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There is no cabal.
June 12, 2011 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Deep in the heart of Switzerland there is a small gathering of individuals taking place.
Thats right Bilderberg is here again and so is the Guardians Charlie Skelton seeing an elected Swiss official get denied entry.
It is a meeting of those who control a huge section of the world's economy with minimum news coverage and near zero transparency.
"I don't have to tell you, and you don't need to know."
Here are some previous New World Order quotes. (Previously 2004 and 2002).
posted by adamvasco (133 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
But if they were totally transparent then we couldn't find comfort in imagining that there is someone flying the plane. We keep the cockpit closed so that we don't see the mountains approaching.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:27 AM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


The happy proximity of cameras and conference had already been broken, overnight, by a long white security fence, which blocked our view of the venue. No one seems to know who put it up, but the smart money says that it was hammered in at 3am by Jorma Ollila, the Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell, while Peter Voser, the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, held the nails.

Its almost midsommar and Ollila is practising his rural retreat skills for the summer. Looks like a sauna to me.
posted by infini at 11:33 AM on June 12, 2011


"New World Order"? Come on. To promote nonsense like that alongside actual journalism is to suggest there's no difference between opposition to the neoliberal elite's insular policy-and-influence club and belief in the unhinged bullshit of the conspiracy loons.
posted by RogerB at 11:36 AM on June 12, 2011 [14 favorites]


My husband worked for Alex Jones for a few years.

He, Alex and another employee went to Canada to cover the Bilderberg summit in 2006. They got off the plane and were detained almost instantly by Canadian officials at the airport. They were put in rooms away from each other, had their belongings confiscated and were held for roughly 5 hours before they were released to go to their hotel, without any of their camera equipment and told to come back the next morning.

They were told that had they not arrived so late at night they simply would have been sent right back to America but there were no more planes that evening.

Alex, Ryan and Aaron spent that night calling everyone to try to drum up some media support of some kind. The airport officials wanted documents and proof of "contacts" that they simply didn't have.

The next day they were finally let go but they had missed their big purpose for going: photographing people as they arrived at the summit.

My husband has a film school degree and took the Alex job because he liked Alex as a person and couldn't believe he found a well paying job right out of school where he could do what he loved. He never really drank the Alex Jones Kool-aid but that incident gave him some serious pause.
posted by Saminal at 11:38 AM on June 12, 2011 [25 favorites]


If you can take their picture, you can also sight them in your high powered rifle.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:38 AM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


You can't touch the Master but you can tickle his creatures.
posted by chavenet at 11:44 AM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you can take their picture, you can also sight them in your high powered rifle.
posted by Horselover Phattie

And yet the president goes places where he is photographed, I guess it shows who the really important people are.
posted by 445supermag at 11:47 AM on June 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


The second link has a list of attendees. It shows some interesting patterns - money, energy, influence, networks and China.
posted by infini at 11:48 AM on June 12, 2011


and the cyberwarfare threat. I wonder if this is the first time there has been non European descent attendees?
posted by infini at 11:52 AM on June 12, 2011


You know, just ignoring these people makes a lot of sense. The power comes from us believing that people are making decisions there. If we ignore them and make our own agendas, they can't do shit. We got the numbers.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:53 AM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Rich and powerful people have private conferences all the time. Bilderberg is just a way of making us commoners jealous.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:54 AM on June 12, 2011


"From nowhere, like something from a dream, a distinguished lady, dressed from top to toe in white, whooshed serenely past security and swanned to the front of the power walkers...No one recognised her or has seen her since.." Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands is apparently a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, and her fashion sense has made things just so terribly confusing for the reporter.
posted by Schadenfreude at 12:03 PM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


"CEO, DONG Energy" has got to make for the best business card.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:04 PM on June 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


@RogerB "To promote nonsense like that alongside actual journalism is to suggest there's no difference between opposition to the neoliberal elite's insular policy-and-influence club and belief in the unhinged bullshit of the conspiracy loons.

Can you tell me at what point you'd consider a secret meeting of powerful people discussing their interests and making plans a conspiracy?

Is this a class thing, in your mind? A planning meeting of powerful people is a "policy and influence club", but a similar gathering of mafiosi is a "conspiracy"?
posted by mondo dentro at 12:05 PM on June 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


The real power brokers are the ones you never see. Bilderberg is a sideshow.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:05 PM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I see my local MP Rory Stewart is attending. I wonder if I wrote to him and asked him what he discussed what his answer would be?
posted by nam3d at 12:12 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's not Beatrix schadenfreude.
posted by joost de vries at 12:15 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is just a head fake, the real most powerful people in the world are meeting at a rest stop near exit 30 on I-90. In attendance are the supreme leader of The Brotherhood (reptilians from the constalation Draco), the supreme magister of Earth ( he is elected in a secret meeting at the G8 summit), and, a person that I am identifying for the first time, an alien traveler from the future who has taken a keen interest in Humanity, even going so far as to sometimes travel with a Human companion. This is where the real fate of humanity will be decided.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:15 PM on June 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


So often, I get lost in some dark, conspiracy-strewn hole of the internet, only to look up hours later and realize I started out at MeFi.

Also, Charlie Rose no!
posted by gracchus at 12:21 PM on June 12, 2011


Can you tell me at what point you'd consider a secret meeting of powerful people discussing their interests and making plans a conspiracy?

Do you have some reason to believe that they're actually making plans? If not, then the conspiracy is not in Switzerland.

Seriously, do you think that conspiracies among the powerful only happen or are materially aided by well-publicized and conspicuously secretive retreats?
posted by fatbird at 12:23 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Go to the airport, and write down the tail numbers.
posted by dglynn at 12:24 PM on June 12, 2011


Suppose all that. Then why the fence? Why do delegates fling themselves across the back seats of their limousines rather than be seen attending this helpful gathering? Why the blacked-out windows and the newspapers held in front of their faces? And why the big white fence? I don't get it.

How is this different than "if you aren't doing anything wrong, why do you need Constitutional protection from search and seizure"? And an elected Swiss official got denied entry--are government officials supposed to have access to any and every meeting they decide to attend?

I can understand the argument that these rich and powerful people are likely meeting to benefit themselves and other wealthy and powerful people at the expense of pretty much everybody else in the world. But to use the meeting as an excuse to argue against the right to privacy strikes me as an unhelpful response.
posted by layceepee at 12:27 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Almost by definition, "mafiosi" commit crimes, or have others commit crimes for them. If they didn't, they would just be "businessmen". When people who commit crimes get together to plot crimes, that is conspiracy. When people who generally don't commit crimes get together, that's just a meeting.

You could argue about whether or not they really are plotting crimes (!) and therefore should be considered a conspiracy, but such an argument would be complete conjecture.

