Jargon, slogans, euphemisms, and terms of art are all weapons in the upgrade/downgrade tradition. We might class them together under the technical term bullshit, set out by philosopher Harry Frankfurt. The routine refusal to speak with regard to the truth is called bullshit because evasion of normativity--correctness being, after all, a standard external to one's personal desires--produces a kind of ordure, a dissemination of garbage, the scattering of shit. This is why, Frankfurt argues, bullshit is far more threatening, and politically evil, than lying. The bullshitter "does not reject the authority of truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are."When Blankfein was questioned by the FCIC, he was adamant about how great Goldman Sachs was at being a "market maker." Well, here is the answer satirically speaking from New Economic Perspectives by Dr. Gal Noir to Blankfein's bullshit statements:
By Mark Kingwell - Harper's Magazine
How I tracked down The Market
By Dr. Gal Noir* - New Economic PerspectivesI have been working as an undercover investigator of hijacked economic truths for many years. It doesn’t pay much, I work long hours, but I sleep well at night. It is the nagging questions that help me get up in the morning and do what I do. What is the economy for? Where has the middle class gone? Why have manufacturing jobs fled the US? Why is CEO-to-worker pay ratio 471:1 in the US, while it is only 20:1 in Canada? Why haven’t we wiped out unemployment once and for all? No, really. Permanently! Why do we have child hunger, mass poverty, and stunning income inequality in the richest country in the world? And everywhere I turn, I keep getting the same answers: “Because The Market said so! Because this is how The Market works. Because these are the laws of The Market.”After years of hearing about The Market, I had one simple question:Who. Is. The Market?Has anyone seen him? Has anyone talked to him? Gotten answers? Maybe asked him to change his ways? I cannot think of a single journalist, economists, or policy maker who has interviewed The Market. And then I knew…this was only a job only for Dr. Gal Noir. I wanted to hear more about The Market’s rationale for what seemed to be very disturbing developments. I wouldn’t normally investigate questions that are only of interest to me, but it turns out that The 99% have been asking the same questions too. Of course, we all know who The 99% are. Here are their stories and their faces. But no one seems to know exactly who The Market is!I kept hearing that if governments tried to regulate consumer products like home mortgages, credit cards, grocery food, children’s toys, etc… they will invariably injure The Market by interfering with his operations.So I wondered. What does The Market do?Is his work more sacred than mine or yours? Is his health more important than ours? Is his business so vital that he should never be disturbed?Perhaps I could find answers to these questions if I understood what The Market was for. What he was trying to do. What purpose did he serve? How did he work to achieve his goals?
. . . .I was shocked, exasperated, disheartened. If I couldn’t find The Market here, where could I possibly go?! MSNBC? I don’t think so! I heard they hated The Market.Dejected, I still carried on. One thing was becoming clear—either The Market was very important or very, very dangerous. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be in hiding. I just couldn’t believe it was the latter—after all, as we learn in kindergarten, The Market gives us freedom, opportunity, prosperity.And then I remembered… We experience recessions every 7-10 years; financial crises (big or small) – just as often (if not more often). Today there are 29.3 million unemployed and underemployed people in the US, 17 million hungry children, 16.8 million full-time workers who live in poverty, millions of homeowners under water and in foreclosure, and millions more dealing with crushing student debt…Whatever The Market was up to was not working. I had to find him. Right away. Confront him. Hold him accountable. Ask the questions The 99% wanted to ask! Millions of lives were at stake here. But where was he?Maybe The Market had gone Rogue! Maybe we had left him alone for too long and he has gone mad! Maybe he needed friends. Maybe he wanted to be reintegrated into the social fabric, to find meaning and purpose, to be once again connected to reality, community and nature. Anyone would go nuts if they were isolated for too long.And then it dawned on me -- maybe he knew he was in trouble and had checked himself into an Insane Asylum? Yes! That was it.So I headed to Wall Street.It took me that long to figure out what The 99% already instinctively knew?! But at least I was on the right track… I just had to squeeze past the barricades, avoid the police batons and pepper sprays, and ask my questions.Once I knew what I had to do, it wasn’t very difficult. I put on a corporate suit, an ‘important’ look on my face, assumed a condescending attitude, and jumped into my 6 inch heels. I walked right past the police—they even pepper sprayed a couple of #OWS students to make way. Go figure! But I’m sure The Market told them to do it. I waltzed right in and was granted my exclusive interview on the condition that I did not disclose the actual location of The Market. (But you already know where it is now, don’t you?)It turns out that The Market wasn’t a ‘him’ at all. It was them! Yes, them. The familiar faces! They all sat around a big table. One had a graying beard, another – giant glasses (and for some bizarre reason was holding a Conductor’s baton), a third was tall…really tall… but I could still see the drops of sweat on his bald head, a fourth had a silly, almost mousy look but his curly locks were charming. And then there were countless of others whom I couldn’t quite discern from the glare of their Rolex watches. And so I began:Dr. Gal Noir: Are you The Market?Them: Yes. In a manner of speaking.Dr. Gal Noir: In a manner of speaking? What does that mean? Where is THE Market?Them: Well, there really isn’t A Market… We are filling those shoes.Dr. Gal Noir: What do you mean there isn’t A Market? Everyone thinks there is A Market and that it is all-powerful and should not be disturbed