There’s a famous quote from US President Abraham Lincoln that goes something like, “you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time”.
On the face of it Lincoln’s words seem rather clever and profound – and true. And so they are.
Up to a point.
But what Lincoln didn’t say (and he was a politician after all) is that you don’t have to fool ALL of the people ALL of the time.
What you have to do is fool them long enough to do what you need to do – for example, in the case of a politician, to get yourself elected.
Which brings me to statistics.
Because the best people in the world at playing with statistics are politicians and governments.
Some people believe everything they are told. Others call the figures governments produce ‘disingenuous’ which is being very kind. And some don’t believe a word or a number that they produce. (Take a wild guess at which camp I am in.)
Government statistical results are in effect lies. You can’t call them that – although I just did – because they can find figures to back up what they say, it’s just that they choose the figures that tell the story they want to promote and ignore all the rest that tell a different story.
For example, to get on to one of my favorite rant subjects, there is a thing which I am sure most of you have never heard of called the ‘Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program’ or ‘SIGTARP’ for short.
When the government is challenged about what is has been doing to bring to justice the banksters, who stole and recklessly gambled away our money, they can quote you a statistic or two saying that over the last few years, SIGTARP has put over 100 senior bank executives in jail, each of whom was convicted of stealing from taxpayers.
Although that fact is ‘technically’ or ‘statistically’ true, what they don’t tell you is that the people they have gone after and convicted are all small time crooks, guilty of small time frauds that are seldom above $1m or $1.5 million in value.
All the super crooks who embezzled hundreds of $ billions and almost brought down the entire financial system aren’t even being seriously pursued. More than six years into the SIGTARP investigations there are literally still hundreds of billions of outstanding ‘loans’, from banks including Citi, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America.
They can quote figures all day long to try to mislead the people and make themselves look good, but a few small time crooks thrown in jail for stealing a million or two dollars here and there isn’t ever going to make much of a dent in the $ billions that were stolen. The politicians know that as well as anyone.
Perhaps Mark Twain’s “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics,” might have been a better quote!
They say rats squeal when they are being hunted and nearing capture and they’re right.
None more so at present than the rat banksters and nowhere more so than on Wall Street. If you listen carefully you can hear them squeal even above the noise of the New York traffic.
And the reason for the squealing?
Only that federal authorities are at long last closing in on some of the worst culprits whose greed and contempt for their clients caused the financial crisis we have all be suffering from during the past decade and more.
But before you start clapping the feds on the back, let me say it is too little and too late. None of the banksters are likely to face jail sentences which is what they deserve for their crimes against the people.
However, it is something and these days that’s about the best you can hope for.
In terms of the numbers, the banksters are facing fines of something in the region of $63 billion.
Wow, listen to them squeal!
It seems like a lot of money – and it is a lot of money, it could keep all of us blogging away happily for the rest of our lives and then some. But put in the context of what the banksters defrauded their clients out of and what they lost it is just a pittance.
Putting the figures into context, J P Morgan Chase’s $13 billion mortgage settlement in November was probably some kind of record, but they issued more than $460 billion in mortgage securities.
To illustrate it in numbers people can relate to better, that’s like a thief stealing a thousand dollars from you and getting away with it if he paid you back $28.
I bet the amount of the settlement doesn’t seem so big now. Nor is it commensurate with the size of the crime. But that’s what they’ll probably get away with. And they’re not even grateful for this small smack on the wrist, hence all the squealing.
Anyone who has been following this story that I posted about a few days ago, (here if you missed it), will know that the European Union bureaucrats made an attempt to steal the savings of the Cypriot people right out of their bank accounts.
With at least one eye on their chances of being re-elected, the Cypriot parliament rejected the proposal out of hand. The proper thing to do no doubt, but there is also no doubt that this will not be the end of it. Indeed the fallout continues.
Western governments are desperate because of the financial mess that they and their bankster accomplices have created. And desperate governments are known to take desperate measures to try to patch things up.
Look out for more attempts by these governments to steal your money, whether it be in the form of savings in the bank, government bonds, stocks or in pension plans. Nothing is safe from the clutches of these thieves.
The goings on in Cyprus has already proven their intent and alarm bells have begun to sound among those who are awake and paying attention.The bureaucrats’ attempted money grab has already sparked off suspicion and panic throughout Europe and elsewhere as to the amount of trust people can have in their governments.
Even among the financially stronger nations the trend is clear. In Germany, for example, a recent opinion poll showed that the majority of Germans do not trust their leader, Merkel’s, pronouncements that their money is safe in a bank.
