website Ashley Madison was used and likely created on the Georgetown University campus while Biden was teaching there.
Business executive Robert "Hunter" Biden, reportedly an adviser to his father's political career, told Breitbart News Monday that he suspected his enemies of creating a fake Ashley Madison account for him in order to discredit him. The email address provided for "Robert Biden's" account matched a personal email address once used by Biden, the vice president's son confirmed.
Biden thinks international agents, possibly Russian, who objected to his board membership with a Ukrainian gas company set up a fake account to discredit him. A source close to Biden told People Magazine after the first Breitbart story ran that the IP address for the account traces to Jacksonville, Florida.
But account information shows that the profile, which was confirmed by a credit card purchase in 2014, was used at the latitude/longitude point of 38.912682, -77.071704.
That latitude-longitude point just happens to exist on the Georgetown University campus, at an administrative building on Reservoir Road. And Hunter Biden just happened to be teaching there around the time the account was set up.
* * *
Faced with the new information, representatives for Biden said that the vice president's son would not comment on the story beyond his original statements to Breitbart News denying that the account was his.
Biden's son discharged from Navy after testing positive for cocaine
He could be head of the ethics committee for the House of Lords.
At least his character flaws are in no way reflective of his father.
You know, apples never fall too far from the trees, stuff.
Hunter says: Hey, quit pickin' on me. Everybody has to try to get a head somehow!
ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can't wait until they find Joe's profile....
"The truth about the conflict with Russia"
Chevron, Shell, Monsanto, Cargill and others all had deals worth hundreds of billions with Ukraine prior to the Nuland putsch.
When Yanukovych swung toward Russia's Trade Union instead of the EU, Nuland used the $5 billion of NGO and western sympathizers she bought over the years, spent a little more and engineered the violent coup and subsequent civil warfare.
The US sought to marginalize Russia and kick them out of Sevastopol but surprise, surprise the locals would have none of that. Neither would Russia and the next thing you know Crimea voted to be absorbed once again by Russia and Nuland is left with crap on her face. Since the Donbass would have none of that either, 6,000 people are now dead and the Ukraine is a basket case that the west will have to pay for.
There may be some ethnic animosities in play too, but the real motivations are geo-political and economical.
The most-credible bits of information I've found support your summary.
I doubt the West will pay for the cleanup in Ukraine without some form of ROI. That expense will fall on their non-Russian neighbors who will be directly affected by starving neighbors this winter, with Poland carrying the bulk.
I doubt the ethnic problems will play a significant role, aside from pro-Russia Ukrainians feeling less charitable than otherwise.
The most-credible bits of information I've found support your summary.
I doubt the West will pay for the cleanup in Ukraine without some form of ROI. That expense will fall on their non-Russian neighbors who will be directly affected by starving neighbors this winter, with Poland carrying the bulk.
I doubt the ethnic problems will play a significant role, aside from pro-Russia Ukrainians feeling less charitable than otherwise.
Demented mass-murderer Putin is also a hacker and a blackmailer?
Since the beginning of the week, the three most influential mass circulation newsmagazines of the United States, Britain, and Germany-Time, The Economist, and Der Spiegel-have published cover stories that combine wild accusations against Vladimir Putin with demands for a showdown with Russia.
The most striking and obvious characteristic of these cover stories is that they are virtually identical. The CIA has scripted them all. The stories employ the same insults and the same fabrications. They denounce Putin's "web of lies." The Russian president is portrayed as a "depraved" mass murderer.
December 4, 2012 | Sociology Lens
There appears to be a link between neoliberalism, individualism, and violence. In reference to the association between neoliberalism and individualism, consider neoliberalism's insistence that we do not need society since we are all solely responsible for our personal well-being (Peters 2001; Brown 2003). From a criminological standpoint, it is not hard to understand how this focus on the individual can lead to violence. According to Hirschi's (1969) social control theory, for instance, broken or weak social bonds free a person to engage in deviancy. Since, according to this theory, individuals are naturally self-interested, they can use the opportunity of individualization to overcome the restraining powers of society. Bearing in mind neoliberalism's tendency to value the individual over society, it could be argued that this ideology is hazardous as it acts to tear apart important social bonds and to thereby contribute to the occurrence of ego-driven crimes, including violent interpersonal crimes. Such a thought suggests that as neoliberalism becomes more prominent in a country, it can be expected that individualism and, as a result, interpersonal violence within that country will increase.
