I believe that the current worldwide obsession with metrics and productivity is one of the major reasons behind the ongoing collapse of the status quo. The reasons behind my belief stem from two intertwining aspects of the metrics and productivity charade.
1. Any hierarchical system that uses metrics and productivity to promote people is doomed to being gamed by marginally competent but clever scamsters.
2. Since the system promotes scamsters, it keeps on concentrating them in the upper levels of the hierarchy till that organization can no longer serve its original function.
You can see the negative effect of our obsession with metrics and productivity in areas as diverse as academia, law enforcement to manufacturing. In every single case, it follow a rather predictable trajectory starting with an initial apparent increase in productivity followed by a slow decline and hollowing out of that institution. This trajectory is a result of the fact that metrics and productivity end up rewarding people without any consideration for the effects of doing so- aka perverse incentives. As I had mentioned in an older post- this is a circular problem since perverse incentives create the need for more metrics and other measurements of productivity.
It is as if we are promoting and rewarding cancerous cells to grow faster while simultaneously starving and inhibiting healthy cells.
But why would most people go along with this scenario? In my opinion, it comes down to the popularity of short-term magical thinking whereby most people believe that they might become successful petty tyrants themselves. However magical thinking though necessary is not sufficient and has to be normalized with a lot of bullshit about metrics and productivity.
Metrics and productivity should then be seen attempts to normalize cancerous behavior.
I will explain that idea further in a couple of upcoming posts.
Another somewhat older music video by Mark Romanek.
I have previously talked about various reasons behind the inevitable decay of corporations, countries and empires. One peculiar reason, which I have have previously hinted at but never discussed at any length, is the problem of increasing short-termism in large organisations. But that presents a rational paradox- why would a large and stable organisation become more obsessed with the short-term as it becomes bigger and potentially more stable?
It comes down to promotions- or who is promoted in the hierarchy.
To understand this problem it is necessary to grasp the idea that an organisation which grows bigger has to promote people up the hierarchy. In my opinion and observations, promoted people fall into two broad categories.
Brown Nosing Charlatans: Most promotions in any organisation go to people who kiss ass, scheme, plot, try to bamboozle and are generally the least competent of the bunch. However they are also the most politically savvy, connected and charming. The net result is that promotions tend to concentrate scheming incompetents in the hierarchy such that they come to run the system- with predictable results.
Competent People: Unless there is an external challenge, war or disaster they account for the minority of promotions. Under steady state conditions, only a few are promoted- mainly to keep the organisation from falling apart. Even their promotion is meaningless as they now have to clean up more of the messes left behind by the brown nosing charlatans.
Therefore all large hierarchies are run by, and for, incompetent but cunning schemers.
The next question then is – How do the scheming incompetents demonstrate enough competence to make their promotions looks partially legit? or are they promoted for no other reason than favoritism and politicking.
It is the answer to this question which reveals a fundamental flaw in the current methodology of legitimizing promotions. Since all legitimization comes down to metrics- an incompetent person who is politically savvy can game the system to show better performance than a competent person who won’t sink the ship to make it run faster. Actions geared towards fluffing the short-term will often look good on the 3 month to 1 year time scale, even though they will sink the ship in the medium term and beyond. Since the rise of brown nosing charlatans in organisations is linked to short-term shenanigans, they simply do more of them (and on a larger scale) as they are promoted upwards until the organisation falls apart. The lucky ones then jump into other organisations and continue their ‘work’.
Therefore all large organisations which have existed for a while without a serious external challenge are always run and controlled by incompetent but politically savvy people who will game the system to progressively greater degrees thereby making it malfunction and ultimately implode. Usually the demise of such systems is facilitated by a emerging, younger and less incompetent organisation- until it becomes what it defeated.
However this cycle is not inevitable, as long as people in the organisation understand what is really going on and are prepared to act on it. In the past- poor communication, low levels of literacy and family obligations kept people quiet. That is however no longer the case and things will change, though it won’t be aesthetically pleasing to many.
Lots of symbolism.. Illuminated eyes, Doric columns, Eye of Horus, Isis, Hathor, Sword of Damocles and so on.
I am going to make an assertion that flies in the face of what currently goes for american ‘common’ sense.
Stability of income is significantly more important than its quantity.
To put it another way, a person with a mediocre but very stable income will have a very different world view and lifestyle from someone who makes significantly more (income) but from an unstable source. Let us be clear about a few things- upfront. The mediocre, but stable income, must be enough for a person to meaningfully engage in civil society. So welfare, social security, life behind bars etc does not count as mediocre, but stable, income or livelihoods.
But why is the stability of an income source more important than its size?
Conventional explanations for this phenomena usually take the form of some bullshit about ‘future time orientation’. However any and all such explanations are full of shit because they do not factor in the most important factor concerning the income stream of most people.
The vast majority of people don’t write their own paycheck!
Therefore income stability is not linked to some bullshit ‘race-realist’ drivel, ‘STEM’ jobs or education but to something far more fundamental, trans-cultural and trans-racial. All reasons invoked by CONservatives or LIEbertarians fall flat because they cannot explain why a willing, competent and otherwise reasonable person cannot get a reasonably stable job, which in the current system is the major source of income for most people. A society that cannot provide income (jobs) or any other alternate means of a humane sustenance has failed a very basic test- it has removed all rational reasons for the affected person to participate in that society other than to main, cripple, torture and kill other members of that society.
Income stability is therefore a very good proxy for the health of the ‘social contract’ in any given society.
