Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Beautifully Anal

We celebrate a beautiful mind to the tune of $300 million, because someone was a paranoid asshole and an economist (sic) who saw invisible plots everywhere. How this is genius is anyone's guess, but what really matters is that he believed it was true, truer than true, truer than false, truer than anything, even the truth. Our passion for lies is not so much disguised in plain sight as it is undisguised in plain sight, being that our greatest reverence is for liars, such that we nobly conflate genuine lying about a subject with storytelling, and allow history to decree that those whose contributions to the world were an insane pack of lies are, in fact, the great elucidators, the great narrators, shining a light on the lies that we all want to believe but can't except when someone is telling them.

Which is ridiculous, because telling stories and telling lies are two different things; it's fine to believe a story, and to believe a story in the face of evidence to the contrary, even, but believing in a story meant to kill people, a story about the Cold War fantasy of subhuman Russians designed to cause everyone to extinguish life via nuke, and justify proxy wars, is not narration or storytelling in the positive sense; it is, instead, a mere State of the Union speech, rapine of the decent soul, which would be committed in a sane world. So naturally, John Nash was allowed to roam free, receiving grants and teaching students, and having movies made about him where he's portrayed with a more attractive wife than Gandhi, which is both historically and cinematically inaccurate, but who's keeping track? Certainly not Michael Bay, who probably believes everything John Nash did.

We all want, secretly, Nash's delusions to be accurate, because really, if that mangled buffoon deserves any kind of acclaim, then so do we, his great and glorious descendants, who elevate godawful subway-toilet floor-scum like economics doctors to positions of influence over what the entire species eats and drinks, or doesn't eat and drink, because, well, the vagaries of allocation. When we see a sick fuck like Hannibal Lecter or John Nash get celebrated, we feel good about ourselves, like we won't just go silently into the night, but become the subjects of glowing movies a few years after our empire has crumbled, and the Neo-Romans are busy bombarding the Venus Collective over a minor tariff disagreement.

Sylvia Nasar and the Pulitzer Committee were able to salivate over Nash no more or less than Princeton University or the Nobel committee, because they were, at heart--or maybe "at mind," to be honest--clones of a living guy named Ronald Reagan, galloping around the globe with the express purpose of anally raping little Nicaraguan girls with broom handles, and blaming it on some guy named Ivan, who theoretically had designs of taking over the world in support of some dead guy named Vladimir Lenin.

It doesn't matter that post-Cold War documents have shown, conclusively, that the Soviets' desire was to avoid conflict and not expand, no. Asking anyone to believe that in the 1960s was crazy. At least, anyone who was making a buck off of anally raping little Nicaraguan girls with broom handles and clear cutting El Salvador to drive Salvadoran boys into jungles of Honduras to stamp coke and suck off CIA assets for ten cents a year you sick motherfuckers. Everyone but those utter tools John Nash and Ed Harris understood that it was an illusion, except for Grandpa, who just won't get over what the General Electric television told him about the ruskies sometime shortly after innocuous lines began appearing in the sky. So by all means, lick those broom handles, push those peasant girls to the dirt floor of the hut, and let them fucking have it, in the name of sphincter shredding paranoia. Because no, it's not particularly a joke. It's not for shock value, and it's not worth a polite grimace and a quick scroll. It's a matter of a thousand years' tears, the number of peasant rapes that Sylvussell Nashar-Reagane feels we should cheer about. And God help us, we cheered until it made us all sick again, as though we're new to the concept of an "insanity" movie simply because it's based upon a true story that was based upon a false story that was based upon a false story and ten thousand rape-murders. Really. Go to any R1, or maybe just one with a good Latin American Studies collection, and it's all right there in plain espanglish, s-ay, it's all publicly accessible, just like the post-burqa-shredding .22 headshots occurring in a drier locale right about now.

And they say art doesn't reflect reality. Up periscope. Up, up, up, periscope, drop Russell Crowe into a submarine movie next, where he heroically prevents the start of nuclear war inside a giant metal phallus with the close assistance of Denzel Washington in a skintight blue leotard, or perhaps Sean Connery in a tuxedo, because our heroes are delusional assassins, or worse, economists. As we all know, the Roman Empire was championed by good men, good emperors, and occasionally good generals played by Australians, who deeply and sincerely believed in democracy, despite their lifelong commitment to massacring Gauls. We know in our hearts that it's true, because our movies have told us that Russell Crowe is a beautiful general, much like Ollie North the Beautiful Colonel, and our dear Russell knows exactly what it's like to be under fire for dispersing unpopular views like how great we are and how great our classical predecessors were. Don't worry, here comes James Cameron and the Blue Man Group to prove that we've learned our lesson and are, in our hearts, paragons of freedom and justice despite all that repression and injustice.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Plausible Rackets ~ Securities Trading

Is the stock market a pyramid scheme? Or, as the modern question goes, "Is buyin' stock all, like, uhhh, that thing, uhh...whassis name? Modgepin? Ohhhhh! Yeah, that's it--Madoff? Yeah, like, is it like that?"

The answer is both yes and no. How? Well, what's a pyramid scheme?

What Is A Pyramid Scheme?

In a pyramid scheme, a con collects money from marks, tells them it will be invested, and tells the marks that their investment will eventually provide them with positive returns. The con then pockets the money, and continues the scheme with new marks. When the first set of people ask for some investment returns, the con often has money to pay them, and he does--not from real investment returns, but out of the investment money he's been acquiring from newer marks. Eventually, not enough new marks are entering the system to allow him to make payouts to people wanting withdrawals, and the pyramid collapses. If the con is clever, he gets away with the bulk of the money before the collapse. If he's really clever, he planned his capture ahead of time, and had the financial connections necessary to make the money "disappear" before his show trial, so that he could later recover it, safe under the wings of double jeopardy.

More specific example: say that Bernie takes money from Kevin, then tells him that it will be invested in securities. Bernie moves the money to some friends' accounts in a friendly middle eastern nation. A few months later, Kevin needs some money to pay for wigs and face paints, so he asks Bernie for a withdrawal. Bernie has, in the meantime, taken money from Clint, and he uses some of that to pay Kevin. Clint's money heads offshore, and when Clint asks Bernie for a withdrawal to pay for a new hat, Bernie takes some of Monica's investment to pay Clint.

The scheme works for a long time if Bernie is smart enough to produce fake statements tricking Kevin, Clint, and Monica into believing that the small withdrawals they've made are only a tiny slice of the pie, and that their real money is "out there" somewhere. This is how "multi-level marketing" works: new suckers enter the game, pay a "setup fee" of some kind, and some of those setup fees are used to pay off earlier players. The bulk of the money flows up the pyramid, to the corrupt founders, while the last set of suckers to enter the game gets completely screwed, because all the investments have vanished--the only real income source was the setup fees, rather than the product.

