The Great Liquidation

America is hanging by a thread.  A great liquidation is underway, with many of the structures that support American society..or, in some cases, any viable society…being kicked away, sold off piecemeal, or just wantonly destroyed.  I’m talking about physical structures, legal structures, and social structures.

I do not think it is too late to turn this trend around, but the situation is very serious, and I’m going to ask you to gaze into the abyss with me before I discuss some reasons for hope.

Consider:

–Significant parts of America’s energy infrastructure are being destroyed or targeted for destruction.  For example, the Indian Point nuclear plant, serving NYC, was closed in April, despite the fact that this closure will likely create grid instability–and will certainly result in the zero-emissions power it had previously produced being generated instead by sources which do generate emissions. (Yet at the same time, NYC is banning the use of natural gas in new buildings–which will further increase the demand for electricity!) The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, the largest source of electricity in California, is also scheduled for closure in 2025.  The cost of Diablo Canyon was $14.5B in present-day dollars, and I estimate that this represents at least 50,000 person-years of labor.  Something like 1200 working lifetimes, being wantonly trashed. Only a society which is very rich (for now)–disrespectful of its past accomplishments–and uncaring about the future would act in this way.

And these examples represent only a small portion of the assaults being conducted on America’s energy infrastructure. Peaker plants which ensure continued output under tough conditions, are being closed, with much hand-waving about how ‘demand management’ will solve any problems.  Oil and gas production are being squeezed. Pipeline construction is being suppressed, at the same time Putin is given the US green light for a Russia-Germany pipeline.  Energy is being transformed from an American asset into an American vulnerability.

–Billions of dollars of America military equipment were abandoned in Afghanistan and are now in the hands of the Taliban.  If we use a conservative estimate of $40 billion, that represents at least 400,000 person-years of human labor, thrown away. But that’s not the worst of it, of course: much of that equipment will now be used against us or our allies.  There are already reports of formerly-American weapons on their way to Iran.

The effect of the horribly-executed Afghanistan withdrawal on our credibility as an alliance partner will be devastating.  While many foreign policy types expressed worry about what expecting Germany to pay a larger % of the NATO bill would do to our alliances, any imagined impact of that was trivial compared with the impact of the current debacle.  The negative effect on American military recruiting, also, will be considerable, as discussed by several commenters at this blog.  Overall, America’s actual and perceived power position in the world has been greatly reduced over the past few months.

–American manufacturing has been negatively impacted by numerous policy choices and social factors, and America is no longer the world’s facto ry: that role now falls to China.  We have become extremely dependent on China and other countries for many products and components of products–as we found out during last year’s Covid crisis when we were subject to threats that we would ‘burn in the fire of Covid’ if China should choose to deny us critical pharmaceuticals and ingredients thereof.  We have become highly dependent on other countries for electronics manufacturing, especially microchips: a single Taiwanese company, TSMC, acts as the ‘foundry’ for a whole range of chips produced to the designs of many different American companies.  A Chinese takeover of Taiwan could be devastating to our industry, and such takeover appears considerably more likely than it did a couple of months ago.

Manufacturing was, for a couple of decades, considered by the approved-expert classes to be an increasingly-unimportant industry, populated only by those with inferior and uncreative minds. There is some recognition growing lately that this field may actually matter. But American politicians generally have so little comprehension of how the economy actually works that it is hard to believe that any remedies that they propose will be efficacious ones.  As example #1, I give you Joseph Biden: a man who asserted that anyone who can mine coal can ‘learn to code’, and who apparently believes that manually shoveling coal into furnaces is an actual substantial occupation in America today.  Biden also said, referring to China: “They’re not competition for us.”  This was in mid-2019!

America has given up much of its potential in manufacturing. and the consequences are severe for national security and for millions of people.  

–And, speaking of China: the United States has increasingly adopted a submissive position regarding to that country.  Major corporations are bending over backwards to avoid offending the leadership of that country…see my post here for some examples.  Universities, too, have become increasingly dependent on Chinese students and money.  At MIT, a board member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research raised concerns about whether a certain research collaboration with China was appropriate on national security grounds…other board members took offense, and even said that any serious inquiry into the ambitions of the Chinese Communist Party would be “racist.” She was told to ‘stick to science’ and not to mention China again.

The situation is unpleasantly like what Churchill observed in the Britain of the late 1930s, where he wrote of “the unendurable..sense of our country falling into the power, into the orbit and influence of Nazi Germany, and of our existence becoming dependent upon their good will or pleasure”…A “policy of submission” would entail “restrictions” upon freedom of speech and the press. “Indeed, I hear it said sometimes now that we cannot allow the Nazi system of dictatorship to be criticized by ordinary, common English politicians.” (quote from William Manchester, The Last Lion)

At the same time that the Biden administration is pushing for total electrification of transportation, they seem to have little concern about the fact that the US is far from self-sufficient in the minerals required for electrification technologies–and Biden’s son Hunter has been involved in a deal to give China a strengthened position in the supply of cobalt, a key material needed for battery production.  We are being positioned for a return to the kind of extreme energy dependence on other nations that for years gave the OPEC nations so much power and hence contributed to Middle East instability.

America’s relative strength vis-a-vis China is under threat not only as measured by traditional military, economic, and geopolitical factors, but in terms of the influence of the CCP on American internal politics and affairs.

–Media, academia, and increasingly business, indeed the majority of institutions in our society…are being taken over by an obsession with race and ethnicities.  People are not seen as individuals, but rather as members of ‘communities’, which term now refers to demographic categories.  Those who dare deviate from the political and social views assigned to members of their groups are denounced; see for example the attacks on the new Virginia Lt Governor Winsome Sears.

According to this 2018 survey, favorable race relations in the US peaked in 2009, with 66% of people rating them ‘good’…falling to only 26% assigning a ‘good’ evaluation in 2018.  A more recent Gallup poll shows that favorable views of race relations have fallen sharply over the past several years.

America’s colleges have been particularly race-obsessed:  see for example some college reading lists, with their assumption that ““diversity is defined by race or gender.” The link in the last sentence is from 2017…the obsession has clearly gotten much worse since then.

And it has gone way beyond colleges. “I’m so exhausted with being reduced to my race,” a girl at Grace Church School, an upscale private school in Manhattan said. “The first step of antiracism is to racialize every single dimension of my identity.” Kindergarten students at Riverdale Country School in the Bronx are taught to identify their skin color by mixing paint colors. The lower school chief in an email last year instructed parents to avoid talk of colorblindness and “acknowledge racial differences.”  These cases are only one example of a much wider phenomenon.

If this sort of thing continues, then at best…at best…America becomes something like the Austro-Hungarian Empire, about which historian AJP Taylor wrote:

The appointment of every school teacher, of every railway porter, of every hospital doctor, of every tax-collector, was a signal for national struggle. Besides, private industry looked to the state for aid from tariffs and subsidies; these, in every country, produce ‘log-rolling,’ and nationalism offered an added lever with which to shift the logs. German industries demanded state aid to preserve their privileged position; Czech industries demanded state aid to redress the inequalities of the past. The first generation of national rivals had been the products of universities and fought for appointment at the highest professional level: their disputes concerned only a few hundred state jobs. The generation which followed them was the result of universal elementary education and fought for the trivial state employment which existed in every village; hence the more popular national conflicts at the turn of the century.

A creaky and dysfunctional society like Austria-Hungary is the best outcome for America if the race obsession continues on its current path…it is possible, even likely, that the actual outcome will be something much darker. Categorizing people by groups and defining them by the single dimension of membership in such groups is very, very dangerous.  I’m reminded of something Ralph Peters wrote:

“Man loves, men hate. While individual men and women can sustain feelings of love over a lifetime toward a parent or through decades toward a spouse, no significant group in human history has sustained an emotion that could honestly be characterized as love. Groups hate. And they hate well…Love is an introspective emotion, while hate is easily extroverted…We refuse to believe that the “civilized peoples of the Balkans could slaughter each other over an event that occurred over six hundred years ago. But they do. Hatred does not need a reason, only an excuse.”

Excuses for inter-group resentment are now being manufactured at high speed, even mass produced.  Really want to go there?

 

–A high percentage of America’s public schools…and even some ‘elite’ private schools…are failing to meaningfully educate their students. In Baltimore, not a single graduate of the public school system reached minimal competency in math.  I have spoken with a carpenter who said recently-hired people can’t read a ruler because they don’t understand fractions, and a machinist who expressed a similar finding regarding micrometer-reading and decimals.  And even among those who achieve numeracy and literacy, how many have learned anything at all about science and technology?  How many can read and understand a document of any length and complexity, like say the US Constitution? How many have a reasonable understanding of history, or are familiar with the great literature of the past? How many have the furnishings of the mind that would have been expected of a high-school-educated person a couple of decades ago?

The Biden administration is apparently again attempting to establish racial quotas for school discipline.  Imagine trying to actually run a school under such regulations–“Well, this kid threw a bottle at a teacher, but we’ve over the discipline-incident maximum goal for his ethnic group this month, so we’d better just let it go.” The outcome will surely be in many cases a very chaotic school environment making things hopeless for those kids who do want to learn.

All too many of our schools are failing to educate, while engaging in political indoctrination instead.  The overweening power of the teacher’s unions stands as an especially hideous example of the principal-agent problem.

–The whole idea of free speech is under sustained assault, to a degree never seen before in the United States.  Speech and writing that someone doesn’t like is regularly referred to as ‘dangerous’ or ‘harmful’.  According to a 2020 survey, almost 2/3 of Americans are afraid of sharing their political views. And with some reason, it seems: among ‘liberals’ and ‘strong liberals’, 44% to 50% would support firing a business executive who had privately donated to the Trump campaign. Among ‘conservatives and ‘strong conservatives’, a lower but nontrivial number…22% to 36%…would support firing an executive who donated to Biden.

See my post The Multi-Front Attack on Free Speech.

Dissident speech is particularly under attack when it involves any disagreement with the more extreme forms of ‘trans’ ideology.  Abigail Shrier wrote a book suggesting that the trend for female>>male transitioning among young girls has something to do with social pressure, a concept that should be no surprise to anyone who has ever known any teenagers, or ever been a teenager. She has been denounced viciously and has received a very large number of death threats.

Even scientific research is subject to ‘cancellation’ on political grounds.  See this appalling story about a mathematical study in support of one of Darwin’s hypotheses, which was withdrawn after being already accepted for publication, on grounds of Wrongthink.

Not only are people defriending those who deviate from approved opinions…in some cases, they are demanding that other people defriend their ideological enemies. And the turning-in of Wrongthinkers to the ‘authorities’, whoever those authorities might be, is all too often encouraged and too often actually done…see this story about a son who reported his own mother for ‘racism’, that ‘racism, consisting of her have posted a quote from Martin Luther King.

When free speech is lost, the feedback system of society is destroyed–and very bad things tend to happen.

–Far from protesting threats to freedom of speech and the post,  much of the media sees itself as the source of approved opinion and the rightful choosers of the country’s leadership.  For example, this former New York Times reporter says that the newspaper held her article about the Kenosha riots until after the election.  And the refusal of most of the media to report anything about the Hunter Biden laptop story…going so far, in the case of social media, as to suppress any mention of that story…is now well known.

