A Tale of Two Parties

Posted Feb 22, 2018 at 10:08. Revised Aug 14, 2019 at 08:17.

Just about everyone sees the choice of Donald Trump as America’s next president as an inexplicable surprise. The current political situation is an outstanding example of a Complexity Trap that developed over many decades and has devolved into a perverse simplicity. The election results are not a surprise when you look at the events of the last 50 years as context around the election results rather than looking at them as disconnected and irrelevant.

Indeed, Nobody finds it surprising that so many people are surprised and distraught by the election results. Not liking the election results is a far different matter from whether people are so disconnected from the mood of the country that for days after the election they are incredulous, blindsided, and emotionally incapacitated by the results.

Much discussion and analysis of the presidential election results has already been published, but a very important facet of it has gone unmentioned. The common explanation for the perverse electoral simplicity is that it meets the needs of angry, ignorant, homophobic, xenophobic, and misogynistic white men living in the Heartland. These dopes are perceived as not having the compassion or knowledge of the elite living on the East and West Coasts, and particularly those elites living in Greater Washington DC.

The Heartlanders are dismissed as having almost nothing useful to add to the nation’s political discussions. Herein lies a major piece of why the election turned out the way it did, and why the election of Donald Trump is beyond the comprehension of most Coasties, especially the privileged ones who comprise the Washington elite. Nobody accepts California’s especially important role in adding to nation’s divide, noting that for decades more than a few Heartlanders have referred in frustration to California as “the land of the fruits and the nuts.”

Two major parties are developing out of the watershed election of 2016. They consist mainly, but not exclusively, of the people who identify with the East and West Coasts and those who identify with the Heartland. In general, the Coasties have the intellectual, financial, and governmental elite in their ranks, while the Heartlanders are the workers who produce most of the nation’s goods, services, and basic food commodities. Donald Trump fits into both these parties by living on the East Coast but understands how to relate to the Heartlanders who earn their living by getting their hands dirty. This provides some clarification to how he became the President-Elect.

Trump is at least as in tune with the working class locker room crowd as he is with the country club elite. Being able to function effectively with both these crowds is a rare political skill, but that is a separate discussion from whether that skill has been used in some extremely disruptive ways or that his skills are enough to solve the nation’s problems.

For decades, Nobody has been acutely aware of the patronizing condescension the Coastie elite feels for the Heartland. These elites would never stoop to using the N-word on a group of Blacks but show far worse insensitivity to the productive people that produce much of the nation’s food and product. To the Coastie elitists, America’s breadbasket is shamelessly dismissed with names such as “flyover country” and “the rust belt”. Its citizens are collectively dismissed as xenophobic, misogynists, racist, and religious bigots, and practitioners of a form of Christianity that is not politically correct or “socially acceptable.” These bleached N-words have been thrown about for decades, and the people at whom they are directed are finally fed up being unrelentingly and categorically demeaned and slandered as a class. Indeed, the elitists among the Coasties have effectively become a liberal/progressive KKK engaged in the intellectual lynching of white people who hold dirty hands jobs. The elites who are doing this totally don’t get that relentlessly insulting and demeaning productive people holding dirty hands jobs is politically more explosive than is paying these same people subsistence wages. This bigoted behavior is blindly engaged in by spokespersons for understanding and tolerance.

Now you can honestly say “Nobody told me.”

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Feb 22, 2018 at 10:08. Revised Aug 14, 2019 at 08:17. –> Retrieved Oct 23, 2019 at 00:42.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/

Empowering Donald Trump – The Base

Posted Feb 5, 2017 at 17:26. Revised Sep 6, 2019 at 21:21.

The short answer to the question “Who empowered Donald Trump?” is just about everybody did. Donald Trump’s core supporters have shown much adoration for him at his rallies, and without their support he would have gone nowhere. The related posts A Tale of Two Factories and Trump – The Same As FDR? are starting points for understanding why his base support has empowered him so effectively. In many respects, Trump uses FDR’s (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) playbook – updated for the age of social media.

Trump is at least as in tune with the working class locker room crowd as he is with the country club elite. Being able to function effectively with both those crowds is a rare skill. Whether that skill has been used in some extremely disruptive ways or whether such skills are enough to solve the nation’s problems are different discussions.

