The Bandit Economy

There is an old parable about business ethics, where a young ambitious man is hired to run a pickle factory. Being ambitious, he comes up with a brilliant idea to increase productivity. He reduces the number of pickles in each jar by one. The result is the cost per jar falls and the number of jars produced goes up. His bosses are suitably impressed and he is quickly promoted. The firm hires another young hotshot to take his place, he quickly figures out the scheme and repeats the process.

The lesson of the story is that such an approach is not really about increasing efficiency or cutting costs. It is about fraud and the limits of fraud. If this process is carried out a few more times, customers will notice that the jars have a lot less product. Taken to its logic end, the company will eventually be sending empty jars to the market. Of course, once the public catches onto the fraud, the good name of the company is ruined and all of those savings they gained on the front end are lost on the back end, plus interest.

It is a useful parable when trying to understand what has happened to America over the last three decades. Free of the threat of nuclear annihilation, the ruling class has abandoned ethics and morality. One result is we live in a bandit economy, where things like shrinkflation are features rather than exceptions. This post over at Zero Hedge details how the gas you put in your car has been systematically watered down over the last quarter century, coincidentally starting at the end of the Cold War.

Of course, a trip through the supermarket will find plenty of examples of this phenomenon, some of which border on the absurd. The classic pint of ice cream is now fourteen ounces and shrinking. It won’t be long before they will quietly change the definition of quarter to be 2.5 pints. Only conspiracy theorists will notice the change. It used to be that a pint was a pound the world around, but you can’t even buy a pint of beer without a heroic capitalist pulling shenanigans on you. It’s becoming a game with them.

The libertarian line about the market simply being a place where buyers meets sellers sounds good in the hothouse, but in the real world, left unattended, it becomes a grifters alley, where the honest are preyed upon by the unscrupulous. Just as there is never a cop around when you need one, there is no longer anyone policing the practices of our capitalist overlords. If you want to know why people at the end of the Industrial Revolution were open to the call of communism, stand in the chip aisle of your market.

If you are the sort who likes a sandwich and some chips for his lunch, the one thing you can’t help but notice is the bags of chips have grown larger and more expensive. What used to be fifty cents is now a buck-fifty. The bag is also twice the old size, but inside are fewer chips than in the past. It’s already reached the point where the bag is 80% air and 20% product. If this continues on much longer, the lunch time snack will be a dirigible sent to your office containing one chip. That will be your drone delivery.

What the West is experiencing is something people figured out at the end of the industrial revolution. That is, market capitalism is great, except for the market capitalists. Left unsupervised, they quickly turn into bandits in business attire, coming up with clever ways to rob the public. Another feature of this age is the declining number of independent suppliers. It turns out that a feature of unrestrained market capitalism is the strangling of the market by a handful of powerful suppliers, who exercise hegemonic power.

Of course, what is happening here, in a million little daily transactions, is the monetization of public trust. The office workers grabbing lunch trusted that the participants at their local deli were playing fair. Meanwhile, those clever MBA-toting business men and their brilliant ideas about removing just one more pickle from the jar, are exploiting this trust and skimming a few more pennies from the unwitting customer. This sort of practice is modern coin-clipping, which used to be a capital offense.

At some point, when the rubes notice their sandwich can fit in the palm of their hand and the bag of chips is the size of a hot-air balloon, they lose their naiveté and privately realize they are being scammed. We live in a cynical age, because privately, people are coming to believe nothing is on the level and no grift is too small. That has the effect of codifying deceit as a feature of the market and of society. We are rapidly reaching a point where only a sucker trusts anyone other than his friends and family.

This is why unfettered market capitalism is a cancer on society. It turns morality on its head, justifying the unwillingness of the elite to enforce public morality. It’s why your kid’s phone is full of hardcore pornography. The market has spoken and you’re not against the market, are you? Eventually, there is the “A-HA!” moment, when people discover that their private loathing of the daily grift is shared by a large portion of the population. The preference cascade sets the world on fire and morality returns with a vengeance.

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222 thoughts on “The Bandit Economy

  1. This is why more and more people are turning to socialism. They can sense that something is amiss, their income purchases less and less and their standard of living is slowly circling the drain. They for some reason don’t realize the govt is deliberately lying about inflation while the price of housing , food, education and healthcare are rising faster than their incomes. It is no wonder the socialist ideology is becoming more and more acceptable. That is why communism happens. The people are tying of being screwed by the elitists and mistakenly cling to this false solution instead of fixing the problems directly. IE fix the corrupt crony capitalist political class that’s enabling this.

    • Don’t know if it’s a positive or a negative, but many of those who believe they are for socialism don’t know what it is, shown by those “man on campus” interviews. A lot of uninformed and not really clear-thinking kids think it has to do with “social justice.” Seriously.

  2. Clearly we need a commisar to set in stone for perpetuity the size of potato chip bags, the number of chips therein, and the number of salt grains per chip. Then we’ll need lots of inspectors to test various bags of chips to be sure they are in compliance. Then we’ll need lots of investigators to make sure the inspectors aren’t being paid off by the evil capitalist purveyors of potato chips. We’ll also need a court system just for potato chip fraud trials of the evil purveyors of fraudulent bags of chips. We’ll also have lawyers specializing in potato chip fraud, judges, and prisons to house the miscreants.

    Sounds like paradise to me.

  3. And the “enlightment” made fun of all the many local measures. Which I heard were often the result of similar scam by Lords and bureaucrats or way to make the tax levy smaller but officially the same. So much for progress.

  4. It’s weird that the anti-capitalist right is now verboten. Makes sense, though; the “Left” is now a handmaiden to global billionaires. In some schiizophrenic way we are – in the Jacobin sense – to the left of the “Leftists”. Lenin would condemn us as ‘Left-deviationists”…

    I’m proud of that, though not sure why.

  5. 12 ounces is the new pound. A few years ago I used to get 16 oz of medium frozen shrimp for five bucks. Now I get 12 oz of extra small shrimp for the same price.

  6. It appears that regulating the stupidity of boomertarians is going to be an ongoing exercise around here…

  7. I imagine that British have felt cheated in America forever, since the pints of beer they order here are about 3.5 ounces smaller than the ones they order had home. Serves ’em right though, for being British. And being here…

  8. Perusing the aisles of an independent grocery chain: Chip aisle. Exciting notation on front of bag: LOOK!!!! New Bigger Bag!!!!!! I believe the new bag was bigger. Much more air at the top. It seems to be selling well.

  9. “The problem with socialism is socialism, and the problem with capitalism is capitalists.”

    I guess he said that before he sold out.

    • If one were to pose the alternative, that the problem with socialism is socialists, and the problem with capitalism is capitalism, then I think we are in for something worth talking about.

      Look, Marx was a dick, we all agree about that. He didn’t make any effort to support his family, he lacked a sense of humor, he probably did not shower enough, ate bad food and farted too much.

      That said, he wasn’t wrong about everything. It’s why we still talk about him. He understood that the Left/Right paradigm was useless as a tool for understanding the political divides induced by industrial society. He understood – as Orwell would a century later – that division by class (High, Middle, Low) summarizes the real political spectrum.

      I happen to agree with that, because it is obvious.

  10. And you blame capitalism for this phenomenon, rather than the importation of a hundred million individuals from countries where corruption and banditry has always been far more common than the USA throughout most of its history?

    This despite the fact that economic freedom is at its lowest level ever, and that industrialized cheating was almost non-existent before the 1960s.

    • Industrialized cheating was”almost non-existent before the 1960’s.” You have to be historically illiterate to think that. Shay’s rebellion, Tamney hall, the Gray Men of Chicago, San Francisco’s government in the 1840’s, Ulysses Grant’s administration, etc etc.
      Our People are not immune to greed. OTOH, the “capitalism” we are experiencing today is calculated to encourage, protect, and abet civilization-destroying cutthroat greed.

      • “Our people are not immune to greed”…

        As understatement goes, that’s good,

    • industrialized cheating was almost non-existent before the 1960s.

      You are joking, of course.

  11. One more anecdote, in my postgraduate work I studied in a class entitled Corporations. It was in this class, taught by one of the most famous nationwide scholars in this area, that I realized that Michael Eisner’s compensation package was structured in a way to give him a financial incentive to get fired for cause (and thus receive a significantly larger payout) than it did to do his job well.

    I asked how the Board of Directors could approve of such an absurd structure. There were no answers. But who could hold them accountable?? Our laws are structured in such a way.

    One of the biggest grifts out there is Wall Street. One should study very hard what happened in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. How the Harvard boys and Soros and the special people oligarchs carved up the “people’s” assets. Safra and Browder are key players in this. Millions upon millions of Russians died as a result of the raping of their country by the west. Now those are actual victims you can identify.

    Compare every vital statistic of the country from the time when Putin took over until now. He is an angel of deliverance compared to what they are facing. There is a reason he is so vilified by the West, who, except for a few, are marching to the drum of the elites, which are not comprised of the people who actually live in those countries.

    • Yes. The median life span in Russia dropped TEN YEARS after the country got gang raped by the Chicago Boys.

    • If anybody tell you free market, then Russian aviation is good example. Back in the 1990s nobody did not follow the regulations nor paid taxes. Because of low tax free market…did Russians got the best airlines in the world. Or did they got lot of air crashes ? About isms, capitalism is condiotining people for communism and other way around. Madness changing with over regulations and back again,.

