Wednesday, April 18, 2012


We know that money is simply a fantasy, an agreement to record “credits” of various sorts as changing hands, the way the Egyptians et al figured out how to make marks to keep track of who owes whom what. I know about “cooking the books,” which means to move those credits around in a way that seems logical but doesn’t reflect reality. For instance, the director of the counseling center where I worked in Chicago routinely moved money around in order to pay for people who didn’t/couldn’t pay for the services received. I wasn’t part of it, so I don’t know exactly what he did, but he referred to doing it.

The same thing was true at both Multnomah County and the City of Portland. Things were moved around from one category to another or moved to the side and defined in some special way. Some of it couldn’t be avoided. It got harder after we went to zero-based budgeting. (Instead of just taking last year’s amounts), justifying every category and sub-category, which showed that the clerical staff was soaking up enormous amounts of money for specialized pens and gizmos, like hole-punches and electric pencil-sharpeners -- which I always suspected would correlate closely with morale. The more "down" the clericals were, the more they tried to cheer themselves up with little desk accessories. The practice of showing the percentage of each category expended alongside the percentage of the fiscal year that had passed was also revealing, except that if there were clearly more money than year, people wanted to spend it.

When Bob Scriver’s estate was probated, I tried to find out what was going on. The judge ruled that I wasn’t entitled to do that -- I “had no standing.” (The Mortenson case has been revealing about Montana law regarding estates, nonprofits, and trust funds. There is almost no oversight.) Millions of dollars disappeared from the Scriver estate. The money was meant to pay for expansion of the Montana Historical Society to house the his bronzes. Every effort on my part to find out more has been rebuffed, though the Society has gone through several directors since 1999, the year of Bob’s death, and 2003, the year of Bob’s fourth wife’s death. There is a record of a “Scriver Family Trust” but no Scriver family member knows anything about it. To press further I would need money. And some kind of protection from libel. The law guarantees that I would need a lawyer, because lawyers write the laws.

So I thought, I’ll just google “where is the money?” and see what ideas it gives me. This turned up a series of YouTube vids of people asking this same questions. For instance, “Where is the money, Pentagon?” (They can’t account for 2.3 TRILLION dollars.) Etc.

We are told that all the U.S. money is stacked up at the high end, in the books of the top ten percent, the top one percent, the "hundred most wealthy people" that Vanity Fair profiles yearly, and then the people who are, as a lawyer explained to me, so rich that they are invisible. And in fact, they have no nationality because they live nowhere. They are virtual -- that means they live in a parallel universe, not that they are virtuous.

Most of those ultra wealthy people do not handle any money. They have no credit cards, they have no check books, they make no decisions. They are “managed,” a polite fiction of being a person in order to provide a face for what is really a mafia. Okay, a corporation. The people all dressed up in photos in slick mags are NOT the exceedingly wealthy. They are peripherals.

The actual value of goods and services never changes. In fact, there are many more things of value on the planet now than there ever were before. But somehow the accounting system that allows it to flow around has become blocked. The blockages seem to be both moral and legal. The culture is devoted to sensation, not compassion. The lawyers are devoted to making money roll into the pockets that are already full. The churches used to push compassion. The lawyers used to push justice. They don’t do that anymore. So now we need new occupational names for people who wish to learn how to push “compassionate justice”, or “justice-driven compassion”.

I would not depend upon the academic world to do this. They, too, have been co-opted by the status quo and the privileges of power. You cannot get jobs, you cannot get published, you cannot collect honors, and you’ll be damned lucky to make friends if you don’t conform to expectations. The scientific world is a better bet, but currently they are mostly as much victims as saviors. Anyway, the overlap with academic is major. The religious establishment, is you’re talking Christian, is also on the ropes. Even the Catholic church treasuries have been tapped.

Suddenly it becomes obvious why there are so many spontaneous outrage-based organizations, not conventional NGO’s but rather wild-ass internet-based underground baseline citizens working cross-national to save real people. Emotions and needs are almost hot enough to rekindle the Sixties and Seventies -- and about time, too.

Something has to happen to reframe our bookkeeping and restore us to reality. It may well be that this coming presidential election is it. But the 4/17/12 “Here and Now” ( made it clear that the corruption of the Secret Service is so deep that the only thing keeping a madman from shooting Obama is pure dumb luck. What has kept the secret world of high finance from such an act is anyone’s guess. Some will guess that Obama is in their pocket. Or maybe it is the knowledge that if such a thing should happen, the consequences will be FAR more intense than any assassination of the past and the Internet will make it nearly impossible to conceal every clue. Which may be a motivator for the people who are so anxious to muzzle the Internet, wanting it to be controlled by themselves.

There’s one guy who found out where the money went. He’s one of those fellows who takes out his pocket change every evening, sorts it, and throws it into jars or buckets. He’d been doing this for years -- but then his containers started disappearing, beginning at the high end. Three thousand dollars worth of fifty-cent and quarter coins were missing. Ten days later the thief came back for nickels. By the third time, a motion sensing camera was in place, so now there is video of the last of the coins, mostly 120 pounds of pennies, being carted off on hand trucks, also stolen from the home owner. The thief has been caught, but he had already funneled the coins into the automated coin sorting machine at Wal-Mart. Altogether about $4000 worth. Clearly, hoarding money doesn’t always work.

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