Welcome back, my friends/To the show that never ends/We’re so glad you could attend/Come inside! Come inside
While those lyrics are etched into the mind of anyone with a terrestrial radio playing rock music in the last 40 years, unlike Emerson, Lake and Palmer, this story isn’t the Greatest Show on Earth.
But it is one major fuckin’ feature of it.
In fact, it’s possible that it’s purposefully supposed to be the defining feature of it. Grabbing Cash and Taking Names.
Or, as Mean Ol’ Mr. or Mrs. Publius calls it: The Cash Grab Principle. We’ve talked about this a little bit before. Today, we deep dive.
The Cash Grab Principle (hereafter TCGP) consists of different methods, mediums and examples that dictate how certain parts of society are going all-in on any transactions that have a huge ROI. And when we say huge, we mean unethically big ROI. As in, This-Is-So-Big-A-Bunch-Of-Somebodies-Are-Getting-Forked-Over-ROI. We were going to not write this until we realized that it – The Cash Grab Principle – is a defining feature of 21st Century Runaway Capitalism and must be included as a definitive entry of its own on this website, much like the Greater Hipster Theory and Mean World Syndrome.
First off, it’s everywhere.
The Economic Masters have tricked us all a long time ago into thinking that the direct formula for the American Dream was as follows:
Go School + Get Job + Find Significant Other + Buy House, Settle Down
They did this because they own all the psychologists, marketers and other hucksters, and determined early on that a formulaic American Dream (TM) was the perfect tool to get the general public to fall in line, economically-speaking. As Carlin put it “They call it the American Dream because you’d have to be asleep to believe in it.”
Going to school is default, everyone does it. Getting a job is so easy even your dumbfuck coworkers did it (protip: you’ve been a dumbfuck coworker to someone at least once in your career). But, getting a job doesn’t necessarily equal earning a living anymore, so people are having to use more and more hours of their time to find ways to get cash, fast.
As TCGP was fully in place in the lead-up to the Great Recession, just like it’s in place now, it provided people with “opportunity.” The opportunity is sold to the general public through a steady stream of broadcast television, cable news, subscription services, talk radio (which is just THE FUCKIN’ WORST), satellite radio, and a host of websites that have never met a fact they couldn’t discount or spin.
Want to make more money? Sell the things that don’t bring you joy! Want to earn extra? Set up a side business! Want to get into real estate? WELL DO YOU KNOW HOW EASY FLIPPING HOUSES IS? (Protip, it’s not, and it’s not supposed to be.) Have a bunch of gold stuff that granny gave you in her will? There’s a gold buyer coming to a location NEAR YOU! Have a structured settlement and you need cash now? …
You get the point, if you’re now paying attention. An endless charade of “opportunities” that people don’t review the impacts of before signing on. Last time this hit hard was the Great Recession. At that point, the Perfect Storm of the day was deregulated banks that had stuffed their pneumatic tubes down the wallets, mortgage, insurance policy, savings/checking accounts, retirements, piggy banks and mattresses of every last American. That massive deregulation led to something bad, and it happened on purpose. The Economic Masters knew it would happen, even if they could claim plausible deniability about exactly the time, place and format.
That’s why deregulation happens, so these individuals and organizations can get their hands in as many different economic pies as possible, even when the motherfuckers didn’t cook them in the first place.
Additionally, there are strong arguments to be made that TCGP has been alive and well in the U.S. since the Gilded Age, the American Revolution, British Colonialism and every other nationwide system of economics where those at the top can use crises – manufactured or otherwise – to scare the population into somehow giving up their wealth. Hell, there’s a great argument to be made that the only reason Jesus picked up a whip and whupped the fuck outta the money-changers in the temple was because they were running a form of TCGP of the time.
The problem is, people everywhere can see the cash grab happening. They see cash for the taking through methods like House Flipping, Gold Buying/Selling, Gig Markets, etc., and none of it turns out as expected. That’s because TCGP is specifically for the people who exist at higher tiers of the economic system who can shake the system in such a way that it loosens cash from entities (other systems, institutions, organizations and individuals) and directly into their orbit.
When you’re hustling to make as much money in as little time as possible, there is no thought to rules, regulations, ethics and mores.
All in the name of the search for more money.
