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Woke Hollywood goes broke

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Well not yet, but they are not having a good year in what was supposed to be the rebound after the terrible C-19 years of 2020-21.

There have been multiple flops of expensive movies and not a lot of interest in smaller (lower-budget) movies that are supposed to be Oscar-bait.

I’ve only been to one movie this year and that was Top Gun: Maverick, which was excellent escapism, as movies are supposed to be. And it made a ton of money, just shy of $1.5 billion and counting.

But even with that, Everything Everywhere All at Once, and the other huge hit movie earlier in the season, SpiderMan: No Way Home (almost $2 billion), Hollywood struggled, with US revenue down to $6 billion compared to $11.3 billion in 2019 and one huge cinema chain going into bankruptcy.

There are any number of explanations as to why people are not going into the theatres, starting with the big one of streaming, which was already starting to hit them in 2019 but which took off during the lockdowns. It’s quite possible that people have got into a habit that they can’t be bothered breaking.

But that doesn’t really stack up as an argument in the face of those three blockbusters mentioned earlier. People obviously went out for them. Streaming has also been around for a decade, and especially doesn’t make sense when we’re talking about movies that are not intended to be blockbusters:

Here is the domestic box office for this year’s titles enjoying the most Oscar talk.

  • Till – $8.7 million
  • The Banshees of Inisherin – $7.9 million
  • TÁR – $5.1 million
  • She Said – $4.3 million
  • Triangle of Sadness – $4 million
  • Bones and All – $3.8 million
  • The Fabelmans – $3.5 million
  • Armageddon Time – $1.9 million
  • Aftersun – $756,000

The most shocking title on that list is The Fabelmans. Those of us of a certain age can remember when Oscar talk around a Steven Spielberg movie would have had people flocking to theaters, especially over Thanksgiving weekend (when Fabelmans opened). Spielberg guaranteed that magic cinematic experience we all crave.

While you could say those are “small failures” there have been big ones, and most of those have been Disney productions, starting with Lightyear and ending with the $100 million loss on Strange World (budget $180 million).

The reason is all the Woke bullshit in the storylines and the characters, as John Nolte explains by contrasting these modern movies with the stories and humans of a simple 1970’s movie like The Way of the Dragon:

Lee plays Tang Lung, and the movie opens with Lung, an unsophisticated rube from Hong Kong, arriving in Rome. At the airport, he’s treated rudely, gawked at, dismissed, laughed at… He’s not white. He wears funny clothes. He doesn’t speak the language. He’s an exotic Asian fish out of water, an obvious victim of prejudices, preconceived notions, and racism.

But how does Lee, who had complete control over the movie and his image, play it? Perfectly. Tang Lung doesn’t get angry, doesn’t lecture, and doesn’t demand respect. Instead, he’s humble, a little clumsy, funny, and utterly endearing. Not only does this approach make him relatable, but it’s also the perfect way to convey a message about prejudice and “othering.” Although Tang Lung is very different from us, we relate to him (who hasn’t felt outnumbered and out of place?) and come to respect him for his discipline, bravery, and restraint. Nothing is heavy-handed. No one lectures us. No one pounds their chest about how virtuous they are. No one shames anyone. It’s all done through good-natured humor, theme, and story.

By contrast, the modern movies preach, constantly, unsubtly, and in your face:

There’s no subtlety in woke, no subtext, no generosity. Instead, it’s smug, in your face, insufferable, and never believable. You can’t tell blatant lies about human nature and hold on to your audience. All of this takes us out of the story. It breaks the spell. Further, it insults us and our intelligence, which makes the moviegoing experience a negative one no one wants to repeat.

And so, like Disney, the Oscar brand is dead. Disney didn’t promote Strange World as a gay movie. Still, no one went to see it because we all know what Disney has become. Same with the Oscars. If there’s Oscar heat around a movie, it’s almost certain to be preachy garbage.

Americans have learned their lesson and now avoid this garbage. And it’s not just Red State America staying home. All these movies need to enjoy a respectable box office return is for ten percent of Hillary Clinton voters to show up. Most of these titles failed to attract one percent.

Yep, movies are so insufferable Hollywood has lost the left.

