06 Apr Plutocrats & the Modern Gilded Age
Subtitled: “Elite Immunity” and the Abandonment of the Working Class
I recently watched “The Rise of the Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else” on ENDEVR’s YT channel. In this episode, I will discuss that documentary as well as Glenn Greenwald’s book With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful.
✔️The neocons and neolibs work together as part of the same elite class? Say it ain’t so!
✔️The elites break the law and then pardon themselves. How could we be surprised by that? At this point, it would be more shocking if they obeyed the laws they expect the rest of us to follow.
✔️”These guys are making up to $1 billion a day.”
✔️Governments as instruments of the wealthy super elite.
Links I discuss in this episode:
Links where I can be found: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/2023/01/30/updates-housekeeping/
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos!
Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find us online anytime at CauseyConsultingLLC.com. And now, here’s your host Sara Causey. Hello Hello and thanks for tuning in. In today’s episode I will be talking about an interesting documentary I watched on endeavours YouTube channel, as well as finally talking about Glenn Greenwald’s book with liberty and justice for some subtitled how the law is used to destroy equality and protect the powerful. There were multiple times while I was watching this documentary on YouTube, that I was reminded of Glenn Greenwald’s book, and so I knew I needed to make the time to sit down and talk about both of them, and that they would fit together nicely in an episode. The documentary is titled plutocrats the rise of the new global super rich and the fall of everyone else. In the write up for this documentary on YouTube, we find this documentary travels through a world of joblessness, debt and economic uncertainty to the sovereign nation of the plutocrats, where each crisis seems to offer a new business opportunity in America where the 2008 financial meltdown caused $4 trillion in economic output. fortunes were made by the very people who precipitated the disaster, while millions lost their homes and their savings, austerity in Europe, economic stagnation and Asia and a lost generation of the young and unemployed signs we are living through a fundamental global reorganization, the result of which no one can predict the world of the 1% has arrived and the wealth gap is now greater in many countries than during the Gilded Age, the era of the Rockefellers, Carnegies and Vanderbilts can our stressed democracies deal with the fallout? Or have governments simply become instruments of the new elite in quote, these economic crises happen and happen and happen? Boom, bust cycles, bubbles and recessions, bull markets and bear markets. They happen and they happen, and they happen. And yet, we’re still supposed to believe oops, a daisy. They just like come out of nowhere who could have seen this coming. It’s not wink wink manufactured. It’s not wink wink plan. I mean, who could have seen it happen? Who could have seen it coming, we just can’t believe this. And I know it’s human nature that when we’re in a good time, we want the good time to last forever. We don’t want to go into a bear market after we’ve been riding high in a bull market. I get that. But you know, that’s coming. If you’ve lived long enough, you know, it’s coming. I saw this in the oil and gas market. So many times, people would go out and get themselves obligated for anything under the sun, toy haulers, motorcycles, boats, a bigger house, a fancy sports car. And then when the bus cycle hit, the repo man would be very busy indeed. Those artificially inflated markets full of hype, and FOMO and YOLO don’t last forever. There’s a line in this write up that I want to go back to in America where the 2008 financial meltdown cost $4 trillion in economic output. fortunes were made by the very people who precipitated the disaster, while millions lost their homes and their savings. precipitated fortunes were made by the very people who precipitated the disaster. But we still have people in a mental block. They don’t want to believe it’s malicious intent. They don’t want to believe it’s engineered on purpose to benefit the hyper elites and the fat cats and the power brokers and their cronies up on Capitol Hill. Oh, no. It happens on accident. Or it happens because of incompetence. These economists the people at the Fed the people at very high levels of power. Somehow they got there, even though they are complete and utter morons. See, if I were to make that statement, if I were to walk into the nearest local donut shop, the nearest local diner and say, You know what, those people in politics sure are morons. I believe they are some of the stupidest people that ever walked the earth I would get a vigorous round of applause laws. But if I walked in there, which I’m not going to do if I walked in there and said, You know what, these people are a bunch of corrupt, highly intelligent, highly manipulative bastards. And they engineer all of this on purpose to steal from you relentlessly. And by the way, it doesn’t matter what party they come from. And