When it comes to individualization, this idea is one of the fundamental aspects of neoliberalism. In fact, Bauman (2000:34) argues that in neoliberal states "individualization is a fate, not a choice." As Amable (2011) explains, neoliberals have realized that in order for their ideology to be successful, a state's populace must internalize the belief that individuals are only to be rewarded based on their personal effort. With such an ego-driven focus, Scharff (2011) explains that the process of individualization engenders a climate where structural inequalities are converted into individual problems. That is, neoliberalism surmises that anyone can overcome obstacles if only they work hard enough. Similarly, Brown (2003) describes how neoliberal policies place a moral component on success. By insisting that only the immoral fail to achieve success, this concept permits and even encourages a society to blame the poor for their suffering (Passas 2000). And, because people are responsible for their own fate as individuals, neoliberalism further entails that a state should not interfere with this process since doing so would be counterintuitive to the basic premise that only merit should determine success (Amable 2011). As Thatcher once said about the role of the state, "There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families…there's no such thing as entitlement" (Keay 1987:8-10).
As a result of this focus on the individual and the dismissal of society, neoliberalism runs the risk of increasing criminality. By discharging society and by highlighting the relationship between individual success and morality, neoliberal states are in danger of losing the beneficial aspects of social control (Horsley 2010). Without proper amounts of social control, Hirschi (1969) has argued, individuals are more likely to act on their self-interest and to behave in a criminal manner. Considering that neoliberalism insists on individualization and self-interest, it makes since that those living under neoliberal regimes may have fewer reasons not to act criminally. As Engels wrote during the early days of capitalism, this market-based philosophy threatens to create people who care for nothing but self-interest and advancement (Lea 1996). This mindset, he continued, would result in many people settling interpersonal differences with violence. In this sense, then, neoliberalism can be seen as indirectly contributing to interpersonal violence by acting through the neoliberal process of individualization.
In an attempt to more clearly examine the interconnections between neoliberalism, individualism, and interpersonal violence, consider the case of France. Although this country has been more hesitant about adopting neoliberalism than other Western states, the policies of this ideology have been creeping in since the mid-1980s. Bourdieu (1992) claims that ever since the arrival of neoliberalism, France has become less concerned with the social welfare of its citizens and it has become more concerned with economic matters. It is likely that this slow shift away from the welfare state has had an impact on the French people. Hofstede (2001) found, for instance, that France scores relatively high on the individualistic index compared to other nations. This means that the French are generally more concerned with themselves and with their direct families than they are with belonging to a collective group. And, since the enactment of neoliberal policies, the violent crime rate in France has amplified. Fougère, Kramarz, and Pouget (2009) note, for example, that violent crime increased dramatically in that country from 1990-2000. Considering Hirschi's focus on the importance of social control on deterring crime, it seems quite possible that the introduction of pro-individualistic neoliberal policies may have contributed to France's growing violent crime problem.
As is evidenced by the French example, there may very well be a link between neoliberalism, individualism, and interpersonal violence. By focusing so strongly on the individual and by disregarding the importance of community (Peters 2001; Brown 2003), neoliberalism increases the importance of individuality while decreasing the importance of society (Amable 2011). This obsession with the individual, research indicates, can result in a loss of social control and, as a result, a potential for violence (Hirschi 1969). In support of this contention, Horsley (2010:20) writes that "neo-liberalism may not directly cause criminality and violence…but its consequences certainly create the circumstances in which crime rates are more likely to rise." Undoubtedly, in addition to individualism, one of the primary consequences of neoliberalism is inequality. The interaction between inequality and individualization suggests that the non-elite may feel aggressive and frustrated with their social position and may experience too little social control to contain these feelings. With many of the social bonds that had previously discouraged violence gone, alienated individuals may be more apt to respond to stress with violence.
Over the last few decades there have been a multitude of critical works focusing on the ethical and moral implications of the (re)turn to 'free markets' associated with neoliberalism. Many focus on the way in which the culture of the latter, with its lionisation of self-interest, promotes selfishness and greed and, thus, represents a corrosive influence on social mores. This piece, while fully accepting such arguments, further asserts that the push for increasing deregulation of the economic sphere, the concomitant move to divert the latter of wider social responsibilities, as well as rising inequalities of wealth, power and influence, taken together exert a further significant, but hitherto under acknowledged influence, exacerbating the asserted 'irrationality' and amorality of the neoliberal credo. Drawing on a range of sources, including new understandings of the individual emerging from the fledgling area of neurosociology, it is argued that all of the aforementioned aspects of neoliberalism coalesce to undermine the rationality, propriety and empathy of its adherents. In some senses, as is argued, this represents an antithesis to the Weberian vision of rational capitalism as imagined in the 'Protestant Ethic'.
