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MEN AND THE CITY 28: Man Against Metrics Part 2

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

Men in the city sense that the world is in the throes of furious change. Legacy structures and the paradigms that underpin them are imperiled. Cracks in the system formed decades ago are becoming more obvious, systemic, and unignorable. The perks of first world living: cheap and reliable energy, affordable groceries, housing, college tuition and even basic public safety in major cities are fading into ‘90s nostalgia. Red pilled men in the city are pessimistic about the future and growing restless, and even squeamish normies feel rattled. Voices of dissent are growing louder as the masses wonder aloud if the Gerontocracy has things under control.

Hard times have arrived, and new leaders and mass movements are needed to right the ship once again. The world needs Men in the Arena but for the moment “it is the critic[s] who count,” the naysayers, the risk-averse, the charlatans and grifters clinging to a crumbling order hoping against hope that things go back to the way they were before, or pretending nothing has changed. The Gerontocracy cannot adjust, they are too ideological, too mired in groupthink, too addicted to the virtue signaling that put them in power in the first place. So, they are doubling down on old tactics: censorship, talking points, and Mainstream-media-spin. This time, however, the Globalists and Beta-Tyrants are caught in their own web and events are overtaking them.

Hard times have arrived, and new leaders and mass movements are needed to right the ship once again.

Recognizing change is always a challenge, especially for last season’s winners or those seated comfortably at the top of a Manhattan high rise or aboard a bejeweled yacht on the Eastern Shore. Championship teams are experts at winning last year’s tournament, less so this year’s. Generals are adept at scripting the next war based on the last one. Central bankers are maestros of regression analysis and backward-looking data, and notorious failures at anticipating the next crisis. Fortune 500 CEOs deftly forecast next quarter’s earnings based on last quarter. Truly, planners plan and then the vicissitudes of fortune make mockeries of them.

What happens when there is no planning or preparation to begin with, when the feckless management who botched the last crisis are repeating the same mistakes this time? What happens when religious conviction in false realities drowns out even a whisper of alternative thinking or fresh ideas? As Ayn Rand famously said, “You can ignore reality, but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” Such a precarious farrago is beginning to overwhelm Western governments more aptly called “Middle School for Geriatrics.” At the risk of slight hyperbole, I think it is fair to say that the current crop of bureaucrats sitting atop Western institutions are the most mediocre, the most ill-prepared, the most delusional in a century, perhaps more.

The bureaucrats sitting atop Western institutions are the most mediocre, the most ill-prepared, the most delusional in a century.

No Limitations

Limitations must drive strategy. As Dirty Harry famously said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” A sense of limitation is essential for success, it keeps governments afloat and leaders in power. The battle against limitations is constant in business, politics, sports, war and beyond. There is an upper limit to how much grain you can harvest, how much oil you can refine, how many armaments you can ship, how many iPhones you can manufacture, even how much money you can print or how many banks you can bailout. There is also a limit to how much incompetence a nation will tolerate, or how much deception a population will swallow. We are bumping up against the threshold of limitations across the board.

We are bumping up against the threshold of limitations across the board.

War in Ukraine exposed the folly of ignoring limitations. Under the inane guidance of DC insiders, Western governments jumped on the bandwagon to sanction Russia, send aid and equipment to Ukraine, and stand tall against the tyranny of Vladmir Putin, Hitler reborn. Of course, no one considered the possibility that Russian oil and natural gas imports were indispensable to Europe’s economy, especially to German industry. No one considered the possibility that war in Ukraine would threaten global supply chains, especially agro-commodities like grain, sunflower seeds, rapeseed. No one cared that sustained conflict would send Africa and the Middle East into a food crisis.

Limitations gave way to platitudes. Western politicians seized the moment to posture as Churchill reincarnate, gave empty speeches about endurance and sacrifice, and promised swift justice and easy victory. That’s when things began to unravel. The world did not side with the West against Russia as assumed, rather, the BRICS union strengthened, and new applicants spread from a chorus of nations eager to oppose the Washington Consensus. Motivated by limitations, Iranians, Indians, Chinese, Saudis, Qataris, Egyptians, and Ethiopians etc. prioritized national economic interests over placating Western bankers – if only the West would do the same. (See below:)

Meanwhile, food and energy costs spiked. Oil prices exploded in response to higher demand from Asia, where over half the world’s demand resides. Natural gas experienced the same as global demand for Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) clogged shipping lanes in the Suez Canal. All the while, climate activists in America, Canada, and Europe evangelized renewables, shut down nuclear power stations, canceled natural gas pipelines, and Environmental, Social Governance (ESG) mandates forced institutional divestment from the fossil fuel industry. Of course, the solar panels, Lithium batteries, semi-conductor chips, and input minerals needed to support alternative energy platforms comes from outside the West, especially China. Whoops.