The arrogance of these organizations is remarkable.  Jeffrey Zucker, the head of AT&T subsidiary CNN, asserted that “You cannot be elected President of the United States without CNN.”  (See my post Should AT&T Select the President of the United States?.)  Yet there is not much in the way of actual knowledge or judgment to support that arrogance.  Obama advisor Ben Rhodes remarked that “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

The major media is increasingly not focused on reporting what actually happened, or even what will likely happen, but on controlling the ‘narrative’, which they see as driving how people think (and vote).  Many of them see themselves as being like the Prince-Electors of Medieval Europe, a small group of nobles who were the exclusive choosers of who the next Emperor would be.

–The very concept of the United States of America…its value and indeed its very physical existence…is under assault.  President Biden, in clear violation of his oath of office, is refusing to enforce the immigration laws, resulting in a flood of illegal immigrants in numbers sure be be socially disruptive and economically harmful to people in many fields…and, given the almost complete lack of screening, sure to include many dangerous criminals and carriers of Covid and other diseases. This completely irresponsible behavior is also further empowering the gangs which have been so harmful to Mexico and increasing their foothold on this side of the border.

Even worse are the attacks on the very idea that there might be anything good in America’s history and culture. The ‘1619 Project’, which holds that the American Revolution was driven by the leadership’s desire to maintain slavery, is quite mainstream, having been sponsored initially by the New York Times. Despite the fact that most credible historians have rejected its thesis, this project continues to be taken seriously and is apparently being taught as factual history in many schools.

The narrative that ‘America’ is at best irrelevant…or more likely, a repository of world-historical levels of unique evil…is being pushed hard.

And it’s not only America as a nation that is under attack–it is the cultural achievements of the West over the past hundreds of years.  To the ‘woke’, it seems that nothing matters, nothing is of value except power struggles…usually but not always race-based power struggles.  Science, art, music–all are viewed as nothing but theaters in which the endless power struggle unfolds itself.  ‘Educators’, especially, seem to be too often lacking in the emotions of intellectual curiosity and aesthetic enjoyment, and to project these deficiencies onto their students, and to eagerly frame ever subject as a group-against-group power struggle.

Last October, the Art Institute of Chicago fired its (unpaid) docents, on grounds of their lack of ethnic diversity (most of them were older white people).  Doesn’t matter how much you know about art or how much you love it; what matters is your role as a pawn in the power struggle!  And read about what has happened at the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side of NYC, a museum which was dedicated to the experiences of the Irish, Jewish, German, and Italian immigrants who had lived in that area.  Not anymore.

Every aspect of our culture’s accomplishments since the Renaissance and the Enlightenment is under attack…the UK’s clownish Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, went so far as to call the steam engine, the enabler of the Industrial Revolution, a ‘doomsday machine’.

Wide swaths of destruction–of academic fields, of practical professions, of friendships, of relationships between the sexes–are being cut and cleared by the never-ending politicization and obsession with power.  

I could go on…I could talk, for example, about the increasingly out-of-control crime in major cities, enabled largely by leftist prosecutors who have arrogated to themselves the function of legislators, as well as by the hostility toward police which has become a hallmark of accepted opinion, or the readmission to the DC bar of a –but I’ll stop here and switch to talking about what happens next.

Is there any hope?

Yes, I think there is.  The very breadth of the assault on America, on civilization, and on sanity itself is likely to make people pause and say, hey, wait a minute here.  Seeing how rapidly and malignantly all the above trends are playing out will have the same effect.  Someone might have supported some of these things to some less-extreme level…perhaps they had had bad personal experiences with police, or heard from credible friends about such experiences, and believe that better training and management is necessary, for example–without having even intended that dangerous felons be turned loose to prey on the general population.  Someone might have wanted to ensure that those who are genuinely uncomfortable with the sex they were born in were treated fairly, without having intended that their impressionable teenage kids be pressured to have irrevocable surgery at a ridiculously young age.  Company executives who have felt it necessary for their companies to come across as ‘woke’ if they are to be able to recruit millennials and younger as customers or employees…may do some rethinking when they are unable to run their factories because energy prices have gotten so high, or forced to close dozens of their stores due to out-of-control crime.

The arrogance of the Dems with respect to what is taught in the public schools proved their undoing in the recent Virginia gubernatorial election.  Across the country, the at-home schooling driven by the Covid lockdowns had given many parents their first true glimpse of what is really being taught in the schools, and a lot of them don’t like it.

The Democrat coalition is showing signs of fracturing.  Nonwhite voters do not necessarily like the ‘woke’ posturings that are largely driven by well-off and highly-educated white people.  A lot of people, including lifelong Dem voters, are tired of the arrogance of the teachers’ unions and of the arbitrary and high-handed way that schools have dealt with the Covid situation.

Numerous individuals have written about their personal turns away from leftist ideology.  See for instance this piece by Liel Liebovitz.  (“When I saw the left give up everything I believe in, I changed politically. You can, too”)..also Angie Schmitt’s piece in The Atlantic.   I’m sure there are a lot more who are moving in that direction but aren’t quite there yet, or who are there but haven’t written about it.

The worship of degree-based credentialism is starting to be questioned…too many people have seen the worthlessness of the degrees that they went into debt to get, too many have seen idiotic policies adopted by highly credentialed people,  (In 1969, Peter Drucker wrote “It is highly probable that the next great wave of popular criticism, indignation, and revolt in the United States will be provoked by the arrogance of the learned.”  I would substitute credentialed for learned, but with that change, I think we’re now beginning to see what Drucker predicted.)  At lower levels of education, a lot of people are noticing the widespread failure of the public schools.  And the education establishment–both in higher ed and in the K-12 schools and their largely-controlling unions–is a keystone of the ‘woke’ movement in general and the Democrat Party in particular.

So, I believe that there is indeed hope, but it’s not going to be easy.  And 2022 will be critical.

103 thoughts on “The Great Liquidation”

  1. Mike K….re the 737 Max, I don’t think the problem had anything to do with the outsourcing of programming, or of programming in general. The decision to push the nose down sharply in response to a signal single angle-of-attack indicator, rather than a consistent signal from two indicators, would have been made by those who specified what the code was to do, rather than those who implemented it. And the decision to *not* highlight the MCAS and its characteristics in the Pilot’s Operating Handbook, which meant that pilots were hit with something they wouldn’t have expected and thought about how to recover from, was surely implemented by whoever at Boeing is responsible for POH content, and was probably insisted on by higher management.

  2. I agree that Boeing management was behind the 737max fiasco but I also think programming contributed. I was a programmer long ago but even then we had to think about the user and all the ways it could go wrong.

    I also agree that we are under assault by a poorly educated elite that is not nearly as smart as it thinks it is. A good exercise is to read “Bad Blood, “ a story that illustrates how much bright people are deluded by style and not facts.

  3. Boeing’s issues are purely down to the bean-counters having taken over, and just like with Detroit, that’s the death of the US aviation industry.

    The decisions to outsource parts? MBA-driven. The decision to leave Seattle? MBA-driven. All of the 737 Max issues? Choices deliberately made, by the MBAs of the company. If you’d talked to actual engineers, they were all saying as far back as the 1990s that they needed a new-technology replacement for the 737, one that was fresh and new from the wheels up. Did they build that aircraft? Nope; the MBA types demanded a refresh of the basic 737 that was literally fifty years old at that point. You can only refurb something like that so many times before the basic technological assumptions behind the basic design become invalid; that’s why they had the problems they did with hanging those bloody great turbofans off the 737. It should have been a new-build design, to actually accommodate those big bastards.

    Boeing is a perfect example of what happens when the bean-counters take over a company. GM went that way; Ford went that way, and so did a lot of other companies which have since gone to their rewards in corporate heaven.

    You cannot take a man who sells soft-drinks and make of him an aviation manufacturer–Not in any real sense. There’s too much “tribal knowledge” that you need, in order to make good decisions inside your industry–The rank-and-file types at Boeing knew that the 737 had reached the end of its useful design life, and that something new was needed, but the bean-counting types did not.

    The Germans have a word for this, Fingerspitzengefühl, meaning “finger-tips feeling”, which is something you only gain in a field through having actually come up the ranks inside it, from the bottom up. You don’t learn it on a night course from some prestigious university selling its supposed IP on the cheap, and you don’t get it from some seminar somewhere.

    There are things I know from experience, that I can take in at a glance, in a military context. There are things I know from having done light construction work, building houses. These are things that outsiders do not comprehend, and take for granted; they think that because they’ve read a book, or watched something done on YouTube, that they know what to do, when to do it, and how to assess what is going on around them. That might be narrowly true, but the reality is that there’s a hell of a lot more happening than what is captured in books or on video, things you have to know from experience and pick up only through humility and open-mindedness in those environments. Men and women who think that they can move laterally into any field and do well at “managing” things in those fields are delusional. Some skills are universal and apply anywhere; what really matters in those fields are the esoterics and the ineffables, the little things that you only learn the hard way by doing, and with those things comes the ability to intuit things that an outsider simply will not be able to even recognize as significant.

    Epitaph for our civilization will be two things: One, “But… They did so well on the tests…”, and “I don’t need to know how things work, around here, I’ve got my MBA…”.

  4. The only reason the 737 needed computer assistance was the big ass motors they put on it. They did this to sell more economical airplanes, as the big turbofans were quite a bit better. They were actually too big for the design and so software was used to “fix” the problems the overly large motors introduced.

    This was done to sell more planes, no other reason.

  5. About Boeing, don’t forget that they spent tens of billions on stock buybacks but decided that a cleansheet design to replace the 737 was just too expensive.

    Then, when that decision blew up in their face with the 737max, they demanded a federal bailout. And the last thing I heard about it all was that the only person the feds were looking at sending to prison was a test pilot.

    From early 2020: https://onemileatatime.com/boeing-government-aid/

    Managed like this, I suspect Boeing doesn’t have a bright future, no matter how much taxpayer money they manage to score.

  6. Like I said… MBA mentality.

    I think that we need to update that old saw about “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad…” to something like “Whom the gods would destroy, they first send MBAs to manage…”.

    Seriously… Name me a single company or industry that’s gone on to great long-term success, under management of the MBAs. I’ll wait here. It’s all pretty much a hellscape of failure and lost market share, once they start making decisions based solely on money and making short-term profits.

  7. Kirk – I did know and worked for a military commander, back in the day, who really was one of those human management geniuses. But he was military to his fingertips, and he had the gift of being able to manage people in that setting, no matter what the specific specialty. Major Azuma, prior enlisted, a navigator and later instructor at Mather AFB. He was the command favorite officer to be put in charge of managing troubled shops … he went, IIRC from the supply shop, to Public Affairs, and then, to manage the family affairs office. He may have sorted out other offices before or after, but those were the ones that I knew about.
    The thing I remember about him was that he was so good to work for. He supported his people, and listened to them. He might not have known the minutia about supply or public affairs … but he had the innate good sense to listen to those who were really good at it. Pick their brains until they were wrung dry. Quite frequently, he would call individual members of the PA team into his office for a private chat. He would want to know – what you were working on, what were your specific challenges, what were you doing about them, what could he do to help, what did you think could be done … after a session with the Major, you would think that your brains had been wrung out and squeezed dry. From that experience, I do believe that there are managerial types who can go from job to job and extract outstandingly positive results … but they are very, very rare. Nearly as rare as teeth on hens… but they are out there. Not produced from any academic management program, though.

  8. @Sgt. Mom,

    Wish I could say I’d run into someone like that, but… Never have.

    The role of “integrative leader” seems to go unfilled, most places I’ve been. There’s a definite lack of the mentality your Major Azuma demonstrated, where he went in to a new job or approached a new problem with an utterly open mind. Most of the people I worked for and around in the Army did not demonstrate that mindset, at all–Instead, it was a lot more like “Well, I have this skillset and knowledge base, let’s hammer away with it until I’ve made this round hole square…”.

