It's the criminal economy, stupid!


#1

[Read the post]


#2

Is it really disturbing? I see this more a “business as usual” and didn’t except a different outcome. Not that I like it, but I am not surprised.

But our civic leaders are surprised! Schäuble, the German minister of finance, it SHOCKED!

Fun story from Germany: The Mossack Fonseca cache had informations about offshore companies run by the Bundesdruckerei, the state-owned manufacturer of banknotes, passports et al.

Three years ago a whistleblower tried to inform the governing body and Mr. Schäuble, as responsible minister, about the companies, related to a corruption case in Venezuela. He was not only ignored but threatened with a defamation lawsuit.


#3


#4

We need to reach deep into our collaborative, empathic psyches to find new ways to negotiate a global commons in which we collectively, repeatedly, and with great creativity reimagine what a legitimate economy can look like.

Yes!

How about a reality show like those ones on pathological hoarding that’s about wealth hoarders? Not one that glorifies wealth, but rather one that makes it clear that wealth hoarding is pathological. Not to mention sociopathic and psychotic.


#5

The liberalization of trade and finance often gives get-out-jail-free
cards to everyone from the drug growers of Mendocino County, California
(their transgressions overlooked by elected sheriffs) to …

Our sheriff participates in busts against trespass grows and leaves alone law-abiding medical cannabis growers who comply with regulations.

What exactly would you have our sheriff do differently?


#6

It seems clear that some good hacking does wonders for bringing at least the occasional ray of sunshine to locations that would otherwise remain well shaded until the heat death of the universe; but, unfortunately, we still seem to be even further behind on accountability than we are on visibility.

Visibility is good, since nobody ever went down for a crime that nobody knew was committed; and one pays no price in social displeasure for things nobody knows you’ve done; but it is still all-too-frequently the case that Knowing Is Half The Battle; but all we know about the other half is that we’ve lost.

The sort of ‘hacktivisim’ that involves machetes rather than databases seems like it probably isn’t the correct answer; but you can have a transparency party, with transparency cake and transparency frosting and it won’t do you a whole lot of good unless the data are acted on.

Unfortunately(while some criminals evade detection, against the best efforts of investigators, just because they really are that subtle, sneaky, and clever), there’s good reason to suspect that many of the cases most likely to be made transparent by…irregular citizen reporting… are also the cases that are most likely to sink into a morass of impunity.

As we know(in part because we have the leaks to prove it), when it comes to stuff that is genuinely disapproved of; state agents will go to great lengths, often above and beyond what the law allows, to get the necessary evidence and bag the target. The stuff that you can get away with with only modest efforts at secrecy and obfuscation is the stuff that they don’t care to chase down by any means necessary; and only if you get particularly lucky will doing their investigation for them spur them to action.

In the case of the Panama Papers, say, consider the reported (utterly atrocious) state of security on the affected law firm’s IT side. The fed spooks who merrily compromised the internal networks of basically all the major internet companies would have punched through that like a neutrino through tissue paper. Apparently your email was of more interest than a good-sized chunk of the world’s slush money(and, in thinking about it, this is honestly a bit surprising given that some of their…discretion oriented services… included work for outfits like North Korea; Team Fed might not give a damn about a bit of financial optimization by the great and good of the world; but we apparently couldn’t be bothered to keep tabs on who handles the banking for a country that is demonstrably on our shit list? Aside from being something that they’d plausibly want to know; that’s probably even a legal and intended application of the US Intelligence Community’s espionage capabilities. Either they have more myopic idiots on staff than their technical capabilities would suggest; or they have crazy deep respect for seedy offshore law firms as an institution. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised. HSBC was proven in a court of law to have been laundering epic amounts of money for the Iranians and assorted drug cartels; which would theoretically make them an enemy in the war on drugs, an ally of The Axis of Evil, a probable-sponsor of nuclear proliferation, etc. and they didn’t even bother to pierce the veil on that one.)


#7

“When these organizations realize that their behavior is being scrutinized by the entire world, they’ll be better corporate citizens.”

