The US Debt Clock measures the extent to which US Government spending exceeds revenues accrued to date. Our current figure is equal to $19,411,632 Million and it will increase noticeably by the time this piece has been published. This is an obvious problem. What is less obvious, is the knock-on problem caused by our government’s current solution. That solution involves our government utilizing an official inflation rate that understates what the common American experiences in daily life. Charles Hugh Smith explains below.
In our household, we measure inflation with the Burrito Index: How much has the cost of a regular burrito at our favorite taco truck gone up? Since we keep detailed records of expenses (a necessity if you’re a self-employed free-lance writer), I can track the real-world inflation of the Burrito Index with great accuracy: the cost of a regular burrito from our local taco truck has gone up from $2.50 in 2001 to $5 in 2010 to $6.50 in 2016.
If we did an Independent Cost Estimate (ICE) on Charles’ favorite burrito under the assumption that the USG was reporting an accurate rate of inflation that applied to all commodities equally, we would believe based on our estimate that the burrito should cost $3.40. If we define the term reality deficit as the delta between an observed cost and a should cost based upon the good faith of the USG annual inflation rate, we get a burrito-based reality deficit equal to $3.10.
Employing some mathematical prestidigitation, we can back out a fourteen-year cumulative rate of inflation equal to 36% for the ICE. The actual rate of increase on the burrito equals 160%. Economists will point out that one data point never defines a trend. Besides, once you’ve added enough Tabasco Sauce, the burrito tastes the same either way. Smith points out that similar reality deficits occur with college education and healthcare. Economists will argue computers and communications systems are cheaper. But as a heckling reporter once told Alan Greenspan; “I can’t eat an iPhone.”
So why would we understate official inflation? To borrow at a lower rate of interest by deliberately underestimating the time preference of money. The lending interest rate will consist of two priced risks. The default risk and the time value of money risk. The US Dollar is the global reserve currency of last resort. This drops our default premium near zero. The US pays the monetary time preference when it borrows internationally. Successfully under-reporting this time preference allows the USG to short customers on Treasury Bond Interest Rates. An artificially low return on Treasury Bonds becomes a form of reverse usury.
So what happens when your paycheck is going up at a notch or two above reported inflation while food and healthcare continue to rise at an accelerated rate? People can’t afford very nice toys anymore. They spend more and more to keep up, so spending diverges from actual economic growth. People also eat their seed corn as their burn rate increases more rapidly than their remuneration. The LA Times cheerleads all of this below.
Consumer spending remained strong in June, increasing 0.4% as incomes continued a slow but steady increase, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Last month’s spending increase matched May’s, as did the 0.2% growth in personal incomes.
With spending outpacing incomes, Americans saved less in June. The percentage of disposable income saved decreased to 5.3%, the fourth-straight monthly decline.
That difference between spending and economic growth? That’s a negative impact of our current reality deficit. We spend more, get paid less and receive less in real value. We wind up saving less just to live today at the same level of expenditure. So the differential between what the Government admits to in inflation and what we experience in our daily lives is effectively a tax that covers the difference between what the government pays and what the government should pay to borrow money it does not have to cover current year spending.
Unlike the national deficit that will never be paid in an honest fashion, the reality deficit will always be paid in full until such a time that it becomes unaffordable. Once this reality dhimmitude becomes unpayable, the system will collapse. This has recently happened in The Soviet Union, North Korea, Zimbabwe and is currently ongoing in Venezuela. Only a historical illiterate would assume that it will not eventually happen to Amerika as well. Reality reacts really poorly when you fail to pay up the vigorish.
Recently an economist asked whether American productivity was actually in decline as reported, because there was some suggestion that measurement criteria may be faulty. In theory, since US competitiveness has “improved,” productivity should also have improved. But this takes us into the woolly world of globalist economics.
The World Economic Forum defines competitiveness as follows:
…the set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country.
The World Competitiveness Report is actually a very interesting, intensive document and I would appreciate philosopher kings reading it. Apart from our paradoxical world where economic modelling of productivity contradicts with competitive measures, it appears that quality itself is also deteriorating. Measurements simply do not tally up anymore because of a lack of Quality Assurance and Control.
For example, take how Donald Trump polls before Iowa differed from the actual vote outcome. In addition Trump’s non-PC approach seems to contradict the generally accepted norms of the GOP; in fact, it exposed the lies of the some incumbents currently supporting the same party. Clearly there is a total lack of quality control in how polling and political parties work.
his has even gone so far that people accept “fact-checking” as the “norm.” In other words, independent fact checking has now been accepted as the “new” quality norm obviating the need for politicians to apply their own quality policies. This sad state of affairs can be seen in companies too –- despite companies having registered their ISO standards –- it has become a marketing tool only.
Another aspect of competitiveness can be seen in the changing assessment of Syrian competitiveness. According to the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) of 2007 and 2011, Syria fell from its position at 80 (out of approximately 150 countries participating, with lower scores being more competitive) to 98. This is clearly a serious drop requiring further evaluation.
The GCI process measures and allocates all participating countries into three competitive groups as follows:
All together there are 12 pillars distributed between these three groups which allows the “judges” to fairly accurately allocate a country; for example, Syria was allocated to the “Basic Requirements” group because of its good merits in the first four pillars and bad merits in the other eight pillars. Obviously it is not a problem but in fact is intended to provide assistance (free of charge) to politicians in Syria to bite the bullet as it were.
In the 2016 report Syria appeared to have disappeared, most likely caused by their inability to even participate. This is where things become interesting. Clearly the World would benefit by encouraging Syria to improve (as it were), so why drop them from the GCI Report?
Before I answer that, let’s take a detour to what the GCI Report thought about 9/11.
From the above, three interesting paragraphs emerge:
- “This Report makes a key implicit assumption that economic integration will continue in the years ahead”
- “In the longer term, the terrorist attacks will have a lasting negative impact if the policy responses trigger a reversal of the global economic integration that has characterized the past twenty years”
- “market uncertainty have the potential to raise costs of cross-border business to levels not seen in decades”
Despite enormous losses suffered from the 9/11 terror attacks, globalists really want to have an integrated economic system in the world with no borders because it will reduce their costs. Even a two trillion dollar loss is unimportant to achieve this goal. This is why Bush never killed Osama –- (it is unimportant) and Obama killed him (because it’s unimportant).
This is only one aspect we learn from Syria and Competitiveness. Syria fell off the report because cross-border trade to/from Syria is not an issue anymore.
Another aspect from the GCI report assesses the migrant world. Migrants appear to like moving to Germany and France as a lot of people have noticed. In other words, people from number 98 are moving to live with people at number six or 18. If one considers that Syria only performs well in four out of 12 pillars, imagine the re-education Germany will have to implement in order to educate Syrian adults and children on the additional eight pillars.
The last jewel the GCI report provides in this short evaluation relates to debt. Based on the latest trend to incur debt by simply flooding the marketplace (banks) with money (this is undoubtedly good for Globalists), it points out quite emphatically the following:
The accrual of public debt can enhance competitiveness if it is used to finance investments that raise productivity, such as upgrading schools or supporting research. However, if debt is used to finance present consumption, it burdens the economy in the long run with little tangible benefit.
General feedback regarding quantitative easing is that banks did not lend it to borrowers. They apparently used it via stock exchanges across the world to make money.
If one takes how much was spent to “fix Iraq” or Afghanistan, then one can imagine what it will cost to fix Syria. However, since that investment did not come from Syrians themselves, but from “across” the “cheap” border, the productivity of Syria will not improve, and neither will the economy of America because it is all a bubble.
