Watch the film; “Inside Job” by Charles Fergusson if you give a shit about fraud at the highest levels. The pic above shows (Hank Paulson, Secretary of the Treasury under Bush; Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve; Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury under Obama). Of course, we mustn’t forget Alan Greenspan, Larry Summers, etc. This film won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary & was narrated by Matt Damon. It is about “the systemic corruption of the U.S. by the Financial Services Industry.”
Yes indeed, the business of America is fraud and the higher up the food chain from small companies to megalithic corporations, the more prevalent fraud is & the less likely they will be held accountable for their crimes.
I recently spent three months traveling around the state looking for a place to retire & a home to buy. I was looking for a small, used manufactured home, but unfortunately, they’re almost all in trailer park “communities.” And these “communities” like corporations, are private tyrannies as Chomsky has pointed out. I’m not being facetious, each of these “communities” has its own set of rules & regulations and a number of hurdles one must pass for entrance.
I was going to pay cash for the home and then have to pay “rent” for the privilege of living in this “community.” Rent usually includes water, sewer, & garbage and an incredible number of restrictions which, if violated, could get you evicted. Most of these “communities” won’t allow you to have a dog or a cat. The few that do allow pets, often tell you what size dog you can have, what breed of dog you can have, etc. And most of these “communities” won’t allow you to park your RV there but will allow you to park them there if you pay an additional fee. I won’t go into the absurd assorted other rules & regulations but it is truly mind-boggling.
I was told that my income must be at least three times the rent amount which was going to be $375 per month. I get Social Security and it is several hundred dollars more than this rent amount but because I have a “bad” credit rating, my application was denied. So, I paid $50 to be rejected by the petty tyrant owners of this “community.” The owners are a husband & wife and I dealt with the wife. She tried to persuade me to pay off the debtors who made claims against me which give me the “bad” credit rating. It was all I could do to refrain from screaming nasty epithets at her over the phone.
A few days before this rejection, I was in her office going over my application & the notebook full of rules & regulations. I mentioned that I write about politics & she asked whether I was liberal or conservative. I said I’m definitely liberal & she said they were conservative. I responded with yeah, most business owners are conservatives. I had also mentioned that I started collecting my Social Security early because I feared that the GOP would get their hands on it soon & had been trying to do so for decades. She argued that it was democrats who wanted to tax & spend.
This is the non-thinking mantra of the so-called “conservatives,” and they’ve been repeating it ad nauseam for decades as well. I was very tempted to ask her, well, tell me, who was it that started the war in Afghanistan which is the longest war America has ever been in & what have we accomplished there.
I also wanted to mention that it was again the republicans who started the war based on a pack of lies, in Iraq and we, the taxpayers have been forced to pay a billion dollars a week for all these years to finance these wars but I knew that I should keep my mouth shut & not antagonize the boss so I kept my mouth shut.
A little later in this enlightening conversation, this petty tyrant informed me that people on food stamps & government assistance are lazy & dependent and don’t want to get off this assistance. Yep, once again it’s clear that those with all the money & privilege see the rest of us as the unwashed masses intent on stealing their hard-earned wealth. Although I was looking forward to settling down in this area because it’s only a few blocks to the ocean & a nice area in Newport, Oregon where I’ve tried several times in the past to get a foothold, it’s probably for the best that I was turned-down. I can only bite my tongue for so long and sooner or later, I probably would’ve told her just how stupid she is.
I use this personal experience to highlight the bigger picture of what’s happening all across America i.e. a return to debtor’s prison. Charles Dickens is revered by many scholars as being on an equal level, if not superior to, William Shakespeare. And I believe he has attained this degree of respect largely because of his vivid portrayals of the down & out in England at the onset of the Industrial Revolution. And this “revolution” has clearly run its course in America and the so-called “First World” nations & has now moved on to the “developing nations.”
Dickens’ own father was imprisoned in a debtor’s prison & this is why his son could write so powerfully about the degrading & devastating effects of this relatively modern phenomenon. I have also experienced the horrors of growing up poor in America because my mom basically raised four children by herself & worked two or three jobs for a good part of her life in her struggle to keep us out of the gutter. This is why I have spent the last 30 years or better teaching myself about politics, economics, history, etc. And this is why my writing is often passionate & full of anger.
Don’t worry my friend, I haven’t forgotten what this essay is supposed to be about i.e. fraud & private tyrannies. In our so-called “advanced” society, the corporate cockroaches have only refined their methods of oppressing us & keeping us under their thumbs. As I said, in today’s world & in America, the home of the free, if you want to rent an apartment or a house, etc. you must not only pass a credit check but also a criminal background check. Imagine if they required all politicians and CEOs of corporations to do likewise?
And not only does this apply when seeking a roof over your head, it is also becoming the standard when applying for a job & they often require that you pass a drug test as well. The 99% in the United States of America, you know, all us suckers & victims who are forced to pay the taxes that enrich the wealthy or face prison, are trapped in an ever-smaller vicious circle. This circle or cycle is like a noose around a prisoner’s neck that is slowly tightening around their throat & it’s a Catch-22 from which there is little to no way to escape.
