What Goes on Behind the Boss's Back
I’ll take the luxury to put a twist on the age old maxim: for the powerful to accomplish their purposes it is only necessary that good men remain silent. The silence these days is deafening.
And I think you pinned the tail on old man Gates. He’s found it’s just as easy to buy a scientist as it is a politician.
Brilliant insight. A modern day “The Emperor Has No Clothes”. I love how you take historic events and share the human impact in the shadow of the event. The description of how you cared for your dying father is a beautiful tribute to your love for him and your compassion as a person. (BTW, human life is full of “typos”. I find they energize my focus. I think it makes this medium even more valuable and endearing.) I love your work.
Good for you to keep your father away from the insanity during his final weeks. I have so many regrets leaving my 98 year old WWII hero father-in-law to deteriorate in a 'care' facility, isolated and confused. He would have easily hit 100 if we'd just had the courage and fortitude to spring him from that hell on earth. My final visit with him was through a screened window, and I doubt he knew I was there. Provocative and inspiring, Walter. Thank you.
Irreverence is a rare and dangerous trait. It is interesting that the most powerful figure in human history had that exact quality as His hallmark.
I live in a small town in Northern CA and we had some of the first Covid deaths in the US- back in February ‘20. By all accounts our county (450k/ 30% 65 years old +) and our metro area (1.5m/same age demographic) should have been devastated with over 10k deaths at least over the first 3 + months. It was clear from the first month that the pro ported death rates were wrong.
Honest people- who can accept the fact that the ‘Buffet Fear Factor’ exists have to also accept that they did not act wisely after the first few weeks of data became known.
Honesty is the first and most important virtue- with out it the others die.
As I read the article, and the posts it engendered, a real issue that we all need to see is that folks who ‘have stuff’ drove the pandemic plan. Their goal- as I watched from a fairly wealthy town outside Sacramento, CA - was to protect themselves.
That saddens me- especially as we watch POTUS Joe reprioritize financial aid behind other issues that, to me are focused on giving things to people that don’t need them ‘right now’. Transgender rights, breaking white power, are these issues as important as getting money to people who have not worked steadily in a year?
As I read the posts it’s clear that some are pro POTUS Trump and others are pro POTUS Joe- which is a goofy place to start this argument. While each of these men may represent a basket of ideas- remember the point of the article is for us to look around and do what the day demands.
To do that we cannot yield to the fear of ‘Buffet’ but we cannot yield to fear of the moment. Yielding to fear from either event is equally bad as their are ‘Buffets’ on both sides. (Note we should hold how the author of the piece treated his father as a good standard of courage)
We should not be complaining about shutdowns (we need to honest about death rates- they never were as high as reported) women’s, gay or men’s rights. A focus on any of these issues - by definition means you are not focusing on taking care of your neighbor or the problem.
We are Americans. We ought to be better than this. We owe it to our kids to grow up.
Thank you for this story Walter. It seems to me, though, that the subservience you describe is a survival trait. The big guy can punish you, you can lose group support/safety net. It seems to go back to our most basic tribal instincts. The kind of "individuality" that pulls us out of it is IMO something conscience and faith are made of
This is one of the best pieces that I have read all year. Fortunately, Bari Weiss linked to it so that I was able to enjoy it. The Buffett 9/11 story is fantastic whether or not it was true. You summed it up perfectly here: “Power, true power, is a wonder to behold. It is also, for the powerless, unnerving, chiefly because it calls for self-suppression in quantities equal to power’s immense self-confidence. . .Survival, I learned then, is not our strongest drive, whatever the evolutionists may say. Our strongest drive is to please the people over us, especially those who have no one over them.”
Warren Buffet is the Sun King? The whole scene you just painted, reminds of of Versailles, Under Louix the 14th. Splendidly well done!
Beautifully written as always Walter. I live in NJ, just outside NYC. The horrors we experienced last spring were very real. I do not know if mitigation efforts prevented that from becoming a more widespread reality but I suspect it did. By the end of May I personally knew 8 people who died and several with near-death experiences, two of whom are badly struggling almost a year later. I'm glad that you and apparently most of the commenters here did not have similar experiences. It changed the view quite a bit. What we really needed IMHO was a 6-week national shutdown with govt paying rents or something and we could have picked back up and moved along. This also exposed so many faultlines and cracks in our society. Schools that had been neglected for years and had inadequate ventilation being a tiny example.
Before anyone assumes we had a societal overreaction, consider that life expectancy fell by a full year in 2020 - and, per USA Today, "Life expectancy for Black populations declined the most from 2019 – by 2.7 years, to 72 years – its lowest level since 2001.
Another commenter beat me to it, but it's a lot like The Emperor's New Clothes. It's a bad sign when people are pressured not to trust their own senses
Oh, I forget what I meant to say...
"Survival, I learned then, is not our strongest drive, whatever the evolutionists may say. Our strongest drive is to please the people over us, especially those who have no one over them."
This put me in mind of Veblen's *Theory of the Leisure Class.* I have noticed, and puzzled over this habit. It is my notion, lacking any empirical evidence whatsoever, that our desire to please powerful people is, in fact, related to survival. Imagine a tribal society, the sort of society in which we most likely evolved. Keeping in the good graces of the chief probably aided survival.
It also might be learned. If you can't be the most popular kid in school, being friends with the popular kid is the next best thing.
Wow. Hits home in Fishers IN. I struggle with how to help the masses, who feel like this, join together to be the voice of reason. Great read. Thank you.
A great article. The golf tournament at Buffett’s estate reminds me of the billionaire in Mission to America.
Side note: What do you call someone who wants fewer Africans? A white supremacist? Close, the answer I was looking for was Bill Gates. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/sep/18/the-african-youth-boom-whats-worrying-bill-gates
Damn Walter, that was a killer story. Thanks for sharing. Now that Gutfeld is going nightly I look forward to seeing you more than once a quarter...
I've not been so deeply affected by a story in a long while. Not since Christopher Hitchens was writing. And I don't mean to compare, and I mean it as a compliment, it's just a fine feeling to be moved and to linger a little longer and to think on the many layers you've crafted. I'll take this story with me through life. And I look forward to reading more of your work.
Read this article and The Bullshit on Bark Weiss's site. Loved them both. Immediately subscribed. Love you on Gutfeld. You express my view of modern American society much better than I ever could.