Gender, Justice, and Neoliberal Transformations
I begin this article by reflecting on one of the biggest professional mistakes I have ever made. I became a part of corporate humanitarianism in 2006, when IOM Korea invited me to be part of a research project on trafficking of Korean women overseas, sponsored by the Bom-bit Foundation, an NGO set up by the wife of the CEO of the biggest insurance company in South Korea. She had been concerned about the barrage of news reports that were circulating both in and out of Korea about the trafficking of Korean women into forced prostitution overseas. She wanted a global research project, "Korean women victims of sex trafficking in five global sites": South Korea, Japan, Australia, and the East and West Coasts of the United States. The ultimate goal was to find solutions to end such outflow and to save these women. The principal researcher, a male Korean academic, drafted a survey questionnaire laden with assumptions about coercion, violence, and sexual abuse. Even though the final reports from different sites came back with little evidence of trafficking, they did not prevent the principal investigator from producing a final report about the "serious problem of sex trafficking of Korean women into the global sex trade."
The first woman who I interviewed for this project was working in a massage parlor in Queens, New York. She came to the United States after the Korean police cracked down on her in her home, after they had obtained her address from her employer in Seoul in an antiprostitution raid. She explained her work in the United States:
Jin: Some people only come in for table showers, massage, and chats.
Interviewer: Are they the good clients?
Jin: No, they are not.
Interviewer: So who are the good clients?
Jin: Those people who finish quickly, they are the good ones. Those who have shower and then have sex and go. They are the best.
This response exploded the entire premise of the research and its assumptions about the inherently victimizing nature of sexual labor for women. Those who demand sex rather than conversations are the good clients-if they finish quickly, get themselves cleaned before having sex, and leave immediately after sex. Jin situated sex squarely within a repertoire of labor performance, along with other physical and emotional work, and identified sex as more efficient ("quick") in providing return to her labor. She made between $11,000 and $22,000 per month. On that note, let me move on to some important points in the discussion about gender and neoliberalism within the context of South Korea.
Neoliberalism is useful as a term only to the extent of understanding macro-historical shifts and setting a framework for investigation. But its history, manifestation, and effects can be so diverse in each location that it cannot be a useful analytical category without empirical analysis. For example, contrary to the trend of de-democratization observed in the United States, in South Korea, neoliberal reforms coincided with the democratization of civil society and the state in late 1990s, following four decades of military and authoritarian rule. In 1997, just when the first civilian democratic leader Kim Dae-jung became president, South Korea went through a major financial crisis and received the largest IMF bailout. The president supported a new wave of civic/human-rights organizations, set up the first National Human Rights Commission, and founded the Ministry of Gender Equality. During the same period, structural readjustment also ensured the flexibilization of labor and the weakening of trade unions, rendering many lives of more precarious as they became underemployed or unemployed.
In my work, I am grappling with how individuals like Jin live and make sense of their lives within a number of paradoxes/contradictions in neoliberalism:
1) The apparent amorality of neoliberalism and its facilitation of conservative moral agenda. The deployment of market principles to reconfigure the relationship between sovereignty and citizenship not only remakes economic, political, and cultural life, but also remakes citizen-subjects as entrepreneurs and consumers. While market competitiveness is idealized as the engine to advancement for all, labor competition is circumscribed for particular groups (e.g., through a household registration system that prevent migrants from accessing certain jobs, rights, and benefits in China) and in specific ways (e.g., only certain sectors of the labor market are considered legitimate-not sex work or surrogacy, for example). The discourse of national competitiveness and collective welfare pushes forward a conservative moral agenda in the face of these changes.
2) The depoliticization of social risks and the hyperpoliticization of national security. The emergence of an ethics of self-management and risk-taking justifies some form of retrenchment of the state in the social sphere. Yet this by no means suggests a weakening of the state. What we witness in neoliberal transformations is the assertion of the state through more hard-lined enforcement of criminal justice and border control. The consequence is an uneven emphasis on and legitimation of the self-enterprising individual, invoking national crisis, social danger, and self-harm to justify state intervention or exclusion. These measures have significant gendered repercussions-reshaping discourses on domesticity, sexuality, and mobility.
3) The concomitant and continuous ravaging of vulnerable populations and celebration of humanitarianism/human rights responses from state and civil society. Neoliberal developments create vulnerable populations by polarizing resources and wealth, and concomitantly generate a set of humanitarian/human rights responses from the state and civil society. Rather than being a set of problems that are being held back or eliminated by a set of solutions, they seem to grow symbiotically together. In effect, many humanitarian/human-rights interventions turn out to reiterate dominant interests, reproducing conservative gender, racial, class, and national hierarchies and divides.
