Deep state

I’m against big guvmint. So is my JCWC (joint chief Washington correspondent), but he tells me to avoid the expression, “deep state.” It’s a propaganda term; it draws you into devil-worship. You might hate big guvmint, and totalitarianism in any form, but if you become obsessed, it will eat your brain. However, I like to err on the side of paranoia; and I appreciate the poetical flavour of the term.

Meanwhile, my CTC (chief Texas correspondent) pings me a piece from the Wall Street Journal. It is about a fellow Aggie who has lost big. It wasn’t directly the fault of Deep State. Rather, the price of oil dropped through the floor, and his aggressive investments went sour in consequence. They’d have worked at 45$ a barrel; not at thirty. He still has his wife (a former Playboy model), and a trickle of consulting income, but the mansion and everything else must go. That’s downright humiliating; and apparently there are many stories like that in the oil patch now. The man is upbeat, though, and his blonde says, “It was just a house.” He intends to win it all back. Good luck to him!

To my own little mind, there is a problem with “entitlements.” That Texan could let go, but most people won’t. Once they have an entitlement, you can’t take it away. Or rather, you can’t without a terrible scene. And the fight won’t be over political theory, it will be over cash. People sincerely believe in cash, they don’t believe in theories. Were they properly instructed, they would realize that post-gold money is also just a theory, and not a very good one. It is an illusion: one must be credulous to believe it. Thanks to “democracy,” of course, almost everyone is credulous, and feels “entitled” in some way. Still, unlike food stamps, oil was at least something.

All God’s fault I suppose: He put way too much oil in the ground, more than anyone can use. We can hardly burn it fast enough. Fortunately, it has good environmental effects, putting carbon dioxide in the air, which helps plants flourish. And we must do our best to delay the next Ice Age. I may be anti-cash, but I’m definitely pro-oil.

I think of a businessman I once interviewed, in a previous century: a big oil man (it was vegetable oil). His HQ was a noodle shop on lower Charoen Krung in Bangkok. That had been his first business, as a refugee from China. He sat behind an old splintered school desk in the shop, in singlet, khaki shorts, and plastic flipflops. He didn’t think businessmen should put on airs; it attracts unwanted attention, from tax collectors and other filth. He struck his deals in the shop (well, he may have had a telephone). He had never signed a contract. He was old school: a man’s word is his bond. Too, you stay where you got lucky. (Cue the sidebar on feng shui.) Family lived upstairs; his own kids served tables. He was worth millions. But he didn’t count it in cash, only in warehouse inventory. He wasn’t the sort of nerd who trusts paper.

Besides, he was rational. “If you can make this much, you can lose this much.” His father had been rich; lost everything including his life to the Communists in Swatow.

“And besides, I work all day. What use have I for a mansion? And who needs limousines? My customers come to me.”

Didn’t want his children spoilt, either. If he lost everything, they could still sling noodles.

Don’t trust cash. If you get a pile, spend it right away. Buy tradeable stuff. It’s stuff that sells, cash is just guvmint notepaper. It’s a big nothing, all Deep State.