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[Dec 14, 2018] Whataboutism proclaim that each asserted truth stands on its own, and has no essential relation to any other past, present, or future asserted truth

Like the term "conspiracy theory "whataboutism" is a nasty and dirty propaganda trick. Truth can be understood only in historical context.
Notable quotes:
"... The detail of b's analysis that stands out to me as especially significant and brilliant is his demolition of the Guardian's reuse of the Merkel "quote." ..."
"... Related to the above, consider the nature of the recently christened thought-crime, "whataboutism." The crime may be defined as follows: ..."
"... "Whataboutism" is the attempt to understand a truth asserted by propaganda by way of relation to other truths it has asserted contemporaneous with or prior to this one. It is to ask, "What about this *other* truth? Does this *other* truth affect our understanding of *this* truth? And if so, how does it?" ..."
"... Whataboutism seems to proclaim that each asserted truth stands on its own, and has no essential relation to any other past, present, or future asserted truth. ..."
May 04, 2018 | moonofalabama.org
XXX | 12

The detail of b's analysis that stands out to me as especially significant and brilliant is his demolition of the Guardian's reuse of the Merkel "quote."

This one detail tells us so much about how propaganda works, and about how it can be defeated. Successful propaganda both depends upon and seeks to accelerate the erasure of historical memory. This is because its truths are always changing to suit the immediate needs of the state. None of its truths can be understood historically. b makes the connection between the documented but forgotten past "truth" of Merkel's quote and its present reincarnation in the Guardian, and this is really all he *needs* to do.

What b points out is something quite simple; yet the ability to do this very simple thing is becoming increasingly rare and its exercise increasingly difficult to achieve. It is for me the virtue that makes b's analysis uniquely indispensable.

Related to the above, consider the nature of the recently christened thought-crime, "whataboutism." The crime may be defined as follows:

"Whataboutism" is the attempt to understand a truth asserted by propaganda by way of relation to other truths it has asserted contemporaneous with or prior to this one. It is to ask, "What about this *other* truth? Does this *other* truth affect our understanding of *this* truth? And if so, how does it?"

Whataboutism seems to proclaim that each asserted truth stands on its own, and has no essential relation to any other past, present, or future asserted truth.

[Dec 14, 2018] Fairly Recently Must - and Should-Reads book on financial fraud

Notable quotes:
"... Dan Davies on financial fraud is certainly the most entertaining book on Economics I have read this year. Highly recommend ..."
"... Chris Dillow : Review of Dan Davies: Lying for Money ..."
"... Lying For Money ..."
"... Dan has also a theory of fraud. 'The optimal level of fraud is unlikely to be zero' he says. If we were to take so many precautions to stop it, we would also strangle legitimate economic activity... ..."
Nov 24, 2018 | www.bradford-delong.com

Dan Davies on financial fraud is certainly the most entertaining book on Economics I have read this year. Highly recommend

Chris Dillow : Review of Dan Davies: Lying for Money :

"Squalid crude affairs committed mostly by inadequates. This is a message of Dan Davies' history of fraud, Lying For Money ....

Most frauds fall into a few simple types.... Setting up a fake company... pyramid schemes... control frauds, whereby someone abuses a position of trust...

plain counterfeiters.

My favourite was Alves dos Reis, who persuaded the printers of legitimate Portuguese banknotes to print even more of them....

All this is done with the wit and clarity of exposition for which we have long admired Dan. His footnotes are an especial delight, reminding me of William Donaldson.

Dan has also a theory of fraud. 'The optimal level of fraud is unlikely to be zero' he says. If we were to take so many precautions to stop it, we would also strangle legitimate economic activity...

[Dec 14, 2018] The Predatory Lending Machine Crushing Small Businesses Across America by Zachary R. Mider and Zeke Faux

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... They got around lending regulations by calling what they did "merchant cash advances," not loans -- a distinction judges recognize though there's little practical difference. ..."
Nov 20, 2018 | www.bloomberg.com

How an obscure legal document turned New York's court system into a debt-collection machine that's chewing up small businesses across America.

Story by Zachary R. Mider and Zeke Faux Data analysis by David Ingold and Demetrios Pogkas

Look out, the stranger on the phone warned. They're coming for you.

The caller had Janelle Duncan's attention. Perpetually peppy at 53, with sparkly jewelry and a glittery manicure, Duncan was running a struggling Florida real estate agency with her husband, Doug. She began each day in prayer, a vanilla latte in her hand and her Maltese Shih Tzu, Coco, on her lap, asking God for business to pick up.

She'd answered the phone that Friday morning in January hoping it would be a new client looking for a home in the Tampa suburbs.

The man identified himself as a debt counselor. He described a bizarre legal proceeding that he said was targeting Duncan without her knowledge. A lender called ABC had filed a court judgment against her in the state of New York and was planning to seize her possessions. "I'm not sure if they already froze your bank accounts, but they are RIGHT NOW moving to do just that," he'd written in an email earlier that day. He described the lender as "EXTREMLY AGGRESSIVE." Her only hope, the man said, was to pull all her money out of the bank immediately.

His story sounded fishy to the Duncans. They had borrowed $36,762 from a company called ABC Merchant Solutions LLC, but as far as they knew they were paying the money back on schedule. Doug dialed his contact there and was assured all was well. They checked with a lawyer; he was skeptical, too. What kind of legal system would allow all that to happen 1,000 miles away without notice or a hearing? They shrugged off the warning as a scam.

But the caller was who he said he was, and everything he predicted came true. The following Monday, Doug logged in at the office to discover he no longer had access to his bank accounts. A few days on, $52,886.93 disappeared from one of them. The loss set off a chain of events that culminated a month later in financial ruin. Not long after her agency went bankrupt, Janelle collapsed and was rushed to the hospital, vomiting bile.

As the Duncans soon learned, tens of thousands of contractors, florists, and other small-business owners nationwide were being chewed up by the same legal process. Behind it all was a group of financiers who lend money at interest rates higher than those once demanded by Mafia loan sharks. Rather than breaking legs, these lenders have co-opted New York's court system and turned it into a high-speed debt-collection machine. Government officials enable the whole scheme. A few are even getting rich doing it.

Janelle and Doug Duncan

"Somebody just comes in and rips everything out. It's cannibalized our whole life"

The lenders' weapon of choice is an arcane legal document called a confession of judgment. Before borrowers get a loan, they have to sign a statement giving up their right to defend themselves if the lender takes them to court. It's like an arbitration agreement, except the borrower always loses. Armed with a confession, a lender can, without proof, accuse borrowers of not paying and legally seize their assets before they know what's happened. Not surprisingly, some lenders have abused this power. In dozens of interviews and court pleadings, borrowers describe lenders who've forged documents, lied about how much they were owed, or fabricated defaults out of thin air.

"Somebody just comes in and rips everything out," Doug said one evening in August, pulling up a stool at a Starbucks and recounting the events that killed the Duncans' business. After a long day spent selling houses for another company, the name tag pinned to his shirt had flipped upside down like a distress signal. "It's cannibalized our whole life."

Confessions of judgment have been part of English common law since the Middle Ages, intended as a way to enforce debts without the fuss and expense of trial. Concerns about their potential abuse are almost as old. In Charles Dickens's 1837 novel The Pickwick Papers , a landlady who's tricked into signing one ends up in debtors' prison . Some U.S. states outlawed confessions in the middle of the 20th century, and federal regulators banned them for consumer loans in 1985. But New York still allows them for business loans.

For David Glass, they were the solution to a problem: People were stealing his money. Among the hustlers and con men who work the bottom rungs of Wall Street, Glass is a legend. Before he was 30, he'd inspired the stock-scam movie Boiler Room . Later busted by the FBI for insider trading, he avoided prison by recording incriminating tapes of his old colleagues. Even his enemies say Glass, who declined to comment for this story, is one of the sharpest operators they've ever dealt with.

In 2009, while still on probation, Glass and a friend named Isaac Stern started a company called Yellowstone Capital LLC. (ABC, the firm that wiped out the Duncans, is one of more than a dozen corporate names used by Yellowstone's sales force.) Operating out of a red-walled office above an Irish bar in New York's financial district, these salespeople phoned bodegas and pizzerias and pitched their owners on loans. The rates sometimes exceeded 400 percent a year, and daily payments were required, but borrowers were desperate.

... ... ...

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, banks were cutting back on lending just when small businesses most needed cash. Companies such as Yellowstone stepped in. They got around lending regulations by calling what they did "merchant cash advances," not loans -- a distinction judges recognize though there's little practical difference. The same people who'd pushed stock swindles in the 1990s and subprime mortgages a decade later started talking small businesses into taking on costly debt. The profits were huge , and the industry grew. Last year it extended about $15 billion in credit, according to an estimate by investment bank Bryant Park Capital.

Yellowstone would hire anyone who could sell. A nightclub bouncer sat next to ultra-Orthodox Jews fresh out of religious school. The best brokers earned tens of thousands of dollars a month, former employees say; others slept at the office, fought, sold loose cigarettes, and stole from each other. A video posted on YouTube shows Glass firing an employee. "Get the f--- out of my firm," he yells. "Why are you still sitting there, fat ass? Get out of my company!" To keep the troops focused, management would stack a pile of cash on a table and hold a drawing for closers.

Glass's problem was that some borrowers took Yellowstone's money with no intention of paying it back. Lawsuits against deadbeats proved pointless, dragging on for months or years. Then a lawyer who worked for Yellowstone and other cash-advance outfits came up with the idea of requiring borrowers to sign confessions of judgment before receiving their loans. That way, at the first sign of trouble, lenders could start seizing assets, catching borrowers unawares.

In May 2012, Yellowstone became what appears to be the first company in the industry to file a confession in court. Others copied the trick. The innovation didn't just make collections easier; it upended the industry's economics. Now, even if a borrower defaulted, a company stood a chance of making a full recovery. By tacking on extra fees, it might even make more money, and faster, than if the borrower had never missed a payment. In some cases, the collections process became a profit engine.

Confessions aren't enforceable in Florida, where the Duncans signed theirs. But New York's courts are especially friendly to confessions and will accept them from anywhere, so lenders require customers to sign documents allowing them to file there. That's turned the state into the industry's collections department. Cash-advance companies have secured more than 25,000 judgments in New York since 2012, mostly in the past two years, according to data on more than 350 lenders compiled by Bloomberg Businessweek . Those judgments are worth an estimated $1.5 billion. The biggest filer by far, with a quarter of the cases: Yellowstone Capital.

The Duncans' ordeal began in November 2017 with an unsolicited fax from a broker promising term loans of as much as $1 million at a cheap rate. The couple had owned their agency, a Re/Max franchise, for three years and now had 50 employees, but they still weren't turning a profit. A planned entry into the mortgage business was proving more expensive than expected. Doing some quick math, Doug figured he could borrow $800,000 to fund the expansion, pay off some debt, and come out with a lower monthly payment. The spam fax felt like a gift from God.

On the phone, the broker said that to qualify for a big loan, Doug would first have to accept a smaller amount and make a few payments as a tryout. He sent over the paperwork for a cash advance, not a term loan -- and included confessions for both Doug and Janelle to sign. Without talking to a lawyer, they did. Why not? Doug thought. They intended to pay the money back on time.

The advance turned out to be for $36,762, repaid in $800 daily debits from their bank account starting the day after they got the money. This would continue for about three months, until they'd repaid $59,960, amounting to an annualized interest rate of more than 350 percent. A small price to pay, Doug figured -- soon he'd have all the money he needed in cheaper, longer-term debt. But when he followed up the next month to inquire about the status of the bigger loan, he got no response. The trouble started soon after.

A few hours after learning that their bank accounts had been frozen, the Duncans met with a local attorney, Jeffrey Dowd, in a law office squeezed between a nail salon and a transmission shop. Their bank, SunTrust, refused to tell them who was behind the freeze. It wasn't clear why Yellowstone would target them. Their contact there was still pleading ignorance; the lender had collected its $800 payment as recently as the previous business day. Janelle was on the verge of tears.

A broad-shouldered man with a white goatee, Dowd handles everything from wills to lawsuits for small-business owners in the Tampa suburbs. After assuring the Duncans he'd get to the bottom of it, he logged on to his computer. He soon found a legal website showing that Yellowstone had won a judgment against the Duncans a few hours after Janelle received the warning phone call. The lender had gone to a court in the village of Goshen, 60 miles north of New York City.

"I hereby confess judgment," read the documents Doug and Janelle had signed. Attached was a statement signed by the same person at Yellowstone who'd assured Doug everything was fine. It said the Duncans had stopped making payments.

That wasn't true. The Duncans' bank records show that Yellowstone had continued to get its daily $800 even after going to court. The company's sworn statement also inflated the size of the couple's debt. But by the time Dowd found the case, it was already over. A clerk had approved the judgment less than a day after Yellowstone's lawyer asked for it. No proof was demanded, no judge was involved, and the Duncans didn't have a chance to present their side in court.

Beau Phillips, a Yellowstone spokesman, said in an email to Businessweek that the company was within its rights, because the Duncans had blocked one payment and never made up for it. The Duncans respond that if a block had taken place, it must have been a computer error. Why stop paying and then resume the next day?

The court papers revealed the name of Yellowstone's lawyer, and on a whim, Dowd searched for her other cases and found more than 1,500 results. The Duncans' predicament was no aberration. "It was like a rabbit hole," Dowd says. He dove in, clicking on case after case after case.

The Long Reach of a Rubber Stamp In one month, a single clerk's office in Orange County, New York, issued 176 judgments against small businesses in 38 states and Puerto Rico

... ... ...

Note: Judgments issued based on merchant cash-advance filings in Orange County in July 2018 Source: Bloomberg News analysis of New York State Unified Court System documents

Goshen, N.Y., is a bucolic stop on the harness-racing circuit, just west of the Hudson River. Not far from the track, in the Orange County Clerk's office, women with ID lanyards around their necks sit behind Plexiglas windows, processing pistol permits and recording deeds. One clerk prints out proposed judgments sent electronically by cash-advance companies and makes them official with three rubber stamps.

Orange is one of a handful of counties in upstate New York that together handle an outsize share of the nation's cash-advance collections. Industry lawyers pick offices known to sign judgments quickly; there's no need for the borrower or lender to have a connection to the area. In even smaller Ontario County, cash-advance filings make up about three-quarters of the civil caseload. No matter how abusive the confessions might be, clerks have no choice but to continue processing them, says Kelly Eskew, a deputy clerk in Orange County.

To obtain a judgment, a lawyer for a cash-advance company must send in the confession along with a sworn affidavit explaining the default and how much is still owed. The clerk accepts the statement as fact and enters a judgment without additional review. Once signed, this judgment is almost impossible to overturn. Borrowers rarely try. Few lawyers will take on a client whose money is already gone, and getting a ruling can take months -- too long to save a desperate business. It's a trap with no escape.

Clicking around a database of New York state court records, Dowd did find some cases in which cash-advance borrowers had sought to overturn judgments. They'd almost always failed. New York judges took the view that debtors waived their rights when they signed the papers. Dowd concluded it would probably cost the Duncans $5,000 to retain a lawyer to travel to Orange County. He advised them not to bother.

It's possible that if the Duncans had tried to overturn the judgment, they would have discovered that the confessions they'd signed were later altered. The signed originals contain an apparent drafting error, failing to identify the Duncans' company as subject to the judgment, a flaw that might have prevented Yellowstone from seizing their money. In the version filed in court , someone had replaced the first two pages of each confession with the mistake corrected. Asked by Businessweek about the discrepancy, Phillips didn't provide an explanation.

Altered Documents The confession of judgment signed by the Duncans ( left top ) and the one filed by Yellowstone in court
Image of the confession of judgment signed by the Duncans.
Image of the confession of judgment filed by Yellowstone in court.

Borrowers have accused Yellowstone of forgery before. Just in the past year, a Georgia contractor presented evidence in court that a confession used against him was a complete fabrication, and a Maryland trucker complained to Yellowstone that a key term in his confession had been changed after the fact, as had happened with the Duncans. The company backed off from those borrowers but faced no further consequences. Phillips declined to comment on the accusations.

While Dowd didn't challenge the ruling against the Duncans in court, he did think he could get SunTrust to help them. He told the bank that one of the couple's accounts held funds that didn't belong to them because it was used to collect rent on behalf of landlords. Dowd says a banker at the local branch wanted to help but was overruled by higher-ups. The account remained frozen. A spokesman for SunTrust declined to comment.

When Dowd finally reached Yellowstone's lawyer, she referred him to a marshal who she said was handling the case. Dowd was confused. Why would a U.S. marshal be involved? His clients weren't fugitives. He called the phone number, and somebody with a Russian accent answered.

The person on the phone wasn't a federal official. Dowd had reached the Brooklyn office of Vadim Barbarovich, who holds the title of New York City marshal. He'd stumbled onto an arcane feature of the city's government that's become another powerful tool for cash-advance companies.

New York's 35 marshals are government officers, appointed by the mayor, who collect private debts. They evict tenants and tow cars, city badges dangling from their necks. When they recover money, they get a fee of 5 percent. The office dates to Dutch colonial days, formed by a decree of Peter Stuyvesant's council . Fees for the biggest jobs were initially set at a dozen stivers, less than one-tenth the price of a beaver pelt.

Barbarovich's office is in the immigrant enclave of Sheepshead Bay. Before he was appointed in 2013, he'd tracked inventory at a Brooklyn hospital and volunteered as a Russian translator. He's now the go-to marshal for the cash-advance business and has gotten rich in the process. Last year, city records show, he cleared $1.7 million after expenses.

As soon as Yellowstone had obtained its judgment against the Duncans, it had sent a copy to Barbarovich, who issued legal orders demanding money from Atlanta-based SunTrust and another bank in Alabama where the couple kept their personal funds. By law, New York marshals' authority is limited to the city's five boroughs, but a loophole vastly extends their reach: They're allowed to demand out-of-state funds as long as the bank has an office in the city, as SunTrust does. A few big banks refuse to comply with the orders, but most just hand over their customers' money.

SunTrust proved accommodating. Three days after freezing the Duncans' accounts, it took $52,886.93 and mailed a check to Barbarovich, enough to satisfy the judgment plus the 5 percent marshal's fee. Almost all of it was rent money the Duncans were holding for landlords, not their own funds. Barbarovich didn't respond to questions about the couple's case but said in an email that he follows the rules when issuing a demand for money. Phillips, the Yellowstone spokesman, said no one told the company that the money belonged to third parties until seven weeks after it was seized. Even then, Yellowstone refused to return it.

The Duncans scrambled to make up the shortfall. Doug got another, larger cash advance from a different company to keep afloat. The daily payments on that loan were too much for them to handle, though, and they were soon short of cash again. Sensing trouble, employees fled.

One evening, Janelle thought she was having a heart attack. Her pulse raced, her limbs went numb, and she grew nauseous. An ambulance rushed her to the hospital. Her heart was fine. Her insurance claim was denied.

Unlike the Duncans, most of the dozens of borrowers interviewed by Businessweek really did fall behind on their debt payments. Their experiences were no less wrenching. They spoke of divorce, of lost friendships, of unpaid medical bills.

"You can't defend yourself," says Richard Schilg, the owner of a human resources company in Ohio who borrowed hundreds of thousands of dollars with at least six advances. "As long as you still have a business, as long you have a personal checking account, they're going to hound you. Your life is ruined by their contract." Schilg says he always tried to honor his debts. But his access to money has been so restricted by cash-advance judgments that he's had to sell furniture to buy food.

He's one of many borrowers who've received nasty threats from debt collectors. "I will make this my personal business to f--- you," a Yellowstone executive named Steve Davis told Schilg on a voicemail heard by Businessweek . Davis texted another: "I will watch you crash and burn." Asked about the messages, Davis says, "People defraud us. When that happens we have to do what's best for us."

Jerry Bush, who ran a plumbing business with his father in Roanoke, Va., signed confessions for at least six cash advances from companies including Yellowstone, taking one loan after another as his payments mounted to $18,000 a day. In January, Davis called him while he was accompanying his wife to a chemotherapy appointment and threatened him with the confession in a dispute over payment terms. Davis denies menacing Bush, but according to Bush's account of their conversation, Davis said he would pursue Bush until his death and take all of his money, leaving nothing to pay for his wife's treatment. Bush also says Davis then offered to send flowers to Bush's wife.

Jerry Bush

"I wake up every morning afraid what else they will take. And every morning I throw up blood"

In August, Bush closed his business, laid off his 20 employees, and stopped making payments on his loans. Yellowstone never filed its signed confession in court, but other lenders went after him over theirs. One sunny day that month, he walked to a wooded area near his home, swallowed a bottle of an oxycodone painkiller, and began streaming video to Facebook. To anyone who might have been watching, he explained that he'd taken out cash advances in a failed attempt to save his business. Now the lenders had seized his accounts, Bush said, his voice wavering. One had even grabbed his father's retirement money.

"I signed 'em, I take the blame for it," he said. "This will be my last video. I am taking this on me." He asked his friends to take care of his family, then sobbed as he told his wife and teenage son he loved them.

Someone who saw the video alerted the police. They found Bush unconscious in the woods a few hours later -- he credits them with saving his life. But the pressure from his confessions of judgment hasn't relented. "I wake up every morning afraid what else they will take," he says. "And every morning I throw up blood."

Bush's contracts with Yellowstone show that the company advanced him a total of about $250,000 and that he paid them back more than $600,000. Davis, who parted ways with Yellowstone in August, says he didn't mistreat Bush or other borrowers and always followed the company's protocols. "You know why people put the blame on me is because I'm successful," he says. "It's just haters."

As for the Duncans, each morning at their house still begins with a prayer and a Bible verse. Their retirement savings evaporated with their agency, but they've been able to keep their house. They continue to believe God has a plan for every one of his children, but they've learned to trust some of those children less. "If we don't have peace from God, and we live in outrage, it destroys us," Janelle says. "So I'm choosing to have hope to start again, and we're relying on the Lord to replace what the enemy has stolen and turn it around for good."

By seizing their bank deposits, Yellowstone had managed to collect its money ahead of schedule and tack on $9,990 in extra legal fees, payable to a law firm in which it owns a stake. In about three months, the company and its affiliates almost doubled their money. At that rate of return, one dollar could be turned into 10 in less than a year.

Everyone else involved in the collection process got a slice, too. SunTrust got a $100 processing fee. Barbarovich's office got approximately $2,700, with about $120 of that passed along to the city. The Orange County Clerk's office got $41 for its rubber stamps. The New York state court system got $184.

To date, no state or federal regulator has tried to police the merchant-cash-advance industry. Its lawyers designed it to avoid scrutiny, sidestepping usury laws and state licensing requirements by keeping the word "loan" out of paperwork and describing the deals as cash advances against future revenue. And because the customers are technically businesses, not individuals, consumer protection laws don't apply, either.

With regulators sidelined and lawmakers oblivious, Yellowstone and its peers keep growing. After Glass stepped back a couple of years ago from day-to-day operations -- his criminal record was making it harder to find investors -- Wall Street investment bankers arranged a $120 million line of credit to finance more advances. In 2016 the company moved from its grimy downtown Manhattan offices to a shiny building in Jersey City, pocketing $3 million in state tax incentives . On Instagram, a top salesman shows off flights on private jets, a diamond-encrusted watch, and a Lamborghini. Yellowstone advanced $553 million last year, its highest total ever.

A stack of cash about to be raffled off to a lucky Yellowstone employee. SOURCE: FACEBOOK

In April, on the same day Janelle Duncan was selling the last of her office furniture, Yellowstone executives marked the company's ninth anniversary with a luncheon in Jersey City. In a celebratory email marking the occasion, Stern, the co-founder, wrote, "I am continually blown away at the success and achievements we continue to have."

[Dec 08, 2018] The problem with predatory behaviour of TBTF financial institutions is probably deeper then personality of Blankfein

Sliding of the banks into criminal behaviour is a norm, not an exemption
Feb 06, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
pgl : February 04, 2017 at 03:41 PM, 2017 at 03:41 PM
Not that Wikipedia gets everything right but here is a snippet of what it says about the Goldman Sachs CEO:

'Blankfein testified before Congress in April 2010 at a hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He said that Goldman Sachs had no moral or legal obligation to inform its clients it was betting against the products which they were buying from Goldman Sachs because it was not acting in a fiduciary role. The company was sued on April 16, 2010, by the SEC for the fraudulent selling of a synthetic CDO tied to subprime mortgages. With Blankfein at the helm, Goldman has also been criticized "by lawmakers and pundits for issues from its pay practices to its role in helping Greece mask the size of its debts". In April 2011, a Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report accused Goldman Sachs of misleading clients about complex mortgage-related investments in 2007, and Senator Carl Levin alleged that Blankfein misled Congress, though no perjury charges have been brought against Blankfein. In August of the same year, Goldman confirmed that Blankfein had hired high-profile defense lawyer Reid Weingarten'

Weingarten helped in the defense of the Worldcom thieves. Why would anyone do business with a company led by such an ethically challenged CEO?

libezkova -> pgl... , February 04, 2017 at 07:12 PM
The problem here is probably deeper then personality of Blankfein.

There is such thing as system instability of economy caused by outsized financial sector and here GS fits the bill. Promotion of psychopathic personalities with no brakes and outsize taste for risk is just an icing on the cake.

> Why would anyone do business with a company led by such an ethically challenged CEO?

Why you are assuming the other TBTF are somehow better then GS?

[Dec 08, 2018] Owning the lawmakers doesn't make banksters not criminals, it just makes them criminals that are above the law

Dec 08, 2018 | www.alternet.org

Guest 6 years ago

[Dec 08, 2018] Wall Street s corruption runs deeper than you can fathom by Robert Scheer

Notable quotes:
"... Noncompliant: A Lone Whistleblower Exposes the Giants of Wall Street. ..."
"... Noncompliant: A Lone Whistleblower Exposes the Giants of Wall Street. ..."
"... Noncompliant: A Lone Whistleblower Exposes the Giants of Wall Street. ..."
"... A Lone Whistleblower Exposes the Giants of Wall Street. ..."
Dec 08, 2018 | www.alternet.org

Originally from: Truthdig December 8, 2018, 4:38 AM GMT

Wall Street's corruption runs deeper than you can fathom | Alternet Wall Street's corruption runs deeper than you can fathom As an employee at the Federal Reserve in 2011, three years after the dissolution of Lehman Brothers, Carmen Segarra witnessed the results of this deregulation firsthand

Print 61 COMMENTS

Of the myriad policy decisions that have brought us to our current precipice, from the signing of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the invasion of Iraq and the gerrymandering of House districts across the country, few have proven as consequential as the demise of Glass-Steagall . Signed into law as the U.S.A. Banking Act of 1933, the legislation had been crucial to safeguarding the financial industry in the wake of the Great Depression. But with its repeal in 1999, the barriers separating commercial and investment banking collapsed, creating the preconditions for an economic crisis from whose shadow we have yet to emerge.

Carmen Segarra might have predicted as much. As an employee at the Federal Reserve in 2011, three years after the dissolution of Lehman Brothers, she witnessed the results of this deregulation firsthand. In her new book, " Noncompliant: A Lone Whistleblower Exposes the Giants of Wall Street, " she chronicles the recklessness of institutions like Goldman Sachs and the stunning lengths the United States government went to to accommodate them, even as they authored one of the worst crashes in our nation's history.

"They didn't want to hear what I had to say," she tells Robert Scheer in the latest installment of "Scheer Intelligence." "And so I think what we have in terms of this story is really not just a failure of the banks and the regulators, but also a failure of our prosecutors. I mean, a lot of the statutes that could be used -- criminal statutes, even, that could be used to hold these executives accountable are not being used, and they have not expired; we could have prosecutors holding these people accountable."

Segarra also explains why she decided to blow the whistle on the Fed, and what she ultimately hopes to accomplish by telling her story. "I don't like to let the bad guys win," she says. "I'd rather go down swinging. So for me, I saw it as an opportunity to do my civic duty and rebuild my life. I was very lucky to be blessed by so many people who I shared the story to, especially lawyers who were so concerned about what I was reporting, who thought that the Federal Reserve was above this, who thought that the government would not fail us after the financial crisis, and who were livid."

"Noncompliant" explores one of the darkest chapters in modern American history, but with a crook and unabashed narcissist occupying the Oval Office, its lessons are proving remarkably timely. "We live in a culture where we reward bad behavior, we worship bad behavior, and it's something that needs to stop," she cautions. "Changing the regulatory culture on [a] U.S. governmental level is something that's going to take a decade, maybe two. And we need to start now, before things get worse."

Listen to Segarra's interview with Scheer or read a transcript of their conversation below:

Robert Scheer: Hi, I'm Robert Scheer, and this is another edition of "Scheer Intelligence," where the intelligence comes from my guests. Today, Carmen Segarra. She's written a book, just came out, called "Noncompliant: A Lone Whistleblower Exposes the Giants of Wall Street." And boy, did she ever. Perhaps you remember this case; it was in 2011, two, three years into the Great Recession. There was a lot of pressure from Congress that these banks be regulated in a more serious way. As a result, Carmen Segarra, someone of considerable education, was brought in. And she was assigned to do a survey of Goldman Sachs, to go over to Goldman Sachs. And I just want to preface this, people have to understand that not only is the Federal Reserve an incredibly -- the most important economic institution in the United States, but the New York Federal Reserve plays a special role being in New York. And they are basically entrusted with regulating the banks, and they are the institution that most definitely failed in that task, and helped bring about the Great Recession. Would you agree with that assessment?

Carmen Segarra: Yes, I would agree with that assessment. When I joined the Federal Reserve, as you pointed out, I was hired from outside the regulatory world, but within the legal and compliance banking world, to help fix its problems. And I was well aware of the problems that existed. And scoping the problems itself was relatively easy; I mean, within days of arriving, I had participated in meetings where you had Goldman Sachs executives, you know, lying, doublespeaking, and misrepresenting to regulatory agencies without fear of repercussions. And where I saw Federal Reserve regulators actively working to suppress and expunge from the record evidence of wrongdoing that could be used by regulatory agencies, prosecutors, and even the Federal Reserve itself to hold Goldman Sachs accountable. The question was, when I arrived, you know, are these problems fixable? And, spoiler alert: I don't think so.

RS: Well, your book really is a compelling read on, really, what one could consider the dark culture of finance capital. Most of us know very little about it; we think it's boring, it's detailed and so forth. And I was thinking of another woman observer of great education and experience, who first tipped me off as a journalist when I was trying to cover the stuff about banking deregulation and so forth, and when Clinton was president and they did the basic financial deregulation. A woman named Brooksley Born, who was head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and she had your kind of background, you know; a leading lawyer with the banks, and so forth. Understood this a lot better than most of the men who were powerful, including Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin; Lawrence Summers, who took over from him and went on to be the head of Harvard; Alan Greenspan–none of them really understood these collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps; she did. She blew the whistle on it, and they basically destroyed her. She was forced out of the Clinton administration, and what have you. Did you know about Brooksley Born's work when you got into this? Do you have any sense? I mean, this was really sort of the first major whistleblower, and she was, as you have been, basically pushed aside.

CS: Yes. I definitely knew about her. And you know, I have to say that I was, you know, just taking that historical perspective, which I think is an important point of view through which we should approach this topic. I mean, I remember when I was in law school, I was one of the very first graduating classes to graduate into a post-Glass-Steagall world. From a 50,000-foot level, I think people have a better understanding of what that means, in the sense, you know, you have all of a sudden the securities and the banking products can get together.

But from a practical standpoint, from a ground-zero level, where I was at, that essentially meant two things. From a professional standpoint, we studied and were aware of the fact that there were a bunch of people on one side of the aisle, the investment products side–you know, the collateralized debt obligations that you mentioned.

And then there were people who were on the banking side; we're talking, you know, for purposes of argument, credit cards and debit cards. And that these people, they may have known about their products, but they were highly specialized; they only knew about the one or two things that they touched, and they certainly didn't know about them and how they interacted together. And one of the things that I remember studying were not just the cases of whistleblowers, but also discussing amongst our classmates, you know, what the impact would be of all of a sudden having a class or a series of classes, graduating from law school, with people who are focusing on banking and compliance, like I was, and who are having to understand both of these products and sort of how they interact together. And what, sort of visualizing what our work life would be like, in terms of reporting to people that had an incomplete understanding of how the banking world worked. So, yes, I was definitely aware; I understood perfectly where she was coming from. And she was very much a cautionary tale for the rest of us who are lawyers. In terms of, if you find yourself in these difficult situations, you sort of game out what potentially can happen. And I certainly took it into consideration when I was gaming out whether or not to whistleblow.

