Read This Blog or the Puppy and Kitten Get It   (March 22, 2013)

Shameless blackmail is now the standard response of the political class because it has been brilliantly effective at coercing the masses.

Internet mythology is replete with stories of canny blackmailers exploiting our natural empathy for puppies and kittens by running web campaigns that claimed the blackmailer would kill the adorable kitten/puppy displayed if 5,000 people didn't send him $1 each.

It was all a hoax, of course, a shameless ruse that played melodramatically on our fears and sympathies. In the mythology, people responded by sending cash and rewarding the blackmailer.

We see the same effectiveness of melodramatic blackmail everywhere in Status Quo responses to the debt/phantom collateral endgame. If your city faces a shortfall of tax revenues, rest assured the first response of overpaid bureaucrats in City Hall frantic to keep their jobs, pensions and perks will be to slash the hours the library is open.

A 2% reduction in the Federal budget, we're told, will push orphans onto the frigid streets, send our troops into battle without ammo ("gee, Sarge, I coulda taken out that terrorist but we were only issued one clip this month"), and generally shut down every service the public cares about.

The alternative you will never hear about is a reduction in the multiple layers of overpaid bureaucrats in City Hall, the White House staff, the Pentagon, the local school district, etc., etc., etc., or any reduction in funding the parastic cartels that have captured the machinery of governance. Sickcare remains fully funded, of course, so the cartels can continue to feast on needless duplicative tests, medications that don't work as advertised, $70,000 biopsies, $100,000 hospital visits, and so on.

The Pentagon/National Security State budget has essentially doubled in a decade, but a 2% cut never touches the sclerotic administrative layers of useless meetings, under-assistants to the assistant director, cost over-runs to bloated defense contractors, etc. Instead we're treated to the equivalent of the same old shrill melodrama: give us money or the puppy/national defense/widow/orphan dies!

The same blackmail ruse is being played out again and again in Europe. The European Union is essentially telling Greece, Cyprus, et al. "either pay off our banksters and bondholders or we'll kick you out of the eurozone."

Confounding all reason, the citizens of these indebted countries shrivel in terror at this dread prospect, when they should be cheering that they can exit a neocolonial, neofeudal system of exploitation and extraction.

Political games of blackmail abound. When did this puerile, pathetic melodrama of threatening puppies and kittens (library closures, government shutdowns, closure of useful services to leave the unproductive, overpaid, bloated bureaucracy intact) become standard operating procedure?

It became standard operating procedure when politicos discovered it worked. The public has effectively "trained" the political class to shamelessly frighten and blackmail us at every turn, because we cave into their demands to protect their own power, perquisites and fiefdoms.

Look how easy it is. Consider City Hall, filled with overpaid people plotting their escape to fat pensions and lifetime healthcare coverage, and all they have to do to keep their share of declining tax revenue is close the libraries half the week and order the street repair crews to stand down and let the potholes multiple for a few weeks.

Voila, the taxpayers cave in and re-elect the scoundrels and wastrels, and vote in higher taxes to "save our libraries." Next time, why not ask how many cuts is City Hall taking? How many cuts to bloated pensions and healthcare benefits are being absorbed to save the libraries?

The blackmailers have no skin in the game. The cuts and sacrifices are all imposed on others, and if the house of cards collapses due to their mismanagement, the losses won't fall on the portfolios and pensions of the political class and their Upper Caste of technocrats: others will absorb the losses.

The only way to limit shameless political blackmail is to re-train the politicos by ejecting them all from office. It appears at least a third of Italian voters now understand that, having voted for a true outsider (Grillo); now the rest of the nominal democracies need to follow the same path.

Vote down all tax increases until the political class absorbs 40% cuts in staffing, salaries, pensions and healthcare coverage.

Blackmail has even seeped into spheres like Public television, where we're threatened with another week of retread 1950s music, ways of dodging dementia and other Baby Boomer material designed to force us to donate lest we get another week of the Three Tenors and endless pitches from earnest PBS boosters.

Give us money or your favorite program dies. Fair enough, but how tight a ship are you folks running at the top? How many expense accounts and travel junkets do you at the top enjoy? What sort of cuts are you absorbing first before blackmailing us with re-runs of gray-haired ponytailed guys jiggling their spare tires?

One last thing: buy my book Why Things Are Falling Apart and What We Can Do About It or the puppy and kitten get it. I really really mean it.

Things are falling apart--that is obvious. But why are they falling apart? The reasons are complex and global. Our economy and society have structural problems that cannot be solved by adding debt to debt. We are becoming poorer, not just from financial over-reach, but from fundamental forces that are not easy to identify or understand. We will cover the five core reasons why things are falling apart:

go to print edition 1. Debt and financialization
2. Crony capitalism and the elimination of accountability
3. Diminishing returns
4. Centralization
5. Technological, financial and demographic changes in our economy

Complex systems weakened by diminishing returns collapse under their own weight and are replaced by systems that are simpler, faster and affordable. If we cling to the old ways, our system will disintegrate. If we want sustainable prosperity rather than collapse, we must embrace a new model that is Decentralized, Adaptive, Transparent and Accountable (DATA).

We are not powerless. Not accepting responsibility and being powerless are two sides of the same coin: once we accept responsibility, we become powerful.

Kindle edition: $9.95       print edition: $24 on

To receive a 20% discount on the print edition: $19.20 (retail $24), follow the link, open a Createspace account and enter discount code SJRGPLAB. (This is the only way I can offer a discount.)

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