The Devil’s Work

There is an old expression that has fallen out of favor in the post-scarcity age, but it may be the key to understanding the current crisis. That expression is, “Idle hands do the Devil’s work.” When people do not have anything productive and useful to do with their time, they are more likely to get involved in trouble and criminality. A variant of this is “The Devil makes work for idle hands.” The idea there is if you want to avoid Old Scratch, then make sure you keep yourself useful to God.

The source of these proverbs is unknown, but variations of them go back to the early middle ages, so it is probable they evolved with Christianity. It is not unreasonable to think the idea is universal to civilization. After all, every human society has had to deal with the idle, lazy, and troublesome. Making sure these people are kept too busy to cause trouble is one of those primary challenges of civilization. Every ruler has known that too many idle young men is bad for his rule.

Even in the smaller context, this is something we instinctively know. In the workplace, people with too much free time get into trouble. If the IT staff has too much free time, they start tinkering around with the stuff that is working and before long that stuff stops working and the system goes down. A big part of what goes on inside the schools is to keep the kids and the teachers busy. Home schoolers have known for years that the learning content is just a few hours a day. The rest is busy work.

The point here is that people of all ages need a purpose, something that occupies their mind and their time. If something useful and productive is not filling that need, then something useless or unproductive will fill the void. For most people this may be a hobby or leisure activity. For others, it often means a useless activity is turned into something important. Elevating the mundane to the level of the critical and then creating drama around the performance of the mundane activity.

This is what we see in our political class. The ruling class of every society has a ceremonial role, a procedural role, and a practical role. Outside of a crisis like a war or natural disaster, the political class is performing its duties in the same way a line worker in a factory preforms his role. In popular government this means the pol shows up at public events. He performs the tasks his office requires like signing papers and casting votes. He helps grease the wheels when they need grease.

Into the 20th century, most of our political offices were part-time jobs. State legislatures met for a short period during the year. Otherwise, the legislators were back home doing their jobs. Executive positions like governor and president were fulltime jobs, as they were in charge of the civil service and in the case of president, commander-in-chief of the military. Within living memory, Washington DC would empty out in the spring and remain empty until the fall when Congress returned.

What we see today is politics at all levels has become a full-time job, but one with less to do when it was considered a part-time job. Congress, for example, is something close to a 24-hour drama now. The politicians and their retinues are now doing politics as a full-time obsession. Yet almost all of what they do is unnecessary. In fact, much of what they do is harmful. Very few things passed by Congress enjoy the support of the majority of the people or even a large plurality.

It is not just that these part-time jobs have been made into full-time obsessions. It is that much of what we used to need from government is now filled by individuals, ad hoc networks, and the private sector. Much of what government does is actually done by private contractors on government contracts. One of the ironies of the post-Cold War world is that the federal workforce has declined relative to the population, while the number of people employed in politics has gone up.

Then there is the fact that much of what government does could be automated or simply eliminated entirely. The services that are required like renewing licenses and paying fees can all be automated. In many cases they have been, but that did not result in fewer people, as we see in the dreaded private sector. Instead, it resulted in more idle hands looking for a purpose. On the political side, much of what Congress does could also be eliminated or automated.

What has happened in the last 30 years is we have grown the idle class at the top of our society and while decreasing their necessity. Much of what goes on in our politics is make work designed to get public attention. Think about it. If the cable news channels were shuttered and the social media platforms run by the oligarchs were closed, what would change in America? Nothing of practical importance. Our world would get quieter and there would be a boom in forgotten hobbies.

American political culture evolved during the Cold War to fight communism and prevent a nuclear war. Those were important tasks that occupied the minds and hands of the political class. Once those things went away, those idle hands searched about for a new crisis. Health care, Gaia worship, Islam and now invisible Nazis have been used to keep the idle hands of the political class busy. In the process, the political class has been driven mad and is threatening the rest of society.


A new year brings new changes. The same is true for this site as we adjust to the reality of managerial authoritarianism. That means embracing crypto for when the inevitable happens and the traditional outlets are closed. Now more than ever it is important to support the voices that support you. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you prefer other ways of donating, look at the donate page. Thank you.


Promotions: We have a new addition to the list. Havamal Soap Works is the maker of natural, handmade soap and bath products. If you are looking to reduce the volume of man-made chemicals in your life, all-natural personal products are a good start. If you use this link you get 15% off of your purchase.

The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


 

Feudal Excess

The paleoconservative thinker, Sam Francis, developed the concept of anarcho- tyranny, which is when the state tyrannically regulates citizens’ lives yet is unable or unwilling to perform the basics of rule. For example, the government put speed cameras and red-light cameras up, in order to catch small violations, but if your car gets stolen, the cops will not bother looking for it. The tyranny is the micromanagement of the good citizens while driving. The anarchy is ignoring the car thieves.

It is a great framing because it is both true and easily validated. It is one of those observations that reminds us that conservatism was not always a collection of toadies and flunkies validating the latest Progressive fads. The Right used to have smart and thoughtful men genuinely concerned with the direction of Western society. They also had the courage to honestly examine what was happening. In other words, the current crisis did not sneak up on us like the fog.

Putting that aside, the paleos focused mainly on the management side of things with regards to anarcho-tyranny. Police departments are an easy example, but a similar process happened with regulatory agencies, large corporations, the academy, and the mass media. In fact, they saw these as tectonic plates of the ruling class that were slowly converging. Of course, this is what has happened. All of the power centers are occupied with the same sorts of people.

Something similar seems to have happened to the political class. It used to be that politicians spent a lot of time pretending to know the issues so they could connect with their voters. The old expression was that all politics were local. What that mean was the politicians needed to spend time among their voters, discussing the issues that concerned them. This was especially true of representative. Congressman put a heavy emphasis on being back in their districts.