The most important cornerstone of Trump’s power with his base is probably the patronizing elitism which much of the Establishment feels toward Joe Six Pack. As the Tale of Two Factories explains, dismissiveness, snubbing, and not listening build time bombs of anger. Those time bombs are now detonating in slow motion, but with unrelenting persistence.

The patronizing elitists are dumbfounded by what they have unleashed, and are in almost complete denial that they are dismissive, patronizing, or elitists. Of course, the well-educated and well-connected have something to feel elite about, but they nevertheless live in a sociologically different world from the people whom they regard as baskets full of deplorables. J.D. Nobody knows an astute psychologist who has observed that elitists have no idea that they are elitists, and that once they face the situation they are automatically no longer elitists.

J.D. Nobody has a rare credential for understanding the social problems which elitist create. At one point in his life he held a real “dirty hands” job, thereby gaining exposure to many real world situations that elitists only know conceptually. A real dirty hands job is a job where one uses a large jar of GoJo Hand Cleaner per week just to get one’s hands clean enough to go to the bathroom.

The elitists cannot fathom a world where washing one’s hands before going to the bathroom is far more important than washing one’s hands afterwards. That world exists, and is a normal part of the lives of many people. Elitist disconnectedness from real dirty hands people and even disbelief that they exist is quite alienating to those who do the nation’s dirty hands work.

People with experience around dogs know that most dogs can read the non-verbals of people extremely well. Indeed, if dogs were running the country their sensitivity would make them incapable of being elitist enough to enrage the anti-Trump base enough to create the firestorm currently greeting Donald Trump’s presidency. Unfortunately, Washington D.C’s. educated elitists lack the skills that most dogs have.

Complexity is a cornerstone ingredient in this firestorm. The complexity of life breeds oversimplification as people reach out for something they can handle. A key ingredient in this growing chasm is an increasing income inequality that drives people farther apart. The link between complexity and income inequality is hardly surprising once a person recognizes that people are paid what someone else is willing to pay them. The more skilled a person is at managing the complexities around him/her the more income that person can demand. Similarly, persons lacking the required skills for making things go become worth less and less economically.

The superficial solution to complexity driven income inequality is progressive income taxes. This solution has been tried repeatedly since 1980 in the U.S., but each time income disparity has increased anyhow. A major explanation for this that the increasing economic value of skilled complexity managers is a more powerful economic force than are higher taxes.

Attacking the problem with sharply higher progressive tax rates and low income subsidies is a drag on those who know how to make the system go, as well as a discouragement for low income people to seek productive work. Although progressive taxation can to some degree address income inequality, it has the unfortunate side effect of punishing economic success and rewarding economic failure.

The United States is a country where most of its people live near the East and West Coasts and much of the agricultural and industrial power is located in the middle portion of the country. this “fly over” country produces much of the nation’s basic food, but the importance of its people is usually derisively dismissed by the elite flying across the country. These elite are quite content to spend the trip with their minds absorbed in various electronic devices because they find nothing of interest in the agricultural land slowly passing by underneath. After all, the only thing this land produces is the food which they eat. At the end of the day the people living in “flyover country” control the power, know how to fight back, and will.

In contrast, Washington DC has needed a growing number of increasingly specialized people and lobbyists to function. As the narrowness of specialization increases the specialists become more disconnected from the world around them and more dismissive of it. Look no further than this phenomenon to find a key reason why heartland America is up in arms – being ignored and dismissed is an insult guaranteed to enrage, but snubbing is only the start of the troubles.

The next step is slandering the religious views of much of the Heartland with assertions like “the only socially acceptable form of Christianity is Roman Catholicism, if even that is tolerable”. In this view, Christians are categorically all ignorant, intolerant misogynists, homophobes, and bigots who must be suppressed. The facts be damned. There can be no public display by Heartland Christians of anything that can be considered religious – especially if it has Christian connotations. In this world, even the 10 Commandments cannot be discussed or displayed in public, even though the Commandments are a foundation of early Jewish law – but are apparently tainted since they are accepted as containing religious wisdom by Christians as well as Jews.

Going no further than this, it should be obvious what will happen when someone like Donald Trump comes along and tells the people in the Heartland that they are decent people and deserve to be treated as such. Then they are told that wishing a friend or neighbor Merry Christmas is not an act of religious bigotry for which they should be ashamed. People tend to like people who don’t roundly insult them!