by the way, it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about Neo lives or Neo cons, because they’re all in on the gaff, you see, I would probably get objects thrown at my head. Because it’s easier for people to believe these people are idiots, as opposed to believing these people are highly intelligent and manipulative, and they know exactly what they’re doing. And unfortunately, it has to be us to suffer for it. The documentary starts out talking about Chrystia Freeland, who wrote the book plutocrats the rise of the new global, super rich and the fall of everyone else. And that was published back in 2012. And when this documentary opens up, I think it’s 2013. And they are following her, like on a book tour and doing some promotional things regarding the book. And the backdrop for all of this, unsurprisingly, is Davos. So they show her nestled amongst the Alps, talking about plutocrats and oligarchs and people that are at this, like tippity tippity, top of the wealth food chain. And I thought well as, as far as being in the right place to talk about that the old WEF meeting there at Davos seems an appropriate venue. Something else I found interesting is that the author of the book is seen at Davos mingling with the very people that she’s talking about. Can you imagine like, could you imagine we at Davos, oh, God, I would get thrown out immediately. First of all, I wouldn’t even go. But secondly, if I were invited to go because someone had a serious lapse in their sanity, I would be thrown out immediately, immediately. So I do find it intriguing. Let me let me just say that and leave it there. I find it intriguing that someone would write a book about plutocracy and then go show up to a meeting at Davos. It’s the appropriate venue for an interview. If someone wants to put you in where Davos is in the background, the WEF is in the background, and they’re interviewing you to say, look at this bullshit, that part I get but to be going amongst this tippity, top of the financial food chain, and smiling and schmoozing. Feels weird to me. It feels weird to me. In this documentary, they talk early and often about the idea of plutocrats being able to remake the laws, the financial system, the political system, the judicial system, so that it benefits them, they can essentially do whatever they want to do. Everyone else is still subject to prosecution. But the plutocrats at the very top of the food chain can manipulate the system to benefit themselves. And if they were ever to get caught breaking the law, it really wouldn’t matter because they’re not going to prosecute themselves anyway. Now I’m going to go over to Glenn Greenwald’s book and just the write up that you can find on the back of the paperback or on the inside dustjacket of the hardcopy, we find from the nation’s beginnings, the law was to be the great equalizer in American life, the guarantor of a common set of rules for all, but over the past four decades the principle of equality before the law has been effectively abolished. Instead, a two tiered system of justice ensures that the country’s political and financial classes are virtually immune from prosecution license to act without restraint, while the politically powerless are imprisoned with greater ease and in greater numbers than in any other country in the world. Starting with Watergate, continuing on through the Iran Contra scandal, and culminating with Obama’s shielding of Bush era officials from prosecution, Glenn Greenwald lays bare the mechanisms that protect the elite from accountability. He shows how the media both political parties and the courts have abetted a process that has produced torture, war crimes, domestic spying and financial fraud and quote, indeed, I’m going to scoot over now to page 19 of the hardback copy that I have. The one that I have is from 2011. So I’m gonna go to page 19. Now of the hardcover version that I have, under the heading the origin of elite immunity, which is a perfect phrase, for it first explained his decision to pardoned Nixon In a speech to the nation on September 8 1974, the new president began by paying lip service to the rule of law. I deeply believe in equal justice for all Americans, whatever their station or former station. The law, whether human or divine, is no respecter of persons but and here he tacked on a newly concocted amendment designed to gut that phrases meaning the law is a respecter of reality, for then proceeded to recite what have now become the standard cliches our political class uses to justify immunity. Watergate, he intoned is an American Tragedy in which we all have played a part, it could go on and on and on, or someone must write the end to it. I have concluded that only I can do that. And if I can, I must. The facts, as I see them are that a former president of the United States, instead of enjoying equal treatment with any other citizen accused of violating the law would be cruelly and excessively penalized, either in preserving the presumption of his innocence or in obtaining a speedy determination of his guilt in order to repay illegal debt to society. During this long period of delay and potential litigation, ugly passions would again be aroused, and our people would again be