The Age of Cain: No One is Looking Out for You
Are you your brother's keeper?
If I ever do a column called, “The 10 Worst Famous Quotes of All-Time” (note to self, this is actually a good idea for a column), one of the quotations sure to make the list will be, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” Why? Well, for one thing, it encourages people to be passive. “Oh, I’ve done something great! Now, I can just hang out, wait to be discovered, and then the money will start rolling in!” Stories like that do exist, but they represent a teeny, tiny percentage of successes while in the real world, “Good things come to those who hustle, not those who wait,” is much closer to the truth. Worse yet, the crux of the quote just isn’t true.
Last month, in Queens, New York, I ate at some hole-in-the-wall Mexican place that had much better tacos than Taco Bell. So, why was I the only person eating in that restaurant while Taco Bell is selling 2 billion dollars worth of food per year? Because the quote is mostly bullsh*t. Quality does matter, but so do marketing, timing, franchisability, and a lot of other factors. Even if you build the world’s greatest mousetrap, you may grow old waiting for anyone to come to the door, much less the whole world.
All this is worth noting because the kind of thinking that goes into that quote undergirds the idealistic win/win way a lot of us believe the world should work in a free, capitalistic society like the one we live in. One person has a problem or a want. For a fee, another person will fix that problem or solve that want. Then, the question becomes “Is the service provided worth the price and who is the best person available to provide that service?”
A good example of this could be that the tires on your car have gone bad. You need them replaced. You call three tire shops and you decide the best value is one that will cost you $400. You choose to pay them the $400, they choose to do the work for that price, and everybody benefits. They get the money; you get the tires and the problem that kept you from driving your car safely is solved. So, everyone wins!
Sounds great, right? But, what happens when an ever-increasing mob of miscreants in our society adopts a win/lose model of life where they want to win at everyone else’s expense?
A very obvious example that most of us (other than far-gone liberals) would instantly recognize would be these shoplifting rings that have been cropping up, most particularly in California. A half dozen people walk into a store, grab hundreds of dollars worth of goods and they run out of the store. They do this over and over, then fence the goods or sell them themselves. They profit and the store either eats the losses or goes out of business.
Drug dealers would be another example. Especially the ones selling hard drugs. They know the drugs they’re selling people are bad for them and will eventually ruin their lives, destroy their health, and kill them, but they don’t care what happens to their clients. They just want to milk them for as much money as possible. From there, it’s all Drago from Rocky 4:
However, in all fairness, we’ve always had criminals and welfare queens around, but I would suggest to you that this type of thinking has begun to permeate through our entire culture, not just in the criminal class. People across all sorts of formerly respectable sectors of our society are engaging in this behavior right out in the open and we’re often overlooking it.
We can see this all over the place in the political sphere.
Back in the day, when I got into politics, there was very little money in being an “influencer” of any sort, so the people who went that way tended to do it because they believed in things and wanted to bring more people around to their way of thinking. Today, when being a political “influencer” can be extremely lucrative, it’s attracting people who just tell everyone whatever they want to hear in hopes of getting money, attention, and fans. Personally, I think most of the popular political “influencers” that have gotten into it in the last few years aren’t really interested in helping anyone other than themselves.
Despite the fact that we live in a multi-racial society, look at all the professional race hustlers out there whose entire career revolves around convincing different groups of people to hate each other. These people work incessantly to find any angle, any excuse to promote racial hatred. Of course, they always deny this, but objective people can easily see what they’re doing. They may be poisoning the country, but it’s an easy, no brains, no skills required way to get attention and make money.
Similarly, most activists no longer really try to accomplish anything. Instead, they just try to come up with stunts that will get them attention at any cost. For example, kneeling for the national anthem created incredible division and was never about getting anything done, it was just a way of saying, “Look at me.”
