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Listen: Making Money Off of Green Debt: Cory Morningstar Finds Corporate Wolves Behind Environmental Sheep

Listen: Making Money Off of Green Debt: Cory Morningstar Finds Corporate Wolves Behind Environmental Sheep

Ghion Journal

October 4, 2019

By Stephen Boni

“Listen: Making Money Off of Green Debt: Cory Morningstar Finds Corporate Wolves Behind Environmental Sheep”

 

 

Building through the privatization-friendly Reagan-Bush era of the 1980s, ramping up significantly with Bill Clinton’s signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the 1990s, and solidified through the de facto repeal of the post-Great Depression separation between investment and commercial banks at the end of Clinton’s scandal-plagued final term in office at the turn of the millenium, the United States went through a very noticeable shift in how its economy functioned. Even people who didn’t pay attention to such things could feel it.

While the fundamentals of large-scale state capitalism remained—in which the U.S. government used debt and taxpayer dollars to provide the corporate sector with expensive research and development (the internet, for example), and offered crucial patent protection, favorable interest rates, extra cash in the form of subsidies, a wonderfully loophole-ridden tax code, near nonexistent enforcement of antitrust and environmental law, suppression of trade unions, and the stacking of government jobs and judicial appointments with pro-corporate professionals—the actual physical manifestations of the U.S. economy that those structures support were abandoned in ways they never had been before.

No longer did large investment firms or the stock market spend their time rewarding companies that invested in their own development, equipment, channels of distribution, growth and productivity of their workforces, etc. NAFTA, with its incentive to move jobs to other countries (particularly Mexico, which has even fewer environmental protections and drastically lower labor costs), made much of that boring, analytical work unnecessary.

So what was the newly unleashed finance sector of the economy supposed to make real money off of? Sure, they could preside over the mammoth corporate mergers and acquisitions that Reagan had freed up. That brought in some cash. The newly released internet offered speculative benefits as well. But the real money turned out to be, ironically, in the absence of money. It turned out to be in debt. Corporate debt, which could be packaged up into securities and sold to investors, but even more, the debt (mostly mortgage-related) that regular citizens were racking up to maintain their lifestyles in a less welcoming economy. Now that….oh wow, the transmogrification of that shaky debt into securities was the true windfall.

All of this fiddling around with debt was the hallmark of an economy that now focused much of its energy on finance and imaginary “products” that had no real physical presence in the real economy. We all know what came of that in 2008. One of the best explainers of how and why our economy—and indeed the world economy—blew apart was Matt Taibbi who, in a colloquial and hilariously sarcastic series of articles in Rolling Stone, famously described the investment bank Goldman Sachs as a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

The Next Financial Frontier

All of this is old hat by now, right? Nothing about this current formation of our economy has really changed in the decade following the crash of 2008. Obama gave our money to the debt-ridden banks; a shit-ton of people lost their jobs and their homes; local tax revenues dried up; and the propped up and bloated finance sector simply found a new way to profit off citizen debt by creating securities out of student loan and car loan debt. Capitalism, in its current American form, could only really make money, easy money, fast money (for an ever decreasing slice of the population) out of made-up financial illusions.

Even if you subtract the recent and growing social unrest—seen through the brief flash of the quickly beaten down and co-opted Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements, the proliferation of white nationalist and xenophobic groups, and the explosion of voter political disobedience in the forms of the 2016 Sanders and Trump campaigns—American capitalism has clearly been running into a dead end. Right now, even the biggest fans of our current economy in the financial world are anticipating a train wreck in which the latest debt bubble, which also includes corporate debt, will explode, leaving even more people in desperate trouble as a result.

This is the context that Cory Morningstar is operating in with Act III of her multi-part series called “The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg. For Consent: The Most Inconvenient Truth. Capitalism is in Danger of Falling Apart.”

You can listen to the piece here and I believe you can learn a lot from it.

And you can hear Acts I & II of the series through the Words of Others podcast.

As Cory documents through the various sections of her article—particularly in her exploration of the investor-backed and nominally African solar power provider M-Kopa—the goal of the Western corporate elites who are operating in the background of “climate strike” activists and the organizations with which they’re affiliated is not to find a way out of a dead ending capitalism. It is not to engineer a low-carbon, less consumptive, less polluted, more equal world. Not at all. They’re trying to engineer what is essentially a fantasy—a slightly less carbon producing, still consumptive, slightly less polluted, equally unequal world that maintains the current position of the elite capitalist class (a class they all belong to).