    I like to think I haven’t done that, myself, but… I have. The thing is, most of us are products of our experiences and the environments we had those experiences in. Rising above that to some zen state isn’t easy, isn’t often accomplished, and I suspect that the people who can actually do it are truly rarer than hen’s teeth.

    It’s been my experience that vanishingly few of us ever look up from where we graze in life to consider the larger picture around us. I’ve often railed against leaders and managers who don’t stop to consider the environment where they wish to influence things, preferring to attempt to dictate things without regarding any other factors that might be involved. This sort of thing is the exact opposite of “situational awareness”, and should be thought of as a form of blindness. You cannot effect real, lasting change in things without paying consideration to the factors that already influence people to do the things they do. You can hang a sign on the door by the smoke break area that says “Emergency Exit Only”, but so long as that’s the shortest way out to the break area, smokers are going to keep disabling the alarm on the door so they can get out there, smoke a cigarette or two, and get back in before their break ends. You don’t want that door used? Either you make the breaks longer, or you create another smoking area. Writing memos and putting up signs ain’t going to do it.

    I think we’re training managers and leaders improperly. I can’t think of a single time, anywhere in any of my fairly extensive military training as an NCO or leader, that anyone ever told me to look at things in the environment. It was always “Leader, led, communication, and situation”, and the emphasis with “situation” was always on the human factors of the individuals involved, not the environment that was cuing their behavior. Nobody ever mentioned anything like “examine the environment” as a thing to do, nor did anyone ever suggest that indirect factors might be effective at getting things done.

    I’d say that the vast majority of the training I’ve gotten and observed others getting vis-a-vis “leadership” and “management” is all oriented on what I’d term a “diktat” framework: The leader effectuates what they want done via telling other people what to do, and that’s it, period. You see a problem? You solve that problem by writing a memo, or telling someone what to do about it.

    In a simplistic world, that might work, but in the larger and more complex one we live in? LOL… Not a damn thing about that really makes sense. There are always “unforeseen” issues, ones that if you got out of your office and went looking for, you’d find and then realize that your “diktat” wasn’t going to work its magic all on its own. You want real change, you have to go out into the environment and make changes there. If you can…

    The “diktat” mentality is a result of our simplistic and inadequate way of looking at the world around us. We don’t frame situations as being what they are, Skinnerian behavioral conditioning boxes. Everything you do in the environment around you is influenced by that environment, with feedback coming right back at you in terms of success or failure. Your boss wants to influence you and your actions? He’d better be aware of what’s already in those boxes, and how you’re dealing with it. But, since they’re not taught to be aware of or consider those boxes…? They keep flailing away at it all, wondering why nobody is listening to them except when they throw screaming tantrums.

  9. “So, I believe that there is indeed hope, but it’s not going to be easy.”

    I’ll second that motion. Something that may be difficult for us all to accept is — Things are NEVER going back to the way they were. Hopefully, things will get better, but it is going to be a different better.

    This has all happened before. America after the Revolution was different from Colonial days. After the Civil War, the country was changed from before. After WWI also. And WWII. Change is the only constant.

    It is easy to imagine a path that takes the US down the road to Venezuelan poverty & chaos, to a time when Mexico is building a wall to keep out Americans. It is less easy to imagine a path that takes us to a better future. And any realistic path has to deal with the inescapable financial issues of an unrepayable National Debt and Social Security obligations that can never be met.

    A gambling man would bet that the situation will have to get worse before it gets better. The only thing I am absolutely sure about is that if we give the worthless Republican Party control of House & Senate in the next elections, they will do nothing constructive.

  10. The current Republican Party at the national level is a huge part of the problem, and so are the games they’ve been playing as they act out being an actual opposition party to the Democrats.

    Unfortunately for them, the rubes are starting to catch on. As I told my own useless local Republicans, get back to me when you’re actually doing something, and until then, get the hell off my porch.

    The real break here isn’t Democrat/Republican, it’s Inside/Outside, and until we realize that, we’re going to keep getting screwed by the insiders. The upper echelons of the two parties are the same people working for the same causes–Go look at who else was on the boards at Burisma with Hunter. It’s all sweetheart deals, all the way down.

    “The rest of us” need to wake up, break their rice bowls, and send them packing, while confiscating their ill-gotten gains to pay down the insane deficits they’ve run up. We’re in the middle of an actual organized crime-style “bust-out” operation, conducted on a national scale, and it is far past the time where we should recognize that fact.

    Fauci wouldn’t be where he is if he weren’t directing funds from all his little scams into the pockets of the oligarchs. None of this would be happening, if they weren’t getting rich off it all. Follow the money, people–That trail answers all questions.

  11. Speaking of the race/ethnicity obsession: I was somewhat hopeful about the new mayor of NYC, Eric Adams…but when he was asked about his appointment of his brother a high-paying NYPD leadership position…an appointment that some people might view as giving at least the appearance of nepotism…his response was:

    “I don’t understand that. Protection is personal. With the increase in anarchists in this city, we have a serious problem with white supremacy.”

    Grim responded:

    “I admit that I was under the impression that ‘white supremacists’ were supposed to be fascists rather than anarchists in the current narrative, but whatever. The point is that this makes perfect sense. If you cannot trust anyone except blood kin with your safety, then of course it makes sense to appoint blood kin to manage your security arrangements.

    It makes sense the way it makes sense for the mafia, anyway…

    How it makes sense in New York City is harder to say. Indeed, it seems to make nonsense of the whole idea of a community like New York City, which is predicated on the idea that people from all over can come together and form a community of mutual respect and common faith. If that is no longer true — if ‘white supremacy’ means not only that white people cannot be trusted as ranking police, nor that people of your own race could suffice, but that no one but your own blood kin can be — then the whole structure that made New York City possible has vanished. No city of the sort New York aspired to be could survive such a truth, if indeed it is true. ”

    Read that last part again: If you cannot trust anyone that you have appointed unless they are a member of your own race….and not only that, unless they are a member of your own family…then:

    “the whole structure that made New York City possible has vanished. No city of the sort New York aspired to be could survive such a truth, if indeed it is true.”

    That is the sort of thing I had in mind when, in the first paragraph of the post, I referred to the structures that support *any* viable society being destroyed.

  12. Imagine you could compile a “Google Street View” of the main street of an average American city of 10-20k or so–running in reverse, you’d see mostly completely vacant storefronts now (except for college towns, basically), going back to the 80s or so, when you’d see shops start to appear, until sometime in the mid to early 70s or so, when it would be totally unrecognizable–completely full and dynamic, never vacant, a few long-running businesses, plenty of turnover, etc. The destruction of local economic activity (honestly I think one-person, one-vote was a major culprit in this, the timing works out pretty well) is at the root of our problems, as a people without roots is helpless before all sorts of centralizing forces which bring destruction in their wake.

    Nothing’s going to change unless the beautiful people are made to feel some of the pain that they’ve inflicted on the poor average slob. They don’t care about destroyed small towns at all, because there’s no money or votes for them there. What fraction of major American companies aren’t even run by Americans anymore? Coke’s run by a Brit, who savaged attempts to clean up Georgia election laws, while Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan kowtowed to China after making a lame joke that the CCP might not last forever.

  13. @David Foster–Tom Wolfe’s “Back to Blood” coming to life.

    I just heard Mayor Adams urge fire survivors and victims to come forward for help–the city won’t tell ICE or any ‘institution’ about immigration status.

    Classes of people exempt from official scrutiny; open use of family in the security apparat; racial scaremongering, general breakdown of social services . . . Is NYC the true capital of the Third World?

  14. There are many opportunities to shake one’s head in disbelief at things happening today. The tougher question is — What can we do about it?

    The USA was what it was because many people in other countries faced with similar declines in their native lands decided to vote with the feet and come to America. That option does not exist today for Americans in America. And there are not even obvious places to go, even if one was willing to vote with one’s feet.

    So we are stuck here. What do we do? We are not going to vote our way out of the mess, that is for sure. And non-electoral approaches will almost certainly fall into the category of getting worse (much worse!) before things eventually get better. Tough problem!

  15. The Republican Party is a long way from perfect, but I disagree that it doesn’t matter which party controls Congress. Look at how much damage Biden has done in only one year, with only marginal control of Congress. Imagine much more he could do with a strong majority in both houses and with a few Supreme Court appointments.

    Most of the malign trends I wrote about above are closely associated with the Democratic Party and its extensions in media and academia. If you want to see the compete destruction of free speech in America, combined with runaway taxes and inflation…plus a very large long-term unemployed population which is supported by some form of perpetually-guaranteed income…then you have a very good chance of getting those things following Democrat electoral victories. You also likely get a further expansion of the higher-education empire, featuring taxpayer-paid ‘college for all’ (to include a lot of political messaging and ever-less actual academic content), combined with reinforcement of the power of the teachers’ unions.

  16. David: Yeah, the standard GOPe rallying cry for the last 30 years–Vote for us, because the Democrats are so much worse!
    All that stuff you say is going to happen, is going to happen, no matter what. With the GOPe in charge it just might happen a couple years later than it will with the Dems.
    Sorry, we’re done with that.
    When we voted for an actual alternative, and their role as controlled opposition was at risk, the GOPe did everything they could to sabotage and undermine every single possible threat to the DC consensus that has in ruins.

  17. I’m sort of late to this party, but this one hits pretty close to home:

    “Yet at the same time, NYC is banning the use of natural gas in new buildings–which will further increase the demand for electricity!”

    There are many municipalities doing this but NYC is the first I have heard of that has done it in a cold climate area. Physics dictates that heat pumps only go “so low” before they have to kick in emergency electric strip heating, which is horribly inefficient. Right now, we are well under that “so low” point here in the Midwest and NYC gets below it often in Winter as well. Those electric bills are going to be incredible in Winter and the people will also hate their electric ovens and water heaters, although they are probably better than they used to be.

    The water heaters just don’t have the recovery of gas, and as an amateur cook I’ve yet to find one of the electric cooktops that comes close to an open gas flame.

  18. Brian…not sure who the ‘we’ that you’re speaking for is. Not all Republican politicians are the same, and they should not be viewed as they are: Ron DeSantis is not Mitt Romney, for example. If you were running for office on a ‘sanity’ platform, what would you run as? A Democrat? An Independent?

    If you think that in any event “It’s the end of the world” and “You’ll feel fine”, then why bother being involved in political discussions?

  19. “We” is the GOP voting base, no? After several “conventional” nominees in a row who were either losers or massive disappointments, “we” chose someone else, he won, and he was totally undermined from day one. Speaking for myself, Romney was the first GOP nominee I refused to vote for ( I only voted for McCain because of Palin, as it was always clear he loathed the “deplorable” base)–the issue of the day was Obamacare and he failed that miserably, and the last several years haven’t made me regret that once.

    “If you think that in any event “It’s the end of the world” and “You’ll feel fine”, then why bother being involved in political discussions?”
    When did I say that? I said that the GOPe isn’t going to stop those things you warn about, not that there’s absolutely no hope. We need to clean house completely, vote for the “craziest” (i.e., sanest, of course) winning candidate we can in every race. America First, etc. Things look headed for collapse in many ways–economic disaster looks to be finally imminent, and our military looks headed for some sort of catastrophic embarrassment, so we need people who can step forward a la Churchill to say, you said I was crazy and ostracized me, but I was right, now give me a chance.

