"God, this joint is a mess!" complains the one with $60 million in her pocket.
"Don't worry," replies the one with $20 million in hers, "My Dad was a janitor. I'll clean this place out in no time. First, we will raise everyone's wages to $22/hours; and when the establishment goes belly up, I'll represent them in bankruptcy hearings, blaming everything on the banks."
Quoted directly (as written) from the actual email sent today to the frustrated CFO by her CEO:
You are so right about the economy. More than a half of the candidates I talked with today are looking for a job because they were laid off as the result of their companies' downsizing or being swallowed during hostile mergers. One of the candidates worked for the same company for 20 years, and she is now looking for an entry-level job just to get stable employment with benefits. Amazing! Most people don't even know what's going on with the economy, because they listen to lies.
Like many hiring execs, I still have an employer account with Monster.com, even though the time when they dominated the job-hunting market has passed. Nowadays, they are not even at the top of the industry leaders list. Still, we got used to them in the 17 years they've been around. And they do try their best to provide the paying clients with value-added bells and whistles beyond the standard ad posting: resume matching, database searching, description writing, HR Resource Center, and whatnot.
One of these add-ons is the email service that blasts recruitment articles to all registered users. I usually ignore these emails, but the last one had an article with an enticing title The Real Reason Millennials are Leaving Your Company.
The first thing that caught my eye was the singular "Reason." I thought, "The author was able to identify a single, most fundamental cause of what appears to be a case of chronic pins and needles in the millennial butts? That's remarkable!"
I got even more curious reading the logline. It talked about an abundance of options, "a plethora of jobs" that allow millennials to be "super selective" in their career choices. Moreover, it promised expert advice to employers on how to keep the "valuable millennials" in the work seats. I was like: This must be one of those sci-fi imagine-if humorous thingies, because these statements, if not drenched in undiluted sarcasm, can only refer to some remote planet in an unknown universe. Here on Earth, right now, most of the millennials you and I know are either unemployed, or work jobs that have nothing to do with their chosen professions (let alone vocations), or stretch their schooling to avoid facing the bleakness of the job market. I mean, there are premium cable shows and broadcast sitcoms about it.
And, "valuable millennials?" Yes, they exist, in small numbers and tiny clusters, and you ought to be very lucky to have them around. But generally speaking: the state of our arts and entertainment is a testimony of young people's value and their values. And when it comes to hiring, you need to go through 800 entry-level resumes to find 3 candidates who can write a coherent sentence, even though (I'm talking to you, senator Sanders!), all of the applicants have college degrees.
Opening the article immediately dispelled all enthusiasm. Firstly, no pinnacle reasoning was crystallized. The piece was divided into subsections addressing different causes for millennials' job mobility. Since the author is not a Canadian afflicted by the national inability to pluralize words, I can only attribute the use of the single form in the title to writing and editing sloppiness. And, of course, there was not a single whiff of alien or any other humor.
In fact, the self-branded Talent Maximizer® Roberta Matuson, who wrote the article, takes herself and her "advisory" role very seriously. In complete solemnity she lists the following as the reasons why the millennials don't want to hold on to their jobs (with my commentaries):
To paraphrase Woody Allen, "What's wrong with this? Everything!"
First of all, what does the lame formula "improved society" mean? What's a "better society" for one person, is hell for another. The massive support of Bernie Sanders by young voters clearly shows that they want to live in a welfare state. I, on the other hand, have been preaching no government interference and market economy my whole life. I would understand if the focus was more specific - let's say on environmental issues. If employees of different ages boycotted the fracking industry, for example, our society would seriously benefit in the long run. But I doubt we are talking about future impact here. I'm pretty sure that if the fracking industry started providing free daily lunches to local people, the millennials would think of them as employers with a positive mission! Never mind the explosions and the fiery faucets.
And what happened to the old-fashioned purpose of being profitable, staying in business, and continuously providing jobs? It's not good enough? Do all millennials want to work for non-profits spending grants, or public companies depleting investors' pension and college funds?
