What Must Be Done

The Financial Times, the strange colored newspaper you see at airports, is not known for its skepticism of modern global economics. Therefore, it was a bit of a shock to see the mouthpiece of global finance come out in favor of a radical rethinking of the economic order. They argued that all options must be on the table in order to address the tattered relationship between the people and their governments. In their words, the social contract must be restored after the virus panic ends.

The alleged sentiments behind the editorial are not wrong. The primary duty of any government is the welfare of the people. It’s why we have government. Sure, we assign it functions like protecting private property and enforcing contracts, but that’s not the reason we invented government. Similarly, the state defends the privileges of the rich at the expense of everyone else. This has been true since the dawn of man, but again, this is not why human societies have governments.

The point of government is the general welfare of the people. That means defending against attacks from abroad and attacks from within. The former is straight forward, but the latter is where things get complicated. Defending against internal threats is about a set of laws and customs for the purpose of maintaining order. The character and nature of the people will determine these internal structures. Good order in the lands of the Mohammedan is different than good order in the Orient.

This is not a concern in a world of nations and nation states. In a world of global capital and the free flow of goods and people across borders, it is nearly impossible. The state cannot enforce the customs of its people when its people change with each generation, maybe with each decade. When economics requires the people to yield their ancient customs and liberties, the point of government is no longer the welfare of the people, but as middle-man, facilitating conformity to economic necessity.

This is where the globalist on the Financial Times editorial board fail in their analysis of the current crisis. The social contract, if there is one, is not built around a set of economic policies. It is not a set of rules imposed by the keepers of the economy in order to make transactions as efficient as possible. The social contract is the invisible bonds between the people. It is this dedication to the shared welfare that necessitates the creation of the state in order to maintain those bonds.

Those invisible bonds are not the creation of the state, but the result of the mating decisions of our ancestors. The social contract between Finns is just the conceptualization of their shared history and ancestry. It is unique to them. What makes a Finn and Finn is not where he stands on the map or how he does business. What makes him a Finn is he is the fruit of the Finnish family tree. To be Finn means the ability to one day make more Finns. That’s biology, not economics.

The social contract can only exist among a people with a shared ancestry. If the goal is to restore the social contract, the first step is not a new round of economic fads, but a restoration of the ancient bonds among people. The West must first become a collection of nations again. Only in a world of nations can the governments of those nations preserve and defend the social contract. Safeguarding the welfare of the people can only happen when there is a people, rather than just people.

This is the fundamental flaw of the current order. Cosmopolitan globalism rests on the false notion of homo economicus. This is the assumption that humans are rational, self-interested, and pursue their subjectively-defined ends optimally. More important, it assumes that people are defined internally, rather than by the untold number of invisible bonds and interactions with their society. Globalism assumes man lives in a particular society, because it benefits in some way to do so.

Not only is this false, but homo economicus is in direct contradiction with the concept of a social contract. Socrates could not flee Athens and avoid death, because to do so would mean he was no longer Socrates. Who he was as a person was defined by his membership in the polis called Athens. The social contract cannot exist in a world of atomized individuals. The social contract can only exist in a world where people are defined by their membership in a society of their people.

The editors of the Financial Times are not wrong in their observations. The great inequity in the West is a not only disruptive, it is fundamentally immoral. The strange blend of casual indifference and despotic intolerance by the state, the anarcho-tyranny, is intolerable and will lead to conflict. The heavy-handed abuse of power by the surveillance state will lead to conflict. These are not root causes, however. They are symptoms of an ideology at odds with human nature.

That is, of course, the radical idea that must be on the table along with crackpot ideas like universal basic income. The restoration of nations with governments dedicated to maintaining the welfare of their people. This means the end of mass immigration and the repatriation of as many foreigners as practical. It means the end of global institutions that supersede national sovereignty. It means the embrace of the great diversity of man and the value of good strong borders between people.

Of course, this revolution in thinking will not come voluntarily. This fact is made plain in that Financial Times editorial. The reason the great defenders of cosmopolitan globalism suddenly sound like Marxist undergrads is they want to preserve the current order at all cost. If it means embracing nutty ideas like universal income, that’s fine, just as long as the class of international pirates can ride the oceans of global capital. If that’s what it takes to keep homo economicus going, so be it.

