Posts Tagged ‘Morality’
Inside Job

Inside Job is a great documentary. When I viewed it the cinema audience clapped at the end. Watch it here for free (Hat tip Jesse).

It does an excellent job of highlighting the corruption behind the Global Financial Crisis. But it does not cover the deliberate breaking of the law on the transfer of property titles in many states. The lack of criminal prosecutions of senior bankers in relation to this is beyond scandalous, it proof of how far down the path of crony capitalism America has strayed. Let’s hope this is not another case of where the USA leads, the rest of the English speaking developed world follows.

If the legal system continues to fail to do its job there will eventually be a wholesale loss of trust in the system. When that happens the country becomes ungovernable by anything other than brute force and terror. Let’s not go there. That’s why this report of a sheriff launching a criminal investigation for mortgage fraud is so heartening:

Oh Mr. Sheriffs — GO GET ‘EM!: Christopher Conley, High Sheriff of Carroll County NH, holds a press conference at the County complex on 7/2/12. He announces that he is forming a task force to investigate mortgage fraud. Fraud is occurring across the United States. Properties being foreclosed on that are owned outright. Financial institutions that stake claim to a property without a deed. The Sheriff states: “In each case there is no accountability be the financial institution, no one to present a reply, no decision maker to speak with. If you are a property owner and are experiencing any of the above. Contact the Sheriff at, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Attn: Deputy Brian King, PO Box 190, Ossipee, NH 03864, 539-2285 x317. Hat tip Market Ticker Guy

There is more at stake than many realize. The tide of sleaze and corruption must be turned around before the descent into despotism and anarchy. Otherwise the resultant conflagration will leave civil war like levels of carnage. The lives of many will be brutal and short or brutally cut short.

Since the making of Inside job we have had the MF Global theft of segregated accounts and the LIBOR manipulation scandal. The public exposure of the LIBOR manipulation will turn many trusting of people into a diehard cynics. The implications of the manipulations are enormous:

The Libor Scandal Explained: Barclays Bank has today been fined a combined £290M by regulators in the USA, UK and EU for manipulating the LIBOR; an acronym which stands for “London Interbank Offered Rate”. If you think this doesn’t sound sexy, you’re right. But if you think it isn’t critically important and one of the worst scandals to be exposed from the GFC so far, you’re wrong. The LIBOR is meant to be an objectively-set interest rate. It is used as the reference rate for an estimate $350 trillion in derivatives, not to mention an unknowable number of mortgages, international loans and financing arrangements. Many GFC scandals have involved institutions and hedge funds swindling each other out of paper wealth which never really existed. This one has involved one or more banks ripping off any number of governments, businesses, pensions funds and homeowners, and the fines so far are only the precursor to civil lawsuits and further criminal investigations. Hat John “Dinkum” Wagner.

MF Global shows you that you can’t be sure your money is safe anywhere in the system. A recipe for money under the mattress, falling prices and a full on depression if ever there was one. Of course many have been aware of this problem for some time – do check out some of the links in the attached document. Allocated accounts aren’t what they used to be. “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine too” comes to mind. Who else might that have appealed to?

People’s foul nature echoes down the ages. It is not just in adversity that the character of a man is revealed, but in their moments of greatest triumph. It is not just absolute power that corrupts, little Hitlers can spring up anywhere. Perhaps there was more to the old fashioned cultural pressure to be a gracious winner than first meets the eye. It evolved in the culture for a reason, it may have increased the ability of the culture to propagate through time. I’m not sure if the bragging self aggrandizement of much of contemporary English speaking society will prove similarly helpful for its constituents. Time will tell.

In the mean time, stay safe. Do not trust even formally trustworthy brands with your money. There are tougher times ahead, but they will not be totally unprecedented. History may not repeat, but it does rhyme. The nimble and quick witted can not just survive, but thrive. Although life being what it is even the best of us can be caught by black or grey swan events. But setting in place fall back options now, while it is still possible, can pay enormous dividends. Your health as well as your wealth may depend on it.

There are actions and options you can take to maximize your freedom of movement in the troubled times ahead. These will greatly increase your chance of maintaining some control over your destiny. Let’s do what we can now so we can later be called happy. Happy in times when the truth of the old adage “Until he is dead, do not yet call a man happy, but only lucky.” becomes more apparent. But these will be the subject of future posts.

FDA transparency

Six scientists are suing the FDA for spying on them after they informed congress of their concerns about the approval of medical devices.

Scientists, doctors sue FDA for monitoring their private e-mail

After the employees voiced concerns to the incoming Obama administration in January 2009, the FDA began intercepting the e-mails they sent using their private Google and Yahoo! accounts on government computers, Reuters reported.

The FDA also used spyware to capture screen shots of staff computer screens to obtain stored whistleblower reports and identify others involved in whistleblower activities, Reuters reported.