If you go copy the tail numbers, I'm betting you'll come to the conclusion that it's just a big meeting of Wells-Fargo employees. Wells-Fargo being one of the biggest aviation lessors.
posted by kiltedtaco at 12:29 PM on June 12, 2011


Let's not Forgetafilter.
The idea that this can occur at a global scale is not that crazy. The main enabler of a global oligarchy is, as Mr. Prem Shankar once mentioned with regards to India, the lack of any -working- system for financing elections in a large number of economically powerful countries with elected governments.

Instituting such a system would put a serious dent in the ability of wealthy individuals and organizations to control global and domestic politics.
posted by lemuring at 12:30 PM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Seriously, do you think that conspiracies among the powerful only happen or are materially aided by well-publicized and conspicuously secretive retreats?

No. Obviously not. Did I in any way imply that?

What I do think, however, is that the knee-jerk charges that someone is engaging in "conspiracy theory" is a cheap way to silence critics, and I am really, really sick of.

Conspiracies happen. They are real, whether or not Alex Jones is a nut. The entire global financial collapse can legitimately be viewed as a conspiracy of the financial elites.
posted by mondo dentro at 12:31 PM on June 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


I find the talk of the "lady in white" in the Guardian's article the most interesting part: regardless of whether this is a "policy and influence club" or Illuminati 2.0, it seems unbelievable that a major newspaper would neither recognize nor be able to later identify someone with that kind of status.

Fascinating stuff, thanks for the links.
posted by pahalial at 12:33 PM on June 12, 2011


Almost by definition, "mafiosi" commit crimes, or have others commit crimes for them. If they didn't, they would just be "businessmen".

You really are failing to grasp how this works. When a group gets powerful enough, they make their previously criminal activities legal, or keep them from becoming illegal in the first place.

Hence, it's a class issue. The class in power, as you say, "by definition", is not committing crimes, and therefore, you seem to be wanting to say, can't engage in conspiracy.
posted by mondo dentro at 12:34 PM on June 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also, Charlie Rose no!

You don't watch his show closely enough, apparently. In-between the interviews with artists, writers, actors, and pundits, Rose's show tends to be little-more than a never-ending love-in for Wall Street and global finance.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:37 PM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Do you have some reason to believe that they're actually making plans? If not, then the conspiracy is not in Switzerland.

I mean, they could just be getting together for a tea party or something, right?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:41 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


And, by the way, a group can engage in a conspiracy while very carefully staying just on the right side of the law. In fact, those are the conspiracies that are the most dangerous--law breaking is for amateurs!
posted by mondo dentro at 12:42 PM on June 12, 2011


The thing about Bilderberg is that there are simply too many people in attendance, representing too many competing interests, to actually accomplish much in the way of conspiracy planning in three days.

I see it as just as a more pretentious version of TED only the talks are kept private so that they can shamelessly consider their own interests without worrying about what that would look like to the Little People.
posted by localroger at 12:43 PM on June 12, 2011 [16 favorites]


Just to help put the people into their groupings notice some trends here?
posted by adamvasco at 12:43 PM on June 12, 2011


I think they are planning, but the plans that are made by this large semi-public group are a far cry less threatening to me than the ones made privately on the golf course or in the office.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 12:44 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I see it as just as a more pretentious version of TED...

I happen to agree that this is the most likely outcome, although maybe it wasn't like that in the early days. I just got my panties in a twist at the early introduction of the "conspiracy lol" comment.
posted by mondo dentro at 12:47 PM on June 12, 2011


nam3d: I see my local MP Rory Stewart is attending. I wonder if I wrote to him and asked him what he discussed what his answer would be

You don't need to ask him; issue a FOIA request. If it worked for both Palin and zombies, I'm sure you can put together a sound basis for a request for this if you wanted to bother.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:06 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


They don't have FOIA in the UK.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:23 PM on June 12, 2011


One of the key points of successful negotiation is understanding each others motivation and interests really well. I can see how being on the record can lead to posturing and conflict where off the record exchange of ideas allows for finding of common ground.
So in that sense I see the point of this.
Still it's annoying that it's so very visibly a club of powerful people that we, Joe and Jane Metafilter, are not invited to.
posted by joost de vries at 1:27 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


You could argue about whether or not they really are plotting crimes

Don't worry, the ultra-rich don't plot crimes. They make sure to change the laws ahead of time so that when they do it, it's legal.
posted by fings at 1:30 PM on June 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


You don't need to ask him; issue a FOIA request. If it worked for both Palin and zombies, I'm sure you can put together a sound basis for a request for this if you wanted to bother.

I don't know UK FOIA law, but generally you can only request documents that already exist. You can't FOIA the contents of a person's mind. So this would only be plausible if he had detailed notes already prepared. Even then, the legislature is generally exempt from most countries freedom of information laws. It appears that parliament isn't subject to a blanket exception in the UK, but something like this would probably be exempt anyway if he promised to keep the discussions confidential, he said he attended in a personal capacity and not as a government representative, or any number of other reasons. That's all presuming such a smoking gun document exists anyway.
posted by zachlipton at 1:30 PM on June 12, 2011


Don't worry, the ultra-rich don't plot crimes. They make sure to change the laws ahead of time so that when they do it, it's legal.

They seem to have forgotten to do that in the recent-ish home-loan scandals. Strictly speaking, Goldman-Sachs and company were indicted for this, but the sentences were pitiful.
posted by LogicalDash at 1:35 PM on June 12, 2011


Strictly speaking, Goldman-Sachs and company were indicted for this, but the sentences were pitiful.
When did that happen?
posted by planet at 1:39 PM on June 12, 2011


You can't FOIA the contents of a person's mind.

That's deep, man.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:40 PM on June 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm more of a Bohemian Grove conspiracy theorist myself. Lots of pissing.
posted by JPD at 1:45 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


They seem to have forgotten to do that in the recent-ish home-loan scandals. Strictly speaking, Goldman-Sachs and company were indicted for this, but the sentences were pitiful.

I disagree: the "strictly speaking" and the "pitiful" in the last sentence illustrate that they largely succeeded.

This isn't a 0 or 1 kind of thing. The powerful are constantly working the system: lobbying to change laws, buying political favors, using media manipulation to keep out of sight, and using teams of lawyers to keep it all barely legal. That they occasionally get fined or have a few foot soldiers do jail time is really just overhead to them.
posted by mondo dentro at 1:48 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Strictly speaking, Goldman-Sachs and company were indicted for this

I see a single fleeting mention of this on Think Progress, but no other articles at all on Google News, and I'm not sure that Think Progress has it correct. G-S was subpoenaed... but I'll need a bit more mention of this in the news media before I believe it's happened.

