Vampire Capitalism

Bela Lugosi as Dracula

Bela Lugosi as Dracula

How a Spate of Blunders by the Private Sector Screwed Over Consumers Last Month | Alternet.

*edit, February 18, 2014 – I added a link to Bruce Livesey’s blog about his book, “Thieves Of Bay Street.” I also changed a few words in one sentence that otherwise confused ‘vampire capitalists’ with ‘the people’. Indeed, The people are not automatically righteous, but that doesn’t automatically make them vampire capitalists.

An excerpt from the above linked-to article by David Morris follows:

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The private sector has had a very bad month. Its most widely publicized failure occurred when UPS and FedEx fumbled their Christmas deliveries while the U.S. Postal Service scored a touchdown.

“An unlikely Star of the Holiday Shipping Season: The U.S. Postal Service” is how Business Week described the clear victory of the public over the private. “The government-run competitor was swamped with parcels just like UPS and FedEx were, with holiday package volume 19 percent higher than the same period late year. But there were no widespread complaints about tardy deliveries by USPS. The postal service attributes its success to meticulous planning.”

Less publicized but even more damning has been the spate of articles regarding the epidemic of snafus and high costs of private contractors. A recent Op Ed in the New York Times by David A. Super, Professor of Law at Georgetown University offered a litany of private contractor failings, including a flawed Colorado Benefits Management System that took four years to fix. When first implemented it reportedly refused food stamps to anyone who did not have a driver’s license from Guam! In mid October a contractor’s glitch made food stamps inaccessible to recipients in 17 states.
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Let me get this straight. The U.S. Postal Service was allowed to have a real contest with the private parcel delivery services? Usually, Governments and saboteurs cripple public services so that a fair contest can ‘not’ be held. That’s how they get around to privatizing things. Governments and their private sectors allies who want to make the case that ‘for profit’ is superior to ‘government run’ need to hedge their bets and so they resort to crippling whatever publicly funded service or program they are targetting and then inviting everyone to compare the performance of the publicly funded (and crippled) service and the for profit alternative that they propose or which also exists. I don’t know anything about the U.S. Postal Service, but if it has been subjected to the same sort of sabotage that our Canada Post has been subjected to recently, then I’m doubly impressed with it.

The way neoliberal capitalists operate is this: They pursue ‘set up’ as opposed to ‘full’ investment. Coincidentally, I just read a section of John Ralston Saul’s “The Collapse Of Globalism,” published in 2009. It may be a good book, but he doesn’t speak to me in it, even if snippets are illuminating. (So who is he speaking to?) In one section, he describes managerial, technocratic capitalism, which caught my eye because I guess I was trying to say something similar. But where’s the collapse of globalism? Ascribing characteristics to capitalists – honesty for example – that they don’t possess and then making the argument that they believed all they said to us about globalism only to discover later that reality doesn’t correspond to their beliefs doesn’t add up to the collapse of globalism in my view. Tossing in that there are capitalists and then there are shysters who shouldn’t be confused with capitalists can be confusing or enlightening, depending on how it’s done. As I read Saul’s book I find myself distracted by a peripheral vision of a competing, simpler and more compelling view of reality, which isn’t to say that I don’t find Saul to be a clever, knowledgeable man.

Saul talks about vampire capitalists and vampire capitalism, but not in those terms. (He tends to forget that people can be evil.) I simply found it very interesting that he was able to get around to saying (in one spot), in bloodless language, what I’m saying simply and, I assure you, with just as much enthusiasm, if less foundational knowledge. Saul’s been around the block. I have not. I’m sure Saul is passionate about his views, but there’s life missing in his analysis, in my view, even if I can’t quite say exactly why I think so. Anyway, I’ll toss in an excerpt from his book at the end of this post.

‘Set up’ investment is what you would expect from scam artists operating within a mafia capitalist system within a lawless corporatocracy. The capitalist wanting to set up some operation invests enough to get it up and running and looking reasonably attractive to investors and prospective customers. After that, investment disappears, at least if that’s investment beyond whatever is needed to just maintain the operation. That’s because there’s no ‘giving’ in the capitalists’ model, which is ‘dominate, dictate and take’. The capitalist doesn’t follow the golden rule of ‘do to others what you would have done to you’. The capitalists’ model is ‘dominate, dictate and take’ and their motto is: ‘Take what you get, whether you like it or not and even if it hurts you’.