This is hilariously, tragically naive. Even ignorant.
Because it assumes that these organizations are being run by people, and not things that are born to eat and shit and nothing else.

Does anyone really think google will just stop digging into our personal lives and selling what they find because they get caught?
How does a person come to that conclusion, without proof of any kind that such a process works?

What I’m seeing here is a lot of powerlessness and blind ambition.
David didn’t kill goliath with a rock. He killed him with a fucking sling and a high speed projectile.


#8

That’s the kind of thinking we need. They can stop the mainstream press and TV, but the Internet is less controllable.


#9

What always amazes me is the (apparently strikingly low, if behavior is any guide) rate of recognition among the people suffering from the pathology. I don’t mean to say that “oh, wealth must be so painful, why don’t they notice?”; because while it can’t buy happiness reports are consistent that it beats the hell out of poverty.

If you look at the middle-to-upper-middle layers of something like finance, though, it’s not hard to find people putting in crazy hours; enduring considerable stress, despite already having a net worth great enough that they could flip their boss the bird and walk out right now and still be all set. Why is that?

There are the people who are doing what they love; and the people busting ass because at $7.25/hr your options are limited; but how does one explain the person who has enough assets on hand to never bother working again doing anything except what he feels like?


#10

For those people who understand french, I highly recommend watching Alain Deneault and Frédéric Zalac on Tout Le Monde en Parle, a talk show on Radio-Canada. The interview is on the topic of the effects of tax evasion havens and the Panama Papers.

Alain Deneault, in particular, speaks very passionately, with barely suppressed anger. If I had been there, I would have shouted to Gilbert Rozon, sitting to his right, to “Shut The F*ck up and let the man speak!” (and “Just because you’re doing better than 25 years ago, doesn’t mean everyone is.”) Grrr!


#11


#12

Greed for money is a sort of fever, right? I mean, we know that about gambling as a potential “addiction.” Part of the pathology of wealth is clearly the sense that creeps up on (as far as I can tell) most who have it that having more would be better, and actually, just great! Never mind that one already has enough to spend in one lifetime, let alone far, far more than most others have. People “love” other harmful addictive substances too when they’re addicted to them, but there’s something about money that stops most of us from seeing the hunger for it as another abusive addiction.


#13

This. We have to make it ridiculously inconvenient for Americans living and working overseas to open legitimate bank accounts, because 9-11. But when it comes to going after industrial-scale money laundering by and for known state sponsors of terrorism, the Feds are like ¯_(ツ)_/¯


#14

The are motivated by social dominance, not by money. If you take 100 people, offer them all $200k a year to do something they find not all that bad and then give them the option to work their asses off, have no free time, doing something they hate that’s unethical for $1M a year, you’ll find 95 of them say, “No thanks, that sounds stupid, $200k is more than I’ll need.” The other 5 are running the world right now and they are the absolute worst people we could choose to do so.


#15

The difference between organised crime and the corporate business world is that organised criminals bribe petty officials in order to break the law, while corporate criminals bribe legislative officials in order to make the law.

Same game, the corps are just better at it. It’s all about extracting wealth from the peasantry.


#16

Right, and well said. Any suggestions toward setting up a better system?


#17

So, the same logic of “If one beer is good, than ten would be great.” And of course the long hours and hard work feed into their self-congratulatory “I must DESERVE all this money,” narrative.


#18

But the internet is also chock full of crap obscuring legitimate information and people deliberately setting up misinformation for the public. In the same way people believe “hacktivism” because they read it online, they also may believe bullshit like anti-vaxxers, climate change denial denial and your local Congressman is an extraterrestrial reptilian.

Rather than censorship, the internet stifles sane discussion by keeping the door as wide open as possible and giving means for dissemination of some truly gonzo stuff.


#19

The core of the problem seems to be greed. If humans could stop constantly needing more in order to feel satisfied, perhaps we can stop consuming the earth to the point of mutual destruction.

(Yeah, I know, good luck with that)


#20

Yep. Along with a seemingly consequent inability to see any point in paying one’s fair share of taxes.