Do we get it? Why would anyone be stupid enough to fall for such a thing? Because the seeming return--the profit--can be proven by distributing some of the setup fees of new marks. It looks like real income is being made. And, if you're brazen enough in recruiting people below you, you actually can turn a little profit.

The Traditional Pyramid Accusation

The typical slur at the stock market makes the accusation that the market is such a pyramid. Future investors of capital, critics say, are required to continue putting money into the stock market in order for earlier investors to be able to make withdrawals. The real money ends up with the corrupt businesses and/or investors who put together the whole thing. Stock market "crashes," then, are fake; like recessions, they're managed by governments and financial elites in order to provide a protective explanation for why investments are suddenly worth much less than they were initially (or nothing at all), or why income dividends are no longer being paid.

John's Story

Here's an even more lucid example of the accusation. Say that it's 1985, John has $50K, and he wants to someday retire. He could put his money in a bank, for a tiny rate of interest return, which would cause his savings to gradually shrink in real power, due to inflation. So, he buys $50K of stock in Widgets, Inc. For many years, he doesn't even need any money, since he's still making cash at work, but the paper regularly tells him that Widgets, Inc. is up a little, making his initial investment worth $52K, then $68K, then $62K, then $54K, then $59K, then $76K, and so on. When he retires in 2005, delighted that he's added $30K to his portfolio without having to lift a finger, he begins making withdrawals of around a couple grand a month. For about a year, he draws out around $25K, but then there's a recession, and Widgets, Inc., drops drastically in price. John is shocked to see that, after the withdrawals he's made, his remaining shares are only worth $10K. In a panic, he sells them.

His friend Bob, who made the same investment as John back in '85, and the same withdrawals in 2005-6, chides John for "selling low." A few years later, when the shares have bounced back, Bob sells them for $20K, and puts them into Rewidgets, Inc.

In our little story, John lost $15K on paper ($50K minus the $25K he withdrew, and the $10K for which he sold), as well as the 20 years' use of his money during its time of growth. He kicks himself for being such a wuss, chalks the loss up to poor investment knowledge and bad nerves, and downsizes to a condo.

At least he got that $35K, right? It wasn't just a raw theft of his $15K?

Not so, says the traditional "the stock market is a pyramid scheme" accusation. The money that John initially put in--the initial $50,000 invested in 1985--never was invested in "Widgets, Inc." at all. Sure, Widgets, Inc. exists, but the money that John "invested" in his "stock certificates" just went to the cronies at Widgets, who had a lot of fun with it. When it was time to begin paying John back in 2005, they didn't even give his money back. Actually, what happened was this:

Mark's Story

Say that it's 2005, Mark has $200K, and he wants to someday retire. He could put his money in a bank, for a tiny rate of interest return, which would cause his savings to gradually shrink in real power, due to inflation. So, he buys $200K of stock in Widgets, Inc. For many years, he doesn't even need any money, since he's still making cash at work, but the paper regularly tells him that Widgets, Inc. is up a little, making his initial investment worth $214K, then $280K, and so on...

John's Withdrawals Were Paid Mark's Investment

Yeah, that's the story. Onward it goes, says the "the stock market is a pyramid scheme" argument--a vicious cycle of inter-generational screwjobs, funded by a corrupt financial elite, a corrupt media elite, and millions of hopeful ninnies who think they're going to make something for nothing by "investing." The money is never actually there; the whole thing is just a Madoff-Amway con based around getting an expanding population to continue investing. The few people who get lucky are vastly overshadowed by the much, much larger numbers of people who end up paying much more into the system than they take out.


How can this explanation possibly fail? It has all the hallmarks of truth, including naive masses, corrupt elites, complicated numbers, and the strident denial of people in positions of power. It also offers a more cogent explanation for the structure of western finance, and the economic history of the twentieth century banking crises, than the traditional narrative. Clearly, it should be true. God knows, I want it to be true, just so certain parties can be held reasonably and fairly accountable for their nefarious actions.

Unfortunately, this time, the elite response is accurate. The standard, boring, business textbook explanation is correct, and it explains why the stock market isn't a pyramid scheme. (At least, not in that way. It's a much, much better pyramid scheme than that.)

So, how? First, plausible deniability--the drug we demand

When we're evaluating this question, we need to remember that the great modern schemes are based upon plausible deniability. No longer do warlords say, "Me Obama, me rape and pillage!" They say, "With gravest reservations, we must intervene..." Robber barons no longer say, "I refuse to hire worthless Irish trash; let their children starve." They say, "The multifaceted pressures of the current global marketplace have forced many firms to..."

In each of the above cases, the end result is the same, in terms of the actions of the Vile. And yet, the brilliance of these adaptations is that public exposure no longer threatens the stability of their schemes. Warlords used to base their wars, directly and honesty, upon notions of superiority, being forthright about how valueless were the lives of those they were slaughtering. Humanity's emotional creep has made that process increasingly inefficient, as people are no longer willing to hear, en masse, "We killed them because we don't like them." Grand speeches to resource war must be inspired by stuff other than honesty. In our leaders, we seek someone who will lie for us--someone who will do what we all secretly feel is necessary (resource war between superior/inferior civilizations)--but who will make us feel good about the process. That is why we accept Obama: because we know, deep down, that we're squabbling over inadequate resources on a cursed planet, in a pointless existence, and we want a real sonofabitch to do the dirty work for us. We can hate him if we must, but we know it has to be done.

(We're wrong in the latter assumptions, but if we commit the errors of the solely material, we're left with Obama.)

In the killer's head

The veneer saves us from our own deepest fears in a way that we'll cover later. Yet, having the Obama; the Wharton professor; the Topeka middle manager: having these horrid people as our spokespersons is only part of the solution to our problems. For, what about these people themselves? Obama gets up every morning, eats every meal, and goes to bed every night fully aware that he "takes actions which he knew or should have known would lead directly to the deaths of many of innocent people, which actions were not necessary to save himself or his family in the last extremes of defense of their lives." E.g., he knows he is a murderer, many times over. He's even a D&D Law gamemaster, i.e., "constitutional law" professor, which means he understands that he belongs in judgment at Nuremberg or the Hague, right now, for at least a thousand different things he's done.

