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$21 Trillion Heist: It’s Only Theft When You’re Not Wealthy Enough to Get Away With It

Perhaps the Washington Post and the New York Times have their top teams of investigative journalists tracking the trail of the missing $21 Trillion. Maybe MSNBC, FOX and CNN are all simply waiting for the February ratings period to drop their bombshells about the missing money. But don’t bet on it.

Michigan State University economics professor Dr. Mark Skidmore tells me none of the media giants have called him about the $21 Trillion question, even though the news has been public for more than a month. The story started when the professor heard a seemingly preposterous podcast from Catherine Austin Fitts, a former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) official. A skeptical Skidmore and his MSU team began scouring thousands of government documents from the past 20 years for flawed accounting procedures.

“I just thought she was wrong,” admits Skidmore. When Fitts spoke of missing trillions, the economist was convinced she was mistaken “by an order of magnitude”, and surely must have meant billions. Not only was Fitts right on the money, but the $21 Trillion number could “for sure” move higher, Skidmore adds, because five full years of figures are unavailable to his researchers.

Both Forbes and Reuters reported the news back in December. Still, the major corporate media outlets that currently control the country’s groupthink have somehow managed to keep 21 trillion worms nestled neatly inside a can with an open lid. Skidmore and I talked about the first time Americans learned of missing trillions back in September 2001, when Donald Rumsfeld was trying to explain away Pentagon accounting to Congress. “And then 9/11 happened on the next day, and our attention turned away from it,” Skidmore recalls. “And it never came back.”

How much is $21 Trillion? It’s enough to give $1 million to 21 million different people. It’s also enough to give $65,000 to every living human being in America. Reports of this much missing money should not only make every U.S. taxpayer question our government, they should give every journalist that jolt of adrenaline we live for to motivate us to find answers. Instead, the corporate media silence is deafening. How does this happen?

“The only one (to call) has been The Nation,” Dr. Skidmore told me Thursday, after answering his own MSU office phone on my first attempt to reach him. He graciously indulged all my questions for 25 minutes, and impressed me as extremely level-headed, especially considering the seemingly surreal nature of the subject matter. Skidmore also passed on chances to criticize the media for not giving his work more attention.

Fitts, whose resume includes everything from assistant secretary at HUD, to Wall Street investment manager, to publisher and writer at, reminds us even media motivation is most often about money and the markets.

“No one makes money from taking the punch bowl from the party,” Fitts responded via email. “One of the greatest sources of wealth in this century is the equity value resulting from funding and technology transfer for classified and secret-access projects and assets performed by private companies for the federal government. Those with equity interests do no want to see taxpayers’ legitimate rights asserted to claim a portion of this wealth.”

Undoubtedly, there are fantastic journalists at all the major news outlets who would love to chew on this biggest of stories, but over the course of time, a sense of learned helplessness sets in. They know their bosses likely won’t cover the important stories, so they give up trying. If reporters and producers enjoy their jobs, they can’t be troublemakers constantly pitching problem stories, or they won’t last long. And even if they hate their jobs, they probably still love their paychecks, so most are going to shut up. This is the subtle, self-imposed censorship of corporate media.

At the nation’s television networks, the intense day-to-day grind on reporters to fill airtime in a 24-news cycle doesn’t allow much down time for digging or research. In addition, the full-force investigative powers of a major network are unlikely to be exhausted on stories that don’t serve the corporate interest. In this case, attacking the Pentagon, which is not only a key source of information but also a major advertiser, could be viewed as a lose-lose for both a news department and a network’s bottom line.

The idea that $21 Trillion slipped through the cracks at the Defense Department and HUD, under the watch of both political parties, doesn’t fit the desired narrative at the nation’s top newspapers either. The fact that their legions of journalists have not attempted to publicly debunk the story speaks volumes about the report’s legitimacy. With that in mind, the reality that no major newspaper has shed any light on the work done by Skidmore and his team, much less expanded upon it, is shameful at the very least. At its worst, the press appear as potential co-conspirators in a coverup, even if nothing nefarious is actually afoot.

Fitts insists the American people are just now catching on to the once-crazy concept that trillions in missing money could actually be a real thing. She sees public perception turning as people grow increasingly tired of the government’s lack of transparency and accountability.

“Now that pension funds and other contractual benefits and health care are being cut, after trillions have gone to the banks that had no contractual benefits or rights, the idea that a large amount of money has been transferred through or out of the federal government helps explain the growing inequality in a manner that makes much more sense than the official narrative,” Fitts writes.

Skidmore also admits he’s skeptical of the government’s responses. “I know public budgets pretty well,” he says humbly. Given his expertise, Skidmore struggles with the idea that trillions in “accounting adjustments” can be tossed aside with excuses like, “It’s complicated, and we have systems that don’t talk well to each other, but we’re really trying,” and, “They’re just accounting gimmicks to straighten out the books.” The professor trails off with, “So if you believe that…”

Skidmore continues to press the government for more information, even as he acknowledges some people have advised him against pursuing the truth. He sent a list of questions to the Office of the Inspector General. How does nearly a trillion dollars miraculously appear on an Army balance sheet when the entire Army budget only consists of a fraction of that much money? What were the trillions of dollars in unsupported accounting adjustments used for? Who do we owe the money to? “I haven’t yet gotten a response,” he says. “I’ve been waiting for weeks.”

The economics professor acknowledges he doesn’t have all the answers. The federal government’s accounting system is so flawed, a thorough examination of the Federal Reserve may be needed to find the truth. “We could go to the Fed and look for flows in and out that way,” Skidmore suggests. “If it were allowed.”

Of course, that’s not allowed, but alarms are sounding thanks to an unlikely alliance between a former government official and an economist with a keen ear for podcasts. Americans everywhere owe a major thanks to Catherine Austin Fitts and Dr. Mark Skidmore (watch his interview below) for doing heroic work that is often the calling of the fourth estate. Here’s hoping the nation’s career journalists start doing their jobs and join the noble fight to find our missing trillions. #KleptoCrazy

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Below is a video interview of Dr. Mark Skidmore as he explains his discovery, of course you will not see Dr. Skidmore on corporate media, their job is to hide the truth not to seek truth. 

Below is the interview where Catherine Austin Fitts discussed her findings and the discovery of $21 trillion dollars + missing from the Federal Reserve. 

Tim Nuell
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Tim Nuell

Tim is a former reporter and a news producer who pursued the profession of journalism to seek out corruption and speak truth to power. After realizing that mainstream media's objective ran counter to Tim's purpose for pursuing a career in the "fourth estate", he exited the field of media and pursued life away from the limelight. Tim offers views and perspectives about culture and politics through the prism of media.
Tim Nuell
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