The History of Now
The operation of a legitimate democratic government should be a familiar rhythmic and almost boring process. Governmental operations ought not involve a magical invisibility cloak or gossamer curtain. When there is a razzle-dazzle; when there is confusion; when there is a deliberate effort to divide us; stop, look, see, question and act. Something is being obscured that you are not meant to see – and it is right there next to you. While I eschew speedy answers, these are key themes.
Fraud in Vermont, I am shocked, shocked. But why not? The state won’t likely investigate. The attorney general won’t likely press criminal charges. The laws are weak. And opportunities abound. In a fine example, of the resource curse, Vermont’s freedoms, views, cheap land are all for sale. Bienvenue, welcome, velkomen, bienvenido, huanying – come on over, especially if you have money. Let’s explore the Jay Peak Resort fraud scheme now.
Roz wants me to “Tell a story that she can do something about.” We are more alike than we ever admit. Today, we struggle to see that. The worst crooks, the crooks who do the most damage to our country walk freely amongst us fully camouflaged. In the recent decade, Vermont fell victim to two massive fraud schemes – these relate to social, economic, and even environmental issues everywhere.
If you want to do something, maybe start with this formula: look, see, question, act. At the root of so much of what is going, there exist elements of corruption, fraud, and an institutional resistance to change. Let’s start that story now.
The Enron debacle of 2 decades ago haunts our legal system today. Enron CEO Jeffery Skilling appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States because claiming that a law related to fraud was too vague. SCOTUS agreed with him thereby weakened key elements of our federal fraud statutes. Now fraudsters have a pathway to avoid convictions. When striving to prevent fraud and corruption with enforcement, we need laws that have teeth and meaning. What you and I might recognize as fraud, may not be illegal. We’ll explore this now.
I interview Sarah Chayes who informs us of how she became an advocate for public integrity as a result of her work in Afghanistan and other parts of the world. We discuss her most recent book: “On Corruption in America and What is at Stake”, published August 2020. We also touch on her 2015 book called “Thieves of State: why corruption threatens global security”.
During the interview, explore the mythology of the Hydra, King Midas, and The Cleansing of the Temple while we talk about current events in the United States.
Please visit Sarah’s website at https://sarahchayes.org.
FEMA’s suffered numerous high-profile investigations and arrests from top to bottom in 2019. Can we see discover the difference between corruption, confused, or conflicted by exploring the investigations and arrests? How do we save our national emergency response agency together? Explore today’s history with us now.
FEMA – widely criticized for failures in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina is on path for the same failures in 2020. What will a major hurricane during a pandemic look like? Is there a plan for transporting, feeding, and/or sheltering people? And will this plan actually prevent the loss of personal data for 2.3M Americans? In 2018, they did a large-scale sheltering program. FEMA fiddled, fumbled, and flopped. Then lost data! Helluva Job FEMA
We continue to deny full rights to 6 million Americans because of racist rulings from the Supreme Court over a century ago. The same court that ruled: Separate But Equal was cool, suppresses voting rights for Americans today, 115 years later. Moving closer to economic justice and a fight against corruption requires we welcome all US Passport holders to the voting roles.
In a typical year, 75% of FEMA fund recipients, usually local governments and non-profits fail to follow the law. While the original analysis I did has aged some over the last four years, I’ll bet we’re still looking at massive failures with disaster related funds.
First, show you how I derived this failure rate.
Second, I’ll show you the significant risks you and I have when communities fail to manage FEMA and federal grants well.
Third, I am going to place blame. You and I know that during these months I have done little to name names and point fingers
What does missing look like? I have a picture of that – right here! The data required by a set of laws the Massachusetts legislature can’t be found. The law exists, yet the data do not. Boston Police Department has cops allegedly committed fraud with timecards and they remain on the payroll for decades. Preventing corruption also requires enforcement.
I’ve got a deal for you. You pay me $10,000 and I’ll sell you public data the government requires? By the way, that’s only for the first 40,000 lookups. And… Likely an annual fee too. The conversation lasted 19 minutes. Data the government requires of business is supplied to Dun and Bradstreet. If the government needs that data, it must pay for it. Nice deal if you can get it!
Transparency helps ensure economic justice for our citizens.
Transparency in governance means that we can follow the flow of money into our communities.
Transparency ought to be visible and likely follow conventions such as OpenData that the US Adopted in 2009. NYC does. USA does not – and the USA keep backing away from it.
We are tampering with evidence as we manage the dead during crisis and disasters. We lose count and information as we shuffle corpses into refrigerated trucks. We still debate the number of dead from the 2017 hurricanes in Puerto Rico: 64, 2950, 4000. Puerto Rico stored bodies for over 2 years in 11 trucks. Are we doing the same in 2020 with CoronaVirus?
I am taking an hiatus during the U.S. election season. A number of the people I’d like to interview and discuss are politicians. I’d rather not put my finger on the scale. Me, I have already voted!
Back in a bit – meanwhile, checkout, “The Soul of an Internet Machine“