January 13, 2011

Objectively Pro-Bank “Efficiency”


Where people are strong fighters within an area of competence, I try not to focus on lapses where they range beyond that competence. So this post isn’t meant to attack these people, but nevertheless I want to highlight a problem endemic to all reformist types.
We know that we can’t reform Wall Street, and we can’t reform corporate rackets in general. They’ve proven themselves to be incorrigible and irredeemable. They’ve proven that their entire vector is toward total destruction of everything other than their own wealth and power, and that in the end they’ll destroy that as well:

Then every thing includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite;
And appetite, an universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make perforce an universal prey,
And last eat up himself.

They are literally totalitarian. History proves that reformism never accomplished anything but a brief respite until the siege was again laid. It’s a permanent war of attrition until the final tyranny is laid upon us. Or until the final extirpation of the rackets themselves. Citizenship cannot coexist with them, democracy cannot coexist with them, humanity cannot coexist with them. All these must perish; or else the corporate rackets must perish.
So it’s no use to still dream of benevolent growth and tamed finance sectors. There has been no growth in decades, only ponzi schemes, and financialization has done nothing but run these schemes while it steals all real wealth and destroys all real productivity. Any “solution” which implicitly or explicitly contemplates such revivals of things which never existed in the first place is no policy at all. Yet the reformists, no matter how cogent they are in the attack, always regress to this tepid delusion the moment it comes to prescriptions.
This can be overlooked where the fantasies are harmless. But these false solutions are often themselves malevolent.
If Foreclosuregate is half as important as it threatens to be, then this mortgage crisis is also a great opportunity. (For once that hackneyed citation is precise.) It offers nothing less than a way to smash the banks once and for all, if we can prevent the government extending its Bailout to such an extremity of lawlessness and unconstitutionality as to retroactively legalize the monumental frauds involved in mortgage lending and securitization. It promises to bankrupt the banks once and for all, while putting the land dispensation itself into political play. The possibilities are dazzling.
But some of our erstwhile “reformers” don’t see it this way. What we ought to see as a spellbinding vista refulgent with the rising light of a soon-to-become-visible new sun, causes them to tremble in fear. So they’ve been running home to momma. Home to big government, home to big banks, home to the same criminal system they claim to oppose.
In all of this, one of the few things we have going for us is the fact that real estate law is a state and local matter, and that this system of law is based on procedures of recording which look archaic to today’s economic and political hipsters of every stripe, but which simply are the embodiment of resiliency, sustainability, stability. We the citizens of America are absolutely blessed that this is the indelible law which the banks have no choice but to frontally assault. It promises to be a benediction, if we make it such.
But alas, the likes of Marcy Kaptur (of “show the note” fame), Randall Wray (who wrote such a great piece on fundamental criminality of the MERS system), and Matt Taibbi don’t want this benediction. They side with Wall Street on this one.
Instead, they all advocate the centralization and concentration of the land recording system, under the federal government. They use the Orwellian euphemism “modernization” for this. We can therefore see their fundamental contempt for true federalism, and for the proposition that the only progressive path is toward direct democracy and economic self-determination. No, they still want trickle-down tyranny. They just still tediously cling to the absurd delusion of a benevolent despot.
Thus Kaptur proposed a bill which contains one excellent element:

In response to this mess, Representative Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) is going to introduce legislation to prohibit Fannie and Freddie from buying new mortgages that are registered in MERS. Since there is virtually no activity in mortgage markets save what Fannie and Freddie are doing, this would effectively take away all new business from MERS.

But wants to counteract this blow to the banks by replacing the nominally private MERS database with a central government version of MERS:

Further, her legislation would direct HUD to study the creation of a federal land title system to replace MERS while protecting rights of state and local governments. This is a sensible solution that would modernize the recording and tracking of property ownership.

Similarly, Taibbi offers his policy wish list:

Preventing bad foreclosures is great, but I’m pretty sure they need to come up with some sort of legislative solution to a) properly compensate the investors in the MBS who are usually the true owners of the mortgage b) negotiate new payment schedules so that homeowners who win these applications don’t feel like squatters but legitimate owners c) preserves as much as possible the credit scores of the homeowners in question, and d) create a modern registry system that does make sense, that both compensates the state for taxes and makes sales of mortgages efficient. I don’t think they can do this through the courts; we’re going to need a federal law that creates a logical procedure for dealing with the bad mortgages from the bubble period, an amnesty or a federal review or something. The problem is, of course, is that any move to legally change the status of these mortgages would affect the value of all these mortgage-backed instruments still floating around, which would leave these banks more or less instantly bankrupt, which would set the stage for another round of bailouts. If this decision means the banks have to take a big loss, they’ll find a way somehow to put that bite back onto the taxpayer.

