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Be-Aware of the military-industrial-congressional-financial-media-intelligence agencies-academic complex!

It’s now been over a half-century since President Eisenhower’s ominous warning as he was leaving office but bear in mind, he oversaw the rise of this threat to our democracy while he was president & our industrial base was turned to the mass production of the weapons of war.

“The military–industrial complex (MIC) is an informal alliance between a nation’smilitary and the arms industry which supplies it, seen together as a vested interest which influences public policy.[1][2][3][4] The term is most often used in reference to the system behind the military of the United States, where it is most prevalent[5] and gained popularity after its use in the farewell address of President Dwight D. Eisenhower on January 17, 1961.[6][7] In 2011, the United States spent more (in absolute numbers) on its military than the next 13 nations combined.[8]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military%E2%80%93industrial_complex

My purpose in writing this essay is not to sadden or depress you even more. Today, one of the vilest, most despicable persons I can imagine, has taken the oath of office as our 45th president. My aim is to present an overview of the big picture i.e. just what we’re up against. I believe knowledge is power and without it, we’re even more vulnerable. My hope is that I may share some things with you that you perhaps weren’t aware of or hadn’t thought of in the context of which I present them? And if I empower you even a little bit in your conversations with people you know who may believe in Trump, I will be content with having done a small part in this critical fight for all that is truly compassionate & humanistic. And for the record, I don’t claim any special expertise or authority. No, I’ve simply been paying serious attention for at least 30 years & have definitely done my homework. Okay, let’s get to it!

I’m proud to say that I was born in Oregon but I went through those “formative” years i.e. my teens & my 20s, in a tiny, poor, industrially-zoned town in South Central L.A. called Paramount. I bring this up because I feel that my street-schooling in Paramount was every bit as important in my overall education as all the college courses & books I have read in my life. Somewhere in the 1980s I believe? I heard that one out of every two jobs in L.A. were either directly or indirectly related to the “National Defense Industry.” Now, I can’t substantiate this but here’s a bit from something I just looked up:

“The US military economy

The debate on the role and effects of military spending in capitalist economies is an old and still unresolved controversy. Without attempting a review of the theoretical arguments and empirical studies (see MacKenzie 1983: Georgiou 1983: Lindgren 1984), this section investigates the economic effects of the rapid growth of US military expenditure in the 1980s, that reached $1,500 billion between 1981 and 1986.

The contradictory nature of military expenditure is rooted in its double effect. On the one hand it acts as a stimulus to the economy through the increase of public demand, in the Keynesian style, that compensates the problems of underconsumption and stabilizes the cycle of growth (Baran and Sweezy 1968; Kidron 1970; Pivetti 1969a, 1985). On the other hand, military spending subtracts resources to consumption and investment (Melman 1970, 1974; Smith 1977; Dumas 1986). The problem is complicated by the long-term effects of military spending and institutional mechanisms on the structure of the economy, of the society and of the state (see also Krell 1981; Griffin et. al. 1982).

The size of the US military economy, compared to the other countries, is shown in Table 3.2. In 1986 US military expenditure were 6.7 per cent of GDP, against a 5.9 per cent in the UK, 4 per cent in France, 3.1 per cent in West Germany, 2.7 per cent in Italy and about 1 per cent in Japan. Since 1951 the US military budget has been in every year greater than the total profits of all US corporations (Melman 1986b: 4). In 1986 the US Defense Department had 1,100,000 civilian employees, 2,231,000 people were members of the armed forces, while military industries had a total employment of 3,150,000. In all, the US military economy employs almost six and a half million people (ibid.) and one job in twenty depends, directly or indirectly, on military spendingThe Washington Post, 17 January 1986).”  http://archive.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/uu38ne/uu38ne07.htm  

Moreover, I recently watched a You Tube video of Chalmers Johnson, a professor of history at California State University at San Diego for 30 years and former consultant to the C.I.A. & expert on Japan & the Far East, and he laid out the much more accurate budget of what the U.S. spends on our military. He basically said that it’s much closer to a trillion dollars per year but because they place some of our expenditures other other federal agencies i.e. our nuclear weapons are under the purview of the Energy Dept. rather than the Defense Dept. , the public is deceived as to the true costs of “National Security” and note, it used to be more honestly called, the “War Dept,” obviously the warmongers realized they couldn’t be quite so blatant. (the last part of the last sentence is my ad-libbing) https://youtu.be/nfJNFSYFmZs 

My point in general regarding the “military” component of this vast “complex” which poses such a grave danger to not only every American but to the rest of the world because of the fact that we’re the most powerful military force in the world at present. Our military has become like that snake that devours its own tail & its a never-ending cycle of not only death & destruction around the globe, it’s also devouring the American economy, our infrastructure, our health, education, & general welfare and as Chalmers Johnson made clear, it’s simply not sustainable. All previous empires learned the same bitter lesson, especially the Roman Empire which our republic is mostly modeled after.

As for the “industrial” portion of this pernicious “complex,” it should be self-evident but perhaps I should mention a few of the major benefactors from the bottomless pit of federal dollars they suckle from? By the way, Boeing is by now means the major corporation completely dependent on the government teat but it first sprang to mind because of its obvious hypocrisy i.e. most, if not perhaps all, of these “defense corporations” spout off in public about the ‘evils’ of “big governments” but if it weren’t for their government subsidies & obscene tax breaks, they’d go bankrupt.  

List of United States defense contractors:

  • Boeing Company  

    The representative of the “free market” that we subsidize as American taxpayers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_defense_contractors

And you wonder why we supposedly don’t have any money for the mundane things like health care for Americans, quality public education or free higher education, or welfare for our down & out? 

Again, when Eisenhower was kind enough to warn us of this terrible complex that was threatening our democracy, our freedom, and our very way of government, there was no “high tech” or at least, not in the contemporary sense referring specifically to Silicon Valley & the current, corporate “high tech” monsters i.e. Microsoft, Yahoo, Skype, Facebook, Google, AOL, You Tube (subsidiary of Google), & Apple.  

Paradoxically, these high tech monsters that I listed above are monsters not only in terms of their size or economic power but also in regard to their ability to shape, mold, & influence public opinion in nations around the globe. Moreover, while they liberate us on the one hand i.e. they empowered the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt & elsewhere but on the other hand, they’ve either willingly or perhaps have been coerced to some extent by national governments around the world to serve as spies & suppliers of personal data to the powers that be.  

very interesting? just tried to upload another image than this one but wasn’t allowed to do so???

Edward Snowden gave up a very lucrative career as a consultant in the high tech world of spying because he felt passionate about the criminal acts of spying that the NSA and other “intelligence agencies” are committing against not only Americans but citizens of nearly every nation on Earth. And he revealed some of the secret, inner workings of this vast network of illegal & immoral spying, disrupting, distracting, & destroying of people’s lives, careers, etc. Though he was careful to not reveal information that would threaten any agents in the field’s lives or threaten/harm America. He has paid and will continue to pay for the rest of his life for his brave act of true patriotism. I say thank God for such noble men & women!  

Following this further, I thought that I was pretty savvy regarding the NSA’s capabilities but the Oliver Stone movie, “Snowden,” showed me how naive & ignorant I was. Edward Snowden revealed for all the world to see that the NSA can & has shut down countries’ entire infrastructure from their communication systems to their water delivery systems, dams, power grid, hospitals, etc. More importantly,  they have installed “sleeper programs” in countries’ infrastructure systems that they can activate any time they want & they have even done this to so-called friendly nations should they ever become our enemies. Do I have to point out how extremely sinister, morally reprehensible, & fascistic this is? In my opinion, these sorts of “intelligence operations” make us perhaps the world’s greatest hypocrite. We have been indoctrinated our entire lives to believe that America is the defender of freedom & democracy around the world and we send our soldiers time & time again into harm’s way to defend these “cherished” principles or values. How many Americans have lost their lives or limbs in this pursuit? How many tens of millions of innocents has the American military killed & maimed around the globe in pursuit of this agenda? I know that I don’t have to tell you because you know for yourself. Does this outrage you or offend your moral sensibilities like it does mine? Can you go on believing, paying your taxes, & defending a government that has lied & manipulated us on such a colossal scale? Can you sleep with a clear conscience? Imagine what all those parents, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, etc. feel when they see their loved ones killed & mutilated by America’s bombs, etc. and many, if not most of those who were killed had nothing to do with terrorism.

Specifically, corporate lobbyists play a major & a critical role and therefore share in the responsibility for this endless cycle of death & destruction committed under the false guise of National Security.

Something is out of balance in Washington. Corporations now spend about $2.6 billion a year on reported lobbying expenditures—more than the $2 billion we spend to fund the House ($1.18 billion) and Senate ($860 million). It’s a gap that has been widening since corporate lobbying began to regularly exceed the combined House-Senate budget in the early 2000s.”  http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/04/how-corporate-lobbyists-conquered-american-democracy/390822/

Obviously, corporations are in business to make profits and the huger the profits they make, the happier they are. But these profits are often at the expense of the public’s general well-being i.e. environmental destruction, the pollution of our air, water, land, food, etc. and as a result of this pollution, millions of Americans and other people around the world are dying prematurely and suffering horrifically from a wide variety of totally unnecessary physical, emotional, & mental afflictions. At what point do we demand they be stopped or at least seriously restrained in their abilities to spread/cause death, dread, & disease? Do you only care when it’s your loved one who is on the receiving end?

With this in mind, this is why so many scholars, citizen activists, etc. have been calling for the elimination or getting rid of money in our political system. Undeniably, this $2.6 billion dollars a year that the corporations who build all the weapons of war & the offshoots of these industries is money well spent in their minds because they almost always get far more back than they “invested” in their lobbyists. And of course these same corporations are going to fight tooth & nail to block every attempt to “get money out of our political system,” because that would dry up the open spigot of our federal treasury which flows into their pockets. Moreover, don’t wait or hope for any politician to fight for stopping this legalized system of bribery because they love all the perks i.e. fancy restaurants they’re taken out to, free vacations, lavish hotel suites, etc. they receive from these lobbyists. I just did a brief search and although I couldn’t find a date, I saw the statistic that there are 25 lobbyists for every single congressman. Think about that figure for a moment if you will? I’m sure that you are aware of the fact that many concerned citizens have tried time & time again to have a meeting face-to-face with their senator of congressman only to be told they need to reschedule & they’re put off ad nauseam. Yet these “representatives,” whose salaries, health insurance, free college tuition for their children, etc. we, the taxpayers, pay for but they can rarely spare ten minutes for us but always manage to find time for the lobbyists seducing them with “gifts.” And perhaps you’re also aware of the fact that “our” politicians spend the overwhelming majority of their days on the telephone pleading for “donations” to their political campaigns because, let’s face it, their number one concern is staying in office because they’ve gotten use to the lavish lifestyle.  

Next in this admittedly depressing expose of the insidious complex of institutions behind our enslavement & the destruction of our environment is the handful of media conglomerates. And yeah, I said “enslavement” because however you cut it, we are de facto “wage slaves.” You can keep believing in the myth that we are free to go wherever we want in search of work but the ugly reality is that we must sell not only skills but also our principles. Every corporation is a private tyranny as Noam Chomsky and others have pointed out & every time you walk in the door of a corporation, your rights as a citizen and as an individual disappear. Think that I’m exaggerating? Try to disagree with your boss or supervisor in even the most polite manner possible and you’ll still risk being fired or at least demoted or never allowed to progress in your position. They tell you what to do, how to do it, when to do it, when you can go to the bathroom, you must work overtime, sometimes for free, they control your health insurance, etc. etc. etc. It’s not a democracy and you soon learn that you’d better always be obsequious in your relations with everyone “above” you in the corporation.  

To return to the media institutions in this pernicious complex, I’ll first list those conglomerates or parts of same conglomerates that control the overwhelming majority of what we see, hear, & read in America i.e. and this power cannot & must not be underestimated because it’s the power to manipulate & shape our opinions.

Comcast

Holdings include: NBCUniversal, NBC and Telemundo, Universal Pictures, Focus Features,DreamWorks Animation, 26 television stations in the United States and cable networks USA Network, Bravo, CNBC, The Weather Channel, MSNBC, Syfy, NBCSN, Golf Channel,Esquire Network, E!, Cloo, Chiller, Universal HD and the Comcast SportsNet regional system. Comcast also owns the Philadelphia Flyers through a separate subsidiary.  

Remember, MSNBC fired Donahue for daring to have one anti-war guest for every two pro-Iraq war guest.

$74.51 billion (NBCUniversal: $28.46 billion)

The Walt Disney Company

Holdings include: ABC Television Network, cable networks ESPN, the Disney Channel, A&Eand Lifetime, approximately 30 radio stations, music, video game, and book publishing companies, production companies Touchstone, Marvel Entertainment, Lucasfilm, Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios, mobile app developer Disney Mobile, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, and theme parks in several countries. Also has a longstanding partnership with Hearst Corporation, which owns additional TV stations, newspapers, magazines, and stakes in several Disney television ventures.  http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/05/us/disney-is-blocking-distribution-of-film-that-criticizes-bush.html?_r=0  

$52.46 billion

21st Century Fox

Holdings include: the Fox Broadcasting Company; cable networks Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, FX,FXX, FX Movie Channel, and the regional Fox Sports Networks ; film production companies20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Blue Sky Studios.

$28.98 billion  (If I ‘need to say anything here, you must obviously be on the wrong page.) 

Time Warner

Formerly the largest media conglomerate in the world, with holdings including: CNN, the CW(a joint venture with CBS), HBO, Cinemax, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, HLN, NBA TV,TBS, TNT, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Warner Bros. Pictures, Castle Rock, DC Comics,Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and New Line Cinema.

$28.11 billion

CBS Corporation

Holdings include: CBS Television Network and the CW (a joint venture with Time Warner), cable networks CBS Sports Network, Showtime, Pop; 30 television stations; CBS Radio, Inc., which has 130 stations; CBS Television Studios; book publisher Simon & Schuster.

$13.88 billion

Viacom

Holdings include: MTV, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, TV Land, VH1, BET, CMT, Comedy Central, Logo TV, Spike, Paramount Pictures, and Paramount Home Entertainment.

$13.27 billion https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_cross-ownership_in_the_United_States

To put it in another way, these six conglomerates control over 90% of all the media in America i.e. nearly everything we are exposed to in terms of entertainment, news, & information, knowledge, facts. Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, realized the power of the media in influencing & manipulating the German public into accepting/believing the Nazis propaganda so as to mobilize the German citizenry into absolute belief in the sacredness of their program for not only the genocide of the Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, artists, intellectuals but for their grandiose agenda of a thousand year rule over the world.  

The Master of Propaganda & perhaps Trump’s mentor?

“Think of the press as a great keyboard

on which the government can play.”

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”

A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth

Propaganda works best when those who are being manipulated

are confident they are acting on their own free will.”

If you tell the same lie enough times, people will believe it; and the bigger the lie, the better.

If you are one of the millions of Americans who are dumbfounded & wondering how in the Hell Donald Trump became our president, all you need do is reflect on the above quotes & I believe you will begin to understand how & why. As a result of this enormous power & ability to influence the public, these six corporations play a vital role for the interlocking (interconnected) corporations & industries that they’re a part of. We know the power of the advertising & public relations industries in not only selling us products but also in selling us our political leaders. Think not?

ORLANDO, Fla. (AdAge.com) — Just weeks before he demonstrates whether his campaign’s blend of grass-roots appeal and big media-budget know-how has converted the American electorate, Sen. Barack Obama has shown he’s already won over the nation’s brand builders. He’s been named Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008.” http://adage.com/article/moy-2008/obama-wins-ad-age-s-marketer-year/131810/ 

I’m bringing up these interconnections not to paint some grand conspiracy but to simply show connections that most of us have probably never or rarely been aware of and to hopefully substantiate the big picture I’m trying to reveal. And common sense tells us that the rich & powerful are never satisfied no matter how many billions of dollars they’re “worth.” Take Donald Trump for example, do you seriously think he’s tired of making money? Why does he never cease or tire of bragging about how wealthy he is? It’s clearly because he’s an egomaniac and by definition, an egomaniac is never satisfied and no matter how much wealth, public acclaim, etc., they are forever seeking more wealth, fame, respect, etc. I believe that Trump never thought he’d win the presidency & basically just ran because he thought it’d bring even more name recognition which is after all, what he sells.

