Jun 232012
 
 June 23, 2012  Posted by at 11:17 am Finance
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on TumblrFlattr the authorDigg thisShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

 





Unknown Al Capone Arrested 1931

Over the past few days, Henry Blodget at Business Insider posted a number of graphs, here and here, which depict something about the US economy that everybody knows to some extent or another, but that most of us won't have let thoroughly sink in. For some because the consequences are too opaque, for others because they are too scary. But make no mistake: we can only continue to ignore or misinterpret them at our own peril. And even then it's terribly late in the game.

The essence of Blodget's argument is this:

"… over the past 30 years, we've generated about $1 of economic growth for every $3 we've borrowed."

So while real (inflation-adjusted) GDP growth looks sort of strong over the past 6 decades:

 


… the growth in debt rises much faster. Note that the graph below has a vertical axis that is four times larger than the one above.

 


The scale of the problem becomes clearer when you put both in the same graph. Note that GDP is not inflation adjusted in this one.

 


And then you can of course subtract the debt from the growth, and you end up with this:

 


Now there are many possible reasons and culprits for this, from the folly of perpetual growth itself, to globalization, to destroying a nation's manufacturing base and betting on a "service economy", to the inevitable demise of every empire in history. All these factors have played their respective roles in the grand drama the graphs lay bare before our eyes.

Still, in the end all of it has been driven by the same engine: human stupidity, greed and shortsightedness. In other words, those qualities we were all born with. Well, that and our ability to lie to ourselves, if only to look in the mirror and tell ourselves we are neither stupid nor greedy nor shortsighted.

And of course we're not all so to the same extent. Some of us chase dreams of wealth, while others simply dream of happiness. But we – almost – all have cars and TV sets and computers and many other possessions that are so ubiquitous in our societies that we don't even ask anymore why we have them, or what we would do without. We unquestioningly assume they contribute to what we perceive as happiness.

My point is, when we see those graphs above, we refuse to ask ourselves what the extent is to which our own behavior as "little" people is reflected in there. We look in that mirror again and convince ourselves that surely others are to blame, that our tiny bit of the grand scheme is meaningless compared to the whole. There is some truth in that, but it's certainly not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Once you start lying, you're on a sliding scale. Are bigger liars worse than small ones?

Well, to an extent they are. Not long after seeing Blodget's graphs, I started reading Matt Taibbi's – long and fascinating- latest for Rolling Stone, and I began to wonder what part of the ugly truth in the graphs, and the numbers they illustrate, is due to what he writes about: corruption.

We don't normally think of America as a country that has corruption on the scale of many other nations. We might be lying to ourselves there too. Taibbi:

The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia

 

Someday, it will go down in history as the first trial of the modern American mafia. Of course, you won't hear the recent financial corruption case, United States of America v. Carollo, Goldberg and Grimm, called anything like that. If you heard about it at all, you're probably either in the municipal bond business or married to an antitrust lawyer. Even then, all you probably heard was that a threesome of bit players on Wall Street got convicted of obscure antitrust violations in one of the most inscrutable, jargon-packed legal snoozefests since the government's massive case against Microsoft in the Nineties- not exactly the thrilling courtroom drama offered by the famed trials of old-school mobsters like Al Capone or Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo.

But this just-completed trial in downtown New York against three faceless financial executives really was historic. Over 10 years in the making, the case allowed federal prosecutors to make public for the first time the astonishing inner workings of the reigning American crime syndicate, which now operates not out of Little Italy and Las Vegas, but out of Wall Street.

The defendants in the case- Dominick Carollo, Steven Goldberg and Peter Grimm- worked for GE Capital, the finance arm of General Electric. Along with virtually every major bank and finance company on Wall Street- not just GE, but J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, UBS, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Wachovia and more- these three Wall Street wiseguys spent the past decade taking part in a breathtakingly broad scheme to skim billions of dollars from the coffers of cities and small towns across America.

The banks achieved this gigantic rip-off by secretly colluding to rig the public bids on municipal bonds, a business worth $3.7 trillion. By conspiring to lower the interest rates that towns earn on these investments, the banks systematically stole from schools, hospitals, libraries and nursing homes- from "virtually every state, district and territory in the United States," according to one settlement. And they did it so cleverly that the victims never even knew they were being cheated. No thumbs were broken, and nobody ended up in a landfill in New Jersey, but money disappeared, lots and lots of it, and its manner of disappearance had a familiar name: organized crime.

In fact, stripped of all the camouflaging financial verbiage, the crimes the defendants and their co-conspirators committed were virtually indistinguishable from the kind of thuggery practiced for decades by the Mafia, which has long made manipulation of public bids for things like garbage collection and construction contracts a cornerstone of its business. What's more, in the manner of old mob trials, Wall Street's secret machinations were revealed during the Carollo trial through crackling wiretap recordings and the lurid testimony of cooperating witnesses, who came into court with bowed heads, pointing fingers at their accomplices.

The new-age gangsters even invented an elaborate code to hide their crimes. Like Elizabethan highway robbers who spoke in thieves' cant, or Italian mobsters who talked about "getting a button man to clip the capo," on tape after tape these Wall Street crooks coughed up phrases like "pull a nickel out" or "get to the right level" or "you're hanging out there" all code words used to manipulate the interest rates on municipal bonds. The only thing that made this trial different from a typical mob trial was the scale of the crime. [..]