How are these contradictions lived? Maybe Jin has some answers for us-not just from her personal trajectory, but also in what she said:
I am working hard and making money for myself. I am saving money to start my own business back home/to further study. I am not dependent on the government or my family. I am not harming anyone, even though this is not a job to boast about. I don't understand these women's human rights. These activists don't understand us. They are people from good background. I am not saying the antiprostitution laws are wrong. But do they have to go so far?
My research since 1997 on sex work and migrant women in South Korea and the United States is located right at the intersection of these paradoxes. As women who strategize their immigration and labor strategies for self-advancement as sex workers, they embody the sexual limits of neoliberalism. While they may personify the values of self-reliance, self-governance, and free markets in a manner akin to homo economicus, they violate the neoliberal ideals of relational sexuality and middle-class femininity. As many critics have attested to, even though the antitrafficking movement hails women's human rights, gender justice, and state protection, its operation predominantly through the crime frame reinforces gender, class, and racial inequalities. As such, antitrafficking initiatives, as they have taken shape in the twenty-first century, are part of neoliberal governance, and underlying the claims of equality and liberty are racial, gender, and sex panics with nationalist overtones that justify the repression of those who step outside these limits.
I think antitrafficking initiatives need to be situated within a broader set of political and social transformations in order to analyze the undercurrents of gender and sexuality across different sites. In South Korea, there was a strong gender and sexual ideology pervading the expansion of social policies in the post-1997 era. While the government could claim credit for addressing the needs of certain vulnerable populations (the unemployed, the homeless, migrant wives, women leaving prostitution, etc.), public anxieties about the breakdown of the family (runaway teenagers, old-age divorce, the fight for women's equality) that started during the 1997 crisis have continued into the new millennium (same-sex families, "multicultural families," single women). As national boundaries seem to have weakened with the incorporation of "multicultural families," the heteronormative nuclear family became more reified, and the domestic sphere as the proper place for women was reinscribed in a range of social policies. These include protection for "prostituted women," since 2004, and support provided to migrant wives-both policies designed to harness these women's reproductive powers for the future of the Korean nation, and to reproduce their class location.
It is also important to be wary of claims to promote "women's human rights" and how these claims are circumscribed within certain spheres-only in sex work, and not in the gendered layoffs during an economic crisis, or in relation to the homeless women who have been excluded as legitimate recipients of government support. "Women's human rights" have been hurled around to legitimize activism and policies that turned out to make lives more difficult for some women, rendering them either as targets or instruments of criminal law.
We also need to ask why the law is resorted to so consistently for women activists to make claims on the state. And why does the general public have so much faith in the law to enforce morality?
I would like to see cultural struggles become a more important site to extend into, building on a solid economic and political critique. As we witnessed i the Occupy movement, as well as with the sex worker festivals in different global locations, creativity, humor, and conviviality have a lot of power to draw attention, if not to incite solidarity. The new sex workers' organization in South Korea calls itself the Giant Girls ("GG" also means "support" in Korean), and organizes its own seminars, holds a sex work festival celebration, and produces its own podcasts, in which everyday conversation and serious discussion take place in a light-hearted manner, often with bursts of laughter. The fists-in-air protests are no longer the main part of the movement, marking a significant departure from the victimhood discourse. I am hopeful that this will appeal at least to a younger generation of potential coalition partners in the LGBT community, labor movements (for women and migrants), and cultural movements. This could be a refreshing-and possibly transformational-shift in feminist politics and critique in South Korea, and in other sites in Asia.Footnotes
- Brown, Wendy (2006). "American Nightmare: Neoliberalism, Neoconservatism, and De-Democratization." Political Theory 34(6): 690-714. [Return to text]
- Bernstein, Elizabeth (2012). "Carceral Politics as Gender Justice? The 'Traffic in Women'
The higher immorality can neither be narrowed to the political sphere nor understood as primarily a matter of corrupt men in fundamentally sound institutions. Political corruption is one aspect of a more general immorality; the level of moral sensibility that now prevails is not merely a matter of corrupt men. The higher immorality is a systematic feature of the American elite; its general acceptance is an essential feature of the mass society.
Of course, there may be corrupt men in sound institutions, but when institutions are corrupting, many of the men who live and work in them are necessarily corrupted. In the corporate era, economic relations become impersonal-and the executive feels less personal responsibility. Within the corporate worlds of business, war-making and politics, the private conscience is attenuated-and the higher immorality is institutionalized. It is not merely a question of a corrupt administration in corporation, army, or state; it is a feature of the corporate rich, as a capitalist stratum, deeply intertwined with the politics of the military state.
There is still one old American value that has not markedly declined: the value of money and of the things money can buy-these, even in inflated times, seem as solid and enduring as stainless steel. 'I've been rich and I've been poor,' Sophie Tucker has said, 'and believe me, rich is best.' As many other values are weakened, the question for Americans becomes not Is there anything that money, used with intelligence, will not buy?' but, 'How many of the things that money will not buy are valued and desired more than what money will buy?' Money is the one unambiguous criterion of success, and such success is still the sovereign American value.
