I loved this book, surpisingly coming from a French author. You wonder how such an independant view could flourish amidst the media landscape portrayed by the author. This certainly won't be the no brainer best seller like those written by Michael Moore.
I am not familiar with French media, but the dutch media are not very different from the sound of it. Allthough the content of this book wont be the stuff europeans typically stomach from our media, the style is very european, with lots of irony and cynisism. On a dry tone all usual cliches about the US are being ridiculed coming from europeans. Most cliches about the US (racial gettos with gun rich youth, tax climate that only benefit the wealthy, foreign policy that is directed to serving big industry interests abroad) are compared to French gettos, tax climate and foreign policy). Lot's of intellectual ammunition in here.
Together with Subliminal, this book is in my top and I listened to it a couple of times. The whole mechanism of how well intentioned actions have bad consequences, has fascinated me and this books opens the door to how the mechanism of reward and punishments, create the internal narrative that has the opposite effect. "I must really dislike broccoli, when I need to be punished/rewarded to make me eat it"
Lots of good examples, experiments and explanations. Unfortunately there is always a hidden solicitation for a central planning job for such authors, as the fallacy that the monopoly of violence can do good with stolen tax money is a bridge to far to be debunked. So the author shows all the government programs that should reduce drugs use and violence and actually increased it, but he unfortunately comes with a plan to fix them. Once money is taken by force, it will never do any good afterwards.
This is a very interesting book, clearly showing the common themes that connect all empires in history. They all have the same narratives to justify the violence and exploitation. Narratives that are all essential to keep the empire going since state's military assistance is always required to pick up the tab. To put the tab on the taxpayer you need a story of 'the white man's burden' 'the greater good' 'making the world safe for democracy'. The state violence is also required because the empire is usually build on an exclusive monopoly, like the British colonization of India.
It also becomes clear that every empire needs local assistance to reap the taxes of the subjects.
What was new to me is that empires seem to be less and less sustainable, since the oppressed can have more easy access to knowledge and defense. They can also easily mobilize international resistance. The Soviet empire lasted relatively short.
The author also nailed the Iraq occupation pretty well describing how a estimation of 50 billion $ of which 20 billion $ was taken from SDH, grew to a 3 trillion $ declaration bonanza for well connected companies on the tax payer's expense. The real exploited were actually in the USA. Certainly with the latest development in Iraq it seems that even the most powerful military in the world can not keep a small band of committed insurgence.
The author definitely has a nice way with analogies. Unfortunately he did not get the memo that he is no longer living in the america of John Adams
"Fear is the foundation of most governments; but it is so sordid and brutal a passion, and renders men in whose breasts it predominates so stupid and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it."
--John Adams 1776
but has been taken in by the america of 2014
“there will be no going back to the era before September the 11th, 2001 – to false comfort in a dangerous world.”
which make the remarks about backwards nations where they have corrupt and criminal governments sound a bit incorrect. Understandably, who wants to see his nation went down the same drain all the others went? But conflicting with his portrayed image of brutal honesty.
nevertheless an enjoyable read.
Interesting story but a lot of projection. The author worries about the stability of China and it's totalitarian. He claims that in the west the legitimacy of government comes from inclusion, but that in China it is only seen as legitimate by the upper elites, but not by the rest of the population, while in the west there is political inclusion.
Is the government in China legitimate in the eyes of the people? he asks and considers:
-Size of internal security forces
-Large scale censor ship
-Corrupt legal system
-Restrictions of assembly
-Unlimited detention without trial
The author claims that a legitimate government does not need such security forces, as the governed like to be regulated and taxed by their rulers. I would claim that is wrong. All government is based on force and as such necessarily not desired by the ruled, just tolerated.
Now if we look at the USA, we see there is indefinite detention, the government spends more on security forces than the other countries combined, they have q quarter of the worlds prisoners, the NSA spies on everyone, the countless 3 letter agencies make up the largest government the world has ever seen, the president has a secret kill list, the government tortures.
He also says that the bank of China has done unprecedented money printing.
I say the author is seeing the splinter in someone else's eyes, but not the beam in his own.
He claims that the books are cooked in China, but the books are cooked in the USA as well. Hedonic adjustments are used to under report inflation and if you measure unemployment the way it used to be measured it would be much higher (discouraged workers). The FED prints 85 billion $ a day. Shadowstats has the old numbers.
