2/24/2017

Betting the Short Hand

 All Rights Reserved © 2017 Thomas W. Day

In the 50’s and early 60’s, a man (not a woman) had a fairly good chance—at least 1 in 10—of picking a job, learning the necessary skills, and hanging on to that job—or something very close to it—for his working lifetime. In the late 60’s and throughout the 70’s, the Vietnam War and other military distractions wasted the nation’s resources and squandered its commercial energy so that other countries caught up to us and passed us in many industries. By then, even skilled laborers discovered their talents and knowledge didn’t guarantee them a lifetime job and income: engineers became obsolete, mechanics lost their jobs because their electronic skills were insufficient, technicians became irrelevant in the throw-away society, and manual labor began to be replaced with machines. That was just the beginning of a “new economy” and a renewal of old feudal society rules that value investment and property more than people. In their usual half-witted way, the voters most effected by this cultural shift voted to speed up their demise.

Hillary and Democrats only offered 1 in 100 odds that if a worker decided to join the lifetime education system that worker could remain employed reasonably consistently and probably cling to a middle class lifestyle to retirement. That would require living modestly as individuals and a nation, investing in local communities, spending less time cheering for sports teams and more time cracking the books and learning new skills, and being a parent would be dramatically more demanding since the next generation will have to be even more invested in constant education and skill development. Even with all of that effort, the chances are good that a computer/robot will takeover any career you pick in the next 50 years and you’ll be back in the unemployment line. The odds weren’t great and the effort required would be constant and demanding.

Trump presented an alternative, an incredibly unlikely alternative but at least the kind of alternative that people who “invest” in lottery tickets could understand. With odds that probably don’t get better than 1 in 1,000,000,000 Trump said “I will give you everything” and guaranteed that he’d create “25 million jobs” and promised to make “every dream you ever dreamed for your country” come true if he were elected. The odds that a man whose career is checkered with bankruptcy, incompetence, corruption, and outright stupidity would even bother with fulfilling those promises is astronomical, but still in the realm of “barely possible.”

You’d think that any reasonably intelligent adult should know none of that is possible for a guy with no leadership experience and whose ability to mange his own businesses included six bankruptcies and one amazingly miserable failed attempt to take his “empire” public. (Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (DJT) went from an IPO of $140M in public investment money to booking $647M in losses between 1995 and 2004 before that pie-in-the-sky public company filed for Chapter 11.) Donald, of course, paid himself handsomely all the way to the moment the bankers took over his mess, but the suckers/gamblers who invested in his “business” got back less than a buck for every 10 they gambled, if they got out in time. Fact: if you had bought $10,000 in DJT stock in 1995, you’d have about $650 when the dust settled. If you had shorted DJT stock, you’d have turned your margin account investment into a gold mine.

stupid-trump-quote-76-sorry-losers-and-haters-but-iq-one-the-politics-1457151051You could argue that DJT was a solid investment. After all, who loses money owning casinos? History shows that not only did Trump lose close to a billion dollars, but the cities unlucky enough to be part of his scam were even more decimated by his attention. Taxpayers carried Trump’s load for almost 20 years because of the way he scammed our tax code (and bribed a few congresscritters to defund the IRS so that enforcement group wouldn’t have the resources to prosecute him). History is always a good clue about the future and Trump’s long list of business failures should have been enough evidence for DJT’s IPO to be one of the great jokes of the DOT.COM years. Americans, in general, are not good at history or any other academic activity.

It turns out that it is human nature to choose a 1:1,000,000,000 bet on “every dream you ever dreamed” over a 1:100 investment in education and hard work for a middle class life for the majority of citizens. Humans are not a rational animal. We’re 99.99…% emotional and whatever is left is mildly logical. We don’t make choices based on our best return. We’ll go for pie-in-the-sky over a regular meal almost every time. At some point, the people who make society, technology, science, and the economy work are going to grow tired of the irrational behavior of the majority of human population. Their hard work is regularly overturned by uneducated, emotional, superstitious idiots; who represent the steaming mass of humanity’s turd pile. You’d think it wouldn’t be all that hard for a few genetic engineers, some weapons designers, and serious hacking of our political system to turn the tables on the marching morons and solve all of the world’s problems in a single generation.

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