The Consent Of The Conned

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Every single line item in our entire Bernie Madoff scam of a system is cooked.

My theme this week is The Great Unraveling, by which I mean the unraveling of our social-political-economic system of hierarchical, centralized power. Let's start by looking at how the basis of governance has transmogrified from consent of the governed to consent of the conned.

In effect, our leadership leads by lying. As we know, when it gets serious, you have to lie to preserve the perquisites and power of those atop the wealth-power pyramid, and well, it's serious all the time now, so lies are the default setting of the entire status quo.

But all too many of us are willing to accept the lies because they're what we want to hear.

As any competent con-man knows, you can only con those who want to be conned. You can only scam the marks who want to believe that what's obviously too good to be true is in fact true.

The story of scams such as Bernie Madoff's isn't that canny Bernie victimized helpless wealthy people; the untold story is that all those "victims" wanted to believe that something that was obviously too good to be true--incredibly high returns, logged month after month and year after year like clockwork--was in fact true because their greed made them more than just vulnerable to being scammed--they wanted to be bamboozled by Bernie.

Victims of scams naturally deny their own culpability. It's extremely uncomfortable to admit that greed didn't just blind us to a patently impossible yield; we wanted to be conned because it felt so wonderful to believe we richly deserved unearned wealth.

All wealth is "earned" to those doing the skimming. The greatest con machine of all time, Wall Street, judiciously refers to every skim and scam as "earnings."

And so the "victims" blame our lying leaders for telling them what they want to hear. You see how the webs of self-interest reinforce each other: those atop the wealth-power pyramid secure their position by lying persuasively enough to gain The Consent of the Conned--those who give their consent to a visibly corrupt and unsustainable status quo because that status quo is promising to provide too good to be true goodies.

In other words, the lies are constantly compounding: the leadership lies to themselves-- we have to lie to keep everything glued together for the good of the people--when their real motivation is to keep the system glued together because the system gives them wealth and power.

If we can be honest for a moment, we might admit that representational democracy encourages leaders to issue too good to be true promises because those promises win votes.

Those on the bottom of the wealth-power pyramid accept the too good to be true assurances because that's exactly want we want to hear: that we all deserve a piece of the unearned wealth that, like Bernie Madoff's painfully impossible scam, flows in permanent abundance via some sort of financial magic.

The books are cooked, people; we embrace a gigantic too good to be true Bernie Madoff scam of a system because it's what we want to believe and what we want to hear. Then, when the whole phantom-wealth con collapses in a heap, we quickly pull on the tattered cloak of victimhood: we were promised, we were lied to, we trusted our leaders to lead us wisely, and so on, as if the con wasn't obvious to anyone who was skeptical of too good to be true claims.

Now that the whole Bernie Madoff scam of a system is unraveling, two self-reinforcing dynamics are in play: our leadership, elected and unelected alike, are doubling down on the lies because there is no alternative--TINA. What does a liar gain by confessing the whole prosperity thing is illusory, and darn it, we can only spend what we produce in real-world surplus? Short answer: nothing, because that's not going to win elections or gain the consent of the governed.

So lies are piled on lies to the point of absurdity. But just as Bernie Madoff's wealthy marks ignored the warnings of the skeptical and mounting evidence that they were being conned, the electorate wants to believe the magical thinking is real, and so they accept the latest statistical flim-flammery as "proof" that the con is not a con.

Once again, we worship the Goddess TINA--there is no alternative. Just as our leaders are now trapped in their web of lies and false assurances, the governed are also trapped in the con because it's too painful and unnerving to admit we've willingly bought into a complete con: we're too smart to be conned, we protest; look, it's not a con, the GDP is growing and unemployment is low--and so on.

Bernie Madoff's marks made the same defensive protests: it can't be a con, look at my statement: the monthly "earnings" keep pouring in.

The books are cooked, folks, at every level of our Bernie Madoff scam of a system: the federal books are cooked; state, county and city books are cooked; corporate books are cooked; the statistical metrics are all cooked; the projections are cooked, and the estimates are cooked.