The life and death of Trumpian America (ft.com, subscription only)


Complexity->specialization->Optimization-> brittalization

Complexity handling skills are randomly distributed in the social hierarchy

Oriental an insult

Micro insults

Worries are prioritized; tend to focus outside the realm of the specialty

Who empowered DT, and why? Everybody. The why trumps the who and what.

Everybody created DT via progressively more disconnectedness

Concerned far more with what than why. Smokescreens of what obscures the why.

3 blind men and the elephant – everybody has part of the picture

Tale of 2 Factories

FDR & Joshua – Locker room v country club

Incomplete truths; not incorrect

Fact and opinion have become synonymous

“Only people matter” feel, not think, the Bern!

Hillary is being attacked on both flanks, Trump on only one.

Hierarchy of economic development – food clothing shelter etc.

Heartland v coasts v beltway

Flyover country

People vote on what is important to them first, economic self-interest takes a back seat

Optimization produces capital destruction outside of the optimization focal range techno-tangle

Optimization produces progressive loss of primitive skills – heads for a new dark age

IoT -> vulnerability; primitive technology can better handle a big wallop

TDD remarks

Connecting non-contiguous dots

Value disparities based focused skills

Lenin – enemies are those that are nearly the same politically

Pol Pot phenomenon

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Now you can honestly say “Nobody told me.”

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Feb 5, 2017 at 17:26. Revised Sep 6, 2019 at 21:21. –> Retrieved Oct 23, 2019 at 00:42.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/

Why Banks Hire Idiots

Posted Aug 15, 2016 at 11:11. Revised Aug 14, 2019 at 08:17.

Banks and financial institutions don’t always hire idiots because their human resources people occasionally make a mistake and hire someone competent. Indeed, sometimes Human Resources (which normally is neither human nor a resource) lets competent people slip through is the system’s salvation. Once hired, these Human Resources accidents quickly find each other and become the connivers who will run the organization in the future.

Employee Requirements.

There are reasons why idiots are indispensable in a financial environment, but these reasons are not clear to the uninformed average person. Most people think the tellers and loan officers whom they see in a bank branch are the bank. These people are only a tiny part of an organization having thousands of people working behind the scene in operations centers. Such a complex organization requires rigidly structured interdepartmental communication, which in turn creates an impressive Complexity Trap. Idiots who never think and never ask intelligent questions are best suited to blindly ignoring complexities that might overpower more perceptive people.

A paramount need in banking is to reduce the chance that employees will steal money from the bank. Hiring idiots is the first line of defense since idiots are usually not astute enough to defraud a bank. The next defense is requiring that two people constantly watch each other and check each other’s work when doing tasks involving large amounts of money. In these cases, people must communicate only with their supervisors and not get friendly with their co-workers. Friendship among peers can lead to cooperation, which is the foundation of collusion and fraud.

The Job Requirements.

At the customer contact level, crazy things happen because most customers are irrational and paranoid on the topic of money. The organization’s public contact people must be capable of thinking only in reactive ways since the craziness of what the next customer might ask for is unpredictable and cannot be prepared for in advance. Their job requirements are not unlike those for the job of orderly in a mental hospital. Thinking ahead and planning are pointless in such an environment, so nutty people or idiots are the perfect employees for such positions.

The employee training needed to deal with customers is deceptively simple, so hiring idiots is often quite enough. Quickly learning and understanding how to handle ninety percent of the transactions a bank teller encounters requires no unusual talent. Unfortunately, the other ten percent of the job involves recognizing and correctly handling tricky transactions that are disasters when handled wrong. Gaining the experience needed to recognize and handle the unusual transactions can take thirty years rather than three days.

Hiring idiots gets the people needed to handle the ninety percent of all transactions that are simple. The other ten percent are not worth worrying about because the extensive use of decision-making committees guarantees that any blame will be diluted and dispersed to everyone on the committee. Committees exist for this purpose. Manning them with idiots helps lower staff costs because low-cost idiots can mess things up just as effectively as can more highly paid people.

Employee Presentation.