Well, this is not the first time I am confronted with the suggestion that what I call "hugging motivation" is more important to younger people than fairness, objectivity, professional growth, adequate compensation, etc. Don't get me wrong, the acknowledgement of one's achievement is incredibly important, but only if it's deserved. Constantly patting on the back some unimpressive, low-value jackass out of fear that they will leave - that would be a betrayal of my work ethics and a violation of my fiduciary duty as a CFO. Merit-based rewards, people! That's what made America great in the first place and that's what will bring the greatness back!
And here she goes again with the sci-fi twist: the recession is over! Where? In Alpha Centauri? Oh, wait - on the front page of The Wall Street Journal and in government reports. In real life, we are in the permanently recessive stage of economic decline with no prospects for upward turn. This slow sliding may feel to the uninitiated as a flat plateau, but just you wait - we are bound to experience some dramatic crashes as well.
So, no matter how much you praise them, and hug them, and take them to lunch, the old-school paycheck still matters! Except there is nothing old-school about it either. Back in the day, wages were determined by clear and tangible factors: the sophistication of the job, the level of expertise, the scarcity of QUALIFIED professionals on the market. But apparently it doesn't work like that with the generation of people who were born after The Breakfast Club and Back to the Future came out. The key to their adequate compensation is their own self-worth. We must pay them whatever they think we must pay them. And don't forget, the employers need to account for the student loans! Essentially the implication is that we have to pay them what they NEED and not what they earn. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" maybe sounds right to Sanders's supporters, but it is not the principle that lies in the American foundation. You know whose principle that is? Marxists-communists!
Just the millennials? Is that what the article's author actually believes? That millennials should be treated preferentially when it comes to working hours, paid time-off, etc.? That there should be two different HR policies in every company, one for millennials and another for the rest of us chickens? That's age-based discrimination, isn't it?
I've always believed in the importance of work-life balance and regularly wrestle with the owners to ensure that every employee has access to the same set of benefits and perks. And what my experience shows is that the millennials take the full advantage of these packages like no one else; sometimes to the point of abuse. 90% run out of the office the minute the clock strikes the official end time, no matter what's happening with the work. Many don't even spare a few seconds to shut down their computers (yet all of them fancy themselves "environmentalists"). Just last year, I had a millennial employee who was out for 15 working days in the 5 months I tolerated her bullshit. I've never had to deal with that kind of attitude before the millennials entered the workforce.
The truth is that you don't need to be an HR expert to formulate your ideas about the reasons behind the millennials' prevalent job discontent. Any experienced manager with a keen eye and some human insight can draw up a comprehensive list. And here is mine (in no particular order):
The same gracious people who introduced me to Diamond & Silk also approached me with a suggestion that I watch the so called "Trump episode" of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Knowing my time constraints and quality standards, they weren't very insistent. They said, "We think you may want to watch this one episode." But I didn't need much convincing anyway. After all, I liked John Oliver's Britishly offbeat, overly serious persona as a Senior British Correspondent on The Daily Show. I was excited when he got his own HBO program and even watched the premier on its first airing. It was quite good, but not stimulating enough to get on my must-watch list. Plus, I was somewhat creeped out by the overly excited John Oliver. So, that first episode was also my last. But if people I respect singled out another one for me, why not?
Granted his audience is small - it averages 0.9 million viewers per episode. Still, to go in front of 900,000 people and advertise yourself as a complete nincompoop, desperately ignorant of the most elemental insights every political commentator simply must have - that requires some seriously engorged balls. How he isn't dead from embarrassment is difficult to understand for someone like me. I mean, whatever subject he touched: public relations, social responsibility, campaign finance, corporate vs. individual contributions, wealth management, commercial lending, real estate, subprime mortgage industry, licensing - to put it mildly, he didn't know what the fuck he was talking about.
