Recent posts explored the idea of value of a man that can be summarized as the value of a man’s network that would seek to sincerely negotiate to access a man’s resources, power, or influence. A man’s value is extrinsic, depending on the value of people who appreciate what the man offers. The opposite of a high value man is one who has inaccessible desirable resources, power, or influence: he either doesn’t have them, or he refuses to offer them.
In these posts, I have focused exclusively on the male human. Certainly, females participate in exchanges in the same networks as men, and bring their own portfolio of desired resources, power, and influence. I focus on just the man’s value in order to avoid bias introduced by unavoidable differences between the sexes. The perceived value of between men is different than the value between men and women, and that is different from the value between women. I’m setting these complications aside for another discussion. I want to focus exclusively on men’s value to other men in the context of mutual advancement of their goals.
In this context, I describe two ends of a scale: high value man at one end, and the zero value man at the other.
- The high-value man has qualities sought out by high value clients, and this consequently makes the man attract the romantic interests of women. As a result, the high value man is a model to guide young men’s ambitions and aspirations. Historically, this widespread pursuit of high value has greatly benefited society even though it rewards relatively few men who pursue it.
- The zero value man has inaccessible qualities either due to the absence of the qualities, or due to the unwillingness to make them known or accessible to others. This is more associated with older men as a consequence of their frustrations in pursuing high value earlier in life.
As described, there is correlation between a man’s age and the end of the scale he pursues. Among the highest value men will be old men, but old men who have not achieved high value are less likely to pursue that status than younger men. This is also understandable because less successful older men have insufficient liquid resources to offer to the required high value networks. He comes to a realization that compared to his younger optimistic years he now has far diminished prospects of replenishing lost resources. Also, his experience informs he that he could not succeed when he did try and he is now beyond being persuaded others by any advisor or coach.
Younger men are striving to achieve high value status currently held by mostly older men. Meanwhile older men tend to abandon the pursuit due to frustration or exhaustion (emotional or physical). This leads to large age gap between the men participating in the highest value networks, and the men participating in the networks of the immediately adjacent less value networks. The most promising replacements for currently high value men tend to be much younger men. This also implies longevity in the high-value status, a young replacement will likely remain until he is much older, as long as he continues to do what has has already demonstrated he can do reliably.
Closely related to high value is power. As the saying goes: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The highest value men have something close to absolute power because their position is secure until death or some disabling calamity. High value networks will tend to become more corrupt over time, and this corruption becomes a qualification for newcomers and the new initiates will eagerly comply.
Many high value networks will dissolve over sufficient time periods. Social and economic conditions constantly change in a way that undermine a man’s previous value to others. Either his capabilities are no longer relevant, or those who want those capabilities are no longer of high value status. The information technology area offers many examples where expertise some specialized technology elevates a few men to high value because there is a big market for that technology, but eventually either the market matures or a glut of new equally talented competitors emerge. Even in cases where someone has agility to switch from one hot topic to another, eventually he will switch to one that fails to live up to its promises. In that case, he will end up falling out of his network because he no longer has desired resources plus he has proven to be unreliable.
This dissolution and reconnecting of networks has the benefit of flushing out the corruption that creeps into long lived networks. It also produces a population of has-beens and never-agains that will tend to withdraw closer to a zero value status in order to preserve what they are now unable to replenish. Value comes with an obligation to spend that value when justifiably requested.
Many of these once-high-value men will not have enough source of passive income to sustain their desired lifestyle, so they will return to the economy in some capacity that will achieve some compromise lifestyle between what they want and what they otherwise would afford without that income. Certainly, many will continue to strive to restore some semblance of their former value, but many others will be satisfied with their current status. High value status comes with high demands in compensation for the rewards. A lucky few are very comfortable with those demands to the extent that they would want no other life. Others will be relieved when their loss of status removes those demands.
The bottom line is that there is a population of very low value men who nonetheless occupy some niche in society. In a commercial world, he would need to offer some value in exchange for his profit. Such a man is far from zero value.
There is a category of networks that is more persistent over time. These networks involve those relationships within governments. At the very highest levels, the networks are very fragile in that they dissolve with any shift in politics. However, just below that level, there are positions that essentially secure for a lifetime. This is especially true for civil-service bureaucratic positions, as well as explicitly life-long appointments such as for judges. Within these networks there is a perpetual value network where people may comfortably retain their positions for long periods of time, exerting their powers over others with the full support of their network peers.