Another thing I noticed as a contradiction is that on the one hand he is emphasizing crooks are in power in China. Then he says it is highly questionable if the crooks can stay in power and sees that as a point of worry. I'd say either they are crooks and you are happy to see them go, or they are not crooks and you worry they are ousted.
He also claims the CCP can not put the capitalist Genie back in the bottle. Great I would say, but it is a worry to him.
Another thing he worries about is the growing wealth disparity, which predicts instability. In the USA wealth disparity has just broken new records at the moment of reading this audio book.
He also says the CCP is so weak and unstable and has so little legitimacy that they fear one single monk; the Dalai Lama. Need I remind of a government that fears OBL in a cave in Afghanistan so much that they start wars an occupations? Or that they spy on the whole world, or arrest teenagers for a tweet or facebook post?
The greatest danger of China is China itself. I would also see this as projection.
If you read the whole thing as a projection of the USA, it is a very interesting read.
While central planning of the populous by elites has been proven disastrous everywhere, economists still think the economy should be centrally planned. They discuss the economy like a machine in which the author of this book places a person 'in charge of the economy'
What it ethically means to put someone in charge of the economy and who is being charged, I leave up to the readers imagination. It involves monopolies, central banks an governments. The wise men in power who control interest rates to print money for those in power.
All that is wrong with non austrian economists, employed by power, is repeated here.
Lee says that Singapore has to embrace foreign influences or it will be swept away. I happened to be travelling to Singapore in January and my passport was valid to June of that year. I was not even allowed to board the plane from Phuket (Singapore gvt demands 6 months valid passport), even though I had an onward ticket from Singapore long before passport expiry and was planning to spend quiet some money there. I have to conclude Singapore is not build in Lee's image, but it is a scary police state, patrolled by rule obeying nazis of questionable IQ. If their order sheet said to amputate every right leg of incoming tourists, they would obey without questioning and the rulers of Singapore would no doubt be proud that Singapore was not corrupt and executed orders without mercy.
Many countries in asia have 6 months passport validity demand copied from each other, but luckily they have corrupt governments who do not threaten people or airlines that bring those people, but take a bribe and all are happier because of it.
This is a interesting subject but unfortunately the author is really tied up in many collectivist fallacies. He states that if humans follow their self interest they would all die pretty quickly (tragedy of the commons is mentioned a lot). So I have to conclude he thinks it is in human's self interest to die quickly. Of course what he does is narrow the concept of 'self interest' to 'grab all you can', which is setting up a straw man. Later in the book he kind of goes back on this statement by showing cooperation is in human's self interest and is therefor baked into the cake.
He also stated that when two troops of monkeys meet one another and one is stronger than the other, naturally the stronger will kill the weaker, since they would not like to take chances. This is not the case in reality however, so he might want to check his facts. He touches on that when he later mentions that committing aggression involves risks.
What most annoyed me is the notion about the idea that cooperation equates handing over resources to government. He begins with northern herders and southern herders and different mentalities and cultural norms about individualism and cooperation. He does not realize that the government is not a pit in which you throw money if you want to cooperate, but it is a special group of people for who inverted moral rules apply (murder for money gives you a medal, theft is taxation and is good) without any physical difference to back this up. Trade = cooperation, the government however is force. It is a group of people in society that claims a monopoly on violence. In his words: government is just another group of herders, just a group that is more violent and has the right to subjugate in the eyes of the subjugated. When he says cooperation is good, he does not mean voluntary trade is good for the participants in the trade. He means: handing over resources to the group of herders who claim to represent the invisible state, equals cooperation. But the government is just a group of herders engaging in robbery. Cooperation is when people get together to voluntary cooperate, government is an elite who exploits the masses through taxation and threat of imprisonment and death.
Although many of the principles and fallacies are valid, the author is not realy a critical thinker at heart in my opinion. It shows from the examples and words he chooses. When he thinks skepticism is valid he calls is skepticism, but when he thinks it is not, he calls it denialism, just like using the word 'authoritive source'. That is just labeling. When he discusses MMR/authism, he says: because of this 1 report 'compliance' of MMR vacine dropped. Why not use the word 'usage' ? Compliance sounds like an authority robot and that is what the author is leaning towards. He does not understand the amount of money driving scientific reserach for vaccines and global warming research and how that affects the outcome of research.