Clearly globalists do not want quality measures because those increase costs (e.g. Iraqi buildings were never even finished), they do not want borders because those increase costs, but they do want countries with taxpayers to socialize those costs because that will be very productive for the globalists.
The contradiction is that having quality processes and borders is actually good for the middle-class. We have to instruct our elected representatives to represent their electorate (or get prosecuted) and not their donors, simply because it improves competitiveness (the correct way). This is important because bad economy correlates with increased mortality (Syria and Zimbabwe).
One simple improvement may be proposed here (for evaluation): Implement a system manager in each country to perform the necessary loss-benefit analysis of any national policy for its own tax-payers and then implement an enforced quality assurance process that will follow that investment through to its predicted outcome.
This is what Trump intends doing IMO: like a good manager, to run America with its own quality-assured, competitive system. No more “competitive or productive measurements from foreigners” will be necessary after that. They can keep all of that for themselves (especially the incorrect measurement parts).
Do you know what really makes economists sad these days? Do you know what scares them? $10 per Blue Barrel Oil. I’m looking at this and wonder how these doomsayers turn chicken salad into something considerably less savory that comes out of a different part of the fowl.
Cheaper oil means cheaper motive power. Until John Galt invents the perpetual motion engine in his secret mountain hideaway, cheaper oil is the most effective and efficient way to make it easier for the masses to heat their homes, get from point A to point B, and save money on their food and entertainment that anyone could think of. Knock gasoline to $1.00 a gallon and my world gets about a $2,000/year pay raise. If you have your kids in a private school to avoid the gawdawful public ones, $1.00/ gallon gasoline is a 5% coupon towards the tuition.
But when we look at how the prospect $10 per Blue Barrel oil gets written up, you would think most of the people in the oil and gas exploration industry were cheering for M. King Hubbert’s Peak. So what happens when shale oil technology gives us Hubbert’s Lush, Green Valley instead?
Many oil exporters have already been put under pressure by the slump in prices. Among them, Russia and Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. Gulf states have also come under strain, with Saudi Arabia unveiling a record budget deficit of 367bn riyals (£67bn) for last year. Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists said the oil price slump meant that “the era of [Saudi’s] material overspending is likely firmly behind us”.
So let me see if I can wrap my little, stunted brain around the pissing, moaning and angst I hear before me. We have to stop fracking. We have to reduce crude oil production. We have to cut back on all the partying or else! Or else what?
- Saudi Arabia could lose lots of money. Where would ISIS go for its oral fatwas and monetary donations? I’d be deeply saddened if the university that gave Abu Bakker Al Baghdadi a PhD in theology had to shut down.
- Venezuela could afford far less socialism. That’s a bit like an alcoholic bum no longer being able to afford another bottle of Wild Irish Rose. I’m still failing to grasp the fundamental crisis here.
- Russia can’t afford the antacid tablets it needs to comfortably swallow the Ukraine. Cry me a river of vodka tears, Ivan.
But couldn’t domestic producers also suffer. I mean British Petroleum is laying off 4,000 people in Scotland over this. Couldn’t this do the same thing to Exxon and Occidental petroleum in the good old US of Amerika?
Sure. Bring it. These are corporations that have deliberately aided and abetted the lies that were recently told in Paris about the deadly impacts of global climate change. Why would Exxon throw in with the Warministas? For the artificial scarcity and regulation that would be imposed.
Surely you jest, JPW! Corporations hate regulations and artificial scarcities. They fund lobbies to prevent this stuff from happening. It’s the gravamen for the existence of Conservative Inc.™ Oh if only it bloody were, you Simpleton Mutts!
Artificial scarcities rock if you partially corner the market in the artificially scare item. Hubbert’s Peak was a gift from the heaven to any major petroleum producer fortunate enough to own the mineral rights to several large fields. Prices are a partial function of scarcity. They move inversely with commodity supply. If you can’t come by scarcity honestly, you can still kill abundant supply it if you buy a Barack Obama and get it shut off by disingenuous fiat instead.
As for regulations. Major corporations love them. Ma and Pa Middleton, Thomas Edison in his cozy, little lab and anyone else who moves product in basketfulls rather than truckloads gets killed by them. The impact of a regulation gets mitigated by scale. If the regulation in question imposes a unit cost that damages a business’s competitive pricing strategy, it imposes far less of one if that number of units in the denominator has a long a vapor trail of zeroes behind the lead digit. This doesn’t even impose a fly bite on Exxon. It potential kills a small fracking outfit. Thus, through the magic of Barack Obama’s hope and change, we can regulate all of Exxon Mobil’s competition out of existence and prevent large parasitic corporations from ever having to face the impact of improved technology or intelligent business strategy. It’s no big riddle why Exxon Mobil is deeply worried about Global Warming.
So why do the big corporations and major petroleum plutocracies cry about $10 per Blue Barrel oil? Because simple people like me are getting enough wherewithal to not have to put up with Vladimir Putin or Barack Obama’s raft of crap. We don’t have to keep our kids in public schools that are staffed with ignorant teachers if we can more easily afford the drive to a private school. We no longer have to live in hell-holes like Detroit or Chicago if the commute from the ‘Burbs is affordable. With our assets goes the tax base that people like Jesse Jackson vampire off of.
As for the whinging corporations? Can you imagine how the evil villains in the movie Solyent Green would have made out if I had set up JPW’s Chicken Shack right in the middle of their marketplace and gotten away with it? Innovative business strategies are an anathema to major corporations. So is technological progress and individual success by anyone not in the corporate boardroom. These corporations therefore buy leftwing political influence to prevent intelligent thought from being rewarded and to tamp down on any personal success that gets attained through the use of anybody else’s products. Moldbug basically screwed up when he failed to include The Forbes 500 in the membership rolls of his Cathedral. This is why all of the people I have written about above will massively intervene and thoroughly screw it up before any of us get to enjoy the positive and life-enhancing benefits of $10 per Blue Barrel oil.
As you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner, you will be full of thoughts of what you are thankful for. The most important ones you will not mention because they are invisible to you. You cannot see them because you enjoy them every day.
First on this list might be stability of your civilization, unlike every other human civilization which like Italian cars and German soap operas seem to be non-stop screw-ups from the start. Most people live in disorder, filth, corruption and incompetence. We here in the West do not, although the gap has narrowed over the past few decades, and not by the acts of others.
What got us this way are two things generally considered opposites: capitalism and collectivism. Both have been replaced by modern, inferior variants that are useful to our society only because they do not offend our leftist ideology.
Capitalism in its raw form is the idea that economic decisions should be made by those who will face the consequences for them. In other words, a bakery must make the choices that determine if it lives or dies, and citizens must make their own spending choices and thrive or flail accordingly. Keep in mind that despite those radical opposites, most of us fall somewhere in the middle.
Collectivism, in its original form, meant that we understood ourselves as a society and kept its interests front and center. That meant that we took care of people who helped that society, in accord with Plato’s “good to the good, bad to the bad”: people who do good should be rewarded, and people who do bad should be driven away. It is natural selection in its social form.
These two offended leftists, naturally, because leftism is based on a single idea: “I deserve to be included for society no matter how little I contribute or how delusional I am.” It is freedom not to be accountable to reality. That is why it is eternally popular; accountability to reality determines who thrives and flails, and so it is not a popular reminder among humans. Using social control, which is peer pressure plus the assumption of goodness, they can banish reality and replace it with equality.
