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January - February 2010

The High Cost of Market Economy Label It has fascinated Vietnam watchers, particularly those from the West, to discover the metamorphosis of the country transforming itself from a closed political system into an aspiring market economy.

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One Nation, under thumb, totally divided, with liberty and justice for none, save the ruling class.
Many readers would recognize the headline as a modified version of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, originally crafted by one  Francis Bellamy in 1892, a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist, and the cousin of socialist author Edward Bellamy. The original Bellamy salute looked like this.

How apropos given the current administration’s tendency to drive for a merger of state and corporate powers, not to mention its devotion to Chairman Mao and all things that defy the framers and the document to which they gave birth, known as the Constitution of the United States of America. I trust some Americans still remember that there was such a document, even if they don’t remember its content or purpose.
Yes, the United States of America, once the most egalitarian Nation on earth and a beacon of hope for the world, has descended into the bowels of decadence and corruption, only to emerge as the greatest Kakistrocracy in history, soon to officially join the ranks of failed states.

Yes, failed states! You know, countries in which criminals are an integral part of the government, working as one against the people. Now, I know that many readers will heretofore brand me as a crackpot conspiracy theorist. However, conspiracy theorists come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life and are without exception branded as crackpots by the mainstream media machine, save one. Indeed, the gentle readers might remember President John F. Kennedy, and I trust that none, including the mainstream media, would dare brand him as a crackpot. Yet, there is no doubt that he believed in a conspiracy of monumental proportion that was designed to enslave. For those old enough to have forgotten, I offer a refresher, and for those too young to have witnessed, I offer enlightenment.

"For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence--on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed."

"And so it is to the printing press--to the recorder of man’s deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news-- that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent."

JFK was assassinated only 5 months later. It is taken for granted that he was speaking of the Soviet Union in the midst of the cold war which was raging at the time, even though he had never hesitated to mention either in past speeches when referring to them. If our country as the target of his assault remains nebulous, it serves today a prophetic dissertation of its present state and institutions. By definition, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more parties to perform an unlawful act.  How profoundly that definition coincides with the policies of today, dating from the course of JFK’s time and before, when Eisenhower praised the seminal actions of the CIA in the 1953 deposition of the democratic rule of Mohammed Mosaddeq in deference to the royal rule of Shah Reza Pahlavi – many more followed, like the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in the Congo. Didn’t we wage a revolution to free ourselves from the yoke of autocratic rule?

It has become evident that the US Government is doing all it can to ensure that the same fate befall any who challenge the collusion among the axis of evil comprised of Wall Street, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury who orchestrated the looting of America for the benefit of the financial Oligarchs who truly rule America. But who are we to criticize the likes of these simple bankers doing “God’s Work,” as Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein puts it. The unmitigated gall of Lloyd to say such a thing is reminiscent of those who proclaimed the Titanic as the ship that “God Himself” could not sink! Let us regress for a moment to the day of the boarding of that ill-fated vessel when an apprehensive female traveler approaching the gangway of the enormous new passenger liner, gazed up in amazement at its looming hulk. "Is this ship really unsinkable?" she nervously inquired of a nearby deck hand.  "Yes, lady," the deck hand answered, "God himself could not sink this ship.”

I can imagine God, as He was tending to Godly things, suddenly perk at the insignificant crewman’s assertion, taking final umbrage at all the chatter about the big boat, and thinking: “So this is what it’s come to… Hmmm….”   And then there was that iceberg.

Now comes Lloyd Blankfein with the grandiose declaration that “Goldman Sachs is doing God's work. “ Perhaps it might be enlightening to review what God says about the work He assigned to man when He created him. The first was to cultivate the earth; the second was to care for His creation, namely, other human beings who were to share the earth with him.

The first seems simple enough; gather seed, plant it, and repeat the process on more ground as need dictates; the second is the highlight of the scriptures and common even to those who know no scripture – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” What a sublime prescription for peace and prosperity from the goodwill of each man to the other! But then, enter Goldman Sachs who has its own idea of God’s work –

“We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. It’s a virtuous cycle.”

So that’s what this last year was all about – how could we have missed seeing it for what it really was, God’s handiwork. I wonder where it will lead us as we parse the words and phrases that deliver such benefaction to us all.

Raise capital – Create wealth – Allow people to have jobs. Then repeat the process, just like the sowing of seeds, a virtuous cycle.

Raise Capital: I will not argue with the principle of capital investment to grow wealth; it beats Communism that ends in five men fighting over the best method to bury a fence post – not an ideal approach to sound productivity, even before one considers the stifling of creative power, an attribute of humankind that is the essence of what we are.  But who has access to this capital and how is it used to grow wealth, and for whom, exactly?

This requires just a brief introduction to what I call the Great Interloper –  The Fed. The Federal Reserve was created in 1913, largely as a response to a series of financial panics or bank runs, particularly the severe panic of 1907. Over time, the roles and responsibilities of the Federal Reserve System have expanded and its structure evolved. Its duties today, according to official Federal Reserve documentation, fall into four general areas:

1.    Conducting the nation's monetary policy by influencing monetary and credit conditions in the economy in pursuit of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.

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