Look around, on either side of the aisle in Washington, and try to find the politicians who care more about fixing America’s problems than keeping their cushy jobs, going viral on Twitter, or feeding their narcissistic god complexes. You won’t find many. Most of these politicians don’t care what happens to America in the end as long as they get plenty of money, power, and attention in the interim. Yet, they will never stop flattering you, telling you how much they’re fighting for you, and how much they care for you, while they’ll laugh at you behind your back if you are dumb enough to believe them. If ANY POLITICIAN swears to you that the grass is green and the sky is blue, the first thing you should do is double-check and the second thing you should do is make sure he hasn’t stolen your wallet. Yet.
Of course, it’s not just politics.
You’ll find even fewer journalists who live up to the spirit of the profession and are truly interested in getting to the truth and informing the public. We live in a country that is STARVING for honest, trustworthy news sources that genuinely at least TRY to be unbiased, and guess what? There really aren’t any. Know why? Because outrage and slanted headlines may make the country worse, but they sell much better.
Social media has been one of the worst inventions in human history. As social media networks took off in 2010, depression, anger, a lust for fame, radicalism, conspiracy theories, and a toxic political environment all exploded at the same time in America. It’s not a coincidence. People like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey became extraordinarily rich at the price of making not just the country, but the world worse because of their existence. If I were king for a day, the first thing I’d do would be to permanently ban all forms of social media because it’s low-hanging fruit, and that one act would do more to improve the planet than just about any other single action I could take.
It has been more than a few decades, but did you know Hollywood used to be pro-American and patriotic? Did you know that they used to care a great deal about whether the shows they put out were healthy for kids and set a good, moral example for the country? The Lone Ranger shot the guns out of the bad guys’ hands. Lucy and Ricky were married on I Love Lucy and in real life but slept in separate beds. Why? Because they didn’t want to be a bad influence. Is there anyone in the entertainment industry that worries about that kind of thing anymore? Maybe the guys that made Sound of Freedom and a few others do, but there aren’t many of them:
How about the food industry in America? We live in a country where 74% of Americans are overweight and yet, everywhere you go, you see the worst, the most fattening food imaginable. With cigarettes, we get it. We understand that these companies are happily hooking their customers and killing them slowly over time for profit. Guess what else that also describes though? Doritos. Twinkies. Ben & Jerry’s. Hershey Bars. Pizza Hut. Coca-Cola. These products are EVERYWHERE. What makes the people selling them better than the people who run Philip Morris? In my book? Nothing.
This may be the most controversial topic in this article, but what about Big Pharma and Big Healthcare? This is one thing Peter Attia talks about in his fantastic book, “Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity.” He notes that if you’re in a car wreck or are shot, American medicine is PHENOMENAL at taking care of your injury and helping you recover from it. However, our medical system is also notorious for being bad at preventative care and getting to the root causes of a lot of the diseases patients have. Instead, they typically treat the symptoms of these diseases, often with drugs. Does that mean they’re bad people who should be condemned? Absolutely not, but as someone on the outside looking in, you can’t help but notice that if a disease is cured, they stop getting paid while treating symptoms gets them regular customers for life.
There are a lot of things like this in the medical industry. Every trans kid? That’s a customer for life. Are COVID booster shots a good idea? There are a lot of hotly debated opinions on this and mine has been, “The jury is still out, but probably not,” for a long time. Of course, Big Pharma does not agree and maybe they’re right, but again, does the fact they would lose tens of billions (maybe hundreds of billions over time) if boosters aren’t a thing sway their opinion? I wonder. So should you. There are a lot of good people who really care out there treating sick Americans, but you have to think the whole system would be designed very differently if it wasn’t so profitable to run it the way it’s being done today.
At the end of the day, you shouldn’t be cynical because there are still lots of good, well-meaning people in this country.
However, you should also be aware that we live in the “Age of Cain,” where so many people have adopted his most famous line from the Bible:
“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ ‘I don’t know,’ he replied. ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’” -- Genesis 4:9
What that means is there are an awful lot of people looking out for their own interests, which is fine, but there are very, very few people simultaneously looking out for YOUR interests. Because of that, you have to be a lot better, a lot smarter, and a lot more in touch with reality. Because if you want to buy the rope to hang yourself, there are people all across America who will be delighted to sell it to you, and they won’t feel the least bit bad about doing it.