Winners Take All Book Review

Winners Take All Book Review

A Growing Divide

Anand Giridharadas, a former foreign correspondent for The New York Times, draws attention to the hypocrisy practiced among the “philanthropic” elites in his Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. Giridharadas introduces us to “MarketWorld,” the universe in which corporate executives, thought leaders,  and globalists operate. While MarketWorld has grown aware of the fractures that have emerged in our society, they seek to find “win-win” solutions to our many problems. The elites believe themselves to be the agents of change who can usher in an era of global prosperity, assuming its on their terms. In MarketWorld, wage stagnation, growing inequality, and systemic racism can all be addressed through the free markets, strategic investments, automation, and revamped business models. What Giridharadas makes clear, though, is that those in MarketWorld must make sacrifices to repair these societal fractures. We learn that they have so far systematically ensured they won’t have to do so.

Bandaids Can’t Stop the Hemorrhage

Davos, the Aspen Institute, TED, and the Clinton Global Initiative. These are all gatherings of elites in which speakers share superficial solutions to our deep rooted problems. Those in attendance are told that we need to zoom in on the individual in order to empower him or her to speak up in the boardroom or find the perseverance to escape the cycle of poverty. The speakers who frequent these conferences tailor their presentations to the elites paying them. They make their messages as palatable as the bite sized tacos served by the waitstaff. With a focus placed on the individual, MarketWorld can avoid the scrutiny for creating a system in which the fortunate few can profit.

While Giridharadas does pull some punches, he doesn’t spare all of the MarketWorld operatives. Members of the Sackler family are known to many as philanthropists who donated millions to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University. Giridharadas points out that their company, Purdue Pharmaceuticals, is largely responsible for the opioid epidemic due to its creation and aggressive marketing of OxyContin. Donating millions does not excuse the billions made from getting the nation addicted to your pills. Giridharadas also mentions philanthropic bankers, technology executives, and university professors by name in describing the injustices MarketWorld created.

Maintaining the Status Quo

While the elites spend money on “win-win” initiatives and donate to their pet causes, they also spend fortunes maintaining the status quo. Corporate lobbyists descend upon Washington to ensure labor unions don’t disrupt business as-usual and tax bills are kept to a minimum. MarketWorld feels it can implement change while preventing major change from occuring. The hypocrisy that Giridharadas so vividly illuminates kept me from putting his book down. Giridharadas proposes that increased government regulation, higher corporate and personal tax rates, and better access to healthcare may actually help our ailing nation realize the changes the elites so publicly state they support. This, of course, would slow the gravy train they so very much enjoy riding on.

Winners Take All offers a pointed explanation of why there is growing discontent with the elites in our society. With such vast resources being spent on maintaining the status quo, I fear we will grow increasingly more divided. I prepare for the moment when those who have been left behind assert themselves. One could only hope this assertion isn’t done violently.

If you’d like to chat further about the book, feel free to contact me or leave a comment in the comment section. You can find other books I enjoy in the Bunker Basics Store.

Winners Take All Book ReviewWinners Take All Book Review

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5 Reasons Why Tech Will Lead to SHTF

Tech will lead to SHTF

The Problem with Moving Fast: Things Break

Tech developments are advancing at an exponential pace. Many believe this to be a good thing, as catchy mottos like “move fast and break things” have gone mainstream. Pressure to create, innovate, and scale has led to incredible changes in the way we live, which, up to this point, have largely been positive. That said, the competition among these technology companies resulted in some devastating consequences that cannot be repaired. Evolution tells us that only the fittest survive. It’s no wonder why companies, which are simply human collectives, display many of the same behaviors each employee does. In this post, I suggest that our human nature will ensure the human race is replaced by a superior being.

1. Evolutionary Tendencies

Human beings are the product of 4.5 billion years of evolution. We are the most intelligent organic species on the planet. Encoded in our DNA are survival instincts, like the need to reproduce, the need for shelter, and the need for security. Many men seek money as a means ensuring their own survival and that that of their bloodline. The California Elites (CEs) use their money to attract women, to buy fancy homes and unnecessary luxuries, and to purchase insurance policies against the risk of SHTF. When survival is no longer a worry, our natural instincts manifest as competitive spirits in need of applications. The application that will lead to our undoing is the realm of technological innovation.

2. The Economy

We’re in the longest bull market in history and, if you listen to the talking heads on the television, there’s no reason why it won’t continue on. Corporate tax cuts have left public companies flush with cash. In the tech sector, employees are watching their wallets grow fatter and large investments in artificial intelligence have led to feats like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s AlphaGo. The problem is that corporate competition for artificial intelligence supremacy will lead to short-sighted decisions with irreparable long term impacts.

