“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” – Frederic Bastiat
Business Ethics vs Sustainability
The concept of business ethics is usually a self-serving approach to marketing.
Some people would rather make money dishonestly than honestly, getting satisfaction out of screwing people over (hi Andy), but gray is a broad spectrum. To focus on “ethics” is to allow relative justifications & miss the broader issues.
Likewise, additional layers of complexity promoting more rules & incentives over wisdom ultimately destroys the skills and will to develop legitimate leadership.
Rather than adding additional layers of complexity, what we should ask is:
“Is what we are doing sustainable, or is it not?”
That which can not be sustained won’t.
As the world has grown richer poverty should eventually disappear, however it isn’t. The public claims from the US of supporting & spreading democracy are inconsistent with blocking the ability of a Hatian to earn a livable wage. “The Obama administration pressured Haiti not to raise its minimum wage to 61 cents an hour.”
How is THAT for left-leaning altruistic behavior?
While funding a large imperial army that blows trillions of Dollars on fraudulent wars (and jails those who tell the truth) the government also helps bankers grift a large % of GDP through outright malicious fraud (which is never prosecuted). To embed that much corruption into the core of a political system you can only really have “democracy” over here so long as you fund exploitation elsewhere.
However, even that system of imperialism seems to be falling apart as Dollar depreciation not only caused the overthrow of many middle east governments, but inequality is also sharply rising in the US. The “recovery” happened for the investor class as we collectively as a society throw more people under the bus daily:
The structural problems is that way to much of our productivity (and all our increased productivity in the past 3 decades) is going to the investor class. Any solution to our structural problems must, therefore, contain an element of redistributing wealth from rich to poor and middle class people.
Wearing Political Blinders?
One thing I like about SEO is it forces you to view systems & attempt to understand ecosystems. If you don’t learn many valuable lessons about society the online market is so competitive that it can & will wipe you out.
Some market purists might cringe at the word “redistribution” but ultimately covering the losses of the banking class was exactly that. Except it worked counter to the free-market ideology those same bankers preach to everyone else.
I have been called right leaning & I have been called left leaning. But I see both “labels” as missing the broader point of what happens in reality. When a right wing president was in charge the bankers were allowed to commit endless crime without punishment. Based on disgust toward that fraud a left wing president was elected one the promise of hope & change. He then proceeded to screw the general public while fellatiating the banking class. He is a sell out.
Money > Human Life
One thing I question the legitimacy of is why capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than normal wages. Is a person’s blood, sweat & tears worth less than compounding interest on money? There is some theory that the capital markets are more efficient if they are taxed lower & that makes the rest of society more efficient, but that theory fell flat on its face when the US government shoveled trillions of Dollars into the banks & none of the bankers went to jail (even though some of them have stated before congress that they knew 80% of their “product” was defective).
Go Long Fraud, The Government Is!
AIG was nearly bankrupted from insuring mortgage-backed securities that were misrepresented (which was, of course, yet again, fraud & thus illegal). AIG, facing bankruptcy, was not allowed access to a taxpayer-funded bailout unless it waived its rights to sue the banking criminals which destroyed their company. What dirtbag in government decided that AIG (and taxpayers) should have their rights waved so that they can funnel money into criminal banking enterprises? Does it matter that many government “regulators” were former employees of AIG’s counterparties?
If a certain class of individual is inherently destabilizing, then why (other than fraud) do we keep “doubling down” on hoping that group of people will eventually change their approach (even as we shield them from the negative consequences of their own actions by making everyone else foot the bill)?
We block them off from the market feedback mechanisms we pride ourselves on pushing on everyone else. Yet if their failure causes anyone else to fail we claim that it was a combination of “free market forces” and an individuals lack of performance that is to blame for their own plight.
Sure some industries get disrupted, but when one industry goes down another rises up. Not with the banking fraud though, it is just an across-the-board kick in the nuts to almost every non-banker at the exact same time. Since our monetary system is a debt-based system, one person’s savings is backed by another person’s debt, thus most people are *required* to live pretty close to paycheck to paycheck. Yet it is considered totally reasonable for the Federal Reserve to destroy their store of wealth AND their ability to earn at the exact same time:
Deflation and outsourced jobs is creating a loss of purchasing power at the bottom and middle income strata. Housing wealth destruction and job stability are exacerbating this.
MEANWHILE in monetary land….inflation is being injected into the system by the Fed who lend money to rich people who then buy commodities, driving up prices, who buy bonds which lower savings rates and borrowing costs, and stocks which drives down dividend yields and increases cap gains.
That hand is *anything* but invisible. Adam Smith wouldn’t call that a “free” market & anyone who does is one or more of the following
- a liar
Since those who lost trillions of Dollars through intentional malicious fraud can’t accept the “free market” forces that they suggest everyone else should be subject to, the only solution is “more debt, please.”
