Two Tribes

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


Aug 5, 2013 - 8:48pm

Thanks P4

First btw :-)

edit: Foiled by JY's 1st first!

Good story Pining. It affirms my sad belief that some groups of people and govts are working on a much more primitive level or greedy train of thought in the way they go about everyday life.

Video unavailable

Aug 5, 2013 - 8:51pm


Maybe my 1st ever... It's a double honor that it should happen on a Pining post. Now to read about these (dia)tribes... PS: sorry, DPH. But it's true what they say, an honestly earned first really DOES make one's day. Despite being easily amused, this is the first today that I am well and truly enthused... :-)

القراع عصفور
Aug 5, 2013 - 8:52pm

you said two tribes

you only shared the one side's opinions of the other. what makes you think that the other side's views are any kinder, or less racist? they aren't. the problem is that there is no middle ground anymore.

not picking a fight. i am on the limited government side of the debate. thank you for your contribution.

Aug 5, 2013 - 8:56pm

Kipling said it best...

"East is east and west is west and neither the twain shall meet."

And someone I know well added -

"These psychopaths won't stop until they have a bullet in their brain."

Governance is not only disconnected from the governed, it is disconnected from reality. A recent INSANE example -

Giggles the Fawn Seized, Killed by Wisconsin DNR
So It Goes
Aug 5, 2013 - 9:00pm

ASE sales

Did not see any Watchman update.

From the US Mint:

Bullion Sales/Mintage Figures

2013 American Eagle Bullion (sales totals by month, in ounces/number of coins)

United States Mint American Eagle Platinum Bullion Coins, which are not mandated by public law, have not been produced or offered for sale since 2008.


Month One
( oz. / #coins )
( oz. / #coins )
( oz. / #coins )
( oz. / #coins )
( oz. / #coins )
January 124,500
February 68,000
March 54,000
April 187,500
May 61,500
June 49,000
July 43,000
August 0
September 0
October 0
November 0
December 0
Total 587,500


Month One
( oz. / #coins )
January 7,498,000
February 3,368,500
March 3,356,500
April 4,087,000
May 3,458,500
June 3,275,000
July 4,406,500
August 792,000
September 0
October 0
November 0
December 0
Total 30,242,000
Aug 5, 2013 - 9:03pm

Sorry, murphy.

“Darkie” or “Jew" have been replaced by "cracker" and "redneck".

Darkie and (liberal) Jew, GOOD.

Redneck and cracker, BAD.

Note: These are 2013 rules an are subject to change, one way or another.

Aug 5, 2013 - 9:06pm



....but murphy is Turd.

Aug 5, 2013 - 9:07pm


I wanted to say " I am Turd!"

Damn you Alien Eyes said in my best Charlton Heston voice.

Kind of on topic

Video unavailable

Well done P4!

Aug 5, 2013 - 9:09pm

I have NO idea if this has been posted yet

because it's impossible to spend the time needed to keep up with all the threads.

4 August 2013 Last updated at 09:35 ET

'Havoc' as HSBC prepares to close diplomatic accounts

HSBC bank has reportedly asked more than 40 diplomatic missions to close their accounts as part of a programme to reduce business risks.

Aug 5, 2013 - 9:11pm

A pearl necklace

is less beautiful and less valuable when the string is cut and the pearls scattered.

Left Field
Aug 5, 2013 - 9:12pm

Same here on the West Coast.

Your story is not shocking, in fact it seems awfully familiar. Let's just replace the word "hillbilly" with the words "developer" or "grape grower" or "Waldorf Mama"

I am involved in several local political groups plus the revitalization of local Grange Hall. In all of these factions and tribalism play a huge role. While being active in the community, I have noticed that there are particular tribes of active people in the community pushing for their particular vision.

It's the tribalism that most interest me. Issues Come and go but there's always an inside and outside, The good tribe and the bad drive. Further the tribalism continues from issue to issue.

The tribes mostly coalesce around the same types of issues. It almost unheard of and impossible for someone to go from one tribe to the other. To put it differently, once you've been identified with one tribe you can never really be accepted into the other tribe.

As you point out, this tribalism prevents any real discussion of the merits of some important ideas. Within the tribe, contrary opinions are not accepted and therefore remain unvoiced. This kind of fast and easy stereotyping of the issues is a human trait and does not lead to the best outcomes. Think about the tribes of Detroit. The pensioners know they are right and deserving of their promised payments. The government of Detroit and many of its citizens know there's no way they can pay for those promises.