But there may be other things going on as well and they’re more to do with the general loss of trust in our institutions. Another recent flop was She Said, which is a drama about the downfall of the supreme POS and rapist Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein. The movie apparently was not driven by Woke and actually sounded like it was pretty good. So why did it flop? Variety magazine gives a bunch of reasons for the failure but I think they’ve missed some because they don’t want to admit to them:

  1. People don’t want to go to depressing movies in this depressing environment. They want to be distracted, as people were by Shirley Temple in the Great Depression.
  2. People are not impressed by journalists any longer (two female reporters are the heroes of the movie). The age of All The President’s Men is dead.
  3. #MeToo proved to be massive exercise in double standards and hypocrisy, especially with the resurrection of Joe Biden, and was well dead before this movie hit the screens. It also became a bit of monster itself so people aren’t interested in seeing it celebrated on screen.
  4. Hollywood, including a number of A-Listers like Brad Pitt and Jennifer Lawrence, enabled this monster for two decades as he sexually abused his way through the place. People aren’t impressed by the same place now trying to tell the story as if it’s some sort of bystander.

Woke can probably be fixed, but trying to use institutions like the MSM, politics, police (the FBI – hahahaha), lawyers, judges and courts – even the military – as places of heroes in movie storylines increasingly does not work; Top Gun worked because it actually celebrated the military, but that’s the last institution with good standing in the US, and even it has slipped a lot recently.

Ironically that’s because the people writing, producing, directing and acting in these movies have done so much to smear those institutions and tear them down in the eyes of the public.

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UPDATE

And here’s a good example of why Hollywood may not make it back. David Mamet (The Untouchables, Glengarry Glen Ross) is one of the greatest living American playwrights, with a huge catalog of famous and celebrated plays (he’s more Broadway than Hollywood), with many accolades for his stories, characters and dialog.

And he’s effectively been shunned by his own community since he wrote an article in 2008 called Why I am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal, published in the Lefty, Lefty, Lefty magazine The Village Voice, which had loved him for years, just for extra salt in the wound.

Read Tablet magazine’s Fuck David Mamet to find out why good writing is vanishing from American theatre and film.

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Full Court Press

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If you’ve ever watched American basketball you’ll be familiar with the term “Full Court Press”, which is where a team basically attacks the other team in every part of the court.

The tactic is usually done by marking up each individual opposition player in every part of the court – as opposed to clustering around their own basket while their opponents lazily drift towards them with ball (the usual) and/or targeting a couple of key players.

What is being done to Elon Musk and Twitter now by the Left is the type of online Full Court Press they specialise in:

Understand that as you read each of those near-identical messages that these “people” are not re-tweeting another’s message. These are, supposedly, their own thoughts expressed on Twitter about how it’s:

Kinda weird how @elonmusk gets to decide how like a half-billion people communicate. Way too much power for one erratic individual to wield, don’t you think?

You have actually seen this before, but in another context:

And then there’s the government who are being asked, by that ever fair and balanced MSM, if they’re worried about us being at “critical moment” where a consistent narrative must be maintained. Understand that this question is coming from a member of the fucking MSM, openly advocating for the silencing for everybody but themselves and other members of the Establishment™.

Unfortunately for all these assholes they’re not only dealing with the richest man in the world but somebody who clearly understands both the cultural and political moments he’s in, as he showed in May, 2022.

Including dealing with the assholes known as Apple.

That’s how they shut down the starting app of Parler thanks to their massive duopoly with Google. “Free market” supporters take note, and see also that Apple had no problems selling the Facebook and Twitter apps even as the former were used to organise the January 6 “Insurrection”, while the latter has been filled with Iranian, Russian, North Korean and Taliban propaganda since its inception. It is only when Musk allows conservatives to speak more freely on Twitter that suddenly there is a huge problem. The Burn Loot Murder and Antifa assholes used used both Twitter and Facebook to coordinate the destruction of American cities in 2020, but that also was fine with Apple. But a conservative speaking on Twitter is a threat to democracy itself.

Then there’s this.

Ok, so that’s just the Bee having their usual satirical fun. But as always with “Fake News That You Can Trust”, there’s a truth behind it.