How can he sleep at night? Is it because he's a subhuman monster? Yes, and no. He's just like us, making the same rationalizations that we all make as we pay our 1040s to fund the war machine. We are Obama. He rationalizes it to himself with a malectable cocktail of resigned necessity:
The world is a rough place, and I stand at the end of a road lined by corpses, placed by heartless men who continue to fester everywhere. If I rest, even for a moment, they will eat me alive. The only way that I manage to muddle through this cold existence is to give as good as I would've got if I'd been one of the unlucky ones.

People know everything I'm doing, and they allow it. They even encourage it. I am giving them what they want, and managing to shelter me and a few others from the harshness of the world. We're all fighters, trying to survive, like the first spined fish crawling out of some primordial puddle. If I don't fight hard, I'll be consumed. This is the way of the world, and I am a shark, fighting hard the way I'm supposed to.

Besides, maybe I'm not really lying about it all. Things are so rough, maybe the things I say are actually true. In fact, I sort've believe them, sometimes, when I really get going. All the heads of all those other countries, and all those people in them, are thinking the same things I am--and if they were in my position, they'd be punishing me and my family just like I'm doing to them. There is no real meaning except this struggle. I've gotta fight so hard, so hard, or I'll just end up suffering on the bottom.

Feel bad for him. No, really; do. This one's working on it, too, which is part of the reason for the return. Just talking about it, encouraging it, is an early step. Anyone can talk about it, whether sardonically or sincerely. Learning how to actually believe it is tough. It's necessary, though, to be able to understand why you, too, deserve the same pity for your own role in it.

God, depressing. Moving right along to the stock market. That's what this is about, right? Stocks. The point is, evil leaders now are successful because they shield us from the truth about our civilization: that it hasn't made any social or cultural advancements, but has actually regressed (if reviewed in conformity to the linear progression models we typically use to congratulate ourselves with over the stock market and various ultra-modern widgets). Warm cooperation becomes isolated computer use divided from small scorched bones in faraway deserts--you know the story, because you feel it in your above.

PD is necessary

Plausible deniability is necessary because it allows us to believe, just enough, that the lie might actually be true. The narrative; the story we tell ourselves, about who we are and why we had to do what we did, is vital to keep this show running. When we get smarter, we stop accepting it, but for now, it's king. Err, president. Entirely different.

And big schemes, like the stock market pyramid scheme, require that deniability. If Dubya had been honest about the 2003 Iraq invasion, even Americans wouldn't have tolerated it. If he'd said, "This is a new crusade, and I'm going to wipe out the evil infidels, even though they had nothing to do with 2001, just because I can, and just because we need that oil, and all you soldiers are just poor trash anyway so your lives don't matter," he would've ended up where he deserved to be. Yes, even in America. Even in Texas. The lie is necessary. We tell ourselves things in dressed-up words in order to permit all this.

Laugh at Dubya all you want, he/[his handlers] supplied a rational narrative for the Iraq invasion. It wasn't true, but it was logically coherent, and if it had been true (and conjoined to true versions of all the other non-truths) then it would've been the right thing to do: a regrettable, judiciously-timed necessity. By being able to rationalize it at every stage of the way, and cite to historical falsities that can be pretend-muddled enough by the passage of time to be open to interpretation, he/we can trick ourselves into hoping that maybe we're doing something right.

Elites do not fear being ambushed inside their private forums anymore; they do not mind their vast spying apparatus embarrassing them, because even inside their own heads, they "believe" the things they say. They are living, breathing lies, justified at every stage, using the duckspeakian dialogue of markets and realpolitik at the podium, the dinner table, and in their own dreams. Because no one can prove that al Qaeda didn't get training from Saddam, maybe it really did happen that way, and because no one that I made the decision to invade based upon my personal financial interests, maybe I really did it for humanitarian reasons. It is, indeed, possible to twist your brain into believing completely ridiculous things--which is why we're so docile, day by day.

The Real Pyramid

Ergo the real stock pyramid is something not so childishly dispelled as the "new investors' investments fund the dividends to older investors, but the principal is no longer really there" strategy does not explain the truth. Why? What do you get when you buy stock? It's not an illusory investment: you get a legally enforceable ownership interest in the corporation. As a holder of common stock, you have hundreds of years of case law backing up your rights. And these are rights that judicial branches actually enforce--rights important to the real game.

As a part owner of the corporation in which you've bought the stock, you have (probably) some right to vote for members of the corporation's Board of Directors, which means that you have an indirect level of control over all your corporation's activities. Its advertising strategies, product choice, willingness to impose biohabitatiary externalities, and CEO compensation are all subject to the court-enforceable power of your vote. Similarly, when dividends are paid, you are entitled--to some degree--to a share commensurate to your ownership interest. When the corporation dissolves (should it stop doing business) you are entitled to a share of the profits from the closing sale of its assets--again, depending on how much stock you own.

Your investment in "the stock market," then, is not a pyramid scheme. You don't merely own a valueless slip of Amway paper; you actually own something with marketable value. Those are rights one and two: (1) voting interest, and (2) dissolution interest. (3) is income interest; that right to receive a share of net profits in the form of dividends, commensurate to your proportional holdings, when the corporation turns a profit. Because these are backed up by the American court system, and the business community's enforcement arm--because cops actually kick in doors and shoot to enforce these--the traditional pyramid scheme claim is completely false. Investors receive something of value; dividends actually come out of corporate net profits; shareholder votes are actually tabulated, and shareholders actually have a place at the bankruptcy table when a dying corp. is being harvested. That sweet, anti-elite pyramid explanation above fails.

These rights we've looked at are all illusions of a higher order, and in delightfully delicious ways. Although they are powerfully enforced by courts--like voting rights for Americans, say--that very enforcement is part of the system that makes the stock market's pyramid scheme work. Inside the heads of business professors, corrupt Board members, an unwitting network of hundreds of thousands of financial products salespersons, and brainless "money" commentators on the news, the plausible deniability of the real pyramid scheme works. In the next installment of this series, we'll get into the fun details of how it works--how voting rights are watered down in defensibly public ways, and how dissolution interest and income interest are completely neutered. More importantly, examining the way that the stock market operates a pyramid scheme in broad daylight, able to publicly and coherently counter all of the arguments High Arka makes, will help us learn a great deal of of how other systems of plausible deniability can be maintained by millions of people who would otherwise care.

