Chinese Cancel Culture

Every time the anti-Sinitic Sinophobes start frothing over some horrible China thing, I’m reminded of this meme:

This week, censorious commies suspended NBA broadcasts over an impolitic tweet, then banned South Park for making fun of said events. We act like China has some top-down centralized control over speech and politics, but that’s not how things work over there. Americans can’t fathom that Chinese citizens are capable of any sort of agency or independent thought.

You think our SJWs are bad? China has them in spades. Social justice is, after all, rooted in communism. China’s morally righteous warriors are legitimately offended that the Houston Rockets would express support for (what they believe to be) violent extremists in Hong Kong. No it doesn’t have to be sane or rational; SJWs never are.

So a few crybullies threw a stink and got the NBA canceled. It’s no different from that time Chinese financial institutions threatened to cut ties with UBS after one of their staffers inadvertently said something about “Chinese pigs”.

Cancel culture is great. The government claims neutrality while the brainwashed youth stamp out politically inconvenient opinions. We should be friends with China; we’re more alike than different.

See Also: 你媽死了

Intermediate All The Things!

A population that endures centuries of persecution eventually evolves to be pretty damn wily. Each successive generation gets sneakier, trickier, uniquely problematic.

gopher traps ca. 1870

I’m speaking, of course, about gophers. After futzing with old-school Macabee traps and digging enough trenches to destroy an entire lawn, I found this GopherHawk device on Amazon. Works great, clean kills. Only problem is, my gophers show up in droves, and the trap gets bent out of shape after a few uses.

Then I found the Chinese gopher trap knockoffs.

The sentimental part of me thinks I ought to support honest American small business. The rational part of me understands that The World is Flat, Patriotism is the new Racism, and the Chinaman shilling knockoffs from Shenzhen is just as deserving of my dollars as any American worker.

People complain about big tech monopolies and their greedy platforms: Amazon charges an average of 15% commission for seller listings, plus another 30% of the item’s price for fulfillment. Apple and Google take 30% of app revenue in their app stores.

Why is that a problem? Maybe 30% is an extortionate cut, but sellers could simply pass the cost onto consumers, like they do with any other tariff. The thing that prevents a price increase is the fact that American retailers will be undercut by overseas merchants Every. Single. Time.

There are online courses on how to dress up wholesale Alibaba garbage with a swanky ad, then drop-ship the lot to an Amazon warehouse. Your margin is my opportunity, says the intermediary for Chinese wholesalers.

Same with the app store: Got a killer app? Clones are sure to follow.

The only type of app that can still turn a profit is something like Spotify, which itself is a monopolistic platform. While Spotify complains about Apple’s innovation-stifling fees, musical artists complain about Spotify’s oppressive take.

Why does anyone even bother making anything anymore?

If you’re gonna make something, make it rent-taking. Manufacturing is dead and not coming back, but there is one place where we still have a competitive edge: Capitalism. In America, anyone can finance anything, from used cars to pants to an 8-year degree in humanities.

Rents on real estate make up 13% of our GDP. Foreign investors have pushed Bay Area home prices beyond middle class affordability, but online platforms open up investment opportunities in bustling metropolitan areas from Memphis, Tennessee to Gary, Indiana.

Own a piece of the American Dream by renting it to someone else!

Memphis residents who find themselves priced out of the local housing market can become absentee landlords in Mozambique or Tajikistan. That’s right, a rising flood of cheap capital lifts all boats. Instead of producing anything of value, we’ll find new ways to intermediate and extract. That’s American Exceptionalism!

Epstein’s Kompromat

I’m gonna go ahead and assume that anyone associated with Jeffrey Epstein has diddled underaged girls and there’s compromising video hidden away somewhere. Everyone’s thinking it, and the assumption has gotta be more often right than wrong.

Now, if the blackmail theory is true — if Jeffrey Epstein was in fact using young girls as a honeypot to ensnare powerful people to do his bidding — wouldn’t we have seen some of the “collateral” by now? Extortion only works if the threat is credible, which means that noncompliant targets must have their sex tapes released to serve as a warning to others.

Wait a minute. Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, Mark Foley, Dennis Hastert… there’s a long list of prominent politicians taken down by inopportune sex scandals. Were they the ones who refused to yield to their blackmailers?

We may never know. None of them can stand up and shout “I’m a patsy!” because those who attempt to out the extortionists tend to go the way of Robert Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein, and Aaron Swartz (maybe). That’s the difference between Ted Kennedy and all the other Kennedys.

Earlier this year, Jeff Bezos published a Medium post accusing The National Enquirer of blackmail. The gossip rag had gotten ahold of some Bezos dick pics and threatened to expose said pics unless Bezos affirmed that The Enquirer’s reporting was not politically motivated.

By coming forward, Bezos suffered a mild indignity over the dick pics — But that was immediately forgotten as he was celebrated as a hero of democracy. (Apparently The National Enquirer doesn’t have the ability to “suicide” their enemies.)

The Spitzers and Weiners resigned in shame, but maybe we’re wrong to denounce them. Maybe these are the guys who had the balls to say No to the blackmailers. Instead of ruining their lives, we should applaud their moral righteousness! Sure they might be pervy predators, but who isn’t these days? That’s practically a prerequisite for success! No, it’s the squeaky-clean ones who draw the most suspicion. Any successful person who hasn’t been taken down by a sex scandal must be exceptionally good at satisfying their handlers.