These commenters all reject the concept of a federal bill legalizing MERS itself. But they dream of simply maintaining the same bank-run database, just nominally under the federal government. How to square this contradiction? I guess it’s just the big government, process liberal mindset. Evidently we see these people evincing the Peter Principle.
But by now we know that big government liberalism was only a feature of the ascending oil age. We know that big government is always objectively pro-racket. (Centralized communism simply handed over the system to a single racket, the Communist Party.) Post Peak Oil, centralized government will never be anything but a thug. So by definition solutions have to be truly federalist and head in the direction of exercising power and management at their proper constitutional level, directly democratic among the assembled citizens themselves.
As for the resiliency and alleged “inefficiency” of the crotchety old land recordation system, let’s be 100% clear that from our practical and democratic point of view, resiliency is efficient. Redundancy is efficient. Sustainability is efficient. Inefficiency is efficient. As with everything else, so we must always ask: Efficient or inefficient for whom?
We’ll find that what’s inefficient for the system is usually good for the people.
We can take it as axiomatic: What’s inefficient from Wall Street’s point of view is a boon to us. It’s something we must cherish, cultivate, nurture.
But to remain mired in the process mindset which is unable to contextualize anything or look at ultimate outcomes only ends up driving even the fiercest subjective critic of Wall Street back into what’s objectively a pro-Wall Street position. That’s what we see in these examples.
The legal framework for recording deeds is fine as it is. For the federal government to usurp it would be unconstitutional and a crime.
Shouldn’t the fact that the banksters hate the existing system and find it so impossible to comply with be the strongest proof of that system’s soundness?  


  1. The immediate solutions to our problems are to break up the big banks. This would include all central banks. Break up big US defense and break up big government. This, of course, would leave us with a whole new set of problems, like how to get those 51% of Americans, who are on some sort of government assistance, to become productive, and like how to get the 400 wealthiest Americans, who own as much of the country’s wealth as do the bottom 150 million, to give back what they have stolen.

    Comment by black swan — January 13, 2011 @ 6:54 am

    • If we could get rid of the state thug protecting them, then taking back what the criminals stole would be the easy part. The first part would be the hard part.

      Once the land and resources were liberated, and the pseudo-legal barriers to productive work removed, everyone would have the full opportunity to work for himself or as part of a co-op, in growing food as well as any other productive ability one has.

      Comment by Russ — January 13, 2011 @ 7:27 am

  2. Ellen Brown is one of the better writers who has tried to learn the basics of modern money theory (MMT) in order to better explain to her more general audience how to attempt to adapt to the system and, yet, help the state governments deal with such awful phenomena as have been promoted by the banking system with the collusion of the crooks who run the big banks. Her latest article deals with the obstinacy of the Fed Reserve (an institution which should never have existed, but which has been allowed to evolve into a private central banking system for the USA – an indication of the abdication of responsibility by both the executive and legislative branches of the USA):

    Ellen Brown, January 12th, 2011

    While it may seem a bit off subject, I would call your readership’s attention to the on-going efforts of another author – Jeff Gates who has a blog at:

    If one assumes that he has his claims (facts) are correctly delineated in ‘Guilt by Association’, the contribution by the Zionists would appear to be a major source of the elevation in aberrations of USA policy in the Middle East over the past century. The stealthy, well coordinated and psychologically insightful nature of the contributions of activities of the Zionists to the overwhelmingly distorted nature of the relationships of behavior of the executive and legislative branches of the federal government with respect to the guidelines indicated by America’s founding documents appears quite clear. I would be interested in learning of the comments of others who are familiar with Mr Gates efforts.

    Over the past several weeks, I have followed comments of ‘the attempter’ at naked capitalism blog, and I find that Russ’s shrillness appears to be accepted by others who are astonished at the brazen nature of the crooks who incessantly attempt to shift blame onto the victims of their fraud rather than to ‘fess-up’. However, in today’s ‘capitalist’ criminal market place, one has to remember that the fraudulent mortgages which were securitized then sold to buyers as triple A (rather than junk) bonds had been designed to be bought by supposedly sophisticated buyers (i.e., managers of your pension funds who, if you can believe it, apparently had no idea that the bond raters were in cahoots with the banksters). While I am not sure, I suspect this was a concern of M Taibbi and/or M Kaptur. If you look up Randall Wray’s (and others’) articles, you will learn that one of the mitigating factors in motivation of all of the fraud involved in ‘foreclosure gate’ has to do with the machinations necessary in the securitization process to introduce a step which was supposed to facilitate the tax-free stature of some (all?) of them. I will leave it up to Russ to sort out the details as I think that I have to devote more time to trying to figure out how the Zionist organizations have essentially figured out how to completely screw up the system.