    • There really is an argument that the fall of the USSR was the worst thing that ever happened to the USA, at least in the latter part of the 20th century. As long as the Workers State was still a player, our rulers had to not entirely ignore the interests of workers here and leave something on the table for the rest of us. And the existence of a powerful enemy imposed a certain seriousness on our government.

      That seriousness is now long gone, and the rulers have stopped even pretending to care about the middle and working classes. They are just “human resources”, interesting insofar as there is value to be extracted.

      That extraction process was brilliantly described by our host as “the monetization of public trust.” I’m definitely stealing that phrase.

  12. Ah, the old “capitalism” vs “communism” debate. Folks, it’s a red herring. A false dichotomy. A classic Hegelian dialectic meant to confuse the debate. They are two sides of THE SAME COIN!! Who were the biggest supporters of the Bolsheviks, etc. Wall Street. Whether it’s unencumbered capitalism or 1984-style communism, the point is that the ELITE, the rentiers, the asset owners, don’t really care.

    The ancient Greeks were quite correct that the philosopher-king style of government is the best. Or the enlightened monarch. Or the popularly supported fascist. Each such leader retaining a racial and cultural bond and direct blood lineage to the people he rules.

    Since the Code of Hammurabai, outrageous interest rates were held in check. Julius Caesar dealt with a massive real estate crash in his day. Do you know what he proposed? He said that all the interest payments made by debtors would be converted into principal and thus the loans reduced thereby. He was assassinated shortly thereafter.

    What American president was the subject of the first attempt on his life? What American president took on the banking interests full throated?? All of this is connected and has been since at least the mid 1700s, The usurer is the weapon of the devil and there is a reason why he was the subject of the only individual upon which Jesus raised his hands against in violence and wrath.

    Just desserts.

  13. Everyone screams about how the Chinese are cheating us, but at least the Chinese are honest about cheating us. While Americans complained about jobs going to China, they weren’t so upset that they stopped going to Walmart knowing almost nothing Walmart sells is American made.

    Here in Europe, it’s the same. Major producers like Siemens, Audi, Mercedes, Bayer, etc., have been quietly moving production out of Germany and into LCC (Low Cost Countries) like Poland, Czech, Hungary, Turkey and more and more to China and India.

    The latest scam here are product labels that say; “Designed in Germany” or “Built in Germany”. It might have been designed here, but the parts were made somewhere else, then shipped to be assembled in another LCC. Or parts were imported from LCCs to Germany and assembled in fully automated factories.

    A good example is Poland where they produce high quality, precision castings for aviation and premium cars brands. But despite their quality (which is actually very good given they have some of the newest and most modern industrial plants in Europe – thanks to EU funding and subsidies) you’ll see never see a “Made in Poland” on the label. But you will see “Product of the EU”.

    Porsche and Mercedes are both premium brands built on a long standing reputation of German engineering excellence. But would you still spend 90,000-Euros on a premium luxury car if you knew most of the parts were actually produced and assembled in countries like Romania?

  14. This has happened to a lot of food . the 3 way they charge you more are; smaller packaging , lower quality , and raising prices . our economy is full of all 3 .
    since I live near Detroit, I can go to Canada and buy snacks too. theirs still taste like ours used to . also , If you are in Canada for any reason , eat at their McDonalds. The burgers are fantastic. good fresh meat , and decent vegetables. even the buns are better. they do cost more , but not a lot more. I won’t eat their stuff here anymore.
    It’s sad . the rate of this decline here is terrifying too. .

  15. Free market capitalism is the worst form of economic system, except for every other system ever devised. I’ll take my chances in the chip aisle thanks; no one is holding a gun to my head saying I have to buy the chips if the bag is 90% empty. Those things have a way of correcting themselves over time. Been to Burger King lately? You can get a triple cheeseburger for $6. No one is taking your portions away.

    • Neither Regulations or Social Democracy are bad or lead automatically to Communism

      Everyone knows that many goods are best served by the market system and everyone knows that sometimes you need regulation as well.

      • Hey, I just gave this a plus, and it took away a point instead of giving you one. Sorry ’bout that.

  16. I recently stopped at Dollar Tree to get a four-pack of AA batteries for my camera. What do you know, they changed it to a three-pack. Walked right out and got an eight-pack at Aldi for $2.29, which is now a better deal.

  17. Regarding “coin clipping” of packaged food, the “paleo” right has been admonishing people for a LONG time to stop buying packaged/process food! They’re cancer/obesity in a box. Buy whole foods only, meet, fish, eggs, produce. All of these are bought by weight with regulated scales.

  18. It’s not just the consumer market either. The government has been fudging the consumer price index with substitutions for a long time now. For example substituting cheaper meats for steak, inflating the value of cars with the imputed value of their modern non-transportational features …

  19. A hate tweet gem:

    Diversity…lowers workforce cohesion, job security AND wage growth. People work harder for less.

  20. “The preference cascade sets the world on fire and morality returns with a vengeance.”

    And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
    As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

    • Not quite that. A preference cascade means that the bullshit and lies are exposed and public life gets a fresh start; it happened in the old Eastern Bloc and it can happen here too. A few hundred devotees wise up to the regime and begin to laugh at the ridiculous people in charge.

      Laughter is to these bastards what water was to the Wicked Witch of the West.

  21. Slightly off topic, but a few years back, they started making reading glasses made of plastic, their strengths at set intervals. In Britain, these were marketed as simply cheaper glasses and sold in optometrist shops for about £30-40. In Denmark, they were seen as not-real-glasses since the lens wasn’t ground to your fit. They were sold in supermarkets for about £3.

    • It’s the same here in the US. After I needed cataract surgery at the ripe old age of 41 (and right before the market release of automatically adjusting artificial lenses like Crystalens) I needed magnifying reading glasses for reading or any close work (drives me nuts, because I used to be the person who could find someone’s dropped contact lens or read the tiniest print). I buy them by the bunch, at the drugstore or grocery store, when they’re buy one-get one free. I’m always losing them or breaking them, so I keep a pair in my purse, in the car, in the kitchen, etc. Wonder why their pricing is so different in England?

  22. I am a aficionado of fine “snowballs”, those marshmallow covered chocolate cake and creamed filled delights. I have been eating them for decades, mostly from Hostess. Mrs. Freshly’s came out with an incredible version of these a couple of years ago. There were big, moist, and ….. fresh. So, I dropped Hostess and only bought Mrs. Freshly’s. Then suddenly Mrs. Freshly’s disappeared (perhaps bought out by Hostess?) and not only was the only choice Hostess, but their snowballs were so freaking small, flat, and hard that it was not even worth eating them. They were even smaller than they had ever been, now that they had killed off the competition. I always wondered if anyone noticed the drop in sales of their crappy snowballs, or if they made it up by buying dog food from China or something.

    As one of my professors taught back in the early 80’s, it is the MBA effect. Companies (and their reward systems) are so caught up in making short term gains, which advance the careers of their Jr. executives, that they destroy the reputation and good will of the companies. The executives could give a shit, because they just move on to the next company and get promoted doing the same quick hits they used to help destroy the last company. Now all companies are filled with this type of thinking, but, like locusts, they come and go, only looking forward to the next leafy branch.

    I worked (effectively) for UPS for 7 or so years. Taking accounting classes in college, there was something on the balance sheet called “good will”. I could not understand what that really meant until I rang the door bell at the back of a bank with my UPS uniform on, and the door flew open the instant they saw brown at roughly the correctly anticipated minute. As I shadowed drivers (I was a technologist) I never went more than a couple of stops without customers literally threatening me if I “did anything bad to their driver”. That is loyalty that requires decades of dedicated, faithful, reliable service to acquire.

    On the flip side of the spectrum, I was thinking about the guys who invented Groupon as I was driving to work this morning. They were offered $2b to sell that company as soon as they started it. They turned it down, apparently not understanding that anyone with an smartphone app developer and a marketing team could undercut them in two months, which shortly, happened. This is almost the exact opposite situation, where there is no such thing as brand loyalty, when the brand has only existed for 5 months or something and their only advantage was being first to market in a market with no technical barriers to entry. Honestly, even with my own principles, when they threw down those $2b my legs would have snapped open like a cheap suitcase.

    • I loved snowballs too. this has happened to a lot of food . the 3 way they charge you more is smaller packaging , lower quality , and raising prices . our economy is full of all 3 .
      since I live near Detroit, I can go to Canada and buy snacks too. theirs still taste like ours used to . also , If you are in Canada for any reason , eat at their McDonalds. The burgers are fantastic. good fresh meat , and decent vegetables. even the buns are better. I won’t eat their stuff here anymore.
      It’s sad . the rate of this decline here is terrifying too. .

      • I heard the same complaint, years ago, from tanker drivers for a national bakery brand.

        The tankers they brought in used to be real butter and cream. Now it was just cheap chemicals.

        Real bakers and apprenticeship used to run that shop floor, now corporate called the shots.

        All for a few pennies more, thanks MBAs. The drivers were disgusted.

  23. “… unfettered market capitalism …”
    If it’s so free, unregulated and uncontrolled, why do those large companies lobby so hard (paying off the controllers) to restrict the upstart competition that would expose their fraud?

    • The billions, the hundreds of billions, spent on bullshit. Unaffordability could’ve gone the way of smallpox a long time ago. What a fricking waste.

    • A British craftsman would build a brass foundry that would still be there 200 years later, with the workers, neighborhood, and locally-sourced buildings all pretty much the same.

