Private gain must no longer be allowed to elbow out the public good

By Dirk Philipsen

Source: aeon

Adam Smith had an elegant idea when addressing the notorious difficulty that humans face in trying to be smart, efficient and moral. In The Wealth of Nations (1776), he maintained that the baker bakes bread not out of benevolence, but out of self-interest. No doubt, public benefits can result when people pursue what comes easiest: self-interest.

And yet: the logic of private interest – the notion that we should just ‘let the market handle it’ – has serious limitations. Particularly in the United States, the lack of an effective health and social policy in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak has brought the contradictions into high relief.

Around the world, the free market rewards competing, positioning and elbowing, so these have become the most desirable qualifications people can have. Empathy, solidarity or concern for the public good are relegated to the family, houses of worship or activism. Meanwhile, the market and private gain don’t account for social stability, health or happiness. As a result, from Cape Town to Washington, the market system has depleted and ravaged the public sphere – public health, public education, public access to a healthy environment – in favour of private gain.

COVID-19 reveals a further irrational component: the people who do essential work – taking care of the sick; picking up our garbage; bringing us food; guaranteeing that we have access to water, electricity and WiFi – are often the very people who earn the least, without benefits or secure contracts. On the other hand, those who often have few identifiably useful skills – the pontificators and chief elbowing officers – continue to be the winners. Think about it: what’s the harm if the executive suites of private equity, corporate law and marketing firms closed down during quarantine? Unless your stock portfolio directly profits from their activities, the answer is likely: none. But it is those people who make millions – sometimes as much in an hour as healthcare workers or delivery personnel make in an entire year.

Simply put, a market system driven by private interests never has protected and never will protect public health, essential kinds of freedom and communal wellbeing.

Many have pointed out the immorality of our system of greed and self-centred gain, its inefficiency, its cruelty, its shortsightedness and its danger to planet and people. But, above all, the logic of self-interest is superficial in that it fails to recognise the obvious: every private accomplishment is possible only on the basis of a thriving commons – a stable society and a healthy environment. How did I become a professor at an elite university? Some wit and hard work, one hopes. But mostly I credit my choice of good parents; being born at the right time and the right place; excellent public schools; fresh air, good food, fabulous friends; lots of people who continuously and reliably provide all the things that I can’t: healthcare, sanitation, electricity, free access to quality information. And, of course, as the scholar Robert H Frank at Cornell University so clearly demonstrated in his 2016 book on the myth of the meritocracy: pure and simple luck.

Commenting on how we track performance in modern economies – counting output not outcome, quantity not quality, prices not possibilities – the US senator Robert F Kennedy said in 1968 that we measure ‘everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile’. His larger point: freedom, happiness, resilience – all are premised on a healthy public. They rely on our collective ability to benefit from things such as clean air, free speech, good public education. In short: we all rely on a healthy commons. And yet, the world’s most powerful metric, gross domestic product (GDP), counts none of it.

The term ‘commons’ came into widespread use, and is still studied by most college students today, thanks to an essay by a previously little-known American academic, Garrett Hardin, called ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ (1968). His basic claim: common property such as public land or waterways will be spoiled if left to the use of individuals motivated by self-interest. One problem with his theory, as he later admitted himself: it was mostly wrong.

Our real problem, instead, might be called ‘the tragedy of the private’. From dust bowls in the 1930s to the escalating climate crisis today, from online misinformation to a failing public health infrastructure, it is the insatiable private that often despoils the common goods necessary for our collective survival and prosperity. Who, in this system based on the private, holds accountable the fossil fuel industry for pushing us to the brink of extinction? What happens to the land and mountaintops and oceans forever ravaged by violent extraction for private gain? What will we do when private wealth has finally destroyed our democracy?

The privately controlled corporate market has, in the precise words of the late economics writer Jonathan Rowe, ‘a fatal character flaw – namely, an incapacity to stop growing. No matter how much it grew yesterday it must continue to do so tomorrow, and then some; or else the machinery will collapse.’

To top off the items we rarely discuss: without massive public assistance, late-stage extractive capitalism, turbocharged by private interest and greed, would long be dead. The narrow kind of macroeconomic thinking currently dominating the halls of government and academia invokes a simpleminded teenager who variously berates and denounces his parents, only to come home, time and again, when he is out of ideas, money or support. Boeing, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Exxon – all would be bust without public bailouts and tax breaks and subsidies. Every time the private system works itself into a crisis, public funds bail it out – in the current crisis, to the tune of trillions of dollars. As others have noted, for more than a century, it’s a clever machine that privatises gains and socialises costs.

When private companies are back up and running, they don’t hold themselves accountable to the public who rescued them. As witnessed by activities since the 2008 bailouts at Wells Fargo, American Airlines and AIG, companies that have been rescued often go right back to milking the public.

By focusing on private market exchanges at the expense of the social good, policymakers and economists have taken an idea that is good under clearly defined and very limited circumstances and expanded it into a poisonous and blind ideology. Now is the time to assert the obvious: without a strong public, there can be no private. My health depends on public health. My freedom depends on social freedom. The economy is embedded in a healthy society with functional public services, not the other way around.

This moment of pain and collapse can serve as a wakeup call; a realisation that the public is our greatest good, not the private. Look outside the window to see: without a vibrant and stable public, life can quickly get poor, nasty, brutish and short.

Posted in Corporate Crime, Corporate Welfare, culture, Economics, elites, Financial Crisis, Health, Inequality, Oligarchy, Philosophy, Privatization, Recession, Social Control, society, Sociology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Matinee: Project Nim

“Project Nim” (2011) is a British documentary film directed by James Marsh focusing on a research project commenced in the early 1970s to determine whether a primate socialized by humans could communicate using a language based on American Sign Language. The subject of the experiment was a chimpanzee named Nim Chimpsky, who was taken from his mother at birth and adopted by a human family in a brownstone on the upper West Side of New York. Project Nim documents Nim’s challenges throughout his forced immersion in human society and the lasting impact he makes on the people in his life.

