Archives for category: Institutional Reality

We are often told that sometimes we must act as if the worst could happen, even if the worst is unlikely, because the worst is so bad.

This is the precautionary principle.

I am dubious about the usual applications of the principle, in part because of framing.

That is, the prophet of doom who delivers the extremist message of disaster has framed the imagined situation in such a way as to preclude other, equally valid scenarios in which the same principle works against his dire warning.

Take the current situation with the coronavirus.

We are being corralled like cattle with little or no respect for our rights. We are being told the government must do these things to stave off the worst outcomes.

There is a lot going on here. But consider another use of the same extremist imagining:

Conspiracy.

We were introduced to the contagion immediately along with the possibility that it was the product of human engineering leaked from a medical lab, perhaps by accident, perhaps by sabotage or worse.

Quickly the major news sources and political players and the usual academic upholders of Respectable Opinion worked to squelch such notions. Almost certainly, we were told, it was the inadvertent if predictable outcome of the Chinese practice of raising and selling cultivated wild animal meat in “wet markets.” The caging of farmed wild animals brought them too close together, allowing for a new virus to spring up and infect the world.

Plausible story. Likely story. But it is by no means certain.

As I argued with Emile Phaneuf on the last episode of the LocoFoco Netcast, if you were Doctor Evil and sought to engage in an international power play using a major contagion as a weapon, but wanted to hide your activity, you would release it in Wuhan.

That would be cover.

And, as David Icke notes, if you take note of the infection patterns in America’s Public Enemy No. 1, Iran, and do not at least suspect a weaponization, how stupid are you? Just how much of a mark, a sap, a willing victim do you have to be?

I say: you would be a stooge. The useful idiot of malign forces.

You don’t have to believe in the conspiracy conjecture. You don’t have the evidence.

But if you resist thinking about the possibility, you make yourself an easy mark for the worst of our species.

And we know that the worst of our species can be very bad indeed.

Belief is not the issue: it is suspicion and caution that the precautionary principle requires.

We do not KNOW if the coronavirus was deployed as an instrument of social control. But we do know it IS being used to rob us of freedoms and create a nation, indeed, a world, of servile sheep to be corralled and shorn and perhaps slaughtered for the benefit of an elite who likes being in charge.

That being the case, it would be a form of the precautionary principle to act as if the coronavirus had been deployed as a weapon, and therefore resist tyrannical paternalism and instead promote distributed responsibility as the way to increase the safety of the population.

Note what I’m saying here: if the precautionary principle seems to require a fixation on an extremely bad outcome of a contagion, just so it requires us to consider that it is being used as a means of suppressing freedom. That is, the bad outcome of a plot to take away our freedoms.

Belief in the face of the unknown is not relevant. Probability comes into play in cultivating wisdom, and so do other principles of prudence.

So, to those of you who reject “conspiracy theories” out of hand? I say: don’t be a stooge, either to a possible malign organization or to the tricky nature of a system spinning out of control, and into a new form of dangerous control.

Free people aren’t stooges.

twv

How Lines of Inquiry Get Shut Down

Finally, someone smart and not a coward asks the obvious questions and expresses the requisite incredulity:

The lack of professional curiosity among journalists about the Jeffrey Epstein case is astounding. Eric Weinstein is speaking truth — to power, even (for the Fourth Estate is indeed a power) — here, simply by denying the lies commonly used to smother public interest and coverage of the subject.

But I have a conjecture. I may know why.

Indeed, I suspect everybody knows why: for everybody knows that at the highest levels of government, and feeding around The Giant Pool of Money, the institutions and people are fantastically corrupt. No, that is too light. Everybody knows that at the top, there is profound evil.

You know it, your neighbor knows it, and the media mavens know it.

But the knowledge is suppressed, quite willingly, by nearly everyone. Why?

Well, most people depend upon — and even obtain their sense of “identity” from — the governments that are evil. Everyone is morally compromised, “journalists” most of all . . . because they seek to be the manipulators of public opinion, and they (for the most part) want the power of the State to grow. Everyone has dirty hands and compromised consciences, so the knowledge of the evil at the heart and mind of the modern state is rarely spoken of, and those who do speak of it are scorned or derided or ignored.