The same banking criminals who caused the mess are paid interest to loan the government its own money, so that the banks may “earn” their way out of the bankruptcies they earned through their fraudulent activities.
2 Groups of Citizens, 2 Books of Law
Some bankers were caught bid-rigging to rip off the government. Those who they committed bribery with are now in jail. The bankers once again have nobody in jail, even though they were engaged in the exact same crimes!
Those same bankers got a slap on the wrist for laundering hundreds of billions of Dollars in drug money & then commit perjury before the courts by manufacturing robosigned documents to replace the ones they had to destroy to hide their mortgage fraud.
If we are intellectually honest, how is it that a person can go to jail for using a fairly soft drug like weed when the people who push hundreds of billions of Dollars of drug money (tied to much harder drugs & global violence) go unpunished?
But the drug money isn’t enough.
Now they are trying to figure out how to steal social security funds that already withdrawn from you check into the abyss. The nationwide decline and austerity are already so obvious that the Oakland police publicly issued criminals a laundry list of crimes that they won’t even bother responding to:
- grand theft
- identity theft
- required to register as sex or arson offender
- dump waste or offensive matter
- pass fictitious check
- stolen license plate
- etc etc etc
If Markets Are Efficient…
There is no commodity in the world that is as commoditized as money is. Most of it doesn’t even require actual printing, but is just digits on a computer screen…much like the digits I am typing right now. And yet the banking criminals have captured so much of governance that it is not uncommon to see them take 30% of corporate profits (and then shift the subsequent mirroring losses onto the public at large).
To claim that those huge profit margins (during fraud-driven bubbles) are reasonable AND that they deserved to be bailed out whenever they get things wrong is intellectually dishonest. If the taxpayer is capturing 100% of the downside risk, then why (other than fraud) are these banking criminals paid a single cent more than a person enlisted in the military?
Internationally we are at least as screwed up as we are domestically. Does outsourcing make the world more efficient? In many cases absolutely. But the global imbalances create unsustainable current account issues.
Can look to technology to solve the problems?
Even The White Horses Have Bloody Hooves
Apple is one of the most profitable companies in the world. At the other end of that supply chain is a factory where harsh chemicals give employees nerve damage & people keep committing suicide. And as soon as those people get any aspirations at all, suddenly even the 3rd world slave wage labor is too expensive & over the next few years a million people working for Foxconn will lose their jobs to robots.
If even slave wage labor isn’t competitive with robots then what does that mean for labor in countries with a higher standard of living, where the labor is far more expensive?
Eric Schmidt famously stated that laws are written by lobbyists & then Google quickly hired a dozen lobbying firms while significantly increasing their political donations. The lobbyist comment was a sneer at the system, until Google followed suit and started buying the political process. They make the same claims toward patents, yet they are investing billions of Dollars there as well.
Where Legitimate Innovation Comes From
Historically most valuable economic innovation (the legitimate kind, not the fraudulent financial engineering of the past decade) comes from individuals & smaller groups who challenge existing industries & powerful companies with creative destruction by making markets more efficient. The AT&T monopoly did a lot of great research, but anything that they thought could cannibalize their current business model did not see the light of day – sometimes for decades.
If we are moving into an ideas & technology driven economy (and that is where most of our growth will come from) then diversity should be cherished & encouraged. Unfortunately, the software patent wars lead to smaller developers being driven out of the ecosystem & innovation is slowed while the 800 pound gorillas & patent trolls engage in an arms race.
These sorts of “legislate away the future” that aim to keep existing powers at the top of the food chain are literally everywhere – from the food supply right on through to a proposed law that would harm the ability for whistleblowers to even highlight the pervasive epidemic corruption.
And Now On the Auction Block…
The system of fraud is so unsustainable that the US got a credit downgrade. The criminal mortgage probes are fizzling out, but Fannie Mae needs more money! Those responsible for the downgrade (who committed fraud & then sold their junk to the government at above market values) are warning the US about the risk of it losing its worldwide reserve currency status. To make the bankers whole, everyone else must lose, at least up until that no longer works.
Exponential Growth in a Finite World?
We have a debt-based monetary system which requires exponential growth to prevent collapse, an oligarchy-based political system that punishes innovation & success while rewarding failure, and it exists in a finite world where we are reaching the peak production in key base-level economic inputs: like energy.
The same criminal banking organizations that forced you to eat their debts are now hoarding the physical commodities you need to live. And yet, our worldwide finance-first economy (where we put derivatives & abstractions before reality) is so dysfunctional that even the banks are engaging in massive layoffs.
The parasite ate the host & now the host has nothing left to give.
Manipulation vs Fixing The Problems
It is thus without surprise then that the government invests in manipulating the perception of reality (rather than fixing actual problems) and society has an issue with mass psychosis.
That which can not be sustained won’t.