When I was a boy and an avid reader of Superman Comics there was an occasional Superman encounter with the Bizarro World where that society’s objective was the opposite of Earth. For example, beauty was bad and ugly was good. Investments that made money were bad and those that lost money were good. People who were mean were liked and people who were kind were unpopular. The Bizarro people looked grey, chiseled, and goofy and acted even stranger than they looked. Even my boyhood fantasies of a date with Supergirl were corrupted by the Bizarro Supergirl who was erratic, dangerous, scary and brutish. After even brief encounters with the Bizarro World, it was always refreshing to return to colorful comic book earth with Jimmy Olson and Lois Lane.
Forget About Foundational Values
Fast forward 50 years and I now feel like I am living in that Bizarro World. Every day there is another news item, blog, tweet or Facebook post to confirm that the reported “mainstream” is the antithesis of everything I was brought up by parents, teachers, priests, mentors and coaches to believe in:
- Former men’s Olympic decathlon champion in 1976 now is a woman and has her own reality TV show.
- Former Secretary of State and Presidential hopeful ran the entire United States foreign policy for 6 years off a personal server in her basement but never compromised national security.
- Front runner for RNC Presidential nomination is Donald Trump.
- The President of the United States is giving Iran and their crazy Ayatollahs a path to nuclear arms because he needs a legacy.
- The United States has Trillions of dollars of debt it can never repay.
- The IRS Director responsible for denying tax exempt status to conservative not for profits has an unexplained server crash. No one cares.
- The SEC appoints its own judges because it can’t win any cases in the normal judicial process we have been using for several centuries.
- The NLRB is simply abandoning legal precedent and imposing its own view of workers’ rights.
- Drugs and prostitution are legal in several states.
- Detroit is bankrupt; Chicago is next.
- Members of Congress make more money than 95% of America and that is before they retire.
- Members of Congress are exempt from insider trading laws while Martha Stewart goes to jail.
- Cops are presumed guilty until proven innocent.
- The media creates news rather than reporting about it.
- CEO’s get paid hundreds of millions of dollars to pretend they weren’t fired.
- Students can borrow all the money they want to go to college with the realistic expectation that they will never have to repay any of that debt.
- Your 27 year old dependent son or daughter is entitled to healthcare coverage on your employer’s health care plan.
- People of the same sex can get married.
- The Cubs, Pirates, Mets, Astros and Royals all have good baseball teams.
There is more media attention paid to “toe tappers”, deflated balls, inflated egos, the “red carpet” and Reality TV than pervasive worldwide poverty, genocide, ethnic cleansing, be-headings and European immigrants.
Bizarro Investment Policies Abound
When you are living in a Bizarro World, you better be pretty careful about your investments as well. Risk is good and caution is bad. Leverage is good and equity is bad. Consumption is good and saving is bad. Stocks and bonds are good and real assets are bad. Solar is good and coal is bad. Apple Pay is good and cash is bad.
This migrates into the popular thinking about Private Equity. The regulators are good and the managers, profits, fees, taxation, business building and employment are bad. Pretty soon the highly competent managers that run the best performing funds will decide that they, too, are living in a Bizarro World and they will get tired of the persecution and take their talents to other opportunities. The Bizarro people will get what they want and spoil a beautiful business model that balances the needs of many constituents- employees, suppliers, customers, competitors, financiers, lawyers, accountants, consultants and service providers.
Normal People Are Outcasts
The other thing about the Bizarro World that I remember from the comics was that anyone who expressed even one scintilla of “normal” earth like behavior was immediately an outcast with no chance of redemption. A kind person was physically abused forever. A truthful person was ridiculed forever. An honest person’s reputation was ruined forever. A spiritual person was condemned forever. In our Bizarro World honest and thoughtful opinions by normal people are being diminished as racist, sexist, or discriminatory.
Who changed the rules to permit these Bizarro people to run our country? Where is Superman when I need him and how can I find my way back to the colorful comic book earth of my youth?
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