The Hutch Report

The Omnipotent Leader

By | Politics, Psychology

What is it that prevents people from admitting mistakes, feeling superior to all those around them, feeling as if their actions are above the law, the inability to feel that their actions are responsible for someone else’s misery? We have all worked with people who have varying degrees of the unshakeable belief that they can do no wrong. In our incredibly complex world, there are leaders and professionals that are absolutely convinced that they understand how the world works and how to solve problems in spite of the fact that time after time they are proven wrong. (You can read more about this in our piece “The Illusion of Understanding.”)

In 2009, at the height of the financial crisis, many wall street CEOs were put under the spot light as the leaders of the largest financial firms were brought before congress for questioning. However, in spite of the damning evidence put before them concerning the damage inflicted on the economy and individuals by these firms, the leaders seemed to feel removed from any or all responsibility. An example of this was made during an interview with the Times of London, where Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs was quoted as saying that Goldman Sachs was merely “doing God’s work.” Obviously admitting to understanding the agenda of a higher power greater than ours and professing to be part of it immediately places you in an obviously very privileged position.

Though not officially labeled a personality disorder, the God Complex is very similar to the Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The God Complex is a psychological illusion. The first person to use the term God Complex was Ernest Jones (1913–51). His description, at least in the contents page of Essays in Applied Psycho-Analysis, described the God Complex as belief that one is a god. It suggests a personality flaw in human beings, especially those with great power, who see themselves to be omniscient and omnipotent, and treat others as mere mortals. However, one does not have to be in a position of power to exhibit these traits. There are numerous examples of people displaying these personalities in the workplace which you have most likely encountered.

The God Complex tends to show up amongst a variety of professions, although, some professions are more likely to cause a God Complex than others, as they involve one person exerting a lot of influence on a large number of people. These professions include among others: Doctors, Politicians, Bureaucrats and Celebrities.

Research suggests that in the case of several people, the God Complex affected them AFTER being exposed to a lot of power over a period of time. Hence, it is likely that people get this complex after having spent a considerable amount of time in that particular profession. Once you know what this complex is, it is easier to understand why certain people behave the way they do although that doesn’t make them any easier to be around.

With his extreme narcissistic displays, Donald Trump has become the poster child for the God Complex. However, in this particular example, he demonstrated many of the traits associated with the complex well before becoming President. Rather than developing the complex, after having been in a position of power, it was his inflated view of himself that drove him to become President.

As President, Trump now finds himself in good company because in the world of politics the God Complex plays itself out each and every day. In fact, our current political and media culture can be seen as reinforcing the God Complex.

The question is how can problems be solved and solutions found when dealing with opponents that both display the God Complex? Neither side will think about backing down because they both feel superior to the other. The result is pretty much what we have seen play out in the arena of US politics. Rather than concentrating on what is good for the country, both sides are fighting to dismantle the other. It is a dangerous trait to have, as we have seen many nations brought down by leaders with an omnipresent display of the God Complex.

Here are a few extreme examples: Omar al-Bashir—Sudan, Kim Jong-il—North Korea, Robert Mugabe—Zimbabwe (recently dethroned), King Abdullah—Saudi Arabia, Seyed Ali Khamenei—Iran, Bashar al-Assad—Syria, and Nicolás Maduro – Venezuela.

The Hutch Report

The Fight for Independence

By | Politics

What does it mean to be an independent person or an independent state or independent country?  At its most basic root it means that you are free from outside control; not subject to another’s authority. It means that you are not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence.

There are countless examples of secessions in history. People wanting to break away from being surpressed by governments and states in order to become independent and govern themselves. Unfortunately, the desire to avoid the relinquishment of power is as strong as the initial desire to gain power. For this reason, the fight for independence is often only accomplished through battle. Here are a few examples:

  • Austria successfully seceded from Nazi Germany on April 27, 1945. This took place after seven years of Austria’s being part of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich due to the Anschluss annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in March 1938.
  • On August 25, 1830, during the reign of William I, the Belgian Revolt occurred, which resulted in the Belgian secession from the Netherlands.
  • In 1825, soon after the Empire of Brazil managed to defeat the Cortes-Gerais and Portugal in an Independence War, the platinean nationalists in Cisplatina declared independence.
  • In 1960 the State of Katanga declared independence from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. United Nations troops crushed it in Operation Grand Slam.
  • In 1847, seven disaffected Catholic cantons formed a separate alliance because of moves to change the cantons of Switzerland from a confederation to a more centralized government federation. This effort was crushed in the Sonderbund War and a new Swiss Federal Constitution was created.

The greatest example in history of secession is that of the United States. On July 4th, 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed the independence of a new United States of America from Great Britain and its king. The declaration came 442 days after the first shots of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts and marked an ideological expansion of the conflict that would eventually involve France’s intervention on behalf of the Americans.

The first major American opposition to British policy came in 1765 after Parliament passed the Stamp Act, a taxation measure designed to raise revenues for a standing British army in America. Although this was eventually repealed there would be other issues finally leading to the colony to secede from Great Britain. The fact that a war was required in order for the colonist to gain their independence meant that the act was most likely an illegal one.

Yet, ironically, in that same country which is now the United States, the question has been raised, can a state legally secede from the Union? Many, including Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, suggested no. In a 2006 letter Scalia argued that a the question was not in the realm of legal possibility because 1) the United States would not be party to a lawsuit on the issue 2) the “constitutional” basis of secession had been “resolved by the Civil War,” and 3) there is no right to secede, as the Pledge of Allegiance clearly illustrates through the line “one nation, indivisible.”