RS: Well, before you get to the whistleblowing stage, I think you're being too kind to what I personally think are people who should be considered as, or at least charged and examined often with what is criminal behavior. Because ignorance is really not a good defense; when they were called before congressional committees, these knowledgeable people admitted they really didn't understand collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps. And for people who are not that familiar, you mentioned Glass-Steagall. And what Glass-Steagall was, was one of the, really maybe the most important response of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's democratic administration to the Great Depression. And how did this terrible depression happen, how were the banks so irresponsible. And they decided the key thing was to separate investment banks from commercial bank; investment banks could be high-rollers, private money, you know what you're doing, you have knowledge; and commercial banks where you're basically protecting the assets of ordinary people, they're not knowledgeable, they're trusting your expertise. And eliminating Glass-Steagall eliminated this wall between the two kinds of banking. And the company that you went to observe, Goldman Sachs, was an investment bank. And by the working of that law, they should have been allowed to go belly-up when it turned out they had a lot of these dubious credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations. To people who don't know, a credit default swap was a phony insurance policy pretending to cover these things, but really there's nothing backing it up. And somehow, in order to save them, they were allowed to announce they could do commercial banking. One could argue, in some ways, the barrier was lifted to help–Citigroup was of course the other one–Citibank. And these are two banks that the government stepped in to help and create this monster. Is it not the case?

CS: Yeah, that's absolutely the case. But there's a couple of things that we need to keep in mind. I mean, I think that we're all sort of educated enough to know that, you know, where there's a will, there's a way. And so if a system can be corrupted, people that are allowed to grab hold of power will corrupt it–insofar and only for so long as we allow those people to have the ability and the power to corrupt it. So ultimately, talking about more or less rules, or different rules, is productive only to a point. Because ultimately what we're talking about here is the haphazard, slap on the wrist, failure to truly enforce the rules and regulations equitably across the system. And that creates the imbalances that you see, for example, in Goldman Sachs, and that you see in the system in general. One of the things that happened as a result of Glass-Steagall coming down was that a lot of the investment bankers were allowed to take over the commercial banks. And those investment bankers knew nothing about banking, and Goldman is a great example of that. I mean, when I arrived three years in after the financial crisis, what was one of the things that was very shocking to me was going into meeting after meeting with Goldman senior management and hearing them lie, doublespeak, and most shockingly of all, insist that they didn't have to comply with the law. And that is a problem. Because a bank that doesn't believe, or management at a bank that doesn't believe they have to comply with the law–you bet they are not supervising their employees correctly, and they're not incentivizing employees correctly in terms of how to do their job. So their behavior is injecting enormous risk into the system

... ... ...

CS: The case was assigned to a judge who was friends with the attorney, I had worked with the attorney that represented the Fed. And then two days before dismissing the case, she revealed that she was married to someone who represented Goldman Sachs for a living. So, yeah, there you go. [Laughs] I mean, it's almost impossible in terms of successfully blowing the whistle. But going back to your question with respect to the recordings and having a say, I think the question that we need to be asking ourselves is this: the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and the Federal Reserve in general, is tasked with supervising the banks. They have recorders. They have the law on their side. New York is a one person consent state. Banks, private banks, habitually record everything that goes on inside the bank, and they do it for good reason. Because they do it to stop and prevent fraud, among employees and by anybody that walks in the door. Why is the Federal Reserve not recording these executives? Why are they not preserving evidence? I think that is the question that we need to be asking ourselves. You know, what I did was not special. What I did is what the Fed should have been doing.

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Wall Street's corruption runs deeper than you can fathom | Alternet RS: Well, it was special in that [Laughs]–come on! There have been a lot of witnesses to these crimes, really, and you're the lone voice from within that system that dared to speak up. And as I said, had you not been able to document it with these tapes, you would have been just dismissed as some kind of kook. The book is called Noncompliant: A Lone Whistleblower Exposes the Giants of Wall Street. You know, what is so important is nuance and language and attitude. And the people on Wall Street can affect the protection of manners and complexity. I remember Lawrence Summers testifying in Congress on why you had to get rid of Glass-Steagall, and he said "this is very complicated." And he said the same thing Alan Greenspan said: "These people know what they're doing," and so forth. It wasn't complicated. If the Mafia did it, you'd see right through it in five minutes. Right? You were bundling a bunch of lousy deals together with some good deals, and you didn't even know what was in there, and you sold them, and you got a phony insurance contract to back it up. And yet none of these people have been, gone to jail; very few, one or two have been prosecuted as kind of a scapegoat. But the book is a great story of an American heroine–but this is what everybody should do! [Laughs] I mean, the real issue about whistleblowers like yourself is why did it take you? Where were the other folks? How many people–yeah, go ahead.

CS: Yeah, agreed. I think that's exactly right. You know, there's a number of reasons why I wrote the book. First of all, because I think it's an important contribution to the historical record. As to what is the systemic culture of corruption that exists in these regulatory agencies that are taking our taxpayer dollars and paying themselves handsome salaries to work against the American taxpayers. And then the second reason I wrote it is to incentivize people to come forward with their stories. I wasn't the only person who wanted to blow the whistle in terms of what was going on there. My circumstances were unique, and I sort of go through it in the book, in the sense that I was very lucky, for example, that the Fed refused to even negotiate the mandated settlement that they were supposed to negotiate with me. But they refused, and that allowed me to sue. There's a number of people who have gone through the process and have been silenced by, you know, getting a monetary offer and signing a settlement agreement. And we don't hear about them because they are forced not to talk. What I sort of thought about was, you know, this is just a unique–you know, I didn't ask to be in this situation, but I felt it was my civic duty. Because I do think that we need more people to really think about how in their daily lives, they can stop rewarding bad behavior. We live in a culture where we reward bad behavior, we worship bad behavior, and it's something that needs to stop, you know. Changing the culture, the regulatory culture on the U.S. governmental level is something that's going to take a decade, maybe two. And we need to start now, before things get worse. We are not in the best-off of situations as a country; you know, we have what seems like an economic boom, but it's really just a debt-fueled economic boom that is going to be temporary. And it's very tough to fix these types of cultural issues, system issues, when the hurricane of the next financial crisis hits. We need to fix it now, while we still have a semblance of peace, while we still have the sun shining. And we don't know how much longer that's going to be. I hope it's long enough to fix it. I hope that people are inspired to come forward and to think about how to make a difference in their daily lives. You know, because we need to start thinking of raising children and raising adults that are incentivized in their daily lives to reward good behavior. I think that until we create a critical mass of Americans that in their daily lives refuse to reward bad behavior, we're not going to see real systemic change.

RS: Well, we'll see change. It might not be good change. I mean, you have Donald Trump–and I want to put some oomph behind this, that it's bipartisan. Because one of the–you know, everybody, a lot of people I know are very upset about Donald Trump. He's speaking to what Hillary Clinton calls the "deplorables"; but there's a lot of people hurting out there. And if you read a study done by the Federal Reserve of St. Louis about the consequence of this economic meltdown that was engineered from places like Goldman Sachs, the human cost was incredible. I mean, people lost everything. They weren't bailed out. There was no mortgage relief. They were not helped. The banks were bailed out. And yet no one has been held accountable, and the politicians, democrats and republicans, who supported it, have gotten off scot-free.

CS: Yeah

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Wall Street's corruption runs deeper than you can fathom | Alternet CS: Yeah, I think you're absolutely right. This is not a democratic problem, this is not a republican problem. This is an American problem with worldwide impact. The U.S. dollar is a reserve currency. The world depends in large part on the American banking system to work. And for it to work, there are these rules, and these rules are there to create trust in the system and to create smooth processes in the system, so that money can be moved and the economy can continue to grow. If the world can no longer trust the American banking system because Americans cannot be trusted to regulate it, they are going to move away from the American banking system. They are going to move away from the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency. And then we are going to find ourselves in the situation that a lot of countries that are not governed by reserve currencies find themselves occasionally, from time to time, whenever they have a crisis. You know, we're talking about countries in Latin America; we're talking about countries in Africa; we're talking about countries in Asia. I hope the book will inspire people to really take a look around and realize, you know, the American consumer, the American worker, is incredibly powerful. You know, these banks cannot survive without our money. We don't have to wait for the government to keep failing us; we don't have to wait for the judiciary to keep failing us; we don't have to wait for lawyers to keep failing us. We choose who we work for. We choose where we keep our money. We can choose to protest. We can choose to call our pension funds and tell them, I want you to stop doing business with Goldman Sachs. It's what we do on a daily basis. When we stand up and we say, I am not going to be banking with these people–they will listen. It's like, they control all of these other checks and balances that were put in place in terms of the government to stop them. So now it's up to us as a people to actually do something about this.

RS: Let me take a break. And I've been talking to Carmen Segarra, who is actually the lone honest person from within the banking system that I know of who really took the story of what these people were doing, and swindling the American people, and fortunately documented it with tape recording–as they document everything; if you call the bank for information, "your conversation will be recorded to make it more efficient"–well, she turned the table on that, had the record. The book is called Noncompliant: A Lone Whistleblower Exposes the Giants of Wall Street. [omission for station break] I'm not going to be able, in the time that I have here, to do justice to this book, because the devil is in the details. I want to talk about some people who did speak up. I mentioned Brooksley Born, who was this brilliant member of the Clinton administration who got pushed out for speaking up. But when the pressure came down after the Great Recession, and the banks had to be questioned, they at Goldman Sachs turned to a Columbia University finance professor, David Beim. And he did a report. He had access to everything, he did this incredible report. We only know about it because it showed up in some footnote somewhere. And by the way, I haven't given enough credit here to the people who have helped break this story. ProPublica, who did a really terrific job on it, and the NPR show This American Life, which really did a great job. So there has been really good reporting. As you pointed out, it was absolutely shameful that Congress did not really take testimony from you; you were there as an observer–I think in a red dress, to be noticed. [Laughs]

CS: Yes. Well, you know, red is the color of martyrs.

RS: And so I want to ask you about that. Before you even went there, this guy David Beim had done a study. And William Dudley, the president of the bank, didn't even respond. He said thank you, they looked at the–and they never responded to the criticisms in that study, which were devastating. Of how the bank was operating.

CS: Yeah, but that's how the Federal Reserve Bank of New York operates. And that's, curiously enough, also how Goldman Sachs operates. They say one thing and do another. If you want to know what they're doing, just flip it, right? I mean, if they're asking for a report, that means that they plan to do nothing about it. And you know, the book sort of walks you through the story of how they played at this game of pretending to clean up the regulatory issues. I mean, the joke really was on us, the new regulators that were brought in from the industry to actually clean up the problems that were there. None of us are there at the Fed anymore. Every single one of those people that I talk about that validated my story, they're gone. And they are gone under different circumstances, some in good standing, some in less good standing, but the point is they're all gone. Because the purpose of bringing us in was not really to change things, it was to ensure that they had a smoke screen and a story to feed the press, that they would print, saying that they had indeed fixed this. And there was nothing else there to see.

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Wall Street's corruption runs deeper than you can fathom | Alternet RS: We're going to run out of time here, but I want to nail down one–this chain of responsibility. And I had just mentioned New York Fed president William Dudley, who I believe ran into some difficulty; he had ownership in something that they were trading with. But leaving that aside, he replaced Timothy Geithner. And when Goldman Sachs, when this whole banking thing happened, there was no more important individual in this country, in a position to observe it, than Timothy Geithner. He had been in the Clinton administration; he had worked for Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers in the Clinton administration when they deregulated Wall Street. And he was rewarded for that deregulation, right, by being named to the most important regulatory position, to be head of the New York Fed. And Barack Obama in 2008, as the banking meltdown was happening, gave a speech at Cooper Union, April of 2008, blasting Wall Street. And then, when Hillary Clinton lost the primary, Barack Obama turned to Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner, and these people for advice, and he named Timothy Geithner to be his treasury secretary. The guy who at the New York Fed, where you went there to work and to try to supervise Goldman Sachs–he knew everything about this, and told us nothing, and he was rewarded by being made treasury secretary.

CS: When I'm saying, you know, we have to stop rewarding bad behavior, that's an example of what I'm talking about. It's like, we have a culture where we reward people for their bad behavior. And in the Fed it is a systemic problem. And it is a problem that comes from the top down. And when I was at the Fed, Ben Bernanke was head of the Fed; Bill Dudley, as you pointed out, was the head of the New York Fed; and Sarah Dahlgren was his head of supervision. This is a very small world. We're not talking about a lot of people; the culture is top-down, and everybody there just does what these people say, because if they don't they're afraid they're going to lose their jobs. So from their perspective, they have nothing to lose, because they have a bunch of workers that are going to do as they say. And they will do what is in their best corporate interests. I mean, you have Bill Dudley, who was allowed to hold on to a lot of his investments that predated his arrival at the Fed and were held at Goldman Sachs. And you know, when you have somebody who's not forced to really work for the government–as in divesting themselves of their own conflicts and truly taking taxpayer money and doing their job–then you can't expect a good result to come from that. Again, we rewarded bad behavior. And that's why I think, you know, the key here is really about taking a really good look at our daily lives and seeing, who are we rewarding on a regular basis? And we need to stop rewarding that bad behavior.

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Wall Street's corruption runs deeper than you can fathom | Alternet RS: But I want to challenge what I think is your optimism. And in fact, you are living proof that doing the right thing can be a career-ender. I haven't asked you, I mean, I assume you still have a good career; you're highly talented and competent, and you were, you know, extremely well educated. But you're not being considered to be treasury secretary or something, right? The consequences for you were quite dire, weren't they?

CS: They were. And you know, my career in banking is over on a permanent basis. But I think you sort of point out to, a little bit to my personality, and I hope it comes through in the book; I sort of talk about that fact that I'm just a very resilient person. And I just, I don't like to let the bad guys win. I'd rather go down swinging. So for me, I saw it as an opportunity to do my civic duty and rebuild my life. You know, and I was very lucky to be blessed by so many people who I shared the story to, especially lawyers who were so concerned about what I was reporting, who thought that the Federal Reserve was above this, who thought that the government would not fail us after the financial crisis, and who were livid. And I've been blessed with their support through the process of whistleblowing, and I continue to be blessed by their support even after. I have a husband who was, you know, a real hero of the story in my book, and I have been able to remake my life as a lawyer in private practice. And my clients, you know, God bless them, they trust me to help them. And I wouldn't change what I did for anything. Because I think for me–and I talk about it in the book–I think living a meaningful life is more important than making money. I think for me, making money is important insofar as it pays the bills. But once my bills are paid, it's about having a meaningful life. And I just feel very, very lucky that I have had the life that I've had, that I got to go to a Catholic school that taught me the morals that I believe in. I think that I am who I am, and I think that I would be just as moral if I had grown up Jewish, or if I had grown up a Mormon, or if I had grown up a Protestant. So I feel very blessed that I was exposed to what good values and good behavior are. I decided since I was very little that that's just the way I wanted to live my life, and that to live meaningfully was more important than anything else. And that has driven all of my decisions, and I found the experience to be rewarding. And when people talk to me about how bad things are and how things sort of look like they're never going to turn around, I tell them, no. They will turn around. We just need to believe in ourselves and be our own saviors, and be our own heroes in our own daily lives.

RS: But let me, let me challenge that. And yes, you're an exemplary person. No question. And people should read this book, Noncompliant: A Lone Whistleblower Exposes the Giants of Wall Street. But I want to focus on that word, "lone." Lone whistleblower. These people had the same great education you had at the best schools, OK? They didn't blow the whistle. No, they abetted the crime! They made it possible. They destroyed people like Brooksley Born, who dared challenge it. And the fact of the matter is, you can't expect ordinary people–even myself. You know, I did graduate work in economics, I'm a professor, blah blah blah. But I can tell you, when I went into my bank loans, I didn't know all the details and what they were talking about and everything. I counted on regulation, I counted on government, I counted on accountability, frankly, on the part of these institutions. So my view is, you can't expect ordinary people–that's why we had a distinction between investment banks and commercial banks. Commercial banks are supposed to deal with ordinary people, OK? They're supposed to hold their money, give them a fair interest rate, make loans on their houses, and help them out. And they have to be regulated, because you know, the ordinary person can't be an expert. The failure here is of the educated class. Of the superachievers. And you count on those people, yes, to do the right thing. But money talks. And the fact of the matter is, the people you went to school with, at the Ivy League schools, at the wherever–they sold us all out.

CS: I think you make a good point. But I also think that the problems are systemic and run deeper. I mean, I would point out, for example, just from a personal perspective, when I graduated both college and law school I happened to be one of those that graduated into a recession, twice. There weren't too many jobs. I didn't have too many options. I ended up working in where I ended up working because it was either that or not feed myself. And I think one of the problems that we have that is systemic is that we have allowed capitalism to create such huge imbalances in how we reward people for their daily work. So people are forced to do something that they may not even like, or may not even be good at, because they have no choice. It's a shame, because we're a big enough country, we have a lot of talent, there should be more invisible hand, central planning. This whole system where we are now turning our attention to creating computer programmers is more based on making sure that computer programming becomes a cheap, minimum-wage job where the owners of the computer companies like Apple don't have to overpay like they are doing now for those workers. So I think that there are more systemic issues than we realize. And I agree with you, I think that, you know, we were sold out by the intellectual class. But we still need to figure out–and the intellectuals are the ones who are going to help us–we need to figure out how to fix the system on a larger scale if we are going to rebalance things. And I don't have the monopoly on the answer, on all the answers, you know? I'm just a girl born in Indiana to two Puerto Rican parents, you know? [Laughs] It's not like I have any terms, in any way access to the higher echelons and how that works. But I think that we really do need to think about, in our own ways and in our own lives, how we can sort of convince other people to make the right choices on a daily basis. Because I think that if everybody takes making the right choices seriously, and realizes that we're all in the same boat–you know, we're all Americans, this is going to impact us all–I think that we can, slowly but surely, right the boat and start heading in the right direction.

RS: People should read Noncompliant –it's an important word; they weren't compliant– A Lone Whistleblower Exposes the Giants of Wall Street. And recognize that the problem with modern governance is that the decisions are made by people who don't have our common interest, who are bought off. That money talks. And one reason we have such despair now, and we go for demagogues, and we have such divisive, ugly language and ugly politics, is the so-called civilized, well-educated leaders of our country went for the money and betrayed ordinary people. I'll let you take the last word, and then we'll wrap it up.

CS: Ah, well, thank you. And again, you know, I know that you are sort of [Laughs] thinking about it from the perspective of a hopeless sort of case. But I do think that there is–and I hope people will look at it as the beginning of change. You know, yes, the book is a very sad story; the bad guys do win, for now. But just because they win the battle doesn't mean they're going to win the war. And I refuse to give up hope in the American people, and I refuse to give up hope in the American consumer. I think that we can make a difference if we try. Because I think that when we get the American people–no matter whether they're democrats, republicans, independent–when we get them educated on the topic of finance, when we get them accessible stories, they will have their say. And they matter–we matter. And it's important that they come to the table, otherwise this problem isn't going to get solved.

[Dec 08, 2018] Bill Black Who Said This A Bank Fraud Quiz by Bill Black

Big finance does behave like an organized crime. And should be treated by society as such...
Notable quotes:
"... By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives ..."
Dec 08, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives

I cannot write many blogs during the fall semesters because I teach four classes (I co-teach one of them). The fall term of instruction at UMKC is now over so I am writing one piece before turning to grading. I have recently done additional research on a topic I know is of great interest -- the prosecution of elite white-collar criminals. I have organized it in the form of a game in which the reader guesses who authored the quoted passage.

Which President described the elite banksters of his era as "charlatans, chiselers and cheats?" Which Vice President criticized prosecutions, enforcement actions, and even safety rules for the elite white-collar criminals of his era in these terms?

But the number of complex regulations is only half the problem. As President [deleted] has repeatedly emphasized, it is also the adversarial and seemingly mindless enforcement methods that really get under people's skins. Business owners are sick of being treated like criminals. They see a government that just doesn't make sense, that charges them with safety violations when no one is in harm's way.

[Note that enforcement action is supposed to be 'adversarial' and that 'business owners' need to be 'treated [as] [not 'like'] criminals' when they are criminals. A safety violation that does not cause injury because no worker is in the unsafe trench when it collapsed should be charged as a safety violation because it is. A well-run company with a strong safety record takes that approach to safety. The government must too.]

Which U.S. Attorney General offered the excuse for refusing to create a national task force to prioritize the prosecution of the elite banksters of his era that the fraudsters were merely "white collar street criminals"? Which U.S. Attorney General explained in these terms why he was working with the regulators because prosecutions of elite banksters require enormous sophistication and prioritization?

[T]hese investigations most often involve complicated paper trails leading to highly sophisticated schemes which disguise illegality under the veneer of legitimate business and financial transactions.

[Note that this AG understood the essential danger that makes 'control frauds' uniquely damaging -- the fact that the CEO finds it far easier to 'disguise illegality' 'under the veneer' of seeming 'legitima[cy].']

Which U.S. President met with the Nation's U.S. Attorneys to emphasize in these terms the criticality of prosecuting elite banksters?

It takes a snake, a cold-blooded snake, to betray the trust and innocence of hard-working people," [deleted] said in a speech to his administration's U.S. attorneys in announcing his effort. "And so, if we have to look under rocks to find these white-collar criminals, then we will leave no stone unturned.

Which U.S. President proclaimed "I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street"? Which FBI Director characterized the level of elite fraud in failed insured institutions as 'pervasive' and explained that the fraud problem came from the top in these terms?

The American public relied upon banking institutions and financial institutions being soundly managed by people who were honest. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that this program go forward to the end no matter how long that takes.

He discounted past arguments that Texas' economy was the root cause for the state's financial crisis. "Although it was the general economic downturn in Texas that surfaced the problem, it appears to the FBI as if a pervasive pattern of fraudulent lending activity began much earlier."

Which U.S. President told the Nation's leading bankers "My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks"?

[Note that the President was characterizing the American people as a mob out to murder the banksters that caused the financial crisis -- and stressing that his administration would safeguard them from accountability for their crimes.]

Which U.S. Attorney General explained in these terms how he began working with the new regulator the day after he was appointed to ensure the prioritization of the most elite banksters in the ongoing financial crisis they were both confronting?

I met with [deleted] Director of [deleted], the day after he assumed office to map out a joint effort between the regulatory agencies and the Department of Justice to winnow through the mass of referrals that had already been made to ensure that we were focusing upon the most significant cases as our first priority.

Which regulatory agency made the 'mass of [criminal] referrals' the AG was referring to? How many criminal referrals did the agency make in response to its financial crisis? How many felony convictions of individuals did the Department of Justice (DOJ) obtain in 'major' cases in response to these referrals? Which senior law enforcement agency warned in September 2004 that an 'epidemic' of mortgage fraud was developing that would, he predicted, cause a financial 'crisis' if it were not stopped? Which administration "debated for months the advantages and perils of a criminal indictment against HSBC" given an FBI investigation confirming the congressional finding that the bank, between 2001 and 2010, "exposed the U.S. financial system to money laundering [by a leading drug cartel] and terrorist financing risks" [by Saudis]"? The U.S. Attorney General, at the urging of the Fed and the Comptroller of the Currency, refused to indict the bank or its senior officers who committed and profited from tens of thousands of felonies. What U.S. Attorney General testified to Congress in the following terms that the largest banks were too big to prosecute?

I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.

Under which administration did Scott G. Alvarez, general counsel at the Federal Reserve successfully intervene with the SEC to weaken fraud penalties against some of the world's largest banks? Under which administration did Timothy Geithner, then President of the NY Fed, successfully intervene with then NY Attorney General Cuomo to caution against vigorous prosecution of elite banksters? Did this harm Geithner and Cuomo's careers? Which President unconstitutionally appointed the first Director of the Office of Thrift Supervision -- after being warned that appointing him without the Senate's 'advice and consent' would be unconstitutional? Why did the President do so -- and why did the Senate not protest the action? Which administration ended the career prospects of a top regulator they appointed when he had the audacity to bring an enforcement action against the President's son? Which U.S. Attorney General wrote: "We are presently facing the largest financial disaster in American history grounded in the betrayal of public trust by flagrant self-dealing in 'other people's money'"? Which U.S. Attorney General described the causes of the financial crisis he was investigating "the biggest white-collar swindle in history"?

For bonus points, these questions relate to a non-government party.

Who wrote the following -- and made it public?

"Our savings and loan industry has created the largest mess in the history of U.S. financial institutions," [deleted] said in a letter to the [industry trade association -- the 'league']. "The league responds to the savings and loan mess as Exxon would have responded to the oil spill from the Valdez if it had insisted thereafter on liberal use of whisky by tanker captains." [Deleted] blamed the league for 'constant and successful' lobbying over many years that prevented government regulators from cracking down on S&Ls run by 'crooks and fools' and persuaded regulators to use 'Mickey Mouse' accounting .

"It is not unfair to liken the situation now facing Congress to cancer and to liken the league to a significant carcinogenic agent ."

"Because the League has clearly misled its government for a long time, to the taxpayers' great detriment, a public apology is in order, not redoubled efforts to mislead further."

Answers : (plus the President that appointed the official):

George HW Bush Gore Mukasey (Bush II) Thornburgh (Bush I) George HW Bush Obama William Sessions (Bush II) Obama Thornburgh (Tim Ryan was the OTS Director he worked with) OTS, during the S&L debacle, made > 30,000 criminal referrals (all federal banking agencies combined made fewer than a dozen criminal referrals in response to the Great Financial Crisis) and DOJ obtained > 1,000 felony convictions in cases DOJ defined as 'major.' The FBI (through Chris Swecker) Obama 13. Holder (Obama) Bush II Bush II (No, Cuomo was elected Governor of NY and Obama appointed Geithner as Treasury Secretary) George HW Bush (the unconstitutional appointment was Danny Wall as OTS Director) George HW Bush (Tim Ryan was the OTS Director who brought the enforcement action v. Neil Bush) Thornburg (Bush I) Thornburgh (Bush I) Warren Buffett and Charles Munger (May 30, 1989).

JEHR , December 8, 2018 at 12:57 pm

The mess is caused by deregulation, money in politics, lobbying by the rich, wealth inequality, fraud in the banking system, corruption of corporations, the wealthy hiding taxes off-shore, greed, failure of democratic institutions, etc. In another way, you could say It's the Love of Money. (It is a very long list epitomized by Black's quotations from the highest offices in the land.)

Chauncey Gardiner , December 8, 2018 at 9:35 am

Concise and enlightening summary. Thank you, Bill Black. Should be taught in every high school US History and Civics class in America together with financial and monetary literacy. Interesting how pervasive this behavior has been across so called "leaders" of both legacy political parties and whose names repeatedly appear on the summary list. The damage to the social and political fabric of the nation is incalculable.

[Dec 01, 2018] In a separate interview, a retired four-star general, who has advised the Bush and Obama Administrations on national-security issues, said that he had been privately briefed in 2005 about the training of Iranians associated with the M.E.K. in Nevada

Dec 01, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

RobGehrke -> MonaHol , 30 Aug 2012 06:12

"What do you mean by claiming Hersh "cozys up" to MIC ppl? And what would be a specific example of a story he broke after doing that?"

Our Men in Iran?

"We did train them here, and washed them through the Energy Department because the D.O.E. owns all this land in southern Nevada," a former senior American intelligence official told me. ... In a separate interview, a retired four-star general, who has advised the Bush and Obama Administrations on national-security issues, said that he had been privately briefed in 2005 about the training of Iranians associated with the M.E.K. in Nevada

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/04/mek.html

His conversations with Lieutenant Calley are apparently what allowed him to break the My Lai massacre story as well, even though members of the military had already spoken out about it, and there had been already been charges brought. It just revealed the story to the general public, which prompted a fuller investigation and courts martial. I'm sure there are others.

So, obviously Hersh's "cozying up" (surely not the right term for it, though) is in the interests of raising public awareness of nefarious deeds, and is not scared of painting these organizations in a bad light, whereas Mazzetti's goal here seems to be to maintain his privileged access by providing favors - totally different motivations. It's rather easy to contrast the two, which "smartypants54" has even stated here.

Whatever the case, it's true that elements of the NYT have been mouthpieces more or less for government and corporate power for a long time. While I agree with Glenn about the faux cynicism perpetuating this kind of activity - "don't be naive, this is done all the time" - I can understand that it exists.

Such cynicism on the part of the public, rather than being an acknowledgment of acceptance and approval of such practices, can also be seen as part of a more radical critique of the corporate media in general, and the NYT particularly, in that such organizations - not that I totally agree with this - , by their very nature, can't be reformed and can never be totally effective checks on power because of the way they're structured, and who they answer to.

That's definitely not a reason to stop pointing it out, though.

[Nov 30, 2018] NYC's Highest Paid Employee - A Predatory-Debt-Collecting Marshal - Made $1.7 Million Last Year

Nov 30, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

A brand new expose by Bloomberg shines light on modern day loan sharks: city officials that are armed with badges like Vadim Barbarovich, who earned $1.7 million last year, easily giving him the most lucrative job within the government of New York City. His official title is City Marshal, and he's one of 35 that the mayor has appointed to compete for fees from recovering debts. While traditionally marshals evict tenants and tow cars, Barbarovich has found his place in part of a debt collection industry that allows them to use their legal authority on behalf of predatory lenders.

It's a practice that dates back to the 17th century. Back then, jobs across the Hudson River for marshals yielded the highest fees. Under current law, marshals are entitled to keep 5% of cash that they collect. The city also has a Sheriff's office that does similar work, but those employees get a salary. Several mayors have called for an end to the marshal system over the last few decades, but nobody has been successful in getting the state legislature to act upon it.

While Barbarovich's jurisdiction is supposed to end at city limits, he has worked to recover debts from places like California and Illinois, among others nationwide.

One person he "recovered" debt money from, to the tune of $56,000, Jose Soliz, asked: "How could they pull all that money? I've never even been to New York."

When asked about Barbarovich's practices, a spokesman for the New York City Marshals Association said that marshals simply "enforce court judgments".

The genesis of these judgments are often lenders who advance money to people at rates that can sometimes top 400% annualized. They have found a loophole around loansharking rules by stating that they are instead buying the money that businesses will likely make in the future at a discounted price. Courts have been supportive of this distinction and, as such, the "merchant cash advance" industry has grown to about $15 billion a year.

As soon as lenders see that borrowers have fallen behind they call marshals, whose job is to force the banks to handover whatever cash is left. They do this by using a court order stamped by a clerk that's obtained without going before a judge. Banks generally comply immediately, without checking if the marshal has the right to actually take the funds. The borrower often doesn't understand what's going on until the money is gone.

Prior to becoming a marshal, Barbarovich worked in property control earning about $70,000 a year and sometimes volunteered as a Russian translator. Upon starting as a marshal in 2013, he earned about $90,000. When cash advance companies discovered the power he had, his income skyrocketed and his earnings increased almost 20 fold.

His financial disclosures show that his work enforcing Supreme Court property judgments skyrocketed dramatically over the last two years, as did the amount of cash he recovered. In some respects, the collection process is like the wild west: marshals don't draw a salary, earn fees from customers and are encouraged to compete with one another, which can catalyze aggressive behavior.

Avery Steinberg, a lawyer in White Plains, New York, who represents a few clients whose accounts were seized by Barbarovich, told Bloomberg: "He goes about it in any which way he can. He has a reputation of being a bully."

The Bloomberg article tells the story of Jose Soliz, whose company builds concrete block walls for schools and stores in the Texas Panhandle. He had started borrowing from cash advance companies several years ago and found himself trapped in a cycle of debt.

He eventually wound up taking out a $23,000 loan that he agreed to pay back within nine weeks – to the tune of $44,970 : an 800% annualized interest rate.

He says that the fees were more than expected, so he stopped payment. When he went to go pay his employees a couple days later, he noticed that his Wells Fargo account had been frozen and his paychecks bounced.

He found out the hard way that cash advance companies like the one he used required him to sign a document agreeing in advance that if there's a legal dispute, the borrower will automatically lose, rendering any type of judicial review useless.

Those who are signing these agreements don't often realize the power that they are waiving. Based on these agreements, the lender can accuse the borrower of defaulting, without proof, and have a court judgment signed by a clerk on the same day.

This is exactly what happened to Soliz. His lender obtained such a judgment against him in Buffalo, New York and called in Barbarovich to collect. Even though his Wells Fargo account was opened in Texas, and the judgment was only valid in New York State, the bank turned over $56,764 to the marshal. The rule is supposedly that marshals can go after out of state funds as long as they serve demands at a bank location in New York City, according to the New York City Department of Investigation.

On the other hand, it's not clear whether or not banks have to comply with these orders. Some banks reject these demands but most have a policy of following any legal order they receive so as to avoid the hassle of reviewing them and not to ruffle any feathers.

Wells Fargo, when contacted by Bloomberg, stated that it "carefully review[s] each legal order to ensure it's valid and properly handled."

Barbarovich claims that he serves all legal orders by hand, though that is disputed by Soliz's lawyer.

The Department of Investigation reportedly "continues to review" Barbarovich's work and offered few specifics to Bloomberg.

The Department has stated that they're conducting multiple investigations into the enforcement of judgments and focusing on whether not marshals are serving orders by hand.


RubberJohnny , 5 minutes ago link

Another Shylock invented money lending scheme.

Everywhere you turn they have their greedy clutches in you .Best philosophy is "neither a lender nor a borrower be."

