My great-aunts murdered their brother. Everyone knew why, when and how they did it, yet despite the crime’s horrifying brazenness, it was so perfect no one bothered questioning them.

I grew up believing that crimes are punished; my great-grandfather was a Texas Ranger and the first Federal Marshal of Tulsa, Oklahoma. So we knew more about crime than most. What I had to learn is that perfect crimes are common. Anyone can commit one; I can write you the script for one currently in progress. The only requirements are malignant selfishness, callous cunning, patience and greed.

• Step 1: Pick a suitable target – someone with something you want. My aunts wanted Trewman’s money. But use your imagination. In his memoir, retired Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan lamented that the American public could not accept that we invaded Iraq for its oil. He bemoaned the contortions, non-existent weapons of mass destruction, used to justify the invasion. On the contrary, embrace contortions; they are your armor.

Nevertheless, just because the whole planet is fair game, don’t get cocky. Know your limits.

• Step 2: Patiently wait for a crisis. Of course, you can foment crises, but that creates a trail of evidence, raising your risk.

Still, if you are determined to go that route, be outrageous. Include as many co-conspirators as possible, but not fewer than thousands. The grander the scale, the more likely you will succeed.


The witty Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire asserted: “All great fortunes are founded on great crimes.” Vladimir Putin rose from KGB agent to mayor of Moscow and then plutocrat in chief, accumulating $100 billion along the way. Most recently, Putin tipped the U.S. presidential election to a malignant narcissist. Moreover, he flaunted it by using history’s oldest spy playbook. Nevertheless, overreach is not your friend, even when you have a country full of co-conspirators.

• Step 3: Insert yourself into the crisis benignly and reasonably. No one should have any suspicion regarding motive; of course, the brother’s two loving sisters would visit him in his private room after his successful surgery.

Occupying a position of authority is ideal because it opens a realm of opportunity otherwise inaccessible. Legal systems focus on crimes of commission. For what is not done, criminal punishment is rare. Yet with authority, you can often achieve your ends through inaction. For example, if you benefit by amplifying a crisis, say, turn an epidemic into a global pandemic by slow-walking what everyone expects you to do, what is the statutory crime? Moreover, if the value of stock portfolios skyrockets, you have millions of co-conspirators. In that case, you and your enablers could, with impunity, murder more Americans than died in the Great Influenza pandemic of 1918.

• Step 4: Entangle your accomplices. Avoid accomplices entirely, but if you cannot, ensure that their incentives align with yours. For example, when the nurse checks on the sleeping patient later that night and discovers his windows wide open in the middle of winter, it works to your advantage when the hospital holds no one accountable. And, should someone clean out the patient’s safety deposit box the next day, well, they had the key.

In “The Shock Doctrine,” Naomi Klein explains how the world’s financiers coordinate to create massive economic crises. Then, they leverage the chaos to impose extremist governments that subsequently allow the appropriation of the targets’ public assets – through privatization or outright confiscation. Western hedge funds attempted it in newly democratic Russia, except the Soviet Union’s recently disenfranchised oligarchs played the game with the insiders’ advantage.

The United States did not stumble accidentally into its most significant social and economic crisis since the Great Depression. Over decades, the 1 percent drowned the country’s civil service in a platinum bathtub and stalemated the political system. Consequently, according to Rand Corp. researchers, changes in public policy since 1975 have redistributed $50 trillion from middle-class Americans to the country’s political-donor class.

Fortunately, the United States’ public assets are worth approximately $269 trillion in hard currency value, not Wall Street funny money. But, unfortunately, while the country could weather any financial storm, it could also be stampeded into selling our assets for pennies on the dollar.

Ask yourself what it would take to tip the wealthiest, most powerful country on earth into chaos.

Oh, my great-uncle died of pneumonia.

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