Enlightened Self Interest and Financial Industry Hypocrisy - Chapter One of Three

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Enlightened Self Interest and Financial Industry Hypocrisy

Chapter One of Three

Benevolent Self-Deception


An Old Fashioned Rant


Cognitive Dissonance


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Too often we divide the world into black and white hats on good and bad people, or left and right ideology that’s right or wrong. Absolute certainties make the process of determining what to believe, to deny or just to ignore so much easier when we don’t actually need to navigate through the cognitive fog to reach critical thinking.

Sadly this duality of extremes is used as a weapon against us at every twist and turn for the benefit of the powerful. And we fall for it hook, line and sinker every single time. I’ve wanted to dig my teeth into the subject of hypocrisy as it applies to the financial ‘industry’ as well as average Joe for several years now, but have held back because the subject is extremely divisive and triggering. Now appears as good a time as any to turn the compost pile.

First let’s get the disclosures out of the way. I was ‘in the business’ for 25 years and I recently closed a small (emphasis on small) financial advisory firm. I ran small money for a living, though that hasn’t always been the case. So while I’ll point fingers and render opinions, and I am extremely critical of society in general and the financial industry in particular, until recently I was swimming in the same cesspool and faced the same ethical dilemmas. That said, while I live in a glass house I’m still going to throw a few stones. Breaking glass is extremely satisfying in a visceral kind of way.

In addition, regardless of how you may interpret what I write below, I am very optimistic that our problems can be solved, and relatively quickly once the individual and national ‘will’ finally develops. We have the power in our hands to change everything and always have. However, as has been the case for hundreds (thousands?) of years, the sole job of the magicians who cast the nation’s economic and cultural spells is to convince us on a daily basis to surrender our power to them in return for empty promises of pain free living and delayed (if ever) consequences.

Viewed from the perspective of technical analysis, it appears we are nearing the peak in the last wave of an eighty year long insanity rally. And while there is no way of knowing exactly when it will end, we do know it will end. A careful review of world history over several thousand years shows that insanity runs in cycles of intensity (but never really goes away) and we are in the final phase of this particular cycle.

When we grow up a bit more and recognize that no leader will guide us out of our own insanity, that it is up to us alone, this leg of our maturation process will be over. I see great potential, but I have low expectations that this potential will be achieved without a great deal of pain. Empires will fall, war will explode and people will die, of this I have little doubt. The death throes of self deceit are extremely destructive as the excesses of the insane asylum are discarded, then replaced just in time to start the next cycle.

With that said, please don’t make the mistake of assuming this article doesn’t apply to all of us just because ‘we’ don’t work in the ‘industry’. What is happening in the financial industry is just a symptom of global wide narcissistic naval gazing, blatant greed and overall rot that has permeated our global society.

There are no innocent bystanders in this debacle, only varying levels of involvement or passivity beginning with the ring leaders and flowing down through several layers of direct and indirect enablers. And as I will flesh out below and in subsequent chapters, I suggest it flows up as well as down in a dysfunctional and symbiotic positive feedback loop.


Real Lies


Ethics and ethical behavior, along with all its sub categories, including Enlightened Self Interest (ESI) and benevolent self deception, is not exclusive to financial professionals. In fact these moral concepts flow up from the individual into society in general and our institutions specifically. Thus if we declare our institutions corrupt we are clearly and unmistakably declaring ourselves corrupt as well. From a big picture point of view, in a representative form of government (and I would argue in any form of government) we (re)elect and/or support exactly the type of leaders we desire (notice I did not say deserve) but to which we will rarely admit any culpability.

For those who might strenuously object to that statement, let me give you an example. During the 2004 Presidential election cycle there was a voter survey conducted (very Orwellian that in the past year that poll has disappeared) asking about corrupt politicians. When asked what percentage of Senate and House congressional critters were corrupt in any way (an admittedly broad definition) the answer was 81%. Meaning 4 out of 5 were considered corrupt by those who elect them to office or who watch from the sidelines. When asked what percentage of the respondent’s own elected representatives were corrupt, the answer dropped to 19%.

Common sense dictates that if 4 out of 5 politicians in general are corrupt, on average the same percentage of our own representatives is corrupt. So why the large discrepancy? Well, if my elected representatives are corrupt it reflects poorly on me. Even if I don’t vote or care much about the issue I don’t want others (more specifically the poll taker) to think I ‘allow’ or ignore corruption after making such a strong statement about the large degree of corruption nationwide.

Thus when answering the survey questions, which are often posed by live individuals either in person or by phone, I must cover my cognitive butt and present myself as pure…..or at least more pure than the next guy who is the real idiot electing all these corrupt politicians.

The simplest way to avoid this cognitive dissonance is to lie to our ‘self’ under the cover of all kinds of slick and plausible excuses, such as bacon delivery, political clout or whatever. It doesn’t matter how I brush it away, just that I do. It’s OK to lie to myself, but I must not let anyone else see that my cognitive slip is showing.

If we wish to be lied to in order to hide from ourselves and any personal accountability or self awareness, that is exactly the style of leadership we will get. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people from a variety of political and social convictions who will scream in outrage at this or that political transgression.

