Give Until It Hurts, or They Will Take It Anyway

This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 124 donors have already invested in our efforts to shed light on the dark and seamy corners of finance. Join us and participate via our Tip Jar or WePay in the right column or read about why we’re doing this fundraiser and other ways to donate, such as by check, or our current target.

The author of this post is an anonymous Washington insider

The Federal exchanges on Obamacare don’t work. They just don’t. I don’t mean they don’t serve the interests of keeping people healthy, I mean they literally can’t serve pages that allow people to sign up. This is directly due to faulty IT processes, which Naked Capitalism was all over months ago. Naked Capitalism also broke the story about Obamacare using credit reporting agencies to help determine eligibility instead of simply plugging into the IRS databases.

This isn’t the most important story broken by Naked Capitalism, but I like it because it’s a real world result of our predatory political system. The botched foreclosure reviews which Yves covered in excruciating detail are another. This site covers the details of the multi-trillion dollar transfer of power and money to the oligarchs. In many ways, this story is what we’d all like to forget about, and many have, choosing to learn about the wonders of Big Data and wearable computers and the idiocy of TED talks. But those of us who realize that we are interdependent know we can’t ignore the reality. Like it or not, this is the world in which we live, and if we are to survive and thrive, we must begin with the world as it is instead of the American exceptionalist empire we learned about in fifth grade.

As a policymaker in DC, I see first-hand the malevolence and self-delusion of our financial elites. And in case it’s not 100% clear, they are coming to steal everything you have. You won’t see this on MSNBC or Fox News. It’s not going to show up in the pages of the New York Times, which when not in hock to foreign billionaires is pushing foreign wars and smearing dissidents. The Saudi-funded Clintons aren’t interested in having you know, and neither is Stephanie Cutter, David Axelrod, or the corrupt Obama consulting class. But knowing matters. When the public learns the truth, what is possible among the elites changes. The elites don’t become any less rapacious, but they are constrained in what they can do.

That’s why Naked Capitalism is so dangerous to the oligarchs and the political class that serves them. It’s why there are innumerable swipes, smears, and denial of service attacks on this site and its authors. It’s why you are so dangerous. Because you refuse to just go along with the crowd and accept the masters of the universe as our natural rulers. That lack of passivity, that skepticism, that chattering prevents more theft. That is what stopped the US from bombing Syria, it is what prevented Larry Summers from sitting in Ben Bernanke’s place.

So please, give, or they will take.

Note one thing that MSNBC, Fox News, the Clintons, and the New York Times all have in common: none of them is funded directly by you. They all get their money indirectly, and they see you as the product they sell to powerful and wealthy interests. They think nothing of lying, it’s just part of their business models. Naked Capitalism has a business model as well, but it’s based on being funded by you and telling the truth to you. It’s an aligned set of incentives. That has worked because over the years you’ve given and given generously.

Yves is ridiculously valuable. She goes into the nitty gritty details of policy outcomes in a way that is essential to policymakers who want to do the right thing, and deadly for those who are trying to hide the theft. She shows integrity on a level that is deeply rare; unlike most of the financial dissident chattering class, for example, she didn’t jump for joy at the Strike Debt movement, she analyzed it with a cold eye for whether it was workable. And she followed up, and illustrated how pseudo-corruption can easily take root among those of whom you wouldn’t expect it. Whether it’s Bank of America or private equity barons or Strike Debt or the IT professionals at HHS, Yves and her crew of writers do their best to illustrate what is going on. She writes without mercy and without subterfuge. There is no other site like it. So join the rest of us in throwing in $50, or whatever you can afford. I guarantee it’ll save you far more than that. It would have helped Strike Debt if they hadn’t been too stupid to listen to her.

There are reasons for optimism these days, though admittedly not many. The policy world in which I live is beset with crises of our own making, but at the same time, lessons Yves has been writing about for years are starting to sink in. America isn’t attacking another Middle Eastern country, and the Federal Reserve and the Bob Rubin gang are being held accountable in some small way by democratic forces. This is good. It’s what we’ve been working towards for years, and finally, it’s bearing some fruit.

Let’s keep a good thing going.

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  1. Teejay

    “… their business models” ? Really, lying is “part of their business models”? Please explain, ellaborate, justify
    or at a minimum illustrate this assertion. And, no Fox Nuz
    doesn’t count. How is lying part of the NYT’s business model? Backing it up is a big part of the NC ethos.

