Right Wing Economics

Sometimes I sit down to write a post with an idea of what I want to say on a subject, but a third of the way through I realize I’m going to make a different set of points about the same topic. For me, posting is really just a form of thinking out loud. Sometimes that means taking what started writing, saving it for later and starting over with my new set of thoughts in mind. More than a few posts have gone this way, shattering into two or more posts.

This rarely happens with the podcast, because I actually do some prep for it. I start on the weekend, thinking about a theme for the week. I’ll then come up with ideas for each segment and then a outline those. I don’t use a script, but that outline is like a set of notes for when I record the segment. That way I don’t meander around too much and I don’t forget the points I wanted to make. It’s not professional, but it works for me.

This week, I got about halfway through I realized I should have done the show different that I set out to do it. For example, I could probably do a whole show on taxes from the classical right-wing perspective. Distributionism really does need a whole show on it and I could probably do a few shows on guys like de Maistre, Belloc and Chesterton. In other words, the topic was too big for one hour, so it is way too superficial.

The trouble is, unlike a blog post, there is a point of no return with these things. A typical blog post consumed 30 minutes of my time. The podcast takes about ten hours to put together each week. There’s no turning back once I get to recording, so I had to go with what I had planned. It’s not cats singing Jingle Bells, but it is certainly one of the topics that will get a do-over in the future. Maybe I’ll call it a prequel.

This week I have the usual variety of items in the now standard format. Spreaker has the full show. I am up on Google Play now, so the Android commies can take me along when out disrespecting the country. I am on iTunes, which means the Apple Nazis can listen to me on their Hitler phones. The anarchists can catch me on iHeart Radio. YouTube also has the full podcast. Of course, there is a download link below. I have been de-platformed by Spotify, because they feared I was poisoning the minds of their Millennial customers.

This Week’s Show


  • 00:00: Opening
  • 02:00: Means To An End
  • 12:00: Taxes
  • 22:00: Duty To The Poor
  • 32:00: The Marketplace
  • 42:00: Free Trade
  • 52:00: Regulation
  • 57:00: Closing

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Chasing The Black Unicorn

For at least thirty years and maybe longer, conservatives have dreamed of turning the black vote against the Left. Few projects have consumed more of their energy and few have been as fruitless. The herculean efforts put into convincing American blacks to vote Republican and support conservative causes have made things worse, but they keep trying. In fact, the whole topic is now one of those idiot tests. If you are a conservative who thinks it is possible to get some of the black vote, you’re an idiot.

Conservatives courting the black vote is one of those things that suggest the Official Right really is a controlled opposition, deliberately playing into the hands of the Left. Nixon, who hated the Left on personal and ideological grounds, was the guy who came up with the Southern strategy, supposedly a secret racist scheme to win white votes. He managed to get 32% of the black vote in 1968. Ronald Reagan, who actually did a lot to help black people in America, simply by being competent, never cracked the 10% line.

In fact, the Republicans have been unable to break through that 10% barrier for the last forty years, despite investing billions into burnishing their anti-racist credentials. They have worked so tirelessly to win black support, that the meme DR3 is now a hoary chestnut on social media. Yet, look in the comments of a post like this about Candace Owens and you can’t help but wonder if something is being put into the water of middle-aged white people, causing them to turn into DR3 zombies.

The strange way in which older whites seem to be hypnotized by the race issue is not lost on our Progressive rulers. The Washington Post is now running puff pieces on Candace Owens and her Blexit racket. The Left needs conservative fanaticism on the anti-racism stuff in order for it to remain a useful weapon. The Owens racket reinforces the argument that racism is the worst thing ever. All of those dopey white people crying and clapping at her antics are a barrier between orthodoxy and realism.

Reading through those comments in that Breitbart post, it’s tempting to think they are mostly fake, as they read like the sorts of things alt-right people post to mock Baby Boomers. Given the age in which we live, it is entirely possible Breitbart is seeding these Owens stories with fake comments. America is a no-trust society now, so it is always prudent to assume what is being presented is false in some way. Breitbart used to employ Ben Shapiro, who is now an established pen for hire, so anything is possible.

