Category Archives: Capitalism in Decay

How Corruption Makes You Poor

Authored by MN Gordon via,

Are you the type of person who works hard, saves money, and invests with the intent of accumulating lasting wealth?

If so, you’ve likely noticed that things don’t quite add up between what you’re regularly told about how the economy and financial markets work and what you actually experience. We think there’s more to this than just dollars and cents.

The central feature of economics is prices. How they are determined and how people respond to them. This process establishes how prices adapt to meet the supply and demand pressures of the market.

Through experience, buyers can determine what’s a good deal or not. And they adjust their behavior accordingly. Similarly, through testing, sellers determine the optimal price of their products; a price where profit margin is best supported by sales.

For example, when airfares are cheap, a father may spring for long distance plane tickets so his family can vacation somewhere exotic. When plane tickets are expensive, he may opt for a road trip and tent camping at a national park.

Both experiences will create lasting family memories. Prices, nonetheless, are a critical determinant in the decision.

In fact, prices, and how people respond to them, are factored into nearly all free exchanges for fulfilling wants and needs. You may already have an ample supply of socks. But a ‘buy one get one free’ sale may incentivize you to buy more.

Your old beater car may work just fine. Still, you may want a new car that has all the latest digital integrations.

But how badly do you want it? Bad enough to sign-up for a $1,000 per month car payment? At that price, you’ll miss out on a lot of steak dinners.

The point is prices and incentives matter. Moreover, changes in conditions that raise or lower prices, such as interest rates or regulations, will influence behavior.

This is an important insight. And it is one that is not lost on government policy makers. By influencing prices, they can influence behavior.

Corrupting Prices

To be perfectly frank, prices are corrupted by governments for the purpose of extracting capital from the economy and rearranging society in strange and unnatural ways. In California, for instance, Assembly Bill No. 205, which was approved by Governor Newsom in 2022, requires power companies to charge customers a base fee that escalates by income bracket.

A recent proposal, would forcibly compel high income earners to pay a base fee that’s over 400 percent more than low income earners. This is in addition to the actual use rate.

Is it fair and just to penalize people with high incomes? Does the government know how to spend money better than the people who earned it?

Sacramento thinks so. As does Washington through its execution of federal income tax policies.

The process of corrupting prices also accrues power to the central planners and decision makers. This power, and the wealth it affords them, has proven to be quite intoxicating. Too much is never enough.

What’s more, bankrupt, failing governments can only hold onto power by tightening their grip on those they dominate – including you. Compulsory diktats over how your time is directed and how your money is spent are acts of desperation. Yet they must go on.

Massive taxes, endless fees, tax incentive credits, and outright currency debasement and money supply inflation, all work to extract capital from private individuals and direct it back to Washington. And right now, in the later stage of decadence, this appropriative coercion must increase.

You see, at this point, there’s no way to reverse the gross corruption that has already occurred. Any potential means to do so are soon coopted by the central authority and turned against the population.

Tools of Control

Consider digital technology advancements. These should be liberating. And in many ways, they are. But what the last 20 years of the digital age has shown is something that’s profoundly sinister.

Digital advancements, in practice, have given governments – including the U.S. government – powerful tools of control. Edward Snowden blew the whistle a decade ago on the massive surveillance apparatus that was being erected to spy on people. Instead of being hailed a hero, Snowden was rewarded with espionage charges and exiled to Russia.

Since then, the use of digital tools to spy on and control the political process has run completely amok. Each innovation – from social media to cryptocurrencies to artificial intelligence – is swiftly penetrated by the FBI, CIA, IRS, Homeland Security, and the Federal Reserve.

The new digital innovations are then used to punish certain baskets of deplorables, rig elections, and stymie honest debate for the purpose of locking people down, pumping them full of bogus vaccines, and locking the doors to their churches.

A preponderance of evidence has shown that these are not merely conspiracy theories. Rather, they’re real, genuine, bona fide conspiracies. And they’re being perpetrated by powerful actors to destroy your freedoms, confiscate your wealth, and rule your life.

Bat to human spread of coronavirus. Hunter Bidens laptop. Russiagate. These episodes were all based on lies that were perpetuated through the collusion of media with unelected bureaucrats, sitting in corrupt government agencies, to swing power in their favor.

Revelations included in the recently released Durham report confirm what everyone already knew, in spite of all the lies from Rachel Maddow and Adam Shiff. That Russiagate was a complete fabrication by the FBI and the Clintons.

How Corruption Makes You Poor

The findings of the Durham report, for any honest observer, really aren’t all that shocking. Political corruption in America has been normalized.

Like opaque medical billing charges, it’s merely a facet of everyday life. You can get worked up over it. You can complain. But it won’t do any good.

The IRS, for example, has long proven itself to be an agency of dubious actors. If you recall, the IRS singled out conservative groups in 2013, including the Tea Party, and subjected them to expensive and needless audits.

Lois Lerner, who was then the director of the IRS division that oversaw tax-exempt groups, ultimately apologized for making mistakes and exercising poor judgment. President Obama also demanded the resignation of the acting IRS commissioner, Steven T. Miller, and called the agency’s actions “intolerable and inexcusable.”