Throughout Europe those who can are moving their money to offshore locations away from the thieving hands of their own governments. Big corporations, including US corporations, are doing the same.It has already happened in Ireland and Spain and France and, to a lesser extent, in the UK too.
What a sad commentary on how these stupid politicians and bureaucrats have mismanaged our affairs.
Will it hit America as well?
That depends just how stupid the political administration in Washington really is – which is perhaps a kind way of saying, please err on the side of caution if you are an American citizen.
The $ as a currency will probably be okay for a while, despite the humongous debt that Obama is piling up, but eventually it will become impossible to print their way out of trouble.
All those highly paid morons and herd followers called ‘money managers’ who work for the various funds that you entrust your savings and pensions to, and who do little more than buy up T-Bills with it, may find that their strategy is going to backfire. Like the banksters, however, they will still charge you a fee for looking after your money whether they invest it wisely or lose it all.
But whilst the bureaucrats will never be able to figure out how to run an economy – their, “take more and more taxes out of less and less income” strategy will never add up – eventually the penny will drop with the good citizens and they will waken up and realize they have been completely shafted by incompetent politicians and greedy banksters.
Then the brown stuff will hit the fan – big time – and people will get real mad. And then the powers that be will have no choice but to turn on their own citizens if they are to cling to power. Preparations for this started under Bush and now Obama has added even more legislation to make this possible.
It is a rather bleak scenario, particularly for those who choose to ignore what is happening around them. But whether it happens in one year or another five, if the politicians and bureaucrats do not wise up – and their is little sign of them doing that especially when they have yet to realize how incompetent they are – it will happen.
So start to think seriously about your own circumstances and what you can do to protect what you have from thieving governments. Or just settle down and get another 40 winks assured in the knowledge that those in Washington, Brussels, London and Berlin know what they’re doing.
Just as a bit of a contrast to yesterday’s post, today I have ten stories, which are either about thieves who were smart enough to get away with it, or police who were too dumb to catch them.
The readers can make up their own minds.
1. Double Trouble
On Feb 25, 2009, three masked robbers boldly busted into Kaufhaus Des Westens, the second largest department store in Europe.
Via a rope ladder, the men were able to enter and ransack the main floor without tripping any sensors or alarms.
But what may have been a fatal error – leaving behind a single glove – ended up creating a bizarre situation.
DNA found on the glove matched TWO people: identical twins identified as Hassan and Abbas O.
German law however requires that each person be individually convicted and because their DNA is so similar, neither can be exclusively pinned to the evidence.
German police were forced to set them both free, and the third man has yet to be found.
. 2. The World’s Most Famous Fugitive
No, it’s not the one about Dr Richard Kimble trying to hunt down the one-armed man, although many readers may well be familiar with this story too which is about probably the world’s most famous fugitive.
On the night before Thanksgiving, November 24, 1971, a passenger by the name of Dan Cooper boarded a plane in Portland, OR bound for Seattle.
Clad in a suit and raincoat, wearing dark glasses and carrying a briefcase, he sat silently in the back of the plane. After calmly lighting a cigarette (yes smoking was permitted in airplanes in those days), he ordered a whiskey from the stewardess and then handed her a note.
It read, ‘I HAVE A BOMB IN MY BRIEFCASE. I WILL USE IT IF NECESSARY. I WANT YOU TO SIT NEXT TO ME. YOU ARE BEING HIJACKED.’
He demanded $200,000 and four parachutes delivered to him in Seattle.
When the plane landed, he released all the passengers, save for the pilot, co-pilot, and stewardess.
Once the money was delivered in the middle of the brightly-lit tarmac, Cooper demanded the pilot take off for Mexico, flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet.
Shortly after takeoff, over the mountains northwest of Portland, the six-foot-tall Cooper strapped on a parachute and jumped.
He was never heard from again.
Did he survive?
In 1980, roughly $6000 was found of the money in bundles on a beach, but no signs of a body.
The case remains open and is the only unsolved crime in US aviation history.
. 3. Cops And Robbers – Boston Style
On March 18, 1990, the day after Saint Patrick’s Day, policemen arrived at the door of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, claiming to have received a call about a disturbance.
Breaking protocol, the security officer let them in.
One of the men said he had a warrant for the guard’s arrest, and they convinced him to step away from his post.
Bad move: the “policemen” were really criminals in disguise, and they quickly handcuffed him and ordered him to call the other guard to the front, who was also subdued.
The thieves absconded with 13 paintings, including masterworks by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Degas, worth a third of a billion dollars.
To this date, no one has been arrested in conjunction with the crime, nor have the paintings ever been recovered.