But when asked about their own faults and hypocrisies they are nearly always unable to look at themselves with an unbiased eye, never mind make any real attempt to provide a semi honest self appraisal. As I like to say, space aliens don’t drop our political and business leaders from the sky. They are all home grown 100% USDA certified Earthlings spawned from mom and dad, at least until proven otherwise.


Hypocrisy Meter


Every person carries around a bucket full of lies, half truths and self deceptions to which we add to and subtract from all the time. While many will claim this is simply human nature, I suspect it is more a cultural phenomenon than a natural tendency. If one believes we are a product of evolution, while I can see the utility of some social lies to promote harmony and cooperation, self deception is not necessarily conductive to a long life, particularly when resources are scarce.

During the present era of perceived abundance that is rapidly fading in the rear view mirror, our formerly over flowing cup might have something to do with our present day insanity. Self destructive behavior requires heaping helpings of denial front and center, and only the ideologically blinded or mentally ill can take a look around and consider the present sorry state of the human race to be the result of others and not ourselves. One of the hallmarks of insanity is the personal belief that there isn’t anything wrong with me, just everyone else.

Since by definition a culture is all encompassing and totally immersive, one cannot see ourselves for what we really are unless we make an honest and sustained effort to do so. Everything looks pretty much normal (in an insane kind of way) to the non-critical eye……which is often just the way we like it. This is where the lying and self deception comes into play.

One of the most common enabling lies we tell ourselves is that because we are more (mostly) pure of mind and deed (or at least thoroughly rationalized and justified) it is those people over there who are the real problem. So in our mind we make a generous offer and declare that we might clean up our own act, what little there actually needs to be done, once the bastards who are responsible for this mess are hung from the rafters. This is the epitome of blame shifting and magical thinking, and it is the root of the problems we all face.      

At one point or another we have all pointed our finger towards (or should I say given the finger to) the ‘bad’ guys at the Federal Reserve and on Wall Street, at the White House, Congress, the Judicial System and the huge multinational Corporations. And while you will get no argument from me that all these players are both compliant puppets and powerful puppeteers, they are all essentially powerless without our direct consent or passive agreement.

As well, while the game is obviously rigged to compel our participation, many of us roll over and concede defeat, taking the softer easier way out while claiming the moral high ground to enable our own victimization. After all ‘victims’ aren’t responsible for anything, including ourselves, because we are all……well victims, right? Don’t blame me dawg, I’m just the poor trapped soul caught in the nasty spider web.

While I am sure there will be angry comments declaring that I am unfairly blaming the victim when it is clearly those lousy bastards over there that are responsible for this mess, short of putting a gun to our heads we always have choices. And to say otherwise is bordering on the infantile. What we are really saying when we claim there is no way out or that we are powerless to stop the insanity, is that all the easy alternatives have been eliminated and the only remaining paths we perceive as available involve high levels of pain, discomfort and distress.

This is an illusion we actively encourage to enable us to remain comfortably passive within the insanity, or which we use to give us the moral green light to participate in the looting under the guise of profit, saying we’re just taking care of ourselves and our own. You know, buy the f**king dip, regardless if whether it’s stocks, bonds, CRE, distressed housing, PM’s, whatever. Or one I heard just today, where the person states that it will never change so why not position ourselves to profit from the mess.

Of course, we nearly always exaggerate potential dangers or project undesirable outcomes when facing paths we don’t wish to pursue. I can always find a reason not to act, while finding reasons to act are far and few between. This isn’t human nature alone, but just as much nurture, meaning our training and conditioning beginning with our parents. Sure there are basic tendencies to procrastinate inherent in each individual, but children of proactive and positive parents tend to be the same and vice versa.


Head in the Snow


Very early in my career I was told by a wise mentor that successful people do the things unsuccessful people don’t want to do. I was then challenged to demonstrate this with the understanding that words without action accomplishes little other than verbal and mental masturbation. This applies so well to life in general.

Bottom line, if we don’t want to do something we will find every excuse in the book not to do so. Rather than closely examine our part in this slow dance of socioeconomic death, we paper over our own involvement in the very system we claim we want radically changed or even destroyed.

Time to take a closer look at what’s really going on here because this game is exactly what many of us want to play in order to avoid dealing with the very collapse or change we say is desirable. Many of us are junk yard dogs with absolutely no desire to bite except maybe each other out of impotent frustration.

If you give it some thought, to say that we wish to see our corrupt and patently unfair financial system collapse in order to rout the bastards from our house is the functional equivalent of wishing someone would burn down our uninsured home to rid ourselves of a severe cockroach infestation. Or better yet hiring (or electing) someone(s) to do the job for us.

Yes, when all is said and done the roaches might be gone, but there were less destructive ways of removing them. Sometimes we select bad choices to hide from even more frightening ones, a personal and collective insight we carefully conceal from ourselves in order to continue with our benevolent self deception.

Alas, we will find less damaging cockroach extermination methods only if we are willing to explore all avenues, including the emotionally, physically and economically painful. In reality we don’t wish to collapse our economic system. What we desperately desire is for the thieving and insanity to end (or at least to greatly diminish) and for a return to the mythical land of the Norman Rockwell lie of milk and honey.

Can’t say I blame us, though it appears to be time to short unicorns and fairy tales and go long courage and cooperative collusion. Aside from possibly preparing ourselves for the coming collapse, what are we doing to prepare our nation, state and community for this new beginning? Is it a matter of each of us waiting for everyone else to go first? Yeah, that will work wonders when the unrest goes local.