Apple has restricted AirDrop file sharing, the very method the demonstrators have been using to communicate privately out of earshot of their totalitarian masters. Was this on advice from the communist regime or did Apple just figure out for themselves what was in their best interest to do? It wouldn’t have been hard.

I should add I’d been hugely impressed by their tech since first using it at varsity in the mid-1980s’, shunning it only due to the cost, but finally giving in around 2003, since when we’ve been largely an Apple household. Which makes this all the worse.

Can’t let that huge Chinese market revolt, or that prison camp called the FoxConn factory where most iPhones are made, go down the tube, right Apple? Apple have come a long way – I should say fallen a long way – from their famous TV Superbowl commercial in 1984.

Note also that there is no word yet from Google about their pulling the Twitter app from selling to their huge Android OS community.

Both of those companies promote TikTok and profit off it. And nobody seriously questions that TikTok is an actual danger to both national security and to the mental health of children. US government officials are literally saying that. It is Chinese spyware – and used by people at both the White House and Pentagon.

Did I say richest man in the world? Despite his wealth not comparing to the glittering prize of the Chinese market, it would seem that Elon knows which testicles to squeeze and how, by releasing information like this:

Apple threatened at least one developer with banishment from the company’s lucrative App Store if they didn’t remove all search engine returns regarding COVID-19 from their library application.

LBRY bills itself as “an open, free, and fair network for digital content,” designed to circumvent social media and government controls. But the company told Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk on Monday that, “During Covid, Apple demanded our apps filter some search terms from being returned. If we did not filter the terms, our apps would not be allowed in the store.”

And this letter from Senator Josh Hawley(R) to Tim Cooke may also have helped produce the following result today.

I always crack up at Musk’s dry humour: “misunderstanding” indeed. He knew exactly what the pressure campaign of the Left was all about.

But the fight goes on.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 1, 2022 at 3:59 pm

Introducing the new 2023 makeup fashions

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We’ll get to the fashion in a second.

But first the fascism – or to be fair our new strange mixture of private sector totalitarianism in cooperation with the State, rather than either the State-directed control of the private sector (Fascism) or the 100%-State-owned world of Communism.

Which makes it all feel creepier, especially when it comes to how we citizens (subjects?) can combat this new and hideous “ideology”.

The news from Nineteen Eighty Four arriving in 2022, courtesy of Consumer NZ, is as follows:

If you shop at one of more than 320 Pak’nSave, New World or Four Square stores in the North Island, you may have been scanned by facial recognition technology (FRT). The technology is currently in use in 29 stores in the North Island, but Foodstuffs NI would not confirm which stores.

Emma Wooster, Foodstuffs NZ’s head of public relations, said: “Facial recognition technology is one of the only tools we’ve identified that could help us to proactively target and reduce theft, burglary, robbery, assault and other aggressive, violent or threatening behaviour by repeat offenders. Facial recognition technology is only used for this specific and limited purpose.”

Says you. For now. In case Ms Wooster has not noticed we’ve just emerged from our first Pandemic Scare of the 21st century (there will be others) that involved any number of State mandates on people doing ordinary, everyday stuff – like shopping at supermarkets.

Of course masks would actually bugger up this technology so there’s that. And such thoughts also lead to ideas about how to combat the technology short of masking. Here’s some fashion suggestions.

Of course it all begs the question of how our society managed to keep “theft, burglary, robbery, assault and other aggressive, violent or threatening behaviour by repeat offenders”, under control for so many decades without such technology.

Some combination of a decent society filled with civilised, educated citizens with solid moral and ethical codes, plus a few decent Police officers, judges and prisons to deal with those who consistently showed they lacked those features.

I think that was the answer. At least it seemed to be so within living memory.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 1, 2022 at 8:12 am

Housecleaning

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Elon Musk just decided to bring the worst people on the internet back to Twitter. (The Verge)

Oh noes. How terrible.

You can click on the link if you wish but I assure you it’s just more of the same screaming that you’ve been hearing for weeks now from the MSM and the sites that their like-minded comrades still control. People like the … creature at the bottom of this post, where it has been placed because it’s Sunday morning.