Do you know of more evidence than this?
posted by hippybear at 1:51 PM on June 12, 2011


Schmidt, Eric is listed as attending, If you have questions, do what you usually do: ask Google
posted by Cranberry at 1:54 PM on June 12, 2011


According to the Bilderberg website all participants are there as private individuals, not representatives of their nations or companies, and so the FOIA would not apply even to a US politician.
posted by localroger at 2:03 PM on June 12, 2011


Bilderberg website talks bollocks - not that it makes any difference.
posted by adamvasco at 2:07 PM on June 12, 2011


The guest list actually looks pretty democratic, a wide sample, it's unlikely to produce any collisional conspiracies that stay secret, compared to, say, the heads of fossil fuel industries meeting with state heads behind closed doors.
posted by stbalbach at 2:10 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


> But to use the meeting as an excuse to argue against the right to privacy

A large number of these people visiting are public, elected officials. We pay their taxes, we're paying for them to attend this meeting, why do our employees have some "right to privacy" where they can spend out money to set economic policy but not tell us what they do?

Certainly, they've been doing this for years, and I'd say that looking at the economic state of the world today, the results have not been good. Why do we not get oversight?

Some stupid elected official sends pictures of his genitals to people, costing the taxpayers not one penny. but I don't see any of you commenting on his "right to privacy". But when public officials spend your tax dollars on exclusive, expensive, secret meetings with the ultra-rich, suddenly "they have a right to privacy."

And the government doesn't respect the fact that regular people have ANY right to privacy at all. In fact, it's been years since I've seen the "right to privacy" used for any reason other than individuals attempting to get out from under the consequences of their actions.

"If they don't have anything to hide, then they have nothing to worry about." That's what they're always telling us, surely that comment is good for them too?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:11 PM on June 12, 2011 [36 favorites]


Represent, lupus_yonderboy!
posted by mondo dentro at 2:13 PM on June 12, 2011


Bah. This is just a supur-sekrit boy's club filled with people with some of the largest ego:penis ratios in the world.

The "global elite" has arrived at their status largely through chance, inheritance, connections, and malfeasance. I guarantee the number of genius masterminds at this exclusive circle-jerk is probably either zero or maybe one. They amuse themselves that they control the world's destiny while they are secretly terrified that they have no idea how to control their own. Basically we should ignore them and hope the lower-classes in their home country eventually eat them.

That's not to say they can't be dangerous. We should oppose them at every turn with every weapon available to us. We should work tirelessly to reinforce the porous wall between the "global elite" and the moral desert of our political governance. We should keep the endless fight to make corporations pay a fair price in taxes for the educated, just, well ordered society that we create and they benefit massively from. And most of all we should point and laugh at their pathetic and toxic pretension of grandeur, so if the sound of the masses ever penetrates the soundproof fortresses of their self-satisfaction, they will know that, despite their flaunted power, the fellow humans they like to look down on think they are laughable.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:23 PM on June 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, if they are actually trying to keep western capitalism firmly entrenched, they've been doing a sham job of it of late.

Oh sure, they have the right people belonging to the right parties in the right offices in a general sense but a lot of them don't seem to know how angry people are getting. If they are grooming people for office the standards have fallen a ways since Clinton's left foot came out the door.

People want capitalism. They want the comforting illusion that they're simply dispossessed millionaires. They also want their bloody education to have some meaning, they want to have jobs that contribute in some fashion to society, and for their dutiful payment of taxes to help them when they're down.

Maybe its just a phase we proles are going through but I have the sneaking suspicion that these old folks we've got in charge now aren't planning for their children's futures nearly as well as the previous bunch.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:25 PM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


...people with some of the largest ego:penis ratios in the world.

Is that because of the numerator, or the denominator?
posted by mondo dentro at 2:25 PM on June 12, 2011


Here's The Economist's explanation of the Bilderberg meetings (Economist journalists are officially invited as rapporteurs for the this year and at least the last couple of years). Here's the tin-foil hat conspiracy theorist "rebuttal" of the explanation.

While I'm sure members of the global elite do sometimes conspire with each other (although theories of grand master global conspiracies that run everything are ludicrous), doing it through Bilderberg would be a very inefficient and clumsy way of doing it. Just make a call on a secure phone or teleconference line - much more logistically convenient with no publicity hassle. And the fact that bulk of the Bilderberg attendees are European does not really say much for the Bilderbergers being a be well-representative of the global ruling class (oh wow!! they invited the Queen of the Netherlands, the Queen of Spain and the Crown Prince of Norway - just goes the show the stranglehold that the European royals have on 21st century world power!!!) . And what are they doing inviting people like James Orbinski, not to mention other academics?
posted by Bwithh at 2:27 PM on June 12, 2011


What kind of secret global elite posts the attendees' list on the internet?
posted by Maias at 2:28 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Surely the 2012 Bilderberg conference would be the ideal place to meet with freshly sharpened pitchforks, nicely kerosene soaked torches, and brand new guillotines?
posted by hippybear at 2:30 PM on June 12, 2011


Here's The Economist's explanation of the Bilderberg meetings...Here's the tin-foil hat conspiracy theorist "rebuttal" of the explanation.

Right. See, the problem is that both the media fluffer account and the crazed nutball account serve to marginalize meaningful, critical reporting.
posted by mondo dentro at 2:35 PM on June 12, 2011


What kind of secret global elite posts the attendees' list on the internet?

This kind?

Ha! I kid! No tin-foil hat wearer, I!
posted by mondo dentro at 2:37 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem isn't that obscenely wealthy and powerful people might be launching schemes behind closed doors. The problem is that there are obscenely wealthy and powerful people at all.
posted by empath at 2:38 PM on June 12, 2011 [13 favorites]


The entire global financial collapse can legitimately be viewed as a conspiracy of the financial elites.
If you take that view, seems to me the implication is that you're thinking absent an active conspiracy the financial system would work/not collapse. That's a fundamental misunderstanding of capitalism - even if run by well-meaning ascetics sworn only to getting the liquidity where it's needed for the greater glory of production, the underlying dynamic would at best just push the crisis to another sector. So while shenanigans and collusion precipitated the recent blow-up, they're secondary phenomena and not a root cause. This means viewing things as a conspiracy of the elite is not very helpful or even likely to obscure the actual problem - the social-economic relations that demand such a financial system (or on preview, what empath said far more succinctly).
posted by Abiezer at 2:42 PM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Top people from Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Linkedin but no Apple? Steve Jobs must be pretty sick, or maybe they're all meeting to conspire against the iPower.

But seriously, this was NOT where the most powerful people were this weekend. The people who rule MY world were at MaxFunCom. Mefites, Public Radio, webcomics... John Hodgman and Andy Richter at the same place! Yep, definitely making plans to take over the world (you guess which is Pinky and which is the Brain).
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:50 PM on June 12, 2011


> The problem is that there are obscenely wealthy and powerful people at all.