Whenever the standards of the moneyed life prevail, the man with money, no matter how he got it, will eventually be respected. A million dollars, it is said, covers a multitude of sins. It is not only that men want money; it is that their very standards are pecuniary. In a society in which the money-maker has had no serious rival for repute and honor, the word 'practical' comes to mean useful for private gain, and 'common sense,' the sense to get ahead financially. The pursuit of the moneyed life is the commanding value, in relation to which the influence of other values has declined, so men easily become morally ruthless in the pursuit of easy money and fast estate-building.
A great deal of corruption is simply a part of the old effort to get rich and then to become richer. But today the context in which the old drive must operate has changed. When both economic and political institutions were small and scattered-as in the simpler models of classical economics and Jeffersonian democracy-no man had it in his power to bestow or to receive great favors. But when political institutions and economic opportunities are at once concentrated and linked, then public office can be used for private gain.
Governmental agencies contain no more of the higher immorality than do business corporations. Political men can grant financial favors only when there are economic men ready and willing to take them. And economic men can seek political favors only when there are political agents who can bestow such favors. The publicity spotlight, of course, shines brighter upon the transactions of the men in government, for which there is good reason. Expectations being higher, publics are more easily disappointed by public officials. Businessmen are supposed to be out for themselves, and if they successfully skate on legally thin ice, Americans generally honor them for having gotten away with it. But in a civilization so thoroughly business-penetrated as America, the rules of business are carried over into government-especially when so many businessmen have gone into government. How many executives would really fight for a law requiring a careful and public accounting of all executive contracts and 'expense accounts'? High income taxes have resulted in a network of collusion between big firm and higher employee. There are many ingenious ways to cheat the spirit of the tax laws, as we have seen, and the standards of consumption of many high-priced men are determined more by complicated expense accounts than by simple take-home pay. Like prohibition, the laws of income taxes and the regulations of wartime exist without the support of firm business convention. It is merely illegal to cheat them, but it is smart to get away with it. Laws without supporting moral conventions invite crime, but much more importantly, they spur the growth of an expedient, amoral attitude.
A society that is in its higher circles and on its middle levels widely believed to be a network of smart rackets does not produce men with an inner moral sense; a society that is merely expedient does not produce men of conscience. A society that narrows the meaning of 'success' to the big money and in its terms condemns failure as the chief vice, raising money to the plane of absolute value, will produce the sharp operator and the shady deal. Blessed are the cynical, for only they have what it takes to succeed.
It is the proud claim of the higher circles in America that their members are entirely self-made. That is their self-image and their well-publicized myth. Popular proof of this is based on anecdotes its scholarly proof is supposed to rest upon statistical rituals whereby it is shown that varying proportions of the men at the top are sons of men of lower rank. We have already seen the proportions of given elite circles composed of the men who have risen. But what is more important than the proportions of the sons of wage workers among these higher circles is the criteria of admission to them, and the question of who applies these criteria. We cannot from upward mobility infer higher merit. Even if the rough figures that now generally hold were reversed, and 90 per cent of the elite were sons of wage workers-but the criteria of co-optation by the elite remained what they now are-we could not from that mobility necessarily infer merit. Only if the criteria of the top positions were meritorious, and only if they were self-applied, as in a purely entrepreneurial manner, could we smuggle merit into such statistics-from any statistics-of mobility. The idea that the self-made man is somehow 'good' and that the family-made man is not good makes moral sense only when the career is independent, when one is on one's own as an entrepreneur. It would also make sense in a strict bureaucracy where examinations control advancement. It makes little sense in the system of corporate co-optation.
There is, in psychological fact, no such thing as a self-made man. No man makes himself, least of all the members of the American elite. In a world of corporate hierarchies, men are selected by those above them in the hierarchy in accordance with whatever criteria they use. In connection with the corporations of America, we have seen the current criteria. Men shape themselves to fit them, and are thus made by the criteria, the social premiums that prevail. If there is no such thing as a self-made man, there is such a thing as a self-used man, and there are many such men among the American elite.
Under such conditions of success, there is no virtue in starting out poor and becoming rich. Only where the ways of becoming rich are such as to require virtue or to lead to virtue does personal enrichment imply virtue. In a system of co-optation from above, whether you began rich or poor seems less relevant in revealing what kind of man you are when you have arrived than in revealing the principles of those in charge of selecting the ones who succeed.