Since we aren’t especially willing to look too closely at all aspects of the insanity for fear it might implicate us nearly as much as the bad guys, we declare we would rather watch the entire stinking mess disintegrate and then wash away with the evening tide.

This allows us to individually and collectively wash our hands of the enormous social disintegration that will result from economic collapse while emotionally and intellectually shielding us from any danger, real or imagined, that we may encounter if we were to work towards other less destructive ‘solutions’, or to help prepare our surrounding community for the storm we are forecasting.


Social Disintegration


It’s so much more comforting to suffer misery as part of the collective herd than to suffer alone while feeling vulnerable. This is one of the reasons we latch onto the “It’s just impossible to change” or even “It’s not me, it’s those damn idiots over there who aren’t doing anything about this” excuses.

The list of reasons why we should not act is as varied as our imagination. So how convenient it is that if everyone says the same thing, everyone has a wonderful excuse not to do anything yet still remain blameless. This is the collective self deception that is ostensibly benevolent to both the individual and the group, or so we wish to think.

Essentially this is a Bizzaro World Catch 22 that works to our advantage over the short term, but destroys our souls and our neighborhoods quicker than we think. However, in a world of short term thinking this doesn’t look like such a bad deal when my focus is squarely on what’s in it for me, myself and I.

Make no mistake about it though, denial, both individual and collective, is so overwhelmingly powerful that not only will tortured souls self destruct and commit suicide while in its throes, but nations will rush head long into the dual abyss of self destruction via war, civil or otherwise, and economic self immolation.

However, a nation doesn’t self destruct because its land and buildings are consumed in the fires of economic hell. Nope, it is the citizens of a nation that wither away on the vine, eventually taking the physical and economic infrastructure with them into the bottomless abyss of insanity.

The only saving grace is that who can really say what is or is not insane when we are all on the same glide path to hell? That’s our own special theory of insanity relativity. The same insanity that drives nations into competing rounds of destructive currency devaluation also drives us into feeding off each other’s delusions and delirium tremens.

When a sovereign state’s currency and credit system, its blood and circulatory network, depends entirely upon the faith and belief of its captive and captivated population, stability for the most part can be manufactured simply by believing in the system. Understand though that in this case ‘belief’ can mean active or passive participation and/or dependency. This ‘belief’ also includes ignoring potential dangers to the system, especially terminal dangers of the mind numbing variety.

This explains perfectly why as the system gets closer to the edge, people can continue to go nervously about their lives. Truth be told, on some basic level most of the population already knows things are in very bad shape, but we chose to ignore it. The level of governmental and corporate corruption, the rise of the surveillance/police state, chronic unemployment, rising food and medical costs and the escalating taking of rights and freedoms are not unseen by the population at large, just desperately ignored.


RIP Constitution


What does one do and how does one act when the myth can no longer be sustained and we find out our protectors are actually the predators and our torturers? What would we do if we suddenly discovered our father was a child molester or our brother a mass murderer and we were next on the list if we attempted to expose him?

For most of us the drill would be duck and cover baby, duck and cover, then head even deeper into the mind numbing embrace of denial. Without question most of us would move to the center of the herd and act like there’s nothing wrong in the suburbs. Only we would do so quietly and with baby steps. After all, you don’t want to alert the wolves circling the herd that you are injured and ripe for the taking.

Just as the world is beginning to recognize that the efficient market theory was efficient solely in snowing people into believing logic and reason ruled the market, we should understand that much of our individual decision making process is subconscious and totally illogical. So is it really surprising that ‘We the People’ have made a mostly subconscious decision to carry on as if nothing is wrong and hope for the best? This is the childishly adult equivalent of covering our ears and repeatedly screaming ‘I can’t hear you’.

As long as the government is successful in keeping the wolves at bay, at least for the ever decreasing majority, we will happily ignore the growing desperation in the streets in exchange for some make believe ignorant bliss. Just leave me and mine alone and I will avert my eyes and hurry about my business.

Of course, this can only be accomplished if we discard critical thinking and independent thought and stick to binary input and output. If no one wishes to recognize the full insanity, all it takes to accomplish this in a leveraged fiat system is a collective and unspoken understanding to ignore the ugly truth and move along. What you don’t make ‘real’ by specifically acknowledging it just can’t hurt you, at least for today and hopefully a few more tomorrows.

As nonsensical as this might sound, we make our own emotional and intellectual reality fresh on a daily basis. While doing so, we mold our physical world to fit our belief system as we have conceived it. Do this, don’t do that, deny those, ignore them, focus of this and before you know it our world begins to conform to how we denied it. Multiple our individual effort by two or three hundred million, or two or three billion, then conjure up several hundred trillion of Federal Reserve electronic ones and zeros while casting a collective self propaganda spell of ‘all is well’ and temporary stability is created out of thin air.

The only problem is this huge edifice has no foundational support and can easily be toppled by a small percentage of bolting members of the unsettled herd. Panic is easy to generate among the hard core deniers because deep down we all know it is just a lie. All but the truly clueless stand around with their hands in their pockets, trying to look innocent and unconcerned while memorizing all the exits and escape routes. Only a fool or the hopelessly self deceived will actually drink their own Kool-Aid mix, though I am constantly amazed how many do. Mine is cherry banana by the way.