He also complains that media has become too diverse with internet and that caused a loss of an 'authoritive filter'. A bottleneck in the media however makes it extremely simple to manipulate. That aspartane is not toxic because the FDA approved it, and foreign FDA's as well does not prove anything. You do not need a big conspiracy to explain this. The producing companies own all these monopolies through the revolving door circuit. It's like saying the intelligence agencies can't all be wrong about WMD in Iraq. You have to understand the revolving door with gvt's and the military industrial complex. They WERE wrong, all of them and you could understand why if you follow the money and watch the interaction between regulators, industry and academia. What about all those regulators saying the mortage market was fine before 2008? The author would have called me a tinfoil head conspiracy nut if I had told them all these regulators were wrong in 2007 with their AAA ratingson on junkmortgages. No, I was right, because you have to understand the revolving door between industry and regulators and the big pool of tax money they fish in.
To filter the bogus from truth he advises to 'check if the web site has an ideology or is a respected academic gvt agency, bound by transparancy'. How silly does that sound after Edward Snowden?
The Canadian gvt, besides funding 23000 scientist also issued a gag order for them recently. The gvt is a big corporation with a license to kill and steal.
Aother argument he uses is to ask 'if the source is licensed' Licensed by the goverment I assume? What makes this bunch of people invulnerable to base instincts? gvt's killed 200 million people world wide in the 20th century. His reasoning has a single point of failure, which is a giant pool of tax money, collected by a monopoly of violence in every country on earth.
His 911 views will also prove a big spot on this book in hindsight. A complete building, WTC7, falls at free fall speed in it's own foot print, presumably caused by office fires. Any critical thinker with some physics knowledge, can know a big steel re enforced building does not lose structural integrity everywhere, completely all at the same time because of some office fires. You have to be a denialist to think so ;-)
Every war in history started with a false flag.Hitler dressed up prisoners in Polish uniforms and had them attack german radiostations in operation canned goods, to justify 'retaliation'. After what has become known on operation Northwood and operation Gladio, you have to watch all events that call for a retaliation war with extreme skepticism considering the past.
The author reports about uncovering a tax payer funded, government enabled fraud through the SBA, of a company called Allied Capital through subsidiary BLX (Bussines Loan Express). The main idea is to hand out loans fast and furious witouth much scrutiny, take big commisions on these loans and keep them on the books as healthy, long after they have gone bad. Like buying rotten fruits and putting them in a box and let nobody look inside the box, selling the box on the stock market as a box with fresh fruit. Ofcourse only possible because the tax payer is on the hook in the end through the SBA.
Einhorn tracked this fraud down and decided to short Allied Capital stock and expose the fraud to the government.
Here is the surprising part. Einhorn is truly amazed to get little cooperation from the government to expose the fraudulent individuals, while it is the same government that enables the whole thing. He is even treated as an evil short seller suspect by them.
He claims suprise over 'individuals who have chosen to fight fraude as a profession' that showed little interest. He fails to recognize is that it should immediately be obvious that these crime fighters get their pay check through taxes. Which means that if you do not purchase their services, they drag you of to jail under threat of force. These people are not interested in uncovering crime. They gravitate to a position of power, to cash in on it. The official function of crime fighter is just a fence. It's a racket. It's like being surprised that paying protection money to the maffia, does not get you protection.
Although it has some interesting stuff, it raised some questions as well. The author was refused a promotion before he resigned, which puts his moral concerns about the business in a different light. In order to prevent the elites from getting richer and the poor getting poorer, he suggests more regulation of the financial markets by the powers that be/elites.
That should make you stop and think. According to him, to get rid of too big to fail institutions, we need congress (those people that can not control their spending and borrow from their printing presses) control and regulate the financials. He also seem to have some hope that 115 regulatory bodies of the financial markets is not enough and 116 is going to make a difference. You can read the book about Madoff (Harry Markopolis) to see why regulation does not work (revolving door). The only thing that works is taking the way the gun on the head of the tax slave. Without the ability to dump losses on the tax slaves through the government power structure,
Given he asks for more power for the few, to fight the problems of too much power for the few, I rate this book as a solicitation for a job as a regulator, to become part of the few and stick it to GS, who passed him over for promotion. He also must have smelled that there exists a market for railing against the big banks.
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