Watch the full film on Kanopy here.

Posted in Art, culture, Film, Saturday Matinee, Science, society, Video | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why Assets Will Crash

By Charles Hugh Smith

Source: Of Two Minds

This is how it happens that boats that were once worth tens of thousands of dollars are set adrift by owners who can no longer afford to pay slip fees.

The increasing concentration of the ownership of wealth/assets in the top 10% has an under-appreciated consequence: when only the top 10% can afford to buy assets, that unleashes an almost karmic payback for the narrowing of ownership, a.k.a. soaring wealth and income inequality: assets crash.

Most of you are aware that the bottom 90% own very little other than their labor (tradeable only in full employment) and modest amounts of home equity that are highly vulnerable to a collapse of the housing bubble. (The same can be said of China’s middle class, only more so, as 75% of China’s household wealth is in real estate, more than double the percentage of wealth held in housing in U.S. households.)

As the chart illustrates, the top 10% own 84% of all stocks, over 90% of all business equity and over 80% of all non-home real estate. The concentration of ownership of assets such as vintage autos, collectibles, art, pleasure craft and second homes in the top 10% is likely even greater.

The more expensive the asset, the greater the concentration of ownership, as the top 5% own roughly 2/3 of all wealth, the top 1% own 40% and the top 0.1% own 20%. In other words, the more costly the asset, the narrower the ownership. (Total number of US households is about 128 million, so the top 5% is around 6 million households and the top 1% is 1.2 million households.)

This means the pool of potential buyers is relatively small, even if we include global wealth owners.

Since price is set on the margins, and assets like houses are illiquid, then we can anticipate all the markets for assets owned solely by the wealthy to go bidless–yachts, collectibles, vacation real estate–because the pool of buyers is small, and if that pool gets cautious due to a drop in net worth/unearned income, there won’t be any buyers except at the margins, at incredible discounts.

As we know, in a neighborhood of 100 homes currently valued ar $1 million each, when a desperate seller accepts $500,000, the value of the other 99 homes immediately drops to $500,000.

Since few of the current bubble-era asset valuations are supported by actual income fundamentals, then the sales price boils down to a very small number of potential buyers and what they’re willing to pay.

Houses have a value based on rent, of course, but rents will drop very quickly for the same reason: prices are set on the margins. The most desperate landlords will drop rents and re-set the rental market from the margins. If demand plummets (which it will as people can no longer afford rents in hot urban markets once they lose their jobs), then vacancies will soar and rents will crash as a few desperate landlords will take $1200/month instead of $2500/month.

Due to the multi-year building boom of multi-family buildings in hot job markets (which inevitably leads to an over-supply once the boom ends), there are now hundreds of vacancies where there were once only a few dozen, and thousands where there were previously only hundreds.

As millions of wait staff, bartenders, etc. who made good money in tips find their jobs have vanished, all the urban hotspots will see mass out-migration: Seattle, Portland, the S.F. Bay Area, L.A., NYC, Denver, etc. as demand for rentals will evaporate and rents will be set on the margins by the most desperate landlords. Everyone holding out for the previous bubble-era rent will have $0 income as their units are vacant.

Tech start-ups and Unicorns are melting like ice cubes in Death Valley, and tech-sector layoffs are already in the tens of thousands. This wave of highly paid techies losing their jobs will become a tsunami, further reducing the pool of people who can afford rents of $2,500 to $3,000 for a studio or one-bedroom apartment.)

The concentration of ownership generates a self-reinforcing feedback that further depresses prices: since the top 10% own most of the assets of the nation, they are most prone to a reversal of “the wealth effect.” As their assets soared in value, the top 10% felt wealthier and more confident in future gains, enabling them to borrow and spend freely on second homes, pleasure craft, new vehicles, collectibles, luxury travel, etc.

Once even one class of assets plummets in value–for example, the recent decline in the stock market– the wealth effect reverses and the top 10% feel poorer and less confident about future gains, and thus less enthused about borrowing and spending. The demand for other costly assets quickly evaporates, further reducing the wealth of the “ownership class,” which further reduces their desire and ability to buy bubble-era assets.

The high-priced assets owned by the top 10% will be the assets least in demand due to their high cost and potential for enormous losses: nothing loses value faster in a recession that narrowly owned assets such as vintage cars, art, vacation homes, yachts, etc.

Once assets start sliding in value, the reverse wealth effect quickly dries up demand for all asset classes with narrow ownership. Since these assets are illiquid–that is, the market for them is thin, with buyers few and far between–the prices are set by a very shallow pool of buyers and desperate sellers.

Consider a pleasure craft that retails new for $120,000. In the boom era of rising stocks and housing, a used boat might fetch $65,000. But as the wealth of the small pool of households able to buy and maintain a costly craft evaporates, the number of qualified buyers evaporates, too.

The seller might be aghast by an offer of $35,000 and reject it angrily. Six months later, he’s praying someone will take it off his hands for $15,000, and in another six months, he’ll accept $500 just to get out from underneath the insurance, slip-rental and licencing fees.

This is how it happens that boats that were once worth tens of thousands of dollars are set adrift by owners who can no longer afford to pay slip fees, and vacation homes are abandoned and auctioned off for overdue property taxes: the market for these luxuries dries up and blows away, i.e. goes bidless–there are no buyers at any price.

Once housing and real estate valuations fall, that will trigger a decline in the value of all other costly, narrowly owned assets, which will reinforce the reverse wealth effect.

This is the systemic payback for concentrating ownership of assets in the hands of the few: when their bubble-era priced assets plummet in value, the bottom falls out of all assets with narrow ownership. The price of superfluous assets such as boats, vintage cars, collectibles, art and vacation homes can quickly fall to a fraction of bubble-era valuations, destroying much of what was always fictional capital.

(For more on the intrinsic fragility of a system that concentrates ownership in the hands of the few, please read Our Inevitable Collapse: We Can’t Save a Fragile Economy With Bailouts That Increase Fragility May 1, 2020.)