The use of idiots in financial institutions in no way implies that just any idiot will do. The image which an employee presents is critical to gaining customer trust and respect, so the idiot must have the first mandatory prerequisite of any successful con artist – a sincere and honest face. Presenting an idiot to customers as being competent and trustworthy is theater, and only requires basic acting skills. A bath, a shave, and an $800.00 suit will fully supply this needed image of competence. This formula applies to both bankers and bankerettes because banking is a sexually indiscriminate world wherein all idiots are equal, and all receive essentially equal and minuscule pay for equal work.

The remaining idiot presentation stage props consist of a fine mahogany desk, a plush carpet, and high-quality drapes for the office windows. These expenses along with the $800.00 suit save a financial institution an enormous amount in staff costs. How? It’s easy. A neurotic and insecure idiot wants to look important and will work for a much lower salary than a competent idiot, and the resulting payroll savings will quickly pay for the stage props’ high costs. The last accoutrement for our image adorned employee is to give him/her an impressive and much-valued job title instead of a decent salary.

Financial Committee Requirements.

There is one last warning for committee decision-making. The group must always make the decision for which it will be least criticized should things go wrong later. Never make a good decision that could subject you to criticism if it were to go wrong. Never think outside of the box since that risks making a good decision instead of a safe decision.

Financial committees must always focus focused on avoiding risk, especially when making loan decisions. Risk is just uncertainty of outcome. Lending money to a temporarily unemployed worker cannot be allowed because he may or may not be able to pay the funds back. i.e. the uncertain outcome makes the loan risky. On the other hand, loaning money to a scam artist with perfect financial paperwork is perfectly fine because there is no risk from uncertainty of outcome. Everyone knows with complete certainty that the loan will never be repaid. The committee cannot be criticized for making a loan involving no risk – that is, one having complete certainty of outcome.

Computerizing The Complexity Trap.

The Organizational Complexity Trap created by computerizing large financial organizations is mind-boggling. Computerization is necessary to deal efficiently with the huge quantities of information involved, but computerization also requires that those implementing and maintaining the computer systems communicate primarily with their project peers instead of with their supervisors. The people working on different facets of a project cannot be successful unless each person makes sure his piece fits together properly with the project’s other pieces. Any managerial move that blocks communication between computer project workers is a formula for disaster. Lateral communication is far more important than is vertical communication.

Successful computer project bosses must set down the goals for the group, listen to the concerns of the project’s workers, and function as the tiebreaker when the workers can’t agree on how to proceed. Sitting back and listening is the polar opposite management model from the jackboot Nazi management model required to keep up good financial control in the rest of the organization. The resulting complexity tangle between the two opposing management models disrupts the organization’s entire sociology and creates a cobra-mongoose relationship between the IT department and everyone else. The over-specialization needed to handle the organization’s ever more narrowly focused tasks only further expands the gulf between the two pieces of the organization.

The Conclusion.

You now have the basic knowledge needed to navigate modern financial Complexity Traps. Just don’t lose sight of the fact that all complexity traps will implode at some point. Make sure you are alert enough and agile enough to jump clear before it happens.

Now you can honestly say “Nobody told me.”

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Aug 15, 2016 at 11:11. Revised Aug 14, 2019 at 08:17. –> Retrieved Oct 23, 2019 at 00:42.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/

Intelligence and Stupidity

Posted Jul 26, 2016 at 11:11. Revised Aug 14, 2019 at 08:17.

International intelligence gathering and spying are pretty boring activities most of the time. They are boring because most intelligence gathering consists of desk work and analyzing readily available information. Just because certain information is readily available does not mean that it can be ignored when seeking top-secret information about what another government is doing or plans to do.

The recent massive leak of sensitive information in which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton compromised tens of thousands of potentially sensitive documents by handling them extremely carelessly is a case in point. An uninformed observer might dismiss her carelessness because most of the mishandled information appears to be unimportant.

An intelligence analyst knows that the bulk of the information collected is of little or no apparent value. It is only after assembling the many pieces into a picture of what is going on do some of the insignificant items become important. J.D. Nobody is appalled that so many people dismiss this process as being of little consequence, thereby showing an appalling ignorance of the importance of trivia to intelligence gathering. In more than a few cases this ignorance rises to the level of just plain stupidity if the ignorant person keeps refusing to accept the seriousness of the situation once the process is explained to him/her. Let’s now walk through an example of how inconsequential intelligence is processed and might hold the clue to obtaining much more important information.