There will always be these people, just like there will always be the poor (one of Christ's few jokes was to that effect). The problem is that the playing field is dramatically tilted in the direction of the rich.

Even leaving the fairness aspect out of the way, it's clear that this has been extremely bad for society as a (w)hole. Since, for the ultra-rich, they are far beyond the point where anything they earn will have any affect on how they live their personal lives, many of them seem to inevitably escalate their rapacity until they've pushed their workers' salaries down to just below what you can survive on, and then go on to take larger and larger risks, until they are bailed out - with public money.

This lesson has played out generation after generation - the rich are deeply irresponsible as a group and unless we keep on their tail and society as a whole needs to aggressively defend ourselves again them and their manias.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:52 PM on June 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Btw, if I happened to be part of the global elite, you best believe I'd be commissioning weird public art, building super villain compounds, and having reclusive conferences in exotic locales.

Then I would wait until alex jones or someone like him got famous for trying to piece it all together, and I'd arrange for him to finally sneak into the inner sanctum.

And when he got in, I'd have one of the guys flip the lights on and we'd all yell "surprise!" and there would be party hats and streamers and cake and punch, and we'd all have a good laugh about it.

Because if you're that rich, why the fuck not?
posted by empath at 2:57 PM on June 12, 2011 [17 favorites]


> If you take that view, seems to me the implication is that you're thinking absent an active conspiracy the financial system would work/not collapse.

I have a pretty decent knowledge of the various financial collapses, and I can't off-hand name one that wasn't triggered by "conspiracies" - that is, financial professionals working together secretly to break the securities laws.

Now, not every crash is a collapse. The Crash of 87 (when I was working on Wall St) was caused by a lot of things, mainly technical in some ways, and it was the largest percentage change in the Dow ever. But in fact that Crash was really a correction, a glitch - the market went down dramatically, and then continued to go up again, the economy slowed and then picked up again.

But when the whole house of cards falls, it's inevitable that we find that financial "professionals" had systematically sold out the beams, the joists, and even the walls, and pocketed the money themselves.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:59 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


empath: I hope you'll remember who favorited your comment back in June of 2011 and invite me to those parties...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:00 PM on June 12, 2011


chavenet: "You can't touch the Master but you can tickle his creatures."

I KNEW Elmo was in on it!
posted by symbioid at 3:02 PM on June 12, 2011


Since, for the ultra-rich, they are far beyond the point where anything they earn will have any affect on how they live their personal lives, many of them seem to inevitably escalate their rapacity until they've pushed their workers' salaries down to just below what you can survive on, and then go on to take larger and larger risks,

Take any CEO's earnings and divide it by the number of employees and you will see how this is not true.

until they are bailed out - with public money.

That almost never happens, and when it does the money gets paid back. I'll take the moral hazard over the actual hazard of Total Economic Meltdown any day of the week.
posted by gjc at 3:03 PM on June 12, 2011


@Abiezer ...the implication is that you're thinking absent an active conspiracy the financial system would work/not collapse. That's a fundamental misunderstanding of capitalism...

I have no idea why you might think that conspiracies (secret deals made by powerful elites) are not a fundamental part of capitalism. But, to be clear: I believe much of what we see is simply the emergent behavior of a flawed system*. Conspiracies are not essential, true enough. So if that's what you think my misunderstanding was, we can set it to rest.

But given the system we have, it can still be operated more or less well with better or worse results. Our system is one of regulated capitalism. The health of the entire system is very sensitive to the income/wealth distribution, to name one metric, which has become more concentrated in the top 1% since the Reagan/Thatcher era.

So I'd turn your post around to say: if you don't think that regulatory capture, resulting in, for example, the overturning the Glass-Steagall Act, had a lot to do with the financial collapse, then you don't understand capitalism!
_______
*Also: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."
posted by mondo dentro at 3:06 PM on June 12, 2011


Sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice, though.
posted by empath at 3:13 PM on June 12, 2011 [15 favorites]


Take any CEO's earnings and divide it by the number of employees and you will see how this is not true.

You're losing me here. The ratio of CEO pay to worker pay has increased massively.

That [bailouts] almost never happens, and when it does the money gets paid back.

Well, I don't know about that... However, modern capitalism is one lean, mean, cost-externalizing machine. And where are those costs ultimately externalized? To the commons; that is, to the taxpayers.

The Gulf Oil spill is a good example. It's all about privatizing the profits, and socialize the losses. So, while there was no explicit bail out to BP, there will be a long term subsidizing of their failed "risk taking".
posted by mondo dentro at 3:15 PM on June 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice, though.

That is just brilliant!

Empath's Corollary to Clarke's Law! (with an assist from Murphy?)
posted by mondo dentro at 3:18 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


But, to be clear: I believe much of what we see is simply the emergent behavior of a flawed system
Yes, that's more like it, and your second paragraph too, which to my mind touches on the real story - the neoliberal turn since the 1970s, which both begins to create the conditions and in itself was the product of the larger dynamic. My point is really I'd rather that was front and centre rather than the conspiracies, which I don't think are fundamental to capitalism (which is not to say I don't think they happen or have historical interest or relevance; have posted about a conspiracy journal before here, even).
posted by Abiezer at 3:21 PM on June 12, 2011


I KNEW Elmo was in on it!

What? Oh, ah, for a second there I thought you guys were on to me, but of course there is no cabal.
posted by Elmore at 3:21 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


> > Since, for the ultra-rich, they are far beyond the point where anything they earn will have any affect on how they live their personal lives, many of them seem to inevitably escalate their rapacity until they've pushed their workers' salaries down to just below what you can survive on, and then go on to take larger and larger risks,

> Take any CEO's earnings and divide it by the number of employees and you will see how this is not true.

Um, OK, I did that, and I have zero idea what you mean.

Which statement is wrong?

1. they are far beyond the point where anything they earn will have any affect on how they live their personal lives,
2. many of them seem to inevitably escalate their rapacity until they've pushed their workers' salaries down to just below what you can survive on,
3. [they] go on to take larger and larger risks,

I frankly can't even see how your answer has anything to do with what I said!

> > until they are bailed out - with public money.

> That almost never happens,

Let's see - Reagan did it big-time, Bush I and Clinton small-time, and Bush II and Obama big-time again, so your "almost never happens" is really "six administrations in a row have done this".

> and when it does the money gets paid back.

Again, I can't even think of a single case where this happened. When I was on Wall Street, there was the Savings and Loan crisis, that cost the taxpayer over a $100 billion. It seems almost certain the government will lose money on the current bailout - even the loss on Chrysler will be enough to put the whole thing into the red, and even ignoring that and hoping that no one else gets bought out in such a way that they can get out from under their debts, the accounting right now involves the government marking as valuable paper (securities) they have for banks that are underwater, that means worth less than zero dollars.