Because of the power of the media to basically control us via our opinions & the critical importance our opinions have in who we choose to vote for, I feel it’s important to break down for you how the media does that. And my intellectual hero & world renown scholar, Noam Chomsky along with a colleague of his, Edward Herman, wrote the classic on the subject, “Manufacturing Consent.”  

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988), by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, proposes that the mass communication media of the U.S. “are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function, by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion”, by means of the propaganda model of communication.[1] The title derives from the phrase “the manufacture of consent,” employed in the bookPublic Opinion (1922), by Walter Lippmann (1889–1974).[2]

By the way, in case you’re interested in this subject, there’s an excellent documentary based on this book which you can watch for free on You Tube, by the same title as the book. Chomsky & Herman detail what they refer to as the five filters which although not technically censorship but constitute a de facto set of factors that result nonetheless in limiting the scope of what’s allowed in the news that is published or shown on T.V. or heard on the radio.

Five filters of editorial bias[edit]

The propaganda model for the manufacture of public consent describes five editorially distorting filters, which are applied to the reporting of news in mass communications media:

  1. Size, Ownership, and Profit Orientation: The dominant mass-media outlets are large companies operated for profit, and therefore they must cater to the financial interests of the owners, who are usually corporations and controlling investors. The size of a media company is a consequence of the investment capital required for the mass-communications technology required to reach a mass audience of viewers, listeners, and readers.
  2. The Advertising License to Do Business: Since the majority of the revenue of major media outlets derives fromadvertising (not from sales or subscriptions), advertisers have acquired a “de facto licensing authority”.[4] Media outlets are not commercially viable without the support of advertisers. News media must therefore cater to the political prejudices and economic desires of their advertisers. This has weakened the working class press, for example, and also helps explain the attrition in the number of newspapers.
  3. Sourcing Mass Media News: Herman and Chomsky argue that “the large bureaucracies of the powerful subsidize the mass media, and gain special access [to the news], by their contribution to reducing the media’s costs of acquiring […] and producing, news. The large entities that provide this subsidy become ‘routine’ news sources and have privileged access to the gates. Non-routine sources must struggle for access, and may be ignored by the arbitrary decision of the gatekeepers.”[5]
  4. Flak and the Enforcers: “Flak” refers to negative responses to a media statement or program (e.g. letters, complaints, lawsuits, or legislative actions). Flak can be expensive to the media, either due to loss of advertising revenue, or due to the costs of legal defense or defense of the media outlet’s public image. Flak can be organized by powerful, private influence groups (e.g. think tanks). The prospect of eliciting flak can be a deterrent to the reporting of certain kinds of facts or opinions.[5]
  5. Anti-Communism: This was included as a filter in the original 1988 edition of the book, but Chomsky argues that since the end of the Cold War (1945–91), anticommunism was replaced by the “War on Terror“, as the major social control mechanism.[6]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manufacturing_Consent

Consequently, the overwhelming majority of average Americans who watch the news on T.V., read the local & national newspapers, etc. aren’t even aware of just how extensively the news they watch, read, listen to is severely watered-down and mostly reflects the views of the owners of the mass media. We would do well to remember the words of caution that Thomas Jefferson & Ben Franklin gave us;

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.” –Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787. ME 6:57

“Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Jay, 1786.

“A nation of well informed men

who have been taught to know and prize the rights

which God has given them cannot be enslaved.

It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins.” (Benjamin Franklin)

With respect to Franklin’s wisdom, this is why I have spent my life learning, not for mere ego—though I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that to some extent yes, I’d like to be recognized & appreciated from time to time for my efforts. But it’s my compassion & empathy that drives me more than anything else. Without a doubt, America and the rest of the world is at a serious crossroads with the election of Trump not only because of his outrageous racism but even more so because of his ignorance which he seems to flaunt at every opportunity & appears to be actually proud of being so stupid & intellectually lazy? It wouldn’t require much imagination to envision a world gone up in a nightmarish conflagration caused by Trump’s initiation of a World War because of his being embarrassed by some foreign leader. Perhaps this is why the so-called “Christian” far-right fundamentalists were such ardent supporters of his nomination? These nut-jobs look forward to Armageddon with a passion that is mind-boggling. So, once again, I hope that you can appreciate just how vital it is for each of us to take our self-education very serious? To backtrack a bit to the media ownership that I detailed earlier, as I was reflecting on that, I tried to do some research on the interconnections of the media conglomerates and other industries but found very little in the way of details. Again, my intention isn’t to scare you with some fantastic conspiracy, not that there haven’t been some that were proven to be true over the centuries but I try to avoid them because it usually causes peoples’ eyes to glaze-over and you usually lose them. If you’ll reflect on it for yourself though, here’s some more food for thought: As the world becomes ever more complex, and interdependent in the interconnections between behemoth corporations/conglomerates that do business in multiple countries around the globe, it’s not uncommon that some of these behemoths can contain media corporations, banking, pharmaceutical, oil, etc. corporations under one large umbrella so-to-speak. And it doesn’t require a grand conspiracy to acknowledge that this state of affairs i.e. these intricate webs of interlocking boards are going to seek to pursue their common interests and hence, reject or do whatever is within their power to silence critics or associations that might jeopardize their wealth & power because the bottom-line for every corporation is to make as much profit for their board members, their investors, & their owners. I’m going to see if I can reproduce this visual aid here to help illustrate what I’m trying to explain.