Continued in Part 2.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What China Did

All that said, of course, what is it that makes the western world (TM)'s frequent upset at the eastern so, erm, upsetting? The Americans (arguably unsustainably) slaughter all the buffalo, think it's great, then whine melodramatically when the Japanese (arguably sustainably) slaughter dolphins. The French blow up half the tropics testing le bombes gigantiques, then snorgle in phlegmatic concern when the Koreans may have potentially tested a single bomb in their own region. The British cut down all their forests, then decide they can't put up with being chilly, and invent the idea of combusting dinosaur slurry, crystallized arsenic, and gypsy children to heat their oversized single-family homes, then get all righteous when Chinese power plants burn coal to heat massive residential blocks in cities with centralized populations. Americans docilely pay their taxes, shrug at Obama's latest drone strike, curse the memory of Timothy McVeigh, mock the idea of Texas, then weep in protest at the latest article on how mean China is to "Tibet," which should be freed (and which unruly province would be considered an even more annoying part of China than Texas is of the U.S., if China were allowed to follow American rules of law and order and state security, which as we all know it is not permitted to).

And well, yeah, America invades, occupies, tortures, spies, assassinates, stockpiles, and represses the vote, then says no one else may. Martin Luther King gets a holiday at the same time as Barack Obama administers things from the White House. Du-duh diddy diddy du-duh doo-dee. Yawn-yawn.

But this other stuff--the "problems" with Beijing's air quality--it comes from a somewhat different place. Like so many ripples in the proverbial pond, every self-appointed talking head on Facebook is happy to share the latest article criticizing China's modernity. It's not even so bad as that these are things America has done for centuries, no; it's worse: these are things that America has done for centuries, and, and, a lot of the Chinese power usage and industrialization is caused by western companies, or by the Chinese manufacturing things for the same slobs who are criticizing the Chinese manufacturing processes. Just as Americans like to fret about "eating meat" now that their own children have been taking in sufficient animal protein for the past century, there's a suspicious timing in the western choice to have a problem with China's manufacturing base.

And yet--and yet--are these buffoons wholly ill-spirited? Do they intend to be racist? Confronted with the obvious fact that America does these things, too, they'd probably rub their curled chins, pocket the smartphone, send little Madison to play on the slide, and admit that yes, we had problems, too.

So where do we get off dictating so much to China? Is it really from the better sides of our natures? "Don't make the same mistakes we did?" Of course, we're still in the process of actively making and improving upon those mistakes, so that doesn't seem likely. But given that these great humanitarian unwilling interventionists are willfully unaware of the extent of the continuation of these mistakes, is it possible that they actually do believe, however ignorantly, that they're trying to warn someone away from their own sins? E.g., "We are the spirits of the lost; come not to this place to suffer as we have?"

No; more likely, there's that residual sense of misplaced superiority; the belief that what was fine for America is not fine for China. Our little pawns in South Korea would just love it if we managed to EU-guilt China into cutting back on its automobile aspirations, and the sellout richies in Hong Kong would love it even more if Europe agreed to foot 40% of the bill for killing off the Cantonese so that one tiny city could overthrow the billion-human, 5K-year culture at last, and feed the remains to whitey. And Dan Binkledorf, the Unitarian Minister from central Idafuck, would just hate the idea that all those slanty-eyed kooks could follow an industrial path without western guidance, because it would shatter his private apocryphal fantasy of how truly unique the central North American landmass is in its access to the tools of survivability on this forlorn rock he sees before him.

It doesn't really work. Even through rosy lens, there's no real getting around the paternializing Other, the Orientalist feminization, or the Know-Nothing condescension inherent in all the western fuss at What China Did.

Monday, January 20, 2014

I'm never impressed...

by a bunch of white people who are shocked, shocked, and disgusted by how polluted Beijing is, 150 years after Londoners began breathing liquefied coal.

What's that someone said once? The purest white second re-wedding dresses sometimes conceal the greatest indiscretions? Lay off China, you hypocritical neoliberal assholes.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Gayjudice & Anti-Semitism

The two most prejudiced people I've ever known have been gay men. One was the typical kind of wealthy, over-educated, white, homosexual, non-practicing-but-ethnic Jew, who thought that occasionally receiving head from a trembling little twink meant he was a benighted minority. He made scathing fun of anyone stupid enough to take life seriously, which included anyone not receiving quarterly trust disbursements, or anyone who thought that "settling down" was a worthwhile goal in life. His greatest ire, though, was reserved for "the gaze" and "the Juze," his preferred terminology for (mostly male) homosexuals, and Jews, respectively.

He didn't dislike them with a fiery passion; more of a bored passion. What bothered him about (other) gays and (other) Jews was that they were observant of an alternate cultural identity. Oh, this guy observed lots of cultural identities--he was rich, part of the "art patron" culture, a club-goer, partyboy and big spender--but he thought it warranted mockery if someone tried to express their homosexual or Jewish identity in another way. More specifically, he thought that traditional Chanukah was lame, that discussions of gay identity were stupid and pointless, and that those interested in such things were simultaneously lame, stupid, and pointless.

Right there, in one person, he had encapsulated so much of the modern power of anti-Semitism, and to an extent, sexuality-based bigotry. While he had been raised sort-of observing Chanukah, it had been done in the way that many American Christians sort-of observe Christmas, which is to say, more about visiting Great Uncle, eating traditional dishes, and distributing presents, and less about a connection to anything that might be considered a deity. Spirituality was funny to him, as was any kind of "ethnic identity"--it was, simply, outdated. In a land of investments, clubs, and blowjobs, surrounded by swirling privilege and protected by a bunch of beefy white Christian cops and soldiers, he could make fun of queers who had to deal with survival in bad neighborhoods, and Jews who possessed darker skin, Semitic blood, and a cultural memory he considered irrelevant.

That kind of modern anti-Semitism is everywhere; Goldhagen is, besides being full of his own genuine old-skool racism, aiming in the wrong place, as he'd be better spent calling out the rabbi-basher Jerry Seinfeld than whining about Germany. The Birdcage was a great movie, and everyone enjoys chuckling at Gene Hackman's pigheaded Congressman--yet, the plight of a rich, white, non-practicing, utterly un-spiritual son is paid hilariously heavy emphasis, while Robin Williams was cheered, rather than critiqued, for suggesting that Nathan Lane's flouncing was a complete replacement for the female sex. E.g., "Albert's practically a breast." So who would need a woman?

No, not an exaggeration, that. The selected dialogue, if you haven't seen, occurred in the context of a discussion of motherhood. In a movie all about how insensitive Gene Hackman was, the most dismissive slur of all came from Armand Goldman, who besides being rich and trendy and wholly secular, had no use for women even as his Latino domestic servants. Birdcage is as paternalistically feminist as you can get. Nearly every woman is a shrinking, needy violet, as wantonly pitiful as Nathan Lane's Bottom. The sole exception, Senator Jackson's "little chocolate whore," is a young black prostitute and spotlight-seeking media opportunist. Christine Baranski's Katherine, it is carefully noted, achieves financial success because Armand gave her money in exchange for sex; Dianne West's Senatorial wife is an intimidated heap of misery who raised Calista Flockhart's Barbara to be scarcely able to introduce herself above a whisper. If not for the money of the Top, Robin William, everything would fall apart.

