How Corruption is Becoming America’s Operating System

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Yves here. I suspect this discussion of corruption will strike a chord with many readers, particularly the shout out to Bill Black.

Perhaps it’s in the book, but Chayes’ discussion of interlocking networks at the top is consistent with a classic book on power in the US, Janine Wedel’s The Shadow Elite. I think Wedel was loath to use the “corruption” word, in part because she’s a sociologist and it’s verboten in her profession to moralize. But her comparison of the US to Poland when the USSR was crumbling set up connecting those dots.

By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

Author Sarah Chayes, known for her analysis of corruption, has spent decades studying the ways of corrupt networks in countries around the world. In 2016, she caught a radio program about the Supreme Court overturning a conviction of Virginia’s former governor Bob McDonnell, found guilty of corruption by lower courts. The sort of thing Chayes had long observed in places like Afghanistan and Nigeria was now showing up in the United States. Her latest book, On Corruption in America And What Is At Stake, is a sobering look at the deep roots of corruption and why we can’t afford to let it flourish. In the following conversation, she shares her insights with the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

Lynn Parramore: Tell us what motivated you to write this book after studying corruption in places as far-flung as Nigeria, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Nepal.

Sarah Chayes: When I was writing my 2015 book, Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security, I realized we are on the same spectrum as those other countries. I just did not yet realize exactly how relevant that analysis was to the U.S., and how swiftly the calamities would come.

On Corruption in America begins with the 2016 decision in McDonnell v U.S., in which the corruption conviction of a former Virginia governor was overturned by a unanimous Supreme Court. What stunned me was the divergence between ordinary people’s understanding of corruption — basically, if it quacks like a duck… — and the unanimous view of elites across the political divide that corruption is something of minor consequence, beneath notice. The opinion, accepted by all eight justices, including the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg, warned that America was in more danger from the fight against corruption than from corruption itself.

I knew we were in for very serious trouble.

LP: What kind of trouble, exactly?

SC: I had been looking at countries with systemic corruption and no civic means of redress. These kinds of conditions led to violent explosions, ideological insurgencies, a massive movement that erupted across the Arab world, peaceful civic protests that in a couple of cases spiraled into world-shaking civil wars, mass migrations out of those regions, and what have you.

In the places I’ve studied, there tended to be not so much a veer toward the extreme, but a jolt. That’s the kind of trouble I saw ahead for the U.S. I think we already experienced it to some extent in 2016, and I suspect it’s not over.

LP: Your book looks at networks of people who exploit political and economic systems to increase their wealth by working across private and public sectors. Help us understand this in a historical context. What is new or distinct with corruption in America today? What are some of its features?

SC: I looked at the Gilded Age in particular — understood broadly, from about 1870-1935 — and here’s the shocker: almost nothing is different today. Then, as now, intertwined, even intermarried, networks of billionaire-equivalents seized the main levers of power and bent them to their own objectives.

They wove themselves into incredibly resilient webs, which included business magnates, top government officials (or sometimes people serving in the two capacities at once), and even outright criminals. Often, they traded places in these various sectors, working in business for a while, then government, then back in business, and so on. They bent and distorted public institutions and laws, or eviscerated them. They physically crushed resistance. They brilliantly divided the egalitarian coalition against itself, across class and especially racial lines. They veiled themselves in secrecy. They bought people off.

Then, as now, their chief revenue streams were public procurement, finance, energy, and high-end real estate. Pharma/processed foods and the tech sector might be today’s most significant additions.

LP: You note that both political parties are intertwined with corrupt networks. How does this manifest in the current election cycle? Some hope a Biden presidency would be a blow to corruption. What’s your take?

SC: This is one of the most difficult aspects of this book — for me, and doubtless for readers. Americans so crave a good-guy-bad-guy story, now more than ever. We’re desperate for some sense of redemption. In the broad “blue” camp, what people want to hear is unadulterated Trump-loathing, and almost nothing else. But in the Biden-Harris ticket, I’m afraid I see a bit of a fantasy: that we can just wake up from this nightmare and it’s 2015, and none of this ever happened. But this book asks readers to see how 2015 and the prior two decades or so delivered the nightmare. And it highlights the role of many Democrats in creating the conditions. That is, Trump is not the lone villain in these pages, and all other sins are not wiped away before the sole objective of removing him from the office he is unfit to hold.

The next problem here, of course, is false equivalency. I do not mean and am not saying that all sides are equally corrupt. There is a small coalition of uberwealthy Americans that, since the late 1970s, has been systematically working to dismantle the institutions and practices that promote citizens’ well-being. Few if any of them are Democrats. But, on the “blue” side of the house, we have witnessed mass infection with what I call the “Midas disease” (see below) and consequently, an opportunistic validation of the radical moves made by that coalition of the rich.

Biden and many of those around him are among those validators. Among Democrats, we’ve seen the glorification of the “financial industry,” the avid participation not just in pay-to-play politics but in the influence-peddling economy that delivered us Joe Biden’s son Hunter serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. There was the Clinton Foundation before that.

We’ve also witnessed the wanton sabotage of regulatory safeguards that protected Americans from the worst abuses of profit-seeking corporations. All this has ratified the program of the largely Republican cabal I just mentioned. That is, what could have been isolated after the Reagan Administration as a radical project that violated every American principle of government to benefit the governed has instead been turned into bipartisan orthodoxy. No wonder half the American electorate doesn’t vote.

So, obviously, the naked project to turn the United States into the personal property of the Trump family and its acolytes, with the billionaires clinging to the bandwagon, must be stopped. But a Biden/Harris administration will not in and of itself deliver serious anti-corruption reform. You just have to look at the Wall Street folks clustered around the campaign, the McKinsey and such consultants to see that. Or look at who Harris did and did not choose to prosecute as California’s Attorney General.

Which means, it’s up to us to hold their feet to the fire. Get them elected — and even more daunting, do whatever it takes to get to January and get them into office — and then stay girded for the long battle ahead, for meaningful reform.

LP: You reference the work of white-collar criminologist Bill Black, a central figure in investigating criminal bankers during the Savings and Loan Crisis. He wrote a book, wonderfully titled, The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One. How about robbing a country by running it? Does President Trump fit that pattern?

SC: I love it, Lynn. And Black makes two further points. One is we’re not talking lone brigands, here. The S & L executives he was writing about wove networks that included appraisers, contractors, real estate agents, and other bankers. They were corrupt — and corrupting. The second key point is that the S&L banks did not survive. The business model was bankruptcy for profit. The execs walked away hands in their pockets jangling the lucre, but the banks collapsed. Now apply that principle to Trump and our nation.