Well, I understand that John Oliver is "just a comedian" and encyclopedic standards should not be applied. But the power of political satire has always been in the full grasp of the subject matter. That's what gives laughter substance and makes it an effective weapon. Of course, I know better than to expect such quality here; still, he's got some gall talking out of his ass like that. Why discuss intangible assets with such authority, for instance? Trust me, it takes some heavy-duty modeling to evaluate those. My best guess is that Mr. Oliver is completely unaware how uninformed he comes off. Who's going to tell him? He is probably surrounded entirely by like-minded folk.
But forget the intellectualism; the most shocking element of the program for me was Mr. Oliver's conspicuous hatred toward Mr. Trump. The level of outrage, the voltage of disdain! You would think that Donald Trump's political agenda included cancelling the Bill of Rights and setting up labor camps! (Wait, that's the candidate on the other side, isn't it?) John Oliver was literally exploding with venom! At certain point he reached the state that can only be described as explosively deranged.
This spitting of lies and saliva at your opponents are, of course, the gold standard of yellow journalism. This is exactly how it's done: stretching some tweeted scheduling inaccuracies of a man, whose appointment book is fatter than John Oliver's head, into political lies; or reducing one of the most critically acclaimed musicians of the 21st century (albeit a controversial personality), who smashed hip-hop standards and garnered high praises from the likes of Paul McCartney and Lou Reed, to a "sociopath with a finger-free anus." I guess, that's the brand of programming HBO was expecting when they gave John Oliver what he describes as "creative freedom."
And making fun of immigrant's names?!!! That's just unseemly. It's nice for Mr. Oliver that his name originates in such deep WASP annals that it's unlikely to be misspelled here in America. But many Americans had there original names changed for the sake of assimilation (including Clinton and Sanders) or, even more frequently, misspelled upon entry by immigration clerks. My mother is a Cohen. There is like a hundred variations - Coen, Cohn, Kahn, Kohn, Koyen, Kagan, Kogan, Kogon, Kogen. Ask you friend John Leibowitz (a.k.a. Stewart), Mr. Oliver, and he will explain to you that these are all the same names. And my own names, both first and last? I can fill a volume larger than John Oliver's Earth book with misspellings. I am unequivocally in support of everyone's right to declare their political views; and, like Voltaire said, I will die for their freedom to do so; but that name bit has nothing to do with politics and it felt like a personal affront to me.
This whole tasteless attitude directed specifically towards one presidential candidate has all the makings of media bullying. And it sort of feels like HBO's mandate, doesn't it? First, Oliver's outrageous escapade. And now Ms. Lena Dunham, another HBO alumna with an even tinnier audience (700,000 viewers per episode average) but a larger bag of scandalous tricks, "threatens" the world with a promise to move to Canada if Donald J. Trump wins. Wow, some people! Not only their feminism but even their patriotism is skin-deep. "I don't like the executive part of my government, so bye-bye America!" I would expect a bit more gratitude to this country from someone with pilgrims on one side and Jewish immigrants on the other side of the family. But way to put yourself back in the news with this political barbarism!
Don't even get me started on the improbability and the emptiness of this threat! Moving to a "lovely place in Vancouver" and getting her "work done from there" only makes a person a short-term visitor to Canada. It's just silly! Trump still will be her President, she still will be paying federal taxes, and without a proper visa she will be asked to leave fairly soon. Giving up US citizenship and actually immigrating to Canada - that would be a serious step. And it's also a seriously difficult process. Unless she already has a Canadian family, gets a job in the oil industry, claims a political refugee status (no, Trump's presidency will not qualify), goes to school in Canada (a temporary solution anyway), marries a Canadian (maybe Taylor Swift can hook her up with Justin Bieber), or deposits $7.5 million with the Canadian government as an immigrant investor (with the supposed net worth of $12 mil and the only alive project going into the last season - I don't think so), she will have no chance to become a Canadian. But let's say her celebrity status gets her there somehow. I can only imagine her shock when she sees the tax bill and the diminished consumer basket she will be able to afford with the remainder of her earnings. And all those gynecological issues she habitually bares for the general public - they will be subjected to the state-run Canadian medical industry; very different from the wonderful care she receives in one of the best hospitals in the world here in New York.
