Open Knives – On Human Capital

I’ve seen the following phrase utilized in some variant across cultures, times, and media: “A weapon left lying around will be used against you by your enemy.” I’m sure Machiavelli and Sun Tzu had some form of it, and I can think of at least two series of novels (Robin Hobbs’ Assassin novels and the Kushiel Cycle by Jacqueline Carey) that based their plot and characters around this idea. Personally, I like the line in the latter, where the antagonist is being addressed by one of his advisors regarding the protagonist: “You pick up a weapon that an enemy god threw at your feet and hold it to your breast? Eh, you’re a braver man than me, at least.”

I guess there’s an analogy there to the current situation as well, with the “weapon of an enemy god” being utopianism/various flavors of communism, but I don’t like analogies because they tend to go off the rails. Like the meme image you might have seen about equity, where “equality” is simply kids of three differing heights on cardboard boxes, with the tallest and the shortest getting the same box, and the shortest unable to see the game. Equity, is taking the cardboard box away from the tallest and giving it to the shortest, thereby everyone gets to see the game.

This image inevitably makes its appearance whenever someone is critical of equity, but as I said before analogies break down pretty quickly. In this case, life isn’t simply a fucking cardboard box, but made up of thousand of individual decisions and opportunities. There is also the fact that there is no arbiter present in the picture deciding who gets the cardboard boxes, when in real life there is is in the form of the Government.

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29 Responses to Open Knives – On Human Capital

  1. John+Merryman says:

    Why are you in such a rush? The scab is peeling, a bit slowly, but just give it time.

    • Gallo Rojo says:

      Who’s “you” kemosabe?

      • John+Merryman says:

        Well, there are a lot of layers to that. Sort of why I was just being cryptic.
        We are linear, goal oriented critters in a cyclical, circular, feedback driven reality, consequently the feedback loops have a nasty habit of turning from positive to negative when we are assuming that if some is good, more is better. It’s like rich kids living the high life, thinking the coasting is easy, until it just keeps getting steeper and there are no brakes.
        This cancel culture phenom is the crest and reductio ad absurdum of much larger and deeper processes. A lot is being bet on a weak hand.
        People have been going forth and multiplying for a hundred thousand years and we are just now reaching the edge of the petri dish, so it might be time to slow down a bit and take in some of the more cyclical aspects, as well where we are in the cycle.
        America has only known growth, geographic, population, technology, industrialization and now topped off with forty years of compounding debt.
        The fact is that not every acorn gets to be an oak tree, so we all have methods of survival, as do functioning societies methods of selection. Aristocracy, meritocracy, bureaucracy, whatever. The problem is there is no “end of history.” The wheel keeps turning. Weaknesses become strengths, strengths become weaknesses. More a game of rock, paper, scissors, than winner take all.
        The more significant example of this is the emergence of capitalism from market based economies.
        We have come to see money as a signal to extract and store, from the noise of society and the economy, but it functions as a social contract, enabling the circulation value around society. Consequently ever more has to be added and ever more metastatic methods of storing what has been extracted.
        Blood is a medium, fat is a store. Roads are a medium, parking lots are a store. The hallway is a medium, the hall closet is a store. They are related, but don’t necessarily mix well.
        As a contract, the asset is backed by a debt. Consequently to store the asset, similar amounts of debt have to be generated. Back in the old days, people raised and educated their kids and their kids took care of them in their old age. Now everyone has a retirement account, but if you follow the chain back through the financial system and it doesn’t end up as some scam, likely it’s backed by some education loans, mortgage, credit card backed security, held by people living in atomized cocoons, with their credit score as the social grading system. So the same feedback occurs, but much of it gets skimmed off in the process and the bureaucracy rules.
        Then there is government, aka, public, debt. Ask yourself, could the financial markets function, if the government wasn’t borrowing up trillions in essentially surplus investment money. Which then gets spent in ways the private sector never would, from welfare to warfare. No returns, but more opportunities to invest.
        Consider that we have the largest, most expensive military in history and it keeps getting beat by natives in sandals and armed with AK-47’s and IEDs. Yet the same bunch of inept cretins always seems to be in charge. Wouldn’t in any normal situation, such strategic failures incur some degree of punishment? If not lined up and shot, at least dismissed?
        Maybe the reasons for these wars are not so much geopolitical strategy, as the creation of government bonds? The secret sauce of capitalism is public debt backing private wealth.
        When it blows up and disaster capitalism comes home, the ones sitting on the biggest piles will use their influence to trade it for the remaining public assets. Then we get real oligarchy, not this behind the curtain variety.
        Consider that Paul Volcker could not have cured stagflation with higher interest rates, since that squeezed credit driving the growth of the economy and thus the need for more money, while gifting those sitting on piles of surplus wealth with higher, risk free returns. It was Reaganomics. Or as G.H.W. Bush referred to it in the primaries, voodoo economics.
        One way the Fed raises interest rates is selling bonds it bought to create the money, so if the Treasury is selling more bonds, it would have an equivalent effect, as well as that money can then be spent in ways the private sector never would, but increases the size of the economy, anyway. “Priming the pump,” as they liked to say.
        The deficit really began with the New Deal, so not only was Roosevelt putting unemployed labor back to work, but unemployed capital, as well.
        In fact, this feedback loop of debt being used to extract value out of the larger society goes to the dawn of civilization, thus debt jubilees as a practice ancient civilizations used to push the reset. Michael Hudson points out that Jesus’ original massage was “Forgive them their debts,” amended to “Forgive them their sins,” When Christianity was co-opted by the Romans.
        I’m getting on a bit of a rant here, but the point is this current world has lost sight of the consequences of compounding debt. Probably because it is not taught. As anyone maxing out their card knows, debt doesn’t matter, until it does. All this cancel culture foam and bubbles is just deck chairs on the Titanic.

