Banking on Zeros

by LINH DINH

I was just on Press TV with Gabriel Talmain, professor of economics, and Shabbir Razvi, economist. Both men are based in London, a fact that explains a linguistic mishap I had that was baffling, infuriating, then finally amusing. We’ll get to it.

Asked about the Barclays manipulation of interest rates scandal, I more or less said,

Barclays is accused of deceiving regulators and the public, but as a major player in the US/UK banking cartel, all they do is deceiving and defrauding the public. This is a criminal network that has bankrupted much of the world. Barclays is being fined $450 million, but that’s merely a symbolic gesture, for show. They’ll make that back soon enough through their many other criminal rackets. It is a systemic problem.

Even when these banks are not breaking the laws, they are acting like criminals anyway, because the laws themselves are criminal. Banks are allowed to control the money flow and interest rates, and lend you money they don’t even have, so it’s a debt based system that enslaves everyone, from individuals to municipals to entire countries. These banks inflate your cost of survival while deflating your standard of living, and there’s no escape from this as long as we allow them to generate money out of thin air, as debts.

This Barclays story is getting little coverage in the US, and most Americans don’t understand the issue anyway. They also see it as merely a UK problem, but these Wall Street and City of London banks are all connected. The Federal Reserve and Bank of England are like a two-headed monster destroying much of the world. Recall how the Fed gave Barclays nearly a trillion dollars in a secret bailout. That’s criminal!

A trillion dollars! Objecting, Shabbir Razvi basically stated that it was too outrageous to believe. He had never heard of Barclays being handed anything close to this figure, and as he talked, with authority and some indignation, I suddenly started to doubt what I had just said. Did I misremember? Answering, I corrected myself by declaring, what I really meant was nearly a billion, not a trillion.

After the show, I checked my notes and realized I was right the first time, that it was $868 billion, to be exact. I could have kicked myself for backtracking and blunting my message, though later I discovered that Shabbir Razvi was also right. You see, a trillion in American English has twelve zeros, while the English trillion has eighteen!

1,000,000,000,000,000,000 vs. 1,000,000,000,000

Boxing promoter Don King once noted, “If you can count your money, you ain’t got none.” Like an increasing number of Americans, I can count all of my cash, several times, in a minute or two. I can probably do it with one hand. I can easily lay out my net worth on a paper plate, with enough real estate left over for baked beans. My stock portfolio is chicken. With trillions and billions such alien concepts, most Americans don’t freak out when robbed of such galactic amounts by Barclays, Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs or Wells Fargo, etc., at least not nearly as much as they would should a pickpocket deprive them of a buck or two.

The inflated costs of your education and housing, for example, are caused by banksters, but they pose as rescuers when they give you loans that will take an entire life to repay, and since all dollars enter circulation as debts, and since interest must be paid on these debts, without corresponding (non-debt) dollars made available, defaults are built into the system. In the best case scenario, you become a slave. In the worst, you’re dispossessed.

Whether you’re Greece or a recent college graduate, you don’t dare defaulting on loans, because you can’t imagine life beyond debts. Banksters are chaining Greece to them with additional loans, so Greece can service them into eternity. Privatized central banking is a perpetual debt machine.

Squeezed hard by financial rapists, you may have to put off marriage, or come out of retirement. In their mad greed, sometimes banksters even destroy themselves, though it is rare, too rare. Wall Street veteran Michael J. Marin recently committed suicide in court after being convicted of setting fire to a $2.5 million house he could no longer afford. A Yale graduate, Marin worked in Japan for Salomon Brothers, Lehman Brothers and Merril Lynch. Attempting to expose his sordid profession, Marin self-published a book, Fluctuations! The inside story of how Wall Street !@#$%& Asia Without a Kiss. So there you go. Young, old, black, white, brown or yellow, we’re all being reamed repeatedly by Wall Street and the City of London, with or without a kiss, not that many would want to tongue these pigs.

Banksters control our politicians and lives, fund wars and launder drug money. What Eisenhower called the military industrial complex should be updated to the military banking complex. Though scammers and slave masters, banksters pose as benefactors, providers and civic leaders. In my city, the basketball and hockey teams play at the Wells Fargo Center, and the baseball squad at Citizens Bank Park. In the UK, top soccer sides compete in the Barclays Premier League.

With London’s militarized celebration of triumphant Capitalism just around the corner, this Barclays scandal won’t be but a blip in our collective memory. Numbed by endless nonsense, we’re outraged by nothing and forget everything. Only two years ago, many thought that British Petroleum might not survive the Gulf of Mexico disaster, but now, it is fully back, and even billed as a “sustainability partner” of the upcoming Olympics. Eco-wrecking BP is a green company, because it says so.

Don’t think about the dying planet, needless war or a collapsing economy. Instead, pay attention to the kicked, thrown or hit balls. Admire the arabesque or uppercut. Keep tracks of sport scores instead of blood-boiling numbers that are ruining our lives. They’re cooked and massaged anyway.

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union.

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