First, let’s take a look at people who weren’t banned from Twitter under the previous management:

  • Chinese genocide apologists
  • Hitler-worshiping Hindu nationalists
  • Iran’s terrorist leadership
  • Antifa goons actively planning assaults
  • Pedophiles
  • People illegally distributing puberty blockers to children (who were also pedophiles, strange coincidence there)
  • People running mass-reporting schemes (who were – yes – also pedophiles)

People who were banned from Twitter previously:

  • The New York Post for news stories inconvenient to Democrats
  • James Lindsay and the Babylon Bee for accurately identifying an adult male
  • Nick Rekieta for being the victim of a mass-reporting scheme
  • Libs of TikTok (off/on since she only ever showed what insane Leftists were posting themselves on TikTok).
  • Trump for being Trump

And it’s only with those people being reinstated that the news media, which is all MSM and Social Media together and who are intensely pro-censorship, is getting itself worked up about.

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NOW HERE THIS! NOW HERE THIS!

Please ensure you have digested your breakfast and finished your coffee before looking at the following photo of an ex-Twitter “worker”.

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Written by Tom Hunter

November 27, 2022 at 9:32 am

#StayWoke

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No sooner do I write a post on the crap pulled by Big Tech social media assholes in the USA like Zuckerberg and Twitter (Fortify your election with SBF Bucks), than a story appears that is a tailor made as a follow-up.

It seems that Elon Musk has had some spare time in his 24-hour days to poke around the Twitter Headquarters.

And lookie what he found…

What a pack of censorious wankers the previous management and workers were. And what a bunch of gaslighting bastards they were too, as various Righties immediately noted:

This is right up there with idiotic mainstream “Right-Wing” politicians who keep claiming that the MSM and Social Media are not heavily biased to the Left – and hence blindly walk into endless traps laid by them.

I suggest that Elon auction these. Twitter’s got to make money some way.

Written by Tom Hunter

November 24, 2022 at 10:21 am

Fortify your election with SBF Bucks

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Or Zuck Bucks, as they were called after the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, poured $400 million into getting Joe Biden elected in 2020.

Sam Bankman-Fried Bucks just doesn’t roll off the tongue in the same way, even though he’s been revealed as yet another Democrat Party mega-donor, the largest individual donor to the party outside of Nazi-collaborator George Soros for the just completed Mid-Term elections, the money having been used by the Democrats for “get-out-the-vote” and various ballot-harvesting mechanics.

SPF pumped $10 million into Biden’s campaign in 2020 and then $40 million for the just-completed Mid-Terms, where they were used in the same way as in 2020.

In fact it never was just Zuckerberg or SBF. Take a look at this chart of Big Tech employee donations by political party in the USA and then not be surprised that the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Google (among others) have been acting as censors for the Democrat Party in recent years.

SBF won’t be back given the catastrophic bankruptcy of his ponzi crypto-currency scheme of FTC and Alameda Research (which requires a post all its own) and Zuckerberg’s fortune has collapsed by $100 billion thanks to his company Meta not being the Neuromancer extension of Facebook that he’d hoped for. Of course that still leaves him with $40 billion or so, but perhaps he’ll be forced to pay less attention to elections for a while.

You may recall that great TIME magazine story about how the 2020 election was “fortified”:

There was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes, one that both curtailed the protests and coordinated the resistance from CEOs. Both surprises were the result of an informal alliance between left-wing activists and business titans. The pact was formalized in a terse, little-noticed joint statement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO published on Election Day. Both sides would come to see it as a sort of implicit bargain–inspired by the summer’s massive, sometimes destructive racial-justice protests–in which the forces of labor came together with the forces of capital to keep the peace and oppose Trump’s assault on democracy.

So the word went out: stand down.

But Zuckerberg’s role was much simpler, because the methods used with Zuckerberg’s $400 million were pretty simple:

The Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL – whose three founders are former co-workers at the Democrat-aligning New Organizing Institute) and The Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR – whose founder was formerly a director of the leftwing People For the American Way) passed a staggering $419.5 million of Zuckerberg’s money into local government elections offices, and it came with strings attached. Every CTCL and CEIR grant spelled out in great detail the conditions under which the grant money was to be used.