Sure the fundamentals are slowly deteriorating (again) and the second (third?) plunge appears just around the corner. Real reality will eventually re-assert itself with a vengeance because it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature. But (sadly) not before several more revolutions of the fiat paper around the toilet bowl have been completed.

After all, to some degree or another we are all engaged in group psychological can kicking, if for no other reason than to keep the inner boogieman at bay. Binary thinking doesn’t allow for long range planning or constructive positioning, just blame shifting and avoidance, something we do with typical American arrogance and excellence.

We all have a tendency to exaggerate the value of our prior investment in our jobs, our family and ourselves. So when considering what to do or not do, often the decision we make is to make no decision at all, to go with the flow and to make no waves. We never really acknowledge that making no decision is actually a decision in and of itself, an affirmation of the status quo and the present day insanity. “Hey, it wasn’t me that made that decision. I’m not responsible.

The more out-of-control we feel our life and world is becoming, the more we will seek to avoid making any decision we (want to) believe might endanger our life or position in the social order regardless of its present state of advanced decay. Misery is always relative to those who are around us. I can be the happy king of the soup kitchen or just another miserable nobody in the corporate cafeteria.

In addition we will avoid any responsibility for decisions (or non decisions) made by ourselves or anyone else. We learn this behavior early in life, first from our family, then from our social interactions in school and later corporate life. Cover our ass begins and ends in the familiar warmth and comfort of our duplicitous mind.



Cognitive Dissonance


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They All Look the Same to Me


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Armed Resistance's picture

Thank you for a great piece!  It is very well articulated and encompassing of the general morass that many enlightenment-seeking and freedom-loving individuals find themselves at this point in the game.  I truly appreciate the time and effort and look forward to reading the subsequent installments.

whidbey-2's picture

Self analysis and personal philosophy are never helpful to the understanding of others. Consistency problems between word and meaning I suspect. In any case,  I wish you well, but please do your bleeding elsewhere.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Too late. I have AIDS and you have just been bled on.


You have a very interesting bio by the way. No Cognitive Dissonance there at all.

"Came from a long line of turn coats, family still not allowed to set foot in GREAT BRITIAN. Trained as a military man. Not a well man when I think of our national leadership.

Oh yes, I believe in Government, but not the people who seek office."

tip e. canoe's picture

comment from Jeremy Moore that fits well in this thread:

At the end of the day, all the “conspiracies” being perpetrated against us are just reflections of the same “conspiracies” our ego perpetrates against our spirit. “Their” system exists because we need it to, because we can’t find the courage to face ourselves in the mirror and accept what we all have allowed to this reality to manifest. We have traded religion for spirituality, politics and “civilization” for soverignity and living in harmony with our natural environment. We seek to conquer nature/god rather and (falsely) believe our intelect and technology will save us. We explode for “creative/useful” energy production rather than implode (which is how the entire Universe from the micro to the macro creates free and clean energy). We have a long ways to go as a collective to right the ship, and perhaps shorter time than ever before we run aground.


geno-econ's picture

Had dinner with my two daughters, son in laws and grandchildren last night.
During dinner, I brought up subject of Ukraine developments and within 30 seconds conversation drifted to golf and Masters tournament.
I then asked about our Nations financial situation and stock market buoyancy, and within 30 seconds conversation drifted to latest TV reality show.
So during dessert I asked about how Obama was doing and how Foreign Policy is formulated in Wash., but by then everyone, except my wife and I, were deeply engrossed with their I phones and exchanging favorite indistinguishable music.
It was nice to see the grandchildren, but we left early and prayed for their future.

Azannoth's picture

+1 for effort :)

"..but we left early and prayed for their future." god(if you belive in such) cannot help anybody not willing to help them selves.

geno-econ's picture

Agree prayer is just a hope without any metaphysical implications. Most people will not help themselves until they have to---a lesson for Fed Chair Yellen to understand.

Da55id's picture

If an atom in a system of billions of atoms became self aware, could it alter the flow? No. If the flow is toward a bad end a self aware atom would evade the flow.


History is slow weather. We are atoms in the weather flow. If we lived thousands of years we would be able to see it. War is weather fronts in collision.

No Quarter's picture

Cog- i always enjoy reading your essays. They seem to do a good job of stimulating thought and discussion, and compared to many other ZH threads, typically are civil and thoughtful discourse.  The slightly frustrating part is always being left with more questions than answers, which i suppose is the point. The journey, not the destination. Pretty difficult to fix whats wrong in our society before attempting to correct whats wrong with ourselves.

The problem i have with the personal sovreignty discussion, is that it does not address the growing physical and financial constraints and threats that bind our physical selves. Its all well and good to be awake and aware, and i subscribe to that. But we currently have already allowed, authorized and grown, tacitly or openly, self interestedly or otherwise, a system that is autonomous and malicious. A system that doesn't have any problem crushing dissent in a multitude of ways. 

Its easy to say, "well the system only survives because we allow it to, and if we have personal sovreignty, it will shrivel up and die"... An oversimplification to be sure, but I'm not sure i subscribe to that.

