Two Tribes

70
Mon, Aug 5, 2013 - 8:32pm

An experience I had about six months ago left a profound impression on me, so much so that I find myself mentally referencing it whenever discussions arise regarding government spending and debt, or the end of the Keynsian experiment. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this experience shocked me in some ways, not because it invalidated opinions I previously held but because it made clear to me how much I had underestimated certain elemental forces at work and the cultural attitudes behind them. This essay is about the implications of that experience. I have no doubt that some will be offended by what I write here, and for that I am genuinely sorry as offending you is certainly not my goal. I can only state that what you are about to read is as completely accurate a description of the events as I can possibly relate- and I promise you that what I say happened actually happened.

In my work, I brushed up against a situation where two completely opposing worldviews were clashing. Their cultural assumptions and opinions could not possibly have been farther apart, and the animosity I witnessed was both deep-seated and raw. These groups were, in essence, two completely different tribes and I had an inside view of this clash because two people directly precipitating it thought – erroneously as it turned out – that I was a member of their tribe and treated me accordingly, giving me an insider’s tour of the conflict and situation with no holds barred.

The situation I was called in to consult on was as follows: There was an interesting property located in a rural township. The owner wanted to sell this property to the township with the idea that they would develop it for community use, and given its location this was an intriguing idea. However, because the site contained certain features that are given protection under law, two Government workers with expertise in these features became interested in the property and began working on obtaining funding so the township could acquire the tract. After discussing the possibility of purchasing and developing the property for community use with a few interested members of the Township Board of Supervisors, the Government employees did what they do in their professional arena. They went out and successfully obtained a sizeable grant from the state. With a chunk of free money in hand, they returned to the township believing that nothing stood in the way of the project moving forward as they envisioned… except for one tiny detail.

The full township board had not been notified that this money was coming in, and had not been consulted- nor had any official vote taken place. This presented a problem because the majority of the board, being elected in a rural area on a platform of fiscal responsibility, had not approved the plan. Indeed, there was no actual plan, no estimate of total costs, nothing. These supervisors pointed out that 1. The “free” money, while a considerable sum, was not enough to pay for the entire project and thus the township would be obligated to come up with the remainder, 2. There had been no accounting of future costs associated with the maintenance, staffing, equipment, etc that would be needed to maintain and operate the facility, so they had no idea what these costs would add to the budget in the future, and 3. The Township budget was balanced at the moment and thus the services they currently provided were sustainable at present levels indefinitely, but this meant that the budget was therefore already maxed-out absent new revenue. These people had been elected on a platform of no new taxes, thus when these elected representatives actually had a chance to vote on the project, they voted no. At this point, I was brought in by the Government men to consult on certain aspects of it, to see if I wanted to get involved in doing a study on the property.

All this is boring stuff, so far… but the tour I was given that day was truly remarkable. The Government men assumed that I was one of them- a “member of their tribe” because of my profession and current position. Because of this assumption, they spent all day telling me what they really thought. It was an education.

The Government men were in equal turns angry and astounded that their generosity in obtaining all of that ‘free’ state money for the township was so unappreciated. I was informed that it was only the pathetic ignorance and small-mindedness of the rural culture that had kept the project from going forward. In terms of the project, I was told again and again how these people lacked vision and were basically too stupid to accept the big pile of free cash that had been laid at their feet, a rank example of witlessness that the Government men found deeply offensive. The money was there, thanks to their efforts, and the stupid locals were too dumb to simply reach down and pick it up.

The government men referred all day long to the Township Supervisors as “hillbillies”, “hicks”, and on one occasion “Tea-party racists”, despite the fact that they were rural farm owners (in an area where the average farm is worth 1-2 million) and local businessmen/women, and despite the absence of any actual racial incidents of any kind. Though these people lived far from the isolated ‘hollers’ of Appalachia, and were successful business and farm owners in their community, I must have heard the term “hillbilly” forty or fifty times, interspersed with jokes about marrying cousins and inbreeding. One local supervisor was in favor of the project, and I was therefore told that “she was OK- must be the only one who has all her teeth, heh heh!”, as if all the rest of these community representatives were stump-toothed inbreds straight from “Deliverance”. Though it is entirely possible I have led a sheltered life, it was nonetheless the most blatantly bigoted conversation I have ever heard in person, leading me to wonder on the drive home if this was what it was like to talk to unapologetic bigots back during the 30’s or 40’s, merely substituting “Hillbilly” and “Inbred” for what would in a previous era have been “Darkie” or “Jew”.

It was crystal clear that these men were very comfortable speaking this way and that, indeed, this was likely how they and their co-workers in government usually talked, so easily did these slurs and aspersions flow during otherwise normal, professional conversation. In their tribe, it was apparently perfectly acceptable to characterize the other tribe in these terms. I was truly amazed at the depth of sheer disgust expressed.

