Monday, April 11, 2016

"The game is fixed, and it’s fixed so far up the ladder that most of us can’t even see it. But corrupt systems eventually fail, no matter how long people attempt to prop them up."

The game is fixed all the way up the ladder

by GS Early

My freshman year college roommate was a guy from Maryland; tall, skinny, nice guy but a bit odd. He was in the ROTC. We got along well enough, but it always seemed somewhat strange because he didn’t seem like the military type.

Then, in the second semester, he told the reason he joined ROTC was he wanted access to his father’s autopsy and couldn’t get it without a Top Secret clearance. His dad was a colonel and was the head of the Army’s Southeast Asia Intelligence division during and after Vietnam. That was a very important gig in that era.

One day, his mother got a call that they had found the colonel dead from a heroin overdose — and he had been with a prostitute.

The thing was, there were never any indications that he was a drug user of any kind. And adding to the bizarre cause of death was the fact that the guy who had the job before his father “jumped out a window.” The Army sealed the autopsy and not even my roommate’s mother had access to it.

He joined the military to get deployed to South Korea’s DMZ, which would fast track him for a Top Secret clearance. All this to find out what really happened to his father. He spent his entire young adult life trying to unravel his father’s death.

Having grown up around Washington, D.C., there were always stories I would hear of CIA agents who wrote tell-all books and ended up dying in a motel fire in some small town. Also, over the years I have had the privilege to know a number of CIA analysts, station chiefs and agents.

My roomie’s story was more personal confirmation that the government had secrets and when you knew too many of them, you may well wind up more of a liability than an asset. And this cynical view continues to be reinforced year after year. That’s why I always try to find the little stories that are odd enough to make the paper, but don’t get much play:
•Like an airplane crashes on takeoff on beautiful afternoon, killing an important person. And the airline is a subsidiary of the CIA (true).
•Or a rash of suicides of top executives at leading financial institutions around the world (true).

Or the Father of Fracking, Aubrey McClendon, who crashed his car into the cement support of an overpass going 79 miles an hour with no sign of braking at all, after being indicted by the government.

This guy had fought the tide his whole career and won. He built Chesapeake Energy and was a pioneer of the U.S. shale boom. Then the government took Chesapeake from him. And, as resilient — and Texan — as ever, he launched a new firm and was still in the game.

Then the government indicted him. And the very next day, his car ran into an exit ramp column and McClendon was dead behind the wheel. Accident? Hmmmmm…

Just a week after that, I read the obituary of the gentleman in Brazil who privatized the state-owned mining and minerals company to form Vale, now one of the largest industrial commodity companies in the world. He was 56.

Apparently, he and his entire family were flying to a wedding in a private plane and, on a clear early afternoon day, the plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all aboard.

Bear in mind that both the former and current president of Brazil are on trial for corruption; The Brazilian “world’s richest banker” Joseph Safra was just indicted for corruption; the Brazilian economy is swirling the toilet bowl and the Zika virus is now frightening tourists and the Olympic Committee — as is the pollution in the water around Rio.

And, the state-owned oil company Petrobras is also under investigation for massive corruption. Could the former CEO of another major Brazilian commodity company have some secrets that became liabilities?

A couple years ago, top level bank executives were being reported dead by suicide or in questionable circumstances, month after month, for more than a year. Was this the financial system cleaning house?

Thinking the government is out to get you is one thing. And for some, they are. But when corporations find you a liability, you can bet that their methods are no less permanent.

You will find more in the margins of the news than the headlines they feed to public. The real stories are small but consistent, and they are cumulative. But it takes patience to see the picture, and most people aren’t willing to take the time or are too scared to know.

There’s a level of the game that is far more dangerous than most of us have ever played. But it exists and it is the way things are reordered at the top of the food chain. We are given simple answers and expected to go on our way.

There was a reason Edward Snowden said he fully expected to be killed for releasing the information he did. Because he had seen plenty of files of assets that became liabilities. He was now one.

The game is fixed, and it’s fixed so far up the ladder that most of us can’t even slaee it. But corrupt systems eventually fail, no matter how long people attempt to prop them up.

How can you put this in perspective and find something relevant to your everyday life?

The mantra is, keep it simple. The world scene is undergoing massive turmoil and that’s indicative by what’s happening at the top. They confirm the trend, they don’t set the trend. Don’t put your faith in the financial system or the companies that underpin that system. It’s far too unstable.

Your best bets now are gold (more on this coming soon), silver and bitcoin. These are unregulated, global stores of value that don’t rely on governments or banksters.

If you’re more cynical, defense stocks are good values here. When things get tough, somehow wars get started. And the bigger the financial mess, the bigger the wars.

And if you have stocks in the market, slow-growth sectors like utilities and solid income stocks like Altria, or Kimberly Clark are your safest sectors right now.



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