The fact is, the black vote itself is slowly becoming irrelevant. The official narrative says Obama won on the strength of the black vote in 2008, but in reality he won because conservative whites couldn’t stomach that nut McCain and Progressive whites were over the moon in love with the magical black stranger from over the horizon. White liberals were so giddy about Obama, they held Obama parties on election day. Rank and file liberals really thought he was the messiah. That’s why he won in a landslide.

In 2016, Trump got just 6% of the black vote, but he got a lot of white people to vote, who had thrown in the towel on Conservative Inc. Hillary chased that black unicorn around the country, hoping to get blacks out in decent numbers. While she was doing that, she was ignoring those Bernie Bros, many of whom switched teams in the general. What 2016 demonstrated is that the black vote is not worthless, but the cost of increasing your share of it exceeds the value of it. Courting the black vote is a net negative.

You can see this in the numbers from the last election. Steve Sailer long ago pointed out that the better investment for Republicans was to court the missing white share. This is probably even truer for Democrats. There are millions of ignored votes sitting at home every election, waiting for someone to court them. Yet, both parties are allergic to the idea of going after these voters. Even Trump has now decided to abandon these voters, the very people who put him over the top, in order to chase the unicorn.

Anti-racism has become the opiate of the masses. One hit of it and the user falls into a self-righteous, self-satisfied stupor. That’s what these Candace Owens performances are for the attendees. It’s like an opium den for middle-class Baby Boomers. They come in, get a strong hit of the black unicorn and suddenly feel free. They are no longer burdened by the blood guilt of racism. Owens is a shrewd grifter, who used to mock these people, but then she learned there was more money in selling them the black unicorn.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. Secular messiahs have to deliver the goods at some point. Blacks started to lose interest in Obama when it became clear he was not going to deliver the good. Owens will never be able to deliver the absolution her fans crave, so it stands to reason they will eventually figure out they are being had. On the other hand, the unicorn works best on the weakest minds. It may be that they can never break free of it. They will find a new dealer when Owens moves onto something else.

From the perspective of the Dissident Right, it’s probably best to treat anti-racism like methamphetamine. It’s just a thing that is out there, that must be avoided. There’s no eradicating it, but you can warn normies about the danger. At the same time, when a friend takes a hit and starts off on a life chasing the black unicorn, you cut ties and hope they come to a peaceful end. There’s no point in trying to help them or get them into a facility, as there is no way back from chasing the black unicorn.

The Supplicant

The professional right is often referred to as the controlled opposition, because they have the habit of throwing the match whenever they have a chance to win. This is happening with the Rep.Ilhan Omar (D-Somalia) controversy and will no doubt happen with the scandal around Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-Puerto Rico). Rather than take the opportunity to twist the knife, the professional conservatives will jump to the defense of their friends on the Left and attack those on the Right trying to exploit the situation.

The term “controlled opposition” is a handy bit of rhetoric on social media to help red-pill people, but it misses some important points. The most obvious being these are not men thinking “Hey, I better find a way to lose, so my real friends on the Left can win.” None of these guys are that smart. On the other hand, the Left is not cultivating these guys like the KGB cultivated traitors during the Cold War. There’s no control center in Arlington tracking the conservatives, instructing them in what to write and say.

Such a formal set of arrangements would require a sense of awareness on both sides that is simply not in evidence. There’s skulduggery, for sure, as we have seen with the neocons, all of whom are coded to be subversive. Even there, it’s biology at work, not agency. They can’t help themselves. For the rest of the so-called conservatives, it is a lifetime of conditioning by a political culture that has created two main roles. One is the priest and the other is the supplicant. The latter is reserved for conservatives.

You see it in this Washington Post opinion piece about Ilhan Oman, by someone calling himself Henry Olsen. He is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a think tank in Washington. In his post, he unfavorably compares Omar to Steve King, who he just assumes everyone knows is the worst person on earth. He thinks he is a cheeky fellow by creating this parallel between someone the Left has put on the proscribed list and this Somali woman. You see? The Dem are still the real racists!