LP: The nation collapses, and members of the Trump network walk away enriched.

SC: That’s how it worked then…

LP: I did not expect to open a book about corruption in today’s America and be plunged into a discussion of King Midas of Phrygia – he of the golden touch. Or read a probing analysis of Jesus’s cleansing of the temple. Why do you weave these stories through this book?

SC: “Myth,” these days, is a word of contempt — meaning something patently untrue. But real myths are profoundly true. They are how our species has been examining itself and its way in the world for tens of thousands of years. When I witnessed the doings of our outsize public figures — caricatures, really — I found myself thinking: ‘We have turned our back on our cultural wisdom, and so we are condemned to live our myths.”

There’s a lot of wisdom in mythology. A grateful god offered Midas a single gift. “Gold!” he cried. It took about seven seconds till the king’s delight transformed to despair. He reaches for an apple to crunch on; it’s gold. He pours out some wine and can’t drink it. Hawthorn wrote a version of the tale, giving Midas a daughter, the light of his eyes, who at his kiss is transfigured into a statue. This is a story about the “Midas disease” — the compulsion to reduce irreplaceable values down to lifeless metal. Or, these days, to zeroes: in bank accounts. Today, the Midas disease is pandemic.

While researching the origins of this myth, I was dumbfounded to discover that Midas was real and ruled in Phrygia — approximately where and when money originated. The Midas myth is about money. This innovation was an entirely new way of storing value, which may have plenty of upsides, but when societies turn it into a yardstick for measuring social worth, there’s no getting enough. So, everything of value is game for being reduced into zeroes. If you put people sick with the Midas disease in charge of your society, devastation will ensue.

Jesus spills money all over the temple floor, throws the furniture around, a whip in his hand. Quite a dramatic action for the Prince of Peace! Did you know the temple of Jerusalem in his day was the most magnificent building complex east of Rome? I didn’t. The walls were gold-plated like President Trump’s bathrooms! The high court sat there, the main bank and money exchange. You could say Jesus took on a combination of Washington DC, Wall St., the Vatican, and the military base in Qatar.

At the top of this edifice was a tight-knit coalition of the wealthy and powerful — in today’s parlance, the billionaires. And it was at that moment, according to all four gospels, that this cabal “started looking for a way to kill him.” That is, the billionaires murdered Jesus. Not the “Jews” — who were, in fact, his own community. Interestingly, it couldn’t be done just then, because he was surrounded by a cross-cutting coalition of that community. You might call it the broad-based egalitarian coalition.

There is a lot to learn here: Billionaires in charge of a community’s most sacred values, and the public trust, will ruin their society. The only chance of curbing them is to join together in a broad-based coalition, crisscrossing all identity divides – what Jesus was getting at with “love thy neighbor” — and to relentlessly keep the focus trained on the corruption of that ruling clique. We can’t get distracted by manipulative efforts to divide us.

LP: What function do journalism and foundations that purport to be watchdogs play in curbing corruption? Or are they enabling it?

SC: A corrupt system requires a lot of support and assistance from people who may not be full-blown members of the networks. There’s one group you might call active facilitators. They sell their services for a fee: certain bankers and money-managers, real estate agents, registered agents who set up shell companies, certain lawyers, and whatnot.

There’s another, more nebulous, group you might call enablers: foundations and think tanks, many universities, most media outlets to one degree or another (excepting, of course, the media outlets that are owned and controlled by the network. That’s something else.) These institutions, starved of public funds, take kleptocratic networks’ money, largely in the form of advertising and, especially, “philanthropic” donations that are tax advantaged.

While they may stand by all their precepts of academic and editorial independence, they do huge services to the networks in return for the money. First, they validate them, provide a veneer of respectability. The names of network-affiliated individuals and institutions get lots of play as benefactors of what is presented as reasoned research or reporting in the public interest. Second, the media and research organizations offer access to their personnel, for recruitment. And third, they self-censor. While ostensibly working on topics that might be uncomfortable to the corrupt — telling truth to power — they do so in ways that don’t ultimately challenge the system at all. It’s more like box-checking. A doze of an anti-corruption and compliance course is offered. Policy-papers presenting “tool-boxes” for “achievable” fixes are churned out. Investigative reporters are subjected to crushing burdens of proof, or are encouraged to focus only on one side of the divide (political, gender, racial, what have you), making it impossible for a cross-cutting coalition ever to come together. Whereas, that’s the only thing that can bring the system down.

LP: You’ve mentioned cultural or identity group divides a couple of times. How do those divides mask cooperation at the top over corruption? How can we understand the current wave of protests in the U.S. in this context?

SC: In 2017, I conducted a study of half a dozen major anti-corruption uprisings on as many continents. I looked at how the various kleptocratic networks fought back against the sudden challenge. The single most effective countermove was to play on the identity-group tensions dividing the population. That is, to shatter the broad-based egalitarian coalition, the only force capable of outmatching the networks. Note: those networks, including here in the U.S., tend to span the very divides they manipulate so artfully.

I’m afraid I see this tactic working all too well here. And again, though his behavior is egregious, it’s not just Trump. The various shades of blue are constantly falling for his bait, and have now made extreme virtue-signaling on cultural issues a kind of litmus. That’s especially race and gender, but also, for example, unquestioned adulation of medical expertise — though it was those same white-coated doctors, along with the pharmaceutical giants, who helped give us the opioid epidemic. Elites on both sides are actively dividing us up along identity lines.

In this context, I find the current protest movement — as important as the issues it’s raising are — a bit disappointing. The subjugation of non-whites in this country is part and parcel of the kleptocratic design on its political and economic systems. Again, don’t get me wrong: if you expand beyond slavery to include the attempted genocide of Native Americans, it is the unspeakable crime at the root of our democracy. However, though certainly critical to enforcing it over the decades, the police are not the architects of this crime. They’re just the pointy end of the spear. So, I find the emphasis on policing a bit misplaced. In other countries, in fact, I have seen kleptocratic networks under serious challenge willing to sacrifice the police. Witness highly touted police reform programs in Georgia and Honduras. A supporting data point for my thinking more broadly is the swiftness with which business elites have joined blue-leaning political elites in espousing the Black Lives Matter cause. The alacrity is suspect — it suggests we’re being distracted.