Yet if there was really justice to be had the IRS would be scrapped and the agency’s workers would be sent home without pay. The impenetrable tax code would be replaced with a simple across the board flat tax, which eliminates all deductions, loopholes, and chicanery. But that would remove the politics, lobbying, and swindling opportunities behind it, which is the tax code’s very point.

Given these abuses by the IRS, for partisan purposes, it shouldn’t be a surprise that other government agencies are abusing their powers for political objectives.

What to make of it?

Banana republics of all stripes have several common denominators:

They have a corrupt political class, including both ‘elected’ officials and unelected agency bureaucrats, who lie, cheat, and steal to consolidate power and concentrate wealth.

They have a corrupt debt-based currency, run massive deficits, and resort to the printing press to scam the populace.

All public restrooms are corrupted with carved graffiti and missing toilet seats. In good time, as a nation’s corruption spreads and becomes more pervasive it bleeds all private wealth from its citizens.

Lastly, you know utopia’s been reached when the powerless majority are all equally poor.

‘Sweeping Surveillance and Censorship’ in the U.S. Planned

by Suzanne Burdick, Ph.D via Childrens Health Defense

Lawmakers claim the RESTRICT Act — the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act — would give Congress new powers to mitigate national security threats posed by adversaries’ technology products, but critics called the bill a “dangerous substitute for comprehensive data privacy legislation.”

U.S. lawmakers are considering a bill that would grant the U.S. government vast new powers to surveil and censor U.S. citizens.

The RESTRICT Act — the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act, or Senate Bill 686 — would give the federal government new powers ostensibly to mitigate national security threats posed by technology products from countries that the U.S. deems adversarial.

The bill would grant the U.S. secretary of commerce the authority to “identify, deter, disrupt, prevent, prohibit, investigate, or otherwise mitigate” national security risks associated with technology linked to a foreign adversary.

There are only six countries on the foreign adversary list — China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Russia and Cuba — but the bill allows the secretary and Congress to add any other country “if it became necessary.”

The bill does not stipulate the criteria for adding a country.

Additionally, the bill would give the commerce secretary the power to negotiate, enter into, impose and enforce “any mitigation measure” in response to national security risks.

The bill’s “broad” and “vague” language puts a great deal of power into the hands of the executive branch, according to critics, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a “leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world.”

The EFF called the bill a “dangerous substitute for comprehensive data privacy legislation.”

Meanwhile, the White House “applauded” the bill, stating that it would “empower the United States government to prevent certain foreign governments from exploiting technology services operating in the United States in a way that poses risks to Americans’ sensitive data and our national security.”

The bill — which has yet to be scheduled for a vote — would create a legal framework through which the U.S. government could ban TikTok.

TikTok is regarded as a national security risk by some U.S. lawmakers who fear that its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, might share sensitive information from the more than 150 million U.S. TikTok users with the Chinese Communist Party.

U.S. Big Tech companies including Facebook’s parent company, Meta, and Google’s parent, Alphabet, are expected to benefit from an expanded market share if the U.S. government bans the Chinese-owned TikTok.

‘Mechanism for a massive, sweeping surveillance and censorship overhaul’

However, according to investigative reporter Jordan Schachtel, “This bill is no mere ‘TikTok ban,’ it is a mechanism for a massive, sweeping surveillance and censorship overhaul.”

Michael Rectenwald, Ph.D., author of “Google Archipelago: The Digital Gulag and the Simulation of Freedom,” agreed. He told The Defender:

“The RESTRICT Act is not only aimed at the activities and expression of companies and individuals from nations deemed inimical to U.S. interests; it is a backdoor means through which the federal government can oversee the opinions and activities of all U.S. citizens, increasing the state’s powers of surveillance and abrogating citizen’s first amendment rights.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) also had harsh words for the proposed legislation:

Many on both the Left and Right have criticized the bill, calling it the “Patriot Act on steroids” or the “Patriot Act 2.0.”

Weeks after the September 11 attacks, the U.S. government passed the USA PATRIOT Act, which the American Civil Liberties Union said was “an overnight revision of the nation’s surveillance laws that vastly expanded the government’s authority to spy on its own citizens, while simultaneously reducing checks and balances on those powers like judicial oversight, public accountability, and the ability to challenge government searches in court.”

Critics fear the RESTRICT Act would expand those powers even further.

EFF condemned the bill’s potential threats to free speech, noting that the bill doesn’t require the executive branch to justify its restrictions on expressive technologies like TikTok and that it limits lawsuit challenges to the restrictions it sets.

“Due to undefined mitigation measures coupled with a vague enforcement provision, the bill could also criminalize common practices like using a VPN or side-loading to install a prohibited app,” EFF said. “There are legitimate data privacy concerns about social media platforms, but this bill is a distraction from real progress on privacy.”

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who co-sponsored the bill, said in remarks on the Senate floor that the bill would not allow the government to “surveil Americans’ online content” or “access any American’s personal communications device.”