...and that's not very different from patriarchy, is it? The only difference is that Robin was bedding a "Nathan" instead of a "Natasha." The lighthearted, overbearing sheltering for those who are not wealthy and/or not calling the shots is differentiated from traditional patriarchy only by the chromosomes of the subjugated. All of the paternalism is still there, but it becomes socially acceptable, and funny, in a way that would be considered demeaning to women if it had been directed at them, and not the assumed subordinant gay male partner. Indeed, as Goldman's earlier quote showed, women can even be demeaned alongside all of the above, so long as a dichotomy is created between the demeaner and someone worse on the other side--here, Gene Hackman.

The other gay guy I knew was worse than the first in terms of quantity. Unlike the first guy's generalized disdain--which was that of the wealthy and heartless sneering downward at the struggle to survive--the second guy was a caricature of bigotry, such that he actually hated people. He hated so many people that it was boring...air quotes eliminated from the following list for brevity: brainless women, stupid Hispanics, ugly Native Americans, stupid uneducated poor people, stupid old people, stupid young people, stupid Christians, stupid liberal NPR, and most ironically of all, gay people, because they always made his life difficult. This particular guy is worth mentioning not only because his existence was a giggling contradiction, but because his secular disdain of "Christians" was as eerily classist as the first guy's mockery of Jews. In the second case, Guy disliked white couples with neat haircuts, dubbing them "Christians" whether or not they displayed any crosses or did anything at all reminiscent of traditional notions of Christ; his rancor, often funny, was probably more meant for "suburbanites," and he simply felt that attaching the label "Christian" made the act an acceptable derogation.

In the first case, Guy disliked the image of traditional Jews more than he disliked actual Jews, whom he didn't really know. Like Seinfeld, he loved the idea of mocking rabbis who dared try to counsel struggling people or foster a sense of community, and his sense of "Jewry" was Hollywood; a vague, aloof claim to an oppression he'd never known, and a way of being simultaneously rich, powerful, and deserving of accolades for enduring victimhood. His laughs at the idea of actual practicing Jews were unspecific and unfocused, because he'd profited so handsomely from the very small number of Hebrew-blooded believers who bore a tenuous sociocultural connection to relatives he may have had at some point a couple generations ago. Real Jews--dark, Semitic people who actually believed in jubilees and awaited a Maschiah--were way behind the times, unsuited to lives in engineering and finance, ergo worthy of mockery.

The black, Hebrew-derived, desert-striding Jesus, wrapped in terrorist-like anti-sand robes, doesn't have much of a place in such a modern world. So, the whiter, much wealthier Europeans who propitiously afforded the move to America in the 1910s and -20s, managed to avoid the fate that awaited those Hebrews, Gypsies, and Romany who didn't have the means. The darker died, the whiter assumed identities, and now, White Jesus and Dark Rabbi are both subjects of acceptable mockery. Breezy money and hints of metrosexuality have somehow been associated with underdog status, trampling across the bodies of the buried so openly and proudly that it boggles the imagination. Jerry Seinfeld demeans rabbis, insults his show's annoying "traditional Jewish relatives," expressly disparages Jewish parents, and ridicules the idea of conversion to a faith that never moved him--because you can't "convert" to inheritance and assumed identity. He's in good company in the land that celebrates Jerry Springer's terrible circus of poverty horrors, and rewards Adam Sandler's crowing about screwing shampoo bottles and in-your-face holiday consumerism.

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's About Losing ~ Tax Theft 12

The point is not that they get anything out of it. They create it out of nothing. The real point is that you lose: your loss is their gain. It is not a zero-sum game, but one of spiraling negatives.

Continuing from Tax Theft 11; series starts here.

The Direct Cost of Taxes

Taxes cost a gigantic amount of money. Like currency and property, the idea that everything should be accounted and tabulated through a centralized administration is an expensive one to implement. For example, if we have a village with ten people, and each of the people has $100, and we need a new Well for $500, the cost of the Well is $500--unless we also have to implement a village-wide system of monitoring, accounting, comptrolling, and pensioning, in order to ensure that everyone pays the fair amount. If the town hires Citizen A as an accountant and Citizen B as a sheriff, the Well no longer costs merely $500--it costs $500 plus the cost of paying Citizen A and Citizen B their salaries.

Although supply-side economics is ridiculous, the Laffer Center provides, here, a good analysis of the specifics of the cost of taxes. The IRS costs around a dozen billion a year, and the ultimate figure that the Laffer Center comes to, in its probable agenda for a "flat tax," is over $400 billion--e.g., more than Bill Gates is worth, getting flushed down the tubes each year.

The standard defense for taxes says, "Taxes make money for the government, and without them there would be no government, ergo taxes actually make money." Or, some form of, "taxes are the price we pay for a civil society." This is easily, somewhat humorously countered, though, by the fact that taxes for police, fire departments, and most social services come at the state level--and aren't even a part of the ~$431 billion flushed to the Potomac Swamp each year. Education and public safety are paid for locally, and the Post Office would run at a net profit if it didn't sell ad space at a loss to well-connected businesses.

Other than the soon-to-be-cut Social Security and Medicaid payments, federal tax dollars are spent on various forms of corporate welfare. The ~$1.5 trillion in yearly tax revenue goes more than 50% to "the military" to pay for corporations to engineer broken new weapons, maintaining the worldwide network of ~800 officially acknowledged bases, and giving giganormous subsidies to friendly businesses for this or that bullshit. A (comparatively) small part goes to politician salaries and associated benefits, and an even smaller one to federal employee salaries. Federal taxes, in a practical level, fund only waste or Big Brother--military & agribusiness subsidies; NSA spying; drone development; DHS goons who get to override local cops and local prosecutors; Federal and Supreme Courts that extract commercial revenue from interstate commerce, or that interfere in state marriage or marijuana laws.

The goodness of the federal government is another subject, though; this is about the means. Even were taxes a good thing, the means of getting them is clumsy and inefficient, to say the least. Take the "building a Well" example above. If ten people have $100, and we need $500, we'll need even more to pay for the sheriff and the accountant, right? Well, their salaries aren't the only part of the game. As soon as Citizen A becomes accountant, not only does she draw a salary that everyone else has to pay for--she also stops doing whatever productive work she was doing before (say, teaching or building or farming or whatever). As a result, the actual value to the society goes down even more than her salary. The accountant has become a parasite, serving a function that is not inherently useful, but one which merely moderates and oversees the functions performed by others.

