Author Topic: Plutonomy: A Leaked Citibank Memo  (Read 26518 times)

Cramulus

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Plutonomy: A Leaked Citibank Memo
« on: May 11, 2010, 04:10:20 pm »


I'd like to share a document which was referenced in Capitalism: A Love Story.

if you want a good eye-opener as to how things work, take a look at how the top 1% talk about the world.

Here's a leaked memo that citibank sent to its top investors in 2005.

EDIT: doc removed from scribd - link now points to google docs. If it disappears from there, hunt for the filename "Citigroup-Oct-16-2005-Plutonomy-Report-Part-1.pdf"

According to this memo, America is no longer a democracy, it's a plutonomy - a country which is controlled by the richest 1%.

They openly acknowledge that our current system produces gigantic inequality of wealth. Their advice to the rich is to not worry about the bottom 95%, they have a really fractional effect on the country anyway. The wealthy alone drive the economy and everybody else can suck it.

The rich admit that they are responsible for the low savings rate in american households (see top of p20). On p22, they say straight out that financial inequality is desirable, and that their investors will lose power if the government begins taxing or regulating them like it used to. They point out how in france, the introduction of the 35 hour work week really hurt the mega-rich. (the memo proposes that the solution to this is to outsource labor to countries with less protections for workers)

Luckily, they say, the current US government seems to be friendly towards the plutonomy -  and has protected the richest's interests at nearly every turn.

The memo identifies a few threats to the plutonomy. One of them is social backlash - the lower and middle class may revolt if they figure out that there really is no way to the top. (p25) Equality is not desirable to the rich, and ironically, one of the best weapons against it is to frame discussions about weath in terms of "fairness".

it really makes you laugh or scream
« Last Edit: September 07, 2011, 02:10:51 pm by Cramulus »

Captain Utopia

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Re: Plutonomy: A Leaked Citibank Memo
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2010, 09:45:53 pm »
it really makes you laugh or scream

It makes me laugh.  But then, if I didn't think that the coming insurrection will be peaceful and bloodless, I'd probably be screaming.

Doktor Howl

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Re: Plutonomy: A Leaked Citibank Memo
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2010, 10:20:53 pm »
It makes me laugh.

I mean, everyone LIKES this system, right?
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Cramulus

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Re: Plutonomy: A Leaked Citibank Memo
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2010, 10:58:24 pm »
it really makes you laugh or scream

It makes me laugh.  But then, if I didn't think that the coming insurrection will be peaceful and bloodless, I'd probably be screaming.

how do you think the coming insurrection is going to go?

Doktor Howl

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Re: Plutonomy: A Leaked Citibank Memo
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2010, 11:06:51 pm »
it really makes you laugh or scream

It makes me laugh.  But then, if I didn't think that the coming insurrection will be peaceful and bloodless, I'd probably be screaming.

how do you think the coming insurrection is going to go?

Revolt?  Okay, right after American Idol!  But wait!  Tonight is Trevor's soccer game, and Dakota has the flu.  Maybe tomorrow, ok?
\
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Don't tell me what to fucking do.  In exchange, I will not tell you what to fucking do.  Note that mocking each other's actions is still permissable under this system.

Captain Utopia

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Re: Plutonomy: A Leaked Citibank Memo
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2010, 02:33:59 am »
how do you think the coming insurrection is going to go?

I've probably used this example before, but it's apt.  Compare the US elections in 2004 and 2008, specifically the effect of a smear campaign like Swiftboat veterans for Truth vs Kerry, and everything which was thrown at Obama.  How come lies and disinformation were so sticky in 2004, but not so much in 2008?  I think a large part of this was due to YouTube, which only launched in 2005.

It's already hard for me to remember, but if you wanted to get video online pre-YouTube, it was a major pain-in-the-ass.  If you had something explosive or interesting, then you could link your friends, sure.. but if it became popular your website would crash.  So in that environment, when you have disinformation placed into television adverts, the only rebuttal which can develop spontaneously is a chain-letter or blog post -- neither have the persuasive power of video.  During 2008, user-generated video played a massive role... from cellphone video, to rebuttals, to montage clips of Sarah Palins idiocy.  Blogs with scoops were regularly splashed on the news networks as each tried to demonstrate how "with it" they were.  If blogs/citizen journalism were producing similar scoops in 2004, I certainly wasn't aware of it.

I'm stressing the point here, because I think it is a major one -- for the first time in recent (perhaps all) history, truth and facts were trumping fiction in politics.  The Dok has a point of course -- we've slipped backwards since then as participation and excitement in the political process has waned.

But amazing things did happen, especially because it was all unplanned and uncoordinated - it was pretty much just emergent from simply being able to spread video easily.


