Malaysia’s criminal state of mind


NewMandala

Manjit Bhatia

Malaysian PM Najib Razak is using the assassination of Kim Jong-nam to deflect heat from ongoing scandal and economic slowdown ahead of scheduled elections, writes Manjit Bhatia.

It’s comical when Malaysia’s deputy prime minister Zahid Hamidi demands that criminals backed by North Korea, China’s client rogue state, respect the “sovereignty” of his country’s laws. As home minister in 2013, Zahid had lavished praise on Tiga Line, the outlawed Malay gangsters. He also called on police to “shoot first” if non-Malay thugs threaten or kill his fellow Malays.

Meanwhile, police chief Khalid Abu Bakar requested the same abominable Pyongyang “authorities” to extradite suspects in Kim Jong-nam’s assassination at Kuala Lumpur’s budget carrier airport on 13 February. Khalid’s lightning-fast move here isn’t surprising, seeking fame and kudos. Yet, when it comes to netting official corruption’s big fish, including corporate leaders, and independently investigating prime minister Najib Razak, he disinclines at every turn.

Strictly speaking, Malaysia has not a single independent institution. Instead, patron-client relations rule. Others call it patronage. Simple example: Khalid is subservient to Zahid who is subservient to Najib who holds Malaysia’s purse-strings as finance minister. This buys him allegiance and serious protection in a country racked by state-ordained corruption, cronyism and some of the worst forms of racism. What has this to do with the Jong-nam case? Everything. And just as well — Malaysia-North Korea diplomatic ties are flexing for bust-up.    

As baffling as the assassination was, it couldn’t have happened sooner. Malaysian elections are due mid-2018. Zahid and Khalid, like Najib, are hoping the matter of the half-brother of North Korea’s insane leader Kim Jong-un will grip Malaysians like a John Le Carre thriller. The state-controlled media is acting to orders of ensuring the case is lead news, 24/7. After all, Malaysians need distractions. Being a Muslim country — not an Islamic state — the visit of the king of Saudi Arabia this week has somewhat displaced the Jong-nam as the lead story, albeit temporarily.   

Interestingly, the North Korean ambassador has had unprecedented scope in seen to attempt to interfere in police investigations. Also curiously, Malaysian officials didn’t refute the ambassador’s claim that South Korea and Malaysia were in cahoots, ostensibly to bring down the Jong-un dynastic regime. But when news outlets ran stories of a North Korean spy network operating in Malaysia, the episode moved from the bizarre to the whacky. Still, that’s exactly what Najib needs.

Problem is, the Jong-nam murder hasn’t absorbed Malaysians. They’re far more worried about their jobs future. Some factories have closed down; some others are moving offshore, to Vietnam, Burma and Bangladesh. The old ways of enticing foreign firms, via tax and other incentives, no longer work. These days China demands 99-year leases among its preconditions of investing in Malaysia. Like Singapore, Malaysia is struggling to establish anew its global competitiveness. For over a decade the international division of labor has shifted away from Asia’s first and second-tier ‘miracle economies’. 

Nonetheless, Najib boasts a high economic growth rate for the country. At 4.2 per cent GDP for 2016, it is significantly lower than 5 per cent in 2015. Between 2000 to 2016, average GDP has been 4.73 per cent. The jobs outlook is even bleaker. Official statistics put unemployment averaging 3 per cent; last year it climbed to 3.6 per cent, with 3.5 per cent in 2015. Most credible economists, even the market type,  know Malaysia’s official numbers are as rubbery as North Korea’s or China’s.

There’s no data for job participation rate in Malaysia. Yet it makes a better unemployment indicator, regardless or perhaps especially given the Najib regime’s propensity to embellish everything, including statistics. There’s sufficient anecdotal evidence to suggest joblessness is far higher among Malays and Indians, the groups increasingly engaged in crime. There’s also extensive under-employment among Malays, Chinese and Indians. And Malaysians are struggling on a single income, where the ‘minimum’ monthly wage of MYR900 ($US200) is scarcely enforced.