I know this in an overused analogy,  but it seems appropriate enough: Slaves on plantations- its easy to look back and say, " look how many of them there were compared to their masters- if they only rose up en masse they could have overthrown their masters and been free". The reality is they could have had all the personal sovreignty they wanted, but at the end of the day, even discussing the idea of freedom with other slaves was a one way trip to a noose. Oh, you learned to read? Bang. There fixed it for ya. Ran away? Which foot do you want to keep? Backtalk? Few hundred lashes should take care of that. The threat of violence, malnourishment, rape and murder then were more than enough to keep the slaves in line. Rise up in any organized fashion and Owners of slaves and their organization of overseers had absolutely no vested interest in changing the staus quo and did everything they could to ensure it stayed that way, to perfect effect. Slaves only received any measure of freedom as a byproduct of war between to opposing powers. 

While today is nowhere near that level of overt oppression,  its not a long stretch to see some parallels. Just a few points of reference from history also as to how the federal government has dealt with dissenters, protesters or those that want to opt-out: The ludlow massacre, the BEF masacre in washington, ruby ridge, waco. There are other examples of course... My point really is that the system we have is malevolent and has more than enough will, autonomy and capabilities to crush most popular movements against it, not unlike any dictatorship elsewhere in the world. I think hard power usage, while toward the end of its basket of tools, is a tool that would be used if deemed neccesary to maintain said system. Just because we the people have allowed it, doesn't mean there is any great likelyhood enough citizens can or will wake up to their personal sovreignty and wrest that back. It always seems to require a small few willing to attempt to stir the masses to wakefullness and action. I feel like once that is noticed, it would  be crushed or at leasted attempted immediately, just like the plantation slaves. Maybe i'm wrong. Hopefully i'm wrong on that count.    

In my opinion, It would be usefull to devote some attention to what WE can do that is more pro-active. 

Azannoth's picture

"..Slaves only received any measure of freedom as a byproduct of war between to opposing powers." and this is Exactly like this to this day, Slavery was never ablished only "perfected".

Imagine this, you work the whole day, you just get enough "free" time to take care of familiy business, just enough vacation not to burn out before your prime, and you earn just enough money to satisfy your basic needs, sounds familiar? Just because you can "leave the plantation" does not mean you are free, you need to come back for harvesting sooner or later if you like it or not.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I do not think asserting personal sovereignty will fix anything by itself, particularly in the near term. But where does one start when attempting to decondition the slaves? For me, it starts within. I must break free from my own conditioning before I can ever hope to help anyone else.

No Quarter's picture

I completely agree with both of those statements. I'm no where near being free of all of the conditioning and preconceived notions that have accumulated over the years. I think it will be a lifelong struggle with many acheivements and set backs as well.. I also think it is important to attempt to help other people along the road to awakening and decondioning. Within your sphere, Two Iceflows, ZH etc, you have many who are struggling with the process but acknowledge the circumstances of their enslavement. Your threads bring a certain degree of sanity to an insane construct.  Would be interesting though to hear more of your thoughts (as they evolve, naturally) on the application side.

Downtoolong's picture

I’m seeing all aspects of this post play out in my local scene where a corrupt developer has basically co-opted an entire town council to protect him and his project failures from the people he has ripped off. It’s really tough to be the one guy who shows up at every town meeting and provide factual proof of the lies, deceptions, and manipulations that are evolving around the situation. Almost everyone gets mad at me for rocking the boat, of course, and now label me as the enemy and social pariah who threatens their existence. One ex council woman, an avid supporter of the developer, actually stood up at a recent meeting and blamed the ferver I’ve created over the situation for her loss in the recent election. She was wrong on two counts in my opinion. First, it wasn’t the only reason she didn’t get re-elected. Second, even if it was, she was wrong to assume there was something unfair about that. I was laughing inside. I’m now sorry I didn’t laugh out loud when she said it. That’s why I keep doing what I’m doing. I’d send them a copy of this post, but, none of them will take the time to read it.  

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I spent several years attending the local county Commissioners meetings dealing with issues, including an apathetic population that wanted someone else to fix the problems for them so they didn't miss "Dancing With The Stars".

A lonely existence and one that we must be centered in if we are to continue doing so without self destructing.

BeetleBailey's picture

Excellent Cog.

I too, am a small fee-based IA.

My take on the whole rotting corpse of what was the United States stems from the post-civil war era, leading up to the creation of the fed, as well as the nasty-assed income tax act. Notice I don't use capitals on either of those two fucking awful, nation killing "acts".

The Founding Fathers of this country are looked up to be both sides; held as standard bears. The hypocracy of it all is that those fathers were not bought and paid for corrupt, and could speak their minds and act in the best interest of the country.

Jefferson bought basically 2/3 of the nation for 15 million. Even adjusted for inflation, his purchase was wise. Today, WE GIVE THE EQIVALENT AWAY WITH EASE TODAY - AND HAVE NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT.

Just one example of corruption - I won't go into semantics - you know.

I have long said;

Strafe and bomb K Street out of exsistance. ILLEGAL. PERIOD. GO TO FUCKIN JAIL.

END all campaign contributions - PERIOD. Make it a tax deduction of a buck from each return - better yet

END THE IRS - Consumption Tax - take the fuckin pain

END THE FED - Fiat Currency has NEVER....EVER....ended well, and NEVER...EVER...was a "success"......EVER.

I could get into fractional reserve banking....but you know.

Well done Cog. +1,000 - ready for part 2!



Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Chapter Two gets a little ugly. Coming Wednesday to a Zero Hedge near you. :)

Azannoth's picture

I too came (pretty quickly at that) to the sad realization that "It's not the System stupid!" the people are "the System"! so whatever is wrong with the System is inherently wrong with the people. You can't have a few dozen guys ruling over hundreds of millions without some level of consent.

I was born in a former Soviet Satellite State in the dying days of Communism, I noticed that everybody was Bitching about how Bad Communism was however still everybody was playing their part, the Bus drivers where driving buses, the Mail men where delivering mail, the Teachers where teaching, the Doctors where treating people in hospitals etc. even though 90% of the people absolutely Hated "the System" still 99% of them the did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to undermine it in any active way. So I don't buy for a second the notion that corruption comes from the top, without at least passive acceptance from the people.

Azannoth's picture

.. having said that, let's do away with 1 important Historical Myth "that people of Eastern Europe freed them selves from Soviet/Russian occupation" (FALSE!) yes there where demonstrations and some civil unrest(ironically most of those protests had to do with the lack of State Subventions than any drive for freedom) however all that has happened is Not that the people Broke the Chains that where binding them, No the people simply realized that where where no longer any chains! They did not fight or even bleed for Freedom(except a few random casualties) they got it more or less for *free* as the Economy of the Soviet Union collapsed and with it the Coercive Power of the Red Army and the Politburo. "People Power" did not bring down the Iron Curtain, Economic collapse did!

Global Observer's picture

"People Power" did not bring down the Iron Curtain, Economic collapse did!

Then there is hope for the West too, since there is an economic collapse on the way. But people in the former Soviet Republics weren't exactly enjoying their new found freedom immediately after the collapse.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"So I don't buy for a second the notion that corruption comes from the top, without at least passive acceptance from the people."

You said it better than I could. Those who continue to believe that "We the People" are all just victims of the bad guys have very little capacity for self reflection at its most basic level.

As I said in my very first "Sovereignty Series" Piece "You Can't Make Me."

messymerry's picture

MtMM:  Mindfulness thru Moving Meditations.  I am working on a book for coping in the 21st century.  The "ascent of man" curve has gone vertical over the last two decades.  Population and technology is driving us at a breakneck pace into the future.  No one knows what the other side of the asymptote looks like, but Cog has made a good case for a repeat of our former collapses only on a much grander scale. 

I have tried repeatedly to "wake" people up.  It is frustrating and damned painful to watch their eyes glaze over and know that I have destroyed yet another connection.  Nevertheless, I feel compelled to keep trying. 

So, keep trying to wake up as many as you can especially the ones you care about most.  Be gentle though as they will resist you. 

As for yourselves, you that are already awake, remember the Martial Arts mantra:

We train,

We meditate,

We wait for combat.

The tsunami is coming, educate yourselves and be prepared...and remember:  This is not an economic collapse, this is a global SOCIO-economic collapse.  Prepare accordingly.

Thanks Cog, and tell Mrs. Cog that she is a luck gal,,,



Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Mr. Cog is the lucky one in this relationship. But don't tell Mrs. Cog I said that. :)

chindit13's picture

There are times when I have wondered what was going on inside CogDis head, and times I have concluded that whatever those things are, they probably aren’t good.

This is not one of those times.  Folks pen the comment quite often in CogDis posts “this is your best yet”. Until now I never agreed with those comments, though I’m aware that logically there always had to have been a best.  Well, I can finally join the crowd and say it….this is your best yet.

I don’t have a comment to add, because I believe you said everything sufficiently well that additional comment would be redundant. 

Over time I have both visited and commented less and less on this site, and after concluding today that the site is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the ‘eff ess bee’ at worst, or else run by people who cannot possibly be equal, fair or even logical in condemning all guilty parties to a budding conflict, I had decided to leave the site permanently (most everything it now produces, even when it concentrates on its original subject matter of finance, comes now almost exclusively from other sources, so I might as well get closer to primary).  I suspect that with this note, I will join others who have made similar comments (or allegations) and have been summarily executed and had their comment removed, before it could at least suggest some reassessment by the membership, if not convince people they've been herded like...well...bipedal wool producers.  As that moment is approaching, I’ll finish my five plus years here by complementing CogDis on this piece and wish him and his well.  Hope we make it, but as you might know my general attitude toward existence, I’m going to enjoy it and make the best of it no matter.  Here’s wishing you do the same.


tip e. canoe's picture

as per usual, although my perspective is mostly diametrically opposed and my reasoning quite different, my current sentiments find themselves reflecting upon the same space as yours, chindit.

'tis a shame that the TTysTB can not see that the multiplicity (whether it be of ideas, emotions, opinions, approaches, plants, etc.) is that which makes things (whether it be websites, economies, systems, nature, life itself, etc.) rich.    but perhaps, the reasoning behind this illusion also ties into the subject of Cog's most excellent "best yet".   time will tell, as it always does...sometimes.

it was fun while it lasted though, da?

goddesspeed, dear sir.

The_Prisoner's picture

Don't let the door hit your ass on your way out. Your were always an apologist to the Department of State, Cia and Israel.