    1. S M Tenneshaw

      If you REALLY don’t already know this stuff, you’re part of the problem. If you’re paid to TELL us you don’t know, you’re a different part of the problem.

      1. samhill

        “How is lying part of the NYT’s business model? Backing it up is a big part of the NC ethos.”

        I’ll back it up. Judith Miller strike a bell?

    2. Francois T

      Here’s a small, but very illuminating experiment you can perform at home.

      Take the last decade of NYT coverage of National Security. Read a sample, then hunt for expert commentaries that contradict or provide crucial context to the NYT articles.

      Trust me: Thou shall see a pattern that back up the lying assertion.

    3. s spade

      How is lying part of the NYT business model? Lying is the NYT business model. You have the ads (50%), government propaganda (25%), corporate PR (24.8%), weather (0.2%).

      What do you read, the pictures?

      1. craazyman

        “I am unable to understand how a man of honor could take a newspaper in his hands without a shudder of disgust.”

        – Charles Baudelaire

    4. Lune

      I’ll bite.

      As you’re probably aware, newspapers, etc. aren’t actually in the business of delivering news to you (the reader). They make their money by delivering you to their advertisers. The news is just whatever attracts your eyeballs to their advertising pages. If they can get you to glance at their ads by running pictures of Miley Cyrus twerking, they will. Over and over.

      So what consistently delivers eyeballs to advertisers? The most important factor isn’t whether your reporting is true, it’s whether it’s exclusive. After all even if it’s true, if everyone’s reporting it your specific story isn’t going to get a lot of eyeballs.

      Of course, you can get exclusive reporting by doing the hard work no one else is willing to do (e.g. the Times’s initial work uncovering our secret rendition stations overseas), but that’s hard. The far easier way is cultivating exclusive sources who will give you choice tidbits before anyone else gets them. Whether they’re true or false doesn’t really matter.

      And as everyone in the business understands, the quid pro quo of access is that in exchange for exclusive scoops, you spin the story the way your source wants you to. If you actually check their facts and contradict their story, you will lose your access faster than Helen Thomas lost her front seat in the White House press corp. And of course, the whole point of spinning is to ensure that the conclusions reached are more partial to your POV than the facts alone would warrant, aka… lying. QED.

  2. tomk

    “Give until it hurts. This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week”

    I did figure it out but that headline, in conjunction with the start of the fundraising pitch, before you open it up, is a bit threatening. The momentary dream that you might have the power to back up the threat was heartwarming, though.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I just changed the headline. It was provided by the DC writer, but the “we” was referring to was the DC corrupt elite “we” which he is speaking for even though he really is not one of them. I think the changed version is clearer.

    2. jrs

      Ok I got suckered in I thought there was going to be an actual article here, maybe about Obamacare.

      Give Until It Hurts, They Will Take It Anyway is radical as a lifestyle though. Though deep down I often suspect it’s where we should be. Give it all for mutual aid and to build up people-centered local alternatives NOW, don’t put it in your 401k, don’t even buy that house if it’s way overpriced, it’s all rigged anyway and will all be stolen at the end of the day anyway. Give until it hurts and know you’ve lived right and done all you can do for a better world and in the end are no poorer for it. Yea but .. I’ve got a 401k and need an emergency fund with job uncertainty these days and .. etc. etc.

  3. Tom Swift

    Since I am a capitalist and go by the bottom line, you are wrong.
    Health Insurnace from Blue Cross: $2300 per month
    ACA penalty (if chosen): $400
    Health Exchange (Aon with credit): $197 per month
    MSA account: $6000

    Since I am also an adult responsible for my own life, and the people I care for, I went with the AON plan starting 01/01/2014
    The proof is on the bottom line.

    1. Ned Ludd

      All it means to be a capitalist is that you think capital/wealth should dictate ownership. Consequently, capitalists oppose social ownership and social insurance; such as mutual insurance companies, co-operatives, credit unions, Medicare, and state-owned companies.

      1. Bobito

        What’s insane is to let a priori theorizing dominate over empirical evidence. This is like an engineer who persists in believing in the ether. This engineer cannot launch satellites that will successfully orbit the earth and relay the correspondence of those who “oppose social ownership and social insurance; such as mutual insurance companies, co-operatives, credit unions, Medicare, and state-owned companies” on the basis of abstract theoretical postulations uncorroborated by empirical verification.

        Economic engineering may not be as developed as industrial engineering, but it’s just as reasonable in principle. Unfortunately the only people who clearly get it, and how to do it, are those who are organizing the looting of the wealth of the so-called democratic nations.

