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Tereza Coraggio

Third Paradigm is an out-of-the-box thinktank on community sovereignty and regenerative economics.

We look at how to take back our cities, farmland and water; our money, production and trade; our media, education and culture, our religion and even our God.

We present a people's history of the Bible and a parent's view on how to raise giving kids in a taking world.

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Past Shows


3P-065 Who Rules the World?

November 28th, 2010

3P-065 Show Information (includes MP3 download link)

Welcome to the 65th episode of Third Paradigm. Our title this week is "Who Rules the World?" There are a lot of answers about who thinks they rule the world coming out of WikiLeaks recently. But if there's one thing that the WikiLeaks have proven, it's that politicians and diplomats have someone else to answer to, and it's not their own conscience. The higher powers they serve can be found in mahogany offices and off-shore tax havens, not in AA meetings. We're going to examine the exponential wealth of those who are one in 100 million. As John Perkins said in a recent episode of Unwelcome Guests, "It's not even a pyramid, it's like a needle going up with a few very wealthy, very powerful people sitting at the top." If you were to plot global wealth distribution on a graph, this line would be invisible to the naked eye. Are they invisible? A google search comes up with the 50 richest people. But these aren't the 120 people at Bilderberg. Who are the Bilderbergers anyway? And whose funds inhabit the World Bank, the IMF, and the InterAmerican Development Fund? We'll get one answer in rhyme with a YouTube video called the Banker.

Next we'll go from the richest .000001% or one in 100 million to the mere top .001% or one in 100 thousand. This includes (who'd a thunk it?) the chidren's author, Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket.

Read the Article
We'll excerpt his very funny article in the New York Times called Adjusted Income. After that lighter moment from the king of dismal, we'll ask , 'Is the world bankrupt?' But first, let's hear some poems to keep things in perspective. This is one of Ranier Maria Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus, a poem of Anna Akhmatova, and a Native American story. The music is Moonflower by Keiko Matsui.

The Sonnets to Orpheus

Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, X

The Machine endangers all we have made.
We allow it to rule instead of obey.
To build a house, cut the stone sharp and fast:
the carver's hand takes too long to feel its way.

The Machine never hesitates, or we might escape
and its factories subside into silence.
It thinks it's alive and does everything better.
With equal resolve it creates and destroys.

But life holds mystery for us yet. In a hundred places
we can still sense the source: a play of pure powers
that - when you feel it - brings you to your knees.

There are yet words that come near the unsayable,
and, from crumbling stones, a new music
to make a sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.

(In Praise of Mortality, translated and edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)

Sonnets to Orpheus X [SECOND PART]

All achievement is threatened by the machine, as long
as it dares to take its place in the mind, instead of obeying.
That the master's hand no longer shines forth in fine lingerings,
now it cuts to the determined design more rigidly the stone.

Nowhere does it remain behind, that for once we might escape
as it oils and abides by itself in the silent factories.
It has become Life, — it thinks it can do everything best
and with like determination orders and creates and destroys.

And yet for us Being is still enchanted; on a hundred
planes is still origin. A play of pure energies
touched by no one who has not knelt down and is amazed.

Words gently end at the edges of the Unsayable ...
And Music, ever new, out of the most trembling of stones,
builds in unusable space its deified house.

(translated by Cliff Crego)

~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~

* * * * * * * *

On the Fourth Anniversary of the invasion of Iraq ....

Everything is plundered, betrayed, sold,
Death's great black wing scrapes the air,
Misery gnaws to the bone.
Why then do we not despair?

By day, from the surrounding woods,
cherries blow summer into town;
at night the deep transparent skies
glitter with new galaxies.

And the miraculous comes so close
to the ruined, dirty houses --
something not known to anyone at all,
but wild in our breast for centuries.

~ Anna Akhmatova ~
(Poems of Akhmatova, edited and translated by Stanley Kunitz with Max Hayward)

* * * * * * * *

Two Wolves

A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt.

He said, "I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart.
One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one."

The grandson asked him, "Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?"

The grandfather answered: "The one I feed."

~ Native American Story ~

* * * * * * * *
The music was Moonflower by Keiko Matsui from her Deep Blue CD. In Ranier Maria Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus, he talks about the Machine. This is an appropriate metaphor for our question today of Who Rules the World? Analyst and historian Michael Parenti distinguishes between structuralists and functionalists. A structuralist is a person who believes that the system determines what a person can or can't do in the role. A functionalist thinks that if you get the right person into the right role, they can do anything. A structuralist would say that it's not a question of who rules the world but what. The system, or the machine as Rilke calls it, has taken over. Rafael Correa revealed himself to be a structuralist when he said of Obama, "I know he's a very good person but the system has his own agenda…" I notice that "system" is masculine in Spanish. Of course.

