The Con Game
I just finished reading a story in The New Yorker about HSBC and a man, Herve Falciani, who basically pulled an Edward Snowden and made off with many HSBC documents showing how the bank was actively involved in helping citizens of many nations evade income taxes. The bank, of course, uses the Swiss secrecy system, but is really in the business of money laundering. Mr. Falciani, when caught out, fled to France, where he turned over to French authorities, the records showing the bank system of tax evasion.
We used to actually bank with HSBC. That was just before they were caught laundering drug money for Mexican drug kingpins and setting up off shore bank accounts for them in the Cayman Islands. It was very clear; HSBC was part of an organized crime ring, yet nobody went to jail. They have been fined many times. In one book, “The Hidden Wealth of Nations”, economist Gabriel Zucman estimates that the world’s rich salt away, out of reach of taxing authorities, $7.6 TRILLION. HSBC was fined $1.8 billion to avoid any criminal penalties, in only one of several cases brought against them.
That was, by the way, when we stopped banking with HSBC. They didn’t notice of course. They never do. We don’t have a billion dollars. As an aside, when we opened an account with a local bank, F&M bank, we first asked the branch manager, “ Before we open the account, you must tell us, are you part of an organized crime ring”? He gave us this blank look, and then we explained.
But that experience, and then reading the article, convinces me that the world’s global banking system is actually just part, a key part, of the world’s system by which the wealthiest 1% seek to acquire almost all the money on the planet, by means fair or foul. Neither they, nor the world’s banks care whether the means are legal, only whether they work.
Which brings us, of course, to The Donald, he the ringmaster of the Trump circus, The Greatest Show in Town. It is said that The Donald is actually in real estate. But I think it is more accurate to consider him in global finance. He is in real estate, the way a hedge fund manager who happens to be gambling in the world of technology, can be said to be “in the hi-tech world.” It is entirely incidental to the main frame of their work, which is, scamming the public out of its gold.
The Donald invests in, or gambles in, real estate to be sure. But he also gambles in higher education, alcoholic beverages, beef, and other assorted ways to also con the public out of its gold. He demonstrates that, if you start out with enough money, you don’t actually have to be very smart to make a lot of money, if you are willing to gamble, and willing to con folks.
The Donald is being sued at the moment by some folks who think he conned them out of a lot of money (for them) in connection with his fake Trump University. He denies everything, of course. He always denies everything. And, while listening to NPR this morning, they interviewed a lady, who happens to be a Trump supporter, about his con game called Trump University. And her response was something like, “well, people need to take responsibility for what they spend their money on. “ In short, it’s not Trump. If he can con someone, it’s entirely the fault of the Connee, rather than the Conner. That comment made me think that Trump was entirely correct. Apparently, if he went out on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, pulled out a gun and began shooting people, his supporters would say, “well, it’s really the responsibility of people to stay away from the paths of bullets. If they can’t do that, then they will get shot. I still support Mr. Trump.”
This, then, is the current state of America. A cartoon con man, the leader of the pack at The Trump Circus, is now the darling the American Right Wing. Megan Kelly is in love with him. Paul Ryan supports him. Mitch McConnell wishes him well, as heads the GOP into the darkest corners of Hell. The GOP no longer has any claim to honesty, or morality. Nor, I might add, has the Christian Taliban, which will soon be shouting his praises –Hallelujah St. Trump.
And so, on with The Wall, and on with the Great Deportation. And on with the Great Muslim Denial.
I’ll bet even the NRA is thrilled.
And remember, “only suckers pay taxes”.