More recently, a major international investigation has been launched into the manipulation of Libor, the interbank lending index that is used to calculate global interest rates for products worth more than $3 trillion a year. If and when that case is presented to the public at trial there are several major civil suits in the works here in the States we may yet find out that the world's most powerful banks have, for years, been fixing the prices of almost every adjustable-rate vehicle on earth, from mortgages and credit cards to interest-rate swaps and even currencies.

But USA v. Carollo marks the first time we actually got incontrovertible evidence that Wall Street has moved into this cartel-type brand of criminality. It also offered a disgusting glimpse into the enabling and grossly cynical role played by politicians, who took Super Bowl tickets and bribe-stuffed envelopes to look the other way while gangsters raided the public kitty. And though the punishments that were ultimately handed down in the trial minor convictions of three bit players felt deeply unsatisfying, it was still a watershed moment in the ongoing story of America's gradual awakening to the realities of financial corruption.

In a post-crash era where Wall Street trials almost never make it into court, and even the harshest settlements end with the evidence buried by the government and the offending banks permitted to escape with no admission of wrongdoing, this case finally dragged the whole ugly truth of American finance out into the open and it was a hell of a show. [..]

In 2001, CDR hired a consultant named Ron White, a Philadelphia bond attorney who happened to be the chief fundraiser for then-mayor John Street. CDR gave White two tickets to the 2003 Super Bowl in San Diego plus a limo- a gift worth $10,000. As his "guest," White took Corey Kemp, the city treasurer for Philadelphia, who, 16 days later, awarded CDR a $150,000 contract to advise the city on swap deals. But that wasn't the end of the gravy train: CDR doled out those swap deals to selected banks, who in return kicked back $515,000 to CDR for steering city business their way.

So a mere $10,000 bribe to a politician- a couple of Super Bowl tickets and a limo- scored CDR a total of $665,000 of the public's money. If you want to know why Wall Street has been enjoying record profits, here's your answer: Corruption is a business model that brings in $66 for every dollar you invest. [..]

To grasp the full insanity of these revelations, one must step back and consider all this information together: the bribes, yes, but also the industrywide, anti-competitive bid-rigging scheme. It turns into a kind of unbroken Möbius strip of corruption: the banks pay middlemen to rig auctions, the middlemen bribe politicians to win business, then the politicians choose the middlemen to run the auctions, leading right back to the banks bribing the middlemen to rig the bids.

When we allow Wall Street to continually raid the public cookie jar, we're not just enriching a bunch of petty executives [..], we're effectively creating an alternate government, one in which money lifted from the taxpayer's pocket through mob-style schemes turns into a kind of permanent shadow tax, used to maintain the corruption and keep the thieves in place. And that cuts right to the heart of what this case is all about.

Wall Street is tired of making money by competing for business and weathering the vagaries of the market. What it wants instead is something more like the deal the government has regularly collecting guaranteed taxes. What's crazy is that in order to justify that dream of regular, monopolistic tribute, they've begun to see themselves as a type of shadow government, watching out for the rest of us. Amazingly enough, this even became a defense at trial.

In the end, though, the conviction of a few bit players seems like far too puny a punishment, given that the bid rigging exposed in Carollo involved an entrenched system that affected major bond issues in every state in the nation. You find yourself thinking, America's biggest banks ripped off the entire country, virtually every day, for more than a decade! A truly commensurate penalty would be something like televised stonings of the top 10 executives of every guilty bank, or maybe the forcible resettlement of every banker and broker in Lower Manhattan to some uninhabited Andean wasteland… anything to address the systemic nature of the crime.

No such luck. Instead of anything resembling real censure, a few young executives got spanked, while the offending banks got off with slap-on-the-wrist fines and were allowed to retain their pre-eminent positions in the municipal bond market. Last year, the two leading recipients of public bond business, clocking in with more than $35 billion in bond issues apiece, were Chase and Bank of America- who combined had just paid more than $365 million in fines for their role in the mass bid rigging. Get busted for welfare fraud even once in America, and good luck getting so much as a food stamp ever again. Get caught rigging interest rates in 50 states, and the government goes right on handing you billions of dollars in public contracts.

Who ultimately loses in these deals? Well, to take just one example, the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Finance Authority, the agency that issues bonds for the state's hospitals, had their interest rates rigged by the Carollo defendants on $17 million in bonds. Since then, more than a dozen New Jersey hospitals have closed, mostly in poor neighborhoods.

Keep on reading here, page after stunning page.

If it's any consolation, no, America is not the only country where corruption has come to control the financial and political systems. What I find striking, though, are the amounts involved these days. That's why I was mentally making that link between the graphs above and Taibbi's article. If corruption stateside is anything like it is in other places, and I see no reason to suspect otherwise, we are talking about many trillions of dollars here. Not for the three patsies Taibbi writes about, but theirs is obviously just one case among many.