It is another reminder that any reform effort that begins with economics is a fraud, intended to delay real change from being discussed. Tinkering about the mechanism of global capitalism is always an effort to maintain global capitalism. That gets to the heart of what must be done. The first step in restoring the social contract is to accept that the people at the top are irredeemable. The Cloud People hate the Dirt People. It is what defines them. Real reform comes when the Dirt People hate them back.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

The End Of Gynocracy

A decade ago, the Cloud People celebrated the fact that for the first time in history, women were the majority of the workforce. Not only were women the majority of workers, they were the majority of managers. They were also the majority on the college campus. Women have been the majority of college graduates for over a decade and now outnumber men in advanced degrees. It is not unreasonable to say that we are now celebrating the first full decade of the gynocracy.

Of course, the celebrating is being done from inside closets and under beds, as the world hides from the virus. America is not just run by women; it is now run by overprotective schoolmarms. Social distancing is just the latest thing in a world now run by childless women. On-line, the harpies have been demanding males with the wrong ideas be social distanced right off the internet. The great purging of dissident voices from social media was a dry run for social distancing.

If you think about it, the timeout has now become the go-to move from the gynocrats in charge of our culture. If you use the wrong word or phrase on social media, you get put in timeout for 12-hours. If you repeat the error, you end up in detention. Since the gynocrats have replaced the parents, there’s no parent conference for those who can’t conform to the rules. Instead, you are relegated to the trailers out back, which for the internet means setting up an account on Gab or Telegram.

This is just one reality of the world run by women. Since women have come to dominate the workplace, the fastest growing parts of the economy are those where women have the dominant position. For example, while STEM jobs get outsourced to barbarians, either imported from tribal areas or through outsourcing, health care, which is dominated by women, has been booming. Tech workers have seen declining wages, but registered nurses have seen their wages grow.

Of course, the feminization of society has been hardest on the working classes, as the jobs for working class men are replaced by jobs for women. The rise in death from despondency has been acute among working class males. A man with no way to support a family, relegated to living off a woman, has no reason to live. Inevitably, drugs, alcohol and eventually suicide become the answer. The white death that has afflicted our people is not all that different than what happened to the Indians.

The middle-class males have not escaped the ravages of the gynocracy. We’re onto at least the second generation of middle-class males raised by women in a female dominated society. The process began with the liberalization of divorce, which spread through the middle-class like a plague in the 70’s and 80’s. By the 1990’s, the feminization of America life was well underway. We’re onto our second generation of young middle-class males raised to live in the gynocracy.

You see it in marriage and dating. With scrambled sex roles, the males are ill-equipped to play their role, so they are less marriage worthy to females. On the other hand, men instinctively suspect a career woman will be a poor mother and mate. The subsequent drop in marriage and fertility is hardly a surprise. For the young men in the gynocracy, life is a bachelor’s ball on-line, punctuated by mock battles in video games and mock intimacy in the form of pornography.

As an aside, this is why someone like Richard Spencer was so appealing to young men in the alt-right days. He is the non plus ultra of gynocritic male. He is reckless, feckless and irresponsible, but immune to the consequences. Mom is always there to make everything better. He is the perpetual adolescent, unable to care for himself, but always in rhetorical revolt against the gynocracy. As a result, many young middle-class white males saw him as the ultimate expression of themselves.

For young women, the gynocracy offers a short-term elixir of a career, independence and power over her personal life. By middle-age, the elixir wears off and it means a lifetime of lonely nights being an on-line harpy or one-night stand. Many women escape the clutches of feminism to marry and have children, but in the gynocracy, it still means a career, because they have to support the husband and family. They get to pay the price for upper middle-class women feeling empowered.

Of course, feminism has been hard hit by the rise of the gynocracy. The purpose of feminism for close to a century was to give homely women a reason to feel good about themselves. In a world where women are made hideous on the inside by the pointlessness of their existence, but given power over society, feminism has had to find a new audience. In the gynocracy, feminism is now the domain for those born insane, rather than those driven mad by the prevailing reality.

That may be the light at the end of the tunnel. Increasingly, women are seeing the disaster that is modern life for what it is. The slow flowering of traditional women living life as traditional wives and mothers is a little green shoot. Despite the bellowing from the media, Trump remains quite popular with married women. The contempt in which these women are held by the gynocrats suggests this is the Achilles heel. The end of the gynocracy is single women seeing a mom playing with her kids.

