The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Understanding American Elites Means Understanding Predators

American elites are not incompetent at what matters to them.

People constantly make ridiculous statements like, “The American government has been incompetent in its handling of Covid-19.”

Anyone who makes such a statement reveals that they do not understand how the US operates.

Fact: According the Princeton oligarchy study, almost the only thing that matters in what policies government pursues in the US is what elite factions want.

Fact: Covid-19 has made the rich in the US much, much richer.

US billionaires saw their wealth increase by 20 percent, or $584 billion, roughly since the beginning of the pandemic.

Covid-19 is enabling the consolidation of US industry. Small businesses have to shut down, large businesses keep running. The oncoming tsunami of renters being evicted (depending on state, 25 percent to over 50 percent of renters are in danger of eviction) will wipe out landlords, allowing the richest Americans to buy up rental properties on the cheap, consolidating them. They will then charge, not market clearing rental rates, but profit maximization rents, leaving many people permanently homeless.

If you’ve ever researched how to make money, you know the standard advice virtually always includes one thing: You must have other people work for you or passive income, or both. You must be making money when you, personally, aren’t doing a thing. Your money must make money for you, and so must other people. Any person worth employing makes more money for you than you pay them. You take the difference.

In kinder capitalist epochs, this is kept under control by wealth taxes, inheritance taxes, high progressive taxation, and aggressive anti-trust policy, along with a monetary policy intended to raise wages and prices, not crush them.

But our era is built on three ideological assertions.

  1. There is no such thing as society.
  2. Greed is good.
  3. There is no alternative (TINA).

Whatever makes a profit, according to this assertion, is good. There is no society, and no social goals. There are only competing people and whatever they get is fair. And this is the only way to run society, there is no alternative. Thatcher noted that her victory was not sealed by Conservative party elections, rather it was Tony Blair’s Labour party adopting neoliberalism that meant that TINA went from assertion to fact; no matter who was elected, the same basic policies would be followed, Labour would just try to thinly mitigate the effects of so many rich people and so many poor people.

In the US, the victory of Reagan was when Bill Clinton helped create the “Third Way,” which was an adoption of neoliberal principle. Again, it would not matter if Republicans or Democrats were in power, the rich would get richer and the social state would be defunded.

Our elites are predators. They are taught that they have no obligation to other people. Greed is good, and whatever makes money is good. If someone else has less money, that’s because they deserve less money, and because they create less good.

In their daily lives, the rich become rich through passive income and exploiting other people; paying the lowest wage or price possible (Walmart and Amazon both famously fuck suppliers over, though in different ways), getting as much government money as possible, and making sure that they don’t have to work to make money, and that the stock market always goes up in the long run, along with other asset prices–no matter what’s actually happening in the economy.

Neoliberal elites are predators. This is true in every neoliberal country. It is simply most advanced in the United States. They view ordinary people as prey or useful tools. After the 2007/8 financial crisis, banks set up assembly lines to sign false paperwork so they could seize people’s homes. The Federal government knew, aided them, and later immunized them by making them pay fines far less than the value of what they stole.

You are food or a money-producing asset to elites.

You are not human, you do not have a right to anything. Not due process of the law. Not food. Not housing. Not affordable medicine or health care. Those things are for people with enough money, and if that’s not you, you don’t deserve them.

This is THE most important thing you can understand about society today. You can’t count on US elites to care about you at all. If it is in their best financial interest to impoverish you, kill you or any other thing, they will do so.

This may seem hyperbolic, but it meets the most important test of truth: It predicts their actions with far more accuracy than any other hypothesis.

If it was just incompetence, like for example, the favorite excuse of liberals, “Never assume malice when incompetence will explain something,” then they wouldn’t keep getting more and more money.

Somehow their “incompetence” just makes them richer. Even the financial crisis made the elites richer overall–the drop was a blip which allowed them to control more of the economy than before.

Neoliberal elites are predators. Their food is ordinary citizens and anything else (animals, plants, the ecosystem which allows human life to exist).

And yes, it’s true, all neoliberal nations are not as far gone. But this is where neoliberalism leads, this is what its internal logic demands.

It’s not an accident that the best Covid-19 performance on the planet was probably in Vietnam, right next to China, with huge trade ties.

Zero deaths.

Anyone who tells you it was hard to avoid Covid-19 deaths is lying. All it required was seeing that a pandemic was underway and doing what the epidemiology textbooks tell you to. The introductory textbooks.

Nor is this all on one person. No one rules alone. Without a huge supporting apparatus, including Congress, Trump could not have done what he did (and didn’t). If his incompetence had been costing elites, you can be sure it would have been brought to an end.

It wasn’t. It was making them richer and furthering their plans. At the end of this, US elites will control a larger percentage of the US economy than before. They will be richer and more powerful. And if that means tens of millions of Americans are homeless and hungry, then that is a price US elites are willing for you to pay.

If you deserved better, you’d be rich. You aren’t, so you don’t.

Your lords and masters kill you for money. That’s their function.

Act on this knowledge, or don’t.

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The Riots to Come… and The Revolution?


Open Thread


  1. Stirling S Newberry

    There are rules.

    For example: Don’t be racist, in a small way. That is don’t keep people out because of the color of the skin but keep the out because of things they don’t have access to: education, health care, manner. The difference? A few people can adapt but very few. They do not think of themselves as racists. They are but in a more subtle sense.

  2. someofparts

    Elizabeth Warren told us that a healthy, sustainable household budget should be a 50/30/20 breakdown. No more than 50% should go to necessities, which she defines as anything you would have to purchase even if your income stopped. Then, 30% of net monthly income can go to discretionary spending, while 20% goes into savings.

    The joke is that a person like me living on social security can only afford that arrangement outside of the country. In the U.S., as I sit here writing this, it takes 80% of my income just to cover those basic costs for housing and related necessities. In Canada those same costs would only take 50% of my income, which would make that 20% savings rate possible.

    It feels like the difference between being in this country or out of it is like the difference between being on the tracks in front of a runaway locomotive or off to the side watching it roar past. For anybody fond of being alive the choice seems clear.

  3. Zinsky

    Wow. That is hard to read, but it has the ring of truth and that’x what gives it power. Peace and justice.

  4. NL

    Three brief additions here. First, this did not start with neoliberalism (neoliberalism is an oligarchy reaction to the Roosevelt social-capitalism) or Ronald Reagan, it goes back 400 years or more to the enclosure movement and agrarian capitalism that started in England and swept through Europe. The oligarchy took down the king and created the ideology in which we live now like fish in water. What is a ‘good life’ for us? — A life in which we become an oligarch. Make money is the only sense to life. Everyone aspires to be one. It is so enchanting. Hey, when you are young and stupid and don’t know much, you can believe that you can take on the world. (And this is not vulgar capitalism, this is it, there is no another one.) What are really our ‘freedoms’ and ‘rights’? Freedom to be for yourself and rights to screw others. And our ‘freedom’ and ‘rights’ end as soon as the property of the oligarchs begins, which is pretty much everywhere now (the internet is private). And then we sell our labor for food and shelter. The system is not good to the oligarchs either, because they eat each other economically…

    Second, the New New Deal (and the Old New Deal) is sort of like flattening and banding down the Covid-19 curve without actually eliminating the virus — the virus will come back. Roosevelt’s social-capitalism is an oxymoron. Roosevelt was no class traitor, he preserved the virus. The oligarchy at the time decided to ‘ liquidate everything’ and drove itself to extinction. Now they think they got smarter. They believe if they just buy up the debt and bail themselves out through money creation at the FED, they will preserve their position. Vis-a-vis the population that they harvest – sure, vis-a-vis the world — certainly not. I am not in favor of any New New Deal…

    Third, it seems to me that, while some individuals may transcend the situation, overall English-speaking countries will go down holding on to the oligarchic and capitalistic way of life. In other words, they can not and do not want to reform themselves. We see this in (essentially) England exiting EU and Australia closing against Asia to their own economic detriment. At the same time, we may be witnessing a truly once in a millennia changes in the world political order. The result of these changes will be a massive collapse of the English sphere and reduction of Europe to a peninsula of the giant Eurasian Continent, where future development will take place.