If you believe this is goal is unattainable then you are a weak-willed excuse for a man.

Owe money and get fucked?

Don't bitch.

otschelnik , 15 minutes ago link

Reminds me of another 'vishibalo' (shakedown artist) Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel who's parents hailed from Odessa, Ukraine (a city which until today is still run by the Jewish mafia) and his boyhood friend Meyer Lansky (who came from Belarus), who formed the first Jewish criminal group in New York. Fiddler on the Roof: "If I were a rich man...... Tradition! Tradition! "

maxblockm , 19 minutes ago link

All these ZH'ers bitching. I thought you wanted the gov to enforce contract law.

Don't take out payday loans.

If you do, then default, and your bank account is seized, don't complain. You agreed to it, signature right there.

Blue Vervain , 27 minutes ago link

(((Barbarovich))) is an evil "Russian".

I Am Jack's Macroaggression , 1 hour ago link

His jurisdiction ends in NY, bank in Texas has no reason to comply, Soliz could suecthe bank and sue the 'marshall' - he has no legal authority outside of nyc to seize funds absent a court order in that jurisdiction.

Guy has a property interest of some sort in his funds being available. At very least due process rights that were ignored.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/1983

Sue this **** in federal court in Texas and you'll see him lose bigly.

desertboy , 2 hours ago link

Wells Fargo, when contacted by Bloomberg, stated that it "carefully review[s] each legal order to ensure it's valid and properly handled."

Anybody who has done business with Wells Fargo will laugh at this claim.

The "marshall" bit is another inside scam for the bankers' nephews.

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 , 2 hours ago link

We Will **** You Hard Bank doesn't give a **** about customers.

I am part of a local Savings and Loan that has been extant for more than 100 years. Local place with experience. That's the cred I want from a bank.

non_anon , 2 hours ago link

My state had a loan shark running multiple easy cash joints and spending the money on all sorts of properties and businesses. Voters capped his interest on loans and he left the state.

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 , 2 hours ago link

"It's a practice that dates back to the 17th century."

Incorrect. This was a method used in ancient Rome to collect taxes. It's the reason landowners and farmers abandoned their land. Excessive taxation and the capacity to acquire wealth by collecting taxes from the state. By the way, the IRS pays 10%.

Justin Case , 2 hours ago link

February 21, 1871 and the Forty-First Congress is in session. I refer you to the "Acts of the Forty-First Congress," Section 34, Session III, chapters 61 and 62. On this date in the history of our nation, Congress passed an Act titled: "An Act To Provide A Government for the District of Columbia." This is also known as the "Act of 1871." What does this mean? Well, it means that Congress, under no constitutional authority to do so, created a separate form of government for the District of Columbia, which is a ten mile square parcel of land.

In essence, this Act formed the corporation known as THE UNITED STATES. Note the capitalization, because it is important. This corporation, owned by foreign interests, moved right in and shoved the original "organic" version of the Constitution into a dusty corner. With the "Act of 1871," our Constitution was defaced in the sense that the title was block-capitalized and the word "for" was changed to the word "of" in the title. The original Constitution drafted by the Founding Fathers, was written in this manner:

"The Constitution for the united states of America".

The altered version reads: "THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA". It is the corporate constitution. It is NOT the same document you might think it is. The corporate constitution operates in an economic capacity and has been used to fool the People into thinking it is the same parchment that governs the Republic. It absolutely is not.

Capitalization -- an insignificant change? Not when one is referring to the context of a legal document, it isn't. Such minor alterations have had major impacts on each subsequent generation born in this country. What the Congress did with the passage of the Act of 1871 was create an entirely new document, a constitution for the government of the District of Columbia. The kind of government THEY created was a corporation. The new, altered Constitution serves as the constitution of the corporation, and not that of America. Think about that for a moment.

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 , 2 hours ago link

FOAD. I hate barristers. Take that bar and shove it up your ***.

Sneaker98 , 4 hours ago link

"He found out the hard way that cash advance companies like the one he used required him to sign a document agreeing in advance that if there's a legal dispute, the borrower will automatically lose, rendering any type of judicial review useless."

Am I supposed to feel sorry for them?

[Nov 24, 2018] The Global Financial Crime Wave Is No Accident by Nat Dyer

Notable quotes:
"... By Nat Dyer, a freelance writer based in London. He was previously an investigator and campaigner at Global Witness, an anti-corruption group. He tweets at @natjdyer. Originally published at openDemocracy ..."
Nov 24, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Nat Dyer, a freelance writer based in London. He was previously an investigator and campaigner at Global Witness, an anti-corruption group. He tweets at @natjdyer. Originally published at openDemocracy

There was a little bit of good news this month for those worried about a tidal wave of McMafia-style financial crime. A new UK government agency tasked with fighting it – the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) – opened its doors.

I say "little" because financial crime is far more deeply rooted in our financial and political systems than we like to acknowledge.

From the LIBOR-rigging scandal to the offshore secrets of the Panama Papers and 'dark money' in the Brexit vote , it is everywhere. In my recent work with anti-corruption group Global Witness , I saw first-hand how ordinary people in some of the world's poorest countries suffer the consequences of corruption and financial crime. We exposed suspicious mining and oil deals in Central Africa, in which over a billion dollars of desperately-needed public finances were lost offshore. The story is about the West as much as Africa. The deals were routed through a dizzying web of offshore shell companies in the British Virgin Islands, often linked to listed companies in London, Toronto and elsewhere. Even if the NECC is given enough resources and collaborates widely, it has got its work cut out.

One reason all this financial crime is tolerated is that thinkers who shine a light on its systemic nature have been erased from the record. Top of my list of neglected economic superstars is Professor Susan Strange of the London School of Economics, one of the founders of the field of international political economy. In a series of ground-breaking books – States and Markets, The Retreat of the State and Mad Money – Strange showed how epidemic levels of financial crime were a consequence of specific political decisions.

"This financial crime wave beginning in the 1970s and getting bigger in later years is not accidental," Strange wrote.

It would have hardly been possible to design a system, she said, "that was better suited than the global banking system to the needs of drug dealers and other illicit traders who want to conceal from the police the origin of their large illegal profits."

For Strange, money laundering, tax evasion and public embezzlement were a result of the collapse in the 1970s of the post-war financial order. Here are four ways she showed how politics and the financial crime epidemic were intimately connected.

1) Money Is Global, Regulation Is National

There was nothing inevitable about financial globalisation, Strange said. It was born out of a series of political decisions. It means that global money can skip freely across borders beyond the reach of national laws and supervision. For smart operators tax, regulations, and compliance become a choice, not an obligation. Strange argued that international organisations lack the power to control global money, only coordination between the world's major economies can rein it in.

2) Tax Havens Are an Open Invitation to Embezzlement

Unless you have somewhere to stash the cash, the looting of public money and state enterprises can only go so far.

Tax havens give "open invitations", Strange said, to corrupt politicians to steal from their people.

Banking secrecy in the havens allows money from tax evasion, drug trafficking and public embezzlement to mix together until they become indistinguishable from legitimate business.

3) Extravagant Banker Bonuses Contaminate Politics

For Strange the "obscenely large" bonuses paid to those in financial markets leads to a kind of "moral contamination", she wrote which has "reinforced and accelerated the growth of the links between finance and politics". Strange recognised that corruption and bribery were a problem in London and New York as well as Asia, Africa and Latin America. "Bribery and corruption in politics are not new at all. It is the scale and extent of it that have risen, along with the domination of finance over the real economy," she wrote.

4) Money Is Political Power

Globalisation has redefined politics, Strange argued. Political power is not just what happens in governments, but money and markets also have power. As legitimate and illegitimate private operators grow richer, they increase their power to shape the world system. States starved of tax revenues grow weaker and retreat, in a reinforcing spiral. National politics becomes captured by global money markets.

In the twenty years since Susan Strange's death in 1998, these trends have only bedded down. Bankers' bonuses have continued to skyrocket and in 2018 reached their pre-crisis peak .

Columbia University professor James S Henry estimates tha t in 2015 a scarcely imaginable $24 trillion to $36 trillion of the world's financial wealth was held offshore. Much of that is money from legitimate businesses but contributes to a system where financial crime can prosper.

We cannot hope to get out of the morass of financial crime, and out-of-control financial markets, without understanding how they relate to one another. The genie of globalised money cannot be put back into the bottle, but Strange would argue that we should challenge banking secrecy, and through coordinated action of the world's large economies close down tax havens.

Finance and crime was only one strand of her work, but it contributed to her unnerving, perhaps prophetic, conclusion that unless we rein in the financial system it could sweep away the entire Western liberal order. One only has to glance at the combination of financial chicanery and violent rhetoric that characterises the Trump presidency to see that her concerns could hardly be more contemporary.

Strange would tell us that we need more than a new government agency to turn back the tide of financial crime. We need nothing less than a new approach to political economy at national and global level.

[Nov 20, 2018] A Finance Magnates analysis reports that one of the swindles alone has brought in over a billion dollars and employs 5,000 people. And a new scam, described below, may help what is predicted to be "the next major driver of the Israeli economy."

Nov 20, 2018 | www.unz.com

ChuckOrloski , says: November 17, 2018 at 1:13 pm GMT

Very important, with "Eyes Wide Open," Alison Weir, below!

https://israelpalestinenews.org/is-israel-turning-a-blind-eye-as-israeli-scammers-swindle-victims-in-france-us-elsewhere/

renfro , says: November 17, 2018 at 5:53 pm GMT
@ChuckOrloski Not surprising to anyone who understands that stealing ,especially from 'others' is a first choice career of Jews/Israelis.
I have always suspected that the 9 billion of stolen Iraq funds were stolen by the Jews who were embedded in the US occupation administration and sent to Israel. Israel was so broke in 2001 they asked the Us for economic aid then suddenly in 2004 by some miracle they were rolling in surplus money again.

Investigations reveal a pattern of Israeli officials stone-walling efforts to stop the perpetrators of massive financial swindles in various countries, from Europe to the US to the Philippines While some Israeli reporters work to expose the scams, a new one is already underway

By Alison Weir

[MORE]
French and Israeli media report that a group largely made up of Israelis scammed 3,000 French citizens out of approximately $20 million. Most of the stolen money is in Israel, but Israeli authorities are reportedly failing to cooperate with France in prosecuting the scammers and retrieving the money.
This is the latest of numerous examples of Israeli officials stone-walling international efforts against the perpetrators of massive financial swindles around the world, according to Israeli investigative journalists and others. These scams have brought estimated billions into the Israeli economy, propping up a regime widely condemned for human rights abuses and ethnic cleansing against indigenous Palestinians. Together, the stories paint a picture of a government that seems to be turning a blind eye to -- and even protecting -- scammers.

A Finance Magnates analysis reports that one of the swindles alone has brought in over a billion dollars and employs 5,000 people. And a new scam, described below, may help what is predicted to be "the next major driver of the Israeli economy."

A former IRS expert on international crime notes that "fraudulent industries are often major economic drivers, and that can translate into political clout."
Some Israeli journalists have been working to expose the situation in Israeli newspapers, publishing exposés like "As Israel turns blind eye to vast binary options fraud, French investigators step in" and "Are French Jewish criminals using Israel as a get-out-of-jail card?" (Short answer: yes.)

Victimizing French business owners & churches

The victims of the recent scam against French citizens included churches and the owners of small businesses -- delicatessens, car repair shops, hair salons, plumbers, etc. Some lost their life savings and describe being threatened and intimidated by the scammers.

[Nov 19, 2018] Is Israel turning a blind eye as Israeli scammers swindle victims in France, US, elsewhere by Alison Weir

Nov 19, 2018 | www.unz.com

The Israelis were extradited to the U.S., where the prosecutor described them as "a predatory group that targeted elderly people in the U.S., conning them into believing they were lottery winners. Preying on their victims' dreams of financial comfort, [they] bilked them out of substantial portions of their life savings." According to the U.S. Attorney's office :

"The defendants operated multiple boiler rooms that used the names of various sham law firms purportedly located in New York, including law firms named 'Abrahams Kline,' 'Bernstein Schwartz,' 'Steiner, Van Allen, and Colt,' 'Bloomberg and Associates," and 'Meyer Stevens.' The defendants further used various aliases and call forwarding telephone numbers to mask the fact that the defendants were located in Israel. The defendants also possessed bank accounts in Israel, Cyprus, and Uganda, to which illegal proceeds were wired."
The ringleaders, Avi Ayache and Yaron Bar, were eventually convicted, and the U.S. prosecutor announced that they would "spend a substantial portion of their lives in prison." Ayache was sentenced in 2014 to 13 years in prison and Bar to 12. Yet, prison records indicate the two were released the next year.

Other members of the ring also appear to have been released after extraordinarily little time. If these men did serve only a tiny portion of their U.S. sentences, as public records and phone calls and emails to the Bureau of Prisons indicate, this may be due to the fact that Israelis are allowed to be imprisoned in Israel instead of in the U.S. Their sentences then are determined by Israel and, as we will see below, are often far shorter than they would be in the U.S. Gery Shalon – hundreds of millions of dollars

In 2015 Gery Shalon and two other Israelis were charged with utilizing hacked data for 100 million people to spam them with "pump and dump" penny stocks, netting hundreds of millions of dollars.

The money was then laundered through an illegal bitcoin exchange allegedly owned by Shalon (more on bitcoin below). Shalon was considered the ringleader of what U.S. prosecutors called a " sprawling criminal enterprise. " He faced decades behind bars.

However, he was instead given a plea deal in which he escaped any prison sentence whatsoever. Worth $2 billion, Shalon was to pay a $403 million fine.

republic , says: November 19, 2018 at 6:05 pm GMT

...The ringleaders, Avi Ayache and Yaron Bar, were eventually convicted, and the U.S. prosecutor announced that they would "spend a substantial portion of their lives in prison." Ayache was sentenced in 2014 to 13 years in prison and Bar to 12. Yet, prison records indicate the two were released the next year. Other members of the ring also appear to have been released after extraordinarily little time.

So if the US government is secretly releasing Federal prisoners, and if that is the case then American justice is on par with the Mexican penal system, where such occurrences are routine.

Can anyone here verify if those two are in prison in Israel or free?

[Nov 19, 2018] Is Israel turning a blind eye as Israeli scammers swindle victims in France, US, elsewhere by Alison Weir

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... So if the US government is secretly releasing Federal prisoners, and if that is the case then American justice is on par with the Mexican penal system, where such occurrences are routine. ..."
Nov 19, 2018 | www.unz.com

The Israelis were extradited to the U.S., where the prosecutor described them as "a predatory group that targeted elderly people in the U.S., conning them into believing they were lottery winners. Preying on their victims' dreams of financial comfort, [they] bilked them out of substantial portions of their life savings." According to the U.S. Attorney's office :

"The defendants operated multiple boiler rooms that used the names of various sham law firms purportedly located in New York, including law firms named 'Abrahams Kline,' 'Bernstein Schwartz,' 'Steiner, Van Allen, and Colt,' 'Bloomberg and Associates," and 'Meyer Stevens.'

The defendants further used various aliases and call forwarding telephone numbers to mask the fact that the defendants were located in Israel. The defendants also possessed bank accounts in Israel, Cyprus, and Uganda, to which illegal proceeds were wired."

The ringleaders, Avi Ayache and Yaron Bar, were eventually convicted, and the U.S. prosecutor announced that they would "spend a substantial portion of their lives in prison." Ayache was sentenced in 2014 to 13 years in prison and Bar to 12. Yet, prison records indicate the two were released the next year. Other members of the ring also appear to have been released after extraordinarily little time. If these men did serve only a tiny portion of their U.S. sentences, as public records and phone calls and emails to the Bureau of Prisons indicate, this may be due to the fact that Israelis are allowed to be imprisoned in Israel instead of in the U.S. Their sentences then are determined by Israel and, as we will see below, are often far shorter than they would be in the U.S. Gery Shalon – hundreds of millions of dollars

In 2015 Gery Shalon and two other Israelis were charged with utilizing hacked data for 100 million people to spam them with "pump and dump" penny stocks, netting hundreds of millions of dollars.

The money was then laundered through an illegal bitcoin exchange allegedly owned by Shalon (more on bitcoin below). Shalon was considered the ringleader of what U.S. prosecutors called a " sprawling criminal enterprise. " He faced decades behind bars.

However, he was instead given a plea deal in which he escaped any prison sentence whatsoever. Worth $2 billion, Shalon was to pay a $403 million fine.

republic , says: November 19, 2018 at 6:05 pm GMT

...The ringleaders, Avi Ayache and Yaron Bar, were eventually convicted, and the U.S. prosecutor announced that they would "spend a substantial portion of their lives in prison." Ayache was sentenced in 2014 to 13 years in prison and Bar to 12. Yet, prison records indicate the two were released the next year. Other members of the ring also appear to have been released after extraordinarily little time.

So if the US government is secretly releasing Federal prisoners, and if that is the case then American justice is on par with the Mexican penal system, where such occurrences are routine.

Can anyone here verify if those two are in prison in Israel or free?

[Nov 17, 2018] Goldman Sachs CEO is "personally outraged" at criminal behavior in his bank

I guess he thinks Lloyd Blankfein god is a real greedy thief that would screw people for a dollar.
Nov 17, 2018 | caucus99percent.com
disreputable behavior in his bank.

... ... ...

Ah, yes. Goldman Sachs is famous for their "good work and integrity".

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has said about $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB, including some money that Goldman Sachs helped raise, by high-level officials of the fund and their associates from 2009 through 2014.

US prosecutors filed criminal charges against 2 former Goldman Sachs bankers earlier this month. One of them, Tim Leissner, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

I'm sure it was just a "few bad apples", like Goldman Sachs's Ex-CEO Lloyd Blankfein , who was personally involved in the transaction.
You might remember Lloyd from his doing "God's Work" .

[Nov 17, 2018] Goldman's reputation

Notable quotes:
"... @HenryAWallace ..."
Nov 17, 2018 | caucus99percent.com

@HenryAWallace

"Reputationally, it is a disaster for Goldman,"

After you posted this I did a Google search, and guess what I found ?

'Great vampire squid' no longer -- Goldman Sachs has finally rehabbed its reputation, 10 years after the financial crisis

That's literally the headline of the article. No tongue-in-cheek.

[Sep 15, 2018] A shyster attorney that I had the unfortunate experience in working with, did tell the truth once when he said that there is no such thing as a justice system but there is a legal industry.

Sep 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Patient Observer September 14, 2018 at 9:16 am

If not always fair or flexible, it seems efficient – attorneys collecting large fees in a justice system designed to enrich attorneys.

A shyster attorney that I had the unfortunate experience in working with, did tell the truth once when he said that there is no such thing as a justice system but there is a legal industry.

[Sep 12, 2018] State AGs to Step Up Enforcement Against Tech Companies

Sep 12, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Such separate priorities may also extend to areas in which the federal government regulates extensively, such as securities law (or at least did in the not-so-distant past), as I discussed in this post, Mary Jo White Leaves Behind a Weakened SEC for Trump to Weaken Further :

During the administration of President George W. Bush, state attorneys general used state authority to prosecute securities and financial transgressions. Notably, former New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer relied on authority provided by the state's 1910 Martin Act, which predates the federal securities law, to take legal action actions against insurance firms for brokerage practices, hedge funds for improper trading practices in mutual fund shares, and investment banks for conflicts of interest that distorted the investment research they provided, to name some of the most significant initiatives. Spitzer's successors as attorney general, current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and current Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, have not had the impact that Spitzer had when he was lauded as the Sheriff of Wall Street.

Another New York regulator, Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York's Department of Financial Services used the threat of denying a NY state banking charter to force tougher terms on settlements in which the Eric Holder/Loretta Lynch DoJ and other federal regulators had rolled over (see this post by Yves for a summary: Wall Street's Nemesis, Benjamin Lawsky, to Resign in June .).Other states, such as California, have their own expansive statutes– though now-US Senator Kamala Harris demonstrated when she served as California's AG that she more interested in virtue-signalling than taking scalps.

Crusading state AGs are not just Democrats. As I wrote in New EPA Lawsuit Policy Advances Trump's Deregulatory Agenda , Scott Pruitt– who recently stepped down as EPA administrator:

has been a longstanding bugbear of environmentalists. In his previous role as attorney general for the state of Oklahoma– a major producer of oil and natural gas– he either filed or joined lawsuits that sought to stymie the modest pro-regulatory environmental and climate change agenda the EPA previously espoused.

Like-minded Republicans AGs often joined him in these efforts.

So, What's On the Agenda for These AGs?

The most immediate threat to the tech industry might arise in the area of antitrust enforcement– which, shall we say, has not been a major priority for recent administrations, although the European Union has investigated and fined Google over competition concerns. Yet as recently as the Clinton administration, Microsoft was a target of an major antitrust action instigated by multiple state AGs in conjunction with the DoJ

Over to the WSJ again:

The [Sessions meeting ] announcement -- released amid last week's congressional hearings into the practices of Facebook and Twitter -- shed little light on who was raising the concerns or what remedies might be under consideration. But recent comments by several of the state attorneys general suggest they are actively exploring an antitrust investigation and hope to enlist Washington.

"I think the companies are too big, and they need to be broken up," Republican Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said Thursday in a radio interview.

There is some evidence that party politics are driving this potential enforcement initiative:

Republicans' allegations that the tech companies suppress conservative voices has bubbled up for months in conservative media and was amplified by Mr. Trump late last month . Democrats have said that is the issue -- more than antitrust policy -- behind the coming Justice Department meeting, with Republicans hoping to stir their conservative base ahead of November elections

All the attorneys general who are expected to attend this month's meeting in Washington are Republicans, with Democratic officials saying they have yet to be invited.

Although it's too soon to say where these preliminary discussions between the DoJ and the the state AGs may lead, I want to draw attention to another development– the weakening of the hold of corporate Democrats on the direction of the party. David Sirota published an interesting piece in Monday's Guardian, Yes, let's wipe out Trump. But take neoliberal Democrats with him, too .

Sirota's piece wasn't especially concerned about Big Tech per se, and focused on a percolating progressive policy agenda. He mentions regulation, but only as it affects financial firms and pharmaceutical companies and where so far, corporate Democrats have successfully insulated their paymasters from any significant increase in legal liability.

But if progressives start to wield greater influence on the Democratic side– and Republican AGs follow through with a tougher approach to enforcement– the future might shape up to be a less comfortable operating environment for US internet companies. Or at least we might hope. /n

TS , September 12, 2018 at 8:31 am

I can understand antitrust and data-privacy violations but with regard to "stifling the free exchange of ideas" on their platforms, what legal statutes are being violated even if these companies were found to be supressing conservative speech?

Mark , September 12, 2018 at 1:46 pm

The OLG Munich recently decided that Facebook violated the right to free speech of a politician by deleting her post. Facebook gave their community rules as a reason for the deletion. The court ruled that Facebook could not rely on their rights a privat entity to do as they please in their own place (Hausrecht in German) but rather had to uphold the right to free spreech granted by the German constitution. This is a new interpretation of the law by a significant court and possibly transfers some of the burden ususally only placed on the state (uphold free speech) unto a privat company. The reason given is that Facebook is a controlling, monopolistic entity in the realm of social interaction and has therefore more responsibilties. The OLG Munich is the highest court in its court-district, Southern Bavaria, only below the federal court (BGH) and the ruling sets a binding precedent in its district and serves as an interesting opinion for the rest of Germany. Mind you precedent is of a lot less important in Germany than in the case-law US system and there are many differing rulings out there.

I suppose the arguments for supressing conservative speech or something like that might go a similar route in the US.

source: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180907/00455240595/german-court-tells-facebook-it-cant-delete-comments-even-though-german-law-says-it-must-delete-comments.shtml

PS: Please excuse the rambling source it is the only one in English I could find; also take my reasoning regarding the court ruling with a pinch of salt since I am not an attorney. At least the apparent confusion between forced deletion on one hand and forced non-deletion on the other hand mentioned in the source is easily explained. Free speech has its limits and violating those is in some cases a criminal offence, e.g. criminal insults, incitement to violance against people, etc.. A recent law in Germany requires sites like Facebook or Twitter to take obvious cases of such posts down, instead of waiting for the police or prosecution to act. This is worthy of a discussion in itself but it still leaves room between what Facebook arbitrarily deems acceptable based in its guidelines and what is acceptable under free speech in Germany, and here the court made their ruling.

[Sep 03, 2018] Neo-liberalism Expressed as Simple Rules by Lambert Strether

Mar 17, 2014 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

What is neoliberalism? Neoliberalism (a.k.a. The Washington Consensus ) is the dominant ideology of the political class in Washington D.C., shared by both legacy parties. In fact, it's not clear there is another ideology, which is why we get seemingly weird policymaking processes like RomneyCare morphing into ObamaCare, even as proponents of each version of the same plan hate each other, "narcissism of small differences"-style. Of course, in neo-liberalism's house are many mansions, many factions, and many funding sources, so it's natural, or not , that an immense quantity of obfuscation and expert opinion has accumulated over time , making for many fine distinctions between various shades of neo-liberalism.

In this brief post, I hope to clear the ground by proposing two simple rules to which neo-liberalism can be reduced. They are:

Of course, these rules can't be applied, willy-nilly, inartfully, in just any context; Rule #1 -- and here we owe an immense debt of gratitude to the work of Outis Philalithopoulos on academic choice theory -- doesn't apply to in (let's label it) Context #1: The world of the neo-liberal practitioners themselves ; the academic guilds, media outlets[1], and think tanks to which they adhere, Flexian style , are distinctly not market-driven ; just look at Thomas Friedman . It follows that Rule #2 does not apply to neo-liberal practitioners either, because of their social position just described in Context #1: "wingnut welfare" and its equivalent in the "progressive" nomenklatura ; they will have -- to strike a blow at random -- corporate health insurance. In addition, we have Context #2: The world of the 0.01%, to whom no rules apply by definition. Summarizing, the rules do not apply in the following two contexts:

Both have impunity[2]. These asymmetries will become more interesting shortly.

So (reviewing), to Rule #1: " Because markets " uses that stupid "because" meme :

Let's start with the dull stuff, because pragmatism. Linguists are calling the "prepositional-because." Or the "because-noun." [For example:] But Iowa still wants to sell eggs to California, because money. It's a usage, in other words, that is exceptionally bloggy and aggressively casual and implicitly ironic. And also highly adaptable. it also conveys a certain universality. When I say, for example, "The talks broke down because politics," I'm not just describing a circumstance. I'm also describing a category. I'm making grand and yet ironized claims, announcing a situation and commenting on that situation at the same time. I'm offering an explanation and rolling my eyes -- and I'm able to do it with one little word. Because variety. Because Internet. Because language.

Because neo-liberalism. Because I like the idea, a lot, of catching the Mount Pelerin Society, Pinochet, Diane Rehm, the Friedmans, Joe Biden, Rush Limbaugh, and the people who drafted the Democratic platform in one big net, and then deep-sixing the entire squirming and gesticulating political class with language that's "exceptionally bloggy and aggressively casual and implicitly ironic."

And this tactic really is fair. Trap a neo-liberal in conversation next to a whiteboard, or hand them a napkin, and you can probably coax them to "educate" you by drawing the famous "Because Markets" diagram, which looks like this:

Figure 1: "Because Markets"

And when your targeted neo-liberal is done sketching, they will express the idea, with varying degrees of quasi-religious fervor, that the price set by the intersection of the downward-sloping demand curve and the upward-sloping supply curve is the right price .

Except the supply and demand curve ain't necessarily so. The other day, I saw an elegant hi-so lady eating a Krispy Kreme in Bangkok's Siam Paragon . With a fork! That donut cost her 27 baht -- 84¢, 5¢ more than the US , in a city with half the cost-of-living of New York ! So, what's going on? To her, Krispy Kreme donuts are a luxury good. How does she know that? Exactly because they have a high price! Therefore -- Thorstein Veblen would be proud -- those donuts have an upward sloping demand curve ! (Yves, who is actually qualified to talk about this stuff, goes over these issues in more detail than I can, in ECONned .) So, empirically, seeking truth from facts, as they say, Figure 1 is by no means universal. And that's before we get to the idea that "Because markets" isn't appropriate for vast swaths of human endeavor; Common Pool Resources, for example, are not best managed as a form of private property .

But by "right," your neo-liberal interlocutor will not mean right mechanically or arithmetically, but right morally ; that is, the best of all possible worlds will be created when there are no pesky artificial factors interfering with the frictionless operation of the sacred curves. Note, however, that by the asymmetry of Context #1, Figure 1 does not apply to the neo-liberal practitioner themselves, nor, by the asymmetry of Context #2, to the class of people who own the markets in which the prices are set. So, if unions raise the price of human rental, that's not just an ordinary bargaining process, it's wrong, even evil: It's a defilement of the sacred curves. But if a squillionaire uses their power to bust that same union, that's not merely no problem, it's not even part of the problem (by Context #2). Hence, we have the pleasant and realistic outcome that the price of a Walmart worker's time isn't enough to live on , the price of the (no doubt credentialled) neo-liberal practititioner's time is somewhere in, er, the "middle," and the price of a squillionaire's time is so high they buy grotesquely expensive homes and forget they own them . Because markets.

So, to Rule #2 (reviewing): " Go die!
" Note that, unlike Rule #1, Rule #2 is cast in the imperative. However, just as in Rule #1, Contexts #1 and #2 apply. The imperative is not for everyone! That is, the 0.01% are not sent the message, along every possible channel, to "Go die!" No no. They are told -- at least by themselves -- to "Go to Mars!" (Which I wish they would do, and leave us alone.) Take ObamaCare. Please. Wendell Potter, who used to do PR for the health insurance industry, explains how "Because Markets" works in that context. (I mean, they call it a "Marketplace" for a reason, right?)

Lawmakers who wrote the Affordable Care Act fell for [assuming good faith] the health insurance industry's insistence that Americans want "choice and competition." [Rule #1, which lawmakers share with insurers.] Having worked in that industry for two decades, I know the real reason insurers and their allies kept reciting the "choice and competition" mantra was to scare lawmakers away from even daring to give serious thought to a single-payer health care system [which is a Rule #1 violation, at least in for citizens seeking treatment].

And I also know that insurers benefit from the marketplace confusion that "choice and competition" can create. I can assure you that some insurers are counting on you becoming overwhelmed by all the choices and picking a plan that might appear at first glance to be a bargain. But beware: if you're not careful and pick a plan without really kicking the tires, you very possibly will be buying something that could wind up costing you much more than you ever imagined if you get sick or injured.

That happened to my friend Donna Smith, who as executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation, knows more about health insurance than most of us. She spent quite a bit of time last fall on the Colorado exchange trying to figure out which plan would offer the best value for her and her husband. If she had to do it over again, she would have taken the additional step of calling the insurance companies directly after reviewing the plans they were offering on the exchange, just to be certain of what her out-of-pocket obligations would be if she had to be hospitalized during the year.

A cancer survivor, Donna knew there would be a chance she might get sick again and need expensive care [Rule #2]. It never occurred to her, though, that picking a gold or platinum level plan with a higher premium would likely have been better deal than the silver Kaiser Permanente plan she opted for and that seemed to be more affordable.

To make shopping for coverage even more challenging, Kaiser and most other insurers offer several silver plans on the Colorado exchange, so Donna had to spend time trying to figure out which silver plan would be the best deal.

Donna told me the she took the time to compare the monthly premiums, co-pays and annual deductibles of each of the silver plans before making her decision. "I felt that the one I chose offered the most coverage I could afford with my premium buying dollar," she said.

Sure enough, within days after the plan went into effect on January 1, Donna got sick and was hospitalized for a week.

To her shock, she later found out some limitations of her coverage that made her overall financial responsibility much higher.

You can see that Smith really was making a life-and-death choice when she purchased insurance in the "Marketplace" designed by insurance companies. And if you multiply Smith's story by millions nationwide, you'll see that those are not good at manipulating the market to their ends, or don't have the hours to spend that Donna does, are more likely to have lethal outcomes from their choices -- choices they are mandated to make only so that parasitical health insurance rent extractors can make a buck -- than those who have better skills, or have the hours to spend, or who have their insurance purchased for them by trusted agents. Statistically, and actuaries no doubt can calculate this sort of thing, a percentage of the insured will not make the choices that will get them the care they need, and, again statistically, a certain percentage of those will lose their lives. Because markets.

All of brings me to a strong story by Annie Lowrey in the Times , which was the impetus behind this post. In fact, it ticked me off so much I can hardly think straight:

Income Gap, Meet the Longevity Gap

Fairfax County, Va., and McDowell County, W.Va., are separated by 350 miles, about a half-day's drive. Traveling west from Fairfax County, the gated communities and bland architecture of military contractors give way to exurbs, then to farmland and eventually to McDowell's coal mines and the forested slopes of the Appalachians. Perhaps the greatest distance between the two counties is this: Fairfax is a place of the haves [Contexts #1 and #2], and McDowell of the have-nots. Just outside of Washington, fat government contracts [that is, through policy choice] and a growing technology sector buoy the median [!!] household income in Fairfax County up to $107,000, one of the highest in the nation. McDowell, with the decline of coal, has little in the way of industry. Unemployment is high. Drug abuse is rampant. Median household income is about one-fifth that of Fairfax.