  20. Well, looking above, maybe I did kind of say that lol. At any rate, what I was trying to say before, and clarified just now, was that the GOPe isn’t going to stop any of that stuff, and their saying we have to vote for them to stop the Democrats from doing that isn’t good enough any more…

  21. What fraction of major American companies aren’t even run by Americans anymore?

    That is a good question. Certainly many high tech firms are run by foreign nationals. In the Theranos story, the “boyfriend” of Elizabeth Holmes was running much of the company and the author of “Bad Blood,” a good description of what fools the Silicon Valley set can be, notes that “Sunny,” the alleged boyfriend, is from Mumbai and the arrogant and threatening tone he used with employees is common among upper caste Indians there. His fraud trial is coming up.

  22. Brian: “All that stuff you say is going to happen, is going to happen, no matter what. With the GOPe in charge it just might happen a couple years later than it will with the Dems.
    Sorry, we’re done with that.”

    I am with Brian on this one. The Institutional Republicans are a lost cause. That is why we cannot vote ourselves out of this mess — there is no real alternative to Democrat corruption at the Federal level.

    If the Republicrats were serious, we would be seeing massive apologies for their utter failure when they had House, Senate, and Presidency only a few years ago. They organized some goodies for their big contributors, and then spent the rest of the time undermining President Trump. Before anyone can take the Republicrats seriously as an opposition party, they need to acknowledge their past failure, apologize sincerely, and then clean house to demonstrate they will make sure it never happens again.

    But the Republicrats are dumb! This would be a perfect time to repeat Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America — spell out what the Republicans will do when they get control, starting with eliminating Political Correctness (80% support from Americans) and firing and maybe prosecuting under-performing bureaucrats, starting with Fauci & Milley. But is any Institutional Republican talking about doing something that worked so well for them in the past? We all know the answer, unfortunately.

    The US is facing big problems. Sadly, the Republicrats are part of the problem, not a potential solution.

  23. “Making Paxlovid” By Derek Lowe • 5 Jan 2022
    https://www.science.org/content/blog-post/making-paxlovid

    So let’s talk a bit about the synthesis of Paxlovid … Pfizer’s protease inhibitor drug for the coronavirus. As everyone will have seen, the US government just increased its order for this one by ten million courses of treatment … :

    So why don’t we have more? …

    That sort of chemical supply issue, writ large and in greater variety, is what we’re looking at with Paxlovid. … Let’s list some:

    4. Let me spoil the suspense: if you track almost any drug’s production down to the earliest stages, you will almost invariably come to a whole bunch of offshore suppliers. These are mostly Chinese, although there are some Indian ones and other countries in the mix as well. What they tend to have in common are lower labor and capital costs and a higher tolerance for the presence of a large number of smelly, unattractive, and sometimes downright dangerous chemical production facilities. We simply do not have a lot of that capability here in the US any more; it’s been declining for decades because it’s so much cheaper to have someone else do it. These are the sous-chefs, line cooks, and kitchen help of the chemical world: they’re back there hauling sacks of potatos, washing and peeling and slicing them, while someone else then cooks them or adds them to another dish, and someone else plates it all before serving.

  24. From the article linked by Miguel:
    “Barely two weeks later, in May 2021, Fosun and [German] BioNTech had decided 100 million doses was not enough. They announced a deal to build a Chinese plant with the capacity to make 1 billion [mRNA] vaccine doses annually.”

    As Lenin might have said: The Westerners will loan us the money and give us the technology to build the factory in which we will make the rope that we will sell to them … and then use to hang them.

    We Westerners are dumb, naive, or bought.

  25. Walter S…”What they tend to have in common are lower labor and capital costs and a higher tolerance for the presence of a large number of smelly, unattractive, and sometimes downright dangerous chemical production facilities.”

    Labor costs, yes, but why capital costs?…capital is pretty much a global market these days.

    Also, I’d imagine that energy costs are an important factor in some of these items.

  26. I’m reminded again of the situation with aniline dyes and Germany, before and during WWI:

    “The first use of the chemical or aniline colors dates back to about 1850, when the chemists of Germany presented several new colors obtained by subjecting various fabrics to the action or absorption of liquor holding a derivative of coal tar in solution…America did not make much progress in this direction owing to certain complications and the lack of consolidated action. What was produced here was in most cases equal to the imported product, but owing to the greater facilities for producing the color, the greater attention given to research, substantial government financial aid, and, primarily, the exceedingly low labor cost abroad, competition was out of the question. Hence up to 1914 we had practically no dye industry and depended on Germany not only for dyes but also for many valuable pharmaceutical preparations as well as for phenol, the basis for many of our explosives.”

    This problem was solved by intensive efforts during the First World War, and “whereas the value of our dye products in 1882 was $1.8 million, which increased to about $3.3 million in 1914–but with the aid largely of foreign intermediates–we now have over 200 firms producing $220 million worth of products, all more or less directly connected with this and allied industries.”

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/62406.html

  27. Some of the internet crazies were noting a year or more ago that many countries were placing orders for mRNA doses for something like 10x their entire populations. Of course no one “respectable” could be bothered to look into how exactly that made any sense.

    From yesterday:
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-01-10/pfizer-deepens-commitment-to-genetic-drug-future-with-deals
    “Producing an mRNA-based Covid vaccine gave Pfizer expertise to apply to other mRNA opportunities, such as base editing, Beam Chief Executive Officer John Evans said Monday in an interview with Bloomberg Television. Pfizer and Beam plan to use mRNA to deliver edits that, if successful, would change a person’s DNA to fix or possibly even cure genetic disease.”

    That’s always been the grand hope. Of course this has been claimed to be total conspiracy, and is now a few months from “of course, what’s the big deal?”

  28. David F quoting Walter S…”What they tend to have in common are lower labor and capital costs and a higher tolerance for the presence of a large number of smelly, unattractive, and sometimes downright dangerous chemical production facilities.”

    The big issue that is deliberately swept under the carpet is the great advantage certain countries get from low regulation rather than from low labor costs or often-subsidized capital costs.

    This is swept under the carpet here because many of our upper middle class make their nice livings from regulation — both as government employees and as related salary-women doing compliance in private businesses. Regulation is throttling (has in many cases already throttled) productive industries, but the regulators themselves are living well, thank you. There is a real Class War — just different from the one Marx envisaged.

    Question — if politicians & bureaucrats think that it is important to protect the environment with a particular regulation, why is it OK to import something that was manufactured without complying with that regulation? Does Mother Earth care where the pollutant was released?

  29. The relevance of the *location* of emissions depends on what specific kind of emissions we’re talking about. If it is CO2, then location doesn’t matter at all in terms of the climate change hypothesis. If it is particulates, it matters a lot, as witnessed by the unbreathable air in and around many Chinese cities.

  30. “The first use of the chemical or aniline colors dates back to about 1850, when the chemists of Germany presented several new colors obtained by subjecting various fabrics to the action or absorption of liquor holding a derivative of coal tar in solution.

    A lot of Germany’s drive in chemistry during WWI is because they were cut off from quinine and cinchona bark. Malaria was still an issue at the time and they found that derivatives of Methylene Blue had some effect. From this we got Atabrine , which still had some dye effect, but was effective for malaria. Eventually, the molecule was altered to Chloroquin and Hydroxychloroquin.

  31. David — The real issue I was trying to get at is the usually-ignored importance of Regulatory Costs.

    The standard line is that industry offshored from the US because of lower labor costs elsewhere, and that certainly is an element. But if we scratch the surface, it often turns out that lower regulatory burdens are the real benefit of offshoring.

    If our politicians choose to impose a regulatory burden on a US manufacturer because we think something is important (preventing child labor, requiring workplace safety, limiting work hours, etc), then surely we should demand that any imported product meets the same standards that would apply to a US manufactured product.

  32. Over the years there has undoubtedly been significant bias and discrimination against women in mathematics and technical fields.

    To retain free speech, these standards need re-adopted.

  33. Thanks David for pulling so many bad trends together. And analogies don’t make us comfortable – it can get worse. The liquidation seems to owe much to the ideas of the French Revolution and its blood-letting. Today’s Ukraine and Kazakhstan coupled with the foreign ownership of swaths of the heartland breadbasket reminds us of a lower, Holodomor level.

    Being American and being a citizen is losing its power to draw us to identify with our history – who wants to think their tradition as defined by slavery? Empty or filled, our schools seem intent on wiping out critical thinking, valuing the ability to discriminate between good and bad ideas, between proven facts and speculation. E.g. the same people who believe in reparations are comfortable with the level of trafficking of humans that comes with the cartel’s control of border crossings.

    Splitting the right is only likely to elect the left – and Trump was elected as a Republican and Biden as a Democrat. If Trump was beset by a sometimes Republican swamp, he still followed, mainly, Republican policies. A strong argument for the vision underlying those views would surely pull more hesitant independents (and left leaning Republicans) than a whole new party would.

  34. With regards to “splitting the right”, I have to ask this: What good has it done, in terms of turning back progressive policies, to “elect the (whole) right”?

    McCain campaigned on overturning Obamacare. Got his ass elected, too. Then what?

    From where I sit, the state of things as they actually are is that the Republican Party is effectively a stalking horse for the Democratic Left. They do not effectively oppose the Left; instead, they bleed off effort and money, making grandiose promises about all these things that “the conservatives” are worried about, like the deficit and all that. Then, once elected, and once they have the majority in the House, Senate, and even the Executive… What do they then do?

    Nothing. There were no legislative programs ready to go in 2016, no attempt made to make use of that victory. It’s like they planned to lose, which is what I really think was going on. I still wonder about Trump, because he sure as hell didn’t seem to have a plan for his actually winning the election when it happened. Look how long it took him to put his cabinet together, and how easily he was rolled by the incumbents in the various executive branches like the FBI. What happened to Flynn does not speak of a real grasp on the realities of Washington DC, nor does it convince me that Flynn was the guy we needed in that job. I mean, seriously… He should have known the FBI was out to get him from day one, given the things he’d done while at DIA, testifying on behalf of the female FBI agents who filed sexual harassment cases against the FBI back when Mueller was running the place.

    At this point in time, I think that the Republican national party structure is effectively captured by the Democrats, and acting almost entirely in their interests. There may not be actual official agreements and so forth, but the reality is that the behavior and conduct of the national-level Republicans are precisely that of an organization dedicated to serving as a Democratic Party stalking-horse. As such, I don’t really see what “splitting the party” would actually do, other than get things out into the open as to what is really going on with the Republicans at that level.

    Locally, the vast majority of the Republican party operatives and representatives at the state level are ‘effing useless drones that rubber-stamp everything the Democrats do. So, again, what’s the point of the Republican Party, or me voting for them?

    Their biggest problem is that an awful lot of us are starting to grasp that we’ve been conned, and we don’t like it.

  35. Kirk,

    It’s pretty likely, I think, that if NY and Michigan had had Republican governors, the nursing home disasters wouldn’t have happened–surely something that was important to the people affected and their families. It’s very likely that if there were a few more Democrats in the House and Senate, the ‘Build Back Better’ bill would have breezed through in its most extreme and destructive form. The more Democrats there are in national office, the more the racialization of America will be pushed.

    There are plenty of problems with the institutional Republican party, but there are huge differences from officeholder to officeholder and from candidate to candidate. I tend to contribute mostly to individual candidates rather than to the RNC and is various national organizations. I certainly don’t see any Democrats that are worth supporting, unless perhaps Manchin faces a leftist primary opponent or Tulsi Gabbard runs for something again.