However, the RESTRICT Act’s broad language could potentially be interpreted to address satellite and mobile networks, cloud services and storage, internet infrastructure providers, home internet gear, commercial and personal drones, video games and payment apps, CNN said.

“Instead of passing this broad and overreaching bill, Congress should limit the opportunities for any company to collect massive amounts of our detailed personal data, which is then made available to data brokers, U.S. government agencies, and even foreign adversaries, China included,” EFF concluded.

The Putrid Underbelly of Woke Capitalism

by Michael Rectenwald via Mises

Corporate intrigue reached a fevered pitch on May 6, 2023, in Omaha, Nebraska, when a shareholder was arrested during the annual shareholder meeting of Berkshire Hathaway. The shareholder challenged the affiliation of Warren Buffett with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Bill Gates’s association with Jeffrey Epstein, who was convicted in Florida for procuring a child for prostitution and soliciting a prostitute, and who reportedly committed suicide in a New York jail while facing charges for sex trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking.

Peter Flaherty, the chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), stood to offer proposal number eight, which called for the roles of Berkshire CEO and chair to be separated and held by two persons. Flaherty argued that the separation of roles was necessary so that Berkshire “would be less identified with Mr. Buffett’s personal political activities.” Speaking of Buffett, Flaherty stated:

He’s donated tens of billions to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As Bill Gates explained when the couple was still together, “although the foundation bears our names, basically half our resources have come from Warren Buffett.”

If “woke” culture is a disease, then philanthropy is the virus.

The Gates Foundation bankrolls the teaching of Critical Race Theory around the country, including that math is inherently racist.

The Gates Foundation offers a Gender Identity Toolbox which asserts that gender is the result of “socially and culturally constructed ideas.”

This is a lie. Gender is not a cultural construct. It is a genetic and biological fact. (emphasis mine)

Flaherty was interrupted by a Berkshire representative and pleaded to the chair (Buffett) to be allowed to continue. Buffett agreed that Flaherty could continue but warned him of the three-minute time limit for shareholder proposals. Flaherty then proceeded to throw down the gauntlet, until his microphone was shut off:

We know how much Bill Gates cares about children. He met and traveled with Jeffrey Epstein many times after Epstein was convicted of sex crimes.

The Gates Foundation had a huge influence over the COVID response fiasco.

Bill Gates defended China’s COVID policies and still discounts the possibility that the virus originated from a lab, even though U.S. intelligence agencies disagree. The Gates Foundation may be the largest single donor to the “dark money” machine known as Arabella Associates. . . .

It funds causes like defunding the police that are making American cities unlivable.

Money goes, too, to groups conducting—

At this point, Buffett declared from the stage: “You crossed the boundary.” Two security guards grabbed Flaherty by either arm and escorted him from the room. Flaherty was arrested and charged with trespassing.

The arrest of the Berkshire shareholder, apparently for merely mentioning Jeffrey Epstein in connection with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, coincided with a series of Wall Street Journal articles exploring Epstein’s calendar and a trove of Epstein emails and other documents. The Wall Street Journal revealed numerous Epstein meetings with high-profile contacts, long after Epstein served time for soliciting a child prostitute and was registered as a sex offender. Represented in Epstein’s calendar and emails are such notables as William Burns, director of the Central Intelligence Agency since 2021; Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and philanthropist; Jess Staley, former Barclay’s CEO; Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn; Larry Summers, professor and former Harvard University president; Woody Allen, filmmaker; and Noam Chomsky, leftist MIT linguistics professor, among others. These and other meetings may reveal that many businesspersons and woke philanthropists were ensnared by a child sex trafficker.

The scene at the Berkshire annual meeting also followed on the heels of the lawsuit filed against JPMorgan Chase by the US Virgin Islands. Attorneys for the US Virgin Islands claim that the bank materially aided Epstein in his child sex trafficking scheme and is seeking damages for their clients. Four billionaires have been subpoenaed in the case so far, including Google cofounder Sergey Brin; Hyatt Hotels CEO Thomas Pritzker; real estate tycoon and owner of U.S. News and World Report Mortimer Zuckerman; and venture capitalist and Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz. Curiously, the US Virgin Islands has also attempted, without success, to serve a subpoena to Google’s other cofounder, Larry Page, whose whereabouts remain unknown and who obviously does not want to be found.

It should be remembered here that Google has represented the leading edge of woke capitalism, with its leftist ranking algorithms and its employment of “machine learning fairness” that corrects for so-called algorithmic unfairness by misrepresenting reality with affirmative action results. Clearly, Google’s founders did not rely on algorithms to identify and eliminate pedophiles from their list of business contacts.

While the US Virgin Islands asserts that JP Morgan Chase facilitated and possibly bankrolled Epstein’s pedophilia ring, US Republican lawmakers have claimed that the US’s largest bank has a penchant for cancelling the accounts of conservative and religious groups. The bank maintained its financial relationship with Epstein until 2013, long after he was convicted of sex crimes, yet recently cancelled the accounts of such groups as the National Committee for Religious Freedom. The bank’s touted “diversity and inclusion” policy has apparently included pedophiles but excluded avowedly Christian groups.