Here's some other recent stories. The first one comes from Golem Xiv:/p>

The Eurofiscal Corruption Contest – The Portuguese Entry

Portugal’s entry in the EuroFiscal Corruption Contest is a more modest affair than Spain’s. It centres round a simple fact, which I picked up a few days ago from Bloomberg, that

Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s president, is the biggest shareholder in Portuguese cable-television company Zon Multimedia (ZON) SGPS SA, and holds 19 percent of Portuguese lender Banco BPI SA. (BPI)

On the surface it’s an innocent sentence. Someone owns a chunk of a bank. Except that 1) the person is the daughter of the man who has been ‘President’ of Angola since 1979, during which time he and his family have amassed a business empire currently estimated to be worth at least €1.5 billion, while the people of Angola live in poverty despite the billions in revenue from Angola’s Oil and other mineral riches, and 2) the bank she owns 19% of is about to get a €1.5 billion bail out from the Portuguese tax payer.

A word about Angola’s oil revenue. It was reported by Human Rights Watch and has subsequently been admitted by the Angolan government, that $32 billion in oil revenue (a third of Angola’s GDP) has gone missing and cannot be accounted for. Though a clue of what might have happened comes from a 2010 US senate report into corruption and money laundering which found that ,

"Aguinaldo Jaime, who served as the governor of the Angolan Central Bank from 1999 to 2002… initiated a series of suspicious US$ 50 million transactions with US banks. For each attempt, the banks, concerned about the likelihood of fraud, ultimately rejected the transfer or returned the money shortly after receiving it. During Mr Jaime’s three-year tenure as central bank governor, the government could not account for approximately US$ 2.4 billion."

The fact is that Angola is a corrupt country and Isabel dos Santos’s father has presided over it for over thirty years. During which time he and his daughters have become personally very wealthy while the Angolan people are still malnourished.

Now perhaps I’ve led a sheltered life, but something about Portuguese tax payers bailing out the daughter of the President of Angola, especially given the reality of Angola, strikes me as perverse if not outrageous. And let’s be clear this is what is happening. The bank, a private business, has got itself in deep trouble and would go bankrupt which would ruin its owners.

Except that the Portuguese government has decided to force the Portuguese tax payers to put €1.5 billion of their money in to the bank so that it can remain profitable for its owners. I put it like that because…that is actually how it is. Banks can and often do go bankrupt without the depositors being effected. Bankers and politicians will always warn of the risks to ordinary people but it is their own wealth and power that they are really looking out for.

That's right, $32 billion missing, and "a series of suspicious US$ 50 million transactions with US banks". Just like in Matt Taibbi's piece. Coincidence?

Here's another article, this one from Kenji Minemura at Ashai Shimbun, on the latest developments in the Bo Xilai case in China:

Investigators say Bo Xilai's wife admits to killing Briton

Glamorous Gu Kailai, the wife of ousted Chongqing city boss Bo Xilai, has confessed to killing British businessman Neil Heywood, according to Chinese Communist Party sources. [..]

The sources, who have read an interim investigation report circulated among senior party officials, said Gu, 53, admitted to killing her former associate after feeling "driven into a corner" by the investigation into her financial dealings and had provided a specific explanation about how she killed Heywood.

The General Office of the Communist Party Central Committee, which serves as a secretariat for the party's General Secretary Hu Jintao–who is also China's president–drew up the interim report and the sources said officials have decided to indict Gu following her confession.

The authorities are also investigating whether Bo, 62, was aware of his wife's deeds, the sources said. They have detained dozens of people associated with Bo–including his chauffeurs, close aides and secretaries from his time as mayor of Dalian, Liaoning province–and have also questioned hundreds of people who dealt with him, including corporate executives and entertainers.

They believe Gu was receiving undeclared income from the early 1990s and that she transferred $6 billion to accounts in the names of relatives and acquaintances in the United States, Britain and elsewhere to conceal her illegal earnings. Heywood is thought to have helped her open accounts and exchange currencies.

There it is again: "she transferred $6 billion to accounts [..] in the United States, Britain and elsewhere. More stolen money, more US banks involved. Now I’ll be last to insinuate that US banks are the only ones that are open to such deals. But I will suggest that since they're – amongst – the world's biggest banks, they are in a position to play a major part in transactions such as these. They gave the clout, they have the size, and they have a government that for all intents and purposes is entirely in their pockets.

And after all, if US banks are so willing, nay, eager, to skim US citizens and local governments, why would we presume they wouldn't do the same in other countries, given half a chance? And aid and abet politically powerful thieves across the globe to stash their loot, no questions asked. A buck is a buck, it's only business , even if it's literally cutthroat. And besides, if they don't do it, someone else will, right?

By the way, if Gu Kailai, the wife of a local politician, can amass $6 billion or more, it must be obvious that trillions of dollars have left China in the past two decades. There are rumors of tens of thousands of party members, local politicians and politburo officials having rich foreign bank accounts. As China's economy is slowing fast, one can't help but wonder what the Chinese people will do when they find out.

In the end, the US part of the issue can be boiled down to one question: do Americans want their banks to behave this way? Do they want them to get away with defrauding Americans of untold amounts of money? To have the kind of grip on domestic politics that more or less makes them immune from prosecution? To transfer illegally obtained funds for foreigners of questionable behavior? Come to think of it, what part do the banks play in the international weapons trade? Do Americans feel it's a good idea to have their banks be involved in that?

America was once a beautiful dream, the home of the brave and all that, equal chances, equal rights, give us your huddled masses. But if we're honest, how much is left of that dream? And do we first need to see US citizens starving by the side of the road again -and make no mistake, that's where those graphs say we're headed – before Americans get off their super-king-sized behinds to give the organized crime bosses and their made men and bit players in Washington and Wall Street a piece of their minds?