LP: Extreme conspiracy theories, such as those associated with QAnon, focus on the idea of a secret cabal of elites wreaking havoc on the world. How does what you describe differ from this kind of perspective, even though you aretalking about havoc-wreaking elite networks?

SC: Looking at something like the Koch network – the galaxy of interlocking organizations that have been spawned and supported and cultivated by the Koch brothers — the structure, organization, and practices have more conspiratorial features than even I would wish to have found. The Kochs deployed elaborate secrecy measures, including strict internal rules, constantly shifting corporate names to mask the operations and goals of a deliberate campaign that was therefore able to fly under the radar for nearly twenty years.

What I’m not talking about, though, is some unitary, all-seeing and all-powerful global entity out of the Marvel Comics, responding in lock-step to the dictates of some mastermind. What we are confronted with is sets of overlapping, interwoven, but dynamic and shifting networks that ally, while often simultaneously being rivals. A good analogy might be mafia families, which are structured and organized, which do have specific practices, and which often, when operating in the same territory, make deals: you get the waterfront and I have the casino neighborhood over by the hillside. But they’re still shooting each other and there’s still a lot of internal dynamics and turbulence. That’s more or less what we’re looking at, bearing in mind that, like the Mafia, these networks may be anchored in a given place, but are transnational. The features, the structure and dynamics, the favored revenue streams, may differ from country to country, and may evolve over time.

LP: How do you see such networks seizing opportunities to increase wealth in the Covid crisis?

SC: Let me count the ways! Start with straight-up fingers in the cookie jar stuff, like self-dealing contracts or loans under the Paycheck Protection Program that went to entities that were directly linked to people making the decisions — for example Foremost, the Chinese shipping company that belongs to the father of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, whose husband is Senator Mitch McConnell. That whole network gets us from aluminum in Kentucky to Russian oligarchs to Chinese state-run banks and shipping companies and shipping manufacturers. It’s the sort of political-economic version of the Jeffrey Epstein network, it is so intertwined and frightening in terms of how directly it leads to the kleptocratic networks of China and Russia. Foremost getting a PPP loan – you know, that’s just the poster child for corruption. Or there are the Warp Speed contracts, stripped of normal oversight mechanisms, that are going to some of the same pharmaceutical behemoths who gave us the opioid crisis – and which have long been well-wired in with leaders on both sides of the aisle in Washington.

Also, obviously, there’s a lot of jerking around with medical realities in ways that affect the networks economically and financially. But I think more overlooked is the half a trillion in Treasury money to undergird the printing of trillions, or, more accurately, the creating of trillions worth of zeros in its ledgers – you don’t even have to print money any more. So, with half a trillion in taxpayer money, you get another multi-trillion dollars in public money that is funneled directly into the stock market, in particular, corporate bonds, which are traded by private equity companies which are overrepresented in this administration and represent a giant shadow economy with basically no oversight.

So, one wonders why, until the last couple of weeks, the stock market has been booming in spite of economic devastation that we’re living through. That’s why! If you’d pump trillions of dollars into state and local governments, you’d have a decent Covid response. But that’s not where the money is going.

LP: You note how the calamities leading up to WWII, from financial crises to wars to pandemics, finally resulted in what you call a “disaster-survivor” ethos, a more public-minded set of values that challenged the more materialistic, me-first, corruption-tolerant ethos that had held sway. Following the “Greed is Good” era of the 80s and 90s, the 21stcentury has brought on some pretty intense calamities — financial collapses, political instability, climate change, and now, a terrible pandemic. Do you see the generations following Gen X as possibly moving towards a new ethos, a new sense of connection and solidarity?

SC: Sadly, I don’t see it. Ironically, I think that this pandemic has been the kind of disaster least fitted to generating that disaster solidarity, because it forces us physically apart from each other. Disaster solidarity emerges when you’re suddenly thrown together, eating around the same table, in the same little skiff saving people off their roof, huddled in a fallout shelter. That kind of physical proximity hasn’t been generated in this pandemic.

Here’s what causes me the most fear: I look at the level of calamity that it took in the 20th century to create a new ethos: two world wars, entailing two genocides, mass starvation in Europe, and the nuclear bomb, plus a pandemic that put this one to shame, plus a global economic meltdown. and I think, what is the 21st century version of that much calamity? I hardly want to think about it. So the question for anyone alive today – the urgent question is: Can we generate the moral equivalent of this kind of a disaster survivor mentality and apply it to warding the calamities off? To making the changes that need to be made?

LP: And what kind of changes do we need to take back our political and economic systems? How do we do it?

SC: I turned the epilogue of the book into a bit of a kitchen sink for this. As much as I believe in the kind of planning and strategizing that a network like the Kochs were able to do, I also believe in Johnny Appleseed. I’m sure this fight needs every single one of us contributing all of our diverse and sometimes off-beat gifts. But I’m not sure what exact combination of all of those efforts will produce the results we need. And I’m not sure that’s knowable. So I went comprehensive. There is as close to something for everyone in that epilogue as I could manage.

But here are a couple of principles, not spelled out there. I would say that we need to shed the reflex of according blind respect for some of the august institutions that claim a sort of blanket respectability. And especially we should keep an eye on vocabulary. We must not be intimidated by complex verbiage, which is just a tool used by the network to disempower ordinary people. We have to look behind the façade, take the trouble to Google the board of directors, for example, boil all those fancy words down to the underlying concepts, which usually prove to be dazzlingly simple.

Also, while we to need treat other ordinary people from different backgrounds — political, social, economic, etc. with courtesy and respect — at the same time we do not have to be afraid to raise a ruckus. We don’t have to get caught up in always being polite, especially when confronting individuals or institutions that are trying to overawe us.

I also think it is critical to make a distinction between the professional classes – scientists, academics, civil servants – and the kleptocratic networks I’m talking about. The professional classes are by no means blameless. They have treated ordinary people with contempt. They have supported and been used by the corrupt. But they are not the architects of this system. And too much energy blaming them can distract us from those real players.

Keep your eye riveted on the very top.

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  1. Sound of the Suburbs

    Western democracy doesn’t seem to work as well as it used to.
    Where did it all go wrong?
    James Buchanan came up with Public Choice Theory.