One of the starkest consequences of that divide is seen in the life expectancies of the people there. Residents of Fairfax County are among the longest-lived in the country: Men have an average life expectancy of 82 years and women, 85, about the same as in Sweden. In McDowell, the averages are 64 and 73, about the same as in Iraq .

Since the 1980s, "socioeconomic status [class] has become an even more important indicator of life expectancy." That was the finding of a 2008 report by the Congressional Budget Office. But dollars in a bank account have never added a day to anyone's life, researchers stress. Instead, those dollars are at work in a thousand daily-life decisions [like Donna Smith's] -- about jobs, medical care, housing, food and exercise -- with a cumulative effect on longevity.

"Why might income have an effect on morbidity or mortality?" said David Kindig, an emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and an expert in longevity issues. "We have these causal pathways, through better jobs, better health insurance, better choice of behaviors, he added. On top of that, "there's the stress effects of poverty and low educational status."

[T]he contrast between McDowell and Fairfax shows just how deeply entrenched these trends are, with consequences reaching all the way from people's pocketbooks to their graves.

Because markets. Go die![4]

NOTES

[1] The social experiment of the moment, squillionaires with big ideas , has yet to play out in the media. Too soon to tell!

[2] Until it's too late , but that is a theme for another day.

[3] Via a podcast from sadly decayed New Yorker . It's quite a treat to hear Herzberg and Remnick gradually allow themselves to dimly understand that they know literally nothing of the experience of the average person buying Obamacare because they have never had to buy their own insurance since they get it corporately (see Context #1).

[4] Again from Lowrey, a fine example of Rule #2:

"These things are not nearly as clear as they seem, or as clear as epidemiologists seem to think," said Angus Deaton, an economist at Princeton.

Just doing his job .

UPDATE Adding, I'm not claiming that I've synthesized the neo-liberal literature. My claim is that if you engage a neo-liberal in conversation on policy ("at the whiteboard"), at some point you will be able to reduce what they say to rule #1 as a premise and rule #2 as an injunction, given the asymmetrical contexts #1 and #2. It's rather like the famous headline "Ford to City: Drop Dead," but on a society-wide scale, and with the 0.01% in the place of Ford.


Leonidas , March 17, 2014 at 8:40 am

My favorite quote regarding supply-demand curves goes something like "Like unicorns, supply-demand curves are often drawn but never seen in reality". From the book Economyths. A highly entertaining and readable debunking of neoclassical economics theory.

Ulysses , March 17, 2014 at 8:58 am

What a superb post! I particularly enjoyed how you correctly identified "parasitical rent extraction" as the preferred modus operandi of the 1% and their enablers.
How could we boil down an ideology opposed to neoliberalism?
1) Because humanity. We are all brothers and sisters who should care for one another.
2) Go live in joy and harmony. Caring for one another, and the health of our environment, we can enjoy living and creating together in an atmosphere free of undue stress and strife.

Jagger , March 17, 2014 at 10:29 am

Absolutely. Now go read the story about "How One City turned Poverty into a Prison Sentence" in the links section. It is a case study of rent extraction with jail as the final profit making solution when the poor are sucked dry. Money and politicians have so corrupted our democracy that it has become predatory. The political system is broke and I really don't see any real solutions to breaking the grip of those corrupting the system.

Vatch , March 17, 2014 at 11:49 am

I haven't had time to read much of what's in NC today, but I did read part of the Poverty/Prison article. Absolutely infuriating! When people can't pay their fines, community service should be an option. But I guess private companies don't make any profits from community service.

Alejandro , March 17, 2014 at 12:32 pm

"The political system is broke and I really don't see any real solutions to breaking the grip of those corrupting the system."

"I can UNDERSTAND pessimism, but I don't BELIEVE in it. It's not simply a matter of faith, but of historical EVIDENCE. Not overwhelming evidence, just enough to give HOPE, because for hope we don't need certainty, only POSSIBILITY."-Howard Zinn

McMike , March 17, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Note: the poor person is not the only one sucked dry, and that's not even the main point.

The goal of the prison industrial complex is to suck the middle class dry through privatized taxpayer funded prisons.

digi_owl , March 17, 2014 at 9:05 am

I found myself wondering if CIA has been acting as the "PR" office for this mentality, ever since the days of the Dulles brothers

Banger , March 17, 2014 at 9:24 am

Indeed they have–Operation Mockingbird started it all and then metastasized into our current completely controlled "press" (the Mightier Wurlitzer).

James Levy , March 17, 2014 at 9:06 am

I think "because markets" was abetted by the Left-Liberal "postmodern turn" of the 1970s and 80s. The Civil Rights and Anti-War movements had a hard moral center. Biting into them could crack teeth. Postmodernism and certain kinds of multiculturalism were gooey all the way through. They allowed the professoriate and the outside intellectuals to not have to make moral distinctions and moral choices. Everything could be analyzed (thus boosting publication output) and no hard work of condemnation, organization, or resistance need happen, because language was indeterminate, morals relative, and knowledge suspect. Surrender to the market was a way for a bunch of soft, queasy people to not have to make hard choices and defend them (such defense, in the ideological mood of the day, being a sign of a lack of "sophistication", "philosophical rigor", and "nuance", and an indicator of "crude" thinking–in other words, you'd be seen as a naive dunce not worth being granted tenure).

And, if you were one of those profs who could parlay the latest methodology into a big, splashy list of publications and exploit the burgeoning star system, the market was very, very good to you. So why ask such vulgar materialistic questions about economic outcomes when you could add a gay black woman to your syllabus and feel like you were "exploding the canon", "fighting the power", and "sticking it to the Man"?

Banger , March 17, 2014 at 9:27 am

Wow! I think your critique is spot on. The rot starts, in many ways, with the U.S. intellectual class that has been, largely, silenced and/or assigned to mediocre endeavors as you suggest.

Ulysses , March 17, 2014 at 10:24 am

Yes. As Chris Hedges noted some time ago:

"Universities no longer train students to think critically, to examine and critique systems of power and cultural and political assumptions, to ask the broad questions of meaning and morality once sustained by the humanities. These institutions have transformed themselves into vocational schools. They have become breeding grounds for systems managers trained to serve the corporate state. In a Faustian bargain with corporate power, many of these universities have swelled their endowments and the budgets of many of their departments with billions in corporate and government dollars. College presidents, paid enormous salaries as if they were the heads of corporations, are judged almost solely on their ability to raise money. In return, these universities, like the media and religious institutions, not only remain silent about corporate power but also condemn as "political" all within their walls who question corporate malfeasance and the excesses of unfettered capitalism."
http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/the_death_of_the_liberal_class_20101029

allcoppedout , March 17, 2014 at 11:05 am

Universities used to teach only a small number (5% when I went) and HE has expanded to a target of 50%. I don't wear the better days argument implicit in this. Standards have dropped so far it's hard to teach anything conceptual and most staff wouldn't be up to it. I suspect universities were never much good and people got better education in jobs with decent firms. And what of virtue ethics and other such clap-trap? Most of the prats who came up with that didn't challenge slavery. The German elite got bildung which helped them not at all to resist the Nazis. Scientists get none of that rot and turn out more generally ethical and leftist than the rest of HE output.

Lambert Strether , March 17, 2014 at 12:50 pm

I think that's very perceptive and I agree. I always knew the deconstructionists were up to no good -- readers will correct me but my impression is they destroyed English Department after English Department -- but your comment reminds how very no good their "no good" was.

MikeNY , March 17, 2014 at 8:20 pm

I daresay Harold Bloom would concur!

readerOfTeaLeaves , March 18, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Agreed.
They destroyed English departments, but the destroyers got tenure tracks and a lot of goodies, so perhaps like death by carbon monoxide poisoning, they were largely (and arrogantly, in a few cases that I've seen UpCloseAndPersonal) oblivious of the harm their sanctimonious behavior created.

Waves , March 17, 2014 at 9:54 am

Krugman totally nails it. Because he rocks.
Here's the link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/17/opinion/krugman-that-old-time-whistle.html?ref=paulkrugman

@Lambert Strether
You nailed it, too, but I personally would have changed "markets" to "psychotic parasitical greed and lust", but that is probably too long. I guess one word is the limit. *sigh*

Lambert Strether , March 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Krugman writes: "economic opportunity has shriveled for half the population." I'd like to see a little acknowledgment that NAFTA had something to do with that. And since trade is Krugman's bailiwick, I'd like to see a full-throated denunciation of TPP, instead of that lame promise to do "homework" (in his own field?!) followed by a nothing-burger of a column.

Krugman talks a good game. He's still a card-carrying member of the political class, and a supporter of ObamaCare, which is a "Because markets. Go die!" solution if ever I've seen one, which is covered in the post .

Dan Kervick , March 17, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Yeah, they are all trying to carry water for The Party while grudgingly admitting that the buckets are full of holes, or pretending that it's only the other guys who are carrying the buckets.

Banger , March 17, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Of course he's a member of the political class! You don't get to write for the NYT if you aren't–not any more. Look the mainstream Party Line is the only game in town. Who will be there for him when he loses his place at the table? The left has not made it easy for people to turn left–where is the funding, the organization and so on? The mainstream Washington consensus is all there is right now–TINA is a reality because the left perpetually sleeps and believes that cries of "it's not fair!" are enough.

TK421 , March 17, 2014 at 10:08 am

" Because markets."

Can't I go anywhere without seeing internet speak?

Thor's Hammer , March 17, 2014 at 11:28 am

Neo-liberal is a wuss phrase invented by guilt ridden liberals to avoid using the word that truly describes the state of affairs.
"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power"
― Benito Mussolini
"We have buried the putrid corpse of liberty"
― Benito Mussolini

Vatch , March 17, 2014 at 11:58 am

Please don't think that I am defending either Neo-Liberalism or Fascism; I'm not. Both are odious. But it's not clear that Mussolini actually said that about corporatism, since that appears to be a mistranslation of the Italian word "corporatzione" See WikiQuote on Mussolini's Disputed Quote :

"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power."

This misunderstanding of the meaning of 'corporatzione' spread rapidly in the United States after appearing in a column by Molly Ivins (24 November 2002). It is repeated often and sometimes attributed to the "Fascism" entry in the 1932 Enciclopedia Italiana, but does not appear there. See "Mussolini on the Corporate State" by Chip Berlet which discusses the corporatzione – councils of workers, managers and other groups set up by the Fascist Party to control the economy and everyone in it.

Here's the Chip Berlet article . Since I don't speak Italian, I don't know what the truth about this is. Perhaps an NC reader who is fluent in Italian can comment for us.

nobody , March 17, 2014 at 12:25 pm

According to Guido Preparata:

Fascism's corporativismo was something altogether different -- the corporazioni were State-mandated guilds; it's another story, entirely. What we have in the US, instead, is a system governed by an ever more oligarchically-diseased, and outwardly aggressive, bureau-technocracy, which, internally, presides over a gradual privatization of public-functions, a sweeping commercialization of all spiritual endeavors (higher learning and the arts), and a virtual monopolization (corporatization) of all economic activity.

http://www.larsschall.com/2012/06/10/the-business-as-usual-behind-the-slaughter/

MaroonBulldog , March 18, 2014 at 12:09 am

Thepolitical idea of "corporatism" was not original to Mussolini, but is far older. In shortest form, a "corporatist" state was one in which persons were represented as members of a particular class, as opposed to a "representative state" where persons were represented as residents of a particular geographical community. In crude form, plumbers would be represented in the councils of state by a plumber, veterinarians by a veterinarian, etc. The Wikipedia article under this entry describes some of the 19th century intellectual history of this political idea

grayslady , March 17, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Agreed. Totally trendy and juvenile. Belongs in the same category as "Let's do lunch." English is a rich language, offering many word choices with which to craft a scathing critique without resorting to slang.

hunkerdown , March 17, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Because bourgeois affectations?

grayslady , March 17, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Since when has the proper use of language become a bourgeois affectation? Did I miss the announcement?

different clue , March 18, 2014 at 2:47 am

If one wishes to reach the non-bourgeoisly non-affected, one must resign oneself to the necessity of using non-bourgeois non-affectations.

Maynard Witherell , March 17, 2014 at 10:30 am

While I am (I think) in agreement with you, this is one of the most obfuscatory (your word) articles I have looked at on NC for awhile. Preaching to the choir is one thing (I am, after all, in that choir), but all that grammatical analysis that morphs into economic analysis may be cute but is just unnecessary. Please write more clearly next time!

allcoppedout , March 17, 2014 at 10:49 am

I didn't understand why anyone would want a crispy cream doughnut.

Lambert's walk through is very similar to modern work on argument. We tend to avoid best argument and just do easy ones with obvious "evidence", which is pretty dumb as data and theory spin together and there is no neutral observation language. Markets equate with 'suck it and see'. Neo-liberalism is well over 2000 years old. It's essence is lying. Machiavelli described it well. You say a pile of liberal 'dulldung' in public expressing your princely virtue and act as a ruthless bastard behind the scenes, trading on insider information and keeping savage attack dogs fed with the profits. Virtue ethics are extensively taught to an elite cadre in a system supported by slaves. Honesty is the best policy is taught alongside the need to lawyer up and deceive the enemy with clever strategies. You really are a decent person but have to fight the shameless enemy on her own terms.

Neo-liberalism is profoundly non-scientific and non-modern. Even if markets were real, we would want to do experiments that didn't ground out in them to find out how to change or maintain them. I'm afraid those of us who know E = MC2 isn't very important in relativity (excellent link the other day) rarely get arsed with economics and politics. They just aren't where we'd start to try and get a reasonable society going, given the chance. And both lack the show and tell we like.

A major ruse in neo-liberalism is to turn arguments about change into fantasies requiring a totally remodelled world-view. I know Kuhn used the term paradigm in this sense, but he'd stuffed that before his second edition and was talking 'disciplinary matrices', which wasn't half as catchy. This ruse disguises the fact that most critique really just asks 'where's your evidence'? In primitive societies, there is more murder than civilisation can match through war, at least before some clown pops off a hydrogen bomb or biological wizardry. Do we leave murder to Mr Market? There are many other examples we don't cede to market throws of the dice.

Neo-liberalism works by shouting loud. It might do us good to work out what our role in the performance of the Naked Emperor is. Drowning out the voice of the child shouting he is naked with clever critique?

cat , March 17, 2014 at 11:00 am

"That donut cost her 27 baht -- 84¢, 5¢ more than the US, in a city with half the cost-of-living of New York! So, what's going on? To her, Krispy Kreme donuts are a luxury good. How does she know that?"

The cost of living has little to nothing to do with if the cost to produce, sell, and profit from a Krispy Kreme donut in Thailand vs NYC. This is either the same terrible critical thinking skills you accuse the neo-liberals of possessing or easily dismissible sophistry.

The demand curve is a good starting point for discussing Economics because it starts the conversation about what really goes into the price of a good and the cost/willingness of its consumption.

I notice you don't present an alternate.

Lambert Strether , March 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm

I feel satisfied to have shown that neo-liberalism is false and lethal. I notice you don't dispute that. I don't see why I have to present an alternative. In any case, I don't do assignments.

allcoppedout , March 17, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Yes you do Lambert. So do I. We just mark our own these days. Important to say critique doesn't need an alternative. Sadly, you have not slain the neo-blobby dragon and it will be round for the rent tomorrow. Somehow we need to trick it into a knife fight when we have pistols. One of the neo-clogger gun batteries is this 'what's your alternative' stuff. We should not go Light Brigade. The truth here is they prevent alternatives and practise sacking raids on any established.

It would be interesting to see speculation in here concerning what life would be like with guaranteed income set at three squares and a roof over one's head. I'm particularly interested in employee relations and what real motivation to work is.

hunkerdown , March 17, 2014 at 4:29 pm

And the sale price of a donut has nothing necessarily to do with the cost of production and sales, so long as there is a sufficiently fashionable level of profit in doing so. Anecdotal evidence still beats a priori assertion.

hunkerdown , March 17, 2014 at 4:35 pm

And furthermore, "presenting an alternate" is simply abrogation of responsibility in the form of a romantic prayer, most often deployed by those whose social identity and/or access to power are directly or indirectly threatened by the criticial analysis in progress.

In other words, it's begging the question "because markets".

huxley , March 17, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Price distortions are the result of market inefficiencies which can be contrived in any number of ways to enable rent extraction. You're invited to confess to your own favorite methods.

Ben Johannson , March 17, 2014 at 9:27 pm

The demand curve is a meaningless abstraction. Draw two intersecting lines to reflect your assumptions and you too can teach at Harvard.

readerOfTeaLeaves , March 18, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Bless you for that moment of sanity.

HotFlash , March 17, 2014 at 12:38 pm

That you for this elegantly written essay, Lambert.

Scot Griffin , March 17, 2014 at 1:40 pm

You really only need one rule to sum up neoliberalism: "If you are not at the table, you are on the menu."

I first heard that from a K Street lobbyist who helped write the ObamaCare bill for PhRMA, his employer at the time.

Of course, to have a seat at the table, you need to be economically powerful and politically connected.

impermanence , March 17, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Lambert, economize on your verbiage

People want, 'something for nothing;' and the few are willing to do whatever it takes to this end.

JEHR , March 17, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Lambert, your mind is as sharp as a razor today.

huxley , March 17, 2014 at 4:31 pm

The supply-demand diagram as shown is inaccurate. As such it is an effective demonstration of lying by omission.

To correctly model real-world markets it needs to show how the supply and demand curves are shifted through industry collusion, improper government mandates, and other market distortions and manipulations. It needs to show how prices are increased through market inefficiencies and how economic rent is contrived. It needs to demonstrate the differences between a non-profit utilitarian system, a competitive system that allows for a normal profit, and one that is perverted to enable rent extraction.

The diagram as shown doesn't do any of these things, and a corporate con artist who tries to fob off such a thing on you needs to be taken to school about their ignorance of economics and their propensity for blatant dishonesty and thievery. You certainly don't want such a pirate to get away with using the Blinding With Science fallacy on you when it's fairly straightforward to expose the lying for what it is with just a little standard explanatory material.

casino implosion , March 17, 2014 at 4:42 pm

I've heard the "narcissism of small differences" theory before but I don't think I buy it. The differences are large, but they're the Yankee/Cowboy War differences detailed by Oglesby, not a disagreement over any of the main points of the Washington Consensus..

James Levy , March 17, 2014 at 5:21 pm

The war between the Eastern Establishment and the Cowboy Capitalists largely ended when the factions called a truce in 1980 and put Bush and Reagan on the ticket. Since then the transnational globalizing elite have pretty much buried those old cohorts or coopted them. The Tea Party and Fox News are the last refuges of the Cowboys, along with the nitwits at Commentary. But I think that the biggest players no longer see the United States as the exclusive or even primary stage on which capital is to be accumulated and deployed. America now functions primarily as rent collector and strike breaker.

participant-observer-observed , March 17, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Nice work!

For an even more amusing but pessimistic view, kindly enjoy:

The Idiot's Guide to Smart People: Politics (Ep. 1 of 3)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R72atCX4leY&list=PLrEnWoR732-AOme6RPPtbO_eQzyz6yxto

E Williams , March 17, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Rule 2 reminds me of the title of H Rap Brown's autobiography, written fifty years ago.

"I lived near Louisiana State University, and I could see this big fine school with modern buildings and it was for whites. Then there was Southern University, which was about to fall in and that was for the niggers. And when I compared the two, the message that the white man was trying to get across was obvious Die Nigger Die."

V. Johnson , March 17, 2014 at 7:26 pm

"1. Because Markets", "2. Go Die!".

Perfection. That really sums it up doesn't it? Best explanation of neoliberalism ever. It's almost Haiku.

FYI I found this the other day, same thing from a different angle:

http://globuspallidusxi.blogspot.com/2014/01/market-failure.html

skippy , March 17, 2014 at 9:27 pm

A comment – Jordan P Soreff #3 Be quiet and civil while going about #2 Because Markets. -- Lovely weather we're having. Did you see Miley Cyrus? OMG Dead as a doornail.

skippy bawhahahaha~

different clue , March 18, 2014 at 2:53 am

One might call them Rules for the Masses, not the Classes.
Because markets.
Go die! (because Georgia Guidestones).

[Aug 30, 2018] Corporate Welfare Lives On and On

Aug 30, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

From farm subsidies to the Export-Import Bank, special interest feeding frenzies are still the norm throughout government. By DOUG BANDOWAugust 29, 2018

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Congress created the usual special interest frenzy with its latest iteration of the farm bill. Agricultural subsidies are one of the most important examples of corporate welfare -- money handed out to businesses based on political connections. The legislation suffered a surprise defeat in the House, being viewed as too stingy. But it is certain to return.

Fiscal responsibility is out of fashion. The latest federal budget, drafted by a Republican president and Republican-controlled Congress, blew through the loose limits established under Democratic President Barack Obama. The result is trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.

Spending matters. So does the kind of spending. Any amount of corporate welfare is too much.

Business plays a vital role in a free market. People should be able to invest and innovate, taking risks while accepting losses. In real capitalism there are no guaranteed profits. But corporate welfare gives the well-connected protection from many of the normal risks of business.

Business subsidies undermine both capitalism and democracy. Allowing politicians to channel economic resources toward their preferred ends distorts investment and trade. Moreover, turning government into an engine of illicit profit encourages what economists call rent-seeking. Well-organized special interests usually triumph over the broader public and national interest.

Explained Mercatus scholar Tad DeHaven, then a budget analyst at the Cato Institute: "Corporate welfare often subsidizes failing and mismanaged businesses and induces firms to spend more time on lobbying rather than on making better products. Instead of correcting market failures, federal subsidies misallocate resources and introduce government failures into the marketplace."

While corporate welfare suggests money for big business, firm size is irrelevant. There is no substantive difference between, say, the Small Business Administration and the Export-Import Bank. Both turn capitalism into a rigged game of Monopoly.

Beltway Bandits, Cronyism, and the DOD's Exclusive Contracts The Ultimate Trifecta of Crony Capitalism

Aid comes in many forms. There is spending, typically in grants, loans, and loan guarantees; limits on competitors, such as tariffs and quotas; tax preferences, attached to broader tax bills to benefit individual companies and industries. All help ensure business profits.

Agriculture in particular has spawned a gaggle of sometimes bizarre subsidies. Payments, loans, crop insurance, import quotas, and more underwrite farmers. When these distort the marketplace, further efforts are concocted to address those dislocations. A dairy program created milk surpluses, which in turn encouraged state price fixing that generated massive cheese stockpiles, in turn triggering giveaways to the poor. The federal government killed off cows even as it continued to subsidize milk.

Money also goes to agricultural enterprises through the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, which supports "business development." Through it, observed the Cato Institute's Chris Edwards, Washington subsidizes "utilities, housing developers, and a vast range of other businesses, such as auto shops, tractor companies, clam producers, carwashes, and pharmaceutical firms." The defeated farm bill even included $65 million in special health care subsidies for agricultural associations. Ironically farm households enjoy higher median income and wealth than non-farm households.

The Market Access Program subsidizes agricultural exports. So do the Emerging Markets Program and Foreign Market Development Program. Other programs support general trade and investment. For instance, the Export-Import Bank is known as Boeing's Bank. It provides cheap credit for foreign buyers of American products. Ironically this gives foreign firms, such as airlines that purchase Boeing airplanes, an advantage over U.S. carriers, which must pay full fare. Ex-Im's biggest beneficiary in recent years has been China, especially its state-owned firms.

Contrary to its claims, Ex-Im is not vital for American exports: it backs fewer than 2 percent of them. Around 10 companies benefit from roughly two thirds of the organization's largesse. Ex-Im likes to say it makes money. But the real cost is channeling economic resources to the politically favored.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation provides another carefully camouflaged subsidy. OPIC underwrites U.S. investment -- recipients have ranged from Papa John's Pizza to the Ritz-Carlton -- in potentially unstable nations. If the project pays off, investors win. If not, the rest of us lose. OPIC's real cost includes channeling business investment into protected regions and industries. American businesses hoping to make money in foreign markets should not expect American taxpayers to guarantee those profits.

♦♦♦

At the other end of the commercial spectrum is the Small Business Administration. Smaller firms are a vital part of the American economy and play an important cultural, community, and family role. Yet small businesses are not an underserved market. There is no dearth of, say, liquor stores, bakeries, or antique shops. (Personally, I would love to see an antique shop on every street corner.) SBA is a response to a political opportunity, not an economic need.

Much corporate welfare is disguised in broader terms. The Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration subsidizes "development" in "distressed communities," meaning the agency underwrites business, with dubious results. The Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grants do much the same. So does the Appalachian Regional Commission. Cato's Chris Edwards complained that "these are pork-barrel handouts, not proper federal activities." There are some 180 "economic development" programs of one sort or another.

The Rural Utilities Service (once the Rural Electrification Administration) continues, never mind that rural America got electricity decades ago. Today RUS underwrites service in wealthy resort areas and has expanded into broadband internet and even television service. The Federal Communications Commission has several programs to subsidize phone service. The Commerce Department includes the Minority Business Development Agency, which underwrites companies that qualify as minority-owned.

The Bureau of Land Management (mis)manages federal lands, subsidizing use of rangeland by ranchers, for instance. There are federal subsidies to develop, finance, and promote fisheries. There are incentives for airline companies to serve small markets. Foreign Military Financing is presented as a national defense measure, but in most cases the chief beneficiaries are arms makers. There is money to develop high-speed rail and aid shipyards, while the Jones Act imposes huge costs on consumers to preserve expensive U.S. merchantmen.


♦♦♦

There are many housing subsidies, most notably mortgage support and tax preferences, though the latter were trimmed by last year's tax bill. Federal Reserve monetary policy also is a massive subsidy for housing industry enterprises and other asset-based businesses. The Trump administration is pushing subsidies for what the president calls "beautiful" coal power plants.

Federal research and development outlays also offer bountiful benefit to business. The more basic the R&D, the better the argument that the public interest is being served. But even there, warned DeHaven, "the government's basic research can be unproductive and pork-barrel in nature." The closer to commercialization, the more the expenditures are essentially corporate welfare. Alas, Uncle Sam has a hideous record of choosing winners and losers. Most often he chooses the politically influential, which can mean picking losers.

That certainly was the case in the area of "green" energy, for instance. The Obama administration funneled $535 million worth of loan guarantees to Solyndra, which President Barack Obama called an "engine of economic growth." The company filed for bankruptcy in 2011 after spending $1.8 million on its Washington lobbyists. The Washington Post later reported that $3.9 billion in Energy Department grants and financing flowed to 21 companies backed by firms connected to five Obama administration staffers and advisers.

The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program provides $25 billion in loans for development of cars powered by alternative fuels. Tesla is a major beneficiary. Some players enjoy multiple benefits. DeHaven pointed to Enron, which "received billions of dollars in aid for its projects from the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the U.S. Maritime Administration, and other agencies." When the firm collapsed taxpayers were stuck with several bills.

Although most public attention falls on direct expenditures, trade "protection" is no less a form of corporate welfare. Both tariffs and quotas allow domestic manufacturers to charge more for their products. Unfortunately, the cost of this form of corporate welfare is hidden from the public. Tariffs and other fees alone come to around $40 billion a year. Estimating the cost of quotas and other non-financial restrictions is much harder.

♦♦♦

Tax preferences are another means of corporate welfare. Buried in the tax code, they often are difficult to identify. Measures that affect only one firm or industry, in contrast to those with general economic impact, should be treated as subsidies. Some measures are both, such as the mortgage interest deduction.

The Tax Foundation once calculated that "special tax provisions" cost more than $100 billion annually in lost revenue. Toss in just the mortgage interest deduction and the total jumps dramatically. Although last year's tax bill covered important policy issues, it also incorporated more than a few preferences called "tax extenders."

States and localities also offer subsidies, many through grants, free property, and tax preferences to attract businesses to a particular area. The New York Times pointed to the case of General Motors: "For years, mayors and governors anxious about local jobs had agreed to G.M.'s demands for cash rewards, free buildings, worker training and lucrative tax breaks." Estimates of these costs run between $50 billion and $80 billion.

With the annual federal deficit again approaching $1 trillion, ending corporate welfare alone would not restore fiscal sanity in Washington. But it would be a good down payment. Killing corporate welfare also would help answer the question: does the system operate only for the influential and elite? Ending welfare for profit-making companies should be a starting point for any effort to balance the budget.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Reagan, he is author of The Politics of Plunder: Misgovernment in Washington .

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nothing changed August 29, 2018 at 3:02 am

"Ending welfare for profit-making companies should be a starting point for any effort to balance the budget. "

At least these are American companies.

What blows my mind is that the top three "foreign aid" parasites under Trump are the same as under Obama. Israel, Afghanistan, and Egypt.

Billions.

So much for "America First" and kicking freeloaders off the taxpayer dole.

Mark Thomason , says: August 29, 2018 at 10:37 am

The Import-Export Bank helps little guys compete with big guys. It provides resources for international payments that otherwise are too expensive to set up for smaller transactions and smaller buyers and sellers.

The attack on the Bank is an attack in support of monopoly power of the biggest companies that can afford to do it for themselves (and only for themselves).

SteveM , says: August 29, 2018 at 11:09 am

It's imperative not to leave out the MIC. No matter much the defense contractors screw up they are always invited back to the FedGov trough to screw up some more. Recent acquisition catastrophes include:

F-22
F-35
Littoral Combat Ship
Zumwalt Class Destroyer
Army Future Combat System

There are scores of others. Do a search on almost any platform the Pentagon sought to acquire and "boondoggle" to see what kind of economic wreckage surfaces.

What gets me is the Generals and Admirals who testify in front of Congress and wail about the "hollowed out force structure" when the original program plans for all weapons systems had plenty of platforms being delivered at a notionally affordable cost.

Begging for more money for programs when those same Brass screwed up the oversight of the ones that are busted reminds me of the kid who kills his parents and then throws himself at the mercy of the court because he's an orphan.

And the Pentagon Brass is really fronting for the defense contractors they want to work for when they get out. It's all a Corporate Welfare scam.

Nobody can hold a candle to the 5-Sided Pleasure Palace when it comes to Corporate Welfare.

TJ Martin , says: August 29, 2018 at 11:59 am

A challenge . Name one solitary major industry in the US that does not receive massive tax payer funded subsidies . Think you know the answer ? All bets are your wrong . So lets take a look at the worst of the worst receiving the most amount of tax payer dollars in what can only be described as corporate welfare ;

1)Energy ( e.g. The Oil / Petrochemical industry along with coal and nuclear )

2) Arms industry ( both military and civilian )

3) Commercial and to a lesser extent residential developers and builders ( hint hint recently increased by the current administration )

4) AgraBusiness

5) Big Pharma

6) Auto Industry

7) Transportation ( e.g. the airlines )

8) Communications ( e.g. satellite and cable tv . land line & cell phone providers , internet providers )

All en total or in part fully supported by a GOP unwilling to provide so much as reasonable healthcare to the general public while spending billions of our dollars on corporate welfare

In conclusion another challenge . In light of the above irrefutable facts .. where is the genuine conservatism so many conservatives make claim to ?

One Guy , says: August 29, 2018 at 1:28 pm

Money for votes, i.e., "the swamp". It was bad enough, before Trump, but now it's worse.

balconesfault , says: August 29, 2018 at 1:34 pm

For instance, the Export-Import Bank is known as Boeing's Bank. It provides cheap credit for foreign buyers of American products. Ironically this gives foreign firms, such as airlines that purchase Boeing airplanes, an advantage over U.S. carriers, which must pay full fare.

Wow – that's a stretch.

I would like to see some real evidence that foreign carriers have been getting significantly lower interest rates on their loans than US carriers when purchasing planes from the Boeing factory.

Sure, there's a theoretical point there. But I've never seen one real world example, and I've not heard any of the domestic carriers complaining.

Meanwhile, thanks to Ex-Im, which costs US taxpayers nothing, Boeing and a lot of other businesses get to provide jobs to American workers.

I still will never understand the right wing hatred for a program that has helped American trade balance far more over the years than any of Trump's tariffs will ever do.