You do not have to go back to far when it was rare for a politician to talk about big ideas or abstract concepts. Presidents, when giving national speeches would blather on about the meaning of America or the importance of patriotism. The rest stuck to things like making the roads better, fixing up the schools and helping business. The Democrats would talk about worker rights, in the context of higher wages. The Republicans would talk about less regulation so business could succeed.

In the 1990’s, a common thing was the town hall meeting, which was not really a town hall meeting. It was an expression for when the representative would show up in his district and take questions from his voters. This was the chance for the politician to show how much he cared about the local issues. The way he did that was by having a detailed knowledge of the facts. If someone asked about the roads, he knew all the bills and bond issues related to road repair.

This is no longer the case. In fact, the last time you are likely see your representative in person is when they are running as a challenger. Once they win office, they become an avatar on-line and on television. They never venture out among the people and the old town hall idea no longer exists. For a while they did conference calls, but now they are staged Zoom sessions with actors asking questions. In fact, Congress could now be doing its thing on a sound stage in Hollywood and no one would know.

On top of that, the avatars now talk in riddles. They lurch from one emotional crisis to the next, speaking about it in a creepy overwrought language. Minor misstatements are described as “horrendous” and “terrifying.” The primary feature of our politics now is that every ant is an elephant, and no one dares speak about the herd of elephants standing in the room. Anarcho-tyranny in politics results in emotionally charged drama over abstract concepts and ruthless ignorance of anything specific.

This is one reason the political class flew into a panic when Trump came along in the 2016 election. For all his bombast, he was talking about real things in practical terms that actually matter to people. When he spoke of immigration, he talked about rapists crossing the border and illegal aliens killing citizens. Trade was about China ripping off the country and reducing wages in the process. Trump was a throwback to the old-style politicians and that terrorized the current politicians.

This is something else the paleos touched on, but never fully explored. The managerial state not only becomes self-serving as it matures, but it also becomes inward looking, a self-contained culture. Once it becomes class-aware, as we are seeing today, it becomes rapidly insular. The dual purposes are the moral signifiers inside the system and maintaining the barrier between those inside and those outside. These work in concert to further isolate the system from the general society.

This is why our politicians sound increasingly deranged. Not sounding like normal people is very important inside the system. Who they are is not us, so they are constantly looking for ways to signal that to one another. This is why they are now barricading themselves into a green zone in Washington. Most likely, this will begin to happen at the state level. Americans will be ruled by pod people living and operating inside special zones guarded by razor wire and armed men.

The last phase of anarcho-tyranny may turn out to look something like colonial occupation, where the people in charge live in fortified towns. They use their control of the system to maintain the illusion of power, but in reality, it is all just a very expensive drama that has no practical impact, beyond the cost. The practical aspects of life are handled by corporations and ad hoc associations. Managerialism brings us full circle to a firm of feudalism with material excess.


A new year brings new changes. The same is true for this site as we adjust to the reality of managerial authoritarianism. That means embracing crypto for when the inevitable happens and the traditional outlets are closed. Now more than ever it is important to support the voices that support you. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you prefer other ways of donating, look at the donate page. Thank you.


Promotions: We have a new addition to the list. Havamal Soap Works is the maker of natural, handmade soap and bath products. If you are looking to reduce the volume of man-made chemicals in your life, all-natural personal products are a good start. If you use this link you get 15% off of your purchase.

The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


 

The Pirate Age

The GameStop story, which is becoming more of a general short squeeze story, is a good example of what happens when an economy is fully financialized. Since there is little money to be made in making things or creating things, the best human resources flow into finance, where a bright person can get rich finding a slight imbalance in the marketplace for an asset or an error in the holdings of another player. The economy becomes a massive poker tournament with the central bank as the house.

If you step back and think about the transaction at the heart of this story, there is no moral or economic reason for it to exist. The practice of shorting a stock can have both moral and economic utility. In the former case, an investor seeing some corruption in a company or sector is letting the world know about it by betting against it with his own money. On the latter point, the blend of shorts and longs provides useful data about stocks and sectors for investors and planners.

When everyone at the table is using chips borrowed from the house and many of the whales at the table will never have to repay the house, both of these functions are flipped on their head. In the case of GameStop, some sharps were gaming the system in an effort to artificially deflate the value of otherwise good companies. GameStop is a solid little company that is an example of modern retail. They are a value-added retailer, which is the future in the world of digital commerce.

The point of the shorting activity was not to reveal some flaw in the company’s approach or signal a lack of faith in the retail sector. The point of the trade was to fool other investors into piling in on the short, so the price of the stock would collapse. This would allow the hedge funds behind this scheme to make a quick profit. The losers in this will be the people holding the stock and the company itself. Like all victims of piracy, their only crime was in trusting the system.

The neoliberal defenders of financialization will counter that the WallStreetBets activity is exactly the sort of self-regulation imagined when the process of financialization began in the 1980’s. Instead of government bureaucrats with no understanding of the market picking winners and losers, savvy players would do battle in the marketplace. In this case, clever traders saw an opportunity to raid the pirate ships raiding companies like GameStop and they carried off some booty for themselves.

This sounds great, if you are a pirate. There is no doubt that the people involved here love the action in the same way gamblers love it when some guy is on a huge roll at the craps table. It is an exhilarating drama, even for the observers. The thing is most people are not pirates and have no interest in being pirates. More important, they do not wish to be ruled by pirates. They do not want to live in a world of no fixed rules, just the shifting standards of the pirates making war in the economy.

This brings us to the purpose of having markets and rules to govern trade between people within a society. In order to have a society with any chance of survival, you have to have rules governing exchange between members. Otherwise, your society is a war of all against all. This opens the prospect of outsiders exploiting these constant divisions in order to conquer or destroy your society. Obviously, you want to prevent this, so the rules are designed to reduce division.