    Comment by William Wilson — January 13, 2011 @ 9:52 am

    • I agree, Ellen Brown is one of the best on this, and I’ve often cited her, most recently in the “Mortgages and Pensions” post two days ago.

      So William, again I can’t tell – is that your comment referring to “the attempter” (and calling me “shrill”), or are you quoting someone there?

      I agree, if the commenters in question want only to save the investors but are happy to screw the people, that could explain some of this. (But I don’t see how it could legally rescue the existing null trusts; I only agree that it could help explain the pro-bank attitude.)

      I don’t see what “Zionists” have to do with it, except that they too systematically steal land.

      Comment by Russ — January 13, 2011 @ 10:17 am

    • Russ is candid. Shrill has a pejorative connotation to most. It is cathartic reading his posts, and I have found them immensely worthwhile. You can google “attempter” and many of the blogs on his blogroll to review his posts. You have to admire someone who can sling gritty words backed by facts.

      Comment by BW — January 13, 2011 @ 11:03 am

      • Thanks, BW.

        Comment by Russ — January 13, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

    • @William,

      Many of the pension fund managers are Wall Street insiders themselves. There’s a revolving door between institutional investors and Wall Street investment banks.

      The pension fund managers that are not Wall Street insiders are often seduced by the trappings of Wall Street and follow the lead of the biggest i-banks (esp. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan; in my experience as management at a public company, all of the investors focused on what Goldman and JPM did).

      Bottom line: the pension fund managers all were rewarded for their decisions to purchase junk derivatives, both before the collapse of their value and after.

      Comment by Tao Jonesing — January 13, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

      • Yet another corrupted cadre.

        Comment by Russ — January 13, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

  3. I have no particular to shrill style.

    I also have no particular insight into motives of Matt T or Marcy K; if they comment/make the rules with respect to MERS, I suspect they tried to look at things from perspective of both buyer and seller.

    With respect to the Zionist issue, it is not surprising that people don’t understand the problem; Jeff G’s efforts represent an attempt to enlighten. Take a look; it may be of interest when one looks at recent history in perspective.

    Comment by William Wilson — January 13, 2011 @ 11:40 am

    • WW says: “With respect to the Zionist issue, it is not surprising that people don’t understand the problem.”

      I believe that Hitler said something similar to that, and then he explained the “problem” to the German people. He called it “the Jewish question”, and came up with “the final solution”. WW, are you advocating for something similar?

      As for Zionism, I find that I am not a fan of any “isms”. I do see Israel as one more US corporate outpost in the middle of the Arab oil fields. I also see that the more than $3 billion that the USG gives to Israel annually, and that the Israeli Government then uses to buy US defense contractor weapons, as still another method used by the corporatists to launder US taxpayer money.

      What I don’t see is that the international corporatists, with their platform corporations here in the US, are tools of the Zionists. I see quite the opposite, where the Zionists are the tools of the corporatists. Israel only exists because no western industrialized nation wanted those disenfranchised people anywhere around them after WWII ended. Unfortunately, what the Zionists have done to the Palestinians, in order to occupy what is now Israel, is not so far removed from what the Germans had done the Jews who fled there. When something similar to this was done in what is now the USA, to the continent’s native population, it was done in the name of “manifest destiny”. Power legitimizes morality, even when it is highly immoral to those who still think rationally.

      Comment by black swan — January 13, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

  4. should have read:

    I have no particular objection to shrill style.

    Comment by William Wilson — January 13, 2011 @ 11:41 am

    • I don’t think I’m shrill. I express emotion, yes.

      But all my ideas are more moderate and rational than those of the neoliberal system. People forget that it’s actually this Status Quo which is radical and extreme. Its critics are those who want to recover sanity.

      As I’ve said before: Today it’s the revolutionary who’s the real advocate of law and order, while it’s the system advocate who’s the lawless rioter.