(That summarizes leftism from nose to nethers as far as its essential ideas; it is subsequently draped in layers of theory, studies, facts/interpretations, emotions, etc. that are mostly gibberish and always taken out of context. If you see a leftist, watch their hands instead of listening to them speak. They are most likely lifting your wallet.).
Both capitalism and collectivism have now come to mean something else through the transformative powers of leftist ideology. If our society has one disease, it is the use of a broad and simple idea to replace all other ideas, and in this case, liberal egalitarianism has replaced the original meaning of these terms.
Traditional society liked capitalism because it was efficient. Capitalism has never existed without restrictions because, before modernity replaced the idea of having a goal as a civilization with the notion that civilization existed solely as a means of empowering the individual to be a precious snowflake, capitalism was always subordinate to goals, values, social standards and practical demands. There were also legal restrictions placed on it, usually to protect the consumer but just as often, to prevent the boom/bust cycle where something makes a lot of money so everyone does it, neglects everything else and in the process bankrupts themselves. Crazes, trends and fads are as destruction in markets as they are in society itself, and just as vapid.
But the traditionalists had a different approach to regulating it. Instead of writing a million laws, they allowed organic forces — culture, religion, superior individuals, and social standards — to regulate demand instead of supply. Where moderns tell businesses what they can manufacture, the traditionalists tuned in their people to certain ideas of what is good, and regulated products through that. As a result, things were built to last, more elegant and often far more effective than their modern variants.
In the same way, collectivism has been spoofed. Once it meant that we were all in it together working for the same goal, so anyone who was trying to do that was welcome. This offends the leftist idea of universal inclusion, which has its roots in individualism: the individual wants to always be included, so he desires the removal of any restrictions on who is included so that he always makes the list. After leftism, collectivism means that we all work and throw money into the pot to support everyone else, no matter how useless they are — or how much we dislike them.
A healthy society needs both of these forces. A civilization cannot exist by economics alone, and by making the choice to use solely an economic system — capitalism or socialism — the society signals to its people that it will not have a values system, competent leadership or purpose, which turns people into miserable drips who feel correctly that their lives are without meaning. A society cannot exist without some sense of guidance, direction, and purpose, which is why traditional collectivism is needed and not its modern variety, which obliterates all of those with a single guilt-ridden imperative to be uncritical, non-discriminatory and in other words oblivious in choice of the people surrounding you.
While I admire the French New Right, I find their continued embrace of socialism to be problematic. Once you create benefits, you create an all-powerful state to enforce them, and you destroy the idea of regulating inclusion by who is useful. No society with standards that low can exist, and it imposes on people an immoral duty to spend their time, which translates into money, supporting those who they would not otherwise support. For this reason, socialism is the great evil that destroys societies and rightists should never support it. Under socialism your entire society becomes contorted to fund the bennies and justify them, even at the expense of society itself.
By the same token, I find the reliance on absolute capitalism as a motivator to be unworkable, which is why I am not a libertarian. Libertarianism always shifts leftward because it is based in the egalitarian idea of “Everyone do what they want, and the best will magically rise to the top.” This is far from true, as any look at the most popular movies, music, art and novels will show us. Instead, pure capitalist societies are a race to the lowest common denominator and, like socialism, they replace the idea of a purpose to the civilization with the idea of it facilitating individuals. This is also bad.
I have said in the past that if people were to look more deeply into mainstream conservatism, they would find a way of life more radical than their ideologies and economic systems could ever be. That is because the roots of mainstream conservatism — now buried under layers of lies by 75% leftist “neoconservatives” and “libertarians” — are extremely radical. In that view, most people are scatty little monkeys who will if the whip is not cracked simply engage in every venal behavior possible. No matter what economic or political system we use, the truth of humanity remains and never changes, so we must first look toward producing healthy individuals. That requires the opposite direction from egalitarianism and infuriates liberals, but it explains why conservatism is less formalized.
The idea from which conservatism arises is traditionalism, which has been around in many forms over the ages. It is basically thus: over the centuries, we have found some things that work and some that do not. These do not take the form of ideology, but of knowing our world and its logic, so instead of being individualists, we submit to natural order and find our place in that. Then we are known by how well we rise to that challenge and what it reveals of our moral character, which is the most important part of an individual. By applying this rigorously, we can breed ourselves into a better class of people and make a civilization as great as that of the ancients at their height.
Naturally, this is not a popular message. 5% of the population can understand it, so to the rest it sounds like gibberish and they hate it for making them feel dumb when they desire the pretense of intelligence (they do not understand the Dunning-Kruger effect either). Even among those 5%, traditionalism is controversial because it places limits on the individual, and they have been raised in a civilization that thinks the ultimate good is liberating the individual from limits, even — especially — reasonable ones. This is why people always look for an ideological solution, and choose variants of capitalism and collectivism as the answer when they need a more nuanced approach.
The importance of a nuanced approach is that it avoids collapse. Rigid, sharp-corners thinking like leftism and libertarianism will run a society into collapse as paradoxes emerge based on the attempt to impose a square form over an organic topography. This will force people to deny reality so they can keep ideology intact, and will then cause massive internal friction. On the other end of the pendulum’s swing, however, it is important to remember that both collectivism and capitalism — in their original forms — are vital, and trying to stop the decay brought on by liberalism by limiting them will also lead to failure.
Since the middle of the nineteenth century, much of the history of the Western world has revolved around the clash of different economic theories. First you had David Ricardo and Adam Smith who laid the groundwork for the principles of the Capitalistic system, meaning free enterprise and private ownership under the market-mechanism of supply and demand. Then you had Marx and Engels who declared that the a specter was haunting Europe; their Socialism was said to be a mixture of German philosophy, British economic thought and French spiritedness for revolution. The idea was that the Capitalist system in its desire for profit would create a hoard of unruly and deprived workers that would tear down the Capitalist rule. And then of course everything would be equally divided.
These two economic theories soon drew in all sorts of intellectual notions and thus developed into full-blown ideologies. Throughout the twentieth century the two schools fought each other all the time, resulting into the Russian Revolution, the Red Scare, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Due to the rise of nuclear weapons both sides became so powerful that the whole world would be destroyed if they openly fought, thus began the era of the Cold War. Oh yes, there were also Hitler and Mussolini and their economic systems, which seemed to do really well for a while, but nobody knew what those were really about. Thus they were regarded with suspicion by both of the Big Schools, and quickly disposed of, so that the conflict that really mattered could continue.
However it what soon revealed that people always work harder and more readily when they work on that which is their own, since they learn to love the very soil which yields in response to the labor of their hands, not only food to eat, but an abundance of the good things for themselves and those that are dear to them. And in the Socialist system everything belonging to everyone and thus to no-one. Hence the end of the Socialist regimes, weathered down by the economic inertia of the masses and the strangling government bureaucracy. Francis Fukuyama wrote in The End of History that Western man had left the primitive Germanic quests for honour and glory behind him, and that all he really wanted now was to drink cola and eat fast food. And watch “beer-drinking-buddies sitcom style soaps”, as Brett Stevens might say.
1-0 for Freedom.
Or so we thought.
Let’s look closely; what happens under Capitalism? Do men learn to love the very stock certificates which yield cold cash, in response to the labor of someone else’s hands? For the original Humanist economists like Ricardo and Smith, the justification of private property had always been tied, at least as an ideal, to ownership and labour going conjoined. I mentioned that Capitalism and Socialism started out as economic theories, but quickly drew on all sorts of intellectual notions. This is why the majority of Americans think that a victory for Big Business, since it is a victory for Capitalism, is also a victory for Patriotism and Christianity. What people usually don’t take account of is that:
- The original economic philosophers of Capitalism saw labour as a self-elevating, maybe even ‘sacred’ activity that helped to develop a man into a more complete person, by honing his talents, crafts and skills. They never worshiped Capitalism as what it is today; reverence for supposedly ‘smart’ individuals, who got rich through playing around with stock-shares and currency speculation, who have never done an honest day’s work that produced something actually useful for someone.
