Shanker Singham is a key protagonist in the theory, creation, promotion and enablement of charter cities.
Please look at Baker Street Herald website for thorough analysis of and concise information on charter cities.
Analysis of Singham’s exposition of his work
At the start of the interview with Edgington Post Singham described himself as representing Babson Global and said “we create the operating systems for these zones. We negotiate with governments.”
An experienced career criminal recited his curriculum vitae of criminal accomplishments, each of which handed more unearned wealth to the wealthiest and made everyone else a renter of their lives.
“I was very involved in the privatisations in the former Soviet Union and in the transformation in Latin America.”
“We have had a participating role in moving countries from communism into free-market capitalism.”
Singham’s abject lack of concern for the victims of his experiments with people’s lives was clear. He said “we’ve learnt a lot of lessons in that process” over his (then) twenty-five year career of imposing free-racketeering on countries. He meant lessons in how best to exploit with low risk for the exploiter.
His focus, his targets, are always “developing countries and emerging markets” because such countries are less able to withstand pressure, economic or violent, from outside their borders. Devastating economic sanctions accompanied by violent coups, both engineered by free-racketeers, featured (and still do) throughout South and Central America, Africa and Asia for several decades in countries where the public voted for a socialist government.
Singham congratulated himself on his work over a quarter of a century (in “developing countries“) and said “property rights protection was somewhat done.” By “property rights” Singham didn’t mean ownership of a house by a family. He meant exploiters “owning” necessities of life – public services – and “owning” land. He meant the right to exploit and to reduce the majority of the people to renters of their lives.
Proudly, he proclaimed “we did privatisation laws in many, many countries.” The privatisation god dictating to entire countries how they should enslave themselves to free-racketeering.
He added that “open trade was somewhat done. We integrated a lot of countries into the global trading system.” “Integrated” is an example of a word not used banally; it has an aggressive and destructive definition. Countries were coerced into signing away their wealth to international exploiters.
Singham’s “somewhat” success dissatisfied him because “crony capitalists” had popped up to his surprise. Although such capitalists exist, they are called just “capitalists.” They are a by-product, intentionally, of Singham’s changes to “ownership” and “trade.” His invented otherness of them is merely a ruse to offer false proof of a need for further destruction of society and of democracy.
Accompanied by audible chirps of impressed agreement from the interviewer, Signham’s excitement level rose as he headed toward his concocted pre-prepared conclusion that charter cities are a solution and a necessity. “We realised that knocking our heads against the brick wall of doing national reform wasn’t working. We needed to find an alternative delivery mechanism for reform.”
He explained exactly what he meant by “property rights protection.” He noted that in recent decades in many “developing countries” new cities (not necessarily charter cities) were built where previously no city or town existed. There are fewer new cities in “developed” countries because enough cities and large towns already exist. New cities need a lot of land. He understands land as commodity. It is his only perception of land. He does not understand land as belonging to everyone – public land; he does not understand land as belonging to no-one; he does not understand the rights of indigenous people to live on land as their ancestors did. He sees land as something to steal and to declare as property. He thinks land is there to be grabbed as an “investment.”
His political stance on land is ultra-imperialist, ultra-colonialist and is diametrically opposed to any humane perception of what land is and what the relationship should be between people and land. He enjoys sticking the flag of corporatism into land, backed by an army of criminal pseudo-legalities and by an army of soldiers if needed.
He said “there is land in these emerging countries and developing markets that is being use to create these new cities [not charter cities]” and he knew he and his colleagues could enrich themselves and their employers. After re-elucidating his con-trick about governments wanting to “reform” but being held back by “crony capitalists” he said
“The reason with we are working with NeWay is the initial stages of this [setting up charter cities] require the land aggregation process and investment in land.”
Again, Singham’s choice of words is not banal.
“Aggregation” of land means theft accompanied by threats of financial penalties if theft stopped.
“Investment” in land means unearned huge profits by selling stolen land or by charging rent.
He stated that buyers of land “can invest for a relatively low risk.” His proof of this was his explanation of the process of a charter city being agreed with a government.