It’s not all that clear whether Olsen is trying to condemn Rep. Omar or forgive the Left for tolerating her. On the other hand, he seems to saying to his exclusively Progressive readers, this is the Washington Post after all, that his side has learned their lesson and will have zero tolerance for blasphemers in the future. In other words, in what is supposed to be a post lampooning the Left for their hypocrisy with regards to blasphemers, he spends a lot of time groveling to the Left and offering them support.

Republicans learned the hard way with King that where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire. His repeatedly bigoted statements about immigrants were condemned but otherwise ignored by House Republican leadership. Clearly, they hoped that they were aberrations, or that the congressman would come to his senses and keep whatever bigotry he harbored in his heart to himself.

But that approach proved too lenient. Earlier this year, King finally made indisputably clear what many had long suspected during an interview with the New York Times, in which he said: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” He had finally crossed the line, and Republicans — who could not expel him from their caucus under party rules — removed him from all committee assignments. (King has argued that the quote was mischaracterized.)

The trouble here is that the Progressive media smeared King, claiming he said things he never actually said. It was then a pile on by so-called conservatives that turned a cheap political hit job into the crime of the century. There’s also the fact that King was more than happy to play along and go through the required struggle session. Omar actually said the things that have Mr. Olsen upset and she is not backing down from them. The only similarity to King here is they are both correct about the topic at hand.

Mr. Olsen is a man whose morality is entirely defined for him by the Left. They have declared it immoral for whites to cheer for their own team, so he is enthusiastic to enforce that morality in his sphere of influence. Similarly, any questioning of Israel is strictly forbidden, so Mr. Olsen is physically incapable of even contemplating the subject. It’s not that he is sitting there, pecking out these sorts of posts, thinking about how he can turn this problem for the Left into an own goal. He sincerely believes this stuff.

Now, to be fair to those who are sure money is changing hands, there is a financial incentive built into the supplicant’s life. Mr. Olsen gets to write for the Washington Post, which is a nice paying gig. He also gets $130,000 per year from think tank work, which amounts to showing up at receptions and luncheons. He gets other writing jobs because of his association with these well-known operations. Then there are the books that no one reads and speeches at tax payer funded operations. It’s a nice life.

To be even fairer, Mr. Olsen is probably a great guy. That’s something you can’t help but notice with Conservative Inc. Other than the neocons and libertarians, everyone is super nice and very friendly. That’s part of what makes them great supplicants though. They are so willing to please, so easy going in the face of humiliation and torment, there is just about nothing the Left can do to them to make them angry. The Left selects for submissiveness in its loyal opposition and they are good at it.

That’s the problem. It has always been the problem with the Professional Right. A genuine alternative to the prevailing orthodoxy is never generous with the other side. The point of being in opposition is to turn everything against the other side, to advance your agenda and to sweep the other side from the field. There can be no mercy, as the other side will never return the favor. The Left gets this. That’s why they feel no compunction about attacking school children for the crime of rooting for their own team.

This is why people like Mr. Olsen are much less generous with people on our side than with his alleged opponents on the Left. Because his role is defined by the Left and his morality is defined by the Left, he has no choice but to defend the Left. An attack on the Left is felt as an attack on him. If the Left is ever forced into retreat, Mr. Olsen will be there with the other camp followers, padding along behind them. Without the Left, he and the other toadies of Conservative Inc. are nothing. They no longer exist.

It’s why the so-called Right, despite the facts on the ground, cannot stop themselves from stabbing the people to their right. It’s not professional jealously or a fear of their donors getting vexed with them. Sure, there is some of that, but those excuses always come after the knee-jerk reaction against dissidents. Guys like Mr. Olsen are entirely dependent on the Left to define their lives and give meaning to their efforts. They are as much a part of the Left as the house slave is a part of the master’s household.

Recursive Grifting

Last weekend was C-PAC, the annual convention for the Professional Right™ to show off their new wares for the coming year. In theory, it is a gathering of grassroots activists, conservative politicians and conservative media to socialize, network and strategize about how to defeat the Left. This was true in the early days, but somewhere in the 1990’s it became a trade show for Conservative Inc. The people living off politics and the people who hope to live off politics, use it as a way to network and showcase their talents.