    James Buchanan life’s work was dedicated to putting democracy in chains and this is covered in Nancy MacLean’s book of that name.
    He wanted to take power away from the people and he came up with “Public Choice Theory”.
    As soon as you know what it is, you’ll see what’s wrong with it.
    Who better to explain it than the man himself?
    James Buchanan explains “public choice theory” in a BBC Documentary called “The Trap”.
    At 48.00 min.

    When you know the theory, you can see the problem.
    Politicians are supposed to be for sale; that is the idea.
    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Sound of the Suburbs

      Those sneaky little devils on the Right are always doing this.
      “Public Choice Theory”, “Citizens United” …. etc ….
      They do the opposite of what they say on the tin.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    I think this raises a key point – that ‘corruption’ is in the eye of the beholder. My first job – back in the early 1990’s, was in a UK local government office working on land redevelopments. I’d left Ireland thoroughly disgusted by a series of sleazy government corruption scandals, mostly revolving around property and zoning regulations.

    I had assumed there was far less of that in the UK, but I was taken aback at how much obvious corruption (at least in my eyes) was taking place, especially in Thatchers favourite invention, local development corporations. But nobody, either within the organisations, or outside, ever used the word ‘corruption’ to describe what was taking place. Corruption was what foreigners did.

    At my lowly level within the organisations I worked for (i ended up working at both sides of the table, for both public and private sector), things ‘just happened’, which could only have been lubricated by cash or more subtle inducements. A senior very high profile boss was quietly retired when it had been found he’d been using insider information to enrich himself (it never went public of course). One more ethical boss of mine simply refused to work with certain public bodies and private consultants because he knew very well how agreements were made between them. It was very deep within the system, but never tackled because it was simply never considered corruption, it was simply how business was done.

    1. Dirk77

      There used to be a book published annually called “The world’s most dangerous places”. In the one I had was a line about the author interviewing a guy from X, a country in the Middle East. (I think it was Pakistan, but it’s been awhile.) As part of it, the author explained that in his country, they did not have the omnipresent quid pro quo payoffs as in X. The man from X replied: “How can you possibly run a country like that?”

  3. Ken

    The American electorate is corrupt. They vote for biden in large numbers. They deserve what they get.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      The American electorate is cheap; $1200 to avert their gaze from the looters.

      But a drowning man will grab at anything. Perhaps we should think of the $1200 checks as a form of shark chumming.

    2. Chris Herbert

      Now that was enlightening. We are a capitalist nation. Profit and Loss, indebted corporations and families are a given. Inserting ethics, much less maintaining them, is seldom considered or discussed. Who is going to be the cop? The best that can be achieved is an understanding that making more money should not be the primary metric. The minimum wage should be one that provides socially acceptable living standards with benefits, including a secure retirement and affordable medical care. Every citizen who is capable should have a job. A job is a right of citizenship. Full employment is a requirement. Congress should fund public education through the land grant university system, right up through doctoral levels. All this is easily funded by a monetary sovereign nation like the United States. We just need to learn that simple fact. And then elect representatives who understand that simple fact.

      1. Watt4Bob

        “Inserting ethics, much less maintaining them, is seldom considered or discussed.”

        Inserting ethics into the conversation is “…seldom considered or discussed.” because it’s a sure way to be labeled soft-headed, including at the level of the dinner table in the USA.

        In a business setting, it’s enough to get you labeled a ‘socialist’, and thus, branded as not suitable for promotion, if not marked for elimination.

        If you bring up ethics, you’re invited to “wake-up and smell the bacon“, if it has to be said more than once, you’ll be shown the door.

      2. Anonymous

        A job is a right of citizenship. Chris Herbert

        Actually, justice is a right of citizenship, not wage slavery to either the private or public sectors.

      3. Baldanders

        “Every citizen who is capable should have a job.”

        What if there’s no market for what they are capable of?

        The most toxic advice given to the young for the past two generations: follow your dreams. A luxury for the idle rich, not valid for the vast majority of us.

        Especially true if you live in rural America, and especially clear if you have experience teaching in it.

        1. Bern

          48 years ago my friend and I rode our bicycles around the US. We left high school early to do it because we had enough credits. We found a couple sponsors to pay our way.
          We hit most of the geographic, political & economic regions. We talked to lots of people our age and learned more about the nation than I’ve ever learned in any other 6-month period in my life.
          Most importantly we learned how easy our own lives were, and how hard our peers had it in so many ways. That perspective has stayed with me and keeps me grounded (most of the time anyway). I lived my dream that year and it was maybe the best thing I ever did…

    3. Darius

      Democratic primary voters are mostly upper middle class. They voted their self-interest. The working class mostly doesn’t vote. Politics isn’t something they feel they can have any influence over. The last president with significant working class support was Obama, and look how that turned out. The gig economy, mass foreclosures, and stagnant incomes.

    4. flora

      The American electorate, both GOP and Dem, are steamrolled by the billionaire donors, Wall St., and the US Chamber of Commerce. Remember all of O’s New Deal type talk on the campaign trail, and also remember his behind-closed-doors reassurances to the Peterson Institute and the Hambleton Project and NAFTA ‘partners’ before the election.

      The US Chamber of Commerce has decided to support Joe. When Joe says, “I am the Democratic Party’ he means the Chamber and Wall St don’t have to worry about Warren or Yang or Gabbard – they’ve been neutered. When Joe says, “I am the Democratic Party” he means the monopolies and international corporations have his fealty and he will support their interests.

      If Joe’s elected he should go to the swearing-in wearing a huge, 18th century English peruke (he can sniff ‘his own’ hair that way – heh) in token of finally making the monopolies and corporations in absolute control of the US, as they were in 18th C England over the colonies.

    5. Molly Makens

      But at this point in the election process, Biden is, far and away, the best candidate. I wanted Elizabeth but since others didn’t see it my way, Joe will have to do this time around. It will not solve the “old boys” network problem, but it will oust the Mafia.

      1. flora

        Which ‘mafia’ will it oust? Not the Wall St, Goldman Sachs version of said same. Main Street continues to lose. ;)

  4. dave

    I love this idea that we’ll vote for Biden then hold the Biden Administration’s feet to the fire.

    No one’s feet will be held to the fire. They never are.

    1. km

      Make them tell us just how they are going to “hold Biden’s feet to the fire”.

      Tell us exactly what they plan to make Biden do, and more importantly, how they are going to make Biden do it.

      I have heard Team D cultists say this for years now, and I am yet to hear a workable, concrete answer in response to my question.

      Note that Team R has its own way of betraying its voters.

