It was the Scottish author Charles Mackay who spotted that human beings go mad in crowds and come to their senses slowly and individually. One place to see this madness in action is in financial markets, especially when those markets have been juiced with cheap money.
But mania’s never last.
So on the cusp of the next economic crisis, some people are waking up to the reality of how the world really works. In fact, daily, more and more people have stopped drinking the Kool-Aid and have started joining the dots.
Their mission is simple: to understand how far the tentacles of the vested interests really reach to maintain the status quo.
Former Las Vegas real estate agent and author of ‘The Octopus of Global Control’, Charlie Robinson, is one such individual who has become attuned to this mission.
As a writer who oversaw the financial crash of 2008, Robinson’s story provides an illuminating insight into those times. John Perkins’ book, Confessions of An Economic Hit Man, marked a turning point in his thinking. It was after reading the book in March, 2007, that the former real estate agent began making the connections between the enslavement of indebted countries by economic hit men, and his day to day activities in Las Vegas. He realized that in much the same way loan companies provide credit to poor people in the knowledge that the debts accrued are unlikely to be honoured, rich countries – by adopting the same principle – are able to ensure that poor countries are similarly indebted to them.
“It hit me when I was selling new homes”, says Robinson. “I wasn’t a traditional real estate agent, but worked for a builder in a fixed position. A [landscape gardener] came in who wanted to buy a house and when we ran his credit he was approved for it even though…he made about ten dollars an hour. He was gonna buy a four hundred and five thousand dollar house and we approved him for it”, says Robinson, adding:
“I thought, ‘this guy has no business buying this house. He can’t afford it.’ But he in his mind thought ‘they approved me for it, they wouldn’t approve me if I couldn’t afford it, right? So I must be able to afford it.’
Maybe he could, maybe he could just barely make the payments but he couldn’t afford anything else. The worst case scenario, he buys this house for four hundred thousand, he realizes two years from now he really can’t make this payment and so he sells it for five hundred thousand and goes back and buys a different house. Pockets a hundred thousand dollars.”
For many people on low wages, this kind of speculative activity is perceived to be a way out of the poverty trap, a first foot on the ladder to a potential fortune indicative of the ‘American dream’ many American’s aspire to. For Robinson, the assumption was that the speculative housing bubble that potentially provides opportunities for the poor to get ahead, would spread from southern California to Las Vegas.
“At first a lot of people from Southern California were coming because of taxes and lower prices and Las Vegas is a great place – no state income taxes, all these things. So I’m drinking the Kool-Aid because I feel the same way, I actually believe it, I wasn’t lying. I believed what I was saying. I bought my house. I bought a second house, you know, this was going to work for me too. Even if it’s stalled out and the house prices were not as valuable as Los Angeles”, says Robinson.
The problem is that without the required capital investment reserve in place to be able to cushion any financial blows that result from any economic downturn, the consequences can be devastating for those with huge debts at the bottom of any economic cycle. This was the case for the landscape gardener who came to Robinson for a loan. Given that this was the period of the 2008 crash, it was clear that the landscape gardener was never going to be in a position to honour the debt and so the bank took back the house.
Robinson takes up the story:
“After the crash I saw this happening and I felt, ‘My God! Did I do this to this poor guy?’ Well I understand the psychology of it. I mean, he was just trying to get ahead and he was given opportunities. He was a guy that had come from Mexico and was given his opportunity, he was saying, “I’m finally part of America, you know, I’m going to get this house, I’m going to live the American dream. It turned into a nightmare. And it wasn’t his fault, he was just part of it.”
It was at this point that Robinson had his epiphany that he was being manipulated by notions such as inflated home prices, unsustainable debt levels and adjustable mortgage rates. Robinson recalls a situation that happened to him while buying his own house in which his lender friend tried to push him towards a five year adjustable mortgage as opposed to a thirty year fixed one one which was his preferred option. Robinson was being pushed towards the former because it paid triple the commission to the pusher, even though the person doing the pushing was his friend.
What the actions of Robinson’s friend highlight is not that these kinds of people are necessarily bad with evil intent but rather that the US economy appears to be configured in such a way that it is able to structurally determine behaviour. “If I had been in his situation I might have done the same thing”, says Robinson.
This, for Robinson, is not an excuse to absolve human agency altogether:
“If you know that you’re a part of the problem and you continue to do it, then shame on you. But in my situation I got to a point where I realized that it wasn’t my fault but I was part of a game that was rigged. I was determined that it would never happen to me again. I would never be put in a position where my actions were affecting other people in a negative sense.”
“I wanted to understand a little bit more about [economic] cycles. I was in my early 30s when this was happening and so I didn’t know enough…about how the cycles work and the pump and dump philosophy and the scam and how it’s been around for a while. I said, ‘you know what, my number one goal was that I wasn’t gonna get fooled again by this. I had got caught in the dot.com bubble with stocks going up and coming down, the real estate, there was an oil peak in 2007 that happened too. I had friends that were working in the oil industry. I was done being a sucker, I was done being the guy, you know, the three card monte and going, ‘how is this working?’ So I wanted to walk around the table and say, “all right. Explain to me how these scams work.”.
It was around this time that Robinson made a conscious decision to redraw his cognitive map based on his experience of being duped and financially hurt by a structurally flawed system:
“I was emotionally destroyed by it and other people that were close to me were hurt as well. So my way to make sure that never happened was to educate myself as best as I could on how the world really works, who’s pulling the strings, who is manipulating things, what is their end goal. And if you can figure out what the goal is and work backwards you might be able to save yourself some pain and torment from this. And so that’s what I set about trying to do”, says Robinson.
