The Moment of Impending Crisis

Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

Related Post Roulette

65 Responses

  1. Hi Jason. Thanks for the shout out (i.e., This author basically gets it right). I can’t say that I’ve ever been referenced in an online faux greek dialogue before ;-).

    I’m sticking to my characterization of what wingnuts derive from the perpetual persecution cycle as “comfort”. From my own experience, it really does seem as if they derive a sick sort of comfort and pleasure from reconciling their insecurity in the modern world to a narrative in which they and their white christian culture are under constant assault from the forces of liberalism, secularism, atheism and everything else rational and scary. I know it’s weird to call it comfort and I certainly feel weird positing that they do in fact get their comfort from such a twisted source.

    Again, glad to get a shout out on a blog that I (and my fellow authors over at Library Grape) love so much. Great post!Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Metavirus @Library Grape says:

      Considering that the blog post links to an article showing that people’s experience is useless where it isn’t flat damn wrong, it’s rich to see you citing your “own experience” regarding the psychology and motivations of people you don’t know and haven’t met personally.Report

  2. Pat Cahalan says:

    Dude. You are a giant among bloggers. That was stellar.Report

  3. rj says:

    A lot of people also want to feel like they’re living in history-altering times and will build their worldview in such a way as to put them in the vanguard. Folks like Glenn Reynolds, who really did push the ball forward in the blogging game, sees like-minded folks as an “army of Davids,” a supposedly decentralized group that he just happens to be the leader of, or at least the chronicler of. I’ve been reading blogs since 2001, and new media triumphalism, mostly from the right, has been an annoying tic pretty much throughout.

    Now we have tea partiers, who are just as thirsty to live in a history-altering turning points. That’s why they ape revolutionary era language and clothing.

    Of course, hyperbole is easier to write than nuance. Everyone seems to agree that the system has failed and the only thing that will save it is (federalism, localism, positive rights, militias, spending cuts, tax increases, the gold standard, whatever…).

    Go to a country where the institutions are really broken and tell me again how hard it is to speak your mind or to get a permit to put up a fence.Report

  4. “Far too many people have been conditioned to derive a sick sort of pleasure from seeing themselves as wounded victims.

    Far too many? I dunno. Maybe? I know I do.Report

  5. Allen Lanning says:

    I need a cigarette.Report

  6. James K says:

    That was epic Jason, and this line:

    No doubt this scenario is offered as one of panic, but if I could push a button and make it happen, I would. And then I’d retire to a chateau. Made of platinum ingots. On Alpha Centauri.

    deserves to go down in the annals of blogging greatness.Report

  7. tom van dyke says:

    Don’t sweat the small stuff until it turns into big stuff, because it usually doesn’t.

    I don’t understand the gratuitous slag at Limbaugh and Beck. Well, actually I do, as it’s de rigeur, but it’s the left that’s saying the sky is falling. Unlike L&B, who think this is a great country and not a crappy one, and simply would prefer that the progressives’ “progress” doesn’t ruin it.

    Good point about the TV news, esp the local variety. I do watch by accident a few times a year, and it’s no wonder that we do live in a constant state of near-panic.

    As for when we’re not panicked, I suppose it’s because so many things that could go wrong someday but never do. Whatever calm we have left, I’m not sure it’s “delusion,” which implies that we’re not worrying about things we should be worrying about. I think we do plenty of worrying, all the worry you can eat.Report

    • RTod in reply to tom van dyke says:

      “Don’t sweat the small stuff until it turns into big stuff, because it usually doesn’t.”

      Amen. Agree with everything, except for the minor tweak that if you’re hawking gold because everything is so bad it’s about to collapse into Mad Max-land, you might just think the sky is falling a little bit.Report

    • rj in reply to tom van dyke says:

      You’re really saying that Beck and Limbaugh don’t believe the sky is falling? What, all those crying jags about how the country he loves is gone or dying and all that grainy footage of frogmarching brownshirts interspersed with digitally aged clips of Soros & Co. aren’t sky is falling material?

      Who, exactly, are the ones stockpiling gold, guns and “survival seeds”?Report

      • tom van dyke in reply to rj says:

        Oh, RJ, let’s not mess up Jason’s post with the same ol’. It reads fine without those two gentlemen.Report

        • rj in reply to tom van dyke says:

          I wasn’t the one who brought up those two gentlemen. Of course, from a don’t feed the trolls standpoint, it stands for itself.

          The whole “the sky isn’t falling but if it is it’s the other guys’ fault” schtick sort of does speak for itself.

          Duly noted.Report

    • Francis in reply to tom van dyke says:

      Don’t sweat the small stuff until it turns into big stuff, because it usually doesn’t.