“What we’re saying to a government is sign a letter of intent with us to negotiate, to look at the possibility of an enterprise city. You’re not committing to a city at all, you are committing to the notion of looking at a regulatory autonomous zone that a free-market, economically freedom-based regulatory system. If we can do that then we sign a regulatory framework agreement with the government which takes about six months.”
The time-scale coupled with the staged process of creation means, according to Singham, that
“we can go to the people interested in investing in the land. At each of the stages of development [of the charter city] the land is automatically revalued. So, from an investor’s standpoint, there’s very little risk in investing in the land because you are getting a hard asset that has very low value right now [at the beginning] because there’s very little economic activity and that is constantly being revalued. There are multiple exit points.”
His description of “an investor’s standpoint” revealed Singham’s embedded philosophy. It showed how his view of land, of people’s relationship with land, and of the existence of mankind is divorced completely from any reasoned, human, moral and ethical view.
Public land means everyone owns it and no-one owns it. It is just there. In most of the world, most land is not owned. It is just there. For indigenous people, in, say, Australia, Canada, Bolivia or Honduras, there is a strong relationship between land and the people. In countries where Singham wants to create his charter cities, so much of the land just exists. He cannot abide that. He sees land, wild and undeveloped, and sees free money. Offer a paltry sum to a government, via coercion and threats, grab the land and then use it as a source of income in perpetuity. The “ownership” of land that he demands is based on exclusion and extortion; the people are excluded and they are charged for its use.
Singham is a gofer for a small elite of wealth concentrators. People are there to be used and exploited. The poorer the people are, the less power they have, the more keen he and his associates are to exploit them.
After hearing how thrilled Singham was to talk about theft of land, destruction of democracy and enablement of exploitation, the interviewer declared
“this is what every rich person wants for their life. They want to change the world. This [charter cities] could be the opportunity to create a petri dish and see if it works.”
Edgington Post’s other interviewees included libertarian extremists Grover Norquist and Peter St. Onge. The platform exists to promote extremist economics and all its con-tricks. The interviewer’s comment about intent of “rich” people was obviously false. Most “rich” people want to maintain their wealth and increase it. If “they want to change the world” it would be for their benefit.
A common ruse by some of the wealthiest people is to recast themselves as “philanthropists” and/or activist campaigners. Broadcaster and comedian Lee Camp described such philanthropists as “someone who uses 1/100th of the insane wealth they accumulated by exploiting workers, polluting the environment, and avoiding taxes in order to manufacture photo opportunities with people and places that were destroyed by their greed.“
Recently, morally worthless entities like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk sought to direct opinion of them by pretending to be of benefit to mankind. Clear flaws in their attempts to be recognised as useful include the money they claim they wish to use being significantly less than profits obtained via exploitation, and the fact that there is no reason whatsoever for them to assume they have sufficient knowledge or intelligence to able to make decisions about what is best for society.
The “petri dish” remark affirmed the gambler’s psyche of charter cities enthusiasts. It is an experiment with people’s lives, livelihoods and homes but for “investors” it is “low risk” with “multiple exit points.”
Brimen interjected saying “we think capital is an extension of self. By investing in causes you believe in you can massive returns on investment while promoting a world you want to live into that your children and your grandchildren can inherit.” His use of language is important.
People who have made the world better by their inventions or hard work, including advances in medical care, food production, energy supply, technology, should not be prevented from benefitting personally from that. But, for charter cities, the “investors” are not benefitting society at all and every cent or penny that they accrue is attained via exploitation. Brimen spoke of “massive” profits.
Singham compared “the American dream” to “most of the rest of the world” where he said “people live in crony capitalist environments.” The “American dream” was and is a fraudulent soundbite invented to justify policies of exploitation and to justify lack of society. Gap between wealthiest and poorest in USA is enormous. It is the only democratic country where access to healthcare is entirely dependent on ability to pay. The biggest earners in USA history – oil extraction and food production – were acquired via theft of land. Tax avoidance in USA is rampant; corruption in levels of government is rampant; the arms industry is a trillion dollar fleecing of the American people. The “American dream” was a dream of criminals and a nightmare for most people.