In the Native American story, we each have the potential for good and evil. Which side does the system feed? When we look at the principles of capitalism, it's easy to see why a psychopath would rise to the top. The system isn't personal. It doesn't pick and choose. But someone who operates without a conscience is unencumbered, while the rest of us are busy keeping the wolves fighting in our hearts at bay.

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But we, as a society, also feed the system that determines which wolf will win. With the help of the website Visual Economics, I assembled a list of the wealthiest families in the world. The Waltons top the list with $72.4 billion altogether. Robson, the #1 son, spoke at the Climate Change Conference about sustainability as a key issue to Wal*Mart. Democracy Now tried to ask him how Wal*Mart affects the sustainability of local businesses. Or, I'd add, the sustainability of sweatshop factory workers. He dodged the question.

The wealthiest individual, who's now overtaken Bill Gates, is Carlos Slim Helu. He generated a wave of privatizations in Mexico starting with Tel-Mex, the telecom monopoly. In the UK Guardian, Paul Harris writes that his controlling stakes in 222 companies and minority stakes in countless more add up to a third of Mexico's stock market index. Although he lives a modest life, his tentacles have turned Mexico into Slimlandia.

Next are two sibling pairs - Mukesh and Anil Ambani who rule India, and Karl and Theo Albrecht of Germany. A "banned in India" biography called The Polyester Prince touts itself as "the real story of [Anil] Ambani." He sued his brother Mukesh and the New York Times for writing that he oversaw an intelligence agency that tracked the activity of bureaucrats and competitors. Carlos Slim just put in $250 million to prop up the New York Times, so this would be suing his neighbor on the list. The Albrechts made their fortune with the Aldi supermarket chain. Theo, who just died at 88, started Trader Joe's, which swaddles vegetables in plastic and sells unsustainable seafood to the crunchy granola set. Download the book

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, next on the list, have a reputation for philanthropy. Although Gates' investments in the Green Revolution and Monsanto seem self-serving, Buffet's quote that he wants to pay more taxes is everyone's favorite sound bite, it seems. He also suggests that we read When Money Dies by Adam Fergusson, about Weimar Germany in the 1920's, and suggests that the same hyperinflation is around the corner. He doesn't, however, tell us what to do about it.

The Koch Brothers are next up, whose nefarious dealings need no elaboration. Then the Mars siblings, Jacqueline, Forrest and John, who inherited the candy and pet food dynasty. Along with Hershey and the chocolate industry, M&M Mars has manipulated the price of cocoa beans to be under the cost of production, making child slavery prevalent in the Ivory Coast. Other brand name billionaires include Larry Ellison of Oracle, Ingvar Kamprad of IKEA, and Hans and Birgit Rausing, whose father invented the TetraPak you know from your school milk carton. Then comes Bernard Arnault, who made his money with Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton, Li Ka-shing of Hong Kong, and Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, where information technology scams that embezzled taxpayer funds have been making the news lately.

Jim, Alice, Christy
& Robson Walton
$72,400,000,000 WalMart US
Carlos Slim Helu $60,600,000,000 TelMex - telecom Mexico
Mukesh & Anil Ambani $42,700,000,000 Petro & Investments India
Karl and Theo Albrecht $40,300,000,000 Aldi & Trader Joe's Germany
Bill Gates $40,000,000,000 Microsoft US
Warren Buffet $37,000,000,000 Investments US
David & Charles Koch $28,000,000,000 Energy & Manuf. US
Jacqueline, Forrest
& John Mars
$27,000,000,000 Candy & Pet Food US
Larry Ellison $22,500,000,000 Oracle US
Ingvar Kamprad $22,000,000,000 IKEA Sweden
Hans & Birgit Rausing $19,900,000,000 TetraPak - liquid pkg Sweden
Bernard Arnault $16,500,000,000 Dior, Louis Vuitton France
Li Ka-shing $16,200,000,000 Diverse Sources Hong Kong
Michael Bloomberg $16,000,000,000 Media Owner US
Stefan Persson $14,500,000,000 Fashion Retail Sweden
Liliane Bettencourt $13,400,000,000 L'Oreal Germany
Prince Alwaleed
Fin Talal Alsaud
$13,300,000,000 Investments Saudi Arabia
Michael Otto & Family $13,200,000,000 Retail Germany
David Thomson & Family $13,000,000,000 Media Owner Canada
Michael Dell $12,300,000,000 Computers US
Donald Bren $12,000,000,000 Real Estate US
Larry Page $12,000,000,000 Real Estate US
Sergey Brin $12,000,000,000 Internet US
George Soros $11,000,000,000 Hedge Funds US
Steve Ballmer $11,000,000,000 Software US
Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor $11,000,000,000 Real Estate UK
Paul Allen $10,500,000,000 Software US
Kwok Family $10,500,000,000 Real Estate Hong Kong
Ron Perelman $10,000,000,000 Investments US
Susanne Klatten $10,000,000,000 Pharmaceuticals US
Jack Taylor & Family $9,500,000,000 Automotive US
Mikhael Prokhorov $9,500,000,000 Investments Russia
Anne Cox Chambers $9,000,000,000 Media Owner US
Carl Icahn $9,000,000,000 Investments US
Lee Shau Kee $9,000,000,000 Real Estate Hong Kong
George Kaiser $9,000,000,000 Oil & Gas US
Amancio Ortega $9,000,000,000 Apparel Spain
Total $714,800,000,000    
Altogether these 50 people have $715 billion in assets. Societies have fed these fat cats with our consumer dollars, whether it's through housewares, entertainment, cheap goods, cheap chocolate, or overpriced ugly purses. They haven't stolen it. What's listed on this chart is funny money for sure - the last amount that a Ponzi scheme stock sold for, multiplied by their shares, or the face value of real estate on the green side of the monopoly board. These are publicly disclosed funds. But what concerns me is that I don't see the names of any bankers here or defense contractors - the wolves that we haven't chosen to feed. What about the money in Basel, Panama, and the Caymans? For every dollar in circulation, interest is being paid to someone. Where do those who own the Federal Reserve put their ill-gotten gains? They certainly wouldn't leave it in the US. Pay taxes on it? Don't be ridiculous. Somewhere there's another layer of wealth that makes these guys look like chump change. What I'm wondering is, who is the core convening committee at Bilderberg; the ones who invite in a rotating staff of politicians and elite fixers to do their bidding?