Yet, apparently more celebrities are joining this unpatriotic trend of "moving to Canada" threats. Well, it just shows you how politically unsubstantial, unjustifiably empowered, uninformed, and removed from reality these people are. Ignorance is a bitch. If I were on Hillary's campaign I would've recommended her to immediately separate herself from this anti-American movement.
I cannot help but wonder whether these self-righteous entertainers with overblown egos (as well as their HBO bosses) understand that at the end of the day they are nothing more than tiny bolts in a humongous, stock-market fueled, corporate machine, i.e the Time Warner Inc. conglomerate, whose CEO makes $35 million annual salary. And come to think of it, considering the content-driven business model of a premium cable network such as HBO, this could be just a ploy of exploiting Trump's trailblazing persona for the sake of maximizing the big corporate daddy's profits and public stock values. I mean, the media is flooded with Lena Dunham's face like never before; and, according to HBO's statement, John Oliver's Trump episode broke the network's social media viewership record with 23 million YouTube and 62 million Facebook views. Isn't it amazing how Donald J. Trump's Midas touch works? He even turns the shit thrown at him into gold.
But you know what the scariest thing is? It's how fascist the supporters of both the democratic candidates are! They don't leave room for others' right to speak freely at all. These people are militant. One has to be really brave to declare her opposition to Hillary or Bernie in the liberal circles of New York and Hollywood. I guarantee you, these liberals wouldn't even think twice before secretly blacklisting such a daredevil. And heroism is dead (okay, almost dead). And so, with the exception of a few, people hide their true beliefs and yield under the oppression of these bullshit-spewing fanatics.
There is definitely something terribly fragile about the state of our foreign affairs if I need to discuss our phony "allies" in two posts back-to-back. This time, it's not some unnamed "friend" - it's Saudi Arabia or, as many journalists call it, one of the "most awkward" of US allies. The reason I feel the need to talk about it is that the present tension between us and Saudi Arabia is a stark exhibit of how monetary stimuli affect the White House politics.
But before I can address the current events, some cursory background is mandatory. At the very least it is important to understand why we are allies with Saudis in the first place and what's so awkward about this relationship.
Ever since FDR (that Grand Master of uber-strenuous alliances) struck some sort of a secret deal with the Saudi ruler of the time King Abdulaziz in 1945, the resulting relationship has been teetering on three main financial whales:
As in many money-driven relationships, the partners in this one don't really see eye to eye when it comes to non-monetary issues, especially with respect to social and political values. Hence, the awkwardness. Our President can laugh all he wants, but for those who care it's painful to know that the White House calls the country famous for its obscurantist interpretation of Islam, medieval punishments, and the harshest treatment of women "our ally." On the other hand, Saudis are not happy with US Middle-Eastern policies, especially in Syria, Iran, and Israel. In fact, the Saudi foreign minister has been quoted as saying, "It's a Muslim marriage, not a Catholic marriage."
That's actually remarkably aphoristic: Catholic marriage is for life. No divorces are permitted, so the union is truly "till death do us part." On the other hand, according to Sharia (Islamic law), Muslim divorce process is reduced to a single announcement of a husband to his wife, "I divorce you" (the phrase and the short ritual are both called talaq). That's it - he says it and she is out on the street; no legal or even religious authorities need to be involved. Apparently Saudi Arabia feels that the United States of America is its Muslim wife. As I said, clearly the relationship is precarious at best.
Into this volatile drama enters the bipartisan bill that, if passed by the Congress, may allow victims of 09/11 to sue foreign governments, including Saudi Arabia. When was the last time you've heard of a yet-unapproved legislation proposal becoming a big international news item? Well this one did, as soon as it hit the congressional floor. How important is this bill to the White House? It is so important that, according to the New York Times (our last frontier of journalism with original sources), the Obama Administration has been lobbying against it for quite some time, trying to squash it before it even got to the approval stage. Unable to stop the bill so far, Obama went this week to Saudi Arabia to talk it over with the King.