The CTCL had been a small outfit founded in 2012 with its yearly revenues from contributions and grants had maxed out one year at $2.84 million

Conditions? More like processes that this vast sum was poured into:

  • Self-described “vote navigators” in Wisconsin to “assist voters, potentially at their front doors, to answer questions, assist in ballot curing … and witness absentee ballot signatures,” Philadelphia got $10 million to hire new city employees (fresh from local activist groups) to go door to door delivering ballots. Since they worked for the election office, everything was “legal.” They bought radio advertising on Spanish and urban radio stations; “vote by mail, no need for any witnesses anymore!”
  • The promotion of universal mail-in voting through suspending election laws, extending deadlines that favoured mail-in over in-person voting, greatly expanding opportunities for “ballot curing,” expensive bulk mailings, and other lavish “community outreach” programs that were directed by private activists.

Especially in swing states, the rules were thrown out in the name of an emergency. In Nevada, the state rushed to all of the mail-in ballots being sent automatically, even though the Public Interest Legal Foundation had documented tens of thousands of dead registrants, vacant lots and commercial addresses on the voter rolls. Other states suspended their laws: Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Mexico, Colorado, Minnesota, Arizona, North Carolina, and more. In Virginia, the law said that mail ballots had to come in by election day or three days after election day, but only if they were postmarked by election day. Virginia state election officials ignored the law and issued rules to accept late ballots without any postmark. They called it “fair.”

  • Unmonitored private dropboxes (which created major chain of custody issues) and opportunities for novel forms of “mail-in ballot electioneering,” which allowed for numerous questionable post-election-day ballots to be submitted. as well as providing another way to help ballot harvesting.
  • Temporary staffing and poll workers, which supported the infiltration of election offices by paid Democratic Party activists, coordinated through a complex web of Democrat-leaning non-profit organisations, social media platforms, and social media election influencers.

More detail on all this here. CTCL and CEIR are registered 501(c)(3) corporations that can be created for elections but which are supposed to be non-partisan.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.

Does the following look like non-partisan spending?

Of the 26 grants CTCL provided to cities and counties in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia that were $1 million or larger, 25 went to areas Biden won in 2020. 

What are the odds that the Biden IRS will be investigating CTCL and CEIR?

As another article put it about those Zuck Bucks: They converted election offices in key jurisdictions with deep reservoirs of Biden votes into Formula One turnout-machines.

The 2020 election was not stolen. It was purchased.

Desert and weed

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If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand. – Milton Freidman

For forty years or more drug reformers, mainly Libertarians and Left-wingers, with a handful of right-wingers in the mix, have argued that the key to reducing and perhaps even eliminating drug crime is to simply make many drugs legal.

The argument is that if the drugs were made legal to grow or make, and sell, then criminals would be deprived of a massive source of revenue because the massive increase in production would greatly reduce the price of the drugs. Hence crime would be greatly reduced. The resulting costs of healthcare for drug addicts is argued to be a small proportion of the current crime cost and the government could now tax the product, producing new streams of tax revenue.

The suggested starting point for deregulation is Marijuana (Cannabis, Weed(US), Dope (NZ), “MJ”, Mary Jane, etc, etc), since it is – arguably – less dangerous to users in terms of addiction and general health effects.

A number of countries have done this, starting in Europe and the effects so far seem to be neither as good nor as bad as each side had argued. A handful of US States have also done this, starting with California (of course) and in their case there has been at least one unexpected outcome:

California has yet to see its black-market disappear, however. In fact, illegal growing and selling of pot have increased so rapidly in the past six years that earlier this month, Sacramento vastly expanded the state’s war on pot by taking a decades-old seasonal commission designed to curb illegal growing and turning it into a full-time, multi-agency task force with the job of snuffing out a booming black market. 

Their neighbour and ideological soulmate, Oregon, has been suffering the same problem – including gun battles between rival growers.

So why is this happening, the exact opposite of what was promised by reformers? One word: government, first via farming regulations…

In California, for instance, growers have tried to evade the environmental regulations that all farms must observe, including ones on water usage. Investigators have found miles of complex, illegal irrigation systems in the state’s national forests, diverting hundreds of thousands of gallons of water daily to illegal farms, as streams run dry.

… and taxation:

“Californians just legalized cannabis in 2016. We’ve had legal sales for three years, and the main driver of these price increases is that local cities can set a local business tax rate for cannabis. 