The type of high-value networks in government are very prone to corruption. Many laws address this with certain oversight and policing, but these laws target individual corruption. If the entire network becomes corrupted, then these laws are ineffectual. At some point, the corruption becomes so pervasive that any enforcement risks dismantling the entire branch or agency. The corruption instead becomes the new standard expectation for that unit.
The current government is very corrupt. Each element of government has such an extensive history of gradually increasing corruption that it is now accepted. There is also the corruption in the sense of fragmentation of government into different territories of corruption. Where previously there was some collaboration between different agencies to come to some compromise for the broader benefit of the public, now each agency pursues goals the directly conflict with other agencies, placing the burden of reconciliation on the public the agencies are supposed to serve. This lack of cooperation between agencies is a result from deliberate isolation to protect each agency’s own implementation of corruption.
The term corruption has the implication of the possibility of eradication. Some authority has the potential to identify the corruption and then remove it through appropriate penalties. When corruption becomes so entrenched, such as it is throughout government today, it ceases to be corruption. There needs to be another word for it. If we have no opportunity to correct something, that something has transcended the corrupt.
There are virtually no peaceful remedies for a corrupted high-value network. As described earlier, commercial based networks have a natural life-cycle where high-value networks inevitably dissolve as market scarcities change. A man’s value is related to the scarcity of what he has to offer. He loses that value when that capability is no longer in demand, or is no longer scarce. As markets evolve, the entire high-value network dissolves and reconstitutes with many new replacements even if a few manage to move from one network to another.
That kind of dynamic is lacking in government, especially until the political appointment levels. The bureaucracies may have many rules for appropriate behaviors where those rules can come with career ending consequences. However, these same bureaucracies have abundant population of people who indefinitely hold onto their positions of power and influence. The rules that appear to be restraining are actually finely tuned to be inclusive of the current norms of doing business. If over time the norms become more corrupt, the rules bend to accommodate that corruption.
At this point, it is fruitless to describe the government as corruption. The qualifier adds no additional information about what we should expect from government or what we can do about government.
Yet, there is a qualitative difference between the current government and the government that existed nearly a century ago. The earlier government had more options for the public to scrutinize the government and demand remedies for any misbehaviors of government.
The current pandemic response is an illustration of the problem. We are in a pandemic of some identifiable infection that is resulting in substantial numbers of hospitalizations and deaths. The government response is to enforce restrictions on small business operations and individual associations under the justification of stopping the spread even though the initial justification was only to slow the spread. The nature of the current government resulted in the immediate readiness of the population to comply with the advice with no objections. There is very little challenge to the claim that the restrictions will actually accomplish what the government promises. There is virtually no challenge to the claim that the situation demands a declaration of emergency that grants government extraordinary powers to deny people’s rights of association and commerce.
History provides examples of disease outbreaks with similar infectiousness and morbidity. At those times, the population made few changes in their daily lives, and more importantly did not tolerate any excessive intrusion by the government. There were government bureaucratic products that purported to show the science of the risks of the disease and the potential benefits of various countermeasures. Those reports were received skeptically by the population to the extent that restrained elected officials creating enforceable policies consistent with those products.
Today’s population lacks such skepticism of their government. Instead, the majority is skeptical of those who are skeptical of the government. The presumption is that the opposition to the government is corrupt, while the government is not.
This attitude is encapsulated in the slogan of “trust the science”. The science in question is the science approved by government. Our social media platforms routine remind us of CDC’s position about the pandemic with the clear implication that it’s position overrules any counterclaims from anyone beneath the CDC.
There are credible and persuasive claims that conflict with the CDC’s positions but the majority of the population rejects those claims as having corruptive influences. Implicitly, that same majority is confident the CDC is free of any corruptive influences, despite the conflict of interests through associations with the pharmaceutical industry that stands to profit from new treatments or vaccinations.
There are also credible claims that the data about the disease is unreliable. The tests do not test for live viruses capable of neither causing illness nor infecting others. The data on hospitalizations and deaths appear to reclassify these as COVID rather than the conditions that would have been assigned prior to this period. The data on vaccine effectiveness and injury also appear to be biased, but in the opposite direction of attributing the failure on something other than the vaccine.
There are also credible claims that the current situation does not justify a declaration of emergency that grants governments extraordinary powers to deny people’s rights and in particular their ability to make a living.
In each of the above objections, the majority of the population rejects these as coming from people who lack qualifications or who have suspect motives. They readily grant that the government is unquestionably qualified while being completely free of any corruptive influence.
