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Toward a New Cynicism

Recognizing not only the inefficiencies and corruption inherent in our political process and government, but also the stupidity to which modern man is prone, we should begin all dealings with human beings by assuming that, either out of their ineptitude or their malice, they are going to get it wrong.


- October 1st, 2019
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When I was a teenager my kid sister and I came up with a concept we called CST. You see, my Cuban mom was always late. No matter what the occasion she reliably could be expected to be chronologically unreliable. Usually by about 30-45 minutes. So we conceived of the concept of “Cuban Standard Time.” Roughly, this meant “some time today.”

Given this small failing of hers, we would tell my mother we had to be at events an hour prior to the actual time, ensuring we’d arrive close to schedule if not slightly early.

We did this not out of any spite or resentment of our dear mom—she was a fine woman and we loved her dearly—but we understood and apprised our situation, so we took steps to correct it.

It was an idealistic cynicism, if you will

Hence my call for a new cynicism with respect to our politics. Recognizing not only the inefficiencies and corruption inherent in our political process and government, but also the stupidity to which modern man is prone, we should begin all dealings with human beings by assuming that, either out of their ineptitude or their malice, they are going to get it wrong.

By “it” I mean crusades, programs, initiatives, projects, investigations, and even mere day to day operations. This cynicism should apply both to Right and Left, liberal and conservative, statist and libertarian. Such an approach would probably benefit at least 70 percent of the dealings we have with our fellow citizens.

Or as my dad put it, “When I meet people I only think the worst of them. That way I only get pleasant surprises.”

When it comes to government, it is the very nature of the beast. It’s not that there aren’t intelligent people of integrity working there. But as in most places, they are few. The vast majority are people too lazy to do manual labor and who, if they don’t think life owes them a cushy existence, have at least finagled to find one.

So their time is spent feathering their nests and making the boss look good because soon after they join the ranks of the state they realize such activity is the way to get ahead. Of course it is, as there is no free market pressure for them to perform up to snuff in anything.

For example, if you go to a bank and the teller is rude and vulgar with you they stand a chance, if you report it, of being fired. Try applying that at the DMV or at your local county courthouse, especially in Democrat-controlled areas where the white collar government unions have an unholy campaign donation alliance with elected officials. Good luck.

Granted, the farther you go up the totem pole, the worse it is. There are those on the lower rungs who honestly try to do a decent job. But they don’t run the show or call the tune.

You may object, “But there is pressure on elected officials! It’s called elections!” Oh, really?

Have you seen incumbent return figures lately? As a former political consultant I can readily tell you that people form, for many different reasons, a proprietary relationship with certain politicians. Be it out of racial or ethnic solidarity, ideology, regional loyalty, or personal charisma, most voters are prepared to accept a lot from a politician who somewhere along the line bonded with them in some vague way of which even the pol may not be aware.

I remember talking to a close associate years ago who was keen on the idea of General Colin Powell running for president. I met General Powell once, when I was a young soldier and he was a general, coming out of an Army barbershop at V Corps HQ in Frankfurt, Germany. As we almost bumped into each other in the doorway I said, “Excuse me, sir.” He slyly grinned and got out of my way. Cool guy, plus his troops worshipped him. On those traits alone I might consider the general for the big office. But, when I asked my pal why she supported Powell, she responded, “I think he cares about me.”

I retorted, “You mean, about the American people, average people?”

“No,” she said, “about me and my life. I really think he understands. I can just tell.”

Ahem…cough…ummm…what?

Yes, Powell, who had never met or heard of her, inadvertently sparked the internal synapse in her that said, “good politician who cares about me.” Though, it was factually very unlikely that he did so in the specific sense, this is the way things work. Welcome to the discerning judgment of the typical U.S. voter. Does this make elections effective as a kind of market pressure? Uhhhh, no.

Our modern cultural and educational powers that be have gone a long way toward successfully substituting a petulant entitlement for the Protestant work ethic.

Our best option in this environment? When in Rome? Wear a toga.

Indeed fight the sans culottes on the political beaches at every opportunity. But on a personal basis assume that most whomever you deal with, with an emphasis on the public sector outside of the uniformed services, is a stone cold idiot or nefarious poseur.

Replace sad, silly, and empirically disproven hope and willy nilly expectations with a bright new cynicism borne of a realistic view of our present society. Expect nothing of government or of most people and you won’t be disappointed when they don’t come through. If you demure on this, you’re expecting birds not to fly.

By affecting a wry jaded visage and the corresponding demeanor when dealing with the majority of mankind you’ll be able to sip on that bourbon or gin at the end of the day, and/or puff on that Ashton or Fuente, with a satisfied glow, well secure in the knowledge that, like my kid sister and I, you were at minimum one step ahead of the game.

In a world full of the ineffectual and the iniquitous, that’s not a bad position to be in at all.

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