That’s anywhere from zero to 15% of gross receipts.  … And just for comparison, Oakland’s cannabis taxes are 417 times higher than Oakland’s taxes on guns and ammo business. And in Los Angeles, the marijuana taxes on businesses are 2,808 times higher than the business taxes on a check cashing or a payday lender.”

I do have to laugh. The reformers argued that this would be a source of tax revenue, but as usual they forgot that the State’s appetite for tax revenue is rapacious and bottomless. At least the Californian Cannabis Cultivation Tax is being eliminated after it became clear that it would likely kill the newly legalised industry.

You’d like to think that some broader lessons about tax and its effects on business would be learned here – but you would be wrong. Drug reformers are now focusing on a Federal decriminalisation across all states, claiming that these problems are being caused by those states who have not yet followed California and Oregon.

Incidentally a former Waikato dairy farmer, John Lord, has become one of the largest legal drug dealers in the United States via his ownership of Colorado cannabis dispensary chain LivWell:

The industry is highly regulated in Colorado, and based on rules around the sale of alcohol. It is overseen by the Marijuana Enforcement Division, a branch of the Department of Revenue.

Written by Tom Hunter

November 23, 2022 at 11:41 am

Begun, the Twitter Wars have

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The Twitter wars are actually just heating up, as it is becoming apparent that the Left regarded it as “their” platform in pushing Lefty talking points (propaganda).

Actually it’s been apparent for a long time, but in the past any criticisms of them by the Right were met with their cynical smirks of “It’s a private company and can do what it wants – isn’t that what the Right have always said?”

But with Elon Musk now in charge of a privately-owned Twitter the Left have dropped that mask and come right out in the open in their demands for government censorship to replace the censorship they’d been applying behind the scenes via the hive-mind of Twitter employees who were ideologically-like-minded to the Left – or even more so.

But all of these companies are, in fact, monopolies, and thus exist in a precarious legal state — presently tolerated, but open to government harassment and persecution any time they do not follow the government’s commands.

As proof of that, Democrats are now demanding that the Federal Trade Commission investigate Elon Musk for “undermining Twitter.” By which they mean — they want him investigated for abandoning the censorship scheme they demanded the old regime imposed.

“In recent weeks, Twitter’s new Chief Executive Officer, Elon Musk, has taken alarming steps that have undermined the integrity and safety of the platform, and announced new features despite clear warnings those changes would be abused for fraud, scams, and dangerous impersonation,” the lawmakers said in a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan

Dangerous impersonation? Of who? Oh right….

Senator Ed Markey went so far as to participate in a hoax in which he colluded with a Washington Post reported so that that Post reporter would pay for blue tick status and then impersonate him (Ed Markey).

And then, having contrived this case of impersonation, Ed Markey screamed about it and demanded the FTC investigate Musk for permitting the impersonation.

It seems only fair that Twitter ban Markey from the platform for engaging in this fraud. 🙂 After all, that’s what’s going to happen to other “accounts” pulling similar – if vastly more amusing – stunts. Musk won’t of course, having brought back the Babylon Bee…

and Trump, or at least his account. Musk also understands the game being played here by the Administrative State and their six ways from Sunday of getting back at you.

Aside from the censorship fight there is also another interesting Twitter battle going on inside the company as thousands have found themselves out of a job – for the very good reason that they were useless drones. This Twitter thread explains what he’s doing, which is Whaling and Culling:

First, the “Whaling”: It’s a common refrain that you’ve probably heard at some point or another “10% of people do 90% of the work.” That’s what that tight 2 week deadline for Twitter Blue was for; he was perfectly aware that it was an unrealistic time frame. It was a test.

Hence, Elon was looking for the whales at the company. The heavy hitting, actually producing and hard people who have been there for a while. When the whales don’t have to carry dead weight, they perform like the equivalent of 10 people.

