(August 29, 2012)
A rotten-to-the-core system continues grinding on because it has effectively co-opted
(captured) the professional/managerial class with promises of phantom wealth and security.
The Status Quo depends on the professional/managerial class to maintain
order and keep the machine running. Since this class has more options in life than
less educated lower-income workers, their belief in the fairness and stability of the Status
Quo is essential: should their belief in the Status Quo weaken, so would their
commitment to positions that require long work days and abundant stress.
I addressed this dependence on the professional/managerial class
over four years ago in When Belief in the System Fades (March 12, 2008):
The corollary to this structural need for highly motivated, dedicated people to work the
gears is that if their belief in the machine fades, then the machine grinds to a halt.
This belief is far more vulnerable than the Powers That Be seem to understand.
In a way, a belief in the value, transparency, trust and reciprocity of the System is
like a religious belief. The converts, the true believers, are the ones who work like
crazy for the company or agency. And when the veil of illusion is tugged
from their eyes, then the Believer does a reversal, and becomes a devout non-believer
in the System. He or she drops out, moves to a lower position, or "retires" to some
lower level of employment.
When the most dedicated servants of the system awaken to the realization that they are
not benefitting from their service as they'd once believed, that their near-religious
faith in the System has been bruised by the grim knowledge that the few are benefitting
from the lives and sacrifices of the many, then they simply quit, or move down the chain
to an undemanding position.
At that point--a point I anticipate will come to pass in the next 5-10 years--then the
Elites' machine grinds to a crawl. People don't have to throw their bodies on the gears
of the machine--they just have to stop believing, stop taking that promotion, and stop
wanting to trade their entire lives for a thin slice of more more more.
The belief that the Status Quo is fair, just, stable and sustainable is wearing thin,
and so the response of the Neofeudal Status Quo has been to "capture" the essential
managerial/professional class and effectively chain them to their grindstones.
This phenomenon of "capture" is discussed in the following essay by correspondent
Lonn Gary Schwartz, O.D.:
Many are familiar with the concept, regulatory capture, a term generally referring to an
industry gaining control over, or capturing, those agencies mandated to regulate their
business activities/conduct. A common example is Wall Street and the Too Big To Fail banks
that, over the past several years, have been accused of capturing their appointed federal
I would like to suggest that a similar process applies to the entire American professional
class, those highly educated, advanced degreed group of intellectuals designated –legislated -
to administrate The System. Except in this case, it is outside - corporate/government -
influence that has altered the dynamic of the “self-regulated” professions.
Although this professional capture mostly involves the professions’ elite, once these
“thought leaders” capitulate to the needs of the predominant external interests, the bulk
of their flock quickly fall into line, understanding that these are not times when fighting
The System leads to highly satisfactory outcomes.
Instead of carrying out their professional responsibility of self-regulating their field
of expertise - i.e. protecting the interests of their patients/clients/customers -
these doctors, lawyers, accountants, educators, etc., have been - in many cases - manipulated,
both from without and from within, at times acting completely antithetically to their
Let’s take health care as an example, although this would apply to all professions.
It should come as no great surprise that with the decades-long corporate/government takeover
of the American health care system, individual health care providers lost a great deal
of professional autonomy.
As this forfeiture revealed itself in decreasing control over patient-care as well as
declining real incomes, it becomes easier to understand how professional and economic
pressures began to subject health professionals to a variety of external influences.
Accordingly, outside control in health care emerged in several forms. Perhaps the most
influential was - and still is - the insurance company provider agreement, a contract
that spells out exactly what is expected of the practitioner in terms of clinical care
and, in the same breath, stipulates compensation levels.
In other words, not only has the insurance company - in many cases - determined for the
practitioner what is best for their patients, but they have also decided how much they
are going to be reimbursed for providing these services. They have, de facto, taken
over the health practitioner’s business model, a nearly complete loss of both professional
and fiscal autonomy.
Whether this can actually work for individual providers - or their patients - seems lost
on the insurance companies, as they have judged what works best for their corporate
bottom-line, and since they control much of the market, what they say, goes.
The result is that both the patient and doctor lose, the insurance company wins.
The greatest degree of external control, though, is exacted by government, whose
laws, regulations, taxes, fees, and all the rest, have not only created a bureaucratic
nightmare but has sanctioned - through regulation - the private insurance companies and
their anti-free market practices [see Obamacare].