polarized in their opinions, and the credibility of our free institutions of government would again be challenged at home and abroad. All it’s a national security risk now is it? My conscience tells me clearly and certainly that I cannot prolong the bad dreams that continue to reopen a chapter that is closed. My conscience tells me that only I as president have the constitutional power to firmly shut and seal this book. My conscience tells me that it is my duty not merely to proclaim domestic tranquility, but to use every means I have to ensure it and quote, could we be on the verge, trying to think of the right way of saying this? And I have to be careful because you know about certain topics, we have to speak in code. Could we be on the precipice of seeing something like that play out again, based on what whatever is cooking up with the orange man? Stay tuned, because I think it’s entirely possible. And about six minutes in on this documentary, they go over to Kyiv. And they talk about the plans being laid for Kia or the Ukraine, I should say, to join the European Union. As well, they talk about the disparity between the haves and have nots. So you see this row of designer shops Chanel and Tiffany’s and Dolce and Gabbana, and then you see people living in abject poverty, a woman selling vegetables on the side of the road, because that’s all she can do. People living in very old school old fashioned Sovetsky Soyuz is the only thing that’s coming to my mind, like, Soviet era, collectivist farms, where there’s a pasture and everyone has a cow out there grazing, and I grow these vegetables and you grow those fruits and I raise rabbits and you raise chickens. And they live in an in an old school Sovetsky style commune. But then, you have people driving Ferraris, Ferraris, and shopping at Dolce. And it’s like, okay, so on the one hand, you have people on a key F style version of Fifth Avenue, and then you have people living in poverty on collectivist farms. From the Ukraine, the documentary goes to Greece. And they interview a historian who talks about, there are laws for the common people, but not for the plutocrats. When you look out in this marina, and you see these yachts, and you see the owners of the factories, and the shipping magnates and the real power brokers, the laws don’t apply to them. And they also don’t pay taxes. There’s a an economic crisis in Greece, but it’s an economic crisis for poor people. Meanwhile, these wealthy plutocrats are doing better than they ever have, and the laws don’t apply to them. They’re not going to get prosecuted. They should but they won’t. I’m going to skip over to let’s see page 28 of the hardback copy of Glenn Greenwald’s book. Once the contents of the diaries were publicly revealed, the reasons for his concealment became obvious. Not only did they contradict his own denials of knowledge of the transactions, but the diaries directly implicated other key officials, including President Reagan himself, as Walsh put it Weinberger is early and deliberate decision to conceal and withhold extensive contemporaneous notes of the Iran Contra Mater, radically altered the official investigations and possibly forestall timely impeachment proceedings against President Reagan and other officials. The special prosecutor added that the notes contain evidence of a conspiracy among the highest ranking Reagan administration officials to lie to Congress and the American public. Wine burgers trial was set to begin in January 1993. However, on December 24 1992, the former Pentagon chief along with five others, four of whom had already been convicted, and one of whom was set to stand trial was pardoned by Bush 41, who was less than a month away from leaving office, having been defeated by Bill Clinton in the 1992 election, December 25 1992. editorial in the New York Times one of the very few mainstream institutions to condemn the pardons noted that the rationale invoked by Bush 41 to justify his actions was a replica of the excuses Ford had relied on to protect Richard Nixon. If Mr. Bush had rested his pardon of Mr. Weinberger on the former Defense secretary’s health alone, he might deserve credit for compassion. But he went on to lecture Lawrence Walsh, the independent prosecutor against what he called the criminalization of policy differences. That’s a bogus complaint. Mr. Weinberger was not charged with lying to Congress because of policy differences. Lying to Congress for any reason is criminal conduct. When President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for Watergate crimes, a precedent Mr. Bush ignored in his pardon message, he said he acted to restore harmony and move on. Mr. Bush invoked the same sentiments but the Nixon pardon was wrong to and like Ford’s pardon. Bush’s won praise from the overwhelming majority of politicians and journalists. I’m gonna say that again, politicians and journalists. Weinberger, after all was a member in good standing of the political class generally and the Washington establishment in particular. He had been a close associate of Reagan since the 1960s. When Reagan was Governor of California, and he had held a number of key posts under Nixon, including Director of the Office of Management and Budget were