We pretend it isn’t knowledge, and because we all speak of it so rarely, the knowledge ceases to be public, and thus not testable. And this, in turn, discourages tests.

It is a feedback loop of corruption, and it extends from the pinnacles to the barnacles.

Of society.

And Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself.

Richard Grenell, the new Acting Director of National Security, late of the Ambassadorship to Germany, is being attacked by Democrats for incompetence, lack of credentials, etc., but not heralded for being ‘openly gay,’ for what it is worth. I know, I know: had a Democrat appointed a similarly credentialed leftist, the hosannahs of wokitude would skirl and keen heavenward incessantly. Oh, well.

He used to be on Fox News, during the brief period I watched the channel. He seemed like a moderately reasonable conservative of the War Party, and not as egregious as the horrid John Bolton. Seemed staid and acceptable; has proved Plausibly Promotable.

I see no evidence for the charges of incompetence or lack of preparation I read on Twitter. I am not saying he is competent — I would not know — but he looks like yet another ambitious Beltway Operative to me. 

The deference Greg Gutfeld showed him was over the top, but I never got Gutfeld’s war policy mania. Which is no surprise, since I consider the very pool itself a swamp, not swampish because of the partisan inhabitants thereof.

But if Grenell orchestrates a UFO disclosure and forces the CIA to come clean on the JFK assassination, hosannahs shall come forth from my very lips.

twv

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell was in the news this week. “There is nothing about this economy,” he insisted, testifying before a congressional committee, “that is out of kilter or imbalanced.”

I do not believe this.

I readily admit, I did not glean my opinion from a deep study of current trends. It became obvious to me as the egregious Stephen Moore listed what he believes is so great with “the Trump economy” a month or so back. That statement, which I cited on my Facebook* page, lays out the basic features of a malinvestment bubble. It is elementary. Not all that obscure.

I assume that if the Democrats choose Bernie Sanders to do battle against Trump, the Federal Reserve will work mightily to postpone the bust — an explicit socialist is just going ‘too far.’

But if Democrats choose one of their billionaires or Buttigieg, I suspect the Fed wizards will ease up on all their easing, so to speak, and let the bust come before November. Buttigieg, especially, is the kind of person that insiders want: CIA-nurtured, Deep State-approved, and sporting a commie father (for that frisson of unhinged radicalism and necessary roughness, and as a sign of a willingness to betray the last shred of the Constitution) — quite controllable!

So, if you want to postpone the bust that is just waiting** to happen, push Bernie. If you are ready for the Big One*** — the shock to the system that will make 2008 seem like a mouse’s squeak — then urge the Democrats not to go too far off reservation.

twv

* On Facebook, December 8, I wrote the following:

On the Rubin Report, Stephen Moore enthused about the current economy. And it really is a boom time. But I was amused by (and stopped listening after) Moore’s summary: record low unemployment, with millions of job position unfilled; record low interest rates; low inflation rates, by which he meant a fairly level CPI (consumer prices being the braindead definition of inflation).
He seemed oddly ebullient. He seemed unaware that according to ABCT the situation is a bubble filled to near-popping point.
It is gonna be a doozy!
How could it not?

** Tom Ozimek, writing for The Epoch Times on the 11th, reported on Fed Chair Powell’s inflation-targeting problems:

*** My general view appears to be not too far off Peter Schiff’s.

“The common lot of humanity is so stupid and foolish that the burden of responsibility must be lifted from the blighters, to save them.”

So runs the common rationale.

But, in lifting the burden of responsibility, this common lot become less responsible, having endured decreased incentives to acquire wisdom. This leads to more stupid, foolish people, whose obvious existence feeds the initial rationale, encouraging further unburdenings, and thus more foolish people.

The feedback loop is quite clear, and the direction of policy self-reinforcing. It is a positive feedback loop with extremely negative consequences.

Amusingly, the rationale of unburdening was initially advanced by stupid, foolish people, but as the process goes on, more evidence accumulates to pull in congenitally wiser folks. So while the initial rationale was mere prejudice, later instances are of a kind of wisdom.

It is a trap!