I tell you, I don't know, and maybe I'm just afraid of the answer. But I do know this: for me this is not America.

 



 

Home Forums This Is Not America

This topic contains 0 replies, has 0 voices, and was last updated by  Raúl Ilargi Meijer 2 years, 5 months ago.

Viewing 26 posts - 1 through 26 (of 26 total)
Author Posts
Author Posts
June 23, 2012 at 11:17 am #8490

Raúl Ilargi Meijer

  Unknown Al Capone Arrested 1931 Over the past few days, Henry Blodget at Business Insider posted a number of graphs, here and here, which depic
[See the full post at: This Is Not America]

June 23, 2012 at 11:59 pm #4242

Reverse Engineer

Now there are many possible reasons and culprits for this, from the folly of perpetual growth itself, to globalization, to destroying a nation’s manufacturing base and betting on a “service economy”, to the inevitable demise of every empire in history. All these factors have played their respective roles in the grand drama the graphs lay bare before our eyes.

You neglected to mention the principle reason, hitting the Local Peak Oil production here in the FSofA in around 1970. Thereafter, the only way to produce the Illusion of Growth was to go into debt for it.

As Steve from Virginia often points out, Industrial process and fuel wastage never pay their own way, but as long as you do have plenty of your own cheap fuel to burn and waste you can do it without going into debt. Soon as you start to need to BUY the fuel from somebody else to waste, you start racking up the debt.

No doubt, Corruption in the world of Finance has exacerbated the underlying problem, but of course the reason for that is nobody could get filthy rich if they actually acknowledged the underlying issues. masking it with debt though made a whole generation of Pigmen filthy, FILTHY rich. All you needed to do was design a new Debt Instrument and sell it to somebody, the bigger the better preferably. if you were a mortgage broker, you sold mortgage debt to J6P, but this was small potatoes compared to the Big Boys who sold the Debt of entire Nations.

This isn’t America? I disagree. From the day the FSofA was founded and Alexander Hamilton sold out to the European Banksters, Amerika has always been about THEFT. Theft from the natives who got here first, theft by the military Smedley Butler wrote about, theft by the robber barons who built the Railroads and Standard Oil. The only problem now is there is nothing left to steal.

RE

June 24, 2012 at 3:21 am #4243

rlmrdl

To be fair RE, every species loots its environment, using all of the available resources as fast as it can, then collapsing. Every single species, every single time.

The only question to be answered is whether the human species is smarter than yeast in a wine vat.

So far the answer is no and time has run out to find an alternative answer.

June 24, 2012 at 5:25 am #4244

sangell

Yeah, that is the killer chart and one that was not in that Paul Samuelson Economics textbook I read in college long ago. The trouble is while everyone understands ( or is made to understand by their creditors) that debt cannot rise faster than income for long at the individual level for long, at the macro level it can because the state can run, by virtue of its control of the currency, run this game for far longer and, lets face it, many of us profit by expanding debt, so we ignore our better judgment or are co-opted by the government.

Long ago, when I had just taken a new position and was making decent money for the first time, I went shopping at Macy’s. I saw a really nice stereo system that I wanted but it was $1400 and I didn’t have it. The clerk suggested I apply for a Macy’s card. I did. Fortunately I was turned down. I resented it and it was only years later when my bank asked me if would accept one did I finally get a piece of plastic but in the decades since they have never made a penny in interest off me despite their best efforts and the countless blank checks they have mailed to me. My bitterness over that long ago slight by Macy’s was the best financial advice I ever got.

June 24, 2012 at 8:06 am #4245

Reverse Engineer

rlmrdl post=3885 wrote: To be fair RE, every species loots its environment, using all of the available resources as fast as it can, then collapsing. Every single species, every single time.

Only when the species is Top of the Food chain and has no external checks and balances on population expansion.

The problem for Homo Sapiens is that we were simply TOO SMART and too successful wiping out anything that predates on us, including many microorganisms.

However, wiping them out was very energy intensive overall and they are poised to make a Comeback here with a vengeance as sewage systems fail, wonder drugs become unavailable and new variants of anti-biotic resistant bacteria are selected for.

The only question to be answered is whether the human species is smarter than yeast in a wine vat.

So far the answer is no and time has run out to find an alternative answer.

I think the question has already been answered, since we already appear to have passed 11:59PM on Albert Bartlett’s Exponential Growth Clock.

The only question I see as still open is whether this results in an Extinction Level Event or just a vast knockdown of the population like the Deer on St. Matthews Island.

If it just results in a knockdown to say the 500M level of the Georgia Guidestones, then there is probably a good deal of resource left for the Illuminati to run a smaller version of the current meme for quite some time.

If it results in a knockdown to say 1M Human Souls living a Paeolithic lifestyle, we probably can continue onward until the Sun goes Red Giant.

Of course, none of us will likely see this question answered from this side of the Great Beyond.

See You on the Other Side.

RE

http://www.doomsteaddiner.org

June 24, 2012 at 9:49 am #4246

davefairtex

I’m calling bullshit on that last chart from Blodget.

If we are trying to show what GDP would look like if we eliminated the contribution from debt, we don’t subtract the entire TOTAL credit market debt from each year’s GDP. We subtract only the NEW credit market debt added for that year from that year’s GDP.