Today the issue comes to the centre stage by way of Catalonia. Spain (known officially as “the Kingdom of Spain”) was assembled in the 15th and 16th centuries from various component kingdoms, some having lost their secession wars. Today, we are seeing a resurgence with the secessionist movement of Catalonia. Catalonia has a long history of trying to break away from Spain. The Spain we know now was born after the defeat of Valencia in 1707, of Catalonia in 1714, and finally with the last of the islands in 1715, during the War of the Spanish Succession. Since then, Catalonia, which has its own language, laws, and customs, has regularly struggled over autonomy with the central government in Madrid.

For hundreds of years, various Spanish leaders tried to outlaw the Catalan language and play down other aspects of the region’s culture. Official autonomy within Spain was granted to the Catalan government, known as the Generalitat, in the early 20th century, interrupted by a brutal crackdown under dictator Francisco Franco, and then restored a few years after his death in 1975. The financial crisis of 2008 has since reinvigorated the Catalonia desire for independence.

Not surprisingly, as we have seen countless times in history, the way in which the Spanish government and the sitting King, have decided to deal with it has been to attempt to surpress the Catalonian right to vote. They sent in armed forces in order to strong arm the citizens and block them from achieving their goal. However, as we have seen in history, the more you try and surpress the people the stronger their desire becomes. Yes, according to the Spanish constitution, the secession vote is illegal, as they normally are because no governments enjoy relinquishing control. Catalonia is a crucial part of the Spanish economy. Its 7.5 million residents represent 16% of Spain’s population, but the region accounts for 19% of Spain’s GDP and 25% of Spain’s exports.

The question of an individual’s right to independence is not as clear cut as it would seem. Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death. They apply regardless of where you are from, what you believe or how you choose to live your life. They can never be taken away, although they can sometimes be restricted – for example if a person breaks the law, or in the interests of national security. These basic rights are based on values like dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence.

So, if one has the right to be independent yet a governement has the right to uphold their laws by restricting that right, even to the point of using unecessary force, who is left with the most freedom?

It is no wonder why we see in so many circumstances that in order to gain true independence you have to fight for it.

The Hutch Report

The Pension Fund Crisis – It is beginning to boil!

By | Economics, Money, Politics

Reading the news is tough. Most of it is bad, yet we tend to want more of it. For some reason humans are more drawn towards bad news than good news. There is a school of thought in psychology that says we do more to avoid pain than we do to gain pleasure. Could this be the reason why we need to know about all the bad stuff?  Is it merely a defense mechanism to protect ourselves?

At the same time we can ask ourselves if we have become so desensitised by bad news that it doesn’t impact us emotionally anymore. If true, it puts us in a perilous position. This psychological state prevents us from reacting to danger and you can bet that every once in a while a situation does arise that we should be paying attention to. Something that could provoke us to jump into action and protect ourselves, instead of sitting in a pot of boiling hot water like a frog, not realising what is happening, until it is too late. With that, I present you with the following pot of boiling hot water:

Public pensions: America’s Greece? (The Economist, Dec 17th 2014)

States face shaky financial futures; pensions at risk (USA Today, July 6, 2015)

The U.S. is facing a $1 trillion pension shortfall (CNN Money, July 14, 2015)

Connecticut, America’s Richest State, Has a Huge Pension Problem (WSJ, Oct. 5, 2015)

The US government has a $20.4 trillion retirement problem (Business Insider, Apr. 6, 2016)

One of the nation’s largest pension funds could soon cut benefits for retirees (The Washington Post, April 20, 2016)

The US public pensions crisis ‘is really hard to fix’ (FT, May 1, 2016)

Kentucky, home to the worst-funded pension plan in the US (FT, June 10, 2016)

Are State And Local Government Pensions Underfunded By $5 Trillion? (Forbes, JUL 1, 2016)

California’s Pension Funding Crisis Just Got Worse (Forbes, Jul 19, 2016)

Covering Up the Pension Crisis (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 25, 2016)

States Face a $1 Trillion Pension Problem: Here Are the Worst 10 (The Fiscal Times, Aug. 29, 2016)

The pension gap (LA Times, SEPT. 18, 2016)

Pension Funds Face Day of Reckoning as Investment Returns Lag (News Max, 21 Sep 2016)

Will Looming State And Local Government Pension Crisis Bankrupt The U.S.? (Investor’s Business Daily, 10/14/2016)

US state public pension unfunded liabilities to hit $1.75 trillion: Moody’s (CNBC, 7 Oct 2016)

Pension crisis: 50% of States can’t cover their annual pension costs (Value Walk, October 10, 2016)

Pension crisis: Fully funded ones a rarity (Fox News, October 25, 2016)

New Jersey Tops Illinois as State With Worst-Off Pension System (Bloomberg, November 2, 2016)

The State Level Pension Crisis: Pennsylvania (The American Spectator, November 10, 2016)

Era of Low Interest Rates Hammers Millions of Pensions Around World (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 13, 2016)

US Pension Crisis: This is How Families Get Squeezed to Bail Out Pension Funds in Chicago (Wolf Street Nov 17, 2016)

South Carolina’s looming pension crisis (The Post and Courrier, Dec 3, 2016)

A Dallas public pension fund suffers a run (The Economist, Dec 8th 2016)

The Looming Debt Crisis: A State & Local Perspective (Joint Economic Committee, Dec 08 2016)

American Pension Crisis: How We Got Here (Forbes, DEC 9, 2016 @ 08:41 AM)

It is starting to get damned hot in here so now is your chance to jump out or risk becoming a side dish with butter, garlic and parsley poured all over you, AND no retirement savings to show for it.