Think of this as Volume 18, Number 27 of the newsletter I have written weekly since March, 1997. Enjoy.
The real crisis of our time is not really the environment. The real enemy of our time isn’t Russia, or China. The war zone isn’t where you think it is – it’s not in Iraq, or Israel, not Nigeria or on the Mexican border.
The real crisis of our time asks who will govern this world. Will it be government, its provenance notwithstanding. Or will it be the world’s billionaires and the giant corporations they control, who right now have the power to overrule any government and do so routinely, with impunity.
It is said that when any person or group becomes more powerful than government that they become the government. Corporations and wealthy individuals currently lie beyond the reach of any government.
It’s all a question of lines.
City lines. County lines. State lines. National lines. Wealth makes you a global citizen. Wealth can cross lines with impunity.
To get an estimated $672 million in incentives for a new Atlanta Braves stadium, including free real estate, all Liberty Media had to do was cross a line separating the city of Atlanta from suburban Cobb County.
A decade earlier the state of Georgia put $400 million on the table to lure Kia Motors of Korea into West Point, GA, instead of Alabama of Mississippi.
Cross a line and cash in.
Mitt Romney’s moves to evade taxes using the Cayman Islands became an issue in the 2012 campaign, but nothing was done about it. Large companies are now headquartering in Ireland to avoid U.S. taxes. Apple bought Beats Music recently for $3.2 billion with profits it held in Ireland.
Wealth crosses lines money wouldn’t dream of crossing. By crossing lines the middle class pays for government services the wealthy benefit from. This leads to middle class resentment of poor people. They vote with the rich to stop the poor. That’s why Wall Street hedge fund managers like Tea.
Wealth promotes political instability in the name of its power. Wealth also crosses lines to avoid political instability.
Wealth has birthed a new acronym, UHNWI – Ultra High Net Worth Individuals. UHNWI has transformed Hong Kong, Singapore, London, New York, and Moscow, filling them with huge apartments that sit empty most of the time.
Hong Kong attracts Chinese fearful of their government. London attracts Americans fearful of our government, along with Russians and Arabs fearful of their governments. The churning of tax havens is how London’s City makes its money – all those new skyscrapers are crumbs from the one percenters’ table.
By contrast the Tea Party, and ultra-nationalist groups gaining power across Europe, love lines. Calls to national power, to state power, and to local control are, in the end, calls to strengthen lines across the globe.
This is music to the ears of the one percent. They don’t need no stinkin’ lines.
By pitting cities against counties, and states against states, the ultra-wealthy build tax-free fortunes. By moving raw materials across oceans, to wherever labor is cheapest, they expand their profits. Holding the profits on one side of a line keeps it tax-free, and once disbursed to the wealthy tax shelters leap the lines and tax men can’t cross.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Most members of the U.S. Tea Party, or its nationalistic counterparts in Europe, aren’t members of the one percent. In their fight to create lines, and define lines, most have no clue that they’re doing the work of the one percent, or acting against their own interests.
Ironically, this is not a crisis Barack Obama or the Congress can address. Our government has authority only inside our borders. Vladimir Putin has no real power over these people. Neither does China president Xi Jinping.
No national politician can stop the line crossing. Which makes those who can cross lines more powerful than any politician. Nationalism hardens the lines. Calls for state control or local control harden the lines.
So here’s to the Earth’s new bosses. They are not the same as the old bosses.
Good luck stopping them.