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What the Pandemic Revealed: a Morally Bankrupt Culture

Summary:
Monopolies, quasi-monopolies and cartels are inherently exploitive and thus evil. What was “normal” for the past two decades was to turn a blind eye to the moral and financial bankruptcy of the American culture, the rot at the heart of its social, political and economic orders. The pandemic has shredded the putrid facade and revealed the rot, much to the dismay of the multitude of minions tasked with sanitizing the rot behind narratives promoting the normalization of predation, fraud and exploitation. What’s been absolutely verboten is to call legalized pillage and predation what they really are: evil. We’ve normalized exploitation and predation by the usual means: denial, legal justifications, making excuses for the predators

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Monopolies, quasi-monopolies and cartels are inherently exploitive and thus evil.

What was “normal” for the past two decades was to turn a blind eye to the moral and financial bankruptcy of the American culture, the rot at the heart of its social, political and economic orders. The pandemic has shredded the putrid facade and revealed the rot, much to the dismay of the multitude of minions tasked with sanitizing the rot behind narratives promoting the normalization of predation, fraud and exploitation.

What’s been absolutely verboten is to call legalized pillage and predation what they really are: evil. We’ve normalized exploitation and predation by the usual means: denial, legal justifications, making excuses for the predators and the system that defends predation, and by erasing the memory of a time when moral bankruptcy, predation and institutionalized fraud were not yet normalized.

People have always been self-absorbed and greedy, so goes the excuse; or, greed is good because that’s the magic of the invisible hand at work.

By stripping fraud and predation of moral consequence, we’ve covered the putrid rot with a thoroughly modern amorality which we can summarize as anything goes and winner takes all. Monopoly, quasi-monopoly and cartels (i.e. Warren Buffett’s entire portfolio) are presented as the natural order of things rather than an evil construct of predation and exploitation that benefits the few at the expense of the many.

Nothing outrages the apologists and the lackeys enriching themselves in the dens of thieves more than accusations of evil, or indeed, anything smacking of moral standards or judgments. Anything goes not just for individual choices, but for capital’s choices as well, and so it’s simply not PC to question the morality of capital’s predations.

As for winner takes all, this legalized looting is presented as a form of economic Darwinism that is nothing but the healthy manifestation of a free market. This is the Devil’s handiwork, of course, presenting legalized looting that only benefits the few as the inevitable result of open markets.

The greater the outrage of the technocrats and monopolists at being called what they are–evil–the greater the confirmation that the accusation is spot-on. The predators, looters and exploiters must strip away any moral assessment of their actions, as even the smallest shred of moral or karmic justice threatens their empires. And so economics has been reduced to bloodless quantifications of profits, costs and sales and obfuscatory mathematics designed to drain the risk of moral consequences from the parasitic pillage.

The greatest monopolist of early modern capitalism, John D. Rockefeller, struggled his entire life to reconcile his Christian values with the evils of his monopoly. He never fully succeeded, of course, ultimately using self-serving justifications of the “good” he’d done by stabilizing erratic markets and selling predictably priced oil products to the public (at prices fixed by his monopoly).

In effect, Rockefeller was praising the model of a public utility: an entity that is regulated to serve the public with essential products and services at a fair and stable price.

This is why I’ve proposed turning Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, Amazon, et al. into public utilities via regulations that make it illegal to 1) collect users’ data and 2) sell the data. Each quasi-monopoly should be broken into competing pieces that cannot buy other pieces or pieces of other quasi-monopolies, or buy back their own shares.

Charles Hugh Smith
Charles Hugh Smith is an American writer and blogger. He is the chief writer for the site "Of Two Minds". Started in 2005, this site has been listed No. 7 in CNBC's top alternative financial sites. His commentary is featured on a number of sites including: Zerohedge.com., The American Conservative and Peak Prosperity. He graduated from the University of Hawaii, Manoa in Honolulu. Charles Hugh Smith currently resides in Berkeley, California and Hilo, Hawaii.

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