I think with a little design we can do a lot better.  We can make it easier to participate and we can amplify the effect of that action.  At no point in our history has it been easier to form a group, and to have that group collectively reach towards a goal.  Every step technology takes makes this even easier.

It's an inevitability from our change from a one-to-many to a many-to-many communication species.


With projects like Metagovernment, we will create parallel shadow-governments.  Leaderless experiments in collaborative decision-making.  We will demonstrate the superiority of this approach by documenting all decisions we make, and comparing them against the failures inflicted upon us by our barely elected leaders.  Hindsight is 20/20, and we'll make sure to promote those instances when we made a hard choice in the past which now is seen as the obvious should-have-done.  We'll make pretty fucking graphs.  When we fail we'll tweak the algorithm until our success rate improves.  When we succeed, we'll tweak our methods to see if we can do better.  We'll have "Click here to register your vote" on major issues on every Facebook profile, and we will, in the process, demonstrate that the old apathy of non-participation can be safely consigned to a dark age of our history.  We'll get adherents to our cause voted into lower levels of Government, and if they turn their backs on us, we'll vote them the fuck out.  We'll maintain scrupulous lists of demonstrated falsehoods by politicians, and we'll petition any remaining news organisations to confront those in the lower 33rd percentile.  The news-cycle will be dominated by what the people give a shit about, not by what the heads of a few media empires decide we should be thinking about.  No-one will be in power.  Everyone will be empowered.

What will the coming insurrection be like?  Fucking glorious.

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Re: Plutonomy: A Leaked Citibank Memo
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2010, 04:51:08 am »
Hee hee!  They're so cute when they still believe.
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Brotep

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Re: Plutonomy: A Leaked Citibank Memo
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2010, 05:37:24 am »
Revolt?  Okay, right after American Idol!  But wait!  Tonight is Trevor's soccer game, and Dakota has the flu.  Maybe tomorrow, ok?
\
:nigel::sadbanana::sadbanana:

 :lulz: that says it all, really

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Re: Plutonomy: A Leaked Citibank Memo
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2010, 07:14:11 am »
how do you think the coming insurrection is going to go?

I've probably used this example before, but it's apt.  Compare the US elections in 2004 and 2008, specifically the effect of a smear campaign like Swiftboat veterans for Truth vs Kerry, and everything which was thrown at Obama.  How come lies and disinformation were so sticky in 2004, but not so much in 2008?  I think a large part of this was due to YouTube, which only launched in 2005.

It's already hard for me to remember, but if you wanted to get video online pre-YouTube, it was a major pain-in-the-ass.  If you had something explosive or interesting, then you could link your friends, sure.. but if it became popular your website would crash.  So in that environment, when you have disinformation placed into television adverts, the only rebuttal which can develop spontaneously is a chain-letter or blog post -- neither have the persuasive power of video.  During 2008, user-generated video played a massive role... from cellphone video, to rebuttals, to montage clips of Sarah Palins idiocy.  Blogs with scoops were regularly splashed on the news networks as each tried to demonstrate how "with it" they were.  If blogs/citizen journalism were producing similar scoops in 2004, I certainly wasn't aware of it.

I'm stressing the point here, because I think it is a major one -- for the first time in recent (perhaps all) history, truth and facts were trumping fiction in politics.  The Dok has a point of course -- we've slipped backwards since then as participation and excitement in the political process has waned.

But amazing things did happen, especially because it was all unplanned and uncoordinated - it was pretty much just emergent from simply being able to spread video easily.


I think with a little design we can do a lot better.  We can make it easier to participate and we can amplify the effect of that action.  At no point in our history has it been easier to form a group, and to have that group collectively reach towards a goal.  Every step technology takes makes this even easier.

It's an inevitability from our change from a one-to-many to a many-to-many communication species.


With projects like Metagovernment, we will create parallel shadow-governments.  Leaderless experiments in collaborative decision-making.  We will demonstrate the superiority of this approach by documenting all decisions we make, and comparing them against the failures inflicted upon us by our barely elected leaders.  Hindsight is 20/20, and we'll make sure to promote those instances when we made a hard choice in the past which now is seen as the obvious should-have-done.  We'll make pretty fucking graphs.  When we fail we'll tweak the algorithm until our success rate improves.  When we succeed, we'll tweak our methods to see if we can do better.  We'll have "Click here to register your vote" on major issues on every Facebook profile, and we will, in the process, demonstrate that the old apathy of non-participation can be safely consigned to a dark age of our history.  We'll get adherents to our cause voted into lower levels of Government, and if they turn their backs on us, we'll vote them the fuck out.  We'll maintain scrupulous lists of demonstrated falsehoods by politicians, and we'll petition any remaining news organisations to confront those in the lower 33rd percentile.  The news-cycle will be dominated by what the people give a shit about, not by what the heads of a few media empires decide we should be thinking about.  No-one will be in power.  Everyone will be empowered.