> I'll take the moral hazard over the actual hazard of Total Economic Meltdown any day of the week.

You make fun of this, but how exactly are massive, interest-free loans not simply free gifts to business, given the cost of capital? Isn't it morally bad if big businesses can take huge risks, relying on the taxpayer supporting them if they fail?

If I were a trader or other financial professional who had been involved in the financial crisis, I'd be saying to myself, "I want to do that again, as quickly as possible!" because the almost universal experience for all of them was a massive influx of cash in a very short time, and then a huge collapse where the government picked up the tab and they weren't forced to put back any significant quantity of their ill-gotten gains.

So the moral hazard there is huge. We want to discourage people from ever doing this again. Handing them huge, oversight-free, interest-free loans but requiring no change in their behavior rewards them for this extremely bad behavior.

Anyway, that last argument could only apply if bailouts were really 1) rare 2) not a capital loss for the government. Since neither of these is the case, I think we can safely say that the moral hazard is a clear signpost to the economic and criminal hazards of the bailout.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:21 PM on June 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


fourcheesemac: "They don't have FOIA in the UK."

Sorry, errant A there. You certainly can file a FOI request in the UK.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:24 PM on June 12, 2011


History has shown one or two financial titians warn of an impending crisis. One was William Durant who warned Hoover in April, 29’ about an eminent crash, that meeting was not made public. No doubt he as looking after his and the countries self-interest, his decision was not self-serving.
posted by clavdivs at 3:31 PM on June 12, 2011


Empath's Corollary to Clarke's Law! (with an assist from Murphy?)

I hate to say this, but i first heard it from a GOP congressman in a hearing. I don't know where he stole it from.
posted by empath at 3:33 PM on June 12, 2011


I hate to say this, but i first heard it from a GOP congressman in a hearing.

Oh, the irony. Sigh. That is a very difficult lesson for me to learn, empath.
posted by mondo dentro at 3:35 PM on June 12, 2011


You certainly can file a FOI request in the UK.

True
posted by Elmore at 3:40 PM on June 12, 2011


> rather than the conspiracies, which I don't think are fundamental to capitalism

Corporations or structures like them are fundamental to capitalism, and these do involve small groups collaborating in secret to maximize their profit.

Most people think that where "corporate planning" stops and where "conspiracy" starts is where laws are broken. But as most people should be aware, a lot of corporations secretly "conspire" to do all sorts of deeply immoral things that are not, in fact, illegal - often because most people have never heard of them or because the corporations have essentially paid legislators to keep these activities legal.

A good example is the demutualization of insurance companies a decade or two ago, where tens of billions of dollars (worth something at the time) were secretly siphoned from the pockets of the policyholders == stockholders into the coffers of management with the deliberate cooperation of government. I'm sure that if you explained how demutualization worked to your average guy, he'd be completely against it, but he never even finds out it happened - it's buried in the stream of paper his insurance company sends him.

Now, capitalists will naturally try to make as much money as possible, and this rationally implies that they're going to be wanting to keep secrets from everyone else, and this also rationally implies that at least some capitalists will be wanting to commit some number of crimes as long as they're only getting fined for those crimes and the expected cost of the fines is less than the profit they make.

This is the nub of the argument, and it's a little hard to refute. Pure capitalism means exactly that - you only consider the return on your capital - so why would you not do illegal things if was more profitable for you?

And consider that sometimes, this idea seems reasonable. Your boss tells you, "In order to sell in this new country you're in, you must offer bribes. It's regrettable, but there's no other way, everyone must do it." Do you do it? Can your boss fire you if you won't (and thus you no longer can sell in that country?)

So in fact conspiracies, they being groups of people secretly arranging to do immoral or illegal things, are going to be ubiquitous in capitalism unless there are strict laws rendering the capitalists criminally (as opposed to financially) liable for the crimes of their companies.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:49 PM on June 12, 2011 [19 favorites]


Conspiracies happen. They are real.

What? Next you'll be telling me that black helicopters are real, too.

Italian MEP Mario Borghezio was reportedly given a bloody nose on Thursday as he attempted to sneak into the secretive Bilderberg conference in St. Moritz.

The Italian embassy in Bern has requested an enquiry into the expulsion of an Italian EU parliamentarian who tried to get into the secret Bilderberg conference.

The Associated Press didn't report on the meeting until after it had ended.

Surely the 2012 Bilderberg conference would be the ideal place to meet with freshly sharpened pitchforks, nicely kerosene soaked torches, and brand new guillotines?

Bilderberg Members Confronted By Protesters Outside Security Perimeter


>You know, just ignoring these people makes a lot of sense.

There are a number of reasons why I completely disagree with your view, but the number one reason is that Glenn Beck says the same damn thing.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 3:54 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I still disagree, lupus. You're continuing to define the epiphenomena, which has certainly been an ever-present as capitalism took shape (but then has been fairly widespread in other societies and historical eras too), not a fundamental. That might look like a quibble, but I don't think so, if only because of that very word -- because, again, the implication then remains that absent this 'fundamental' feature (unlikely though that is), capitalism would work. While I'll take whatever regulation or reform we can get in the meantime, I think it matters that we don't lose sight of the real problem, even if a solution seems distant or unlikely.
posted by Abiezer at 4:04 PM on June 12, 2011


@lupus_yonderboy: terrific post.

Most people think that where "corporate planning" stops and where "conspiracy" starts is where laws are broken.

This is why I have so little patience for those who want to cry "conspiracy theory" at the drop of a hat. There are conspiracies, and they do not have to be "illegal" to be so (it's certainly not in the dictionary definition). Nor do they have to be particularly formal.

Furthermore, while I think there is a legitimate analytical perspective which views economic collapses--and even conspiracies themselves--as "emergent behavior" of a flawed system, such a view is most useful when discussing either: (a) a visionary quest for a replacement of the entire system; or, more modestly, (b) legislation designed to minimize the likelihood of system meltdowns. And it is here that the conspiracies again play a role, since the powerful always move in secret to undermine such regulatory moves.
posted by mondo dentro at 4:10 PM on June 12, 2011


This is why I have so little patience for those who want to cry "conspiracy theory" at the drop of a hat. There are conspiracies, and they do not have to be "illegal" to be so (it's certainly not in the dictionary definition). Nor do they have to be particularly formal.

My dictionary says the definition for "conspiracy theory" is: "a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for an unexplained event."

Not sure how anything from Dick Cheney's top secret Energy summit to Bilderberg to corporate board meetings don't actually meet that standard.

What does your dictionary say is the defintion of "conspiracy theory"?
posted by hippybear at 4:23 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


>Seriously, do you think that conspiracies among the powerful only happen or are materially aided by well-publicized and conspicuously secretive retreats?