      Comment by Russ — January 13, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

    • @William

      All right but I completely disagree that Russ’s tone can even be characterized as “shrill”, either in his comments at NC or on this blog. He’s simply telling the truth but the problem is that people are not used to hearing anyone speak the truth anymore. We’re so used to the corporate media lying to us 24/7 that, as George Orwell put it, “in times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”. But ever since the bank bailouts it should be clear that the USA has become a kleptocracy and that we are facing class warfare from above. Ordinary Americans should be screaming about this, people should be protesting in the streets, and yet so far there’s been almost no reaction from the public, and so the looting continues unopposed…..

      Comment by Frank Lavarre — January 14, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

      • @Frank:
        Agreed. You know it’s like going over to BaselineScenario and reading a lot of commentary about the state ‘apparatus’ being ‘captured,’ and going over to Volatility and hearing Attempter (Russ) put that into honest terms. There’s something disingenuous and even apologetic in my mind about many of the abstractions being used to describe an essentially criminal and evil enterprise. It’s analogous to describing a brutal rape as ‘having your way with someone’.

        Comment by RT — January 14, 2011 @ 4:38 pm

      • @William

        Here’s a link to SJ being interviewed about the ‘Silent Coup.’ For those that like the tone subdued, enjoy.


        Comment by Steven — January 14, 2011 @ 8:05 pm

      • @Steven

        One way of avoiding the issue of legal and moral liability is to talk about being captured/brainwashed in the same way that the insanity defense would operate to exculpate alleged criminal conduct. How can officials be accused of corruption if they don’t know their right minds? Nice! When Simon makes that last comment about ‘captured’ officials, I feel embarrassed for him.

        Comment by Kevin — January 14, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

      • I don’t know if any of them are worried about future legal defenses, but the language of “capture” instead of corruption and crime is clearly meant to be more anodyne, “civil”, reconciliatory. It comes from mild critics who don’t want to burn their bridges with the kleptocracy and perhaps don’t even truly reject it, but only lament its “excesses”.

        But the whole thing is an excess and an obscenity.

        Comment by Russ — January 15, 2011 @ 2:26 am

      • @Russ

        Exactly. I don’t wish to sound ‘shrill’, but everytime I hear the ‘capture’ or ‘capturesque’ prattle popularised by Simon Johnson, I’m convinced attention deficit disorder is endemic.

        Comment by Steven — January 15, 2011 @ 10:17 am

    • Russ, I appreciate you going to the trouble of making such an extensive list. I’ve made a note of everything you listed and will consider this my next reading project, and thanks again!

      Comment by Frank Lavarre — January 15, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

  5. I’m in the middle of reading Taibbi’s latest book “Griftopia.”

    He gets a lot of things right, but he gets some important things wrong, and I think it is because of two signature liberal biases.

    First, he believes that when somebody he disagrees with says something, they actually mean what they say. In fact, they often lie. When they do the opposite of what they said, he calls them hypocrites, but that requires believing in what they said in the first place, and that was a lie. When things turn out to be the opposite of what his opponents predicted, he calls them stupid, not realizing that the prediction was offered in the desire of creating consent to achieve exactly the outcome that resulted.

    Second, he believes that Big Business and Big Government oppose one another when, in fact, they have become one and the same. To be fair, this bias infects the entire political spectrum. The difference is that the bias manifests itself in the liberal end of the spectrum almost always as a call for BIGGER government to check Big Business aggression. That may have worked once, but no longer. (The same dynamic works on the conservative end of the spectrum when it comes to aggression by other cultures. Conservatives love big government when it keeps them safe from scary bogeymen; they cannot give away civil liberties fast enough when they’re scared of getting killed by somebody who can’t possibly kill them.)

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — January 13, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

  6. I can’t speak to Kaptur or Wray, as I know little about either, but I don’t find Taibbi’s comments particularly surprising. I’ve been reading Taibbi since I was a teenager and he was muckraking in Russia. He’s always had a nose for dirt, corruption, and scandal, and a flair for piecing together complex wrongdoing in an accesible and entertaining way. That said, he relies extremely heavily on sources for his ideas and prescriptions, and he’s always had a kind of fatalistic approach to government and corruption- I’m not sure he genuinely believes that major change is likely or possible.

    I like this passage a lot:

    “As for the resiliency and alleged “inefficiency” of the crotchety old land recordation system, let’s be 100% clear that from our practical and democratic point of view, resiliency is efficient. Redundancy is efficient. Sustainability is efficient. Inefficiency is efficient. As with everything else, so we must always ask: Efficient or inefficient for whom?”