Just as Conservative Inc. has become a grotesque mockery of itself, C-PAC is something closer to a clown show rather than a real political event. The organizers have given up pretending to be conservative. Instead they are going for something like an awards show. They actually invited a clown this year. It’s proof that the Official Right™ is now Trump’s world, which is a blend of reality TV and professional wrestling. There’s lots of drama, all of it choreographed, but in the end,, nothing actually happens. It’s just a show.

It’s tempting to get down about this, but the frivolousness of Official Conservatism™ is probably good news. An important part of developing an authentic alternative to the prevailing orthodoxy is discrediting the Potemkin version. There’s also the pure entertainment value in seeing our adversaries beclown themselves. C-PAC invited Prog and Antifa media into cover this circus and the results were predictable. The lefty media ran to their hives and bleeped all over their “friends on the respectable right.”

It would take a heart of stone not to laugh at seeing a grifter like Oliver Darcy tell his fellow left-wing grifters about his time with the so-called conservative grifters. We have shameless grifters calling out other shameless grifters, as part of their grift. Of course, the grifters being called out will return the favor, as part of their grift. It’s a magnificent display of recursive grifting.  Perhaps grifter space-time is folding in on itself. We are about to see the grifter-verse collapse in on itself and form the prophesied grifter singularity.

While it is hilarious to write the word “grifter” that many times in a single paragraph, there is a very serious issue here. If a bunch of left-wing grifters are in the same room as a bunch of right-wing grifters, there is a the chance for a grifter paradox. This is when the two sides of the grifter-verse agree with one another. Scientists are not entirely sure what happens at that point. Some speculate it opens the gates of Hell, while others fear it will open a worm hole to the home dimension of the grifter, unleashing even more grifters.

The whole thing was not just a puppy-pile of political pornography. A few dissidents managed to suit-up in their EPA-approved hazmat attire and get inside to report back to the rest of us. There are people on our side who want to throw people like Loomer, Goldy and Fuentes into the same pile as the rest of the media whores, but there is an important difference. People who are good at getting attention and willing to do what it takes to get your attention are useful to the dissident effort to discredit Conservative Inc.

That’s what our side needs to get better at understanding. There is a difference between the tool and the man who wields the tool. It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools and it is a poor political movement that blames its media savvy people. The trouble with Conservative Inc. is not that it is good at media whoring. The trouble is that’s all they are now, media whores. They have not had a new insight since the 80’s. Our side is teeming with new ideas of varying quality. We need to get better at selling them.

Young people like Fuentes and Goldy also do a better job of connecting with the young audience. Young people like the ad hoc YouTube videos and live streams. The sorts of young people signing up for Young Americans for Freedom, the main group behind C-PAC, are the sorts of soulless careerists, who only appeal to aging Boomers. They are the sorts of young people old people admire. Having some edgy, grifty people of our own to real in new eyeballs from the younger generation is a worthwhile trade at this point.

That said, one of the unique challenges any dissident movement faces in the mass media age is keeping itself from becoming a feeding trough for media grifters. The Tea Party is a great example of a genuine grassroots effort that was swamped by an army of media whores and political con-men. Like a plague of locusts unleashed from Washington, these people chewed through the movement, leaving nothing but stalks. The great challenge is in defending against that, while not ghettoizing the movement in self-defense.

It’s why watching how legacy operations like CPAC operate and how dissidents nibble away at them is useful. It’s always tempting to turn away in disgust, but these sorts of events can be put to use in red-pilling the civic nationalist in your life. The over the top grifting on display is another opportunity to make contrasts between an authentic alternative and the Potemkin one called conservatism. Maybe we get lucky and see that grifter singularity and it takes the whole lot of them into the void.

We Ban Books Here

Way back in the old days, the Left used to accuse conservatives of being against free speech and open debate. They would say the Right was in favor of burning books and heresy laws. When conservatives rose to power in the 1980’s, it was time for them to “own the libs” by pointing out that the Soviets banned books, threw dissidents into gulags and banned speech critical of the state. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn became a celebrity among conservatives, as an example of how the communists suppressed speech.

Regardless of which side was making the case, the basic assumption was that authoritarian government suppressed speech, banned books and threw political dissidents into prison. Democratic governments, on the other hand, permitted a marketplace of ideas, encouraged debate and protected political dissidents. A popular thing to say on the Left was “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll give my life to defend your right to say it.” Even right-wingers would say it on occasion.