Citigroup_corp_L1.gif (887×548)

Well, I’m a technologically-challenged old fart so you’ll just have to click on the above link to see what I’m talking about. Moving along, oh wait a minute, before I leave this subject, here’s a great link to check out this fascinating train of thought  http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/corporate_community.html By the way, there’s a lot of fascinating links & details on this site. Next on our trail of the interwoven complexes that basically dominate the entire planet is perhaps the single most destructive force facing humanity i.e. what’s euphemistically referred to as the “financial services” industry.

“The Quiet Coup

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.”  https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/the-quiet-coup/307364/  

need I say more?

This was from an article written in 2009 and all I can tell you is that the situation has not improved after the calamitous, world-wide, near total economic collapse. When their House of Cards started to crumble around them, the financial “wizards” of Wall St. were shaking in their boots and feared that the public would be knocking down their doors with their pitchforks in hand. In steps, Hank Paulson, former head of Goldman Sachs, the largest and most corrupt of the financial elite corporations which has so much sway over our government you’d probably think I was exaggerating so go check it out for yourself. Anyway, Paulson along with his butt-buddy, Ben Bernanke knew the shit was extremely serious so Paulson, Secretary of the Treasury commanded that the CEOs of the “Super Banks” that were touted as “Too Big to Fail,” with the scare tactic that if they collapsed it would cause irreversible damage to the entire economy and brought them together & told them they weren’t leaving until they all agreed to accepting a “loan” from the government of billions of dollars in the hope of staving-off a run on the banks. Several of them didn’t want to accept the “loans” but Paulson was a bulldog on the matter & even though the overwhelming majority of the American public was dead-set against the bail-out, it was done anyway. Paulson expected these Super Bank Robbers to free-up credit to customers in the hopes of kick-starting the economy but they refused to do so and rewarded themselves for their magnanimous acceptance of the T.A.R.P. funds stolen from our Department of the Treasury. This is the “free market” in all its glory!

I’m probably belaboring the point so I’ll try to wind up this part of the corporate cockroach complex coalition. Naturally, there is very little consensus amongst the “dismal science” of economics and the “experts” can be counted upon to divide along political ideological lines. As for me, I side with those economists who put a more humane or empathetic perspective out there. Here are a few relevant passages in my opinion;  

In the American experience, some have argued that the roots of financialization can be traced to the rise of neoliberalism and the free-market doctrines of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics, which provided the ideological and theoretical basis for the increasing deregulation of financial systems and banking beginning in the 1970s. Notre Dame heterodox economist David Ruccio has summarized the politico-economic philosophy of Friedman and the Chicago School as one in which “markets, private property and minimal government will achieve maximum welfare.” Others see a greater role arising from the issuance of fiat currency untethered to gold or other commodities.[citation needed]””  [By the way, Naomi Klein in her brilliant work, “The Shock Doctrine,” details in great depth, the history of the Friedman school of economics and especially its destruction of the Chilean economy & the murderous dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet brought about with the blessing of Killer Kissinger and the help of our C.I.A.]  

You may find this hard to believe given the length of this essay already but hey, you try summing up the troubles of the world in a nice, concise three or four pages. Here are a few more relevant passages and please feel free—not like you need more permission to do so—to do your own research. I naturally include the views of those scholars who support my basic premises.

Economic effects[edit]

Financial services (banking, insurance, investment, etc.) have become a key industry in developed economies, in which it represents a sizeable share of the GDP and an important source of employment. Those activities have also played a key role in facilitating economic globalization. In the wake of the 2007-2010 financial crisis, a number of economists and others began to argue that financial services had become too large a sector of the US economy, with no real benefit to society accruing from the activities of increased financialization. Some, such as former International Monetary Fund chief economist Simon Johnson, went so far as to argue that the increased power and influence of the financial services sector had fundamentally transformed the American polity, endangering representative democracy itself.[9]  

In February 2009, white-collar criminologist and former senior financial regulator William K. Black listed the ways in which the financial sector harms the real economy. Black wrote, “The financial sector functions as the sharp canines that the predator state uses to rend the nation. In addition to siphoning off capital for its own benefit, the finance sector misallocates the remaining capital in ways that harm the real economy in order to reward already-rich financial elites harming the nation.”[10]  

this guy is another one of those phenomenal individuals who stand up to the powers that be

In testimony before the US Congress in March 2009, former Federal Reserve Chairman

Alan Greenspan has proclaimed himself “shocked” that “the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity” proved to be an illusion…. The ReaganThatcher model, which favored finance over domestic manufacturing, has collapsed. … The mutually reinforcing rise of financialization and globalizationbroke the bond between American capitalism and America’s interests… we should take a cue fromScandinavia‘s social capitalism, which is less manufacturing-centered than the German model. The Scandinavians have upgraded the skills and wages of their workers in the retail and service sectors — the sectors that employ the majority of our own workforce. In consequence, fully employed impoverished workers, of which there are millions in the United States, do not exist in Scandinavia.[11]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financialization

I hope that you’ll take me at my word in that I’d love to go on and attempt to explain down to the smallest detail but I know that I’ve already gone on for far too long and that the average reader won’t likely have even made it to this point in my perhaps ponderous polemic so I’ll move along.  