    In evolutionary biology, we speak of robustness- that magical property which lets the same genotype produce the same phenotype in a bewildering variety of environments and under a huge number of stressors. It’s even possible to make fairly drastic changes to say, the Drosophila genome, and still get a functioning, healthy fruit fly at the end of the day. Organisms and biological systems are robust because they display high levels of redundancy, because the components of the system are loosely coupled, because the same basic components are reused in various networks to produce complexity (rather than highly specialized, 1-function components with no other links). Evolution does not optimize for efficiency, it produces robust “good-enough” systems. Efficiency is bullshit. Survival is everything.

    Robustness must be, I think, a foundational principle of any movement toward real democracy and sovereignty. Robustness is complicated, it’s often a complete nightmare from a top-down engineering perspective, and it’s not “efficient”. On the other hand, life has been here for 3500 million years, through hell and high water. If life was composed of tightly coupled, highly specialised, highly “efficient” systems, I doubt that would be true.

    Comment by paper mac — January 13, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

    • Have you read Orlov’s book Reinventing Collapse, or his great comparison of collapse in the USSR vs. how it will go down in the US?

      Here’s a distilled version of the argument:


      The basic thesis is that the very “inefficiency” and bloat of the Soviet system was transformed into redundancy and robustness during the collapse, and rendered it less catastrophic for the people than things are likely to be in zero-margin, just-in-time Hobbesian America.

      Comment by Russ — January 13, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

      • I’m passingly familiar with Orlov’s work, having encountered it in my peak oil readings, but I haven’t read Reinventing Collapse. I hadn’t considered Orlov’s observations through the lens of robustness before, and it’s certainly interesting to do so. I’m still not entirely sure what to make of Orlov’s prognosis- his first hand experience of the Soviet collapse is hard not to take seriously, but my mind recoils from imagining such a precipitous decline in the US or here in Canada. I’d think that if such a thing were to happen, it would probably be in the context of a broader collapse across much of the West. If this happened in the next couple of years, I think I’d probably just starve. In the longer term, my own plans for sustainable food production seem downright flimsy next to the prospect of such a calamity, particularly in light of Orlov’s descriptions of the near-immediate reversion of thuggery and violence used to seize important bits of the economy.

        In any case, it seems that the Soviet collapse is a good model for how a sufficiently robust society can withstand enormous dislocations, at least to an extent. Orlov’s points about geographical fragmentation and the non-viability of suburban areas are particularly relevant, I think. It seems to me that a lot of the urban agriculture movement has focused on distributing production across peri-urban areas, which may be counterproductive in the long run.

        Comment by paper mac — January 13, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

      • I don’t think such a fast collapse (which I define as reversion to pre-industrial economic activity within the space of a year or two, with concomitant political chaos) is likely, but I find Orlov’s prognostications to be plausible if spread out over 10-20 years.

        So as far as personal and community preparation, that’s the deadline I have in mind.

        What do you think is counterproductive about urban agriculture relocalization? By distributing production, do you mean neighborhoods still aren’t organizing enough on a self-sufficiency basis?

        Comment by Russ — January 14, 2011 @ 5:22 am

      • I think the 10-20 year spread is more plausible to me as well (it’s also convenient from a cognitive point of view because it lets me believe I “still have time”..)

        As far as urban agriculture relocalisation goes, I’m thinking of the logistics of operations which are starting to spring up in the peri-urban band outside of the suburbs themselves (which are mostly food deserts). If Orlov is correct about the non-viability of the suburbs, my feeling is that peri-urban agriculture will have one of two effects:

        1) render the suburbs viable. To the extent that peri-urban agriculture capacity is built up at the expense of more central operations, this would seem to cement the have/have-not status of the suburbs vs the urban core in many cities. The suburbs would have access to food supplies, the core, much less so. This might encourage the core to relocalize to the suburbs, abandoning much of the valuable infrastructure in the core, and probably greatly straining the social fabric of the city.

        2) peri-urban operations are non-viable for the same reasons that the suburbs are non-viable, and become largely abandoned. Again, to the extent that peri-urban operations are set up rather than core operations, this is potentially disasterous.

        So, if we are to take Orlov’s comparison between sprawl-y American cities and the tight, public-transport-centric development of Soviet ones seriously, it suggests that we should be looking for sites for operations that will still be in the “viable zone”, on public transportation routes, and hopefully in the core, probably near core water processing/treatment facilities.