- The idea was that one should earn good money for good quality work, meaning by producing something beautiful or functional to others. The founders of Capitalism didn’t envision Capitalism for what it is today; call-games on television, tricking people with fishy contracts. I’ll always remember the story of cousin Ricky (not my cousin though): His job was to call people up to remind them to pay. However he wasn’t to call at the last two months of the year. Since the contract said they had to pay one month at the time, except the last two months, these had to be paid simultaneously in November. If they failed or forgot to do so, they had to pay another year extra. The contract simply ‘hoped’ that people would forget this. Today, Capitalism is a system that destroys common human courtesy. And so much for Patriotism, because those men in Big Business really don’t care whether they’re working in the U.S.A.,Mexico or Thailand. They move their factories to where production and shipping costs are lowers.
- Usury – has nothing to do with hard labour. Borrow 100 dollars from a bank, and pay 120 back. The bank vouches for your 100, where do you get the other 20 from? From another guy. Now ask yourself how the other guy got his money to pay you. Hopefully you get it. If you do, ask yourself the question why monetary theory isn’t taught at school. I’ll lift a tip of the veil for you; your currency is confidence. And the stronger the threat of confiscation and being thrown on the streets, read; the more debt, the better, because you’ll produce goods and services by working. It’s not the money that the economy depends on. It’s on you providing goods and services. Because that’s what keeps people alive. Now you may understand why that debt counting billboard thing in Los Angeles keeps going up despite Obama’s promises that it will go down.
Does all of this mean that I worship some sort of anti-Capitalist ideology? No. I only follow whatever combines Truth with Power. I’m simply putting the objective facts before you on the table.
Economic Productivity is this:
- People who produce the needs of basic living to keep themselves alive.
- Have a group that is sufficiently large to provide the needs to sustain themselves. And then a bit extra.
- This ‘extra’ can be used to allow people to exist who exercise professions that enrich the general quality of life.
Globalist Economy is this:
- Have banks that people have confidence in.
- Let people spend money in the name of these banks, regardless of whether this money exists or not.
- Have an economy of people who are paid to do the administration of using this ‘money’ to attract the goods of life necessities from elsewhere. Hence, our economy has been almost completely severed from the actual requirements for sustaining a human life. Our economy has become a self-serving bureaucracy. The fact that it produces pointless administrative labour that doesn’t feed or clothe anyone is irrelevant – people are paid in wages of bank money. They can use this to buy the actual products they need from elsewhere. People who produce goods and services believe in the banks, and owe money to the banks. Thus they work.
- You probably do administration somewhere and lost touch with the thing your line of work is producing. If you could see what you had made from beginning to end, that it was a good quality product that would make someone’s life better, then perhaps you could have been proud of that product and of your job. You are a gear in some administrative system somewhere. You do what you’re told and don’t overstep your strictly delineated eligibility / authorization. You’re effectually interchangeable with a Russian bureaucrat stuffed away behind the Iron Curtain.
- Work is essentially organized occupational therapy. This can go on as long as (a) money can be rented out without limit, and (b) people who create the goods of basic life necessity accept the money. However the monetary system itself is flawed since there’s an infinitely greater amount of rent that must be paid over money than there is total money in the money pool.
It’s really this simple: A country can never go bankrupt if the basic life necessities of people are provided for. YOU can’t go bankrupt as long as you are capable of providing your own basic life necessities. Therefore I suggest you buy a piece of land and start an orchard. I’m serious though; you just keep your eyes fixed on that board in Los Angeles. The only way America can be saved is if this post is printed, put in an envelop and sent to the White House, so that Obama can read it in front of the cameras as his speech to the nation. (Except then this last sentence shouldn’t be read out loud – so that we can see if he reads his speeches first before he speaks them openly.)
I suggest that the economically unproductive are summoned from time to time to do labour, by herding animals, growing fruits and weaving cloth at special sites. They won’t be paid in money but they will be paid in the products produced in other of these sites. In exchange for growing fruits they’ll receive meat and clothing, for example, or other products if they choose so. This has the benefit that their existence can be provided for independently of the monetary economy. Therefore there will be a disentangled economy, so that the second half of the economy, the monetary part, can fall back upon the first part. You see, the second layer of the economy, what we’re all focused on right now, is all play (stock-shares, administration, internet-marketeering). The economy that provides for our lives is what should be any sane government’s top priority. Ask yourself the question: ‘How come that can exist at this very moment?’
Some have argued that the best system is a mixture of societal Darwinism, tribalism and monarchy, leaving the individual to succeed . . . AND to fail on their own abilities. However I fear that most people are too whimsical, whishy-washy and/or irrational to be truly left to themselves without direction given to their lives by others. Leaving them on their own might destroy the worth of life since it would probably lead even more of an MTV-society, which is really what we have right now regardless of all the government economic intervention and welfare programs.
People have not been instructed in Freedom – they have been taught entitlement which is something quite different. And with an MTV-society I mean people being only interested in one another in so far as they have happy clappy feelgood stories to offer that make teenage girls giggle. They feel lonely and miserable, because others wont listen to their inconvenient stories of pain or suffering, won’t help them out of their emotional isolation – but when others have a comparable problem they’re suddenly not home.
And whose fault is that? Ignorance is to blame. Lack of principles, lack of discipline, lack of reason. This really comes back to it that we are living in a service-industry driven economy, not production – almost no-one makes stuff. We only service others; we’re employed by banks and stores.
People could be great if they are taught the right ideas. The idea that their labour is something they can take pride in, if they do it good. But instead people see their labour only as something they do to get their next quick fix; some sort of consumption thing which leads to an empty and unfulfilling life. This unfulfilling life gives rise to triviality to fill this emptiness. This leads a cheap infotainment industry which drowns out any form of cultural greatness. So that man has nothing left to live up to, and thus he sinks into fatalism.
Europe…has high domestic savings rates and balanced trade accounts with the rest of the world. Europe, unlike the United States, is not increasingly in hock to China.
A senior French banking official told me, “If a banker promoted these subprime mortgages here, he would go to jail.”
In a recent interview, Germany’s Gunter Verheugen, vice president of the European Commission, told me, “We need a strong and competitive industrial base in order to have a strong service economy. Don’t try to be cheaper. Try to be better. Don’t try to compete on low social standards.”
Since the dawn of Socialism and its ultra-centralized variant, Communism, people have inventively generated a stream of objections: it won’t work because it removes competition, it deprives us of individual souls, it’s atheistic, it oppresses us and takes away our freedom. All of these are completely wrong once one realizes that Communism and Socialism do not necessarily indicate Stalinism, which is less a political system than the megalomania of rulers in a country where the 94-IQ underclass overbred, blamed its 140-IQ rulers, and after killing them plunged itself into an orgy of cannibalization.
Eastern Europe is not unique in the history of Western cultures except that it persists by sheer numbers, in part because of the withdrawl of Western European powers after the disasters of colonial times. According to Coon’s Races of Europe, Slavs were originally a hybrid of corded Nordic, Dinaric and Southern European sources, but at the same time Mongols surged across the plains of Russia, somehow became the modern shorter, simpler, cruder variant. Dare we posit a bit of interbreeding with the conquerors? Indeed, the Slavic nations fell the hardest before the Mongols, and Western Europe never forgave them, because the reason for their downfall was individual selfishness to the degree that they could not even unite against a common oppressor.