That was a long time ago. Today, no one in the political class talks about free speech or the market place of ideas. Instead they rant and rave about hate speech. The “artsy” types are considered rebels because they repeat verbatim from the official catechism and demand greater restrictions on speech. It’s truly bizarre, when you step back and look at what is happening in the context of the last few decades. The man from 1985, transported to this age, would assume some lunacy has suddenly gripped everyone.

Of course, that same time traveler would be puzzled as to how it was possible for a handful of companies to have seized control of the public space. That’s the part no one could imagine thirty years ago. In 1985, a bookstore refusing to sell a book was no big deal, because there were plenty of bookstores that would sell it. The FCC regulated television and radio, but only for smut. The notion of corporations controlling the public space and un-personing dissidents was beyond fantasy in 1985.

Just think about that for a second. The people in charge will go to the mat to defend pornography freely available on-line, but scream bloody murder if Facebook lets someone talk about biology on their platform. Scientist are losing their careers, while pornographers are celebrated. It’s close to a 180 degree change from thirty years ago. In 1985, retailers were still keeping smut in the back room, away from the general public. Video rental places had a secret room for porn. Today, porn is so ubiquitous no one notices.

That’s the truly bizarre thing about this time, relative to not so long ago. The man in 1985 worried about the IRS and maybe the FBI abusing their power. The only worry about corporations abusing their power was the environmental stuff or maybe screwing their employees in some way. Today, you have much more to fear from the banks and tech giants than the government. If the state becomes aware of you, so what? If Google suddenly takes an interest in you, it might be time to go into hiding.

What makes this age even stranger is that it just sort of happened. In fact, it happened so quickly, most people have yet to upgrade their thinking. Conservatives think they are fighting for liberty and opportunity by defending global corporations. Libertarians are literally writing love letters to global business. Progressives continue to think of themselves as the defenders of the middle-class, despite making war on it. Antifa, an anarchist operation, is entirely funded by billionaires and corporate donors.

Again, that time traveler would be completely baffled by the uniformity of opinion among these corporate HR departments that now control society. In his time, there was variety of opinion on the Left. In fact, the main Left used to complain about its fringe screwing things up for them by making crazy demands. The Right was also quarrelsome, with paleos, neos and various libertarians fighting with one another. Today, conservative means lectures on racism and Israel and liberal means more lectures on racism and trannies.

What would really baffle our time traveler is the fact that we ban books now. In America, that has always been the hallmark of authoritarianism and intolerance. It was always the thing that no free person could tolerate. It’s not so much the books themselves, but the motivation behind it. The person who wanted to ban books wanted to control the most private of private spaces, the mind. Today, the idea of having any privacy, even private thoughts, is considered immoral by the people in American HR.

The scary part of this age is that the book burning is the least odious thing being normalized by American HR. Banks are now cancelling accounts, because they have deemed the client to be in violation of their HR polices. Visa and MasterCard are making private war on the gun industry. How long before someone like Jared Taylor finds he cannot get a credit card or bank account? How long before his bank calls his mortgage or his insurance company cancels his policy, because he is a blasphemer?

That was always the scary part of the Soviet Union. The book banning and speech laws were easy to mock. You could not mock the idea of men being sent to camps or facing internal exile. Imagine being in a state where your friends and family fear being associated with you, because the state has declared you an enemy. Now, imagine losing your phone service because someone working in the Bangalore office of Apple does not like your browsing habits. Imagine American HR becoming aware of you.

Probably the strangest thing for our time traveler would be the reality that people and ideas he considered on his side would now suddenly be enemies. To be a defender of a free society means sounding like a Bolshevik, with regards to big business. To oppose tyranny now means demanding the government crack down on the excesses of the corporate HR department. In order to defend your life and your posterity means secretly hoping for an American Pinochet to use the state to crush the enemies of the West.