Positive investment that would result in quality products and services isn’t in their thinking. Profits, for themselves (not the economy) informs their thinking. Did you see Pyramids Of Waste? It’s a great documentary about the origins of the light bulb industry and the built-in obsolescence practice. Light bulb makers could make a light bulb that almost never burns out, but that wasn’t going to be as profitable as one that would burn out within an engineered time period. Government assisted in passing laws that said light bulbs could ‘not’ last beyond a certain time and so here we are. And it’s not just light bulbs that get that treatment. Think about that the next time you hear rightwing propaganda about government waste in connection with social spending, a point made by Susan George of the Transnational Institute. There’s a link to Pyramids Of Waste on this blogs’ home page.

Sharing and giving certainly isn’t in the neoliberal capitalists’ thinking, and I’m not talking about giving away what you possess and going without as a result. Gottfrid Svarthholm Warg’s crime was having, and encouraging, the ‘wrong’ political views. He’s associated powerfully with the ideas of giving and sharing, being a founder of the file sharing site Pirate Bay. That, and his voluntary work with Wikileaks, the organization famous for shining a light on what governments do in our name, made him a natural, and fun, target of dark corporatocracy leaders and the operators of their security/surveillance machinery. On one level for sure, Julian Assange and Gottfrid and many other whistleblowers and democracy activists, quite infuriate corporatists with power, who still have to live with themselves and their children. What fascist looks into his young daughter’s eyes and tells her “Daddy is a murderous fascist?” Well Daddy, WHY THEN DID YOU CHOOSE THE PATH OF DARKNESS IF IT CAUSES YOU DISTRESS? But you figure it’s worth it. You have to live with yourself and, because you lack humility and the ability to admit your error, you ‘will’ live with your modded self, even if that means, as you well know, the eventual assimilation into an evil system of those who you love (strongly but in a limited and insufficient way).

I don’t know all the details about the private parcel delivery services about which David Morris speaks, but I would guess that investment in them, in a positive and full sense, is missing. Corporations capture governments, and all that goes with them (regulatory powers, armies, police, security orgs, etc), and enough institutions to support their capture of governments and control of society, freeing up uncaring (neoliberal) capitalists to feed on the public sector, like vampires. (I think it was Susan George who referred to the transfer of public assets to the private sector, with the help of politicians, as the biggest theft in the history of mankind. I just can’t find the quote.)

Politicians are part of a monstrous system that deciders unwisely allowed to grow big and strong and all powerful. They are in it, willingly (even if under compulsion), alongside powerful private sector players and they depend on each other, and assorted captured institutions (like organized religion and labour). The wild beast of corporatocracy can easily apply pressure, negative and positive, to us because it has incorporated into itself a money system. Money, in this system (in the neoliberal era in which safety nets for the people are absent), means life. Withhold or threaten to withhold income from people and you can, if they are willing to jettison principles, enslave them. That applies to all, the rich and the poor, all races, from every walk of life. Therefore, Politicians make the choice to not bite the corporate hand that they see feeds them and vice versa. And their vision is physical, not spiritual. They are blind guides. Following them, as Jesus Christ simply put it, just leads you to joining them in the pit they will eventually fall into. It’s glorious until then.

That’s the context in which the above private sector ‘problems’ occurred. There’s no ‘life’ in anything, because the vampire capitalists suck it all out. (Susan George, president of the Transnational Institute, sums it up nicely here: Waste And Capitalism) They have their partners in politics suck the life out of publicly funded programs and services so that they can eventually be privatized. And then when those programs and services are privatized and for profit, the people (as well as vampire capitalists) are given lifeless, or poor quality, services and programs. (Investment ‘minus’ profits equals less investment.) And none of this is necessary. It stems from choices that some make to follow a dark path, a paradigm I call ‘riches for the strongest’.

Corporations and powerful special interests might give themselves a black eye, when we look closely at their exploitative, deceitful and violent ways and honestly report what we see, but that won’t change their nature nor dispel their authority. If that was possible, then we’d be living in a very different kind of world right now. Remember the black eye the capitalist class gave itself back in the 70s? People saw how corrupt and manipulative oil companies and their political partners were and they were vocal about it. That spooked – in a manner of speaking – the powerful. And so they used their real power to push back, forming the Trilateral Commission that identified a “crisis of democracy” and proceeding to defuse that ‘crisis’. They disarmed the people who objected to exploitation and betrayal by proceeding to capture governments (silencing to a great extent the voice of the people) while propagandizing the people (through corporate owned media that pushes information at people so as to allow them to believe that they are informed) so that they could begin seeing exploitative, bloody capitalism as something positive (largely by conflating capitalism and democracy). False pride plays a role. When the few who dig deeper and uncover truths about society’s powerful, unprincipled players try to tell others about it, those others (who are mentally lazy and possess false pride) automatically reject that information. The diggers’ information is strange. It’s not what the lazy person knows (after sitting passively in front of the television set and being force-fed propaganda by Fox, or CNN or CBC). Therefore, It ‘must’ be wrong. The alternative is that ‘they’ are wrong because they are too lazy to know better and that just won’t fly.