The process was identified by Herbert Spencer: ‘The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly,’ he wrote in mid-19th century Britain, ‘is to fill the world with fools.’

twv

Whenever government assumes to deliver us from the trouble of thinking for ourselves, the only consequences it produces are those of torpor and imbecility.

William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793)

I agree with this characterization of the current impeachment mania by Scott Adams,especially his characterization of Trump’s enemies’ cases as “crazy shit.”
You have been “hypnotized” by the Deep State, you who demand Trump’s ouster based on Russiagate or the Ukraine Phone Chat or the president’s reactions to investigation.
More controversial is his thesis that “The public does not form opinions. Their opinions are assigned to them.”
I try to form my own opinions, occasionally even by looking at the facts, such as they can be determined. For this reason, my opinions seem very strange to most people.
Adamss idea that Matt Taibbi and Glen Greenwald are the only people whose opinions have not been assigned to them by the media is preposterous, of course, but I take it merely as hyperbole.
However, caution: people do choose who to listen to. If usually for irrational, tribal reasons. Which is why it has been vitally important for the CIA to envelop the media world in vast networks of influence, starting with Operation Mockingbird and continuing with placement of former interns (like Anderson Cooper) and even progeny of agents (that Morning Joe lady) in positions with star power and the imprimatur of Cultural Acceptability. The influence at this level is enormous.
The hiccough? The growth of new media. Which got out of the grasp of our Master Psy-op-eratoves. Hence the ideological crackdowns and game-rigging by what Michael Rectenwald calls “The Google Archipelago.”

I am reading this now. A review, perhaps, to come.
I have always known that governments lie, that politicians are congenital liars, and that, furthermore, secrecy is something the State requires, in addition to all those fantasies necessary to obtain compliance from the masses. But recently I have greatly expanded my estimation of the scope of state prevarication.
Some of this is the result of the brazen ways in which the shallow end of the Deep State has attempted to oust a president it did not approve of. But it goes far beyond this, and much of it is related to keeping the military-industrial complex going through incessant warfare. The insanity of these wars, their sheer idiocy and lack of coherence and even hints of efficacy to the attainment of stated goals, suggests to me something far beyond my packet of previous explanations:
1. greed and corruption via Pentagon contracts
2. powerlust by media folk, ideologues, politicians, military men, and bureaucrats
3. greed
I now think that an additional secret realm of operations has been at play, and has been kept running by an elaborate if stumbled-into plan of psy-ops. Most Americans have pictures of their government utterly at variance with reality — perhaps even their view of bedrock, non-political reality is greatly shaped by a startlingly coherent state agenda.
Funny thing is, my fellow individualists have such a low opinion of state competence that they buy into most of said government psy-op, are indeed routinely controlled by Deep State psy-ops. Their error is in underestimating the State.
For this truth is long established, and libertarians should know it best: the State is not an efficient instrument of the general interest, but, instead, a hyper-efficient conduit through which private interests can gain at the exploitative expense of other private interests, and to the general detriment of the general interest. And the key to this is the ultimate in psy-ops, the confidence game of political ideologies that promote the State as a necessary entity for the promotion of that phantom, the public interest.


Do Libertarians encourage poor people to not tax rich people and wait for heaven in the afterlife?

as answered by TWV on Quora:

Poor people don’t tax anybody. States do, and these are usually run by fairly well-off people, and are enthusiastically supported by the bulk of middle-income and high-income folks. High levels of taxation, coupled with transfer programs, were created and are maintained by well-off people — indeed by many people who are themselves beneficiaries of taxed wealth.

The idea, implied in the question, that state aid programs are heaven on earth, is laughable.

Libertarians I know are deeply skeptical of aid programs, first for relying upon forced expropriation and second for turning the poor into dependents who will, after enrollment into “welfare,” subsequently never better themselves.

This outlook of seeing only misery in the lives of poor people were it not for transfer programs is deeply perverse, in no small part because it serves as the political version of post-sale selling technique: “like your pittances, peons, you are pathetic and hopeless and cannot do better — so appreciate the crumbs we fling your way . . . and always demand more and vote for us.”

twv, May 4, 2019

Do some gun owners really believe in the conspiracy that the government is planning to take away all the guns?