Exacerbating Malaysians’ worries is inflation. At 3.2 per cent, it spiked after the introduction of a consumption tax. In Kuala Lumpur alone, credible estimates put inflation at least twice the “official” number. At 6 per cent GST, Malaysia was never ready for it, in the structural sense. Add the measly value of the Malaysian ringgit, inflation hits close to double-digits, in real terms, according to some investment banks’ research. Meanwhile, Najib will maintain taxpayer-funded personal income subsidies, mostly for the Malays, and he’ll boost ‘free money’ ahead of next year’s polls.

If Bank Negara, the central bank, isn’t manipulating the low currency, then it’s a ‘market godsend’ for this heavily export-dependent, natural resource-based economy. Yet after two years of the collapsing ringgit, Malaysia’s competitiveness hasn’t improved. Its budget deficit and national debt are ballooning. Najib is banking on a commodities boom as the manufacturing base is routed by global forces. Take the long-failed local auto industry: Proton is effectively sold off to cheap China money. Selling the farm is the last resort of a scoundrel. But don’t expect Najib to sell the family jewels.

Blockbusting official corruption remains front and centre in Malaysian minds. Najib’s sudden great wealth humiliates Malays and irks the others. Nobody believe a rich Saudi or the Saudi state had “donated” $US1.4 billion to Najib; almost everyone, including the Malays, believe it was siphoned from bankrupt state firm 1MDB – brainchild of its chairman, Najib. And those proceeds miraculously wound up in Najib’s personal bank accounts.

The 2018 polls should humiliate Najib but it won’t defeat him or the ruling UMNO party. Many Malays feel especially aggrieved at how easily the ruling class has enriched itself while Malay villagers eke out a meagre living from plots of land Najib has ‘given’ them. No similar generosity has been extended to non-Malays. Some Malays agree this is unfair; most, however, subscribe to Machiavellian politics. But it’s Malaysia’s banal inter-racial harmony that’ll suffer the more as a consequence.

The Jong-nam case is serious — on legal paper. His killing hasn’t caused Beijing’s eunuchs a twitch. But Najib is using the assassination to his own political ends. It’s what dastardly regimes or political leaders in trouble or on the people’s noses would do — exploit an awful criminal matter to cement their illegitimate and immoral positions.    

 

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Christine Lagarde convicted: #IMF head found guilty of criminal charges over massive government payout


Independent 

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has been convicted over her role in a controversial €400m (£355m) payment to a businessman.

French judges found Ms Lagarde guilty of negligence for failing to challenge the state arbitration payout to the friend of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The 60-year-old, following a week-long trial in Paris, was not given any sentence and will not be punished.

The Court of Justice of the Republic, a special tribunal for ministers, could have given Ms Lagarde up to one-year in prison and a €13,000 fine.

The ruling however risks triggering a new leadership crisis at the IMF after Ms Lagarde’s predecessor Dominique Strauss Khan resigned in 2011 over a sex assault scandal.

Ms Lagarde, who was French finance minister at the time of the payment in 2008, has denied the negligence charges.

Her lawyer said immediately after the ruling that his team would look into appealing the decision.

On Friday she told the court: “These five days [of trial] put an end to a five-year ordeal for my partner, my sons, my brothers, who are here in this courtroom.

“In this case, like in all the other cases, I acted with trust and with a clear conscience with the only intention of defending the public interest.”

The case surrounded the decision to allow a dispute over Bernard Tapie’s sale of Adidas to Credit Lyonnais bank to be resolved by a rarely-used private arbitration panel – instead of the courts.

Investigators suspected the payment to 73-year-old Mr Tapie was the result of a behind closed doors agreement with then-President Mr Sarkozy in return for election support.

IMF managing director Ms Lagarde was suspected of rubber stamping a deal to effectively buy off the business magnate with taxpayers’ money.

Civil courts have since quashed the unusually generous award, declared the arbitration process and deal fraudulent, and ordered Mr Tapie to pay the money back.

Today’s result was unexpected.

Even the trial’s chief prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin said the accusation was “very weak” and warned of confusion between “criminal negligence” and a “bad political decision”.