The Federal Reserve reckons it can “save” the bubble-era valuations of junk bonds by being the “buyer of last resort,” but it will end up being the “only buyer,” effectively making the system even more fragile and prone to collapse.

The public will eventually have to decide if the nation’s central bank should be bailing out assets owned by the financial elite while the upper-middle class watches its assets collapse in value.

Posted in Corporate Crime, culture, Economics, elites, Financial Crisis, Housing Crisis, Inequality, news, Oligarchy, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America’s Super-Rich See Their Wealth Rise by $282 Billion in Three Weeks of Pandemic

America’s billionaires have accrued more wealth in the past three weeks alone than they made in total prior to 1980.

Source: Mint Press News

A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies found that, while tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, America’s ultra-wealthy elite have seen their net worth surge by $282 billion in just 23 days. This is despite the fact that the economy is expected to contract by 40 percent this quarter. The report also noted that between 1980 and 2020 the tax obligations of America’s billionaires, measured as a percentage of their wealth, decreased by 79 percent. In the last 30 years, U.S. billionaire wealth soared by over 1100 percent while median household wealth increased by barely five percent. In 1990, the total wealth held by America’s billionaire class was $240 billion; today that number stands at $2.95 trillion. Thus, America’s billionaires accrued more wealth in just the past three weeks than they made in total prior to 1980. As a result, just three people ­– Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffet – own as much wealth as the bottom half of all U.S. households combined.

The Institute for Policy Studies’ report paints a picture of a modern day oligarchy, where the super-rich have captured legislative and executive power, controlling what laws are passed. The report discusses what it labels a new “wealth defense industry” – where “billionaires are paying millions to dodge billions in taxes,” with teams of accountants, lawyers, lobbyists and asset managers helping them conceal their vast fortunes in tax havens and so-called charitable trusts. The result has been crippled social programs and a decrease in living standards and even a sustained drop in life expectancy – something rarely seen in history outside of major wars or famines. Few Americans believe their children will be better off than they were. Statistics suggest they are right.

Billionaires very theatrically donate a fraction of what they used to give back in taxes, making sure to generate maximum publicity for their actions. And they secure positive coverage of themselves by stepping in to keep influential news organizations afloat. A December investigation by MintPress found that Gates had donated over $9 million to The Guardian, over $3 million to NBC Universal, over $4.5 million to NPR, $1 million to Al-Jazeera, and a staggering $49 million to the BBC’s Media Action program. Some, like Bezos, prefer to simply outright purchase news organizations themselves, changing the editorial stance to unquestioning loyalty to their new owners.

The spike in billionaire wealth comes amid an unprecedented economic crash; 26.5 million Americans have filed for unemployment over the last five weeks, and that number is expected to continue to rise dramatically. While the super-rich are holed up in their mansions and yachts, the 49-62 million Americans designated as “essential workers” must continue to risk their lives to keep society functioning, even as many of them do not even earn as much as the $600 weekly increase in unemployment benefits the CARES act stipulates. Many low paid workers, such as grocery store employees, have already fallen sick and died. The mother of one 27-year-old Maryland worker who contracted COVID-19 and died received her daughter’s last paycheck. It amounted to $20.64.

Amazon staff, directly employed by Bezos, also risk their lives for measly pay. One third of all Amazon workers in Arizona, for example, are enrolled in the food stamps program, their wages so low that they cannot afford to pay for food. The vast contrast in the effect that COVID-19 has had on the super wealthy versus the rest of us has many concluding that billionaires’ wealth and the poverty of the rest of the world are two sides of the same coin: that the reason people working full-time still cannot afford a house or even to eat is the same reason people like Bezos control more wealth than many countries. Bezos’ solution to his employees’ hunger has been to set up a charity and ask for public donations to help his desperate workers.

The majority of millennials, most of them shut out from attaining the American dream, already prefer socialism to capitalism, taking a dim view of the latter. The latest news that the billionaire class is laughing all the way to the bank during a period of intense economic suffering is unlikely to improve their disposition.

 

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, Common Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

Posted in Corporate Crime, corporate news, Corporate Welfare, culture, Dystopia, Economics, elites, Financial Crisis, Inequality, media, Media Literacy, Neoliberalism, news, Oligarchy, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Corporate Looting as ‘Rescue Plan,’ Robber Barons as ‘Saviors’

By Joshua Cho

Source: FAIR.org

For a perfect illustration of how corporate media function as ruling class propaganda, watch how they spin a titanic upward redistribution of wealth as a “rescue plan” for the US economy, and paint a robber baron like US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin as a “savior” of the American public.

In discussions of the (officially) estimated $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act—the largest government spending program in US history—before it was signed into law on March 27, corporate media largely abandoned the pretense of serving as watchdogs on behalf of the public in order to advocate for protecting and enriching the fortunes of their owners.

Instead of scrutinizing the bill as the robbery in progress that it is—as an understandable story with identifiable victims and victimizers—corporate media sold the CARES Act as an urgent necessity required to combat the coronavirus pandemic for everyone. Like the previous corporate bailout during the Great Recession (Extra!, 1/09), corporate media avoided raising questions about the necessity of having the government bail out large corporations, or whether the bill could be restructured to serve people rather than profits.

According to the Committee for a Responsible Budget, while the CARES Act dedicated $290 billion in direct payments to people and $260 billion in expanded unemployment benefits, it dedicated $300 billion in tax breaks and $875 billion in loans to big and small businesses—more than two dollars for corporations for every dollar for people, in other words.

When corporate media reported on negotiations and deliberations over the CARES Act, they either hailed it as a bipartisan achievement, or else shamed politicians who accurately pointed out that it overwhelmingly benefited corporations at the expense of workers. On the day the CARES Act was signed into law, NPR (3/27/20) praised the bill as “the largest rescue package in American history and a major bipartisan victory for Congress.”