When Western powers encountered Eastern European nations after that time, they found a pattern repeated through the third world and the threshold to it: a small, wealthy, intelligent and cultured ruling class outnumbered drastically by impoverished, ignorant, resentful laborers. Mexico has the same situation, with social strata composed of a Spanish upper class, a mestizo middle and lower class, and outcaste Negroid Mexicans used basically to cushion the fall of heavy equipment. Stalin, rising out of this mess, observed that he was surrounded by blind ignorant people whose desire could be used against them, much like Judo master shifts the momentum of his opponent to engineer a hard fall. Like an Andrew Carnegie of the East, Stalin seized power “by any means necessary” and ruled the state for himself and his cronies. While his killings dwarfed those of Hitler and Pol Pot combined, he is ignored by leftist academics because they view him as an argument against Communism. He isn’t. Communism for Stalin was like all things, a means to an end.
Initially, Communism had some good ideas. Instead of a society where whatever made money was assumed to be the correct path, Communists reasoned, a design had to be created which provided for the people. This design would be imposed upon them and money would be made to serve it, instead of the tail-wags-dog arrangement that persisted previously. This arrangement, like all forms of socialism, teeters precariously above the welfare state, in that to bureaucrats it’s often hard to distinguish between the deserving worker and a parasite, and over time, they come to support parasites. Indeed, the Soviet Union supported many parasites, especially at its highest levels of power, but much of this can be explained by the peasant background of most Soviets: out of their league in modern society, they did what enhanced their own prestige and let the system they did not understand fall into ruin through inaction at important points. Still, this is less an argument against Communism than an indictment of the class war that brought it about in Russia (and exported it to a number of Eastern European and Baltic states, devastating all of them in sequence).
The best argument against Communism is a simple one: it does not support “winner take all” economics. “To each according to need” is a tempting philosophy, in that it implies we take care of everyone and thus make a society sans conflict, but it does not take into account one vital component — time. If we have one night to camp out in the forest, giving everyone food according to need makes sense. If we must set up a camp for years or decades? Winner takes all makes the most sense — because those who are able to achieve more than others will, with whatever excess wealth they are given, apply it toward bettering other areas of life. If someone has distinguished herself by rising above others to create a better way of doing some task or another, it’s likely that this person has more to offer and if given power, will continue the process of innovation. That is winner takes all. More than “competition” or “freedom,” this determines the health of a nation, since it allows true parallelism: each person represents (much as in a modern computer operating system) one thread of computational energy tackling a problem, and each thread takes a slightly different angle of approach, with those that succeed out-pacing others and eventually, being emulated for having a superior method.
Interestingly, this method is common across all disciplines — in natural selection, the eagle with the best hunting skills produces more young; in science, the most perceptive discipline is quickly adopted across the board; in art, the celebrated artist of the last generation becomes the starting point for the next. “Winner takes all” systems are superior to any other kind. Does this mean an endorsement for capitalism? Hell, no. Capitalism, like all consequentialist systems, rewards perception and not reality. Utilitarianism — the governmental extension of consequentialism — states “The greatest good for the greatest number,” but what is un-stated in this equation is that “greatest good” is determined by the perceptions of the “greatest number.” In a utilitarian system, a population sated by bread and circuses is better off than one in which 25% of the people recognize it has superior art, learning, organization, health care, etc. In capitalist societies, as in Stalinist Russia, the actual decisions are cast to a survey of the peasant proles, who inevitably cannot see through sociopathic manipulators like Stalin and thus time after time promote people of his ilk, then blame others for their slavery at his hands. Proles, peasants, simple workers of the world… these decisions are beyond you. In fact, they’re beyond the middle class as well. You need philosopher-kings to make complicated decisions, because like chess masters, they’re always seeing hundreds of moves into the future.
Communism and capitalism thus share a common failure: they pay attention to society as it is right now, without realizing that past and future form a continuum with the present. We can divide up what we have, either according to need or as in capitalism, according to popularity delivered through public perception of “happiness” and “pleasure,” but when we try doing that day after day and year after year, what we do is empower the impoverished to select the most rapacious and criminal leaders. The United States is now discovering this through its last two presidents; Clinton was as incompetent and criminal as Bush, but he believed far less in his own crusade, so quickly avoided anything with a chance of unpopularity, including wars. Bush, being part of a cult of his own ego (as mystical leader and benevolent giver, the “decider”) foolishly assumes that the proles are going to stick with him through the war they egged him on to undertake (note: anti-war movements always swell exponentially after the start of war, not after it becomes clear that war is going to occur). Clinton had no such illusions. He knew his job was to keep happy feelings afloat in the population, and damn any consequences after his term (historians of the future will note that Clinton’s reckless encouragement of an artificially-inflated internet economy doomed the nation to a following decade of mild depression, a move as disastrous as Bush’s war spending if not more). Our presidents are manipulators, and in that, they have more in common with Stalin than the starry-eyed founders of America.
“Winner takes all” can only occur when the game is defined so as to pick the best, not the most vicious (Stalin) or most popular (USA). Popularity is a fickle thing, because it is based on the assumption that promises become true and personal “happiness” is equated to a fulfilling life; a truly popular leader will never make his people eat their spinach, because he agrees with them that it doesn’t taste as good as ice cream, even if a diet of ice cream will wreck their health. He might, like Clinton, promise the underclass revenge against the upperclass through civil rights legislation; he might, like Stalin, promise the underclass revenge against the upper classes through violence and dogma. Either way, his goal is to manipulate appearance and not reality, and thus he leaves a ticking timebomb of an illusory nation. As America collapses into its lack of commonality — no longer are there common values, common culture, common heritage or even any agreement on what constitutes “success” as a nation; there is however worship for raw power and money, but true power and wealth are regenerative things, not beheld only in this moment but in all moments uniting past and future — we should remember that our error here as in Russia was to empower people who cannot make decisions to make them, and thus to allow ourselves to become infested with manipulative parasites who easily control appearance but have no ability to shape reality.
Life is conflict; or rather, as in all cases with the word “is,” it’s appropriate to say that life “contains” conflict. One attribute of life is conflict. However you phrase it, in order to avoid the glib leftist censors who are sure that if we just stopped using “to be” verbs, all would be peachy and a socialist, multicultural, pluralist paradise would finally pull us out of the dark age, the truth is there: life is full of conflict. If you have a healthy view of life, you acclimate to this, and stop taking conflict seriously; you see it as how life is transacted, and don’t take it personally, but might even have a laughing attitude toward it even if it is potentially fatal to you.
Because you love life, and because life necessarily involves conflict, you don’t go on some Christian/leftist crusade about how we “should” stop conflict because it’s bad because in conflict, there’s usually someone who’s the loser while another is a winner. If you love life, you see conflict as useful, even if it is personally disadvantageous to you, because you love life more than your own fortunes. This is the heroic attitude that is traditional to Indo-European societies, and it was replaced by the Jewish-Christian view, which is that heroism is crazy and the best option any of us has is to save our own life, therefore death and conflict “should” be made illegal or at least immoral. Indo-European civilizations valued heroism and were thus always striving upward; Jewish and Christian civilizations valued individual life, and therefore are always collapsing inward into greater selfishness and neurotic fear. Modern civilization came about in part because of our technology, but in part because we embraced reckless selfishness that allowed insane profits, a viewpoint justified by Judeo-Christian belief.
