Saturday, November 22, 2003

Predator or prey

Dick Meyer, the Editorial Director of CBSNews.com, has a rather surprising opinion about what he calls 'the predator class':

"I believe there is now a professional, well-trained elite, supported by large institutions, that is adept and willing to use corrupt practices to accumulate wealth. Despite assurances from game-theorists and anthropologists that the criminal cadre in the species remains a constant percentage over time, I believe today's mainstream, sanitized, and institutionally sanctioned financial crime rackets are being run by a new breed of crook. There have always been scandals and crooks in the history of American money, but our predator class is a distinct creation of the late 20th century."

and:

"I believe there is no way the counter-class made up of regulators, watchdogs and do-gooders and hack columnists can match wits with the predator class. Today's piles of money are so huge, great fortunes can be amassed by swiping the tiniest of slices in the wiliest of ways long before picked pockets are discovered."

Things have gotten so outrageously bad that a mainstream American news organization can actually publish something that doesn't slavishly parrot the prevailing orthodoxy that capitalism and capitalists can do no wrong. What we're seeing is the final victory of Las Vegas morality, which is essentially the glitzed-up morality of the mafia. It doesn't matter how you acquire wealth, or what you do to people to obtain it, as long as at the end of the day you have more money than everybody else. Money completely justifies the means taken to get it. Once this morality, or lack of morality, reaches a certain small but critical mass in society, it takes over the whole system, as the 'beauty' of capitalism is that competition forces everyone down to the same level. Those who aren't completely corrupt can't compete with those who are. Regulation and the legal system used to provide some limits on the corruption, but they have now been corrupted themselves. Of course, politics follows the same moral code, and it doesn't matter how you win as long as you do win. Lies hidden by the corrupted media, corrupt voting machines, and manipulation of the legal system to obtain the desired result are now all considered to be completely acceptable. The only sin is losing. In the context of the United States, we can pin down the exact moment when this predation finally completely took over the Republican Party, and thus the whole country. It was on November 22, 2000, exactly three years ago, when the 'Brooks Brothers Riot' - the use of violence by Republican Party operatives under the direction of James Baker to disrupt the vote recount in Florida - formally ended any pretense that politics was a game played by rules, and thus completely changed the United States forever. Politics fell into line with commercial morality, and we can now see the culmination of the process in the completely unembarrassed way the Bush Administration caters to the predator class. Unless you decide to become a predator yourself, you are doomed to become prey.

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