      Not so with nomadic kapital and values, not at all.

      • Thanks felix . If you read the entire NYT piece it is even more maddening . it has more details of how the hedge fund made risk free return by loading up Remington with debt , them welched on all the deals with the local governments , mistreated their employees , and destroyed the economy of ilion NY . everyone lost, Remington’s former employees lost their livelihoods and the new ones were underpaid and abused temp workers. this is state sanctions looting and theft. GOP sponsored and protected Too. larry kudlow and ben shipario would say it’s all good , just the ” free market ” at work .

        • We’re gonna need a LOT more rope. And our pensions are riding on this? Stealing from ourselves into secure retirement?

          • The US is all about short term thinking and has been for decades, nearly half a century as reflected in our low fertility rate.

            Democracy and the Republic can’t fix that kind of thing

            if we don’t get a yeomanry, the longest term trends mean social extinction and Amish Paradise

            In the end , assuming we make it through, to get there we’ll end up with profoundly less economic liberty and if we are smart things like wealth caps and a profound distaste for larger enterprise.

            We may even control where businesses can build to prevent clustering

            Our “Money Right” will feel betrayed and will probably fight tooth and nail to keep up the grift but fuck them. They’ve made everything worse for decades and if they don’t like it, Somalia awaits

    • I read that article. Owning a number of Remington products I was very interested in what happened to them. Most of the stuff I read over time seemed to indicate that somehow they got into trouble trying to branch out into other things, but your article shows a completely different picture. It kind of reminds me of the demise of MCI, which was destroyed by the WorldCom people. A shame that a bunch of sell outs allowed it to happen.

  24. The watering down of gasoline with ethanol captures our disgusting government perfectly. Everyone now agrees that ethanol actually does more harm to the environment, while simultaneously driving up food prices and harming your car. There is absolutely no reason to continue it, except as a kickback to farmers. But it’s a government program, so 1000 years from now our teleportation machines will require ethanol.

    • DLS;
      Agreed. Ethanol in motor fuel is a perfect example of crony capitalism in action: Cynical grifters coming together using the power of government under cover of mindless idealism about ‘global warming’ to line their own pockets. No regional fuel distributer or refiner could get away with this on their own. So Libertarians are half-right that big government capture is a big problem for markets.

      But they are wrong that ‘free markets’ could fix this situation. To begin with, one can’t measure fuel quality without a chem lab or fuel pump honest measure without calibration equipment: And also inspectors, BTW. So this market depends on *honest* government to function.

      • So when the question is, “but who watches the watchers?”-

        And the answer is, “the good Lord above, of course”-

        Well, all kinds of wonderful things begin to happen.

        • (For Silly and Krull- and persons like me- this works fine if that Lord is the Face of my People. A kind of shorthand, if you will.)

          • Universalism is to Faith what democracy is to society. The franchise and tribe must be inflated to increase one’s own transitory ambitions within it.

            What is real Faith?
            Faith in the ancestors that brought you here, faith in the future prepared for your descendents. The long chain of one’s People.

            Wolves, birds, all Nature maintain territories, not seek universal empires. We should listen to our instincts and do the same.

        • Or you take power and do it. It is possible with a great deal of effort to control corruption. Its not easy though

          The real damage corruption does is economies become unable to work without graft as India and other nations have noted. That’s why it requires a very tough determined system

          And note too, the corrupt never learn . The arch example being the S&L crisis

          Honest men would have learned from all that locking up that that behavior is frowned on and to not do it, Instead they lobbied to make their crimes legal and learned nothing.

          In the end usually requires a lot of jail terms or better hangings and often people willing to allow an economy to fall apart since so long as its honest it will reboot

    • The Kickback here is Grassley-Archer-Daniels-Midland. Yes, Grassley SHOULD be part of the name. He’s corn-holed the country for 20 years and earned it!

    • The harm comes largely from the increased demand for more farmland and more fertilizer to meet the demands for more biofuels.

      The tech is changing on this, from feedstock crops to cellulosic biomass(plant waste).

      This is a very good thing. MTBE was a mistake, ethanol is not.

      Cleaner burning fuels have made a big difference in the air quality of large urban areas and in the health of the people who live there.

      Mechanically it’s a mixed bag for automotive tech: more heat (problem), less heavy residue (benefit).

      Engine efficiency will make up for some of the loss in fuel potential. Within limits ethanol is a net plus.

      It can also be used to generate electricity.

      Cellulosic ethanol will be a big part of the future development of the energy sector.

    • Field Report re Ethanol in Motor Fuel;

      In my part of the world it is possible to buy ethanol-free gasoline for chainsaws, snowmobiles, outboard motors and the like at some local gas stations. It is usually the top octane available, ordinarily 91 or 92 (and obviously the top price/gal.). I started putting any residual left at the end of summer into my planet-destroying SUV because otherwise it would go bad over the winter and create a disposal problem.

      I noticed that my gas mileage went up. So I ran an experiment by filling up completely with it a couple of times in a row.* As measured by the onboard software, I got a ~15% – 20% increase in fuel efficiency by cutting out the ethanol. This means that I’m arguably producing less CO2 per mile driven (4 gal w/o ethanol = 5 gal with ethanol for the same distance).

      So, not only is ethanol production a net waste of fossil fuel energy,** it increases your carbon footprint per mile driven as well. IOW, it’s a complete and utter scam: Sadly typical of government sponsored ‘renewable energy’ schemes.

      Unfortunately the price delta at the pump is ~25% per gallon. Otherwise it would be a no-brainer to switch.
      * Octane describes a fuel’s anti-detonation characteristics, *not* its specific energy per unit volume. Higher compression engines need higher octane and can (in theory) generate more power thereby. But you don’t change your car’s compression ratio by changing fuel octane, so it’s safe enough to use 91 octane in vehicles also able to use 87 octane. (Many newer vehicles are actually designed to run best on 89 but tolerate 87 or 91.) It’s taking out the ethanol that improves gas milage not taking up the octane. Using 91 octane with ethanol is no particular improvement in gas milage and costs more (yes, I did check).
      ** The main factor inputs in ethanol production are fossil hydrocarbons: Oil feedstock to make the fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides needed to grow the corn; diesel to power the tractors and combines; propane to dry the harvested corn; diesel to bring the corn to the refinery; natural gas to warm the fermentation vats and distill out the ethanol, etc. IOW ethanol does *not* conserve fossil fuel nor reduce the overall carbon footprint.

      • Thanks. I’m more familiar with regulatory capture in the financial services context but I appreciate confirmation that the phenomenon is ubiquitous. It’d be interesting to know how much various subsidies contributed to keeping the price delta against switching away from ethanol. I wouldn’t mind my tax dollars supporting that study, but I’m not holding my breath.

      • Whew! Most impressive.
        Since it’s lawn season, all I can add is a tip from a pro lawn guy in Mass (where they’ve got green stuff up the wazoo)-

        Want that mower to start on the first pull? Use 93, not 85.

  25. This modern reality raises interesting implications for child rearing. The natural instinct is to shelter children far from the maddening crowd in the Midwest somewhere. But then they grow up naive to the evils of modern society.

    What to do?

    • Classical education! History teaches you about humanity, the Plutarch wasn’t writing about his health.Plus street smarts can be gotten in any community big enough to give you the primary colors of human nature. Any community of a few thousand adults and you’re going to have all the basic personality types and a few sociopaths to teach them not to trust everyone, but it’s safe enough that they can’t do too much harm hopefully.

      Also my father had me read a book by a former con man when I was 14, not so that I would be a con man, but so I wouldn’t be conned. It basically worked, I dodged many bullets growing up. It was called the Art of Manipulation.

  26. The Zero Hedge post you referred had graph with scales setup in such way that 12500 => 12000 (a minute difference) looked like 90%. This is just embarrassing manipulation, it defeats the point to start a discussion in such way.

    • I had a laugh at that too. An author complaining about deceptive pricing and mixing has to use a deceptive graph to make his point. To start the graph at zero would have made his argument look like a rounding error. 🙂

    • It’s due to the ethanol additive which began about the same time. Ethanol has a btu output of 76k. Some add butane which also has a lower btu. This is done to create a cleaner burning fuel.

  27. Capitalism is a tool, not a god.

    Coolidge famously said: The business of America is business.

    But I heard a Japanese guy put their twist on that: The business of Japan is the Japanese. I’m with the Japanese on that.

    • Outrageously excellent.
      Cucking that “the only purpose of a business is a profit!” neglects to ask “what is that profit’s purpose, then?”

      • I’m all for open markets and capitalism, but corporate leaders need to know their place in society and that they need to conduct business with an eye on the larger picture if they want to keep the people and the government off their back.

  28. I like “bandit economy” as a way of envisioning certain features of a capitalism unmoored from morality.

    I’ve lately been trying out a coinage of my own: “the whore economy.” It describes a different aspect of our present system, which encourages people to exploit and draw attention to themselves for little tokens of recognition or approval.

    It’s one thing to create a deliver useful content—essentially to be a publisher. It’s another to cynically misrepresent or carelessly humiliate yourself in pursuit of all those coveted “hits” or “likes.” To me, these would be analogous to the dollar bills stuck into a stripper’s g-string.

  29. Markets are neutral. People are not good. Left on their own, most people are venal, in every aspect of life including business.