Much more has and could be said about why high-profile businesspersons, philanthropists, academics, and even intelligence officers had relationships with Jeffrey Epstein. For example, some have claimed that Epstein and his partner Ghislaine Maxwell were Israeli spies who ran a honey-trap operation to steer US policies in Israel’s favor and against US interests.

As the Wall Street Journal asked:

Epstein was a former schoolteacher. How did he become a billionaire? What was the source of his wealth? Was he paid for providing women or girls to his friends? Was he a blackmailer? Were women or girls an enticement to invest in his projects?

Finally, there’s the ridiculous, implausible matter of Epstein’s death in federal custody on Aug. 10, 2019, which 3½ years later remains under investigation by the Justice Department inspector general, only feeding conspiracy theories.

But the main question for our purposes is: How is that nearly all major corporate heads and influential members of society have simultaneously gone woke? Could it be that whoever controlled Jeffrey Epstein sets the agenda through the use of blackmail, directing these corporate heads and other leaders to convert to wokeness, while steering their philanthropy to designated ends, including the funding of critical race theory and the LGBTQIA+ agenda? In other words, is our capitalist class controlled by whoever oversaw Epstein’s thirty-year entrapment operation?

In addition to revealing the moral rot that has permeated the US establishment, the Epstein connections also show that those who claim the woke moral high ground, and impose woke policies on the rest of us, are perhaps the most corrupted people on the face of the earth.

Why The US Is Headed Into “something like a revolution”

by Doug Casey via

[ . . . ]

International Man: What happens after a crisis? Is there a positive way forward?

Doug Casey: Historically, the answer is, “Almost never”—in the short run. The best recent example is the French Revolution. It got worse with Robespierre—a Bernie Sanders of the era—followed by Napoleon. Or take the case of the Russian revolution. As necessary as it was to get rid of Nicholas II, it got worse with Lenin, and then it got even worse with Stalin. But even in those cases, France and Russia recovered.

If it all comes unglued in the US over the next decade, those two revolutions could be templates. Look at the way leading Democrats think, and listen to what they’re saying. They’re echoing Robespierre and Lenin.

The Republicans aren’t much better, because although they sometimes talk the talk of peace and personal freedom, they almost never walk the walk. The two major US parties—and people in the Red counties and the Blue counties—seem to really hate each other.

It’s quite ugly sociologically. There are irreconcilable differences. They’re exacerbated by the fact we’re headed for a financial blow up. There’s no doubt about that.

Some years ago, there was a poll taken among Generation X types. It turned out that more of them believed that space aliens were going to invade than that they were ever going to collect Social Security. People have very little faith in “the system” anymore, the society, or the government.

If we go back to the beginning of the 20th century, the country really wasn’t very political at all. People worried about their own lives, their own families, and their own local communities. Americans shared a common culture, beliefs, and values—that’s no longer true. Now the country has become very politicized—everybody has a loud voice and they use votes as weapons against their neighbors. It’s become a nation of nasty busybodies.

That makes me think the next upset will be something like a revolution. It’s likely to be really ugly, because we’re looking, simultaneously, at an economic catastrophe, political chaos, and a social and demographic upset—and probably a military situation as well. Government often sees war as a way to unite the country.

So, what’s going to happen?

I’ll hazard a guess that 50 years from now, the United States and, for that matter, most countries are not going to exist in anything like their present form. The best solution is a peaceful break up into smaller political subdivisions. As opposed to a civil war—which is a contest between one or more groups for the control of a central government.

Poker vs Chess from a Soviet Perspective

Republished comment.
Ed. Note: How much of this is the Anglo-Saxon perfidious Albion component and how much is Jewish Shylock of The Merchant of Venice? This reminds one of the concept of the “fine print” in any American legal document, whether a user manual, a contract, or any legal agreement. It is always written by the dominant party under the terms of Caveat Emptor (buyer beware). The poor inattentive schmuck can only blame himself if he loses his shirt at the end of the day. He signed it and can’t blame anyone, not even the other party, while the other party can cheerfully and in perfect legalese jargon exult: “I tricked you, ha, ha. Can’t help you. Next time get a lawyer. Ha, ha.”

My father once told me that “Americans play poker, we play Préférence.”

He never did learn how to play Poker, yet he was highly critical of it. I tried to teach him how to play it properly outside of the rules alone, but the very nature of the game was anathema to him. As he said, “the nature of Poker is to bluff”, and this was simply something he could not comprehend nor execute in a game. It was alien to him, perhaps even incomprehensible.

Of course, he taught me to play Chess and we played often, but he would never allow me to win. I defeated him perhaps three times at most from what must have been several hundreds of games. As a fan of board games and family events, I tried to introduce many popular games over the years. He would reject games like “Betrayal at House on the Hill” outright, yet took to “Settlers of Catan” immediately.