  5. Keith in Modesto

    “If it was just incompetence, for example, the favorite excuse of liberals “never assume malice when incompetence will explain something” then they would keep getting more and more money.”

    I could be wrong, Ian, but I think you may have dropped the word “not” from this sentence. As in, the sentence would make more sense if it read, “…then they would not keep getting more and more money.”

  6. Stirling S Newberry

    Another point is that GDP drop by 32.9 in the second quarter, the is no contradiction between the elite being stupid and greedy.

  7. Keith in Modesto

    Stirling S Newberry:
    “Another point is that GDP drop by 32.9 in the second quarter, the is no contradiction between the elite being stupid and greedy”

    But if the billionaires really did see their wealth increase by 20% (which is a tremendous increase in just a few months time!), then having the GDP contract just means their wealth just got that much more weight. They have an even bigger slice of the pie compared to everyone else. If wealth equals power, more comparative wealth equals more power.
    And I’m sure their more than willing to gamble on the economy, when it is mostly other people’s lives they are gambling with.

  8. Ian Welsh

    Thanks Keith, fixed.

  9. “People constantly make ridiculous statements like, “The American government has been incompetent in its handling of Covid-19.”

    Well, in my recently released, to no popular acclaim, website,, I didn’t spell out what I meant by “incompetence”. However, I do in the flyer, the distribution of which is the main purpose of the website. In the flyer, the very first sentence is,

    “J’Accuse” (I accuse) the US Federal Government, as well as the federal agencies NIAID, NIH, and FDA of civic incompetence, where such incompetence is understood as subsuming the ‘regulatory capture’ flavor of corruption. ”

    As most American will be nowhere near as knowledgeable about the failures of government as Ian, I expect that I will leave the website verbiage, as is.

    In point of fact, I seriously doubt that all 50 states, plus relevant Federal agencies, are ignorant about Vitamin D research. The governmentS pursue agendas which reflect priorities other than maximizing public health, at minimal cost.

    But the Vitamin D insufficiency problem can be greatly addressed without reforming government, at all. Furthermore, for citizens to get out of their funk, go to the next level, and start intervening in the political process, doesn’t require a nuanced worldview about the various sources of governmental corruption and dysfunction. I find the website does a good job of presenting the key fundamentals of corruption, without losing less curious and intellectually inclined citizens in details.

  10. Never attribute to stupidity that which is adequately explained by malice of a more Machiavellian nature.

  11. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Thanks, Mr. Welsh. This essay helped to give me an insight:

    The difference between “moderates” and “extremists” (of whatever extremity) is that the extremists believe malice rules the world, while the moderates believe incompetence rules the world.

    Design vs. Chance.

    Now I see why I usually disagree with most of the people here. This is a site created and maintained by a man who believes in Design, for people who believe in Design, and believe that the world is currently run by evil Design–whereas I believe even the “masters” usually don’t really know what they are doing, and even when they do, the universe throws them a knuckle ball.

    Take the most evil Designer currently operating on the planet, Vladimir Satanovich Putin. He almost had this country in the palm of his hand, through his puppets Benedict Donald and the rest of the Treason Party (fka GOP, through the NRA, which now stands for Nefarious Russian Assets)–and then along comes Corona-chan.

    If Donnie Two Scoops actually had enough sense to do what the disease experts had told him to do, we would not have defeated the pandemic altogether, but we would have enough of a handle on it that the rate of infection and death would be dropping, and Donnie Two Scoops would be cruising toward re-election, to Vlad’s delight–and a desperate populace would not be listening to superstitious quacks ranting about Demon Semen and Hydroxybonercream 3000 (h/t Wonkette for that term).

  12. Daphne Rosen

    @Ian Welsh

    Your blanket assessments are so crudely monochromatic that they are comical. They are *all* predators who do not believe in society.

    Um, Ian, um… Ever heard of the OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATION? Soros funds Black Lives Matters,by the way. A front group for Marxists. LOL, you going to honestly paint him with the same brush?

    Warren Buffet has openly recommended that he and his fellow billionaires pay more taxes. Sure as hell looks like he believes in society.

    And I could go on and on with counter examples that knock huge truck-size holes in your poorly reasoned propaganda. Ian, if you are going to spout of nonsense to useful idiots and sock puppets, at least put a little more effort into it.

  13. Ian Welsh

    Dearest Daphne,

    you talk about what they say, I talk about what they do. And, of course, there are a few exceptions, though Buffet’s actual, ummm, actions, indicate he’s a lot more talk than action.

    You also seem confused. If I wanted to make a lot of money and be famous, I would have sold out to the people you love. I had my opportunities.

    I do hope you are being rewarded, however.

    IBW: Trump cannot rule alone. Take a look at what Congress has done, to start.

    What makes me a “designer’ is just that I look at what they do and have done, and who benefits. That’s all. I started out as “they couldn’t possibly intend.” I worked hard to convince them their policies were bad, until I realized they were almost always doing what they wanted to do. And I had contacts in both Congress and the White House, this isn’t supposition.

    But go on thinking your leaders are just incompetents and 40 years of the world going to shit are accidental.

  14. Jack M.

    Summarizing, almost NO ONE who is employed by another entity understands that they, the employed, work for wholesale prices while living in a retail priced world.

  15. Ché Pasa

    Watching the Old Order pass at the funeral of John Lewis, yet another exemplar of what used to be.

    Three presidents. I’m sure there would be four if President Carter were ambulatory, but there wouldn’t, indeed couldn’t, be five as the one in office now has rejected Lewis and presidents of the past and all they stood for.

    Looking back, of course, they may have been wrong, indeed they were often wrong, and the one in office now is rarely right, but they are all, every one, elements of the prior paradigm. We’ve passed into a new era, and no one yet knows the way forward.

    Our oligarchs, our lords and masters, our rulers don’t. They only know what they want, their base desires, their demands, their emotions, their egos.

    Trump is no different than the most of them. The McCloskeys of St. Louis represent what obscene wealth does to people. Their demands and egos overrule everything else on earth — and if they can manage it (hello Elon) throughout the Universe. A universe that, of course, revolves around them.

    There is not one — not one! — “good” oligarch in our Universe. They are all vile, ultimately worthless creatures, not simply predators, but mindless predators, driven by their urges to have, to hold, to harm, to dominate.

    The rumblings of rebellion from below are still very diffused, learning to focus, but not on power, not yet. Still petitioning their Betters, betters who don’t listen and don’t care.

    Maybe this will be the last time the rebellious ask.


  16. Hugh

    Yes, none of this is accidental or unintentional. They, the rich and elites, mean this. They have been feasting on us, the many, for 50 years and slamming us down if we say anything about it. Here we had this crappy economy and then we got hit by covid because our “betters” had already written us off, and then our economy got even crappier. But not to worry, our leaders bailed out the stock market. So everything is OK –for them– while the rest of us go down the tubes. Everything going according to plan. Nothing to see here. Move along.