  30. Yes. I think of Mondelez and chocolate: deteething Toblerone, changing the fruit in Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut to a cheaper ingredient etc – in products that are essentially quality, luxury items. Weaker fuel was new to me, though.

  31. >This is why unfettered market capitalism is a cancer on society

    Says unfettered market capitalism…

    …means a completely socialist system with tiers and tiers of barriers to entry.

    I wonder how many fraudsters could prosper if honest people could jump into the game and compete with them without having to be a friend of a congressman? It’d probably look something like the video game industry… with prices either staying the same, or falling, while more and more features are offered up.

    At some point, we can all collectively “fetter” and put a stop to all these consumer benefits.

    • No true Scotsman. I used this cope back in the day, “we’ve never had real capitalism, we’re a mixed economy.” Check out Z’s recent “Right Wing Economics” podcast, and a number of other past podcasts where he discusses Big Tech & monopoly. MIcrosoft achieved its market share before it started playing lobbyist games in D.C. Nature of the unfettered beast. Humans are not angels. Unfettered human activity always results in abuses.

      • A good podcast. And economies have never not been mixed.

        “…Unfettered human activity always results in abuses…”
        Fettered human activity always results in abuses.

        • In unfettered human activity, you generally can track down your abusers, should you want to. In fettered human activity, you have no agency to do do, you are royally and truly screwed.

        • True. However if you look at US history, workers in the US did better economically with trade and immigration control.

          In fact the entire edifice of our modern prosperity was mainly do to government actions, roads, most infrastructure, Internet, clean water, clean air . You name it, brought to you by Uncle Sam

          The private sector used it to make goods which is good and Right but the State laid the foundation

          On a human note, the only reason you aren’t competing with say Rwanda on the wage front and working 80+ hours a week to eat is the State put its guns into the face of business and set some ground rules

          Sure its possible to go too far and absolutely a badly regulated state hurts small business but the only way to break the US cultures habits of exploiting and abusing people is State force and lots of it

          The thing is, the .Dissident Right is not anti government , that’s the Libertarian and Militia Movement things. The DR is anti bad government and pro government in its own hands

          Once its able to build a better understanding of what limits we actually need, not the ones Ayn Rand nuts think we need and communicate how its way will the a better way, it has a very good chance to take power.

          Unlike the other portions of the Right, the Dissident portion can actual govern a less than moral, not religious 80% urban society

          The mainstream Right aren’t Right wing at all, The Deus Volt /Hard Right cannot deal with moral limits and the Militia Right are essentially rural and anarchists in practice and can’t govern cities

  32. It’s a sign of… the ridiculous prosperity of our late empire period, which will end soon enough…

    …and the intellectual laziness / poor education, and general lack of common sense in our decadent population.

    The problem will correct itself eventually. No government oversight will do it.

    • Why should prosperity be a problem, though?

      The Woke. They turn every damn thing upside down.

      • Alzaebo, that’s one of Zmans points. This isn’t productive prosperity, but the internalization of profits and externalization of costs. This isn’t the productivity of a healthy society, but the estate sale of our culture. The auctioneer is getting us amazing income per minute! Sure, there will be nothing left at sundown, but that’s a problem for later.

  33. >where the honest are preyed upon by the unscrupulous.

    I believe you meant to say “where the lazy are preyed upon by the unscrupulous.” The part I don’t get is why I have to change my whole life and philosophical base for the purposes of protecting the lazy and the don’t-cares?

    >but in the real world, left unattended, it becomes a grifters alley, where the honest are preyed upon by the unscrupulous

    Other posters have persuasively made the point that eBay renders this whole argument utterly moot. On eBay, you can’t even keep an anti-fraud service going because without politicians helping us along, almost everyone is so honest that they don’t need oversight at all.

    • If your “philosophical base” is toxic to those who aren’t John Galt, but you think it’s based on human happiness, check your premises. One of them is false.

      • The Piekoff is strong with this one, Exile. I’m sure he’ll be the New World Man instead of just another body in the ditch. I mean sure, society will burn down around him, but HE will be the exception that makes it to the Gulch (and I’m 100% sure it’s a he).

    • Cause you don’t know who the lazy and the don’t cares are. Not every guy who loses in the economy should be told to go fuck himself because it’s his own fault.Those of us who don’t have asperger’s see that there are actual social and economic goods that can only be achieved through some general unity and care for other members of the “tribe” and don’t view the existence of courts and the military as an unconscionable assault on our rights. I also find it hard to believe that the only reason fraud exists is because the state is making someone be fraudulent.

  34. That’s what’s so infuriating about the virtue signalling of Woke Capital. The people in Big Business have never been more scummy and sociopathic, but at the same time never more sanctimonious.

    But I’m telling you, normie don’t get it yet. I was at the supermarket with my morbidly obese aunt. She saw some kind of ghastly junk food with a new rainbow box & LGBT blurb, and said, well isn’t that nice! We’ve got a long way to go, guys.

    • I hate to rely on Freud-style psychology, but there’s projection and compensation involved in virtue-signalling by rotters. We have a pre-rational desire to be seen as a good person and we’re good at compartmentalizing.

      • “We have a pre-rational desire to be seen as a good person and we’re good at compartmentalizing.‘

        Agreed—with the exception of most commenter here. 😉

  35. Every day all around the world the sinful nature of humanity is on full display. Cheating customers in a capitalist society is just one more way humans are constantly taking advantage of one another. I know there are systems in society that can reduce things like capitalist grifting but ultimately it comes down to the human heart. A man’s heart that is upright and moral and fears the Lord will abhor such things. We need to fill our society with folks like this. Then, whatever system we choose will be much better than the one we currently have…

    • That’s a chicken-or-egg question, innit?

      I think I just got the answer on a Kansas farm show. They said “building something to pass on to the next generation”.

  36. One other feature of market convergence is that when things go bad there are a few identifiable people who are most obviously to blame, and folks don’t mind at all seeing them, ahem, cut down to size.

  37. ” Just as there is never a cop around when you need one, there is no longer anyone policing the practices of our capitalist overlords.”

    The Booby disagrees. It’s worse than that. It’s not that there’s no one policing the “capitalists”, it’s that the authorities are actively engaged in shielding the capitalists from accountability, whether by the market or the state.

    How many people went to jail after the financial crisis? How well do gov’t statistics, like CPI, capture the “coin clipping” inflation you spoke of? Has the revolving door between Wall Street and the regulatory agencies stopped, regardless of which party is in power?

    The problem isn’t a lack of authorities. It’s that the authorities are either complicit or simply don’t give a damn.

    • Oh yeah, and go into any corporate boardroom in the country and the Booby challenges you find even one that isn’t faithfully promoting political correctness, and imposing the PC reign of terror upon its employees, or pushing it upon the public.

      Just look at the feminist ad Gillette put out earlier this year.

      Socially and politically these people are servants of the far-left, and apparently the far-left is content to allow them to keep getting rich. Obama didn’t do a damn thing to upset the applecart, and neither will any Republican candidate, including the present one, despite his constant Tweets to the contrary.

      • World Corporate Communist Empire. Been around for a while, just changes stripes occasionally. Currently prepping for a ChiCom style Cultural Revolution. Gird your loins.

  38. I am starting to worry wonder about you, Zman. While I agree with your assessment of the current state of ethics in big business, I do NOT want more big government regulation. I can make my own decisions about what I will buy or not. If you think there is too much power vested in big business and that it’s being abused, just think how awful/ugly/dangerous that power would be in the hands of unethical government stooges with guns and nukes ;-). Oh wait, we already have that and its awful/ugly/dangerous and you rail against it all the time.
    I’m not sure I have an answer. Frankly, I think the US is toast as nation, culture and empire. But calling for more big brother regulation puts you in a category of grifter not to be trusted by me.

    • I blame libertarians for the persistent fiction that government and the private sector are opposites on a spectrum, public coercion by gun is evil while private coercion by cartel, collusion & service denial is good. Shills and libertarian spergs want you lost in process questions while you ignore the results.

      • @Exile, spot on about the libertarian fiction. Their position usually reduces to: Whatever government does is bad; whatever businesses do is good. Their “hold a gun to my head” trope always cracks me up. Big business can wreck someone’s life completely without using a gun. That’s one reason the statists are happy to outsource censorship to Google, Facebook and Twitter. Even banks are getting in on the business of quashing dissenters. They can shut down opposition quietly without recourse to physical violence. And libertarians and old line conservatives are happy to let them do it.

        • Could have even gotten big without buying big.gang.guv? Once upon a time, yes. Am reading “Titan” and just got to the point when JDRockefeller had to buy into a couple newspapers (Jeff and Slim – nothing new here!) to “protect his company” against politicians pandering to the mob.

          • That’s the third book of Dreisser’s trilogy, right? It’s been awhile, but I recall being enthralled by that series. Beat out Fitzgerald in writing about and during that time period in American history.

    • It’s not big brother regulation, it’s the standard brakes that have been on there since Moses banned usury.

      There is no “the government” and there is no “big business”; it’s just people and there’s no real defense against rat bastards once they reach a certain turning point except for social shame and legal sanction. But you do need a good enough reason why.

  39. Maybe this fits in and maybe it doesn’t but what I noticed was these business majors came in and only filled essential positions after they had been vacated… Nobody shadowed the job and gleened the knowledge before it walked out the door. Saved that year of double wages for the same amount of work though.

