Once the mafia state of mind has seeped into every nook and cranny of the society and economy, it's not even recognized as corruption: it's simply the way the system works.
We recently spent a few days with a friend who was born and raised in Sicily who now lives elsewhere in Europe with his wife (also Italian, from Naples). Though we talked of many things, one of his comments struck me like a bolt of lightning.
The Mafia isn't about shoot-outs, he said; the mafia is a state of mind.
He then pointed to a city trash collection truck driving by. Those guys are mafia.
I should stipulate that our friends are left-liberal in their views, and deeply concerned about the direction of free enterprise, democracy and social equality in Europe. He did not make these comments as a joke but with the utmost seriousness.
Why are the union sanitation workers a mafia? Because they have the leverage (via strikes) to extract and extort what they want from a populace who earns less than they do in wages, benefits and pensions--a population with no other choice. Is there some other option to giving the striking municipal workers what they demand? Is there another choice to clear the streets of garbage? Is there another train system to get to work when the train operators are on strike? No.
The mafia state of mind is all about establishing a monopoly that leaves the populace no other choice, and that creates sufficient leverage to enable systemic extortion. In the mafia state of mind, the government is a partner in the racket. When thugs arrive in a peasant village in China to drive the residents off their land so a corrupt developer can build hundreds of highrise flats, where are the corrupt officials of the government? In line to collect their "fees", which will fund their purchase of homes in Vancouver, B.C. or Sydney, Australia.
Where were the government officials when BART employees held the San Francisco Bay Area hostage? Quietly collecting their usual bribes (politely called "contributions") from the union mafia.
The mafia state of mind is all about extracting wealth that could not be extracted without state enforcement, monopoly and covert systems of control and extortion. When the "too big to fail" banks received $16 trillion in direct subsidies and loans to keep from imploding (i.e. what would have happened in a truly free enterprise system), that was the mafia state of mind in action: the central state extorted whatever was necessary from the populace to aid and protect its banker cronies.
What is the shadow banking system other than a shadow financial mafia? The "too big to fail" banking sector is a mafia of the cartel-crony capitalist sort, and the shadow banking system is a cloaked version of the same extortionist system that depends on the government for protection. In the shadow banking mafia, the government protects the racket by acting as if it doesn't exist.
When there is no other choice but submission, when voting for either party yields the same results, the mafia state of mind reigns supreme. The mafia state of mind exists in all ideological flavors--socialist, capitalist, communist. The mafia state of mind is simple: leave the populace no choice but submission, enforce monopolies of control and power, and then extract and extort to your heart's content.
Once the mafia state of mind has seeped into every nook and cranny of the society and economy, it's not even recognized as corruption: it's simply the way the system works. And so the residents of nominal democracies in Asia, Europe and the Americas do not even realize how thoroughly corrupted their societies and economies really are; they cling to the illusions of choice even as their incomes, wealth and political influence are funneled into the hands of various elites by overlapping extortion rackets.
Once you realize that the mafia is a state of mind, you recognize just how thoroughly it has corrupted and criminalized our entire society and economy.
The Nearly Free University and The Emerging Economy:
The Revolution in Higher Education
Reconnecting higher education, livelihoods and the economyWith the soaring cost of higher education, has the value a college degree been turned upside down? College tuition and fees are up 1000% since 1980. Half of all recent college graduates are jobless or underemployed, revealing a deep disconnect between higher education and the job market.
It is no surprise everyone is asking: Where is the return on investment? Is the assumption that higher education returns greater prosperity no longer true? And if this is the case, how does this impact you, your children and grandchildren?
We must thoroughly understand the twin revolutions now fundamentally changing our world: The true cost of higher education and an economy that seems to re-shape itself minute to minute.
The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy clearly describes the underlying dynamics at work - and, more importantly, lays out a new low-cost model for higher education: how digital technology is enabling a revolution in higher education that dramatically lowers costs while expanding the opportunities for students of all ages.
The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy provides clarity and optimism in a period of the greatest change our educational systems and society have seen, and offers everyone the tools needed to prosper in the Emerging Economy.
Read Chapter 1/Table of Contents
print ($20) Kindle ($9.95)
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. We will cover the five core reasons why things are falling apart:
1. Debt and financialization
2. Crony capitalism
3. Diminishing returns
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. Once we accept responsibility, we become powerful.
Read the Introduction/Table of Contents
Kindle: $9.95 print: $24
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