This is the full unedited interview David Foster Wallace gave to the German television station, ZDF, in 2003.
If I hear another lecture from Fred Smith and his fellow billionaires on trickle-down tax cuts and the “benefits to the United States economy, especially lower and middle class wage earners”, I’m going to lose it.
If I hear another lecture from Jay Powell and his fellow centimillionaires and decamillionaires at the Fed on trickle-down monetary policy and the “benefits to the United States economy, especially lower and middle class wage earners”, I’m going to lose it.
What’s the boomer world?
It’s a world where our current President is an on-the-make billionaire, and our most recent former President seems hell-bent on becoming one. A world where lawyers from Citadel write our securities regulations, and VPs from Boeing run our Defense Dept. A world where corporate managers can become billionaires – not by innovation or risk-taking – but by stock-based comp at scale. A world where asset managers can become billionaires – not by invention or outperformance – but by asset-gathering at scale.
It’s a world that has been systematically hollowed out for decades, through
- narrative capture of monetary policy,
- trade policy,
- antitrust law,
- mass media and the
- tax code.
“Yay, trickle-down economics!”
It’s a bipartisan thing. It’s a Zeitgeist thing.
And the 2017 Tax Cuts and (LOL) Jobs Act was just the latest smiley-face punch in the gut.
Worried about losing your freedom to a redistributive State? I think you’ve already lost it.
Just not in the direction you thought.
The main stars of America’s financial trash TV are broken clocks and contrarian indicators who deliver the same sales pitch day after day, week after week, year after year. That is what salesmen do after all.
Once they have been finally called out for being completely wrong for years, they fight back by changing their talking points to focus on trivial rants, such as when the Fed is going to taper or raise interest rates.
Keep in mind that these talking heads focus on this type of nonsense as a way to distract from their investment failures and lousy predictions.
Schiff couldn’t even get this right. The guy is a complete failure, so why does the media promote him constantly?
Peter Schiff has become a very frequent participant in this media dog-and-pony show. Schiff receives interviews every day, and many times multiple times per day from every segment of the Jewish media, from CNBC and FBN, to Bloomberg.
He also gets quoted or discussed in in the Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, Forbes, Fortune, The Financial Times, you name it.
Accordingly, Peter Schiff could be considered the male version of a “financial Kim Kardashian.”
For anyone out there who isn’t too bright, let me make sure you get the point. That was by no means a compliment.
Think about it. Schiff runs a brokerage firm, Euro Pacific Capital.
So naturally one would expect him to discuss topics like compelling investment sectors and stocks, valuations, earnings, asset allocation strategies and so forth; you know, things competent financial professionals talk about. The same kinds of things an audience wants to hear about.
Even though he is really only a stock broker and not an analyst, he calls himself Euro Pacific Capital’s chief global strategist. But this too is only a superficial designation.
In my professional view, Schiff is really a marketing strategist because that is how he spends the majority of his time. I state this with complete confidence because I have been noting Schiff’s schedule for several years.
Regardless, surely Schiff has people to do “research” for him, letting him know what is going on, right?
Yet, he is constantly talking about trivial topics, like whether the Fed will raise rates over and over instead of talking about relevant issues.
Why might that be?
Maybe, his research results are complete dog shit.
Once you carefully examine Schiff’s track record as well as his record of investment performance and you will see why he has been focusing on trivial events instead of discussing investment and economic forecasts.
How our president and our mass shooters are connected to the same dark psychic forces.
What links Donald Trump to the men who massacred innocents in El Paso and Dayton this past weekend? Note that I said both men: the one with the white-nationalist manifesto and the one with some kind of atheist-socialist politics; the one whose ranting about a “Hispanic invasion” echoed Trump’s own rhetoric and the one who was anti-Trump and also apparently the lead singer in a “pornogrind” band.
Bringing up their differing worldviews can be a way for Trump-supporting or anti-anti-Trump conservatives to diminish or dismiss the president’s connection to these shootings. That’s not what I’m doing. I think Trump is deeply connected to what happened last weekend, deeply connected to both massacres. Not because his immigration rhetoric drove the El Paso shooter to mass murder in some direct and simple way; life and radicalism and violence are all more complicated than that. But because Trump participates in the general cultural miasma that generates mass shooters, and having a participant as president makes the problem worse.