The Secretary of State sends an email to her daughter via insecure channels saying that they will get together for breakfast the following day. Getting together for breakfast is hardly a world-changing event. The following morning the Secretary sends her daughter an email saying that she must make an emergency trip to London and cancels the breakfast appointment.

A foreign intelligence agency intercepts these two emails and discerns that this emergency trip is almost certainly due to a developing monetary crisis in England. This breakfast cancellation reinforces information from other sources that a monetary crisis may be about to happen. This new information makes it clear that the foreign power can safely take market positions that will generate billions in profit at the cost of everyone else once the crisis blows out into the open. The breakfast cancellation has provided the key to turning the suspect crisis information into actionable information. Every piece of trivium potentially has important intelligence. Trivia can also be critically important to generating disinformation to trick an opponent.

There have been two recent instances in the U.S. where the failure to secure email communications adequately has made much valuable information readily available to hostile foreign powers. The first instance is the private email server used by Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State. The second instance is the failure of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to secure its embarrassing email communications adequately. Hackers broke into much DNC email correspondence and posted it on the Internet, with the clear intent of disrupting the American political process.

This disruption has succeeded quite well, for it predictably has generated much furious discussion over who stole the information, what the motives were, and how to react to the manipulations and betrayals revealed in the emails. Unfortunately, the reaction to this has been a trial lawyer like reaction that argues endlessly over who is innocent or guilty.

Assigning blame has become a perfect storm in this situation because many persons have handled the embarrassing emails. The players in the game have thereby dispersed the culpability among many persons, allowing everyone to point a finger at someone else. Assigning blame is central in a court of law but has little relevance to dealing effectively with the dirty tricks of the espionage and disinformation worlds.

Worse yet is the time-proven principle of not informing the top-level affected person of the mess and dirty tricks that are underfoot. Intentionally not knowing what is going on lets the boss claim complete ignorance of the dirt should it be exposed later. Until then the boss can publicly bask in premeditated ignorance of what is happening. Should the subordinates’ treachery be exposed the reaction by the boss will be one of well-scripted horror, and a few subordinates will be scapegoated for their “rogue” behavior. The operatives playing the dirty tricks are hired into their jobs because they clearly understand that playing dirty tricks is part of their job description, even when they are given explicit orders to the contrary.

Subordinates understand that they must take the blame should their shenanigans turn sour. They act expecting that any needed legal and financial help will clandestinely come out of the woodwork to mitigate complications resulting from following their phantom marching orders.

In the Complexity Trap world of intelligence and espionage, the trial lawyer’s escape via the route of premeditated ignorance does not work. Premeditated ignorance becomes stupidity once people perceive the top dog as stupid and incompetent because the proper questions were not asked. Trial lawyers are glib problem obfuscators, not the analytical problem solvers required for information analysis.

Turning intelligence and information processing into an exercise in trial lawyering is an exercise in stupidity because results matter far more than does the blame for compromising information. Understanding this difference is critical to winning the currently underway Third World War. The Third World War is a war of cyber intelligence and psychological terror. Trial lawyers are ill-equipped to lead in this war because losing a court decision is not remotely as serious as losing a cyber guerrilla war based on terrorism.

Now you can honestly say “Nobody told me.”

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Jul 26, 2016 at 11:11. Revised Aug 14, 2019 at 08:17. –> Retrieved Oct 23, 2019 at 00:42.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/

Too Small To Succeed

Posted Apr 20, 2016 at 10:21. Revised Aug 14, 2019 at 08:17.

It seems that the current political environment has brought politicians out of the woodwork, promising to break up financial institutions that are “Too Big to Fail.” The argument for ensuring that no bank or insurance company is “too big to fail” is sublimely simple. All financial institutions should be small enough so that when an individual institution fails the failure will not need a public funds bailout. Small failures would not infect or damage other institutions. This view ignores a financial disaster that hits everyone at once, which sometimes happens.