Don’t get me wrong, I like all the charts leading up to it, I was nodding my head, I think there’s a pony in there somewhere – and I’d love to see what GDP with debt removed looks like. But Blodget’s last chart displays an appalling lack of numeracy.

Anyone who has taken basic physics knows what I’m talking about. The units have to match for the results to make sense.

June 24, 2012 at 10:09 am #4247

agelbert

I agree with RE. This IS America. Sure, the top pigs are responsible for a lot of the scams and damage but the first nations genocide, the slavery, the Homestead Act that allowed white europeans just off the boat (they sent flyers to Europe!) to colonize “free” land in the west while the recently freed slaves were NOT included and NOT allowed to move to new territories out west, gun boat diplomacy, the gilded age, etc., ad nauseum was willingly embraced by the masses.

At any rate, we are here and THIS (see video below) is the only way we are going to survive.
I think this physicist has pretty well figured out our problem which is that the resource extraction/master-slave paradigm system comes from the disasterously bankrupt view that we are separate from each other and nature and can thereby kill, enslave and extract resources at our pleasure.

She outlines the failure of mechanistic reductionism (the basis of the scientific method) in weighing the total consequences of inventing, mining or industrialization.

She maintains that only when we stop denying reality according to particle physics and quantum theory that everything is connected to and thereby affected by everything else will we be able to move forward in harmony with nature and each other.

Vandana Shiva On Strombo: Full Extended Interview

June 24, 2012 at 10:58 am #4248

agelbert

June 24, 2012 at 11:04 am #4249

agelbert

It’s time to give the crooks/corporations/governments the finger.

June 24, 2012 at 11:49 am #4250

agelbert

More MAFIA activity reports from Max Keiser complete with capo names!

June 24, 2012 at 12:14 pm #4251

davefairtex

Turns out FRED (St Louis Fed economic data charting package) lets you play with the data. Here’s a chart that makes more sense.

https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?graph_id=79106

Here you can see the annual change in TCMDO vs the annual change in GDP charted alongside each other. They both track until the mid 70s when they start to diverge.

The 80s are a little bit nuts, the 90s more so, and the 2000s things just go crazy. 2-5T in debt added every YEAR, for a 600B annual increase in GDP.

June 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm #4252

snuffy

That lady rocks…We need 100k of people like her, in every city .I have seen/heard few persons who see as clearly as she does[yes,I have a new hero ].I wonder why we have so few like her…or maybe “the borg”is just wise enough to co-opt those with the gift of seeing the whole picture…seduces them into service with large piles of the tokens we use to judge self worth.

I know I would have difficulty seeing the world as she does,as I have been corrupted by this system too long to change,but,hopefully the next couple of generations will use those Ideas…providing whatever gets through the genetic bottleneck we are heading into….there is a strong chance we could end up with .75 million, hyper-predator types in a mad-max scenario…not my idea of a fun time…”until we reinvent law and order again”.

So many futures…which one will take shape..

Bee good,or
Bee careful

snuffy

June 24, 2012 at 4:15 pm #4253

SecularAnimist

Reverse Engineer post=3887 wrote:

The problem for Homo Sapiens is that we were simply TOO SMART and too successful wiping out anything that predates on us, including many microorganisms.

No, the problem with homo sapiens has nothing to do with our “nature”, intelligence or lack thereof. The native americans”and other indigenous were very aware of not degrading the earth. Not that they did not do it at times, but it was part of their philosophies and it was well understood. Modern industrial societies have no such concepts – its actually frowned upon to bring up, why? Because it would fuck up the economy! See Bolivias new constitution for an example of institutionalizing this concept, which was integrated from indeginous philosophy

To the Cree, and most Native North Americans, greed was a serious psychological malfunction. The Cree called it Wetiko.

http://www.gatheringspot.net/topic/political-activismcover-ups/wetiko-psychosis
“”””Forbes writes, “The overriding characteristic of the wetiko is that he consumes other human beings, that is, he is a predator and a cannibal. This is the central essence of the disease.”[ix] Predators, ‘full-blown’ wetikos are not in touch with their own humanity, and therefore can’t see the humanity in others. Instead, they relate to others either as potential prey or as a threat to their dominance. As if a different breed who is more animal-like predator than ordinary human being, someone fully taken over by the wetiko psychosis consumes others lives, physically, emotionally, psychically and meta-physically, beyond just the material body and physical possessions to the level of meaning itself””””

The problem with the inhabitants of industrial capitalism is a soul sickness. Individual “profit”over social need is essentially a gun to the head of humanity. Which is another product of the neoclassical anglo saxon mind that we have been spreading around the world for the past 500 years. That this individual profit acquisition is good for the whole – what a load of shit. We’ve kind of socially regressed since agriculture.

Cognative illusion is another interesting concept. Which is essentially a mental blindspot. We seem to have cultural cognative illusion. This is embedded in our economics – massive blind spots. To acknolwedge the blind spots would destroy it.

http://www.adbusters.org/magazine/102/cognitive-illusions.htmlWe live in a world where a constellation of cognitive illusions – that infinite growth can be sustained on a finite planet, that consumerism can make us happy, that corporations are persons – are dragging us into an ecological apocalypse. These cognitive illusions won’t disappear because they’ve been proven false – they must be overcome at a deeper level. We need something other than rationality, statistics, scientific thought … we need something more, even, than what has passed for activism thus far. We must spark an epiphany, a worldwide flash of insight that renders our blind spots visible once and for all. This collective awakening begins the moment we look inward and ask ourselves: Am I caught inside a grand cognitive illusion?””