The president’s bigoted rhetoric is obviously part of this. Marianne Williamson put it best, in the last Democratic debate: There really is a dark psychic force generated by Trump’s political approach, which from its birther beginnings has consistently encouraged and fed on a fevered and paranoid form of right-wing politics, and dissolved quarantines around toxic and dehumanizing ideas. And the possibility that Trump’s zest for demonization can feed a demonic element in the wider culture is something the many religious people who voted for the president should be especially willing to consider.
But the connection between the president and the young men with guns extends beyond Trump’s race-baiting to encompass a more essential feature of his public self — which is not the rhetoric or ideology that he deploys, but the obvious moral vacuum, the profound spiritual black hole, that lies beneath his persona and career.
Here I would dissent, mildly, from the desire to tell a mostly ideological story in the aftermath of El Paso, and declare war on “white nationalism” — a war the left wants because it has decided that all conservatism can be reduced to white supremacy, and the right wants as a way of rebutting and rejecting that reductionism.
By all means disable 8Chan and give the F.B.I. new marching orders; by all means condemn racism more vigorously than this compromised president can do. But recognize we’re dealing with a pattern of mass shootings, encompassing both the weekend’s horrors, where the personal commonalities between the shooters are clearly more important than the political ones. Which suggests that the white nationalism of internet failsons is like the allegiance to an imaginary caliphate that motivated the terrorists whose depredations helped get Trump elected in the first place. It’s often just a carapace, a flag of convenience, a performance for the vast TV-and-online audience that now attends these grisly spectacles, with a malignant narcissism and nihilism underneath.
And this is what really links Trump to all these empty male killers, white nationalists and pornogrind singers alike. Like them he is a creature of our late-modern anti-culture, our internet-accelerated dissolution of normal human bonds. Like them he plainly believes in nothing but his ego, his vanity, his sense of spite and grievance, and the self he sees reflected in the mirror of television, mass media, online.
Because he is rich and famous and powerful, he can get that attention with a tweet about his enemies, and then experience the rush of a cable-news segment about him. He doesn’t need to plot some great crime to lead the news; he just has to run for president. But having him as president — having him as a political exemplar for his party, and a cultural exemplar of manhood for his supporters and opponents both — is a constant ratification of the idea that we exist as celebrities or influencers or we don’t exist at all, and that our common life is essentially a form of reality television where it doesn’t matter if you’re the heel or hero so long as you’re the star.
One recurring question taken up in this column is whether something good might come out of the Trump era. I keep returning to this issue because unlike many conservatives who opposed him in 2016, I actually agree with, or am sympathetic toward, versions of ideas that Trump has championed — the idea of a
- more populist and worker-friendly conservative economics, the idea of a
- foreign policy with a more realpolitik and anti-interventionist spirit, the idea that
- decelerating low-skilled immigration would benefit the common good, the idea that
- our meritocratic, faux-cosmopolitan elite has badly misgoverned the republic.
But to take this view, and to reject the liberal claim that any adaptation to populism only does the devil’s work, imposes a special obligation to recognize the profound emptiness at the heart of Trump himself. It’s not as if you could carve away his race-baiting and discover a healthier populism instead, or analyze him the way you might analyze his more complex antecedents, a Richard Nixon or a Ross Perot. To analyze Trump is to discover only bottomless appetite and need, and to carve at him is like carving at an online troll: The only thing to discover is the void.
So in trying to construct a new conservatism on the ideological outline of Trumpism, you have to be aware that you’re building around a sinkhole and that your building might fall in.
The same goes for any conservative response to the specific riddle of mass shootings. Cultural conservatives get a lot of grief when they respond to these massacres by citing moral and spiritual issues, rather than leaping straight to gun policy (or in this case, racist ideology). But to look at the trend in these massacres, the spikes of narcissistic acting-out in a time of generally-declining violence, the shared bravado and nihilism driving shooters of many different ideological persuasions, is to necessarily encounter a moral and spiritual problem, not just a technocratic one.
But the dilemma that conservatives have to confront is that you can chase this cultural problem all the way down to its source in lonely egomania and alienated narcissism, and you’ll still find Donald Trump’s face staring back to you.