Tags: Crony Capitalism

“Three Lost Decades” – How the American Middle Class is 20% Poorer Now vs. 1984

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 11.16.01 AMLike so many other things in popular American culture, this quaint notion of a “middle class” in the U.S. is at this point nothing more than a myth; a rapidly fading fantasy from a bygone era. As myself and many others have noted for quite some time, the decimation of the middle class began long ago. It really got started in the early 1970′s after Nixon defaulted on the gold standard and financialization began to take over the American economy. Median real wages haven’t increased since that time and the rest is history.

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Former Aide to Bill Clinton Speaks – “My Party Has Lost its Soul”

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 10.37.26 AMOne reason we know voters will embrace populism is that they already have. It’s what they thought they were getting with Obama. In 2008 Obama said he’d bail out homeowners, not just banks. He vowed to fight for a public option, raise the minimum wage and clean up Washington. He called whistle-blowers heroes and said he’d bar lobbyists from his staff. He was critical of drones and wary of the use of force to advance American interests. He spoke eloquently of the threats posed to individual privacy by a runaway national security state.

He turned out to be something else altogether. To blame Republicans ignores a glaring truth: Obama’s record is worst where they had little or no role to play. It wasn’t Republicans who prosecuted all those whistle-blowers and hired all those lobbyists; who authorized drone strikes or kept the NSA chugging along; who reneged on the public option, the minimum wage and aid to homeowners. It wasn’t even Republicans who turned a blind eye to Wall Street corruption and excessive executive compensation. It was Obama.

A populist revolt among Democrats is unlikely absent their reappraisal of Obama, which itself seems unlikely. Not since Robert Kennedy have Democrats been so personally invested in a public figure. Liberals fell hardest so it’s especially hard for them to admit he’s just not that into them. 

- From Bill Curry’s excellent article in SalonMy party has lost its soul: Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and the victory of Wall Street Democrats.

Bill Curry’s article published this past Sunday by Salon is simply extraordinary. One of the things I’ve felt has been lacking in America for some time is the ability for well-meaning people within the “power structure” to look inward and be honest with themselves about the immoral decay fellow members of their socio-economic class have wrought upon the nation via a singleminded pursuit of wealth and power. A perfect example of an ignorant, destructive oligarch completely devoid of self-awareness was put on full display earlier this year when Sam Zell appeared on Bloomberg TV and essentially said the poor just need to act more like the rich.

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Video of the Day – Elizabeth Warren Torches Janet Yellen on TBTF

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 11.37.34 AMBefore you watch the video, I want to highlight an excellent article published this morning by Yves Smith over at Naked Capitalism titled, Yellen Tells Whoppers to the New Yorker. The title doesn’t do justice to the powerful and scathing critique of the fraud that is the current Federal Reserve Chairwoman. In a nutshell, the article exposes how Yellen’s acting routine is worthy of an Academy Award. In her role, she plays a caring, sweet, grandmotherly type figure all concerned about the poor and middle-class, when reality points to a career as a staunch, frontline protecter of the bankster oligarchy.

From Naked Capitalism (for background, much of the article is criticism of a propaganda piece on Yellen recently published by the New Yorker):

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The Pitchforks are Coming…– A Dire Warning from a Member of the 0.01%

If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.

From Nick Hanaeur’s excellent Politico Op-Ed: The Pitchforks are Coming…For Us Plutocrats

Over the past several years, I have been extremely critical of the 0.01% as a socio-economic class, often referring to them as criminal oligarchs. This has nothing to do with the incredible sums of money they have amassed. I’m simply not interested in chasing that kind of wealth, nor am I an envious person. I don’t care how much money anyone has. What I do care about is the kind of power that such money can buy, and how that power is then abused to purchase politicians and run roughshod over entire societies. I have also been disgusted with the fact that the 0.01% as a class seem self-absorbed, apathetic and delusional when it comes to the catastrophe the current economic and financial system is reaping upon the planet. So busy are they patting themselves on the back and scrambling to acquire that next billion to see what is rapidly unfolding beyond their moats.

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Officials at the Ex-Im Bank are Under Investigation as it Fights for Survival

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 12.37.37 PMThe Export-Import bank isn’t a big issue for me. In fact, I’ve barely given it much thought at all over the years. The reason I’ve decided to write on it today is because the federally backed bank, which has been around since 1934, faces a very serious threat to its survival.

I think the most important aspect of this entire fight is the fact that on opposite sides of the debate are not Democrats versus Republicans, but once again Republicans vs. Republicans (as in the Dave Brat vs. Eric Cantor race). We again see tea party Republicans facing off against establishment RINOs. On one side we hear claims by the tea party wing that the Ex-Im merely serves as a conduit for crony capitalism and favoritism to large corporations, or those willing to bribe officials. On the other side, we see establishment Republicans, who are extremely cozy with mega-corporations, maintaing that the institution plays a crucial role in financing American exports to make them competitive.