  17. krake


    Markets, militaries, prisons, courts, portfolios, trades, openings, closings, construction, et cetera ad nauseam ad infinitum: all planned, all implemented.

    Not accidents.


    One tires of desperate little cowards hiding behind big numbers and a kneeler’s view of history.

  18. Willy

    Our corrupt elites runs a psychological range, from outright successful sociopathy to an alcoholic-like addiction to wealth and power, both oblivious and/or rationalistic over the effects their power has over others. I’m leaving out the few with integrity, “few” because of the way things are obviously headed, worldwide.

    They win because they know how power works.

    My in-law is affable and likeable. Yet as a physician he and his buddies took over a fairly large city clinic, bookworked it into incompetency with many bad reviews, then sold it to the highest bidder so they few could retire well. I quit that place when I couldn’t handle the very long past-appointment time waits, the clearly quota-stressed medical staff, and the tripling of rates. He rationalizes that this is how everybody in that business does it.

    I know the political victim of a big-name national senator who was financially ruined when he refused to play ball with the senator. Publicly, the senator knew how to bring home the pork and had major public places named after him. Privately, he was clearly a powerful psychopath.

    Why do conservatives always bring forth the Soros name, when there are dozens of wealthy elites and corporations buying politicians for purely selfish reasons?

  19. Willy

    Ivory Bill Woodpecker,

    I’d think that a far greater crisis than Putin conquering America with the vast resources of his Canadian-sized economy nation, is that half of Americans are now poor instead of middle class anymore, and that this is being reported more by Fox News than MSNBC these days.

  20. Chiron

    I think that has been obvious for sometime that the main concern of the US ruling class is the maintenance of the US Overseas Empire, the new Cold War with China, trying to destroy its tech industry, Zionist supremacism in the Midddle East and the Military industrial complex are all going strong. The ordinary Americans are just cattle for the abattoir.

  21. Plague Species

    Meanwhile, the Dems are stuck in the LBJ era of the sixties with all the hagiography and lionizing of John Lewis. Lewis’s rotting remains have been carted all over America as though he was Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s and his corpse is being used as a soapbox by all the democratic machine politicians who have ridden black folk all the way to the bank for the past half a century or more since the civil rights legislation was passed.

    We should run an experiment. Let’s conduct an on-the-street poll in all the black ghettoes this wonderful land over and ask those left behind and betrayed if they know who John Lewis is. I bet you the percentage quizzed who guess correctly will be statistically close to zero. That statistic tells quite a story, doesn’t it? The story it tells is that black people have been used and abused — yet again. First by slavery and then again by those who claimed to be fighting on their behalf all the while stabbing them in the back and condemning them to multi-generational poverty and immiseration.

    Meanwhile, as Obama and Clinton and Bush and the rest of the charlatans hypocritically and malevolently pat themselves on the back, America, nay the world, slides further and further into corporate feudalism because the recalcitrant unwashed refuse to see it’s about class first and foremost.

  22. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    “What do you do, carry justice on your tongues? Or will you fight and die for it?”

    “After all these years of leading the fight, you seem very much alive.”

    “Indeed. I doubt the same can be said for many of his followers.”

    Lokai Krake likes to speak of cowardice, but I can’t help but notice that he, and everyone else on this site who likes to speak of violent rebellion, must still be alive and not imprisoned, or else they could not post anything on this site.

    Same idea, different culture:

  23. Plague Species

    @ Ché Pasa

    Looking back, of course, they may have been wrong, indeed they were often wrong, and the one in office now is rarely right, but they are all, every one, elements of the prior paradigm.

    That prior paradigm laid the groundwork for the new paradigm being rolled out as we type. It was the fertilizer purposely spread in order to grow the mono-crop that is fascistic corporate feudalism. None of them is without sin. Every single one of them compromised that which should never have been compromised and all of them did it for personal gain and self-aggrandizement, John Lewis included.

    I have to laugh at Obama although I’d rather punch him in the face and knock him the hell out. When he took office and many who voted for him believed he would right the wrongs of Bush and pursue justice against the former president, he instead said we must look forward and not back, which, if you think about it, was effectively a pardon. He let people believe he was something he wasn’t — which is a whore for and to the plutocratic oligarchy. Many rubes believed he was the messiah when he was yet another devil in disguise.

    Anyway, when it came to Bush and justice, Obama told us to look forward and not back, but when it comes to John Lewis, he and the rest of the malevolent hypocrites tell us to look back and not forward.

  24. Stirling S Newberry

    Can we bring back the word “panic?”

  25. Mark Level

    Thanks, Ian. You have once again hit the nail on the head, whether due to your ability to see “design” (as one commenter attacked you for) or just the ability to be truthful rather than surrender to syrupy, comforting lies which all the MSM in this country, formerly somewhat “prosperous”, peddles to manufacture consent to the predatory class that rules us with open contempt.

    I think many people with their eyes open can see the writing on the wall, but what is frustrating to me is that the US populace just allows one outrage after another, with next to no pushback of any kind. Caitlin Johnstone has a nice piece up today about the US colluding with Australia and the other Anglophone nation “allies” to foment war beyond a trade war with China, yet nobody in the Democrat “loyal opposition” will question this.

    While Dem cities like Portland & NYC are invaded by fascist ICE/DHS snatch and grab squads, the Dems give them more funding, hypocritically pretending they are somehow “opposed”, and virtually nobody will call this out or even notice it.

    I certainly like your last line, “Act on this knowledge, or don’t”– but of course the problem is there aren’t enough of us to make much of a difference. Even as my “liberal” friends continue to lose their already crappy “health care,” jobs, and soon housing, they still believe they have someone in the political class in their corner, despite the Pelosi-Schumer crowd being RePug looter and rapist enablers who always “lose” every fight, Iraq War e.g., with transparent deliberation to fail and capitulate. And Dem voters continue to believe that their Elected ones didn’t fund the Billionaire TARP bailouts (when the majority of votes for it were from D’s, not R’s, Obama signed on to it, etc.)

    I know you have diagnosed the sickness, and I will not engage in a logical fallacy of demanding you provide a “solution” beyond the obvious one I quoted (act on the knowledge that the Elites are predators, or don’t). But it does seem that the US majority continues to suffer from “false consciousness” (to use the Marxist term) and are simply moving down the line to their appointed place in the abattoir. Perhaps, as NL suggests, there is something present in English-speaking (Protestant, I would add) beliefs that are dominant which blocks people from social agency with the belief that things are as they must be, the Predators deserve the status and right to consume (literally) that they have attained?

    I will agree, the US is a failed state, deliberately by the choice of its rulers, but what is frustrating is that there seems to be no true opposition position (Socialism, etc.) around which people can unite and fight back. History remains the nightmare from which I cannot awake. I can to some extent protect myself or fight back against local predators, but my lifeboat on the Titanic hardly offers the prospect of long term survival, much less prospering or living a peaceful, sane life.

  26. Gunther Behn

    Design vs. Chance, and Perspective: As an Oligarch (let’s say, for Herr Bezos to Herr Murdoch in the rankings), you only need to see the general outlines of ‘opportunities’ for wealth.

    At their level, the “people are food or cash-generating units” concept is clear. At the scale of enterprises they own / control, if even 50% successful, they’ll make what ‘little people’ would see as obscene profits — but their expectation of ROI might consider that a failure.

    Point being: If you’re an Oligarch, following a general investment plan based on disaster capitalism and the “food/property” formula would result in an increase in net worth regardless.

  27. GlassHammer


    Predator and prey co-evolve overtime, but it’s a slow process.

    I am seeing more people check out of the rat race (the equivalent of moving out of the predators hunting grounds) via homesteading, willingly collapsing their living standards, or just moving abroad.