        • Gallo Rojo says:

          Tell someone with a mortgage and three kids to feed “cancel culture doesn’t matter and debt isn’t real” when they get fired from Globocorp for flashing the ok sign.

          • John+Merryman says:

            Debt is all too real.
            Unfortunately an economy that has made the actual input of many people to be busy work and thus subject to passing whims is the illusion.
            For example, try cancelling farmers for being too white. Not happening.

        • Deap says:

          Consider we have been able to pull off the Pax Americana for the past nearly 80 years. Beats the prior 80. How old are you Merryman?

          • John+Merryman says:

            It’s like the only lesson the US collectively took to heart from the 20th century was curing the Depression with the economic boost of WW2. We are still preparing for a war we won 30 years ago, because it’s what we do.

          • John+Merryman says:

            Not to say, I’m trying to be naive. Here is an interesting essay about the start of WW2;
            Yet is our military strategically focused on the world as it exists, or it some New Deal work project?
            Are we really out to strengthen our position in the world, or just sell as much stuff as we can?
            Looking at the degree to which the large Eurasian countries are coalescing against our interests, mostly because we have managed to push them together, which given some of the historical animosities, is a real accomplishment, I would have the question the strategic vision.

  2. Some Dude says:

    The enemy has no incentive to do a thing about veteran suicides except encourage them. Too many of our people still do not understand this. But more understand this today than did yesterday; they are on the trail and it is good to see.

    Another thing that actually keeps the USG awake at night is the prospect of collective effort by the frogs, the dirt people, the committee, and all the other factions of this thing, even those that do not yet know they constitute a faction and do not know what this thing really is. But the enemy is really giving us a hand here.

    They are weak and they are afraid and they are blundering badly, right out of the gate. The ideological purges of the military are going to boomerang on them. They are making the same mistake they did in Iraq. It is better to be feared than loved but all they inspire among the truly awake is contempt.

    The worst thing that could happen at this point is for something utterly meaningless like inflation will return the controlled opposition that is the McCarthy-Jordan-Stefanik gang to power. But maybe it will take another round of dashed hopes for people to understand that there is no voting our way out of this.

    On the other hand, I fear the only thing that will truly rouse the postwar generation is a hit to their precious 401ks; history will teach that they could always be relied upon to sell their souls for silver.

    And on the third hand, a collapse of the dollar is something to be desired.

    It helps me to think of the archetypal lightly-pozzed white male baby boomer as a Théoden-figure. His idealism remains a powerful weapon, if only he could see the Wormtounge right in front of his nose. Maybe one of these old boomer rockers will play Stormcrow in this farce.

    • FeinGul says:

      “And on the third hand, a collapse of the dollar is something to be desired.”

      The dollar will collapse when the powers that be in power want to starve out the commons. You see if the dollar collapses America’s food distribution system collapses. All the other necessities of life are present; shelter, enough heat and energy to survive, water is gravity fed. But not food. The American food distribution system requires money.

      As far as the uh “happening” nothing happens, can happen, ever happened or will happen without organization. As everyone thinks everyone else is a Fed ergo no organization…nothing.

      • Some Dude says:

        Good points.

        But the sovereign may not have the sort of lightswitch control of the money supply that either the Fed or MMT-ers might suppose. And I think that is where we are headed, whether we like it or not. I like it, but then I live surrounded by food.

        As to organization, absolutely. Matthew 18:20, then scaled up.

      • jld says:

        As far as the uh “happening” nothing happens, can happen, ever happened or will happen without organization.

        Decay need no organization, a bunch of competing interests will naturally evolve toward some equilibrium, though such “equilibrium” may not be of any good for anyone (not a zero-sum game, a negative-sum game).

  3. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Gallo Rojo,
    My sainted uncle fought against the PLA in Korea. He very rarely spoke about this, but spoke well of their commitment to the fight when he did.
    Ishmael Zechariah

    • Gallo Rojo says:

      My understanding of the PLA is that they are having issues in Africa against locals. From an outsider perspective it seems like the Navy is getting the brunt of the support.

      That being said “quantity is a quality of its own”, and I’m just a rooster.

    • LeaNder says:

      Many wouldn’t have a problem being offered $130k to act as mercenaries for Chinese interests and to mow the grass dealing with angry locals.

      Mow the grass? Offer to serve as mercenaries, at least verbally, till the ‘many’ veterans are allowed to mow the grass at home?