The administration's cover story for the bill-bashing activities, formulated on the record by the President, is the concern that this will give other nations a reason to put in place similar regulations against the United States. Well, even though we don't create disasters like 09/11, we do meddle in other nations' existence from time to time. So, it's a plausible worry. Only I don't buy it. Why is he not going to any other countries that may be impacted by the bill, just to Saudi Arabia? Why the President himself and not the Secretary of State, for example? You know why - C.R.E.A.M.!!!
The very same New York Times has also reported that our "ally" has already announced to the White House their retaliation strategy. Does it have anything to do with "we-shall-sue-you-back" laws? Nah, not surprisingly it's economic: they threaten to sell off $750 billion of American assets. Now, that's what I'm talking about! Money! It talks and makes US Presidents bounce this way and that way on their strings.
I find it absolutely preposterous that some "commentators" immediately started calming themselves down and speculating that Saudis don't even have that much of US bonds and stocks; or that they wouldn't extinguish a huge cache of investments just like that, because they would lose money, etc., etc. They sound to me like a bunch of ignorant optimists who either don't understand the extent of Saudi wealth, or are hiding their heads in the sand out of fear, or both. But I am not like that. I'd rather look into the face of the most damning scenario. I think that Saudis wouldn't hesitate to act on their threat. I also think that they are probably as conservative as I am and value their investments at the lower of cost or market. Therefore, this specific amount, $750 billion, is exactly what they can do without any problem; moreover, with gains.
Now, let's see what this amount means to the United States. First, there is the most obvious implication of the threat - the one that's on everyone's mind. $750 billion is about 1.7% of the total value (as of 12/31/2015) of American publicly-traded stocks and treasury bonds combined. That's a pretty significant share. (Just to give you an idea of the number's magnitude: the market capitalization, i.e. the total value of all outstanding shares, of Apple, Inc. [#1 ranked American stock] is $600 billion.) Dumping huge buckets of equity shares and bonds into the market will start an obvious chain reaction: The stock prices will start violently dropping and bonds' discounts (percentages below par) increasing. This will push other investors, especially day traders, into a panic and they will join the sell-off in attempt to recover at least some of their money, intensifying the effect and driving the prices further and further down. As the result, (a) the stock market will experience a deep adjustment and (b) the US Dollar will be seriously devalued. This, in turn, will affect the global markets, the international trade, the costs of raw materials, the deficit, etc., etc.
And assets divesture could be just a first step. It may be followed by another economic blow - the cancellations of arms deals. There are always Russians, you know, with their outdated garbage, but it looks pretty sinister. If weapons sales seize abruptly, first the military sector will need a bailout and then we shall see a contraction of the entire industrial sector. Therefore, it is not surprising that the White House is concerned - there is a definite possibility of talaq (see above) here. I'm sure Obama went to Saudi Arabia to promise them that he would veto whatever rightful laws the Congress might pass.
There is another significance to this number, though. It can give you an idea of who owns the US marketable securities (and keeps their values high). As of 10/01/2015, $12.2 trillion of those assets belonged to foreign investors. This breaks down into 43% (!) of total outstanding US government bonds ($6.2 trillion), and 20% of all outstanding equity shares ($6 billion). Now, as I said, not only that I think Saudis own $750 billion of American assets, I am sure that this is just a portion of what they have. It's just hard for me to believe that they would divest of the entire lot, no matter how angry they are. For argument's sake let's say it's 50% of what they actually have. That would mean that the kingdom holds 12% of the total foreign investments into the US markets. Remarkable!
Of course, all this politico-economic rat-scuffling is very fascinating, but so is the human paradox. Just think about it. There always have been plenty of speculations about Saudis complicity in 09/11 attacks, but nobody ever came out with solid proofs. If they exist, they are buried well. And honestly, considering how fickle everyone's attention is nowadays, nobody would dwell on their suspicions too long; if only Saudis kept their guilty asses in low profile, pretending that they have nothing to hide. But no! They had to go to the Bush administration with, "Please, please, get us out of here ASAP," resulting in all those sweeping-away-in-helicopters shenanigans. Nobody will ever forget that! And now, this scandalous reaction to the bill! Doesn't it sound like an admission of guilt? Wouldn't it be cleverer to stick to the not-guilty plea? I mean, even if there are law suits, a country like Saudi Arabia can buy the best legal defense in the world. On the other hand, it could be a matter of arrogance. They must feel incredibly secure not to worry about appearances.
