White-collar Crime

Statistical reasoning is part and parcel of my daily routine.  Most people don’t get close to capability in this area and my own abilities soon pale when I meet the mathematical experts in this field.  I’m talking science here, not the much governments and performance management departments churn out.

Bwanking (there is acceptable banking) is an area that makes use of highly complex mathematical scheming, broadly to lie about real positions.  Police statistics and a wad of others from government and local government are also used to lie.  In science, the method is used to explain and manipulate complex interactions and to a fair degree we know we are still dealing with approximation.

We have an obvious problem in social statistics in that the ‘end-user’ is Jane Muggins and she is likely not to be functionally literate and numerate enough to spot flim-flam.  In science, we often start positing stuff like ‘dark energy’ only to find that the equations we are using also work well if we put in numbers from other assumptions such as ‘time slowing down’.  This doesn’t stop engineering being better than not doing it.  Generally, ‘realism keeps us honest’ – though these days scientific realism realises it is structured.

Economics and particularly ‘bwanking and accountwing’ can delay ‘realism’ until its ‘scientists’ have had it away on their toes with our cash and got this invested in the property under our feet; indeed literally taking the ground away from under our feet.  I’ll give one disgusting example (though these are as common as the stories Ambush Predator reveals on our ‘evil poor’ and buffoon laws).  Prestigious US university alumni funds are involved, through a British hedge-fund, in deals as revolting as the Scottish Enclosures, in taking African soil away from its tenant farmers.  One cannot even give money to world wild life funds without risking something like this.

I would just ask you to think about what’s on offer in Dispatches, Panorama and other bits of investigative journalism.  This is not proof and you have tor remember that most people don’t even get this far.

The most forceful contemporary statement of [the instrumental argument fort democracy} is provided by Amartya Sen, who argues, for example, that “no substantial famine has ever occurred in any independent country with a democratic form of government and a relatively free press” (Sen 1999, 152). The basis of this argument is that politicians in a multiparty democracy with free elections and a free press have incentives to respond to the expressions of needs of the poor [Sen, A., 1999, Development as Freedom, New York: Knopf.]  What one has to add is that the famines and deaths continue outside the democracies and that the first democracy (Athens) practiced genocide to ensure its own grain supplies and boost its own treasury (found empty despite ‘statistics’).

In the same way that we might posit ‘dark energy’ or ‘time slowing down’, I would like to see far deeper questioning of our economic system through a range of possibilities.

The first of these is to consider ‘economics’ not as a scientific subject, but as cover for white collar crime.  One can also do this in specific areas such as ‘police statistics’ and those on local government performance and supposed financial performance.  I don’t see this as essentially about numbers, but will give a few as a guide.

Fred Goodwin took more than £30 million (pay, bonus, shares and pension) from RBS in seeing it from a bank lending on the basis of its deposits to utter disaster.  One can only estimate and can only estimate the bank’s losses at, say, £28 billion.  The jobs of maybe a million people may also have been lost because of the ‘necessary’ bail out – the equivalent, perhaps, of the turfing-out of tenant farmers in Africa via greedy funds wanting the mineral rights.

We often hear that bwankers such as this are essential to our economic well-being. Questions arise as to whether Fred was ever worth a bean and whether selection for such roles is remotely correct.  My own view for a long time has been we are ‘choosing’ psychopaths as our management class. Many others in RBS took fortunes from building its collapse.  RBS is only one example in many.

We should be able to command a simple explanation of what has and continues to go on. Generally, finding that an elite group has made loads of money through claiming massive profits only for us to find the cupboard not only bare but full of liabilities, we suspect theft and organised criminality.

Our laws in intent include recklessness.

What ‘ecwonomics and accountwing’ have been providing is a system of denial of responsibility when things go wrong and justification of an enormous cut of the cake on the basis of ‘special skills’ that  are unlikely to exist.  The metaphor is that of betting on all the horses in every race – a surefire way of handing over your money to the bookmakers – but being able to continually defer the losses and live off the winnings.  The key is not to be betting with your own money, unless you can choose to pull out your bets when you are winning.  I will always win money off you on the toss of a coin if I can always double my stake and you can’t leave.  Bookies and casinos don’t allow this.

Imagine what short shrift you would get if you had engaged in such activities with the contents of your firm’s safe,lost the lot and claimed you never intended to defraud anyone, but were really trying to make everyone money using a fool-proof system.  ‘And throw away the key’ seems likely.

How could you advance a defence of no criminality because you believed in the system?  Remember Horace Bachelor?  He sold a worthless pools perm and made money because there were bound to be winners.  He just let a lot of people gamble and took a percentage from the winners.  Simples!  Lots of other people just lost their money.

If we can pin £30 million on Freddy Boy, how much can we pin on the whole process of speculation?  I believe we can build the spreadsheet of this, showing how much is involved and who the winners and losers are.  I believe this would demonstrate a scam very similar to Horace Bachelor writ large.

What we need is a massive social change that we organise.  We are in the hands of organised crime and rigged markets.  This is affecting food, gas and housing prices as surely as the Russian Mafia thug ensuring that traders don’t drop their prices in real markets to protect their margins.  It isn’t capitalism, it’s crime.  They are using our money as surely as if they’ve taken the notes from our mattresses.  It’s all real theft, based on lying about the future and taking money now.  We live in fear of what will happen when the protection racket is broken.

Just when were any of Freddy’s drawings from his business really justified?  The cumulative debt dwarfs anything of the supposed profits.If we add up what’s been taken in inflated salaries, bonuses and options and think what might have been had this been invested in public services  – why don’t we know, why is there no public accounting on the opportunity costs?  The answer is that they want to hide the crime from us.  We’ve been had.