Every single line item in our entire Bernie Madoff scam of a system is cooked. Wanting to believe a con is true doesn't make it true. The power of a con rests in our great desire to believe that what's too good to be true is magically true. It isn't, but it feel so reassuring and, well, deserved for it to be true.

It's tempting to blame our leadership for perpetrating this systemic con, but every con requires marks who are willing to accept that what's too good to be true is magically true.

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Mtnrunnr Mon, 10/09/2017 - 09:38 Permalink

I agree with the premise here, but there are a lot of stocks that are great bargins. The only problem is that because they aren't part of the ETF passive investing scheme they are getting crushed. The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay liquid.

Cognitive Dissonance Mtnrunnr Mon, 10/09/2017 - 09:46 Permalink

The entire socioeconomic 'scam' is institutionalized and fully accepted simply because the alternative is to stop the scam and accept a lower standard of least until the losses are absorbed and dispersed.NOT.GONNA.HAPPENDenial is wonderfully powerful and soothing when it is authorized and promoted by the powers that be.

In reply to by Mtnrunnr

skbull44 VD Mon, 10/09/2017 - 10:35 Permalink

We ignore the warnings/signals/evidence (cognitive dissonance and other cognitive biases playing a major role here) and continue to have faith in the 'magical' thinking necessary to have everything work out fine. We are conditioned by repetition of the con (e.g. debt doesn't matter, growth can carry on forever, technology will save us, etc.) from our political class and technocrats to a complicit mainstream media--note that when things begin to turn sour, our 'leadership' constantly repeats the refrain that we must all have 'CONfidence' in the system for it to work. As soon as any Ponzi scheme loses the confidence of its participants, it collapses in upon itself.It's interesting to observe that those who challenge the status quo narrative and point out the inconsistencies and misinformation are almost always marginalised as 'conspiracy theorists' or worse. Thinking outside the box is discouraged.

In reply to by VD

pods RougeUnderwriter Mon, 10/09/2017 - 10:37 Permalink

Not exactly sure, but a lot of crying and dying.Grapes of Wrath leads to The Road. idk. Depends on whether the geniuses in government decide to cover their asses and unleash something on us or not.The people who own the money system will probably try and install a newer, better scam when this one starts to really crumble. (There are cracks in it now, but since the US gov can still issue debt it seems like it will continue for a bit longer)It's going to happen in my lifetime.  I'd say within the next 5-15 years things blow up and the current FRN is toast.When you see a solution to our debt problem being put forth, you will know. Especially if that system sounds really good for us.  Probably involve a newer, better currency and some BS reins on government spending.  But it will just be another fractional reserve currency out of air and lent at interest scam like the last one.pods

In reply to by RougeUnderwriter

Giant Meteor pods Mon, 10/09/2017 - 10:58 Permalink

Great commentary.By the way, I notice more and more poor souls, wandering the road, Grapes of Wrath like. Not hard to spot them when you know what to look for. I don't expect they'll be much trouble just yet, that is, until an increasing number of folks join them in the silent bread and soup kitchen lines   .

In reply to by pods

Last1Out pods Mon, 10/09/2017 - 13:23 Permalink

To second Giant Neteor, excellent post. I have noticed in the last two years or so a growing number of itinerant or semi in inerrant folks in the population where I live, eking it out at the margins. Like meteor said, once I kinda knew what to look for. I am suprised at the numbers.

In reply to by pods

LawsofPhysics Mon, 10/09/2017 - 09:40 Permalink

The Fed alone has printed/created enough new money (without any real risk, real work, or real collateral) to increase the circulating money supply 16-fold!!!Unfortunately, none of that money has made it to main street, but it has made the people in banking and finance very very wealthy as they bill EVERYONE ELSE for pushing it around!!!! "Full Faith and Credit" Your move Mr. Yellen!!!

1 Alabama LawsofPhysics Mon, 10/09/2017 - 10:57 Permalink

your shit is worse than stinks, its non-sense, they have collaterized and then financialized the economy, then hold you accountable financially. The Fed has increased the state mandates and cost of living, and then steped back financially. you have yet to reconize your own insanity, this is called textbook denial.

In reply to by LawsofPhysics

A. Boaty Mon, 10/09/2017 - 09:40 Permalink

"...As any competent con-man knows, you can only con those who want to be conned...."