  4. Clive

    Last week I was at a conference with the TBTF I’m acquainted, with a C-suite speaker given one of the main slots.

    It was not the first time I’d been in this sort of event so I sat back preparing myself to let the usual lies and evasions wash over me.

    But in true NC foot solider fashion, I stopped, forced my brain to forego the continual desensitisation to such things that’s now auto-pilot behaviour and really — really — listen.

    Naturally, what followed was a well honed trotting out of all the tried and tested schmooze and sound bites. Yes, we’re paying back the taxpayer. We’re at the heart of our communities. We are helping our customers succeed, to allow them to live their dreams. And so on.

    But all too often, the mask slipped. We’d be a lot better if it wasn’t for all that pesky regulation (the sort of regulation which stops outright fleecing of people who can’t access an alternative or the alternative is subsistence). Our costs are too high (we all know which costs are being referred to). CSR, well, we genuinely do care about the environment/society/the little people but oh dearie me it’s all too complicated to know what that means for us as a business.

    This time, people didn’t seem to be taken in quite so completely.

    It hit me hard this time, when I re-sensitised myself and stopped blocking out all the normalisations which we’re so accustomed to applying. This TBTF and the criminal gang running it have built not a skimming machine being moderately greedy. It’s a meat grinder — and we’re all just an input. When this charming C-level exec talked about helping customers, he was talking about helping ensnare them in a life of penury and perpetual servitude. What is ours, he considers fair game for transmutation into what can be his. The past 5 years have been merely a biding of time. Everything the “insider” says above is true.

    Our C-suite incumbent has built a near impregnable fortress and lined the walls with stolen banknotes. The gates are guarded by bought politicians and their all-too numerous enablers.

    But still he is not completely safe.

    Because there’s us. And we know. Like, we *know*.

    Up until this time, it’s been a bit of a phony war. We thought it was the main event but it was merely a preliminary. Now, the real battle is being planned.

    Pick a side folks. From here on in, it gets really interesting.

    1. Francois T

      “Our C-suite incumbent has built a near impregnable fortress”

      Unless this dude has repealed the laws of physics, chemistry and biology, he is eminently vulnerable.

      BTW, he should also understand that Minsky’s observations can be applied to social situations.

      1. ambrit

        Those C-suite folks are like Bugs Bunny when he walks off of a cliff and doesn’t fall. “You see. I never studied Law.” They live in a cartoon world, irrational, and dependent on outside support. That support just happens to be “our” money. Sooner or later that money is going to be either voluntarily removed from their grasp, or they will mindlessly destroy it. One action preserves some of “our” well being, the other does not. It’s not what to do that’s in play here. It’s how to do it.

  5. David Graeber

    And we at Strike Debt will be preparing a detailed exposé of EXACTLY how she spends every penny of it.

    “Pseudo-corruption: indeed

    1. Gerard Pierce

      How about somethng a little more simple. Document what money Strike-Debt has received, how it has been spent, and what exactly has been accomplished.

      Ives did nothing more than ask for the transparency that was promisted.

    2. Clive

      Hi David,

      Well, being a non-US citizen, I have to ‘fess up to a very limited understanding of how things over on your side of the pond. But it took me all of 5 minutes searching to pull up all I need to know about “where the money goes”.

      First off, all donations get channelled through Aurora Advisors Inc. Here’s the free info available on Aurora (i.e. pretty crappy):

      Business Information

      Location Type
      Single Location

      State of Incorporation
      New York

      Annual Revenue Estimate

      SIC Code
      8742, Management Consulting Services

      NAICS Code
      541611, Administrative Management and General Management Consulting Services

      2 **

      Company contact
      Susan Webber,

      Business Categories
      Business Management Consultants in New York, NY
      Management Consulting Services
      Administrative Management and General Management Consulting Services

      So… our hard-earned money which we donate to NC ends up in Aurora along with the principles other business activities. From there on in, even with a detailed set of published accounts (which I could purchase if I were sufficiently interested), you’d not be able to un-mingle the NC funding from the “day job” stuff. For that you’d need a set of internal management accounts which I don’t suppose Yves has sent you.

      How, then, are you obtaining the factual information for your shock-horror expose ?

      It would be nice if, like here in the UK, the funds for NC were segregated into something like a charitable organisation. But the overheads to doing that are high here in the UK, I don’t suspect they are any easier in the US (correct me if I am wrong though).

      But as a means to an end, I’m happy with the current arrangement, not hugely transparent though it might be. The point is, I trust Yves to act responsibly.