      1. Pookah Harvey

        I am open to any workable plan to rid us of the duopoly. I’ve tried voting third party for 30 years and the only thing that accomplished was getting Bill Clinton elected. I’ve watched “progressives losing the election” for Gore, Kerry, and Hillary with no effect. So give me a plan.

        1. Tom Bradford

          It’s not a plan, but a start would be for Americans to get their heads out of their self-satisfied arses and acknowledge that the world has moved on since 1787, with other peoples finding better ways of pursuing those noble principles set out in the Constitution.

          A start would be to get politics out of the judiciary. How anyone can tug their forelock at the concept of the Separation of Powers while judges are appointed by the executive baffles me.

          Second, update your voting system. When I learned of the Electoral Collage I thought it at first a joke. Even the voting system you have stretches the definition of democracy to an extent few outside the US would regard as acceptable, which is why you have Presidents elected with fewer real votes than the alternatives on offer.

          Many if not most advanced nations (the UK is another exception) have electoral systems with some form of proportional representation which tends to result in coalitions of parties forming Government. Yes that can be messy – look at Italy – but it’s messy because it’s a genuine attempt to give more of ‘the people’ a say in Government and results in the creation of more nuanced political parties forced to listen to their supporters in order to be viable and thus have a chance of a say in Government.

          (Here in New Zealand thanks to PR Labour has only been able to Govern for the last three year with the support of the Greens and a small centre party both of which have been able to influence Government policy in areas important to their supporters.)

          Not a plan, just an aspiration. Unfortunately such reforms are only possible if the people make enough noise and the powers that be have the integrity to listen and make changes, both of which I fear are in short supply in the US.

          1. Wukchumni

            I remember when we were going to go metric by the Bicentennial and couldn’t even pull that off…

            1. Ludus57

              At least we Brits can have the satisfaction of sitting in our own arses!
              What do our American friends do to ensure that they are sitting on their own ass?

          2. JBird4049

            Apples and oranges comparisons although the critique is good. The various American states can set up their own governments pretty much as they want including how determine their federal representatives and senators. It is the federal government that’s more locked in.

            There’s also the problem that a cabal, or perhaps better described as opportunistic weasels, is ready to hijack any Constitutional Convention, much like how the leadership of the Democratic Party did before their last convention. That probably would lead to civil war as any changes would be supporting the current corrupt regime. To be able to seriously and peacefully change the Constitution would require reducing the level of corruption using an effective reform movement like the old Progressives before the convention.

            The American Republic’s Constitution was set up with several competing problems:

            Thirteen independent states with over three million Americans spread along the two thousand miles of the East Coast; the various states from New England to the South were vastly different economically and socially. And they were quite ready to go to war with each other what with their then separate militaries, which sometimes included a navy.

            So how to insure that everyone including all the very different individual and separate states get effective political representation without any state, region, or even class from having too much power.

            Then how to ensure a good central government, which requires some ability to be coercive, but without it becoming tyrannical to use a then popular term. One way was to split the government into three somewhat equal branches.

            I do not think that the West Coast should be able to dictate to Mississippi how to run their state even if it is being run by the same ruling families since the antebellum South. Just as I don’t want the President, Congress, or the Supreme Court to have unchecked power over the individual.

            One nation-state of fifty semi-independent states being governed by a leadership class that does not want to govern is the real problem here; the federal government along with most of the state and municipal ones were created to moderate active participatory government and not this gridlocked, autopiloted. grift machine.

          3. Dirk77

            The US Constitution is indeed showing its age. As you know, amendments do provide a mechanism to change, but not for social experimentation if the way isn’t entirely clear. JBird suggests the states pick up the slack, but if the federales overrule the states as they are known to do, it is not clear how helpful that would be. In particular little headway has been made about campaign finance reform for this reason. Personally, I have come to the conclusion that we don’t live in a democracy anymore and possibly never really did as dependency corruption has always been allowed. One can always make personal rules though. One rule for now me is that if a candidate accepts donations in large enough amounts that he knows personally the source, then he is corrupt. So only small dollar donations are allowed. That’s it and no exceptions.

      1. LawnDart

        I stand with the opinion that any vote is a vote for the oligarchy and the preservation of the status quo.

    2. Gc54

      Clay feet don’t burn, they just glaze into something much more resistant to change, at least until stress fractures them abruptly often only with subtle cracks just beforehand.

  5. butch

    One needs to realize that by the time we get to books and articles about corruption it has been so metastasized and endemic within the system that its literally impossible to change it within that system. Of course we haven’t even gotten to the “awareness” part amongst the general population and it seems apparent that our “CommonCore” and “S.T.E.M.” mis-education process has produced a couple generations of mostly insouciant citizens incapable of any individual thought process or any ability to pursue a topic beyond the propagandized 10 word or less blip on their screens. But wait, its even better now, schools are mandating mask wearing amongst children, this is obscene and absolute child abuse, yet the adults gleefully march along with this utterly stupid campaign of a virus with a 99.99% survival rate for people under 50 . The lies from the corporate media are criminal and need to be “unmasked”, then prosecuted. Do you think we have a system capable of going beyond the current “JUSTus” system, you know that club a certain comedian tried to warn us of, as we laughed in the folly of thinking it wouldn’t harm “us”. I’m quite certain our so called forefathers would be aghast at the current level of complacency and acceptance of in your face tyranny. We didn’t foresee how soft and compliant we were being made. This is indeed a critical juncture for humanity on multiple levels of awareness and truth. We need to win or……………….

    1. cnchal

      Next time you need to join two peices of wood together using screws or nails, use your finger or forehead instead of available tools for the jawb.

      This has nothing to do with freedumb.

    2. Ghost in the Machine

      Wow, your non sequitur into an irrational rant about masks demonstrates quite effectively the author’s point about divisive propaganda.

    3. Mark

      Wow, your non sequitur into an irrational rant about masks demonstrates quite effectively the author’s point about divisive propaganda.”
      100% Agree. The irony is stark.

      On the Covid tangent, I do find it interesting how polarised everybody gets regarding the pandemic. And how the discussion mostly misses the key points.

      We’ve been in this for 8 months or so and yet I rarely see any of the tough rational discussion about strategy. All the discussion and disputes seem to centre on the tactics rather than having any idea about the strategy. (Decisions on the tactics are actually easier here, we have science to guide us. The broader strategy is politics/economics/ethics and much more nuanced…)

      The US is particularly bad here but most other countries are failing to act on or articulate any long term approach. Sweden is one of the notable exceptions, that for better or worse made a clear decision on their approach.