This is no particular secret; most of us, now, perform jobs that are worthless. Not "essentially" worthless, or "sort of" worthless, or even "kinda" worthless, but literally, completely, wholly, and in every way worthless--and so far beyond the zero point of "worth" that they are a negative drain on the rest of the species. Such a small portion of people, now, actually build and create things, while most people are working in vague "occupations" that involve recording, justifying, or glorifying what has been produced. That's a separate issue, though, and we'll look at it more later on. For this essay, the point to remember is that the job, "Makes sure, in some way, that taxes are fairly paid," produces nothing good for the society. Even were the taxes being spent well, the requirement of any one individual (or, shudder, millions of them) wasting her or his time monitoring how much to extract from the actually-productive is a regrettable task.

Regrettable, this loss, this cost: what the accountant could have been doing if she had not been tabulating is a price we'll never know. We can guess at what a travesty it is, and recoil from the vulgarity of the waste, but we'll never know just how bad the damage is, just like we'll never know what inventions and greatness humanity has lost every time Obama hits a new "thousandth" mark in children massacred.

The Future Cost of Taxes

Go even further, though. Say we pay Citizen A to be an accountant, and Citizen B to be a sheriff. We lose their real productivity, call it X, and we lose the salaries we have to pay them, call them Y. The Well now costs X + Y. Let's add in "Z." Z will be all of the things that we lose by having to think, yearly (or daily), about taxes. Taxes affect us in more ways than having to buy Turbotax, waste ten hours in April, or pay some jerk CPA; they also affect us by forcing us to conceptualize all of our fiscal choices in life around the yearly extraction. We have to be aware of the IRS goon who will be poring over our returns, and of the armed sheriff who will back up an audit team that gets sent out. What peace of mind, creativity, and freed effort is lost to these factors is not something we can accurately tabulate, but only speculate on.

X + Y + Z +...A? A can stand for "AARP," or any of the other "volunteer" clinics, where the IRS takes taxpayer money--public funds--and gives millions of dollars to a private marketing organization in order to train financially-comfortable retirees how to prepare taxes, using expensively subcontracted software also purchased with public funds. In the manner of most charities, the I.R.S. uses the veneer of "public good" to transfer resources from those who work to those who consolidate venture capital in the software field.

X + Y + Z + A, + B, + C... The ripple effects of each year of financial punishment are even less possible to calculate. Human production grows exponentially--if Citizen C invents a wheel during one year of work, the wheel benefits her primarily during Year 2, not Year 1, and even more during Year 3, when she's improved the design, and still more during Year 4, when someone else has been inspired by the wheel to invent something that transcends it as a transportation method.

To some extent, we can track the cost of destroying Citizen C's Year 1--and her Year 2. We can tabulate exactly how much we wasted by removing her from the labor force and turning her into a State monitor of those who do useful work. To a lesser extent, we can imagine--but not tabulate--how much it cost society to lose her work in Year 3 and 4. We cannot, though, ever hope to approximate what other people have lost by being bereft of the fruits of her labors. Take Citizen D, whose life is also greatly improved by Citizen C's wheel--or ten thousand or a million citizens, depending on the invention. Take Citizen H, who is inspired to invent an engine to drive a wheeled machine more powerfully than humans or horses can, and then another ten thousand or ten million citizens who benefit from said invention. Their benefits are all part of Citizen C's invention, and all those benefits are lost by the simple act of wasting just one citizen's--Citizen C's--time.

On a data sheet, we can prove that we lost Citizen C's former production, and then lost again the cost of paying her as a monitor, and we can even multiply it by three to account for un-trackable externalities (call that a "standard loss," to use the I.R.S.' preferred terminology against it). Using the atomized methods of tracking by which our property system measures gains and losses, even an analysis that seems scathing--like the supply-side one linked above--dramatically underscores the gross waste built into the system.

The ripple effects individuals have on the economy are profound. One person's salary reducing isn't just the on-paper reduction of her salary, but the undercutting of her children's food, education, and careers, and so on to her grandchildren and deeper. Another person's slightly reduced salary is one less vacation, which reduces waitress hours somewhere. One person's failure to start a business isn't just a loss to that person, but to the twenty people they would employ. And so on.

All the business crap that Republicans spout has a basis in reality, because the tax code includes so much waste that it's easy for a Republican Senator to occasionally talk about "busting pork," and highlight a few bad examples--just like a Democratic Senator can easily find a poor family to spotlight when it's time to appear conscientious. They're both jerks, and neither intends to change the system, but the examples remain apt.

Enough money to feed Africa for a year--no, enough money to feed Africa, China, North America, South America, and rural India for a year, is used in order to get the U.S. Treasury a little over a trillion in yearly revenue. Which is to say, administrative costs eat up about 40% of the "profits" to taxes. It's a morbidly obese murder monster that annually craps bloody diarrhea, wipes its ass with billion-dollar bills, and picks its teeth with the mangled femurs of little Arab kids. Even if you love every single dollar spent on the military and corporate welfare, the way that the U.S. Government collects taxes is an abysmal, catastrophic waste. No hyperbole here--c. $400 billion dollars is catastrophic even to a government that isn't administering a crumbling international military empire filled with starving, frightened people.

It's About Losing

Why? If the government really wants money to give to the military, or to Monsanto, or even just to help people and do good--whatever story you want to believe--why do they waste so much in the process of collecting? Even an intelligent set of Machiavellian rulers would see that their nation would be made stronger by not wasting 400 billion dollars every single year just to gather tax revenues! Even frigging Subway has a better long term net profit projection than that. A hundred thousand citizens reviewing 1040s, rather than polishing cars, means a longer wait to get your Mercedes waxed.

The "why," here, is that the purpose of taxes is not to generate government revenue. The people that control "government" also control "Federal Reserve," and they set the value of the currency, as well as what all the big corporations will do in any given year. Money has no inherent value; duh, we know that, right? Its value is only what we say it is, and they are the ones who say what that "is" is. They create money on ledgers, quantitatively ease it when they feel like it, and can and do use their police and military to crush competing currencies and ensure that things run the way they want. They could order the production of anything they wanted, and put as much into the U.S. Treasury account as they wanted to.

The point is not that they get anything out of it. They create it out of nothing. The real point is that you lose: your loss is their gain. It is not a zero-sum game, but one of spiraling negatives. By mandating that economic transactions occur in the medium of dollars, then requiring the payment of taxes in dollars, the government gives dollars an artificial value--its like an evil kid forcing you to play Dungeons and Dragons at the point of a gun, and shooting you if you try to make-believe with any money other than its preferred "Elfish Gold." Since Elfish Gold is made out of thin air, the real value of money to the government is to prevent people from having too much of it.