  36. General Flynn was not bought and paid for, that’s why they played this ridiculous game of telephone, to get rid of him, Flynn had written up the counterinsurgency blue print, district by district, very quickly he discovered it would not work for complicated reasons we won’t rehash here,

    Trump had definite ideas, on what he wanted to do, some choices like Tillerson were bafflling, Mattis seemed like a straight up guy (if you ignore the theranos business,) General Kelly seemed on the up and up, all officers fired by Obama, also one had to get past the Possum Senate of Maverick (we know from the Jones memo, he took the fall) Corker, who was probably blackmailed because of his taxes, Bennett the real Deep Throat, as far as I’m concerned, and FideloFlake from Namibia, and parts west, None of the Organs as the Brits would say, seem interested in defending the country from enemies within or without,
    Sans Flynn, he resorted to McMaster who had been blackballed for signing on with Petraeus team, so had to give up something for those stars, probably a piece of his soul

  37. @David Foster,

    Don’t get me wrong–I still vote Republican, mostly in hope that they’ll finally do what they say they will during their campaign speeches, and about my only hard-and-fast rule on anything is “Don’t vote for the Democrat…”.

    However, comma… The reality is what I describe. The Republican Party is not on our side, at the top. There have been too many occasions where they’ve simply rolled over and let it happen, rather than fight effectively. They’d rather be “gentlemen of the Senate” than obstruct the least little thing done by the Democrats. Mitch McConnell should have shut Congress down when they tried their little games during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings–But, he didn’t. He played right into their hands. And, with that as the standard, is it any surprise that people thought that the only way to have their voices heard was to do the same thing, on the 6th of January? But, the rules are different when it’s a Republican-base cause, and they let that happen.

    The party at the national level is either co-conspiring with the Democrats, or deeply into a Stockholm Syndrome situation. Either way, they’re not an effective opposition party, and you have to know going in that voting for them really isn’t going to do a damn thing to change things, in the long run.

    Actually, I think it would be better if they just came out and admitted that they were basically on the Democratic Party’s side–That way, we could start building a real alternative, instead of this constant bait-and-switch routine we get, along with the diversion of our political capital into the utterly ineffective. The Republicans at the national level are playing to lose, and it’s about time we admit that to ourselves and find someone who isn’t doing that.

  38. “The Republicans at the national level are playing to lose, and it’s about time we admit that to ourselves and find someone who isn’t doing that.”

    We did! We elected President Trump, basically over the opposition of the Institutional Republicans. And we know what happened.

    If those Republicans were serious, they would channel Newt Gingrich and create a new Contract with America. But they are not serious.

    Tough problem. It is not clear what we can do, beyond (as David F says) ignoring the RNC and contributing only very selectively to specific candidates who don’t fit well with the Institutionals.

  39. “Vote for the GOP, when the Democrats shoot you in the head and steal your wallet, we’ll just steal your watch, which isn’t nearly bad!”
    Sorry, not interested. Yes there are a (very) few GOPers who know what time it is, but it’s a pretty small minority.

  40. It’s one reason I’m convinced we’re due for a “great turning” in our nation’s affairs. You couldn’t drive a razor blade between the effective product of our current national “two party system”. Vote for the Democrat, you get continued Obamacare; vote for the Republican? The same thing. What’s the point?

    At the national level, they’re either co-opted or they’re complicit. You can tell that from how everything that the Democrats want to have happen, happens, while the stuff they come out here to promise us rubes never gets past the committee stages.

    The thing these idiots need to recognize is that old saw attributed to Lincoln about “fooling all of the people some of the time” is actually a truth, and that they’re running out of people who will grant them the necessary suspension of disbelief that they need to keep the con going.

    Most con artists will tell you that you have to gauge what you do carefully when you set up things like three-card monte stands; you can’t overdo what you’re doing–If you’re there every day, conning the public, eventually everyone will have been through your mill, been fleeced, and will have learned the lesson. At that point, you’re done; you’re gonna starve ‘cos nobody buys your bullshit anymore.

    We’re about at that point with the politics in this country. Nancy Pelosi refuses to clamp down on insider trading within Congress; wow, there’s a shock. The thing the silly old bint doesn’t get is that there are natural limits to grifting; you do too much of it, the marks get wise, and then they get even. She’ll likely learn that the hard way, when the forensic accountants start going through her and her husband’s accounts.

  41. “How profoundly, profoundly unpresidential,” McConnell said. “Look, I’ve known, liked, and personally respected Joe Biden for many years. I did not recognize the man at that podium yesterday.”

    What a joke. Joe Biden is a completely garbage human being, always has been. Yet you can find a ton of quotes from GOPe trash about what a wonderful and decent man he is, probably a whole book of them just from Mitt Romney, who he disgustingly smeared just a few years ago.
    The fact that the GOPe just sits around a takes it and refuses to fight back is why they got their rears handed to them by Trump.

  42. At this point, the best that the GOPe can be described as is “witting co-conspirators”.

    They are not acting in the interests of their constituents, that’s quite clear. Everything they do is in outright support of the Democratic program, or willfully obtuse about it. They won’t fight; they won’t do anything if their constituency hands them control, and they won’t even criticize their Democrat overlords when things become egregiously clear.

    All of them need to go, period; all the Democrats, and all their Republican-in-name-only enablers. None of these people are actually our fellow-citizens; they’re instead wannabe aristos, overlords-in-waiting. If we let them–They’ve already established themselves as nomenklatura, immune from the rules that the rest of us have to live by.

    The more I see of these disgusting and intrinsically corrupt creeps, the more likely I am to do nothing as the entire house of cards collapses around them. I once served the nation willingly, but at this point? I’m done; the con is becoming clear, and that’s never a good thing for the con man.

  43. A report from someone who works in a large ‘technology’ company on the way politicization has taken over and now completely dominates the culture.

    https://ricochet.com/1120298/life-during-woketime/

    “The author goes onto explain that between COVID, working from home, and a company coasting on past successes, the business isn’t developing product anymore, it’s simply providing paychecks for miserable leftists.”

  44. }}} –American manufacturing has been negatively impacted by numerous policy choices and social factors, and America is no longer the world’s facto ry: that role now falls to China. We have become extremely dependent on China and other countries for many products and components of products–as we found out during last year’s Covid crisis when we were subject to threats that we would ‘burn in the fire of Covid’ if China should choose to deny us critical pharmaceuticals and ingredients thereof. We have become highly dependent on other countries for electronics manufacturing, especially microchips: a single Taiwanese company, TSMC, acts as the ‘foundry’ for a whole range of chips produced to the designs of many different American companies. A Chinese takeover of Taiwan could be devastating to our industry, and such takeover appears considerably more likely than it did a couple of months ago.

    I will counter this by pointing out that Intel has a major fab operation underway — and expanding — in Phoenix, AZ. Not saying this replaces Taiwan, but it is a nucleus for far more, if it becomes needful.

    I’m curious what the effect is going to be of the Chinese internal real-estate bubble, which has them building the shells of ghost cities, which aren’t meant to be lived in (they are not internally complete with plumbing, appliances, etc.). This is a blatantly foolish endeavor, straight from — and leading into — Austrian “Bust” cycle theory. China may find itself as dead for the next two decades as Japan has for the last three.

  45. PBH: “China may find itself as dead for the next two decades as Japan has for the last three.”

    Japan’s situation is interesting. It may point out the distinction between the Financial Economy and the Real Economy.

    Yes, from the financial point of view, Japan has been underperforming for several decades. The days when the land around the Imperial Palace was worth as much as the whole of Canada are long gone. Investors (really, speculators) have not done well.

    On the other hand, the Real Economy in Japan has been doing well over those same decades. People have jobs. Infrastructure is good. Japanese products are respected around the world, and Japan exports more than it imports. Life in Japan is pretty good for the mass of the people working in the Real Economy.

    Much of what the media feeds us is oriented towards the interests of the Financial Economy and the elites. But if we step back and look at things from the perspective of the people rather than elites, the Chinese people might be happier with their Real Economy than Western people with our Financial Economy. When the Chinese economy goes south, they will still have the apartments, the factories, the power stations, the super-highways, the high speed rail, the state-of-the-art airports, the modern ports, the vast internal tourist infrastructure. When our economy goes south, we will have lots of pieces of paper and armies of unemployed lawyers & bureaucrats.

  46. Bureaucrats and lawyers never go “unemployed”, really. They just find new and more effective ways to parasitize on the economy. Or, worse yet, they go into politics…

    I think Shakespeare had it right, TBH.

  47. I’ve been looking at some videos on conditions in China, my personal opinion is that they are headed for the latest of their periodic convulsions. When it happens, it will be somewhere between The Great Leap Forward on the low end to the Taiping Rebellion at the upper end and it won’t take more than five years to start.

    When the Chinese economy goes down, (Really when they realize it already has.) it will be when millions of Chinese find out their life savings have bought buildings without plumbing and electrical made from concrete that is crumbling before the forms are removed. The builders may not have intended those cities to be occupied but they didn’t tell the people they sold them to. The day will come when the government can’t pay the 44 million dollars a day subsidy for that high speed rail. Local governments have started to cut civil service pay checks by 25-30%. Do a search for tofu-dreg.

    The CCP seems intent on accelerating the crisis. When Chinese officials are busted for corruption, they show pictures of their apartments stacked with literally tons of currency and stacks of bullion. You have to wonder what they planned to do with it. They couldn’t flee the country without chartering an air freighter and it’s probably hard, even in China, to spend a pallet of cash without exciting comment. The economy doesn’t even work well enough to allow decent money laundering.

  48. }}} Some skills are universal and apply anywhere; what really matters in those fields are the esoterics and the ineffables, the little things that you only learn the hard way by doing, and with those things comes the ability to intuit things that an outsider simply will not be able to even recognize as significant.

    Agreed. But it is possible to do well in this scenario, IF you’re wise enough, and smart enough, to keep a cadre of “old hands” around to talk to for advice.

    The classic model is the shavetail Lieutenant, with the grizzled old Sargent advising them. A wise ElTee realizes they have a lot they don’t know, and the Sarge has a lot they do know. The ElTee can make good decisions in that context, because they have the wise old head giving them PoVs they would otherwise lack.

    This model, of course, gets denigrated like oh-so-much-other “older wisdom”, because it does not play to the new chum management type’s EGO at all. A shame, really.

  49. }}} you’d see mostly completely vacant storefronts now (except for college towns, basically), going back to the 80s or so, when you’d see shops start to appear

    I can’t really speak to mid-small towns, here, but you’d find the same in college towns, too. This, unfortunately, has far more to do with the idiot tax structure favoring commercial building, while discouraging the building of more housing — which is actually what is needed.

    Speaking to the college town of Gainesville, FL — the base rent in Gainesville has gone from ca. 100/month (1980 dollars — $350 in 2020 dollars) to about $600/month (2020 dollars — ca. 200 in 1980 dollars) That’s a nontrivial difference, if you consider “starving college student” wages. Add to that the fixed-$-factor-of-six increase in tuition, and you start to see an issue with getting an actual college education.

    MEANWHILE, there’s a multipurpose commercial/housing space which has literally been commercially EMPTY for the entirety of the last 8 years — the only place which has been there since the beginning is a small bodega. The other parts — as in thousands of square feet, the entire base floor of the structure — has been empty, and, until recently, they hadn’t even fully concreted the floor there was so little interest in the space… Yes, away from the storefront windows and the main structural footings, there was dirt for flooring.

    MEANWHILE, they tore down a relatively successful set of businesses covering a 3-block region, and built an 8-story structure with 250k condos above and stores below. Most of THAT space remains empty, too… with businesses placed there gone out of business.