To make that happen, it’s all about inflating a new financial bubble. As Cory explores, using a variety of primary source material, if the debt of corporations and regular citizens could be turned into financial securities and sold as investments to hedge funds, pension funds and other institutions, then why not create a new form of debt related to greening the economy? And why not do it on the backs of the poor and the non-white? And why not prove the investment potential of that debt so it can be similarly securitized and sold by major financial firms? Capitalism rescued! At least for a little while longer.

This is what Al Gore and his cohorts are trying to unlock. This is their mission. And guiding inspirational movements led by relatable teenagers such as Greta Thunberg is how they gain the critical mass among the general population they need to grease the wheels of government and industry and make their banal dream a reality.

It’s this insight that make’s Morningstar’s series so important. She is trying to help you see the wolves and their sharp smiles peeking out from behind those cuddly lambs you want to help and support.

As always, thanks for reading and thanks for listening.

 

[Stephen Boni is both Ghion Journal’s current editor and a contributing writer. His main interest is in analyzing the workings of empire and exploring ways to dismantle and replace systems of oppression. A conflicted New Englander with an affinity for people, music and avoiding isms, he lives in Oakland, California with his wife and young daughter.]

A 100 Trillion Dollar Storytelling Campaign

A 100 Trillion Dollar Storytelling Campaign

October 6, 2019

By Cory Morningstar

 

“To even embark on a strategy of rebuilding and realization-to renew a liberating vision of justice and human rights – we must be clear about the strengths of state power and be prepared to defend ourselves against that power. The repressive apparatus is powerful, with its fingers stretched into every crevice or crack in the state’s hegemony it can find.”

 

— Marilyn Buck

 

“They put your mind right in a bag, and take it wherever they want.”

 

— Malcolm X

 

We Mean Business, April 2019 Newsletter

We Mean Business, April 2019 Newsletter

 

We must learn how the unprecedented wealth accumulation among the very few ends up protected by layers and layers of moneyed social institutions co-ordinating to perpetuate the system, while progressively oppressive financial pressure and state violence against the already oppressed keep herding people into the capitalist framework. When we face the sad reality of the public embracing policies that allow the powerful minorities to exploit and subjugate them over and over, what we need is not a popular mobilization guided by vague slogans easily subsumed by the imperial framework. Such a method would lead to draconian enforcement of corporate “solutions” according to their definition of “problems”. It is a recipe for bringing about a fascist order. What we need is openness and willingness to learn how we are domesticated by the authoritarian framework so that the actions are guided by the interests of the people in forming a society that allows our true liberation in a mutually respectful and harmonious manner.”

— Hiroyuki Hamada, artist

 

On August 20, 2018, Ingmar Rentzhog, the founder and CEO of We Don’t Have Time posted the “lonely girl” tweet. The tweet featured Greta Thunberg. This was the first day of her climate strike. She sat on a sidewalk and said nothing beside a sign. Just two months prior, social media accounts had been created in her name. Rentzhog, whose tech corporation is partnered with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, tagged five Twitter accounts: Greta Thunberg, Zero Hour (youth movement), Jamie Margolin (the teenage founder of Zero Hour), Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, and the People’s Climate Strike Twitter account.

The third person to respond to Rentzhog’s tweet was We Mean Business co-founder Callum Grieve. Grieve responded to Greta with a personal message adding the hashtag #WeDontHaveTime. We Mean Business represents 477 investors with 34 trillion USD in assets. [July 4, 2019] The founding partners of We Mean Business are BSR, CDP, Ceres, The B Team, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), and the WBCSD. Together, these organizations represent the most powerful – and ruthless – corporations on the planet, groups salivating to unleash 100 trillion dollars to fuel the fourth industrial revolution. To save a global economic system teetering on collapse.

