The power and danger of complexity and secrecy

3/9/2015 – Corporations and the wealthy use complexity and secrecy combined to operate under the radar. This is a big deal– an approach and system that was a real shock to me. Imagine– a bank with thousands of subsidiary operations. I’m not talking about branch outlets for the public. I’m talking about subsidiaries created to hide what is being done by whom and what.

That is the current state of capitalism. It is designed for evading, skirting and totally breaking the law and avoiding paying taxes and externality costs. it is a system that should not exist.

Chris Taggart, of Opencorporates.com, presenting at personaldemocracyforum.com, gave a talk describing how complexity and secrecy are used by corporations. He said, “this complexity is really great if you want to avoid detection, if you don’t want to be supervised, if you don’t want people to know what you are doing. One of the groups that really loves this is criminals…. it also provides powerful incentives to do bad behavior.”

Taggart says, “The complexity of these things is absolutely mind-blowing. Lehman brothers, just before it went to the wall, it’s last filings with SEC filing had something like 300 subsidiaries in its filing disclosed. But the bank of international settlements subsequently did an audit of it and found 2985 legal entities… ”

The opencorporates.com site is a powerful tool. I don’t expect most readers to dive in and build something with their API (application programming interface– Opednews using numerous APIs in different parts of the custom designed Populum content management system.) But my hope is that when you see the name of a big company, you start thinking of it as a web or network of hundreds, if not thousands of veiled subsidiaries operating with multiple levels of complexity and secrecy.

Think about how these companies and their billionaire owners are doing all they can to sabotage, weaken and hamstring government watchdog organizations so as to prevent them from even tracking their existence. This is the current state of capitalism. Many say that there is no alternative better than capitalism. I would argue that there are many different manifestations and kinds of capitalism. it is possible to create models that require openness, transparency and simplicity. We need to start electing and supporting people who walk the talk. (Obama gave the talk but has not walked it.)

….Imagine an organism with two eyes. Now imagine an massive organism with sensors that reach out, like cilia, or moth antennae, sensing in thousands of ways from thousands of miles away, sensing almost every manifestation of your being. That’s what is possible with all of these subsidiaries– and you can be sure that agencies like the CIA and other intelligence and homeland security operations use the same strategies, setting up corporations and then subsidiaries of them to work in ways that they want to keep hidden….

By Rob Kall – OpEdNews.com –

Psychological Moment We are In

Since 9/11 the world has felt like a different place. A recent exhibit of Hung Liu’s work (at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City) reminded me of that. Her deeply psychological and sociological art explores both ancient China and the modern world. Immediately after 9/11, she painted a picture entitled “Chinese bride with bird flying into her head.” This elaborate painting signified that the airplanes hijacked by terrorists not only crashed into the World Trade Center, they flew into our brains and colonized our physiological systems.

Daily we are bombarded with horrific information. In the last few months, we have seen the rise of Isis with its beheadings and attempted genocide of the Yezidi people. In December, 136 schoolchildren were shot in Peshawar. Recently, terrorists have killed staff members of Charlie Hebdo and other Parisians and, this month, Boko Haram has slaughtered at least 2000 people in Baga. Indeed, the news of late has been so alarming that the voices of journalists have cracked as they reported it.

In addition to the constant messages we receive that the world is filled with evil, danger and unpredictability, we also know that our planet is endangered. Global climate change with its consequent effects on food, water, animals and plants has so many tragic implications that we can hardly bear to face it. We feel primal panic and shut down emotionally.

Humans are not built to deal with this level of information flow. We evolved in small communities equipped to deal with proximal stimulation. This was nearby friends and foe, animals, plants, water and weather. We had no distal information. Tibetan villagers preoccupations were family, food supply and Buddhism. Irish peasants needed only to concern themselves with peat, potatoes and pubs. Homesteaders’ primary news was who had a baby, who was hailed out, or who bought a new wagon. Now, thanks to our global communication system, there is no distal information. Everything that happens in the world feels proximal to us.

The news we receive frightens us and triggers our arousal system to do what it has always done in dangerous situations– flee, fight or freeze. Unfortunately, we can neither fight most of these problems nor can we flee. What we do instead is freeze. We find no actionable intelligence in the news of the day, only a paralyzing sense that the world is an overwhelming place. Psychologists call this response “learned helplessness.”

Our core phenomenological state is overwhelmedness. We are bombarded by too much information, too many choices and too much complexity. We have mammalian arousal systems, Neolithic brains, Medieval institutions and 21st century technology and communications. Our biorhythms have become entrained with machines. We operate in nanosecond time. We struggle with slowing down, staying calm and relaxing.

By Mary Pipher – Op Ed News –