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A Nation of Imposters

October 22, 2021

That's how we've become a nation of imposters: our imposter stock market hits a new high and the imposters cheer because it proves the scam is still working.


You've read the warnings about the proliferating imposter scams: scammers posing as "officials", representatives of utilities or "a close friend of a family member" all exploit the fast-draining reservoir of trust in America to extract financial information out of the unwary marks.

I'm not sure what's more remarkable: the depths of scammer perversity or the fact that some people can still be conned by claims of authority or friendship. Most are seniors, of course, as the elderly still retain an easy-to-scam trust in institutions and officialdom as a holdover from an era before trust was unraveled by wholesale self-serving deception.

The deeper problem is that America is now a nation of imposters. Everything that is presented as august and trustworthy is an imposter organization designed to enrich the few at the expense of the many via deception and the cloaking of self-serving skims and scams.

A useful tool to uncloaking imposters is to ask: cui bono, to whose benefit? Take the nation's central bank, the Federal Reserve. It claims to be serving the public and the common good, but who actually benefits from its policies?

1. Insiders frontrunning the Fed's public pronouncements to enrich themselves. Here's looking at you, Chairperson Powell and the rest of your self-serving imposter cronies.

2. The top 0.1% who own the majority of productive assets goosed ever higher by Fed policies.

3. Billionaires.

4. The top 10% who own 89% of all stocks:
The wealthiest 10% of Americans own a record 89% of all U.S. stocks

If we strip away the PR, the Fed is an imposter, a self-enrichment scheme for the already-wealthy and the super-wealthy. Its claims to serve the public are just the imposter's deceptive mumbo-jumbo to exploit the naive trust of the marks.

Next up: our imposter judicial system: white-collar financial criminals get wrist-slap fines, if that, while hundreds of thousands of people rot away in America's Drug War Gulag, the fruit of a judiciary obsessed with locking people up even as the War on Drugs enriches drug cartels and has completely failed to reduce drug use.

Rich people can plunder without any fear of our imposter judiciary. Bernie Madoff's fatal mistake was ripping off other rich people, and that made him the perfect stooge for a Soviet-style show-trial in which one fall-guy is convicted as a PR stunt to mask the systemic rot of an imposter judiciary.

Then there's our imposter media, virtually all of which is owned by a handful of quasi-monopoly corporations. This imposter media/social media exemplifies the appeal to authority via "objectivity" and "expertise", while the real action is in what's off limits to serious journalistic digging, what's buried and what's touted as the dominant narrative to explain away what is risibly questionable. ("Let's go Brandon," etc.)

Unfortunately, even the scientific media is riddled with imposters: Medical Journals Are an Extension of the Marketing Arm of Pharmaceutical Companies (journals.plos.org).

Once again, the imposters exploit one of the last remaining pockets of trust, in this case, the trust that "research" that makes it into an academic journal is trustworthy, i.e. the results can be replicated by other researchers, the data hasn't been massaged to reach highly profitable results, dosages haven't been adjusted to skew the results in favor of special interests, and so on.

Lastly, consider our "democracy," which is now little more than an invitation-only auction of favors: $10 million in "auction bids" (campaign contributions, Super-PAC funds, etc.) and some grease in the lobbying machinery can easily garner $100 million in private gains via tax subsidies, no-bid contracts, Medicare limitations on monopoly pricing, etc.

Sorry, but this is an imposter form of democracy, a PR facade fabricated to mask the invitation-only auction of favors. If you don't have the money, your vote doesn't count. If you doubt this, please read:

Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens (www.cambridge.org)

Monopoly Versus Democracy: How to End a Gilded Age (www.foreignaffairs.com)

No one wants to admit we're a nation of imposters because that's a confession of just how deep the rot has penetrated. The systemic rot of imposters exploiting the last reserves of trust starts at the top and then filters down into every nook and cranny as everyone looks at how the rich get richer and learns from the top-level imposters.

That's how we've become a nation of imposters: our imposter stock market hits a new high and the imposters cheer because it proves the scam is still working.






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Read excerpts of the book for free (PDF).

The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.



Recent Videos/Podcasts:

Charles Hugh Smith on the Failure of the Federal Reserve and Rising Secular Inflation (31:16) (with Richard Bonugli, FRA Roundtable)

four monster waves that are about to crash onto the Fed's beach party (with Gordon Long, 40 min.)

My COVID-19 Pandemic Posts


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A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
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Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

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Thousands apply for grueling jobs in Amazon warehouses, low-paid serfdom with only one purpose: increasing the profits of billionaires. Wouldn't it be beneficial if those people had an alternative source of paid work that served the interests of their family and community?

Many people dismiss my proposed alternative (CLIME) as too idealistic to work in the real world. Nobody says corporations are too idealistic to work in the real world, yet CLIME is a system of community owned and run corporations. The only difference between the two is the purpose and ownership.

CLIME: Community Owned Corporations

The world has entered an era of profound uncertainty. The Old Normal is gone for good, and the deck is shifting ominously beneath our feet. Now is the moment to ask: what would a fairer, more sustainable system look like? How would it be better for me, humanity and the planet?