Reporting in real-time, the Washington Post (3/24/20) spun the CARES Act as an attempt to “address the coronavirus crisis,” with the aim of “flooding the economy with capital to revive businesses and households.” When there was Democratic pushback over the Senate GOP bill for being “disproportionately tilted toward helping companies,” the Post described this as “partisan rancor and posturing on Capitol Hill” that blocked “the rescue bill.” The Post concern-trolled those who supported better legislation, and derided House Democrats’ putative attempts to chart their own “competing piece of legislation,” because “it could take even longer to arrive at a bipartisan consensus that can pass both chambers and get signed into law.”

The New York Times (3/22/20) made it clear that protecting workers and imposing conditions on handing out trillions in taxpayer dollars were frivolous reasons to oppose the legislation, as the Times cast Senate Democrats as villains for ostensibly opposing the bill because it “failed to adequately protect workers or impose strict enough restrictions on bailed-out businesses.” The Times described the “party-line vote” as a “stunning setback” for both the Trump administration’s “ambitious timeline” and “the rescue package,” and warned Democrats that they “risked a political backlash” if “they are seen as obstructing progress on a measure that is widely regarded as crucial to aid desperate Americans and buttress a flagging economy.”

The Times also drew parallels to the “spectacle in 2008,” when the House defeated a “$700 billion Wall Street bailout that aimed to stabilize the financial system amid a global meltdown.” Even in 2020, the Times is still spinning the upward redistribution of wealth from taxpayers to the big banks that caused the crisis as an ostensible success that saved what corporate media consider to be “the economy” (Extra!, 10/10).

Days later, the Times’ “As Coronavirus Spread, Largest Stimulus in History United a Polarized Senate” (3/26/20) spun the 96-to-0 Senate vote in favor of the bill as a heroic bipartisan compromise on legislation “intended to get the nation through the crippling economic and health disruptions being inflicted on the world by the coronavirus.” The Times leaned into corporate media’s civility fetish designed to demobilize opposition to the Trump regime (FAIR.org, 8/1/18, 12/22/19) when it depicted Democratic opposition to Senate Republicans’ “corporate giveaway” legislation as politically reckless and harmful to the country’s interests:

It was a shocking and politically perilous decision in the middle of a paralyzing national crisis, a moment when lawmakers are traditionally expected to put aside differences for the good of the country, or face a political backlash.

By contrast, in the false balance endemic in news coverage in the Trump era, the Times portrayed Senate Republicans as reasonable leaders who were “willing to momentarily abandon their small-government zeal” in the interest of “sealing a quick deal with Democrats” (GQ, 12/10/19; Washington Post, 4/27/12). Though the legislation didn’t include a necessary suspension of rent, utility and mortgage payments, or guarantee monthly payments, as advised by many economists, the Times spun it as a legislative victory for Senate Democrats:

In the end, Democrats won what they saw as significant improvements in the measure through their resistance, including added funding for healthcare and unemployment, along with more direct money to states. A key addition was tougher oversight on the corporate bailout fund, including an inspector general and congressionally appointed board to monitor it, disclosure requirements for businesses that benefited, and a prohibition on any of the money going to Mr. Trump’s family or his properties — although they could still potentially benefit from other provisions.

The problem with this triumphant Democratic ResistanceTM narrative is that it happens to be false. Politico’s report (3/26/20) on the negotiations over what it also hailed as a “rescue package” revealed that the final bill largely reflected the Senate Republicans’ “unemployment insurance and direct payments schemes” as “originally outlined,” with Sen. Mitch McConnell claiming that the CARES Act was a bill that was “largely, not entirely but largely, produced by Republicans in consultation with the Democratic minority.”

The Democratic leadership’s lack of concern with proper oversight of the bailout funds was also exposed when Speaker Nancy Pelosi chose her first-term congressmember friend Donna Shalala as part of the five-member oversight panel, despite her numerous conflicts of interest, evident lack of expertise or reported interest in the job (American Prospect, 4/18/20).

The American Prospect’s David Dayen has done some of the best reporting on the CARES Act, and he’s observed (3/25/20) how means-testing the $1,200 stimulus payments by basing it off IRS data in 2018 and 2019 was designed to limit the number of Americans who can receive it. The miserly one-time $1,200 stimulus payment will primarily reach Americans who already have direct deposit information on file with the IRS, with the unbanked (who happen to be the poorest) having to wait up to four months for paper checks, and who will be lucky to remain at the same address during that time without a suspension of rent payments.

While Democratic leaders like Pelosi opposed emergency universal basic income—and delayed payments to set up a bureaucracy ostensibly dedicated to make sure wealthy Americans don’t get anything—the richest Americans are in fact receiving an average stimulus payment of $1.7 million in the form of a millionaire tax cut.

Dayen has noted how the official “$500 billion” provided by the CARES Act to bailout large corporations is actually underreporting the enormity of the federal government’s corporate giveaway, as Trump regime officials like Larry Kudlow and Steve Mnuchin admitted their intent to leverage the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending authority to turn $500 billion into a $4.5 trillion money cannon aimed at large corporations.

What was in actuality a $6 trillion spending package had few conditions attached to the largesse given to large corporations, as the money can still go to mergers, executive compensation and paying dividends to shareholders, with no requirement that they keep employing workers to receive this handout.

It’s hard to overstate the injustice and scale of this upward redistribution of wealth. Commenting on 2008’s bailout, economist Richard Wolff (Guardian, 11/4/13) pointed out how funding the bailout through borrowing money effectively transfers wealth upward from regular taxpayers to rich bondholders, because the government is borrowing money from—and paying interest to—large corporations and the rich that it could have taxed them for instead. Rather than letting shareholders be wiped out first, according to the ostensible rules of capitalism—where they are supposed to bear the risk, instead of the government—the government is shoveling money to tax-dodging corporations like Boeing who admit to not needing these funds.

By borrowing the money for a program that prioritizes saving the rich, rather than printing money to fund an emergency universal basic income for the people like Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s proposal, the government is effectively paying the rich for saving them. The fact that these viable alternative stimulus proposals weren’t enacted is inexcusable. Especially when the Federal Reserve is hinting its willingness to increase the money supply by buying unlimited debt to fund the CARES Act, the fact that the necessary funds magically appear to fund corporate bailouts instead of necessary social programs (like Medicare for All) exposes the “How are you going to pay for it?” talking point as a fraud (Extra!, 6/12).