        Comment by paper mac — January 14, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

      • That’s an interesting issue. For myself, I’m far out in the suburbs, in the vicinity of farmland, so my own activities are likely to continue to center on that region.

        As for the advanced stages of land reclamation and relocalization, I therefore think in terms of how to reclaim suburban yards (mostly rocky, poor-nutrition infill, according to my understanding).

        It’ll be harder in the cities, and I don’t know as much about it.

        I did write this post, though, citing the example of Detroit’s reclamation movement:


        Comment by Russ — January 14, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

      • Indeed, I think suburban and urban areas are going to require totally different food relocalisation schemes. I think the soil contamination issues you mention in the Detroit post will be major problems. I remember back when I was studying environmental toxicology, learning that water exposed to virtually any concrete/asphalt surface in a downtown core, including the exterior of buildings, generally became hopelessly contaminated, even in areas with little industry (although obviously the presence of hospital incinerators, powerplants and the like doesn’t help). This may ease as cars become less used and industry slows, but it will probably take years to fully decontaminate many of these areas. My general feeling is that to achieve the level of intensity we will need to grow sufficient food for the population in urban areas, indoor operations will be required- factory floors and warehouses will need to be repurposed to high-density hydroponics, aquaculture, etc. I think urban-specific permaculture techniques will need to continue to be developed in order to deal with the unique environment found there.

        Comment by paper mac — January 14, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

      • I think that’s exactly right, urban-specific permaculture. I don’t know how much work the permaculture movement (perhaps mostly middle-class so far? I don’t know for sure) has done with that, but certainly groups like Growing Power and others must be innovating. That’s something I’ll need to research.

        Comment by Russ — January 14, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

    • Paper mac: You will no doubt be stunned by how fast things will degenerate in the US and ‘here in Canada’. We live in a very fragile structure. Government assumption of all decisions has left or people with no resiliance and a much greater expectation and degree of dependance than was found in late ‘Communist Russia”. Imagine if you will a single facet of our lives: food. Do you realize that if the internet is shut don or serriously impaired, there will be bad food shortages in Canadian cities within one week. We are so integrated and so dependant on the status quo, we cannot supply food even if the food exists and the trucks and fuel exist to transport it??

      Comment by Paul Repstock — January 14, 2011 @ 4:31 am

      • That’s a good point about how reliant physical distribution is on the Internet.

        I suppose in the future governments and corporations will be able to starve out geographical regions – a city, a countryside – simply by targeted Internet strikes/shutdowns.

        That’s if we let them destroy Internet democracy, and if we don’t relocalize food production.

        In all my thoughts, I never assume the continuance of this version of the Internet. On the contrary, I think we have to assume a precarious Internet. But I’d better devote a post to clarifying that.

        Comment by Russ — January 14, 2011 @ 5:26 am

      • Russ it is the dark side of all this phony ‘security cocooning’ we are being fed. Governments have never been able to deliver security in any large degree. Security is mainly about entrenching and protecting government personel. The illusion of security can be more dangerous that living without, as we just saw in Arizona.

        However, the important thing about security is the increased dependacy this causes in citizen’s minds.

        Re; the internet. I’ve been hoping to find some hint of work to build a parallel system (the only security is in redundancy). However, that would appear to be beyond peoples’ motivational capacity.

        A small point to note; should we loose the internet, we cannot “Fall back” on the telephone. The telephone system is now totally dependant on the internet.

        Comment by Paul Repstock — January 14, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

      • Hi Paul. I’ve read a lot of predictions of rapid collapses into starvation and barbarism and I inevitably come away feeling that the predictions have no value to me. If they’re true, there’s nothing I can do- I’m just another corpse in a pile in Dundas Square, or at best I’m heading for the hills to dig tubers out of the frozen ground (death might be preferable). So, I just can’t spend a lot of time worrying about it. Your point about the fragility of the internet is interesting, though the mechanism for a serious impairment of the internet isn’t clear to me- how would that work? The physical infrastructure isn’t going anywhere, and our power grid, particularly in the east, uses a lot of hydel and nuclear, so it doesn’t seem likely that a total blackout is in the cards. I certainly agree with Russ that the internet is unlikely to continue in it’s present form (as it is obviously a threat to the power elites), but it seems to me any deliberate disruption resulting in food shortages would be counterproductive to the corporate state.

        Comment by paper mac — January 14, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

      • Mac; I’m with you on avoiding the coolaid drinking ‘doom and gloom’ mindset. I recognise that urban dwellers face a different reality that us country folk.