On the other hand, Aristophanes was surely right. Practical reality will break the gynocracy on the wheel of reality. The great lock-down is madness that will eventually force great changes. This hysterical response to the virus will force a lot of rethinking about practical matters, like the habit of outsourcing manufacturing to China and the outsourcing of child rearing to the state. This is what we may be witnessing in this great panic over the virus. it is the beginning of the end of the gynocracy.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

Man’s Greatest Invention

The great British biologist J.B.S Haldane said that fanaticism was one of mankind’s greatest inventions. By “fanaticism” he meant the burning desire to save mankind from some imagined evil. The fanatic is not just trying to help his fellow man. He feels as if it is his purpose, his reason to exists. Therefore, he will die in his effort to reach his goal, as to give up on his quest or accept defeat would be no different than denying the reason for his existence. To die trying fulfills his purpose.

Haldane credited this to monotheism. If there is one god, then no people could be favored by one god over another. All men were the creation of one god and therefore of equal importance. This leads to the great battle to decide who has the correct understanding of God’s desire for mankind. The only way to know this is to do whatever is necessary in order to bring your understanding of god’s will into being. Fanaticism therefore was the great molder of human history for the last 5,000 years.

Of course, Haldane was a fanatic himself. He was a foaming at the mouth atheist, as they tend to be, so blaming the belief in God, especially Christianity, was a natural instinct for him. A central tenet of atheism is that if man drops the superstition about invisible men in the sky, they will stop trying to impose their beliefs on one another and thus a new post-God era can begin. Mankind will be driven by reason and the underlying facts of natural reality. Logic will be the religion of man.

This is nonsense, of course, but Haldane was not wrong about fanaticism. It is a great mover of history. Where he got things wrong was in thinking monotheism was the root of human desire to save mankind. Instead it was egalitarianism, the idea that all men are naturally equal and therefore naturally worthy. This did not require the belief in one god, as we see today with our humanistic fanatics. The modern intellectual is as indifferent to God as he is committed to belief that all men are equal.

An example of this comes from the legacy site National Review. This piece argues that the coronavirus is the great leveler. Mother nature is reminding the world that all men are equal in her eyes. Because, in theory, rich people can get the virus and die, it proves the fundamental equality of mankind. Time will tell on that score, but most likely the smart and rich will do better in this than the poor and stupid. That’s because Mother Nature does not distribute her gifts equally.

Of course, if this virus turns out to be the scourge of the poor or the great killer of the stupid, the egalitarians will have an answer for that as well. As the author of the piece says, it will be due to the rich and smart taking precautions to insulate themselves from the virus. For the egalitarian fanatic, there is always some behavioral reason to explain why one group does better than another. The equality of man is the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega, of their thinking.

A great driver of history is the belief that if only everyone would do things the way they should do them, then the human condition can be overcome. It is not the only driver, for sure, as not everyone has bought into egalitarianism. In fact, egalitarianism was, for the longest time, an exclusive belief. The tribe, nation or people knew they were equal before god, but those other people, well, not so much. Conquering them and taking their stuff was fine, as it was good for your people.

In recent years, this thirst for universal equality has turned into a weird cargo cult, where simply making people appear equal will cause universal equality to spring forth. You see a bit of that in the National Review post. The author seems to be hoping the virus is a great plague that hits the elites as hard as everyone. In the midst of the suffering, so the thinking goes, everyone will suddenly embrace the equality of man. Only a fanatic can believe that he not so subtly hopes for a plague.

In fact, disaster, man-made or natural, is proof that egalitarianism is rooted in our biology, or at least in the biology of some. The great destruction of man’s creation, the bodies stacked upon one another, a scene seen in every age by every generation, has not purged this instinct from our being. There’s no reasoning with a fanatic and there is not reasoning with an egalitarian. They are immune to reality. They see only that which confirms their belief that all men are created equal.

It is why, by the way, Africa is getting a good leaving alone in the pandemic chatter. They were all revved up a month ago to display their sorrow for the poor Africans, who would surely suffer the worst from this virus. This has not happened, so the egalitarians are busy editing on-line maps to remove the whole continent from our vision. Any discussion of why some groups have done better or worse is prohibited, even by the human bio-diversity crowd. Egalitarianism is powerful magic.

