Monthly Archive: April 2009

Apr 17 2009

American oligarchy-2: The fraud on the American people

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) Obama’s nominee to be chief performance officer, Nancy Killefer, had to withdraw her nomination following the revelation that she had a mere $946.69 lien on her property in 2005 for failure to pay taxes ($298 in unemployment compensation for household help, $48.69 in interest, and $600.00 in …

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Apr 16 2009

American oligarchy

If there is one thing that the current financial crisis has revealed, it is the stranglehold that the big financial interests have on the American government. From the beginning it has been clear that the same interests that caused the financial crisis are the ones that control both the Bush and Obama administrations and that …

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Apr 15 2009

Financial frauds-6: The danger of having an oligarchy

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) In a provocative article, Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Chris Hedges warns that those people who have elite educations often make the biggest blunders because they have been trained to think highly of themselves, and thus become less reflective and more overconfident. These institutions [i.e., elite prep schools …

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Apr 14 2009

Financial frauds-5: The problem with smart people

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) Many of the people who were swindled by Madoff were those who suffer from what William Deresiewicz, a professor of English at Yale, calls ‘entitled mediocrity’. These are people who see themselves as smart merely because of their background and formal education and not out of any …

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Apr 13 2009

Financial frauds-4: Bernard Madoff’s scam

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) While Bernie Madoff has pleaded guilty to various charges of fraud, what he actually did has not yet been unraveled and who else was involved not revealed, though all the signs are that it was a pyramid, or ‘Ponzi’, scheme in the classic tradition, pretending to have …

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Apr 10 2009

Financial frauds-3: Introducing Bernie Madoff

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) Bernard Madoff has reportedly swindled investors out of $50 billion of their money. You might have noticed that news stories repeatedly emphasize their surprise that the people who were defrauded were ‘smart’ people. If you look at the stories more closely, you will find that they do …

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Apr 09 2009

Financial frauds-2: The original Ponzi model

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) Following up on yesterday’s post, Charles Ponzi’s scheme used the fact that a person could legally buy postal coupons in one country using the currency of that country, but in the denomination of the currency of another country. If you mailed the coupons to the other country, …

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Apr 08 2009

Financial frauds-1: Introducing Charles Ponzi

Recently there have been two major fraud scandals in the US, one perpetrated by Bernard Madoff and the other by Allen Stanford, both based on so-called ‘Ponzi’ schemes. These exploded on the financial world as big surprises. But there was a similar huge scandal that took place in 2006 but since its impact was felt …

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Apr 07 2009

Religious dogmatism

The Catholic Church, like other rigid religious belief structures such as Orthodox Islam and Judaism or fundamentalist Christianity, does not hesitate to draw lines in the sand, to state clearly what is allowed and what is not, and then follow that policy wherever it leads, even if it leads over a cliff. In the face …

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Apr 06 2009

God save us from the Queen

One of the things about America that most endeared it to me when I first arrived for graduate studies was the lack of stuffiness in personal and business relationships. There was an easy informality, casual yet respectful, friendly yet polite, that I liked and found easy to get used to. I put this down to …

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