        My main point is that we need decetralization and dispersion to have any meaningful security in event of a disaster. This applies to all types of disaster. Financial, physical, or political. Generalists are the best survivors in nature. Sadly, specialization is rewarded much better in good times.

        The “Survivalists” action plans do not apply to the modern world, even in a country as sparsely populated as Canada. When I try to point that out to them, I get a lot of hostility and denial. The only way the “Survivalist” mode works for people is if they are able to see their neighbours starve, and if they are willing to kill anyone who comes within 200 yards??

        I think survival of common people is best accomplished by building networks and enshining them in our society. Sadly, governments are ‘Jealous Gods’. They want everything to devolve from them, and pass through their hands.

        You would be surprised to know how dependant even the generation and transfer of electricity is on the internet. As for interuptions, take your pick; solar flares, EMP’s, viruses, totalitarian government’s paranoia. The parallel network I mentioned earlier does already exist to a point. But, it is entirely in Government hands and we will never have access. Rus is correct, The control structure is an implied but obvious threat. There are many people in positions of power who openly advocate reducing surplus population..???

        Comment by Paul Repstock — January 14, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

      • I’ve tried to think about how to set up an “alternate Internet”, but not being a tech guy I don’t really know how that would/could work.

        In other words: An Internet independent of the corporate pipes.

        Is this something like that?:


        It could be, at least on a local/regional basis. And then of course I think immediately in federative terms.

        I suppose that too could be subject to corporate/government jamming, and would need defenses.

        Comment by Russ — January 14, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

      • Paul- I absolutely agree with you about the worthlessness of the “survivalist” approach. In thinking more about your points re: the internet, I think you may be at least partially mistaken about the interdependency you posit between the internet and the telephone system. I was curious in particular about power, so I contacted an old friend of mine (sick in bed today, can you tell?) who scheduled power for a number of plants in Quebec, Ontario, NS, etc. I asked him what would happen in the event of an internet outage w/ respect to scheduling/trading and he said it would be unaffected, as the orders would be dispatched by phone (official policy, I assume they know roughly what they’re talking about). I also remembered that during the Urumqi riots of 2009, when the CCP shut down the internet throughout Xinjiang. However, phone service and power continued uninterrupted. I’m not a telephone engineer, but this suggests at least partial functional seperation of digital telephone exchanges and internet routers. Obviously in the case of EMP or a totalitarian gov’t shutdown, we’re eating babies, but I’m not sure the interdependencies between the two systems are that clear-cut.

        Russ- the mesh networking system you describe actually has an IEEE protocol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_802.11s) and was notably implemented in the One Laptop Per Child program. The two major issues I see with it are the inability to establish regional networks if the geographic distribution of wireless nodes is too sparse (as it would require inter-settlement traffic to be bumped up to the internet), and, as you say, that it’s trivial for gov’ts to interfere with such a network by jamming. Still though, mesh networking might be useful for specific locales.

        Comment by paper mac — January 14, 2011 @ 5:10 pm

      • I don’t know anything about the technical aspects of it, but the basic idea sounds promising.

        I also think we need to revive ham radio. My grandfather used to have one, and I was never interested in it. Now I could kick myself for not having saved it. (Nowadays, I regret stuff like that a lot more than I do not having saved my baseball cards.)

        That’s interesting about the independence of the telephones. Then of course there’s the issue of how resilient the Internet will be in terms of energy consumption, as Peak Oil effects set in.


        But that at least is one of the 10-20 year issues, I expect.

        Comment by Russ — January 14, 2011 @ 5:55 pm

      • Thank you so much guys. This gives me a lot of hope. The Spiderweb/Mesh network is exactly what I was hoping for.

        Obviously, the reduced profit motive and reduced oversight will make both government and corporate interests resist the move. It will need to be implemented by the people for the people.

        To me this quote from the Wiki article signals the end for viruses and phishing.
        “802.11s defines a secure password-based authentication and key establishment protocol called “Simultaneous Authentication of Equals” (SAE). SAE is based on a zero knowledge proof and is resistant to active attack, passive attack, and dictionary attack.”

        Rus, as you seem to moderate your own blog, ould transmit my email adress to papermac. thanks

        Comment by Paul Repstock — January 14, 2011 @ 8:34 pm

      • Hmmm..Not that internet access is a panacea. It is merely a tool, which the other side uses also:

        Comment by Paul Repstock — January 15, 2011 @ 1:45 am

  7. “Efficiency” means “the laws don’t apply to us” in banker-corporate speak.