At the start of proceedings, the £355,000-a-year boss, of the global Washington-based institution, said: “I would like to show you that I am in no way guilty of negligence, but rather that I acted in good faith with only the public interest in mind.

“Was I negligent? No. And I will strive to convince you allegation by allegation.”

Her lawyer Patrick Maisonneuve said on Europe-1 radio that Ms Lagarde was just following instructions from her administration and did not have time to read all 15 years of legal files on the case.

Ms Lagarde was only the fifth to be held before the Cour de Justice de la Republique since its inception in 1993.

IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said after Monday’s verdict that its executive board would meet soon “to consider the most recent developments”.

Another former IMF head, Rodrigo Rato of Spain, is standing trial on charges of misusing funds when he was boss of the Spanish lender Bankia.

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Malaysians rallied again and again against corrupt government


The Constitution “has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it.”Lysander Spooner


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BERSIH5 Rally on November 19, 2016 in Kualal Lumpur at the KLCC

On November 19, Malaysians came together under BERSIH5 and rallied yet again asking PM Najib to step down. For those in the know know that the so called Malaysian govern-ment is a fake setup, a corporation disguised. Malaysia is ruled and owned by the bank$ter$ and the Najib government is nothing but the flag-bearers of the cabal and bank$ter$.


Malaysian protesters march against Prime Minister Najib


The federal constitution is worth the paper its printed on and was written by the Reid’s Commission, by the colonial Brits. Mind you even the UK has no written or a printed constitution. They insist they have – an unwritten one! Doesn’t that sound crappy eh?

The Malaysian parliament is just a circus arena where the clowns from the “political” camps meet.

To say Malaysia have become a failed state is an understatement, it was never or is a state….ever.

How do you then get rid of such a so called fake govern-ment?

You get to the dungy roots of it. There is however an elephant in the room which not many are seeing.

When you talk of corruption what is at stake and what is the stake?

Get hold and rid of the stake and what/who is holding and issuing it!

The people not knowing any better are left to street protests and rallies. Having said that, it is a positive action, which reflect a true big picture of the country and what the problems are.

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Until the people wake up to the truth…there will only be more rallies…and more corruption.

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Leonardo DiCaprio and the #1MDB scandal


FT

DiCaprio breaks silence over Malaysian fund

Star contacted DoJ on claims stolen money used to fund ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’


Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio reached out to the US Department of Justice after allegations surfaced in July that money stolen from a Malaysian development fund was used to finance his blockbuster film The Wolf of Wall Street.

Mr DiCaprio’s representatives sought to determine whether he or his foundation “ever received any gifts or charitable donations directly or indirectly related to these parties, and if so, to return those gifts or donations as soon as possible”, a spokesman for the actor said.

In July, US authorities filed a civil forfeiture complaint alleging that more than $3bn had been diverted from 1 Malaysian Development Berhad, the state development fund, with $94m used to finance the Hollywood blockbuster.

Mr DiCaprio on Tuesday broke his silence since the lawsuit was filed. His statement follows a press conference held in London on Friday last week by Bruno Manser Funds, a rainforest charity, which called for the actor to step down from his title as UN Messenger of Peace or renounce his associates at the centre of the scandal.

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Protest against DiCaprio over 1MDB scandal in London

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The law of rule in Malaysia


NewMandala

James Giggacher

1MDB shows that an already fragile rule of law is being stretched to the limits, writes James Giggacher.

Malaysia’s rule of law may have reigned supreme in this week’s case of the Budgie Nine – saving the Southeast Asian state from gross national insult at the hands of some silly young Australians.

Too bad the same thing can’t be said about another national disgrace, the 1MDB financial scandal.

In the face of investigations into the country’s failing sovereign wealth fund, and Prime Minister Najib Razak’s alleged links to millions of missing dollars, the rule of law has in fact gone missing in action.

This was certainly the case when Najib sacked attorney general, Abdul Gani Patail, who planned to bring charges relating to 1MDB against the PM in July 2015.