All this is sensed by enough people below the higher circles to lead to cynical views of the lack of connection between merit and mobility, between virtue and success. It is a sense of the immorality of accomplishment, and it is revealed in the prevalence of such views as: 'it's all just another racket,' and 'it's not what you know but who you know.' Considerable numbers of people now accept the immorality of accomplishment as a going fact
Moral distrust of the American elite-as well as the fact of organized irresponsibility-rests upon the higher immorality, but also upon vague feelings about the higher ignorance. Once upon a time in the United States, men of affairs were also men of sensibility: to a considerable extent the elite of power and the elite of culture coincided, and where they did not coincide they often overlapped as circles. Within the compass of a knowledgeable and effective public, knowledge and power were in effective touch; and more than that, this public decided much that was decided.
'Nothing is more revealing,' James Reston has written, 'than to read the debate in the House of Representatives in the Eighteen Thirties on Greece's fight with Turkey for independence and the Greek-Turkish debate in the Congress in 1947. The first is dignified and eloquent, the argument marching from principle through illustration to conclusion; the second is a dreary garble of debating points, full of irrelevancies and bad history. George Washington in 1783 relaxed with Voltaire's 'letters' and Locke's 'On Human Understanding'; Eisenhower read cowboy tales and detective stories. For such men as now typically arrive in the higher political, economic and military circles, the briefing and the memorandum seem to have pretty well replaced not only the serious book, but the newspaper as well. Given the immorality of accomplishment, this is perhaps as it must be, but what is somewhat disconcerting about it is that they are below the level on which they might feel a little bit ashamed of the uncultivated style of their relaxation and of their mental fare, and that no self-cultivated public is in a position by its reactions to educate them to such uneasiness.
By the middle of the twentieth century, the American elite have become an entirely different breed of men from those who could on any reasonable grounds be considered a cultural elite, or even for that matter cultivated men of sensibility. Knowledge and power are not truly united inside the ruling circles; and when men of knowledge do come in contact with the circles of powerful men, they come not as peers but as hired men. The elite of power, wealth, and celebrity do not have even a passing acquaintance with the elite of culture, knowledge and sensibility; they are not in touch with them-although the ostentatious fringes of the two worlds sometimes overlap in the world of the celebrity.
Most men are encouraged to assume that, in general, the most powerful and the wealthiest are also the most knowledgeable or, as they might say, 'the smartest.' Such ideas are propped up by many little slogans about those who 'teach because they can't do,' and about 'if you're so smart, why aren't you rich?' But all that such wisecracks mean is that those who use them assume that power and wealth are sovereign values for all men and especially for men 'who are smart.' They assume also that knowledge always pays off in such ways, or surely ought to, and that the test of genuine knowledge is just such pay-offs. The powerful and the wealthy must be the men of most knowledge, otherwise how could they be where they are? But to say that those who succeed to power must be 'smart,' is to say that power is knowledge. To say that those who succeed to wealth must be smart, is to say that wealth is knowledge.
The prevalence of such assumptions does reveal something that is true: that ordinary men, even today, are prone to explain and to justify power and wealth in terms of knowledge or ability. Such assumptions also reveal something of what has happened to the kind of experience that knowledge has come to be. Knowledge is t no longer widely felt as an ideal; it is seen as an instrument. In a society of power and wealth, knowledge is valued as an instrument of power and wealth, and also, of course, as an ornament in conversation.
The American elite is not composed of representative men whose conduct and character constitute models for American imitation and aspiration. There is no set of men with whom members of the mass public can rightfully and gladly identify. In this fundamental sense, America is indeed without leaders. Yet such is the nature of the mass public's morally cynical and politically unspecified distrust that it is readily drained off without real political effect. That this is so, after the men and events of the last thirty years, is further proof of the extreme difficulty of finding and of using in America today the political means of sanity for morally sane objectives.
America - a conservative country without any conservative ideology-appears now before the world a naked and arbitrary power, as, in the name of realism, its men of decision enforce their often crackpot definitions upon world reality. The second-rate mind is in command of the ponderously spoken platitude. In the liberal rhetoric, vagueness, and in the conservative mood, irrationality, are raised to principle. Public relations and the official secret, the trivializing campaign and the terrible fact clumsily accomplished, are replacing the reasoned debate of political ideas in the privately incorporated economy, the military ascendancy, and the political vacuum of modern America.
The men of the higher circles are not representative men; their high position is not a result of moral virtue; their fabulous success is not firmly connected with meritorious ability. Those who sit in the seats of the high and the mighty are selected and formed by the means of power, the sources of wealth, the mechanics of celebrity, which prevail in their society. They are not men selected and formed by a civil service that is linked with the world of knowledge and sensibility. They are not men shaped by nationally responsible parties that debate openly and clearly the issues this nation now so unintelligently confronts. They are not men held in responsible check by a plurality of voluntary associations which connect debating publics with the pinnacles of decision. Commanders of power unequaled in human history, they have succeeded within the American system of organized irresponsibility.