You aren't referring to the Bilderberg conference as "well-publicized," are you? Perhaps you live in Europe, where there is a bit more coverage in the press, but here in the U.S. the press is focusing its attention on some jackass named Weiner and a murder trial. As I mentioned in my last post, the AP didn't publish a story on the conference until after it was already over. Same with most of the U.S. media. Hundreds of the world elite meeting in secret, yet there are more cameras covering the Casey Anthony courtroom. A Google news search for "bilderberg" turns up fewer than 50 articles, many of them from the Guardian.

10 really stupid things the mainstream media has said about Bilderberg in 2011

>"New World Order"? Come on.

In addition to the list of New World Order quotes provided by the OP, here is a video compilation of "New World Order" and global governance quotes from politicians from 1950-2009: Part 1, Part 2.

>And yet the president goes places where he is photographed

Except when he goes to Bilderberg (admittedly, Obama was a senator when he shanghied the press pool, and the claim that he sneaked off to attend Bilderberg is only an inference. The official explanation was that he wanted to have a "secret meeting" with senator Clinton.)
posted by thescientificmethhead at 4:26 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


> You're continuing to define the epiphenomena, which has certainly been an ever-present as capitalism took shape (but then has been fairly widespread in other societies and historical eras too), not a fundamental.

No, it is intrinsic to capitalism, not an emergent or epiphenomenon, in exactly the same way that "grasping" is an intrinsic property of a human hand.

Capitalism means that profit over time is the entire measure of the success of your enterprise. This is an amoral activity that's unconcerned with legality and has no conscience.

Many of not most of the laws involving financial markets and business prohibit things that would be profitable - simply because businesses aren't likely to knowingly do things that don't make money.

In fact, most criminals are actually serious capitalists. Drug dealers, bank robbers, muggers, fraud, that sort of thing, people are trying to make money by taking advantage of a given situation. There are laws against these things entirely because they are profitable, but to say that three guys planning a gas station hold up are not engaged in a capitalist enterprise is, dammit, un-American!

I think you're confusing other isms, mercantilism or various utilitarianisms or I dunno wot, but taking the religion that money is the only value naturally makes you contemptuous of laws - unless, as I keep mentioning, there's a chance that *you* will go to jail...

Not all capitalist activity is crime, but capitalists are naturally attracted to non-legal activities because they are the most profitable, and because breaking the law has no intrinsic moral negative but is simply are reckoned as a cost of doing business.

My hands don't spend that much of their time grasping but it's a natural gesture for them, in exactly the same way that a desire to earn as much money as possible with no other moral constraints naturally leads an entity to commit crimes if said entity rationally think it will be to their financial advantage.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:30 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


On conspiracies and capitalism:
We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters, though frequently of those of the workman. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject.
. . .
People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.

(both by Adam Smith, from Book I of The Wealth Of Nations (1776))
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 4:33 PM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


You're continuing to define the epiphenomena, which has certainly been an ever-present as capitalism took shape.

Abiezer, I think that you are overstating your case: you seem to be saying the the striving of the powerful to rule over the masses is a feature of capitalism. It isn't. There is no form of political and economic organization that would not be vulnerable to this same will to power (feudalism and totalitarian socialism provide two very different examples).

The writers of our constitution understood this, and that's why they took the profoundly Newtonian approach of trying to create a governmental system of opposing forces that had a chance of staying in a sort of dynamic equilibrium about an "attractor" corresponding to a healthy constitutional republic.

It's true that under capitalism we've seen an immense concentration of power in corporations and financiers, and that this now seems poised to overturn the intentions of the founders, if it hasn't already. But this accumulation of power occurred gradually and episodically over the entire span of our country's existence, via specific legal and legislative "innovations" planned in secret by cabals of powerful interests.

The worst of these, for me, is the 1880's ruling that corporations are people (a legal precedent that doesn't even seem to have been handed down formally by the Supreme Court). As a constitutional issue, it is does not intrinsically have anything to do with capitalism, per se! Yet, from here we can draw a straight line to the disastrous Citizens United ruling.
posted by mondo dentro at 4:37 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


@hippybear My dictionary says the definition for "conspiracy theory" is...

I'm talking about the definition of "conspiracy": "an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot." (dictionary.com)
posted by mondo dentro at 4:42 PM on June 12, 2011


Great quote, AsYouKnow Bob. I first heard it rendered as:

"Men of the same profession never gather in the same room except to conspire against the general public."
posted by thescientificmethhead at 4:43 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


mondo dentro: please talk to me, not at me

I'm using the built-in dictionary bit which is part of MacOS, and the definition for "conspiracy theory" is as I quoted above.

I refuse to use dictionary.com due to their overbearing use of tracking cookies and such for their users. However, Google has plenty of defintions for the phrase which don't have anything to do with illegal activity.
posted by hippybear at 4:53 PM on June 12, 2011


@AsYouKnow Bob But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.

Adam Smith was definitely not a free market wanker. You sure wouldn't know if from the false religion we've built up around capitalism.

For example, from the above quoted passage it is clear that we stopped following the advice of the good Mr. Smith long ago: now it is statutorily required that corporations maximize profits.
posted by mondo dentro at 5:00 PM on June 12, 2011


mondo dentro: please talk to me, not at me

Huh?
posted by mondo dentro at 5:01 PM on June 12, 2011


mondo dentro, he might be referring to your use of the "@" character, which is frowned upon in the blue. If he's talking about tone, I'm not seeing it.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:43 PM on June 12, 2011


A conspiracy doesn't have to be illegal, whoever's arguing that should give it up right now.

"There was a secret co-op board meeting last week and no one told me about it. I think my neighbors are conspiring to get me out." Perfectly good usage.

"The homosexuals are conspiring to get their own hired in Hollywood" (the so-called Homintern Conspiracy). Also perfectly good usage - remembering that discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation is perfectly legal in the US.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:46 PM on June 12, 2011


as I'm reading this on my iPod touch, sans adBlock, I was amused to see an ad for the Tea Party Patriots! Clearly an algorithm somewhere is missing the tone of metafilter.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 5:54 PM on June 12, 2011


mondo dentro, he might be referring to your use of the "@" character, which is frowned upon in the blue.

Well, color my face red. I don't even use twitter!
posted by mondo dentro at 6:00 PM on June 12, 2011


now it is statutorily required that corporations maximize profits.

This is not true.
posted by empath at 6:19 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]



me: now it is statutorily required that corporations maximize profits.

empath: this is not true.

Well, I'm no lawyer. If you are, please hold forth.