4. Cops And Robbers – Japanese Style
On December 10, 1968, in Tokyo, Japan, a Nihon Shintaku Ginko Bank car, transporting 300 million Yen ($817,000 US) in its trunk, was pulled over by a policeman on a motorcycle, who warned them of a bomb planted underneath.
Since there had already been bomb threats against the bank, the four passengers exited the vehicle as the uniformed patrolman inspected below the car.
Moments later, smoke and flames could be seen under the vehicle, causing the men to run for cover.
Of course, it turned out the smoke was from a flare and the cop was a phony.
He jumped in the car and sped off with the loot.
Even though there were 120 pieces of evidence, 110,000 suspects and 170,000 police investigators, the man was never caught.
In 1975, the statute of limitations ended, and in 1988 all civil liabilities were voided, but still no one ‘fessed up.
5. Diamonds Are Forever – Unless Someone Steals Them
The largest diamond heist in history was stolen from the world’s most impenetrable vault, located in Antwerp, Belgium.
Two floors below the Diamond Centre, it was protected by a lock with 100 million possible combinations, as well as heat/motion sensors, radar, magnetic fields, and a private security force.
However, on the weekend of Feb 15, using a series of moves that would make Danny Ocean jealous, the thieves were able to silently enter the vault, bust open the safe deposit boxes, and make off with the glittering loot.
And although the purported ring leader Leonardo Notarbartolo was caught and sentenced to 10 years, he has since been released on parole.
Notarbartolo claimed in an interview in Wired Magazine that the true take was only $20 million and was part of a larger conspiracy involving insurance fraud.
Whatever — the loot was never recovered.
6. The Disappearing $million
On Friday October 7, 1977, before Columbus Day Weekend, a bank worker counted $4 million dollars in cash and stored it in a locked money cart within a heavily guarded vault, two floors below the Chicago First National Bank.
Tuesday morning, the money is counted again, and exactly $1 million dollars – in $50 and $100 dominations and weighing over 80 pounds – had vanished into thin air.
In 1981, $2300 of the money showed up in a drug raid, but otherwise both the perpetrators and the cash are still at large.
7. The Pink Panthers
The winner for boldest burglary goes to the perpetrators of the so-called Harry Winston Heist.
On December 4, 2008, four men, three of whom wore long blonde wigs and disguised themselves as women, charmed their way into the famous Harry Winston Paris jewelry store just before closing time.
Once inside, they brandished a .357 revolver and a hand grenade and began their pillaging.
Less than 15 minutes later they escaped with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds worth an estimated $108 million US.
Investigators believe it to be the work of the notorious Serbian criminal gang The Pink Panthers, responsible for $132 million in robberies around the world.
They have never been caught.
Obviously the police needed Inspector Clouseau on the case.
8. Tucker Cross Or Double Cross?
The Tucker Cross, was named after diver Teddy Tucker who, in 1955, recovered it from the 1594 wreck of the San Pedro.
It was a 22-karat gold cross embedded with sparkling green emeralds and considered priceless.
Nonetheless, Tucker sold it to the Government of Bermuda for an undisclosed sum.
In 1975, the Cross was moved to the Bermuda Museum of Art to be displayed for Queen Elizabeth II.
No one knows when or how, but during this transition, a clever thief replaced the original with a cheap plastic replica.
Presumably, this historical artifact was melted down, stripped of its jewels, and funneled into the Black Market.
9. Fancy A Brazilian?
No, nothing to do with Kim Kardashian or the netherlands. This happened in 2005, in Fortaleza, Brazil at the Banco Central, when a gang of enterprising thieves managed to carry off one of the biggest heists of all time.
This heist was the result of painstaking planning by a small gang of burglars who tunneled over 250 feet to the bank’s vault from a nearby property.
The robbers used a landscaping business as a front that allowed them to move massive amounts of dirt and rock without looking suspicious.
The tunnel was expertly constructed and had sophisticated lighting and even an air conditioning system.
After three months of digging, the thieves finally broke into the vault and made off with what was equivalent to $70 million dollars.
Since then, police have made a number of arrests in connection with the burglary and recovered roughly $9 million dollars of the haul, but the majority of the suspects are still at large.
10. The Thieves Of Baghdad
On July 11th, 2007 in Baghdad a private financial institution, Dar Es Salaam, was robbed by two, or possibly three guards.
They got away with a third of a billion in cash, all US bills.
Perhaps the bank itself did not want people to start wondering where, how, and why it had so much cash at hand, so they have kept mum and there has been minimal press.
But somewhere, the successful thieves are laughing all the way from this bank.