It’s not surprising that a close look at the bigger picture, by the abused people, should take place now and then, as it is now (but on what scale?), since the behavior that leads to it hasn’t changed. The abusers and exploiters are still abusers and exploiters. But our squawking, even when it’s more than noise, won’t change hearts or, as I noted, dispel the authority of unprincipled, perverted kings. Nothing, including God, can change their hearts. (It’s a free universe, because those are God’s principles. He gave us free moral agency, which we can choose to abuse. But not without consequences.) But only God can take away their authority, which he will do. They have been given authority over the earth for the purpose of enabling all of us to see that independence from the Source of life doesn’t work. At some point, there will just be nothing else for mankind to learn in this area. That’s when God will pull the plug. That’s when glory will meet glory and it won’t be pretty for those who have modded themselves into blood-thirsty beasts.

We should be realistic about the power and authority of the dark overlords we chafe under. Should we do nothing? No. That’s what uncaring people do. Yes, All of this darkness is difficult.

From “Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra Remains Silent On Delivery Delays,” by Jacques Gallant, Toronto Star, January 10, 2014, the following:

—-+
For a second consecutive day, the Star requested an interview with Chopra to explain why so many routes in the area were left unstaffed over the holidays, and why so little information was disseminated to affected customers anxiously awaiting cheques and Christmas cards.

And for a second day, the newspaper was instead given Canada Post’s senior vice-president of delivery and customer experience, Doug Jones.

“The delivery of mail is my accountability. The buck stops here,” he said. “It’s me you should be dealing with.”

A number of residents who went weeks without mail, as well as federal opposition critics, were calling Thursday for Chopra, as the face of the corporation, to offer a public explanation for all the empty mailboxes.

Liberal transport critic David McGuinty said he was not surprised Chopra is not being made available for comment, given his performance in front of the House of Commons transport committee in December, when he infamously said that seniors would embrace the corporation’s move to community mailboxes as the walk would be good exercise for them.
+—-

Canada Post communal mailbox

Canada Post communal mailbox

Canada Post’s Deepak Chopra is a piece of work and I’m sure his boss, Stephen Harper, is impressed. Deepak also sits on the board of a private, rightwing think tank called The Conference Board of Canada. That outfit promotes rightwing ‘solutions’ to problems. Surprise, surprise that Chopra’s ‘solutions’ for Canada Post’s supposedly dire situation is to ax about 8000 good jobs, kill door to door mail delivery and ‘not’ pursue options that other countries have profitably pursued, such as postal banking, which there’s actually a need for, which Bruce Livesey makes painfully clear in his dynamite book titled “Thieves Of Bay Street.” In essence, Chopra’s solution to Canada Post’s ‘problems’ is his boss’s solution, namely privatization. Most of the coverage of this development in the National Post (and Globe And Mail) will be silly and dangerous, but not all. I find it interesting that the only mention I’ve found of this very important and revealing information about Chopra’s conflict of interest was in the rightwing National Post. Jason Fekete and Andrea Hill co-wrote “Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra Is A Board Member Of The Think Tank That Urged Mail Changes.”

Armine Yalnizyan, with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, talked to CBC’s Matt Galloway about Canada Post’s steps toward privatization here. They ought to give out a saboteur of the year award. They’d have to restrict it though, because the entire political class would win them and that’s a lot of trophies we’d be importing from China. So let’s just give them to unelected bosses and other leaders outside (formally) of politics.