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — January 13, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

    • That’s very efficient (for them), until it’s suddenly not.

      Comment by Russ — January 13, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

  8. The reason you can’t get any traction on changing things in a meaningful degree is that most people see themselves as having some vested interest in the status quo. As I’ve tried to ‘gently allude on the other blog, anyone in the financial sector does not really want to ‘fix’ the system. They only want to control it or change it in their benifit.

    I Keep coming back to that Cathy Fitts video Tao posted…

    At minute twenty where she discusses the “Red button to stop the drug trade” you have the answer to the dillema in your article.

    Perhaps because I’ve always felt slightly marginalized I am unable to comprehend the hypocracy of people who ‘clamour for change’ but only for other people.

    Also, the attitude is heavy on denial. Change will eventually occur anyway. If one is not willing to accept change the impact will be more severe.

    Comment by Paul Repstock — January 14, 2011 @ 4:06 am

    • BTW. For anyone doubting the validity of the “Red button to stop the drug trade”; It is obvious. Simply change the law so that drugs are legal. It is not possible to destroy the sources or consumption of drugs. The only reasonable thing we can do is to take the profit motive out of them.

      However, as Ms. Fitts points out; that would financially impact too many people. So we keep poisoning our kids bodies and minds.

      Comment by Paul Repstock — January 14, 2011 @ 4:12 am

      • Yes, they’ve done an excellent job of structurally co-opting their victims so that everyone feels like he has a “stake” in the system. Never mind how miniscule and vulnerable it is; as long as one thinks one has that stake, it’s likely to enforce a stubborn conservatism.

        In his book on mass movements Eric Hoffer wrote about this inertial conservatism on the part of those who have a tiny bit and feel that tiny bit slipping away. They’re inherently averse to risking that tiny bit even for the high-reward venture of rejecting and opposing the criminal system.

        So our task is:

        1. To convince everyone of the truth, that this kleptocracy is inevitably going to steal even that tiny bit people have left, if they do nothing to oppose it.

        (Like Jesus taught, he who has little and tries to hide it away will lose even that, while he who risks all will get back lots more.)

        2. Since rational persuasion seldom works by itself, we need to find the way to render it psychologically and spiritually potent.

        Regarding the Fitts video, I was sort of impressed that this audience of people she described as spiritualists or something had such a grasp of what the drug war is really about. Their moral failure on the issue is deplorable, and goes to what I described above. But at least they intellectually understand it.

        Comment by Russ — January 14, 2011 @ 5:36 am

      • What frightens…and saddens me, is that these intellectually advanced) women, were so moral that they ere honest about being unilling to change things in even this symbolic enactment. Yet their morality does not extend to the physical world. In other words they are moral dllletants.

        Had Ms. Fitts given the same presentation to a random sample of Americans, the percentage ‘pushing the button might have been as high as 50%. And if the test were given in the poorest neighbourhoods, one might see 90%.

        My theory is that the further people are removed from reality, the less willing they are to suffer the slightest inconvenience.

        Comment by Paul Repstock — January 14, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

      • I’m amazed at how even now many among even the biggest haters of the banks (like the examples in this post) still seem like, if offered a Red Button to get rid of all the banks (and all corporations period), wouldn’t want to do it.

        Comment by Russ — January 14, 2011 @ 2:45 pm

      • Hee hee..Well, that is why nobody would ever elect people like us to public office: They would need to carefully hide away and lock up all those “Red buttons”.

        The rational for refusal to make the drastic changes would always be a New Found concern about colateral damage???

        Comment by Paul Repstock — January 14, 2011 @ 8:41 pm

      • Yes, it turns out they believe in trickle-down after all.

        Comment by Russ — January 15, 2011 @ 3:06 am

  9. Back to “Big Pharma”..Here is one more givaway in the making. (Blackmail by any other name)


    I’m willing to bet that some circles are not experiencing any shortages??

    Comment by Paul Repstock — January 15, 2011 @ 12:58 am

  10. […] irrational, and is never expected to meet any standard of rationality or efficiency except for its own Orwellian definitions of those terms. All attempts to regulate or reform it, on the other hand, always had to meet the most severe […]

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  11. […] or social context) of an atomized product/service at the lowest cost to the producer only. This is the vaunted “efficiency” which really isn’t efficient at all. Meanwhile, its measure of all things – price – is based on generating artificial […]

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