his merciless cost cutting measures had earned him the nickname kept the knife in a pattern no one considers unusual anymore, kept the knife and then converted the praise earned as Nixon’s OMB cost cutter into a plum position as Vice President and General Counsel of the Bechtel Corporation, which must have found his contacts in DC to be very useful indeed. In other words, in the eyes of the political and media establishment Weinberger was not someone who belonged in a prison cell, not even when there was clear evidence that he had committed serious felonies. As Robert Perry detailed and consortium news journalists and political operatives from across the political spectrum closed ranks to celebrate the immunity bestowed on Weinberger and his co conspirators. The Washington elites rally to wind burgers defense in the salons of Georgetown. There was palpable relief in December 1992 when President Bush pardoned Weinberger and five other Iran Contra defendants, effectively ending the Iran Contra investigation. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen spoke for many insiders in a column on December 30 1992. Cohen describe how impressed he was that Weinberger would push his own shopping cart at the Georgetown Safeway often called the Social Safeway because so many members of Washington’s establishment shop there. Based on my Safeway encounters, I came to think of Weinberger as a basic sort of guy candid and no nonsense, which is the way much of official Washington saw him. Cohen wrote in praise of the pardon camp, my safe way, buddy walks. And that’s all right with me. Let’s pause for a moment to reflect on how perverse that is. Because this man pushes his own shopping cart at the social safe way. He deserves to be pardoned. Just preposterous, right? In all these years of hindsight, it just becomes that much clearer. But the reason why I highlight this idea of politicians and journalists is because throughout this documentary, we see this journalist hobnobbing with everybody from George Soros to Larry Summers, and I’m like, why would that be? If you are writing a book, to call them out on their bullshit? Why are you rubbing shoulders with them? And I’m not trying to make any kind of assertions here because I don’t know Vasu down? No, I wasn’t indeed I was not. I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes there and what the motives might be I’m just thinking out loud from my perspective that if I wrote some sort of scathing op ed or scathing book about these people, I certainly wouldn’t be rubbing shoulders with them and at every media appearance that they seem to be at. That strikes me odd. It does. From Greece, the documentary goes to the Alberta tar sands. And there’s an author who is quoted, I think it’s around the 32 minute mark, as saying that at one point, Exxon Mobil was making a billion dollars a day. And obviously, with that kind of money, they could print whatever message they want it. So while smaller voices were getting drowned out, saying that the water is not safe, we can’t eat the fish anymore. If you have a corporation pulling in a billion dollars a day, whose message is going to win out. Going to go back over now to Glenn Greenwald’s book and I’m on page 51 of the hardcover copy. On January 12 2009. Before Obama was even inaugurated, an article appeared on the front page of The New York Times under the headline, Obama reluctant to look into Bush programs. The first sentence reported President Elect Barack Obama signaled in an interview broadcast Sunday that he was unlikely to authorize a broad inquiry into Bush administration programs, like domestic eavesdropping, or the treatment of terrorism suspects, echoing almost verbatim the excuse Bill Clinton had offered for abandoning his pledge to bring accountability to the crimes of bush 41 officials. Obama was quoted in the article as explaining that he had a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. To date, Obama has succeeded in blocking and suppressing virtually every investigation into Bush crimes, whether by congressional committees, courts, international tribunals, or even internal executive branch inquiries. The specific methods Obama has adopted to strengthen and expand elite immunity are the subject of a later chapter. So for now, it suffices to note how seamlessly this continuity of Washington’s culture of consequence free law breaking has extended into the era of the self proclaimed agent of change in quote. Yeah, indeed, so. And then it’s also worth noting that on page 53, Chapter Two starts, which is titled, immunity in the private sector. So let’s think again about what that author said, at about the 32 minute mark. If you have a corporation that’s pulling in a billion dollars a day, you have the little people, the unimportant unwashed masses saying, hey, our drinking water is not safe, we can’t even eat the fish coming out of this river, who’s going to win out spoiler alert to the company that’s making a billion dollars a day. from Alberta, the documentary goes to New York and talks about the gap between the wealthy upper crust and the average person. And one of the commentators says these people just live a different life. And even though they’re Americans, sort