The point of all this personal story-telling is that Russians, or perhaps more accurately Soviets, have an entirely different psychological profile than people in the West do. Western games which children play are rooted at core in the ability to deceive and charm. Eastern classics like Chess and Go are openly visible to both players and depend entirely on mental skill. Perhaps “Connect Four” still remains popular as a children’s game in the US at best, when the young ones are not clutching to a Nintendo Gameboy or Switch.

And so we now see the results of this in real-time. American politicians operate on the principle of the “bluff”. It is not that they lie, but that they may be lying or they may not be lying. Imagine how frustrating this must be to a negotiator who does not know how to lie when engaged in diplomacy.

Putin, Xi, Modi, and others communicate with their Western counterparts directly and mathematically, assuming that their opposition will do likewise. Yet the West in turn negotiates by bluffing, and assuming that their counterparts comprehend bluffing and will respond in kind. Perhaps what all parties say is true, perhaps not. It is always ambiguous, formless, and without meaning. Powell can hold up a bottle of white substance at the UN and the US invades Iraq. It was a “bet”, and a “bluff”. He and the US administration were likely very surprised when Russia demanded to actually access that vial.

As such, we are now caught in an exponential feedback loop in which neither party trust the other, and this very lack of understanding and trust feeds the action/reaction chain. American statesmen assume that Russian counterparts think the way they do, and vice versa Russian statesmen assume that their American counterparts do the same.

Yet they are not only speaking different languages but quite literally thinking in different psychological languages.

When one party (Russia) makes its intentions clear, the opposition must ask the question, “is this a bluff or not?” instead of treating it seriously.

Railway in Siberia? No, Folks It is Cecil, Ohio, USA

Railway in Siberia?


Africa perhaps?

No folks, this is Ohio, America

Read this:The US ‘Domain Awareness Gap’ Goes Way Beyond Balloons

If a major conflict breaks out with China, America’s once-vaunted defense industrial base will be exposed as a comatose geriatric, not a sleeping giant.

▪️In an essay in Foreign Affairs last year, Michael J. Mazarr summarized a recent RAND Corporation study commissioned by the US Defense Department’s Office of Net Assessment on the age-old question, “What Makes a Power Great?”

▪️“The United States ultimately prevailed over the Soviet Union in the Cold War,” Mazarr argued, “because it was more energetic, innovative, productive, and legitimate.” But can the same be said of the United States by comparison with China today?

▪️ Here’s the RAND answer: The United States displays some of the characteristics of a once dominant power that has passed its competitive prime: by some important measures, it is complacent, highly bureaucratized, and seeking short-term gains and rents rather than long-term productive breakthroughs. It is socially and politically divided, cognizant of the need for reforms yet unwilling or unable to make them, and suffering a loss of faith in the shared national project that once animated it.

But, what of China?

▪️China clearly benefits from a potent national will and ambition, both domestically and internationally, and a unified national identity among much of the population. It has an active state that is pouring resources into human capital, research and development, high technology, and infrastructure.

So, what does this mean? 

In his classic book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Paul Kennedy laid special emphasis on manufacturing as a source of power, for the simple reason that in time of war there is no substitute for having an economy that can mass-produce weapons. In the 20th century the United States was unrivaled in its industrial capacity. That has ceased to be true in the past 20 years. 

As recently as 2004, US manufacturing value-added was two-and-a-half times larger than China’s. But China overtook the US by this measure in 2010. In 2021 Chinese manufacturing value-added was nearly double that of the US.

This is not 1941. The idea that the United States was a “sleeping giant” on the eve of Pearl Harbor is a myth that understates America’s preparedness for war. The program of construction that gave the US mastery of the sea in World War II began with the Naval Expansion Act of 1938. In our time, by contrast, we have been shrinking our military-industrial base. 

In 2013 the Environmental Protection Agency shut down the 121-year-old Doe Run lead smelting plant in Herculaneum, MO — the last primary lead smelting plant in the country. And that’s just lead. According to a 2021 report from the Department of Energy, “of the 35 mineral commodities identified as critical … the United States lacks domestic production of 14 and is more than 50% import-reliant for 31.” No doubt great from an ESG perspective. But what about the WWIII perspective?

Free Organ “Donation” by the Unfree

by Bradley Blankenship

State legislatures around the United States are keenly watching the fate of a Massachusetts bill allowing prisoners to receive up to one year off their jail sentence by donating their organs.

According to reports, Bill HD.3822, called the “Act to establish the Massachusetts incarcerated individual bone marrow and organ donation program,” would allow participating prisoners to receive a minimum of 60 days and up to a whole year off their sentence. It would be set up in a special parole hearing based similarly on commuted sentences for “good behavior.”

However, it would also encourage repeat donations, and since those incarcerated in the US are disproportionately minorities and low-income earners, it bears similarities to the country’s blood and plasma donation scheme. That system preys on low-income earners and students, encouraging them to consistently donate their blood at for-profit collection centers, effectively selling it in a sort of vampiric version of capitalism.