      • Gallo Rojo says:


        • LeaNder says:


          • Gallo Rojo says:

            Im assuming that you don’t like the idea of GWOT veterans serving as hired guns for the Chinese mineral extraction project in Africa, to which I say: that’s how this bitch of a world is.

            Your options for your badthinkers class is as follows:
            – work in resource extraction and hope your $40+ an hour job isn’t legislated out of existence by a government insisting “green energy” training will be there for you
            – work on a boat and hope the Jones Act doesn’t get repealed and you get unemployed
            – join a PD and roll the dice every shift that you don’t have to shoot a black recidivist violent felon with a gun, resulting in the DOJ coming after you with infinite resources.

            Those are your realistic options for a chance at “success” if you don’t want to grind away at service work or od on opioids.

            You might be lucky and manage to play your cards right to get into the halls of power and keep your soul, or make it in some other fashion. So yeah, maybe being a gunslinger for Han Chinese is going to appeal, because there’s so little left in America that isn’t being parceled out wholesale to other entities.

  4. joe90 says:

    Are there still not more blacks in the US army than Hispanics (which as far as i can tell is a made up thing covering anyone claiming some decent from south of the Rio Grande) ?

    • FeinGul says:

      Doesn’t matter how many whites, hispanics, blacks.
      it matters to civilian wack jobs at DOD, not units.
      The ranks aren’t racist.
      Even if racist, that’s my brother.
      Also my existential self interest that I back him, he me, and really in a unit from team and squad up there is only WE. We seriously don’t think like you.
      In fact that shit is sort of automagically coming up never now instead of rarely like before. I mean it’s GONE. Funny how we pull together sorta automagically without being told when dangers afoot, eh?
      We really don’t think like other people.
      And it’s WE or nothing.

      As to “The Purge” What they are doing will at worst dissolve the military in the actual dissolution sense. It will melt away.
      [shh…it is melting away…shhh].
      But what happens next?
      Embrace your inner teenage nihilist, no point in being miserable when you’re going to fsking die.

  5. Barbara Ann says:

    Maybe the tall kid doesn’t want to give up his box because he built it himself and thinks a state should encourage box-building, not dis-incentivize it by confiscating boxes and giving them out for ‘free’. Maybe this kid has seen that tried elsewhere and seen it fail every time.

    • Fred says:

      The tall kid doesn’t want to give up his box because it holds all his possessions, his family having been made homeless due to the government declaring their business “non-essential” a year ago and forbidding them to operate it, thus depriving them of their income and ability to be financially independent. For their own safety, of course.

  6. Le Comte says:

    I am reminded of a blog called Admiral Cod when reading these GR pieces.

  7. Le Comte says:

    Yes, that it. He had a good run and then went MIA.

  8. John Merryman. says:

    Keep in mind that what cancel culture boils down to is very large numbers of socially, culturally, emotionally marginalized and weak people finding strength in numbers. Which has been a large part of the story of humanity. Individually we were prey, but collectively we became predators.
    Yet the other part of it is intelligence and planning. Otherwise it just becomes a fire that will burn out as conditions and resources run out.
    It might be seen as a consequence of humanity’s success. That the weak are not selected out, but became part of the store of fat and divergent DNA, which might or might not come in handy.
    Consequently the better strategy isn’t to confront the movement directly, but tend to one’s own affairs, to be one of the survivors, when the sh!t truly does hit the fan.

  9. Christine M says:

    John Merryman, I agree that people should set up lives as independent of the wider society as possible. Ideas move populations, nations, history. Our unimaginably prosperous society is being taken down by suicidally stupid ideas, and because a few generations have been brainwashed by academia not to question those ideas, I don’t see how it will stop, much less reverse course. Remember what happened to the farmers in Soviet Russia who did not go along with the program?..

    • John+Merryman says:


      It is a bit of a mess, but having grown up on a farm, mostly raising race horses and dairy cattle, I was pretty well enmeshed in the fact nature goes in cycles and feedback loops, by the time I was really coming to terms with the stuff people try feeding each other and have been pretty good at maintaining a bit of an outsider’s point of view.
      We try extracting signals from the noise, so we see reality in terms of order and chaos, but can’t quite figure out why it isn’t all ordered and what we thought we’d ordered, doesn’t stay ordered.
      The reality is energy and form. Like galaxies, energy radiating out, form coalescing in. Liberals are driven by social energies, while conservatism is about civil and cultural forms and conventions. We have the heart and gut driving us, motor, while the mind sees the forms and constantly sorts them. Steering.
      Government is like the central nervous system of society, while money and banking are the blood and circulation system. Though organisms exist in ecosystems, where individual organisms rise and fall, in a larger equilibrium. A market economy is like an ecosystem, yet capitalism is when the institutional medium enabling markets takes them over and domesticates them for its own ends.
      The point I’m making here is that we don’t seem to have much grasp of the processes and patterns generating this reality, which is further obscured by those wishing to keep much of society domesticated. Yet we are now reaching a point where the belief system is being shredded, as even those benefiting from it are not simply deceitful, but ignorant as well. So, yes, thing are crashing, but these systems are failing. Do we learn, or do we just crash back down?

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