  40. Yep, I hear you on the grift-ocracy. Three potential responses: 1) bitch, moan & complain, 2) work harder and make more money to turn over to the grift-mill, or 3) acquire some land, seeds, livestock, and tools (along with healthy grasp of agrarian know-how) and set to work insulating yourself (as much as possible) from the swindle.

    OK – I know that’s not the answer for everyone, but I took option 3 after two decades of options 1 & 2, and it’s made all the difference in personal health and financial welfare. I used to save/invest thousands and hope for a 10% return; now I can take a $2.50 seed packet and translate it into well over $100 of wholesome chow in less than 3 mos – pretty decent return on investment. And when you take the Jeffersonian yeoman pathway, there is inherently less grift … it’s much easier to short the public on toilet paper or chips than a 4×8 sheet of plywood or a bag of fertilizer. For the 1% who might be interested in changing up the status quo, I suggest relocating to a “flyover” state that is somewhat friendly in terms of low taxation, then get to work on building a sustainable homestead. And pick up an AR while they’re cheap and available. To summarize, LEAVE THE HERD.

    For those confined to the rut of options 1 & 2, get out of debt ASAP and work systematically towards option 3. Hold fast, the scam-ocracy has an end point.

    • For those stuck in the rat-race, get anti-fragile. Spread your client base/paymasters, get out of the single employer, nine-to-five, tax withholding direct-deposit rut. Have side gigs if you can’t totally self-employ. Good for your security and your sanity.

    • Within living memory ritualized communal life revolved around church with its associated social clubs, the children’s school and family dinners.

      Work is now the sacred space,
      Shopping is the community sacrament and reward for conformity,
      Dining is now epicurean and no longer communal.

      Changed the form get the function good and hard.

      • The sacred space of today’s USA is the stadium, arena and ballpark where our culture-heroes may be viewed.

    • Same as it ever was. Go back and look at how things were a century ago. Food was poisonous, car accidents killed you if they were moving any faster than a brisk walk, “medicine” was often a bottle of alcohol or opium, and workplace conditions would often maim or kill you. This stuff is not new, it has always been out there. Local culture and community was the defense against it, where you learned which of your neighbors you could trust to give you a fair deal.

      There is one huge advantage of the information culture. This stuff isn’t hidden any more. Buy used, and carefully vet the choices for quality and durability. Let the new stuff age a bit, and see how it goes before you commit to any of it. Don’t pay the premium for “new”, where it is not worth it. Do your own repairs where you can, and follow the YouTube videos to do them. Buy things without chips in them, go for analog. For God’s sake, no Nest or Alexa in the house. Grow your own food, it isn’t that hard and it puts you in touch with the seasons and the cycles of nature. Go off the grid where and when you can.

    • I got pissed long ago when 1/2″ “…4×8 sheet of plywood…” turned into 0.451″ thick, and the “…bag of fertilizer…” concentrations changed. Even 16ga steel tubing got thinner, although the psi increased enough to keep the strength.

      But the bigger point is that although I’m emotionally inclined to option #3, how do we calculate the time cost of the loss of everything I could be doing and buying and enjoying with moderate money in the “big city”, compared to the joy of living in isolation on the Wind River Reservation?

      • Buddy, the Titanic is going down. You can hang out and enjoy listening to the band or you can get your lifeboat ready. The opportunity cost of doing nothing will be cataclysmic.

  41. The reason big business can get away with more grift and fraud is because the average shopper is becoming more stupid as time goes on. If more shoppers were intelligent and frugal in their buying decisions, then you would have a feedback cycle that forced Big Business to exhibit more integrity.

    Now ask . . . why is the US population becoming more stupid? The answer to that question is far, far more serious than escalating corporate fraud.

    • Maybe, but the people in charge are the real culprits. They simply refuse to enforce their own rules. Within living memory, taking advantage of the stupid was immoral. Today it is celebrated. Instead of lecturing us about trannies, they could be lecturing about a lot of other things that need attention.

      One of the bits of conditioning that needs to be broken on our side is the endless excuse making for bad behavior by the ruling class.

      • Who is the responsible party when somebody is taken advantage of – the person who was deceived – or the person doing the deceiving?

        • The person doing the deceiving. -Nearly every Western moral philosopher since the dawn of history and most of the eastern ones too

          • A person may or may not be aware he is being deceived but the deceiver knows full well he’s cheating and stealing from the other guy. He is wrong in all societies but Islam where deception is allowed in many cases. (Which is but one of the many reasons Mohammadans must GO!)

          • Correct. I would also add that in today’s highly technological world, it is pretty much impossible for any given individual to be the wise consumer who can avoid the fraudulent corporation. Hell, before today I never even heard that the energy content of gasoline had been deteriorating since ‘93! Yeah, in winter we got ethanol added and mileage went down a bit, but the article in Zero Hedge is much more than that.

          • Then abject stupidity and repeated willingness to be deceived count for nothing?

            There is a “which came first” problem here.

            What’s that old line ? … ” fool me once – shame on you” (that’s the moral part you’re referring to) – “fool me twice shame on me” ?

            We’re well advanced into the “fool me twice” part of this whole game. In fact I think a good part of the population is probably on their fifth or sixth round of being fooled and is constantly clamoring for a few more rounds of being fooled.

            In my lifetime this country has been in 3 major wars and more “actions” than I can recall. And none of them have led to any sort of definable victory.

            Yet nobody learns – especially among the so called right wingers…. that getting involved in foreign war is a bad idea – despite being warned by the founders of the country ( you know those men so many right wingers talk about constantly).

            The problem with blaming everything on the deceivers – is that there are so many people seemingly ready , willing , and able to just keep falling for the deceit over and over again. And there’s also the fact that the world simply does not work correctly unless stupidity comes with consequences.

            Stupidity should hurt – that’s why I’m opposed to just blaming everything on the “elite” and their deceit.

          • What’s with you today?

            First of all, our country has NOT been in 3 major wars during your life time.

            Second, what–exactly–do you recommend that ordinary people do when they SEE and KNOW that they have lost control of the state? When they KNOW that NOTHING they can do (that won’t land them in prison or get them killed, or both) will change a thing?

            Be specific. WHAT should these stupid people you refer to be doing in the present circumstances? Exactly. Be exact.

          • Vietnam, Iraq – and Afghanistan – were/are major wars. And I forgot about Desert Storm. So that’s four.

            There’s probably been at least a dozen or so other incidents like Grenada and Mogadishu – where the US military was heavily involved but they barely qualify for the status of a “war”.

            Every war doesn’t have to be WW2 to qualify as “major”.

          • Frankly this trickle down, personal responsibility crap was an odious lie during the Reagan administration and its aged poorly .

            The regular people are being lied to, kept in the dark and screwed over by “capital” on a routine basis and lack the sophistication to keep up with fraud

            As such our leaders are fully responsible for letting happen. The S&L crisis is a perfect example.

            We lock up tons of people for long periods and the rich instead of going “wow, maybe society was pissed and we should behave better” lobbied to make the crimes legal which they did

            Scambags all of them

            And while MRV’s question as not addressed at me , I will answer.The entire system is rotten and we need a new elite who serve the US people first, last and only

            Getting them gone will not be easy , these are the sort of people that have no morals whatever and an insatiable desire for money and power who on multiple occasions have come close to ending Western Civilization over a fucking economic system

            I hate communists and communism but I would at any time, any day rather be Red than Dead

            Right now people are doing roughly the right things given limits

            They are figuring out what they want so they can make a last attempt at a voting solution, prepping and waiting

            At current rate of decline it will be only a few decades before the system can no longer work and do to tritium decay, may no longer have nukes either

            That creates a vacuum and maybe someone can voted in or other options can be exercised

        • That’s unworthy of you. I’m somewhat surprised at you.

      • Randian Libertarianism removed the stigma of taking advantage of each other in general – take it from a recovering Randroid.

        You’re onto something with democracy being a root cause of leadership decay. The selection pressures on leaders today are giving us criminals and imbeciles (Kushner’s a two-fer). We need an aristocratic tradition, complete with noblesse oblige, in our re-booted White society.

        • And as a result of all this, our leadership and CEO class has done something that I would not have thought possible – revitalized old-fashioned, actual red-flag, hammer and sickle Communism. When the USSR collapsed back in 1991, and the full extent of Communist crimes was revealed, I thought, “Well, no one will fall for that BS again for at least a hundred years”. And yet, only a few decades later…

          Heck of a job, elites, heck of a job!

          • When you have a boot on your neck, you tend to not be particular about who it is that manages to remove said boot, nor question what they want (at that moment) in the long term.

          • As the poor Russians, Cambodians and Chinese found out, there are worse things to have on your neck than a boot.

      • Z Man;
        Not only was taking advantage of the stupid once considered immoral, it was also illegal. Laws against usury (payday loans), gambling (numbers rackets), prostitution, drug use, etc. had protection of the stupid as part of their rational.

        But then the stupid acquired ‘advocates’, largely from the civil rights apparatus’ NGO’s who needed new causes to fill the coffers. They eventually prevailed partially on account of the collapse of Christian morality, which was another major rationale.

      • Which problem is easier to solve? Taking down a relatively small number of fraudsters who act as predatory deceivers, or dealing with a majority of the population who can no longer tie their shoes?

        • As I commented before. You need to take down the grifters, the consumers can all be Einstein-like geniuses, they will still be defrauded. No one can spend the time and effort to check the myriad of products in the market before consuming.

          • Can’t keep up with the lies, when they cost so little to produce.
            The ROI is incredible.