Put another way, economics is a tool. That tool is used to bind the people closer together, by rewarding the things that promote the common good and punishing those things that harm the common good. Inevitably, they help the society to strengthen itself against other societies. Just as males compete with one another for mates, societies compete with one another for resources and status. One is linked to the other as an immutable part of the human condition.

Neoliberalism reverses the relationship between society and economics. Instead of society wielding economics as a tool, pirates pick up parts of society and swing them around like flails at one another. In this example, a little company that probably should be private, is seeing its share prices stuffed into the cannons of financial pirates and fired at the ships of other pirates. When it is all over, the pirates will sail away to the next skirmish, while a little company lies in ruins.

This type of economics is inherently unstable. For one thing, the pirates must always be looking for new raiding opportunities. This is why the United States, the pirate’s cover of globalism, is always belching out raiding parties around the world. The quest for new plunder is insatiable. The constant war with Russia, for example, is over the pirate’s desire to financialize the vast natural resources of Russia. The Middle East is chaos, in part, because it is endlessly plundered by pirates.

More important from the perspective of the West, financialization undermines the institutions, because they become partners in the endless raiding. Instead of being the source of stability in a society, they are seen as aiding and abetting the pirates endlessly plundering the economy. Look around the West and the one universal thread is the public no longer trusts or respects its institutions. The people inside the institutions look out seeing nothing but sails on the horizon.

The age of pirates ended when the British government decided it was no longer in their interests to promote it. The British navy went out and sank pirate ships where they found them, and pirates were hung when they were caught. Eventually, order was restored to sea commerce. The modern world lacks an authority with the will and ability to bring the pirates under control. The public, on the other hand, demands such an authority, so eventually, they will find one or create one.


A new year brings new changes. The same is true for this site as we adjust to the reality of managerial authoritarianism. That means embracing crypto for when the inevitable happens and the traditional outlets are closed. Now more than ever it is important to support the voices that support you. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you prefer other ways of donating, look at the donate page. Thank you.


Promotions: We have a new addition to the list. Havamal Soap Works is the maker of natural, handmade soap and bath products. If you are looking to reduce the volume of man-made chemicals in your life, all-natural personal products are a good start. If you use this link you get 15% off of your purchase.

The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


 

The Bad Faith Society

Note: The weekly Taki post is up here. It somewhat ties into the post below. Behind the green door is a new post on the 1960 classic, The Apartment. This was my first viewing, so I was surprised to like it, even thought I did not get any of the jokes.


When two parties attempt to negotiate a deal, the starting assumption is both sides actually want a deal. That is not always the case, but if one side thinks the other side is not coming to the table in good faith, they are wise to break off negotiations. For starters, they are wasting their time, since there is no deal to be had. Second, a party that starts a negotiation with a lie is going to keep lying. If you cannot trust anything they are saying, or their intentions, you cannot reason with them.

A simple example of this is car buying. When a person walks onto the lot, the salesman is trained to look for the signs that the person is just a tire kicker. He may profile him based on his appearance. A young guy looking at expensive sedans is probably not a serious buyer, for example. He will ask questions to determine if the person is serious about buying a car and willing to entertain an offer. The point is, he is determining if the other side is open to reason and ready to bargain in good faith.

This is the heart of any negotiation. Both sides have to start with the belief that the other side is amenable to reason and is bargaining in good faith. They may have different goals and very different ways of negotiating, but both sides have to be open to reason and come to the table in good faith. In other words, both sides want to find a deal that satisfies both sides. Otherwise, both sides are just wasting their time and perhaps harming their own interests in the process.

This is also the basis for popular government, which is nothing more than a long public negotiation. The various interests in a society have their goals regarding the issues they see as important and they work the process that is setup for hashing out the particulars and promoting their case. The public is both the referee and a counterparty. They make their voice heard throughout the process. The politicians are the hired negotiators, tasked with hashing out a compromise that satisfies the majority.

Like the simple deal between two parties, the democratic process relies on all sides being reasonable and operating in good faith. Sure, there are always bad actors trying to fool the public or game the process. The system, through elections, debates, public hearings, and investigations, is supposed to flush out the bad actors or at least correct what they have done after it is discovered. It may not be pretty, but the point is for reasonable people acting in good faith to reach a compromise.

What happens when the parties are not open to reason and they are not operating in good faith when they bargain? In a business negotiation, this often results in one side or the other breaking of negotiations. One side sees that the other is lying or up to shenanigans, so they stop wasting their time. This happens a lot, so firms train their people to look for the signs, so they do not waste their time. The most valuable commodity is time so you cannot waste it on bad deals.

In a democratic system of government, there are supposed to be rules to punish those who do not argue in good faith. Politicians who take bribes, for example, are removed from office and sent to prison. Interests that misrepresent themselves or defraud the public see their interests destroyed as a way to discourage the practice. There are laws that allow the media and the public to examine the claims of the various parties in order to root out corruption and deception. That is the theory, leastways.

That is clearly not where America is right now. Liberal democracy has evolved into one giant game of liar’s poker. Much like the financial markets, the big players in the system no longer have respect for the spirit of the rules. They never come to any deal in good faith and they are never open to reason. They want to “win” the deal by getting all of what they want at the expense of the other parties. In modern liberal democracy, no one is acting in good faith and no one is open to reason.

It is not just the big interests gaming the system. The system itself has been gamed to the point where only a sucker operates in good faith. The politicians, instead of operating as brokers and negotiators, are middlemen facilitating the looting of the system by the big players. Public debate is now a game of shadows, because the mass media lies about everything and is always pushing an agenda on behalf of the big players or their politicians working on their behalf.