Customer ReviewsA very timely book,
November 16, 2008Joseph Oppenheim (San Diego, CA USA) - See all my reviews
What makes "Gangster Capitalism" so worthwhile is that it helps in understanding what has led us to the 2007-8 financial meltdown. As the book shows, like during the 1920's, deregulation led the way for powerful companies to allow the very wealthy to get wealthier at the expense of average people by using poor working conditions, low wages, etc, plus at the same time supporting supposedly moral movements (against gambling, alcohol, drugs, etc) which mainly served the purpose of making these trades more profitable to crooks and therefore created rampant gangsterism there. The result was such a society wracked with gangsterism at all levels, but because most people felt they were prospering, few complained.
But, then it all collapsed with the 1929 crash and resulting Depression, which led the way for FDR and the New Deal programs which increased regulation of corporations, repeal of Prohibition, etc. Though the Depression lingered until WWII, the New Deal was successful in restructuring our laws and public infrastructure to create a better footing for the prosperity which would follow.
The book effectively traces how much of this regulation was reduced piece by piece, beginning in earnest with Nixon, using Cold War fears to tilt the nation toward more corporate power and away from reform, support of right-wing dictators around the world, re-energizing a 'moral crusade' especially by beginning the War on Drugs, thereby making the illegal drug trade super profitable, etc.
The nation had shifted Right and even Democratic presidents like Carter who was instrumental in deregulating industry and Clinton who signed into law the repeal of Glass--Steagle weren't able to stop the shift. Then, the 'Gangster Capitalism" went on steroids with G. W. Bush. By 2003, corporate taxes only amounted to 7% of revenues, while payroll taxes amounted to 40%.
Of note, the book makes clear it is opportunity which leads to much crime, so the approach of massive deregulation of corporations, plus focusing on arrests and imprisonment for victimless crimes ends up with the wrong results, more entrenched crime, even allowing corporations to capitalize on a prison industry.
The book is also good at highlighting how corporations and outright gangsters were able to corrupt legal drugs (price-fixing), tobacco, asbestos, body parts, autos (Pintos), etc. Some other things in the book, of note: Hamid Karzai included drug traffickers in his Afghan administration.
And, our support of Suharto (Indonesia), Mobuto (the Congo), and Marcos (the Philippines) allowed 'looting' of these countries.
A corrupt financial infrastructure included the BCCI bank and offshore banking to evade taxes also developed. Plus, laundering money from illegal arms sales, drugs, and so many other illegal activities passed through our financial system.
The book is definitely tilted toward a liberal way of looking at things, therefore it doesn't go into the good things about capitalism, but there are disturbing patterns which are important to understand, and this book does that very well.
September 6, 2006
Despite the fact that I was predisposed to agree with many of the author's views, this book was a huge disappointment. First, the basic premises:
By James R. Maclean (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
- American business enterprise is singularly corrupt;
- Most of the crime that Americans suffer from is corporate crime;
- American methods of fighting crime focus on lurid fantasies of underworld conspiracy;
- The USA exports criminality through its foreign & trade policies.
Each of these premises could have been, and in other venues have been, well-argued. The first three suffer from a lack of generally accepted, objective measures, but experts on criminology have overcome worse obstacles. What we get instead is an unfocused, rambling listing of claims (plausible, but very poorly documented) about the criminal underworld, anecdotes about corporate crime, and extreme statements. No doubt "legitimate" business enterprise does rip off more money from customers each year than do gangsters or mafiosi; but the latter also account for a tiny fraction of the total US labor force. And comparing deaths from industrial accidents to mob hits is just over the top.
Woodiwiss says that the book "had its inception during a seminar series on transnational organized crime run by Adam Edwards and Peter Gill... Adam and Peter put together several of the best academic researchers from Europe and North America...." Yet the book is exasperatingly badly substantiated. I noticed almost no original research. Woodiwiss's footnotes, which--like cops--are never around when you need them (viz., when he is actually saying something that requires documentation), are almost exclusively from articles in the *Guardian* or from other sensational exposes. Radical literature has its place, of course, but saying, "US capitalism is just like organized crime... see, it says so in 'The New Left Review'" is just a harangue, not evidence.
The back cover declaims: "..[T]he position of large multinational corporations...actually provide the most enticing opportunities for illegal profit...Gangster Capitalism shows how respectable businessmen and revered statesmen have seized these opportunities in an orgy of fraud and illegal violence that would leave the most hardened mafiosi speechless."