My understanding is that it is true, in so many words. More precisely, the statutes tend to say that corporations must pursue the "interests" of the shareholders. So, are you objecting to what I said on semantic grounds, that the words "maximize profits" do not appear? If so, what other interests do you think are being referred to, other than share value?

Such statutes are used to justify doing nothing other than maximizing profits. Again, my understanding is that a major focus of legal activists is to try and demonstrate that the shareholders interests should include other factors (like environmental and community impact), but it has not played out that way. In fact, corporate lawyers (again, my understanding) routinely use the exact same statutory language to argue that their clients should be exempt from any sort of social responsibility requirement.
posted by mondo dentro at 6:42 PM on June 12, 2011


They're required to look out for the best interests of the shareholders, as they should be. Whether the company makes profits or not is only one part of the value of the shares. There are plenty of 'growth' companies that barely make any profit and their shareholders are perfectly happy with that.

There are also companies like google who tell their shareholders in advance that they aren't going to pursue profit above all else.
posted by empath at 7:03 PM on June 12, 2011


empath:

I see. So, it's not that what I said "isn't true". It's that have a different opinion.

You just repeated what I said (about looking out for the best interests of the shareholders) without engaging any of the relevant bits about why it tends to be interpreted as needing to maximize profits.

There are plenty of 'growth' companies that barely make any profit and their shareholders are perfectly happy with that.

The only way the word "plenty" makes any sense here is as a percentage of overall economic activity. Any idea what that percentage is, ballpark?

There are also companies like google who tell their shareholders in advance that they aren't going to pursue profit above all else.

And as long as they're making shitloads of money, they can get away with it.
posted by mondo dentro at 7:12 PM on June 12, 2011


CouldWell Lupus Yonderboy, buying your conspiracy argument, it looks like you blew a perfect opportunity. If you, scientificmethead, and mondo dentro had only gotten your act together, you could have stolen a jumbo-jet and crashed into the conference building, and the loss of all those elites would have triggered a worldwide economic meltdown, which would have sparked The Revolution, which would have ended with all the rich being sent to work on collective farms, as a global socialist government based on enlightened communal values is formed. They even would have put up statues of you.

But then if that happened, you wouldn't be able to complain about the global elite on the internet. So I guess it's just as well.
posted by happyroach at 7:18 PM on June 12, 2011


My, happyroach, what a clever put-down! Angling for a regular spot on Fox News, I see!
posted by mondo dentro at 7:24 PM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


The time to start worrying is when the super rich stop meeting to try to manage the global economy. What would it mean if the political, economic and tech elIte stopped gathering Rhine closed doors to talk policy.
posted by humanfont at 7:41 PM on June 12, 2011


There's nothing to see here except a collection of a bunch of stupid rich people. Give me the personal wealth of any one of these incompetent motherfuckers and I'd rule the world in 144 weeks. These dumb shits just show up to pat themselves on the back.
posted by effwerd at 8:25 PM on June 12, 2011


it's not that what I said "isn't true". It's that have a different opinion

No, what you said is untrue. You said that it was statutorily required that corporations act to maximize profit. The equivalence of "shareholder interest" and "profit" isn't statutory; at best it's case law, and that's only if the corporation isn't clear enough telling shareholders what its purpose is. Nonprofit corporations, for example, are not illegal.
posted by hattifattener at 8:29 PM on June 12, 2011


"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." - Arthur Schopenhauer
posted by thescientificmethhead at 8:36 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well gee Mondo Dentro, let's hear your action plan for doing something about this cabal. You've made a case that the meeting is a conspiracy, that it is illegal, and that it is acting against the interests of the general populace. Now; are you actually going to do something about it? Or are you going to whine about it and delude yourself that playing the "Isn't it Awful!" game on Metafilter is making progress toward "educating the proletariat" or something?
posted by happyroach at 9:25 PM on June 12, 2011


gee roach, what's up your ass today? do you demand an instant action plan for fixing the whole world any time somebody talks about a problem? maybe you'd prefer the Batman thread.
posted by moorooka at 9:59 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


After happyroach crashes a jumbo jet into Metafilter global socialism will be mortally wounded and he can go live in Nick Gaetano's Ayn Rand cover art.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:59 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


You've made a case that the meeting is a conspiracy, that it is illegal, and that it is acting against the interests of the general populace.

happyroach, one reason I think you'd be perfect at Fox is that you don't seem to have paid attention to what was actually said, just on how it triggered your own issues (which I really can't claim to understand).
posted by mondo dentro at 10:11 PM on June 12, 2011


No, what you said is untrue. You said that it was statutorily required that corporations act to maximize profit.

You are correct, I did say that in the first post, but then...

The equivalence of "shareholder interest" and "profit" isn't statutory; at best it's case law...

...this is basically what I said (well, was trying to say) in reply to your "it's not true" statement, except I didn't use the proper legal jargon ("at best case law"). So now I think I have a better understanding of what is in these statutes. Thanks for the clarification.

Now, do you go beyond that to say that you don't think such "best interests of the shareholder" statutes encourage profit maximization at the expense of other societal values? If so, that's where I believe we have a difference of opinion.

...and that's only if the corporation isn't clear enough telling shareholders what its purpose is.

If the corporation is public, and has shareholders, it is the shareholders that define the purpose. Is that not the case? I believe the reason that the statutes tend (the precise word I used before) to encourage mere profit maximization is that the shareholders can sue the corporation (corporate officers?) if they are unhappy. Care to set me straight on that?
posted by mondo dentro at 10:43 PM on June 12, 2011


You're moving the goalposts around very rapidly there, mondo dentro.

I believe the reason that the statutes tend (the precise word I used before)

If I scroll upwards, I can see that that isn't the precise word you used before. "tend" is not at all the same as "require".


I think if you unwind the things you are trying to say, you will find that you are arguing that corporations tend towards ruthless profit maximization because shareholders want profit and don't care how they get it. I don't think that's a controversial view at all. What you actually claimed, though, was that it was illegal for a corporation to have a different goal, and that's hogwash.
posted by hattifattener at 11:20 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


now it is statutorily required that corporations maximize profits

Geeze, why hasn't snopes debunked this already? Shareholder lawsuits are rarely used except in cases of gross negligence or conflict of interest at the executive level. They are not used to adjudicate mere business or strategy disagreements. To win such a lawsuit, the actions of the executive would need to go beyond mere incompetence.
posted by ryanrs at 12:41 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shareholder lawsuits are rarely used except in cases of gross negligence or conflict of interest at the executive level