    Even the prepper/survivalist lifestyle is an attempt to escape the neoliberal hunting grounds. (Especially if it’s done in a manner that reduces your consumption and economic footprint.)

    It’s makes sense to me since the first thing prey does is move away because they can’t get stronger or adapt while constantly under threat.

    And overtime it does reduce the predator population because they can’t feast on an abundance.

  28. Willy

    There are lots of fun videos about living out of your van, down by a river. A lot of young couples seem to be doing this. Maybe this will be the new American Dream. I wonder how predators will adapt to that.

  29. Gaianne

    Ian, you have written on this topic before, but this essay is very direct.

    Thank you.


  30. Zachary Smith

    American elites are not incompetent at what matters to them.

    People constantly make ridiculous statements like, “The American government has been incompetent in its handling of Covid-19.”

    Anyone who makes such a statement reveals that they do not understand how the US operates.

    The first statement is quite true – so far as it goes. The super-rich can buy endless favorable stories in the Corporate Media, and sometimes they purchase an entire media company to peddle their propaganda. Bezos/Warmongering Post is an example. They have plenty of money to invest in their very own Congressmen and Senators. This process has been essentially legalized by the legislation passed by their legislative *hores and has been blessed by the Supreme Court. The US Public has been trained to accept the Three Premises (greed is good, etc) by decades of ceaseless propaganda. The results have been fantastic – at least from the short-term perspective of the Super Rich Class.
    The second sentence in the quote is both true and untrue – depending upon your viewpoint. As seen from the viewpoint of an unprejudiced Intelligent Alien from Arcturus, the “incompetence” is both real and of astounding proportions. I’ll concede that for Trump, McConnell, Pelosi and their ilk, it is a nonsensical statement. They and the Billionaires they answer to simply don’t give a damn.

    Nor is this all on one person. No one rules alone. Without a huge supporting apparatus, including Congress, Trump could not have done what he did (and didn’t). If his incompetence had been costing elites, you can be sure it would have been brought to an end.

    Amen, amen, and amen. The Power Elites of the US cooperate to maximize their Bed Feathering and legal graft. Trump was their Golden Boy early-on with his destruction of obstacles to the Super Rich getting even wealthier. Regulations were dismantled like crazy. Taxes were cut on the wealthy Elites. For a while the Stable Genius was their guy. These days they’re obviously moving away from Trump, and jumping into bed with a better behaved puppet – a fellow named Biden.

    In doing that they’re sticking to their blinkered Short Term view. Biden has promised them to do virtually nothing to correct the current US political structure which has been so beneficial to the Super Rich. Like Hillary, he is on record as being willing to continue to “Grow” the American Empire. Starting wars we cannot possibly afford anymore. Trying to bully nations who will no longer stand for it. Continuing to fund near-worthless weapons like the USS Ford and the F-35. All the expensive armaments are real moneymakers for the Elites – doesn’t matter if they’re any good or not.

    The super rich predators are indeed good at what they do in the short term – there is no denying that. It’s my opinion they don’t understand the consequences of their raping and pillaging, and even if they did, They Don’t Care. With their control of both US political parties, “Reform is impossible, for as with the French Monarchy, the existing system is the wrong structure and unit size, to borrow a phrase from Peter Drucker.”

    Reforms profound enough to actually repair what’s broken would require the insiders surrender much of their position, privilege and power, which they will never do.

    As I have taken pains to explain, finance capitalism has fatally distorted the American economy in ways that few understand (or want to understand, since it’s so disturbing).

    The resulting concentration of wealth and power has also fatally distorted the political process of governance.

    My final link concerns the mindset the Super Rich has hammered into us as normal behavior: The Corporate Psychopath BECAUSE they’re psychopaths for whom “Too Much Isn’t Enough”, the consequences of their behavior don’t matter to them the least bit.

    So in summery I propose that extremely successful Wealth Accumulation isn’t really at odds with “stupidity” and “incompetence”. It all comes down to the time frames in which the activities are considered. Millions of people beginning to go cold and hungry? A nation beginning to unravel? A dying planet? They don’t care so long as they are able to become even more wealthy. “Short term” is all that matters to the Top .1%. Eat, drink, and Be Merry, and to hell with “tomorrow.” But tomorrow really is coming, and there will be chaos in it – of a sort our highly efficient social and economic predators may not be able to survive.

  31. Stirling S Newberry

    Phillis Wheatley

    Captured somewhere
    Enslave en ship
    Wrapped existing circumstance
    quantity carpet
    wealthy merchant faithful
    international celebrity
    innate equality
    centuries obliterated abduction
    anthologized gratitude redemption.

    comment transatlantic
    tyrannic excruciating
    fanfare celebrated astutely
    manumission expressing
    Oppression Deliverance Principle
    fabulation Modern Egyptians
    texture death.

  32. Hugh

    The Republicans are playing hard ball, “fiscally responsibilism” on the next aid package because the Fed continues to bail out the rich. But I would like to know how many million homeless and starving before Prince Mitch starts feeling the heat in the Versail– err, Washington gardens.

  33. ricardo2000

    An excellent summation of the morality and personal plans of the world’s oligarchs. There is no difference between US, Russian, Chinese, Canadian, Indian, Moroccan oligarchs. They talk Yankee, eat yankee, drive yankee, live in yankee compounds, and have a consuming greed combined with the most stupidly brutal contempt for ‘consumers’.
    Check out the International Democrat Union, formed by that leach, Thatcher, and composed of the world’s worst, goose-stepping morons on the planet. Currently led by Adolf Harper, the originator of right-wing contempt for science, punished by Canadians for his ignorance with defeat.

    Thank you very much Mr. Welsh, for this excellent exposition of the contemptible arrogance of the oligarchs.

  34. Ché Pasa

    As an example of the paradigm shift with the passing of the Old Order, the nonviolent passive resistance model of John Lewis and many civil rights icons is now practically extinct. My friend Nathan Schneider would beg to differ, but the self-defense model, the refusal to compromise and the unyielding demand has taken the place of the old models and has forced Power to concede something — sometimes a lot — to the Rabble rather than face its own extinction. The Rabble has discovered it does have power and can force concessions even from the overweening power of our rulers. The power centers have shifted.

    The whole idea of petitioning these people(sic) or the government they control for redress of grievance is a bad joke. Government has jokified and almost irrelevated itself over the decades since Baroness Thatcher took a hatchet to it and the people it once served. Institutions of all kinds have failed miserably over and over again. The only choice is to take matters in hand and. not. give. up.

    60 some odd days and nights of protest in Portland, and the constant re-emergence of protest against the powers that be and their goons all over the country has forced change far more rapidly than the non-violent and very well-dressed rallies and marches did in days of yore. What works has changed. But it’s still an ask that our rulers do the right thing. You’ll know the Revolution has truly come when there is no longer an ask of our rulers, but our rulers are replaced and the old rotten system is overthrown and all but forgotten.

    We’re not there yet, but… much like climate change, I think we’re very near the tipping point.

  35. GlassHammer

    “There are lots of fun videos about living out of your van, down by a river. A lot of young couples seem to be doing this. Maybe this will be the new American Dream. I wonder how predators will adapt to that.” -Willy

    Yes but moving outside of and away from the current arrangement of society/culture takes many forms. It doesn’t have to look like marching in the streets or a retreat into the wilderness.

    Most of the time it looks like a small scale rejection of some aspect of society/culture.

  36. Thomas B Golladay

    Lets not forget as Ian says, the enablers who help Elites. AKA the Deep State.