Well, I stayed out of it for a long time. I snapped at the phony feminist sisterhood only 2 or 3 times and tried to ignore the offensive, nonsensical, anti-American garbage pouring out of the Jacobin of Vermont. But he did not go away, and considering the mental state of the Union, I shouldn't have hoped for that. Now we are definitely on dangerous ground. At this point, no one who understands the historical, economic, and social impact of Mr. Sanders's candidacy should remain silent, no matter how small their voice.
Here is what History taught me about the seemingly far-out rabble-rousers like Bernie Sanders:
1. They are fanatics in the most literal definition of the word, i.e. they are possessed by overwhelming and unwavering zeal for their extreme causes, whatever they may be: class equality, ethnic or religious purity, condemnation of cultural traditions, intellectual ostracism, or expropriation of private wealth into the government's treasury. As fanatics they are dangerously immune to logic, critical reasoning, and morality. They are absolutely intolerant to the opinions and ideas of others, and will treat their opponents as mortal enemies - Qui non nobiscum, adversus nos est (Those who are not with us are against us).
2. Contrary to popular belief, they are not actually rebels with breakthrough ideas; they are nothing more than followers. They are not capable of independent thinking and invariably get fixated on the ideas of others, frequently misunderstanding, misinterpreting, and misappropriating the original thesis. Older siblings are often responsible for shaping their overly impressionable minds. They are prone to idolization of certain historical figures. And every one of them uses some preexisting model as a framework for their own system of beliefs: Roman Imperialism, the Reign of Terror, the Communist Manifesto, or "Danish Socialism," to name a few.
3. They usually have no regard for fundamental principles and cornerstone concepts. Private property and the creation of profit are the carrying pillars of the United States of America, as it was conceived by our founding fathers. Anyone who wants to topple them down is nothing if not anti-American. But the delusional rabble-rousers always believe that a structure can remain sound and functional even if its backbone is completely removed. Time and again throughout history they have found themselves on a pile of rubble, trying to put together a "brave new" world out of broken pieces. They are oblivious to the undeniable truth that it's easier to destroy than to create.
4. Of course, it is quite possible that they don't know and/or understand what these fundamental principles are. The truth is that most rabble-rousers don't know much about anything except the rabble-rousing itself. Many political figures start their agitating undertakings early on in their lives and simply don't have time for in-depth studies or any sort of self-growth. An overwhelming number of the most dangerous historical figures were expelled from schools and universities, (Note! This is very different from dropping out on your own volition, especially in pursuit of more adequate education. A student activist wants to stay a student activist as long as he can, and that has nothing to do with education), couldn't hold a job, or achieve any success in their desired calling.
The undergrad student Bernard Sanders, for example, was an avid member of several political organizations, including the Young People's Socialist League. There was no time to dig into books. A few odd jobs here and there, and by 27 he had snugly settled into the life of a political campaign operator in Vermont. Sadly, monetary matters, political economics, commercial entrepreneurship, medical and all other sciences, and especially historical analysis are the notorious blind spots of all politicians, but especially so of narrow-focused zealots.
5. Yet, a rabble-rousers' occupation, by definition, mandates not just simple talking, but actual orating and expressing opinions on some lofty and important subjects. And address big issues they do, but in absence of a solid theoretical foundation, they become surface-gliding fantasists. They spent most of their time in meetings, travels, conversations, briefings on various issues, etc. While doing that, they pick bits and pieces of information here and there, selectively squirreling those that fit their agenda. Oh, you have free health care?! That's neat! The government here pays for your education? Awesome, dude! All that childish excitement is based on quick glances at glossy surfaces. Of course, they fervently believe that they can simply will or force their dreams to come true. The unfortunate truth is that most of the time they don't even see the reality - they see what they want to see.