    4. The Historian

      Children wearing masks is child abuse? Wow! I just cannot imagine the horror we’ve imposed on children by making them wear diapers and underwear!

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        As one who grew up on a farm, free to wear no shoes, or shirts, whatsoever…I second this. To this day, i am shocked at the temerity of businesses that egregiously, willfully, and repeatedly violate my rights to walk in to the stores barefoot and shirtless.

        Frankly, I think my pot gut, back hair, toenail fungus, and athletes-foot condition is *dead sexy*.

            1. LawnDart

              I’m waiting for the day our shop foreman to leave his computer unlocked and unattended so I can surf gay porn, tranny, and hook-up sites on it.

              He’s a rabid Trumpanzie with a rather narrow worldview: I will report on this experiment when opportunity allows.

    5. Cat Burglar

      The 99.99% survival rate you claim is not supported by the CDC.

      Accurate figures are necessary when advocating that a policy of mass death be applied to the people of our country.

      If current CDC survival rates are applied to the people counted by age in the 2010 Census, then several million people die. Naturally, not everyone will be exposed — so how does a million dead sound to you? Still lots of opportunity there for funeral services contracts. Gravedigging and embalming jobs. Kids still get to be schooled for the wonderful new world prepared for them. The death number you advocate is lower than the most notable instances of genocide or mass death camp systems, so a low political profile can be maintained.

      You mention humanity, by which I guess you just mean an aggregation of persons. Humanity was once considered an emphatic value that bounded how people behaved in friendships, families, neighborhoods, states, nations, and even the world — it seems very sentimental now, and I do not see a trace of it in your proposal to let the weak and old become infected and die.

      1. Fritz Tegularius

        Using the numbers from your CDC link and the 2019 US population demographics from
        Statista we can do a little arithmetic to compute the survival rate “for people under 50”. My possibly bumbling calculator skills show populations 0-19 years: 81.63M and 20-49 years: 129.61M. Weighting your CDC IFRs for those bands yields the aggregate IFR for the 0-49 years group: (.00003*81.63+.0002*129.61)/(81.63+129.61) = 0.000134. Subtracting that from unity: 1-.000134 = 99.9865% which using standard rounding rules rounds to 99.99% survival for infected people under 50. (Not everybody gets infected.)

        So the new CDC data does support exactly the survival rate butch claims.

        We can of course attack a lack of provenence for the CDC data and the probability of political bias in the CDC’s reported results in order to support our desired prior conclusion that Covid’s mortality justifies the violence we have done to our most vulnerable economic class in its name. (Good science demands this provenence be made transparent.)

        As the article mentions, since the physical separation we’re demanding, and far more importantly terror of our neighbors on the sidewalk we’re deliberately (and for some, permanently) inducing almost perfectly undermines disaster solidarity, as Cat says, getting the numbers behind the policy decision right is a matter of mass death one way and the other.

        I’m gently strumming my banjo in honor of you both. Your voices together here is why NC matters.

        1. Cat Burglar

          Using the rounding rules, you have made the case for 99.99% survival rate of infected persons under 50. For those over 50, the deaths have just started.

          The economic impact of policies to control the infection are the result of political decisions — mitigation and support of the vulnerable, such as there was, has largely disappeared. Solidarity means solidarity with all the injured.

    6. Michael McCarthy

      Blacks were in chains ,often literally, Native Americans were being pushed off their lands, forced onto reservations or simply exterminated, only white, male, anglo-saxon protestant property holders were allowed to vote in the country of the “forefathers” you apparently admire. This country was founded as a “JUSTus” society. In fact the entire history of this country is one of the “others” – excluded by WASPS – trying to get this country to live up to the aspirations declared by those WASPS, who no doubt never envisioned the inclusion of people of color, other religions or women in those noble sentiments. The Declaraion of Independence was written by and for white men only with very specific qualifications. The point here is that with your petty rant about masks, you actually carry on the tradition of JUSTus that is the fundamental flaw of this country.

    7. Sue inSoCal

      But wait, its even better now, schools are mandating mask wearing amongst children, this is obscene and absolute child abuse, yet the adults gleefully march along with this utterly stupid campaign of a virus with a 99.99% survival rate for people under 50.”

      I think you should check where it is you’re getting your “stats”. Masks for children=child abuse? Terrifying concept. But how and why? In addition, I hate to say this, but it appears “survival” doesn’t mean a jolly disease-free quality of life thereafter.

    8. Will S.

      I am a young, healthy person with a strong immune system who caught COVID in August. I rarely get sick at all; the last time I caught a cold was two years ago. I had what is considered a “mild” case, in that I didn’t require hospitalization and didn’t present with fever. It took me SEVEN WEEKS to recover sufficiently to return to work, and still now I’m working part time because minor tasks exhaust me. Before I caught the virus, I lifted weights three times a week: now, I can barely do a pushup. I lost seven pounds through muscle wasting while gaining fat. So when I say, (FAMILY BLOG) you for insinuating that the virus isn’t serious because of its mortality rate, know that I have a (family blog) good reason.

  6. bassmule

    Identity Politics is the most powerful tool the billionaire class has to keep us at each others’ throats.

    “In 2017, I conducted a study of half a dozen major anti-corruption uprisings on as many continents. I looked at how the various kleptocratic networks fought back against the sudden challenge. The single most effective countermove was to play on the identity-group tensions dividing the population. That is, to shatter the broad-based egalitarian coalition, the only force capable of outmatching the networks. Note: those networks, including here in the U.S., tend to span the very divides they manipulate so artfully.”

    I’m afraid I see this tactic working all too well here. And again, though his behavior is egregious, it’s not just Trump. The various shades of blue are constantly falling for his bait, and have now made extreme virtue-signaling on cultural issues a kind of litmus.”

    1. are you simple?

      have you taken leave of your senses or are you really talking about “identity politics” in an era minted by rupert murdoch

      1. Donald

        Rather than insulting him, maybe you could explain whatever point you are making. You seem to think it is obvious, but I don’t know what you are saying.

      2. John Zelnicker

        @are you simple?
        October 2, 2020 at 9:48 am

        bassmule is quoting directly from the post. Did you bother to read it?

        You might also benefit from reading the Policies (above) of the web site before commenting.

    2. Redolent

      Cogent comments on divisional tensions, …whose networks…”tend to span the very divides they manipulate so artfully”……. also …”the various shades of blue are constantly falling for his bait…..”.