At one point during the proceedings I was talking shop with one of them and he informed me that the new Governor’s budget cuts had necessitated a drastic change in how he oversaw certain state contracts which he supervises. According to state law, a specific type of survey was required prior to certain public projects, and after this survey was completed a report had to be submitted to the state. Previously, he sent these out on a contract basis to big companies to the tune of 50k per project, but with the new budget cuts, he informed me sadly that he was now farming the work out to a local state college, which could handle them at a cost of around 5 thousand per job. “How is the quality” I asked? He assured me that it was great, just as good as the big boys. Now I happen to know that around 20 of these surveys are done annually in my part of the state alone, and that this represents less than 1/4th of the total done statewide per year. I sat there (pretending to pay attention while doing the math) and trying to wrap my head around the fact that this guy basically just told me that he used to pay 4 million per year in state money to do these things, but when push came to shove he could do the exact same thing for just 500k. Given that this guy has worked in his current job for over a decade, I would guess conservatively that his casual little lunch admission means that on this type of project alone he personally has spent at least 40 million taxpayer dollars for projects he could have completed for 5 million over the last decade. He then went back to telling me how ignorant the local tea party was, and never missed a beat. It was a clarifying experience.

* * *

When I read of IRS employees targeting groups advocating for small government, using the extraordinary power of the government’s ability to tax in order to purposefully harass and target these groups in a direct effort to hamper their political activity and speech, I am not surprised in the least. They do not view these groups as ‘fellow citizens deserving of constitutionally protected rights", they view them as members of a different and profoundly inferior tribe, a tribe so debased and low that it is only right to treat them with disdain and to use whatever force is available to thwart their goals. When I read of the wailing and the dire predictions of disaster that would be caused by the small, virtually inconsequential sequester cuts made in the face of exponentially mounting Federal deficits, I am not surprised in the least. Those dollars are largely fictional to the tribe that spends them ‘on behalf of others’; the money is merely an abstraction representing to them departmental power or career advancement more than any actual value that must be earned through productive endeavor.

And you want to know the greatest irony, or perhaps tragedy, of the entire story? The government men who so unapologetically mocked the culture, the reasoning, and even the genetics of the small-government advocates from the township? When we left our meeting that day, those men returned to their offices in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania- the first state capital city to have been so profligate in its spending that it could not pay even the interest on its enormous debts and had declared bankruptcy just months earlier. These men were utterly oblivious to the fact that this rural community they so freely mocked was being run in a way that ensured fiscal survival and continuance, while they returned to taxpayer-funded offices at taxpayer-funded jobs in the first failed capital city in America, a basket-case polity so ill-managed that it can no longer pay for even the basic services required to remain a functioning city. This fact did not stop them from believing themselves to be utterly and completely superior to their small town/small government counterparts in public service. It did not for one second give them pause, or spur them to reason through the consequences of their assumptions of public works and spending in relation to the assumptions of governance they found so provincial and uninformed in the people of the township. The people of the township were, government men believed, members of an ignorant and benighted tribe and thus were entirely deserving of their contempt.

Two tribes. And I have no doubt that one of those tribes will feed without question or remorse upon the carcass of what was once a thriving economy, right up until the last scrap of flesh is devoured and there is nothing left to consume. To even question doing so would be to affirm a critique originating from the other tribe… and that would be unthinkable.

About the Author

  70 Comments

  Refresh
Spartacus Rex
Aug 10, 2013 - 3:58am

Quite Excellent Pining

Gee, I am surprised though that these town folk didn't simply suggest that if those of the holier than thou "free money" charity tribe would simply agree to mortgage their entire personal net worths to fund an indemnity bond which would guarantee a revenue positive outcome from the project for the next 50 years, they would easily become convinced of the merits of the proposal and support it whole heartedly!

SE
Aug 8, 2013 - 4:25pm

Round up

I hope you remembered their names and faces, because as soon as America collapses, I want to help the farmers out there hunt these motherfuckers down for a string-up.

I Run Bartertown
Aug 8, 2013 - 7:32am

Oops

Sorry, double post.

I Run Bartertown
Aug 8, 2013 - 7:32am

If just one tribe

If just one tribe refuses to leave the other alone, if just one tribe refuses to allow the other an escape,

there can only be bloodshed... and the complete elimination of the pushy 'authority' tribe

or the complete subjugation of the 'leave me alone' tribe.

