Everyone knows no one changes the oil on a rental car. You’d have to be a highly paid Hollywood actress to not comprehend that renters have little interest in the state of an owner’s asset. But even ownership features extreme variance in care. There is a vast gulf between the mindsets of investment and extraction. Investors frequently forget this at their sorrow.
As a result of their oppositional approach and historical abundance, resource extractors are a class prudent investors do not view casually. A healthy understanding of their traits and tendencies may be a prudent investor’s most critical endowment. In fact, I often think true prudence is the capacity to think imprudently. For that allows one to conceptualize the full range of likely human behavior, rather than be constrained within the boundaries of your own. Foolish investors may cast aside caution by assuming only fools would eat the seed corn rather than plant it. Prudent investors know that eating someone else’s seeds is its own viable strategy.
I was recently reading an article about the old corporate raiders from the 1980s. These men were apex extractors. They didn’t invest; they extracted the fruits of a fool’s investment. Though it’s important to remember, these were actual owners of the raided companies. They weren’t beating a rented mule, they were selling it for the hide. To the original owners it seemed inconceivable to consume a company’s best assets and then walk away from a withering husk. But that was just a failure of prudence—that is to say, the capacity to think in ways you find imprudent. The raiders found extraction to be very prudent indeed. Here’s a description of Carl Icahn’s infamous mosquito attack on Trans World Airlines.
In order to assume a majority share of the airline, Icahn took on a substantial amount of debt. To pay back his debtors, he gutted Trans World Airlines, stripping it of its most valuable assets; including its London routes network. When the dust finally settled, Icahn walked away from the company with more than $450m in his back pocket, while the airline, lacking the necessary assets and route networks to adequately compete with its competitors, slowly fell by the wayside, struggling to repay its debt.
I hope no one thinks ownership is synonymous with stewardship.
But when they witlessly begin to transfer ownership in a carefully-cultivated asset, foolish investors sometimes find their new equity partners see something to be consumed rather than nurtured. I almost hate to advise our more tender readers, but this is actually typical human behavior. After all, do you make a point of preserving the objects of a stranger’s sentiments?
The point being that ownership extraction has a long and august pedigree. And that’s the sort of fact our education and media institutions exist to conceal. Though not being mentionable doesn’t mean it’s not carried out conspicuously. I was thinking of this today while reading about the PayGo skirmish presently ongoing between competing legislative factions on the left.
For those unfamiliar, this term represents the principle that Congressional actions should be revenue neutral. That is to say not driving up (or certainly not down) our meticulously groomed budget deficit. So when starry-eyed twenty-something latina socialists want to come in blazing away at whitey’s waning wealth, they have to raise taxes or cut other spending commensurately. Crone Pelosi is the leader of this element, otherwise known as the Clinton corporate left. This side is more than happy to subsidize prog victories on every social front as long as the communists let them keep their billions and control of a country that doesn’t eat zoo animals.
In opposition are the progs themselves or, increasingly, the POC progs who are steadily replacing the movement’s original tumors. Led by representatives like Ocasio-Cortez and California’s Rohit Khanna, this bloc is premised on pure extraction. They have a vast social justice spending agenda and little appetite to moderate it according to the fiscal health of a hated people’s heirloom.
As treasonous to the nation as they have been, old white liberals still see America as something that is still vaguely their baby. Thus they exhibit vestigial expressions of parental instinct. Young POCs suffer no such attachment. Thus unburdened by sentiment they are free to satisfy native inclinations to transfer enormous gobs of white wealth to people with names like Ocasio and Rohit. Military invasion is really pretty pointless when you can just elect right over the legacy population’s feeble objections.
Of course, it could just as well be said that Trump has blown the deficit even farther into Neptune’s orbit than Obama and Bush before him. And it is true, he has. But his deficit is born of tax cuts rather than spending blossoms. As such, it’s hardly the transfer Rohits have in mind.
I don’t know how PayGo will be resolved in this Congress. But I do know how it will be resolved in future ones. I know this because Steny Hoyer is 79, Nancy Pelosi is 78, and Ocasio Rohit Cortez is 29 and 42. National resource extraction has a very dark future. At least it will have a bright billboard.