However, once we’ve gotten over the insanity of trying to tell life it “should” outlaw conflict, and thus some being losers including losers of their own lives, we can see that life is conflict and conflict is a means to an end, much as our own lives are means to the end of life itself. This is basic intellectual maturity, and in healthier days, this came to our children at roughly age 15, although it was mostly realized by men; per discussion in Evola’s “The Mystery of the Grail,” women already have a certain realization of nihilism regarding mortality, and strive not to eliminate it but are purely adaptive to it, mostly because their logical system is exclusively inductive where that of males is exclusively deductive (this sounds unreasonable until you consider the ideal logical system for raising families so that as many as possible survive; the male mandate is to make sure only the right matches in any situation survive, and consequently, for the most part men are terrible heads of families). Acceptance of conflict, and transcendence of the fear of loss and death, is necessary to move ahead and have a fulfilling life, much less one where one can do what is necessary to fix situations without becoming craven because one “might” become dead.
Nevertheless, there is a subtler way to try to deal with conflict that one sees quite a bit in modern civilization. If you’re in an argument and are afraid of losing, you can always appeal to a higher source; in simple arguments, people do this by trying to “prove” their points with definitions from the dictionary, or by appealing to some source that is considered the end-all and be-all of wisdom in that genre. People often refer to these as “God Says” arguments, because they are appeals to something which is outside the scope of the argument and yet is presumed to be relevant to the argument. It’s like using something that doesn’t exist in this world to end a conflict that does exist in this world, and it’s the rhetorical equivalent of a thermonuclear device for most arguments. Conflict arises; one person asserts a belief; and the other person says God says otherwise, and therefore, the first person is wrong. Argument over, right?
This article is not a polemic against God. In fact, of all the articles on this site, this one is designed to avoid insulting or slighting anyone’s God, because the question of God is beyond its scope and totally irrelevant to what we’re saying here. For the sake of argument, in fact, please assume there is a God, and that he or she does have opinions. However, recognize that the concept of God is necessarily outside of this world: for something to be the source of all things, and to control them, it cannot be those things. It must be a central order outside of the things over which it rules. In fact, monotheism is the original form of ultracentralization, because in its belief there is a necessary addition to this world in which a single authority asserts varying degrees of control over this world. Invoking God in an argument based in this world therefore is like reaching outside of all possibilities and pulling in a “magic bullet” to end an argument. This is not only bad form, but it’s completely illogical, as things outside of the scope of this world cannot have absolute dominion over it, or they would be so tied to it as to not exist independently of it. Herein is the logical trap of “God Says”: to use God in such a way would be to presuppose God is connected to this reality in a way that obliterates his absolute authority, but the “God Says” argument relies on that absolute authority.
As said above, the point of this article is not to defame God, but the “God Says” argument. For the purposes of this article, the reason to bring up “God Says” arguments has nothing to do with God, but something else that exists outside of this world yet in our minds seem to control it in an absolute authority. That thing is money. Money takes a very complicated situation and assigns a simple dollar value to it. You no longer worry about what lives in a field, or how old a tree is, or how important something is to a local community; the only question is its dollar value as a commodity, and putting a dollar value on something necessarily reduces it to a commodity. If someone wants to bring some useless crap product into a grocery store, just because some people might buy it, there’s no questioning of it – money is the argument killer. If money can be made, jobs can be had, and we should all be happy. It’s like appealing to God except money is even more insidious, since we associate it with our own prosperity. To attack some idea because its only justification in money is seen, in our society, as being as heretical as arguing against food.
“Money Says” is often an unstated argument. No one asks any longer whether it’s a good idea to have disposable packaging, or to sell obvious unhealthy junk food, or to have a thousand different mediocre brands where one quality one would suffice. No one asks any longer whether it’s a good idea to tear up an empty field and replace it with a Wal-Mart (unless a marginalized group has a burial field nearby), because we know the answer. New construction means new money. And we as a civilization have literally lost any other means for assessing decisions. Our only question is money. There is no other plan, such as a vision for how empty fields should be used to bring maximal benefit – we assume the “invisible hand” of economics will regulate that, if we even care. We don’t ask what is a logical decision concerning a product like, say, beer; in a logical society, we’d find a reasonable way to distribute it and an effective way to recycle those containers, but in our current time, any kind of tricked-out packaging that might lure a few percentage points more of our idiot population toward buying it is fair game. We don’t even consider the questions of its impact, whether it’s a good idea, etc. “Money Says” has replaced all of our ability to question, to think analytically, to plan.
The consequences of “Money Says” are abundantly visible. Where we could have stretched our fossil fuel supply to last a millennium or longer, and thus had a better chance of establishing space colonies, instead we wasted it on what was profitable in the short term: cars and long commutes from the suburbs, because the multicultural warzone of the inner city was no longer valued as highly as new housing developments. Where we could have had a beautiful planet, we’ve chosen to screw it up so badly that the open oceans are currently toxic to the point where it’s inadvisable to eat fish more than once a week. Where we could have had plentiful nature, instead we chose to breed recklessly and thus overran most of our natural habitats, stripping them of life forms necessary to keep the whole ecosystem alive. We could have had fewer, smarter people living well, but instead we chose to follow “Money Says” and now, as is the case when one follows an illogical path of action, we’ve got a slow suicide: billions of unthinking, unintelligent, and ignoble people who consume recklessly without the ability to think more than 48 hours ahead. They follow orders OK, and like to buy lots of entertainment products, but no culture – and no heroic decisions – will come out of these “last men.” They’re failures as far as the higher capacities of humanity are concerned, and their creation has reversed an evolutionary process, and brought men closer to apes.
Because we followed “Money Says,” and surrendered our logical faculties to an assumption that something outside of this world can somehow determine absolutely how we should organize it (money is an abstraction, thus not actually present in our world), we blew it – or rather, we traded a glorious future for a miserable slow end. As global warming, global pollution, overpopulation, religious and class warfare, and waning energy supplies converge on us, the world is going to change. We will no longer have the abundant resources which empower a “Money Says” point of view, and there will no longer be the presumption that human life is sacred, since we will all have seen the excess produced by being afraid to kill the stupid. And what will result is killing of a brutality unmatched in history. You weep for the six million Jews allegedly lost in Europe during WWII? Cough, cough… you’re going to be looking at six billion dead in the next round, as all the civilizations we have carefully built collapse in on themselves. This is nature’s way of cleaning up. That which is illogical grows fat in summer, but in winter, the herd is thinned. That is what you will soon be witnessing; it may take anywhere between five to fifty years, but yes, it is coming. You can no longer hide in the comfortable oblivion of an absolute such as that projected by a society based on “Money Says.”
Many of us who were not fully deluded by the propaganda – our society is the best, ever! the most enlightened! praise multiculturalism and corporate money and jesus! – have seen this on the horizon for some time, and we are preparing in ways that the rest of you cannot comprehend. When things collapse, we will quickly move toward a new type of order, in which no single absolute assessment determines a situation. Most likely, we will get our slaughter on in degrees you will find appalling, with millions upon millions of men, women and children extinguished for being of lumpenproletariat heritage. The smarter ones will be able to identify each other, and will spare those, of course; we want allies. But for all the people who are products of this “Money Says” society, there will no longer be a use, and their very presence, daily consuming resources and producing waste, will be a threat to the new order, which is one in which natural health is more important than money or popularity. Thus people like me will spend our days in dual states: building with love, and killing with love, as we’re going to eliminate the rest of you and have a blast doing it. Where “Money Says” ruled, illogicality followed and produced a degenerate form of the human race. That’s about to be erased, and the order of the future, unlike “Money Says,” will rest entirely within the logic of this world and will bypass these false absolutes.