One can hardly argue against the intent behind keeping institutions small. Unfortunately, financial companies are more complex than they look, and there is much more to running a financial organization than one might think. For at least 200 years bankers have understood that financial dealings can sometimes go sour despite all efforts to handle them carefully and responsibly. They have also been quite aware that if enough things go wrong at the same time, those unfortunate events can sink a financial organization.

Interestingly, most people in Canada are probably more worried about a bank’s being too small to succeed, for reasons discussed later. Five big banks essentially make up the Canadian banking system. For instance, if the Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Montreal were to fail at the same time, a national financial crisis would ensue immediately. So why aren’t Canadians in a state of panic over this? There is an answer, but later.

From the beginning, a prudent banker was careful about lending money because if his bank failed, he went down with it. Good banking practice avoids lending too much money to any one customer and lends only to customers who can repay the loan. Unfortunately, there will always be unexpected circumstances that make a customer unable to repay his loan. A prudently run bank can handle such a loss without being pushed under because a single bad loan will be only a small part of all the institution’s assets.

Prudent bankers have also understood that a competitor’s failure is nothing to gloat over because the failure of a bank hurts the wider community. The bad loan will directly and indirectly hurt other banks as well. Because of this, banks long ago took the first step toward a complexity trap by agreeing that they would make funds available to their competitors when one of them needed a temporary bailout. Such arrangements make a town’s banks collectively stronger and safer.

Unfortunately, such arrangements make things worse when a community-wide disaster leaves many creditworthy customers unable to pay back their loans. For instance, in a farming community crop failures could make many responsible farmers unable to repay their loans. Such events would stress all the town’s banks and make each bank unable to help out the other banks. Guarantees among local banks are not adequate to handle a community-wide catastrophe.

The next step to spread the risk would include larger city banks in the mutual support arrangements, which is reasonable in most circumstances. Historically the smaller banks often deposited some reserves in a bigger city bank as an extra preparation for a rainy day. These reserve funds would be available when lady luck might leave many in the smaller towns broke. Sometimes the way to make a complex problem more reliable is to add to its complexity.

Spreading the risks inherent in a smaller town financial world to larger cities does make things safer – as long as nothing big hits all the regional financial institutions as well. So the logical next protection step is to spread the risk even further by including all the nation’s financial institutions in a network of guarantees. Again, this works as long as no big, adverse event hits all financial organizations at the same time.

Believing that a financial institution that is “too big to fail” increases the risk of system-wide failure is absurd. Catastrophic system-wide risk comes from the risk of a catastrophic system-wide disaster. In such a situation all financial institutions are hit hard, regardless of their size. That risk of collapse exists regardless of the scale of the institutions and comes from the basic system of guarantees wherein institutions look to other institutions for safety. Only the strong, whether big or small, will survive. When the situation is bad enough all connected dominoes will fall, and a few big ones are much easier to support than a sea of little ones. Smallness is a liability when dealing with a systemic failure. So what can one do to prevent this failure?

The answer is the one that the Federal Reserve Bank, the United States’ “bank of last resort,” used in 2008. At that time, the Fed instantly manufactured enough money to shore up the existing guarantees among the major financial institutions. “Printing money” to back up the guarantees was a terrifying task because nobody, not even insiders, had any way of knowing exactly how extensive the complex tangle of guarantees might be or the amount of money needed to arrest the chaos. The Fed saved the day because it was able to put overwhelming monetary pressure on a few key pressure points. In a world where all financial institutions are “too small to succeed,” the institutions become an army of cats that is impossible to herd.

Most of our Canadian friends understand the importance of having key intervention pressure points ready if needed. Canada’s cornerstone financial institutions are all “too big to fail.” Many Canadians clearly see that trying to sort out the complex guarantees among thousands of falling little dominoes and doing it in an environment where billions can and do move in milliseconds is absurd. Keeping thousands of little dominoes standing makes any system too small to succeed because swift and comprehensive interventions are not possible. When key institutions are “too big to fail,” central bankers have the key pressure points needed to intervene decisively and immediately. Being able to act immediately in support of critical inter-institution financial guarantees is the only way to win a financial war. Anyone who thinks that today’s international electronic banking is not a current, continuing, and vicious financial blood sport among people and nations needs to wake up.

