I thrive on provocation. It inspires me to think.
I also like to provoke others in hopes of inspiring thought in them. But, for most of my life, it just ticked them off.
To provoke me to write something timely, my guy D.A. (who keeps the bus here at Prosperity Pub moving forward) sent me this Bloomberg article first thing yesterday morning.
He knew any headline with econ-babble like “soft landing” and “growth recession” would stir the pot.
It moved me to write about the contradictory fantasy contained within the phrase “growth recession.”
I wanted to point out yet again the vast knowledge problem ignored by economic models that pretend to deliver a reliable path towards such a specific and laughable outcome.
I considered invoking the “precautionary principle” as a warning against giving anyone – economist, politician, bureaucrat… whoever – power to meddle with free-market economic processes that contain far too many actors, choices, motives, complexities, and non-linearities to reliably model.
I saw an opportunity to make a quick tangential comment drawing parallels between ineffective economic models and climate models to stir in some provocation of my own.
I would surely have framed such pretentions of sufficient knowledge as a fatal conceit, heaped contempt on central bankers epistemic arrogance, and – space permitting – vented my spleen on a democracy that lacks the courage to “stand humble before complexity and [spontaneous] order without [centralized] planning.”
I was definitely going to call professional economists “pin heads”.
But then I got distracted watching Biden provoke half the country.
Which inspired me to write about that instead…
He Basically Used Three Words
In last night’s PRIME TIME address to the nation, Biden entirely, 100%, in as divisive a manner as possiblei, declared war on Trump voters.
With liberal use of that all too conditional word “democracy,” Biden absolutely pissed-off nearly half the country. He used fighting words on a group of people who say – and mean – “them is fighting wordsii.”
These are not effete, East Coast liberals to whom he’s talking. Though, it’s hard to say he’s knows exactly to whom he is talking.
Throughout his speech, heavy in repetition, Biden singled out as “extremist” people that have actually been punched in the face and are willing to risk it to get what they want.
I know he ticked me off. And I’m by no means a Trump supporter.
Ahem…I’m Not with Him
To clarify my position, I scratch my head at Trump’s rise to political power. I don’t think he knows what it takes to make way for a free and open society any more than Biden.
Were you to overlay a vertical axis on the typical left/right progressive/conservative paradigm – with up representing authoritarianism and down representing liberty, I would put Biden and Trump both at the top whereas I sit firmly at the bottom. To me, the only real distinction is their attitude towards property rights (an important distinction to be sure). But I’m not confident Trump can make the distinction between my property and his power.
The fanaticism he inspires confuses me. It amuses me that there are now MAGAs that feel the need to distinguish their loyalty by adding an “Ultra” qualifier.
Bottom line — I believe the power to choose belongs with those with the ability to choose and, in my view, neither the political right nor left can distinguish where their values end and my ability to choose begins.
But I also know the January 6th “insurrection” had as much likelihood of changing the outcome of the election (much less overthrowing the U.S. government) as Pinky and the Brain had of taking over the world. (I told you I like to provoke).
To politicians like Biden schooled in Marxist dialectics, words are weapons. Words like insurrection, democracy, terrorist, extremist, equality, unity, recession, inflation, inclusion, diversity, woman, and pregnant are used to limit thought. In his PR masters’ hands they become Orwellian newspeak. They are meant to define the boundaries of the “majority” despite the actual distribution of political views.
And anyone stubbornly rejecting the limits imposed by that majority are now, as White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre warned us all Thursday, “when you are not with where the majority of Americans are, then, you know, that is extreme. That is an extreme way of thinking.”
This is the kind of crap I’m talking about when I rail against centralization. The range of acceptable outcomes to the status quo holding the center inevitably narrows as they grasp for more power to hold it.
They need conformity. But they call it unity.
And the more people that blow their brains out falling into Marxist semantic traps, the easier their job.
How does this relate to markets? Because it’s another source of chaos, that’s how.
The more Biden uses rhetoric to paint half of the country into an ideological corner, the more severe the response.
Which, after all, was his intent.
Needing You to Need Them
Just like NATO baited Putin into making the first aggressive move in Ukraine, Biden — as front man of the Liberal World Order — just laid the bait for conservatives. And nothing would stir up the chaos dial more than for them to take the bait.
More chaos means less growth, planning, investing and prosperity. It also means more desperation. It means a hue and cry to “just do something.” Because the desperate masses lack the courage, much less the humility, to stand before complexity and spontaneous order without planning.
They need their contrived order. They need their man calling the shots.
Politicians like Biden know this. They built their careers on stoking that need. He now sees an opportunity to build his legacy on it.
However, more people now see the game for what it is. They no longer blindly accept the institutions, the two-party system, or the political authority propping up the status quo.
I have just recently discovered, after years of keeping my mouth shut, that statements that once consistently ticked people off now provoke dialogue and agreement.
And with both sides “all riled up,” I figured it’s a good time to provoke some thought, even at the risk of ticking you off.
Think Free. Be Free.
PS> If you like provoking thoughts, consider joining my free Prosperity Pub Telegram channel on Telegram. It’ll help you seize the opportunity that chaos creates.
i Dare I say “in as divisive a moment as the U.S. has seen since the Civil War.”
ii I know because I grew up with that group of people. I’ve been in fights where “them is fighting words” was used. Moreover, I understand deeply their point of view.