      Please, then, if you’re not prepared to spill the low down here (and I do hate a tease) at least explain where your source data is going to come from, just so’s I know.



      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Just so you know, those business databases make credit reports look good. The only thing that’s correct besides my name and address is the state of incorporation and “single location”.

    3. jsn

      Those bastards at the Judean Peoples Popular front are such splitters! Want another rat on a stick?

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh, so now we are making empty threats. What are you going to do, break into the office of my bookkeeper and steal her records?

      I had an existing product, a site I had run for over 4 years, before I asked for a penny. I’ve continued to provide this product to the same (arguably higher) standard since then. Readers value what they get here and are willing to pay for it.

      The Strike Debt people promised full transparency. They needed to because they were raising money on a new concept and had no record of delivering. And then they went silent. The analogue for me would be if I had completed an annual fundraiser and four months later, went dark, and then only gave evasive answers when people tried reaching me. And you are still trying to defend their evasiveness?

      The people who work on this site, including me, make a ton less than the folks at not for profits in similar lines of work, like ProPublica. Get off it. People who get $300,000 book advances are hardly ones to throw stones.

    5. Tyler

      Accusing, without cause, Yves of corruption does the world no benefit.

      Great sites, other than Naked Cap:

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I think all these empty threats are over the fact that I have a website up that I have not updated since 2008 that has a list of some former clients on it. I keep that up basically because it has a bio and it has all the articles I wrote before starting to blog and some of them are actually pretty good.

        It lists past clients. For instance, one was Lehman. I did a project for them in 1997 for their emerging markets desk. Has their emerging markets desk been in any way implicated in their 2008 collapse? Plus that project was well before they levered up like crazy, got too involved in risky residential mortgages, and blew up. But they are I am sure going to try to make an issue of the fact that I had big financial services clients to mean I’m tainted and the $ is going to some hidden financial enterprise. Please. If you knew anything of the billing rates (or demands) of that business, you’d know what a staggering pay cut I’m taking by being a blogger v. doing that.

        I’ve never pretended I hadn’t worked in the industry. Criminey, how would I know anything that would allow me to take them in a serious way on otherwise? How things work is largely held by insiders. All of their “talent” blather is really cover for the fact that many jobs on Wall Street require specialist knowledge that you can acquire only by working in or at least having meaningful exposure to the industry. You couldn’t do what I do as a total outsider. But the Graeber standard is apparently that no one who has ever worked in finance can be trusted.

        1. Tyler

          When it comes to Wall Street analysis, Yves, you and Alexis Goldstein set the bar. It’s no coincidence that you both have Wall Street experience. It’s very similar to what makes Chris Hedges a great journalist: he’s been to the places about which he’s writing.

          I think it’s awesome that you and Alexis are like, “I’ve been to the dark side. It’s not as good as Vader makes it out to be. In fact, the rebellion needs a greater sense of urgency. Let me tell you what I mean…”

        2. s spade

          I think you should ignore rather than dignify idle slurs. Your work speaks for itself and defending it yourself becomes inevitably shrill. Everybody who knows anything about this stuff had to learn it somewhere, and most people over the age of thirty once had at least some reason to believe that industry and finance delivered some value to people not included among the participants and our inheritors.

          Not so much, though, in the past thirty years.

    6. Foppe

      That’s totally uncalled-for, David. SD made promises it did not deliver on; it stonewalled, and then it released one of a press release that oozed passive aggression, while ending with an admission that Yves was right to note that they had not lived up to their promises. Wouldn’t you say that meaningful transparency (the type I assumed SD was talking about when it suggested it would aim for ‘total transparency’) entails something other than the CYA legalism that was on display in the recent press release? (Such as a willingness to openly admit mistakes without first imputing nefarious motivations to the messenger, and then attacking that straw man?)

    7. skippy

      @David Graeber (if it is you),

      I find that both you and Yves provide valuable information, recommend both your works to all that will listen, but, that was just asinine.

      Personally I think SD is a boondoggle which dissipates energy that could be better directed and has perverted the message. This is further complicated by amateurish management procedures and lack of good faith – disclosure. Its a self inflicted wound mate and the clumsy comebacks compound the issue.

      skippy… the remedy is quite simple, non ambiguous, so whats the rub?