Indeed. The undemocratic Stephen Harper, who believes in inequality, wants to please his friends in the private sector by giving them all that belongs to the people, including Canada Post. Deepak Chopra will not bite his hand. Why would he when he’s raking in close to $500,000 a year to demoralize his workforce and Canadians who still enjoy door to door mail delivery in urban areas? Don’t you just love bosses? In two ways then, Deepak reveals the ideological motivations behind his mismanagement of Canada Post. The fake solutions to a non existent problem that will result in a real one, seen in CPC’s refusal to consider profitable postal banking. A focus, actually begun earlier, on parcel delivery, which is increasing as snail mail drops, could be maintained. And the deliberate defunding that the union noted was at the center of Canada Post’s inability to properly staff during the Christmas period when the ice storm struck the GTA is another way Deepak has mismanaged CP. You can’t have a fair race when one runner has had a hammer applied to his foot. Canada Post is being mismanaged and sabotaged. That’s the issue. If Harper and his Canada Post CEO, and other managers in CP, were committed to a profitable Canada Post that all would benefit from and be proud of, then they would properly fund it and run it, period. And if that didn’t do the trick, then, yes, people could fairly say that “Socialist postal delivery doesn’t work! Privatize it!” But those overpaid ‘leaders’ are not believers in the institutions (Canada for all and CPC for all) they run. Nor are they being up front about their interest in measuring CPC’s success not by the value for dollars invested and the satisfaction of it’s customers, but by it’s adherence or deviation from their (self serving) neoliberal ideology.

“The Star tried on two occasions this week to interview Chopra, only to have its requests passed off to Canada Post’s senior vice-president of delivery and customer experience, Doug Jones. He said the 2013 ice storm caught the corporation off guard, prompting many of its full-time and relief workers to take leaves of absence.

“Chopra, who was appointed to a five-year term in 2011, earns between $422,500 to $497,100, and has the possibility of receiving a bonus of up to 33 per cent of his salary. He has been the driving force behind Canada Post’s transformation plans, which include hiking the price of stamps and ending door-to-door delivery in older urban areas.

“The Canadian Union of Postal Workers accuses Canada Post of causing undue stress for workers, and of not replenishing its lists of casual employees.

“Hamilton said Friday an interview with Chopra could be a possibility in the near future.

“As a result of the delays, GTA residents went over two weeks without mail, anxiously awaiting cheques and bills, and receiving few answers from Canada Post staff.

“The corporation even imposed forced overtime on some its GTA employees this week in order to catch up,” wrote Jacques Gallant in the Toronto Star.

My online response to the top of post linked-to article by David Morris follows:

—- —- o
The above article is a keeper! We need more of them so we the people can, ourselves, fight back. When I’m talking to someone, as I was a short while ago after learning the hard way that my bus service had been cut, about how anti-government governments operate and how people confuse ‘sabotage’ with ‘inefficient’, he could only mutter ‘yes that’s true’. I was on my way to work and the bus driver suddenly announced that he had come to the end of the line and had to let me out (at about 9:30 pm). Service had been cut (in Toronto, not some hick town). I was stunned. I looked around wondering how to get downtown where I work. I saw a bus coming, and ran for the stop and it went right past me. I went to another stop down the street to wait for the bus, which came.

On my way there, the young man I came to chat with about this kick in the teeth was there. I asked him about the buses in the area I found myself in. He believes that our TTC should be privatized. I don’t know why. I told him that people confuse ‘sabotage’ with ‘inefficient’. He nodded and said ‘yes, true’. I even told him that privatization will mean investment minus profits. Cosmetic changes will be made that the public will go ooo and awww over, but then reality will set in. I mentioned that governments in some places (Britain) have had to take back privatized services. You just don’t hear about it enough. My problem is that I can’t remember details all the time so my arguments, with strangers out of the blue, lack the force they might lack if I could.

And why would you hear about failed privatization projects? Unless you delve into the alternative media, or media that is close to it, you will not. At least not often enough.

In the meantime here’s our millionaire (Deco Labels) mayor, Rob Ford (yes, ‘that’ Rob Ford), unable to call a state of emergency a state of emergency. The ice storm we had truly crippled Toronto and made life miserable for thousands. I had no power for two days. I didn’t suffer, but my two days were mild ones and at least I had full, but utterly crappy, bus service over Christmas. I got lucky and the power came on just as the temperature dipped. Thousands here didn’t have power until days later.