of broadly speaking, the wealthy elites in New York City have more in common with the wealthy elites in Paris, or in London or in Mumbai than they do with the average American. So even though they’re countrymen, per se, not really, because the disparity in lifestyle is so great. In the rest of the documentary, they show American cities that look like ghost towns, places where buildings and housing complexes have just been boarded up and abandoned, is very depressing. Chris Hedges talks about the wealthy elite, getting what they need, and not really worrying about the rest of people not really worrying about the rest of America, as well as corporations that drive out union employees, get rid of the unions, and then start hiring people back non unionized for significantly less money, and how that’s become a trend. Something else that’s discussed is this idea of a rise of these multinational or global corporations that operate in a style that is mercenary or hired gun. In other words, they don’t have loyalty to any particular nation state. They will just go wherever the money is, and they don’t care if what they pillage in the meantime, their loyalty ultimately is to themselves and to the almighty dollar. I’m going to go now to the epilogue on page 273 of Glenn Greenwald’s book. Of course, high level politicians have not been the only ones to benefit from this lack of legal checks and balances on their activity. Those at the top of the wealth pyramid have also reaped the rewards. Again, while disparities of wealth have always been tolerated in the United States and even endorsed by the founders. The crucial difference is that these days financial power has become easily convertible into political power. And political power, in turn is being exploited to repeatedly rewrite the laws to to the advantage of the very rich, making them richer and more powerful still, in other words, the United States has taken on the classic attributes of oligarchy government by a small dominant class and plutocracy. Government by the wealthy, like banana republic. Such derogatory terms were once reserved for other nations and it was unthinkable to apply them to the United States. Yet now they’re being commonly even casually used by mainstream sources to describe the facts of life and contemporary America. Given these developments, the dystopian future toward which the United States is inexorably heading is not difficult to imagine. Even the most slothful and slumbering citizenry trained to accept political impotence has its limits. At some point, serious social unrest is the inevitable result when a population is forced to suffer mass joblessness and deprivations of every kind while it sees a tiny sliver of elites enjoying gilded prosperity, when ordinary people are threatened with imprisonment for petty offenses, while they see elites illegally spying, invading, torturing and plundering with near total impunity. Such a two tiered setup is simply unsustainable. The American elites have to be sure gained tremendous short term benefits from the pervasive corruption that shields the powerful from legal scrutiny. But in the long run, if deserting the rule of law is likely to prove their undoing. The United States was founded on the notion that the law must apply equally to everyone. And it is now clear that this principle is not just a matter of basic fairness. If a privileged few are exempt from the rule of law, ever greater inequality will result and the inevitable discord that such inequality provokes will come to threaten the country itself. Only as a nation of laws, not men, can America hope to endure in quote? Yeah, I don’t know that I feel as compelled to always in on a high note, to always make sure that I leave the reader or the podcast listener with a happy ending. As I’ve said many times, I would rather tell you uncomfortable truths as I see them than to give you a pack of fluffy lies. I’m not convinced that there will be Discord. I would really say at this point, I see two different potentials shaping up. One is what Glenn Greenwald is talking about at the end of that book that yes, people will be pissed off enough to finally rise up and have some kind of social discord. And say, We’re tired of this. We’re tired of living off the scraps, while the other people that hyper elites are having a full steak dinner, a banquet, a smorgasbord, we’re tired of getting the crumbs from their table, dammit. That is one possibility. The other possibility, which is not the happy ending? A bit more going into the dystopian realm, again, is that people are so zombified. I know he says in that epilogue that people have been trained to accept political impotence. But even that has its limits. I’m not so sure. I’m really not so sure. I think people are so zombified. They’re so sucked into bread and circus and tick tock and social media and watching mindless, inane bullshit on their phones and their devices all day, then I think for some people, I’m not I don’t I don’t know if I want to say a majority, although I’m tempted to. But I think for some people, as long as you handed them a device, and you said, we will give you UBI. And we will allow you to have like a 400 square foot, tiny apartment, but you can live