Apr 022020
 


Steve Schapiro Muhammad Ali, Monopoly, Louisville, KY 1963

 

It’s funny how things go sometimes, how times roll -not just the good ones-. I said last week that all the world’s “leaders” had failed terribly, and I’m not taking that back. They all failed to a horrific extent at their no. 1 task when it comes to Disasters, Pandemics, whatever their respective governments file these events under: Prevention. But now we’re in a whole new world.

Now these failed leaders move into a situation they actually MAY be able to handle. That is, the -crisis- management that inevitably follows AFTER the failure at their no. 1 task of Prevention. They MAY be able to pull this off because it’s what they were trained to do: be little managers. You know them, because every company these days is full of them, and some will make it to biggest little manager status, through blind ambition and/or licking up to previous little managers. Some may even become government ministers. Core characteristic: these people don’t act, they re-act. Prevention is a job they’re absolutely not qualified for

Trump, Macron, BoJo, Merkel, Rutte, Xi, Abe, Conte, you name them, they’re all little managers, they’re not leaders, they have no ideas or visions, at least not original ones. People with original ideas don’t become politicians, not in the climate we have created since the 1950’s. The 20th century was poor anyway when it comes to vision, it was all about money, and no great vision has ever been derived from that.

The last century had Gandhi and Martin Luther King -and I would personally add Muhammad Ali-, and that combination says a lot about what we could have become vs what we have. In a way, the world chose money over itself. The 20th century was when Faust won, when humanity sold its soul. That it also sold its home, its planet, seems almost irrelevant compared to that.

We could have chosen peace, health, we had people willing to give their lives so we would understand why, but we thought: nah, let’s go to war, there’s got to be more profit in that.

 

But okay, so they all failed at Prevention and now they get to shine, as long as that lasts. It’s now a matter of preventing -too- widespread poverty and hunger, of “selling” a certain number of deaths as unpreventable, and mostly of making stressed out people feel more comfortable. But there are still pitfalls along the way, and they won’t all make it past them in one piece.

The ones who presently pose as leaders even see their popularity ratings rise as they start “little managing” their territory. Because they failed in their no. 1 task, there are huge shortages of medical equipment etc., but they are -helped by their media- perceived as credible when they claim this was unforeseeable, since after all, all their neighboring little managers also failed at Prevention.

In actual reality, on January 1, the day after China told the WHO there was a problem in Wuhan, all the little managers should have been checking, with all the even littler managers working for them in the Disaster and/or Medical fields, whether all of the prevention apparatus in their countries was up to snuff, the protocols, the staff, the hospitals that might be needed, the production facilities, it’s a long list. Instead they all chose to ignore the WHO warning, and preoccupied themselves with their economies instead.

Just the fact that they waited for the WHO to say something says enough: it’s the perfect organization for all their excuses: hey, they didn’t warn us soon enough! And the little managers would be partly right: the WHO functions no more or better than they themselves do. Not when it comes to Prevention.

Still, at the $58 million or so we pay them a year, the WHO has no business waiting for a country that harbors an epidemic, to tell them it does. Because 99 out of 100 times, such a country will first try to hide the epidemic. Its leaders, too, are little managers who focus on their economies. The WHO’s job is to be there before it happens. And so you’re right, they fail exactly where the little political managers also fail: Prevention. There’s no doubt that there are brilliant people working there, but they’re all still managed by little managers.

 

Can we blame our own respective political little managers? To an extent, sure. They didn’t do what they promised to when they swore their respective oaths. But maybe just maybe we should blame ourselves more, for picking little managers to lead our countries in the first place. We could have known that they were never going to be more than 2nd rate “leaders” who were never going to deliver more than 2nd rate societies.

These people have no vision of a better world, all they are capable of is “managing” the world they find in ways that make them more popular, and the only way to do that is to make people -feel- rich. They do that by encouraging behavior that destroys the planet, they do it by exporting 90% of medicine production to China, they simply sell everything that’s not bolted down just so you will like them sometime in the next four years, and screw the next forty. Hey, they’re not complicated creatures.

 

In the process, though, far too many lives have been lost. And we should do something about that, something to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But that means we need to change the entire process that today self-selects exclusively for little managers. Don’t forget: a world made up of little managers will only ever select one of their own to succeed them. So get them out of the selection process.

And you might say an actual leader should have the chops to make everybody like him/her enough, but that begs the question: what were the odds of Martin Luther King being elected president of the US in the 1960’s? No, the system has really been due for a major change for a while.

 

For now, the only thing to do is hope the little managers are better at step 2, Crisis Management, than they were at step 1, Prevention. Because there are no ready alternatives. When they say stay home, that’s the best thing to do right now. It’ll be challenged soon enough. ‘Letting nature do its thing’ is not a great idea, because it would overwhelm our societies in no time, in all of its facets, and bring back the Middle Ages. We’re better off breaking it down step by step than all in one go.

The US making it to no. 1 in cases and soon deaths, and COVID19 soon making it to no. 1 on the list of causes of death in the US, is bad enough. All those press conferences where none of the little managers wear face masks while their usefulness is obvious, are a shameful exhibition of incompetence. Trump should be the first, tomorrow. Be the bleeding example. Teach people how to make them. Nassim Taleb says it’s about Asymmetry: “Error FROM NOT wearing masks is vastly costlier than the error FROM wearing masks.”

Let’s hope the little managers don’t all fail at securing food supplies as well, because it looks like those may be badly needed soon. Right now in the US, the narrative is Monsanto to the rescue of all the farmers who have trouble with Stay At Home and other measures, who can’t get farmhands. Yeah, let’s poison ourselves to survive. Brilliant.

And the little managers will say: look, we gave all of you unlimited amounts of money, and it hurt!, so you can’t blame us. Because that’s how they think, they think in money only, and therefore there is nothing that it cannot solve.