Corporate backed money helps maintain these cognative illusions with infotoxins

Reverse Engineer post=3887 wrote: The only question I see as still open is whether this results in an Extinction Level Event or just a vast knockdown of the population like the Deer on St. Matthews Island.

Well, this is certainly not baked in the cake. Our tragectory is towards this but, it looks like it is being stopped before we do too much damage by economic collapse. Thank god for peak oil and debt, otherwise we surely would have done some serious damage. We needed something to knock the wetiko out of us – lets just hope for a fast collapse

The earth can handle the 9 billion coming – though we are way way over populated in americanus consumerous pathogenous.

June 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm #4254

SecularAnimist

Reverse Engineer post=3883 wrote:

This isn’t America? I disagree. From the day the FSofA was founded and Alexander Hamilton sold out to the European Banksters, Amerika has always been about THEFT. Theft from the natives who got here first, theft by the military Smedley Butler wrote about, theft by the robber barons who built the Railroads and Standard Oil. The only problem now is there is nothing left to steal.

RE

Eh, there is always somebody to sell out to in a money/property acquisition system. The current government can never get it right because it has never been a government for the people regardless of what we are taught in school. the weathly appropritate the work of the poor and the state is in the business of keeping the, as james madison put it, the “leveling impulses”of the faceless masses at bay. In modern liberal societies, the rich are pitted against the poor, gaining their wealth by appropriating the work of others; the government is in “business” to protect the ruling class and enforce and propegate this capitalist game.

Joe Bageant””In the historical view, cultural ignorance is more than the absence of knowledge. It is also the result of long term cultural and political struggle. Since the industrial revolution, the struggle has been between capital and workers. Capital won in America and spread its successful tactics worldwide. Now we watch global capitalism wreck the world and attempt to stay ahead of that wreckage clutching its profits. A subservient world kneels before it, praying that planet destroying jobs will fall their way. Will unrestrained global capitalism, with all the power and momentum on its side and motivated purely by machinelike harvesting of profits, reduce the faceless masses in its path to slavery? Does a duck shit in a pond?

Meanwhile, here we are, American riders on the short bus, barreling into the Grand Canyon. With typical American gunpoint optimism, we’ve convinced ourselves we’re in an airplane. A few smarter kids in the back whisper about hijacking and turning the bus around. But the security cop riding shotgun just strokes his taser and smiles””

Adam Smith”Whenever there is great property, there is great inequality. For one very rich man, there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the rich supposes the indigence of the many, who are often driven by want, and prompted by envy, to invade his possessions. … Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.”

Joe Bageant again just because he is awesome:””It is a form of cultural ignorance to believe that at some point or other, we were more in charge and that our government was somehow more transparent in the past. Societies declining into obsolescence understandably resist looking forward, and hang onto their past mythologies.

“Once unencumbered by self-induced and manufactured cultural ignorance, it becomes clear that politics worldwide is entirely about money, power and national mythology, with or without some degree of human rights. America still has all of the above to one degree or another. Yet for all practical purposes, such as advancing the freedom and the well being of its own people, the American republic has collapsed. “”

June 24, 2012 at 8:22 pm #4256

Golden Oxen

Kindly note that the charts went into their sickening upward or downward trajectories, or spikes, you could call them, as soon as the U.S ended Gold’s link to the dollar. This was hardly a coincidence and the aftermath pictured was forecast correctly by all Gold bugs. Honest sound money means an honest sound government and economy. Dishonest corrupt fiat equals the opposite.

June 24, 2012 at 8:37 pm #4257

snuffy

Reverse Engineer,

Yes,the words of Joe Bageant still have the power to show the dark side of what we are…

Some of those “on the dark side” are visionary enough to see where we are headed.The really bright ones know “the parasitical class”can only continue to exist while the host is strong enough to provide sustenance..that might be why the ones below a certain income..[the comfortable ones] ,are taking a heavy hit on their holdings.
I still have a quiet,back of my mind feeling, that some portions of this economic apocalypse we are experiencing are “controlled demolition”,allowing the system to continue to exist but also allowing major structural change that leave many[most]with nothing for a lifetime spent in honest work but a lie and a broken promise..Its the way the ruling class has always worked.

In another thread a commencement speech was given to the economics class of a major Californian university,a speech that damned the system so clearly that someones head will most likely roll for the mistake of giving this guy a microphone,at such a compelling venue.His[Dr. Michael Burry] words left me with a queasy stomach,and a curiosity about his reference to his treatment by “the system”after he won his 8 billion dollar bet….the regulators,ect to the FBI…His reference to his own near treatment as “Martin Armstrong’s”lead me down another path,that showed how the 1% deal with their own who step on the wrong toes,or have something wanted by many powerful, near psychotic,investment type. ..

Martin Armstrong’s story can give one nightmares.

Yes,there is “some really bright kids in the back” whispering now,but what the security dude had better pay attention to is the majority of the passengers who have figured out exactly whats going on and are donning what ever form of parachute they can lay their hands on.In a few more years,the masses will be hip enough not to believe anything coming from “the powers that be”and when we are there…look out!.

