Hoisted from 2007: Me on Tim Burke on Edmund Burke and His... Political "Philosophy"

Why Are so Many White American Men so Easily Grifted?

Dog Days Classics Halttunen on Confidence Men Painted Women and Borrowed Watches Tropics of Meta

The first thing you need to know is that ZeroHedge http://zerohedge.com is a grift: the idea is to tell gullible people that the elites are hiding the truth from them and that only ZeroHedge dares tell the TRUTH!!—the first words I see on ZeroHedge right now are "Worst Crash In Our Lifetime Coming This Year Or Next". And if you scare your gullible readers enough, you can keep their eyeballs glued to the screen and sell them to advertisers—many of whom will be selling their own grifts to an audience already selected for being easy to grift: Gold. Physical gold. Kept in Singapore. For a small fee, of course. Also ammunition.

And so I wondered when I heard that the smart and thoughtful Alexandra Scraggs of FT Alphaville was going to the "ZeroHedge Live Fight Club and Symposium". I wondered even more when I read in her piece that the organizer "repeatedly told" attendees that it "wasn’t an official blog event". To grab something's name and use it for something that is not the thing—or that wants to credibly deny that it is the thing—is itself a second-order grift, composed of that subset of those susceptible to ZeroHedge who are also susceptible to people who take the names of things and use them for their own purposes without official sanction—those who both want to push the connection, when it suits their purposes, and evade the connection, when it does not suit their purposes.

Hang onto your wallet.

Strangely enough, however, it appears that the organizer hedgeless_horseman may by not a grifter, but may himself instead be one of the griftees:

Alexandra Scraggs: A weekend in Texas with ZeroHedge readers, Part 1 https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2017/06/27/2190408/a-weekend-in-texas-with-zerohedge-readers-part-1/: "The frontier mindset also clearly informed a speech by organiser Hedgeless_Horseman...

...who recommended using only catastrophic health insurance and negotiating directly with health providers for everything else. “We don’t want to be in the Obamacare pool with obese, drug addicted, perpetually pregnant people. I want to be in my own pool,” he said in his talk, which drew a bit too heavily on truck comparisons and used the phrase “debt slave” more than once. He also provided a five-page primer on industry jargon, the best places to find negotiated rates, and a form letter for communicating with the doctor’s office. So while many of his comments were unsavoury, they were fully consistent with the frontier thesis. He wasn’t trying to sell anything...

Going naked save for catastrophic, which you negotiate with your own insurance company by yourself as "your own pool" outside the regulatory framework works just fine—until you get diagnosed with heart disease, or liver cancer. Then good luck negotiating for catastrophic as "your own pool". Even an individually-negotiated "your own pool" catastrophic policy is worth very little over the long run without guaranteed annual reissue, tight ceilings on annual price increases, and some backstop that gives you a lifeline should your insurer go bankrupt or simply decide to exit the market.

If Hedgeless_Horseman is following his own advice, he's being stupid, and somebody is grifting him. But maybe he isn't following his own advice: Maybe he is expecting to be able to take advantage of the ObamaCare regulatory framework and run back under it in case he falls sick. Or maybe it is just a persona, a pose to begin with.

if it isn't a pose—if he is following his own advice—then somebodies have grifted him thoroughly for him to think that the big source of disutility in his people's lives is that of "be[ing] in the Obamacare pool with obese, drug addicted, perpetually pregnant people..."—then some people have grifted him pretty thoroughly. Just saying.

Perhaps I am reading too much into this, but what comes to my mind is Mel Brooks' and company expertly trolling the people who fall into this mindset:

Alexandra sees a good deal of what is going on here as the Frontier Mentality, a la Frederick Jackson Turner (1893):

To the frontier the American intellect owes its striking characteristics. That coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and inquisitiveness; that practical, inventive turn of mind, quick to find expedients; that masterful grasp of material things, lacking in the artistic but powerful to effect great ends; that restless, nervous energy; that dominant individualism, working for good and for evil, and withal that buoyancy and exuberance which comes with freedom—these are traits of the frontier, or traits called out elsewhere because of the existence of the frontier...

I must say that when I read ZeroHedge, (i) "masterful grasp of material things... powerful to effect great ends", (ii) "bouyancy and exuberance", (iii) "acuteness and inquisitiveness", and (iv) "practical, inventive turn of mind" are the last things that come to my mind.

I think she gets much closer to the truth of ZeroHedge with:

What an alluring message it must be... [that] powerful institutions care enough about their property and freedom to want to “take it all away”...

But I am glad Alexandra went, if only for the line: "What happens to your Bitcoin when the black swan hits the high-voltage power line and takes down the grid?"

And then, of course, Alexandra reports not on the droll (in a we-will-cry-if-we-do-not-laugh) but on the totally depressing part:

The hard sell came on the last day, Sunday, when an entrepreneurial police officer gave a talk about gun ownership and self defence, called “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away”. The point of this presentation was that minutes are too long to prevent someone from being murdered, “beaten within an inch of their life”, or meeting other disturbing ends he discussed in detail, which I won’t repeat here.... A vision of a... world... where life is a grand contest against an indifferent universe, full of roving criminals and scheming authorities:

Life is a battle. So what we’re talking about today is not just that one person who in that one micro-moment of your life will take it all away from you, but also... there are others that will take our property, our freedom. There are institutions that will do that. Life itself can be confronted by the ultimate fight for life, as I’ve just discussed, but every day, every day we are confronted with everyday life battles. Do we not need to prevail in both, to not only protect life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness, but to succeed?

Yes, life is a battle. At [my company] we build warriors. We like taking anybody at any age, male or female, and making them in life — for life’s everyday battles, and the ultimate battle for life—warriors, because that’s what it takes.... We’re all here because we want to change the world for the better. We are all here as heroes, and to be heroes...

Of course, people are more likely to hire him when they decide this world is the one they prefer to see...