It is a good reminder that whatever comes out of the other side of this pandemic, the egalitarian will still be with us. No amount of reality can dissuade him. If he can see a man in a sundress as just another one of the gals, not even the complete failure of the system built on the dream of equality will dissuade him. He will be right back at it, picking through the rubble for signs that all men are equal. Egalitarianism is man’s greatest invention, a doomsday device we cannot disarm.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

Market Report Week Three

The market was very crowded today, suggesting that either the effects of the first round of hoarding have worn off or people fear the worst is yet to come. In the initial round of hoarding, people probably loaded up for two or three weeks. Therefore stocks could be running low now. Perhaps there is a second wave of hoarding that follows the first for some people. Alternatively, the news could be re-frightening people with prophesies about the real doom and gloom really coming this time.

The number of masks were much higher than last week. It was not just blacks and Asians wearing them. About a third of the people had something on their face, like a bandanna, medical grade mask or the stuff workmen use. Probably forty percent of this group was kitted out like they were going to rob the payroll stage coach traveling down from Albany. For some reason they did not look as silly as the people with the dust masks on their faces, but they did look foolish.

Masks probably have some impact on slowing the spread of an infection, but nowhere near what the alarmist claim. Life is a not a sterile environment and people are not wearing those masks 24-hours per day. What they are doing with those masks is reducing the number of times they touch a foreign object, like the carts at the market, and then touching their faces. Unless they are sanitizing every surface and then washing their hands vigorously, they are not avoiding the bug.

The market itself was completely stocked, except for cleaning supplies, which probably says we have moved from the fear of not having snacks phase to the people have been cooped up in their homes too long phase. The homes of America have probably never been so clean. At some point that will get tiresome and the demand for household cleaners will return to normal. People respond to what they see. If the promised bodies in the streets do not show up soon, the great cleaning frenzy quickly ends.

The lines at checkout were very long, about 40-minutes. The procedure was the same as last week, but the higher volume and the lower number of checkout people made for a long wait. The store has started refusing the grimy canvas sacks the anointed have been using to display their love of Gaia. It turns out that the nation’s octogenarians are more important than climate change. It also means these dingbat moralizers will have to find a new way to display their virtue. Perhaps they should wear masks.

In front of me in the checkout line was a women probably in her mid-30’s. In front of her was a pudgy guy in his mid-40’s. Let’s call her “Desert” and he can be “Thirsty” in this little drama. Thirsty kept trying to strike up a conversation with Desert. She was having none of it, doing the thing women do in clubs to blow off some loser. She kept responding with short answers that would not naturally elicit a response. Poor old Thirsty kept trying, which is why he is so thirsty.

Eventually, Desert turned around to me and started making small talk. Maybe under different circumstance I would have been flattered, but I hate standing in lines and I had just watched her shoot down poor Thirsty. I decided to display my power level by doing to her what she had just done to the poor loser in front of her. Of course, this only intensified her interest in me. I’ve never been much for game, but it was a nice reminder that the fundamentals of human nature never change, not even in a panic.

Watching a fashionable sort try to hide her grimy canvas sacks, now that they are no longer a positive moral signifier, I thought about the alarmists. The HBD crowd has gone totally mad over this virus. Any deviation from their extreme position on this is now treated as heresy. There’s a UFO cult quality to what’s going on with those people, as if the coronavirus is a savior, rather than a fact of nature. The slightest bit of skepticism is treated as if the person is denying there is such a thing as a virus

One reason for this is a lack of confidence. Fanatics tend to attack the less fanatical because the mere presence of them calls into question their extreme position on whatever is the main belief. On the one hand, there is status that comes from staking out the most pure position. On the other hand, those who are unwilling to following along call into question that extreme position. They must, therefore, be anathematized and discredited to maintain the extreme position.

There is a good chance we will get to see a large scale reenactment of what was described in When Prophecy Fails. We are probably at the 12:05 mark of that process, maybe the 12:10 mark. We were supposed to have hundreds of thousands in the hospital at this point and it is twenty thousand. With the fever abating in Europe and the economy in ruins, the political class will be lifting the siege in the next couple of weeks. That’s when the clock strikes 4:00 AM for the great virus scare.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

Site Update April 2020

It has been a while since I have posted anything about the site performance or plans for the site, so this is overdue. Once I upgraded the server last year I did not have to worry so much about traffic patterns and so forth. I now have plenty of bandwidth and horsepower to avoid having the site tip over. The nice thing about the current age is you can always get more disk, memory and bandwidth. In the coming crash, I expect the prices for server space to collapse with everything else.