Pam and Russ Martens of Wall Street on Parade (3/26/20) observed how the CARES Act also allows the Fed to create “Special Purpose Vehicles” and hide this money from their balance sheets, allowing them to avoid the FOIA requests used to the expose the enormity of the $29 trillion bailout from 2008, in addition to repealing public meeting and recordkeeping requirements for Fed-related programs. This allows the Fed to evade transparency and accountability by holding meetings in secret.

But when corporate media aren’t busy spinning massive corporate robbery of taxpayer money as a rescue package for “the economy,” they’re busy spinning robber barons like Mnuchin as heroic “saviors” instead. Reuters’ “This Is No 2008: Mnuchin Borrows From Paulson’s Economic Crisis Playbook” (3/20/20) depicted Mnuchin as an unlikely hero thrust into the role of solving the US’ economic woes, as they reported:

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has stepped into the breach as the Trump administration’s point man to rescue the economy from coronavirus devastation, taking on the role his former Goldman Sachs boss, Hank Paulson, played over a decade ago.

Mnuchin has closely followed the financial crisis playbook used by Paulson when he led the Treasury Department in 2008, reactivating Federal Reserve credit market backstops and asking Congress for $1 trillion to prop up companies and consumers as the economy grinds to a halt due to the spread of the virus.

Apparently, for Reuters, there is only one “playbook” to be followed for all economic crises: massive taxpayer-funded giveaways to large corporations, and crumbs for everyone else. The report contained praise from official sources praising Mnuchin for being “pragmatic” and “rising to the occasion,” with few questions beyond whether he can succeed in his noble mission, as Reuters wondered whether Mnuchin can “strong-arm executives or influence President Donald Trump to take the drastic steps the unprecedented crisis may demand.” Whether Mnuchin and the Trump regime are actually trying to “rescue the economy” is apparently unquestionable, even though Mnuchin would dismiss record-breaking levels of unemployment as “not relevant” only a few days later (Common Dreams, 3/26/20).

The Wall Street Journal’s “How Mnuchin Became Washington’s Indispensable Crisis Manager” (3/31/20) also peddled this fictitious savior narrative when it reported that “Mnuchin has become Washington’s indispensable deal-maker in trying to keep the crisis from throwing the world’s largest economy into the deepest downturn since the Great Depression,” while shepherding “a pair of rescue bills through Congress.”

The Journal depicted Mnuchin’s ability to retain Trump’s confidence while working with Democrats as something that will be “all the more needed in the weeks ahead as the pandemic is expected to worsen,” in order to “get things done in partisan Washington.” Those “skills” didn’t seem to manifest when additional funding for state and local governments, and expanded food stamp benefits needed to rescue people, were left out of the “Phase 3.5” coronavirus legislation last week (Intercept, 4/22/20).

The Washington Post’s “The Dealmaker’s Dealmaker: Mnuchin Steps In as Trump’s Negotiator, but President’s Doubts Linger With Economy in Crisis” (3/27/20) also praised Mnuchin’s efforts to “bridge divides” and forge bipartisan “agreements.” While to the Post’s credit, the piece noted how the “Treasury Department’s demands have often appeared to represent the interests of big business rather than workers,” its overall thrust was encapsulated by its subhead: “Can his economic rescue plan quickly stabilize an economy headed toward calamity?”

The New York Times’ “How Powell and Mnuchin Became the Duo in Charge of Saving the Economy” (3/31/20) reported on Mnuchin’s “vital partnership” with Fed chair Jerome Powell, echoed the “unlikely hero” narrative, and described their efforts as “critical not only to workers and businesses,” but also to Trump’s “re-election” chances:

The coronavirus poses the most significant economic threat since at least 2008, thrusting Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Powell into key roles in determining whether the United States economy suffers a short, manageable slowdown or enters a deep and painful recession.

When the Times briefly acknowledged concerns about the massive concentration in power and newfound influence in Powell and Mnuchin’s hands, and questions about the integrity of the “oversight” process, it treated the CARES Act favoring big corporations over workers as a hypothetical scenario, rather than a plain fact.

In a unique situation where workers and small business owners have the shared interest in not being wiped out by the pandemic, how else does one characterize the disproportionately stricter conditions placed on small businesses to retain workers to receive bailout money—while big corporations have no such limitations—except as a plan to save big corporations over workers? The Times’ later reports (4/22/20, 4/26/20) on big corporations receiving bailout money intended for small businesses, and receiving concierge service for coronavirus aid at their expense, should’ve been predictable—as it was to some observers in real time (American Prospect, 3/25/20).

Throughout this coverage, it’s quite telling who counts as “the economy” and what measures are considered “necessary” or “adequate,” because it reveals who corporate media consider to be disposable (working class America), and who needs “saving” (large corporations and the American oligarchy). With the CARES Act, corporate media reversed the narrative in a truly Orwellian fashion, portraying corporate looting of the Treasury as necessary to “rescue the economy,” while the main questions regarding “savior” officials like Mnuchin are whether his plans to “save the economy” can succeed. When 26 million Americans lost their jobs between March 18 and April 22, while the wealth of US billionaires increased by $308 billion (more than 10%), there’s no other way to look at corporate media spin as anything but ruling class propaganda to legitimize saving capital while letting people die (In These Times, 4/6/20).

Posted in Authoritarianism, Corporate Crime, corporate news, Corporate Welfare, Corruption, culture, Dystopia, Economics, elites, Empire, Financial Crisis, Inequality, media, Media Literacy, news, Oligarchy, propaganda, Psy-ops, Recession, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two for Tuesday

A Perfect Circle

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What Does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Want?