      • It’s more than excuse making. It’s the lax enforcement of the rules in place when they are broken or ignored—which I suppose is laid at the foot of the ruling class in the end. Lots of examples over the years of corporate shenanigans that got consumers/workers killed, but much less wrt examples of corporate CEOs gong to jail. Current conviction of that family firm manufacturing/marketing Fentanyl being a noticeable exception.

        Say what you will about the Chinese, but every once in a while when a big shot gets in a scandal that get Chinese consumers killed or produces a black eye for the Chinese export market, the CEO—and sometimes the corrupt Chinese government officials—get a quick trip to the local stadium and a bullet in the back of the head.

        Until we reestablish accountability up the chain of command, I don’t see much hope for reversing the present situation.

    • But dividing the price by the volume is so hard! Maybe the grocery stores should post the cost per volume on the shelf – or people could carry around computers in their pockets capable of doing the calculation.

          • I do it, too, but most people don’t want to take the time. They would much rather be able to eyeball a package of chips and know how much is there and a few decades ago that would have worked fine. A few decades ago American workers knew if they worked hard they would be paid the market rate for their labor. Now it’s common for them to have to train their foreign replacements, who are obviously less competent and if they protest too loudly, they don’t even get their severance pay. There was a report by CIS recently that said the United States has lost 15 million jobs over the last several years due to outsourcing or bringing in cheap foreign labor.

          • VDare tracks this. Most of the current job creation the government is touting is going to foreign workers.

          • To be fair about the chip bag thing – part of the reason it is 80% air is to help protect the chips from becoming dust.

          • c matt, you’re right, Frito Lay drivers have to avoid certain mountain routes because the lower air pressure will pop the bags.

            The stuff ya learn, huh?

          • Yes. The issue is that a society where I have to do a calculation before I buy a goddamn bag of chips is one where every last possible interaction is subject to fraud, all the way down to the most insignificant. That’s not a society, really, it’s a jungle. To hell with it.

          • When you have to read the label on the baby formula to make sure they didn’t put rat feces in it, it’s time to burn it all down and start over.

          • Eventually enough people will get sick of it and will rather watch the whole rotten thing burn because there is no other recourse.

      • My grocery story posts cost / unit on the shelf label. My kid likes to decide which package to get based on it when he plays grocery gopher.

        • Budding numeracy! Get him to “running total” the cart and see how well he does at the register. Helps chase away the boredom. 🙂

      • Dividing the price by the volume or weight may save you a bit of money, but the bargain brands have undergone their own shrinkflation.

      • Actually, that’s done regularly here in Wisconsin. But bringing a microscope to read the label is required, along with the ability to read.

    • Aren’t all of us, including “big business” trying to cope with an elegant counterfeiting scheme created by Rothschild Banking and enforced by their Rent-a-Cops called the USGuv? The first receivers of that newly printed debt can “pay” more for everything, forcing the rest of us to too.

  42. This kind of Grifter Capitalism is ironically making Americans more Soviet. We’re developing the same cynical sensibilities that non-apparatchik USSR normies felt toward their entire system – economic, governmental and otherwise. That’s very good for Our Thing, albeit bad for Empire economics & civil society.

    A buddy of mine in the forgotten 90’s referred to the “sap line” in modern transactions, “sap” being sucker, what Israelis call a “freier.” My buddy was describing a process where each party tries to anticipate the degree to which the other is grifting them and adjust their position accordingly – to find their “sap line” beyond which they were clearly getting screwed. The amount of energy spent in this dance of “pre-emptive retaliatory rat-f*cking” is a huge drag on the economy and legal system and a huge stress factor for all involved.

    The managerial state lies at the heart of this in ways I’m still trying to write up or otherwise reduce to argument in a coherent fashion. Divorcing ownership from both control and responsibility is where this started and our overly-financialized economy was the perfect petri dish to let The Grift fester & thrive.

    I’ll also give a hat tip to the death of Christianity and its idea of “God is watching.” Morals today consist of what one can get away with. In the Current Year, Plato’s “ring of Gyges” would unleash monsters.

    • Overall excellent and well said, but I’ll quibble that finding the “sap line” is NOT “a huge stress factor for all involved”.

      There are those who enjoy the process, and at more than one level. First, it’s a chance to demonstrate how much more clever you are than the other guy. Second, it’s righteous retribution. Never mind what the actual history may have been, it is an absolute certainty I or my people have been unfairly victimized (needless to say, probably out of envy), and I’m just getting some of our own back. Finally there is the actual material gain, but that is often NOT the most important thing to those who love to play the game.

    • Christianity is not dead. Statements like that do not do your credibility any good.

    • Low-trust societies spend a huge amount of time and energy on avoiding getting screwed or trying to screw the other guy. It’s one of the reasons high-trust NE Europe excelled.

      Unfortunately, we didn’t understand that letting low-trust people into our society would undermine the whole game.

  43. Capitalism is an economic policy not a moral philosophy. Capitalism does exactly what it says it will do and no more. The people who have systematically tossed out God who is a moral philosophy from every facet of life for the last 100 years to prep us for communism are the culprits. No system to my knowledge is perfect but capitalism with Christian morality came as close as man is apt to come. Remove God, remove accountability. That’s the commie way.

    • Excellent point.

      Another piece of the puzzle is that people simply can’t seem to get it thru their head WHO rules the market – is it producers – or is it consumers?

      I bet most of the people on this forum won’t be able to answer this simple question. And it’s because their minds are corrupted by that 100 years of preparation for Communism you referred to.

      Everybody who loves slavery – wants a slave who has convinced himself he is not a slave.

    • ? I’d think lack of regulation and the rush to deregulate everything has had more of an effect than anything… But I guess “communism” is always the culprit.

      • Seriously.

        Some of the stuff I read here is just comical.

        Where is this “rush to deregulate everything” you’re alluding to?

        The Federal government register has done nothing but grow by leaps and bounds for decades now.

        There isn’t single goddam thing in this country that isn’t regulated down to the last detail.

          • Exactly why I want smaller – much smaller – government.

            And why I completely do not trust people who say stupid shit like ” the government is always honest and the private sector is a bunch of crooks” … or …. ” if we only elect honest people things will be better”. One of the funniest ones is ” we need a benevolent king ! ”

            It’s laughable the kind of BS I hear coming out some people’s mouths – and always makes me suspect they’ve made their way thru life by being another cog in the belly of the beast.

            They get upset with “ordinary working people” – who don’t want to become another piece of meat fed into the machinery of government – largely because said government is their sustenance – and their retirement.

            “But it’s not regulated in favor of ordinary working people”

            No shit.

            Show me one single large government EVER – that once it got big and out of control – wasn’t a plaything of the “elites” to extract what they could from the “working people”.

            This well known dynamic is exactly why the more radical founders of this country wanted to very severely constrain power at the Federal level.

        • You must not remember the mortgage crisis and the derivatives trading that set us back 10 years… Financial regulations were almost non existent to favor big banks and Wall Street.

          Environmental regulations have taken a serious beating since the Orange Clown took over as well.

          Seriously. Some of the stuff I read here is just comical.

          • “Some of the stuff I read here is just comical.”

            Glad that you’re entertained. And no, Communism isn’t always the culprit, but it is chronically under-blamed for a good many problems, at least as a contributing factor. For instance, the Chinese have always been a bunch of chiselers, but thirty years of trying to survive under the most insane regime imaginable didn’t improve their moral fiber any.

          • I disagree with Normie’s tone, but does no one remember the S&L crises, Enron and energy deregulation, the mortgage deregulation and the 07 crash, etc etc. This isn’t hard, people. These people keep ramming the clown car of our financial market into the ground every decade after they manage to buy some congresscritter into deregulating some financial instrument, but none of you noticed?

          • Don’t be difficult. Everybody “noticed,” as you put it. Look up “anarcho-tyranny.” THAT is what some of the wise men of Indostan are calling a “tree” and others call a “wall.”

          • I sure did, I remember all those you mention. All due to deregulation, In fact I can’t think of any financial crisis in the last 30 years that wasn’t due to deregulation various markets and getting rid of oversight.

          • There was plenty of regulation and oversight. Unfortunately, it was and is always over those who do not pay the government bureaucrats in charge with bundled “donations” and half-million dollar speaking fees, not over those who need to be held in check. When we allow the government power to “regulate,” do you not think they will use that power against the common citizen, if it means money for themselves? That’s very trusting.

            So no matter how many times Lucy pulls the football away, some will keep insisting that it’s the only way to protect Charlie Brown. Uh-huh.

          • I noticed – and knew damn well somewhere around 1999 that the housing market was NOT going to keep going up forever into infinity – as a good many people apparently did. I didn’t use a home equity line to buy myself an SUV and a boat – nor did I take out a massive mortgage.

            I’ll admit to being surprised that it went up as long as it did – but not surprised at all when it all went down the crapper in 2007.

            You’re right – this isn’t hard people: pay attention to the history of the real estate market and the affordability of real estate in relation to people’s wages – as well as the lunacy offered up by many of those in the financial industry , and it’s not hard to make an assessment that what is going on around you is lunacy.

            Just like it’s not hard to look at what’s going on societally with all the globohomo BS – and see that sooner or later all that shit is going to crash and burn.

            From where I sit – there’s an awful lot of people who’s whining amounts to something along the lines of: “Why won’t the elites be better people and be nicer to me and make my life better and tell me the correct moral things to do? ”

            Everybody wants something for nothing. That’s the root of it IMHO.