EliteCommInc. , says: August 29, 2018 at 4:03 pm

sign me up

[Aug 28, 2018] A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Here is an except from "A Colony in a Nation" by Chris Hayes that she recently discussed (Chris Hayes is also the author of Twilight of the Elites ) ..."
"... ...we have built a colony in a nation, not in the classic Marxist sense but in the deep sense we can appreciate as a former colony ourselves: A territory that isn't actually free. A place controlled from outside rather than within. A place where the mechanisms of representation don't work enough to give citizens a sense of ownership over their own government. A place where the law is a tool of control rather than a foundation for prosperity. ..."
"... A Colony in a Nation is not primarily a history lesson, though it does provide a serious, empathetic look at the problems facing the Colony, as well as at the police officers tasked with making rapid decisions in a gun-rich environment. ..."
"... Elsewhere, Hayes examines his own experiences with the law, such as an incident when he was almost caught accidentally smuggling "about thirty dollars' worth of marijuana stuffed into my eyeglass case" into the 2000 Republican National Convention. Hayes got away without so much as a slap on the wrist, protected by luck, circumstances and privilege. ..."
Mar 23, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
"Listening to this show by MSNB is so disguising that I lost any respect for it. "

I actually jumped the gun. That's does not mean that it should not be viewed. There are some positive aspects of MSNBC http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show

Here is an except from "A Colony in a Nation" by Chris Hayes that she recently discussed (Chris Hayes is also the author of Twilight of the Elites )

...we have built a colony in a nation, not in the classic Marxist sense but in the deep sense we can appreciate as a former colony ourselves: A territory that isn't actually free. A place controlled from outside rather than within. A place where the mechanisms of representation don't work enough to give citizens a sense of ownership over their own government. A place where the law is a tool of control rather than a foundation for prosperity.

... ... ...

A Colony in a Nation is not primarily a history lesson, though it does provide a serious, empathetic look at the problems facing the Colony, as well as at the police officers tasked with making rapid decisions in a gun-rich environment.

Hayes takes us through his less-than-successful experience putting himself in the latter's shoes by trying out an unusual training tool, a virtually reality simulator: "We're only one scene in, and already the self-righteous liberal pundit has drawn his weapon on an unarmed man holding a cinder block."

Elsewhere, Hayes examines his own experiences with the law, such as an incident when he was almost caught accidentally smuggling "about thirty dollars' worth of marijuana stuffed into my eyeglass case" into the 2000 Republican National Convention. Hayes got away without so much as a slap on the wrist, protected by luck, circumstances and privilege.

For black men living in the Colony, encounters with the police are much more fraught. Racial profiling and minor infractions can lead to "being swept into the vortex of a penal system that captures more than half the black men his age in his neighborhood... an adulthood marked by prison, probation, and dismal job prospects...."

[Aug 07, 2018] Trillion Dollar Companies the Apple Empire and Concentrated Markets by Binoy Kampmark

Notable quotes:
"... New York Times ..."
"... The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google ), ..."
"... Power and influence has shifted. Political leaders have little of these relatively speaking, certainly over the behavioural consistency and content of subjects and citizens. Someone like Mark Zuckerberg, distinctly outside a political process he can still control, does. "He can turn off or on your mood. He can take any product up or down. He can pretty much kill any company in the tech space." And that's just Facebook. ..."
Aug 07, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

It seems a distant reality, or nightmare now: a company that was near defunct in 1996, now finding itself at the imperial pinnacle of the corporate ladder. Then, publications were mournful and reflective about the corporation that gave us the Apple Computer. An icon had fallen into disrepair. Then came the renovations, the Steve Jobs retooling and sexed-up products of convenience.

Apple's valuation last Thursday came in at $1 trillion and may well make it the first trillion dollar company on the planet. That its assets are worth more than a slew of countries is surely something to be questioned rather than cheered. This un-elected entity, with employees versed in evading, as far as possible, the burdens of public accountability, poses a troubling minder about how concentrated financial power rarely squares with democratic governance.

Chalking up such a mark is only impressive for those keeping an eye on the trillion dollar line. China's state-owned PetroChina is another muscular contender for getting there first , while the Saudi Arabian energy company Aramco, which produces a far from negligible 10 percent of the world's oil, could well scoot past Apple should it go public.

Cheering was exactly what was demanded by James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute, whose piece in The Week suggests that Apple reached that mark "the right way". The critics of such concentrated power, technology company or otherwise, were simply wrong. "For them, superbig is automatically superbad."

Praise for Apple, an abstract being, is warranted in the way that its ally, modern capitalism, should be. "The story of Apple is really the story of modern capitalism doing what it does best: turning imagination into reality." The author prefers to see Apple, and Amazon, as products of US genius in the capitalist context.

The New York Times is similarly impressed, linking individual gargantuan successes to the broader American effort in the economy. A small gaggle of US companies commanding "a larger share of total corporate profits" than at any time since the 1970s, is not necessarily something to snort at. The nine-year bull market has, essentially, been powered by the four technology giants. "Their successes are also propelling the broader economy, which is on track for its fastest growth rate in a decade."

To its credit, the paper does pay lip service to concerns that such "superstar firms" are doing their bit to stifle wage growth, shrink an already struggling, barely breathing middle class, while jolting income inequality.

This is where the trouble lies: a seemingly blind understanding of capitalism's inner quirks and unstable manifestations. The paradox behind the tech giant phenomenon does not lie in the wisdom that innovation comes from competition. The converse is claimed to be true: that concentration, oligopolistic power, and strings pulled by a few players is the way to keep innovation alive. This was Microsoft's vain argument during the 1990s, something that did not sit well with the antitrust denizens.

The fraternity of economists, rarely capable in agreeing on broader trends, has become abuzz with literature focused on one unsettling topic: the continuing, and accelerating concentration of US industry. Gustavo Grullon, Yelena Larkin and Roni Michaely noted in April last year that government policies encouraging competition in industry had been "drastically reversed in the US" with a 75 percent increase in the Herfindahl-Hirschman index (HHI) measuring market concentration. (Antitrust regulators beware.) The authors observe how, "Lax enforcement of antitrust regulations and increasingly technological barriers to entry appear to be important factors behind this trend."

Marketing professor from NYU, Scott Galloway, is one who has supped from the cup of the tech giants. He has written about their exploits ( The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google ), his addresses having become something of a viral phenomenon with analyses of the companies at the DLD Conference in Munich. Initially seduced by the bling and the product, he enjoyed the magic mushroom inducements the tech giants supplied, relished in their success and stock options, extolled their alteration of human behaviour. "This started as a love affair. I want to be clear. I love these companies."

This year, a change of heart took place. Galloway, after spending "the majority of the last two years" of his life "really trying to understand them and the relationship with the ecosystem" is convinced that these behemoths must be broken up. The big four, striving all powerful deities, sources of mass adoration, have become "our consumptive gods". "And as a result of their ability to tap into these very basic instincts, they've aggregated more market cap than the majority of nation's GDP".

Power and influence has shifted. Political leaders have little of these relatively speaking, certainly over the behavioural consistency and content of subjects and citizens. Someone like Mark Zuckerberg, distinctly outside a political process he can still control, does. "He can turn off or on your mood. He can take any product up or down. He can pretty much kill any company in the tech space." And that's just Facebook.

What Galloway points out with a forceful relevance is that liberties and freedoms are not the preserve of estranged markets and their bullish actors. Regulation and oversight are required. A return to competition would only be possible through some form of intervention and coaxing, perhaps even economic violence. The memory of the great financial crisis initially stimulated an appetite for regulation. In recent years, such urgings have been satiated. The tech giants, fully aware of this, continue to burgeon.

[Aug 04, 2018] The US empire was always conducting trade wars that even included deliberately created cartels

Notable quotes:
"... These laws allow a company that believes a foreign rival is selling a product below cost to request that the government impose special tariffs to protect it. Selling products below cost is called dumping, and the duties are called dumping duties. Often, however, the U.S. government determines costs on the basis of little evidence, and in ways which make little sense. To most economists, the dumping duties are simply naked protectionism. Why, they ask, would a rational firm sell goods below cost? ..."
"... Cartels work by restricting output, thereby raising prices. O'Neill's interest was no surprise to me; what did surprise me was the idea that the U.S. government would not only condone a cartel but actually play a pivotal role in setting one up. He also raised the specter of using the antidumping laws if the cartel was not created. These laws allow the United States to impose special duties on goods that arc sold at below a "fair market value," and particularly when they are sold below the cost of production. ..."
"... The reality is that the US empire was always conducting trade wars that included not only tariffs on specific products, but even deliberately created cartels. ..."
"... In the early 90s the Clinton administration uncritically adopted the neoliberal doctrine from Ronald Reagan and continued the big fraud against the majority of the Americans. ..."
"... On the one hand, the Clinton administration was selling the big fairy tale of neoliberalism to the American public: free market capitalism would bring prosperity for all through that trickle-down fiasco. And it was translated, as always, in further cuts in public spending - more tax-cuts for the super-rich. On the other hand, behind the scenes, the same administration was implementing the most aggressive protectionism in favor of some US corporations and against consumers. ..."
Aug 04, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

Donald Trump is using his trade wars to support the part of the US capital that has heavily lost from free trade globalization, which is more powerful than ever in our days. This is also part of the Trump agenda to persuade Americans for his "patriotic devotion" based on his "America First" slogan.

The reality is that the US empire was always conducting trade wars that included not only tariffs on specific products, but even deliberately created cartels.

In the early 90s the Clinton administration uncritically adopted the neoliberal doctrine from Ronald Reagan and continued the big fraud against the majority of the Americans.

On the one hand, the Clinton administration was selling the big fairy tale of neoliberalism to the American public: free market capitalism would bring prosperity for all through that trickle-down fiasco. And it was translated, as always, in further cuts in public spending - more tax-cuts for the super-rich. On the other hand, behind the scenes, the same administration was implementing the most aggressive protectionism in favor of some US corporations and against consumers.

In his book Globalization and its discontents , Joseph Stiglitz describes how the United States under Clinton administration set up a cartel in favor of the US aluminum industry:

The United States supports free trade, but all too often, when a poor country does manage to find a commodity it can export to the United States, domestic American protectionist interests are galvanized. This mix of labor and business interests uses the many trade laws - officially referred to as "fair trade laws," but known outside the United States as "unfair fair trade laws"- to construct barbed-wire barriers to imports.

These laws allow a company that believes a foreign rival is selling a product below cost to request that the government impose special tariffs to protect it. Selling products below cost is called dumping, and the duties are called dumping duties. Often, however, the U.S. government determines costs on the basis of little evidence, and in ways which make little sense. To most economists, the dumping duties are simply naked protectionism. Why, they ask, would a rational firm sell goods below cost?

During my term in government, perhaps the most grievous instance of U.S. special interests interfering in trade - and the reform process - occurred in early 1994, just after the price of aluminum plummeted. In response to the fall in price, U.S. aluminum producers accused Russia of dumping aluminum.

Any economic analysis of the situation showed clearly that Russia was not dumping. Russia was simply selling aluminum at the international price, which was lowered both because of a global slowdown in demand occasioned by slower global growth and because of the cutback in Russian aluminum use for military planes. Moreover, new soda can designs used substantially less aluminum than before, and this also led to a decline in the demand.

As I saw the price of aluminum plummet, I knew the industry would soon be appealing to the government for some form of relief, either new subsidies or new protection from foreign competition. But even I was surprised at the proposal made by the head of Alcoa, Paul O'Neill: a global aluminum cartel.

Cartels work by restricting output, thereby raising prices. O'Neill's interest was no surprise to me; what did surprise me was the idea that the U.S. government would not only condone a cartel but actually play a pivotal role in setting one up. He also raised the specter of using the antidumping laws if the cartel was not created. These laws allow the United States to impose special duties on goods that arc sold at below a "fair market value," and particularly when they are sold below the cost of production.

I worked hard to convince those in the National Economic Council that it would be a mistake to support O'Neill's idea, and I made great progress. But in a heated subcabinet meeting, a decision was made to support the creation of an international cartel.

While I had managed to convince almost everyone of the dangers of the cartel solution, two voices dominated. The State Department, with its close connections to the old-line state ministries, supported the establishment of a cartel. The State Department prized order above all else, and cartels do provide order. The old-line ministries, of course, were never convinced that this movement to prices and markets made sense in the first place, and the experience with aluminum simply served to confirm their views.

Rubin, at that time head of the National Economic Council, played a decisive role, siding with State. At least for a while, the cartel did work. Prices were raised. The protfits of Alcoa and other producers were enhanced. The American consumers - and consumers throughout the world - lost, and indeed, the basic principles of economics, which teach the value of competitive markets, show that the losses to consumers outweigh the gains to producers. Donald Trump is using his trade wars to support the part of the US capital that has heavily lost from free trade globalization, which is more powerful than ever in our days. This is also part of the Trump agenda to persuade Americans for his "patriotic devotion" based on his "America First" slogan.

The reality is that the US empire was always conducting trade wars that included not only tariffs on specific products, but even deliberately created cartels.

In the early 90s the Clinton administration uncritically adopted the neoliberal doctrine from Ronald Reagan and continued the big fraud against the majority of the Americans.

On the one hand, the Clinton administration was selling the big fairy tale of neoliberalism to the American public: free market capitalism would bring prosperity for all through that trickle-down fiasco. And it was translated, as always, in further cuts in public spending - more tax-cuts for the super-rich. On the other hand, behind the scenes, the same administration was implementing the most aggressive protectionism in favor of some US corporations and against consumers.

In his book Globalization and its discontents , Joseph Stiglitz describes how the United States under Clinton administration set up a cartel in favor of the US aluminum industry:

The United States supports free trade, but all too often, when a poor country does manage to find a commodity it can export to the United States, domestic American protectionist interests are galvanized. This mix of labor and business interests uses the many trade laws - officially referred to as "fair trade laws," but known outside the United States as "unfair fair trade laws"- to construct barbed-wire barriers to imports.

These laws allow a company that believes a foreign rival is selling a product below cost to request that the government impose special tariffs to protect it. Selling products below cost is called dumping, and the duties are called dumping duties. Often, however, the U.S. government determines costs on the basis of little evidence, and in ways which make little sense. To most economists, the dumping duties are simply naked protectionism. Why, they ask, would a rational firm sell goods below cost?

During my term in government, perhaps the most grievous instance of U.S. special interests interfering in trade - and the reform process - occurred in early 1994, just after the price of aluminum plummeted. In response to the fall in price, U.S. aluminum producers accused Russia of dumping aluminum.

Any economic analysis of the situation showed clearly that Russia was not dumping. Russia was simply selling aluminum at the international price, which was lowered both because of a global slowdown in demand occasioned by slower global growth and because of the cutback in Russian aluminum use for military planes. Moreover, new soda can designs used substantially less aluminum than before, and this also led to a decline in the demand.

As I saw the price of aluminum plummet, I knew the industry would soon be appealing to the government for some form of relief, either new subsidies or new protection from foreign competition. But even I was surprised at the proposal made by the head of Alcoa, Paul O'Neill: a global aluminum cartel.

Cartels work by restricting output, thereby raising prices. O'Neill's interest was no surprise to me; what did surprise me was the idea that the U.S. government would not only condone a cartel but actually play a pivotal role in setting one up. He also raised the specter of using the antidumping laws if the cartel was not created. These laws allow the United States to impose special duties on goods that arc sold at below a "fair market value," and particularly when they are sold below the cost of production.

I worked hard to convince those in the National Economic Council that it would be a mistake to support O'Neill's idea, and I made great progress. But in a heated subcabinet meeting, a decision was made to support the creation of an international cartel.

While I had managed to convince almost everyone of the dangers of the cartel solution, two voices dominated. The State Department, with its close connections to the old-line state ministries, supported the establishment of a cartel. The State Department prized order above all else, and cartels do provide order. The old-line ministries, of course, were never convinced that this movement to prices and markets made sense in the first place, and the experience with aluminum simply served to confirm their views.

Rubin, at that time head of the National Economic Council, played a decisive role, siding with State. At least for a while, the cartel did work. Prices were raised. The protfits of Alcoa and other producers were enhanced. The American consumers - and consumers throughout the world - lost, and indeed, the basic principles of economics, which teach the value of competitive markets, show that the losses to consumers outweigh the gains to producers.

http://digamo.free.fr/stig2002

It was the time where the Democrats had become Republicans and the US bipartisan dictatorship was established for good to serve the corporate America.

https://youtu.be/8d1ibtOVImg

[Jul 30, 2018] Google Bitten by 2nd Antitrust Fine in the EU, $5 Billion, Hugest Ever Anywhere. Third Waiting in the Wings by Lambert Strether

Notable quotes:
"... By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Wolf Street. ..."
"... But don't cry for Google. These practices helped it earn it a net profit of $12.7 billion in 2017 and of $19.5 billion in 2016. The decision and a fine of enormous magnitude has been expected. And Google's shares are currently flat for the day. ..."
"... "The decision and a fine of enormous magnitude has been expected. And Google's shares are currently flat for the day." ..."
"... An unlocked phone direct from the mfg instead of the carrier will have fewer apps. Also you can disable many apps, just ignore the "may cause other apps to misbehave " message; it isn't true. Some of the apps you do need, and online forums will list which you need and which you don't. ..."
"... if you can quit FB cold turkey you can reduce your exposure to Google. For example I went back to using a paper calendar. ..."
"... LineageOS is a current Android version and not several years old like with earlier Moto G versions, it gets up to date security patches, has no spyware. You can even install only the Google Apps you want, and can delete or uninstall pretty much anything. Especially on older phones with limited storage this is a godsend. ..."
Jul 19, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Lambert here: The EU doesn't mess around, does it?

By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Wolf Street.

In the US, the internet giants – Google, Facebook, Amazon, et al. – can do pretty much as they please, interrupted only by occasional hearings in Congress, where Mark Zuckerberg, or whoever, has to grin-and-bear it for a few hours, knowing that this too shall pass. The EU takes antitrust actions against super-dominant giants a tad more seriously.

The EU's Competition Commission, after a three-year investigation, hit Google with a €4.3 billion antitrust fine – $5 billion – the highest fine ever by any antitrust agency anywhere.

No one dominates like Google. According to earlier EU findings cited by Bloomberg , Google's market share exceeds 90% for general Internet search, licensed mobile device operating systems, and app stores for Android software.

"Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine," EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told reporters. "These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits."

The fine is so large because of Google's "very serious illegal behavior" going back to 2011 and due to the huge revenues Google has earned with this behavior, she said.

In addition, Google was given 90 days to stop its "illegal practices" of forcing cellphone makers that use Google's Android operating system to install Google apps.

This fine comes on top of the €2.4-billion fine the EU hit Google with in 2017 after an investigation into Google's shopping-search service.

And the EU is not through yet. It's investigating Google's online advertising contracts and could issue an additional fine. Online advertising is Google's primary revenues source.

Bloomberg:

The EU said Google ensures that Google Search and Chrome are pre-installed on "practically all Android devices" sold in Europe. Users who find these apps on their phones are likely to stick with them and "do not download competing apps in numbers that can offset the significant commercial advantage derived on pre-installation."

Google's actions reduce the incentives for manufacturers to install and for users to seek out competing apps, it said.

The probe targeted contracts that require Android-phones makers to take Google's search and browser apps and other Google services when they want to license the Play app store, which officials say is a "must-have" for new phones.

The EU also found illegal Google's "significant financial incentives" to telecoms operators and manufacturers that exclusively install Google search on devices. Rivals couldn't compete with these payments, making it difficult for any other search engine to get their app pre-installed. The EU said Google stopped doing this in 2014.

Google's contracts also prevented handset makers selling phones using other versions of Android, the EU said. This hampered manufacturers from making devices using Amazon.com Inc.'s Fire OS Android version, it said.

Regulators rejected arguments that Apple Inc. competes with Android, saying Apple's phone software can't be licensed by handset makers and that Apple phones are often priced outside many Android users' purchasing power. Users face "switching costs" to move from Apple to Android and would continue to face Google Search as a default on Apple devices.

In a long statement on its blog , holier-than-thou Google praises itself from A through Z, in essence portraying itself as the greatest gift to mankind and that therefore, it should be allowed to do as it pleases. It includes this:

Today, because of Android, there are more than 24,000 devices, at every price point, from more than 1,300 different brands, including Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Polish, Romanian, Spanish and Swedish phone makers.

And these devices are running on Android. In other words: Google is everywhere, and its ads and apps are on all these devices. Hence the Competition Commission's point: if you're this dominant, you've got to follow some rules.

At the end of its long statement, Google said: "We intend to appeal." Companies always appeal fines. Google is no exception. And the end product might be much less ambitious.

At the press conference, Vestager said it was up to Google to figure out how to comply with the Commission's order. "The obvious minimum" Google would need to do, she said, is that the "contractual restrictions disappear."

But don't cry for Google. These practices helped it earn it a net profit of $12.7 billion in 2017 and of $19.5 billion in 2016. The decision and a fine of enormous magnitude has been expected. And Google's shares are currently flat for the day.

"This emerging trend highlights just how much risk some investors are willing to take in the current environment." Read As Risks Balloon, Yield Chasers Blow Off the Fed


Raulb , July 19, 2018 at 7:32 am

It's interesting free market advocates are always going on about regulations, the need for free markets and market efficiency but don't seem to care so much about monopolies, outsize profits, the concentration of market power and its abuse that further impedes the operation of free markets and the billionaires that result.

Google's dominance in search and mobile is market failure. Facebook's dominance of social is market failure. Amazon's dominance is market failure, Apple being able to accumulate $800 billion it does not know what to do with is market failure.

Under conventional market theory all these entities would have stiff competition and not be able to accumulate outsize profits or monopoly power so the question is where is the competition and how come the the market is not working? And while the theories continue these firms concentrate even more power, control and windfall profits.

How come free market advocates always seem to be more concerned about attempts to impose minimum wages, health care or proper working conditions on amazon workers for instance than any of this? And we will not even talk about negative externalities like the emergence of a global spyware economy based on surveillance and creepily staking people 24/7. And using seemingly endless 'VC funds' to build these US centric monopolies.

oaf , July 19, 2018 at 8:17 am

We are being stalked; and a virtual individual, more or less fleshed-out, is created in the Cloud for each of us it is based on our behavior, every possible detail of which is incorporated into the dossier. How accurate these representations are can be affected by multiple variables Fake news? How about *Fake Browsing* or *Fake Shopping*. Feel free to experiment!!!

Carolinian , July 19, 2018 at 11:37 am

We are being stalked by allowing ourselves to be stalked. All Android apps carry a "permissions" warning telling how they are planning to stalk you. And of course smartphones themselves are spybots by design–a business model pioneered by Apple, not Google. One could argue that many of the worst current practices of Google are the result of trying to imitate competitors such as Apple and Facebook.

Android is based on open source Linux and there's probably no reason why smartphone manufacturers couldn't get their free operating systems elsewhere. Perhaps one big reason they don't is that they are in on the stalking.

blennylips , July 19, 2018 at 3:48 pm

Back in 2013, a google engineer, Beena Bhatia, took out this patent for google: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser ..blah..blah..blah

I found in a marginalrevolution.com article back then. Turns out MR got it from here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2515635/Google-files-patent-robot-writes-Facebook-posts-emails-tweets–need-FULL-access-scan-accounts.html

The patent was filed by a Google software engineer on behalf of the firm It describes a system that analyses a user's online posts, emails and texts The system, or bot, would then generate automated replies for future posts These replies would be written in a way that mimics that person's usual language and tone

From the patient:

( 1 of 1 )
United States Patent 8,589,407
Bhatia November 19, 2013
Automated generation of suggestions for personalized reactions in a social network

Abstract

A system and method for automatic generating suggestions for personalized reactions or messages. A suggestion generation module includes a plurality of collector modules, a credentials module, a suggestion analyzer module, a user interface module and a decision tree. The plurality of collector modules are coupled to respective systems to collect information accessible by the user and important to the user from other systems such as e-mail systems, SMS/MMS systems, micro blogging systems, social networks or other systems. The information from these collector modules is provided to the suggestion analyzer module. The suggestion analyzer module cooperates with the user interface module and the decision tree to generate suggested reactions or messages for the user to send. The suggested reactions or messages are presented by the user interface module to the user. The user interface module also displays the original message, other information about the original message such as others' responses, and action buttons for sending, discarding or ignoring the suggested message.

If representations are not accurate, you need to volunteer more info till they get you right.

ST , July 19, 2018 at 8:38 am

"The decision and a fine of enormous magnitude has been expected. And Google's shares are currently flat for the day."

As big a fine as this is that last sentence shows that fines don't work. A monopolist will always pass on fines for it's illegal behaviour to its (captive) consumer/s. The only remedy is for criminal proceedings to be bought against it's senior officers with guaranteed jail time to persuade them to stop. That or breaking up the company.

pretzelattack , July 19, 2018 at 9:35 am

and antitrust law enforcement is a joke in the u.s. but hey, russia russia russia.

Big River Bandido , July 19, 2018 at 11:10 am

One serious project for the left, once it gains power, will be to reverse and destroy the entire line of legal argument that grants personhood to corporations.

Of particular harm are the court decisions on this point in the last 20 years or so, which have brought this concept to its logical extreme. (I'm thinking in particular of the recent gay-wedding-cake case, in which the Court [i.e., Justice Kennedy] implied that corporations have a right to hold, promote, and exercise political opinions, just as if they were a real person with the fiat. The so-called rationale of that decision is far worse in its long-term implications than the immediate outcome of the case.)

nervos belli , July 19, 2018 at 3:10 pm

Even a monopolist cannot simply Ma pass on the fines. Cause if they could have increased prices already since as you write, they are monopoly. Why haven't they done it? Monopolists are not dumb, they already extract the maximum price they think the market can bear.

LarryB , July 19, 2018 at 11:12 am

In the end, the only effect that this is going to have is to transfer money from Google to the EU. Cell phone manufacturers will install Chrome and Google Search whether Google requires it or not. There simply isn't anything else out there that works as well.

Arizona Slim , July 19, 2018 at 11:28 am

Yours Truly has an Android phone. With more than 150 apps, and guess what: I didn't install most of them. They simply came with the phone.

I can recall a recent incident when I needed to call 911 and my phone was off. I turned it on, and, guess what, those 150-plus apps just HAD to update. That process took 15 minutes.

Fortunately, I wasn't in a life-threatening situation. I was only trying to call to report gunfire nearby. In central Tucson, that happens fairly often.

Since the phone was in update mode for 15 minutes before I could even get to the opening screen with the "emergency call" link, I decided not to call 911. It was simply too late to make a timely report.

If I had my druthers, I'd rather have a phone with just a handful of apps. I don't need all of this Google crud. Especially if if poses a risk to health and safety.

albert , July 19, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Why do you put up with 150 apps?

Are you implying that you can't uninstall them?

. .. . .. -- .

ChiGal in Carolina , July 19, 2018 at 2:46 pm

An unlocked phone direct from the mfg instead of the carrier will have fewer apps. Also you can disable many apps, just ignore the "may cause other apps to misbehave " message; it isn't true. Some of the apps you do need, and online forums will list which you need and which you don't.

On my current Android form I have not signed into Chrome and use DDG instead of Google. Pretty much easy as pie Slim, attagirl -- if you can quit FB cold turkey you can reduce your exposure to Google. For example I went back to using a paper calendar.

oh , July 19, 2018 at 2:54 pm

Root your phone and delete all those apps including Google's. Don't use anything google -- gmail, youtube, chrome, google search, google voice, google groups and more of the EVIL company's concoctions created solely to spy on you and sell your data.

Needless to say the crooked cell phone carriers will farm your data and track you.

I'm so sick of these crooked companies, google, facebook, netflix, whatsapp, linkedin and others that snoop on you. Get tutamail or protonmail for your e-mail.

nervos belli , July 19, 2018 at 2:59 pm

Root your phone and delete all those apps including Google's.

This is the wrong way to approach this. The right way ist to install a 3rd party ROM like LineageOS and then not install any gapps.

Be prepared however that only very few programs will work. You will then lack Google play services and they are needed for many many programs. Not much more than what is in f-droid. There is of course no play store whatsoever then.

nervos belli , July 19, 2018 at 3:04 pm

What exact phone model is it?

Arizona Slim , July 19, 2018 at 6:07 pm

It's a Moto G from Motorola.

nervos belli , July 20, 2018 at 10:27 am

For whatever reason my reply didn't go through this morning.PS: this is now the third attempt even. Now replacing all URLs in hope it will go through

I wrote exact model for a reason: there are about two dozen different Moto G versions over 6 years of releases.

Pretty much all of them allow however LineageOS or other third party Android images. Those have no bloatware apps except what comes with the OS itself. If the LineageOS download section has no image for your specific phone, then visit xda-developers forum or needrom which both have even more.

LineageOS is a current Android version and not several years old like with earlier Moto G versions, it gets up to date security patches, has no spyware. You can even install only the Google Apps you want, and can delete or uninstall pretty much anything.
Especially on older phones with limited storage this is a godsend.

Synoia , July 19, 2018 at 11:40 am

I believe that under German law (and I'm not 100% positive of this), executives and directors can become personally liable for the actions of the businesses they manage.

A $5 Billion levied on directors and management, and not shareholders, would appear to be more effective.

Those responsible bear none of the penalty. And, if corporation be people, then is the corporation and its officers conspiring?

ChiGal in Carolina , July 19, 2018 at 2:53 pm

I hope Eric Schmidt pays all $5b out of his pocket and they use it to fund the studies of monopoly impacts he put the kibosh on. Some community service too wouldn't be a bad idea for such a bully.

nervos belli , July 19, 2018 at 3:02 pm

We have the same sort of corporate veil in Germany as all other modern western capitalist countries in form of "Kapitalgesellschaft". A public company is such a company, the other would be the GmbH aka Ltd.

A manager who does criminal things (see Diesel scandal VW/VAG an Audi manager was recently held in custody) can be held liable including fines or jail. But I don't know of any anti-trust actions which pierced the veil.

David Carl Grimes , July 19, 2018 at 12:48 pm

What ever happened to "Don't be evil"

[Jul 16, 2018] The West Is Past

Notable quotes:
"... Two U.S. 'realists', Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, had always warned that the 'west' must keep China and Russia apart if it wants to keep its leading global position. Nixon went to China to achieve that. ..."
"... Years later the U.S. fell for the myth that it had 'won' the Cold War. It felt invincible, the 'sole superpower' and sought to 'rule them all'. It woke up from that dream after it invaded Iraq. The mighty U.S. military was beaten to pulp by the 'sand niggers' it despised. A few years later U.S. financial markets were in shambles. ..."
"... Crude attempts to further encircle Russia led to the Chinese-Russian alliance that now leads the SCO and soon, one might argue, the world. There will be no photo like the above from the SCO summit. The Chinese President Xi calls Russia's President Putin 'my best friend'. ..."
"... Agreed! But what will the US psychopaths do to maintain their grip when they realize they are really losing it? Nuclear war? ..."
"... Watching the two meetings play out has really been interesting, that the West is dead is not in question. And once it started it seems to be gaining momentum. I don't know how many readers here watch CGTN but it is amazing. My IQ goes up every time I watch. Astonishing how much more valuable information you get from a "heavily censored" Chinese news compared to MSM. The website is a little slow at times but it is well worth the wait. ..."
Jun 10, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

G-7 summits are supposed to symbolize "the west", its unity and its power. The summits pretended to set policy directions for the world. We are happy to see that they are dead.

Trump was obviously not inclined to compromise.

Before attending the summit Trump trolled his colleagues by inviting Russia to rejoin the G-7/G-8 format without conditions. Russia had been kicked out after Crimea voted to join its motherland. Merkel, who had negotiated the Minsk agreement with Russia, was furious. She wants to use such an invitation as an element of future negotiations. (It is stupid talk. Russia is not interested in rejoining the G-7/G-8 format.)

There are now many fields where the U.S. and its allies disagree: climate change, the Iran deal, trade are only the major ones.

Before leaving the summit Trump again used Mafia language against everyone else:

As he prepared to depart early from the G-7 summit in Charlevoix, Canada, to head to Singapore ahead of his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump delivered an ultimatum to foreign leaders, demanding that their countries reduce trade barriers for the U.S. or risk losing market access to the world's largest economy.

"They have no choice. I'll be honest with you, they have no choice," Trump told reporters at a news conference, adding that companies and jobs had left the U.S. to escape trade barriers abroad. "We're going to fix that situation. And if it's not fixed, then we're not going to deal with these countries. "

The row at the G-7 meeting was in stark contrast to the more important other meeting that happened today, the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao, China:

Dazzling against the city skyline of Qingdao, fireworks lit up the faces of guests who traveled across the vast Eurasian continent to the coast of the Yellow Sea for the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, on Saturday night.

It is the first such summit since the organization's expansion in June 2017 when India and Pakistan joined as full members.

...

The Shanghai Spirit of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of common development , was stated in the Charter of the SCO, a comprehensive regional organization founded in 2001 by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and later expanded to eight member states.

This weekend Xi will chair the summit for the first time as Chinese president, which is attended by leaders of other SCO member states and four observer states, as well as chiefs of various international organizations.

...

The SCO has grown to be an organization covering over 60 percent of the Eurasian landmass, nearly half the world's population and over 20 percent of global GDP.

Two U.S. 'realists', Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, had always warned that the 'west' must keep China and Russia apart if it wants to keep its leading global position. Nixon went to China to achieve that.

Years later the U.S. fell for the myth that it had 'won' the Cold War. It felt invincible, the 'sole superpower' and sought to 'rule them all'. It woke up from that dream after it invaded Iraq. The mighty U.S. military was beaten to pulp by the 'sand niggers' it despised. A few years later U.S. financial markets were in shambles.