Of course, the old adage about always knowing who the sucker in the room is when in a room full of sharps applies here. In the great hall that is where negotiations happen in a liberal democracy, the monied interests, the politicians, the media, and the shadowy players of the permanent ruling class put on a negotiating show. The public, until very recent, was never sure who was being conned by the grifters. As the saying goes, they were always the sucker in the system.

This is the heart of the current crisis. The reason the financial markets keep needing bailouts is because everyone inside that system is a liar. No one comes to a deal in good faith and no one is willing to reason with the other side. Everyone is trying to take advantage of everyone else. In a system of zero social trust, entropy is inevitable, which in human systems means collapse. This is why the financial markets careen from crisis to crisis, needing bailouts from the public.

Liberal democracy is mirroring the financial markets. This makes perfect sense, as the entire culture has been financialized. Republican virtue was removed from the official system long ago. What remained of it with the general public went away with the events of the last few years. America now finds itself in a world where no one acts in good faith and no one is open to reason. We have reached the point where we need a bailout, but there is no bailout for a liberal democracy that fails.


A new year brings new changes. The same is true for this site as we adjust to the reality of managerial authoritarianism. That means embracing crypto for when the inevitable happens and the traditional outlets are closed. Now more than ever it is important to support the voices that support you. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you prefer other ways of donating, look at the donate page. Thank you.


Promotions: We have a new addition to the list. Havamal Soap Works is the maker of natural, handmade soap and bath products. If you are looking to reduce the volume of man-made chemicals in your life, all-natural personal products are a good start. If you use this link you get 15% off of your purchase.

The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


 

The Decoupling

Once you have been on this side of the great divide for a while, you end up in another place that is not obvious when you first make the journey. That is, you look on at conventional politics with a bemused detachment. Since it is obvious to you that it is all theater, you wonder why some of them put so much effort into the performance. Why does Elizabeth Warren, for example, feel the need to carry on like the champion of the little guy over GameStop? What is the point of this charade?

It could be that her script writers and directors have told her there are tribes on the Left that need to see this show. Maybe they think the Bernie Bros are starting to wise up about what is happening and need a booster shot. It is not as if she is going to follow through and do anything about the shenanigans. Even if she wanted to, she lacks the authority and she has no influence over those who do have authority. The SEC and FBI laugh when they hear a politician demand anything from them.

We live in a country where the FBI can manufacture evidence in an effort to overturn a presidential election and nothing happens. Thus far, one guy was charged with faking evidence to a FISA court. He confessed, as he was caught red-handed, but he received less than what drunk drivers get these days. He is a hero to the Bureau, because he took his pinch like a man. He kept his mouth shut and he learned the two greatest things in life. Never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut.

In the case of GameStop and the shenanigans surrounding it, the players are not punks doing small crimes like that FBI stiff. These are shot callers who bankroll the political system and control the economy. They already own dingbats like Warren and Ocasio-Cortez, so they have no fear of them. They probably have them on mute as no sober man would want to listen to those two for more than five minutes. Their prattling on about this issue is pointless.

This is the reality that has been brought home over the last decade. The election of Trump was that last desperate attempt by normal people to shake some sense into the managerial class, so they would start enforcing the rules again. Even people on this side of the great divide held out hope that this would be a wake-up call and the Overton window would slide this way, allowing for discussion of the root causes of the current crisis in the American Empire. None of that happened.

All you have to do is look back at posts here from a few years ago. Look at the comments and you see familiar names holding out hope that the investigations into the FBI would become a catalyst to reform. Even the most jaded on this side of the great divide had some hope. Not puppy dogs and rainbow hope, but the sort that thinks the people in charge will sense their interests are at stake and they will adjust out of self-preservation or maybe as a way to gain some advantage.

This is one of those changes for which we have no precedent. All of a sudden, we have a significant number of people who look at convectional politics as a joke. Instead of being angry and banging away on social media or sending off an e-mail to the nearest Republican, millions are just detaching from it. Outrage theater can only work if people are engaged in the system. We are in the midst of a great decoupling, where millions detach from the system and attach to independent systems.

In the past, the political culture provided for both satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the current policies. Those who were happy would get to see people inside the system being happy, so they could mimic them in their happiness, getting the same dopamine hit as if they were actually benefitting from the policy. Similarly, unhappy people could find a performer in the system being angry and outraged. They would mimic that behavior to get the satisfaction of feeling wronged.

Those of us fully decoupled from the system no longer get those neurological responses from the performers in the system. Their outrage and gloating strike us as ridiculous and bit absurd. A goofy old dingbat like Elizabeth Warren barely has comedic value. Watching her is like watching a 1970’s comic in a denim suit telling Nixon jokes. Similarly, Ocasio-Cortez is just a reminder of why you are glad you are no longer on Twitter. Millennial dingbats are a dime-a-dozen.

What we are seeing is a great decoupling. The shuttering of the social media sites to tens of millions of people breaks the connection. Many have ended up on Gab, connecting to a different social dynamic. Others are heading to other places like Telegram, connecting to boutique communities. Some will no doubt re-attach to Conservative Inc., but there is not much there to offer the person looking for a way to express their unhappiness.

The political system that has evolved to this point has counted on greater and greater engagement at increasing levels of emotion. What happens when those dials start moving the other way is unknown and unconsidered. When tens of millions shrug and laugh at the pleas from Conservative Inc. or mock the phony rage heads from the chat shows, how does the system respond? Turn up the volume? Send their crazies back out to poke people with sticks like they did last summer?


A new year brings new changes. The same is true for this site as we adjust to the reality of managerial authoritarianism. That means embracing crypto for when the inevitable happens and the traditional outlets are closed. Now more than ever it is important to support the voices that support you. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you prefer other ways of donating, look at the donate page. Thank you.