The plan was leaked, and Abdul Ghani stepped down, officially for ‘health reasons’. Perhaps he’d heard about what happened to former Mongolian model and Najib’s inner circle mainstay, Altantuya Shaarribuu.

At the same time, Najib removed his deputy and one of his most vocal critics — Muhyiddin Yassin.

The former AG’s replacement, Mohamed Apandi Ali, almost immediately cleared his embattled PM of any wrongdoing.

Apandi said that the royal family of Saudi Arabia had gifted Najib $US 681 million, of which $US 600 million had been returned. He also said no criminal offence had been committed. However, several countries, including the US, Switzerland, Singapore and the Seychelles, are still investigating the case.

Reports on the scandal by Malaysia’s central bank and anti-corruption commission have also been dismissed by Apandi; according to him the PM has no case to answer.

And in June, Najib filed court documents that denied graf, misuse of power, and interference in 1MDB investigations in response to a lawsuit brought by former PM and mentor, and now key adversary, Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Meanwhile, the almost 700 million dollar question of how 2.6 billion ringgit managed to find its way into Najib’s personal bank accounts has yet to be satisfactorily answered.

So much for due process, democratic safeguards, transparency, and holding those in power to account. But can we expect anything better from a Malaysia still under the sway of long-ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) and its leading party, Najib’s UMNO?

As Jayson Browder notes, BN has long had a poor record of abiding by the rule of law.

It has consistently leveraged several national laws – including The Peaceful Assembly Act of 2012, the Sedition Act of 1948, and the Printing Presses and Publications Act of 1948 – to curtail freedoms, assembly, political expression as well as intimate activists and the media, and ensure its power.

These tactics guarantee the ruling coalition’s stranglehold over Malaysia’s political system “through a combination of economic rewards, intimidation of political opponents, and several national laws, which are in direct violation of Article 10 of the Federal Constitution in Malaysia.” Article 10 is meant to guarantee Malaysian citizens the right to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of association.

An embattled Najib has only sharpened the teeth of a legal system already heavily stacked in his party’s favour. In August he brought in an unprecedented law that allows him to designate ‘security areas’ and deploy forces to search people, places and vehicles without a warrant.

Draconian would be an understatement.

Laurent Meillan, from the UN Human Rights Office for Southeast Asia, said that they were “gravely concerned” about human rights violations as a consequence of the act. The act could further restrict already highly limited rights of free speech and free assembly.

And in March this year, the independent news site The Malaysian Insider, went offline. Owners cited poor financial returns and high costs. The then editor, Jahabar Sadiq, said it was because the threat of being charged with sedition that could lead to jail time had become all too real.

The decision to pull the plug came almost three weeks after Malaysia’s Internet regulator — the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission – issued a gag order on the site because of a report alleging the country’s anti-corruption commission had sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against Najib in the 1MDB case – even though he had already been cleared by Apandi.

The lesson? Smuggling budgies and smearing the flag is a clear no-no. Smuggling billions and smearing the nation’s sovereign wealth fund is a-ok.

It all goes to show that in Malaysia there is the rule of law – but most of the time there’s the law that lets BN rule.

James Giggacher is an associate lecturer in the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs and editor of New Mandala

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Elizabeth Warren – a devoted tool for the civic religion that is statism


FEE

Elizabeth Warren’s Selective Outrage

Joey Clark

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I made the mistake of checking my newsfeed only to witness that paragon of Potemkin progress, Elizabeth Warren, indignantly shaming the CEO of Wells Fargo over the bank’s recent cross-selling scandal.

Say what you will about the senior Senator from Massachusetts, love her or hate her, but waking up to an Elizabeth Warren harangue is about as pleasant as a throbbing hangover without the consolation of a previous night’s revelry.

Despite having the moral high ground (Wells Fargo did, indeed, defraud their customers), Senator Warren’s presentation came across as effective yet priggish. This is the Elizabeth Warren many progressives have come to know and love. When one progressive writer recently described Warren (and I believe with loving intentions) as a “moral drill bit,” he wasn’t far off from describing her as a useful tool.