      Gross overgeneralization objection. The time to start planning to address the big stuff is when it’s small stuff. Small stuff can be the canary in the coal mine, if you’re smart enough to tease out the signal. What’s wrong with a few poor people defaulting on their mortgages because they can’t get the re-fi they wanted? oops. This coal is cheaper than that coal; who cares if it’s high in sulfur? oops. Employer-based health insurance works fine; the individual market is tiny. oops. Who cares about a little traffic, our community is growing. oops.

      and on and on. Every single major public welfare problem was preceded by warning signs that were ignored or misread.Report

      • RTod in reply to Francis says:

        I agree in theory, Francis, but less in practice. My industry is one that needs – NEEDS – regulation, and a bunch of it, for a variety of reasons. But that being said, whenever statutes or administrative rules are passed to protect against problems on the horizon, the always seem to work poorly, and sometimes even accelerate/create the problem they were hoping to avoid. My experience is that people in committees (and I count the voting populace in this category) are very myopic when planning against potential future calamity, and rarely escape being bitten by the law of unintended consequences.Report

      • tom van dyke in reply to Francis says:

        Francis., we forget all the doomsaying that never comes to pass. It’s a human thing, just like when we say “I had a feeling that would happen” when something happens, forgetting the majority of times we “had a feeling” but nothing happened.

        What do they say about Krugman, that he predicted 7 out of the last 2 recessions? We can often identify the seeds of possible disaster, and when one happens, we can always pull somebody out of the cupboard who says, I told you so.

        But the seeds of potential disaster [let’s say Clinton’s incursion into the Balkans] often don’t flower, and good thing for us.

        This is not to blithely dismiss prudence, but if we sweat everything that could possibly go wrong, we shall surely go nuts. And some of us have. 😉Report

        • Nice tie-in to the bureaucracy discussion, RTod, and by extension the modern conceit that everything’s controllable if we just apply the proper cleverness and force of will to it.Report

        • Francis in reply to tom van dyke says:

          Absolutely true. I did say “can be”, though. (and note, if the govt takes action to head off a recession after being warned, then years later you can look at the record and point out how wrong he was. Dr. K is wrong only if the govt doesn’t act and we get no recession anyway. Most people don’t bother with that level of analysis [MM]and I’m not competent to do it.)

          In the best of all possible worlds, we’d assign competent incorruptible people to sweat the small stuff, so the rest of us don’t have to and we avoid big disasters. On this planet, now and again people (bureaucrats and legislators) don’t do their jobs and things go wrong in a big way.Report

          • tom van dyke in reply to Francis says:

            “In the best of all possible worlds, we’d assign competent incorruptible people to sweat the small stuff…”

            Plato agrees:

            “Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils – no, nor the human race, as I believe – and then only will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the light of day.”

            “As if,” said the Stoic.

            “Hyuh, right,” said the Cynic.

            The Academic was unavailable for comment, but is to believed to be contemplating a book about it.Report

    • Koz in reply to tom van dyke says:

      “I don’t understand the gratuitous slag at Limbaugh and Beck. Well, actually I do, as it’s de rigeur, but it’s the left that’s saying the sky is falling.”

      Yeah no shit. That isn’t Beck or Limbaugh, it’s more like Nancy Grace who for me at least is a nasty piece of work but pretty much apolitical nonetheless.Report

  8. RTod says:

    Awesome post Jason.

    How many people will jump on me if I point out that the Pragmatist wasn’t in this meeting, because he had shit to get done?Report

  9. Mike Schilling says:

    If [corporate] profit margins were really around 60%, then the owner of a cornershop could look forward to retiring as a quadrillionaire.

    Some sleight of hand there, unless the corner store gets to be Goldman Sachs or Oracle simply by filing incorporation papers.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      No sleight of hand whatsoever, only the miracle of compound interest, at a preposterous rate of return. I invite you to do the math yourself.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        The math isn’t the issue; the definition of “corporate” is.Report

        • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          You’re always free to offer an eccentric definition of “corporate,” but you’re not allowed to do so on the sly.

          Define your term, then compare and contrast it with the one used in the study. Tell me why your definition is better, and how corporations as you define them differ. (I’d be particularly curious to see whether they have 60% annual profits, because if they do, I’m investing!)Report

    • James K in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      The thing is that profit margins tend to converge on the rate of economic growth. Unless all those corporations are taking huge risks if they’re getting rich fast then everyone is.Report

      • Jason Kuznicki in reply to James K says:

        Your first sentence was what I was getting at. If average profits were 60%, then in only a few short years, nothing would matter anymore. It would be the Singularity, and we’d all be filthy rich one way or the other.

        Your second sentence seems to obscure the point. I’m not sure I understand what you mean, though.Report

  10. Rufus F. says:

    Jason, I see what you mean about people tending towards the delusion of impending crisis. It’s a serious problem, and I for one, hope to god that someone will do something about it!Report

  11. Koz says:

    “Are the New Black Panthers going to come to Podunk, USA and harass my virginal 18-year-old daughter? Of course they are.”

    We can at least hope that the original poster at Library Grape was exaggerating for comic effect. But Jason, apparently believes it straight up. Say it ain’t so.Report