Bee good,or
Bee careful

snuffy

June 25, 2012 at 12:20 am #4264

Reverse Engineer

SecularAnimist post=3896 wrote: [quote=Reverse Engineer post=3887]

No, the problem with homo sapiens has nothing to do with our “nature”, intelligence or lack thereof.

While I agree that a large part of our problem is Greed and a lack of Stewardship of Mother Earth, the fact is that Exponential Growth of the population is the result of conquest over Disease and Industrial Ag processes which produce copious amounts of food from Oil. Both the conquest over microorganism predators and the food apparatus are the results of Human Intelligence and Ingenuity.

Aynhow, if you would flesh this post and your perspective out a bit more, I think it would make a good Feature Article on the Diner Blog.

RE

June 25, 2012 at 7:55 am #4286

SecularAnimist

Reverse Engineer post=3908 wrote: [quote=SecularAnimist post=3896][quote=Reverse Engineer post=3887]

No, the problem with homo sapiens has nothing to do with our “nature”, intelligence or lack thereof.

While I agree that a large part of our problem is Greed and a lack of Stewardship of Mother Earth, the fact is that Exponential Growth of the population is the result of conquest over Disease and Industrial Ag processes which produce copious amounts of food from Oil. Both the conquest over microorganism predators and the food apparatus are the results of Human Intelligence and Ingenuity.

Aynhow, if you would flesh this post and your perspective out a bit more, I think it would make a good Feature Article on the Diner Blog.

RE

I agree that fossil fuel/big ag profit terror complex is a problem(which is also connected to petrochemical and the MIC. It’s all just a big fucking unnecessary waste machine that needs to be dismantled asap) but not because it was so good at making lots of food. It’s a hugely wasteful and environmental nightmare. The GR(green revolution) did not cause population to explode – though it did support it, which is not saying much except that it is what was the most profitable and pushed by money power(hey, they had all this oil and nothing to do with it). There was a huge corporate propaganda push by the west at the time saying “look how ingenious we are – we are saving the world”. A lot of the peak oil crowd, IMO, misses the points that 1: The GR was a response to the population explosion, not cause. This is malthusian thinking that if you add food humans reproduce. The richest nations with the most food are reproducing the least and the poorest and doing the most. So the opposite is happening 2: That human population would grow exponentially forever if there were no physical restraints. It’s pretty clear from modern population demographics that we are going to peak at about 9 billion and decline. Interestingly and pleasingly, as time marches on and the data comes in, the estimates are getting lower and lower all the time. Back in the 70s when the population bomb was written it looked like we are going to go over 15-16 billion, but as time moved on people started changing their behavior

Conquest over disease by understanding basic sanitation was the major causal mechanism of the population explosion of the 19th and 20th century – not oil and big ag. And the west’s population growth rate started decelerating in the 60s, just when oil use really started to get going with the wide spread use of cars. Now, much of the west is starting to go negative and most of the rest of the world is following the growth rate deceleration tract, except africa(which really does not matter because sub saharan africans have a tiny tiny ecological foot print compared to the world.) Really you or I are like a village of africans footprint wise. Also, some NGOs are doing some very good work with them. Some real success stories.

I’m what you would call a cultural doomer but humanity optimist;) Hell, it was the only way I could snap out of my nihilistic fatalism. Regardless, I’ve spent some time researching population demographics in relation to resource depletion and environmental degradation. I think a lot of the doomer crowd gets it wrong on human behavior which is where I part ways. Not the data, the data is clear – global civilization, as it is configured, is a virtual doomsday machine and it is the utmost urgency that we turn it around. I agree with Immanuel Wallerstein, creator of “world systems theory” that a better world is possible barring runaway climate change, mass pandemic or nuclear war. Though, there is a lot of chaos coming until the system becomes completely dysfunctional and social forces overthrow it, one way or another.

http://rt.com/programs/interview/capitalism-end-system-replace/“Modern capitalism has reached the end of its rope. It cannot survive as a system,” Wallerstein said. “And what we are seeing is the structural crisis of the system. The structural crisis goes on for a long time. It really started more or less in the 1970s and will go on for another 20, 30, 40 years. It is not a crisis of a year or of a short moment, it is the major structural unfolding of a system. And we are in transition to another system and, in fact, the real political struggle that is going on in the world that most people refuse to recognize is not about capitalism – should we have or should we not have it – but about what should replace it.”

the interesting part is we all get to take part in pushing the world in one direction or another. A new world order is coming, that is inevitable.

Wallerstein again:

What happens in a bifurcation is that at some point, the thing tilts and we get into a new, relatively stable situation – the crisis is over, we are in a new system.”

“I sometimes say this is the historicization of the old Greek philosophical distinction between determinism and free will,” he went on. “When the system is relatively stable, it is relatively determined as a system in which we have relatively limited free play. But when it is unstable, when it is going into structural crisis, free will comes into the picture. That is to say, our actions really matter in a way that they did not for 500 years.”

June 25, 2012 at 9:37 am #4291

Reverse Engineer

SecularAnimist post=3932 wrote:

I’m what you would call a cultural doomer but humanity optimist;) Hell, it was the only way I could snap out of my nihilistic fatalism.

Yet another well composed Rant of your keyboard SA.