/tinfoil hat

Chesterton’s Schoolhouse

Peeps in my Twitter feed sometimes talk about homeschooling their future offspring. I get it, public schools are awful – the kids are bullies, the teachers incompetent, and the curriculum is hogwash bathed in whatever leftist ideology happens to be in vogue. Public schools turn children into brainwashed drones.

But then… I remember a time when people used to be voluntarily indoctrinated en masse. Back when it was normal to put on your Sunday clothes and sit on a bench while receiving sermons in fictional stories. It seems like there was some value to having everyone congregate once a week, act polite to those of different economic backgrounds, maybe even feign an interest in others’ lives.

If nothing else, religion created a common fear of some paranormal force. That’s nothing to laugh at — the Roman banks began in temples consecrated to the ancient gods. Shared truths keep a community together, even if they’re not founded in fact. Buuuut these particular truths were oppressive to alternative lifestyles, and now they’re all but dead.

Another oppressive institution that no longer exists: Conscription. People used to be acutely aware of every war because they or their kids or the neighbors’ kids could all get drafted for service. Now that we’ve moved to an all-volunteer military force, the country is blissfully unaware that we’re fighting ongoing wars in seven different countries. I mean, the kids from Appalachia and flyover states are fighting those wars, and probably they know a thing or two about Libya and Yemen. The rest of us stay home and focus on more important things like Equality.

Nixon ended the draft in 1973 to get the hippies to stop protesting Vietnam. It worked, but… maybe it was better to have the entire population aware of ongoing warfare?

Another thing: I lived in Los Angeles during the 1992 riots, when the city basically turned into a warzone. It was too much for LAPD, so the cops moved to strategic containment and let the inner city have at it.

That’s when the Rooftop Koreans appeared. They were recent immigrants in South Central LA, left high and dry to defend their shops and homes.

The Roof Koreans didn’t just hop onto buildings on a whim. South Korea has mandatory military service along with annual training for young adult males. Given proximity to North Korea, they take military preparedness quite seriously. When all hell broke loose, these ex-Armed Forces guys knew how to grab their guns, face the front line, and coordinate a defense.

That’s a valuable life skill! Second Amendment advocates insist that the right to bear arms will protect against government tyranny, but 90% of the country doesn’t even know what to do with one of these things. We’re still trying to figure out how to get the chainsaw attachment to go on the assault rifle. Which end up? The rooftops will be sparsely populated, is what I’m trying to say.

Public schools suck, but maybe there are some overlooked skills that can only be provided by a public school education. I just did a search and found a list of things that kids learn in kindergarten. The first two are “Share everything” and “Play fair”. There are valid societal reasons why it might be good to have children brainwashed with these ideas, yet these are things that will definitely be lost in a homeschool based on Ayn Randian Objectivism.

Maybe I’m out of the loop and the exodus already happened, and anyone who still attends public school is like the last person in a coal mining town. In the future, everyone will live in their own community of One.

Law is Money

In 2011, acclaimed blogger Paul Krugman proposed that an alien invasion could save the economy, because death and destruction create jobs.

Now, what if — what if! — space aliens wanted to enslave the population, but without the massive disregard for human life? Instead of bombing us into prosperity, the aliens could lasso up a few gold-laden asteroids and buy our instant servility.

(This would probably be more effective if the aliens used a time machine to show up before the end of Bretton Woods. They’re aliens, they can do that.)

So the arrival of golden asteroids might bring an instant increase in metallic wealth, but we humans now find ourselves trapped in a horribly corrupt monetary system, where alien overlords have access to an infinite amount of gold, and as long as people rely on gold as currency, we’ll forever be their serfs. Now what?

This is happening right now in China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and every other country facing US sanctions. Most countries keep their foreign reserves in dollars (or dollar-denominated debt). The “dollars” are actually database entries at Federal Reserve Banks, and assets can be frozen at will. We already did that to Iran! Not your database, not your dollars.

USD used to feel like a reliable store of wealth, when really it was an infinite line of credit subjugating the rest of the world to US foreign policy. Heck, even the Bank of England wants out of US dollar hegemony.

China currently has $1.1 trillion in Treasury bills. They would prefer to HODL something else, but there aren’t a lot of options. The Eurozone restricted bond issuance with austerity measures, and you can’t just buy $1.1T worth of bitcoin. Few countries accrue external debt the way the US accrues debt – that’s American exceptionalism!

It’s hard to dump one asset for another, unless there is enough liquidity to absorb the dump. In the absence of a new bottomless asset, specific cycles must be broken.

(Specific cycles, meaning the closed payment loops in which a currency circulates.)

Europe has no beef with Iran. In fact they are quite fond of Iranian oil. But with Iran blocked off from the international payments system, European banks had to create a non-USD clearinghouse called Instex. The participants technically don’t violate sanctions, because transactions get netted and batched so that money doesn’t cross Iranian borders.

Russian banks joined China’s cross-border network, which clears and settles in yuan. But Russians don’t trust China, so importers turn to Tether, and even Bitcoin.

Sanctions break specific cycles while creating a flywheel effect for whatever currency enables the transactions to continue. This isn’t limited to international trade; domestic chokepoints keep alternatives circulating too.

Bitcoin is for enemies, and Lightning is its clearinghouse. The inability to issue debt makes it difficult to displace fiat as a medium of exchange — but once it does, it will be near impossible to stop.