The beneficiaries of “the American dream” are the same as Singham’s “crony capitalists.” He differentiated because that fitted the con sell of “the American dream” to people and governments elsewhere. He said in many countries there are “no opportunities, no prosperity and no jobs.” What he omitted to explain is that, for many countries around the world, lack of opportunity to a good life is due primarily to USA-based businesses exploiting people in other countries. The small percentage of people who benefit from “the American dream” are the same people who benefit from cross-border exploitation via ownership of land, businesses and public services. Furthering that exploitation is precisely the aim of charter cities.
He described his “system” as “removing the roadblocks” that prevent people from being successful. He said the offer to countries (governments) from him and his associates is to have a “mini-Singapore” in their country. In countries where land is “owned” by international syndicates, where public services are “owned” by international syndicates, where international financial institutions collect protection money (“debt” payments), where politicians are paid off to act on behalf of international syndicates, where continuous threat of murderous violence by international armies exists as a deterrent against the people voting for a socialist government, and where continuous threats of money theft by international financial institutions exists as a deterrent against the people voting for a socialist government, the majority of people are prevented from being successful, and Singham’s land theft for his charter cities would exacerbate the impossibility of success for most people.
Singham stated a list of governments with whom he claimed he was negotiating and the interviewer responded by bemoaning the fact that USA wasn’t included. The latter suggested a hypothetical location for a charter city could be along the Texas-Mexico border. He asked
“really, we can’t give up this stuff? Much of it is nothing land, right?”
In that offhand remark, laced with a bastard’s smirk, the interviewer provided a precis of libertarian ethos. As noted above, libertarians cannot conceive land as just being there, ownerless. They refuse to consider or accept public ownership of land. They are wilfully ignorant of the human connection between land and indigenous people. They are hard-blinkered parasites, thieves, con artists; they are the antithesis of humanity. They see land, beautiful, wild, undamaged land, and see only an opportunity to grab it, evict residents, put up barriers, and then rent the land back at extortionate prices.
Singham said he has plans in USA territory Puerto Rico to which the interviewer, through his laughter, said “they need help.” A natural disaster devastated Puerto Rico. USA governments refused to assist adequately. Ongoing severe problems there attract salivating disaster capitalists and extreme exploiters.
For charter cities to try to assuage the relentless gluttony of their “investors” the cities must crush all competition, particularly the nearest. Singham said Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong had been very successful because “they have been massively different from the surrounding region.” The “success,” enjoyed by a small elite in each location, of a charter city, and its attractiveness to “investors,” is dependent upon “the surrounding region” being unsuccessful, including the country from which the land was stolen for the charter city.
The assertion that “we want our zones to be massively different from surrounding regions in emerging markets, that’s what creates the investor proposition” emphasised the contempt toward the countries in which charter cities will be placed and the disdain for the people who live there.
“It’s harder to do that [the massive difference] in advanced developed countries” was not just a statement about such countries being, in some sense, wealthier than “emerging markets” countries. Singham and colleagues know that the latter countries’ governments can much more easily be lent upon to follow instructions due to “debt” “owed” to corporate entities and financial institutions and due to the constant, sometimes hidden, sometimes not, threat of an excuse for military invasion from USA and allies if the governments pursue policies that favour their own citizens over international corporate interests.
A country can, if a spectacularly bad decision is made, recede from “advanced developed” to equivalent to “emerging.” Wilful destruction can create a scenario where society veers toward collapse, trade is made extremely cumbersome, public services are directed toward self-annihilation, and democracy is eschewed; Singham and his associates’ contribution to the design of Brexit is not insignificant.
The interviewer described the start point for a charter city as akin to building a new tourist resort in the sense that the resort might be built “in the middle of nowhere.” In a bleak way he was partially right. Tourist resorts are often built in previously remote unspoilt areas, from scratch. Benefits for local people vary but often there is little benefit. For charter cities there is no benefit to local people.