I suspect that the fear of losing your place inside a tribe is what prevents the tribes from coming together for a compromise on some of these issues. The first person to voice an opinion that doesn't flow with the main opinion is usually ostracized. possibility of compromise. Therefore, compromise is usually reserved for times when external unavoidable events force everyone's hand.

I have done a lot of work in my area regarding climate change. Where I live, it is one issue that goes from the far left to the medium right. Therefore we can have environmentalists and businessmen participating in a program that goes in the same direction. However, both sides continue to question the motives of the other. The delicate balancing act to keep everyone committed is So extraordinary, that it is setting an example for what can be done in other communities. But the tension here inside the program remains incredibly high, There is a constant pull between lower rates for electricity and lower carbon output from the generation.

Speaking of tribes, as a long time daily lurker, and avid post-reader, I note that the TF tribe does not like to hear about climate change. However, adding to SRSroco work, climate change is also going to make The business of mining far more expensive. Along with everything else.

I hope to continue to be a member of the TF tribe in good standing.

Thanks Turd,

PS I also love the recent diversity of posts and opinions.


Aug 5, 2013 - 9:20pm

Sorry for hijacking Pinings excellent thread

But I forgot to ask this today...

This week's guest on A2A is Jim Willie and its my intention to only ask him questions submitted by everyone else here at TFMR.

Let me know if there's anything you'd like to ask him.

So It Goes
Aug 5, 2013 - 9:21pm

Silver - quick thought

US Mint sales of ASEs are at an all time high - running about 16% above the past record year (2011).

Yet - Tulving has just lowered their premium to $2.99 over spot for a new sealed monster box. A sealed monster box can be delivered to your door for $11,429. That's a low for a couple years - there has got to be a relative surplus of silver in this particular market.

Yet - Silver is in backwardation for the September futures contract.

So - silver appears to be in abundance but not in abundance. Silver is schizophrenic!

Disclaimer - long silver

So it goes.

Aug 5, 2013 - 9:29pm

Is Europe's Silence Deafening?

El-Erian Warns "Don't Be Fooled" By Europe's Tranquility

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/05/2013 - 20:49

August is traditionally Europe’s holiday month, with many government officials taking several weeks off. In the process, important initiatives are put on hold until the “great return” at the beginning of September. This year, there is another reason why Europe has pressed the pause button for August. With a looming election in Germany, few wish to undermine Chancellor Angela Merkel’s likely victory. Some of the recent economic news has seemed to justify this approach. Yet no one should be fooled. This summer’s sense of normality is neither natural nor necessarily tenable in the long term. It is the result of temporary and – if Europe is not attentive – potentially reversible factors. If officials do not return quickly to addressing economic challenges in a more comprehensive manner, the current calm may give way to renewed turmoil. In essence, Europe (and the West more generally) owes its recent tranquility to a series of experimental measures by central banks; consequently, the resulting surface calm masks still-worrisome economic and financial fundamentals.

Aug 5, 2013 - 9:37pm

I was thumbing throug a 1964 LIFE magazine a few days back

and there was an ad from Westinghouse or somebody about how greater Philly was the largest concentration of wealth in the world and you needed to invest there. Anybody remember that ad? I didn't buy the mag, but I should have taken a picture of the ad.

James Quinn would have liked that.

Aug 5, 2013 - 9:39pm

Us vs. Them

More tribes...The Wanderers...

Video unavailable

Aug 5, 2013 - 9:43pm

Your characterization of hill people

I take great offense to this post. Even though I am a stones throw from ORNL. I also have good white lightning hookups. Don't you dare speak a word against Jr. /sarc off

Everyone knows that the ruin of FIAT has taken control of even the lowliest of government agencies, all the way down to the city county level. That's how you know that the end is near. When everyone in power, even the simplest forms are abusing FIAT, we are closer to the end than the beginning.

Great post yet again.


But hey I got offered to buy some 10 year muni paper for 40 bps above tsy's.

Sounds like a good deal.