In other words, you can't cheat an honest man. An honest man, unfortunately, can easily trust the wrong person.

AGuy A. Boaty Mon, 10/09/2017 - 12:31 Permalink

"In other words, you can't cheat an honest man. An honest man, unfortunately, can easily trust the wrong person."

Presume that everyone is dishonest until proven otherwise. Never buy or invest in something you don't fully understand. Always apply critical thinking. The bigger the investment/purchase the longer you should think about it before acting.

In reply to by A. Boaty

small axe Mon, 10/09/2017 - 09:50 Permalink

The Big Con is what's for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's what keeps our alleged leaders in power, pays off the elite, and keeps the masses quiet.In short, the Big Con has to work, or it all falls down and goes boom. And "they" know that. 

Giant Meteor small axe Mon, 10/09/2017 - 10:40 Permalink

Indeed, my thesis as well ..It seems lot's of folks, and many such as Charles Huges Smith are well on to it ..Why, many former, as well as current members of the club are channeling it themselves ..  what is increasingly in plain view ..Who then will be writing the storied ending, or will it merely become an extension of the present ,That is the remaining question .. 

In reply to by small axe

Salzburg1756 Mon, 10/09/2017 - 09:58 Permalink

I've known this for at least 12 years; got out of the markets. But my wife did not. She died. I'm living off her money which has grown over the last 12 years. She was a libtard; I'm a ...(I dare not say). The situation is psychologically awkward but physically comfortable. I still want to be proven right and think that eventually I will be. But where would I be without her foolish libtard money? Your sympathy is much appreciated.

silverer Mon, 10/09/2017 - 10:03 Permalink

The US economy runs on the Ponzi scheme. It works very well. It's been great so far, mutating to a more thorobred Ponzi since about 1983. The only drawback is the Ponzi method of government has a limited time frame. We are all about to find out when that is.

Cheyenne Mon, 10/09/2017 - 10:08 Permalink

Bernied Madoff was the head of NASDAQ in 1990-91 or thereabouts. You gotta wonder how many times he told his victims that his incredible track record was the result of inside information, thereby making them complicit in a crime (albeit imaginary, since Uncle Bernie's fund never placed a single trade). Either way, CHS's point about the willingness of the conned is a good one.

Rebelrebel7 Mon, 10/09/2017 - 10:16 Permalink

It is a total con that America can survive under the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. It is an economic impossibility and fallacy that this treadonous, self destructive heist can persist. The budget deficit is roughly $440 billion. Over half of that deficit is used to pay the interest on the national debt. Federal government spending accounts for roughly 22% of GDP. That money is borrowed and owed to bond holders and central banks. Foreign nations owning and manipulating bond markets and our currency are a national security threat.Our government is involved in human trafficking, including children, murder for the sale of black market organ transplants and for the purpose of civil asset forfeiture because dead men tell no tales, illegal pornography, including children, now under the false pretenses of a sting operation to arrest pedophiles, drug trafficking, war, illegal medical experimentation, intellectual property theft and sale, and blackmail. These are not exactly the behaviors of a shining beacon on the hill, unless it is a red light on Capitol Hill !The brutal and grotesque government and I'm pretty sure that alarm clock , tv, and tech companies are selling our private lives  to pay the Federal Reserve. It's even worse in northern Europe and Scandinavian countries. There was an enormous bust years ago with the Brettons with government officials involved. Luxembourg with per capita income at 136,000 has an external debt to GDP ratio of 6,731% ! That wasn't a typo! Six- thousand, seven- hundred,  and thirty-one percent! Our government had on the treasury website under small businesses that they were doing business with foreign governments and corporations that allow forced child labor, forced adult labor, and child labor, and the treasury was  seeking oil, gold, metals, and other natural resources in oral only contracts. It was a form from 2013. I visited  the treasury website, shortly after Mnuchin announced total transparency, looking for government employee pension and healthcare spending, which wasn't even on the website. I clicked on small business just out of curiosity, wondering what it was doing there.  I called and emailed the White House, and told them and it was removed.  

