Now That We’ve Incentivized Sociopaths–Guess What Happens Next

Now That We’ve Incentivized Sociopaths — Guess What Happens Next, by Charles Hugh Smith.

“Sociopath” is a word we now encounter regularly in the mainstream media, but what does it mean? Here is a list of 16 traits, many of which are visible in lionized corporate and political leaders and entrepreneurs.

One key trait is a lack of moral responsibility or conscience; the sociopath feels no remorse if he/she takes advantage of people or exploits them.

Sociopaths are masters of superficial charm, intelligence and confidence, and adept at massaging or misrepresenting reality up to and including outright lying to persuade others or get their way.

Like all psychological syndromes (manic depression, autism, bipolar disorder, etc.), there is a wide spectrum of sociopathological traits, some of which may offer some adaptive benefits (and hence their continued presence in the human genome). In other words, an individual can have a few of the traits in greater or lesser proportions. …

Steve Jobs was a sociopath:

His famous “reality distortion field,” his refusal to accept that he’d fathered a daughter, his lack of empathy, his wild emotional swings (from verbal abuse to weeping), his dietary extremes, his charm, so quickly turned on or off, his uneven parenting, and so on. His obsessive-compulsive behavior was also on full display. Yet Jobs is lauded and even worshiped as a genius and unparalleled entrepreneur. Was this the result of his sociopathological traits, or something that arose despite them?

The ledger of costs and benefits of Jobs’ output is weighted by the global benefits of the products he shepherded to market and the hundreds of billions of dollars in sales and net worth he generated for investors while the head of Apple. Though narcissistic in many ways (with the resulting negative effects on many of his intimates), Jobs was clearly focused on creating “insanely great” products that would benefit customers and users. Despite his sociopathological traits, there is no evidence he set out to deceive anyone with the objective of exploiting their good will or belief in his vision to skim billions of dollars from unwary investors.

Most other sociopaths … not so useful:

But the ledgers of others manifesting sociopathy are far less beneficial, as the billions of dollars they generated were in essence a form of fraud. …

If the system incentivizes conscience-free sociopaths more than it incentivizes those creating real value, the system will eventually fall into the equivalent of Gresham’s law (“bad money drives out good money”): the con-men and fraudsters will drive out entrepreneurs with a conscience who create real value for customers, investors and society at large.

Money created out of thin air is perfect:

This pinpoints one key source of the incentivization of sociopaths: central banks’ creation of trillions of dollars of conscience-free capital seeking a quick profit anywhere on the planet, by any means available.

Conscience-free capital is an easy mark for a conscience-free sociopath. It’s a marriage made in heaven, a perfect match.

Those with a conscience are essentially squeezed out of the system. The choice is binary: either play and lose or opt out. …

The amoral sociopath with the story attracts amoral sociopaths in venture capital, banking and politics, as these fields are all focused on short-term, outsized, quickly skimmed gains, regardless of the consequences to investors or society at large. …

As long as central banks create and distribute trillions in conscience-free credit to conscience-free financiers and corporations, the incentives for sociopathy only increase, and the incentives for everyone else to opt out increase proportionately. …

Opting out?

[Opting out] was one of the few options available to commoners in the final decline of the Western Roman Empire. If we feel we’re at a systemic disadvantage, i.e. the system is rigged against us, opting out makes much more sense than sacrificing oneself in a fruitless battle to stay alive in a system that incentivizes amoral sociopaths.

If we consider what generates outsized success in our rapidly changing economy, we find a variety of factors supporting “winner take most” asymmetric gains.

It’s unsustainable. The newly created money creates debt, which is now historically much higher than it’s ever been. It’s at least twice as high as at the start of the Great Depression (the previous high), and this time it’s global too. The debt will be inflated away, which will be painful for those without debts.

The current system of money creation for sociopaths is creating social and financial inequality, lowering living standards for all but the top 5%. Eventually it becomes authoritarian or a revolution occurs, or the society just fails.