In September 2015 Bernard Sanders declared that he liked "Danish Socialism" because "he talked to a guy from Denmark" who told him that in Denmark “it is very hard to become very, very rich, but it’s pretty hard to be very, very poor.” This created quite an uproar in Denmark - the Prime-Minister had to go on record and explain that they are not a socialist country, but a hybrid of a market economy and a welfare state, which proved to be successful in Nordic (SPECIFICALLY!) countries. (Well, I personally find the Nordic governments' interference with private and personal property as well as citizens' individual rights nothing short of barbaric, but that's not the subject of this discussion).
6. What they lack in quality erudition and critical thinking, rabble-rousers make up for in tautology, sophism, and all other skills of demagoguery. As I said, they talk! Some of them even end up being listed as the greatest orators of all times, evil-doing notwithstanding. And with what fervor! I watch him and I am, like, he is a raven lunatic, like the others! And they twist every fact, every notion, and every quote to serve their cause! They will repeat the same gibberish this way and that way over and over again, claiming that their ideas and conclusions are irrefutably true and their schemes are solidly plausible without supplying A SINGLE SHRED of evidence or valid reasoning to support their bullshit. Everything they say is served up as "absolute truth;" no proof is required: like a politician from a state, where white folks compose 95% of the population, claims on record that race relations will "absolutely" be better if he is in the White House; not that he will try to do his best or that he has definite steps in mind, but just "absolutely better!"
They talk this way about their ideological platforms and economic proposals; they throw brazen accusations at their opponents ("reactionary," "not progressive," "funded by Wall Street"); and they do it with such conviction that they are the first to believe it. If you challenge them, they will equal themselves with true innovators and brilliant visionaries of the past - those who worked hard and actually knew what they were doing. They will tell you that revolutionary ideas, such as theirs, have always been dismissed. They will try to shame you as a retrograde equal to Giordano Bruno's executioners!
7. Because their fantasies are so deliberately populist and because their agitating rhetoric is so stupefying, the likes of Bernie Sanders invariably attract a hysterical following of ignorant crowds. Rabble-rousers worth nothing in the absence of their rabid supporters. Together, though, they constitute the symbiosis of encyclopedic proportions - more profound than clownfish and sea anemones. This is where the power, and the evil of the provocateur lies. As history shows; because the majority of humans are more responsive to simplistic slogans than to complicated logic, and cannot see the truth behind the stage decorations, the inflammatory bugs coughed up by agitators usually spread over rather large portions of the population.
8. All rabble-rousers are faithful students of Machiavelli when it comes to his maxim that the end justifies the means. They are always very eager to argue that their actions can only be considered morally right or wrong by virtue of the morality of the outcome. This is why human rights are sooner or later violated by pretty much every rabble-rouser throughout history. This is why individual well-being becomes unimportant to these people, as they are in the pursuit of a "better future" for some abstract society as a whole. They will stubbornly sacrifice everything and everyone for their "ideals," including the lives of hundreds of American veterans, if you put them in charge of the Veterans' Affairs. (As a side note: Who the fuck decided to put this career anti-war protester in charge of the veterans' benefits?) And of course, if you don't believe that their ultimate purpose is moral, you become the "people's" enemy (see item 1).
9. This believe that they must do whatever it takes to see their ideas realized is precisely why the rabble-rousers will accept "help" from anybody who offers it, especially if it comes from people and entities with a lot of means and real power. Yet, they always fail to realize that they end up being puppets in the much bigger scheme of their benefactors. The entire bolshevik revolution was financed by the Germans, desperate to weaken Russia on the Eastern Front of World War I. In the spring of 1917, they had stuffed an ironclad railcar with money, Lenin, and 31 of his comrades and transported them from their comfortable exile in Switzerland to Russia, assuring the success of the October Revolution. In return, the new Russian government signed a peace treaty with the Germans only one month after usurping the power. At the end that wasn't enough to counteract the joint efforts of the British and French troops, but it definitely cost the allies a lot of extra blood.