Not to worry, the gullible masses of average Americans, Britons, Frenchmen, Germans, Italians, Spaniards, and Scandinavians among others will “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship” to rally behind democracy, or so they assumed. The price paid has been high and the pain train just left the station: Western economies are shrinking, the eurozone is in deep recession, there are egg shortages in the UK, full blown de-industrialization in Germany, French troops operating in Niger to secure desperately needed uranium, power outages in New England, and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is at a near 40-year low. Savings are dwindling for American consumers as indicated by the San Francisco Fed (read more here). When, how does this end?

TINA is Always a Bad Strategy

Surely, America will weather the storm. The indispensable nation, the "arsenal of democracy," and bastion to resilient free markets is still the safest place to invest money, start a company, and ultimately entrust one’s fortune. However bad it gets America will still fare better than everyone else so nothing will fundamentally change in the West or beyond, so they assume. “Never bet against America” says the "Oracle of Omaha," and since 1945 anyway Warren Buffett has been correct. Is he right again?

No, no he is not. There is No Alternative (TINA) is always a shaky argument upon which to rest easy. It is a lazy, inertial perspective lacking in creativity and imagination. Such narrow mindedness has become institutionalized among the Gerontocracy who arrogantly assume they are masters of the universe. The same interventionist mindset inspired DC’s self-destructive policies in Ukraine, the very same ones that wrecked the Middle East, the Balkans, and Latin America before that. The same mental lethargy entrances Baby Boomer led pension funds eager to buy "risk-free" Treasury bonds in the face of unconscionable national debt and heart-racing interest expense that now exceeds military spending.

Ultimately, such complacency flames out in a fiery conflagration once the psychological reckoning fully processes what has happened. Is it time to sell America’s stock? Yes – yes, it is because brand Americana is fugazi. Mathematics professor Benoit Mandlebrot concluded the most egregious error confounding modern investment theory is the mispricing of risk. Financial markets – like human systems in general – are far riskier than most perceive. A similar mispricing, indeed, a blasé dismissal of current strains on social stability undergirds the baseline assumptions governing Western elites today.

A blasé dismissal of current strains on social stability undergirds the baseline assumptions governing Western elites today.

What seems clearer by the hour is the surge in uncertainty across the world. Such uncertainty is mispriced, it is discounted by the self-appointed rulers of the universe, “The Smartest Guys in the Room.” The Gerontocracy unknowingly confronts Ellsberg’s Paradox. They yearn for Keynesian certainty, for quantifiable risk that can be measured and metricized. As a result, festering discontent among the destitute and desperate, the revolt of sexless men and the rise of a Neo-Masculine Movement are invisible. The spread of hunger and poverty does not register on U3-unemployment numbers, there is no Angry-Man-Index so such ambient noise is imperceptible, mere static feedback.

What Must Be Done?

What is of profound concern to me is how out-of-touch and therefore oblivious are the technocrats in power. Among them there is little sense of urgency, no hint of danger or even the prospect of ensuing chaos. It is precisely when negligence, arrogance, and incompetence intersect that disaster strikes. To return to the prompt posed by Part one of Man versus Metrics – How bad can it get in the West, in America?

When negligence, arrogance, and incompetence intersect that disaster strikes.

The answer to that question has far more to do with the behavior of incumbents than one might think. Governments in developed countries seldom fall and the overwhelming majority of revolutions against them implode disastrously, and even successful ones frequently degenerate until the old order is restored by necessity. However, on the rare occasions when revolutions succeed there are common ingredients that must blend to favor the rebels, most importantly sudden economic crisis exacerbated by terrible decision-making.

Navigating the road ahead will not be easy nor will the tough decisions that must be made. What will the Gerontocracy do, what can they do to stay in power when the “delicate balance between forces of stability and forces of instability” turn sharply against them? Stay tuned for the final part of Man Against Metrics to find out.

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