In fact, it's a disappointing pile of clippings. With the exception of his claims--again, plausible but unsubstantiated--you are not going to find any surprises here.
As I mentioned, he attacks conventional wisdom regarding the mafia and J. Edgar Hoover (who comes off surprisingly well); unfortunately, Woodiwiss offers almost no support for those contentions that are likely to be controversial. For example, on p.78 he mentions President [Nixon]'s Advisory Council on Executive Organization, "Organized Crime Strike Force Report" , which included a vaguely worded remark that the reliance on legal sanctions to fight drug abuse was actually causing organized crime to flourish." This is footnoted. Then he says that Nixon was so horrified by this that he ruthlessly suppressed the report. This is not footnoted. The next pargagraph (p.49) includes a quote from a law enforcement officer claiming that gambling arrests were made just to pad the arrest numbers; this is footnoted. The next paragraph declares that gampling is no more corrupt than the rest of the economy. A surprising observation, it is predictibly not footnoted.
The result: lots of footnotes documenting that water is a bit on the damp side, but nothing to support the controversial stuff. Only a small part is devoted to crime; the rest is a paste-up job from two dozen radical critiques of the USA. Anything from the 1971 ditching of the gold exchange standard to the various covert activities of the CIA are brought up, with no more compelling a connection to Woodiwiss' original point than being bad things that Americans did.
The conclusions are so insipid (it calls for "fair trade" with no further specification of how that would be any different... capital punishment for corporations--evidently Mr. Woodiwiss has never heard of 'money laundering,' in which a vehicle corporation commits suicide), that it is pointless to spend any time on them. Woodiwiss needs to actually learn something about economics; ironically enough, for someone who claims business is closely tied to crime, he knows almost nothing about it. He needs to know, and say what he knows, about law enforcement and business practices abroad, so he can make a comparison. And finally, he needs to actually learn how to write.
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Robert Johnson: Audacious Oligarchy – Unmasking Wall Street and the Decline of Confidence
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Robert Johnson Audacious Oligarchy – Unmasking Wall Street and the Decline of Confidence " Silver For The People – The Blog
Robert Johnson on Oligarchy at Culture Project's IMPART 2012 Festival
Oligarchy now is audatioues. They don't really care if they are legitimate.
"Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must."
Robert Johnson serves as the Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) and a Senior Fellow and Director of the Global Finance Project for the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in New York.
Previously, Johnson was a Managing Director at Soros Fund Management where he managed a global currency, bond and equity portfolio specializing in emerging markets. Prior to working at Soros Fund Management, he was a Managing Director of Bankers Trust Company managing a global currency fund.
Johnson served as Chief Economist of the US Senate Banking Committee under the leadership of Chairman William Proxmire (D. Wisconsin) and of Chairman Pete Domenici (R. New Mexico).
Johnson received a Ph.D. and M.A. in Economics from Princeton University and a B.S. in both Electrical Engineering and Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Jürgen Habermas, (paraphrased)
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by catwatters4769 viewsFurther Reading:
Amable, Bruno. 2011. "Morals and Politics in the Ideology of Neo-Liberalism." Socio-Economic Review 9(1):3-30.
Bauman, Zygmunt. 2000. Liquid Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1992. "The Left Hand and the Right Hand of the State." Pp. 86-93 in Acts of Resistance: Against the Tyranny of the Market, edited by G. Sapiro. New York: The New Press.
Brown, Wendy. 2003. "Neo-Liberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy." Theory & Event 7(1):1-19.
Fougère, Denis, Francis Kramarz, and Julien Pouget. 2009. "Youth Unemployment and Crime in France." Journal of the European Economic Association 7(5):909-938.
Hirschi, Travis. 1969. Causes of Delinquency. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Hofstede, Geert. 2001. Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Horsley, Mark. 2010. "Capitalism and Crime: The Criminogenic Potential of the Free Market." Internet Journal of Criminology.
Keay, Douglas. 1987. "Aids, Education and the Year 2000!." Woman's Own, October 1987, pp.8-10.
Lea, John. 1996. The Condition of Britain: Essays on Frederick Engels. London: Pluto Books.
Passas, Nikos. 2000. "Global Anomie, Dysnomie, and Economic Crime: Hidden Consequences of Neoliberalism and Globalization in Russia and Around the World." Social Justice 27(2):16-44.
Peters, Michael A. 2001. Poststructuralism, Marxism and Neoliberalism: Between Theory and Politics. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.
Scharff, Christina. 2011. "Disarticulating Feminism: Individualization, Neoliberalism and the Othering of 'Muslim Women'." European Journal of Women's Studies 18(2):119-134.
Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers : Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy
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Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law
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