An activist org here called TTCRiders keeps track of the TTC and advocates for keeping it properly funded and run by those dedicated to making it work for Torontonians who don’t own vehicles but need to get around. A link in the email update I got from TTCRiders put me onto a TTCRider’s report (http://bit.ly/1bTnFEH) on the voting record of our municipal politicians in relation to the TTC. It was quite interesting. Rob Ford consistently voted for cuts to the TTC and against restoring minimal funding. He’s running for re-election here in Toronto. One wonders about his grasp of reality, appropriate since when politicians walk a dark path they don’t get brighter. Revelations about Rob’s gang connections and drug use and a video showing him violently threatening to kill someone don’t strike him as an emergency. My not being able to get to work easily certainly doesn’t strike him as an emergency. That, and everything else connected to this guy, and his kind of politics (which is mostly what we, everywhere, all get these days) add up to an emergency for Torontonians, at least those of us who can’t afford cars or chauffeurs.

As I [perused] the report by the above TTCRider, I noted not only Rob’s consistent voting against the interests of so many Torontonians, but also the mismanagement, the sabotage. This line is one of the more telling lines, in regard to understanding what’s going on here: “More recently in January 2013, there was a motion to invest $5 million from the TTC operating surplus back into the TTC. The TTC had generated a $22 million surplus from over-crowding and service cuts in the previous year, yet City Council voted NO (14-31) to invest this surplus back into the TTC and instead funnelled this money back into City coffers.”

Rob, despite his nonsense talk about Liberals and socialists (standard for the Right), is supported in his pursuit of the neoliberal agenda of privatization and deregulation by higher levels of government. No matter the party in power, you see the same defund, destroy, discredit (in the eyes of propagandized citizens), dis-invest or privatize mode of politics. Our Ontario provincial government, under Mike Harris, a polished version of Rob Ford, downloaded responsibilities to the city but not the funds to carry them out. Premiers since him haven’t undone that. Again, That’s the neoliberal agenda. It creates a constant pressure to privatize as all that’s publicly funded falls apart.

Toronto [has] the most poorly funded public transit system in North America. The default position of governments is to not properly fund anything. Why would they if it’s all intended to be passed onto politicians’ friends in the private sector? It’s rational but perverse and immoral. And privatizing some things may not work, but lets not talk about that. Or what citizens actually want. Friends are there for friends, period. Voters are another matter, although by now, those who vote don’t care enough to know that they’re only legitimizing a scam perpetrated by the one percent on the rest of us. Municipal politics is supposed to be less corrupt than the federal politics, but I don’t know about that. Maybe citizens can get democrats (as in democracy, not Democrats) into municipal politics. But if they can do anything for the people when they’re there, I’m not seeing it.
o —- —-

From pages 80 & 81 of “The Collapse Of Globalism And The Reinvention Of The World,” by John Ralston Saul, the following:

“If the world were going to be one big market, corporations should be as big as possible, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to float or make waves on the shoreless ocean. It was as simplistic as that.

“This is immediately recognizable as a mercantilist anti-free market argument. It takes us back to the great trading companies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The East India Company. The Hudson’s Bay Company. La Compagnie française de l’Orient et de la Chine. The Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie). It relates directly to arguments in favour of oligopolies and monopolies. It is also not a conservative argument. Michael Oakeshott: “Even if the much advertised economies of gigantic financial combinations were real, sound policy would wisely sacrifice these economies to preservation of more economic freedom and equality.”

“The modern obsession with size is managerial, not capitalistic. Technocrats, given a choice, will seek power through structure and the extension of structure rather than through the direct development or sale of goods. For a manager, success is measured by structural size and confirmed by bonuses.

“Their biggest problem as the structures grow larger is slowness, lack of creativity, risk aversion, stagnation at the top. The easiest way to energize such a structure is to buy another structure. This is managerial shock treatment. Bang two organizations together.

“The result has been a new world of mergers and acquisitions in which nothing is actually done, but large pieces are moved around, resulting in the effective printing of new sorts of money to finance it all. By 2000 the yearly world total value of mergers and acquisitions was $3.5 trillion. That is $3.5 trillion of debt, often attributed to the corporation taken over. The next year ended badly and the number was down to $2 trillion. One-third of this involved banging pieces together across borders; it could therefore be called Globalism.

“One fascinating aspect of gigantism is the marriage between the most superficial sort of financiers – looking for targets and megadeals and payoff bonanzas and shooting for a big score – and the most serious of business managers, who don’t even like selling, because it is beneath them as working professionals. In their world, size replaces risk and innovation. What links the speculators and the managers is the shared assumption that size replaces the need to think.”

I enjoyed Saul’s discussion of the subject of his above book, which you can view here:

*It turns out I was completely misled by an a-hole bus driver. The bus service, which remains utterly dreadful, hasn’t been cut, thankfully. On my route. It has been cut on other routes.

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