Yes, most Canadian policymakers get it. They see that the risk from falling dominoes is the problem and that you can hold up a few big dominoes far more easily than you can support thousands of little ones. The system of inter-institution guarantees will keep thousands of little dominoes standing when a few big dominoes are kept standing. They also seem to understand the need for dealing with facts and logic when looking at a financial system, whereas Bernie Simpleton – in the name of helping the “little guy” – approaches the problem guided only by a complexity-free and uncalibrated moral compass.

Facts and logic are what one uses to calibrate a moral compass, but don’t waste your time trying to tell that to Bernie Simpleton. Financial Simpletons live in a cause-and-effect world in which uninformed morality sees everything as violating some moral precept and not interconnecting with anything else in substantive ways. It is a world in which everything is somebody else’s fault. Bernie would no doubt tell you that he loves Canadians – just not those Canadians who think the web of life is at all complex.

Canadians seem to get it from another angle as well. In some ways, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is cut from the same cloth as Bernie Simpleton, but with an important difference: Trudeau has a brain in his head. Bernie Simpleton wants to raise corporate income taxes sharply even though those taxes are already the highest in the First World. He thinks this will bring jobs back to the U.S. and fund his welfare plans. No matter that current taxes already have driven an obscene amount of money and jobs out of the U.S. to more welcoming places. Trudeau has used his head enough to see that Canada will be better off by lowering Canadian taxes enough to import any American businesses and jobs that U.S. Simpletons might drive away. Any such match between Bernie Simpleton and Justin Trudeau is a guaranteed win for Canada.

In a Simpleton’s world, little guys can only be hurt by big guys. Simpletons see people as living in hierarchies where the people on the bottom are at the mercy of those at the top. In this world, there is no bidirectional interdependence, just top-down exploitation. It is no surprise that navigating this Simpleton’s world requires an uncalibrated moral compass.

Now you can honestly say “Nobody told me.”

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Apr 20, 2016 at 10:21. Revised Aug 14, 2019 at 08:17. –> Retrieved Oct 23, 2019 at 00:42.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/

Other Complexity Traps

Posted Apr 3, 2016 at 14:48. Revised Aug 14, 2019 at 08:17.

J.D. Nobody has discovered that the name Complexity Trap has been used in academic articles about vaguely similar concepts to those this blog discusses. JD Nobody was unaware of this usage until recently but has looked into the thoughts put forth by those authoring articles about the Other Complexity Trap. They are addressing similar problems to those addressed by The Complexity Trap, but are addressing them primarily from military and foreign policy perspective. Rather, The Complexity Trap blog addresses complexity issues from a sociological and political perspectives. The two perspectives do overlap.

Curiously, the other complexity trap was not discovered by J.D. Nobody when searching for and registering the domain name for this blog. A scholarly presentation by Sebastian Gorka, Michael J. Gallagher, and Joshua A. Geltzer at http://www.iwp.edu/news_publications/detail/the-complexity-trap presents another view of complexity traps. Their ideas parallel those of J.D. Nobody, but by virtue of those authors being Somebodies, none of their readers can say Nobody told me.

It is important to keep a historical perspective on complexity because there probably have been other times in history when people faced as much complexity as we face today. A key difference is that in earlier times there was not as much technology to generate problems, or in turn to generate as much help in solving them. It is unclear whether a complexity trap or a series of complexity trap cycles will ultimately devolve into chaos. Devolution into chaos will happen when people no longer see any hope for moving forward.

Short of falling into despair, it is vitally important to strategically plan and prioritize all the available resources. By definition, not all aspects of a complex situation can be addressed, due to the complexity itself. Nevertheless, any thought out strategy is better than nothing at all.

Now you can honestly say “Nobody told me.”

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Apr 3, 2016 at 14:48. Revised Aug 14, 2019 at 08:17. –> Retrieved Oct 23, 2019 at 00:42.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/

The Animals In The Barnyard Are Nervous

Posted Feb 23, 2016 at 17:53. Revised Sep 24, 2019 at 19:01.

For many years, farmers in Central and South America noticed that occasionally their animals would become restless, and would sometimes attempt to smash their way out of their pens or corrals. Many farmers believed this behavior was because the animals knew a major earthquake was imminent.

Knowledgeable people thought this was just ignorance and superstition on the part of the farmers, but over time, there was a growing realization that the animals knew something. No one was able to explain with certainty how they were detecting impending earthquakes, but there is much evidence that they knew when an earthquake was coming.

