“We must make our choice. We may have democracy or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we can’t have both.” ~ Louis Brandeis
by Catherine Austin Fitts
In US politics, “dark money” is money given to social welfare and trade association not-for-profit groups and funneled to think tanks with a goal of influencing elections and government policies. This is an important topic. Spending by organizations that do not disclose their donors has increased significantly and is having a powerful impact on American politics.
In the hopes of learning more about current trends, I recently read Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer. It was a useful, but disappointing read.
Mayer is a fine writer and her book is easy to read despite a highly complex topic. To her credit, she has dug out a great deal of important and useful information about a series of private families and their spending to change politicians in office and policies in American. However, Mayer’s framework for what is going on in America and what we can do about it is muddled. If she had an understanding of the covert side of the American economy and who and what is causing America’s social and economic woes, this would have been a more powerful book. How I wish she could have integrated the corruption and debasement of our currency and government financial and digital systems.
Throughout the book, Mayer depends on “isms.” This includes way too many words like conservatism and progressivism. This makes sorting out different groups and their goals difficult as, in my experience, no one believes in or practices the “ism” that they profess to promote.
For example, in America, conservatives are promoting private prisons that stockpile people guilty or falsely accused of nonviolent crime defined by government entrapment. After all, it is the US intelligence, enforcement and military which operate or permit narcotics trafficking in the United States, not poor teenagers. How does this reflect constitutional and conservative values? It doesn’t.
Progressives are doing the same and making lots of money on the attendant mortgage fraud. How does this reflect progressive values? It doesn’t.
A studious look at the allegations of narcotics trafficking, pedophilia and sex slavery, and financial fraud attributed to the Bush and Clinton families leaves any informed reader with the clear picture that their political philosophies are far from the defining characteristic of their political careers or success. Indeed, one is hard pressed to emerge a political belief system from the actual economics and behavior of many people in America, including many of the billionaires covered by Mayer in Dark Money.
All the “ism” are running an economy dependent on organized crime and war that is covered with the various stories of “why I am good.” The “isms” are just part of the cover story. It is criminal enterprise driving inequality in America. Dispensing with the “ism” helps us get down to facing and dealing with our financial addiction to behavior which destroys long-term productivity.
What does emerge from Mayer’s impressive investigative efforts is a picture of numerous billionaires committed to changing things. It sounds as if they are as frustrated as the rest of us. Unfortunately, some sound like they are turning mean in the same manner I see throughout the general population. Perhaps we should be concerned as the boomer generation matures, that we face an epidemic of “grumpy old men.”
Mayer’s description of the explosion of dark money in America tells me that pouring money into “isms” and policies is much less productive that building transparent maps of the government sources and uses of resources by place and going back to the hard work of optimizing returns on performance.
Whether rich or poor, we all could stand to share some hard facts and numbers that focus us on doing a much more responsible job together in our own backyard.