For reasons I have never understand, March is the busiest month of the year in terms of traffic and number of comments. This March saw over 220,000 unique visitors to the site, after netting out robots, crawlers and so on. I credit some of the increase to longevity, as I’ve been at this for seven years. Some of it due to fewer people writing in this format. We are up to our eyeballs in YouTube performers, but very few people write short essays anymore. It is an under-served audience.

As far as the podcast, I have no way of knowing how many people listen every week, as the metrics are pretty much useless. YouTube provides stats, but I’ve seen my listen counts go backward, so something is wrong there. Maybe when they ban people they ban their history. Spreaker’s numbers are an estimate, but I don’t think many people use their app or site. iTunes is probably the top platform for consuming audio, but they don’t provide data to you unless you pay them for it.

The only thing I can go on is the number of people who tell me they recognize my voice or e-mail about the show. Having an unusual sound, something I never knew until I started this, means people will just walk up to me and ask me if I’m the man behind the podcast. It’s happened in Europe and here, so I guess that means a lot of people on this side of the divide listen at least a little. I get a lot of e-mail about old shows, so people must be going back through the catalog too.

On the media front, some people have suggested I give D-Live a try. I’m not a fan of consuming video, so I have no interest in doing video, but our folks are doing what amounts to radio talk shows on the D-Live platform. I’ve listened to White Art Collective on there from time to time. Fuentes is now their biggest act, so it would say the tolerance levels are much higher on D-Live than other platforms. I’m thinking a Saturday night or Friday night show would be fun, but I’m open to suggestions.

Similarly, request lines are open on the podcast, as far as topics. I like to do a commentary about the news once a month and a world report once a quarter or so, but otherwise I just do what comes to mind the Sunday before the show. I’m getting requests to read and review books from small publishers lately, so I thought doing a show on a book or books might be fun. I did a show on Shapiro’s book a while back and that got a good response, but that may just be because I trashed him.

As far as the site, on the drawing board for over a year has been a plan to modernize it a bit, but time is my enemy. Some suggested a message board for donors, which is a possibility. Someone else suggested a badge for donors in the comment section, which seems like a good idea. I’ll need to do some coding for that, which is why it has not happened yet. Again, time is my enemy. I like the plain style I use, so I will not be doing any big changes on that front. Plain site. Plain language.

The travel schedule has been squashed for this year, I think. All events I was expected to attend have been postponed indefinitely. This summer I hope to escape Lagos, but this lock down could delay that depending on what happens with economy. There’s rumblings that the mortgage market is in trouble, so house buying could be a totally different thing in a few months. Even so, if I do escape, travel will be out of the question for a while, so I probably will not be on the road for the rest of the year.

The floor is now open…

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

The Great Plagues

The great role of pathogens in human affairs is one of those things that had largely been forgotten, at least by the general public. In the West, it has been a couple of generations since a pestilence gave us a good scare. The Hong Kong flu was the last time people really worried about the invisible death. Even that was pretty mild, compared to past pandemics. You have to go back to the 1950’s to find an invisible killer that got the attention of the public. That’s almost three generations ago.

The fact is though, the invisible killer has been a part of the human story since there has been a human story. People suddenly coming down with some unknown ailment and dying in volume is as much of the human story as anything. A fair bit of our superstitions have probably been driven by such events. If you cannot come up with a natural explanation to events, you come up with a supernatural explanation. That fear of the supernatural got constant exercise throughout human history.

That may be what we are seeing with The Great Madness. It is that old fear of the unknown, not exercised for several generations, suddenly being turned on by the threat of the Chines flu. In the past, people knew how to control this fear and rulers knew the danger of succumbing to it. Modern people are now like teenagers discovering the opposite sex. Our fear hormones are in overdrive and we have no ability to control and channel them. Hence the great panic we see today.