What will the coming insurrection be like?  Fucking glorious.


Well, if you wait until the next US elections, the whole "free" video reporting stuff will be co-opted by Big Marketing.

And what about the youtube comments? And reactions to your average Glenn Beck fart?

I mean, yes what you describe helped a little, but it needs to be amplified way beyond that before it turns into something that can cause an insurrection. And I don't believe that will happen all by itself the next coming elections, because that time, Big Marketing is ready for it and guide that shit to serve them.

Regardless, it sounds like a good cause to push. But how?
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Captain Utopia

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Re: Plutonomy: A Leaked Citibank Memo
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2010, 02:59:26 pm »

Regardless of the actual impact that video/youtube played in those elections, the effects were pretty much one-sided.  Conservative institutions don't adapt quickly to use new and unestablished methods enabled by technology!  :lol:  So I think you're right - they had their ass handed to them, and they'll have little hesitation to hire Big Marketing people they trust to perform "internet voodoo" for them next time.

I don't see youtube comments as being that significant, although with their new "vote comments to the top" system, disinformation will be freep'd up.  But even Glenn Beck would find it difficult to rail against a system which allows his supporters to fairly express themselves and "gives a voice to the little guy".  Towards that end, for the last 3 years I've been designing/coding/redesigning my own ideas, not really ready to make those public, but feel free to PM if you're curious.

Things you could do now to push the cause?  Either start your own sub-project or join one.  Metagovernment is an umbrella organisation that supports and discusses all forms of collaborative/leaderless governance, and it's where different projects come together to share ideas.  The mailing list is active, but not overly busy.. it's not uncommon for a newcomer to chip in with a good point which gains consensus, so I give them credit for staying true to their core ideals.


Doktor Howl

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Re: Plutonomy: A Leaked Citibank Memo
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2010, 05:44:09 pm »

Regardless of the actual impact that video/youtube played in those elections, the effects were pretty much one-sided.  Conservative institutions don't adapt quickly to use new and unestablished methods enabled by technology! 


Tell that to Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul.
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Re: Plutonomy: A Leaked Citibank Memo
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2010, 05:44:47 pm »
But even Glenn Beck would find it difficult to rail against a system which allows his supporters to fairly express themselves and "gives a voice to the little guy". 


 :lulz:

He'd do it in a red hot minute.
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Cain

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Re: Plutonomy: A Leaked Citibank Memo
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2010, 05:52:26 pm »
Glenn Beck believes the inherent unfairness and waste of the state capitalist/plutocratic economy is proof of it's morality and goodness.  Beck has not once argued that capitalism is good because it creates the greatest amount of wealth for the greatest amount of people, the usual centre-right talking point, but instead has commanded his legion of idiots to support the current status quo because inequality is good (so long as brown people, liberal Jews, progressives, Muslims, atheists and other out groups) are the losers in any such system.

IOW, conservatism.  You may get shit on by your aristocratic betters, but here is a whole bunch of untermenschen to take out your rage on!  And with that approach, you can justify pretty much anything you want, no matter how unfair or wicked.
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Captain Utopia

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Re: Plutonomy: A Leaked Citibank Memo
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2010, 08:26:55 pm »

Regardless of the actual impact that video/youtube played in those elections, the effects were pretty much one-sided.  Conservative institutions don't adapt quickly to use new and unestablished methods enabled by technology! 


Tell that to Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul.

Institutions, rather than individuals or small groups.  For example, Chuck DeFeo, the "eCampaign manager" for Bush'04 seemed to know his shit.  So yeah, it's not as if there's a clean and unbroken divide.

That said, Republicans in general do seem to either not know or care that it is now extremely trivial to document and publish hypocritical and contradictory behaviour.  Or maybe they're just playing by different rules.  Regardless, I believe we can push the rules in the direction where being a lying sack of self-serving shit actually starts having a negative impact on chances of staying in office.  Of course, if we can't, then we're completely fucked.


But even Glenn Beck would find it difficult to rail against a system which allows his supporters to fairly express themselves and "gives a voice to the little guy". 


 :lulz:

He'd do it in a red hot minute.

Yup, I agree.  And he'll get away with it too, if we meddling kids don't manage to create a system which impacts the standard narrative.

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Re: Plutonomy: A Leaked Citibank Memo
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2010, 09:52:35 pm »
Get your meddling kid posse to care enough, and we'll talk.  I think they're fast realizing, though, that tho they helped put Obama in power, he ain't doin' NOTHIN' to show for it so far, other than tap dance.