How To Be A Bad Writer

The other day, someone asked me what makes for a good writer. We were discussing Jonah Goldberg’s new venture and I pointed out that the big challenge they will face is finding writers that are any good. It’s not so much that their opinions are banal and lacking in authenticity. It’s that the people writing for these sites are dull writers. The whole space is full of people, who should be writing technical manuals. Almost everyone with writing chops has been chased off by the loathsome carbuncles of Conservative Inc..

The question though, is why are some writers more interesting than others? Mark Steyn is not offering many unique insights, but he makes general commentary about the political scene fun and interesting. He is a great wordsmith. Steve Sailer is not a great wordsmith, but he often makes great observations about the world. In other words, you can be an interesting writer without being brilliant or a great wordsmith, but you better do something that gives the reader a payoff for having read your stuff.

Thinking about it, what often makes a writer good, is that they avoid the things that all bad writers seem to share. In this sense, “good” is not a state in itself, but simply not being in the state we call “bad.” A great wordsmith is further away from the state of bad writing than someone who is just an average writer. That average writer can appear to be much better, by offering keen insights and clever observations. The path to becoming a good writer, therefore, starts with avoiding the things that define a bad writer.

The most common trait of bad writers, it seems, is they write about themselves. Unless you are an international man of mystery, you’re not that interesting. No one is. Bad writers, always seem to think they are the most interesting people they know. This is what made former President Obama such a boring speaker. No matter the subject, his speech was going to be a meditation on his thoughts and feelings about the subject. It became a game of sorts to count how many times he referenced himself in a speech.

That’s the hallmark of bad writing. Instead of focusing on the subject, the writer focuses on himself, which suggests he does not know the material. Even when relating an experience or conversation, the good writer makes himself a secondary character in the story, not the focus. Bad writers are always the hero of everything they write, as if they are trying to convince the reader of something about themselves. Good writers avoid this and focus on the subject of their writing.

Now, in fairness, there is a division between the sexes on this one. Female writers only write about themselves. It’s why autoethnography is wildly popular with the Xirl science types on campus. They finally have a complicated sounding name for what comes natural to them. Presumably, female readers like reading this stuff, so there may be a Xirl exception to this rule. The fairer sex is wired to understand the world, particularly human relations, by observing the reactions of other women to that person or thing.

Another common habit of the bad writer is to use five paragraphs when one paragraph will do the trick. One of the first rules they used to teach children about writing is the rule of women’s swimsuits. Good writing is like a woman’s swimsuit, in that it is big enough to cover the important parts, but small enough to make things interesting. This is a rule that applies to all writing and one bad writers tend to violate. They will belabor a point with unnecessary examples or unnecessary explication.

Bad writers are also prone to logical fallacies and misnomers. There’s really no excuse for this, as there are lists of common logical fallacies and, of course, searchable on-line dictionaries in every language. In casual writing, like blogging or internet commentary, this is tolerable. When it shows up in a professional publication, it suggest the writer and the editor are not good at their jobs. A brilliantly worded comparison between two unrelated things is still a false comparison. It suggests dishonesty on the part of the writer.

Certain words seem to be popular with bad writers. The word “dialectic” has become an acid test for sloppy reasoning and bad writing. The word “elide” is another one that is popular with bad writers for some reason. “Epistemology” is another example, popular with the legacy conservative writers. Bad writers seem to think cool sounding words or complex grammar will make their ideas cleverer. Orwell’s second rule is “Never use a long word where a short one will do.” It’s the commonly abused by bad writers.

Finally, another common feature of bad writing is the disconnect between the seriousness of subject and how the writer approaches the subject. Bad writers, like Jonah Goldberg, write about serious topics, using pop culture references and vaudeville jokes. On the other hand, feminists write about petty nonsense as if the fate of the world hinges on their opinion. The tone should always match the subject. Bad writers never respect the subject they are addressing or their reader’s interest in the subject.

No doubt there are more complete and concise descriptions of bad writing than this quick list of observations. The pedants reading this sees all writing as bad writing, as everything they read violates at least one picayune rule they cherish. To normal people, though, good writing is mostly the absence of bad writing and bad writing is the violation of some basic rules of written communication. Therefore, if you want to be a good writer, you should first avoid being a bad writer. That gets you at least halfway home.

Tanking It

Note: No podcast this week. The day job has consumed almost all of my time, so I was unable to put anything together. I’ll be back next week.

