Thursday, March 20, 2014

Feudalism Reinstituted in Suckersland where One Man owns Everything

Dateline: Richardsville, Suckersland—Economic inequality in Suckersland has reached its ultimate end point: a single man in that nation owns absolutely everything and all of the other inhabitants are broke or in debt.

Lord Richard, the man who literally has everything, surveys Suckersland from one of his palaces, sending in his robotic henchmen to remind the masses of their lowly station. A family strolls along, a large robot shows up, displays Lord Richard’s insignia, and the parents strip the clothes from their back. The robot snatches the clothes and also the lollipop from the child’s hands.

Having collected those tributes, Lord Richard will make his daily rounds, parading through the streets with his robot guardians and wearing a thousand shirts at once, over top of each other and stitched together. In each of his hands: a dozen lollipops.

“He certainly has a lot of clothes,” says an indebted resident. “But at least we Suckers have only one plutocrat.”

Before he knighted himself, Lord Richard was a salesman and a predatory investor who looked at business like a game of Monopoly. “The goal in business is to destroy your competition,” he said, “so that you wind up with all the money and the property and the power.”

His prowess as a salesman was renowned. “I could sell anyone anything. I’d just spin the truth of what I was selling, tell people what they wanted to hear, and they’d throw their money at me. They kept buying my mass-produced schlock and then they went into debt. But I also owned the banks to which they were indebted. So I took their homes and all their possessions too.

“I kept everyone working for a while out of charity, but then of course no one could afford what I was selling. I could have exported, but I preferred to be the big fish in the little pond.”

Effectively, then, the Suckers were reduced to serfs who work at the pleasure of Lord Richard, whom many worship as a god. “I had my politicians rewrite the constitution and reinstitute feudalism,” explains the ruler of Suckersland. “I find it just streamlines the workings of plutocracy. Now we don’t have to bother pretending we’re capitalistic or democratic. You know, all of that self-deception can wear on you. The Suckers don’t even have to suffer from doubts about an invisible God, since they can go ahead and worship me. I’ve got everything, after all.”

Economists failed to predict that a formerly-capitalistic country could so quickly revert to a feudal society. As one economist concedes, “I think our problem was that we pulled our mathematical models directly out of our hindquarters. I mean literally, I think I have a second brain in my rear end, like a dinosaur, because I wasn’t really thinking when I came up with my rosy models and forecasts about how a capitalistic economy progresses to an optimal state of equilibrium in which everyone gets what they want. Instead, I reached inside my anus and pulled out not just the mathematical tools to disguise the counterfactuality of my assumptions, but the audacity to practice that pseudoscience in the first place.”

Now Lord Richard keeps a bevy of economists as his court magicians and jesters. “Make the peasants believe they’re in a meritocracy,” he’ll order the court economists. And, as Lord Richard says, “they’ll reach up their backside where they store their myths and legends, and start spouting the most astonishing foolishness. I’ll command them to tell the tale of how we’re all rational optimizers seeking to maximize our utility. And they’ll do their little dance to distract from the fact that ours is a nation of Suckers with only one god.”


  1. Yeah, it's weird how capitalism is based on winning, not living in harmony, and yet they think it'll end in living in harmony?

    Do they just tell us this crap as all the various moneyed players go about their game of trying to win (and this is just a lie to aid in that game) or do some or even all of them think they can play this world like a game and somehow a just result will indeed pop out of some cosmic hindquarters?

    Or is it a mix of both? A fact they sort of know, but keep avoiding in the coridors of their mind?

    1. It's hard to say. Of course, the more complicated they are, the less likely conspiracy theories are to be true. In theory, capitalism is supposed to be paradoxical, because unregulated selfishness and greed are supposed to make for a prosperous economy, since they incentivize everyone to work hard to fulfill everyone's needs. I think there's a kernel of truth here about the value of competition, but it ignores the ethical side of Adam Smith's theory. In short, this kind of deregulation obviously has disadvantages as well.

  2. Competition is kind of like petrol - useful in a carefully focused engine, but if you let it leak everywhere, eventually it finds a flame.

    Also capitalism does not in any way incentivise everyone to work hard to fulfill everyone's needs. Only the suckers think that.

    Doing so MIGHT be a means to the end of winning. But if there's a better way to winning, then discard it. That's playing to win. Dave Sirlin's e-book on playing to win ( touches on how people tend to be scrubs and ignore certain options as valid play - and so they fail to really play to win. Which explains why they might think capitalism is benevolence. Because they don't know how to play cut throat.

    1. Indeed, big companies are known for merging precisely to avoid competition. The government is then needed to break up the monopoly and to reestablish competition. So Darwinian competition is a "virtue" only for the little guys who can't buy their way into the heaven of a monopoly or an oligopoly. This is the irony of a capitalistic economy, which is that far from being self-regulating it degenerates. The free market folks are thus effectively opposed to competition.

    2. But of course you would be! Competition gets in the way of winning!

      The thing is, I wonder if they are so hell bent on winning/getting resources for them that they avoid saying they are opposed to competition because it might very well get in the way of them winning/gaining big resources.

      Do you think they know they are opposed to competition but avoid saying it for that reason? Or do they even sort of not know and avoid admitting it to themselves, so they can feel like good guys by not even knowing themselves that they are opposed to competition and thus they aren't keeping anything from anyone?

      Is the second theory too convoluted?

    3. Who knows how multimillionaires or billionaires think? They might as well be aliens from another galaxy, as far as I'm concerned. But I'm sure their paramount concern is to rationalize the grotesque economic inequality they benefit from, so they can look at themselves in their Tiffany mirrors.

      They might say, for example, that once you win in a competition, you've no more need to prove yourself, so you've earned your reward, such as a monopoly or an oligopoly. If they've inherited their wealth, they may that that wealth, too, was originally won in a competition, so again the family's later generations have earned the right to kick back in their private resorts, free from competition with the peons.