You can tell the fan’s about to get messy when delusion prevails, and inward strength is seen as a distant second to showy displays of public importance. The latter is how you get a room full of people who barely know you, and don’t really care, to think you’re doing something “good” – but because they don’t care, their praise is as insincere as their condemnation, and neither lasts long in that kind of attention span. The result of this psychological chaos however: I’m surrounded by dysfunctional people.
I enjoy my friends. They come in different stripes. They are my friends because on the whole, they’re genuine to the best of their ability – after all, they grew up in dysfunctional families, their friends are dysfunctional, and the people they work with – throw up your hands – are not only dysfunctional, but forced upon them by the nature of commerce. You can’t refuse to work with Susie because she’s a nutcase unless she makes some show display of public nutcase behavior, which for a society this “tolerant” means she has to shoot someone, or finger-paint Dada murals in her own feces on the boardroom wall.
Basic insanity thus goes unrecognized. Similar, inner strength and force of will are ignored; people turn noses away and say, knowingly, “He’s so boring!” – they are speaking of a great guru, philosopher or artist, who prefers logic and passion to drama, and therefore provides little of interesting gossip except when, after a brief bout of success, he finds it just as hollow and begins self-destructing in Morrisonian ecstasy. Let’s walk through an average office – perhaps one of my clients, perhaps a phantasm of the brain – and see some of the exciting dysfunctional people out there; it’s not Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, but perhaps his analysis couch, or his book of diagnoses.
First, we come to superman here in his office; Stan he runs our network, or maybe he’s our product director, but what makes him important around the office is his raw skill and can-do attitude. He never says no to any project, and he’ll knock himself out for a job. Of course, because he never says no to any project, he’s always on a project, and will have to look at yours later; because he heroically stayed up all night and slayed the dragon incarnate of the latest spreadsheet, he’s out of work on Monday and Tuesday he’s still bewildered. But he is superman, so he’ll never say no, even if he’s six months behind on everything. Luckily, he can respond to crisis, so if you run in and tell him that something is on fire, he’ll put the fire out. However, he doesn’t notice any of the smaller issues that keep the firm running, and therefore, there’s always something on fire.
Stan likes feeling needed. Superman of all things needs an audience, much like God needs you to pray for him so he can save kittens from Satan. He likes being important, thus is always busy and always late, so there’s always people coming in to talk to him. What protects him is his chest of steel, behind which he cowers; he takes a linear-rational approach to reality and so defines himself in strict logical terms. If you point out to him that the latest car your company produced does not have a steering wheel, he’ll cheerfully point out that it’s still a car and got completed on time. If the network goes down because no one replaced the one hard drive that contains all of its routing tables, he will tell you with a smile that the backup system failed last month and he’s waiting to replace it, but he’s been putting out fires, and so he has been so busy, he just hasn’t had a chance to make sure the company is functional. I have come to distrust “busy” people.
There are other needy people. Down the hall is Sara; she handles our billing. Sara likes to point out exactly where you are in error regarding regulation 4261. What’s that, you ask? It specifies that you must put your birthdate on every form 8714-A. But you know my birthdate! You say. “Well, I thought you’d like to know,” she says. Sara, like superman, doesn’t mean badly, but she is so focused on details that she often misses the point completely. She is thus a classic bureaucrat. If you come in to her office confused because your paycheck disappeared, she will explain very carefully that because you did not file form 8968 on time, they have no registered bank account in your name.
But what about the one they were using? Well, regulations say we have to get a new listing on that form, so I’m very sorry you’re out of money now, and we can get you a check within two weeks, although that is probably after your rent, car payment, credit card bill and student loan repayment have bounced. Sara cannot connect the goddamn dots enough to realize that every employee needs the check to go, on time, to some place they can access it, or so she’ll tell you. The truth is that she doesn’t care; Sara likes being important, and because she focuses on details, she cannot grasp the larger picture, usually because it threatens her in some way (“OMG you mean civilization is collapsing? I…I… chocolate!”). For this reason she hides behind “not having seen” or “not having noticed” the fact that, while all the forms were filed correctly, the process as a whole is broken. I have come to distrust people who are so detail-oriented they cannot notice the outline of the dots on the page.
Keep on going down the hall. Now we come to the room where the people who do the “real work” are. These are programmers, or legal associates, or any number of other specialized administrative functions. In their world, they alone produce income for the company, and everyone else is just wasting paper; there’s some truth to this, except for the fact that they also miss the big picture, because they’re obsessed with the trivial. Programmers, for example, can be found often saying, “I know the software accidentally sold 2,000 people cars for only $40 each, but look how fast it indexes our database – this is technological triumph equalled by only another 4,000 people worldwide!” This is one form of obsession with the trivial. Legal associates can be just as bad, in that they will calmly look up everything you request of them, but then will fail to notice a case exactly similar to the one you are trying, and thus the cause will be lost when the client gets an anonymous fax from a competing firm informing him that his lawyers are, indeed, the bunglers he imagines them to be. Ask the legal associate and he’ll look at you blankly: “But I did as you asked!”
These people are one form of the great defect known as modern neurosis. You can find it anywhere, however. In software firms they also employ artists; these work very hard on command, but have to be told exactly what to do, as they lack the ability to look at the big picture and realize there’s a need for something. “You didn’t say the program had to have an exit button,” they’ll respond. “But every product we have does!” you remonstrate. No matter – they only see what’s on the worksheet, and only think about how it looks. This is why Robert Heinlein used to rail against specialization; “It’s for insects,” he would have his characters say in any number of great science fiction books. Those who get super-specialized miss the big picture, just like Sara and Stan miss the big picture. Because they habitually adopt this way of looking at the world, soon all parts of their lives follow this function.
For example, Sara rented an apartment; it’s right next to a busy freeway, but since it’s an apartment at the right price, she considers it a “good deal.” Nevermind that no one except the deaf should have apartments next to freeways, because developers keep building them right next to freeways because, look, it’s convenient to get to work this way. And since their audience is composed of Saras and Stans, no one ever calls them up and says, “Did you ever think this is a Bad Idea, since the noise will be intolerable?” They’ll either retort with the utilitarian – “we haven’t had any complaints so far!”, which is the ultimate passive defense – or will, like Sara, look down into their carefully organized file drawers – see, I’m a good worker – and claim their job only involves looking at the details; they’re detached from the big picture.
Other examples abound. The self-image junkies are the worst. Raul, down in Marketing, he loves to get laid. Loves it loves it. So he’s out every night at the bar, then bringing home a different chick who also loves to get laid, and as a result his mind isn’t really on his work. He slogs along through a project, spending more time in front of the mirror and on the phone than even thinking about it, and then patches it up and staples the mess together and runs it by his secretary, who has to clean up the disaster and make it presentable, and then he’s off to the bar. His work process is distracted, and as a result he makes the same old mediocre crap that every other idiot makes out of a job: blockhead products, degenerate marketing, stupid ideas. Why should he care? He is a stud, and he knows it.