The phrase “trust the science” actually means “trust the scientists” and that ultimately means “trust the scientists working within government”. Given recent history of fraud within science, and by government scientists in particular, it is valid to distrust the government scientist. Distrusting government scientists does not mean distrusting science. On the contrary, the trust in the scientific method demands that we scrutinize the work of any scientists to see if there are any mistakes or frauds.
As mentioned earlier, the current government is saturated with high-value individuals with positions so secure that they may as well be lifelong appointments. The products of bureaucracy originate from these individuals are approved by their peers in government. Even when there is public comment period, the government insiders assess these comments and accept or reject based on their own interests. In the case of the current pandemic, there was no solicitation or review of public comment for the eventual policies. There is reason to be suspicious of these bureaucrats, and there is reason to worry about their corruption.
The majority fully trusts government’s pronouncements and guidance while fully rejecting any objections from outside the government. This is despite the realistic expectation that the secure power within bureaucracies is wide open for corruption. The nature of the science and policies do appear to be corrupt, but that the corruption is so ingrained that we accept it as normal.
This immediate dismissal of even the potential of corruption in government indicates that we are no longer in a democracy. In particular, we reject the legitimacy of any objection from our fellow citizens. We presume that all objections have some corrupt political motive. Every objection gets attached to some political identity instead of being evaluated on its own merits. This reduces the population to mere spectators to the government, sitting on opposite sides of an allegorical stadium shouting at each other while the game proceeds on the field. Like those fans, we have no actual influence on the plays or the execution of the plays, but we will cheer if one side advances, or boo if the other side advances.
This modern attitude toward government is frightening. We lost our ability to influence what the government does to us and to others on our behalf. I say this is because the government has become so thoroughly corrupt that it is beyond remedy by the public. This corruption has extended to the population as a whole. The population accepts the corruption, and approves it.
We no longer have a government in the sense we might have talked about it a century ago. A better term would be a cult. Our government has changed into a cult. A cult demands universal obedience to its prescribed rituals. We have to social distance, wear masks, limit our gathering sizes, etc., because these are the rituals showing our faithful obedience to the cult. The cult happens to justify the rituals based on some scientific sounding explanation about a particular infectious agent’s unique existential threat to humanity. Other cults would appeal to an equally threatening god or other supernatural phenomenon.
The government has a firmly entrenched high-value network that is fully contained within government and certain well-financed special interests then enable revolving-door employment that enrich the members of this network without any regard to the population that the government should be serving. The population reveres this construct with a cult-like fanaticism. If the cult says we must impoverish ourselves and isolate ourselves, then we must ignore any objections and we must force the objectors to comply.
This cult is the direct result of the unchecked corruption of a permanent high-value network where that corruption is so pervasive it now defines the agency’s mission. Each agency has its own variant of corruption but now the agency’s mission is to perpetuate the corruption because it perpetuates its internal high value network.
Within these same government bodies, there resides a population of low value men. They are low value because they are not directly benefiting from the high value network. However, they are benefiting from the perpetuation of the status quo. I described on subset of these men as those having previous successes. These formerly higher-value men now are resigned to no longer pursuing that goal, but they still need the income that the job provides. Consistent with the zero-value aspirations described in earlier posts, these participants avoid drawing any attention to themselves. They obey every request made from them even if that includes echoing approval when that approval was supposed to be independently given.
For sake of this illustration, grant that the government can become so corrupt that it is beyond remedy from internal processes, and in fact so corrupt that the population eagerly accepts without objection anything coming from that government. The corruption faces no threat from within government, and it faces no threat from outside. It replaces the government with a cult.
There remains at least one threat to its existence, and that is the zero-value striving worker. Such a worker has a purely subordinate relationship to the agency’s high value network. Given his position, he has the opportunity to see the corruption and can begin to challenge it. His zero-value goal discourages him to act, but that same zero-value goal gives him the opportunity to object to the corruption. If he does act, that action can possibly disrupt the corruption.
In earlier posts, I described the zero-value man as a villain, specifically in the sense that he withholds from society some potential benefit he is capable of providing. Also, the villain label applies in terms of society’s interest in identifying and contacting that individual, either to make sure exercises that capability to society’s approval. The villain label is removed when the man negotiates the application of his capabilities or resources for the exchange with others.
In this sense, the low-value worker in government is a villain. He poses one of the few remaining threats to the corruption of the high-value network. Depending on the network, either he must be discovered so that he can prevented from acting, or he must be encouraged to act. His comfort of low-value status remaining invisible and inactive makes him a villain.