And so, I keep wondering, how is it that, after 23 years of political failures and then (finally!) 16 years of a lackluster career in the House of Representatives, 65-year-old Bernard Sanders was all of a sudden elected to be one of the 100 people that constitute the upper echelon of our national Congress? And now he is in the presidential race? Doesn't it sound like someone's (not Bernie's) long con? I have 10 different endgame scenarios fully fledged in my head, but all of them are too "controversial" to discuss even in this tiny blog.
10. Oh, how I wish for Bernie's supporters to sober up (or smart up - same difference!) and see that at their very core all rabble-rousers are liars. They know that mass appeal is mandatory for their survival, and so they come at you with all sorts of impossible promises, false guarantees, and seemingly genuine care for the "real people." They say exactly what masses want to hear. "Free" is their favorite chant - land to peasants, factories to laborers; entire foreign countries with serving nations at citizens' disposal; free healthcare, free education! They are veritable Robin Hoods: expropriate and redistribute! And "real people" are just eating it all up! But it's all a lie, of course. The only thing that a fanatic cares about is the ideological victory. They have no regard for consequences, actual realization of pledges, the morality of the methods that will be employed in the name of their ideas, or how perverted the results will be. Open your history books, people, it's all there already!
11. Here is one of the most important lessons of History: It is a grave mistake to dismiss these rabble-rousers as a joke. Time and time again people have made this mistake in the past and paid with their lives for it. Right before someone, who in retrospect we define as a scary dictator, came to power, reasonable and intellectual people refused to take him seriously. Invariably the line of reasoning went something like this: "There is no way anyone with a bit of brain will buy into this cockamamie bullshit!" But the reality is, that precisely for the reasons listed above - their mass appeal, amoral flexibility, fanaticism, and willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of their idee fixe, these clowns can be propelled by the forces behind them to positions with the powers to do the utmost damage.
Resist! Resist! Resist!
Tags: American foundation, anti-Americanism, Bernie Sanders, democratic socialism, empty promises, free education, free healthcare, Nordic socialism, political agitators, Presidential Race 2016, rabble-rousers
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On Tuesday, January 26th, the entire NYC block of East 56th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues was closed to motor vehicle traffic due to a possible mainline gas leak (the pedestrians were allowed to walk into the danger zone without any restrictions or even a warning). Apparently someone called 911 around 9 am to report the suspicious smell, which not only filled the street but was also distinctly (as I was informed) felt inside the buildings. Yet, at 3 pm, when I happened to turn the North-East corner of Lexington and 56th, three emergency vehicles were still there and a few maintenance-looking people were poking around the uncovered manholes. A fire engine just joined them a few minute ago (it passed me on the way in).
By today's standards 6 hours lead time is totally okay - the emergencies nowadays are not what they used to be, as some say, back in the day. Plus, the City was assaulted by the blizzard just three days ago; it would be silly to expect an expedient clean up. It is rather difficult to get around, on foot or wheel. And maybe there was no real danger anyway; maybe everything was in order and the repair people were just knocking about to clock the working hours away. A little gas escaped - not a big deal!
However, clearly there were still some concerns regarding possible flameage that required a certain level of readiness - the red and shiny FDNY vehicle was connected to one of the hydrants, taking in the water. Well, maybe "connected" is not the right word. Even by mediocre working standards, a proper connection of the pumping hose between the truck and the hydrant would imply seamless fitting, tightening of the locking mechanisms - some sort of professional decency, for the lack of a better word. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The connecting hose was carelessly shoved onto the hydrant and the truck, with water gashing through and over both ends, forming a small river on the ground.
I guess at $76,700 average annual salary it is too much to ask of a firefighter to care about the quality of his work. And what else can we possibly expect? That the emergency workers would be different from anyone else? I was standing there looking at that sad metaphor of the way we live now, contemplating whether anyone in their right mind can trust their lives to these "rescuers" in case of fire. And don't get me started on the water waste...
C. G. Jung: The Red Book (*****)