“capitalism can take a worthless rock and turn it into the most profitable city in the world.”
That assertion was steeped in every facet of extreme anti-humanity exploitation.
1. He sees a “worthless rock.” He doesn’t see a piece of planet earth. He doesn’t see a habitat for wildlife. He doesn’t see or care about desolate beauty, about wild untainted land. He cannot conceive of the existence of something that is intrinsic, that just is.
2. The “worthless rock” might be home to people. People may live there and their descendants may have lived there for centuries or millennia. The relationship between the people and the land might be deeply ingrained in their entire history and culture. He doesn’t want to know about that. He considers himself to be a separate species, to be an employee of overlords who remove people who are in their way.
3. Who owns the “worthless rock?” No-one and everyone. Simultaneously, it is publicly-owned and ownerless. So, he steals it, from everyone, but, as far he convinces himself, he steals it from no-one. According to rules of exploitative capitalism, it is a victimless crime.
As an aside the interviewer said “I don’t know exactly where Hong Kong is.”
He doesn’t need to know where charter city locations are. He doesn’t care. They are somewhere else. They are places and people to be exploited. New colonialism. Columbus and Drake had no idea where they were going or where they were when they arrived; they just went in search of places to pillage on behalf of their kings and queens. Charter cities developers steal places on behalf of their corporate monarchs.
Singham preached his philosophy. “Our job is to create the opportunities [for the private sector] and sell them.” He stressed that charter city plans do not make any assumptions about whether the location they stole might be suitable for privateers (other than preference for a coastline); he and his associates “create” something attractive to “investors.” His arrogance about his capabilities is a facet of being a new colonialist: It stems from ingrained perspective of looking down on the world. That arrogance is, of course, a performance.
The key reason why he can eschew assumptions about whether a charter city suits investors is that if it is heading to failure he can just walk away with no loss and leave damaged land and a half-built city behind him.
On attractiveness of a charter city to investors he said if they are convinced that “a better regulatory environment exists” – that is, regulations that acutely favour exploitation with no risk – and that “the host government won’t interfere in the project in the future” – that is, future governments will support extreme exploitation in favour of the wealthiest – then “capital will flow.”
Singham summed up neatly the intrinsic cowardice in capitalism and investment. “Capital will flow” if law is skewed wholly in favour of those with capital and if elected governments cannot interfere. “Capital will flow” if there is a guarantee that it will multiply by several factors; “capital will flow” if there is no risk.
He used the phrase “capital will flow” to imply a positive action. His outlook on humanity is that people should rejoice that a capitalist’s ill-gotten gains are “flowing” when all that capitalist is doing is using wealth to beget wealth from the hard work of others.
“Trillions of dollars is out there looking for this kind of opportunity.”
The soundbite above is one his favourites. It is a statement so detached from reality that it almost proves the multiverse theory.
Does Singham’s “trillions of dollars” exist? If they exist, where are they? Is it money listed as being held in bank accounts? If so, it is money generated (paid) by consumers and renters as profit for capitalists; it is money created by hard work of employees; it is money that avoided taxation – most of the money is held in tax haven accounts; it is money that should not belong to those who claim it as theirs.
But, do the “trillions” exist? Capitalist “investment” is usually made-up money, created out of thin air by financial institutions and given to “investors.”
If the holders of “trillions of dollars” or the creators of “trillions of dollars” had any interest in alleviating poverty, as Singham claimed he does, they could try to do so by building infrastructure including employment. But, contrary to Singham’s marketing blurb, that is not the intent of charter cities. Stolen land, no risk “investment,” exploiter-friendly “regulatory environment” and neutered “host” government combine to set up a wealth-begetting-wealth factory.
The interviewer was disappointed that Honduran Supreme Court “scuttled” the charter city on Roatán Island. It must be annoying when law stops criminality. (Further charter city developments on the island occurred over the next few years – see Baker Street Herald. Six years after this interview Honduran people elected a socialist government.)