There is a fantastic documentary, “Inside Job,” written, produced and directed by Charles Ferguson and winner of the Academy Award for best documentary of 2010, narrated by Matt Damon (a great fan of Noam Chomsky & Howard Zinn). And if you’d care to gain a deeper understanding  of what the fuck happened to us in the U.S. and around the world in that world-wide shock of 2008 from which we still haven’t truly left behind, you can’t say that you don’t know where to look for answers! Furthermore, there’s another movie that is somewhat tongue-in-cheek but does have a very serious number of insights into this Earth-shattering experience the world over, “The Big Short.” And here is the plot all laid out for you i.e. you don’t even have to bother to do a Google search;  

In 2005, eccentric hedge fund manager Michael Burry (Christian Bale) discovers that the United States housing market is extremely unstable, being based on high-risk subprime loans. Anticipating that the market will collapse during Q2 2007, as interest rates would rise from adjustable-rate mortgages, he envisions an opportunity to profit. His plan is to create a credit default swapmarket, allowing him to bet against market-based mortgage-backed securities. He proposes his idea to several major investment and commercial banks who readily accept. Burry’s huge long-term bet, exceeding $1 billion, entails paying substantial monthly premiums to the banks. This proviso incurs his clients’ ire, believing he is “wasting” capital, and many demand that he reverse and sell, but Burry refuses. He later discovers that the banks collude with a major bond-rating company to maintain ratings on worthless bonds, allowing them to sell off their losing positions before the true values became known. Under pressure, Burry restricts withdrawals from his fund, angering his investors. Eventuallythe housing market collapses and his fund’s value increases by 489% with an overall profit of over $2.69 billion, but the backlash he receives, coupled with self-disgust, convinces him to close his fund.

Salesman Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) is one of the first to understand Burry’s analysis, learning about his actions from one of the bankers that sold Burry an early credit default swap. Vennett uses his quant to verify that Burry’s predictions are likely true and decides to put his own stake in the market, earning a fee on selling the swaps to firms who’ll be profitable when the underlying mortgage bonds fail. A misplaced phone call alerts hedge fund manager Mark Baum (Steve Carell) to his plans, convinced to buy credit default swaps from Vennett due to his own personal distaste with the banks. Vennett explains that the market collapse is being further perpetuated by the packaging of subprime loans into collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) large enough to be considered AAA ratings. Baum sends staff to investigate the Miami housing market and they discover thatmortgage brokers are making money by selling risky mortgages to the Wall Street banks, which created the bubble. In early 2007, these loans begin to default, but the prices of the CDOs somehow rose. Meanwhile, ratings agencies refused to downgrade the ratings of these failing bonds. When Baum questions an acquaintance at Standard & Poor’s, he discoversconflict of interest and dishonesty amongst the credit rating agencies. When Baum’s employees question Vennett’s motives, he maintains position and invites Baum and his team to the American Securitization Forum in Las Vegas. Baum interviews CDO manager Wing Chau, who creates CDOs on behalf of an investment bank, claiming to represent the interests of investors. Chau describes how synthetic CDOs make a chain of increasingly large bets on the faulty loans, involving up to 20 times as much money as the loans themselves. Baum horrifyingly realizes that the fraud will completely collapse the global economy and decides to purchase as many swaps as possible, profiting from the situation at the banks’ expense. Waiting until the last minute to sell their position, Baum’s fund makes a profit of $1 billion, but he laments that the banks won’t accept blame for the crisis.

Young investors Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) accidentally discover a prospectus by Vennett, convincing them to become involved in the swaps, as it fits their strategy of buying cheap insurance with big potential payouts. Since they are below the capital threshold for an ISDA Master Agreement required to enter into trades like Burry’s and Baum’s, they enlist the aid of retired securities trader Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt). When the bond values and CDOs rise despite defaults, Geller suspects the banks of committing fraud. The three also visit the American Securitization Forum, where they learn that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has no regulations to monitor mortgage-backed security activity. They manage to successfully make an even more profitable payout deal than other hedge funds by shorting the higher-rated mortgage securities. These securities were considered highly stable and the banks were willing to sell swaps on them extremely cheaply. Geller and Shipley are initially ecstatic, but Rickert is disgusted, pointing out an impending economic collapse and that a 1% rise in the unemployment rate is tied to 40,000 deaths. The two are horrified, taking an emotional stake in the collapse by trying to tip off the press and their families about the upcoming disaster and the rampant fraud amongst the big banks. Ultimately, they make a profit of $80 million, but their faith in the system is broken.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Short_(film)

Once again, I’m often too prone to explain to the point of exasperation every detail but I’m trying to learn to discipline myself in this regard. So, I will now attempt to wind-down this complex of interrelated institutions with the critical role of “higher education” which is impossible to underestimate or understate. And education has been the life-driving force of my life & that’s not hyperbole. My life has been about education, learning, & seeking knowledge, truth, & wisdom. Along my journey, I was blessed to meet the greatest teacher of my life, my wife, Jeri Ellen DeLoss. She taught me far more than I ever taught her and she has now passed away nearly three and a half years ago but I miss her nearly every minute of every day. The only times I can temporarily not miss her are when I’m engrossed in a good movie or when I’m writing something earnest about politics and its social consequences for all of us. And speaking of which, here is a passage from a fantastic, educational critic, professor, & writer:

Giroux: Higher education must be understood as a democratic public sphere – a space in which education enables students to develop a keen sense of prophetic justice, claim their moral and political agency, utilize critical analytical skills, and cultivate an ethical sensibility through which they learn to respect the rights of others. Higher education has a responsibility not only to search for the truth regardless of where it may lead, but also to educate students to make authority and power politically and morally accountable while at the same time sustaining a democratic, formative public culture. Higher education may be one of the few public spheres left where knowledge, values and learning offer a glimpse of the promise of education for nurturing public values, critical hope and a substantive democracy. Democracy places civic demands upon its citizens, and such demands point to the necessity of an education that is broad-based, critical, and supportive of meaningful civic values, participation in self-governance, and democratic leadership. Only through such a formative and critical educational culture can students learn how to become individual and social agents, rather than merely disengaged spectators, able both to think otherwise and to act upon civic commitments that demand a reordering of basic power arrangements fundamental to promoting the common good and producing a meaningful democracy.”

I’m sure that by now, I have probably pushed the majority of you beyond the limits of human torture and I humbly beg your forgiveness. But for that small number who may be true sado-masochists, I have one last bit to share with you and don’t fear, I won’t elaborate on the points within it & will instead, leave it to you to ponder for yourself. But please feel free to contact me at anytime to kick the ideas around.

Polychroniou: For years now, you have been saying that higher education is under attack by market fundamentalism – and you are, of course, absolutely right. Why are governments all over the world keen on turning public universities into training facilities for corporations?

Giroux: In the United States and in many other countries, many of the problems in higher education can be linked to low funding, the domination of universities by market mechanisms, the rise of for-profit colleges, the intrusion of the national security state, and the lack of faculty self-governance, all of which not only contradicts the culture and democratic value of higher education but also makes a mockery of the very meaning and mission of the university as a democratic public sphere. Decreased financial support for higher education stands in sharp contrast to increased support for tax benefits for the rich, big banks, military budgets, and mega corporations.

Rather than enlarge the moral imagination and critical capacities of students, too many universities are now wedded to producing would-be hedge fund managers, depoliticized students, and creating modes of education that promote a “technically trained docility.” Strapped for money and increasingly defined in the language of corporate culture, many universities are now driven principally by vocational, military and economic considerations while increasingly removing academic knowledge production from democratic values and projects. The ideal of the university as a place to think, to engage in thoughtful consideration, promote dialogue and learn how to hold power accountable is viewed as a threat to neoliberal modes of governance. At the same time, higher education is viewed by the apostles of market fundamentalism as a space for producing profits, educating a docile labor force, and a powerful institution for indoctrinating students into accepting the obedience demanded by the corporate order.”  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/15237-predatory-capitalism-and-the-attack-on-higher-education-an-interview-with-henry

Hopefully by now, you realize the common thread throughout this sinister web of “complexes?” And believe it or not, I am winding-down. By the way, I have probably invested roughly 16 hours in this essay or what some may consider an exercise in self-aggrandizement? Nonetheless, I know in my heart that there are others out there who feel as sincerely as I about what’s coming down the pike. Perhaps I shouldn’t take anything for granted so I’ll spell it out, the common thread throughout this is the multi-national or what used to be referred to as the transnational corporations. And I can’t think of a better note to leave you on than the film & the book, “The Corporation.”  

The Corporation is a 2003 Canadian documentary film written by University of British Columbia law professor Joel Bakan, and directed by Mark Achbarand Jennifer Abbott. The documentary examines the modern-daycorporation. Bakan wrote the book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, during the filming of the documentary. 

When I first heard of this documentary I was so excited & my taste buds were salivating with the anticipation of seeing it. And I was not disappointed. Why? Because this film encapsulated and laid out clearer than anything else I had ever come across, a succinct & thorough expose of what has truly infected & poisoned our world. Noam Chomsky has stated that only the rare individual, obsessed with finding the truth can do so. But for the majority of us, we must unite to keep our morale up in our pursuit of the truth in order to persevere.  

I feel that it’s primarily due to my life-long sense of isolation which allows me to stand against the prevailing “wisdom.” Yet, I am not a true hermit because I do need to be around people at least once or twice every week or two. I just wish I could have more meaningful conversations because they only come along every great once in awhile. That’s partly why I love going to Europe i.e. they’re much more amenable to serious, political & social conversations.

Sorry, I misspoke because when I awoke this morning, my subconscious had obviously kept reflecting on the big picture which I’ve tried to convey in this essay.  {for the record friends, I just tried to upload an image relevant to “Zero Days” but was blocked? Coincidence? You decide? }

To return to the subject of the NSA and its global spying on everyone, after watching the film “Snowden,” a few days later I watched another film on the NSA called “Zero Days.” It was basically a much more detailed account of what the “Intelligence agencies” are up to and able to do. In fact, they even revealed that what Snowden released is now considered old hat so-to-speak. As I believe I mentioned, they can shut down a nation’s entire infrastructure but what they left out is now other countries can do it to us as well i.e. Iran. Because of our assault on Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, they got real serious about developing their countermeasures and it goes back & forth between the U.S. & Iran (probably China, Russia, Israel, etc. in my opinion). While I was watching this it struck me, how dangerous a game they’re playing i.e. messing with Iran’s nuclear centrifuges. What if they accidentally cause a nuclear accident? Iran could react and we’d find ourselves in a nuclear war, where of course, no one wins and everybody loses.