Crude attempts to further encircle Russia led to the Chinese-Russian alliance that now leads the SCO and soon, one might argue, the world. There will be no photo like the above from the SCO summit. The Chinese President Xi calls Russia's President Putin 'my best friend'.

The 'west' has lost in Eurasia.

The U.S. is reduced to a schoolyard bully who beats up his gang members because their former victims have grown too big. Trump is off to Singapore to meet Kim Yong-un. Unlike Trump North Korea's supreme leader will be well prepared. It is likely that he will run rings around Trump during the negotiations. If Trump tries to bully him like he bullies his 'allies', Kim will pack up and leave. Unlike the U.S. 'allies' he has no need to bow to Trump. China and Russia have his back. They are now the powers that can lead the world.

The 'west' is past. The future is in the east.

Posted by b on June 9, 2018 at 03:14 PM | Permalink


Kelli , Jun 9, 2018 3:37:22 PM | 1

Agreed! But what will the US psychopaths do to maintain their grip when they realize they are really losing it? Nuclear war?
Laguerre , Jun 9, 2018 3:44:17 PM | 2
Yeah, I was just thinking that. Trump is running full-speed into isolation. It's an ancient policy, which recalls the 1920s. What does America need of the outside world? Good question.

I would think we will hear in the not too distant future of a European replacement of the US exchange systems, such as VISA. The Americans have become too unreliable. Obviously the Russians and Chinese do have their own systems, but that won't do for the EU.

Independence is going to be forced, and the consequences will be permanent.

Babyl-on , Jun 9, 2018 3:53:27 PM | 5

Watching the two meetings play out has really been interesting, that the West is dead is not in question. And once it started it seems to be gaining momentum. I don't know how many readers here watch CGTN but it is amazing. My IQ goes up every time I watch. Astonishing how much more valuable information you get from a "heavily censored" Chinese news compared to MSM. The website is a little slow at times but it is well worth the wait.

Last year during the border standoff with India they had on strident Indian voices arguing the Indian position every day. Imagine if CNN had on Mexican reps regarding the wall - never happen.

Harry Law , Jun 9, 2018 3:59:37 PM | 6
Because Iran was under sanctions levied by the United Nations earlier, it was blocked from admission as a new member of the Shanghai Cooperation Council [SCO]. The SCO stated that any country under UN sanctions could not be admitted. After the UN sanctions were lifted, Chinese president Xi Jinping announced its support for Iran's full membership in SCO during a state visit to Iran in January 2016.Iran must join the SCO ASAP it is also a military alliance and should prepare itself for a big effort at regime change by the US and lackeys. The moral of the story unless they hang together, the US will hang them separately.
ashley albanese , Jun 9, 2018 4:01:15 PM | 7
Well, China as the text books say was always ' half the human story' - only eclipsed by Western connivance in the 1860's .I remember my father argueing with high ranking Australian government and commercial figures in 1970.

My father argued Australia needed to find its own voice with China and Chinese policy . They replied sneeringly '' Ralph , their just red communists and will never amount to anything ' . Shortly thereafter Nixon flew to Beijing and my father sat back in his living room with a sardonic look on his face !

Scotch Bingeington , Jun 9, 2018 4:05:14 PM | 8
Interesting picture! Judging by his posture, Japan's Prime Minister Abe seems to back Trump's position.

By the way, Mr. Abe doesn't look Japanese to me, he rather has a striking resemblance to a certain Bavarian actor - one Max Griesser .

Laguerre , Jun 9, 2018 4:13:18 PM | 9
You may like Freedland's article yesterday, which unusually I agreed with, that in fact Trump is a poor negotiator, and gives away tricks he doesn't have to. Why no concession from Israel, over the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem? Why give away the honour to NK of a one-to-one with the US president? I'd be surprised if NK surrenders, when they know what will happen if they do.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/08/trump-master-negotiator-meeting-kim-jong-un-art-of-deal

Madderhatter67 , Jun 9, 2018 4:18:15 PM | 10
They did win the Cold War. That's how they became the'sole superpower'.
Red Ryder , Jun 9, 2018 4:25:57 PM | 11
"President Putin is the leader of a great country who is influential around the world," Xi said. "He is my best, most intimate friend." Xi promised Russia and China would increase their coordination in the international arena.

Putin expressed his thanks for the honor and said he saw it as an "evaluation" of his nation's efforts to strengthen its relationship with its southern neighbor.

"This is an indication of the special attention and respect on which our mutual national interests are based, the interests of our peoples and, of course, our personal friendship," Putin said.

http://www.newsweek.com/putin-my-best-most-intimate-friend-chinese-president-xi-says-967531

This is not going missed by the West.

But it is unstoppable. The range of integrating projects the Chinese and Russians are working on is more than strategic.

They are forcing a massive shift in economics that is impossible for the US and EU to maintain as competitors.

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201806091065269583-putin-xi-summit-takeaways/

The Double Helix is ascending.

Peter AU 1 , Jun 9, 2018 4:34:45 PM | 12
Interesting that Trump has said Russia should be invited back into the west's G7/G8 at this time. In cold war 1.0, Soviet Union was the main enemy of the US and China was split away from the Soviet Union. In this war, Trump sees China's economy as the main threat to the US and is trying but failing to pull Russia away from China.
Lea , Jun 9, 2018 4:45:07 PM | 13
Posted by: Madderhatter67 | Jun 9, 2018 4:18:15 PM | 10
They did win the Cold War. That's how they became the'sole superpower'.

If winning the Cold War is about vanquishing communism, they flat out lost. Because, while they were concentrating on the end of the USSR and celebrating, China was going up and up and up. They never saw her coming, yet to this day and for the foreseeable future, China is a socialist, Marxist country.

So the new, desperate Western spin is to try to argue that China has "succumbed" to capitalism. Yeah, right, a country where all the private companies have to have members of the CPC on their board and hand over enough shares to the state to grant it veto powers, not to mention the Central bank and all its major companies are state-owned... Lol.

les7 , Jun 9, 2018 4:49:57 PM | 14
"The 'west' is past. The future is in the east."

Wow... such grandiose conclusions...

After the collapse of the USSR the consensus - even of the alt-media (what little of it existed) was that a new American century was on the way and the whole world would be better off for it. A decade later in 2003 the consensus (post 'shock & awe' Gulf War 2) was that America had the ability to re-structure the Asian /African world and that it would all be for good.

15 years later we are all sick of the fruit of that delusion. So we look to another power to save us... Do we understand nothing?

Without the accountability of multi-polarity, Western supreme power all became security-obsessed privilege, self-aggrandizement, blatant plunder and total disregard for moral value and life. Power corrupts - it knows no exceptions.

If the West is truly dead, the East will be no different.

Laguerre , Jun 9, 2018 4:55:53 PM | 15
re 12
Interesting that Trump has said Russia should be invited back into the west's G7/G8 at this time.
Thought of a moment to annoy the Europeans. It is obvious that Trump was pissed off about having to attend, and left at the earliest opportunity. The Europeans heard that, and will draw the inevitable conclusions.
Quentin , Jun 9, 2018 4:57:21 PM | 16
Lea @ 13 Socialist, Marxist, Capitalist, what does it matter: it seems to work for China, at least for the time being. It's success makes me think that a bit more government control of corporations might not be such a bad thing.
Grieved , Jun 9, 2018 5:00:44 PM | 17
The summit with Kim will be fascinating to observe. In my view, NK has finessed the US and the Trump administration to a degree I would not have thought possible, even from native US insiders. To do it long range from the other side of the world speaks to me a lot about the power of Asia, and the clarity of view from there.

I agree with Laguerre @9 that Trump is a terrible negotiator (forgive that I didn't read the Guardian piece). I would take this much further and say that all the US institutions themselves are culturally crippled in terms of understanding what's happening in the ascendancy of Asia. All of their negotiation is feeble, because their grasp on their own true position is based on yesterday's view of their power. You cannot go into negotiation without knowing what you hold.

Every day, I become more confident in the ability of the elder nations to put the young western empires to rest without their being triggered into death spasms.

Red Ryder @11 - I see China's full-on drive for the one Road as its way of waging total war, its strategic masterstroke to render the enemy powerless without the enemy's realizing that it is being attacked. Russia as the other half of the Double Helix mesmerizes the west with weaponry while China undercuts the ground. Both countries are fully at war, and winning, while unseeing commenters complain that it's time for them to "do something." How superb the silk rope drawn so softly around the throat.

It's a beautiful play. I very much hope - and truly expect - that we can all survive to be able to sit back and admire it as the years unfold.

psychohistorian , Jun 9, 2018 5:05:30 PM | 18
I have a small quibble with b's wording but thank him for following and reporting on our evolving world.

b's words:"

The U.S. is reduced to a schoolyard bully who beats up his gang members because their former victims have grown too big.

"

My rewording:

The global elite have their US puppet acting like a schoolyard bully who beat up his gang members because their former victims have grown too big.

The West is trying to consolidate power and control while they still have some ghost of a chance. How they hold countries after this global divorce will be interesting.

At his time the West has little to offer humanistically except its vice grip on most economic interaction and the tools including banking underpinning the "system". The elite have deluded the public in the West for centuries about private finance behind the scenes of all/most conflict......pointing to other religions but never their own.

It sure is getting interesting. IMO, the two Koreas are going to announce a reconciliation that requires the removal of America military forces/bases et al, which fits in with the fake nationalism efforts of Trump.

Jen , Jun 9, 2018 5:09:16 PM | 19
That the US and the EU and their respective camps are at loggerheads over trade and perhaps other economic issues should not (I hope) lead readers to assume that one side has the interests of the public it represents uppermost in mind. As the US and the Anglosphere is dominated by one set of neoliberals, so Germany and the lackey EU nations following Berlin are dominated by another set of neoliberals in thrall to an export-led mercantilist ideology. Just as the elites in charge of US power structures are only interested in enriching themselves, the same can be said for those in charge of power structures in Europe. Whether under the US or the EU, the public suffers.

Notice that Germany benefits from being the major economic power in the EU while its fellow EU nations around the Atlantic and Mediterranean rim flail under a huge debt (and Greece is being punished back into the impoverished colonial status it held under Nazi German occupation) and eastern European EU members are following suit running their economies into the ground and having to beg NATO into setting up bases in their territories to attract money. At the same time German workers are becoming poorer, they are not benefiting from Berlin's economic policies, they are not reproducing fast enough so Berlin needs to bring in more foreign workers in the guise of "refugees" to prop up factories and keep wages low.

@ Madderhatter67: The US did not win the Cold War because the Cold War was only ever a propaganda front for the secret war waged by US / UK elites against Russia and China to dominate and rob these nations and their neighbours of their natural resources.

Grieved , Jun 9, 2018 5:12:25 PM | 20
@5 Babyl-on

Thanks for the nod to CGTN. For any who care, I searched out its YouTube channel and it produces a huge daily output in English:

https://www.youtube.com/user/CCTVNEWSbeijing/videos

I've recently added Vesti News to my news for the same reason, a large daily feed of short clips of the Russian view, in English:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa8MaD6gQscto_Nq1i49iew/videos

I've never been a TV watcher, especially not for news, but I'm enjoying these tastes and flavors of this burgeoning century.

james , Jun 9, 2018 5:20:12 PM | 21
thanks b - and for the laugh with the marjorie and homer pic for comparison!

i think this parallel you draw is a good one.. the west is certainly floundering... i am not sure how global finance responds here... i can't imagine the 1% being on the wrong side of a bet on the direction of things here either..

@6 harry law.. did iran make it into the sco? it sounds like it did.. good!

@14 les7.. regarding your last line - i tend to agree with that viewpoint..

@19 jen... do you think it will be somehow different if the power shifts to russia/china? i guess i am not so sanguine over power, regardless of who holds it.

Wess County , Jun 9, 2018 5:23:01 PM | 22
Very well put, only issue that as to be dealt with is all those Stan Countries, they are a hibernating and breeding ground for Terrorists and Arms dealers , who don't care who they sell arms to and how they get them to rogue regimes.
Zanon , Jun 9, 2018 5:28:02 PM | 23
Its quite funny how Trump wrecked that meeting.

Trump could talk about Russia but who cares, he cant be trusted, hes totally unreliable and hopefully Russia sees that.

Zanon , Jun 9, 2018 5:29:13 PM | 24
at the same time Trump is a king, just look at how the pathetic western states STAND AROUND HIM begging him basically on all kinds of things!
Laguerre , Jun 9, 2018 5:57:10 PM | 25
re Grieved 17
I see China's full-on drive for the one Road as its way of waging total war, its strategic masterstroke to render the enemy powerless without the enemy's realizing that it is being attacked.
I do think you're exaggerating there.

China's past history has been one of a country very contented with itself, much like the US, because defended geographically by vast deserts. A longer history, so some foreigners did traverse the deserts.

The Chinese exported their products by foreign ships (Arabo-Persian) arriving at Canton, and buying cargoes, or camel caravans arriving in the north and buying silk. The Chinese themselves did not travel abroad very much, and so didn't know very much about surrounding countries, or the rest of the world. There was a fleet of Chinese junks which arrived in the Gulf in the 14th century, but it was the only one.

Today's situation is not so different. There are Chinese interventions in Africa, but their diplomacy is pretty ham-fisted. The Belt-and-Road initiative is in fact intended to bring up to speed Central Asian countries like Tajikistan. Fine, Tajikistan needs it, but it's not world-changing.

The rail freight from Beijing to Frankfurt works better as an intermediate between sea and air freight, but essentially it is what has always happened - foreigners export Chinese products. The Chinese don't know how to run a foreign policy.

bjd , Jun 9, 2018 5:58:01 PM | 26
I am surprised nobody here remarked on the pontifically present John Bolton.

This was about Iran, I am pretty sure.

bjd , Jun 9, 2018 6:02:20 PM | 27
I note, by the way, that in the second photo, the two persons holding a paper are not on the same page .

Talk about symbolism.

bjd , Jun 9, 2018 6:07:30 PM | 28
Have a closer look and you'll see that in the first photo, John Bolton is talking (Trump is silent and sitting there like 'Il Duce').

Bolton is talking to Macron, who is looking straight at Bolton.

In the second photo, Merkel is looking at Bolton, who is probably speaking at that moment.

Tell me this is not about Iran.

michaelj72 , Jun 9, 2018 6:26:40 PM | 29
hopehely at @4

"OK, so, is Japan 'east' or 'west'?"

from their body language, I would say that Japan is surely 'with' Trump and the US, but that's only because that arch-reactionary Abe is in power.....and when he goes, and go he will, there will be a big period of adjustment...some day.

Villainesse , Jun 9, 2018 6:26:46 PM | 30
The scambastic Trump could be inclined to make a slightly more fair deal in Singapore just to make a deal, but he is going extra early (no jet lag) and will be controlled by Pompeo with his 'Grim Reaper' CIA-dog/warhawk/translator/born & raised S. Korean with multiple relations in their South KCIA (NIS) and cabinet leadership, Andrew Kim (born Kim Sung-hyun). Kim's purpose will be to control Trump's spontaneaous decision making, inform him on what he reads as N. Korea's intent, and give baseline hawkish color to the translations for his own hawkish viewpoint.
annie , Jun 9, 2018 6:29:13 PM | 31
bjd, bolton is trump's overseer, making sure he doesn't step out of line.

Trump is a poor negotiator, and gives away tricks he doesn't have to. Why no concession from Israel, over the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem?

Laguerre, you have it backwards. the embassy move, the iran deal, and the appointment of bolton are all concessions trump made, as payback for adelson's millions to both the gop and his campaign. possibly also has a little something to do cambridge analytica, honey traps or whatever.

Adelson: the casino mogul driving Trump's Middle East policy

The imprint of the 84-year-old's political passions is seen in an array of Donald Trump's more controversial decisions, including violating the Iran nuclear deal, moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and appointing the ultra-hawkish John Bolton as national security adviser.

......The New York Times reported that Adelson is a member of a "shadow National Security Council" advising Bolton

Jen , Jun 9, 2018 6:36:52 PM | 32
James @ 21: I think one should always be a bit suspicious of those who hold power, especially those who find themselves holding the uppermost hand in power as a result of victory in war (whether in the form of actual military combat, trade war or other wars in soft power).

Russia under Vladimir Putin and China under Xi Jinping may be fine but will their successors know not to abuse the power they may gain from the New Silk Road projects encompassing Eurasia and Africa?

hopehely , Jun 9, 2018 6:38:17 PM | 33
Posted by: bjd | Jun 9, 2018 6:02:20 PM | 27
I note, by the way, that in the second photo, the two persons holding a paper are not on the same page.

Talk about symbolism.

In that pic, is that Miller lurking from behind?

Red Ryder , Jun 9, 2018 6:42:03 PM | 34
@29, bjd,

Of course, it is about Iran. It's the Iranian deal that the EU needs to continue. They benefit as the biggest vendors to Iran. They want to get inside that developing 70 million person market, also.

Bolton wants regime change. The EU knows that will be worse than Iraq. And economically, the EU will be in the dumps for 2 decades if there's another war they are forced to join. And they will be forced to join. They cannot say No to the Hegemon.

The EU 2, Germany and France, are at a historic moment of truth.

They could have a great future with Russia, China, Iran, the BRICS, SCO, OBOR and EAEU or they could be crippled by the Empire.

John Gilberts , Jun 9, 2018 7:01:17 PM | 35
Excellent analysis as always. Here's the muck CBC is reporting on the summit.

Canada Rejects Trump's Call to Let Russia Back Into G-7

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trump-russia-g7-canada-1.4697655

"...But Canada, which pushed for Russia to get the boot in 2014, is not onside. 'Russia was invited to be part of this club and I think that was a very wise initiation, and an invitation full of goodwill,'[FM Chrystia Freeland] she told reporters at the summit. 'Russia, however, made clear that it had no interest in behaving according to the rules of Western democracies..."

Glad to hear it...

michaelj72 , Jun 9, 2018 7:15:43 PM | 36
it's kind of wonderful to see all these imperialist and former neo-colonial powers fighting among themselves.

unfortunately, like the old African proverb goes, when the elephants fight it's the grass and small animals that suffer.

I see no reason for optimism for the peoples of europe at this point, as the stranglehold of the Trioka is perhaps as strong as ever, and hundreds of millions of people are suffering; the people simply have to get organized at all levels and take back their sovereignty at least as a start

WorldBLee , Jun 9, 2018 7:17:31 PM | 37
The US still has the power of the dollar in its arsenal. The UK and EU, and any nation that deals with Wall Street, are addicted to US investment in dollars. Since the EU is run by the banks, and western banks can't function with the dollar, any statements by the EU that they're going to avoid US sanctions over Iran are meaningless.

The equation is essentially this: you can have your sovereignty or you can have the benefits of the dollar that make your 1% very rich. You can't have both. Since the EU is ruled by the 1% banker/investor class they will forestall any attempts to regain sovereignty by the people. In a sense, Europe is like Russia 10-15 years ago, thinking that the US is the key to the golden calf. Russia learned the hard way they needed to establish some independence (although to this day Russia doesn't have nearly the financial independence one might hope), and China saw from Russia's example they needed to do so as well. This led them to team up on many economic initiatives while seeking to reduce the dominance of the dollar.

Perhaps someday Europe will learn this lesson. But as long as the EU exists, I kind of doubt it. The EU-crats will cry and criticize Trump but the bankers love US money too much to let them actually do anything serious.

Ghost Ship , Jun 9, 2018 7:20:38 PM | 38
Paul Krugman is tweeting that this is all happening because Trump doesn't understand Value-Added Tax !

This is not an endorsement of Krugman who is trying to blame it on Putin.

rexl , Jun 9, 2018 7:56:05 PM | 39
If the West is dead and the East is the future, then why are so many Chinese buying houses and living part time in Canada, Australia, and the USA? Why is there so much emphasis put on Western education facilities by Asians?
Winston , Jun 9, 2018 8:02:05 PM | 40
I'm sure Trump doesn't understand VAT.

Most Americans don't no matter how much explanation I go into.

They insist its a tariff or duty,which its not.

I've given up trying to explain its a sales tax on all,paying at customs is merely a cash flow issue for the importer.A reclaimable input on his VAT return,did it many times myself.

Sabine , Jun 9, 2018 8:11:53 PM | 41
there is no west nor east.

there is only a bunch of paid of administrators running the countries and the corporations that pay them.

Trumps quid pro quo is deals that benefit his family. I don't thinks he cares one bit about the GOP and how the party fundraises. He cares about advancing his family and keeping the loot.

maybe we should realize that the concepts of east and west, as much as neo liberalism or neo conservatism or any other moniker that we could apply to loot and steal - legally and without shame under the guise of trade - are concepts of the past.

the future is for the strongest, irrespective of their origins or philosophy. we are burning this planet down with a vengeance and we - the people - are to numerous and too expensive to keep.

while we debate and some even chuckle with delight as to how the west is treated by trump, or how much the west deserves to be made redundant and all hail the Russians and the Chinese - the king is dead, long live the king - it is us who dies in the wars, it is our children that are being kidnapped and locked up in prison when arriving on the border seeking asylum, it is us who will watch the women in our live die in childbirth because of lack of medical care, it is us who will die of black lung, hunger, thirst and general malice.

and while we gossip, they laugh all the way to the bank.

NemesisCalling , Jun 9, 2018 8:24:56 PM | 42
b, we have no doubt that the North Korean leadership is ready for the Americans and know the score with a rising Eurasia and a sinking NATO. However, your last assumption of Kim being more than ready to go toe-to-toe with DJT smacks of some of the worst tendencies of many posters here who are ready to venerate Kim without him ever even making formal address of more than a few words to a) his people, 2) his allies, or D) even the world. This is a laughable assumption from you and it would be like having the most beautifully-made garment handy for a long while, desperate for anyone to come along so you could fling it on them to prove they were the most amazing supreme leader in all the world!

This is not to say I do not want the NoKos to succeed in their endeavors of getting a fair deal...hardly: I think they will succeed eventually because they are shrewd. But this is an attempt to squash the unbelievably propagandistic (or naive) attempts to place the mantle of imperviousness, all-knowingness, utterly-innocentness, and insurmountably-cleverousness onto the boy that would be king. DJT could eat a boy like Kim for breakfast if left alone from their advisors.

CE , Jun 9, 2018 8:26:35 PM | 43
Interesting that this happens in June. Because it reminds me of this classic little fun ditty:

Death in June - Death of the West

ben , Jun 9, 2018 8:33:09 PM | 44
Sabine @ 41 said:"there is no west nor east.

"there is only a bunch of paid of administrators running the countries and the corporations that pay them"

And this"and while we gossip, they laugh all the way to the bank."

I would tend to agree, but I'm hoping b's right in his assessment, the empire and her minions very badly need a comeuppance..

dh , Jun 9, 2018 8:45:10 PM | 45
Trump is very dependent on his base. He knows them well. At risk of hitting a discordant note I suspect a lot of his fans are happy seeing him sock it to the goddamn ch*nks and euro faggots.
Daniel , Jun 9, 2018 8:46:57 PM | 46
It's a big weekend. G7, SCO, Bilderberg, NATO Defence Ministers meeting in Brussels and the huge NATO "Drills" including the Baltic States and for the first time, Israel.

Oh, and the US called on NATO to add 30 land battalions, 30 air fighter squadrons, and 30 naval ships to "counter Russian aggression."

The AZW Empire is not giving up its plans.

karlof1 , Jun 9, 2018 8:47:27 PM | 47
I predicted it would become the G6+1 and so it has. Trump told his staffers NOT to sign the Joint Communique, which I believe is a first.

On the issue of power and the BRI , the linked item is a trove of info as it focuses on perhaps the most problematic region of the SCO/BRI.

If Europe is to break free from the Outlaw US Empire, Merkel must be jettisoned and independent-minded leaders must take control of Germany and EU. I'm not at all surprised with how events went in Canada. However, I see the Policy as the Bully, not Trump, the policy still being the attempt to gain Full Spectrum Domination. What's most important, IMO, is this spectacle will not go unnoticed by the rest of the world. The Outlaw US Empire cannot make it any plainer that it's the primary enemy state of all except the Zionist Abomination. I think Abe wonders why he's there and not in Qingdao.

Although this item focuses on Kashmir , it should be read after the longer article linked above. There's little news as of yet coming from Qingdao other than who's cooking what and sideline meets. I expect more coming out beginning Monday. Of course, Kim-Trump begins now, it being the 10th in Singapore already.

bevin , Jun 9, 2018 10:26:24 PM | 48
The difference between the two projects- the western Empire and the Eurasian schemes exemplified by OBOR- is that the former, as 500 years of experience teaches us, relies on ethnic divisions, wars and competition while the latter requires peace and co-operation.

In a sense that answers Jen @ 32. It really doesn't matter who runs the governments of China and Russia, provided that they can prevent the imperialists from distracting them into rivalry. It was that which, thanks to plenty of stupidity on both sides, gave rise to the tensions of which Nixon and Kissinger took advantage.

Had the USSR and China ironed out their small differences on the sixties- and Vietnam gave them a perfect excuse to do so, history would have been very different and probably much less bloody.

The truth is that, as b asserts, the SCO is already much more important than the G7- America and the Six Dwarfs. How much more important is shown by the role of Freeland (the neo-Nazi Ukrainian apologist) in insisting on holding the line against Russia's re-admission to a club that it almost certainly does not want to rejoin.

Trump may not be a 'good negotiator' but he has a position of relative strength vis a vis the rest of the G7 who cannot negotiate because they do as they are told. If they won't do what Trump tells them to do they will be on the lookout for someone else to give them orders-they have no idea of independence or sovereignty. Just watch most of them scuttle back to Brussels for ideas, or set up back channels to Moscow- once a puppet always a puppet.

karlof1 , Jun 9, 2018 11:57:39 PM | 49
The Sino-Soviet Split occurred while Stalin was still alive--he refused to allow the Chinese to develop "Communism with Chinese Characteristics" just like any other European Orientalist. And as the Monthly Review article I linked, the Chinese must beware of becoming/being seen as Imperialistic in their zeal to push BRI--Imperialist behavior will kill the Win-Win concept as it will revert to just another Zero-sum Game.
Hoarsewhisperer , Jun 10, 2018 12:20:55 AM | 50
One of the factors which has been killing the 'Democratic' West is that its bribed & blackmailed leaders have alienated themselves from The People whose views they were elected to represent.

No-one living in a so-called democracy is prepared to tolerate a leader who spends too much time praising, and making excuses for, the crimes of the racist-supremacist Zionist Abomination (h/t karlof1) and its Piece Process in Palestine. It can be persuasively argued that embrace of and fealty to the Z.A. is the only factor which Western Leaders have in common. And it's neither a coincidence nor happenstance.

ben , Jun 10, 2018 12:40:15 AM | 51
Hoarsewhisperer @ 50 said:" Piece Process in Palestine."

Nice word play. I'm assuming the "piece" word is referring to the Israelis taking the Palestinian's lands one piece at a time..

Debsisdead , Jun 10, 2018 12:51:14 AM | 52
Grrr! I still don't get why so many humans believe anything good comes from chucking aside one greedy oppressive arsehole then replacing it with another. Sure the SCO has a founding document laden with flowery words and seemingly wonderful concepts but I say "So what" check out the UN charter or the amerikan constitution and you'll find the same.

These issues of justice & equity cannot be fixed by swapping bosses because every society has its share of pathologically fucked up greedies who have the means and lack of empathy to destroy anything and everyone in their lust for whatever it is they imagine they need.

We have to accept that will never change and that trying to purge the planet of those types just creates more of them from within the structure most successful in effecting the swap.

I know I sound like a scratched disc but the only fix that could hope to work is one that smashes the conglomerations into tiny shards, reducing the world to thousands of small self governing entities; sure some places will still end up being taken over by low self esteem motivated arseholes, but not only will they not be able to do as much damage, arseholes stand out in a small society where more 'normal' humans interact with them - currently all the pr1cks coagulate in spots such as the G7 and few non-pr1cks ever get close enough to see them for what they are. A low count on the old degrees of seperation register makes it much more difficult for the scum to rise. Making sure that no chunk is sufficiently big to force its will on another would also be vital.

That won't fix everything, but who outside some totally screwed up anal regressive would want that anyway? I just want to live in a world where no one cops it like the entire Yemeni population currently is. I see no benefit in moving the horror from Yemen to Uigar-land or whatever place the new bosses decide should be their fun palace of hate, murder and misery.

The Congo and/or Nigeria another coupla sites of misery for money. Timor Leste aka East Timor, now that the Portuguese expats in the form of the man with the Nobel stamp of obeisance to the monied Jose Ramos Horta have done over the locals, something Xanana Gusmão always said could happen. Horta's arseholeness made the wealthiest nation in the world (divide resources by population) riven by poverty, lack of health and education services plus of course old favourite, racist oppression. Check out these kids here untroubled by issues like getting a decent phone signal or their ranking on Twitch - wondering where their next decent feed is coming from is prolly their most pressing issue.

Swapping SCO for G7 will do SFA for them or anyone else unlucky enough to be living on top of whatever the current 'must have' is deemed to be.

Anyone who imagines that it could is delusional.

karlof1 , Jun 10, 2018 12:55:44 AM | 53
Official SCO Conference site .

Humanity either learns how to live with itself on an equal basis or it will perish; it's really that simple. The likes of the Outlaw US Empire, its NATO vassals and the Zionist Abomination are shining examples of what MUST be exorcised for ever more.

[Jul 13, 2018] Godfather Of Payday Lending Stripped Of $64 Million, Sentenced To 14 Years

Notable quotes:
"... A former Main Line investment banker known as the "Godfather of payday lending" for preying on low-income borrowers was sentenced Friday to 14 years in federal prison and stripped of over $64 million in assets, reports philly.com . ..."
Jul 10, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

"In this industry, to build a big book, you have to run afoul of the regulators" -Charles M. Hallinan

A former Main Line investment banker known as the "Godfather of payday lending" for preying on low-income borrowers was sentenced Friday to 14 years in federal prison and stripped of over $64 million in assets, reports philly.com .

Lawyers for 77-year-old Charles M. Hallinan argued that the prison term might as well be a "death sentence" given his age and declining health, however District Judge Eduardo Robreno gave no quarter as he rendered his verdict after a jury convicted him of 17 counts, including racketeering, international money laundering and fraud.

"It would be a miscarriage of justice to impose a sentence that would not reflect the seriousness of this case," Robreno said. "The sentence here should send a message that criminal conduct like [this] will not pay."

In all, government lawyers estimate, Hallinan's dozens of companies made $492 million off an estimated 1.4 million low-income borrowers between 2007 and 2013, the period covered by the indictment.

Robreno's forfeiture order will strip Hallinan of many of the fruits of that business, including his $1.8 million Villanova mansion , multiple bank accounts, and a small fleet of luxury cars , including a $142, 000 2014 Bentley Flying Spur. In addition, the judge ordered Hallinan to pay a separate $2.5 million fine. - philly.com

When given the opportunity to address the court before his sentence was handed down, Hallinan remained silent.

Hallinan's case calls into question the legality of business tactics engaged in by predatory lenders across the country - such as Mariner Finance , a subsidiary of former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner 's private equity firm Warburg Pincus.

Many of the loans Hallinan made had exorbitant interest rates which greatly exceeded rate caps mandated by the states in which the borrowers live, such as Pennsylvania's 6% annual cap.

In court Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Dubnoff argued that there was little difference between the exorbitant fees charged by money-lending mobsters and the annual interest rates approaching 800 percent that were standard on many of Hallinan's loans. - philly.com

"The only difference between Mr. Hallinan and other loan sharks is that he doesn't break the kneecaps of people who don't pay his debts," Dubnoff said. "He was charging more interest than the Mafia."

Hallinan "collect[ed] hundreds of millions of dollars in unlawful debt knowing that these businesses were unlawful, and all the while devising schemes to evade the law," wrote Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara L. Grieb and Maria M. Carrillo.

Hallinan's attorneys argued that Hallinan should receive house arrest after a recent diagnosis of two forms of aggressive cancer.

"What is just, under the circumstances?" Jacobs asked. "If there is going to be a period of incarceration, one that makes it so that Mr. Hallinan doesn't survive is not just."

Judge Robreno largely ignored the plea, though he did give Hallinan 11 days to get his medical affairs in order before he has to report to prison.

Hallinan's orbit

Many of those whose careers Hallinan helped to launch are now headed to prison alongside the "godfather" of payday lending, " a list that includes professional race car driver Scott Tucker, who was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison in January and ordered to forfeit $3.5 billion in assets," reports Philly .

Hallinan's codefendant and longtime lawyer, Wheeler K. Neff, was sentenced in May to eight years behind bars.

Hallinan got into the predatory lending business in the 1990s with $120 million after selling his landfill company to begin making payday loans over phone and fax. He rapidly grew his empire of dozens of companies which offered quick cash under such names as Instant Cash USA, Your First Payday and Tele-Ca$h.

As more than a dozen states, including Pennsylvania, effectively outlawed payday lending with laws attempting to cap the exorbitant fee rates that are standard across the industry, Hallinan continued to target low-income borrowers over the internet.