in the metaverse, you can go into virtual reality anytime you want. You’re going to always have connectivity, you’re gonna always have super high speed internet. And at any point in time, if you want to put on your VR goggles and disappear into another realm, then you can I think there would be people who would legit sign up for that and say, that’s totally fine by me. Real Life sucks. Anyway, we live in a dystopian hellscape. So yeah, sure. I’ll go into VR and live in my 400 square foot apartment and eat my crooked burgers and get my UBI and I’m fine with it. I really do think we have have seen a citizenry of zombies. To that point. I hope that I’m wrong. I really hope that humanity will rally back and prove me wrong on that. I just, I worry that I’m not wrong. To be honest. I mean, Even in watching that documentary and seeing this journalist who’s written a book about plutocracy hobnobbing with the plutocrats. I mean, you could make the argument was she’s a journalist, she was making this documentary, and she was writing the book. So of course, she had to hobnob with them in order to gain research. I mean, maybe I still something about that strikes me odd. And it makes me uncomfortable. Now, that’s just my opinion. And I could be wrong. But that’s just how I feel about it. I think there’s still a temptation, maybe not on a, not on a global scale, necessarily, but on a western world, and in particular, and American ski perspective, this idea of everybody as a temporarily embarrassed billionaire. You’re supposed to root for these industrialists and these tycoons, and you’re supposed to get rah rah patriotic about a particular party. We are good. We have all of the answers. It’s the other guys, it’s the other party, that’s a sack of trash. The system itself is great. It doesn’t need any overhauls. We just need to get the right politicians in office and everything will be different. I still think you have a category of person that honestly believes that. I think you have categories of people who don’t. But I think unfortunately, too many people still are embroiled in that red versus blue us versus them. Your guy is garbage. But my guy is great. Blah, blah, blah. I think you still have too many people absorbed in that. So as much as I would love to give you a happy ending, and I would love to tell you that everything is going to change. I just don’t think so. I also think this idea of it being unsustainable, perhaps. But is it unsustainable within the lifetime of anyone listening to this broadcast today? I highly doubt it. Look at how long medieval style feudalism went on. All we’re doing in my opinion, which could be wrong, is creating feudalism 2.0 workplace feudalism, living space feudalism, economic feudalism, at what point? Do you finally look around and say it’s just feudalism, period. Point blank, full stop is feudalism. It’s the wealthy protrusions and landowners and lords at the top of the pyramid that just keep enriching themselves, while the serfs at the bottom who make up the vast majority get poor and poor. I mean, all you need do is go look at a book like Alyssa Cortes squeezed and understand that more people are getting squeezed downward. The people that are leaving the middle class are not going into the upper echelons of wealth, they’re going down in the amount of money, the amount of time and effort that it takes to remain middle class, especially in light of the inflation we have right now. It takes more and more, you have to work harder and harder to get less and less just to maintain just to tread water. Just to try to say I want that standard operating procedure that I was promised about middle class living the house in the suburbs somewhere with a white picket fence and a dog and a couple of kids and a car in the garage, a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage. And that’s that’s it. I don’t need the Ferrari. I don’t need the Lambo. I just want a reliable mid level car that will get me from point A to point B. I want the kids to have food and clothes. I’d like to have a dog or a cat and that’s it. We don’t need anything exotic and crazy. Just for that. It’s getting more and more difficult and more and more expensive. Highly recommend that you check out the documentary of course, I highly recommend that you check out Glenn Greenwald’s book it’s very good and incredibly well researched and well documented. I would say in some respects, it’s like his other book, no place to hide. Disturbing Yes, disappointing. Yes. Not in his writing style, but disappointing in the information that you learn about what goes on at high levels of power, but surprising, shocking. Hell no. If you read that book and you feel a sense of shock, then you must not have been awake for very long. I wish that I could give you something happy. I wish that I could end this on some sort of journalistic high note all of these bad things. But let me give you a day new law of happiness right at the end of cherry on top of the ice cream sundae. I just don’t think I can do that. Stay safe, stay sane, and I will see you in the next episode. Thanks for tuning in, if you enjoyed this episode, please take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. We’ll see you next time.