Aug 5, 2013 - 9:45pm

Since the shittalkers talk so much shit

I would have a new thread for them to air there questions to Jim. My only question is why are you so AWESOME. Epic Winnie/hoof clap

Aug 5, 2013 - 9:54pm

Question for Jim Willie

What was his dissertation topic at CMU? Their statistics department website only has records going back to 1991 (which I guess was after he left), and I cannot find any record of it elsewhere. Apparently CMU offers theses online through ProQuest, but my account expired a year ago. Just curious what his research focus was.

Green Lantern
Aug 5, 2013 - 10:02pm

'Havoc' as HSBC prepares to

'Havoc' as HSBC prepares to close diplomatic accounts"

I smell a dirty rat. HSBC who launders over a billion dollars in cartel drug money and Iran contraband money is now concerned about diplomatic missions using it to wire funny money?

HSBC is closing the Vatican Account who is managed by a German lawyer and member of member of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta which past members of the CIA were also members. And Papau New Guinea which the west is trying to open an old WW2 military base.

Oh yeah baby, I smell tribal warfare here and it ain't Jethro Clampett and the Beverly Hillbillies vs. the Drysdales.

I'd like to get a look at the full list. .

Silver Alert
Aug 5, 2013 - 10:07pm

Some music to go with the

Some music to go with the theme:

Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Two Tribes(Annihilation Mix,1994)

Aug 5, 2013 - 10:14pm

Way to go Silver Alert!

I was wondering when someone would post that! For the record, that song was the inspiration for the title.

Aug 5, 2013 - 10:14pm

It's Ironic

Several years ago, while I was still banking with HSBC, I was told that I would have to fill out paperwork to withdraw a certain amount of money from my account in cash. I asked why since they never questioned large amounts going into the account in cash. The teller proceeded to tell me it was to prevent terrorism and money laundering. Go figure.

Aug 5, 2013 - 10:25pm

Excellent Esay

You have showered us with your insight yet again, Pining. I am not sure how to respond to that kind of tribalism other than "It's worse than we think, probably." So what do we think is going to happen when our economy is going 3rd world and people get hungry--or worse yet, they can't get their tobacco, beer, and other necessities.

People are able to easily dehumanize with language like you describe in order to do unspeakable things to one another.

I guess I am a hoarder, tea-party, gun-toting, home-schooling, conservative idiot who deserves to have all my possessions confiscated by the state. I'll keep my disguise as a college teacher and keep claiming that universities need diversity too.

On Jim Willie's dissertation, I bet only a handful here could understand his abstract. I am not one. There is a database called "dissertation abstracts" that should have a paragraph about it.

Aug 5, 2013 - 10:27pm


Tribes (1970)


, ,

Among the new recruits in a U.S. Marine basic-training platoon is Adrian, a long-haired member of the hippie generation, opposed to blind allegiance to authority and the complete opposite of Gunnery Sergeant Tom Drake, who is assigned as Drill Instructor for Adrian's platoon. Drake's job as a D.I. is to break down the individuality of his recruits in order to rebuild them as a military unit, and he sets out to break Adrian's particularly contrary spirit. But Adrian's gentle will is difficult to break, and eventually both men come to learn something about what the other has to offer.

Aug 5, 2013 - 10:34pm

Harvey's Up!