-

-

Obama administration using housing department to compel diversity in neighborhoods
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/08/08/obama-administration-using-housing-department-to-compel-diversity-in/#ixzz2bNNPG9ua

Some fear the rule will open the floodgates to lawsuits by HUD -- a weapon the department has already used in places like Westchester County, N.Y., where mayors and attorneys representing several towns, like Cortlandt, are writing HUD to protest burdensome fair housing mandates that go far beyond those agreed to in a 2009 settlement with HUD.

One letter written by Cortlandt town attorney Thomas Wood expresses a common dilemma.

"Cordlandt is mostly residential and has only a few vacant parcels that could be developed for commercial use," he writes. "In order to stabilize the tax base amongst the most affordable in Westchester County, the Town Board needs to encourage the development of commercial property for commercial use."

Rob Astorino, the Westchester County Executive recently said, "What they are trying to do is to say discrimination and zoning is the same thing. They are not. Discrimination won't be tolerated. I won't tolerate it. Zoning though, protects what can and can't be built in a neighborhood."

Also troublesome to critics is that the HUD secretary, in announcing this proposed rule, blamed poverty on zip codes – rather than other socio-economic factors that studies have shown contribute to poverty.

El Gordo
Aug 7, 2013 - 10:16pm

Gramp

One of my friends is a security guard in a small privately owned marina just off Galveston Bay. Same scenario. Also constant Homeland Security presence just sniffing around. Makes no sense to me.

dropout
Aug 7, 2013 - 6:44pm

Tribal War Crimes

This week marks the 68th anniversary of the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan.

August 6th on Hiroshima and August 9th on Nagasaki, resulting in the deaths of approx 210,000 people.

This action effectively ended the war in the Pacific. But was it required? Japan was already more than beaten.

During March 9th & 10th 1945, the US XXI bomber command under General Curtis LeMay, carried out operation "Meetinghouse." The low level incendiary firebombing of Tokyo which killed 100,000 people and leveled over 65% of the city, resulting in great hoards of homeless.

During the last 6 months of the war in the Pacific, the US XXI bomber group firebombed 67 Japanese cities.

When was enough, enough?

Cononish1314
Aug 7, 2013 - 3:51pm

What can happen when you're Pining 4 The Fjords

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/06/starved-polar-bear-record-sea-ice-melt?INTCMP=SRCH

The bear had been examined by scientists from the Norwegian Polar Institute in April in the southern part of Svalbard, an Arctic island archipelago, and appeared healthy. The same bear had been captured in the same area in previous years, suggesting that the discovery of its body, 250km away in northern Svalbard in July, represented an unusual movement away from its normal range. The bear probably followed the fjords inland as it trekked north, meaning it may have walked double or treble that distance.

Posted just to annoy climate change deniers.

(And it's anecdotal. So anyone can join in.)

Gramp
Aug 7, 2013 - 12:45pm

Agreed.

I agree with your assessment Gentlemen. A sobering reminder that even small ports are now subject to these situations described above.

I would never interfere with the officers. Their presence is just so different than what we have grown accustom to.

I have a better understanding what our local police forces role is. I trust they are trained properly for their job. But the DHS is a new agency with mandates that I don't know or understand fully, thus being weary.

Not to drag up dark events of our recent times... but as you alluded to above, some of the small towns not far from here where in fact used by Atta and the others. Local Walmarts and other businesses had them on camera.

After that event, the Coast Guard would investigate every target in the fog. Be motoring along, and a CG boat with a 17 year old kid (who had never even seen the ocean until joining the CG) would fly out of the fog, having hands on the deck mounted 50 cal or whatever that HUGE gun is they used to keep covered out of sight!

Intimidating to say the least!

Visit the FAQ page to learn how to track your last read comment, add images, embed videos, tweets, and animated gifs, and more.

Strongsidejedi
Aug 7, 2013 - 12:21pm

@Jak Expat - agree

@Jakarta Expat
I agree with your interpretation. The situation described suggests that DHS has personnel photographing the comings and goings in the small harbors in order to identify any yacht that could be carrying cargo. That would be consistent with CBP's role in identifying illegal trafficking in something.

@Gramp
It is good that they are observing the harbor. Don't interfere with the DHS CBP guys. They're just doing their job in watching the port/harbor.

Jakarta ExpatGramp
Aug 7, 2013 - 12:16pm

@Gramp

The town you describe would seem the perfect place to bring in a medium size boat that has just met a large ocean going ship registered in some Panama or some throw away country that has transferred some type of radioactive dirty bomb or worse, over to the smaller boat and they are bringing it in to the US via a sleepy one cop port to get it in to the US without going via the large cities that have decent customs, xray scanners ect ect.

I figure you are lucky they are there, obviously they felt he scenario I laid out is possible otherwise they would not be there but then WTFDIK.

Subscribe or login to read all comments.