Therefore, the current corporate-government coalition in health care has created the
worst of all worlds: distorted markets, incredible inefficiencies, skyrocketing costs,
tremendous mal-investment, a health [sick] care system designed in the primary interests
of ROI [return on investment] in the corporate sector, and a loss of professional control,
i.e. professional capture.
The sad reality is - and as a direct result of the above policies - that it has become
incredibly difficult to practice ethically and profitably on any level commensurate with
the cost of a professional education/investment in a quality practice environment.
Indeed, in an increasing number of health [sub] specialties, the insurance companies
and government have financialzed and regulated health practitioners right out of existence!
In other words, booming corporate profits and an ever expanding government presence
in health care have come at the expense of the patient - increasing insurance premiums/taxes
- AND the doctor - loss of professional control/decreasing reimbursements -
not to mention declining health care quality levels.
Although the government-sanctioned corporate take over of American life has certainly
given us a nearly unlimited selection of mass produced consumer products, at what price
has this material frenzy come?
The cost has been the obliteration of our national moral compass, elevating ROI above
personal ethics to the point where not only have the professions been sacrificed to
the alter of maximum corporate profit, but our very sense of who we are as Americans
is being seriously questioned.
When it becomes nearly impossible to do business because of the plethora of laws,
regulations, fees, taxes, financialization, and all the rest, highly trained,
well-intentioned professionals succumb to the financial pressures and subject themselves
to the degradation/humiliation of acquiescing to a system run by hooligans adherent
only to the legally mandated corporate bottom-line.
Wealth creation based on widely accepted moral standards is what made the United States
the great country it is, but if you can not practice your profession/carry out your
business in a way that expresses your true professional nature, treats your
patients/clients/customers with high levels of respect, while at the same time,
deriving a socially acceptable return on your investment in a professional
education/practice capital investment, then what’s the point?
It is time for the leaders of the professions to stand up and say, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!”
It is within the power of the professions to bring serious change to this country by
acting in the direct interests of the American people.
Whether it is in health care, the legal system, corporate/government accounting, education,
or any other professions, massive change is necessary to restore a balance to our national
It simply takes COURAGE and LEADERSHIP, and a willingness to look at the simple truth
that it is time to make the interests of all Americans, PRIMARY.
It is time for those in positions of power and influence to put away the toys and pick
up the tools that will enable us to rebuild the foundation of this great country so
that future generations of Americans can enjoy what we have almost completely squandered.
The American people need help, and they need help NOW.
The process of capture involves many of the dynamics I have long discussed in the blog and
in my books. Wealth is power, and if you want a slice of the wealth then you
toe the line and keep quiet. There's a word for for this "voluntary capture":
At every juncture where a decision to opt out (quit) or continue serving the Status Quo
arises, the believer
is co-opted by their desire to "stay in the game" for the promised slice of wealth and
security. The risk-return calculus is heavily skewed to complicity, because the options
for wealth and security outside the machine are meager and loaded with risk.
It is my contention that the wealth and security promised by the machine in exchange
for subservience are phantom, and the risk of the promises not being kept is much higher than
generally assumed. ironically, those who opt out and accept the risk and lower
compensation are actually more secure and much wealthier (in terms of well-being and
autonomy) than those who submit to voluntary capture.
Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change
(Kindle eBook $9.95)
Read the Introduction
(2,600 words) and Chapter One (7,600 words) for free.
We are like passengers on the Titanic ten minutes after its fatal encounter with the iceberg: though our financial system seems unsinkable, its reliance on debt and financialization has already doomed it.
We cannot know when the Central State and financial system will destabilize, we only know they will destabilize. We cannot know which of the State’s fast-rising debts and obligations will be renounced; we only know they will be renounced in one fashion or another.
The process of the unsustainable collapsing and a new, more sustainable model emerging is
Rather than being powerless, we hold the fundamental building blocks of power. We need neither
permission nor political change to liberate ourselves. A powerless individual becomes
powerful when he renounces the lies and complicity that enable the doomed Status Quo’s
If this recession strikes you as different from previous downturns, you might
be interested in my book
An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times (print edition)
Kindle ebook format. You can read the ebook on any
computer, smart phone, iPad, etc. Click here for links to Kindle apps and Chapter One.
The solution in one word: Localism.
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