Promotions: We have a new addition to the list. Havamal Soap Works is the maker of natural, handmade soap and bath products. If you are looking to reduce the volume of man-made chemicals in your life, all-natural personal products are a good start. If you use this link you get 15% off of your purchase.

The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


 

Past Comparisons

Way back in the old days, politicians in trouble with their voters would often be described as “tone deaf” by their less harsh critics. They were in trouble because they no longer had the ability to hear how they sounded to their voters. They would say things that were maybe acceptable behind closed doors in Washington but should never be said in public. Maybe they were prone to saying true things that were best left unsaid or that confirmed things people suspected about the guy.

That is not an expression you hear these days. No one care about how one sounds to the Dirt People, as that no longer matters. What really matters is how you sound to the Cloud People, a lesson Donald Trump learned. The media no longer talks about this either, as they are just as self-absorbed as the rest of them. The result is our politics is now constructed behind soundproof glass. On one side are the politics actors, performing their routines to piped-in cheers from the crowd.

On the other side of the glass is the rest of us, watching an increasingly bizarre political theater performed by increasingly grotesque actors. One performance this week was the arrest of Douglass Mackey, the pro-Trump on-line personality who played the role of Ricky Vaughn on Twitter back in 2016. He was arrested and charged with the crime of disrespecting the regime. The weirdos on the other side of the glass now think it is a good idea to arrest people who hurt their feelings.

The other show was the collusion between the Biden White House and some hedge fund pirates to prevent retail investors from making money at their expense. Instead of letting a few of these guys sink to teach the rest a lesson, the regime swept in and forced the trading platforms to manipulate the market so the bog players could get out from under their bad bets. We literally saw the head of NASDAQ say that they had to manipulate the market so big players could be protected.

This is what the old guys used to call tone deaf. Of course, in our new woke society, “tone deaf” is probably the name of the new Secretary of Housing. Putting that aside, for no reason other than spite the regime convinced millions of people that they no longer have first amendment rights, and the financial markets are every bit as crooked as their elections. They are doing this at the same time they are babbling about the need for unity after they rigged the last election.

It really is an amazing time to be alive. Most people reading this are over forty, so you remember when it was radicals on the college campus claiming that America was a lie and that a cabal of sinister players really ran the country. The people saying this never ventured off the college campus and were happy to live off the system, but they were sure the system was a lie. Now, those people are in charge and not only were they right about the system being a lie, it is normal people saying it now.

This week I have the usual variety of items in the now standard format. Spreaker has the full show. I am up on Google Play now, so the Android commies can take me along when out disrespecting the country. I am on iTunes, which means the Apple Nazis can listen to me on their Hitler phones. The anarchists can catch me on iHeart Radio. I am now on Deezer, for our European haters and Stitcher for the weirdos. YouTube also has the full podcast. Of course, there is a download link below.


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


Promotions: The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is like a tea, but it has a milder flavor. It’s hot here in Lagos, so I’ve been drinking it cold. It is a great summer beverage.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


This Week’s Show

Contents

  • 00:00: Opening
  • 02:00: Pre-Revolutionary Reformers (Link) (Link)
  • 17:00: The Isolation of Our Rulers (Link)
  • 32:00: The Foreignness Of Our Rulers
  • 47:00: Kim Philby (Link)
  • 57:00: Closing (Link) (Be Like Me)

Direct DownloadThe iTunesGoogle PlayiHeart Radio, RSS Feed, Amazon

Full Show On Spreaker

Full Show On YouTube

GameStop

Until a few days ago, most people had no reason to think about GameStop, a retail chain that sells video games and accessories. If you have kids, you probably know the place, because your kids like to go there. Otherwise, the only reason to think about the place was to wonder how they managed to survive as a brick-and-mortar operation in a world dominated by on-line retailers. They exist as a reminder that humans still prefer in-person shopping, even if it comes at a premium.

That is the funny thing about the GameStop story. While other traditional retailers struggled to maintain margins, they are an exception. This is a company with ridiculously high margins. Even with a drop in sales due to the great reset launched by the managerial class this year, they maintained their margins. Whatever they are doing in their shops, people think it is worth a premium. Despite this, their stock was a dog, falling below $4 until the recent explosion.

It is the explosion in their share price that has them in the news. The share price as of the close of business yesterday was $347.51. The pre-market ask is $489.00 as these words are being typed. That number keeps going up, so it is not unreasonable to think that shares will be trading at or above $500 today. Everyone now wants a piece of the winningest stock since the dot-com bubble. If you had this company in your portfolio six months ago, you are a very happy investor.

Of course, this explosion in share price did not happen because everyone suddenly realized this was a great company. The story here is retail investors organizing on Reddit noticed that some big hedge funds were shorting the hell out of the stock, despite its depressed price. Shorting a stock is when you borrow shares of the stock and then sell them, hoping to buy them back at a lower price. You then return them to the lender, and you collect the difference.

These hedge funds took this a step further and borrowed shares that did not actually exist, which is called naked short selling. Basically, the center of the naked short sell is a promise to sell the shares at a price on a certain date. If the seller is unable to borrow those shares, then they must go into the market and buy them. If the price is below the promised price, no problem. If not or if the shares are simply not available to be purchased, then it is a very big problem.

This is where we are in the story of GameStop. At least one hedge fund was committed to delivering shares of this company at a few bucks per share, but now the shares are many times higher and becoming something close to unobtanium. The result is the hedge fund, Melvin Capital, has been wiped out. They had to liquidate all of their other holdings to cover their short position. Even with help from other hedge funds, they will file for bankruptcy next week.