In Unwelcome Guests episode #528, Robin Upton asks

"Why have royalty, heads of political, economic, financial, and military organizations met up in secret annually since 1954?"

He plays a reading of David Southwell's Secrets and Lies, and then an interview with Tony Gosling, who set up the website, followed by two radio reports about Bilderberg from BBC world service. The second hour is Daniel Estulin's speech to the EU parliament on the Bilderberg Group, in which he suggests that their main function is to undermine national sovereignty and set up "one world company limited." Robin then examines the 'conspiracy theory' label, with a quick sketch by Bill Hicks and a section of Michael Parenti's talk at the 2010 Santa Cruz Deep Politics conference. The show concludes with Adrian Salbuchi, the Argentinean political commentator and economist. Adrian's conclusion is that national government is used to put an acceptable face on the reality that a small coterie of corporate and financial leaders rule the world out of self-interest, unhampered by considerations of public welfare.

The show is well-worth a listen, to understand the structure of Bilderberg, at But for the functionalists among you, here's a character study of the Bilderberger: a youtube video called The Banker.

[Mike Daviot – The Banker ]
That was The Banker, produced by 33rd degree films. Written, directed and produced by Craig-James Moncur, with William Montague III played by Michael Daviot. There's another youtube video called The Banker, which is also good. It describes the effect of the Robin Hood tax, a .05% tax on each financial transaction that would create over $400 billion dollars a year. It could be used to end world hunger, combat climate change, or any number of other merry deeds for men in tights. It's being promoted at Cancun as a way to fund the climate debt with $100 billion at only a quarter of the revenues, as opposed to the $30 billion that nations have collectively pledged at the Copenhagen Accord. It would also cut down on currency manipulations and the millions of stock trades bought and sold in a fraction of a second for huge profits.
[Robin Hood Tax – The Banker ]

Now let's go from wealth at the level of global carnage to wealth that's been earned and is only charmingly obscene. This is an article in The New York Times called Adjusted Income by Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket. He writes:

"Let's start by saying I have a lot of money. I've acquired it by writing children's books about terrible things happening to orphans, and this seems like such a crazy and possibly monstrous way of acquiring money that I give a lot of it away. I mean, I guess it's a lot. Let me put it like this: My wife and I recently became obsessed with a Web site where you plug in the amount of money you made in a year and find out where you stand. If your salary equaled the amount of money my wife and I gave Planned Parenthood one year, you'd be in the richest 1 percent in the world, which is pretty great. Still, there would be 60 million people richer than you, and that's a lot. They wouldn't fit in your home, for example, even though you'd have the sort of home that only the top 1 percent of people in the world can afford."

Handler then agrees to lunch with a friend who wants funding to repair a historical building in San Francisco. His wife asks how much money, and he replies “I don't know,” and guesses a number that, had it been your yearly salary, would put you with those 60 million people outside your home. “That seems like a lot of money,” his wife says.

They have lunch and the guy asks for five million dollars. He writes,

"I had my checkbook with me, but I never brought it out. I felt suddenly as if someone had proposed marriage and I'd countered with an offer of a beer. I stuttered something. He explained that I wouldn't have to give all of it at once. I stuttered something else, and we talked about gay marriage a little more, and then I went home and lay down on the rug, which is what I do when things like this come up...