…as answered by twv on Quora….

Yes. Sure. But most believe it is not a conspiracy, exactly, but instead an open movement that wishes to accomplish civilian disarmament by incremental regulations and prohibitions.

And since that is precisely what many gun control advocates and former advocates have publicly stated as their goal and their method, these gun owners are not witless, are they? Of course they are reasonably skeptical of any further regulation.

I know that when I flirted with gun control ideas, a mass confiscation immediately popped into my head, and I discussed it with other gun control advocates.

Also, political promises of “we only wish to do this so much (and no more)” and objections on the order of “how dare you think we will go all the way!” of any new proposal are to be believed only by chumps. The income tax was promoted as something only a few of the very rich would pay, and even then not all that much. Within five years the rates on the top bracket went from 7 percent to 77 percent and people at the bottom went from paying nothing to paying 1 percent. Government “wants” to grow. So any small increase in regulation is rightly seen as merely a “first step.”

It is also a known thing that many people in government — as legislators and as functionaries — want a general civilian disarmament. It sure would make their jobs easier! They think.

But gun owners look upon all this with a growing sense of incredulity. Government functionaries cannot successfully do their jobs now, as was shown in the recent Parkland, Florida, shooting incident. And the War on Drugs failed to eradicate psychoactive drugs even from prisons, the most heavily guarded buildings in the country.

So that means that a gun confiscation — or any increased legal encumbrance upon citizen ownership — would surely do only one thing: decrease the ability of peaceful and lawfully disposed citizens to own guns, but not the violent and the criminal. It would basically leave people less safe.

Besides, Spencer’s Law applies, as increasing numbers of gun owners understand. Gun crimes have been going down in America as gun ownership has risen. And this applies to school shootings, too. If someone, conservative or progressive, is much exercised about “a rise in violence” in America, they are, for the most part, being driven by coverage and hysteria, not facts, figures, and sound risk assessment. The rise in demand for “doing something” is occurring as the need for “doing something” is diminishing.

Given this, gun owners wonder what could gun control advocates be thinking? Are they that credulous?The kids are, surely — yes. But some gun control advocates, they know, are indeed malign proponents of authoritarian government. Many gun control politicians and activists love tyrannical government as such. Just look at their methods and policies. Freedom has nothing to do with their agendas. They like robust government, vast redistributions of wealth, and massive regulation of every conceivable element of life, down to the drinking of sodas. They are illiberal. Every society has such people. Not a few of my friends and acquaintances would welcome a “benevolent” tyranny if it would get them the policies they desire.

To the extent that they advance their political program in public, gun control organizing is not conspiratorial. It is, instead, an open political assault on a free society. But some of these people are in government, and no doubt do have contingency plans in place to confiscate vast hoards of guns. So I guess even I believe in such a conspiracy.

But mainly I am politically opposed to the entreaties and counsel of fools.

twv

I, of course, am harmless.

On Quora, the question was asked: “How can a gun enthusiast still claim their [sic] right to bear arms is more important than public safety?” Paul Harding, a deputy sheriff, begins an interesting answer this way: “All of your Constitutional Rights come at the cost of safety.”

But he doesn’t stop with this admission. He essays a sophisticated perspective:

Give up your rights under the 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments, and I’ll make the world safer for you. No question about it.

The only problem is that if you give up all those rights, which are really just restrictions on the things I’m allowed to do to you, what’s going to keep you safe from me?

He ends with this: “Freedom is scary, but lack of freedom is scarier.

The argument, here, is that “public safety” is not just a two-factor variable where (1) gun ownership ranges from “no effect on public safety” (guns in good citizens’ hands) to “negative public safety” (guns in criminals’ hands) and (2) policing ranges from “no public safety” with zero policing and court intervention to “complete public safety” with maximum possible scope for regulation, gun prohibition, and police power.

Both of these factors have wider ranges of effects, subject to side effects and diminishing returns.

Does this graph I just threw together help conceive of the difference between imaginary effects of gun confiscation, or maximum controls, and actual effects?

Of course, the “expected” line is only as expected from statists. People who believe that government is magic. It is possible that my expectation trajectory might dip lower faster.

twv