September 22, 2019: "Rebooting the entire world and creating a new economy", We Mean Business Twitter account

September 22, 2019: “Rebooting the entire world and creating a new economy”, We Mean Business Twitter account

 

The Climate Group, co-founder of We Mean Business. July 19, 2018, #WeDontHaveTime hashtag, tagged: This Is Zero Hour

The Climate Group, co-founder of We Mean Business. July 19, 2018, #WeDontHaveTime hashtag, tagged: This Is Zero Hour

 

Grieve is the co-founder and director of Counter Culture, a brand development firm specializing in behavioural change campaigns and storytelling. He created Climate Week NYC for The Climate Group which launched in 2009. He has also coordinated high-level climate change communications campaigns and interventions for the United Nations, the World Bank Group, and several Fortune 500 companies. He also manages the Every Breath Matters campaign founded by Christiana Figueres, the former UNFCCC executive secretary credited with the Paris Agreement.

In response to the Thunberg tweet, Grieve added the following accounts to Rentzhog’s original tweet: The Climate Museum, Youth Climate March LA, This is Zero Hour Ft. Lauderdale, Greenpeace International, and the UNFCCC, the “official Twitter account of UN Climate Change”.

[Further reading: ACT IV: They Mean Business]

Suffice to say that tweet was code for “it’s started”. Covered by media on day one, within 12 days Thunberg would be featured in The Guardian. The rest is history.

The NGOs and foundations learned how to “herd cats” successfully for the People’s Climate March in September 2014, but never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined that in September 2019 they would so easily herd millions.

September 30, 2019: We Mean Business Post-Climate Week Newsletter

September 30, 2019: We Mean Business Post-Climate Week Newsletter

 

On September 25, 2019, the United Nations answered the global strikes with the call for a Global Green New Deal. It is quite fascinating that none of the groups and leading proponents who have mobilized the populace to demand a “Green New Deal” are sharing the UN announcement with the corresponding 201-page report. Perhaps it is because with this report, in which the word “growth” appears 392 times, it will be difficult to convince a populace that this is anything but what it actually is – a desperate attempt to save the global capitalist economic system destroying our planet.

UN calls for ‘Global Green New Deal’ to boost world economy:

“In a fresh report, the UN trade, investment and development agency (UNCTAD) called for countries to join forces and enable trillions of dollars in public sector investments to help reboot the global economy… What is needed, he told journalists, is to apply the same ambitious model used in the United States to overcome the Great Depression in the 1930s and apply it “at a global scale”… Looming global recession… UNCTAD’s flagship Trade and Development report painted a bleak picture of the global economic outlook, warning that the world risks slumping into recession next year… Even ignoring the worst downside risks, the report projected that global growth would fall to 2.3 percent this year from 3.0 percent in 2018, cautioning that global recession in 2020 was now “a clear and present danger“. [Emphasis added]

Even the reference to “climate” within the report is recognized as both a means and justification for global growth. (“A climate for change: The case for a global green expansion”)

One must wonder when the marchers and strikers will be notified.

 

“It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, the capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.”

 

— Malcolm X

 

Volume I:

ACT I: The Political Economy of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex [https://bit.ly/2XkVrTR]

ACT II: The Inconvenient Truth Behind Youth Co-optation [https://bit.ly/2VibAYp]

ACT III: The Most Inconvenient Truth: “Capitalism is in Danger of Falling Apart” [https://bit.ly/2tBHp2B]

ACT IV: The House is On Fire! & the 100 Trillion Dollar Rescue [https://bit.ly/2TZyUKd]

ACT V: The Green New Deal is the Trojan Horse for the Financialization of Nature [https://bit.ly/2TZyOlP]

ACT VI: A Decade of Social Manipulation for the Corporate Capture of Nature [Crescendo] [https://bit.ly/2U7YBbx]

Addenda I: The Branding of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — By Any Means Necessary [https://bit.ly/2kpDDIv]

Volume I in book form: https://amzn.to/2kV6Jj9

Volume II:

An Object Lesson In Spectacle [An introduction to Volume II] [https://bit.ly/2kKLAZc]

ACT I: A Design to Win — A Multi-Billion Dollar Investment [https://bit.ly/2mjmYXF]

ACT II: Controlling the Narrative [https://bit.ly/2msdlpP]

ACT III: To Plunder What Little Remains: It’s Going To Be Tremendous [https://bit.ly/2m61flO]

ACT IV: They Mean Business [https://bit.ly/2mkPZSP]

ACT V: The Behavioural Change Project “To Change Everything” [https://bit.ly/2mr3pwL]

ACT VI: Natural Climate Manipulations [https://bit.ly/2MjT1zZ]

[ACT VII forthcoming]

 

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can support her independent journalism via Patreon.]