Tags: Crony Capitalism

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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With 1 in 3 Homes Unaffordable, Freddie Mac Prepares to Enter the Trailer Home Loan Market

I can’t say this is surprising. After all, with average peasants, I mean citizens, now priced out of the domestic housing market (Zillow recently showed 1 in 3 homes are unaffordable) due to billionaire financiers and foreign oligarchs buying up all real estate in cash purchases, American serfs now will find out where the “elites” think they belong. In trailer homes, naturally.

Oh, but the story gets better, a lot better. As is generally the case in the USSA these days, crony capitalist oligarchs have perfectly positioned themselves to benefit financially from the final transition of Americans to neo-feudalism. Recall that in my post from last October titled, Carlyle Group’s Latest Investment…Trailer Parks, it was noted that trailer park owners share the following attractive quality:

Our customers have no alternative shot at homeownership, nor do they [normally] even have the credit scores and quality to seek anything better…They never leave the park they are in, and the revenues are unbelievably stable as a result.

Sure, we know from the Dark Ages that peasants on the land stay put. Same concept here. However, it gets even better than this. America’s number one hypocritical, crony capitalist, Warren Buffett is also positioned to benefit.

From Bloomberg:

Want to buy a trailer park? Freddie Mac wants to give you a loan.

The unit of the government-owned mortgage giant that funds apartment buildings is set to begin financing manufactured-housing communities, the company said in a statement today.

The firm is broadening its reach in the multifamily segment of the housing market as it seeks to fulfill its mandate to provide affordable options for low-income families. The McLean, Virginia-based lender will work with established companies in the industry across the U.S., said David Brickman, the head of multifamily operations at Freddie Mac.

“It’s rounding out our ability to touch the affordable housing space,” Brickman said today in a telephone interview. “Manufactured housing is a big piece of rural affordable housing.”

Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., lamented the punitive rates charged to purchase factory-built homes in his 2009 annual letter to shareholders. Berkshire owns Clayton Homes Inc., a builder of manufactured housing.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 2.17.55 PM

Serfs up!

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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The Co-Op Movement – A Decentralized Solution to Solving Inequality and Avoiding Serfdom?

Or take the right to vote. In principle, it is a great privilege. In practice, as recent history has repeatedly shown, the right to vote, by itself, is no guarantee of liberty. Therefore, if you wish to avoid dictatorship by referendum, break up modern society’s merely functional collectives into self-governing, voluntarily co-operating groups, capable of functioning outside the bureaucratic systems of Big Business and Big Government.

-Aldous Huxley, in Brave New World Revisited (1958) 

As readers of this website are well aware, the entrenched power structure has proven itself unwilling to address any of the extreme fraud, crony capitalism and corruption that plagues the U.S. economy. As such, it has become increasingly clear to myself and countless others that the solutions we need must be grassroots and decentralized. I have personally made it a point to encourage people to take matters into their own hands, using whatever tools they have available to make the communities in which they live better for their families and their neighbors.

Of course, in a world in which power is ever increasingly concentrated in the hands of a very unenlightened egomaniacal handful of oligarchs, this seems like a daunting and near impossible task to many. Because so many Americans are simply consumed with making ends meet and putting food on the table, the concept of changing the world appears entirely unrealistic if not downright impossible.

The message I want to convey is that this is not the case. Whether it be decentralized competing currency systems, states rights initiatives such as legalizing marijuana (some pot convictions can now be overturned in Colorado), neighborhood farms, independent energy systems, the path toward localized solutions is the one I firmly believe we must follow.

To that end, I want to highlight this encouraging article from the New York Times titled, Who Needs a Boss?, which explores possibilities worker co-ops provide for workers everywhere. Not only is the pay far better, not only is work engagement considerably more robust, but it restores a sense of community and power to those involved. I think this is a model we should greatly expand upon, rather than looking for centralized solutions, which are merely band-aids placed upon a cancer.

Here are some excerpts from the New York Times:

If you happen to be looking for your morning coffee near Golden Gate Park and the bright red storefront of the Arizmendi Bakery attracts your attention, congratulations. You have found what the readers of The San Francisco Bay Guardian, a local alt-weekly, deem the city’s best bakery. But it has another, less obvious, distinction. Of the $3.50 you hand over for a latte (plus $2.75 for the signature sourdough croissant), not one penny ends up in the hands of a faraway investor. Nothing goes to anyone who might be tempted to sell out to a larger bakery chain or shutter the business if its quarterly sales lag.

Instead, your money will go more or less directly to its 20-odd bakers, who each make $24 an hour — more than double the national median wage for bakers. On top of that, they get health insurance, paid vacation and a share of the profits. “It’s not luxury, but I can sort of afford living in San Francisco,” says Edhi Rotandi, a baker at Arizmendi. He works four days a week and spends the other days with his 2-year-old son.

Arizmendi and its five sister bakeries in the Bay Area are worker-owned cooperatives, an age-old business model that has lately attracted renewed interest as a possible antidote to some of our most persistent economic ills. Most co-ops in the U.S. are smaller than Arizmendi, with around a dozen employees, but the largest, Cooperative Home Care Associates in the Bronx, has about 2,000. That’s hardly the organizational structure’s upper limit. In fact, Arizmendi was named for a Spanish priest and labor organizer in Basque country, José María Arizmendiarrieta. He founded what eventually became the Mondragon Corporation, now one of the region’s biggest employers, with more than 60,000 members and 14 billion euro in revenue. And it’s still a co-op.

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