A Veritable Swiss Army Knife

I happily welcome this metaphor. Warren is, indeed, a tool – a passionate tool for the populist left, an unwitting tool for government cronyism, a conscious tool of Hillary Clinton, and a devoted tool for the civic religion that is statism.

Though Warren may “speak truth to power” to Wall Street, she often turns mute on some of the worst abuses of government. Like most statists, she sees the speck in her brother’s private eye while failing to see the beam in her own public eye. A whole manner of sins, it seems, are forgiven once one is “serving the public” in government.

Yet, the crucial distinction between government and business is not private vs. public. After all, business often serves the public while government often serves private interests. The crucial difference between government and the so-called private sector is impunity – the ability to assault, kill, and defraud without consequence. The more government and business become intermingled, the more the law becomes a tool of privilege for private and public players alike rather than a defensive measure for the equal liberty and dignity of all.

Elizabeth Warren and those of her ilk seem to think the remedy to crony capitalism is to further empower the very source of such abuses in the first place – state power. When they express righteous indignation in the face Wall Street executives’ impunity but turn a blind eye to the state’s own, it is nothing more than hypocrisy.


Given their incessant prattling and absurd demands, we might as well start calling the whole damn Congress the “Knights Who Say Ni!”


Impunity is impunity is impunity, yet sadly there are plenty of hypocrites on Capitol Hill who damn private actors for actions that are par for the course, or even encouraged, in the public arena. However, among this recent bunch of public servants, Elizabeth Warren takes the cake. Her presentations are not only hypocritical and sanctimonious but boldly so.

As warranted as Senator Warren’s dressing down of Wells Fargo’s CEO was, let us consider this “moral drill bit” in terms of both her style and substance.

Warren’s “Progressive” Political Stylings

Warren always seems one monosyllabic utterance away from sounding exactly like a Michael Palin character in a famous Monty Python film. Almost without fail, after asking the Wells Fargo CEO each of her questions, Warren allowed little to no time for answers. No, her committee time would be used for a hectoring lecture come hell or high water. The folks back home expect nothing less, and to be fair, such an approach is not unique to Elizabeth Warren.

Leading questions and political grandstanding are a mainstay at congressional hearings no matter the party affiliation of the inquisitor. Given their incessant prattling and absurd demands, we might as well start calling the whole damn Congress the “Knights Who Say Ni!” If only we could get them to shut-up by simply saying “it.”

That said, Elizabeth Warren has largely proven herself first among equals when it comes to displays of high dudgeon. She needles the Wall Street elite like no one else, and her star has risen accordingly among progressive populists. The more she pooh-poohs the rising stock prices of corrupt bankers, the higher her own political stock rises.

One may say Elizabeth Warren is the left’s version of Donald Trump more than Bernie Sanders ever was. She is notoriously gifted at marshaling invective, outrage, suspicion, and resentment against not only corrupt bankers but a whole class of people – entrepreneurs – who, according to Warren, somehow become rich and successful en masse by not cooperating with others or serving the needs of society.

No, in Warren’s mind, the only way to “pay it forward” to society is to serve the state:

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. You built a factory out there – good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory… Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea – God bless! Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
This consistent schtick has now earned Warren a spot in the progressive political big leagues. According to Benjamin Wallace-Wells in his piece for The New Yorker (the same piece that “lovingly” compared her to a tool,) Elizabeth Warren has been tapped as the “Democratic Party’s insult comic” for her effective belittling of Trump.

This consistent schtick has now earned Warren a spot in the progressive political big leagues. According to Benjamin Wallace-Wells in his piece for The New Yorker (the same piece that “lovingly” compared her to a tool,) Elizabeth Warren has been tapped as the “Democratic Party’s insult comic” for her effective belittling of Trump.

Yet, Warren must be careful of hypocrisy by her own progressive standards. By taking on Trump, she is coming to the aid of Hillary Clinton who is much too cozy with Wall Street for most progressives’ liking. In fact, as Warren was lambasting Wells Fargo’s CEO, she forgot to mention the ties of her chosen presidential candidate to the very same bank:

Wells Fargo, both the bank and its foundation, have given generously to the Clinton Foundation over the years. The bank has given between $10,001 and $25,000, and the foundation has given between $100,001 To $250,000. In 2011, former President Bill Clinton gave a speech to Wells Fargo for $200,000.