Contribute

Donate Shop

Get Your Subscriber Benefits

Private iTunes feed for all TF Metals Report podcasts, and access to Vault member forum discussions!

Key Economic Events Week of 8/10

8/10 10:00 ET Job openings
8/11 8:30 ET Producer Price Idx
8/12 8:30 ET Consumer Price Idx
8/13 8:30 ET Initial jobless claims
8/13 8:30 ET Import Price Idx
8/14 8:30 ET Retail Sales
8/14 8:30 ET Productivity & Unit Labor Costs
8/14 8:30 ET Cap Ute and Ind Prod
8/14 10:00 ET Business Inventories

Key Economic Events Week of 8/3

8/3 9:45 ET Markit Manu PMI July
8/3 10:00 ET ISM Manu PMI July
8/3 10:00 ET Construction Spending
8/4 10:00 ET Factory Orders
8/5 8:15 ET ADP employment July
8/5 9:45 ET Markit Service PMI
8/5 10:00 ET ISM Service PMI
8/6 8:30 ET Initial jobless claims
8/7 8:30 ET BLSBS for July
8/7 10:00 ET Wholesale Inventories

Key Economic Events Week of 7/27

7/27 8:30 ET Durable Goods
7/28 9:00 ET Case-Shiller home prices
7/29 8:30 ET Advance trade in goods
7/29 2:00 ET FOMC Fedlines
7/29 2:30 ET CGP presser
7/30 8:30 ET Q2 GDP first guess
7/31 8:30 ET Personal Income and Spending
7/31 8:30 ET Core inflation
7/31 9:45 ET Chicago PMI

Key Economic Events Week of 7/20

7/21 8:30 ET Chicago Fed
7/21 2:00 ET Senate vote on Judy Shelton
7/22 10:00 ET Existing home sales
7/23 8:30 ET Jobless claims
7/23 10:00 ET Leading Economic Indicators
7/24 9:45 ET Markit flash PMIs for July

Key Economic Events Week of 7/13

7/13 11:30 ET Goon Williams speech
7/13 1:00 ET Goon Kaplan speech
7/14 8:30 ET CPI for June
7/14 2:30 ET Goon Bullard speech
7/15 8:30 ET Empire State and Import Price Idx
7/15 9:15 ET Cap Ute and Ind Prod
7/16 8:30 ET Retail Sales and Philly Fed
7/16 11:00 ET Goon Williams again
7/17 8:30 ET Housing Starts and Permits

Key Economic Events Week of 7/6

7/6 9:45 ET Markit Service PMI
7/6 10:00 ET ISM Service PMI
7/7 10:00 ET Job openings
7/9 8:30 ET Initial jobless claims
7/9 10:00 ET Wholesale inventories
7/10 8:30 ET PPI for June

Key Economic Events Week of 6/29

6/30 9:00 ET Case-Shiller home prices
6/30 9:45 ET Chicago PMI
6/30 10:00 ET Consumer Confidence
6/30 12:30 ET CGP and SSHW to Capitol Hill
7/1 8:15 ET ADP Employment
7/1 9:45 ET Markit Manu PMI
7/1 10:00 ET ISM Manu PMI
7/1 2:00 ET June FOMC minutes
7/2 8:30 ET BLSBS
7/2 10:00 ET Factory Orders

Key Economic Events Week of 6/22

6/22 8:30 ET Chicago Fed
6/22 10:00 ET Existing home sales
6/23 9:45 ET Markit flash PMIs for June
6/23 10:00 ET New home sales
6/25 8:30 ET Q1 GDP final guess
6/25 8:30 ET Durable Goods
6/26 8:30 ET Pers Inc and Spending
6/26 8:30 ET Core inflation

Key Economic Events Week of 6/15

6/16 8:30 ET Retail Sales
6/16 8:30 ET Cap Ute and Ind Prod
6/16 10:00 ET Chief Goon Powell US Senate
6/16 4:00 pm ET Goon Chlamydia speech
6/17 8:30 ET Housing Starts
6/17 12:00 ET Chief Goon Powell US House
6/18 8:30 ET Initial Jobless Claims
6/18 8:30 ET Philly Fed
6/19 8:30 ET Current Account Deficit
6/19 1:00 pm ET CGP and Mester conference

Key Economic Events Week of 6/8

6/9 10:00 ET Job openings
6/9 10:00 ET Wholesale inventories
6/10 8:30 ET CPI for May
6/10 2:00 ET FOMC Fedlines
6/10 2:30 ET CGP presser
6/11 8:30 ET Initial jobless claims
6/11 8:30 ET PPI for May
6/12 8:30 ET Import price index
6/12 10:00 ET Consumer sentiment

Recent Comments