The information the Administration gathered in this way led to the harassment or dismissal of all six FDA employees, according to the lawsuit. The scientists and doctors worked in an office which reviewed devices for cancer screening and other purposes, the Post reported.

The employees flagged a computer-aided detection device used with mammograms as dangerous, among other devices. The staff members claim that the FDA approved the device for sale despite their warnings that it could significantly harm women.

In case you were unaware, the FDA proudly claims to be “Protecting and promoting your health”. It matters little the ostensible goal, eventually bodies are corrupted. Their senior personnel come to prioritize the good of the organization over that of some people. They still believe the organization as whole is working for the greater good. They can’t allow one bad incident to sour its reputation. To harm its funding. This would be bad for society. They need to lie, hide, harass or whatever to ensure they can continue on their wonderful mission. In this case “Protecting and promoting your health”.

It’s easy to understand how Stalin could kill the Kulaks, for the greater good. What’s the value of an individual, class or race compared to that of all people for ever more? It is not just fully fledged socialism that is evil. It is anyone or any system that is slave to the cost-benefit calculation. If you are willing to trample on an individual for the greater good, then no individual, class or race is safe. All can be killed, for the sake of all others for ever more.

The Greens removed the discounting of future benefits from cost-benefit calculations so they could harm people today on the basis of all the good it will do tomorrow.  I kid you not. Read the Stern Report. It even received support from assorted economics noble laureates. Some of whom have written some pretty smart stuff. But alas, once you are morally unmoored it matters little how smart you are. You are mentally unhinged. Your society becomes mad. Stark raving mad. Try putting a dollar figure on that in your cost-benefit calculation and I can tell you now who will be thought unhinged.

But once the connection to a moral code that protects individuals rights is severed, any moral compass becomes unhinged. Eventually individuals actions and whole societies become unmoored. Once that happens, anything goes.  And I mean anything. The Germans instituted the final solution for the greater good. Pol pot killed a third of his population:

The Left are Scum

It is our altruistic motives that turn the world into a charnel house – our desire to merge with a larger whole, to dedicate our lives to a higher cause, to serve cosmic powers…

Khmer Rouge soldiers occasionally sliced open the bellies of pregnant women, in front of terrified spectators, and ripped the fetuses from them.

I remember when it was cool to support Pol Pot. When our intellectual left lionized the Cambodian regime. As they did that of Mao. As I said, mad. Stark raving mad. The product of unhinged minds. Sometimes very smart, very well educated minds. But unhinged none the less. It’s as if they totally lack the ability to discriminate between right and wrong. As if they lack good judgement.  No doubt many of them do. They believe their own lines.

The left have long preached the evils of discrimination. The left have long tried to make being judgmental a sin. It’s is a lack of good judgment and ability to discriminate between right and wrong that makes the left’s pet policies such abject failures. They are not based on reality. But civilized society requires an ability on the part of its citizens to discriminate between right and wrong. To have good judgement. To have some semblance of a handle on reality.

Progressives like to lay claim to a scientific mantle. Marx espoused “scientific socialism”. The modern left tend to claim to be reason based and proudly reject belief systems be they based on faith or tradition. They then succumb to the lure of the cost-benefit calculation. They become enslaved by it. After all, what could be more reasonable than doing the greatest good for the greatest number? Surely it is evil to stand in the way of progress. To stop them from helping someone?

But their view is built on amoral foundations. The cost-benefit calculation is a great servant and a poor master. By all means make your calculations. But never forget that once you start depriving people of their rights you are on a slippery slope.  A slippery slope that always seems to end in charnal house.

If this is too long a bow to draw from some alleged minor malfeasance on the part of the FDA. How about the case of Thomas Drake?

The Federal Government’s Vindictive Legal Assault On NSA Warrantless Wiretapping Whistleblowers

The story has many more details not just on the program itself, but also on the attempts by a few to make it legal and on the NSA’s and the White House’s resistance (under both Bush and Obama) to actually bring the program into agreement with the law. But the worst part is the excessive aggressiveness with which the feds then tried to bring charges against the various whistleblowers, attempting to reinterpret the Espionage Act in a way that was never intended. The people involved brought up serious concerns over both government law-breaking and over the massively wasteful spending of US taxpayer money in the process. These are classic whistleblower issues — and not issues of state security. And yet, the whole thing gets twisted, in a clearly vindictive way, to make it out as if national secrets were revealed.

While the post has concentrated on the US, the underlying problem is a general one.  The text on the book used as the picture for this post states:

Corrupt to the Core: Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower

Time and again the government allowed dangerous drugs, agricultural practices, and carcinogenic pesticides to enter the food supply. Here is the full account of how government corruption endangers the food supply and how Dr. Chopra and his colleagues continue to speak the truth.