Thursday, June 2, 2016

- American Rage: 2016

I’m told I have a temper and can be very intimidating. That’s true as far as it goes. When I worked at Moore Capital, my boss and I would occasionally get into … disagreements… in the middle of the trading floor. These arguments were a legendary source of entertainment in that room full of over achievers, and afterward I would usually get a clap on the back or two from the senior guys who thought that kind of passion about our work was actually quite productive. On my part it was mostly immaturity, but at least it worked for me in that environment.

But long ago I realized that I must temper my anger and use it to serve my greater purpose rather than being a slave to it. These days, I almost never shout. A change in tone and a hard look is far more than enough to make people understand how serious I may be about the discussion. And in the process I’ve developed a reputation as a guy that no one wants to argue with. I was told just yesterday that it “can be very scary”.

I don’t understand the extreme passion being wrought over politics these days. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are a jackal and a vulture fighting over a carcass. Nothing they do is going to reanimate the gazelle and convince it to spring to its feet or dash once again over the veldt. So why in the world can there be such passion about it?

The stakes are no longer huge. The stakes are actually quite small. And at some point in the increasingly near future, the illusion that we can all of us get something for nothing so long as government is involved, will fall away no matter what happens with this election. When it does the hard realities of life will once again hold sway. but getting upset about it certainly isn't going to change that.

I get why liberals are so passionate. It’s because they have nothing else on their side. They wail and scream and gnash their teeth, but they are children. Their passion isn’t anything except an expression of their desire. It doesn’t mean their view is valid or ‘true’. Quite the contrary. It usually means that their passion is based on an illusion and they are terrified that it will be dispelled. Their rage is simply to hide their fear from others. But conservative have no such childish excuse.

America will not be made great again. Not by Trump, and certainly not by Clinton or Sanders. And that isn’t the fault of the Democrats or the Republicans. It’s not the fault of the beltway insiders, the establishment, the lobbyists, Wall Street fat cats, hedge fund derivatives traders or labor unions. It’s our fault. Us. We did it. All those other people are simply giving us what we want. It’s the wanting it that’s the real problem.

These days, our men aspire to be as soft as women, our women aspire to be as hard as men, and we have a whole new group of people who don’t know what they are, but you'll get a big fine if you say so out loud. People who chant ‘death to America’ are considered peaceful, while people who say ‘you should lose some weight’ are considered violent. Yes means yes, and no means no, unless someone is disappointed and then yesterday's yes can be transformed into tomorrow's no. Subjective feelings are considered the truth, and objective facts are considered lies. The whole western world has turned upside down, and there is no righting it. And while we can continue to ignore hard truths for a good long time, that doesn’t mean the hard truths are going to ignore us as well.

The simple fact is that the government has figured out a lovely shell game of spending money today for taxes collected tomorrow, and built an entire financial infrastructure designed to hide this fact from the bulk of the American people. What we have is a system which is totally unsustainable. It cannot go on forever, and because it can’t, it won’t. The only question is how bad it will be for us all when we get to that last believable lie.

Our choices in this election are between a man who is ignorant of this fact, and a woman who denies its basic truth. It’s literally a choice between a neophyte and a liar. But neither of them is prepared to do what needs to be done, because if they did, “we the people” would crucify them for it. Politics is an expression of our collective will, and what we want is to be deceived. Hillary will add a new layer of self-serving lies atop the old, and Trump will add only his own ignorance to the pile. So why in the world is there so much passion about it all?

I’ll tell you a bit of a secret that the talking heads will never bring up. None of the candidates in either party would have been able to “Make America Great Again” either. They were all powerless. It’s already gone much too far to be fixed. The only question is what condition we’ll be in when it falls apart. Will we be able to build something with the ashes, or will we be cowering in our safe spaces, rioting against the privilege of others, and demanding our ‘right’ to the benefit of labor we haven’t actually performed. Our political choice isn’t for the fate of America… that’s sealed. It’s a choice between continued and intentional self-delusion, and the haphazard ‘solutions’ that come from ignorance of the true problem.

Cultural change is the only thing we should be hoping and striving for. Politics is frankly, irrelevant to America now. To me, there is absolutely no reason left to get angry about it. On the cultural front, Hillary is very much more of the same (con Gusto!!), and Trump is at least something different. He may not help, but she will surely do damage and convince herself it's 'doing the right thing'. And if you’re the kind of person who gets angry about choices like that, then you are certainly a part of the problem.


Hell_Is_Like_Newark said...

So in other words: Buy ammo, gold, and silver and enjoy the chaos to come.

Tom said...

Heavy on the ammo since under Clinton 2.0 it will be easy to ban or tax into oblivion. (I'd also seriously consider Texas real estate).

Muzzlethemuz said...