The 2016 political situation in America was similar. Many people (the animals) knew that something was wrong and that there was trouble ahead, but they weren’t sure what to do about it or whom to blame. The people in the Establishment, like the farmers in Central and South America, had a hard time believing that many in the ordinary rank and file (the animals) could know something that the elite did not.

By 2016 politics had manifested itself in two extreme groups of people, a group of conservatives who wanted to throw the rascals out and replace them with people who respected traditional values, and a group of extreme progressives who wanted to throw the rascals out and then massively redistribute wealth.

Even though these factions regarded each other as enemies, they had a great deal in common. Both wanted to tear up the current order and replace it with something much more to their liking. In each case, the people of these two extremes were often ignorant and simple, having simple-minded solutions that would create more problems than they would solve. Because of this, the Establishment had difficulty listening to inarticulate outsiders. Ironically, the Establishment itself was also ignorant and uninformed about what was happening in the world beneath its feet.

Much of what was happening was a result of the ever-growing complexity of society, technology, and current life. This complexity guaranteed that people would be progressively less informed about what was going on because there was too much for any one person to absorb. It also resulted in ever-increasing specialization to deal with the fragmenting pieces of everything.

The people best able to master a world of growing complexity and keep it running become increasingly more valuable and thus can demand bigger paychecks. Those less able to stay on top of developments are less valuable economically and paid accordingly. Neither a return to the traditional values of earlier years nor wealth redistribution can reverse the forces of growing complexity.

Since 1981, there have been many conservative and liberal income-tax changes that promised to produce more tax fairness and less extreme wealth distribution. The result of each reform was the inequality increased, partly because increasing tax complexity makes the most successful people more able to game the growing tax system’s rules. Tax revisions suit the self-interest of tax accountants and tax attorneys because even a simplification to the tax code usually requires more compliance advice. Each tax revision helps tax practitioners to become ever bigger leeches on the economically productive segments of society. It is simple: more tax law complexity (and change) generates more wealth for tax specialists. The beauty in this scam is the people will demand tax revisions forever, thereby giving the legislators a perfect excuse for saying: “We are only complying with what our electorate has requested – which is what our job requires us to do!” (And we are laughing all the way to the bank in the process!).

If pro is the opposite of con,
then what is the opposite of progress?

As complexity grows, it places an increasing drag on people’s lives. They then seek simplicity by oversimplifying everything in their lives. Ever-increasing complexity ultimately generates a complexity trap that ends each complexity sub-cycle. The result is the situation devolves into chaos and a new simplicity, which can be far more perverse than the original simplicity was.

The biggest complexity cycle, consisting of all the smaller cycles, similarly has an ultimate complexity trap. What the limits to complexity are, when they might happen, and how our complexity will simplify and will correct itself is not known. We do know that nothing can grow exponentially forever.

All this is unfolding before our very eyes, and we don’t believe what we are seeing.

Now you can honestly say “Nobody told me.”

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Feb 23, 2016 at 17:53. Revised Sep 24, 2019 at 19:01. –> Retrieved Oct 23, 2019 at 00:42.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/

The Importance of Being Nobody

Posted Feb 22, 2016 at 18:28. Revised Sep 24, 2019 at 19:15.

Being J.D. Nobody makes me a most important person. Indeed, millions of people quote me every day when they find themselves in a mess. The great beauty in being able to say “Nobody told me” is that no one can ever question you about whether it is true or false. You win either way when you quote me or pretend to quote me because it will be unclear to your listener whether the word “nobody” is a proper noun or just a convenient collective noun. Moreover, this gift which I am providing to the world is the perfect tool for keeping glib lawyers honest.

Panic-filled pragmatism is the typical result of twenty-first-century complexity. Also, the more complexities people find in the world around them the more likely they are to seek too much simplification. My mission is to give you the cover you need to truthfully say “Nobody told me” when someone challenges you. This response will be especially convenient when I, J.D. Nobody, have in fact told you something you don’t want to admit to knowing.

Now you can honestly say “Nobody told me.”

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Feb 22, 2016 at 18:28. Revised Sep 24, 2019 at 19:15. –> Retrieved Oct 23, 2019 at 00:42.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/