Josh in Support is just as bad. You see, you didn’t know this – and it’s really not your fault – but Josh is a secretly very profound artist. He may work in anti-capitalist poetry, or feminist film noire, or maybe even has an iconoclastic rock band of his own, but he’s undiscovered. His identity is entirely based around being unrecognized, because it allows him to look in the mirror and say: “They just don’t know, but I am superior to them all.” In act, the I’m-better-than-you seems to occur frequently among people who live in personal realities, which are what I call these worlds that orbit our planet like distant sattellites and never seem to have to correspond to reality. Even if his poetry sucks, or his films are appreciated only by those who are alienated enough to kick around a dead genre like feminist noire, he knows he’s better than you. His personal world exists. Interestingly, although Josh doesn’t like “organized religion,” he’s exactly like Phil, across the hall. Phil’s a conservative and a good Christian and believes the rest of us are going to hell, but luckily Phil found the secret and he’s tight with God. Allright.
Superman in the example some paragraphs ago was a control junkie, but there are other forms of control junkies. Ron manages our audience research, and he’s good at what he does, but he makes you wait in his office while he digs up your report, proofreads it and hands it along. He enjoys having people wait for him, because otherwise, what does he have in life? A television. Sergey in development is the same way, except his symptom is different: he likes to argue the technical details of language, or of computer language, in such a way that whether or not it is relevant to the project (and it’s usually not) he is “proven” to be “right” and you are – wrong. Sergey grew up in a divorced home, and put himself through college, and he thinks anyone who didn’t suffer as much as he did had it easy and is thus a weakling, and he likes crushing weaklings. He also likes driving home that guilt trip. As a result, his projects often completely miss the boat, like that website he produced which never mentioned the product, nor worked with any browser but Internet Explorer. Locked in his own head? Sergey’s Personal Reality.
The regular office staff have this disease to varying degrees. You’ll often hear people politely declining a task with, “It’s not my job,” if it’s something they could be held accountable for, or “It didn’t matter much to me at the time” if it’s not. Imagine these people trying to come together on something after work – they’d never have the ability to start a business, get together a meaningful volunteer effort to protect wildlife or even start building a settlement if shipwrecked on a distant isle. They will however make sure that you know they did a “good job” on client calls, or sorting the supplier files, or organizing the lower staff to actually do their jobs (lower staff, being totally replaceable, are expected to space out and start making personal calls, playing video games or masturbating if not supervised constantly). They exist in their own worlds, where only they are important and their choices are made solely for themselves. As a result, they do nothing outside the mandatory, and even while telling you how much of a “team player” they are, are concentrating their vital energies elsewhere.
I am not saying jobs are important – to the contrary, I think they’re garbage, but that’s the result of this attitude. If we could each get over our emotional pretense, and function as a team, we could all go home by 2 PM and spend time on healthy things like walking outside, or being with our friends and family, or even some creative art. But really, that’s not the kind of thing you can mention in one sentence at a party and have everyone nod knowingly. Better to be obsessed with sex, or superman, or — wait, there’s a type I forget: the emotional overdrive type. These exist in every office, near plump boxes of kleenex, and the charge they get out of life is knowing that they are the few who are actually emotionally in touch with life. If someone comes by your desk with a sign up sheet for donations to the poor overpopulated tsunami victims, or weeping about the plight of the homeless in Alaska, recognize why they do this: it reinforces their image of self to think of themselves as having discovered emotional “truth” while the rest of us are callous, unfeeling, distant people.
Another type that you’ve all experienced is The Savior-Queen. This person views his job as the essence of the business, and believes that if he doesn’t make it in to work, the entire thing will collapse into dust as brimstone rains around it. He usually thinks this because it is not true; his authority and responsibilities are minimal, in part because he has so many psychological issues that he’s impossible to deal with. The Savior-Queen will come up to your desk when you’re in the middle of some trivial phone call, for example finding out how to get tax figures to the auditor by the close of the business day, and he will start talking as if you don’t exist – except he’s talking to you, and needs you to exist, it’s just that you’re not important. After all, you aren’t the martyr of the business, and its fearless leader who is somehow unrecognized. When you peel back all of his bluster, the Savior-Queen, like everyone else mentioned in this article, suffers from low self-esteem. Consequently, he projects authority and rests all of his self-esteem in that; if you don’t recognize his authority, he takes it personally – very personally. These are the people who most commonly go running to “Human Resources” (you fools, you have been domesticated) to complain about someone being “unprofessional,” meaning they didn’t kiss his ass. The way to deal with these people is to tell them they have beautiful eyes, or that they’re “essential to the team,” because, just like when you give a jelly donut to a dog, they’ll then follow you around for a week.
Dysfunctional, all of them. We can debate for years the origin of this dysfunctionality, but I say go with Occam’s Razor on this one and realize that the simplest rational solution is usually accurate: society has divided to the point where we have no direct contact with the means of producing actual useful things, thus we become mentally like our bureaucratic jobs. Since most people simply fulfill a small function, they don’t need to notice the details, and can afford to indulge any number of personality defects. And why not? No one will notice until you shoot up the office or make fecal art on the boardroom wall. Further, what kind of person would try to resist the onslaught? Just be broken with the rest of us.
Broken, indeed. Fully functional as far as having a job, sliding that credit card through the machine in the checkout line, and mastering the details of ordering phone service, car insurance, or pizza. Yet inside – their inner strength – they are depleted, and broken in the second sense of the word, which one uses with horses: “He was wild when he came here, but we broke him over the weekend, and now he’s content to carry the plough for sixteen cents of grain at the end of the day.” Has humanity domesticated itself? Most likely. There is a lack of inner strength, and a dependence upon outward actions and great shows of giving a damn or pretending to care about the project or company being broken because one was too obsessed with details, nightlife, or rules to notice the drain-plug had been pulled and the water was escaping the tub.
This is how the world ends; not with a bang, but a whimper. No one noticed we were cutting down all the trees and replacing them with concrete; no one figured out that we were spewing toxins enough into the air and water to kill what lived in them, and turn them into a truly alien environment. People were too busy or too distracted to see that our society was getting so dumbed-down people were becoming dysfunctional, or that we were slowly making our cities into small hells where living next to a freeway, at the right price, is a “good thing.” Others were too involved in their own personal realities to recognize that society, as a whole, was becoming less of an empowering experience and more of one of servitude. Well, at least you aren’t one of those suckers earning sixteen cents a day! I get a full $500 of grain per day.
I’m surrounded by dysfunctional people. At this point, I see the world in terms of leaders and followers, and the ones who are mostly leaders are the ones I care about surviving, although I care for my friends, most of whom have a mixed character between leader and follower. Some may end up being leaders. Others will ultimately give in to their inner follower and become totally useless, at which point it’s like visiting my friends out of rehab: a long list of stuff you can’t mention, because it will destabilize fragile egos. I view those visits as duty more than pleasure at this point, and while every friendship involves some duty, only those that are dying like this civilization are all duty. Much as I respect the few (under 1%) people who are not dysfunctional at jobs, I love my friends who are mostly functional and will do a lot for them, because just as a forest is more beautiful than a parking lot, shopping mall or landfill, they’re superior to the dysfunctional horde.
Maybe these tsunamis aren’t such a bad thing. Perhaps global warming, despite its grotesque implications for many parts of our environment, which will be obliterated, is a good thing. Bring on the next ice age. It’s time we pare down the people who couldn’t survive a night in the woods alone because the rules didn’t say explicitly that one had to run from bears, or to put the fire exactly three feet from the tent or the tent might burn. The people who are unable to think past their own genitals, or caught up in their self-image as superman or forgotten artist, would be distracted as the flames lept higher or the bear crept nearer or the ice formed overhead. Death strikes the oblivious. This might not be a bad thing. Those that survived – more leader than follower – would be functional, at least.