          • Set who back 10 years? It didn’t set me back 10 years – because I knew damn well – LONG before it all blew up – that it was going to blow up.

            “Environment regulations have taken a serious beating since the Orange Clown took over as well”.

            The EPA has been used a a bludgeon to smack the dirt people around for a LONG time. Vin Suprynowicz has written extensively about this for decades – and this story was in the news recently – and typical of what the EPA does to people especially west of the Mississippi:


            ” His crime?

            Robertson, whose business supplied water trucks to Montana firefighters, dug a series of small ponds close to his home in 2013 and 2014. The site was a wooded area near a channel, a foot wide and a foot deep, with two to three garden hoses’ worth of flow, according to court documents.

            The U.S. government prosecuted Robertson for digging in proximity to “navigable waters” without a permit, a violation of the Clean Water Act administered by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers.

            Pacific Legal Foundation filed a petition on behalf of Robertson, asking the Supreme Court to review his case, which turns on the definition of “navigable waters.”

            The Navy veteran argued that he didn’t violate the Clean Water Act because
            digging the ponds did not discharge any soil to navigable waters, since the trickle in the channel didn’t constitute navigable waters.

            The largest navigable body of water anywhere near the Robertson home is more than 40 miles away, Francois said. ”

            If you’re going to start arguing about how the elite is screwing over the dirt people – you had damn well better get your story straight on the EPA. You’re not going to get too far defending the EPA among quite a few of the dirt people – who actually make their living in actual dirt.

          • No matter what evidence we provide, those who refuse to see what government has done over and over, will not believe. Why, you can actually claim government has the right to “regulate” rainwater collecting in your ditch, if you trust government enough. And I do believe that has been tried, under Big Government Dim “regulations.” (It was esp clever when o-bama and his friends told us what kind of light bulbs to buy.)

            None so blind as he who will not see.

        • Carlsdad: Reagan and Thatcher were famous for their successful and sweeping deregulation reforms.

          • Reagan managed to get rid of one, and only one, Federal agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission.

        • Well, yes and no. The “right people” are not regulated AT ALL. They do whatever they please, and make little attempt to hide it. If they get caught, they skate. That’s what Hillary Clinton and Christine Blasey Ford are all about.

          You and I, on the other hand, are buried alive with zillions of petty rules and regulations. And, we are told, “ignorance” of these millions of “laws” is “no excuse.”

          It’s what the late Sam Francis quite properly called “anarcho-tyranny.” Anarchy for Herself; tyranny for us.

        • Oh really? You mean Microsoft, Wal-Mart, FB, Google , Boeing and all the other giants are regulated? That’s a joke.

          You wanna go back earlier when Rockefeller and others hired Pinkerton men and goons to beat and murder workers with impunity? That was considered acceptable in the good old days.

          Take Boeing, management played games to put out a plane the 737 Max knowing full well it had serious engineering flaws which has killed hundreds of people. Nothing will happen to them because they are Boeing. Not the old Boeing that actually cared about what they produced, The people who run Boeing today are like you, just bottom liners.

          The only ones I see who get “regulated” are the little guys who don’t own a congressman. But you know what a lot of small businesses aren’t saints either, try finding a honest auto mechanic or home improvement contractor.

      • Not “communism.”

        Immoral people are always the culprit. There are plenty of systemic problems with communism/socialism–far more than in capitalism.

        But laws and regulations are there, ostensibly, for purposes of keeping or restoring morality and ethics in the system.

        Those laws and regs fail, of course, but the fail because immoral and unethical people make it so.

        • Laws and regulations do not enforce themselves. The law is nothing more than whatever the enforcers of the law say it is at any given time and in any given case. That’s why Hillary Clinton and company are walking around free right now. But YOU do anything even remotely like what they did, and YOU will PAY. That is called “anarcho-tyranny.”

          • Back to the top of my argument: Immoral people are ALWAYS the culprit, whether the perps or the ‘enforcers’ who choose against whom to ‘enforce.’

            This is strictly a question of morals, no more, no less. Note that American society measures all on ‘earnings’ or ‘wealth.’ Well, with that as the god, the culture (such as it is) follows. And–not on topic–there is also a concurrent measuring by ‘sex’–whether appeal, promiscuity, or perversion. Once again, with that as god, the culture follows.

            IOW, cult precedes culture. We have de-throned the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph–the God who is Redeemer–and substituted Mammon or Boobs.

      • Deregulate?!? Yes, that’s why the code of federal regulations would take up a full floor of a college library – because we have been “de-regulated”. In what world do you live son?

        • A world where the whole economic system can fail and put us on the brink of total collapse because Wall Street makes sure it own’s both parties and deregulates the financial system…

          We need way more regulation of banks and the environment.

          • Being handicapped as you are, you won’t grasp the only important factor, which is that these regulations and laws you want do not enforce themselves. If all that was necessary to control human behavior was to pass laws, then there wouldn’t be murder, now, would there? Try to get this through your head: Laws and regulations do NOT enforce themselves. Enforcement is an act of human volition. Therefore, the law is nothing more than what the enforcers of the law SAY it is at any given time and in any given case. That is why Hillary Clinton and Company are walking around free right now. Espionage and mishandling of classified information IS ALREADY AGAINST THE LAW, but if nobody enforces the law, then THERE IS NO LAW.

            If you can’t understand something as simple as what the law is and what it is not, then you should be in a home of some kind.

          • So…. we shouldn’t have laws? We shouldn’t have regulated the financial industry?
            Handi capped? Please. I make more than you do in a year in 6 months brah…
            You keep hoping to lock her up with your Clown Prez and I”ll keep laughing…
            Nothing will change the fact that until we control the financial system and regulate oligarchs even having a 72 year old retard draining the swamp wont fix anything…

          • Geezus. You might want to get a brain scan.

            I’m not going to bother to do the work for you – if you’re too lazy to do it for yourself. Go lookup the size the Federal Register and how it has grown over time. Then try and come back here and tell me that we don’t have enough regulation.

            That whooshing sound you hear might be Alzheimer’s – or it might be Rooshian’s point flying right over your head.

            This is very simple:

            Laws don’t enforce themselves.

            If the people who are tasked with enforcing the laws refuse to do their damn jobs and enforce all those laws – then you effectively have NO LAWS.

            (the actual reality of situations like this is you have SELECTIVELY ENFORCED laws that as far as I know historically ALWAYS go for the elite and against the “common man”)

            So yeah – go ahead and put more laws on the books. I’m sure that will fix the problem.

            How hard is this to understand?

          • Not very. You’re long winded ranting is understood buddy… I can tell like all boomer conservatives you hate dem regulations… That bad red tape!!! AHHH!!!

            Got it.

            None of that changes the fact that we deregulated the housing market and it broke the economy.

            You can go on another 400 word rant about them not enforcing the laws on Hillary and blah blah blah…

            The fact is, if we would have had regulations on the Big Banks they would have broke the law. Period.

            Right, they still wouldn’t have been punished… I get it. But at least they couldn’t have hid behind “we were following the laws” bs argument.

            My point is, we need to regulate huge business. You can disagree. You can call me an idiot. But the candidate that makes regulating the oligarchs part of their main plank, and shows some backbone will be President.

            Please. Get some work done and don’t send me another long winded boring response. It makes you look sad and bored.

          • I admire your persistence. Maybe if you directed him to one of those clips of congressmen standing next to 5 foot high stacks of government regulations. But since he knows how much you make (and that he makes more, hehe), I’m sure he could not be ignorant of the facts that you are trying to wake him up to. I think he’s just bought into the AOC school of government, so hope is next to nil.

        • Cmatt- that’s anarchotyranny again. Fedgov will tell me how many ounces of water I can use to flush my poop, but lets traders (traitors?) at Lehman Brothers rob people blind on mortgage backed securities. The fact that the screws are tightening on the little guy doesn’t mean the banksters aren’t being set free to run amok.

        • ALL “liberals” have one immutable characteristic in common: a total and utter lack of self-awareness. So the answer to your question is that he lives where all of his kind live :inside their own heads. In a world of shadows and abstractions. Completely unrelated to the real world of flesh-and-blood human beings. That is why leftists are always willing to kill millions of flesh-and-blood human beings: because their ideals MUST take precedence over anything REAL. So this guy can say the stuff he says because, like all of them, he is utterly lacking in self-knowledge or self-awareness. These are not introspective people. They see what they need to see, and they have no need to see themselves. IT’s a kind of neurosis, if we take as the definition of neurosis that it is the inability to live in harmony with reality.

          • Yet you go on a site to complain about these people who constantly beat your ass and take over “your society.” Weird how people as intelligent as you keep losing isn’t it.
            Keep complaining. Ill keep beating your ass. In 20 years you wont even be able to post what you beileve while people like me will run this country.


          • Bless you for stating exactly what I was awkwardly trying to express myself (without using the “trigger” word “derangement.”) Well-done.

            There’s always that 23-24% of the population that wants to make everything political instead of logical and mistakes name-calling for argument. Maybe you got through to one tonight, a nearly impossible feat. (Ooops–I see it was 8 days ago. Well-done anyway.)

      • One of the problems with “regulation” is that those who are doing the “regulating” are taking what amounts to bribes to be sure the right people are “regulated” in the right way.

