Monday, July 14, 2008

How the Billionaires Make Their Money

If you've heard about the Campaign to Improve Assisted Living you will really enjoy reading Dave Johnson's essay (published by The Smirking Chimp), embracing who "The Corporation" really is. (Please click on the links to read all the sordid details of what's happened to our world.) You will be enlightened to find out how the billionaires make their money (it ain't by taking care of folks!). (Emphasis marks are mine.)
Here's the deal. Big Wall Street firm Lazard buys a few senior-care facility chains and combines them into Atria. The "boomers" are aging and will need care so this is the Next Big Thing investment. Pension funds and others hand over to Lazard millions for this "investment," expecting Lazard to provide a rich return. This means the seniors (well, their incomes, actually) are the PRODUCT, not the customer here. The seniors are an annoyance, inefficient, demanding, in the way of maximizing revenue. Employees are even worse, of course, because they expect to get paid, and want to go home sometimes, and are generally in the way of the supreme goal of maximizing revenue. And to complicate things Lazard has set up an extremely convoluted system of corporations "affiliated with" other corporations, some based in Bermuda (HA!) and none particularly traceable to being the actual owners of Atria. No one can really find who ultimately can be held accountable for the hundreds of violations of regulations that Atria commits.Read the rest of this fine essay here.
Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars is hosting Naomi Klein, the author of The Shock Doctrine on July 16, 2008. Don't miss Nicole's essay about Naomi's fine, fine book (that I've mentioned many times previously) detailing how Milton Friedman's so-called scholars at the Chicago School of Economics have used his theories to take over the federal government’s operations both here and abroad:

The key concept: (O)nly a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable. What does that mean? That Friedman’s free market (but not really) ideals - demanding deregulation, privatization of public services and the removal of trade barriers at a time when the populace is still reeling from some form of disaster, be it a natural one, like Katrina in the Gulf states; political upheaval, such as Chile under Pinochet, or here in the US after 9/11. And the population, normally resistant to these changes – which benefit so few and none of the victims – are too fearful to mount a protest, much less put up a fight. And so, taking advantage of our frayed sensibilities, we get the Patriot Act, we get unapologetic warrantless wiretapping and we get useless formaldehyde-filled trailers in a swamp for Katrina victims. Companies such as Halliburton, Blackwater and DynCorp exist solely from the largesse granted to them through the implementation of the Shock Doctrine, “disaster capitalism,” as Klein coins it. And it continues worldwide - in Iraq, most obviously, but elsewhere as well. Read the book and then watch stories coming out about Iran (remember, it need only be a perceived disaster), about China or even offshore oil drilling here in the States and ask yourself, who is benefiting? What are they trying to get away with?

Read the book. It will change your life. Suzan

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