    Take Doctor Fauci:

    His war on HCQ and admitting on live television, to Congress no less, that he lied about face masks, really takes the cake. This man last treated a patient directly in 1976. Dr. Birx’s medical license expired in 2014 and has not been renewed. Redfield was an incompetent Army Doc.

    Its not enough to elect leaders, you have to clean out the entire Deep State as Ian has written about before and you absolutely have to ban revolving doors. If you work in Government, you must be barred from working in the private sector industry you were overseeing and vice versa.

  37. NL

    Hugh “They have been feasting on us, the many, for 50 years…”

    More like since the beginning of the US. What do you think was happening in 1800s? Here’s from Wiki: “The metaphor [robber baron] appeared as early as February 9, 1859, when The New York Times used it to characterize the business practices of Cornelius Vanderbilt. …

    Charles R. Geisst says, “in a Darwinist age, Vanderbilt developed a reputation as a plunderer who took no prisoners.”[3] Hal Bridges said that the term represented the idea that “business leaders in the United States from about 1865 to 1900 were, on the whole, a set of avaricious rascals who habitually cheated and robbed investors and consumers, corrupted government, fought ruthlessly among themselves, and in general carried on predatory activities comparable to those of the robber barons of medieval Europe.”[4]”

    Ian could have saved himself some time by copying from wiki: “Our elites are” “a set of avaricious rascals who habitually cheat and rob investors and consumers, corrupt government, fight ruthlessly among themselves, and in general carry on predatory activities.”

    The US got lucky with Roosevelt. FDR was in essence a tyrant, a president for life (our Putin, if you will). This is obvious in his decision to run for the office for the third and fourth times, breaking away with the ‘tradition’ of two terms. We are conditioned to think that a tyrant is someone who comes to power and rules by brutal physical force. That’s not historically true. Tyrants were often oligarchs who broke off the oligarchy for various reasons and relied on the people to keep the oligarchy in check. Peisistratos was the most beloved tyrant in Athens. From wiki :
    “Peisistratos’ championing of the lower class of Athens, the Hyperakrioi (see below), is an early example of populism. While in power, Peisistratos did not hesitate to confront the aristocracy, and he greatly reduced their privileges, confiscated their lands and gave them to the poor and funded many religious and artistic programs.[2] He did so with the goal of improving the economy and spreading the wealth more equally among the Athenians.”

    Trump was elected to be the next FDR, but he did not rise to the occasion.

  38. Hugh

    nl, I was referring to the latest iteration, the post-Great Depression, post WW II neoliberal resurgence..

    I think Trump was elected largely as the not Hillary Clinton candidate just as Biden will be likely be elected as the not Trump one. That seems to be the way we do it here. Tired of crappy candidate A? Then vote for crappy candidate B instead.

  39. Plague Species

    HCQ sure helped Herman Cain, didn’t it? Surely Cain took Trump’s advice and took HCQ as well as injected disinfectant into his veins and had a UV catheter placed in his lungs to shine the light, right?

    Trump’s response to Cain’s death? Cain’s martyrdom on behalf of his dear leader?

    Oh well. Them’s the breaks. Despite the UV catheter and the Clorox and Lysol and the HCQ, in the end poor Herman had too much melanin in his epidermis because we all know the invisible China virus loves and feasts on melanin, or so the alien sperm doctor says.

    Cain is proof that Trump’s supporters will do anything for their dear leader up to and including him annihilating the human race via nuclear war. They will support Donald Trump starting a nuclear war. Cain is all the proof you need. They are willing to die for Donald Trump and believe anything he says despite the fact it’s all lies.

    Donald, my campaign advice to you is to start a nuclear war. I assure you if you start a nuclear war with China, you will not lose in November. It’s a sure bet. And, you;d be doing the planet a favor. You’d rid it of the plague known as human. You can be, in fact you are, nature’s Neo.

  40. @Plague Species

    In the cuurrent (or very recent) poll for covid-19 treatments, doctors are still using it at a 28% rate for hospitalized patients (non ICU), and at an 18% rate for hospitalized patients (ICU).

    So, doctors all over the world believe there is some efficacy against HCQ, even in advanced stages of the disease. Where it (and other anti-virals) really shine is in EARLY stages, before viral replication gets out of hand. It’s the same story for zinc lozenges against influenza, where EARLY use is also critical, as you can see for yourself by examining

    As per sermo, ICU covid patients are treated thusly:
    N = 296 (This is much smaller than the 6,000+ figure associated with a sermo poll of months ago that showed showed hydroxychloroquine most effective; not sure what’s going on, here, but I echo Chris Martenson’s complaint about the lack of data. The government (indeed, all governments) should have been collecting and sharing data on treatments all along.

    Please indicate which medications you are currently using to treat COVID-19 patients in the ICU (critical symptoms).
    Dexamethasone/or other steroids
    Anti-clotting / anticoagulants
    Blood pressure / norepinephrine
    Azithromycin or similar antibiotics
    Plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 (convalescent plasma)
    Tocilizumab (Actemra)
    Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) or Chloroquine
    Anti-HIV combination therapy (e.g., Lopinavir plus Ritonavir – Kaletra, Dovato, Biktarvy, Symtuza)
    Vitamin C tablet
    Oseltamivir (Tamiflu)
    Vitamin C infused
    Favipiravir (Avigan)
    Gamma Globulin
    Vitamin D tablet
    Vitamin D infused
    Traditional Chinese Medicine
    Sarilumab (Kevzara)
    Hepatitis C combination therapy (e.g., Harvoni, Epclusa, Bosevi, Mavyret)

    From my previous post (snipped)
    “Ultraviolet blood irradiation is a thing. See for some info. Not sure how effective it is.

    Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant, with significant healing benefits, and the best and most plentiful evidence for its efficacy is via intravenous administration. See Hydrogen Peroxide – Medical Miracle by Dr. William Cambell Douglass, M.D. Here are the first 2 pages of the references (sorry, I don’t want to bother with inserting line breaks):

    “For doctors and scientists interested in verifying the material in this book we recommend the following references: 1. Oliver TH, Cantab BC, and Murphy DV: Influenza1 Pneumonia: The Intravenous Injection of Hydrogen Peroxide. Lancet 1920; 1: 432-433. ……” ”

    Trump’s lack of championing HCQ, vitamin D sufficiency, and dirt cheap but likely effective treatments like intravenous hydrogen peroxide show him to be a weak and/or ignorant leader. It would have been no fun going against the Medical Mafia – I get that. He can’t plead ignorance about HCQ, though. His moral cowardice (not to mention piggishness – HE could take HCQ; US citizens, not so easily) may well have doomed his re-election chances, given the relationship between HCQ use and mortality rates, comparing across nations. I, for one, won’t be shedding any tears for him, though I may shed a few for America, as it slips further into the grip of the Jacobin Democrats.

    Trump SAID he believed HCQ would be a “game changer”, but didn’t do all that much to make sure that was the case, here in the US.

  41. S Brennan

    While I agree with this point; – “Trump said he believed HCQ would be a “game changer”, but didn’t do all that much to make sure that was the case, here in the US”, – I am not sure that it’s the presidents job to be an expert in infectious disease and it’s treatment. And I think it’s fair to note, in spite of widespread commentary to the contrary, I very much doubt Biden would prove to be superior expert in infectious disease and it’s treatment. That said; Trumps early deference to that lying sack of $#!t Fauci has resulted in the death of tens of thousands in the US.

    Fauci’s continual lies throughout this pandemic and…..his long history of lying to the AIDS community in the 80’s and 90’s in order to receive funding for himself/his agency is disgrace. Fauci is a charlatan and likely…singularly responsible for the pandemic itself.

