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cave man capitalism
dismantling capitalism because you do not know what it is
70 some years ago, the brilliant economist joseph schumpeter (famed for his theories of creative destruction) presciently predicted that capitalism would one day become so successful that people would become sufficiently alienated from its inner workings that they would start to dismantle it without understanding what they were doing.
this dovetails in sinister fashion with the basic idea that any sufficiently advanced technology cannot be distinguished from magic. highly evolved capitalism becomes such a technology and and the largess and plenty it produces gets mistaken for a property of the universe rather than a made thing, a thing that must be created rather than simply reaped.
we become cave men with flint axes taking apart a microwave oven until one day, it’s cold dinners all around.
a great many cave men seem to live in california, a state that seems desperate to trade every single thing in it that works for something that smells like burning wires.
from forestry to economics and from energy to public health, they seem determined to lose technology after technology like the athenians lost greek fire.
california currently has a problem: the shipyards are overwhelmed.
now, this is far from a california only problem. this is true all over. we’re seeing similar in new york, texas, and georgia as the world desperately tries to catch up with the delays and disruptions and outright calamity caused by lockdowns. you cannot just stop the global economy for 2 weeks, much less 12 months. this was not disease, this was policy. and everyone needs a solution.
but california’s solutions are certainly unique.
as longbeach moves to 24/7 operations, biden says this is a “game changer.” but is it?
there are so many containers at the port that they are running out of places to put them.
longer hours of operation are not going to create more space or get more containers moving. and we need them to move. LA/longbeach process ~40% of all containers coming into the US. this is not a capillary. it’s an artery.
more than anything, we need trucks to get this cargo moving. so let’s create a trucking shortage instead.
oh, wait, we already did…
THIS happened back in april. AB-5 is the same rule that prevented uber and lyft drivers from being “contractors” and made them “employees” instead. an exemption was made for owner-operators of class 8 (and other) trucks. that exemption was struck down.
then the appeal failed.
then SCOTUS refused to hear it.
the right of free association is integral to capitalism.
if i would like to buy a truck and contract my labor driving it to you, that’s our business and no one else’s. free choice is what underpins the free market. abridge that choice and you break markets. increase the price and difficulty of contracting for of labor and you get less labor.
and you know who are one of the most mobile labor forces in the history of labor?
owner operators of tractor trailer trucks. so they leave. and they don’t come back.
and so here we are, pointing a firehose of containers at a balloon with only a pinhole to let them back out.
this exacerbates an already significant set of trucker shortages stemming from covid regulation and outsized CARES act benefits that made it more profitable to stop driving and stay home to watch netflix.
wait until they start trying to mandate vaccinations…
and this troglodyte technocracy is not limited to any person or party.
watch as the GoP seeks to solve congestion by banning ships. (note that this is federal, not state)
because why would we need ships? let’s just get rid of them because they’re cluttering up the place. the solution to this “mess” is just stop letting messy stuff come to our coast.
everywhere you look is another cave man with another axe disrupting markets and peeling off the parts of capitalism that make it function.
then they all look baffled when it stops working.
but there is nothing baffling here.
they broke this.
modern capitalism is a web of interdependent processes. it’s so complex that NO ONE understands it. no one could POSSIBLY understand it. the great news is that no one has to. as long as you leave it alone, it ticks along gorgeously. orders emerge from local actions and propagate. information moves to where it needs to be and collaborative networks are created.
famously, no one alive knows how to make a whole #2 pencil from scratch. and yet they are plentiful and so cheap as to represent a legitimate wonder of the world.
or, at least, they were…
“the before times”? seriously? these really are cave men speaking of the time before the waters stopped and not understanding that they are the ones holding the kink in the hose.
the conceit that we can have levers of power this potent and put them in the hands of people too deluded to realize that they have no idea what will happen if they pull them would be dangerous enough.
the derangement that the answer to the mess made by pulling the last levers is to build some bigger ones and pull them next is a runaway disaster curve. it’s societal speed wobbles that will end in calamitous crashes. every. single. time.
surely i cannot be the only one who has noticed how out of control EVERYTHING has become. fiscal policy. regulatory policy. public debt. public spending. intrusion into EVERYTHING. and none of it is making anything better. we’re fixing the fix of a fix of a fix with ever more bondo (possibly brawndo) on top of ever more rust. that way mayhem lies…
we put power grids in the hands of sociology majors who believe everything they read in green energy brochures. we killed pipelines for nat gas, functionally ended nuclear, banned coal, and did everything we could to impede drilling.
they never even imagined that energy delivery could cease.
we replaced it with wind and solar, neither of which is a real source of baseline power and both of which tend to fail and render whole grids unstable when they do.
then, as we saw in texas and california and the EU last year and will again soon, the grids failed. the lights and heat and AC went out.
today, gasoline prices surge to levels not seen since the last time joe biden worked in the white house.
and then the people who made this mess look around like there was no way to see this coming and that it’s some wild fluke that systems and technologies that have been so reliable and functional for 70 years that we all took them totally for granted and never even noticed them are all failing at once. “whatever could it be?”
hey are failing because we stopped noticing them.
they are failing because we gave up bottoms up evolved structures and gave over control of the economy and the society to people who had never worked in the industries they took suzerainty over and who had no idea what they were doing.
we’ve done this in finance, in infrastructure, in health, energy, and industry. it plagues education and social safety nets. these people cannot even manage forests anymore and that was a settled tech in the 1930’s.
we live in the age of trading that which worked for that which sounded good, of talismans and dogma and economic mysticism replacing the systems of emergent order that were so successful they got mistaken for magic.
it truly is a post rational age that has mistaken itself for arch-rationalism.
reclaiming control of this technology for the bottom of the ecosystem where the emergent order is created is going to be the fight of our time.
top down economic planning does not work.
bottoms up economic evolution works so well that it is literally the only thing in human history to EVER alleviate crushing poverty on a mass scale.
it’s so potent that it also enables kinds of stupidity never before seen, like conceits on planned economies.
it’s so robust that you can support all kinds of misbehavior and interference on top of it, but at a certain level of straw, you break the camel’s back.
this is not currently a healthy looking dromedary.
rollback is desperately needed or it’s going buckle.
you do NOT want to see what that looks like.
it can happen FAST. venezeula went from being an exporter of food and energy to mass starvation and energy insecurity in a handful of years.
utopias never look like the brochure…