    8. jrs

      Hi David (yea if it’s you)

      Actually as has been brought up criticisms like Yves makes of SD are very important if you actually want the movement to suceed (SD, OWS, etc.). I mean you can go down the path of a movement that won’t take even legitimate criticisms (of where the money is going for heavens sake), but hmm well not a road I want to join you on I guess, and who cares, but I may not be the only one.

  6. washunate

    Constraining the elites is a great way to put it. You can’t reason with people who have different goals than you. It’s a zero-sum game of which goals govern the system.

  7. Walter Map

    …they are coming to steal everything you have

    It is as I have said for years now: the rich will pillage the planet until there is nothing left to steal. They will lay waste to civilization in the process, and then themselves. They will be responsible for billions of murders and a post-apocalyptic nightmare for any unlucky enough to survive. They have established a militarized total information police state to guarantee their success. There does not appear to be any way to stop them. And no gods will save you.

    Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

    My mommy always said there were no monsters. No real ones.

    But there are.

  8. ajo

    I find this site very informative and I have’nt read this truth anywhere else. I would send a donation if I could, but I don’t own a credit card or even have email access to my phone where I read this site. Do you have a mail address?

  9. allcoppedout

    Never feel much dangerous here – though Foucault did once say ‘everything is dangerous’. The nature of the beast is up for question – like Map I’m inclined to ‘there be monsters’. You don’t influence monsters, you have to slay them.

    1. Walter Map

      Noch weiz ich an im mêre | Daz mir ist bekant,
      Einen lintrachen | Sluoc des heldes hant,
      Er badet sich in dem bluote: | Sîn hût wart hurnîn,
      Des snîdet in kein wâfen: | Daz ist dicke worden schîn.

  10. Theo

    Yves, I tried to donate but the system won’t accept my bank’s debit/credit card, which is a perfectly valid card. PayPal never accepts it either. Please give me a mailing address. Thanks. I love the site, it teaches so much and is so full of passion, intelligence, and love.

  11. optimader

    RE: Obama, Putin previously discussed plan to secure Syria chemical arms

    Unless you for a fact know otherwise, it’s fair to assume nothing is at it appears.

    Call me cynical, but Avnery expresses well what I suspect is the reality:

    ..The Syrian affair was a good example. Vladimir Putin likes to be photographed in judo poses. In judo, one exploits the momentum of one’s opponent to bring him down. That is exactly what Putin did.

    President Obama has painted himself into a corner. He mouthed belligerent threats and could not retreat, though the US public is in no belligerent mood. Putin released him from the dilemma. For a price.

    I don’t know if Putin is such an agile player that he pounced on a side remark by John Kerry about Bashar Assad’s chance of relinquishing his chemical weapons. I rather suspect that it was all arranged in advance. Either way, Obama got off the hook and Putin was in the game again…

  12. Chris Rogers

    Why all the “hate’ towards Yves and her business arrangements for NC?

    If you have a “dormant” entity registered, or one without a great deal of turnover revenue, is it not better to utilise what you have for another purpose than that which it was originally intended for?

    Basically, you save costs, and in this day and age of ‘waste’, that’s important – there as also been no deception – a quick Google reveals all.

    Think of it this way – Yves could re-register as a charity or not-for-profit, but much of the donations would then disappear legitimately to pay for these changes – so, let’s think “sustainability”, rather than “rip off”.

    As it happens, I too have done the same as Yves, I’ve never earned that much, nor am I interested in a six figure salary – I sleep easy at night though and can look my daughter in the eyes and not lie – which is far more important than a large bank account achieved by selling your soul to the devil. Morality costs a lot nowadays, and it would appear that Yves is a moral, outraged citizen – and so she should be!

    1. ScottS

      As regards Naked Capitalism re-constituting itself as a charity — we all know that no charity has ever misappropriated funds!

      Frankly, all of us who haven’t lost our naivete need Yves’ daily shower of cold water so we don’t believe (possibly) well-intentioned but misguided efforts like Strike Debt.

      I’ll take the ugly truth over a pretty lie.

  13. bh2

    “Why? No good deed goes unpunished. That’s why.”

    Even while I may disagree with her political views, I applaud Yves’ capable efforts to assure no bad deed goes unpublished.

    What “fixes” capitalism is transparency (of markets and government). Not turning over our lives to a monster security state.

  14. mch

    It seems so terribly obvious that someone of Yves’ talents and knowledge could make a lot more money in a few hours by doing any number of things than by money-raising on this site that I’m stunned anyone would think otherwise. (And it’s not as if she uses her platform here to ensure she’ll get promotional contracts with Nike. Or am I missing something?)

Comments are closed.