There are larger questions being raised here given the layoffs of more thousands of workers at Facebook and Amazon (can Google be far behind?), and those questions are addressed in this article, The Email Caste’s Last Stand, by Malcom Kyeyune:

The abrupt firing of thousands of employees solicited a new wave of outrage from Musk’s haters. But even if you remove him from the equation, Twitter couldn’t have gone much longer without massive layoffs. The same thing is happening across Silicon Valley. Last week, the online-payments company Stripe announced it would cut 14 percent of its workforce, as did the rideshare giant Lyft; Facebook parent company Meta looks poised to do the same. Like Wile E. Coyote, tech companies ran off the cliff long ago; only now is economic gravity starting to assert itself.

The article makes the point that when venture capital funding seemed to be unlimited, it not only encouraged all these Big Tech startups and established players to hire useless people, it basically developed a class of people not unlike the French aristocracy just prior to the 1789 revolution:

The problem was that France now had a large class of impoverished nobles, for which some sort of exclusive jobs program was absolutely necessary. They didn’t have diversified business interests like the court nobility at Versailles; all they had was their noble privilege, and if the French state abolished the last areas where that privilege meant something, they would truly be lost.

A similar dynamic is operative in America today. The people who worked “on climate” at Twitter, now being given the ax by the perfidious Elon Musk, are openly complaining that they won’t be able to find jobs anywhere else in this economy. They are, of course, right to worry.

Which is why reforms of things like the French Army went nowhere and why “reforming” Twitter and other companies to actually make money will require firing lots of these useless eaters.

However, the article goes even further in pushing this question out into the society beyond the world of Big Tech. You can see the connection between this and the increasing debates about things like UBI (Universal Basic Income), including – here in NZ – debates about WFF and the whole raft of tax credits and income supplements that now constitute what used to be called “social welfare”. I recommend the excellent series of posts on this subject at Kiwiblog by one “PaulL”, Effective Marginal Tax Rates, which goes into some detail about the changes that might be made to shift people from welfare to work.

Kyeyune raises the larger question of what “work” may actually mean nowadays, particularly for our class of credentialed (but not educated) drones:

In my own country, Sweden, the state picks up a lot of the slack. Here, small municipalities hire dozens or hundreds of communicators, consultants, and other plainly nonproductive personnel, and attempts to do something about it run into a very simple question: Where else are these people supposed to work? Who else would hire them? Though few will say it openly, the city of Uppsala’s nearly 100 communicators have nothing to do with communication, and everything to do with preserving social stability. It is, in essence, just part of a massive jobs program.

When I look at the thousands of people that the Labour government has hired into its myriad government departments, ministries, quangos, commissions, etc, I have to think that’s what’s also happening here in NZ. And like Twitter and those other tech firms, the question is how much longer can we afford to hire such people?

“To understand events around the world today, one must think in terms of the class struggle.”

But the New Class isn’t limited to communist countries, really. Around the world in the postwar era, power was taken up by unelected professional and managerial elites. To understand what’s going on with President Donald Trump and his opposition, and in other countries as diverse as France, Hungary, Italy and Brazil, it’s important to realize that the post-World War II institutional arrangements of the Western democracies are being renegotiated, and that those democracies’ professional and managerial elites don’t like that very much, because they have done very well under those arrangements. And, like all elites who are doing very well, they don’t want that to change.

Trust – but verify

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That was Reagan’s famous phrase from the 1980’s when arguments were at their peak about nuclear weapon treaties with the USSR.

The phrase itself was a rhyming proverb lifted from Russian history (Доверяй, но проверяй), and Reagan learned of it via discussions with an American historian of Russia.

But it’s a phrase that is universal, in the sense of being applicable across all societies, and across many areas of life.

Elon Musk is having to rapidly learn this lesson as the new owner of Twitter, where he’s attempting to get the company to actually make profits, first by massive layoffs of staff, and also by asking users to pay for extra stuff like the famous Blue Checkmark that signifies that a Twitter user has been “verified” as the real thing, rather than a robot or “bot”, of which Twitter has apparently had more than it’s previous owners and managers were willing to admit.

Musk’s idea was that users who want the Blue Checkmark should pay $8 per month. Unfortunately as you can see from the following hilarious examples, this is not going well.

(AIPAC) American Israel Public Affairs Committee

But the following one, while being funny, has also caused damage in the form of drops in the stock price of the company targeted by the humour. The market will no doubt correct this fast, but you have to wonder if Twitter might find itself open to lawsuits – although good old section 230 will probably prevent that, and in any case, it would not be the first time that rumours swirling in the media about a company have caused damage.