Say hello to Madeleine Albright at the State Department christmas party, you disonest fuck.

chindit13's picture

Not once in five years have I commented in any way, shape or form about Israel or its policies, much less been an apologist for it.  Your comment, for more reasons than that, just proves that you are indicative of the kind of ignorance that has spread like a virus through this site over the last few years.  How little you know, yet how “aware” you believe you are.  You are a clown, nothing more, whose views are both naïve and childish, and whose anger, wrath and opinions are, as Shakespeare put so perfectly in MacBeth, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The cesspool is all yours.  Enjoy your swim.


Raging Debate's picture

Chindit13 - Thanks for adding value. Many of us noticed. I would say I will miss you but intelligence seems to find itself one way or the other so I will say see you later.

Bananamerican's picture

I stopped reading after, "moral concepts flow up from the individual into society in general and our institutions specifically"

Azannoth's picture

that's sad because this statement is exactly true. I never bought into the concept that corruption of society comes from the "top" nobody can make millions of people do anything totally and truly against their will, some level of acceptance is always required, and if people buy into the corruption than it's not only their morales that are broken but much more importantly their Reasoning and Intellect. Give me 1 Intelligent man over a Million "well meaning or moral" men.

Fishhawk's picture

You have obviously spent a long time taking a clear look at the real world, RM.  If anyone can be said to have cleared their mind of delusions and cognitive dissonance, I would vote for you to be in the lead by several lengths.  You seem to be adjusted to the idea that life systems are complex structures that use information to direct energy, or that use information to create structures which contain and direct the use of energy for achieving specific conditions or states of equilibrium.  So where does the sovereign man fit into this system?  Near the top?  Near the bottom?  I am reminded of the mitochondria, happily slaving away phospholyzing cyclic AMP, never even seeing the outside of its own cell.  Is this sovereign behavior?  It does not need to rob to serve its purpose.

On the social scale, I agree that crude systems were always based on the power to rob, and improving the ratio of fraud to brute force has been the only improvement we have seen so far.  I continue to want virtue to have a place in this creation, but as long as egos fear shortages of resources, and narcissistic leaders fear shortages of adoring syncophants, the instinct to plunder for improved survival probability will always trump virtue.  Is it possible that beauty is a perceived virtue measured from a baseline of violence?  

Keep the comments coming, RM; you define the new sanity. 


intric8's picture

"If no one wishes to recognize the full insanity.." - true dat, and mostly because people are not intelligent enough to understand it. Other contributors to ambivalence about crucial issues are peeps being wrapped up with instant gratification shit like facebook likes, instagram attention whoring and their twitter follower collection. Then comes the need to get laid, get high, addiction to mindless entertainment like the kardashians, and other tv shows that dont require the use of ones brane. Many years of network programming have hardwired the thought processes of sheeple, just as the networks have intended, and evoke the desired response out of most. Programming words used relentlessly for years have achieved the desired end, blasted into the brains of the unwitting from childhood on up into adulthood, like terrorist, freedom, communist, progressive, anti-semitism, patriot, bigot, racist, homophobe, sympathizer, etc, all words for the media to label and categorize someone with the greatest of ease. If sheeple could actually think independently, without having hardwired neurons racing them to a preconcieved conclusion as a result of media conditioning, well there would be much more questioning about the validity of claims of most anything, and much less jumping to conclusions. Folks, if most peeps were smart enough to understand how central banking and government really works, and if they valued our constitution for what our founding fathers established with great labor, blood would be flowing in the streets from east to west.

VWAndy's picture

Im in the we was tricked camp. From the time we was born for many generations prior to being born. It is and has allways been a predtory society. For good reason too.

 All the other stuff boils down to character an integrity. When we are mature enough to understand the truth it becomes our duty to speak it. Long term its the only way this gets corrected.

The third option.

 We are presented choices mostly in pairs.Wolves have you trapped on a cliff. What do you do? 1 jump 2 be eaten.

There is another choice but its not presented. Throw the first wolf off the cliff.

So basicaly what im trying to say is. We need lots more good folks to grasp the third choice. Its allways there.

 Anothe example. Guys say they cant figure womem out. Well duh they are all different. Try figurin out just one.

The KISS principal Keep It Simple Stupid. If ya think ya got it figured out explain it too an 8 year old. That is the best time to teach them.

 PS thanks Cog keep at it.


YHC-FTSE's picture


Tempted to spend a few hours mulling over the ideas in the article, but it's so wide ranging. It'll take me the whole night to put some conherent thoughts down on the keyboard, so I'll bookmark this article and look forward to your next two.


Manipuflation's picture

YHC, you should try to write your own article for twoicefloes.  If anyone can do it you can but I repect your restraint.  I have four seperate articles started now.  It is very hard to write for someone else's blog that you respect.  You really do not want to offend that person and in this case it is a husband and wife.  I do not know Mrs. Cog.  What if I say something, which I probably would eventually that she didn't like?  We know Mrs. Cog built the site. 

Perhaps this might be a good example:  My wife had no idea that I was building Boating Accident News.  Yes, my wife is an admin but does not hold the key to the site.  Mrs. M does not care that much anyway because she is a Russian.  I have to ask her to be involved and she will if I ask nicely.  There was never any worry about getting between my wife and I because she is not a ZHer. 

Mr. and Mrs. Cog, you put us in a difficult position to write for twoicefloes.  I love the concept of a freewrite but I have found that it does not always work that way.  I can be very serious when I need to be but we all have different styles.  I am not prepared to submit something that might make you or your site look bad or not in the light that you wish be portrayed.  The most important thing to consider is that no one gets between a husband and a wife who love each other.  That's just bad business practice. 