      Tactics and identity, in my view, have usurped reason and due diligence.

  7. km

    I have lived and worked in Third World countries, First World countries, and countries that were somewhere in the middle. I also have lived and worked in the United States.

    1. The fundamental difference between a Third World country and a First World country is the extent to which local elites are willing to work for national or regional, as opposed to personal or factional goals. Third World elites have a much more “zero sum” mentality. “What’s in it for me and mine?” and “How can I use this as a stick to bludgeon my enemies?” are the only questions.

    The United States is well on the way there, if it has not already arrived at the Race to the Bottom.

    2. The elites in First World countries, and in particular the United States, are as corrupt as those in any Third World kleptocracy that I have seen.

    That said, in First World countries, the corruption is channeled and legalized. Think favors done, phone calls made, “visiting fellowships” arranged, “charitable foundations” funded, a lucrative no-show job given to a politician’s cokehead failson. That is how things are done in the Civilized West, as opposed to a brown paper bag stuffed with small unmarked bills and left in a garbage can in a specific park at exactly 9:05PM, whereupon your stalled merger clearance is approved the very next day!

    In First World countries, such corruption is also not tolerated in non-elites. I’ve yet to pay off a beat cop in the United States, and attempting to do so would probably get me arrested. I have paid off all kinds of people in other places.

  8. William Hunter Duncan

    A few years ago I sat in a circle of men and said, “how do you know America is the most corrupt country in the history of the world?” (This was before the Trump presidency.)

    “It’s the richest country in the history of the world,” answering my own question.

    Every man in the circle was incredulous. Every one objected. They complained that I did not understand anything about corruption in other countries.

    I replied, “what is worse corruption; the base, ugly in your face kind common in third world countries; or the kind that insinuates itself into the institutions of empire, gov and business as usual, the kind that poses as protecting public health and welfare, but translates into forty years of wealth transfer from the poor to the rich, with sides of eternal war, total surveillance and ecological devastation.”

    I don’t remeber getting an invite back to that circle.

  9. Lou Mannheim

    There is a small coalition of uberwealthy Americans that, since the late 1970s, has been systematically working to dismantle the institutions and practices that promote citizens’ well-being.

    Exactly what I’ve come around to. I think it was revenge for the 60s: fiscal irresponsibility and the protests. This is not a Blue/Red issue because the pilfering has occurred under all administrations.

    The Dual Mandate is a big example to me of how the strategy gets executed, along with legal changes and exploiting IT advances over time.

    I swear my hats contain no tin :) It’s just clear to me now that this country is run like huge grifts that play out over time.

    1. HotFlash

      I think it was revenge for the 60s

      Indeed. Justice Powell explains his reasoning in his Memorandum.

      Oddly, or not, Wikipedia does not cite the text of the Memorandum, but you can find it here, courtesy of Washington and Lee University.

  10. Watt4Bob

    I love the fact that Chayes discusses actual nature of myth.

    One of the most impressive insights offered by Joseph Campbell in his conversations with Bill Moyers was the fact that mythological ‘Dragons’ (Insert oligarchs here) famously hoarded gold and virgins, neither of which, they had any use for.

    Today’s oligarchs have more money than they know what to do with, more than they could spend in a hundred lifetimes, and yet they only want more, and will resort to the the most outlandish behavior to protect their ‘right’ to more.

    Witness Trump’s treatment of women, apparently, even his own daughter cannot escape his lecherous gaze, and yet, like the mythical dragon, Trump, though he has little use for woman except as objects to manipulate and then discard, is always proud, and eager to show off ‘his collection‘.

    Of course America should be embarrassed to be caught thinking the dims are going to give us a hero that will slay the dragon, free the virgins and return to gold to the people.

    But realizing that we’re beset by dragons would be progress.

    1. Susan the other

      Yes. Today’s Oligarchs have more money than they know what to do with. Shades of Richard Vague’s plea for “perpetual money” for billionaires. When it comes to billions, you can’t eat just one. It would amuse me to see us give their panicked offer to take our sovereign money too a cold shower – kindly tell the billionaires to loan their money to each other. Now that would be funny. We’ve got our own money for our purposes. Let the billionaires know their private projects will be held to strict account by every government on the planet because we are now faced with global warming and pollution, devastation and displaced refugees (thanks to a roaring century of irresponsible economics). We aren’t being mean because really there is no more free lunch to be had; no more destructive irresponsible groaf; and etc. The billionaires and the shadow elite have put themselves in the same trap as the rest of us. If they understand this, they might even find their courage and do something good. On their own dime.

  11. Cat Burglar

    Corruption has usually been represented in this country as episodic, but is now recognized as structural, which is a sea change in public discourse.

    When elite groups are successful enough to turn back any independent force expressing the needs of other groups in society, as Chayes mentions, you get a rise in political pressure that bursts out at every weak spot in the crust — a big political management problem for our handlers, and a constant and increasing cost for them. Having a presidential election in which there is no policy debate is one simple management technique — we’ll see how it works for them. Making “fascism” an issue is another technique to cover the problem of elite control.

    Chayes’ descriptions are wonderfully concise, worth studying and using when talking politics.

    Chayes was once an NPR foreign correspondent, then went to Afghanistan to do occupation work after the US attack. I wonder if her time overseas accounts for her tone of astonishment at finding that corruption is now the system in this country.

    1. Cat Burglar

      The more I read of Chayes’ bio, the more interesting this gets. She’s a well-connected member of the political class. She seems to be arguing to our elites that they should engage in some enlightened self-interest, or there will be hell to pay.

  12. RMO

    ” I looked at how the various kleptocratic networks fought back against the sudden challenge. The single most effective countermove was to play on the identity-group tensions dividing the population”

    Why does this not surprise me?

  13. Palaverve

    Some countries are bound to corruption in the same way they are bound to their families. Americans and their small families can easily preach against corruption. However, “an untempted woman cannot boast of her chastity”.

    In Asia, families are more obligated to each other. A family member in government can be counted on to provide favors, jobs, access and information. I believe the least corrupt countries are the ones that treat their family like complete strangers or perhaps everyone like family.

    Personally, I have witnessed a government official bribe another government official to speed up approval for a construction project. Dated a woman who did not realize she was helping her bureaucrat stepmother embezzle public money. Watched a colleague enter the foreign bureau with obvious gift bags and resolve a visa issue. Recently I got a friend past airport security by inserting some bills in the passport pages.