    MEANWHILE, they built another similar story on a one-square block space…. which got stopped halfway built during the Great Recession… and which has the same qualities as the above space… except I suspect they’ve had more issues with selling the condos.

    MEANWHILE… yes, they’ve done this with two other city block areas, and started to do the same with yet another, though they have apparently backed off on that last one.

    For the most part, any residential spaces are only for the uber-rich. We’ll have none o’ that 350 buck a month apartment living for you plebes!! Most of THOSE spaces aren’t the aforementioned 600 a month, either, those are all well away from the campus. Typical rent within a reasonable WALK of campus is more like $1k to $1.5k

  50. Gavin:

    Perhaps.

    Wages in Japan, alone among OECD countries, have been stagnant over 30 years
    https://japantoday.com/category/features/kuchikomi/wages-in-japan-alone-among-oecd-countries-have-been-stagnant-over-30-years

    Unemployment has not been all that bad, running from 3% to a high of around 4-6% during the 00’s, and back down to 3%, but part of that is probably the Japanese “job for life” attitude as much as anything. I would lay odds there has been very limited mobility, in terms of job challenges. You don’t get to move upwards until your boss dies.

    }}} they will still have the apartments

    No, they won’t that is part of my point — they are building a LOT of ghost infrastructure — that is, it’s the shell of a building, a shell of a factory — a city full of shells — but not many actually completed, useful structures. It is pure, unadulterated malinvestment on a massive scale, which will be quite… interesting… to the entire world, to see how it plays out.

    This is how a lot of the Chinese people are “investing” their income, because they are state-limited in many many ways… they can’t buy stocks, they can’t buy bonds, they can’t buy bitcoin… But there is a notion that “real property” is always a good investment.

    You might recall how well that worked, **here**.

    We do live in… “interesting times”.

  51. @OBloodyHell,

    Can’t remember where I saw it first, but here’s an interesting datapoint RE: ChinaCo:

    https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2158782/why-other-countries-are-giving-china-licence-print-money

    https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202112/1243072.shtml

    The story goes that this gentleman is the fall guy for the regime; they’ve been routinely printing two copies of each banknote with duplicate serial numbers, which means that there are two bills with the same serial number in circulation at the same time. This has been going on for quite some time, and is supposedly the real reason the Chinese are desperately trying to get shifted over to a purely digital banking system before the whole thing blows up in their faces. All those pictures you see of confiscated currency may or may not be from those duplicate bank notes. Someone told me a few years back that there was something decidedly hinky going on in China, in that when you went to go digging into the details, the numbers in their banking industry simply don’t add up, in terms of what is in circulation vs. what’s observable. At the time, the guy I was talking to was distracted by the amount of cash seen when they busted these Chinese “corporate malefactors” and so forth, because he couldn’t fathom how so much cash could be sequestered in the hands of those people without it actually affecting the bottom line in general, across the Chinese economy. If they really were printing each serial number twice, that’d answer a lot of questions about what was going on, and why there was so much cash out there sitting stagnant without it having an effect on the economy. See, there’s no mechanism in China for that money to be “working”, so… Even the crooks have to play the “let’s distort the economy” game.

    I’ve been saying it for years, but China is a house of cards whose collapse is what we really need to be worried about, rather than them taking over the world. If they do manage that, it’ll be a short-lived thing as the inherent internal contradictions take them down in a storm of very real “Come to Jesus” moments across the range of Chinese endeavors.

    Same thing happened to the Soviets. Communists are basically swindlers, and while they can keep the balls in the air for a good deal of time, the inherent idiocies and distortions they bring with their ideology inevitably blows the whole con to shreds.

  52. re chip-making in the US, Intel is building a plant in Ohio…maybe:

    “It’s unclear when the factory will be built, as it requires incentives from Congress, which is currently debating the CHIPS Act to bring semiconductor manufacturing back onshore. The Dispatch notes that the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act was passed by the Senate in June, but it is still being debated in the House.”

    https://seekingalpha.com/news/3788387-intel-to-invest-20b-in-new-ohio-plant-to-bring-more-chip-production-onshore-report

    Meanwhile, new Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is falling all over himself to apologize to China for the company’s request to suppliers to avoid sourcing goods from Xinjiang.

    https://seekingalpha.com/news/3787067-sen-rubio-says-intel-shouldnt-get-chips-funding-after-china-xinjiang-report

    Senator Rubio says, “Instead of humiliating apologies and self-censorship, companies should move their supply chains to countries that do not use slave labor or commit genocide.”

    I don’t think this is only or even primarily about Intel’s supply chain, but rather its customer base…what % of Intel’s current product sales go to China? Haven’t looked it up, but pretty sure it’s quite substantial.

  53. The mid-terms are but a piece. Run for your local school board, city council, planning commission, voting board, etc. That is where the real change has turned us wrong. Do it!

    Thx for allowing comments and we WILL win. Get involved.

  54. OBH: “Wages in Japan, alone among OECD countries, have been stagnant over 30 years”

    Beware of the Financial Economy! Japan’s issue has been deflation — many things are getting cheaper year after year. Stagnant wages + goods & services going down in price = rising standard of living.

    What has happened to real wages in the US, for contrast. Money wage goes up, but prices go up more – standard of living goes down.

    We have allowed ourselves to be caught up in the Money Illusion.
    Dollar price of Apple stock goes up = Appreciation (good, they tell us);
    Dollar price of iPhone goes up = Inflation (bad, they tell us).
    In reality, it is mostly the value of money going down.

  55. Yes, the fact that the global supply chain is so tightly coupled with China means it’s going to be painful and time-consuming to separate ourselves.
    Which means we need to start today, and not delay, because it’s not going to get any easier.
    Would have been better to start yesterday, but today is the best available choice. Tomorrow it will just be harder.

  56. Brian: “Yes, the fact that the global supply chain is so tightly coupled with China means it’s going to be painful and time-consuming to separate ourselves.”

    Agreed. We need to ask — Who are “ourselves”?

    Mark Steyn had a recent mention of the issue of whether Volkswagen is still a German company? After all, Volkswagen makes and sells more vehicles in China than in Germany. It is not surprising that Volkswagen executives are highly respectful in their dealings with the Chinese Communist Party. We could substitute the names of many other “Western” companies for Volkswagen. When push comes to shove on separating ourselves from China, we may find that many of the companies we think of as “Western” will instead decide to play for the other team.

    Rebuilding Western independence — because that is fundamentally what we are talking about — is going to be a tough long haul, with a lot of difficult decisions and near-term sacrifices. We should start today — but no-one in positions of authority is even talking about it. After all, Nancy Pelosi, Bill Clinton, Fauci and many others are clearly already dependent on staying in the good graces of the CCP.

  57. no-one in positions of authority is even talking about it. After all, Nancy Pelosi, Bill Clinton, Fauci and many others are clearly already dependent on staying in the good graces of the CCP.

    I think we are headed for an economic event that will affect the CCP connection. It might be a deep recession or a default on national debt. When inflation hits 10% + what does the Fed do ? In 1982, we had a fraction of the national debt we have now. I remember buying T Bills with 16% interest rates. What is the debt service at that rate on $29 trillion?

  58. The scenario of China suddenly demanding payment for all their goods in Yuan or gold has come up here frequently. What might be worse is a China that is so convulsed in some internal conflict that they simply can’t produce anything or transport it to the ports or load it on the ships. We are already seeing some of that blamed on covid. What if CCP control of China is nothing but an illusion? One that’s not only taken us in but Xi as well.

    What happens if China is no longer capable of purchasing and distributing the food they are dependent on from abroad?

  59. Mike, MCS — yes, there are serious scenarios involving China that would be very disruptive for us, regardless of what they do to China internally. And then there are other scenarios which don’t immediately involve China which could be just as disruptive. Biden*’s Bozos seem intent on forcing Russia into a position where it either has to cave or bomb Kiev — little doubt about which choice Putin would make. The proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Yemen could boil over into an all out war which cuts off much of Europe’s oil and gas.

    The risk the US has got ourselves into is that we do not have much resilience to the actions of others in the international arena, no real design margin left. There will be consequences.

  60. “When push comes to shove on separating ourselves from China, we may find that many of the companies we think of as “Western” will instead decide to play for the other team.”
    Like I noted previously above, most “American” companies aren’t. Yes, that will be something we have to deal with. We need GOPers who will do unto Big Business what Democrats have done–know when to cajole, and be absolutely willing to threaten, bully, and punish. No more “muh free market” nonsense, big multinationals can either prioritize America or they can get ripped to pieces. That’s a major part of the realignment that has to happen.

  61. I get a bit impatient with the “follow the money” all-purpose explanation. It is true that a non-trivial number of these people are motivated by the money they gain in these operations. But there is something else at work, and while a lot of ’em are no doubt happy to get as much money as they can, that is not why they are doing all this. They enjoy it and they use it as a tool to pay their slumgullion minions off, of course. But they themselves are after power, and the power is necessary for them to impose the leftist tyranny they favor so much philosphically. They truly think they know how to be like God in the most elemental, basic-motivation way (see Genesis 3; “Did God tell you that if you ate the fruit of that tree you would DIE? Did He tell you THAT?? Why, you will not DIE!!! You will be LIKE HIM!!!!”). It is the single most compellingly seductive of all seductions.

  62. It’s the same thing motivating the Karens of the world, only at the lowest level possible: Lust to control others.

    Which, ironically, usually is coupled with an utter incapacity for self-control. Note the way that the most power-hungry and vicious among us always seem to be simultaneously deviant and perverse, to one degree or another.

    Charisma also goes with these things, for some perverse reason. Human nature seems to accord a lot of credibility to those who demonstrate a lack of restraint; they’re the heroes we want to be, yet won’t let ourselves become. So, we follow them off of cliffs.

    Most of the founders of religions that we know of in historical times, where we’ve got solid records for them and their conduct? They’re utterly weird people–Brigham Young and the men who founded the Mormon Church spring to mind, along with David Koresh and He Who Shouldn’t Be Named, who created Happyology. All these characters share a set of characteristics, which usually come in a package containing sexual excess and perversion. Only religious figures I can think of who didn’t possess this set of traits are all safely lost in history, poorly documented. Maybe our ancestors had better taste than we do, or maybe there’s been one hell of a lot of censorship down the ages.

    The sex drive in humans is so basic, so intrinsic that it’s wrapped up in almost everything else we do. Which is, I suspect, why we need to be careful with it and how it’s expressed. We aren’t, and I think an awful lot of what’s gone wrong in our society stems from this casual abuse of it all–We don’t treat it with the respect we ought to, ignoring the power it has over everything we are and everything we do.

    You have to wonder at just how much of human history stems from just one aspect of it all–Males showing off for females, and females encouraging males to show off for them. Male risk-taking behavior is, I suspect, the human equivalent of a peacock’s plumes: Somehow, demonstrating massive risk-adjacent stupidity is actually some sort of bizarre survival trait.

    I think there are good reasons that most societies have rigid sexual mores and rulesets: If you don’t treat the whole thing with the respect it demands, you’re going to wind up with a huge ‘effing mess. Which, looking about us, I think it’s pretty safe to say, we have.

  63. Betsybounds….yes, the desire for power (and status) is as strong as the desire for money.

    Irving Kristol noted:

    Irving Kristol:

    “Now, the pursuit of power is a zerosum game: you acquire power only by taking it away from someone else. The pursuit of money, however, is not a zero-sum game, which is why it is a much more innocent human activity. It is possible to make a lot of money without inflicting economic injury on anyone. Making money may be more sordid than appropriating power—at least it has traditionally been thought to be so—but, as Adam Smith and others pointed out, it is also a far more civil activity.”

    and Ben Franklin said:

    “There are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice—the love of power and the love of money. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but, when united in view of the same object, they have, in many minds, the most violent effects.”

