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  • Poterack Capital Advisory

The Control Illusion

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

We all intend to be happy, make a positive difference in the lives of others, and make decisions we expect will work out. It is common for people to overestimate their ability to control outcomes from their decisions and behavior. This occurs with the best of us, and our elected officials.

Two Colossal Examples

Two colossal examples of how believing we can control what we cannot control, exposes our worst instincts as people: Covid and Climate.

For many years now, the arrogance of some to think our earth’s climate can be controlled, exclusively by our country, defies logic. Our climate has always changed and will forevermore. Mother Nature is an undefeated dynasty. Mother Nature does not ask our permission to unleash whatever event whenever she wishes.

Hand wringing and gnashing of teeth will continue in our society about the climate “crisis” and the urgency of addressing it. No policy decision, or action on our country’s part, will make any tangible impact on the earth’s climate. We are the greatest nation on earth, but there are infinitely more factors affecting the global climate outside our country. For many, it feels good to do something from a policy perspective. It feels comfortable to believe we can control Mother Nature.

I like to feel good and comfy as much as the next person! However, the illusion that our country can control the future of climate is total folly. In pursuit of this illusion, we are divided in to “good” people or “bad” people categories on this issue. Elections and policies have consequences. There are huge costs levied on our economy in pursuing the illusion of controlling Mother Nature. We are told it is the price to pay so our grandchildren can breathe clean air. So, we are cajoled to succumb to the fear and shame or go sit at the bad people table!

Unfortunately, these real costs hit our most vulnerable citizens and doesn’t feel good. If gas is $2.50 or $8.00 per gallon, your lifestyle is very likely not to be affected whatsoever. Higher energy costs, and inflation generally, is like a regressive tax that harms the poor more than the rich. Those most negatively affected are certainly underrepresented in our government. Conflicts of interest everywhere.

Covid is another prime example. It semed every time we turned around, we were scared of a new Covid variant! Anyone remember “15 days to slow the spread”? Our government, despite never eradicating the Flu virus, lost all perspective on relative risk and the cost/benefit analysis of policy changes regarding the Covid virus.

Your Next Move?

Whether you are 75, diabetic, and overweight, or a healthy 9-year-old, our government said Vaccinate! If you have recovered from Covid and possess antibodies, the scientific reason for getting vaccinated, our government said Vaccinate! If you have an allergy or condition presenting a risk to getting the vaccine, our government said Vaccinate! If you didn’t want to get the vaccination for any reason, our government said Vaccinate! In other words, if all our government has is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail! So, we were divided in to two groups, “good” people (vaccinated) and “bad” people (unvaccinated).

We were told masks were not helpful, until we were told they were helpful, until we were told they were mandatory. Of course, you cannot get Covid sitting down, but don’t dare remove your mask as you enter a restaurant and walk to your table. Does science indicate the Covid virus is only in the air at a certain height above your head level sitting down?

Inconsistent mask materials, inconsistent fitting, and inconsistent efficacy made no difference to the self-appointed mask “cops”. If you have a mask on, you’re “good”. Once again, fear and shame is the tool being used to control us.

We all heard the objectively ridiculous statement, “if we only save one life, it is worth it”. Ah, no it isn’t. If it were, we’d outlaw cars, swimming pools, guns, stairs, hammers, and so many other everyday items that people die from.

I don’t have the “right” answers, but I can see when people, elected or not, are bulldogging me. I am Covid vaccinated plus booster. Of course, climate change is real, as it has been since Earth was created. We recycle. We’ve owned an electric car. Proper masks can provide incremental protection and improve the looks of some people. However, when we vote and support policies and laws, there are real and tangible impacts on families. Personalities come and go. Social media distorts what is right and wrong. Many people read headlines and not articles.

Humankind has always innovated and adapted to changes in climate, viruses, and countless other challenges. It is disheartening to me that otherwise reasonable people ascribe existential urgency as if now we are all helpless rubes and victims. Our rate of adaptation and innovation continues to accelerate with technology breakthroughs.

A national strategy of adaptation and innovation is orders of magnitude less costly to our economy. We also don’t have to be exactly “right” in retrospect. I think of the “adaptation and innovation approach” as similar to a wellness approach to your health.

I think of forcing businesses to close, firing “bad” people for not getting vaccinated, lockdowns, destroying domestic energy industry, showering citizens with “free” money, and distorting free markets with corporate welfare, etc. as similar to killing a sick person so they are no longer ill.

Critical thinking is in short supply these days. I challenge you to think beyond the headlines we are being “sold” every day. Critical thinking starts with asking questions. Questions present an opportunity for explanation and exposes motivation for a person’s point of view. When someone gets irritated or angry in explaining their own position, then you know they recognize the flimsiness of their position. Keep asking great questions and seek to understand the point of view of others! Communication, mutual understanding, and mutual respect brings us together. A house divided cannot stand. Let’s do our part, one relationship at a time!

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