The Whiner Economy

whiners are sometimes right, but…

6 min readMar 15, 2024

My Medium feed regularly needs a clean-out, as its natural tendency is to fill up my screen with disaster thinkers, collapse theorists, sanctimonious illiberal liberals, and general whiners. So I go in and mute or unfollow large numbers of writers and actively seek and follow new writers — anyone appearing to offer an optimistic or constructive worldview. Give it a couple of months and we’re back to reading about the end of the world and why it’s all the fault of white men, and oh, I forgot, we hate the rich.

America is killing it right now.

Maybe you’re not feeling wealthy and you feel left behind, alienated, or even a victim of capitalism. Perhaps you’re focused on all the ills and not even tracking the positive trends. Stock markets are at record highs, unemployment at record lows, immigrants are thriving, colleges are pumping out highly capable and well-prepared graduates who are once again meeting with good opportunities and prospects as they wade out into the work world. Violent crime is down except in a few inner cities, and many long-term unemployed people are finding new and unexpected forms of employment or income.

The collapse won’t happen the way you’re predicting it.

It’s true that collapse will come from inner decay, and will eventually take down America’s mighty economic engine and cultural force of innovation. Every empire must one day collapse. However this won’t happen anytime soon. There’s enough success in America’s huge middle class and among its top 10%, assisted by the staggering success of 1st and 2nd generation immigrants, whose work ethic and dreamer qualities are filling economic gaps all over the map, and lifting millions of people from low incomes to happy and prosperous middle class lifestyles. The people left behind are the poor and uneducated white people and the unmotivated liberals who appear to have turned their backs on capitalism in favor of a dark and pessimistic movement focused on racial and gender injustice. They’re unable to see opportunity or progress. These people are largely missing the wave of success, except for a few tech workers at Google or Salesforce.

I predict another two decades of economic and cultural excellence before we begin to slow down, and this is where we risk handing the keys over to the anti-capitalism brigade, who will no doubt want to loot the corporations and distribute the spoils to the poor and the needy. A moderate version of this plan could be a great idea, but I do not imagine this will be any such thing. Instead, it will be a neo-communist drive to punish the corporate world, and it will succeed in only one thing: destruction of wealth. Welcome to Bolivia.

In the meantime…

China may complete its takeover of Taiwan, and this may trigger a global conflict. Russia, China, Iran and N. Korea would form a strong anti-West coalition and pull in many other countries in a terrifying conflict that would rewrite the maps and dismantle the dominance of western democracy forever. It often feels to me that our ‘illiberal liberals’ would enjoy this moment. Their profound hatred of capitalism and their tribal opposition to republicans, seem to combine and create a vision of a post-capitalist America that may embrace anti-western elements and qualities of totalitarian leaders. The left and the right have come together in a horseshoe shape where their ideals — far from opposite — are converging on a desire to end our traditional liberal democratic values in favor of a harsh regime that wreaks revenge on perceived oppressors. These two visions remain quite different — the left doesn’t like Trump, and the right doesn’t like Gavin Newsom or whoever the next Bernie Sanders figure turns out to be. One day, a harsh leader may emerge that appeals to both deep red and deep blue, and this will mark the end of American capitalism. But we’re not there yet — not even close.

Are you done with the West?

It’s ok, you can move to an anti-west country. Doesn’t have to be an armpit or Sharia law and famine or drug cartel rule. It could be a civilized country like Turkey, Morocco, Philippines, Indonesia, etc. My bet is that you’ll miss your western civilization within 6 months and move back to America. Even when you’re living in a safe city and middle class life is accessible and affordable, you’ll miss home. The food is delicious, people are kind, television is junk, and traffic is noisy. Overall, it’s wonderful. But you’re missing something huge. The freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to break societal stereotypes, and freedom to escape generational constraints.

Watching Masters of the Air, a beautifully produced WWII and the Allies’ airforce operations, and The New Look, the Parisian fashion designers’ WWII history, I felt hugely inspired to double down my support for the allies and the seven decades of peace and prosperity brought created by the western countries who fought for freedom and won. Their work continued into a postwar vision to which we owe a debt of gratitude. Humanity has been ruled by kings, dictators, emperors and other shitheads for a few thousand years. Western liberalism is new and different — perhaps we’ve decided we don’t like it that much after all. Right wingers yearn for a tough leader who will dismantle democratic apparatus, and left wingers (the far left) seem to yearn for a punitive regime that would strip the wealthy to feed the poor. Both groups appear willing to say goodbye to our tolerant, creative, gentle and prosperous form of capitalism.

The way we consume news and social commentary is killing us.

Most successful news articles — TV, social platforms, digital news outlets, writing platforms like Medium — incorporate a form of clickbait that hails an oppressed person or persons, and an oppressor.This is true in both the blue and the red camp. Psychologically it feeds a receptor that gives us dopamine as we identify with the oppressed and stand up for them in defiance of the evil oppressor. We pay a hidden cost for this heroism. We end up carrying a sanctimonious halo and a heavy burden of guilt and responsibility, which further clouds our ability to think optimistically as we weight the evils of the world and feel personally responsible for fixing them. Superhero work is underpaid and thankless. Then one day we may realize that nobody cares what we do or say anyway.

Perhaps we need to taste the bad medicine to miss the good

Please move to Russia. Or China. Or any one of 20–30 countries run by dictators or oppressive regimes. South America offers many options for ‘pretty civilized’ living that is not plagued by gang violence, religious oppression, mad bat shit dictator or generalized poverty. For our inability to choose true western liberalism, I blame the left as much as I do the right. The illiberal liberals have much to answer for.

I’m forever grateful to the Allies who fought fascism and went on to create a moderate, tolerant, transparent and opportunity-filled century for humanity. Given our bad habit of choosing mad kings, that happy century may prove to be a flash in pan in our eternity of syphilitic despot rulers.




San Francisco geek, entrepreneur, wannabe economist, mediocre equestrian