3. Lack of Accountability

Yes, Mark Zuckerberg was effectively forced to testify before Congress following the Cambridge Analytica fallout. However, I haven’t seen much happen since. Facebook promises to get better and invest more money in protecting against similar problems, but little beyond that has been done. I do not expect other companies to fear punishment stemming from stupid decisions they make with respect to artificial intelligence. The government has not held tech companies accountable for their mistakes in a meaningful way, so there is little reason for them to exercise better judgment going forward.

4. Tech Celebrity Worship

Elon Musk. Jeff Bezos. Steve Jobs. These tech celebrities have been the subjects of biographies, movies, TED talks, and discussions among the CE. With so many techies vying to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, little thought is given to the implications of a poorly written AI algorithm. The culture of tech celebrity worship breeds narcissistic developers obsessed with achieving fame and fortune. Focus is not placed on the benefits their products may have on the human race, nor is it placed on the consequences.

5. Risk Mis-Calculations

Humans exhibit risky behaviors all the time, though the impact is often limited to the individual taking the risk. We’ve witnessed during the Great Recession what happens when risks within a specific industry are poorly calculated. However, AI can exceed our own intelligence, which exposes us to consequences we cannot even imagine. You can argue that the consequences may be great–Alexa plays me music and Siri tells me what the weather will be like tomorrow. Who wouldn’t want more helpful products like these? What few techies know is that there will be a point where we no longer choose what the consequences will be, since we will no longer be the more intelligent species.

What Can Be Done?

I believe unchecked technology to be the most likely cause of The Event. You should take the necessary precautions to protect yourself. I wish I could prescribe the solution to the problem we’re seeing play out among the CEs, but it’s ingrained in who we are as humans. If you think you know what to do, please leave a comment or  contact me.

Tech will Lead to SHTF

5 of the Most Impractical Prepper Products

Prepper Products

The Perversion of Prepping

It’s no surprise that more people are prepping for The Event these days. High profile assassinations have been carried out by de facto authoritarian regimes, geopolitical relations continue to dissolve, and looming threats like the reckless development of technology could spell the end to humanity’s claim to being the most intelligent among Earth’s inhabitants. These developments have scared the California Elites (CEs), hedge funders, and other members of the 1%. Some ridiculous prepper products and services are now on the market to address these fears.

1. Luxury Bug-Out Bags

The only thing more outrageous than spending over a thousand dollars on a handbag is spending over a thousand dollars on a luxury bug-out bagPreppi (yes, that’s really the name of the company) sells “survival gear” to the ultra rich. While not the most expensive product on the list, the bag comes with designer lotions, a monogram, and a caviar case. It could be yours for just under $5,000.

Prepper Products

Image Source: Preppi.co

Impracticality rating: 9

2. Leased Escape Boats

Manhattan is the home of the bankers, so it may not be a shock to learn about their indulgent prepping purchases. Plan B Marine leases boats docked along the perimeter of Manhattan to their wealthy customers. With a tagline like, “Every Good Chief Executive Needs a Plan B,” Plan B Marine makes it clear who their clientele is. Their boats are leased for $4,500 to $7,500 a month. I’ll save you the effort of the math: the service runs from $54,000-$90,000 annually. I could imagine that with this investment, the bankers actually want there to be a SHTF moment.

Impracticality rating: 8

3. Survival Capsule

When a company’s website doesn’t publish prices, you know their products are incredibly expensive. That happens to be the case for this two person Survival Capsule, which is marketed as protection from natural disasters. Now I’m all for protection, but a survival capsule that I can only pre-order certainly isn’t the type of protection I’m looking for. You can rest assured that the CEs will get in line to add a toy like this to their collection. However, government rescue operations may be a practical application for this product.

Impracticality rating: 7

4. Luxury Bunker Condos

You all know I’m a big fan of bunkers, but I do draw the line somewhere. The line is drawn at the Atlas Missile Silo turned Luxury Condos. A full floor unit is a cool $3,000,000. Now I understand the urge to purchase some SHTF insurance, but $3 million is absurd! The unit is 1820 square feet, has an automation system, a “simulated view” of the outdoors, biometric key locks, and more. You can rest assured that the 1 percenters making this purchase won’t need to make any post-Event sacrifices.

Prepper Products

Image Source: survivalcondo.com

Impracticality rating: 8

5. New Zealand Citizenship

Peter Thiel, a President Trump supporter, doesn’t plan on living his life in America if SHTF. He and other CEs are becoming joint US-New Zealand citizens, so they can buy up land. The isolated island, by some estimates, is the intended insurance policy for about half of the Silicon Valley billionaires. Rather than being a man of the people, Thiel and his CE associates had to invest NZ$10,000,000 (roughly US $6.75 million) in the country over three years in order to gain permanent residency. With the cost of residency already twice as the above luxury condo, this prepping purchase is definitely the most impractical.

Impracticality rating: 10

Have any additional impractical prepper purchases? Contact me to share your suggestions in the comments section. You can also head to the Bunker Basics Store to get some gear with a bit more utility.

Prepper Products