He tried to hide his involvement by instituting sham partnerships with licensed banks and American Indian tribes so he could take advantage of looser restrictions on their abilities to lend. But in practice he limited the involvement of those partners and continued to service all the loans from his offices in Bala Cynwyd. - philly.com

" He bet his lifestyle on the fact that we would not catch him. He lost that bet ," said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, William M. McSwain. " Now, it's time for Hallinan to repay his debt with the only currency we will accept: his freedom and his fortune, amassed at his victims' expense ."


1982xls -> HilteryTrumpkin Tue, 07/10/2018 - 14:59 Permalink

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/republicans-kill-obamas-awful-operat

https://reason.com/blog/2017/08/18/good-bye-and-good-riddence-to-operat

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/apr/5/eric-holder-anti-gun-op

EmmittFitzhume -> 1982xls Tue, 07/10/2018 - 15:03 Permalink

Charles Shylock Hallinan

MasterPo -> EmmittFitzhume Tue, 07/10/2018 - 15:06 Permalink

Just some pond scum floating on top of the swamp.

Most people have no clue what is about to be revealed, and it will rock their world. But for those of us that were red-pilled early on, it is heartening to see.

#WWGOWGA

[Just caught the picture of the mansion.

"There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile,

He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile;

He bought a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse,

And they all lived together in a little crooked house." - Mother Goose

That Mom Goose sure called 'em like she saw 'em...]

Mr. Universe -> Four chan Tue, 07/10/2018 - 15:27 Permalink

64 million in stripped assets. I wonder how much of that is going back to those who were fleeced? How much goes to .gov? Oh and inquiring minds want to know, what happened to the other 400 million plus?

charlewar -> Mr. Universe Tue, 07/10/2018 - 15:31 Permalink

All goes to the govt. The small fish need sue what's left.

A Sentinel -> charlewar Tue, 07/10/2018 - 16:56 Permalink

This is an evil business.

finally someone got tagged for ripping off us plebs.

any_mouse -> A Sentinel Tue, 07/10/2018 - 17:19 Permalink

So you think.

Did any peons receive any restitution?

Maybe a buck each from a class action brought on by Saul's Legal Team.

Parasites. Parasites with Political, Financial, and Social control.

Think of the damage a parasite could do, if that parasite could control what the host sees, hears, thinks, feels, and even control the muscles. You would be in pain, but not feel it. You could be poisoning yourself with bitter poison, while believing it is sweet honey.

COSMOS -> CriticalUser Tue, 07/10/2018 - 18:07 Permalink

In all fairness this dude is pocked change compared to the tribe bankers.

http://theweek.com/articles/479867/federal-reserves-breathtaking-77-tri

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/secrets-and-lies-of

None of the schmucks pulling off trillion dollar heists went to jail.

Giant Meteor -> COSMOS Tue, 07/10/2018 - 18:23 Permalink

Sure, sure, point taken. But I don't believe that is a valid defense .. I get it, believe me. But I suspect if some higher profile cases with equilvalent outcomes aren't soon undertaken, some enterprising folks may soon take matters into their own hands .. And one could not blame them really ..

MoreFreedom -> Mr. Universe Tue, 07/10/2018 - 16:27 Permalink

One thing's for sure. There won't be any payday lenders operating in Pennsylvania, and poor people who need short term loans to deal with unexpected bills won't be getting any help, and instead will be suffering from the very high interest effective interest rates of late payment penalties. In defense of Hallinan, he didn't force anyone to sign up for these loans, he didn't break any kneecaps, and I'll bet his customers default on their loans at a high rate. There is also the legal question of from where the loan is made; given he had partners on Indian reservations and operated over the internet on behalf of those partnerships. Seems to me, the government is just grabbing this dying man's money. I'll bet he appeals the conviction to a higher court.

And does anyone believe US attorney Dubnoff who claims (which begs the question how he knows) that Hallinan charges more interest than the Mafia?

My other bet: Timothy Geithner won't be prosecuted for using the same tactics. And the poor will suffer more. While the article makes hay of Hallinan's wealth, he sold a waste management company (and I wouldn't be surprised there was political corruption involved in its growth given he lived in Philly) for $120 million and was already rich.

For a perspective in support of pay-day lenders, read these two Reason articles:

http://reason.com/blog/2017/04/13/payday-lenders-check-cashers-servon

http://reason.com/archives/2017/02/18/living-without-banks

Full disclosure: The only money I ever borrowed was a few thousand for a student loan, and for my home mortgage.

vato poco -> MoreFreedom Tue, 07/10/2018 - 17:11 Permalink

that's a good post on an issue that's too easy to go all knee-jerk on. +1 for you.

I've got a coupla terrific young relatives that I'm schooling in financial knowhow - because their parents are knuckleheads about money - and lesson #2 was 'payday loans are financial crack.'

but.

but the guy's lawyer WAS right to a degree: nobody made those victims/dumbasses sign up for them, and then not pay it back, thus flinging them into the ol' vicious downward spiral. also, there's this little fact: kids, if you find yourself lacking funds for a sudden unexpected financial expense, call it $500, you can 1) bounce a check 2) take a cash advance on your credit card, assuming you have any room left on it or 3) do the payday lender thing. let's say you only need the $ for 10 days, then ... I dunno .... then your tax refund check arrives.

cost of bouncing check (fees, etc), and bear in mind the bank will clear the big check first, thus making several other small checks bounce = $100? more?

cost of credit-card cash advance = $50, plus or minus

cost of payday loan vig = $15, plus or minus

they're kinda like handguns: just a tool. whether that tool saves your butt or ruins your life is entirely up to you, the adult. (the kids do not like this lesson very much - something about trying to avoid responsibility?)

the world is not necessarily all black and white. that said, I do hope that POS dies of treatable rectal cancer botched horribly by prison docs, resulting in a long, drawn-out, horribly agonizing death in a pink diaper

Giant Meteor -> MoreFreedom Tue, 07/10/2018 - 18:00 Permalink

An interesting take. A friend to the poor . Never quite looked at it that way, and now, I have a tear in my eye . The poor fellow, friend to the poor working stiff.

Fucking friends like that . But at at least he wasn't breaking their knee caps and all. A real humanitarian!

[Jun 24, 2018] Was the Marketplace of Ideas Politically Hijacked -

Notable quotes:
"... A Stigler Center panel examines the influence of Big Five tech firms over political discourse and the marketplace of ideas. ..."
"... "Our country has allowed the concentration of power in giant intermediaries -- Google, Facebook, and Amazon -- vastly more powerful than the original intermediary which we fought, which was the British East India Company." ..."
"... "We have reporters, editors, and publishers of our newspapers who live in fear every day. This is true of the people who publish our books and who write our books. They live in fear [that] Amazon is going to shut them down. Whose fault is that? It's the people in the antitrust community." ..."
"... "Google not only vanquished competition. What it did is it vanquished the antitrust enforcers who are supposed to protect the process of competition." ..."
"... "Basically, Section 230 was a libertarian's dream. They got what they wanted. I am a limited government conservative. What they wanted was a no-government world." ..."
Jun 24, 2018 | promarket.org

Was the Marketplace of Ideas "Politically Hijacked"? Posted on June 21, 2018 by Asher Schechter

A Stigler Center panel examines the influence of Big Five tech firms over political discourse and the marketplace of ideas.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/c0E15ka446M

At one point during Mark Zuckerberg's Senate hearing in April , the Facebook CEO had the following peculiar exchange with Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC):

Graham: But you, as a company, welcome regulation?

Zuckerberg: I think, if it's the right regulation, then yes.

Graham: You think the Europeans had it right?

Zuckerberg: I think that they get things right.

Graham: . So would you work with us in terms of what regulations you think are necessary in your industry?

Zuckerberg: Absolutely.

Graham: Okay. Would you submit to us some proposed regulations?

Zuckerberg: Yes. And I'll have my team follow up with you so, that way, we can have this discussion across the different categories where I think that this discussion needs to happen.

Graham: Look forward to it.

This telling bit of dialogue was part of an overall pattern: the hearing was meant to hold Facebook (and Zuckerberg himself, as the company's founder, CEO, and de facto single ruler ) accountable for the mishandling of millions of people's private data. Yet one after another , the senators were asking an evasive Zuckerberg if he would be willing to endorse their bills and proposals to regulate Facebook. This mode of questioning repeated itself (to a somewhat lesser extent) during the House's tougher questioning of Zuckerberg the following day.

Needless to say, most company CEOs grilled by Congress following a major scandal that impacts millions of people and possibly the very nature of American democracy are not usually treated in this way -- as private regulators almost on equal footing with Congress.

Facebook, however, is not a typical company. As a recent Vox piece noted, with its vast reach of more than two billion users worldwide, Facebook is more akin to a government or a "powerful sovereign," with Zuckerberg -- due to his unusual level of control over it -- being the "key lawgiver." Zuckerberg acknowledged as much himself when he said, in a much-quoted moment of candor , that "in a lot of ways Facebook is more like a government than a traditional company." More than other technology companies, he added, Facebook is "really setting policies."

The notion that corporations can become so powerful that they are able to act as a "form of private government" (to quote Zephyr Teachout ) has long been part of the antitrust literature. Indeed, as the Open Market Institute's Barry Lynn and Matt Stoller recently noted during a panel at the Stigler Center's Digital Platforms and Concentration antitrust conference, it is deeply rooted in the rich tradition of antimonopoly in America.

That digital platforms are major political players has also been well documented . Once disdainful of politics, in the past two years Google, Facebook, and Amazon have dramatically ramped up their lobbying efforts, as the public and media backlash against their social, economic, and political power intensified. Google, which enjoyed unprecedented access to the Obama White House, is now the biggest lobbyist in Washington, with other tech platforms not far behind.

Market power begetting political power is not new in itself. As the participants of the Stigler panel noted, it is the immense power that concentrated digital intermediaries like Google and Facebook wield over digital markets, human interaction and the marketplace of ideas, particularly when it comes to the distribution of political information, that presents a unique challenge. As Lina Khan (also of Open Markets) recently noted , the current landscape of Internet media is one in which a handful of companies "are basically acting as private regulators, as private governments, over the dissemination and organization of information in a way that is totally unchecked by the public."

The latter part, at least, seems to be changing rapidly, as Americans (and millions more worldwide) grapple with ongoing revelations showing the profound impact that digital monopolies have on political opinions and outcomes, in the US and across the world. As Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) said during Zuckerberg's House hearing in April: "Facebook is becoming a self-regulated superstructure for political discourse."

Left to right: Scott Cleland, Ellen Goodman, Matt Stoller, Barry Lynn, Guy Rolnik

The exact nature of tech platforms' political power, its roots, and how to best deal with it -- all questions debated during the Stigler Center panel -- are complex and varied. But the key question seems rather simple. As Sarbanes put it during the same Congressional hearing: "Are we, the people, going to regulate our political dialogue, or are you, Mark Zuckerberg, going to end up regulating the political discourse? ״

A Private Regulator of Speech

Facebook, said Rutgers Law School professor Ellen Goodman, operates as a private speech regulator. As such, much like public governments, it "privileges some [forms of] speech over others." Unlike governments, however, which as regulators of speech purport to support public good, Facebook has adopted a "First Amendment-like radical libertarianism" through which it has so far refused to differentiate between "high- and low-quality information, truth or falsity, responsible and irresponsible press."

Facebook, famously, argues that it is not a media company, but a technology company. "It's not a player, it's not a [referee], it's just the engineer who made the field," said Goodman, the co-director of the Rutgers Institute for Information Policy & Law. The purpose of Facebook's "First Amendment rhetoric," she noted, is "to maximize data flow on its platform," but by doing so, "it implies, or even says explicitly, that it's standing in the shoes of the government."

Facebook and other platforms, said Goodman, have benefited from the process of deregulation and budget cuts to public media -- a process that has predated the Internet, and led to Washington essentially "giving up" on media policy. The government effectively "exempted these platforms from the kind of ordinary regulation that other information intermediaries were subjected to." With "platforms in the shoes of government, [and] government out of media policy," the concentration of platform power over information flows was allowed to continue undisturbed.

The problem, however, is that much like fellow FAANGs Amazon and Google, Facebook is not just an impartial governor, but a market participant interested in "monopolizing the time of its users," with a strong incentive to privilege its own products and business model that "eviscerates journalism."

"It also tunes its algorithm to favor certain kinds of speech and certain speakers," added Goodman. "There's almost no transparency, save for what it selectively, elliptically, and sometimes misleadingly posts on its blog."

"People Live in Fear"

In a seminal 1979 essay on what he termed the "political content" of antitrust, former FTC chairman Robert Pitofsky argued that "political values," such as "the fear that excessive concentration of economic power will foster anti-democratic political pressures," should be incorporated into antitrust enforcement. In recent years, this view has been echoed by a growing number of antitrust scholars , who argue that the way antitrust enforcement has been conducted in the US for the past 40 years -- solely through the prism of "consumer welfare" -- is ill equipped to deal with the new threats posed by digital platforms.

The Unites States, remarked Lynn during the panel, was born "out of rebellion against concentrated power, the British East India Company." The original purpose of antimonopoly in America, said Lynn, was the protection of personal liberty from concentrated economic and political power: "to give everybody the ability to manage their own property in the ways that they see fit, manage their own lives in the way that they see fit. To be truly independent of everybody else. To not be anybody else's puppet." Liberty and democracy, he added, "are functions of antimonopoly."

A state in which Facebook and Google wield enormous influence over the flow of information -- where, to quote a recent piece by Wired 's Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein, "every publisher knows that, at best, they are sharecroppers on Facebook's massive industrial farm" -- is antithetical to this ethos, said Lynn, and is firmly rooted in the "absolute, complete failure" of antitrust in the United States. "Our country has allowed the concentration of power in giant intermediaries -- Google, Facebook, and Amazon -- vastly more powerful than the original intermediary which we fought, which was the British East India Company." These digital intermediaries, he added, are "using their power in ways that are directly threatening our most fundamental liberties and our democracy."

"Our country has allowed the concentration of power in giant intermediaries -- Google, Facebook, and Amazon -- vastly more powerful than the original intermediary which we fought, which was the British East India Company."

The blame for the outsize influence that Facebook and other digital platforms have over the political discourse, said Lynn, rests squarely on the shoulders of the antitrust community: "For 200 years in this country, antimonopoly was designed to create freedom from masters. In 1981, when we got rid of our traditional antimonopoly and replaced it with consumer welfare, we created a system that has given freedom to master."

In today's concentrated media landscape, he contended, "people live in fear. We have reporters, editors, and publishers of our newspapers who live in fear every day. This is true of the people who publish our books and who write our books. They live in fear [that] Amazon is going to shut them down. Whose fault is that? It's the people in the antitrust community."

"We have reporters, editors, and publishers of our newspapers who live in fear every day. This is true of the people who publish our books and who write our books. They live in fear [that] Amazon is going to shut them down. Whose fault is that? It's the people in the antitrust community."

Lynn went on to quote from Thompson and Vogelstein's Wired piece: "The social network is roughly 200 times more valuable than the Times . And journalists know that the man who owns the farm has the leverage. If Facebook wanted to, it could quietly turn any number of dials that would harm a publisher -- by manipulating its traffic, its ad network, or its readers."

"This was hidden in the middle of the article," said Lynn. "[Thompson], as a journalist, felt obliged to put this out there He was crying out to the people in this community, in the antitrust community. He's saying 'protect me, the publisher, the editor of this magazine. Protect me, the reporter. Please make sure that I have the independence to do my work.'"

The "Code of Silence" Has Been Broken

Recent changes to Facebook's newsfeed have caused referral traffic from Facebook to media companies' websites to sharply decline , once again raising concerns about the significant impact that the company has on the media industry. The satirical news site The Onion , for instance, has launched a public war against Facebook, calling it "an unwanted interloper between The Onion and our audience." "We have 6,572,949 followers on Facebook who receive an ever-decreasing amount of the content we publish on the network," the site's editor-in-chief, Chad Nackers, told Business Insider .

The backlash by major news outlets and politicians across the political spectrum against the power of Facebook and other tech platforms as de facto regulators of speech on the Internet is a new phenomenon, said Guy Rolnik, a Clinical Associate Professor for Strategic Management at the University of Chicago Booth school of Business, during the panel. Until not too long ago, he said, Internet monopolies were the "darlings of the news media." Less than a year ago , he noted, Zuckerberg was even touted by several media outlets as a viable presidential candidate. "The idea that a person who has unprecedented private control over personal data and the public discourse at large would also be the president of the United States was totally in the realm and perimeter of what is legitimate," he said.

What has changed? "In many ways, what has changed is that many people associate Facebook today with the election of Donald Trump. This is why we see so much focus on those issues that were very salient and important for years," Rolnik maintained. Trump's election, and Facebook's role in the lead-up to it, broke the "code of silence."

Nevertheless, newsrooms today, he said, still do everything in their power "to make sure that everything is shareable on Facebook." In the words of Thompson and Vogelstein, they are still "sharecroppers on Facebook's massive industrial farm."

Google has "Politically Hijacked the US Antitrust Enforcement Process"

Scott Cleland, president of the consultancy firm Precursor LLC and former deputy US coordinator for international communications and information policy in the George HW Bush administration, has long warned that concentration among digital platforms will negatively impact the US economy and society at large.

In 2007, Cleland testified before the Senate on the then-proposed Google-DoubleClick merger, calling upon antitrust enforcers to block the merger and warning that lax antitrust enforcement (of the kind that ultimately led the Google-DoubleClick merger to be approved) would allow Google to become the "ultimate Internet gatekeeper" and the "online-advertising bottleneck provider picking content winners and losers" -- both of which came true. In 2011, he published the book Search & Destroy: Why You Can't Trust Google Inc . , in which he warned readers of Google's surveillance-based business model and its "unprecedented centralization of power over the world's information."

During the conference, Cleland presented a new white paper entitled " Rejecting the Google School of No-Antitrust: Fake Consumer Welfare Standard " in which he argues that Alphabet/Google has "politically hijacked the US antitrust enforcement process from 2013 to 2018."

US antitrust enforcers, he said, were initially "very tough" on Google during the first years of the George W. Bush administration. Between 2008 and 2012, both the Bush II and Obama administrations brought "strong and consistent antitrust scrutiny and enforcement to Google." Then, in 2013, the Federal Trade Commission decided to drop its case against the company, despite the conclusion of its staff that Google had used anticompetitive tactics. Following Obama's reelection, which Google at the time was credited with delivering, antitrust enforcement against Big Tech firms essentially ceased. "They shut down all those investigations and they did nothing for the last five years. DOJ went from very active -- four or five major antitrust actions -- to nothing. Crickets."

Back then, Google and Facebook were still "fiercely competing," he said. Google was going after Facebook's territory with Google Plus, and Facebook countered by going after Google search with Yahoo and Bing. But then, in 2014, something happened: the large tech firms "mysteriously stopped competing."

"Yahoo returned to working with Google. Apple dropped Bing for Siri and moved to Google search. Apple and Microsoft dropped their patent suits, and then Microsoft and Google made peace after scratching each other's eyes out. Google went from 70 percent share of search and search advertising in the PC market to 95 percent of that in both of those markets today," said Cleland.

What happened? Cleland points to the what he calls the "Google School of No-Antitrust," a narrative with which according to him Google had been trying to "influence public opinion, the media, elected and government officials, and US and state antitrust enforcers, to make the public believe Google (and other Internet platforms) have no antitrust risk or liability, because they offer free innovative products and services, and to make conservatives believe that the Google School of No-Antitrust and the Chicago School's consumer welfare standard and application are the same, when they are not."

Google, he asserted, "not only vanquished competition. What it did is it vanquished the antitrust enforcers who are supposed to protect the process of competition." It did so, he argued, by "politically hijacking the most important market, which is information."

"Google not only vanquished competition. What it did is it vanquished the antitrust enforcers who are supposed to protect the process of competition."

Cleland, who identifies as a free market conservative, argued that the current Internet is far from a free market. "Who thinks it's a good idea that all of the world's information goes through one bottleneck?" he asked, adding that "all the bad things that you're seeing right now are the result of policy."

One such policy is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which provided Internet companies with legal immunity for the content their users generated or shared and is often credited with enabling the creation of the Internet as we know it today. Cleland sees Section 230 as "market structuring" and has compared it to the libertarian concept of creating artificial islands outside any governmental territory, known as " seasteading ."

"Section 230 says -- I'm paraphrasing, but that's what it says -- that US policy recognizes that the Internet is a free market that should be unfettered by federal and state regulations," said Cleland. "Basically, Section 230 was a libertarian's dream. They got what they wanted. I am a limited government conservative. What they wanted was a no-government world."

"Basically, Section 230 was a libertarian's dream. They got what they wanted. I am a limited government conservative. What they wanted was a no-government world."

Much of today's problems regarding the conduct of digital platforms, he said, results from this policy. "Twenty-two years ago, we as a nation immunized all interactive computer services from any civil liability. We said, 'It is OK. There is no accountability, no responsibility for you looking the other way, when your platform or things that are going on on your platform harm others.'"

Section 230, he maintained, "basically created 21 st -century robber barons. Those guys know they have the full weight of the government. If they go to court, they're going to win, and they have almost all the time."

Antitrust Is "One Part of the Answer"

When it comes to addressing these threats to free speech and democratic discourse, said Goodman, antitrust is only "one part of the answer." The other part, she asserted, is regulation.

"The First Amendment that we have, that we know and love today," she said, "was not born in 1789 in Philadelphia. It developed in the latter part of the 20th century against a particular set of industrial and social practices that mitigated some of the costs of free speech and spread the benefits."

Lawmakers and policymakers, she argued, should "retrieve and resuscitate the vocabulary of media policy," focusing on three core values: "freedom of mind and autonomy; non-market values of diversity and localism/community; and a concept of the public interest and fiduciary responsibility."

Whenever someone makes an argument for using antitrust or regulation as a way to structure markets of information, Stoller cautioned, there are those who will argue that this amounts to censorship. When asked how to avoid censorship when discussing the use government power over speech, Goodman was conflicted: "There is no way around that. There's a real tension here between absolute liberty of speech and controls on speech," she said. We cannot have this whole conference with us fantasizing about various regulatory possibilities that involve use restrictions -- limits on the flow of data, limits on the collection of data -- without acknowledging that under our First Amendment doctrine right now, probably none of that passes muster."

However, Goodman pointed to the Northwest Ordinance as a possible roadmap. "Nobody would say, or maybe they did, that [the Northwest Ordinance ] was an anti-private property rule. It was structuring the market so that more people could own property. That's what the history of media regulation in this country has been: structuring speech markets so that more people can speak."

Disclaimer: The ProMarket blog is dedicated to discussing how competition tends to be subverted by special interests. The posts represent the opinions of their writers, not necessarily those of the University of Chicago, the Booth School of Business, or its faculty. For more information, please visit ProMarket Blog Policy .

[Jun 13, 2018] Predatory Gambling in the USA

Notable quotes:
"... Corporate Crime Reporter ..."
"... [For the complete q/a format Interview with Les Bernal, see 32 Corporate Crime Reporter 24(11), June 7, 2018, print edition only .] ..."
Jun 13, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

June 13, 2018 Predatory Gambling in the USA by Russell Mokhiber Les Bernal is working on a ranking of the states with the worst predatory gambling problems.

He hasn't completed it yet. But he gave us a sneak preview. Bernal is the national director of the public interest group Stop Predatory Gambling.

If he were to call it right now, which would be the five worst states?

Oregon, West Virginia, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania.

What about Nevada?

"We don't debate Nevada," Bernal told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last week. "If you were going to have one place to gamble, have it be Nevada. I always exclude Nevada."

What are the best five?

Utah, Hawaii, Alaska, Nebraska – with New Hampshire and Vermont tied for the number five slot.

"It's hard to do a ranking," Bernal said. "Oregon has one tribal casino. But the Oregon lottery has video gambling machines. Technically they don't have many casinos in Oregon. But Oregon is as bad as any state in the country in terms of harming the public."

"West Virginia is there as one of the worst. Oregon is right there. It's not a uniform thing."

"Our goal is to have a ranking of the biggest predatory gambling states in the country. And factor in the different forms of gambling they have."

How would you describe the politics behind the movement to stop predatory gambling?

"We are one of the most politically diverse movements in the United States. We have people from all political stripes who work together. You would be hard pressed to find a more diverse network of citizens involved with this."

Is your group opposed to all gambling?

"We are opposed to the role of government in actively promoting and sanctioning commercialized gambling to citizens."

Isn't that all gambling?

"If you and I went bowling or were playing golf and we had a friendly wager on the game, that is technically gambling. I'm not talking about prohibiting that. We are talking about gambling for profit."

You would prohibit gambling for profit?

"We would prohibit running a gambling ring for profit, yes we would."

If you prohibited gambling for profit, you are prohibiting 99 percent of the gambling in the United States, right?

"Running it as a business."

Isn't that 99 percent of gambling in the United States?

"No. There are all sorts of social gambling where people have Friday night poker gamers, office Super Bowl pools."

What percentage of all gambling in the United States is gambling for profit?

"In 2016, the American people lost $117 billion to government sanctioned gambling."

How much did they lose in other gambling?

"The numbers on illegal gambling don't compare."

The legalized gambling piece is $117 billion in 2016.

"That's what they lost. What they wagered is close to $200 billion."

And illegal gambling is much less?

"Well, if you and I are in a Friday night poker game, that's gambling."

How about bookies?

"Those guys are doing it for profit. That's called illegal commercial gambling."

How big is that market?

"The American Gaming Association make up a number of $150 billion on illegal sports gambling."

Give us your argument against government sanctioned gambling.

"The American people lost $117 billion to government sanctioned gambling in 2016. At the same time one out of two citizens in this country own zero net assets – no stocks, no property, no bonds."

"Here you have an enormous number of people who lack assets to grow into the middle class. And the public voice of government is targeting that same constituency to play games that are rigged against them."

"We start with this moral belief that all men and women deserve a fair opportunity to have the best life possible for themselves and their family. That's why we show up every day to compete on this."

"You have citizens losing $117 billion a year. And meanwhile, half the citizens don't have any assets at all. The public voice of government to most citizens today no matter where you live is gambling."

"We see a lottery class of citizens. You don't have a chance to improve your life. You are stuck with a lack of mobility out of poverty. And your best hope is to try and play a rigged game to make some cash to pay your rent every month."

"At the same time, government is advertising these games relentlessly to citizens. We spend more than $1 billion a year advertising gambling to the American people on lotteries alone. That pales in comparison to any other form of government advertising."

"When I was a kid growing up I used to see advertisements with John Wayne saying – invest in your country – buy US Savings Bonds. The idea behind that was to encourage citizens to build assets. Everyone points back to the 1950s where there was a growing middle class and a chance for people to climb out of poverty."

"We had a high savings rate. People were building assets. That was an understated part of keeping people in the middle class. We talk a lot about wages, but wages are only one part of the equation. You also have to encourage people to build assets."

"We come off the great depression during World War II. And the public voice of government then was – we have to put people to work. Imagine government encouraging people back then to go out and spend their money on lottery tickets to raise the money for the war. Instead they encouraged the citizens to go out and buys savings bonds, to invest in your country, invest in your neighbor. It created this strong sense of a common good. It was stronger then than it is today."

Of the $117 billion that the American people lost, how much of that came from poor people?

"Without question, a large portion is coming from the poor. David Just and his team at Cornell have done the best research on that. And it consistently shows that the people who are participating come from the least favored sections of our society. And they are playing out of financial desperation. It's a Hail Mary investment strategy."

"Two-thirds of the public doesn't gamble at all. You have one third of the public participating in this government sanctioned gambling. The messaging that is targeting those folks is – this is a chance to change your life. They sell scratch tickets that say – money for life. This is going to be your answer to get ahead in society."

"The average person sees the lottery as Powerball and Megamillions. But the truth is that those two games represent only a small portion of lottery revenues. Where lotteries make most of their cash are on what are called scratch tickets. Scratch tickets are the number one money maker, unless you are a state like Oregon that has these electronic gambling machines, which are the most lucrative of all."

"Scratch tickets are these high frequency games where you play many times a day at higher and higher wagered amounts."

What impact does gambling have on the poor?

"Government sanctioned gambling goes to the heart of many issues that the poor face. It's a big factor in the lack of mobility out of poverty. By encouraging people to gamble on these rigged games, instead of being able to build a savings account, they are spending on these rigged games at the street corner on a daily basis."

"What are the key elements of mobility out of poverty? Family structure. If you can keep a family unit together, you have a better shot of getting out of poverty than if you don't. Two of the biggest factors shown to disrupt family structure are infidelity and financial problems."

"Here you have a government program that directly attacks the family structure and the family structure is the key to pulling people out of poverty. Government sanctioned gambling is designed to get citizens to lose their cash as frequently as possible at higher wagered amounts. It directly intersects with rising inequality. We define it as a lack of opportunity."

[For the complete q/a format Interview with Les Bernal, see 32 Corporate Crime Reporter 24(11), June 7, 2018, print edition only .]

[Jun 06, 2018] The magic of Neoliberalism is to transform acts that should be illegal into legal ones

Notable quotes:
"... The magic of Neoliberalism is to transform acts that should be illegal into legal ones. In fact they do so explicitly as their argument for reducing taxation is exactly that of getting rid or decreasing the problem of illegal tax evasion.... so they say. Their problem is that we have no evidence that tax evasion decreases under Neoliberalism on top of the legal tax minimisation already provided. The only thing that happens under Neoliberalism is that the Tax Office tends to be under-resourced and everybody likes to conveniently look somewhere else. ..."
Jun 06, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Alpo88 -> DesignConstruct , 3 Jun 2018 17:20

A "legal system of tax evasion", written like that, in quotes, is obviously a metaphor with an intended sarcasm. Clearly, logically, if a taxation system is legal, by using it you are not "evading" taxes, which is an illegal act.... Anyway, everybody seems to have understood my intention but you. Well, now you also know.

The magic of Neoliberalism is to transform acts that should be illegal into legal ones. In fact they do so explicitly as their argument for reducing taxation is exactly that of getting rid or decreasing the problem of illegal tax evasion.... so they say. Their problem is that we have no evidence that tax evasion decreases under Neoliberalism on top of the legal tax minimisation already provided. The only thing that happens under Neoliberalism is that the Tax Office tends to be under-resourced and everybody likes to conveniently look somewhere else.

DesignConstruct -> Alpo88 , 3 Jun 2018 16:52
A "legal system of tax evasion" is a non sequitur, what they have done is create a set of tax laws that enable more opportunities for tax avoidance by the well off, and Kerry very correctly took advantage of it. If you can, get a copy of the Senate hearing - it's gold.
Splatgadget -> NME765 , 3 Jun 2018 16:51
Agreed, but I'll raise you Kleptocracy.

[Apr 20, 2018] The United States, fully aware it was Iraq who gased Kurds, accused Iran, Iraq's enemy in a fierce war, of being partly responsible for the attack. The State Department instructed its diplomats to say that Iran was partly to blame."

Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Andersie , 13 Apr 2018 14:45

I've just stumbled on this absolute gem, from the New York Times, 17/1/2003:

"Analysis of thousands of captured Iraqi secret police documents and declassified U.S. government documents, as well as interviews with scores of Kurdish survivors, senior Iraqi defectors and retired U.S. intelligence officers, show

(1) that Iraq carried out the attack on Halabja [a 1988 chemical attack on Kurdish villages that killed 5000 civilians], and

(2) that the United States, fully aware it was Iraq, accused Iran, Iraq's enemy in a fierce war, of being partly responsible for the attack. The State Department instructed its diplomats to say that Iran was partly to blame."

[Mar 12, 2018] Intensifying punishments for the general public yet simultaneously nowhere to be found when it comes to prosecuting those who commit crimes involving high level officials corruption and abuse of power, especially by the financial sector

Mar 12, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

tempestteacup , March 10, 2018 at 7:10 am

It's an unfortunate irony of the times in which we live that politicians are happy to bask in the glory of Law & Order when it comes to intensifying punishments for the general public yet simultaneously nowhere to be found when it comes to prosecuting those who commit crimes involving corruption, fraud or abuse of power. When ratcheting up the incarceration rate among minorities, the poor and those living in the nation's crumbling urban ghettos, they dutifully repeat the same weary, disproved bromides about deterrence while stuffing their campaign coffers with contributions from one of neoliberalism's most amoral sectors: the for-profit carceral state.

Generally, then, I would reject such arguments – higher sentences, mandatory minimums, decreasing the independence of the judiciary to decide on punishments are all failed policies that have, under the aegis of the War on Drugs, left a trail of destruction, generational poverty, and heartbreak. When it comes to white-collar crimes, political corruption and abuse of power, though, I suspect that hefty sentences actually would serve as a deterrent. If the architects of the Global Financial Crisis were currently sitting alongside Bernie Madoff in Butner (or ADX Florence), you suspect it might cause some of their successors to think twice about indulging in the same wanton speculation.