Even before the global upheavals, our system was failing. Now that it's unraveling, it's time for a new arrangement that's actually sustainable on our resource-depleted planet that doesn't favor wealthy insiders. But those gorging on inequality will never accept reforms that strip away their unearned privileges, and so the only practical way forward is a Hacker's Teleology.

What's a Hacker's Teleology? A hack is a workaround in a kludgy, broken system-- a new way of connecting the dots. Teleology means the destination we end up reaching because that's where the dots lead.

In this book I connect the dots of my own life experiences to show how a sustainably fair way of organizing human activity would work. In telling my story, I'm also telling our story, because we all share our limited-resources world and the same aspirations for fairness, belonging, getting ahead and a say in our future.

So let's get started on an arrangement that actually works for all of us--and our world. Read excerpts of the book for free (PDF).

The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet 20% and 15% discounts end September 30 (Kindle $7, print $17)



Recent entries:

A Nation of Imposters October 22, 2021

America Is Now a Kleptocrapocracy October 20, 2021

Software Ate the World and Now Has Indigestion October 18, 2021

Are We Really Crazy Enough to Believe This Is Going to Work? October 15, 2021

Everything Solid Melts into Air October 13, 2021

America's Bottom 50% Have Nowhere To Go But Down October 11, 2021

Life's a Beach Until the Tsunami Hits: Four Waves Nobody Cares About--Yet October 8, 2021

Why Shortages Are Permanent: Global Supply Shortages Make Fantastic Financial Sense October 6, 2021

Risk Was Never Low, It Was Only Hidden October 4, 2021

While Everyone Cheers Soaring "Wealth," America's Social Order Is Unraveling October 1, 2021


September 2021 entries       August 2021 entries       July 2021 entries       June 2021 entries       May 2021 entries       April 2021 entries       March 2021 entries       February 2021 entries       January 2021 entries

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Extra-Special Bonus Aphorisms:

"There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity."
(Douglas MacArthur)

"We are what we repeatedly do." (Aristotle)

"Do the thing and you shall have the power." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." (E.F. Schumacher, via Tom R.)

"He who will not risk cannot win." (John Paul Jones)

"When we drink coffee, ideas march in like the army." (Honore de Balzac)

"Progress is not possible without deviation." (Frank Zappa, via Richard Metzger)

"Victory favors those who take pains." (amat victoria curam)

"The man who has a garden and a library has everything." (Cicero, via Lee Bentley)

"A healthy homecooked family meal and a home garden are revolutionary acts." (CHS)

"Do you know what amazes me more than anything else? The impotence of force to organize anything." (Napoleon Bonaparte)

"The way of the Tao is reversal" Or "Reversal is the movement of Tao." (Lao Tzu)

"Chance favours the prepared mind." (Louis Pasteur)

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." (Winston Churchill)

"Where there is ruin, there is hope for treasures." (Rumi)

"The realm of gratitude is boundless." (CHS, 11/25/15)

"History doesn't have a reverse gear." (CHS, 12/22/15)

Smith's Law of Conservation of Risk: Every sustained action has more than one consequence. Some consequences will appear positive for a time before revealing their destructive nature. Some consequences will be intended, some will not. Some will be foreseeable, some will not. Some will be controllable, some will not. Those that are unforeseen and uncontrollable will trigger waves of other unforeseen and uncontrollable consequences. (July 8, 2014)(thanks to Lew G. for retitling the idea.)

Smith's Neofeudalism Principle #1: If the citizenry cannot replace a kleptocratic authoritarian government and/or limit the power of the financial Aristocracy at the ballot box, the nation is a democracy in name only.

The Smith Corollary to Metcalfe's Law (The Network Effect): the value of the network is created not just by the number of connected devices/users but by the value of the information and knowledge shared by users in sub-networks and in the entire network. (CHS, 4/6/16)

My Credo of Liberation: I no longer care if the power centers of our society--the distant, fortified castles of our financial feudal system--are changed by my actions, for I am liberated by the act of resistance. I am no longer complicit in perpetuating fraudulent feudalism and the pathology of concentrated power. I no longer covet signifiers of membership in the Upper Caste that serves the plutocracy. I am liberated from self-destructive consumerist-State financialization and the delusion that debt servitude and obedience to sociopathological Elites serve my self-interests. (Thank you, Klaus-Peter L., for reminding me)

"We've become a culture of excuses rather than solutions: solutions always require sustained effort and discipline." (CHS 4/9/16)

"Fraud as a way of life caters an extravagant banquet of consequences." (CHS 4/14/16)

"Creativity = problem solving = value creation." (CHS 6/4/16)

"Truth is powerful because it is the core dynamic of solving problems." (CHS 7/21/17)

"We live in a system of human emotions that masquerades as a science (economics)." (CHS 1/1/18)

"Always remember, your focus determines your reality." (George Lucas)

"Diversity is for poor people. Sameness is for the successful." (GFB)

"When power dissipates suddenly, it dissipates completely." (CHS 7/14/19)

"Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves." (Henry David Thoreau)

"Markets cannot price in the value of non-monetized natural assets such as diverse ecosystems." (CHS 7/14/19)

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