He asked Brimen “what kind of capital would it take to turn barren land into a capitalist-based city?” His examples of “barren land” included a “forest” and a “desert.” Brimen said he needed enough capital to turn a “nothingness” into “titled land.” He said his company’s capital is used to buy the land and acquire contracts (for planning permission, etc.). A translation is Brimen’s company uses a combination of bribes and coercion to persuade a government to give away land and pays legal teams to concoct contracts. There is no difference between his behaviour and that of large criminal cartels. It is the same process used throughout colonial history all over the world.
The interviewer revealed his rancid libertarianism when, in an aside about the development of New York city, he accused “unions” of stifling growth. What he meant was that organised labour had dared to demand higher wages for their labour for someone else’s wealth and better working conditions particularly in regard to safety. Everything is viewed by the three participants in the interview from the perspective of wealth concentration and everyone else is considered a hindrance. The alignment with organised crime philosophy is total.
Singham listed his professional achievements – assisting theft of public services in UK, assisting oligarchs’ theft of public services in Russia after the end of USSR, and assisting non-democratic authoritarian governments in South and Central America to concentrate wealth away from the public – and said
“I’ve developed over that twenty-five years a set of skills and experiences that is perfectly aligned and perfectly placed to create these kinds of zones and to create the regulatory autonomy and the economic systems and legal system that will generate economic activity.”
His self-aggrandisement was accurate. He had developed those skills and he had developed the financial and political connections needed to be able to proceed with his charter cities. He knows how to manipulate and direct governments, he knows how to structure laws and contracts that ensure concentration of wealth dominates any other outcome, he knows how to present his aims as opposite to what they are, and he knows that wealth gatherers’ focus should always be on public services and necessary services because the public cannot avoid paying for them.
He described what he is doing as “taking away the roadblocks that are encapsulated in economic distortions that are the carrier for crony capitalism.”
“These zones are designed to deal with economic distortions around the world. Most countries are massively distorted. We are leaving 1100% GDP growth on the table in exchange. We are in a period of incredibly stalled growth that we should not be in, because of distortions.”
Singham’s “crony capitalists” are an invention. Capitalists are capitalists.
His “distortions” include actions taken by some governments to limit exploitation within the context of a capitalist system.
It is true that productivity around the world is less than it could be but that is because capitalism encourages waste, of time and resources, and because it is designed to concentrate wealth not to assist mankind.
A balanced assessment of how the capitalist systems fails could include similar language to Singham’s in the quote above, but the solution is not greater, deeper, more focussed, libertarian exploitation. His twenty-five years of experience enhanced his conman’s manipulation of language.
On finding the workforce for the charter cities the interviewer said people will be “dying for work” because charter cities will be in “less prosperous” countries. He placed odd emphasis on “dying.” He invented the phrase “fourth world countries” and said “these people will do anything to get the job.”
Desperate people, starving with dilapidated homes, will “do anything to get the job” and they are an exploiter’s dream. Workers in “developed” countries have employment laws, health and safety laws, and unions; the workers for the charter cities will have none of that.
On “investors” for charter cities Singham said “foreign investors” will build factories and plants, and domestic businesses will have “lower operating costs.” He described a category of people he called entrepreneurs, “walking around with an idea in their heads,” without access to capital who, apparently, had not enacted their ideas because of “inflexible labour markets.”
In reality, the people who will “do anything to get the job” will build the factories and plants, “lower operating costs” are due to low wages, no job security, no employment law, no health and safety law and no taxation of profits, and the “entrepreneurs” are gamblers who want to grab profit for themselves on others’ work and to do so without risk.
Brimen was asked about “the money it takes to make this project happen.” He said it’s “structured as a traditional venture capital fund.” He explained that means “accredited” investors, a definition based solely on how much net worth and how much predicted annual income they have, pay his company so it can arrange theft of land and manipulation of law; their profits will be paid later: “Return on investment will be very significant.”
In summary, in their own words (Singham and Brimen), charter cities are a system for wealth begetting wealth for no effort by “investors” attained by “flexible labour markets” of people who will “do anything to get the job” on land that is “barren land” or a “worthless rock.”