"It's not the first time. People know I have a lot of money — there's no way to hide it, and I'm irritated by those people who have a lot of money but pretend they don't have a lot of money, not really, not when you compare them to some other people. But still, I don't have all the money. ... a friend estimated that my home is worth $20 million, which it would be, if after lunch I lay down on a stack of gold bars instead of a rug.

"Still, though, it's a nice rug. If the rug cost your annual salary, and I were a noble cause, I wouldn't ask you for money, because you wouldn't have any to give. Your income would, however, still be in the top 15 percent in the world. This is why, maybe, there are so many noble causes and so few of them are well financed: we all want other people to write the checks — they're richer than we are. I wrote the guy a check anyway, of course, and it was for a lot of money. At least, I think it was a lot of money. You'd have to ask those other people, the hundred thousand who make more than I do and the 60 million who make more than I gave to restore the historic building: isn't this a lot of money? Then why does it feel as if I bought him a beer?"

That was an article in the 2007 New York Times by Daniel Handler. So how much is a lot of money? From an article at Jakarta Updates, I read:

Read the Article

"The Global Pyramid of Wealth breaks down the number of people in each wealth bracket. More than 3 billion people or 64% of the world population have wealth of less than $10,000. A little bit more than a billion people or 23% have wealth up to $100,000. 334 million people or 7% have wealth over $100,000. 24 million or 0.5% have wealth over $1 million.

And so, working backwards, I came up with this. For 1 in 100 million families, their average assets are worth $19 billion. For 1 out of 100,000 families who are in Lemony Snicket's shoes, I'm guessing they have about $200 million. 1 out of 200 has over a million, while one in 100 has over $500,000. One in 10 has $72,000 in assets, and every other person has $4000 or more.

Range of Net Assets Worldwide
1 out of 100 million families $19,318,918,919 Year 2006 Worldwide
1 out of 100,000 families Lemony Snicket Year 2007 Worldwide
1 out of 200 families $1,000,000 Year 2009 Worldwide
1 out of 100 families $588,000 Year 2009 Worldwide
1 out of 10 families $72,000 Year 2009 Worldwide
1 out of 2 families $4,000 Year 2009 Worldwide
Average -$6,300 Year 2010 Worldwide
What does all this mean? If the net worth of everyone in the world were put on a graph where each degree equaled $100,000, the line would be flat for 90% of the world's population. At 10% it would rise one degree, and at 1% it would rise 5 degrees, then 10 degrees at half a percent. But to represent the wealthiest 60 families on average, our chart would need to extend 190,000 degrees vertically, and then another 400,000 degrees to show Carlos Slim and another 120,000 degrees to show the Waltons. Now picture this global money supply as if it's mercury. Every time that pressure is applied to the skinny little bulge at the bottom, that 10% that we call the middle class, it shoots up the needle of the wealthiest even further. An even better strategy is squeezing the other five and a half billion people, through microloans or IMF loans. That's a cool five and a half billion for one measly dollar each. What difference is that going to make to them anyway, going one more day hungry? It's not like they're used to eating.

But it's the combination that makes these strategies magic. Debt pressure on the bottom half keeps them working for starvation wages to supply the products, which are then sold to the other indebted 50%. Only 10% of the world's population has any chance to escape the Wal*Mart chains, but what are the chances of that? The entire net assets of that 10% are less than it costs to be out of work for one year, or send a kid to college for four.

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But that's not even the full absurdity of this concept of money that rules the world. I was posting on the discussion board for Wikipedia's List of Countries by External Debt, when I noticed an interesting section asking, "If all countries are in debt, who is the creditor?" Shouldn't some of these debts cancel each other out between nations? Someone posted their opinion that many of these debts are owed to private institutions. I googled, "What is the net worth of the whole entire world?" and it sent me to, which informed me that the world owed more than it had. Total world debt in the form of bonds equals $82 trillion dollars, but the total value of world equity markets amounts to only $44 trillion. Therefore, the world owes $38 trillion more than it has. This begs the question, to whom?

These bonds are so much money "printed," and most of it belongs to the US. As we know, however, these are really debt obligations owed to the Federal Reserve, which is majority-owned by the are 165 other "national" banks out of 195 nations. So if your plan to change the world involves a redistribution of money, think again. Money exists to concentrate power in the fewest hands possible, and it's doing a damn fine job of it.

This has been Tereza Coraggio with Third Paradigm. Thanks to Robin Upton and to Daniel Handler for my excerpts from their work. Thanks to Mike Scirocco for the website, where this and all previous transcripts can be found embellished with photos, links, and videos. We go out with The Jayhawks from their Rainy Day Music CD, which is appropriate for this blustery pre-Christmas day. The song is Stumbling Through the Dark, appropriate to this blustery era.

[The Jayhawks – Stumbling Through The Dark]

Thank you for listening.