    With government heavily involved in the economy in ways which leave a lot of room for discretion, then pursuit of power and pursuit of money become highly coupled…as, for example, in the case of an individual who worked in the Obama administration at a fairly high level, worked on Wall Street (for about $2MM/year) during the Trump years, and returned to Washington at a higher level during the current administration. Is this really a kind of career path that is beneficial to the economy and the society?

  64. Worth viewing for some insight into the reality of China’s economy:

    https://youtu.be/JKiITsxoP4Y

    There’s a lot of slack in any large economy, but when you’ve got this much wastage, things are seriously FUBAR in terms of resource allocation and management. This is why “planned economies” blow up, eventually.

  65. The video of new Chinese vehicles parked in a woodland brings Lee Iacocca back to mind. When he was brought in at $1 per year salary to try to save Chrysler in the 1980s, one of the problems was that Chrysler had similar huge parks filled with unsold new cars.

    It seems some MBAs had concluded that the key to profitability in a car plant, with its complex supply chains and all the obligations attached thereto, was to keep the plant operating at full capacity. In those days, the rule of thumb was that a fully-efficient car plant produced 250,000 vehicles per year — about one vehicle coming off the assembly line every 2 minutes, 24/7/365. The manufacturing executives were happy with this, since it ensured they got their full bonuses. And vehicles produced in excess of sales slowly accumulated and started to rust. Iacocca changed things back to where they did not manufacture a vehicle until they had a buyer, and lived with the reduced efficiency on the manufacturing side.

    Back in the happy days before Lock Downs, ZeroHedge would regal us from time to time with photos of unused airport runways packed with unsold cars from various European manufacturers. Of course, nowadays those same unused runways are packed with parked surplus expensive jets. Balancing supply & demand is a lot more difficult in the real world than suggested by those crossing supply & demand curves in economists’ over-simplified models.

    It would be interesting to learn the rest of the story about those excess Chinese vehicles. Why not dump them at low prices on willing markets in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan, Africa, South America? There is probably more to this story than meets the eye.

  66. Gavin…”It seems some MBAs had concluded that the key to profitability in a car plant, with its complex supply chains and all the obligations attached thereto, was to keep the plant operating at full capacity.”

    Of course, there is no such thing as the profitability of a car *plant*….the profit, or lack thereof, applies to the entire business, including the selling of the vehicles. There was, probably, some sort of transfer price, representing what the plant management was credited for each vehicle they produced.

  67. And, the underlying point is that the presence of these vast lots of unused vehicles represents… What, precisely?

    For one thing, the inherent insanity behind a planned and subsidized economy; those cars aren’t there because anyone needs them, they’re there because the Chinese government is insanely inefficient and distortive of the economy. They’re built, like the “alternative energy” plants here in the West, not because anyone needs them or for them to have any net positive impact on the economy, but because they respond to an entirely artificial distortion of the market by ideologues.

    Ideology can only drive so much of your economy before it is inevitably driven into the ground by the inherent illogical insanity of said ideologies. It doesn’t matter whether you’re sacrificing human lives to the Sun God, or building unneeded cars to get a government subsidy paid for out of made-up money, the lack of contact with reality is going to eventually crash the whole enterprise when it runs up against the rocks.

    My guess is that the CCP bigwigs have not the slightest idea what is going on, down where the rubber meets the road. They wander through a China composed entirely of Potemkin Villages, built up by their underlings who are afraid to report any such thing as truth or reality to them, because the penalties are far to high for such a thing. Because of that, and the fantastic delusion that you can “manage” the chaos of a real economy, they’re screwed.

    All you’d have to do to crash China, should they be so foolish as to start a war, would be to mine the harbors the same way that the US did Haiphong back in the 1970s. Cut off from exports and imports for more than a few months, China’s economy would implode. You’re already seeing the effects of self-imposed stupidities like cutting off Australian coal, and the various COVIDiocy blockades. Those two alone will set back Chinese ambitions by decades, and may actually trigger a slow-motion implosion in their economy as it is. The real worry about China isn’t that they’re going to take over the world, which they aren’t (because idiot corrupt bureaucrats are a Chinese invention, and they still do them better than anyone else…), but that they’re going to do more damage through sheer ineptitude and feckless stupidity than anyone would think possible. Sure, they’ve captured a bunch of markets, but they’ve also captured those markets and married them to the inherent corruption of China. Which ain’t, over the long haul, going to work out very well for anyone involved. Witness what happened to Spain, back in the days of the Columbian Exchange–Not all of the destruction of the Spanish economy accrued because of all the silver and gold coming into it, a good deal was destroyed because of cheap Chinese goods and the distortions that created across Europe. This ain’t the first time that this has happened, historically speaking. And, none of the involved idiots seem to have learned anything at all from history.

  68. Comment from an executive and venture capitalist I knew:

    “There is nothing worse than a dumb competitor”

    He was talking about *business* competition, but maybe the same principle applies to competition of nations???

  69. I think that’s a definite truth, that.

    However, I’d modify the construction away from “smart/dumb” towards “realist/delusional”. You can compete with a dumbass, usually–What you can’t compete against is someone who is completely out of contact with reality. We’ve got a local competitor who consists of a company representative that a major firm from outside the area sent here in order to (I speculate…) get rid of, and they’re basically subsidizing him to distort the hell out of the local contracting market. In a sane world, as an independent contractor? He’d be out of business due to lousy customer service and really inept coordination. But, because he never pays the price for that, he’s still out there underbidding everyone else. Dude isn’t stupid, either–He’s just lazy and inept, right along with the guy they sent in to “assist” him.

    Meanwhile, he’s still taking contracts away from us, and losing money for his company.

    No idea why they’re putting up with him, but I speculate he’s either got something on someone higher up in the company, or they’re insane. Either way, it’s distorting the hell out of the local contracting market.

    The discussion here goes back to what I’ve always said about the whole “IQ” issue–I think we frame the whole thing improperly. Whatever quality is measured by the IQ testing regime, it’s entirely separate from the whole “does it work in the real world” aspect of it all. You can be a really smart guy, and still fail massively when it comes to things, just like you can be a nation of comparative geniuses that can’t quite get its act together. Intelligence isn’t quite the quality we are thinking of, with regards to all of this. I think that the possession of a “clarity of vision” and the willingness to act on the implications of that which is observed is far more important. If what you are doing isn’t working, quit doing it. Move on to something else that does work… Smart is as smart does, in the final analysis. If what you’re doing is exquisitely reasoned, ideologically pure, and yet doesn’t work…?

    Maybe your reasoning is flawed and your ideology meaningless.

  70. David F: “Of course, there is no such thing as the profitability of a car *plant*….the profit, or lack thereof, applies to the entire business, including the selling of the vehicles.”

    Agreed. And it applies to the lifetime profit earned over the entire life of the car plant, including the net after the plant is retired & knocked down. “Profit” is another one of those slippery concepts!

    I suspect that a lot of distortions have to do with individual incentives — whether we are looking at something run by the CCP or by Ivy League graduates. A business experience that amazed me in a major stockholder-owned corporation involved a venture in which Department A built something and then Department B operated it. The bonuses of Department A’s managers depended on how fast they could build the thing — and they built them fast and got their bonuses. Department B had to pay (in money and time) for bringing what was delivered to them up to scratch so it could generate revenue — their bonuses sucked.

    The problem was so obvious, as was the solution, but this continued for years during which the business made profits — but never as large as those profits should have been if the business had been run properly.

    Bureaucracies bring out the worst in people — whether Communist or Capitalist!

  71. Not sure I follow Kirk on the Spanish Imperial/Chinese nexus. The Spanish screwed up on their own, in pursuit of religious and dynastic (i.e. ideological) phantoms. The huge wealth of Spanish America flowed back to and right out of Spain, as they spent decades trying to subdue the Dutch and other upstarts. The Spanish Road from the Alps to the Low Countries caused an economic boom in service and supply of the Spanish armies that kept being thrown against the Prots, and eventually the French. But not the advantage of the Spanish economy.

    Prior to the 16th-17th C’s China was the engine of the world economy, and supplying high-value luxury goods across Eurasia. The sudden Iberian expansion upset this and set in motion the age of oceanic empires, but China wasn’t displaced as top economy until maybe 1800 or so, and continued to supply luxury goods to willing buyers for long after.

    Not seeing the pernicious or inimical effects on the world economy of Chinese prosperity back then. Recently is a different matter.

  72. “All you’d have to do to crash China, should they be so foolish as to start a war, would be to mine the harbors the same way that the US did Haiphong back in the 1970s. Cut off from exports and imports for more than a few months, China’s economy would implode.”

    Exactly the same statement could be made about the US. China could mine US harbors and then the shelves at Walmart would empty out and the US Government would fall. Of course, China would not need to mine US harbors — simply stop shipping stuff to the US.

    I have to think that most of us do not have a clue about how deep the US dependence on imports runs. Even when we try to Buy American, we are probably buying Chinese parts.
    Trivial example — I had to do some work on my Hoover vacuum cleaner. The reliable high-performance electric motor that runs the Hoover machine is stamped “Made in Shanghai”. Repeat that across thousands of other material goods on which our standard of living depends — and we get some idea of the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party already has the US by the short & curlies.

    Over-dependence on imports is not a Black Swan that should hit us as a big surprise — it is a White Swan flying over our heads.

  73. @Cousin Eddie,

    You have to go looking at what happened in Spain; they were hollowed out because they could acquire everything they needed with cheap South American silver; no need to develop industry, when you could have China make you everything you needed. Sound familiar?

    On top of that, once the South American silver mines played out and Spain went all cockroach-like, the Chinese continued to suck in all the world’s silver. Due to the mandarins refusing trade, demanding bullion, well… Ever wonder why the British started selling opium to the Chinese, through the various tongs? They really had no damn choice–The trade imbalance was that bad.

    Internally? The Columbian Exchange didn’t do all that many nice things for China–The incoming plant crops and abundance of silver did a lot of damage to their economy, increasing the rate of social change and dislocation that the mandarins were completely unable to adapt to.

    Good book that covers aspects of this would be “1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created” by Charles C. Mann. He lays out an astonishing series of parallels between “then” and “now”, although he’s kind of oblivious to them as he describes the things that were going on in regards to Chinese trade in Manila. If you’ve done reading on what led to the general decay of Chinese civilization in the later years, you can work out the things I’m talking about–They did not respond to the challenges with any real flexibility or an eye to adapting to changing conditions where they weren’t the center of the world in terms of advanced culture and technology. Indeed, they even managed to go backwards, in a lot of respects–Enabled by Spanish silver they’d traded fine porcelain and other products for. World trade in those days was astoundingly interconnected–The treasure fleets went out in both directions, and the majority of the wealth actually flowed towards China, where it was turned into manufactured goods and then on to Europe where the Spanish consumed or traded it away, while ignoring the development of their own industry and nation. Spain got to be the wreck that it was the same way a rich kid usually does–Prosperity ruined them. Well, that an inbreeding their leadership class to such a degree that most of their politicians made Biden look like a consummate genius…

  74. If you had followed Kirk’s link, and listened closely, you would realize that the cars were part of a scam being played on the Chinese government by the manufacturers. That is why all the cars had current license plates and vehicle inspections. The government payed a subsidy on “green” vehicles used for car sharing schemes, payed out over three years.