Last but not least, when I woke this morning & was lying in bed, the idea came to me for two visual images to begin & to end this essay with. I’m using the picture of Charlie Chaplin in his classic film “Modern Times” to symbolize the general mood or atmosphere back near the beginning of the 20th century i.e. our sense of being dehumanized cogs in the giant machinery of the industrial revolution. And I thought an appropriate visual for the end of my essay would be the film, “Tron” with Jeff Bridges.

“Tron” could be seen as a metaphor for life in the early part of the 21st century where we’re being even more rapidly turned into bits of data like Bridges who was trapped in a computerized universe. The government and the corporate cockroaches are collecting & storing all our data from our phone calls, e-mail, Skype calls, texts, instant messaging, our military records, police records, health records, credit records, our purchases, etc. etc. etc. Have you noticed how they’re personalizing the ads we see on-line from the info they’ve collected on our shopping on-line purchases like from Amazon?

The most frightening thing that Edward Snowden revealed in my opinion is when he said these surveillance programs are about “Control.” And if you’ll reflect on it for a bit, I think you’ll begin to get the big picture i.e. the more data they have on us, the more control they have over us because they can pull-up that data any time they like and if we should become irritating enough to the powers that be i.e. signing petitions, protesting, writing critical books about the corporate cockroaches, etc. they can threaten to jail us or do whatever they want with us. Think I’m being paranoid? Are you familiar with what happened when they passed the Patriot Act in the middle of the night with none of the congressmen who voted for it even having read it? It in effect, shredded our Bill of Rights i.e. they can arrest us anytime they want & they don’t even have to tell us why. They can prevent us from having a lawyer, etc. etc. etc.  

Furthermore, they can and they have disappeared people all over the world and not just foreigners, but also Americans. They can torture us and for Obama’s eight years in office, he met every Tuesday with his advisors and they’d decide who to target with their illegal & immoral Drone Warfare program. Obama also declared war on Whistleblowers and prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined. Why? These men were only trying to do their patriotic duty by informing us of what the government was doing illegally. Why do they want us so ignorant and uninformed? Speaking of which, look at who’s in the White House now. His whole career has been a fake, a con job where he struts around like he’s emperor or something and every word out of his mouth is a lie. He slaps his name on other people’s buildings and demands a fortune and when the various businesses go bankrupt, he walks away & either doesn’t pay his workers, or his business partners or files lawsuits claiming he doesn’t owe them.

Similarly, all the recent uproar over “fake news” stories made me wonder about another possibility? But first I need to backtrack a bit i.e. share my general views on the “mainstream media” or what I call the corporate media. Personally, I stopped buying newspapers or reading them or watching the news on T.V., well over 20 years ago. Why? Because I learned long ago that while it’s not entirely “fake news” but it is misleading and often it’s more disinformation or purposeful misinformation which focuses our attention on sensational aspects of stories and it only rarely delves into the much deeper & serious issues facing us i.e. the wars, the economy, our education system, etc. they won’t go to the root of the problems because they’d reveal that their corporate masters/owners are often behind the crisis or profiting from them. Noam Chomsky lays it out very succinctly when he states that the spectrum of what’s allowed to be discussed is very narrow and if you go beyond that narrow boundary, you’re labeled a kook, a nut job, etc. And he has paid the price for his honesty and scholarship because he’s marginalized to such an extent in America that the overwhelming majority of Americans have never even heard of him. Yet around the world, he draws standing room only crowds everywhere he goes because he’s so respected. He’s truly a scholar’s scholar!

To return to the “fake news” hullabaloo, I wonder if all this uproar isn’t playing nicely into Trump’s playbook? And no, this isn’t another wild-eyed “conspiracy theory” —by the way, just heard the other day that it was the C.I.A. who coined this term in the 1960s to discredit anti-war activists, student protestors, etc. Think about it, it’s been proven that the G.O.P. pressured Facebook into switching from people who monitored the news stories they published to using algorithms and then his main strategist bombarded Facebook with fake stories about Hillary, etc. So now we have Trump in the oval office and his press secretary just issues lie after lie i.e. a huge group of bikers came to celebrate his taking office, the crowds were much larger than they actually were, etc. Could this be simply a matter of wearing us down, a sort of war of attrition in that we’ll get so sick of having to look up the sources of news stories on Facebook, etc. that eventually we’ll just give up and Trump’s press secretary can just spout off all the lies he wants to? It reminds me of that comedy, “Wag the Dog” with Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman and how they staged phony wars, etc. So, we find ourselves at a very scary turning point in history where nothing is too fantastic to believe and very few people, well working people who are struggling with trying to survive by working two, three, four part-time jobs with no benefits & Donald of the Duck Dynasty Klan about to repeal the Affordable Care Act so they sure as hell don’t have time to research the fake news stories they’re bombarded with.

So, what do we do? Is it all hopeless and pointless? I say no, it isn’t though I am cautiously optimistic. On Friday when the “girly-man” put his tiny hand on that Bible, I was very depressed but on the next day, when the Women’s March on Washington D.C. broke all expectations of the numbers  of people expected to participate and in major cities all around the U.S. and around the world also came out in wonderful great numbers, my spirits were lifted. Or as the late, great historian, Howard Zinn loved to remind us, “The problem isn’t Civil Disobedience but rather Civil Obedience.” We must remind ourselves that we write the movie scripts of our lives and that we can rewrite this horror movie known as Trump and tell him, “You’re fired!”  

Tron

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