under any circumstances because he makes all the decision about the economy.Them: It’s true. We are quite powerful and do not like to be bothered. We like to be left alone. We are very busy setting the world record on CEO-to-worker pay ratio. We’ve managed 471:1! We’ll have you know that this is quite an achievement, considering that we are very busy with paper shredding and yachting.Dr. Gal Noir: Wait! What? Let me get this straight. You don’t want to be disturbed, you wish to do whatever you like, and you want to be called THE Market? But what purpose do you serve? And where in the world did you get all this money?Them: Well, all money in the economy is generated when people and governments spend, produce, buy, sell, employ, build... We just ‘manage’ it, play around with it, leverage it, whatever you want to call it. But for our services, we take a sizeable percentage -- be it from pension funds, school endowments, public employee benefits, children’s trusts… We get quite a bit from government in the form of subsidies too, and are hoping to get all of Social Security very soon as well. And we cannot be disturbed. We are planning for CEO-to-worker pay ratio of 1000:1 over the next 5 years. This is our 5 year plan!Dr. Gal Noir: You have plan? What?! I thought there was no planning in a market system!Them: Oh no, no, no, no. Ha ha ha. Where did you hear such a foolish thing? Of course, there is planning. There is always planning. The point is who gets to do it. We very much like to plan. We plan, for example, where to invest your money (mostly in our own proprietary trades), whose mortgages to refinance (usually our friends’), whose jobs to export (most), which workers will lose their benefits (we are still working on public sector workers), which employers will get a line of credit (multinational corporations of course. No mom-and-pop stores, please!), and we prefer employers with the highest rate of profit and the smallest wage bill. This is how we plan to hit our 1000:1 ratio. We boost CEO pay and we reduce worker pay at the same time. It’s foolproof. You know, you have to work both with the numerator and the denominator. We have sophisticated math models to demonstrate this.Dr. Gal Noir: So if some new entrepreneur has an amazing new technology and wants to hire, say, 30,000 workers to flood the market with electric cars, you are the ones who decide whether or not that entrepreneur gets funding?Them: Of course. We killed that crazy idea once in the 90s and we’ll do it again. It’s not a good plan.Dr. Gal Noir: It’s not a good plan to flood the market with electric cars or to employ 30,000 people?Them: Well, both. The electric car hurts the oil market (you know, THE market). But hiring 30,000 people is really foolish. We’ve got robots that could do pretty much anything we need, why would we need people?Dr. Gal Noir: Doesn’t the economy exist to serve and provide for the people?Them: Oh, hardly. The economy is ours. We plan it and it serves us. If the people were smart, they would have acquired the economy first. Survival of the fittest, baby. So now the people are on their own and should take personal responsibility for their lot. We do, on occasion, hand out some bootstraps.Dr. Gal Noir: What about the government? Isn’t it supposed to serve the people?Them: Well, we are pleased to announce that the government is ours too! We plan what it should and should not do. In fact, we are planning on permanently closing down Congress, the EPA, the FDA, the Education Department, and the Attorney General’s office (some people have been asking him to put us behind bars, so we’ve decided to eliminate his position). We’ll retain the Defense Department and the Supreme Court but will regulate them closely (after all the Supreme Court gave us the votes: $1=1 vote. Long live Citizens United!) But strong control and regulation of government is of utmost importance. We will regulate the courts, the prisons, the military industrial complex, and will instruct them who to sue, who to jail, and who to invade. People want regulations. We will give them regulations.Dr. Gal Noir: You will close down Congress? Who will bail you out the next time you screw up?Them: Not to worry. The Treasury and the Central Bank are ours too. Perhaps you did not recognize some of us in the room?(Rolex watches pointing to guy with big glasses and Conductor’s baton)Dr. Gail Noir: The Treasury and the Fed are public institutions. They must serve the public interest and be accountable to all citizens. They are charged with passing policies for the benefit of all!Them: Ah-ha ha ha haaaaaaaaa. Ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaa. Ha ha ha haaaaaaaaa.I had to get away. I felt like a naked Margarita in Woland’s ball!I ran out. I was hounded by the thundering laughter that still roars in my ears. My head was spinning. I didn’t know where I was. Was this a dream? Did this just happen?I walked outside dazed and confused. I saw a student holding an unusual sign.It read “Learn MMT: Government Sector Deficits = Non-Government Sector Surpluses”I had never seen this sign before so I was sure that I was still dreaming.“Pinch me”, I asked the student. He did. I didn’t wake up.Dr. Gal Noir: So this is not a dream?MMT Student: No, it is not.Dr. Gal Noir: I know now that this is a fictitious market. I know that there are no natural, immutable laws that make it do whatever it is doing. I know that it doesn’t work the way it is supposed to and that there is nothing sacred about the results it generates. I know that The Market can be anything we choose to make it. Someone plans our economy as we speak in their own narrow special interests and it is time for us, the American people, to take it back. It is time to make government serve the public purpose! It is time for public money to serve public interests. It is time for the economy to work for society and not the other way around. It is time for the economy to obey the environment and not vice versa. It’s time……I was delirious. So many thoughts ran through my head.
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*Dr. Gal Noir is an undercover investigator of hijacked economic truths and an occasional blogger at New Economic Perspectives
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