A favorite expression is “pressure reveals character.” Anyone who has played sports has probably used the expression. It is one of those truths of life that turns up all over, but is most obvious in sports. Guys can look like heroes in practice when everyone is loose and there is nothing on the line. In the game, they perform poorly, unable to perform under pressure. It’s why the military performs live fire exercises. It’s a way to see how men will perform under the extreme pressure of combat.
A public crisis like the current panic over the virus is where we see how people operate under pressure. More than a few people, who we thought to be steely-eyed cynics, have been revealed to be hysterical ninnies. Nassim Taleb, who really likes to tell everyone he is a man’s man, has gone so far as to post a one page paper explaining how best to throw your dress over your head and run around shrieking like a girl. He brings to mind this classic scene from the movie Airplane!
This graph gets to something else that has been revealed during this crisis. Those inclined to left-wing politics are more easily frightened than those attracted to more sober minded approaches to public policy. It is something to keep in mind when looking at how our guys have reacted to this crisis. For example, many of the old alt-right people now sound like one of the girls from the Huffington Post. It is a good reminder that there is a left-right axis within dissident politics.
Another thing the pressure of the moment has revealed, something I touch on in the show, is that many of our guys are wholly ignorant of economics. Given that the rejection of the neoliberal economic order is one commonality on this side of the great divide, it is a bit surprising that many of our guys do not have the first clue about how the system actually works. More than a few of our guys have taken to sounding like one of the girls from the Democratic Socialist camp.
Of course, much of this is the result of people living outside the system that most people take for granted. The typical college professor, for example, spends his life in the adult daycare center we call the college campus. He lives in a fantasy world. Eventually, his understanding of reality is warped by that fantasy world. It’s easy to demand we pull out all the stops against this virus when you feel as if you are immune to the consequences of pulling out all the stops. It’s easy to be generous in behalf of others.
Similarly, people completely invested in politics can also become divorced from the daily reality of life. It is surprising just how many well-known figures in dissident politics don’t have jobs and never had jobs. Maybe they kicked around the publishing world or the academy, but that’s not real work. In the world of political theory, staking out an extreme position has no cost. In fact, it is often the point. In the real world where people live, staking out the extreme position has a cost, a big one.
This is why the stimulus bills that get passed during each crisis get bigger. There’s no benefit to prudence, so no one considers it. There is a benefit to showering favored constituents with cash, so everyone tries to be the most generous. It’s also why these efforts never amount to much. The people crafting them don’t have the slightest clue how the retail economy works. Small business is as alien to them as everything else about the people over whom they rule.
This week I have the usual variety of items in the now standard format. Spreaker has the full show. I am up on Google Play now, so the Android commies can take me along when out disrespecting the country. I am on iTunes, which means the Apple Nazis can listen to me on their Hitler phones. The anarchists can catch me on iHeart Radio. I am now on Deezer, for our European haters and Stitcher for the weirdos. YouTube also has the full podcast. Of course, there is a download link below.
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This Week’s Show
- 00:00: Opening
- 02:00: Economics
- 07:00: The Human Costs
- 17:00: Markets Versus Main Street
- 27:00: Economic Illiteracy
- 37:00: Middle Man Leverage
- 47:00: The Good Stuff
- 57:00: Closing
Full Show On Spreaker
Full Show On YouTube