James Turk: This draw down of gold in is western banks is a run on the bank. You had inventories (of physical gold and silver) on the Comex climbing for years. And now all of the sudden, over the past 8 months, they’ve taken this huge nosedive. Gold is being shipped to the East where it is being valued properly. People in the East understand gold is very undervalued and it serves a very useful purpose at this time -- the fact that it’s money outside of the banking system. James Turk: The discovery by GoldMoney research directory Alasdair Macleod of the discrepancy in the Bank of England's custodial gold inventory reports adds to evidence that the fractional-reserve gold banking system is coming apart. Bart Chilton: banks own commercial interests that can impact prices, and at the same time their trading desks are all over the very same markets. There are obvious conflicts of interest. I'm not saying there have been any violations of the law, but [without adequate disclosures] how would we even know?" Egon von Greyerz: Right now in countries like the U.S., Japan, and Western Europe, the dependency rates are a staggering 70%. This is of course unsustainable. It is now clear that the dollar's time as the reserve currency is very limited. Bill Holter: The Richmond Fed put out a paper highly critical of the European central bank for not "easing" enough. The problem as I see it (other than the fact that the currency mechanisms are in fact broken) is that this has become public and they are arguing publicly. This can only eat away at confidence...which is the only thing left holding the system together. Zero Hedge: What should become obvious is that in order to maintain its unprecedented (if declining) growth rate, China has to inject ever greater amounts of credit into its economy, amounts which will push its total credit pile ever higher into the stratosphere, until one day it pulls a Europe and finds itself in a situation where there are no further encumberable assets (for secured loans), and where ever-deteriorating cash flows are no longer sufficient to satisfy the interest payments on unsecured debt, leading to what the Chinese government has been desperate to avoid: mass corporate defaults. Tyler Durden: China will be caught between a rock (hyperinflation) and a hard place (a very hard crash landing), but they will be ready to hit the switch when the BOJ's printer burns out, and someone else has to step in and fill its shoes in the global "money creation" strategy. Zero Hedge: As of the end of June, a whopping €60 billion in past due taxes (an all time record) was owed by Greek businesses and individuals to the state. This is an amount that is 20% greater than the entire external cash handed over by the Troika to keep Greek banks afloat, and represents nearly 30% of imploding Greek GDP. Harvey: Cyprus total unemployment surges 32% year over year to 15.9%. So not only are house prices imploding, so its the unemployment rate in Cyprus. The IMF expects a contraction of GDP of 13%..they may be light in that category as well!! All this and more on...

The Harvey Report!


Aug 5, 2013 - 10:42pm

Excellent post Pining

It hits home for me since I get a similar experience from multiple tribes. Massive, blood boiling waste from publicly funded entities so hopelessly bankrupt that I can't believe their staff are even getting their lunch expenses reimbursed let alone flying around the world to acquire new technology and a good red wine buzz.

It's imperative to spend more future taxpayers' money to store and optimize your big data that you don't need, don't understand, duplicate (without realizing it) every 4.5 days, and will never analyze.

The strange part of your story is the township with a balanced budget. Shouldn't that story be in a major motion picture?


Aug 5, 2013 - 10:55pm

Jim Willie

Turd, can you please ask JW on his opinion about China and Russia in regards to their roles that they are playing in NWO agendas. These are the only two countries that have the power to confront US militarily. For example when we talk about gold backed yuans, is this happening independently under Chinese central bankers power or with the blessings of the EE?

I have a couple more questions related to this matter but since Im travelling and have access to only this Galaxy notepad, its very difficult to write more. Basically, are the govts of these countries part of the EE and are merely playing their roles in this world"s arena? The answer to these questions will shed a strong light to the direction of gold"s prices.

John Galt
Aug 5, 2013 - 11:49pm

Confessions of an Economic Hitman

That was a fascinating read, Pining. Thanks for posting.

What you describe reminds me so much of John Perkins and his book "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" in which Perkins describes his work as a US government subcontractor/economist whose primary job was to sell foreign governments on the idea of taking on huge infrastructure projects that were designed to do little more than get those countries hopelessly in debt. Politicians who played along were rewarded with huge kickbacks, while those who didn't were ruthlessly disposed of by what Perkins calls the 'jackals'.

Aug 6, 2013 - 1:13am

Tribal Warfare

Up to 78 million people died, 67% of them were civilians. World War II

Who won the war? The Soviet Union suffered 25+ million dead. Their country was tossed on its head, shaken upside down, ripped to shreds and sickened with death and was deep in debt. But had beaten the NAZI war machine with a patriotic force of arms and pure tenacity.

Who came out on top? The US suffered 405,399 military deaths. Was ranked the worlds 17th military power at the outbreak of war and number 1 at the end. Pre-war had 17 overseas bases. At the end over 30,000 scattered around the world. The countries GNP doubled. Was the worlds biggest creditor nation. Controlled over 50% of the worlds manufacturing, and owned 66.3% of the worlds gold bullion.

Yes. The Russians would have had an even harder time of it without the west's help and America's manufacturing capacity. The US came out on top after the war by ringing the cash register during the war. What has happened in the ensuing almost 70 years? The elites weren't satisfied with all that loot? They wanted still more? So they stab the American people in the back, with the full collusion of wall street and Washington, move all the factories overseas, sell the gold, and leave the future generations with the bill!

Time for a little inter-tribal accounting.

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TWELVE Goon speeches through the week
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