In a 2019 piece titled ‘Harvesting the Blood of America’s Poor: The Latest Stage of Capitalism,’ Alan MacLeod observed that “around 130 million Americans admit an inability to pay for basic needs like food, housing or healthcare, buying and selling blood is one of the few booming industries America has left.”

“The number of collection centers in the United States has more than doubled since 2005 and blood now makes up well over 2% of total US exports by value. To put that in perspective, Americans’ blood is now worth more than all exported corn or soy products that cover vast areas of the country’s heartland,“ he said.

According to MacLeod, “The US supplies fully 70 percent of the world’s plasma, mainly because most other countries have banned the practice on ethical and medical grounds. Exports increased by over 13 percent, to $28.6 billion, between 2016 and 2017, and the plasma market is projected to ‘grow radiantly,’ according to one industry report. The majority goes to wealthy European countries. Germany, for example, buys 15% of all US blood exports. China and Japan are also key customers.”

But low-incomers giving blood for money is a very different scenario from prisoners literally giving their organs for freedom. The most important difference is that the proposed organ donations by prisoners would be the result of a criminal penalty.

The US Constitution prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment” of convicts, and one could argue this makes the bill unconstitutional. But the way it is framed means the organ-for-freedom contract is not technically a punishment — but simply a voluntary system that can reduce a convict’s actual punishment. Neither is it necessarily cruel, since a person can live a normal everyday life without a kidney, nor unusual, because healthy people donate organs all the time.

The United States has slavery as a form of punishment codified in its constitution, via the 13th amendment. It is also a country where the death penalty is legal at the federal level, but mainly implemented by states in capital offenses, such as murder. US prisons also routinely implement long-term solitary confinement, recognized by the UN as a form of torture. The threshold to prove “cruel and unusual punishment” is thus exceptionally high.

One of the primary arguments put forward by proponents of the bill is that prisoners have no way, as of now, to donate organs even if they choose to. That is a pretty sound case. After all, shouldn’t they be able to exercise that right if everyone else has it? And what’s the argument against them losing this right – especially if it helps everyone, including Massachusetts’ jammed-up donor waiting list?

Unfortunately, the easily foreseen problem is that it incentivizes people to literally give up organs, parts of their bodies, for their freedom. This is inherently immoral. The people locked up in US prisons are disproportionately from minority groups, subject to awful conditions, with little access to economic aid or rehabilitation.

This is one of the main reasons why the US has the highest recidivism rate in the world, with 76% of prisoners released being rearrested within five years and an astounding 44% returning to prison within only one year. The entire system is set up for failure and for people to return to prison, thus pushing them to donate their organs but without any financial compensation, only a reduced sentence.

This is another step in America’s descent into, as MacLeod described, a horror story of late-stage capitalism that one might dub vampiric and where the wealthy feed on the blood of the poor.

Price Ceiling on Russian Oil is an Attempt to Shape a New Colonial System

by Claudiu Secara*

The imposition of a price ceiling on Russian oil is an attempt to shape a new world economic system by rigging the market in favor of the consumer countries. This way, the resource rich and productive countries are set up as a second tier subservient to the price dictates of the Dollar-emitting center. The so-called global market is to be replaced by the financial cartel’s full colonial domination. Its stages are :

  1. The creation of a consumer cartel, which includes most of the developed, rich economies. US, EU, Japan, Canada, Australia, and South Korea

  2. Creating a mechanism to control the purchase of oil from Russia at $60. That is, the price will not be determined by a market mechanism but by a hegemonic decision.

  3. A price correction occurs approximately every month. (Or every two months).

  4. This mechanism will be applied, if it works, against other oil-producing countries as well; Iran first, then gradually for everyone else, including the Arab countries.

  5. Then this cartel oil price mechanism will be applied to other natural resources and other states.

  6. Then it will be applied against goods from China.

  7. This is how Western civilization will establish an economic dictatorship of the consumer countries cartel on the rest of the world economy.

  8. This is what the fight is about now, not just stealing a few tens of billions from Russia.

  9. If this succeeds, the world market is to be replaced by an authoritarian, hegemonic driven world colonial system.


*on an idea from

US Godfather Makes a Chip Offer You Can’t Understand

‘I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse’ – Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), The Godfather (1972), one of the most paused scenes in movie history. Screenshot via INF News
A baffled group of chip industry experts, in a symposium discussion published November 4 by the ChinaTalk newsletter, tried and failed to explain Washington’s new export curbs on chip tech to China.
A close reading of the Commerce Department’s specifications shows ignorance about the technologies involved and confusion – if not duplicity – about the ban’s implications for China’s military. The experts’ group concluded that the new policy was rushed into effect in panic mode, without weighing its civilian or military implications.
The new export controls “will restrict the People’s Republic of China’s ability to both purchase and manufacture certain high-end chips used in military applications,” the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security wrote October 7.
That makes no sense, according to the experts, who included Jay Goldberg of Digits to Dollars, Doug O’Laughlin of Fabricated Knowledge, ChinaTalk’s Jordan Schneider and Martin Chorzempa of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. At the laboratory level, they observed, China can make enough advanced chips to power its key weapons systems.