By Bill Willers

Source: Dissident Voice

There’s an interview of Bill Gates in which Gates reveals more than he might have intended. Rosemary Frei details many of the Orwellian aspects of Gates’ plans. In particular, consider these comments by Gates from disparate parts of the interview:

It’s [Covid19] quite infectious, way more infectious than MERS or SARS were. It’s not as fatal as they were ….. Nothing like this has ever happened to the economy in our lifetimes. But money — ya know — bringing the economy back and doing money — that’s more of a reversible thing than bringing people back to life. So we’re going to take the pain in the economic dimension — huge pain — in order to minimize the pain in the disease and death dimensions.

Gates is misleading. To admit that Covid19 is “not as fatal” as MERS or SARS is to state that it is less virulent — that the clinical symptoms are not as serious. “More infectious” only means more transmissible, which says nothing about the presence or absence of illness symptoms. So, what is arguably nothing more than a bad flu season is being used to justify the crashing of the economy. Who, exactly, is the “we” in Gates’ “We’re going to take the pain in the economic dimension”? Certainly not billionaire Gates. And wouldn’t “We’re going to…..” indicate that he was involved in the lockdown decision?

Out in the land, countless millions of Americans are seeing their lives put to a ruin beyond salvage. Thousands of small businesses — a life’s work for many — will not survive. In Spring of 2016, mainstream media was reporting that 40% of Americans were unable to come up with $400 to cover an emergency situation. Such a lack of financial cushion is to be barely above outright poverty. Imagine their terror now that their meager income has been further diminished by the lockdown. Gates, a tech genius, either does not comprehend the level of tragedy he advocates, or he does not care. It is no secret that extreme dread, when prolonged, is disastrous to one’s health.

Without detailed research one could not prove that many more Americans will die as a result of the lockdown than of Covid-19, but considering the countless ripple effects throughout the many interdependencies within a complex civilization, reason and experience lead one quickly to that conclusion. There will be mass anxiety, depression, seeking the respite from pain provided by alcohol, frayed nerves leading to violence, and sheer desperation driving many to consider crime in a last ditch effort to hold body and soul together.

Within the interview, Gates drops a bomb: “Eventually, what we’ll have to have is certificates of who’s a recovered person, who’s a vaccinated person, because you don’t want people moving around the world, where you have some countries that won’t have a control sadly.” What kind of “certificates”? What he actually has in mind may be revealed in a report of this past December that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was funding research at MIT in the development of a “Tattoo ID”, to be injected with vaccinations and available for anonymous detection. In time, the failure to have the appropriate identifying tattoo for any given year, and for any given virus officially declared dangerous, would most certainly be used to control individual freedom of movement. This should trigger every thinking person’s attention, particularly as it is reported that Gates refused to have his own children vaccinated.

Ernst Wolff is a German journalist focused on international finance and its ramifications. His March 20, 2020 interview (Here posted March 30 with English subtitles) is worth viewing. He reports that funding and control for the World Health Organization (WHO) began a shift in the 1970s from nation states to the pharmaceutical industry and private foundations. In time, major support was coming from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Now, Gates’ power within the WHO is unmatched, having given him the status akin to that of a head of state, not only at the WHO, but also at the G20, a collective of world leaders concerned with issues of global importance. At the same time, it is startling that Event201, a “pandemic exercise” hosted by the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, took place a scant four months before the Covid19 outbreak and the lockdown decision.

The fact that Gates acknowledged that Covid19 is not as virulent as other viruses of recent history is by itself reason to view the extreme move of economic lockdown, and the isolation of individuals, with suspicion, as is the absence on mainstream media of the voices of dissenting epidemiologists of impeccable reputation. There is also the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, of which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is an “investor and partner”. Its mission: “to stimulate and accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and enable access to these vaccines for people during outbreaks.”

Bill Gates, with a personal fortune nearly a tenth of a trillion dollars, has placed himself at the forefront of decision-making regarding viral epidemics. His stated interest is the production of vaccines. With a world induced to his way of thinking, the stage is set for acceptance of annual mass vaccinations, a situation that would insure profits for the pharmaceutical industry that are not only astronomical, but also certain to be perpetual. In any given year, a new viral “strain” could, as with Covid19, be given a catchy title, and its death statistics, whether genuine or forged, drilled by media to instill mass dread. In certain situations, vaccination might be made mandatory — in the interest of humanity, of course. In any event, when WHO speaks, it is Bill Gates’ voice, and the interests of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that are being heard.

Posted in Authoritarianism, civil liberties, Corporate Crime, Corruption, culture, Dystopia, Economics, elites, Financial Crisis, Health, Inequality, Oligarchy, police state, propaganda, Psy-ops, Science, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, surveillance state, Technocracy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Technofascism: Digital Book Burning in a Totalitarian Age

By John W. Whitehead

Source: The Rutherford Institute

“Those who created this country chose freedom. With all of its dangers. And do you know the riskiest part of that choice they made? They actually believed that we could be trusted to make up our own minds in the whirl of differing ideas. That we could be trusted to remain free, even when there were very, very seductive voices—taking advantage of our freedom of speech—who were trying to turn this country into the kind of place where the government could tell you what you can and cannot do.”—Nat Hentoff

We are fast becoming a nation—nay, a world—of book burners.

While on paper, we are technically free to speak—at least according to the U.S. Constitution—in reality, however, we are only as free to speak as the government and its corporate partners such as Facebook, Google or YouTube may allow.

That’s not a whole lot of freedom. Especially if you’re inclined to voice opinions that may be construed as conspiratorial or dangerous.

Take David Icke, for example.

Icke, a popular commentator and author often labeled a conspiracy theorist by his detractors, recently had his Facebook page and YouTube channel (owned by Google) deleted for violating site policies by “spreading coronavirus disinformation.”

The Centre for Countering Digital Hate, which has been vocal about calling for Icke’s de-platforming, is also pushing for the removal of all other sites and individuals who promote Icke’s content in an effort to supposedly “save lives.”

Translation: the CCDH evidently believes the public is too dumb to think for itself and must be protected from dangerous ideas.

This is the goosestepping Nanny State trying to protect us from ourselves.

In the long run, this “safety” control (the censorship and shadowbanning of anyone who challenges a mainstream narrative) will be far worse than merely allowing people to think for themselves.