    Dr. Fauci Fauci, used US taxpayer dollars to fund WUHAN Lab’s work on “gain-of-function” research on coronaviruses. –

  42. Bruce

    Kinder capitalism. Do you really believe in these fairy tales. Do you think Roosevelt acted out of the kindness of his heart. No, it was the only way to save capitalism. Your moralism only makes it harder to see.

  43. Thomas B Golladay

    Herman Cain had stage 4 colon cancer and was on Hospice Care. He was already a dead man walking when COVID-19 hit his RBCs and kicked out the Fe2 and Fe3+ into his bloodstream where upon these radioactive iron compounds then glassed his lungs.

    COVID-19 is a blood disease that attacks the RBCs, which is why we need people taking Zinc and Zinc Ionophores such as Querticin and the Chloroquine family plus Vitamin C and D.

    This keeps the Virus from kicking out Fe2 and Fe3+ ions into your bloodstream which then glasses your lungs. Doctors were so focused on the latter part first that they failed to check blood samples for Iron poisoning, hence they were using ventilators which shattered the lungs rather than oxygenation and detoxing the body of the excess Iron in the bloodstream. In the early days of this, my Medical Director was constantly reading papers and drawing blood and that is how we started to get ahead of this in my area.

    This in turn means re-organizing our entire prevention strategy to proper diet and rest as a first line of defense which is not profitable for Big Pharma. And both Political Parties are to blame for this mess.

  44. NL

    It says Cain beat his cancer…
    “In 2006, Cain was given a 30% chance of survival from stage 4 colon cancer that had spread to his liver…. Once cancer-free, Cain began to muse about a presidential campaign of his own and began to give frequent speeches across the nation to business…”

  45. different clue

    Let us have a moment of reverential silence for Herman Cain.

    Herman Cain. He took one for the herd.

  46. Ché Pasa

    Predators in service to predators:

    This one happened in NYC, in front of many witnesses, an overt act of terrorism, intentional, more or less effective.

    Nikki Stone was wanted for vandalism. In other words, any minor misdemeanor can be labeled a crime and trigger predatory action.

    It’s nothing new, as the story says. It wasn’t tolerated in the past, either. But nobody’s yet been able to do anything about it. It’s just… “policing.”

  47. Thomas B Golladay


    Yes, after removal of parts of his liver which impaired the ability of it to regulate Iron. His health was already compromised and he acted stupidly in a pandemic.

    It doesn’t change the fact we have overwhelming evidence that Zinc Ionophores and Zinc early on prevents hospitalizations for COVID. Hell in 2005, Dr. Fauci was talking about successful use of HCQ and Zinc to treat the original SARs.

  48. different clue

    @Thomas G Golladay,

    How did Zinc get into the body cells before HCQ and other modern ionophores were invented?
    If I had Zinc supplements or high-Zinc foods available to me, but not any modern synthetic ionophores ( which I presume are basically Zinc through-the-cell-membrane transporters), what would I do to see to it that the Zinc I ingest is the Zinc I absorb? And assimilate and metabolise with?

  49. “Let us have a moment of reverential silence for Herman Cain.

    Herman Cain. He took one for the herd.”

    @different clue

    As much as I liked Herman Cain, and am sorry to see him exit the world stage, I never the less find this very funny!

  50. @Thomas P Golladay

    I have a couple of questions for you.

    #1 Does the president have the authority to order military bases to dispense HCQ to civilians, either with or without their own doctors’ consent? With a military doctors’ consent, after examination of said civilians’ medical history?
    Imagine that a much more serious virus is loose, and doctors are too scared to even see patients. An Ebola scenario, if you will. I can’t imagine that the President would not be allowed to step in with Federal military assets.
    Unfortunately, doctors are under threat of getting their hospital privileges or even their licenses revoked, in many states, if they don’t toe the line. This might be true even if the FDA says prescription of HCQ for covid is OK, on an “emergency” basis. (A historical parallel is the Texas Medical Board going after Burzynski even though he had FDA approval to use his therapy, at least in clinical trials, IIRC).

    #2 Are the medical professionals in your neck of the woods as disgusted with Trump’s tepid embrace of HCQ as I am?

  51. Willy

    At least his passing gets some folks talking. While ignoring the typical “Look at how gleeful the despicable left is being!” or “Look at how stupid the despicable right is being!”… there are some deeper medical truths involved here.

  52. different clue


    Thank you for the kind words. I try. Sometimes I succeed.

    Did you see my question to Thomas G Golladay? About what natural ionophores existed to permit the uptake and in-cell transport of ingested Zinc before the invention of hydroxychloroquine and other such things?

    Do you have any thoughts on that question? Is it even a valid question?

  53. I don’t know a lot about mechanisms. I’m pretty sure, though, that quercetin will act similarly, but it’s use is not widespread, by doctors, so I’d be less confident of it.

    If you google zinc quercetin covid, you should find a link at with more info. I’d read the comments, and be wary of overdosing – especially on a long term basis. Apparently, what constitutes overdosing of quercetin is debatable. Also, see the comment about taking zinc and quercitin, together, on an empty stomach.

    Certainly, if I was a front line medical worker, or particularly vulnerable, and couldn’t get HCQ, I’d take quercetin; I just skimmed this article and comments, but I see elderberry is mentioned as having significant quercetin level. I think elderberry is one of the prophylactic recommendations of Chris Martenson of (who has a bio-medical background at the Ph.D. level).

    FWIW, I vaguely recall somebody at, who seemed to know what he was talking about, arguing against HCQ method being a zinc ionophore. IIRC, he said the research showed the chloroquine did have this property, by HCQ does not. Also, in one of his talks, Chris Martenson talked about a number of mechanisms by which HCQ was believed or known to work, so if zinc ionophore isn’t actually one of them (but zinc is still virucidal or virus inhibiting), that is still not an argument for not taking both HCQ + zinc.

  54. S Brennan

    Exactly Willy…

  55. bruce wilder

    Agreeing in the main with the OP, I will nevertheless venture to defend the value of the rhetoric of criticizing “incompetence”. Its value depends on who exactly you are accusing of incompetence and from where you draw a standard of competence.

    Ian’s argument is that ideas dominate and that three particular ideas combine to dominate and create our society (well, my society as I am an American) in this era. One could well take the position that the ideas are mere apologies or descriptors and look elsewhere for drivers, for the critical strategic choices.

    I think there is some value in accusing elite professionals — including the class of professional managers and bureaucrats — of incompetence in the sense of ineptness in role. There is a ready, idealized standard of professional competence and performance for most such roles, from general to journalist, from doctor to engineer, from professor to banker, from lawyer to architect.

    Of course, it does not necessarily contradict Ian’s thesis to note both the fact of manifest incompetence and what personal success derived from the practice of incompetence says about motives and incentives. If an Angelo R. Mozilo destroys the ecology of the 30-year mortgage, taking down Fannie Mae and the remains of Savings & Loans, we can see that that sociopath was skillful and deeply knowledgeable of how his industry was structured and worked. I would be reluctant to call his behavior in the role of CEO, behavior that brought on ruin, “incompetence” . He was not inept in the pursuit of his personal goals.

    He was inept evil in his role as company leader by a reasonable standard of mutual benefit from social cooperation. But a whole lot of other people had to be inept in role, in order to fail to contain him or even to punish him after the deeds were done and the consequences clear to see.

    When the CDC could not get its act together in January and February to furnish a test for Covid-19 and a sensible protocol for using it, that surely was incompetence among the professionals involved.