This came up most recently when we were on The Twitter, as the goddamn kids call it. There, the @dick_nixon account said an ever-increasing likelihood existed: that insurance companies would start dropping high schools due to the increasing risk of concussions from football. [Incidentally, the Insurance Industry (PEACE BE UPON THEM) will also be a decider when it comes to Climate Change, but I’ve already told you part of that story.]
So the problem here is very simple. As kids become bigger and faster due to whatever combination of nature and nurture we currently have PLUS better training and the influx of performance enhancing drugs, football becomes more and more dangerous. As it becomes more dangerous, some student athletes (or their parents) just say “To hell with this” and don’t let them join. But the great athletes might still stay on, knowing the risk, because there’s such a HUGE payoff if you get into and through college to play pro-ball.
Why was Nixon talking about this? Because as we touched on in Treat Politics As A Sport, Nixon fuckin’ loved sports. And, whatever team of geniuses is running that account now is hitting fairly on-brand when it comes to political and sporting insights of the 37th President.
So the serious kids are still playing, and the non-serious kids would be out. Well, that’s good for the non-serious kids, but if insurance companies are no longer covering school districts for sporting programs, who will?
Local Boosters Clubs. They’re already filling in the gaps in a lot of places so the schools can be off the hook for certain activities, and this has been a growing list of activities ever since the first “small government advocate” let their lizard brain repeat the words “TAXES BAD!”
Aside: You read in the fake-James Hetfield “NAPSTER BAD!” voice.
Booster Clubs of all kinds already hold fundraisers for uniforms, fan gear, musical instruments, art supplies and pretty much anything that should be in a school but that have been killed, either by budget cuts, local politics or shifting national priorities. Insurance policies are next in line. And you can bet your ass that if an insurance company is going to pull their policy from a school district whose team has a chance – whose players have even a chance to get out – through football (or other activities down the road), that the Boosters Clubs are going to foot the bill.
What mean, Publius. How Cash Grab? I’m glad you finally got around to asking, shitheel. I’ll fuckin’ tell you. Goddammit if I don’t have to drag you mooks along sometimes.
For this answer, I bring up another scenario regarding insurance and liability: Police unions and Police Brutality. Whenever a civil suit is settled on behalf of a person or people who’ve been wronged by the cops, that’s always paid by the city. Millions of dollars in tax money paid because cops don’t want to be responsible on the job, and the DOJ doesn’t want to investigate their little brothers.
As a quick aside, that number is now higher than 2,300 civil lawsuits in New York alone, which is so monumentally big that the Legal Aid Society has launched an online database to track it: CAPstat. That’s more than 2,000 in one goddamn state. Multiply that by whatever factor you want. Even if it’s “times 1” it’s too goddamn much. But, the scam was solidified. Cops could hide behind one entity (their union) while forcing legal responsibility on another, separate entity (the city they work for).
In the same way, high schools will be insulated by the Football Boosters Club. But, in the process of becoming larger entities that have to take on and manage insurance policies for one or multiple sports, the Booster Clubs will become larger foundations, and sooner or later (sooner) those Trustees are going to start swindling the locals. It will be too much of an expansive thing for corruption not to happen.
Holy cow is there going to be embezzlement! Money will be disappearing left and right. It’ll be Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas-levels of mayhem and chaos, except entirely focused around the Boosters Club of your choice. Add in some “Professional Development Trips” to Cabo San Lucas and a new Tesla with “Boo$tr1” license plate, and you’re all set.
Killer fact: Since the IRS has been gutted so much that it has fewer teeth than ever, motherfuckin grifters are going to get away with it.
Unfortunately, your stupid kids are going to get stupider because now they’ll have a concussion and no recourse. Good luck with that one.
At this time we’re going to wander off this beaten path into the far-reaching jungles of TCGP for other notable examples of where and when this is happening in ‘Murica:
The Bakken Shale Oil Boom of North Dakota, where in Williston, Watford City, Minot, Dickinson and other affected communities, fly-by-night developers came in and stood up housing to get in on sale prices of $350,000 for a modest home, or rental prices of $2,400 a month for a one-bedroom. The new housing got stood up quick-fast-and-in-a-hurry because there was money to be made.
Even more specifically, industry projections showed at the time when the slowdown would happen, so anyone building properties knew that instead of looking at a 15-20-year turnaround for total profit on a property, they were going to charge sooooo fuckin’ much that it resulted in a five-year turnaround for total profit. That is, after five years of rent-gouging, each new rental property had earned enough money to pay off the goddamn loan it took to finance its construction and guarantee profits.