If you’re part of the 1%, you got there because you’re either a sociopath or a psychopath. But, if you have any semblance of compassion or empathy, you realize that many, if not most of our most vulnerable citizens i.e. the homeless, the working poor, the shrinking middle class, etc. often turn to drugs & alcohol as a means of temporary escape and/or relief from this nightmare we’re engulfed in. I believe pot is the drug of choice for most of us & I believe it’s relatively harmless in the scheme of things. Unfortunately, pot stays in our systems far longer than the more harmful drugs like crack, meth, heroin, etc. I’m not excusing those who commit violent crimes against others but if we truly gave a damn about crime in terms of the devastating personal toll it has on us as individuals, as families, and as a society, we would lock-up most of the corporate CEOs in this country.
Reflect on this if you will, try to name a single, major corporation that hasn’t been guilty of defrauding its customers/consumers at least once? Most of the corporate behemoths have been charged with fraud repeatedly yet they are still allowed to go on doing business as usual. And to rub salt in the wound, they don’t even have to admit guilt in a court of law. They are occasionally required to pay a small fine relative to the amount of profit they made from their fraudulent practices. Yet, if you or I write a “bad check,” because we’re down & out and are just trying to feed our family and we’re out of work, we’re sent to jail or today’s “debtor’s prison.”
Speaking of prison, are you aware of how profitable cheap, prison labor has become in this land of the free? Moreover, Walmart which is touted as the largest & most profitable retail business in the world, uses mostly prison labor & a de facto slave labor force from China. I believe that most of us have become desensitized to the fact that advertising, like it’s cousin, public relations (P.R.), a powerful tool of the politicians & the business class, is the art of lying or fraud in all its malevolent glory.
So, corporations are freely & legally allowed and encouraged to lie, cheat, steal, & manipulate us. They’re allowed to poison us with their GMO foods, their contamination of our air, water, & land. They’re partners with the politicians who are their high paid whores i.e. Dick Cheney & Halliburton and use their high paid PR whores to dupe us into wars of aggression i.e. Iraq. Our poor & desperate citizens who see no way out of their misery & poverty and fall for the military propaganda, reluctantly join the military & risk their lives and sanity in the never-ending stream of wars. And when they return, often with a limb missing & serious mental issues, they are denied benefits or receive pitiful care, in terms of the quality of assistance available to them. By the way, remember our reverence for the law in this nation based on Law & Order, and our reverence for business? Then why is it that contracts we sign, like the contracts I signed with telecom corporations who defrauded me, are airtight for us and can have such significant impact on our lives as for example in causing me to be denied residence in the trailer court I applied to, but when the military invents their policy of “Stop Gap,” they are free to break the contract you sign when you join a branch of the military? A soldier, whose tour of duty is complete & their spirit is soaring with the anticipation of returning home is told, sorry, we need you & you’re going to do another tour. Some poor souls have been forced to do three or four more tours of duty than they signed up for.
For these and oh so many other reasons are why I say that the business of America is fraud. It’s a sad & truly horrifying Brave New World the corporate cockroaches & their lackeys in Washington D.C. have created for us. You may believe that if you play by all their rules & zealously pay all your bills, no matter how many of them are fraudulent, that you may escape the nightmares I describe but you are only deluding yourself. How many horror stories have you heard of people who were obedient & quiet all their lives only to retire & discover their pensions had been stolen by their corporate executives, their health coverage they were guaranteed for life was wiped-out, etc.? I have been spitting in the wind most of my adult life & I know that I’m probably little more than a modern-day Don Quixote but I also believe to the marrow of my bones that it’s better to die standing than to live on my knees!
—Rob DeLoss, Newport, Oregon (January 21st, 2015)
P.S. I forgot to point out that because of my “bad credit” rating, I am now forced back into renting an apt. where I must jump through all the same unfair & outrageous requirements and if I disturb a neighbor by playing my music too loud if I’ve had a bit too much to drink for example, I face eviction. We face ever more outrageous rent prices & are de facto prisoners in our own homes. We are de facto all living in debtor’s prisons, it’s just that some have bars on the windows while others don’t. I confess though that I’m seriously considering abandoning ship i.e. leaving America for good and seeking asylum, spiritually speaking, in some other country where there is the possibility of owning my own home & peacefully retiring with fewer fascists dictating when I must shit, go to sleep, etc.
Well it appears that I did lose track of the central point I wanted to make regarding “bad credit.” I did mention this to the petty tyrant who rejected my application for becoming a resident of her luxurious (sarcasm intended) trailer court, though. Charles Ferguson pointed out in the brilliant documentary that he wrote, produced, & directed, “Inside Job,” that just a few days before the world-wide, economic collapse of 2008, the three major credit rating agencies in America gave the “Super Banks,” and many, if not most, of the hedge fund firms, the insurance giant, A.I.G., etc. triple A or at least double A ratings. The petty tyrant’s response when I told her this was “Well, there’s nothing I can do about that.” So, in other words she didn’t grasp the connection or the point that I was trying to make i.e. the big boys can tank the economy of the world & cause tens of millions of people to lose their jobs, their homes, & their life savings but you’re going to reject me because I refused to pay my “bill” to a few of the telecoms who defrauded me? This is the world we live in my friends & this is what passes for justice in this corporate cockroach infested society of ours! By the way, my mom worked for AT&T for 36 years but when she died, they kept denying that she had a pension. My aunt was co-executor with me though & she refused to give up and after months of persistent phone calls, my aunt got through to an honest employee there who told us, yeah, there’s $39,000 in a pension account.