    When the U.S., after nearly 20 years, cannot end the war in Afghanistan, that requires incompetence among the general officer corps.

    When journalists writing for the New York Times cannot distinguish fact from fiction, that is incompetence.

    When a formerly great organization like Boeing cannot build airplanes that can fly safely or an Intel can no longer fabricate a leading-edge transistor after thirty years of being many months ahead of competitors, that entails incompetence.

    It is incompetence in the straightforward sense of inept performance in institutional role.

    It may be induced incompetence, incompetence created by sociopathic leadership. And, there is little sense in calling the sociopath in leadership or control, who is looting for fun and profit, “incompetent” .

    My point is that there are plenty of people who are incompetent, who are chosen by sociopaths, perhaps, precisely for their ineptitude, and who are contributing to the perverse “success” of the sociopaths that is doing the rest of us in. The sociopaths may believe “greed is good” or “there is such thing as society” but I think the incompetent simply lack any firm convictions of any sort, have the memory of goldfish, and lack the habit or skill of critical thought.

    I know people of good will and mush for brains who think Andrew Cuomo the hero of the hour. No, really I have met such.

    The failure after 1975 to resist the neoliberal tidal wave is the half of the story I do not fully grasp. I understand movement conservatism and rich people believing their own greed is good. I do not understand everyone else standing aside, unresisting as unbelievable arguments are made that (when implemented as policy) destroy protection for society from the sociopathic rich.

    The accusation of incompetence, directed at the right target, highlights this second mystery. And, unless you think sociopathy can be eradicated from human potential, hope has to lie in devising schemes of mutual protection among everyone else. A first step might be to recognize that some people are predators. But how do you get the sheep to act together? Not just pretend that the wolf dressed as a shepherd is the lesser evil?

  56. Mark Pontin

    Bruce W. wrote: ‘If an Angelo R. Mozilo destroys the ecology of the 30-year mortgage, taking down Fannie Mae and the remains of Savings & Loans, we can see that that sociopath was skillful and deeply knowledgeable of how his industry was structured and worked. I would be reluctant to call his behavior … “incompetence” . He was not inept in the pursuit of his personal goals. ‘

    Hold on. While I don’t disagree with your analysis here, let’s get our definitions straight. Mozilo would be a psychopath, for instance, not a sociopath.

    Both sociopathy and psychopathy are forms of antisocial personality disorder. But they’re different conditions, though it’s a continuum and a given individual may exhibit behavior that gets them classified in either category.

    I bring this up here because sociopaths don’t usually rise to positions of power or become managers, since they’re impulsive and prone to acting out with diminished regard for their actions’ consequences. Sociopathy is often the result of nurture (or rather the lack of it). Off the top of my head, Frank in the old David Lynch movie, BLUE VELVET, would be a sociopath.

    Psychopaths (or at least class 1 psychopaths) are the result of nature — physiologically, the one percent of humanity in whom the limbic system, the complex of brain structures that processes emotions, contains less gray matter and is a weaker muscle. They tend not to feel empathy, guilt, or fear like normies. But they’re often capable of holding down a normal job and even maintaining apparently normal relationships.

    Unlike a sociopath, when a psychopath engages in criminal or reprehensible behavior they tend to minimize risk to themselves and to plan to ensure they don’t get caught. A movie psychopath would be Anton Chigurh in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.

    Though that example is a little extreme. In real life, as opposed to the movies, neither psychopaths and sociopaths are necessarily physically violent.

  57. Ché Pasa

    How about decadence? Most of the institutional failure we’ve seen and lived through for decades has to do with decadence that’s essentially baked in. Once an institution reaches a certain point of power and authority, the characteristics that got it there — not all of them “good” — are built upon, again and again, and mindlessly at that, the superstructure grows and rots, and ultimately the entire institution reaches the point of collapse from its own excesses.

    An example might be NASA which essentially blew its own rockets up together with the astronauts in them through repeated institutional excesses that were built in from the outset, and subsequent neglect of what was important.

    Every institution I’m aware of — including government — experiences a similar pattern. Initial enthusiasm, success, bureaucratic bloat, “incompetence”, retreat, road to ruin. At any point along the way, “evil” can enter into the institutional culture because most have no protection against it, in fact may have started or grown through adoption of “evil” practices. If it leads to success, it becomes an internal cultural standard. Repeated and built upon.

    And then of course there are the predators always on the hunt for the vulnerable.

    We’re in an almost totally decadent era that’s being exploited by predators of all kinds. Our institutions cannot protect us and can’t protect themselves. It’s not yet the free-for-all it will become, but it’s getting there.

  58. Plague Species

    @ Ché Pasa

    Excellent comment. Perfect. Humans, when they congregate in groups of more than 150, become dangerous to themselves and all life on the planet. For everything large congregations of humans construct, they destroy an equal share and then some. It reminds me of the 29th scroll, sixth verse.

    Beware the beast Man, for he is the Devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death.

    Yes, NASA is a great example and so too is China’s CCP. The unions in America are yet another example. Look at the police unions. An abomination as is mafia infiltration and control of the unions. Same goes for the regulatory agencies (regulatory capture) and all manner of non-governmental organizations (gravy trains). Corporations are their own beast too. Evil entities whose goal it is to destroy all life on this living planet in the name of progress and profit. Any noble deed or act that is scaled up becomes a loathsome tyrant only interested in wealth and power. It’s as though it’s an immutable law of physics.

    MADD is a great example, but so too are all the LGBT organizations and other various sundry activist organizations. They quickly transmogrify into an unstoppable beast. Overreach doesn’t even begin to describe what becomes of these perversions of original positive intent.

    So, it’s not just a few bad apples, i.e. the psychopaths, it’s much much more than that as you have aptly pointed out.

    MADD recognizes that the problem of drunken driving has now largely been reduced to a “hard core of alcoholics who do not respond to public appeal.” 1 Most drivers who have had something to drink have low blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and few are involved in fatal accidents or crashes. 2 On the other hand, while only a few drivers have BAC’s higher than .15, many of those drivers have fatal crashes. 3 For example, almost half of fatally injured drunk drivers have a BAC of .16 (which is twice the legal limit) or higher. 4

    The biggest problem in reducing drunk driving fatalities now consists of the hard core of alcoholic drivers who repeatedly drive with BAC’s of .15 or higher. But MADD has now decided to go after social drinkers and to eliminate driving after drinking any amount of alcohol beverage. This change appears to reflect the influence of a growing neo-prohibitionist movement within MADD.

    The founding president of MADD, Candy Lightner, left in disgust from the organization that she herself created because of its change in goals. “It has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I ever wanted or envisioned,” she says. “I didn’t start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving.” 5 Ms. Lightner has emphasized the importance of distinguishing between alcohol and drinking on one hand and drunk driving on the other. 6

    Ms. Lightner has apparently put her finger on the problem when she says that if MADD really wants to save lives, it will go after the real problem drivers. 7 Instead, it has become temperance-oriented.

  59. bruce wilder

    Re: decadence

    Michels’s Iron Law and all that?

    Or, the cycles set in motion by the progress of knowledge and the exhaustion of resources?

    Or, both together?

    In Thatcher’s Britain, the success of TINA had a lot to do with the end of Iron and Steel as bases for the British political economy. The power of unions in politics and the Labour Party was founded in those sectors of the economy and on the dependence of the whole economy on those sectors, and when those sectors faded away — and the fade was rapid when it came — there really was no alternative on offer from “the left”. The leaders of the Labour Party could scarcely imagine anything else, could scarcely imagine in the near term that strikes could not bring down the government, but more important, could not credibly re-invent the political economy.