By itself, this is an amusing story, but hardly big news. But, no one really knows if this is an isolated situation. The insiders were targeting a number of companies, hoping to jawbone down their share prices while they aggressively shorted those stocks. It is not unrealistic to think there are dozens of hedge funds out there working this grift, so this could be the tip of a much larger iceberg. The movie chain AMC Entertainment is seeing its stock follow GameStop for the same reasons.

Now, this may not sound very interesting, but even in today’s world of magical finance, math still matters. If you have to raise cash to cover your bad bet on a naked short sell, it means selling something to raise the cash. Hedge funds tend not to sell their furniture or expensive sports cars, so they sell their good holdings. Usually, they sell their best holdings, as they are the most liquid. If enough hedge funds are forced to liquidate their good holdings, those holdings will decline in price.

This is the great fear in these situations. No one knows how much exposure there is to this bad trade. That is why the general market will decline, as the robots that do almost all of the trading move into the safest of safe harbors. This, in turn, can result in selling of otherwise solid assets, simply because no one wants to be holding an asset in decline, especially in a declining market. Given the ridiculously inflated share values, this short squeeze could signal a very big correction.

It could also be a big nothing or it could mean the government comes in and makes everything right with bailouts or new rules to prevent further erosion. That really is the story here with GameStop. This revolt of small retail investors against this hedge fund is about the larger issue. The marketplace has been perverted by insiders with special access to both market makers and market regulators. The financial markets are no longer tethered to economic reality. It is just a giant bust out.

This is why this event is being compared to Gamergate. Like the populist revolts we have seen all over the culture the last ten years, this organized attack by small investors is about a larger issue. The institutions we are supposed to rely upon to regulate our lives have been corrupted by managerial insiders. Just as the marketplace of ideas is now manipulated by thugs and lunatics on behalf of the oligarchs, the financial markets have become a grift operated by wealthy insiders.

What this means, of course, is that the insiders getting hurt in this will go to their colleagues in the ruling class and have the insurgents crushed. These people will be pushed off public forums, have their accounts closed by the trading companies and some will probably be arrested on made up charges. In a society where mocking the rulers on Twitter could get you ten years in prison, anything is possible. The ruling class will not be mocked or defied.

On the other hand, it is great example of how to resist managerial tyrants. These people will not be talked out of their corruption. They have no scruples, so they cannot be shamed into doing the right thing. They have real power, so they cannot be removed from their positions. The only course is to drive up the cost for them. Throwing sand in the gears whenever possible drives up the cost of rule. Eventually, the managerial state becomes the naked short sell and has to be liquidated.


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The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


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

Cats And Dogs

Anyone who has had a cat knows that the cat takes a certain pleasure in the acquisition of its food. Put food down for the dog and the dog eats the food. Put food down for the cat and it will saunter up to the dish and maybe sample a little, then take a break to watch the dish for a while, before returning for some more food. A bug gets loose in the house and the dog will just eat it, but the cat will torment the thing to death. One animal is all about the process, while the other is about the result.

This difference is something to keep in mind as America descends into the woke totalitarianism of our diversity loving masters. It is assumed that totalitarianism leads to labor camps and people disappearing in the night. Those are the examples we have from our history. The communists liked sending the uncooperative to work camps, while the fascist like shooting the inconvenient. In both cases, the point was to remove the problem and discourage others from being a problem.

Those old school totalitarians were dog people. Just as the dog is happy to eat when hungry, without thinking much about how the food was made available to him, the old totalitarians took an end justifies the means approach to exercising power. Problem people were like any other sort of problem. The point was to solve the problem, which in the case of people meant making them go away. No man, no problem. How the problem felt about what was happening was of no consideration.

Our new totalitarians turn all of this on its head. Like the cat and his food, or his prey in the case of an unfortunate insect, the end is not really the point. It is not about removing the obstacles to their project, in order to achieve some end. The dealing with the problem is the end. In the case of the poor unfortunate who has run afoul of the rulers, the point of the process is submitting the troublemaker to endless torment that has no purpose beyond the pleasure of the tormentor.

Take the doxing business as an example. The people who do this are not trying to make the victim go away, any more than the cat wants the wayward cricket to go away. To the contrary, they hope the victim will cry out in agony and make his misery into a long-drawn-out public performance. They revel in seeing the victim moan about how his PayPal was deleted or how he lost his job. For the army of the woke, the suffering of the victim and the fame for inflicting that suffering is what matters.

When the victim simply kills off his internet character, the doxers have a problem as they do not have that living trophy to show off on-line. They are forced to go onto their social media platforms and imagine how the victim is suffering. We are not far away from a time when Twitter or Facebook start creating scapegoat accounts for the anointed to attack as a part of their rituals.  Instead of relying on a real person to be the victim, they will conjure a fake one that plays the victim properly.

Of course, in every totalitarian society, the people eventually figure out the rules in order to avoid the boot. That was the point of the old totalitarian model. In the new totalitarian model, the rules will constantly change so it is nearly impossible to avoid the wrath of the official tormentors. After all, like the cat tormenting its prey, the new totalitarians care only for the process. Like an engine needs fuel, the new totalitarians need a constant supply of victims to torment.

An excellent example of this is the Covid madness. When it all started, the point was to slow the spread so the hospitals would not be too crowded. We had two weeks to flatten the curve, but after two weeks the rules changed. The rules keep changing as the rulers find new ways to torment us, causing people to go into the streets to protest the new torments, to the delight of the tormentors. Covid has revealed that the new totalitarians are little more than sadists.

What this means, of course, is that there will be not settling into a set of fixed rules as happened in communist societies. We do not know if this would have happened in certain fascist societies, but the experience of Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal and Pinochet’s Chile suggest the fascists would have settled into a conservative system of fixed rules. The new system, in contrast, will be perpetually disrupting this tendency in order to perpetuate the necessary disorderliness.