There’s also the fact that we have conquered nature, for the most part. Even things like hurricanes and earthquakes are not much of a threat. Sure, a hurricane can knockout New Orleans, but everyone understands what was really going on there. That disaster was due to man not respecting that nature does distribute her gifts equally. Natural disasters may knock down some buildings, but they are quickly rebuilt. Increasingly, our buildings are resistant to the best Mother Nature can throw at us.

Even when it comes to pestilence, humans have been taking the fight to Mother Nature in a big way. We are probably a generation away from conquering diseases like cancer, at least the most common forms. Genetics could very well allow us to overcome lots of other natural disorders that shorten our lifespans and diminish our lives. The lack of great plagues seems like proof that the days of such things are numbered. Maybe this virus is a reminder that Mother Nature has plenty of fight left in her.

That said, this pandemic is a piker compared to the past. The Swine flu, which hardly anyone remembers, despite happening just a decade ago, had twice the body count of the Chinese flu in the United States. There’s still time, but in the grand scheme of things, this pandemic is never going to be on the list of great plagues. The best chance of it being remembered is if the economic fallout is such that people remember for generations that we tried shutting down the world over a virus.

That’s probably the most interesting aspect of pandemics. They often leave their mark in how they shape human events. How different would our world be if Athens never suffered a plague and went on to defeat the Peloponnesian League? How about if Justinian was able to reconstitute the Roman Empire? It’s impossible to know, but most likely we are what we are because of these plagues. They not only alter the timeline, but they cull the herd in ways that are felt for many generations.

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. I am now on Deezer, for our European haters and Stitcher for the weirdos. YouTube also has the full podcast. Of course, there is a download link below.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

This Week’s Show


  • 00:00: Opening
  • 02:00: The Plague Of Athens
  • 12:00: The Antonine Plague
  • 22:00: Plague of Justinian
  • 32:00: The Black Death
  • 42:00: Modern Pandemics
  • 57:00: Closing

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The Great Unknown

If we use President Trump’s address to the nation on March 11 as a start date, the coronavirus panic is now three weeks old. That Thursday morning, the airlines were overwhelmed with requests to cancel and change flights. People ran out to buy a lifetime supply of toilet paper. States began to clamp down on civil life with shut down orders and so forth. In the fullness of time, that speech will be seen as the point we moved from indifference to complete panic over the virus.

Now, the week following the initial panic was not a total lock down of civil life, as only a few states had started down that road. It was the following week when the great shutdown of the economy started in earnest, so we are just about ready to wrap up the second week of limited economic activity. Friday is when the government releases the weekly unemployment claims. Last week the number was 3.3 million and this week the number is expected to dwarf that figure.

As this goes to post, the estimates for the number of new claims are between 3.5 million and 5.25 million. The record for number of claims in one week was set last Thursday, so the next report is expected to be the new record. To put that into perspective, these are numbers four and five times higher than previous highs. There is no precedent with tens of millions of people being suddenly furloughed, as businesses are forced to close around the country, because they are told to close by the state.

Right now, 31 US states have some form of lock down in place. Not all are the same and not everyone obeys the edicts. There are plenty of people out and about, but major east coast cities now look like ghost towns compared to normal times. Lots of people are working from home, of course, but retail life has just about come to a halt, which means wholesale life is also slowing to a trickle. No one knows how long this will go on, but conventional wisdom currently says another month.

What this all means for the economy is completely unknown. The St. Louis Federal Reserve is out with a report claiming 47 million people will be out of work at the peak of the fallout from the lock down. That equates to a 32% unemployment rate. We are in unprecedented territory now. According to the report, “These are very large numbers by historical standards, but this is a rather unique shock that is unlike any other experienced by the U.S. economy in the last 100 years.”

Now, there is some hope that the depression will be V-shaped. That is, the economy comes back on in May or June and all of a sudden all of those furloughed people are hired back as business reopens. There will certainly be some of that, as the businesses that have not run out of cash will reopen, hoping to remain viable long enough to weather the storm. Many will have gone under, having run out of cash. Even in a V-shaped recession, it takes a while to fully recover.

The stock market is not always a useful guide for judging the economy, but in this case it can give us some clues. Right now, the robots that do 99% of the trading have factored in what they expect over the next six months. They have also factored in what they expect from government stimulus and bailouts. The Dow Jones has settled in around the 21,000 mark this week. The big sell-offs have subsided and investors are slowly buying into what many think is the bottom of the market.