Yet this is exactly the argument that caused Ben and Jerry's to be sold to Unilever. Not that Ben and Jerry's was not profitable, but that they were required to make the most profitable decision despite their own misgivings.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 1:14 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can you be more specific? Are you saying a shareholder lawsuit led to the acquisition? (I am not familiar with the circumstances of that deal.)
posted by ryanrs at 1:22 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


a collection of a bunch of stupid rich people. Don't you think that's a bit juvenile? Rich definitely. Stupid. Not.
Just because they don't think the same way as you does not make them stupid. Far from it as their positions show.
Bilderberg irks because it is secretive and among the attendees are elected officials who are supposed to report back to those who put them in power.
The fact that Thomas Enders CEO of Airbus is an arrogant prick shows how removed from normal civil society many of these people are.
This is not a junior high reunion. I am sure a group such as this don't sit around to discuss their kids SAT scores, but more likely policy ideas that will come to affect the rest of us in the years to come.
I find the high number of Internet Company representatives to be of interest especially given the use of social networking in rallying the troops of the Arab Spring, Wikileaks and such. Now the U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors which will not only help undermine dictatorships but open free markets (maybe to the detriment of the Arms industry).
So I see Bilderberg as a think tank but with an undefined ideology.
I find it worrying that there are so many people of power and wealth meeting in semi secrecy and the world's media ignores it.
Just to recap these were believed to be the attendees
Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com, Chris R. Hughes, Co-founder of Facebook, Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, Craig J. Mundie, Chief Research and Strategy Officer at Microsoft Corporation, and Reid Hoffman, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of LinkedIn.

Also: Vice President of the European Commission, the President of the European Council, the Director General of the World Trade Organization, the President of the European Central Bank, the President of The World Bank, and the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme.
US Deputy Secretary of State, the Commander of USCYBERCOM and the Director of the National Security Agency.
Representatives from EVERY major US think-tank. Senior figures from the National Bank of Belgium, the Nordea Bank of Denmark, the Deutsche Bank of Germany, the Investor AB bank of Sweden, the Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG of Austria, and the Investimentos bank of Portugal. The Chairman of Barclays bank, the Chairman of HSBC, the Chairman of Goldman Sachs, the CEO of TD Bank Financial Group, the Vice Chairman of Citigroup and the former Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank.
The former German Minister of Finance, the current British Chancellor of the Exchequer, the current Greek Minister of Finance, the current Italian Minister of Economy and Finance, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, the former US Secretary of the Treasury and the former Governor of the Federal Reserve Board.
All these people meet up, in complete secrecy, and few major news sources bother to cover it.
This is the search page for Reuters
posted by adamvasco at 2:17 AM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, an honest question: is there anyone out there that is totally comfortable with such meetings? If so, what do you think the discussion is about? Trade policy? How to prevent another financial crisis like the recent one? Internet regulation reform? Concrete measures to promote the development of corporate bond markets in Asia?
posted by jet_manifesto at 4:42 AM on June 13, 2011


hattifattener: You're moving the goalposts around very rapidly there, mondo dentro.

Sorry if it came off that way. It was not my intention to play Calvinball! I was just trying to improve my understanding of the actual situation. I think I've got a better grip on it now.

...tend (the precise word I used before)

If I scroll upwards, I can see that that isn't the precise word you used before...


I was referring to my subsequent post.

I think if you unwind the things you are trying to say, you will find that you are arguing that corporations tend towards ruthless profit maximization... I don't think that's a controversial view at all...

This is a thread issue. I was originally responding to part of this Adam Smith quotation regarding conspiracies (emphasis mine):
People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. [...] But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.
If I would have just said that the law in fact encourages profit maximization at the expense of the public welfare (rather than the incorrect "requires"), I believe my point, that we have ignored Adam Smith's advice, would have been placed on firmer ground.

What you actually claimed, though, was that it was illegal for a corporation to have a different goal, and that's hogwash.

I stand happily corrected on that. Thanks.
posted by mondo dentro at 5:26 AM on June 13, 2011


The thing about Bilderberg is that there are simply too many people in attendance, representing too many competing interests, to actually accomplish much in the way of conspiracy planning in three days.

"The Committee of 300, you say? How do they manage to get anything done?"
posted by acb at 7:02 AM on June 13, 2011


When rich people meet to discuss how they can become richer at the expense of everyone else, is that really a secret conspiracy? I mean, that's what they do. And what could we do to stop them anyway?
posted by Legomancer at 7:03 AM on June 13, 2011


Re; Mysterious Woman In White. Yeah, sorry, that was me. The press gets confused when I don't wear the dalmation coat...
posted by dejah420 at 8:20 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm rather annoyed that my newspaper (for Dutchies: NRC) has a columnist taking part in the conference. But there's no reporting on the event.
Makes me wonder what their unspoken obligations are to our monarch Queen Beatrix to make sure they're invited again. Can they criticise the monarchy freely...?
posted by joost de vries at 8:53 AM on June 13, 2011


Oh, and if I saw Alex Jones coming into the country - I'd have detained him too. Not because he's a threat to some globalist conspiracy. Just cuz he's annoying as shit.

(no. I wouldn't really, but still. the idea kind of pleases me -- on the other hand, I'm sorry your husband had to go through that).
posted by symbioid at 9:32 AM on June 13, 2011


So, an honest question: is there anyone out there that is totally comfortable with such meetings? If so, what do you think the discussion is about? Trade policy? How to prevent another financial crisis like the recent one? Internet regulation reform? Concrete measures to promote the development of corporate bond markets in Asia?

Yes. I am totally comfortable with these meetings. People with power and influence over policy and the economy need to gather, meet each other and exchange views from time to time.
posted by humanfont at 10:48 AM on June 13, 2011


People with power and influence over policy and the economy need to gather, meet each other and exchange views from time to time.

But do they need to meet IN TOTAL SECRECY with a media blackout?

"The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society." - John F. Kennedy
posted by thescientificmethhead at 3:56 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


You might think that the protesters outside Bilderberg are largely anti-government. In fact you'll find, on the whole, that they're anti-anti-government, insofar as they know that representation within a functioning and sovereign democratic system is their best defence within a free-for-all global economy.
posted by adamvasco at 12:03 AM on June 14, 2011


Link
posted by adamvasco at 12:04 AM on June 14, 2011


Basically we need to push for the Panopticon. Seriously. We're all stuck in this prison together, and the only possible way to make that work is if we remove the ability for the gang leaders to conspire in secret, for anyone anywhere to conspire in secret. The right to privacy is a myth that benefits only the elite.
posted by Peztopiary at 2:06 AM on June 14, 2011


But do they need to meet IN TOTAL SECRECY with a media blackout?

So secret they have a website.
posted by humanfont at 4:40 PM on June 14, 2011


"We are grateful to the Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years... It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries."
- David Rockefeller, Bilderberg Meeting, June 1991 Baden, Germany (from the quotes link)
posted by adamvasco at 10:19 PM on June 14, 2011


Pppp. Bilderberg is nothing next to the Pentavirate.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:53 PM on June 14, 2011


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