    I am saying that telling the story of what the neoliberals did, without acknowledging the collapse among those who had opposed and constrained those ripe bastards in generations past, misses half the tale and in some ways the more challenging part to understand.

    For the U.S. entering the neoliberal era in the mid-1970s, it is a bit less stark that the end of coal and iron in Britain, once the steam-driven Workshop of the World. But, surely the end of Bretton Woods and peak oil in the U.S. had something to do with the setup.

    A subtle landmine in the system of thought behind (or better, underneath) neoliberal ideology — I am writing here of neoclassical economics, aka Econ 101 aka the paradigm of “the market economy — is that the “system of markets” imagined by the Chicago School and codified in Samuelson’s famous textbook is ergodic, a fancy term applying a metaphor from physics meaning history-less.

    That is not how the world is, mind, but if you think about the world as if “it has always been so” — and lots of people do that — you can miss the cycles that drive the dynamics of everything.

    So, yes, to decadence.

    The aging of institutions and the cycles set in motion by the dynamics of knowledge and resource exhaustion combine to make the challenge of protecting society “in the long-run” without the deus-ex-machina of an end to history . . . well, that is the challenge. I don’t see any possibility of “a solution” that does not depend on periodic renewal: “a republic if you can keep it”.

  60. nihil obstet

    Human nature is wonderful in its range of possibilities, but poses some major problems for any one issue. Why do great organizations deteriorate and fail? A couple of issues. First, great organizations arise from co-operation and shared goals. The members trust each other. That trust leaves an opening for the greedy to infiltrate and corrupt.

    We humans also believe in a stability of situation. It’s virtually impossible to live and act if we constantly re-examine every assumption, every process, every result. And so, in any situation we assume that what has always held will continue to hold. New people coming in don’t have the knowledge and experience to know why things are done, or even to know the range of things that really do need to be done. Practices get more and more hide-bound with less and less oversight, until inadequate routine condemns the organization to failure. The failure comes both from not carrying out necessary procedures because their purpose no longer seems a threat and from adopting half-understood principles as rigid imperatives (the slide from drunk driving to any drinking at all in Plague Species’ example).

    We all live our lives in conformity with an ideology, despite some people’s claims that they are unfiltered realists. The individualism enshrined in American belief leaves us open to seduction by power and flattery. When American life got less financially secure in the 70s, fear of falling economically provided an opening to break solidarity. They were seduced by the message, “You are not a failure, but government wants to take away what you deserve and give it to people who don’t deserve it. We’ll protect you.” There wasn’t a sudden sweeping away of social protections. They’d cut a layer off the bottom, but the majority were far enough above that bottom to be convinced that they were better off with the cut. And a few years later, another cut. And so on.

  61. bruce wilder

    re: psychopath v sociopath

    I am aware that many people propose a distinction and make many fine and important points in doing so, as you did.

    I, personally, doubt that the world really has two such neat buckets, with those other too-neat buckets — nature and nurture — pouring into them in compact measure.

    I think it is quite possible, as Ian has on occasion hinted, that the processes of being rich or becoming rich (and powerful) by themselves, operating on a “normal” psychology, can produce a good deal of selfishness, narcissism, habitual cruelty and callousness.

    It is intriguing to imagine “a bad seed” operating in the world — and I do not discount that that is a factor in the c-suite as it certainly is in, say, gang violence on the streets — but I think certain roles and incentives breed it. What’s really wrong with the reactionary impulses behind neoliberalism is that those ripe bastards want to breed hierarchies of cruel domination — a post-modern feudalism of everyone in their place and those placed at the bottom especially grateful.

    If there was a single policy “error” at the beginning of the neoliberal era, it was cutting the marginal tax rates on corporations and high-income individuals. It did not make greed “good” but it made greed in places of power in corporate business way too effective in siphoning off wealth for someone who was willing to act the “psychopath” (charming, risk-averse, supremely selfish, lacking in ethics if not exactly empathy).

  62. Willy

    By definition, psychopathy is a subset of sociopathy. It’s the extreme, incorrigible form of “antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience” which is rooted in genetics.

    That’s the problem with using common vocabulary to try and describe complexity. Yahoos like me trying to describe some nebulous structure may not be able to present the gist of it in a way the listener can grok. And that’s assuming I even know what the hell I’m talking about.

    So bruce, what’s wrong with taking a “cookbook” approach? Different ingredients in different measures make different dishes which most cooks can recognize as different dishes. Fajitas and General Tsos chicken use a lot of the same ingredients, but they’re obviously different dishes. And from that common vocabulary, agreed upon by the chefs, a more nuanced discussion can proceed.

  63. Willy

    My in-law, armchair aphorist, once told me that “the difference between a cook and a chef is that the chef gets to stick his finger into the soup to sample it for correctness”.

    Too many chefs and not enough cooks?

    There are a lot of variables to consider in this thing. IMHO, most of these variables sprout from unchecked concentrations of power, which as we all know, will eventually become corrupt absolutely.

  64. Mark Pontin

    Bruce W. wrote: ‘I, personally, doubt that the world really has two such neat buckets, with those other too-neat buckets — nature and nurture — pouring into them in compact measure.’

    And nevertheless the prisons are filled with sociopaths, the c-suites with psychopaths. So operationally it’s a distinction worth drawing.

    Indeed, here’s an anecdotal instance —

    About thirty years, I got flown down from the SF Bay Area to play a high-paying gig that was some mogul’s daughter’s bat mitzvah at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons. Michael Milken, the junk bond king, was walking around in the crowd, cool as a cucumber in a white suit and white hat, about a half-year after a federal grand jury indicted him on 98 counts of racketeering and fraud. (The white hat indoors was because Milken’s head was shaved as he was undergoing chemo for prostate cancer.) He never went to jail and pled guilty to just six charges, then paid a fine.

    A night or so later I was back in the Bay Area, doing a cheap gig at a Hell’s Angels biker’s bar in the East Bay. As I’m loading my gear out through the back of the bar at night’s end, two Hells Angels are rolling around in the dirt going at each other, while the rest of the scum cheer them on. As one of those guys had tried to pick a fight with me earlier in the night to impress the barmaid, six months later the sax player on that gig reported to me the news that he’d been killed, run over in the street while incapacitated by drugs or drink.

    Big difference in outcomes, right?

  65. About 7:30 into “Dr. Vladimir Zelenko Treats Covid-19 With Hydroxychloroquine & Zinc – Dose Of Dr. Drew”, Zelenko states both prophylactic and treatment doses of quercetin. He generally prefers HCQ, however.

    BTW, the doctor who interviews him mentions that some retinal side effect, which is given as a reason for avoiding this “dangerous” drug, has never been seen by him. My cousin is an optometrist, who has also never seen this retinal side effect. He has, however, seen Nigerian patients who developed allergies to HCQ.

  66. Hi, Ian – While American elites are undoubtedly predatory, so are most carnivorous animals. I would take your theoretical construct a step further to show that the behavior of human elites are several levels more dysfunctional than lions and tigers and wolves, which are only doing what they can to survive with the mental and social tools evolution gave them. When we get into human anthropology we find that predatory elites are psychologically different from the rest of us in the way their brains operate. The most socially aggressive tend to be malignant narcissists — people who are most driven to seek positions of power and prestige — whom a growing body of research has found are more prone to deceit, self-deception and being deceived by others. I have reviewed the literature on narcissism and organizational behavior, and find that the current generation of American \”power elites\” and the institutions they run are particularly prone to failure because of several identified factors, here: .

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