Can I ask you again to reformat all of this stuff into an Article so I can Publish it on the Diner Blog?

RE

June 25, 2012 at 9:55 am #4292

DQ

Following up on davefairtex’ comments, I also think that this is an example of the economic science of confusing stocks and flows. GDP is a flow, $/year, and debt should be a stock, $. I think that one way to work with graph #3 is to integrate the flow over a period of time and see what change in stock was required to generate it. So for 2000 to 2010, the average GDP was maybe $12T/yr or $120T total, while the stock went from -$30T to -$54T for a total change of -$24T. So over the course of that decade we saw maybe +$5 in GDP returns for every -$1 in new debt. We’ll leave aside whether we like what we measure as GDP – rigged contracts, weapons against hearts and minds, expensive health care, etc – and whether inflation zeros out the real changes. This still seems bad, but it is more subtle than depicted above.

In his search for a pony, Dave linked a FRED chart that shows that GDP shrinks when debt growth moves towards 0: We currently require debt growth to get GDP growth. So maybe we have a choice between endless debt growth and some GDP growth as long as we can borrow more, or a falling GDP if we choose not to borrow more, or can’t borrow more.

Whether or not Dave and I are right, it is important to get these ideas right when you engage in public debate. After skimming the article the other day, I was going to send the link to someone as a concise explanation of why the USA path is unsustainable, but now I think that I’d risk being discredited for not recognizing the difference between stocks and flows, even if the conclusions about borrowing, growth, and sustainability are correct. Don’t risk the audience or the message on math errors! I stop reading sites that promote sloppy math.

June 25, 2012 at 11:32 am #4294

TheTrivium4TW

davefairtex post=3893 wrote:
The 80s are a little bit nuts, the 90s more so, and the 2000s things just go crazy. 2-5T in debt added every YEAR, for a 600B annual increase in GDP.

And for the very few people on the planet that both understand the Fed mandate and believe the Fed should be accountable to the law, this is criminal law breaking.

June 25, 2012 at 1:08 pm #4296

NZSanctuary

SA said: “Conquest over disease by understanding basic sanitation was the major causal mechanism of the population explosion of the 19th and 20th century – not oil and big ag.”

As you say, industrialised agriculture and oil supported population growth, but yes, sanitation was the key driver. Something to keep in mind if/when we public services fall into disrepair or are otherwise not available. Clean water and human waste recycling will be very important to your community.

June 26, 2012 at 12:54 am #4308

davefairtex

DQ – ” I also think that this is an example of the economic science of confusing stocks and flows. GDP is a flow, $/year, and debt should be a stock”

Wow you said it so much better than I did. Stocks vs flows. And I totally agree with your sentiments regarding math errors.

Something else this tells me. The system’s tepid growth response to such a massive debt injection during the 00s tells me that any attempt to pare the system back to a low level of debt growth will result in a massive collapse in GDP. That’s why “austerity” fails in europe. Its the right medicine, it is only about 40 years too late to apply it.

June 26, 2012 at 3:04 am #4309

william

I liked the strength of your argument – growth theology: businesses call profit good when it only depletes resources and may not provide a public good but just increase public consumption. This along with greed and corruption have left us twirling in the wind.

The weakness to your argument is that the dream was ever achieved. I don’t think so we have not achieved the American Dream and media intends not to let us get there.

I was watching a documentary called Affluenza. How we are attempting to purchase our way to happiness yet other countries achieve a happiness amongst there populace. Its got a bit from a Christian organization but there are a lot of countries who stepped out of capitalism and are not heavily invested in Christianity.

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/affluenza/

So much has been said about America collapsing but I define it a little differently: rising empires rise to cause change and failing empires fail at preventing change. Right now America is trying to prevent change. History will tell if they can figure a way to embrace an exit from consumerism and move on to something more intelligent or consume till its utter demise.

June 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm #4330

steve from virginia

I do recall getting an email message:

“Hello sir!

I am very pleasant to have the honor of speaking cordially with you. My name is Senhor Aguinaldo Jaime, I was the governor of the Angolan Central Bank from 1999 to 2002…

I have in my possession currently in the amount of US$50,260,000.50 if you would please assist in bringing this sum out of accounts currently held in Angola which was money left to me by my aunt …”

The email went on to ask for my bank account info so he could wire me the funds. My share according to Jaime was $5 million. I didn’t think he was serious, thanks for telling me how wrong I was. :angry:

“Jaime initiated a series of suspicious US$ 50 million transactions with US banks.”

I’m sure he did.

June 27, 2012 at 10:31 pm #4331

steve from virginia

RE: DQ,

Your point about stocks vs. flows is well taken but debt is not a stock in the strictest sense, there is the term (value/risk) and service costs which are integrated to (N)GDP. Debts are a stock in that the rules binding them are rigid. When users/circumstances distort the rules the debts can take on (adverse) flow-like characteristics in a big hurry.

Credit/debt is/can be a pure equilibrium environment, the current thinking points toward ‘frictions’ that effect flows (and would effect credit periodically). I don’t really want to go ‘there’ (economic theory rabbit hole), do you?

:)

Another thing to keep in mind is Axel Leijonhufvud’s intertemporal balance sheet(s). We have debts we can never hope to repay … liabilities we can never meet.

Viewing 26 posts - 1 through 26 (of 26 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.