 

 

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Mar 092016
 
 March 9, 2016  Posted by at 4:30 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Missouri drought refugees. Broke, baby sick, car trouble. U.S. 99 near Tracy, CA 1937

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.”
– Groucho Marx

What is perhaps most remarkable about the deal the EU is trying to seal with Turkey to push back ALL refugees who come to Greece is that the driving force behind it turns out to be Angela Merkel. Reports say that she and temp EU chairman Dutch PM Mark Rutte ‘pushed back’ the entire EU delegation that had been working on the case, including Juncker and Tusk, and came with proposals that go much further than even Brussels had in mind.

Why? Angela has elections this weekend she’s afraid to lose.

It’s also remarkable that the deal with the devil they came up with is fraught with so many legal uncertainties -it not outright impossibilities- that it’s highly unlikely the deal will ever be closed, let alone implemented. One thing they will have achieved is that refugees will arrive in much larger numbers over the next ten days, before a sequel meeting will be held, afraid as they will be to be pushed back after that date.

They may not have to be so scared of that, because anything remotely like what was agreed on will face so many legal challenges it may be DOA. Moreover, in the one-for-one format that is on the table, Europe would be forced to accept as many refugees from Turkey as it pushes back to that country. Have Merkel and Rutte realized this? Or do they think they can refuse that later, or slow it down?

Under the deal, Turkey seems to have little incentive to prevent refugees from sailing to Greece. Because for every one who sails and returns, Turkey can send one to Europe. What if that comes to a million, or two, three? The numbers of refugees in Turkey will remain the same, while the number in Europe will keep growing ad infinitum.

Sweet Jesus, Angela, we understand you have problems with the refugee situation, and that you have elections coming up this weekend, but what made you think the answer can be found in playing fast and loose with the law? And what, for that matter, do you expect to gain from negotiating a Faustian deal with the devil? Surely you know that makes you lose your soul?

You said yesterday that history won’t look kindly on the EU if it fails on refugees, but how do you think history will look on you for trying to sign a deal that violates various international laws, including the Geneva Conventions? You have this aura of being kinder than most of Europe to the refugees, but then you go and sell them out to a guy who aids ISIS, massacres Kurds, shuts down all the media he doesn’t like and makes a killing smuggling refugees to Greece?

Or are we getting this backwards, and are you shrewdly aware that the elections come before the next meeting with Turkey, and are you already planning to ditch the entire deal once the elections are done, or have your legal team assured you that there’s no way it will pass the court challenges it will inevitably provoke?

It would be smart if that’s the case, but it’s also quite dark: we are still talking about human beings here, of which hundreds of thousands have already died in the countries the living are fleeing, or during their flight (and we don’t mean by plane), and tens of thousands -and counting, fast- are already stuck in Greece, with one country after the other closing their borders after the -potential- deal became public knowledge.

So now Greece has to accommodate ever more refugees because all borders close, something Greece cannot afford since the bailout talks left it incapable of even looking after its own people, while over the next ten days it can expect a surge of ‘new’ refugees to arrive from Turkey, afraid they’ll be stuck there after a deal is done. Greece will become a “holding pen”, and the refugees will be the livestock. A warehouse of souls, a concentration camp.

The circumstances under which these human beings have been forced to flee their homes, to travel thousands of miles, and now to try and stay alive in Greece, are already way below morally acceptable. Just look at Idomeni! You should do all you can to improve their conditions, not to risk making them worse. Where and how you do that is another matter, but the principle should stand.

You should be in Greece right now, Angela, asking Tsipras how you can help him with this unfolding mayhem, how much money he needs and what other resources you can offer. Instead, Athens today hosts the Troika and Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland. That is so completely insane it can’t escape the protagonists themselves either.

Refugees from war -torn countries are per definition not ‘illegal’. What is illegal, on the other hand, is to refuse them asylum. So all the talk about ‘illegal migrants’ emanating from shills like Donald Tusk is at best highly questionable. The freshly introduced term ‘irregular migrants’ is beyond the moral pale.

As is the emphasis on using the term ‘migrant’ versus ‘refugee’ that both European politicians and the international press are increasingly exhibiting, because it is nothing but a cheap attempt to influence public opinion while at the same time throwing desperate people’s legal status into doubt.

What their status is must be decided by appropriate legal entities, not by reporters or politicians seeking to use the confusion of the terms for their own personal benefit. And numbers show time and again that most of the people (93% in February GRAPH) arriving in Greece come from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, all war-torn, and must therefore be defined as ‘refugees’ under international law. It is really that simple. Anything else is hot air. Trying to redefine the terminology on the fly is immoral.

In that same terminology vein, the idea that Turkey is a ‘safe third country’, as the EU so desperately wants to claim, is downright crazy. That is not for the EU to decide, if only because it has -again, immoral- skin in the game.

All this terminology manipulation, ironically, plays into the hands of the very right wing movements that Angela Merkel fears losing this weekend’s elections to. They create a false picture and atmosphere incumbent ‘leaders’ try to use to hold on to power, but it will end up making them lose that power.

The funniest, though also potentially most disruptive, consequence of the proposed deal may well be that the visa requirements for the 75 million Turks to travel to Europe are to be abandoned in June, just 3 months away, giving them full Schengen privileges. Funny, because that raises the option of millions of Turkish people fleeing the Erdogan regime travelling to Europe as refugees, and doing it in a way that no-one can call illegal.

There may be as many as 20 million Kurds living in Turkey, and Erdogan has for all intents and purposes declared war on all of them. How about if half of them decide to start a new life in Europe? Can’t very well send them back to ‘safe third country’ Turkey.

Be careful what you wish for, Angela.

via GIPHY