Rebelrebel7 Rebelrebel7 Mon, 10/09/2017 - 10:42 Permalink

 Lockheed Martin is the number one domestic terrorist in America. They are at the apex of the deep state and operate in 46 states. They have extracted the largest contracts from the government to terrorize American truth tellers who the estaishmemt consider undesirables, and innocent, law abiding, non violent political activists, and people that the local government's and banks will murder and steal their property and assets. Lockheed Martin has access to every aspect of your life. They have access to your postal  mail, internet communications, daily habits, you name it. They have microwave weapons systems used to target truth tellers in a deadly campaign to preserve, protect,  and elevate the psychopathic establishment.If your spell-check and auto-correct are failing, you have likely been targeted by Lockheed Martin in a campaign  to discredit you, because those in the  establishment are too  stupid to offer an argument to counter your criticism of the psychopathic  establishment. They want, what they want, when they want it. That is their only argument. They are fascists, which is total proof that they are 100% evil, 100% corrupt, and 100% stupid.They are so stupid, that they couldn't fight their way out of a paper bag. They would hire an army to do it for them, and tax you for It! Paddock  was a Lockheed Martin auditor for 30 years who had passed security clearance. Hardly the image of an unstable man! He without question had damaging evidence on Lockheed Martin because the company is totally evil and totally  corrupt. They are terrorists. They use microwave weapons against truth tellers. They campaign to spread rumors and lies about their victims. The Las Vegas concert was simply being headlined as the Mandalay Bay concert.  I had to search to find that it was called The Life is Beautiful concert which was deliberately kept out of the headlines which is further proof of the significance of the concert name for the shooters motives. I suspect that he was receiving Life is Beautiful ads every time that he had bad luck or lost in Las Vegas. Paddock was a multimillionaire who had moved multiple times in the past decade and I believe that he was being gang stalked by Lockheed Martin. Microwave weapons being used on Paddock could certainly explain him lying in bed screaming , oh my God!Mark Zuckerberg has conducted illegal and unethical psychological experiments on Facebook users attempting to change their mood through the manipulation of positive or negative news stories. He is a deviant psychopath that should be locked up! You do not need a Facebook account,  or an account owned by any of their subsidiaries. I have never had a Facebook account or an account owned by any of their subsidiaries and have deleted Facebook apps that keep reappearing hidden on my phone. "Lockheed Martin Implicated in Covert Microwave Weaponry Assaults" on YouTube explains microwave weapons :Watch "Microwave weapons Basics (Targeted Individuals) (Stop 007)" on YouTube

In reply to by Rebelrebel7

Rebelrebel7 Last1Out Mon, 10/09/2017 - 16:13 Permalink

No. That's incorrect. He had worked for them for thirty years, lying lockheed  terrorist ! I see that you have taken it upon yourself to rewrite history to fit your narrative again by changing internet stories. The truth exists whether you are willing to admit it or not. You are only fooling yourselves. I'm not the only one who had read that Paddock had worked for Lockheed for thirty years. Let it be a lesson to you fucking retarded terrorists at Lockheed  that in China there are two histories. The government written propaganda, and the people's  verbal history. Nobody believes the government in China. 

In reply to by Last1Out

1033eruth Mon, 10/09/2017 - 10:14 Permalink

In complete agreement with the above author except a large part of the citizenry do not eat the lies because that is what they want to hear, its because they are too ignorant to put the clues together.  Have they been led to believe that not all Ponzi schemes fail, or is it because they don't want to and/or are too vested in believing that not all Ponzi's fail.Along the victimhood philosophy that is being promoted by government is that, you need only complain and Uncle Fraud will make up the difference.  They are being trained to believe that if something fails, Uncle Fraud will be there to save the day.  Puerto Rico anyone?  You can eiither believe the lies or you can prep knowing full well that all Ponzis DO FAIL.  Its an individual choice.  I do know the full spectrum of citizenry.  Those that are too ignorant to understand whats coming (most of them rely on the bible and faith).Those that are vested in believing that Uncle Fraud is benign and acting inour best interests.And the smallest group of all, those that simply look at the trend and know that it will not be altered.  That makes me one hell of a tiny minority.  Wish I could claim victimhood and get something out of it.