Of course, one may forgive Elizabeth Warren for doing the best she can to choose the lesser of two evils in the corrupt world of presidential politics, but even forgetting this shallow game of guilt by association with the Clintons, Warren’s hypocrisy still stands based on her own flawed political theory.

Impunity for Me and Not for Thee

So, why was Elizabeth Warren so upset at Wells Fargo anyway?

Bloomberg reports:

“The lender opened more than 2 million accounts that consumers may not have known about, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said in a statement Thursday. Wells Fargo, which fired 5,300 employees over the improper sales practices, agreed to pay a record $100 million fine to the CFPB, $35 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and $50 million to the Los Angeles city attorney to settle the matter. The San Francisco-based bank also will compensate customers who incurred fees or charges, the agencies said.”

So let me get this straight: a major bank took out accounts in people’s name without their consent and started charging them fees. Many Wells Fargo’s customers not only lost money in the short-term. Unwitting customers who had a line of credit taken out in their name without their consent could potentially have their credit ratings downgraded with long-run consequences. When these aggrieved customers tried to sue for damages, the bank claimed it was immune from punishment given certain contract stipulations.

I agree with Elizabeth Warren that this is deplorable behavior. I agree with her that this is an institutional problem rather than just a few thousand rogue employees. The incentives given by bank leadership clearly influenced bad behavior by the bank’s lower-level agents. I agree justice must be done.

Fraud and Force? Look at Government

Elementary justice would call for Wells Fargo to make the customers they defrauded whole, a refund plus damages. Yet, under the state’s theory of justice, not only must the bank pay back those who have been done wrong, they must also pay the state. Whereas the wronged customers of Wells Fargo will receive a few million dollar pittance in total, the state will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in fines. That sniffs of more than simple justice. That smells more like a protection racket.

Again, it is immoral and criminal when any one person or institution without explicit consent takes the life, liberty, or property of anyone else, and Wells Fargo appears to have committed fraud.

Yet, how can Elizabeth Warren and her ilk be so outraged by this bank’s actions, yet so sentimental about the government’s own modus operandi of force, fraud, and impunity? Why so sad in the face of Wells Fargo’s fraudulent contracts yet so enthusiastic for the social contract?

As deplorable as Wells Fargo’s behavior was in this situation, their actions pale in comparison to what the state does every day legally.

I Never Consented to the Social Contract

Just think of what the government does every day. The government looks at people living in its geographic monopoly (its customers) and presumes their consent, but I personally have never given my consent (and never would) for most of what the government does.

Though I have never consented to programs such as Social Security and Medicare (programs passed decades before my birth), the government persists in charging me fees for their administration. Though I have never consented to the War on Drugs, the government continues to take my money through threat of force only to then turn around and threaten me again with kidnapping and imprisonment for non-violent and often pleasurable behavior. When the government’s low-level agents, say the police, overstep the bounds of natural liberty in their enforcement of state rules I never consented to, the police may be sanctioned, but the politicians are never punished for giving the police the incentive to do so.

Furthermore, when the government does not take my property directly through taxation, it takes debts out in my name and sees fit to issue more currency by means of its monopoly on the production of money, harming the future credit prospects of a whole generation in the long-run while destroying the purchasing power of millions of Americans’ wages through inflation in the short-term. It then uses these debts to prosecute wars abroad in my name and grant special privileges to big business and other special interests.


Who judges the judges? Who guards the guards?


Again, I never consented to any of this, and when I try to sue the state or seek redress, the government claims to be immune from the basic dictates of justice and the ancient rules of liberty. Infuriatingly, the U.S. government claims this impunity for the sake of upholding liberty. They trample on our rights to uphold our rights. Go figure.