The problems caused by an unstable income stream are however even more expansive in nature- for they not only reflect a broken social contract but cause a variety of responses which ultimately doom that society. Let me explain-
Take 2 men, person A and person B. Imagine that person A makes 50k/year in a somewhat monotonous, but very stable, 40 hours/week job. Person B makes 80-90k/year but in a unstable industry where job changes, frequent moves and prolonged unemployment between jobs is common. Moreover the industry in which person B works discriminates against older workers. Now put yourself in both their shoes and imagine how you would live, act and see the world around you.
Even though person A makes less than person B, he is reasonably sure where his next paycheck, his next year’s paychecks and even the next decade’s paychecks are going to come from. He can therefore plan his life around that rhythm and develop relationships, buy stuff and be generally involved in the society around him. In contrast, person B is spending most of his time looking for the next job, trying to get information about the latest round of layoffs and spending his time just trying to keep up. Because of the frequent layoffs, firings, moves etc he has no interest in developing relationships and is very cynical about human beings and society in general. To make a long story short- person B won’t invest in or care about preserving society because he has no stake in its stability and well being.
Under reasonably stable conditions, both A and B will act ‘normal’. The fun begins once the overall system becomes more stressed and unstable. While person A will try to stabilize the system and cooperate with others who want to do so, person B will take that a cue to explode, bail out, withdraw or join an ideology that promises a fair share of the loot to its followers. It really comes down to whether there are enough person As to stop person Bs from capsizing a stressed socio-economic system.
The astute reader will note that income streams which created person As were the the norm in post-ww2 period. However the silent neo-liberal/neo-conservative revolution of the 1980s have put an increasing number of people in the person B situation (if they are lucky). It all appeared to work OK till the mid-1990s, when a significant number of people born of person As realized that they had no choice but to become person Bs. I would go so far as to say that most people born after 1970 are person Bs.
However the real impact of their rising numbers requires reduction in the number of person As in the working age group and a series of serious socio-economic crises which test the system. As some of you might have realized we are entering, or have already entered, that situation.
My prediction is that every honest or crooked attempt to stabilize and calm the system will paradoxically make it worse, because our ideas about pacifying people are meant to work on person A, not person B.
What do you think? Comments?
Many people, especially CONservatives, believe that a lack of central planning is one of the major advantages of capitalism over communism. This feature supposedly allows capitalism to be significantly more flexible, innovative and market oriented than communism.
But is that really true, especially today?
Contrary to what many of you believe, central planning is not unique to communism, socialism or any other -ism. It occurs in a variety of hierarchical systems where there are few or no consequences for screwups by megalomaniacs.
Central planning is, therefore, the ultimate result of a set of beliefs-
1. A few people at the top “know what is right for everyone”.
2. These ‘elites’ have no little to no accountability.
3. They do not suffer adverse consequences subsequent to their failures.
4. The ability to kiss ass and defraud others is your biggest asset.
5. Professional competence is your biggest liability.
6. Organisations are run without any consideration to their official purpose.
Now look around you. Did you notice that the defining features of central planning are remarkably similar to what we see in corporate america today?
The corporate leaders and ‘job creators’ who run large corporations are as arrogant, corrupt, vain and stupid as those in equivalent positions in the erstwhile USSR. Moreover like their soviet counterparts, they too rarely suffer adverse consequences for failures and fuckups. Their underlings are chosen and promoted based on the ability to kiss the right asses and fuck over those who work under them. Knowledge about the products and services offered by a corporation is the biggest impediment to a persons rise up the corporate ladder. Major and minor decisions in corporations are now almost exclusively based on their potential to deliver short-term benefits for senior management and their friends, to the detriment of long-term investors, workers and even their customers. All of the above is them justified as result of complex ‘studies’ and deliberations by objective ‘experts’- when in reality they are utterly dishonest shills.
To put it another way, so called “professional management” in capitalism is functionally indistinguishable from the much maligned central planning seen in communist countries. We just happened to start from a higher point and have not yet reached the level of dysfunction and loss of public trust seen in 1980-era USSR, though we are certain to enter that zone within the next three years.
You might have recently seen many pictures like this, or this one and this one showing cops abusing their power. Many of the right and some on the left are trying to rationalize these actions with a variety explanations from preserving ‘law and order’, a ‘few bad apples’ and even some sympathy for them not being able to ‘show weakness’.
In my opinion, all of these explanations are utter bullshit. What you are seeing is ‘normalized’ sociopathic evil and they are in it together. There is no excuse for people who are busy finding new ways to abuse their authority every single day day and night.
The real question is- what happens next? Whether you like it or not, the current ‘law and order’ system which abuses many for the benefit of a few is a feature of ponzi-scheme based ‘civilizations’. Its very existence is fundamentally incompatible with the current capabilities and and a worthwhile future for you.
They are unwilling and fundamentally incapable of accepting any limitations on their power to abuse, just like those who worked for Hitler and Stalin. They don’t want things to change and are quite happy to be in a job which allows them to abuse people for good pay and potentially sweet pensions deals. They won’t stop as long as they are alive and physically capable of doing that job. Any real change will come after you start seeing them as fundamentally evil and incapable of change. Let’s see how long you will keep denying the obvious- cancerous cells don’t care about others and there are no good cancer cells.
Whether you realize it or not- recent events and their widespread publicity via the internet in combination with the the current socio-economic-demographic situation and direction of change has set into motion something that nobody can now stop.