Journalist Matt Taibbi gets its: “The people who want to add a censorship regime to a health crisis are more dangerous and more stupid by leaps and bounds than a president who tells people to inject disinfectant.”

Don’t fall for the propaganda.

These internet censors are not acting in our best interests to protect us from dangerous, disinformation campaigns about COVID-19, a virus whose source and behavior continue to elude medical officials. They’re laying the groundwork now, with Icke as an easy target, to preempt any “dangerous” ideas that might challenge the power elite’s stranglehold over our lives.

This is how freedom dies.

It doesn’t matter what disinformation Icke may or may not have been spreading about COVID-19. That’s not the issue.

As commentator Caitlin Johnstone recognizes, the censorship of David Icke by these internet media giants has nothing to do with Icke: “What matters is that we’re seeing a consistent and accelerating pattern of powerful plutocratic institutions collaborating with the US-centralized empire to control what ideas people around the world are permitted to share with each other, and it’s a very unsafe trajectory.”

Welcome to the age of technofascism.

Technofascism, clothed in tyrannical self-righteousness, is powered by technological behemoths (both corporate and governmental) working in tandem. As journalist Chet Bowers explains, “Technofascism’s level of efficiency and totalitarian potential can easily lead to repressive systems that will not tolerate dissent.”

The internet, hailed as a super-information highway, is increasingly becoming the police state’s secret weapon. This “policing of the mind: is exactly the danger author Jim Keith warned about when he predicted that “information and communication sources are gradually being linked together into a single computerized network, providing an opportunity for unheralded control of hat will be broadcast, what will be said, and ultimately what will be thought.”

It’s a slippery slope from censoring so-called illegitimate ideas to silencing truth.

Eventually, as George Orwell predicted, telling the truth will become a revolutionary act.

We’re almost at that point now.

What you are witnessing is the modern-day equivalent of book burning which involves doing away with dangerous ideas—legitimate or not—and the people who espouse them.

Today, the forces of political correctness, working in conjunction with corporate and government agencies, have managed to replace actual book burning with intellectual book burning.

Free speech for me but not for thee” is how my good friend and free speech purist Nat Hentoff used to sum up this double standard.

This is about much more than free speech, however. This is about repression and control.

With every passing day, we’re being moved further down the road towards a totalitarian society characterized by government censorship, violence, corruption, hypocrisy and intolerance, all packaged for our supposed benefit in the Orwellian doublespeak of national security, tolerance and so-called “government speech.”

The reasons for such censorship vary widely from political correctness, safety concerns and bullying to national security and hate crimes but the end result remains the same: the complete eradication of what Benjamin Franklin referred to as the “principal pillar of a free government.”

The upshot of all of this editing, parsing, banning and silencing is the emergence of a new language, what George Orwell referred to as Newspeak, which places the power to control language in the hands of the totalitarian state.

Under such a system, language becomes a weapon to change the way people think by changing the words they use.

The end result is control.

In totalitarian regimes—a.k.a. police states—where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used.

In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind lest they find themselves ostracized or placed under surveillance.

Even when the motives behind this rigidly calibrated reorientation of societal language appear well-intentioned—discouraging racism, condemning violence, denouncing discrimination and hatred—inevitably, the end result is the same: intolerance, indoctrination and infantilism.

It’s political correctness disguised as tolerance, civility and love, but what it really amounts to is the chilling of free speech and the demonizing of viewpoints that run counter to the cultural elite.

The police state could not ask for a better citizenry than one that carries out its own censorship, spying and policing: this is how you turn a nation of free people into extensions of the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent police state, and in the process turn a citizenry against each other.

Tread cautiously: Orwell’s 1984, which depicts the ominous rise of ubiquitous technology, fascism and totalitarianism, has become an operation manual for the omnipresent, modern-day surveillance state.

1984 portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state. There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society. Snitches and cameras are everywhere. People are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes. The government, or “Party,” is headed by Big Brother who appears on posters everywhere with the words: “Big Brother is watching you.”

We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by not only Orwell but also such fiction writers as Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick.

Much like Orwell’s Big Brother in 1984, the government and its corporate spies now watch our every move. Much like Huxley’s A Brave New World, we are churning out a society of watchers who “have their liberties taken away from them, but … rather enjoy it, because they [are] distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing.” Much like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the populace is now taught to “know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away.”

And in keeping with Philip K. Dick’s darkly prophetic vision of a dystopian police state—which became the basis for Steven Spielberg’s futuristic thriller Minority Report—we are now trapped in a world in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful, and if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams and pre-crime units will crack a few skulls to bring the populace under control.

What once seemed futuristic no longer occupies the realm of science fiction.

Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed and shared by the government and corporations alike—facial recognition, iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on—are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, the dystopian visions of past writers is fast becoming our reality.

In fact, our world is characterized by widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, fusion centers, driverless cars, voice-controlled homes, facial recognition systems, cybugs and drones, and predictive policing (pre-crime) aimed at capturing would-be criminals before they can do any damage. Surveillance cameras are everywhere. Government agents listen in on our telephone calls and read our emails. And privacy and bodily integrity have been utterly eviscerated.

We are increasingly ruled by multi-corporations wedded to the police state.

What many fail to realize is that the government is not operating alone. It cannot.

The government requires an accomplice.

Thus, the increasingly complex security needs of the massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental overreach.

In fact, Big Tech wedded to Big Government has become Big Brother, and we are now ruled by the Corporate Elite whose tentacles have spread worldwide.

The government now has at its disposal technological arsenals so sophisticated and invasive as to render any constitutional protections null and void. Spearheaded by the NSA, which has shown itself to care little to nothing for constitutional limits or privacy, the “security/industrial complex”—a marriage of government, military and corporate interests aimed at keeping Americans under constant surveillance—has come to dominate the government and our lives.

Money, power, control.

There is no shortage of motives fueling the convergence of mega-corporations and government. But who is paying the price?

“We the people,” of course. Not just we Americans, but people the world over.