And this is supposed to be the institution serving as my champion against the likes of Wells Fargo? Where is Elizabeth Warren? What is her opinion on the bloody impunity of the state? Other than demonizing regulators on occasion for not doing “enough,” when has Elizabeth Warren ever struck at the root of the problem that is the state’s impunity?

Where is your indignation now, Senator?

Well, as Senator Warren told libertarian voters nearly four years ago:

“I’ve taught contract law for 25 years and contracts are about private ordering, about parties and voluntary exchanges who engage in transactions that make all of us better off. I love contracts and I think it’s a core part of the libertarian principles. It is an important part. Libertarians believe in social ordering, right? That the social ordering is by private arrangement, so, that they ought to believe in contracts and in fact I think they do.”

Yes, libertarians, or true liberals, believe in contracts based on voluntary consent. Libertarians are all for standards, rules, morality, and community; as long as they are freely chosen. This is not because of some arbitrary or peculiar penchant for personal liberty; rather, the libertarian contends voluntary standards are superior to imposed dictates because standards, rules, morality, and community are predicated on individual consent, e.g. a community that has not been freely chosen is no community at all, at least not a free one; if imposed through aggressive coercion, it is a society of institutional subjugation.

Yet, Elizabeth Warren, as noted above, is a true believer in the “social contract”—that by voting or simply living in a certain area, we have implied “our” consent to the state. Well, by that logic, I suppose Wells Fargo’s victims implied their consent by simply being customers with the bank in the first place.

However, unlike the state, Wells Fargo is subject to sanction from the government protection racket. There will be some semblance of justice served despite the state’s perverse understanding of justice. But, obviously, the government itself is not subject to its own scrutiny in the same way. Who judges the judges? Who guards the guards? How can we trust a monopoly to ever police its own monopoly powers in good faith?

Can One Consent to the Social Contract in the First Place?

If Warren is such a big believer in social ordering by private arrangement and voluntary consent, would she ever deem a contract signed under duress valid? Can one really consent to something, say the social contract, in the first place if one is never given the option to “just say no”?

As Gary Chartier writes in his book, The Conscience of an Anarchist:

“..if there is no real way of opting out, if the state doesn’t provide a way of allowing people not to consent to its authority while remaining within the territory it claims, then there’s really no way of opting in, either. The state treats us as having consented to its authority whatever we do, so we’re not really being given the choice to consent at all. And it’s hard to take seriously the idea that your consent means anything, that it should obligate you in any way, if you don’t have the option of not consenting.”

So, Elizabeth Warren, please continue to call out the massive frauds on Wall Street, but when you do, be sure you call out the state as well. After all, how can we trust an institution that doesn’t play by the same rules as the rest us to keep us honest in the first place?

I imagine this is a large part of why so many institutions, private and public, act criminally with impunity today. They have discovered a loophole in the system. If you wish to break the law, make the law a matter of one’s own authority rather than a matter of content as best gleaned by the dictates of a free and equal people’s reason and good faith.

If we are to have governance at all, it must be subject to same rules as those it governs. If I, or anyone else, defraud or murder someone, my consent is not needed to punish me. But, if I have done no one harm, what right does any person or government have to my life, liberty, or property? None whatsoever.

I am all for sniffing out unjust force, fraud, and impunity. However, I am under no illusion that impunity can ever be conquered by impunity. Only someone who loves the state could believe in such a fantasy.

Unfortunately, in the midst of this 2016 presidential election, I must admit this bloody delusion is going strong, and Elizabeth Warren is merely a bit player in a timeless struggle of liberty against power. Sometimes she gets it right, but overall, she accepts the basic lie of democratic state power that “we” are the government.

In time, I hope she learns to love liberty and be just as suspicious of the state as she is of Wall Street.


Joey Clark is a budding wordsmith and liberty lover. He blogs under the heading “The Libertarian Fool” at joeyclark.liberty.me. Follow him on Facebook.

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Swindling Bank$ter$ Should be Jailed


wells fargo

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, told Wells Fargo Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf that he should resign and face criminal prosecution in relation to the opening of unauthorized customer accounts by the bank’s employees. She spoke during a Senate Banking Committee hearing.

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