Good for fly-by-night operators, bad for EVERYONE else. Who?
See also the number of presidential candidates who appear every year. We say candidates, not hopefuls, because they’re not hopeful they can make it to the Oval Office, they’re hopeful they can get in on TCGP and make some money. Used to be 2-3 candidates on either side if no incumbent sat in office. Now it’s 10 minimum, with clown cars unloading into two tiers of debates for 15-20 Republicans in 2015-2016 and new debate-entry rules to minimize a similar number of Democratic candidates in the 2019-2020 cycle. They don’t all want to be president, they just want to suckle the teat of the Dark Money Mother for a few months.
After all, there’s hundreds of thousands of dollars to be made even for the worst of the candidates. Millions for those who stay in through the first couple cullings, and potential billions for the circles of those who win.
Since we’re talking about politics, yet another iteration of TCGP can be seen in modern publishing. There’s been a bit of an open secret for a long time that not everyone who gets a spot on the New York Times Bestseller list has earned their way there. Nope, some pay for it. But, the New York Times Bestseller list has a dagger symbol it includes for bulk-purchases to differentiate them from those who’ve earned it the old fashioned ways: good writing first and solid marketing second.
First, the most recent example:
Second, the glaring second example (and third and fourth):
What that all means specifically is that when a book is being written, there’s a giant pool of money that sets somewhere, ready to prop up the sales of said book (twice, actually). Prior to publication, separate groups linked only by the originating money buy bulk orders of the books for shipping to local Barnes and Nobles everywhere, where the books are promptly transferred wherever they will be held until needed.
Protip says they’re being held at your mom’s house.
Who does this? Mainly politicians and the politically-connected, because PACs and SUPER PACs allow for a monumental amount of money to be shuffled around without anyone the wiser. So the books get pre-purchased and sent to Republican or Democratic headquarters, where they then await distribution to local campaign rallies and fundraising events.
The beautiful part – and we say this as professional communicators who also openly advocate the Eating of the Rich – is that it’s possible for political donors to pay three times for the same book that they won’t read. Here’s how:
- Initial donation is made to the campaign of choice. That money is now pooled with other funds to use initially to pay the ghostwriter. Ghostwriting books pays around $1 per word. If the project is for a politician, celebrity or other VIP, that goes up to $2 per word. If the project is going to be super high profile, it’s now $3 per word. With political “memoirs” coming in at 75,000-90,000 words, that’s $225,000-270,000 just for the ghostwriter, who will negotiate some form of a contract that says X amount up front, the remainder on delivery.
- Next, the fundraising cycle continues, with donors giving more, More, MORE! This next round of funds is used by the PAC or Super PAC to bulk order the book.
- The third donation is our favorite, and really sells the notion that a fool and their money are soon parted. The third donation is the donation provided to gain entry into campaign rallies and those $500-10,000 per plate dinners where The Book “is complimentary.”
- So now we have three donations for the same book: First to pay the ghostwriter, second to bulk order, and third to have access to the fuckin book that they may as well have commissioned in the first place! Ain’t politics grand?
But, again, it’s all based on bullshit. The whole goddamn mess. These few examples above are just a bare minimum of the most visible that are out there (to us, anyway). Look around at every single new tech platform, from Uber/Lyft to WeWork and AirBnB and you’ll find even more scandalous behavior.
Those are the ones we know about.
TL;DR: TCGP is the economic idea that people at all levels will hustle to secure money when they see that money become unsecured. The higher up you go on the ladder, the more money becomes unavailable. The gig worker will not be able to apply TCGP as systemically as the banker or politician, who will always benefit massively from waves of deregulation. Somewhere in the middle will be new businesses and industries – for the past two decades, this has been Tech – wreaking havoc where there is money to be made and no ethics to get in the way.
The point being of course, isn’t that Capitalists (or more appropriately rendered: The Capital Class) gonna Capital. It’s that with rising debt, depressed wages and soaring inequality, the Labor Class is now being forced to scramble over itself to try and realize that American Dream. You remember that from earlier, right? You may have been asleep and dreaming of George Carlin.
Anyhow, there’s some type of analogy I’m looking for about individuals scrambling over each other in a panic instead of helping one another to common end, but I just can’t claw it out…