We have entered into a global state of tyranny.

Where we stand now is at the juncture of OldSpeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is “safe” and “accepted” by the majority is permitted). The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts and expressions that challenge their authority.

This is the final link in the police state chain.

Americans have been conditioned to accept routine incursions on their privacy rights. In fact, the addiction to screen devices—especially cell phones—has created a hive effect where the populace not only watched but is controlled by AI bots. However, at one time, the idea of a total surveillance state tracking one’s every move would have been abhorrent to most Americans. That all changed with the 9/11 attacks. As professor Jeffrey Rosen observes, “Before Sept. 11, the idea that Americans would voluntarily agree to live their lives under the gaze of a network of biometric surveillance cameras, peering at them in government buildings, shopping malls, subways and stadiums, would have seemed unthinkable, a dystopian fantasy of a society that had surrendered privacy and anonymity.”

Having been reduced to a cowering citizenry—mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us like enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all—we have nowhere left to go.

We have, so to speak, gone from being a nation where privacy is king to one where nothing is safe from the prying eyes of government.

In search of so-called terrorists and extremists hiding amongst us—the proverbial “needle in a haystack,” as one official termed it—the Corporate State has taken to monitoring all aspects of our lives, from cell phone calls and emails to Internet activity and credit card transactions. This data is being fed through fusion centers across the country, which work with the Department of Homeland Security to make threat assessments on every citizen, including school children.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, you are now being watched, especially if you leave behind an electronic footprint.

When you use your cell phone, you leave a record of when the call was placed, who you called, how long it lasted and even where you were at the time. When you use your ATM card, you leave a record of where and when you used the card. There is even a video camera at most locations equipped with facial recognition software. When you use a cell phone or drive a car enabled with GPS, you can be tracked by satellite. Such information is shared with government agents, including local police. And all of this once-private information about your consumer habits, your whereabouts and your activities is now being fed to the U.S. government.

The government has nearly inexhaustible resources when it comes to tracking our movements, from electronic wiretapping devices, traffic cameras and biometrics to radio-frequency identification cards, satellites and Internet surveillance.

Speech recognition technology now makes it possible for the government to carry out massive eavesdropping by way of sophisticated computer systems. Phone calls can be monitored, the audio converted to text files and stored in computer databases indefinitely. And if any “threatening” words are detected—no matter how inane or silly—the record can be flagged and assigned to a government agent for further investigation. Federal and state governments, again working with private corporations, monitor your Internet content. Users are profiled and tracked in order to identify, target and even prosecute them.

In such a climate, everyone is a suspect. And you’re guilty until you can prove yourself innocent.

Here’s what a lot of people fail to understand, however: it’s not just what you say or do that is being monitored, but how you think that is being tracked and targeted.

We’ve already seen this play out on the state and federal level with hate crime legislation that cracks down on so-called “hateful” thoughts and expression, encourages self-censoring and reduces free debate on various subject matter.

Say hello to the new Thought Police.

Total Internet surveillance by the Corporate State, as omnipresent as God, is used by the government to predict and, more importantly, control the populace, and it’s not as far-fetched as you might think. For example, the NSA has designed an artificial intelligence system that can anticipate your every move. In a nutshell, the NSA feeds vast amounts of the information it collects to a computer system known as Aquaint (the acronym stands for Advanced QUestion Answering for INTelligence), which the computer then uses to detect patterns and predict behavior.

No information is sacred or spared.

Everything from cell phone recordings and logs, to emails, to text messages, to personal information posted on social networking sites, to credit card statements, to library circulation records, to credit card histories, etc., is collected by the NSA and shared freely with its agents.

Thus, what we are witnessing, in the so-called name of security and efficiency, is the creation of a new class system comprised of the watched (average Americans such as you and me) and the watchers (government bureaucrats, technicians and private corporations).

Clearly, the age of privacy is at an end.

So where does that leave us?

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers. This is the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction lesson that is being pounded into us on a daily basis.

It won’t be long before we find ourselves looking back on the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whom we wanted, buy what we wanted, think what we wanted without those thoughts, words and activities being tracked, processed and stored by corporate giants such as Google, sold to government agencies such as the NSA and CIA, and used against us by militarized police with their army of futuristic technologies.

To be an individual today, to not conform, to have even a shred of privacy, and to live beyond the reach of the government’s roaming eyes and technological spies, one must not only be a rebel but rebel.

Even when you rebel and take your stand, there is rarely a happy ending awaiting you. You are rendered an outlaw.

So how do you survive this global surveillance state?

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we’re running out of options.

We’ll soon have to choose between self-indulgence (the bread-and-circus distractions offered up by the news media, politicians, sports conglomerates, entertainment industry, etc.) and self-preservation in the form of renewed vigilance about threats to our freedoms and active engagement in self-governance.

Yet as Aldous Huxley acknowledged in Brave New World Revisited: “Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by democratic procedures. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in their calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those would manipulate and control it.”

Which brings me back to this technofascist tyranny being meted out on David Icke and all those like him who dare to voice ideas that diverge from what the government and its corporate controllers deem to be acceptable.

The problem as I see it is that we’ve allowed ourselves to be persuaded that we need someone else to think and speak for us. And we’ve allowed ourselves to become so timid in the face of offensive words and ideas that we’ve bought into the idea that we need the government to shield us from that which is ugly or upsetting or mean.

The result is a society in which we’ve stopped debating among ourselves, stopped thinking for ourselves, and stopped believing that we can fix our own problems and resolve our own differences.

In short, we have reduced ourselves to a largely silent, passive, polarized populace incapable of working through our own problems and reliant on the government to protect us from our fears.

In this way, we have become our worst enemy.

You want to reclaim some of the ground we’re fast losing to the techno-tyrants?

Start by thinking for yourself. If that means reading the “dangerous” ideas being floated out there by the David Ickes of the world—or the John Whiteheads for that matter—and then deciding for yourself what is true, so be it.

As Orwell concluded, “Freedom is the right to say two plus two make four.”

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