The question is whether any society can go on very long when the rules are constantly changing in order to give the Torquemada’s more victims. A bedrock requirement for any society is a set of rules to govern conduct. In order to have an organization of humans greater than the Dunbar number means having a code and a way to enforce that code in order to make the code a habit of mind. This is what we think of when we think of culture. The rules we live by because we just do.

We are already seeing problems with the Covid madness. The ever-changing rules are making life impossible for small business. In some areas, whole swaths of the economy have collapsed. Of course, the religious aspects to compliance are pitting people against one another. The new totalitarians are creating a Hobbesian world where it is a war of all against all, not for limited resources, but due to the deliberate cacophony of every changing rules that have no logic.

The good news, if there is any, is that totalitarianism has diminishing returns, as the cost of maintaining it eventually dwarfs the benefits. Initially it seems to work pretty well, but over time the costs become unsustainable. This new totalitarianism is especially front loaded, almost accelerationist. It is destroying every reason for people to remain loyal to the system. Instead of carrying on for several generations, the new totalitarianism will be lucky to make it past this decade.


Promotions: We have a new addition to the list. Havamal Soap Works is the maker of natural, handmade soap and bath products. If you are looking to reduce the volume of man-made chemicals in your life, all-natural personal products are a good start. If you use this link you get 15% off of your purchase.

The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


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

Trade-Offs

Political systems are about problem solving. Inherited rule, for example, solves the problem of selecting the next ruler. Blood also provides legitimacy, which is an essential element for any ruler. One of the problems a political system must solve is the problem of trade-offs. Public policy, regardless of the system, is about trade-offs. A political system has to have a mechanism for selecting between competing options, by weighing the trade-offs and determining the best choice.

A great story from the ancient world about trade-offs is the story of the emperor Tiberius and flexible glass. A craftsman was presented to the emperor claiming that he could make flexible glass. That is, a substance that looked and functioned like glass, but did not break like glass. He produced a bowl that the emperor tried to smash, but it only suffered some dents. The craftsman then repaired it with a small hammer, knocking out the dents made by the emperor.

Once the emperor was assured that no one else knew how to make this new material, he had the craftsman beheaded. The reason was that Tiberius saw right away that this material was revolutionary. Innovation always comes with trade-offs, as the new thing replaces an old thing. In the case of flexible glass, the trade-offs were incalculable, so the proper course was to make sure this new material never got loose. Tiberius chose the well understood over the completely unknown.

This story is useful to us today, because we have lived through what could be described as a series of flexible bowl incidents. The technological revolution that was set in motion by the microprocessor has swept through the West. As Tiberius anticipated with flexible glass, the silicon chip has set off changes that no one anticipated. In the material sense, our world is quite different from 70 years ago. In a cultural and political sense, we now live at the other end of a perpetual revolution.

In theory, democratic systems of government are about solving the problem of the general will. Through the ballot, the people tell the office holders what they want from their government. In turn, the people in office try to guide the general will through public debate and public advocacy for their ideas. The trade-offs involved in the options being debated are fleshed out and the public, directly, or indirectly, makes their choice and that becomes public policy.

The trouble is the system always selects for innovation over continuity. When the microprocessor came along, there could be no debate about whether this was a dangerous new innovation or how best to prevent this radical new thing from overthrowing the old rules. Democracy always comes down on the side of the new thing over the old thing. Every innovation, no matter how pointless, is celebrated as another step in human progress. Democracy is a perpetual revolution.

As a result, there could be no Tiberius moment with the microchip. There was not one to examine the new thing and contemplate its ramifications. Instead, it was quickly adopted setting off the technological age. Not only did no one think about the trade-offs before unleashing this new thing, not one thought about them afterwards. New is always good in a democratic society. The only thing better than innovation is more and faster innovation. Constant change is the ethos of liberal democracy.

The technological revolution was expected to solve lots of problems that plagued the industrial age. Society was supposed to become more democratic, for example, as improvements in communication made it easier for people to express their preferences in the public square. The distribution of goods would become more equitable, as innovation would smash the old bottlenecks. The technological revolution would make the world flatter, more egalitarian and more peaceful.

Some of the promised benefits have happened, but the trade-offs have been enormous and could very well be the end of us. For example, the cost of being able to call anyone anywhere from a device that fits in your pocket is having millions of people experiencing the lives through their phone. All the benefits of the mobile phone were realized with the first car phone. Everything that has came after that point has been the trade-off that no one could imagine. Most of them negative.

Similarly, the cost of instant communication across time and place is millions of people standing in front of a firehose of information. Humans are not made to experience the world this way. One result is everyone is dumber and less informed. Another result is the number of rage heads screaming in the face of their fellow citizens is growing exponentially. The cost of knowing what is on everyone’s mind is knowing what is on everyone’s mind whether you like it or not.

Again, this is not to say the technological revolution is a mistake. E-mail is better than the postal service. Modern automobiles are better and safer than their analog variants from the old days. Having the sum of human information at your fingertips is an amazing leap forward for humanity. There has been great material progress that has come with the technological revolution, but it came with a price. The question the West is slamming into is whether that price is warranted.

The trouble is democracy is incapable of evaluating trade-offs. This may be why our systems are becoming increasingly authoritarian. The only way to tone down the rhetoric in public forums is for the heavy hand of the ruling class to limit what can be said in public forums. The only way to break people from being constantly on-line is to make on-line less rewarding. There is no democratic way to get rid of Twitter and Facebook, so we get an authoritarian approach.