Jay Goldberg:

I think there is an important distinction here between technical capability and commercial capabilities. I’m sure that there is some research lab in China somewhere that has a small EUV system and can produce 5nm chips, but they can’t do it at scale. They can do a wafer a day as opposed to 30,000 a month.

Doug O’Laughlin:

It’s one thing to make one wafer, but it’s another thing to make thousands of wafers with 99.999% accuracy over and over and over again. That’s the real problem: this is a cumulative benefit. If this is all you’ve ever been doing since the 1980s, all that cumulative knowledge and experience comes with you.

Jordan Schneider:

If you can do a wafer a day in a lab, you can probably make enough for your missile systems, no? And if so, then it really is just an economic competition.

In fact, China has had missiles that can destroy US aircraft carriers hundreds of miles from its coast since 2015, as Office of Net Assessment Director Andrew Marshall told me at the time.
The 5-nanometer chips that contain 57 billion transistors in Apple’s latest incarnation are powering 5G handsets and Big Data/AI applications, but the computer that guided Apollo 11 to the moon had just 36,000 transistors. Military systems use older chips that China makes at home, according to a 2022 RAND Corporationreport.
But if China requires the most advanced 5nm chips for AI-driven military applications – for example, drone swarms controlled by a 5G broadband network and guided by artificial intelligence – China can make enough of them, although at high cost.
The US ban won’t affect weapons systems, but it will delay China’s rollout of autonomous vehicles, data centers and other civilian applications.
Yes, “it really is just an economic competition,” as ChinaTalk’s Schneider concluded.

Chinese swarm drones. Photo: Twitter

Martin Chorzempa:

I think there’s been a shift away from trying to freeze or hold back China’s advances in chips. I see this as an attempt to roll back and degrade China’s existing capabilities. China can produce 14-16nm logic chips. Biren can produce GPUs at these thresholds. YMTC can produce NAND at this threshold too. What’s very interesting is that [Washington officials] did not set the thresholds at an aspirational level for China. They set them at levels that China already is able to do, and it’s cutting off their ability to do it.

If the Austro-Hungarian Empire was a tyranny tempered by incompetence, as the old joke goes, the BIS export controls are an economic blockade mitigated by ineptitude. In the rush to publish the new guidelines, the BIS produced an incomprehensible jumble of half-baked tech criteria.

Jay Goldberg:

I would love to hear from the people who wrote the regulations: In crafting these rules, which agencies showed up and really did their homework? And who phoned it in? Because it feels like some people did more work than others. Some things are incredibly specific, like the rules around AI performance. [In] other areas, it’s just like, “supercomputers.”

Doug O’Laughlin:

They go ham on metals deposition. They talk about 14 different types of metals, different types of processes, ALD.… And then they don’t talk about etch once. Whoever did the etch part mailed it in, and whoever did the deposition became an industry expert. The metals deposition part was mind-blowingly specific, and then they talk about ion implantation, which is something that I know a little bit about, and it’s so vague it could mean the entire set of tools that have ever been made.

Jordan Schneider:

There is limited expertise in the US government on this stuff, and I think it’s probably pretty spiky for certain things and not others.

Jay Goldberg:

In last week’s show, Kevin was really clear that the timing between [the] announcement and implementation of the rules was deliberately very, very short. I understand they had valid reasons for keeping that window tight, but it opens up all sorts of unintended consequences. In the rush to get the rules out, there was very little or no consultation with industry.

Goldberg concluded, “I’ve heard that it was deliberate: they wanted to keep certain industry bodies out of the process because they have a lot of lobbying weight.”
US chip equipment makers like LAM Research and Applied Materials, and design tool providers like Synopsis and Cadence, stand to lose the 20% to 30% of revenue they derive from China, with devastating consequences for their CapEx and R&D budgets.
Scott Foster of Asia Times reported October 17 that US semiconductor firms would suffer more damage than China from the new regulations.

US President Joe Biden wants more advanced semiconductors produced in America. Image: Twitter
The shoddiness of the Commerce Department’s technical specifications and the exclusion of US industry from the policy loop suggests a sudden onset of panic in the Biden administration over China’s technological advancement.
In January 2020, by contrast, the Pentagon overruled a Commerce Department plan to block exports of chip technology to just one Chinese company, namely Huawei, because US chip equipment firms would “lose a key source of revenue, depriving them of money for research and development needed to maintain a technological edge,” the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.
The Biden administration has made sure that the industry wouldn’t have the opportunity to object.

“We Blew It!”

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via,

We blew it. That’s right, we blew it. What do I mean?

Rather than investing in a sustainable mix of energy and in increasing the productivity of labor and industrial processes, we squandered irreplaceable oceans of capital and credit in oh-so profitable skims and scams such as $10 trillion in stock buybacks and completely unproductive speculative absurdities.

All the capital that was malinvested in shifting production overseas, financial scheming and speculation cannot be replaced. All the credit that was squandered on skims and scams (borrow billions to fund stock buybacks, borrow trillions to reward cronies and buy the complicity of the masses) is now an unstable toxic dump that threatens a financial system that is now the crumbling keystone of the entire global economy.