Still, it is all guessing at this stage. Some states are talking about extending the lock-down into May or even June. China having a second lock-down is going to be seen by the alarmist as a sign the lock-down must continue forever. Given that we’re still at peak hysteria and have yet to hit peak infections, it is not unreasonable to think this carries into May. That means the lower end of that V-shaped recession gets much deeper and the angle coming out of it becomes much more gradual.

The only thing we can be sure of at this point is whatever lies on the other side of this is going to be very different from just a month ago. Politics, for example, are already changing, as the players respond to the new reality. Trump is turning into the wartime president, which is always good for the president’s numbers. He will no doubt become the great cheerleader of the recovery this summer, as he will want to take credit for the recovery from the lock-down, assuming there is one.

The question though is what will politics look like in a world of 30% unemployment, even if it is short-lived? If half the furloughed workers come back by June, that still means a world of unemployment levels not seen in generations. The last time we had double digit unemployment was 1982. You have to go all the way back to the Great Depression before seeing double digit unemployment again. Even allowing for the way these numbers are calculated, no one alive has seen what’s coming.

Lots of people will rush forward at this point arguing that these unprecedented times will suddenly make their preferred world view popular. The libertarians are smugly sure that this time, people will lose faith in government and join the libertarian revolution. The neocons are sure their treachery will be vindicated. On this side of the great divide, there are lots of cheers for the death of the economy, in the belief that putting millions of white people out of work will radicalize them.

That’s the thing though. This is uncharted territory. America is not Weimar Germany or 18th century France or 19th century Russia. We have no examples of a country turning itself off like this. We don’t really know why our rulers are doing this. The claim is the virus threat, but we have had worse virus threats and the ruling class did not go insane like this, so something is different this time. All we can say for sure is we moved from a world we generally knew and understood into a world of the unknown.

How will a people used to excess respond to a world of want? It is entirely possible that we get lots of real poor people again. That is, people with barely enough to feed themselves and a place to sleep. More important, those poor people will be visible to the middle-class again. How will people respond to that? How will people look at the plutocrats in a world with real poverty in plain sight? How will those plutocrats respond to such a world? No one has thought about it, so no one knows.

That means the politics of the future are probably not going to look like anything we have imagined. The old Left-Right axis makes no sense. The Left-libertarian versus Right-libertarian dynamic is now as relevant as Whiggism. If it is a short depression, then politics will revolve around the new state controls that are credited with “saving the economy” from the virus. If it is a long depression, then politics becomes a zero-sum game to see who fills the void of the discredited old politics.

Perhaps we are the first people to look out into the distance and get a glimpse of what comes after post-scarcity society. Maybe it is just a return to scarcity. Maybe it is a world with a high tech palace economy and fewer and fewer people working. Maybe the white nationalist get their wish and everyone becomes a dependent of the state. Maybe this look into the void frightens us and we scurry back to the safety of the past. For now though, we are staring out into the great unknown.

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Fermi’s Paradox

Fermi’s paradox is named after the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, who famously asked, “Where are all the space aliens?” Whether he actually said that is unknown, but he did wonder how it is that we have yet to find any evidence of life in the universe, other than on earth. According to the Drake equation, there should be quite a few extraterrestrial civilizations that we can detect from earth. Here is a famous paper on the topic written back in the 1970’s explaining the problem.

For those interested in listening to a long discussion on the subject, this episode of the Future Strategist with Jim Miller is a good listen. He interviews Greg Cochran, who knows a great deal about the topic. This was before Greg unfortunately succumbed to the The Madness, so it is free of that stuff. Miller and Cochran go into the background of the topic and offer some possible reasons for why we have not discovered any signs of intelligent life anywhere in the known universe.

Problems like this are fun and make for great science fiction plots. The great science fiction novel The Mote in God’s Eye is about man’s first contact with an alien civilization and touches on why it took so long for humans to find aliens and vice-versa. A main topic of the book is the idea that the alien civilization has Malthusian cycles, where they eventually overpopulate their world and destroy themselves. As a result, they can never advance quite far enough to explore the universe.