    Some of you might remember the mountains of bike share bicycles piled up in fields all over China a couple of years ago.

    If you look on the YouTube side bar, you’ll see several more videos from the same source as well as some from an oddly similar one under a different name, a good proportion of which are laying out scams in other areas of the Chinese economy. Basically showing that Communism is the best system of government possible for encouraging and sheltering corruption. In this, they are far ahead of even the Democrats.

  75. Kirk, I’ve read Mann’s books, but I don’t see that the Chinese were more villainous in the making of the early modern world than the dynamic and expansive powers of Europe, if villainy is sought.

    As for manufactures, I repeat, the Chinese supplied high-tech luxury goods to the rest of the world, and that had no effect whatever on the failure of Spain to industrialize for competition with rising powers.

    In fact it’s hard to see how Chinese developments -per se- caused problems in the rest of the world until the rest of the world came knocking. They weren’t exporting their religion or sending fleets and armies of conquest everywhere, or pushing addictive drugs, whatever else can be said.

  76. @Cousin Eddie,

    Villainy doesn’t play into it, on either side, really. It’s all dispassionate economics–China wasn’t willing to do open trade with anyone outside the Middle Kingdom, but the criminals in the various tongs certainly were. The villainy there was all Chinese, and self-inflicted. Had the mandarins made a decision to open up for trade, instead of locking everything down the way they did, then a lot of the evils of the opium trade wouldn’t have happened–Because, they wouldn’t have needed to.

    The Europeans needed the goods China had, and which they refused to trade anything other than silver and gold for. This was sucking all the specie out of Europe, and they had no real choice but to find some commodity that would get that specie back into circulation in the West. It was unfortunate that it was drugs, but there you go: Had China chosen open trade, that might not have happened.

    As to the effects on Spain, there’s a book out there that talks about it, and which describes the inimical effect all that capital had on things. Spanish industry didn’t happen mostly because they were bringing everything in from overseas, and buying what they needed from elsewhere in Europe. There’s no reason at all that they shouldn’t have been able to follow the same trajectory that the English did, but without the spur of scarcity and the necessity to develop themselves, they got caught in the classic trap of most imperial powers–They produced mostly armies, and used those to conquer what they needed. Over the long haul, that was a pernicious and inimical thing, for Spain…

  77. Speaking for those of us considering government scams, here’s one for you:
    https://gcaptain.com/scotlands-first-offshore-wind-lease-in-over-a-decade-raises-nearly-1-billion-in-applications/

    Short version is that the government of Scotland (Presumably the part that isn’t subsidized by the rest of Great Britain) is going to receive nearly a billion from “leasing” off shore wind sites. Unstated is how many billions the rate payers will be paying the developers in power subsidies.

    Win/win, the government gets “free” money and the oligarchs get even more while the citizens of Scotland can look forward to astronomical power bills for decades to come.

  78. “the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party already has the US by the short & curlies.”
    Our own “elites” are willingly in bed with them. It’s the rest of us who are over the barrel.

    The speech that Xi just gave to the WEF is quite interesting, and should be read by everyone. Note of course that the media is essentially ignoring this online supervillain party, since without the in-person Davos gathering they can’t make it look like some sort of Cannes for politicians, and would have to actually cover the content.
    https://news.cgtn.com/news/2022-01-17/Full-text-Xi-Jinping-s-address-to-2022-World-Economic-Forum-16TN5povxKM/index.html
    The fact that this group chooses to have the head of the CCP give a featured address should dispel any illusions anyone has about who and what the WEF is.
    Plenty of it is of course the usual gibberish and lies. This was particularly amusing, if one like black humor:
    “China will stay committed to promoting ecological conservation. As I have said many times, we should never grow the economy at the cost of resource depletion and environmental degradation, which is like draining a pond to get fish; nor should we sacrifice growth to protect the environment, which is like climbing a tree to catch fish. Guided by our philosophy that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets, China has carried out holistic conservation and systematic governance of its mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes, grasslands and deserts.”

    But here he just explicitly spells out what these people are all about:
    “The common prosperity we desire is not egalitarianism. To use an analogy, we will first make the pie bigger, and then divide it properly through reasonable institutional arrangements.”

    Are we allowed to say “evil”? Because these people and their agenda are evil, period.

  79. President Xi via Brian: “The common prosperity we desire is not egalitarianism. To use an analogy, we will first make the pie bigger, and then divide it properly through reasonable institutional arrangements.”

    Good Lord! If someone started a new political party in almost any Western country with that as its guiding principle, the party would attract a huge amount of interest.

    Now, whether that is actually what the CCP plans is a different question, but ask yourself — given a choice between Woke Democrats, spineless Republicrats, and New Party talking about making the pie bigger & sharing it properly — for whom would you think about voting?

  80. In fairness to the old commies, though…they really thought that they could make the pie bigger, they were all about technology, hydroelectric dams, etc….the current lefties don’t have any intention of larger-pie-baking.

    See the praise of ‘the machine age’, as they called it, from the Fabian socialists Sidney and Beatrice Webb:

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/63059.html

    You’re unlikely to read anything like that from our current set of Progs.

  81. Collectivism is always, always a scam. It’s basically the highest form of confidence scheming the human race has achieved so far, and what’s the most interesting feature of it is how its mostly perpetrated and propagated by those who can’t actually do much of anything useful. Except, of course, to run con games that exploit those who can actually do productive things…

    If the collective idea worked without coercion, then it wouldn’t need the coercion. And, the one hallmark of any collective ideology is that it has to lock in its adherents, lest the catch on to the con and make a run for it. The Soviets didn’t want to take over the world because they felt like they had a better system, it was mostly that they had to eliminate places for their rubes to run to, once they figured out that the sole beneficiaries of their labors were the nomenklatura. This is why most collectivists are statists, and do not want to allow anyone freedom from their abusive powers.

    You get down to it, and the primary component to any collectivist psyche is almost exactly the same one that makes Karen what she is–An entitled pain in the ass. It’s an expression of something deeply flawed in the human makeup, and I’ll be damned if I can see any reason for it existing, in behavioral biology. Boiled down, most collectivist thought can be summarized as “You owe me… Everything…”, and there absolutely zero reciprocity in their mindset. It’s like those officer’s wives in the military who wear their husband’s rank–“I’m Colonel So-and-so’s wife… OBEY ME!”. You never, ever see that sort of person performing the tiniest act of service; they’ll never be found actually doing anything, other than feeding their egos by lording it over others. It’s a social parasitism, one with no apparent benefit to the social organism.

    Talk to some of these college-educated dolts who endlessly espouse collectivism. They’ll tell you all about all the things society owes them, but the moment you introduce the question of what, precisely, they owe society, and all you’re going to hear is chirping crickets and twittering birds. They never see that, because they lack, for whatever reason, the understanding that they must give in order to get

    I’m not sure where that comes from. I think it may be hardwired into some of us, inculcated into others, and then there’s this vast group who are simply incapable of grasping the reality of it all, who also can’t see how such a concept would apply to them. It is from this group that you will find your most enthusiastic believers in collectivism, because they just don’t get the entire idea that by forcing others to give, while not actually giving themselves, they break the system they so fervently believe in. Because, that’s what kills ideas like communism, in the end–All those fscking freeloaders who visibly take more than they put in, and who drive the truly productive to say “Yeah, screw this… Dude over there ain’t doing a damn thing, I work 18 hour days, and he gets the same things I do for screwing off and selling the collective’s stuff on the side…”. Takes a few generations, but that sort of behavioral conditioning becomes endemic, and then you’re screwed as a society. It is pernicious in effect, just like slavery is–You won’t work, because the only guy who benefits is Massa’, and if Massa’ is going to get anything out of you, he has to use the whip. Which has effects on both parties, again leading to social issues. Rome didn’t survive or progress, in my opinion, mostly because of the institution of slavery. Forget everything else, it was slavery that did it to them–And, that’s the ultimate expression of collectivism in its rawest, most brutal form.

  82. Brian: “We will make the pie bigger!”
    And how exactly do you plan to do that, comrade?

    It is painful for us in the West, but over the last quarter century the CCP has done a pretty good job of making their pie bigger — in large part by taking advantage of the West’s Best & Brightest. And the people who have suffered as many ordinary Chinese prospered are we ordinary people in the West, who have seen good paying jobs in mines & factories vanish overseas. Yet We the People have tolerated this.

    But you are missing the point by beating on the CCP. The real issue is that no politician is offering us a plan to make OUR pie bigger, or even to distribute our smaller remaining pie in a way that gives ordinary people a chance, not just keep it all for the Democrat insiders 0.01%.

    I will grant you that President Xi is simply uttering words. But they are the right words. Now, if we could only get the West’s entrenched Political Class to adopt & implement those words!

  83. well that’s an intriguing question, after the ouroboros that mao let loose, deng zhao ping, sought to achieve the goals, that michael pillsbury has layed out, through a version of ‘robber baron’ capitalism, I think a similar thing happened with Russia, by the time of Jian Zemin, that model had about exhausted itself, Xi understands that this state capitalism has it’s limits, he went back and studied marxism in the 90s, trying to find a unifying philosophy to hold the country together,

    He has not repealed the laws of economics, so this system is ultimately unsustainable, what would come after, will the military take charge, will china return to warlordism, according to regional commands

  84. “But you are missing the point by beating on the CCP”
    Kind of hard to reconcile that with what I wrote above “Our own “elites” are willingly in bed with them. It’s the rest of us who are over the barrel” so I’m not at all sure what point you think you’re trying to make.

  85. The thing that amazes me about Chinese civilization, down the years, is that they never quite seem to “get” that centralization and control don’t work, except in the short term. Every major dynasty has gone down the same path, to the same end-point, and nobody ever steps back from the carnage and says “Hey… We’ve done this what, about ten times, and it always ends badly…? Why are we doing this?”.

    You would think that any nation with as strong a sense of filial piety and history would be able to make the connections, and then at least try something else. But, they never do–Every time China gets its act together, it’s under some totalitarian system, which then slip-slides away into corruption and collapse. They never seem to learn, as a civilization.

    Not that we do much better, but… We have the excuse of being basically ahistorical, with zero reverence for the past. The Chinese make this big deal about continuity of civilization and culture, yet they never seem to actually learn anything from said historical pieties…

  86. the late roy spence of yale, said chinese civilization runs in three generation cycles, ‘in the long run,’ as keynes said in other matters’ ‘we are all dead’ but in the interim, democracy really only had purchase in the sun yat sen era, and we know how long that lasted,

  87. The thing that amazes me about Chinese civilization, down the years, is that they never quite seem to “get” that centralization and control don’t work, except in the short term.

    My guess is that if they didn’t go for central control, China wouldn’t be a single state. If for example they elected the governors of the various provinces, eventually some of those governors would decide they’d be better off without the central government.

    If I recall, Russia changed the equivalent position to be appointed instead of elected, for what I presume to be the same reason.

    Europe avoided the same fate due to geography, the US because we have enough of a common culture to keep the country together.

    So far.

  88. David, I read your blog regularly. “The Great Liquidation” is your finest thought-piece to date. While the topics have been covered elsewhere from time to time, you weaved them together to mean something more nefarious and insidious. The destruction of energy infrastructure feels like the frog that is slowly boiled to death.
    Would encourage you to continue to build on your insights. Topics, e.g., reckless spending and printing of money never ends well, Gen Z and Millennial belief in no borders and obsolescence of patriotism, and Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a right and replacing work.
    Steve Korn

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