Taxes are levied to cut down on the amount of money that real people have in their control. By preventing real savings and tangible investment by all but a few, the illusion of money being responsible for power is maintained, because those who are in power are defined by their ability to retain money in the face of the yearly tax deluge. That's why it's irrelevant to the government how wasteful the income tax regime actually is: because waste is the purpose. Any dollar taken away from a peon produces a less secure peon; a peon who will be more concerned with self- and family-preservation, instead of starting businesses or enacting social change. "College students" and "young people" are able to be the traditionally radical protesters in the U.S. because their needs are often being provided for in some way, even if on a temporary basis. Once the grind of adult "responsibility" settles in, protest is stifled, and survival becomes the name of the game.

The military machine could be paid for by fiat. In fact, it is--dollars are, explicitly, a fiat currency (for the non-savvy, this means they have value only because they are assigned value, and not because they can be redeemed for something that has inherent value, e.g., a precious metal). Taxes are carefully levied to keep people running, fearful, and to prevent them from amassing capital collectives that could challenge existing power structures. We know that initially, the income tax was used expressly to create the warfare state, being needed to pay for the Civil War and the occupation of the Deep South. For over a century thereafter, the Code became relentlessly more convoluted, spawning billion-dollar industries and entire segments of the economy that exist only to facilitate the transfer of money. Dozens of millions of people spend their entire adult lives doing nothing productive, instead running on hamster wheels and filling out forms.

That situation is okay for elites, because any wasted labor ultimately helps them. Television commercials, plastic landfills, stoplights, road construction, single-car transportation, 1040s, waiting rooms, invading the country run by the guy who was our friend a couple years ago, please hold for the next representative--all of the audacious, blatant wastes of time, space, and money built into the system are a tiny, insignificant problem for people whose family holdings have provided them with a lifetime of free time, and a massive, decades-destroying ruination for those who are short on time, space, and money. A complicated tax system wastes, maybe, a couple weeks worth of evenings, and a few thousand dollars, for millions upon millions of lower-income taxpayers, and billions more in small business accounting costs--for a wealthy family, it wastes nothing, because the tens of thousands of dollars they pay their accountant(s) are coming out of investment income. The actual time and effort stolen from the poorer family translates into real hours that they don't spend at work, play, or education; for the wealthy, it's a minor calendar highlight in a life of tennis.

Similarly, time spent waiting for the city manager's friend's construction company to finish up their 11-month-long repaving project, which is half a year and half a million over estimate, means a lot more to Juan, who has to sit in traffic another 45 minutes during rush hour, than it does to Paul, who wakes up at 10 and heads to the club at 1 in a different area of town. Tiny thefts aggregate to massive proportions, creating the imbalances of which we see the results yearly. Tired, stressed, hurried people don't have as much time for bikes, cooking their own food, pursuing deeper forms of entertainment, or, um, "questioning authority." Guaranteeing an extra ten grand and 100 hours yearly in real worth to each one of the masses would, eventually and indirectly, produce many of the revolutions we're (probably) hoping for.

Your Soiled Mattress? ~ On Believability

Understanding the basic nature of this argument is easy: "Elites use the government to create a complicated tax scheme in order to cause poor people to waste time and money, so as to reduce the chances of elite power being challenged."

Harder than understanding is "believing." As in the case of a false flag attack or a resource war, the sheer scale of the deceit involved makes it difficult for most people to contemplate. Indeed, many people still haven't come to terms with, or even awareness of, Tonkin Gulf. The monstrous waste of the U.S. tax system gets justified as part of the Democrats v. Republicans partnership, where Republicans pretend to be against taxes, but forced into collecting them by tax-and-spend do-gooder Democrats, who spend money on individual welfare, and Democrats pretend to be against taxes, but forced into collecting them by pro-military Republicans. The standard neo-liberal line is that taxes are absolutely necessary to pay for society, as without taxes, we'd have no civil order. That's a blatant lie, given the actual funding sources for public safety, but by oversimplifying tax opposition as, "crazy libertarians who think no one should have to contribute to anyone else's welfare," Democratic voters get to feel altruistic by supporting the military tax complex.

Still, it's a lot of money, and a lot of evil. Would someone really go to all that trouble, not just to gain something for themselves, but purely to impoverish others?

Yes, We Actually Want That Soiled Mattress

Yes, and people do it all the time, in simple, real-world ways that we can observe. "Cross-collateralization" is the term we're looking for.

Cross-collateralization is a method of securing loans where the collateral for one loan is used as collateral for a later loan. For example, if you buy a car, then buy another car a few years later from the same dealer, the dealer might take a security interest in the first car as well as the second car.

(Why in the world would anyone come up with such a stupid idea in the first place? Because of the atrocious, megamillion-dollar corporate welfare insurance system called "bankruptcy court" that operates across the U.S., where mountains of everyone's money pays for a court system designed to lower transaction costs of powerful private banks. But that's another story. Focus, for now, just on the fact that, in bankruptcy courts, having a formal "security" gives a lender a greater interest in a bankrupt person's seized property than those lenders who did not get a formal security, like employers/employees, family members and friends, small businesses, food budgets, et cetera, and so is of great benefit to larger companies in the equal playing field known as America.)

Cross-collateralization is employed in situations where the lender and the borrower have a greater, rather than lesser, power difference between them, such as artists signing publishing rights to a large publisher. Most notably, though, it has been employed in predatory lending schemes against the poor--most hilariously, perhaps, in situations of household goods.

Household goods? Yes, ergo the humor. Here's our situation: Fritz wants a bed from Thug Furniture, Inc., which is one of those nasty little furniture shoppes that operates out of a cramped storefront in the bad section of town. You know the kind, because you've probably never been there, or if you were, you said, "Oops!" and got the hell out before the salesman could get around the section of used wheelchairs and shake your hand. There are cigarette stains on the walls, a payday loan store next door, and the battleship-gray linoleum is peeling, but Fritz literally has no bed, so he buys one there for $50 down, promising to pay Thug Furniture, Inc. the remaining $500 over 12 months for 11.4% interest. Thug Furniture, Inc. takes a security interest in the bed, guaranteeing that, if Fritz defaults, Thugs from Thug Furniture, Inc. can come to his house and repossess the bed, and also that, if Fritz goes into bankruptcy, Thugs from Thug Furniture, Inc. can come repossess the bed "off the top," before any of Fritz's other potential creditors get a chance at it. No problem, though--Fritz makes his payments religiously, and all is well.