The novel does not get too far into this, as it is mostly a plot devise to move the story along, but it is a possible reason for why we have not found intelligent life in the universe and why we can no longer go to the moon. That is, we have regressed due to social evolution of some sort that we don’t fully understand. It now takes ten years to build a tall building in New York City, when a century ago it took a year. We don’t build dams or bridges anymore. We can’t even maintain the ones we have now.

This is where people will say, “We could go to the moon if we really wanted to do it. It’s the government that cannot do it. Private industry could go if it was worth it.” Maybe that’s true or maybe that is just a coping strategy to mask reality. All we know is we have not been to the moon since 1972 and we lack the facilities to do it right now. Even those vaunted private explorers are struggling to do things we could do decades ago, like launch something into space and bring it back again.

Social cycle theory is not a new idea. In the 19th century, Italian sociologist and economist Vilfredo Pareto developed a theory where power in a society passes back and forth between the clever and the aggressive. Most famously, Oswald Spengler theorized that human societies are born, blossom into maturity and then, like a person, decline into old age and eventually death. Ed Dutton and Michael Woodley have built on this concept using modern studies of human intelligence.

In other words, the reason we have not been able to travel the stars is that intelligent life can never advance to that point. Our civilization lifespan prohibits us from reaching that level of technology. That does not mean there is no progress. Clearly, we have reached a higher level of technological achievement than the Romans, but there’s always a dark age to reset things. What comes after this cycle will learn a lot from us, but maybe make it as far as Mars, before the great downturn ends their run.

Current events offers some insight into why we may never meet space aliens. The panic over the virus is something new to modern society. This virus is not a threat to humanity, but it is treated as one. We know there was no panic over the Swine flu, the Asian flu, the Hong Kong flu and so on. There was no panic over the great influenza outbreak of 2017 that killed 80,000 Americans. Yet with the death toll soaring to 4,000 with the Chinese flu, America is paralyzed with fear.

It could be that when a civilization becomes sufficiently advanced, three things happen that change how it interacts with the world. One is the birth rate falls. This is something we have seen all over the world. Once a society can reliably feed its people and it reduces interpersonal violence to a certain level, total fertility rates fall. At the same time, the society feminizes. Women begin to take up positions of authority in both civil and government institutions, changing the nature of those institutions.

That’s the third thing, what we are seeing today. A society dominated by women is extremely risk averse. The focus first shifts to elevating the value of life, then to guarding the children against any potential risk. We saw this happen in the 90’s and 00’s with the millennial generation, who were sheltered from everything. Finally, the society shifts to organizing against any threat, even those that promise to merely trim a few years off the lifespan of the octogenarians.

A society that is hyper-focused on preventing even the slightest risk is not a society taking great risks to explore the stars. Maybe that’s why the cost of going back to the moon is prohibitively high. The safety precautions that would be required make the venture pointlessly expensive. The reason it takes ten years to build a building that a century ago only took a year to build, is that today’s society is risk intolerant. If just one worker gets a hangnail or stubs a toe, the cost is considered too high.

Another possibility along the same lines is that in addition to the obsession with safety, the low fertility rate simply reduces the population. This is beginning in places like Japan and Italy. In a world of growing populations, the point of technological advance is to provide for more people. In a world of shrinking populations, the point of technological advance is to protect the people. That means more automation and less actual work, which could result in physical harm to the remaining humans.

What we may be seeing is the early stages of a new social model, one imagined in science fiction a century ago. Once a species becomes sufficiently advanced, the population shrinks, but lives in greater comfort. Perhaps in time lifespans will extend so a small number of humans, cared for by automated cities, live long lives almost like children in a daycare center. A species of pampered toddlers is no going to risk it all to explore the stars and come visit earth.

Of course, the Chinese flu is a great reminder that the free flow of people means the free flow of germs, many of which are deadly to those unfamiliar with them. The Europeans expansion into the New World probably killed off 90% of the indigenous people in the Americas. No one really knows for sure, but the great weapon used against the Indians was the pathogen. Small pox and influenza have been the greatest killers spread by man in all of history.

Maybe once a species overcomes all of the problems listed above and reaches the point where it can explore the stars, it has also realized that the spread of pathogens is too high of a risk. Maybe extraterrestrials explored a few places before they could reach earth and the result was a horrific die off. Maybe the alien bug killed them or maybe their bugs killed everything they touched. As a result, they hide from us any sign of life, so we don’t make the mistake of infecting the universe.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!