Written by Tom Hunter

November 13, 2022 at 4:34 pm

This is Quantitative Easing

with 12 comments

Or Modern Monetary Theory (MMT).

Take your pick but basically it amounts to central banks creating vast amounts of credit by various means and then blowing that into the economy to keep the private sector moving along.

At which point it ends up in the hands of very rich people who own assets.

To that end I loved the myriad idiocies about such things in this ranting post over at The Daily Blog by one Finn Flynn, The Road to Serfdom: ACT’s map to backwards. Mr Flynn is one of those Far Lefters who now run around getting outraged if anybody calls him a communist, since in the wake of the collapse of so many communist socieities, and the soul sucking uselessness of the ones still going, such people are regarded as fringe figures generating more mirth than anger nowadays and worthy only of mockery.

But if you read that piece you realise that…. he’s a just another dirty commie. 😂😂

I wrote a comment in response to just three of his idiocies (“the hands-off response by Herbert Hoover” is a classic) but naturally they didn’t get published, so I’ll stick with just one here because it’s relevant to the topic of this post. Mr Flynn writes:

But ACT insists that the Reserve Bank should focus solely on using the OCR to control inflation. Why? Because inflation eats away at investment returns for the wealthy. If inflation reduces the value of a dollar over time, then lenders – wealthy investors and financial institutions – reap less return on money they have already lent. They get the same nominal dollars back, but their spending power – their value – is less. So ACT must stamp out any instruments that undermine the interests of the wealthy. 

The huge surge in wealth that happened to Musk, Zuckerberg and Bezos, in 2020-2021, is a direct result of QE/MMT. They don’t hate inflation but love it, because inflation loves assets. You don’t need to be a billionaire either; ask any Auckland homeowner about rising house prices in 2020 and 2021 as our government did the same thing in the NZ economy.

I’m also pretty sure that Flynn – despite commenting loftily on Hayek’s Road To Serfdom – has never actually read it, given the howlers he makes about it. For a start, Hayek actually saw a place for Western economies to have social welfare systems; in fact he thought them vital, so he’s no purist on Laissez-faire. The overwhelming thrust of his analysis in that book was that centralised command-and-control economies (like the USSR) would ultimately fail because they could not replicate the enormous amount of economic data that exists in marketplaces. Incidentally the same limit on information applies to the forecast dystopias of Artificial Intelligence’s running the world.

Flynn also references “Historian” Howard Zinn’s A People’s History, because of course he would. Never mind that the “Historian” himself said it was less history than a polemic, and it’s been regularly torn apart as such by even Leftist historians.

Having said that the following moving graph – obtained via the NZ blog, Utopia – does a good job of tracking the wealth comparisons of four of the richest men on Earth:

  • Elon Musk
  • Jeff Bezos
  • Bill Gates
  • Mark Zuckerberg

The tracking runs from 2007 to late 2021. It should be noted that in 2022 Zuckerberg’s fortune has collapsed by about $100 billion.

Two things about this chart strike me as curious.

First, the surge in Bezo’s fortunes in 2016-2017, when he suddenly moved past Bill Gates to become the richest man in the world (publicly anyway – there are those like Putin), even though Microsoft and Amazon were constantly switching places in total wealth; it’s not like Amazon, where Bezos has his wealth stacked, suddenly surged the same way.

Second, the same thing happens to Musk starting in early 2020 as he goes past Bezos in about a year. I’m well aware of the fact that a combination of people being forced to sit at home during Chinese Lung Snot lockdowns resulted in massive increases in the use of Facebook for social connection and ordering stuff from Amazon to be delivered at home.

But what’s the reason for Musk’s wealth explosion? I can only assume that it’s due to the massive amount of shares he has in Tesla and the fact that those shares took off finally, even if the company’s total value is nowhere near that of Amazon, Apple and so forth. But given that it’s tough for a company that actually builds things to expand as fast as an data-based business model, I can only assume that 2020 was the moment that investors started betting on the future by diving into Tesla as the leading EV manufacturer.

Still, it’s a cool video to watch.