The trouble, of course, is that the current ruling class is the product of the democratic system that created this mess. These are people bred to overturn the tried and true in favor of the novel. That instinct is seen in their fetish for men in dresses. They are attracted to it because it is disruptive. Our ruling class is was selected by a system that rewards pointless novelty over sober mindedness. A ruling class of such people means we are ruled by a class of powerful toddlers.

That may be the next turn of the wheel. Democratic dictatorship gives way to some form of personal rule, where stability and continuity are prized over innovation. The ruling class is symbolically and physically walling itself off from us, but what comes next is a culling inside those walls. The feckless and stupid will be pushed out as a matter of survival, by those actually capable of wielding power. That will be a trade-off that everyone can accept, because it brings stability.


Promotions: We have a new addition to the list. Havamal Soap Works is the maker of natural, handmade soap and bath products. If you are looking to reduce the volume of man-made chemicals in your life, all-natural personal products are a good start. If you use this link you get 15% off of your purchase.

The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


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

The Cult Of Safety

For most of human history, the focus of society was on the material side. Progress was about increasing the material wellbeing of people. In fact, political philosophy was solely focused on material well-being. The great battle in the West was over what sort of political economy would provide the most stuff for the most people. Eventually, liberal democracy won over communism. Then the debate subtly changed from material well-being to the overall safety of people. Safety is the new goal.

For example, an increasingly common thing if you work in an office is the notice that the vents will be cleaned one night. You are told to expect some disruption of your day or maybe some things will be moved around in the office. A crew comes in to clean the vents for so everyone is safe. Residential rental properties are now required in most states to have the dryer vents cleaned once a year. In some states, home owners are required to do this too. Vent cleaning is a thing now.

It is more than just a thing. It is a booming little niche business. According to one of the rapidly growing vent cleaning companies, the demand for vent cleaning is growing at close to four percent per year. They say that the increased awareness to the dangers posed by home clothes dryers is what is driving the growth. The claim is the number of accidents caused by these appliances is making people suspicious of what’s happening in those vents, so they want all the vets cleaned regularly.

Of course, This is true to a great degree. In the office space, people have come to believe that whatever is being cleaned out of those heat and air conditioning ducts is bad for the people inside the offices. Sick building syndrome is one of those things people have come to accept without question. The same is true of the dangers posed by the common household dryer. Mention this to someone and they will claim that clothes dryers cause a lot of fires every year.

Interestingly, none of this is true. According to the government, there are about 2900 dryer fires per year. There is no data on fires caused by debris or dust in the ventilation ducts of buildings. The damage resulting from those dryer fires total $35 million per year. Only about a third is caused by too much fuzz in the dryer vent, so that means it is a $12 million problem. Put another way, we have a $350 million dollar industry to solve a problem a bit less serious than bathtub drownings.

The other odd thing about the vent cleaning craze is that people don’t bother questioning it. They just assume it is a real thing. If you ask someone about the dryer vent business, they will fight you about the facts, claiming that clothes dryers have always been a menace. If you point out the facts, they get mad at you, as if you are questioning a tenant of their religion. Seemingly out of nowhere, vent cleaning has become an important part of keeping us safe.

That is the key to it. Safety has become something of a religion. After all, you can never be too safe. We know this because we are constantly being told by the mass media and our government that we can never be too safe. We spent trillions waging a crusade against Muslims because we had to be safe from terror. We are now spending trillions on Covid, so we can be safe from illness. We’re all in this together, whether we like it or not, because our safety is what matters.

This explains, in part, the bizarre over reaction we saw from our rulers over the protests in Washington. These are the high priests of the cult of safety. They live the safest of lives and depend on faith in safety for their existence. This reminder that no one can ever be truly safe, especially the rulers of a society, was like telling them that their gods are completely fake. They proved that was a lie by turning their palaces into fortified bunkers guarded by heavily armed soldiers.

An easy to miss subtext to the continued lockdowns is the claim that working at home is safer than going to the office. Children at school skin knees and bump their heads, which does not happen when schools are closed. Fewer people commuting means fewer car accidents. The annual flu has been eradicated, they claim, because everyone stays home, instead of mingling with the public. Even if our heroes defeat Covid, staying home is just safer and safer is always better.

There is an obvious problem with this. It is really hard to run a human society when everyone is locked in their pods. Some people can work at home, for sure, but most people need supervision. We are social animals and our sense of self is tied to our participation in our group. This extends to society as a whole. People in isolation from one another or isolated into little tribes lose their group identity. They begin to take on the mentality of prisoners, rather than citizens.

There are also the diminishing returns. The dryer vent business is a great example of how not to solve a problem. An iron rule of life is the solution can never be more expensive than the problem. The dryer vent issue is a great example of how the price of being safer far outweighs the value of being safer. We have long since passed the point of diminishing returns regarding safety. Since there is no limiting principle to the religion of safety, we keep trying anyway, despite the cost.

An easy to overlook angle here is the fact that these efforts to insulate ourselves from risk must fail. The dominant justification for the current arrangements is that it is making us safer. At some point, something bad happens and people will suddenly be less safe. A recession, for example. The gods of safety will be proven to be false or feckless gods. Faith depends on confirmation and nothing harms a religion like a bit of disconfirmation, which in this case is inevitable.

Then again, perhaps we have reached the point in our development that the Eloi reached in the novel Time Machine. The protagonist, having observed the Eloi, the humans of the future, noted that “strength is the outcome of need; security sets a premium on feebleness.” That is modern people. We are now too weak and feeble to question our arrangements. Instead, all that matters is the sense of safety and security, whether is real or imagined. Safety is now our god.


Promotions: We have a new addition to the list. Havamal Soap Works is the maker of natural, handmade soap and bath products. If you are looking to reduce the volume of man-made chemicals in your life, all-natural personal products are a good start. If you use this link you get 15% off of your purchase.

The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


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