If the ghouls of the DoD, Pentagon and intelligence community had found themselves where they belonged, in the dock, for their gross abuses of power and war crimes following 9/11, one wonders whether the near-equal ghouls of the Sainted Obama's Administration would have drawn up their illegal kill lists or celebrated the flouting of international law with quite such levity.

All of which, of course, means that we won't ever see it happen – but it does make me think that in some cases it is entirely justified to pursue and forcefully punish those who break the law. It's just unfortunate that the ones whose punishment would be most effective in deterring others are the ones who invariably get off scott free.

  1. JEHR

    What I don't understand is how Michael Shkreli, CEO, is found guilty of financial fraud against investors in 2018 but not one CEO of a bank–not Goldman Sachs's CEO, not Citigroup's CEO, not JP Morgan Chase's CEO, not Wells Fargo's CEO and not Lehman Brothers' CEO–was found guilty of committing Accounting Control Fraud and/or mortgage fraud after the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-8. Amazing! But there's not much satisfaction in such a small price to pay for fraud (7 years) that ruins other people's lives permanently. What is also amazing is that it is not illegal to price a drug out of the reach of most users just for the sake of making a huge profit!

    1. perpetualWAR

      Obama said "actions on Wall Street weren't illegal only immoral." And that set the tone. No one was going to be found guilty of unlawful actions ..even though what Wall Street conducted was a racketeering operation.

      Reply
      1. JBird

        It's not the legality, or even the morality, it's not being blatantly scoffed at.

        Shkreli is a slimy narcissitic toad that used, back stabbed, insulted, and annoyed everyone which is why he got the shiv; just think of the former head of Wells Fargo, Tim Sloan, who did the same and not only to his customers, and low level employees, but also to Congress.

        Who me robbing you? Really, no, I know nothing I see nothing really! Your eyes, they must be lying to you! And you're too stupid to see that!

        That is why they got nailed. People might not like being robbed, but they really don't like being insulted in the doing. Had they done the usual mea culpas, faux apologies, and even token restitution of some kind, one would not be in prison, and the other still CEO.

  1. Andrew Cockburn

    Surely, for the big banks the most significant part of this legislation is the provision allowing them to count municipal bonds as "liquid assets" thus boosting their capital ratio. In reality, of course, these are highly illiquid. Therefore, come the next crash, authorities will be faced with the prospect either of JPM, Citi, etc, attempting to dump said bonds thereby tanking the municipal finance system of the country – unacceptable – or yet again bailing out the banksters to the tune of $trillions. Will the guilty parties be called to account? Don't ask.

[Feb 27, 2018] What is a crime and what is not

Espionage would possibly be Steele's indictment. But nobody was 'formally' spying for another country. He was simply fed leaked info and he put it into a document and sent it back. Is that a crime?
Notable quotes:
"... The facts are there but I see this as an incredibly difficult case to prosecute. ..."
Feb 27, 2018 | theconservativetreehouse.com

EggsX1 , February 25, 2018 at 1:37 pm

The Obama spying is politically terrible but when I consider what is laid out I am not seeing very many crimes that would put people in prison.

This is most likely why this is taking such a long time – and I worry that most if not all conspirators will skate. They will probably be fired and collect their retirement pensions but that may be the end of it.

Though with the next democrat president, they will make sure that all those lose ends that got them caught this time will be perfectly legal. We have only witnessed the beginning of our own homegrown Stazi

phoenixRising , February 25, 2018 at 1:43 pm
You seem to be attempting to lay out a case for the defense a fraudulently constructed one at that

I suggest you take your "probably not a crime" mantras where less intelligent people congregate

Namaste

Like Liked by 2 people

EggsX1 , February 25, 2018 at 2:00 pm
We have already seen some of their defense through the dem memo. I am outraged at the spying scheme, but you have to recognize that all these people involved are lawyers. They will have made sure to have possible exits when the shtf. There are still plenty of black hats in all our gov bureaus and there will be a constant tit for tat throughout the process. The facts are there but I see this as an incredibly difficult case to prosecute.

Like Like

phoenixRising , February 25, 2018 at 2:06 pm
then try reading the above article and previous ones and there are many cases not simply one again, do your homework.

Like Liked by 2 people

EggsX1 , February 25, 2018 at 2:49 pm
Sundance has summarized the scheme quite nicely. Even so, blog posts are very different than an actual indictment. I suppose there must be more substantial crimes if they have been able to get people to flip – crimes we have not been told (I hope).

You say there are many other cases but fail to name any other crimes that have come to light. You could have enlightened me rather than just make accusations against me and told me to 'do my homework'.

I am simply saying they have created a scheme where it is nebulously legal. They could have just leaked the 702 queries but they laundered it through the PDB. This is all done to make it technically legal.

So far I am only seeing leaking, FISA fraud, and conspiracy/racketeering (which is next to impossible to prove). If there are only indictments along leaking, that would easily be seen as political prosecution (dems live under a different rule book than Trump/GoP being hounded by corrupt prosecutors ala Mueller). The Dem memo is trying to politicize the FISA fraud because they recognize that that is the next closest to an open and shut case.

David A , February 25, 2018 at 3:12 pm
You are forgetting 50 percent of the evidence; not the again Trump evidence, but the for HRC whitewash, or " obstruction of justice".

[Feb 25, 2018] The US Prison State - The Globalist

Notable quotes:
"... Sources: Washington Post, Prison Policy Initiative, The Globalist Research Center ..."
Feb 25, 2018 | www.theglobalist.com

. The United States is home to about 25% of the world's total prison population – over 5.5 times its share of the overall world population.

2. The United States incarcerates about 2.3 million people annually, as of 2016.

3. Many millions more pass through the system briefly for minor arrests or dismissed charges, and so on – often having to gather costly cash bail or face jail, even if they are innocent.

4. There are more than 1,700 state prisons, more than 100 federal prisons, more than 900 juvenile facilities and more than 3,100 local jails.

5. There are also a range of specialized short- and long-term holding centers, like military or indigenous prisons and immigrant detention centers.

6. These facilities – whether public or privately-operated – are a major economic hub, especially for jobs, in thousands of communities across the country.

7. That makes it politically difficult to promote detention and sentencing reform policies that would reduce the need for them.

8. Even in public prisons, staff jobs and contracts for food and laundry services become a local revenue stream that discourages reducing incarcerated populations.

9. Beyond the 2.3 million behind bars, there are also 3.7 million Americans on probation outside of jail, with various conditions, and 840,000 on parole.

Sources: Washington Post, Prison Policy Initiative, The Globalist Research Center

[Feb 17, 2018] Iran is already being attacked from West and East in the North

Feb 17, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Posted by: ninel | Feb 11, 2018 3:59:15 PM

Here is an interesting article that points to the new American strategy with respect to Iran and central Asia. Iran is already being attacked from West and East in the North. And central Asia is next. This might force Iran to pull back some forces from Syria and Iraq.

No end to the wars.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/02/06/us-isis-nexus-afghanistan-becomes-hot-topic.html

[Feb 17, 2018] One story I think is very relevant that it not getting nearly enough press is the Cuomo aide corruption trial

Notable quotes:
"... I'm also having a hard time not feeling somewhat sorry for Howe, who is the star witness. He was arrested, again, during the trial. He's been accused of any number of pejoratives, by everyone involved. He also seems to be the only one who has really lost anything -- lots of money and a career. ..."
"... They stole over 100 million dollars. Howe lied about one night at a hotel. Howe gets a jumpsuit. Cuomo is still in his office. The COR execs are still being represented by very high priced lawyers, paid for with millions that were stolen. The press gets lots of clickbait about 'ziti' and the 'fat man', that never, ever really gets anywhere near the people who should most be in jail. They have lawyers, you understand. ..."
"... I grew up in NYS and I still know one of the reporters following the trial. Even for me, the scale of the sleaziness is mindboggling. And the evidence seems quite compelling to me. I mean, the wife had a no-show job, nobody even disputes that! Will be interesting to see if guilty verdicts, if there are any, taint Cuomo. Or change anything. ..."
Feb 17, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

bob , , February 16, 2018 at 12:05 pm

One story I think is very relevant that it not getting nearly enough press is the Cuomo aide corruption trial.

It is hard to follow. The corruption is so deep and systemic that it's producing its own gravity and realities.

I'm also having a hard time not feeling somewhat sorry for Howe, who is the star witness. He was arrested, again, during the trial. He's been accused of any number of pejoratives, by everyone involved. He also seems to be the only one who has really lost anything -- lots of money and a career.

The rest of the filth are just fine. They were all more than fine to start with, and most of that fine is in no jeopardy of ever being taken away, stolen fine included.

They stole over 100 million dollars. Howe lied about one night at a hotel. Howe gets a jumpsuit. Cuomo is still in his office. The COR execs are still being represented by very high priced lawyers, paid for with millions that were stolen. The press gets lots of clickbait about 'ziti' and the 'fat man', that never, ever really gets anywhere near the people who should most be in jail. They have lawyers, you understand.

bob , , February 16, 2018 at 12:16 pm

Let's go ahead and take a look at where the past winners of NY corruption trials have ended up-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheldon_Silver

Convicted. Hasn't spent ONE DAY in Jail.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Bruno

Convicted, hasn't spent ONE DAY in jail.

Both are still very wealthy, also. As if that were ever going to change.

Left in Wisconsin , , February 16, 2018 at 2:45 pm

I grew up in NYS and I still know one of the reporters following the trial. Even for me, the scale of the sleaziness is mindboggling. And the evidence seems quite compelling to me. I mean, the wife had a no-show job, nobody even disputes that! Will be interesting to see if guilty verdicts, if there are any, taint Cuomo. Or change anything.

[Dec 24, 2017] Laudato si by Pope Francis

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... My predecessor Benedict XVI likewise proposed "eliminating the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment". [10] He observed that the world cannot be analyzed by isolating only one of its aspects, since "the book of nature is one and indivisible", and includes the environment, life, sexuality, the family, social relations, and so forth. It follows that "the deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture which shapes human coexistence" ..."
"... Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken in particular of the need for each of us to repent of the ways we have harmed the planet, for "inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage", we are called to acknowledge "our contribution, smaller or greater, to the disfigurement and destruction of creation". [14] He has repeatedly stated this firmly and persuasively, challenging us to acknowledge our sins against creation: "For human beings to destroy the biological diversity of God's creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth's waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins". [15] For "to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God". [16] ..."
"... He asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which "entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God's world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion". ..."
"... It is possible that we do not grasp the gravity of the challenges now before us. "The risk is growing day by day that man will not use his power as he should"; in effect, "power is never considered in terms of the responsibility of choice which is inherent in freedom" since its "only norms are taken from alleged necessity, from either utility or security". [85] But human beings are not completely autonomous. Our freedom fades when it is handed over to the blind forces of the unconscious, of immediate needs, of self-interest, and of violence. In this sense, we stand naked and exposed in the face of our ever-increasing power, lacking the wherewithal to control it. We have certain superficial mechanisms, but we cannot claim to have a sound ethics, a culture and spirituality genuinely capable of setting limits and teaching clear-minded self-restraint. ..."
"... Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth's goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit. It is the false notion that "an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, that it is possible to renew them quickly, and that the negative effects of the exploitation of the natural order can be easily absorbed". ..."
"... We have to accept that technological products are not neutral, for they create a framework which ends up conditioning lifestyles and shaping social possibilities along the lines dictated by the interests of certain powerful groups. Decisions which may seem purely instrumental are in reality decisions about the kind of society we want to build. ..."
"... Technology tends to absorb everything into its ironclad logic, and those who are surrounded with technology "know full well that it moves forward in the final analysis neither for profit nor for the well-being of the human race", that "in the most radical sense of the term power is its motive – a lordship over all". [87] As a result, "man seizes hold of the naked elements of both nature and human nature". [88] Our capacity to make decisions, a more genuine freedom and the space for each one's alternative creativity are diminished. ..."
"... At the same time, we have "a sort of 'superdevelopment' of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the ongoing situations of dehumanizing deprivation", [90] while we are all too slow in developing economic institutions and social initiatives which can give the poor regular access to basic resources. We fail to see the deepest roots of our present failures, which have to do with the direction, goals, meaning and social implications of technological and economic growth. ..."
"... The specialization which belongs to technology makes it difficult to see the larger picture. The fragmentation of knowledge proves helpful for concrete applications, and yet it often leads to a loss of appreciation for the whole, for the relationships between things, and for the broader horizon, which then becomes irrelevant. ..."
"... It becomes difficult to pause and recover depth in life. If architecture reflects the spirit of an age, our megastructures and drab apartment blocks express the spirit of globalized technology, where a constant flood of new products coexists with a tedious monotony. Let us refuse to resign ourselves to this, and continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything. Otherwise we would simply legitimate the present situation and need new forms of escapism to help us endure the emptiness. ..."
"... All of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution. Science and technology are not neutral; from the beginning to the end of a process, various intentions and possibilities are in play and can take on distinct shapes. Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur. ..."
"... Modern anthropocentrism has paradoxically ended up prizing technical thought over reality, since "the technological mind sees nature as an insensate order, as a cold body of facts, as a mere 'given', as an object of utility, as raw material to be hammered into useful shape; it views the cosmos similarly as a mere 'space' into which objects can be thrown with complete indifference" ..."
"... Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble ..."
"... This situation has led to a constant schizophrenia, wherein a technocracy which sees no intrinsic value in lesser beings coexists with the other extreme, which sees no special value in human beings. But one cannot prescind from humanity ..."
"... Nor must the critique of a misguided anthropocentrism underestimate the importance of interpersonal relations. If the present ecological crisis is one small sign of the ethical, cultural and spiritual crisis of modernity, we cannot presume to heal our relationship with nature and the environment without healing all fundamental human relationships. ..."
"... The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labour on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests. ..."
"... We are convinced that "man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life". [100] Nonetheless, once our human capacity for contemplation and reverence is impaired, it becomes easy for the meaning of work to be misunderstood. [101] We need to remember that men and women have "the capacity to improve their lot, to further their moral growth and to develop their spiritual endowments". [102] Work should be the setting for this rich personal growth, where many aspects of life enter into play: creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values, relating to others ..."
"... it is essential that "we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone", [103] no matter the limited interests of business and dubious economic reasoning. ..."
"... We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfilment. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work. ..."
"... The loss of jobs also has a negative impact on the economy "through the progressive erosion of social capital: the network of relationships of trust, dependability, and respect for rules, all of which are indispensable for any form of civil coexistence". [104] In other words, "human costs always include economic costs, and economic dysfunctions always involve human costs". [105] To stop investing in people, in order to gain greater short-term financial gain, is bad business for society. ..."
"... In order to continue providing employment, it is imperative to promote an economy which favours productive diversity and business creativity. For example, there is a great variety of small-scale food production systems which feed the greater part of the world's peoples, using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing. Economies of scale, especially in the agricultural sector, end up forcing smallholders to sell their land or to abandon their traditional crops. ..."
"... To ensure economic freedom from which all can effectively benefit, restraints occasionally have to be imposed on those possessing greater resources and financial power. To claim economic freedom while real conditions bar many people from actual access to it, and while possibilities for employment continue to shrink, is to practise a doublespeak which brings politics into disrepute. Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the areas in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good. ..."
May 24, 2015 | 5w2.vatican.va

... ... ...

6. My predecessor Benedict XVI likewise proposed "eliminating the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment".[10] He observed that the world cannot be analyzed by isolating only one of its aspects, since "the book of nature is one and indivisible", and includes the environment, life, sexuality, the family, social relations, and so forth. It follows that "the deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture which shapes human coexistence".[11] Pope Benedict asked us to recognize that the natural environment has been gravely damaged by our irresponsible behaviour. The social environment has also suffered damage. Both are ultimately due to the same evil: the notion that there are no indisputable truths to guide our lives, and hence human freedom is limitless. We have forgotten that "man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature".[12] With paternal concern, Benedict urged us to realize that creation is harmed "where we ourselves have the final word, where everything is simply our property and we use it for ourselves alone. The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves".[13]

United by the same concern

7. These statements of the Popes echo the reflections of numerous scientists, philosophers, theologians and civic groups, all of which have enriched the Church's thinking on these questions. Outside the Catholic Church, other Churches and Christian communities – and other religions as well – have expressed deep concern and offered valuable reflections on issues which all of us find disturbing. To give just one striking example, I would mention the statements made by the beloved Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, with whom we share the hope of full ecclesial communion.

8. Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken in particular of the need for each of us to repent of the ways we have harmed the planet, for "inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage", we are called to acknowledge "our contribution, smaller or greater, to the disfigurement and destruction of creation".[14] He has repeatedly stated this firmly and persuasively, challenging us to acknowledge our sins against creation: "For human beings to destroy the biological diversity of God's creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth's waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins".[15] For "to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God".[16]

9. At the same time, Bartholomew has drawn attention to the ethical and spiritual roots of environmental problems, which require that we look for solutions not only in technology but in a change of humanity; otherwise we would be dealing merely with symptoms. He asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which "entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God's world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion".[17] As Christians, we are also called "to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbours on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God's creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet".[18]

... ... ...

I. TECHNOLOGY: CREATIVITY AND POWER

... ... ...

105. There is a tendency to believe that every increase in power means "an increase of 'progress' itself", an advance in "security, usefulness, welfare and vigour; an assimilation of new values into the stream of culture",[83] as if reality, goodness and truth automatically flow from technological and economic power as such. The fact is that "contemporary man has not been trained to use power well",[84] because our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience. Each age tends to have only a meagre awareness of its own limitations. It is possible that we do not grasp the gravity of the challenges now before us. "The risk is growing day by day that man will not use his power as he should"; in effect, "power is never considered in terms of the responsibility of choice which is inherent in freedom" since its "only norms are taken from alleged necessity, from either utility or security".[85] But human beings are not completely autonomous. Our freedom fades when it is handed over to the blind forces of the unconscious, of immediate needs, of self-interest, and of violence. In this sense, we stand naked and exposed in the face of our ever-increasing power, lacking the wherewithal to control it. We have certain superficial mechanisms, but we cannot claim to have a sound ethics, a culture and spirituality genuinely capable of setting limits and teaching clear-minded self-restraint.

II. THE GLOBALIZATION OF THE TECHNOCRATIC PARADIGM

106. The basic problem goes even deeper: it is the way that humanity has taken up technology and its development according to an undifferentiated and one-dimensional paradigm. This paradigm exalts the concept of a subject who, using logical and rational procedures, progressively approaches and gains control over an external object. This subject makes every effort to establish the scientific and experimental method, which in itself is already a technique of possession, mastery and transformation. It is as if the subject were to find itself in the presence of something formless, completely open to manipulation. Men and women have constantly intervened in nature, but for a long time this meant being in tune with and respecting the possibilities offered by the things themselves. It was a matter of receiving what nature itself allowed, as if from its own hand. Now, by contrast, we are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us. Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth's goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit. It is the false notion that "an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, that it is possible to renew them quickly, and that the negative effects of the exploitation of the natural order can be easily absorbed".[86]

107. It can be said that many problems of today's world stem from the tendency, at times unconscious, to make the method and aims of science and technology an epistemological paradigm which shapes the lives of individuals and the workings of society. The effects of imposing this model on reality as a whole, human and social, are seen in the deterioration of the environment, but this is just one sign of a reductionism which affects every aspect of human and social life. We have to accept that technological products are not neutral, for they create a framework which ends up conditioning lifestyles and shaping social possibilities along the lines dictated by the interests of certain powerful groups. Decisions which may seem purely instrumental are in reality decisions about the kind of society we want to build.

108. The idea of promoting a different cultural paradigm and employing technology as a mere instrument is nowadays inconceivable. The technological paradigm has become so dominant that it would be difficult to do without its resources and even more difficult to utilize them without being dominated by their internal logic. It has become countercultural to choose a lifestyle whose goals are even partly independent of technology, of its costs and its power to globalize and make us all the same. Technology tends to absorb everything into its ironclad logic, and those who are surrounded with technology "know full well that it moves forward in the final analysis neither for profit nor for the well-being of the human race", that "in the most radical sense of the term power is its motive – a lordship over all".[87] As a result, "man seizes hold of the naked elements of both nature and human nature".[88] Our capacity to make decisions, a more genuine freedom and the space for each one's alternative creativity are diminished.

109. The technocratic paradigm also tends to dominate economic and political life. The economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit, without concern for its potentially negative impact on human beings. Finance overwhelms the real economy. The lessons of the global financial crisis have not been assimilated, and we are learning all too slowly the lessons of environmental deterioration. Some circles maintain that current economics and technology will solve all environmental problems, and argue, in popular and non-technical terms, that the problems of global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth. They are less concerned with certain economic theories which today scarcely anybody dares defend, than with their actual operation in the functioning of the economy. They may not affirm such theories with words, but nonetheless support them with their deeds by showing no interest in more balanced levels of production, a better distribution of wealth, concern for the environment and the rights of future generations. Their behaviour shows that for them maximizing profits is enough. Yet by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion.[89] At the same time, we have "a sort of 'superdevelopment' of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the ongoing situations of dehumanizing deprivation",[90] while we are all too slow in developing economic institutions and social initiatives which can give the poor regular access to basic resources. We fail to see the deepest roots of our present failures, which have to do with the direction, goals, meaning and social implications of technological and economic growth.

110. The specialization which belongs to technology makes it difficult to see the larger picture. The fragmentation of knowledge proves helpful for concrete applications, and yet it often leads to a loss of appreciation for the whole, for the relationships between things, and for the broader horizon, which then becomes irrelevant. This very fact makes it hard to find adequate ways of solving the more complex problems of today's world, particularly those regarding the environment and the poor; these problems cannot be dealt with from a single perspective or from a single set of interests. A science which would offer solutions to the great issues would necessarily have to take into account the data generated by other fields of knowledge, including philosophy and social ethics; but this is a difficult habit to acquire today. Nor are there genuine ethical horizons to which one can appeal. Life gradually becomes a surrender to situations conditioned by technology, itself viewed as the principal key to the meaning of existence. In the concrete situation confronting us, there are a number of symptoms which point to what is wrong, such as environmental degradation, anxiety, a loss of the purpose of life and of community living. Once more we see that "realities are more important than ideas".[91]

111. Ecological culture cannot be reduced to a series of urgent and partial responses to the immediate problems of pollution, environmental decay and the depletion of natural resources. There needs to be a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm. Otherwise, even the best ecological initiatives can find themselves caught up in the same globalized logic. To seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system.

112. Yet we can once more broaden our vision. We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology; we can put it at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral. Liberation from the dominant technocratic paradigm does in fact happen sometimes, for example, when cooperatives of small producers adopt less polluting means of production, and opt for a non-consumerist model of life, recreation and community. Or when technology is directed primarily to resolving people's concrete problems, truly helping them live with more dignity and less suffering. Or indeed when the desire to create and contemplate beauty manages to overcome reductionism through a kind of salvation which occurs in beauty and in those who behold it. An authentic humanity, calling for a new synthesis, seems to dwell in the midst of our technological culture, almost unnoticed, like a mist seeping gently beneath a closed door. Will the promise last, in spite of everything, with all that is authentic rising up in stubborn resistance?

113. There is also the fact that people no longer seem to believe in a happy future; they no longer have blind trust in a better tomorrow based on the present state of the world and our technical abilities. There is a growing awareness that scientific and technological progress cannot be equated with the progress of humanity and history, a growing sense that the way to a better future lies elsewhere. This is not to reject the possibilities which technology continues to offer us. But humanity has changed profoundly, and the accumulation of constant novelties exalts a superficiality which pulls us in one direction. It becomes difficult to pause and recover depth in life. If architecture reflects the spirit of an age, our megastructures and drab apartment blocks express the spirit of globalized technology, where a constant flood of new products coexists with a tedious monotony. Let us refuse to resign ourselves to this, and continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything. Otherwise we would simply legitimate the present situation and need new forms of escapism to help us endure the emptiness.

114. All of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution. Science and technology are not neutral; from the beginning to the end of a process, various intentions and possibilities are in play and can take on distinct shapes. Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur.

III. THE CRISIS AND EFFECTS OF MODERN ANTHROPOCENTRISM

115. Modern anthropocentrism has paradoxically ended up prizing technical thought over reality, since "the technological mind sees nature as an insensate order, as a cold body of facts, as a mere 'given', as an object of utility, as raw material to be hammered into useful shape; it views the cosmos similarly as a mere 'space' into which objects can be thrown with complete indifference".[92] The intrinsic dignity of the world is thus compromised. When human beings fail to find their true place in this world, they misunderstand themselves and end up acting against themselves: "Not only has God given the earth to man, who must use it with respect for the original good purpose for which it was given, but, man too is God's gift to man. He must therefore respect the natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed".[93]

116. Modernity has been marked by an excessive anthropocentrism which today, under another guise, continues to stand in the way of shared understanding and of any effort to strengthen social bonds. The time has come to pay renewed attention to reality and the limits it imposes; this in turn is the condition for a more sound and fruitful development of individuals and society. An inadequate presentation of Christian anthropology gave rise to a wrong understanding of the relationship between human beings and the world. Often, what was handed on was a Promethean vision of mastery over the world, which gave the impression that the protection of nature was something that only the faint-hearted cared about. Instead, our "dominion" over the universe should be understood more properly in the sense of responsible stewardship.[94]

117. Neglecting to monitor the harm done to nature and the environmental impact of our decisions is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself. When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for "instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature".[95]

118. This situation has led to a constant schizophrenia, wherein a technocracy which sees no intrinsic value in lesser beings coexists with the other extreme, which sees no special value in human beings. But one cannot prescind from humanity. There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology. When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physical determinism, then "our overall sense of responsibility wanes".[96] A misguided anthropocentrism need not necessarily yield to "biocentrism", for that would entail adding yet another imbalance, failing to solve present problems and adding new ones. Human beings cannot be expected to feel responsibility for the world unless, at the same time, their unique capacities of knowledge, will, freedom and responsibility are recognized and valued.

119. Nor must the critique of a misguided anthropocentrism underestimate the importance of interpersonal relations. If the present ecological crisis is one small sign of the ethical, cultural and spiritual crisis of modernity, we cannot presume to heal our relationship with nature and the environment without healing all fundamental human relationships. Christian thought sees human beings as possessing a particular dignity above other creatures; it thus inculcates esteem for each person and respect for others. Our openness to others, each of whom is a "thou" capable of knowing, loving and entering into dialogue, remains the source of our nobility as human persons. A correct relationship with the created world demands that we not weaken this social dimension of openness to others, much less the transcendent dimension of our openness to the "Thou" of God. Our relationship with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others and with God. Otherwise, it would be nothing more than romantic individualism dressed up in ecological garb, locking us into a stifling immanence.

120. Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? "If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away".[97]

121. We need to develop a new synthesis capable of overcoming the false arguments of recent centuries. Christianity, in fidelity to its own identity and the rich deposit of truth which it has received from Jesus Christ, continues to reflect on these issues in fruitful dialogue with changing historical situations. In doing so, it reveals its eternal newness.[98]

Practical relativism

122. A misguided anthropocentrism leads to a misguided lifestyle. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I noted that the practical relativism typical of our age is "even more dangerous than doctrinal relativism".[99] When human beings place themselves at the centre, they give absolute priority to immediate convenience and all else becomes relative. Hence we should not be surprised to find, in conjunction with the omnipresent technocratic paradigm and the cult of unlimited human power, the rise of a relativism which sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves one's own immediate interests. There is a logic in all this whereby different attitudes can feed on one another, leading to environmental degradation and social decay.

123. The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labour on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests. It is also the mindset of those who say: Let us allow the invisible forces of the market to regulate the economy, and consider their impact on society and nature as collateral damage. In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species? Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted? This same "use and throw away" logic generates so much waste, because of the disordered desire to consume more than what is really necessary. We should not think that political efforts or the force of law will be sufficient to prevent actions which affect the environment because, when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided.

The need to protect employment

124. Any approach to an integral ecology, which by definition does not exclude human beings, needs to take account of the value of labour, as Saint John Paul II wisely noted in his Encyclical Laborem Exercens. According to the biblical account of creation, God placed man and woman in the garden he had created (cf. Gen 2:15) not only to preserve it ("keep") but also to make it fruitful ("till"). Labourers and craftsmen thus "maintain the fabric of the world" (Sir 38:34). Developing the created world in a prudent way is the best way of caring for it, as this means that we ourselves become the instrument used by God to bring out the potential which he himself inscribed in things: "The Lord created medicines out of the earth, and a sensible man will not despise them" (Sir 38:4).

125. If we reflect on the proper relationship between human beings and the world around us, we see the need for a correct understanding of work; if we talk about the relationship between human beings and things, the question arises as to the meaning and purpose of all human activity. This has to do not only with manual or agricultural labour but with any activity involving a modification of existing reality, from producing a social report to the design of a technological development. Underlying every form of work is a concept of the relationship which we can and must have with what is other than ourselves. Together with the awe-filled contemplation of creation which we find in Saint Francis of Assisi, the Christian spiritual tradition has also developed a rich and balanced understanding of the meaning of work, as, for example, in the life of Blessed Charles de Foucauld and his followers.

126. We can also look to the great tradition of monasticism. Originally, it was a kind of flight from the world, an escape from the decadence of the cities. The monks sought the desert, convinced that it was the best place for encountering the presence of God. Later, Saint Benedict of Norcia proposed that his monks live in community, combining prayer and spiritual reading with manual labour (ora et labora). Seeing manual labour as spiritually meaningful proved revolutionary. Personal growth and sanctification came to be sought in the interplay of recollection and work. This way of experiencing work makes us more protective and respectful of the environment; it imbues our relationship to the world with a healthy sobriety.

127. We are convinced that "man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life".[100] Nonetheless, once our human capacity for contemplation and reverence is impaired, it becomes easy for the meaning of work to be misunderstood.[101] We need to remember that men and women have "the capacity to improve their lot, to further their moral growth and to develop their spiritual endowments".[102] Work should be the setting for this rich personal growth, where many aspects of life enter into play: creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values, relating to others, giving glory to God. It follows that, in the reality of today's global society, it is essential that "we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone",[103] no matter the limited interests of business and dubious economic reasoning.

128. We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfilment. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work. Yet the orientation of the economy has favoured a kind of technological progress in which the costs of production are reduced by laying off workers and replacing them with machines. This is yet another way in which we can end up working against ourselves. The loss of jobs also has a negative impact on the economy "through the progressive erosion of social capital: the network of relationships of trust, dependability, and respect for rules, all of which are indispensable for any form of civil coexistence".[104] In other words, "human costs always include economic costs, and economic dysfunctions always involve human costs".[105] To stop investing in people, in order to gain greater short-term financial gain, is bad business for society.

129. In order to continue providing employment, it is imperative to promote an economy which favours productive diversity and business creativity. For example, there is a great variety of small-scale food production systems which feed the greater part of the world's peoples, using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing. Economies of scale, especially in the agricultural sector, end up forcing smallholders to sell their land or to abandon their traditional crops. Their attempts to move to other, more diversified, means of production prove fruitless because of the difficulty of linkage with regional and global markets, or because the infrastructure for sales and transport is geared to larger businesses. Civil authorities have the right and duty to adopt clear and firm measures in support of small producers and differentiated production. To ensure economic freedom from which all can effectively benefit, restraints occasionally have to be imposed on those possessing greater resources and financial power. To claim economic freedom while real conditions bar many people from actual access to it, and while possibilities for employment continue to shrink, is to practise a doublespeak which brings politics into disrepute. Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the areas in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.

New biological technologies

130. In the philosophical and theological vision of the human being and of creation which I have presented, it is clear that the human person, endowed with reason and knowledge, is not an external factor to be excluded. While human intervention on plants and animals is permissible when it pertains to the necessities of human life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that experimentation on animals is morally acceptable only "if it remains within reasonable limits [and] contributes to caring for or saving human lives".[106] The Catechism firmly states that human power has limits and that "it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly".[107] All such use and experimentation "requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation".[108]

... ... ...

Continued

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[Jan 06, 2020] The threat of General Soleimani - TTG

[Jan 06, 2020] Diplomacy Trump-style. Al Capone probably would be allow himself to fall that low

[Jan 05, 2020] The USA is now at war, de-facto and de-jure, with BOTH Iraq and Iran (UPDATED 6X) The Vineyard of the Saker

[Jan 05, 2020] Trump is wholly responsible for his own actions, but he -- just like the Ayatollah -- is being pushed in a direction where it's impossible to back down and still "save face". Neither men can afford to do so by Andrew Korybko

[Jan 04, 2020] Trump Is Doing the Bidding of Washington's Most Vile Cabal

[Jan 04, 2020] Will Trump welcome the ejection of the US from Iraq - He should by Colonel Lang

[Jan 04, 2020] Talking about revenge is stupid and juvenile: Iran needs to pull back and focus on making themselves stronger in economy and technology and for strong ties with other responsible players

Sites



Etc

Society

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

Quotes

War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes

Bulletin:

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

History:

Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D


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Last modified: March, 12, 2020