Any major American city left without power for a full week would evidence what could be on the way. NYC in January or Phoenix in July would quickly demonstrate that political correctness would not be a sufficient substitute for electricity when the lights go out. Now Syria is not a good example but it may be telling. While their sectarian rift goes back to the 700's, and their weapons and ammunition have largely been piped in by various external factions, that conflict just doesn't quit.

You may be familiar with the fire triangle. If you have fuel, oxygen and an ignition source you can have a fire. Syria's fire has been burning for much longer than most thought it would. It's got the fuel (people w/AK's) the oxygen (hatred and the will to fight) and the spark (Assad's loss of control).

Now look at the US. We have a hell of a lot more people and way more guns. I would anticipate that with tens of millions of weapons and billions of rounds of ammunition floating around, a post-US conflict could go on for quite sometime.

However, Americans being grossly overweight and technology-dependent are much more removed from simple living than say, the average Syrian, who in many cases was already living in 19th century conditions (perhaps 18th or even earlier in rural areas). My guess is a US civil conflict would require a steady supply of fuel and vehicular locomotion in order to get anything accomplished. If the power's out the pumps don't work. All the electronic cars would probably crap out in pretty short order. The Syrians have the Toyota Hilux. We have the Toyota Prius. Hmm.

I don't know what's going to happen and I'm not sure being here if we start falling apart is the best plan. Being OCONUS in a semi-developed country might be one option. Being US-based, a long, long away from any urban area with a lot of like-minded people, might be another. Of course, I always think, "then what?" Does China sit idly by? What happens to DOD/DOE nuke repositories and all the medical-grade radioactive material sitting around in hospitals and clinics? What happens to the jails and prisons? What happens on the Mexican border?

I have read a bit about Oppenheimer's thoughts when the Bomb went off in the New Mexican desert. My thought, had I been part of that team, was that The End had been assured with the unlocking of that knowledge. Every society falls. We know that from history. While it would be nice to think that sophisticated minds and well-intentioned ministers in the EU, Washington and the UN would figure out a way to start de-mobing the Bomb before one of us falls apart, there is no indication that is going to happen, largely b/c it would entail a discussion about a scenario no-one wants to consider and that is the dissolution of Western nations much as has happened as of late in the Middle East.

Muzzlethemuz said...

Based on the current trajectory I see everything getting crazy by 2020 or shortly thereafter. And that's my take on the domestic scene. There's still traditional foreign states, powers and non-state actors to worry about and it would be nice if we could stay focused on them rather than assigning Hitler status to Mr. Trump.

Tom, you're dead-on, as always. Your words convey what to me is increasingly becoming a funk of sorts, a deepening realization that there is probably no way out of this. I think it as inevitable as the sunrise in the morning. I could be wrong, and I hope I am. The most amazing part of it is the speed with which it has enveloped us. For many reasons I have thought for several years that 1959 was the apogee of the American civilization. Arts, culture, music, design, technology. Ike... Probably there are many that would not want to go back to that time but I would.

When I was a little kid leafing through a family friend's stack of old Life magazines from the 1960's and 70's I remember looking at photographs from the mid-60's in Times Square. Men were still wearing great coats and fedoras, women in dresses and little hats. Fast forwarding ten years and Times Square had become a backdrop for "Taxi Driver." I remember it too as I have early memories from NYC in the late 1970's and the place was a war zone.

NYC came back with the right leadership coupled with economic growth. Maybe we can too.

Tom said...

Just yesterday, someone came right out and asked me if I thought that it was "definitely going to fall apart". I hate to speak in certainties like that about the future. It's not personal hedging, I just recognize that things can change in big ways quite suddenly and when it does, the risk you were setting yourself up for can become something completely different.

None the less, after a pause, I said yes. "Yes, America is definitely going to fall apart." It could be sooner or later, but there is no way a people so addicted to the principle of something for nothing, will ever be able to give it up without violence.

The rationalizations of individuals are the key I think. You can find regulators at the EPA who honestly believe that every restriction they pass is actually benefiting the economy. Think about that. They don't believe they're imposing a necessary cost in order to provide protection to those who wouldn't otherwise have it. They honestly and truly believe that their efforts improve' things. That arbitrary and haphazard restrictions operating on the thinnest of scientific legitimacy, are making the economy stronger and better.

In my mind this is very much akin to the protesters at Trump rallies believing that they are fighting 'hate' by screaming "FUCK YOU!!!!" at innocent Trump supporters, pelting them with bottles, and setting fire to police cars. It's an extraordinary example of self delusion where the indisputable villains have convinced themselves that they are actually the heroes.

No society can survive when so many of the people are that detached from the cause and effect of reality. A healthy society would let them suffer for their delusion. but the power mad in government have made an industry of looting the effort of the productive and giving to the unproductive. And utterly convinced themselves in the process, that they too are heroes for it.

Hell_Is_Like_Newark said...

Meanwhile... the Alt-Right is EVIL!