There is a conspiracy engaging in theft, counterfeiting, fraud, extortion, blackmail, bribery, influence peddling, drugs, terrorism, and war that makes the Panama Papers’ exposures look like a small-town police blotter account of juvenile shoplifting. This criminal enterprise launders trillions, not billions, of dollars; it involves major political, business, financial, academic, and media figures in the US and around the globe, and it has perpetrated its crimes far longer than Mossack Fonseca’s clients’ have hid their money and illicit activities.
The dark conspiracy is the US Government. It takes over $3 trillion a year in taxes. Anyone who refuses to pay is sent to jail. Stealing one dollar out of every six the US economy produces is insufficient for its purposes, so it borrows anywhere from $500 billion to over $1 trillion a year. Future interest payments and principle repayment add to the involuntary obligations imposed on the productive…and their children and grandchildren.
The law forces its populace to accept pieces of paper and computer entries—irredeemable for anything more valuable than identical pieces of paper and computer entries—as “legal tender.” The government creates said paper and entries at will. Their value, such as is, rests on compulsion and unenforceable promises by the government not to create too many of them. Such promises have invariably been broken, and a dollar has about 4 percent of the purchasing power it had in 1913 when the central bank was established. That 96 percent depreciation counts as more theft; the government is the primary beneficiary from currency depreciation.
Every conspiracy needs accomplices. With stolen and counterfeit funds, the government bribes millions. Their acquiescence makes them complicit: money for votes. Nothing is as nauseating as thieves demonstrating their “virtue” by using stolen funds to maintain themselves in power. Of course they keep a generous portion of what they steal; the Washington metropolitan area is the richest in the country. The capital is doing to the rest of the country what the Mafia did to Sicily: draining it of all vitality and life.
Redistribution is only one of many rackets run by the government. In this “increasingly dangerous world” the US is supposedly beset by threats at every turn, the justification for perpetual war. The government accounts for about a third of the entire world’s military and intelligence spending and maintains over 700 military outposts around the globe. It has been at war for decades in countries that have posed no threat to the US populace. Why? “Threats to interests” has replaced threats to the populace as the rationale for war. What are “threat to interests”? Anything that threatens the government’s and its corporate allies’ confederated global empire. The American people are given a false choice: their money or their lives. Their money funds Orwellian oxymorons designed to enslave: wars for peace, eliminating liberty to save it.
What can be more criminal than promoting death and destruction for economic gain? The war complex—the money, jobs, and influence merry-go-round of the armed forces, Congress, bureaucracies, defense and intelligence contractors, media, and think tanks—have stumped for every war since Korea. Outcome is now irrelevant, the perpetuation of war and the trillions of dollars that flow from it are all that matter. If winning was important the US might win once in awhile; on paper it always has the military advantage.
The costs have been enormous: the drain on the economy of producing unproductive weaponry and supplies; the taxes extracted and debt incurred to pay for it; soldiers wasting what should be the most productive years of their life waging war, and the millions killed, wounded or displaced, either by war or its inevitable blowback. Syria may be the apotheosis: the government both fights and aids opposing sides, depending on shifting political calculations, cannot explain what its doing to the satisfaction of any rational person, and throws away immense sums of money. Filthy lucre has become the true object of warfare, because such wars sap rather than augment US military, financial, diplomatic, and moral power and strength.
Redistribution and warfare are among the biggest government rackets, but banking should not go unmentioned, simply because the bankers have achieved every criminal’s dream: they garner the gains from ostensibly legal activities while taxpayers bear the losses. The Federal Reserve provides unlimited funds at concessionary terms when bank liquidity runs dry and markets seize up. It suppresses short term interest rates, enabling banks’ risky carry trades and yield curve arbitrages. The Fed has developed a close identity of interest with the banks it regulates (also known as regulatory capture), promoting concentration within the industry and effectively turning it into a cartel. When generalized crises arise, which such a morally hazardous set up guarantees, the federal government assumes a good chunk of the bank’s deposit liabilities, and money will be stolen or borrowed to ensure that the biggest banks don’t go under.
With the growth of the surveillance state, those who might object know they’re being monitored and information about them—innocuous, embarrassing, or incriminating—is kept on massive data bases. A gangster offers a merchant “protection” from every gang but the gangster’s; the government spies on us to “protect” us. Only fools think the “protector” in either case is less dangerous than the threats against which it supposedly protects. The government doesn’t usually have to make threats; it has our secrets.
Occasional and generally underreported and under-investigated disclosures like the Panama Papers fuel suspicion that what’s disclosed is the tip of an iceberg. That suspicion is not unfounded. Undoubtedly smuggling and trading in drugs, weapons, and humans, and laundering of the proceeds, is extensive and mostly hidden. Such trading and laundering require bribery of the government officials and politicians who are supposed to stop them.
The dog that doesn’t bark here is the scarcity of convictions, or even investigations, of officials and politicians for aiding these illegal activities. The dog that does bark here has been the vitriol and hostility unleashed at anyone who suggests that the costs of wholesale legalization of one of those activities—the drug trade—would be far less than the costs have been of keeping it illegal. The suspicion is inescapable that the howls of outrage have far more to do with a very profitable ox being gored than with the oft-cited “immorality” or harmful effects of drugs.
However, what goes on legally in broad daylight is far more worrisome, and wrong, than what transpires in the shadows and sub rosa byways of criminality. Taxes, redistribution, war, banking, and the many other government rackets retain a veneer of respectability that keeps most people from seeing them as the criminal endeavors they’ve become. Governments are the largest criminal enterprises in history, with those who control them writing the laws that exempt their own criminality. Any nation that legitimizes the wrong and criminalizes the right cannot endure. After long acquiescence current political ructions may mark a dawning comprehension of the distinction between what’s legal and what’s right. It’s a realization that will receive sustenance as the present system collapses, but it will take time and a huge educational effort by those who comprehend before it can blossom into something truly worthwhile. Resisting criminals is a basic human right.
WHEN FREEDOM WAS LEGAL
ROBERT GORE’S EPIC NOVEL OF
THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION