Shell Game Replaces Ponzi Scheme

By: Bill Whaley
27 July, 2011

A Sucker’s Paradise

As observers, we citizens have noticed a change in the economic strategies being played out in Washington D.C. and Taos. Politicians, Bankers, utility mavens, and rich people, who have prospered due to subsidies from the taxpayers and ratepayers, used to bet on endless growth or the future as source of wealth. When the bust occurred, they switched strategies.

According to the polls, the majority of Americans want the politicians to cut expenses, raise taxes on the wealthy, and invest in business and jobs. But the politicians are playing chicken: Blacken the image of our pop culture President and elect one of own to office. The faux budget drama is about power and politics but not about governing.

The Tea party types are anti-American and unpatriotic: they are destroying the country. No reinvestment–except in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Libya.

Now the players at the top are engaged in a second old-fashioned con, the shell game. Move the pea back and forth underneath the thimble and guess where it is. The finance industry creates wealth for itself by issuing paper IOUs to each other or the government passes paper back and forth between funding sources—selling treasury paper to fund itself, as well as the banks and wealthy insiders, based on the full faith and credit of the taxpayers. But the taxpayers and citizens no longer have faith in the mashers and muggers at the top. There’s nothing underneath the shells: no gold, no full faith and credit, just hot air and mannequins.

The shell game, like the Ponzi game is doomed to collapse.

The Greeks invented the word for Chaos and prepared the way. Don’t cut spending, don’t tax but keep on nation building in Greece (or Iraq, Afghanistan, and let the Palestinians eat rubber bullets in their ghettos). We are all Greeks today.

Here in Taos, the KCEC Trustees and their wily CEO, Rabbit Reyes, want to shift the cost of paying for the Command Center albatross to the Town of Taos taxpayers. The town’s taxpayers, also KCEC ratepayers, will get to pay twice or four times for the albatross. And each time a KCEC Trustee shows up in the community at a community event he will justify charging the ratepayers for his per diem, due to his lobbying efforts. All hail the Command Center idol. It’s only another empty shell—like the Town’s convention center. But we worship at her feet.

For sure, the perceived opposition to the Command Center dodge, Councilor Sanchez, who protests too much, due to an incurable romance with addition and subtraction, has been marginalized. His three councilor compadres want to see the math but upcoming elections and private contracts could change all that.

Apparently, the town is managed, partially, on behalf of private contracts for DMC Broadcasting and Silva Excavation. (Sort of like private war contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.) And there will always some income in it from KCEC for advertising on DMC and the promise of this or that fat contract for earth moving. Make KCEC look good to ratepayers cause the tier (profit margin) is in a nosedive and the Coop is in technical default to their bankers, according to the PRC.

Since the Town Manager, Daniel Miera, might protest too much against potential (not real proposals) he too has been forced out come September. Horrors: Daniel can add and subtract. We can’t have him around, he who has read the files re: sexual harassment and remembers how an unknown elected official lobbied to adjust the insurance regulations in favor of family members.

“I will not do your dirty work.”

“But this government is an extension of my small business. The Wall St. Bankers and the Coop do it, why can’t I? This is the custom and the practice.”

Contrary to received wisdom, the proposal for the Command Center bait and switch, someone said, finally arrived, at Town HQ—not last year or five years ago–but on Friday night. What happened to all those ongoing negotiations mentioned at the PRC hearings? Say what? Spend a million or two on remodeling the Command Center for a cop and communication shop.

Reyes told the Trustees he had three votes in favor of the Command Center but yesterday’s town council seemed, well, dubious about the project.

“Take our burden and our debt. We’ve got a deal for you.” (Oh, yes, and we just might vote to extend our contract with Tri-State for ten years to satisfy their Wall St. bankers.)

No doubt the town and Coop learned how to play the shell game by studying the Abeyta Water lawsuit agreement. Pump ground water and call it surface water. Use dry paper water rights like El Prado Water and Sanitation and call them wet. Invent San Juan–Chama diversion water rights like the state did.  Or maybe the Mayor and CEO watched  TMS where they changed the rules of accounting and improved graduation rates or gamed the system to drain money from the Special Education program to keep salaries high for administrators. Let SPED sell raffle tickets.

Hey, if everybody’s doing it, so it must be all right.

The puppet master controls the Murdoch propaganda machines abroad and DMC machines at home. Turn the naysayers into scapegoats and blame the messengers. Ultimately, the bankers benefit and laugh all the way home. Only the faceless taxpayers and ratepayers get screwed. As Pogo might have said, “We have met the sucker and he is us.”

(See Journal North for Andy Stiny’s humorous summary of the Tuesday Council Meeting.)

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