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"I am not prepared to submit something that might make you or your site look bad or not in the light that you wish be portrayed.  The most important thing to consider is that no one gets between a husband and a wife who love each other.  That's just bad business practice."

While I have the final say about whether I post a guest article on "Your Turn To Publish", and I do ask that the author write something that is timely and interesting to a wide audience, I think you might be surprised by how tolerant Mrs. Cog and I might be.

On the other hand, why would you feel the need to write something about, or in referrence to, Mrs. Cog and I when there is so much more tasty red meat out there to chew on? :)

Manipuflation's picture

Cog, I meant no disrespect and quite to the contrary.  You are a husband and wife team on this project.  Forgive me if I at least if I took a step back at least to state what I just did. 

Why would I make a statement such as I did?  It is because I do not know what to write for your blog because I do not know you that well yet.  If I write something are you going to charge people read what I wrote for your blog?  I understand why things can't be done for free but sometimes they do need to be for a cost that you must absorb.  That has really been what has been bothering me. 

We blog for free at our own expense on ZH.  I created Boating Accident News expressly for that reason and some ZHers have actually used the site.  Whether or not I was a good blogger was not the issue.  I created the site so that others had a place to express themselves if they wanted to.  No ads and no charge.

You are fine with me.  Banzai7 talks about "lowbrow".  I do not consider myself anything special.  Satire is the lowest form of humour.

I apologize if I offended you.    

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"If I write something are you going to charge people read what I wrote for your blog?"

Actually article submissions to "Your Turn" are open to members and non members alike. Plus any articles accepted for "Your Turn" publication are open to everyone to read and are not restricted to members. Everyone who wishes to read a "Your Turn" article may do so without a paid membership. I just updated the rules section to clarify this.

Six articles have already been published. Come take a look. "Your Turn" can be found along the top right of the navigation bar along the top of Two Ice Floes.

And you did not offend me at all. I didn't take your comments any other way than as your opinion. I try to stay centered and not trigger just because someone says something I might not agree with.

new game's picture

hey cog - dart boards don't bleed:)

Cognitive Dissonance's picture


I, along with a few other ZH contributors such as Banzai7, George Washington and Bruce Krasting to name the more obvious, spend time in the comment section. To do so invites both spirited feedback and discussion as well as down right nastiness. So any pounding I may take in the comment section is by my own choosing. I am not the victim here. I take the good with the bad and decide for myself what I find of value.

I find that sometimes the greatest value can be found in those opinions that are aggressive and not politically correct. Oftentimes I learn from what I do not like, and learn less often from what I prefer to see and hear.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

It is admittedly a rant, pure and simple. It gets better. Or worse, depending upon your point of view.

The next two chapters are more specifically about the hypocrisy of the financial industry. I suspect I will trigger a few ZH readers into their own personal rant at me. :)

candyman's picture

Nice rant cog. I enjoy your essays.

Stuck on Zero's picture

Question.  When this era ends and another, hopefully, reasonable era begins the historians of that new age will assign a name to our current age.  Examples are: Edwardian Era, Victorian Era, renaissance, gilded age, etc?  What do you suggest for our current era?


blindman's picture

the age of emerging homogeneity.
but remember who has the privilege of naming
eras, writing history and recording historic
"facts". for example, "columbus discovered
america." really? was it the age of exploration
or of genocide? they are different, no?
interesting that the proceeding empire will
often comport with the illusions of the preceding
empire, i imagine to keep cognitive peace with
the notions of the rabble?
so maybe the age will be known as
the "age of emerging global virtual and cultural homogeneity."?
the name of the preceding age must serve the control
illusion of the times.
the holy grail of everything human is
attention and the act of choosing the object
of attention. some things grab your attention,
like pain or severe weather. then it is up to
men to determine by discernment what is worthy
of "his" attention, the squeaky wheel so to speak.
so maybe the age of "virtual wars for global man's
scattered attention." ?

blindman's picture

OpEdNews Op Eds 4/14/2014 at 11:03:27
The Myth of Human Progress and the Collapse of Complex Societies
"The most prescient portrait of the American character and our ultimate fate as a species is found in Herman Melville's "Moby Dick." Melville makes our murderous obsessions, our hubris, violent impulses, moral weakness and inevitable self-destruction visible in his chronicle of a whaling voyage. He is our foremost oracle. He is to us what William Shakespeare was to Elizabethan England or Fyodor Dostoyevsky to czarist Russia." ... c.h.

messymerry's picture

Good Q.  Taking the optimistic view that we will still be here in 2100, I will say that this will be declared the real end of the Dark Ages.  Once we get this current mess sorted (and believe you me, we are in for a bumpy ride), then a renaissance of unimaginable proportions will arise.  We are on the cusp of immortality through the singularity.  We can and possibly will become star people. 

Hi Mrs. Cog,


Mrs. Cog's picture

Good question, it really got me thinking, now we're both Stuck lol.

I tried hard to come up with something positive that was deep or insightful like "The Days of Discovery" but everything just sounded so cheesy. I narrowed it down to a few:


The Leveraged Years

The Age of Self Deceit

Narcissistic Era