        An easy instance to pick out of the air is “regulating” insurance coverage by making citizens pay a fee (or was it a tax?) to the government if one cannot afford to buy insurance….and for those who can, the “regulations” stating “complete” coverage is necessary means that the premiums take all the money citizens might have used to pay medical bills with (as, of course, the “insurance” only applies after the patient spends $5,000 or so on health care each year.)

        I’m sure these regulations helped those selling insurance. But for those who were forced by “regulations” to buy it, it was not a good deal. The idea that people like obama and those he appointed should be trusted to make the rules makes one quickly see that the government is never the answer.

    • I’m still waiting for the all-powerful all-knowing to smite them! To express justice. To overturn the tables at the Empire’s Bank.

    • “The people who have systematically tossed out God who is a moral philosophy from every facet of life for the last 100 years to prep us for communism are the culprits. “

      Agreed. What do they all have in common that we can have our lives destroyed for publicly noticing?

    • This is sloppy thinking on the part of our blog host. If your approach to the market is shorting your customer – you’re dead meat, especially in America. How about this: “Buy Filthie pickles! Pay the same price as you do for Z pickles and receive one extra pickle for free!”

      The venture capitalist can always compete, even against entrenched monopolies. The ball is still very much in play, gents. The mass media is learning to code as we speak, Zuckerface and Google are watching their stocks tumble; even liberals are getting fed up.

      The market always reasserts itself, as it had in places even like China. The only real variable is how many people have to be killed before it does.

      • Yet another market worshiper who has clearly never seen an actual market in action, just the Cloud CuckooLand of capitalist ideology. Anyone who thinks that good market practices drive out bad makes the most committed academic Marxist seem a hard headed realist.

        Markets reward the exploitation of information asymmetry. Given the ease with which such asymmetry can be created, regulation is required. Unregulated markets always fail.

        • Really?

          CNN just laid off 200 people. Not to keep picking on him, but our gracious blog host provides superior commentary for free. In fact, he’s making noises about monetizing and if he does, he’ll probably be successful. The success of market principles are operating right under your noses and you still can’t see them. There is a market for non-pozzed, intelligent conservative content and the only competition he has are fags like Vox Day or Milo – and he stands to clean up. If you were correct he would not be able to do any of that.

          Markets move in cycles; there is a lead and lag between the seller and consumer and timing is everything. The markets always win, whether it’s tyrants, commies, fascists – people will trade in commodities they value.

  44. We really do need to turn this corrupt scamming on it’s head. Maybe normie-cons can be wakened, not sure about anyone else. These grifters know how to use the code words when needed. Now democrats are talking about things that are not constitutional. Indeed!

    My brother was in retail management at a high level and told me many of the “improvements” that consultants instituted. Every asset of the store got worse and of less quality. Initially the price was welcomed but then your average shopper caught on. Then where do they go, happens everywhere. Is coffee even sold by the pound , you know 16 ounces, anymore? Don’t get me started on tools.

    Even computer software has been migrated slowly over to a subscription basis. Then don’t miss a trick. Yeah, I know, this isn’t ending well is it.

    • Romney and his fellow vulture capitalists were perfecting this move decades ago. Recall the elder Sheen’s speech in “Wall Street.” Buying distressed firms, cannibalizing their assets for pennies on the dollar & firing their “overpriced labor” was not Adam Smith’s idea of capitalism. That said, absent wholly external forces like government intervention and socially-enforced moral codes, capitalism will always descend to the lowest common ethical denominators in a society. It’s a set of tools at best, not a world-view or moral code.

      • Most libertarians like to invoke Adam Smith, but they haven’t read anymore than your typical Bernie Bro has read “Das Kapital”. And definitely no one reads Smith’s “The Theory of Moral Sentiments”, the moral foundation underlying his economic theories – that also no one has really read. The short version is the market economy cannot work if the players have no moral restraints and common fellow feeling (sympathy) with the other players. It’s also fairly easy to infer that an economy of the type Smith puts forward can only work in high trust, homogenous, high IQ, low violence environments – basically whites and East Asians. One of the many mistakes libertarians make is accepting the premise that all people are basically the same, and that the right system (yep, just like Marx) will correct for any individual defects. I’d be willing to give them a shot at seeing how a “free market” really works if they’d be willing to throw all variants of the vibrant and another group of (((bad actors))) out of the country.

        • Exactly. As with the real Founders vs. the Second Founding version, it always pays to check the source material.

        • basically whites and East Asians

          The Chinese are notoriously crooks and grifters. They will gladly poison your dog to save a few yen on the dog food they sell you.

        • Unfortunately it is now so easy to buy government interference I cannot say that the government is a fair or unbiased arbiter against monopoly or corporate malfeasance (if it ever was). Think where we would be if AT&T had not been broken up, or where we are now with Twitter, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc. No action is being taken against any of these entities aside from occasionally fining them, which is like fining a football player $10k for ending someones career with a dirty, deliberate hit.

      • I suggest you read Taibbi’s piece on Bain Capital. A fantastic expose, according due deference to his inherent biases.

    • Profit explains why we went from giving our children 3 vaccinations in the 60’s to now a list of more than 70 vaccines they urge parents to give their children during the course of their first 18 years. It’s insane injecting all this potent garbage into our children, but it’s allowed because it makes money. If our government had not bestowed zero liability on vaccine makers in the late 80’s, do you really think the list of vaccines would need to be more than the 3 we gave to kids decades ago? We really have ruined our people, physically with this and casual use of poisons and chemicals and adulterated processed foods, and mentally with our dumbed-down indoctrination schools and crass media and culture.

  45. As with everything else in this life, Caveat Emptor. The “elites” and the merchant class have been screwing the people for thousands of years. Eventually the rot crumbles another civilization.

    Same as it ever was.

    • They used to have periodic jubilees to release everyone from debt. Another decent act that has been purposefully forgotten in order to financially enslave people. Now they just keep everyone in debt, life-long debt being a feature and not a bug.

      • I’m tellin’ ya … the candidate who offers a debt jubilee on student loans will take the White House and both houses of Congress. But nobody’s doin’ it. Yet.

        • The dems are on it now. Elizabeth Warren is flailing around like a drunken injun trying to gain support from anyone, and debt forgiveness for college debt is one of her new “positions”. I hate her, and democrats, but Republicans need to start getting on this, or they will lose even faster than the demographic slide has them on track to lose now.

          • The problem is, the way student loans are currently structured, a jubilee just means the government socializes the costs to the taxpayers and we all get soaked.

            Private lenders are complicit in all this, but the real culprits are the feds themselves. Hell, the government takes advantage of the lower interest rate it offers to itself compared to student borrowers and uses the difference as arbitrage to generate revenue. The Dept. of Education has made billions with this tactic.

            A debt jubilee might temporarily get rid of the racket, but it doesn’t do anything to eliminate the rackateers.

          • You’re right, of course, but … ??

            You surely do not mean to suggest that seekers of public office give a damn about anything other than votes? And a debt jubilee is a great way to buy votes–with other people’s money. It’s fail-safe. Foolproof. I’ve just been told (Above) that That Schoolgirl, as I call Eliz Warren, is going to make it one of her “positions.”

          • The perps will bail themselves out again with our money, like Fannie Mae and the mortgage meltdown.

            The students will get a rollover with ropy strings attached- nobody’s mortgage got paid down last time, remember?

          • A debt jubilee with a restructuring of Federal debt would just buy time and maybe prevent a violent attempt by Socialists or populists to take over

            Getting out of the debt racket for good though would require the entire economy be restructured to something basically unrecognizable, still market based but radically redesigned

            The closest analogy would be a populist steady state economy with a precious metal standard and heavy use of distributism

            Ignoring the vast amount of money and power that would be arrayed against it, think literal WW3 here and even if the elected and appointed want to, its far beyond the capabilities of clown world

            If we had a government that was determined to make such a system , the US population, including the Founding stock though are mostly economic migrants, chiselers , grifters failures and other assorted “poor and huddled masses” learning to scam a buck

            They simply won’t be OK with it and will lie, cheat and steal the system into the ground

            Our culture reason is why the upper bound on tax revenue at the Federal level is 20% GDP, the maximum on the Laffer curve also called Hauser’s Law is in effect

            This is not just us Greece and Italy aren’t capable of the same level of organization as say Sweden as the population can’t trust money will be spent wisely and will in heartbeat cheat on taxes or go to the underground economy

            This is universal everywhere except parts of Northern and Western Europe

            And note even if the US had the requisite ethnic population which we don’t , the people we got were as I noted above the refuse of Europe, mostly non cooperators

            That brief burst of post war cooperation didn’t last long either and that nation is long dead

            Once the US stops being the reserve currency, odds are it will get much poorer and Americans will just have to get used to being a second tier or lower nation

            Well of that or a very efficient dictatorship

          • LOL! Well, I don’t hate her. I find it hard even to dislike her. I refer to her as “that schoolgirl.” She is every inch a schoolgirl. That’s all she is. A schoolgirl. Just LOOK at her. LISTEN to her. If that ain’t a schoolgirl, I’ll eat my hat. Can you even *imagine* that schoolgirl “negotiating” with Putin? Or Kim?

            Anyway, you are right. This is a winning issue. I’m surprised it’s taken anybody this long to get around to it.

          • I presume such a plan would include return of sums paid to all the chumps who actually repaid all or part of their student debt? And, of course, Debt Forgiveness would have to be paired with the complete elimination of government backed student loans.

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