    According to an Economist article, citizens of the First World are just as likely to participate in corruption as the locals, who apparently don’t know any better. It’s a crime of opportunity and I agree. That said, if bureaucrats aren’t paid enough they engage in corruption, but because they have been corrupted, the public won’t raise their salaries. Americans are in the same quandary.

    The greater the inequality between public servants and private interests, the greater the temptation. More will succumb over time. The public and their downward trending wages don’t want to see bureaucrats give themselves raises. You might say that corruption is easier to buy now, maybe deflationary? Resisting blue blooded millionaires was hard enough, but it must be impossible turning down these space faring zillionaires from the future with their predictive algorithms.

    However, I do see Americans forming family-like corruption networks from class identity. The main benefit of an Ivy League education isn’t the knowledge, it’s the networking. My dad always told me, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” For everything else he was an idiot, but made it his success.

    1. Abi

      Anecdote from a Nigerian. I think a lot of discourse on corruption is misguided because it isn’t properly defined. Nepotism is not the same as the corruption of working public and private institutions to enrich yourself – that’s outright stealing.

      Nigerians for example view nepotism as normal, your family member in a position of influence should be able to “help” other family members with jobs, access, contracts etc and to be even more honest, for nigerians this “benevolence” extends beyond your immediate family to include friends and members of the community, so nepotism isn’t viewed as a bad thing because culturally it is expected. It is expected of everyone and if you insist of not giving in to it then that will be the anomaly. Take what you will from that but that is our true culture.

      Now if you’re a government official taking kick backs for contracts or taking money meant for schools and putting that into your bank account – we will call that corruption, stealing and everyone frowns at that.

      That said, I feel annoyed when researchers paint nigeria as corrupt because to me it appears they’ve done very little actual work. To really understand the dysfunction you have to deep dive into colonial history, understand how tax and extraction formed the economy and how industrialisation was not allowed as a matter of policy and then you get a fuller understanding of why Nigeria is the way it is. You then see that the nepotism isn’t actually a negative thing but it happened to redress some of the injustice of the system, it’s just ironic that it of course creates its own problems because there are still a lot of people not included in the system.

      Anyways, it is true that many Africans are stunned by what’s going on in the US, this is how is started over here – some people wanted a country that served them and not one that benefited the people living there, they made sure we couldn’t produce and also made sure there were no guard rails to stop the excesses of abuse, the straw that broke the camels back was turning guns on us, when they did that we all collectively lost the will to organise and use civil disobedience to get our needs met like we had always done for centuries. It’s been more than 60 years and we’re still trying to figure out how to stand up for ourselves again.

      I suggest Americans take this serious. It happens because not enough people stand up for what is right

  14. CommunityMotive

    Collusion at the top; competition at the bottom.

    It is necessary for the profit motive to be managed by the community motive for perpetuation of the community.

    Religions teach it; parents, grandparents, the wise, all model it.

    We the people governments put it in their laws. Trusted intermediaries are needed throughout society for this to work.

    As the main laws; thou shalt not steal, bear false witness, covet or kill, became “just business,” the US began its losing streak.

    Religions themselves need renewal. There is a New Message From God in the world now that is future oriented and objective about the challenges to Human Civilization. A single religion is not needed or even possible, but all must work together.

  15. Freethinker

    Sour ending quote from Sarah Chayes when lumping civil servants in with the professional class. Many civil servants are clerks, sanitation workers, paramedics. As a clerical civil servant for Social Security, I take pride in ensuring fairly administered programs of material benefits are available to Americans and legal residents. I treat my public contacts with respect and ermpathy. My coworkers and I are not engaged in supporting corruption because the mission of our representative Unions, in part, is to protect the public good from corrupting influences.

  16. Clem

    The result of corporate greed is that any business worth over a billion, or if you are nasty, a hundred million, is fair game for all manner of cheating, tricks or lying.

    People, it’s your duty to take them for whatever you can!
    Since they fired humans and rely on A.I., you are abusing the trust of no one and nothing.

    “I didn’t make those charges, the package never arrived etc.”

  17. Scott1

    The way I had framed it was that the international oligarchy were in power.
    The most influential of financial engineers was Meyer Lansky. Under Clinton banking regulations that had protected us from mobster methods of doing business in favor of Meyer Lansky methods had been signed away, made legal.
    The Financial Engineer who is the competitor of Meyer Lansky is David Cay Johnston.

    China suffers from endemic corruption and has for a long time. It is an ancient civilization. The Chinese Communist as the mob party makes free speech illegal. Journalists working against corruption in Russia have been beaten and murdered.
    Trump points at journalists and calls them enemies. Trump is supported by a propaganda television network. Propaganda works.

    We know that the older child will be dragged down in play to the level of the younger child. The corrupt drive out the honest.
    For the US to become corrupt is a severe historical event because of the hopes people all over the world have invested in it.
    It is a terrible time for the US to become rationally & systematically predisposed to accept corruption. We simply cannot afford it for government support through loans or subsidies or frauds to flow into the hands of leaders and companies violating natural laws ensuring we and our families will starve to death because of the death of the food chain.

    Censoring Communist Dictatorships have famines. Pandemic today and hunger today are interwoven.

    The US has such a superior tradition and even a desire for free speech and a free press that it continues to be loved by me.
    I also love Naked Capitalism. from David Cay Johnston and Wikipedia. I love the NYTs, that underground paper far as below the Mason Dixon is concerned. IF Stone taught me how to read it.
    While it is a long quoted saying of Arthur Koestler “I don’t fight fascists because I will win, I fight fascists because they are fascists.” Rule by corporations is as corrupt a system as rule by censoring dictatorships.
    The history of the 20th Century proves they can be beaten, but it is better to beat them all and if deception is the key to the winning of any war, Americans must stop deceiving themselves about who is the enemy and why.

    Thanks, influenced by Arthur Koestler “Scum of the Earth”, Eric Schlosser “Reefer Madness”, David Cay Johnston “Fine Print”, “The Making of Donald J. Trump”, “Tower of Skulls” Richared Frank Barbara Tuchman- most recently “Stilwell in China”, “The Proud Tower”, “A Distant Mirror”. Michael Hudson “Killing the Host”. Mario Puzo- “The Godfather”, Warren Mosler “The 7 Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy”, “The Big Money” by John Dos Passos, “To Have & Have Not” by Ernest Hemingway

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