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Networks vs. Hierarchies: Which Will Win? Niall Furguson Weighs In

Networks are not planned by a single authority; they are the main source of innovation but are relatively fragile. Hierarchies exist primarily because of economies of scale and scope, beginning with the imperative of self-defense. To that end, but for other reasons too, hierarchies seek to exploit the positive externalities of networks. States need networks, for no political hierarchy, no matter how powerful, can plan all the clever things that networks spontaneously generate. But if the hierarchy comes to control the networks so much as to compromise their benign self-organizing capacities, then innovation is bound to wane.

- From Niall Furguson’s recent article Networks and Hierarchies

I’m not always a huge fan of Niall Furguson, but his latest article in The American Interest, simply titled Networks and Hierarchies is worth reading. Readers of Liberty Blitzkrieg will be well aware that I believe the most significant battle of our era is between the forces of Decentralization vs. Centralization. Mr. Furguson takes that battle and looks at it from a historical perspective, describing it as Networks vs. Hierarchies, and posits that indeed much of our collective history has been characterized by the struggle between these two forces. In fact, he starts out the article with the following question:

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Interview with Dr. Dave Janda – June 2014: Ushering in a Decentralized Future

It’s been a little while since I’ve done an interview, so here’s my first audio update in a while courtesy of the always excellent Dave Janda. I continue to be very optimistic that we are rapidly headed into a revolutionary new world characterized by decentralization, versus the current centralized, incredibly corrupt, and overly bureaucratic status quo.

Enjoy!

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Ex-NSA Chief Keith Alexander is Now Pimping Advice to Wall Street Banks for $1 Million a Month

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 11.31.41 AMSo what’s a Peeping Tom, anti-democratic, Constitution-trampling intelligence crony to do after leaving decades of “public service?” Move into the private sector and collect a fat paycheck from Wall Street, naturally. Following in the footsteps of some of the other top tier public sector cronies looking to cash out after doing their best to destroy the Republic, such as Banana Ben Bernanke collecting $250,000 per speech and Turbo Tax Timmy Geithner hopping over to private equity giant Warburg Pincus, Mr. Alexander is in good crooked company.

So what is Mr. Alexander charging for his expertise? He’s looking for $1 million per month. Yes, you read that right. That’s the rate that his firm, IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., pitched to Wall Street’s largest lobbying group the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), which ultimately negotiated it down to a mere $600,000 a month. In case you need a refresher on how much of a slimy character this guy is, I suggest you read the following posts:

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Heading Into Midterm Elections, Confidence in Congress Hits Record Low 7%

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 10.51.15 AMIt’s no surprise to anyone that Americans have zero faith in their so-called “Representatives.” The vast majority of these folks are lying, thieving, white-collar criminals, and we all know it. The real question is what, if anything, are we going to do about it?

I’m not someone who believes in centralized power, and I question whether in a world with the technological connectivity we have today, if we actually need to vote for someone else to vote for us. This seems like an extremely inefficient and outdated process. I haven’t yet come to my own conclusions on what specifically might be a preferable system, but I am certainly a proponent of decentralizing government and the political process itself. For more on this concept, I suggest, reading the following post from last week: The Coming Digital Anarchy.

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Matt Stoller Destroys Timothy Geithner in His Epic Review of “Stress Test”

Geithner is at heart a grifter, a petty con artist with the right manners and breeding to lie at the top echelons of American finance at a moment when the government and financial services industry needed someone to be the face of their multi-trillion dollar three card monte. He’s going to make his money, now that he’s done living his life of fantastic power after his upbringing of remarkable mysterious privilege. After reading this book and documenting lie after lie after lie, I’m convinced that there’s more here than just a self-serving corrupt official. There’s an entire culture, of figures at Treasury, the Federal Reserve, in the entire Democratic Party elite structure, and in the world of journalism, a culture in which Geithner is seen as some sort of role model.

- From Matt Stoller’s fantastic article published yesterday, The Con-Artist Wing of the Democratic Party

Timothy Geithner is likely to go down in American history as one of the most dangerous, destructive cronies to have ever wielded government power. The man is so completely and totally full of shit it’s almost impossible not to notice.

The last thing I’d ever want to do in my free time is read a lengthy book filled with Geithner lies and propaganda, so I owe a large debt of gratitude to former Congressional staffer Matt Stoller for doing it for me. Stoller simply tears Geither apart limb from limb, detailing obvious lies about the financial crisis, and even more interestingly, Geithner’s bizarre bio, replete with mysterious and inexplicable promotions into positions of power.

So without further ado, here are some excerpts from this excellent article. From Vice:

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