Several months later, Fritz's fridge breaks. He's panicked because, as a result of his poor credit, he can't obtain a credit card or a personal loan to get a new fridge. He finds himself back at Thug Furniture, Inc. (which has recently moved its showroom to the warehouse across from the strip club), where he is relieved to learn that he qualifies for another loan to get a gently-used fridge. Thug Furniture, Inc. cross-collateralizes the loan, taking a fresh security interest in the bed that Fritz purchased months ago, in order to secure the new loan on the fridge (they take a security interest in the fridge, too, of course).

13 months later, Fritz has paid off the bed, and the fridge, but he loses his job and is unable to pay off the used nightstand that he bought at Thug Furniture, Inc.'s sale a couple weeks ago. Promptly, Thug Furniture, Inc., repossesses not only the nightstand, but also the bed and the fridge.

Wha-what? The bed and the fridge, too? How can they possibly get away with that? They got the nightstand back! The very same used nightstand that hasn't been out of their possession more than 14 days!

Well, it's simple: the value of the nightstand has dropped ever since Fritz took it out of the showroom, so merely seizing the nightstand does not return the full paper value of the loan to Thug Furniture, Inc. It's even better than that for the Thugs, though, because the value of the used bed and the used fridge have also dropped, considering that Fritz drove them off the lot. It turns out that even after Thug has repossessed all the furniture Thug sold Fritz, Fritz still owes the Thugs money on the recent nightstand loan!

And yes, that works great, and has worked for decades, although state-level regulators occasionally enact consumer-protection schemes that make Thug need to change its paperwork a little to run the whole scam. Bankrupt Fritzes lose everything they bought.

The Other Mall

Why would Fritz ever buy from Thug Furniture, Inc.? Because it's the only place he can get credit. That's what "credit" is--a private rating system run by banks to ensure that powerless people are forced to take loans and buy products at worse terms than the ones that "middle-class" or rich people get. In theory, market economics says that you would have to work harder to get money from poor people, who have less money and to whom money is more frantically precious, but the opposite is true. Credit scores allow owners to invest in fine businesses, which turn the poor away and cater nicely to the middle class, and thuggish businesses, which completely screw the poor because they know the poor have to shop at them. Even Walmart won't give Fritz a personal loan for a $400 mattress and a $150 frame set, which is why he's forced to go to Thug Furniture, Inc., every time he needs something.

(The reference here is actually, shudder, a Michael Moore, from his "the other mall" segment of Bowling for Columbine. The other mall is the ghetto one that certain people never shop at. How does such a trashy place stay in business in so many different towns? Because it has guaranteed customers--customers who have to shop there. Humorous aside, though--many of the other malls are getting shut down, now, as even Fritz can no longer afford to keep buying stuff. But again, that's another story. Moving right on.)

What's In It For Thug?

So, we understand the scheme: Thug Furniture, Inc. takes advantage of Fritz, and people like him, who can't get good credit and reasonable securities on purchases for basic household goods. In the real world, this stuff will even apply to coffee makers, baby cribs, cell phones, laptops, flatware sets--all sorts of little almost-necessities that people are apt to need to have jobs and live.

And yet, of what value is the "security" that Thug Furniture, Inc. has taken? The security interest in Fritz's soiled mattress is worth a lot to Fritz, because it's his mattress. But it's worth zero to Thug. Thug might've sold the mattress to Fritz as "lightly used" (and it probably was) but after Fritz has slept on it for more than a few weeks, even Thug can't get away with selling the sagging, stained hulk to a new sucker. After the fridge has another several months of use on it by Fritz's family, and after it's been rattled around a few more repo trucks, the water nozzle is twisted, the control panel is making a buzzing noise, and the door doesn't shut right. The baby crib has puke stains on the rungs, the coffee maker is completely broken, and the tines on half the forks are missing.

Even so, each and every time, Thug actually does take back the furniture. Why? It costs more to repossess the stuff, and haul it to the dump, then it does to just let Fritz keep the pile of junk! Why even frickin' bother?

Because of fear: Fritz knows that Thug is serious. Fritz will break his back working to make those payments on the nightstand, because he knows Thug will come for everything if he misses a payment. People in his neighborhood have talked about it. He has seen the Thug Repo truck parked outside the housing block, and he has seen the Thugs roving down the hallways, hauling away used couches with missing cushions, and throwing broken sewing machines into heaps in the back of pickup trucks. People call him and make threats about the armed men who will come to his home if he doesn't pay up.

Fear. It works for Thug, and it can work for you--or the I.R.S. Thug doesn't actually want the furniture that they repossess from everyone who misses payments. It's the threat that counts. By being willing to go into houses and seize property, Thug makes sure that those extortionist monthly payments keep coming in. They don't really care about the property itself; what they care about is that their customers lose that property. It is all about losing. Taking dirty used mattresses and busted couches from poor consumers ensures that those same poor consumers will later have to buy new mattresses and couches from Goon Furniture, Inc., down the line. It doesn't matter if all of the dirty mattresses end up at the landfill. In fact, that's a plus! The more stuff people are losing, the more they are buying.

The same situation applies in the realm of tax theft. Creating wasteful processes helps keep people desperate and needy, preventing the financial independence that would lead to no longer needing to do business with Thug, Inc.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bad disguises and roomed elephants

Ashley Madison is a Madame. That became apparent when we ran the numbers.

John Cracked is working for the secret police, and Face Q. Book is suffering from amacrological Tourettes. The more convinced we become of the latter, the less we seem to believe in the former two, as though serving horse manure inside a nutella jar will make discount toast taste better. As we all know, humor has never been a powerful political force, nor a way of making people rationalize eating shit. Next up on cracked, the top 10 reasons poor people are poor, followed by 6 insoluble proofs your life is an empty glass. As long as "motherfucking" appears at least 3 times in each article, it exhibits such effrontery that it can't possibly be taken seriously.

In other news, that insolent turd Roeper has a problem with Jodie Foster's acting in Elysium, because he considers it impossible to believe that a politician could ever actually behave in a self-interested way that shows a disregard for human lives. No surprises there; the venal cavities on that postdated Garfunkel-style replacement marionette are so swollen with monopoly money that it's hard to tell where one agenda begins and the other ends, so he knows to venerate the venerable--underpinnings of movie profit culture, that is--even when it means criticizing the occasional light-protest movie. Because America isn't a floating paradise in the sky, and it's not actually about Mexicans trying to get there so much as it is Mexicans trying not to starve either here or there. But still, Glenn G. Roeper is offended, which as we all know is necessary for his 95% of other moments of non-offense to keep pushing product.