The end goal for the string pullers, is to “take us back to a situation of kings and serfs, where the few control the many out of fear, physical, educational, financial and military control. As an American you have 9/11 and Afghanistan happens. By 2003 you’ve got the yellow cake uranium, weapons of mass destruction. You realize the lies that these politicians tell – they tell them fairly easily – have direct consequences. You’re talking about millions of people dying.”
“When I wrote the book my feeling was, ‘I think… I want to bring in the voices of these people, I want you to read what they said, I want you to hear that Madeleine Albright, when asked about whether or not the sanctions on Iraq was worth it, half a million children died. I want you to read that her answer was, ‘we think it’s worth it’. Those are the words of a psychopath. And these are the people that are running your country, running this world.”
Robinson regularly quotes the actual agenda-setting words uttered by politicians in order to counter the claim that his work is conspiratorial.
“For the most part the media works to camouflage from the public the true intentions and the true personalities of these people.Venezuela is a classic illustration of how this process works.”
“We imposed sanctions on a country like Venezuela, when that doesn’t do enough to convince them to sell us oil at the prices that we want then we fund a competitor – in this case Guaido – to come in and challenge to be become the new president. When that doesn’t work my fear is that he’s gone as far as he can go as his useful existence and that the next logical step is for the CIA to assassinate him and pin it on Maduro to then justify an invasion and regime change in Venezuela. Its dirty tricks. But that’s Elliott Abrams and John Bolton in a nutshell”, says Robinson.
Another example of a hidden agenda relates to the Orwellian process pertaining to US visa applications. The American authorities now require five years of social media details providing them with easier access to personal information. It’s the case that you might have years ago put something online which is then used against you to leverage the position that – for instance, the US government wants to take against you.
As Robinson attests, this creates a society of self-censorship thought control:
“This is memory holing you out of the system, it’s sending a message to anyone thinking of speaking out in the future. This is what happens. You want to get on that aeroplane, go on your vacation… you better watch what you say. It’s chilling for sure. And nothing good can come from this”, claims Robinson.
The ability to deceive and mislead the public is made easier as a result of the move towards an increasingly concentrated media system. In 1983 90% of media was owned by 50 companies and today it is owned by a staggering six.
“The eventual goal, of course, is to have one”, says Robinson.
Tentacles of the octopus
The philosophy of the political and media establishment appears to be that nothing is beyond their reach – a notion that has parallels to the octopus logo of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) – the inspiration for the cover of Robinson’s book, The Octopus of Global Control. In the book, Robinson asserts that the octopus – encompassing military, government, media, financial, scientific and other forms of control – is in all aspects of our lives.
“There is a quote in there from John Francis Hylan, who was the mayor of New York City. He’s talking about the octopus with its sprawling tentacles and he says, ‘Let me be clear, this octopus is the standard oil interests and their interests above…’ And he’s talking about how they have infected the courthouses, governments, media and everything. At the very end you read that that was written in 1922. You read that quote today, you would have thought this was some guy from last week talking about it. You realize, it’s almost a century, nothing’s changed”, says Robinson.
The author challenges the cynical notion that nothing can be done to change the conditions that underpin the ‘normalization’ of the current broken system:
“Are we just supposed to allow these psychopaths to continue on? No. We have to acknowledge what they’re doing even if it’s difficult. We have to do what we can to stand up and have a voice…This control grid that you’ve implemented, we had no say in it, we don’t agree to it, we do not consent to this.’ And it’s important to empower people to realize that the most important thing we can say is that ‘we’re not participating in this any longer. We’re going to take ourselves out of this equation. You want us to vote, what are we going to vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? No. This system is broken. The more people become aware of this, that’s how things get changed. And things change, they always change. And the big lie that we’re sold is that we’re just one little person, we can’t do anything about it. But that’s not true. We can do something. We might not be able to change it all but we can maybe impact people close to us. Start with your family, start with your friends. Educate them as much as you can and take it from there because those people tell a couple more people and if John Perkins hadn’t written his book I wouldn’t have written mine.”
So what now?
“We have another choice. And that is to not comply with these unjust laws and these unjust rules”, says Robinson. “They want to put you in the military and ship you off to some foreign country to kill people that had nothing to do with you. Don’t participate, don’t join the military for that, that’s insane. You watch your nightly news…Turn it off. Turn on something else. Find another outlet.
It’s very instrumental for the people that are in a position of power to convince everybody else that they have no power. That’s the greatest trick of all. But you have to wake up to that…Social media has realized, ‘People are waking up. We can’t have that.’ So they’re trying to silence any dissenting voices. It’s a dangerous thing but it’s also an acknowledgement that we’re on the right track.”
“There’s an inverted curve, there’s the curve going up is an understanding and a realization that what we’re being told is not the truth. And there’s another curve that’s going down and that is the intentional dumbing down of society. If the people don’t wake up soon enough it’s over because everyone will be too dumbed down to do anything about it. The trick is alerting people to the reality of the situation, educating them to get them going on that upwards swing as fast as they can because we’re close to the point of no return. And the movie Idiocracy, you know, set five hundred years in the future, people have joked that now that’s becoming a documentary and that’s of course alarming to most people.”
According to Robinson, his speaking tours and book signings are a cause for optimism:
“I guess with the social media de-platforming you’re seeing people that are having an impact whether they’re anti-war or anti vaccine or anti whatever. Their voices are being silenced because the people in control understand that they’re making an impact. They’re legitimately concerned about these renegades getting out there and talking about things and the possibility that they might wake up the population. The one thing they fear is that there’s so few of them and so many of us. We have the numbers, it’s just a matter of a sense of awareness and coming to terms with the reality. And it’s very difficult for people to acknowledge that they’ve been lied to, that they’ve been deceived. We don’t like to admit that – none of us do – but we’ve got to get over that and say, “well, that was in the past and from now on we’re not taking this anymore.”