We didn’t have to be this foolish, but the incentives made it all rational to squander trillions of irreplaceable capital and decades of irreplaceable time. The incentives reward maximizing short-term profits by any means available, which include bribery, buying political favors, balance sheet fraud, loading companies with debt then taking them public, etc. — none of which increase productivity, innovation or sustainability.

These incentives follow a power-law distribution: the greater the leverage, debt, monopoly and financial trickery, the greater the gains.

Late Stage, Crony Capitalism

None of these extremely profitable financial strategies boosted productivity, jobs or efficiencies. All they accomplished was enriching the already rich. Call this incentive structure whatever you like: late-stage capitalism, crony capitalism, etc., the bottom line is this global system doesn’t reward investing in productivity or long-term sustainability because those investments are risky.

Why invest in something risky when you can generate billions in pure profits via exploitation, fraud and financial games that were once illegal?

  • Exploitation: arbitrage low wages and minimal environmental standards by shipping production overseas; should costs rise slightly as residents object to their nation becoming a toxic waste dump and their workers being ripped off, production is moved to a more exploitable locale.
  • Fraud: off-balance sheet, buying a company with debt, selling off its assets, hiding expenses and debt in off-balance sheet footnotes and then selling the indebted shell to unwary investors.
  • Financial games: load the company with debt to buy back shares, reducing the float and boosting per share earnings without increasing sales, productivity or profits.

Stock buybacks were illegal not that long ago because they are blatant means of self-enrichment. So were pharmaceutical ads aimed at consumers.

This is not the warm and fuzzy version of capitalism found in textbooks. In the PR textbook version, entrepreneurs “create wealth” via innovation that creates new products and services and boosts productivity by increasing the skills of the workforce and the efficiencies of industrial production.


Those paid to glorify this facade can cherry-pick examples, but the real money isn’t made in innovation, it’s made by ring-fencing monopolies and plundering productive assets. Rather than foster innovation, monopolies choke off disruptive innovations and competition as threats to their steady flow of profits.

Rather than invest in increasing productivity — the only real source of wealth creation — profits have been maximized by plundering productive assets: the workforce, resources and once-productive sectors.

All this profiteering took cheap energy and resources and limitless credit for granted. As long as somebody somewhere was doing the dirty work of extracting and processing all the energy and resources needed to keep the system running, then the financiers were free to “create wealth” for themselves via fraud, exploitation and games.

Now that the low-hanging fruit has all been plucked, it’s taking a lot more capital and expertise to extract harder-to-get resources.

Credit seemed infinite when rates were near-zero, and everyone said that was The New Normal. But alas, capital still responds to risk by demanding a return, and the happy days of infinite credit and zero rates are over, regardless of whatever hopeful predictions are issued by those wistful for bottomless credit lines.

Rather than incentivize investing in our workforce and productivity, the system incentivizes plundering the workforce and productive assets, commoditizing everything into chunks that can be tossed into the plunder-meat-grinder to maximize the short-term gains of those who own the financial assets and the political power.

Now that we need to boost productivity and efficiency to build a sustainable economy, the capital, credit and skills needed to do so have been squandered to benefit the few at the expense of the many.

A Race Against Time

Time is running out to change the incentive structure and the system to reward investment in productivity rather than plunder. Look at the charts below of global energy and population. Hundreds of billions of dollars, yen, yuan and euros have been invested in alternative energy sources, but their share of global energy is still so thin a slice that you have to squint to see it.

It will take tens of trillions of dollars to make a dent in energy and industrial-transport-building efficiency. Many people are proponents of nuclear energy, but few look at the scale or cost. The U.S. has built a grand total of two nuclear plants in the past 25 years. Yes, a small modular design recently received approval, and the first prototype may be ready for testing in 2030.

(According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “As of May 25, 2022, there were 54 commercially operating nuclear power plants with 92 nuclear power reactors in 28 U.S. states. The newest nuclear reactor to enter service, Watts Bar Unit 2 with 1,122 MW net summer electricity generating capacity, began commercial operation in 2016. Two new nuclear reactors are actively under construction: Vogtle Units 3 and 4 in Georgia”).

To make a real difference, hundreds of such nuclear energy modules will have to be manufactured, and not next century, but starting now. Where are the resources, fuel, capital and expertise to do so? Oops, all the capital went into skims and scams rather than into the workforce and real-world productivity.

Investing in our workforce has morphed into an especially cruel form of financial plunder, self-exploitation: the workforce is expected to borrow tens of thousands of dollars to fund their own education, with little guidance from a rapacious banking-higher-education system other than “the more diplomas you get, the richer you’ll become.”

While this self-serving advice enriches the banking-higher-education cartels, it isn’t generating systemic productivity gains. If it did, we’d be seeing huge leaps in productivity rather than declines.

Plunder is fun until everything has been plundered.

Then what?

Nonfiction for the Nonplussed | Algora blog publishing

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