While burning the midnight oil on a project, I put on a documentary about the evolution of the battle tank in World War II. It was free on Amazon and it looks like it was done by the Brits, as all of the experts were British. Most of it was archival footage, so maybe it was made by an American company. Most of these things are just bits from prior shows cobbled together with a new narrator. As documentaries go, it was mediocre, but it made noise and it was free, so it was good company while I was working on other things.

One interesting thing about tank evolution that never gets mentioned in America is just how good the Soviets were at making tanks. The Germans are always assumed to have been the great tank builders, followed by the Americans, but it was the Russians who dominated the field in the tank game. Russian tanks were fast, powerful and easy to operate by their crews. Most important, they were reliable in all weather. The Russians assumed they would be fighting in horrible conditions and built a tank for it.

The Germans, in contrast, made one error after another when it came to tank design and tank building. They were obsessed with coming up with the biggest, most powerful tank, rather than making lots of good enough tanks. The result was lots of innovative designs, but most were failures and there was never enough of them. The Panzer IV was a very good tank with a platform that was flexible, but the Germans kept trying to come up with a super tank, rather than make lots of these. That was a costly error.

The American tank, which was used by the British, was not a great tank, but they were cheap and reliable, which meant there were loads of them. It was also a flexible platform for all sorts of other uses. The Sherman tank was about using the two advantages the Americans had over the Germans. One was more industry and the other was more soldiers. The plan was to beat the Germans with volume. While it would take five Sherman tanks to take out a German tank, that was math that worked in favor of the Americans.

This conflict between the perfect and the good enough showed up in many places during the war. The Germans seemed to look at the whole thing as an engineering project. The first step was to accept the restraints and then solve for the variables. The Russian and American view was always to limit the constraints and thereby increase the number of possible right answers. The Germans had much better human capital, but their opponents always had many more choices. They also had numbers, which counts for a lot.

When you apply this conflict between the perfect and the good enough to modern warfare, the American military looks a lot like the Germans. The quest for the perfect fighter jet has led to the F-35 boondoggle. Instead of pouring billions into these white elephants, the money could be used to build swarms of cheap drones, but no one is getting rich from making cheap and useful military gear. The same thing is true with sea power. American warships are technical masterpieces, but probably useless in a real war.

This comparison raises the question that perhaps there is a parallel between the state of human capital in the American elite and the German elite during the war. The German soldiers were the best in the world, but the people further up the line were not the best tacticians. At the upper reaches, the strategist were terrible in all sorts of ways, starting with Hitler, who was laughably inept at running a war. Winning was never an option, but the Germans could have avoided total obliteration if they had better leaders.

The blame for this is always put on Hitler and that’s a good place to start, but the Germans had a brain power problem throughout the planning layer. This is obvious in how they went about making tanks. Instead of going for a tank that was cheap and easy to produce by a civilian workforce, they tried to build tanks that were complex and required specialists to produce. The effects of allied bombing raids were amplified by this strategic blunder in production planning. This is a very basic error in planning and execution.

One possible cause of this was that the middle-aged men who would have been sorting these production and design problems had died during the Great War. The German army tended to “use up” their units, rather than cycle them in and out of lines. That meant that a lot of experience with supply and logistics was lost in the trenches. The British and the Americans rotated units in an out of the lines, thus they came out of the war with a vast number of people with experience in the nuts and bolts of war fighting.

The current ruling class needs the Germans to be seen as the ultimate in super villains, but the truth is the Germans were dumb about a lot of important things. The Russians came up with slopped armor, for example, and the Germans never bothered to steal the idea, even after Kursk. The Germans got their hands on the Churchill tank, but never bothered to learn anything from it. They never learned from the Americans how to use communications to coordinate their artillery and their armor.

In many respects, the story of the tank in the war is a great proxy for the story of human capital and cultural intelligence. The Germans had the best trained military on earth, but they lacked human capital in the strategy and tactics layer. Either the culture was unable to produce it or there was simply not enough smart people to create the necessary smart fraction. That was ultimately why the Germany was wiped from the map. It’s probably why no new culture has arisen from that place on the map either.