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Radical Agenda S06E075 – Bizarro Shrugged

Christopher Cantwell's Radical Agenda
Christopher Cantwell's Radical Agenda
Radical Agenda S06E075 - Bizarro Shrugged

I had a few interactions recently which jogged my mind a bit.

I went to Dunkin Donuts a little before 5am one day on my electric scooter. The maps app that sent me there, said the place was open 24/7, but only the drive through was 24/7, the inside opened at 5am.

I saw two employees smoking cigarettes in the parking lot. I asked them about the hours and they explained this, so I asked if I could go through the drive through on my scooter. They said I could not.

Alright, no big deal. I’ll wait a few minutes until 5am and then I’ll go inside.

Once the door opens, I attempt to enter the establishment with my small scooter in tow. The man who opened the door said “Hey yo, just a heads up, you can’t bring that in here”.

I reply “You mind if I just leave it in the entry way maybe?”

He responds, “No, you can’t bring it inside”.

I look at the homeless drug addicts in the parking lot, shrug, and lean the scooter against the window, hoping it will be there when I get out.

I enter the restaurant and place my order, which includes two coffees. I am not asked if my order is to stay or to go. The order is promptly brought out, and I grab a 4 cup tray from a self serve island near the front counter. I ask the cashier “Do you have a plastic bag with handles which can fit this tray?” Purpose being, it is not easy to carry two hot beverages while riding a scooter.

She says “No” and then begins helping the next person in line.

Now, it may have been true that they did not at this time possess such a bag, but I happen to know for a fact that this has in the past been a fairly standard feature of Dunkin Donuts. I understand that most Dunkin Donuts orders are for an individual on his way to work, but I’ve placed larger orders in the past and it is absurd to think that a franchise owner does not prepare his store for larger purchases.

Fortunately, I happened to possess a reusable grocery bag, and managed to get my coffees to where I was going in this way.

Another interaction occurs at a 7-11 convenience store one evening. I arrive, again on my scooter, and the only employee working at this time is in the parking smoking a cigarette and talking to two people who are leaning against a car in the parking lot. She sees me about to enter the store, looks at me like she’s pissed off for my interruption of her social life, and enters the store ahead of me.

I’m looking for eggs and bread.

There is no bread at all in this store.

I look all over the place for eggs, see none, then ask the young lady “Do you sell eggs here?” as she is pulling expired sandwiches off a shelf nearby.

She says “we’re all out” and a fraction of a second later, I see a dozen brown eggs down and to the left from where we are standing. I say, “oh, here’s some” and she says “I guess we had one left”.

I bring my items to the counter, and when she has finished her other task, she joins me there. I pay for my products, then it occurs to me that I needed to put some money on my Cash app for something, and I had looked up earlier that I would be able to make such a deposit at 7-11 for a fee of one dollar.

I ask her about this, say I want to deposit $40, and she scans a bar code on my phone. The amount I am told to pay is exactly $40, so I ask “there’s no fee for this?”.

She says “Not for Cash app, no”.

So I hand her two twenties, and promptly I am notified by my smartphone that $39 has been deposited to my Cash App.


I could give you a thousand examples like these. Retail entry level employees who don’t give a crap about their jobs or their customers. Or, worse, hold them in contempt. They show up (maybe) for the hours demanded of them, collect their paychecks, and see no connection between the money and the happiness of their customers.

When discussing this subject, I love to bring up Radio Shack, which is, quite sadly, hardly even in business these days.

It used to be the case that you could walk into a Radio Shack and ask the people who worked there about the circuitry of amateur radios, or the functions of a computer. Employees were commissioned sales people and were made to understand that their capacity to answer these questions would impact their sales and their take home pay. Because of this, Radio Shack had capable people incentivized to service their customers competently.

Established in 1921 as a mail order shop for amateur radios, Radio Shack was later purchased by the Tandy Corporation, which would soon become a household name for their popular computers. They would grow to more than 8,000 retail stores all over the world.

By 2015, after changing hands several times and going through 7 CEOs in 9 years, the company filed for bankruptcy. A few brick and mortar stores remain, but Radio Shack is today largely just a website with e-commerce functions which I do not imagine many people visit.


Read online about the collapse of Radio Shack and you will find blame spread between poor management decisions, market upheavals like the Internet and e-commerce, and, as the Wall Street Journal worded it “Bare Knuckled Lenders”.

I don’t have time to research this before I need to get this email out, but I’d bet a hundred bucks that, in an effort to save money, Radio Shack reduced or eliminated employee sales commissions.

If I’m wrong about that, which is a distinct possibility, then price competition with retailers who don’t give a crap about their employees, was the most likely culprit.


Thinking about this made me remember the Ayn Rand novel “Atlas Shrugged”. In this book, society’s elites, who have been scorned by their fellow citizens as greedy capitalist pigs, abandon their positions, and retreat to a place they call “Galt’s Gulch”. Upon being relieved of the burdens that these ingrateful peasants imposed upon them, they cure cancer and are presumed to live happily ever after while the rest of the world falls apart in their absence.

The book was thought provoking and, in part for that reason, very popular, especially among libertarians. It certainly delivers an important message, which is that a civilization cannot prosper under perpetual revolution. People who are extraordinarily capable must be allowed to earn in a market driven economy, and be driven by their ambition for wealth and power. Without them, the labor they employ will fall into disorganization and chaos, from which no one can benefit.

But it rings to me a bit like George Orwell’s 1984 today. In this dystopian fiction, the world has fallen to absolute despotism by the year constituting the title, and Big Brother’s all seeing eye keeps the population ever fearful of the most horrific consequences for disobedience.

As it turns out, things are a bit behind schedule and we more closely resemble Aldous Huxely’s “Brave New World”. The population does not fear the government so much as they celebrate its majesty. Instead of Soma, our population is hooked on SSRI anti-depressants, and largely resembles the emotionless dystopia of a 2002 American science fiction film titled “Equilibrium”.

In Brave New World, human beings are no longer sexually reproduced. They are created in a laboratory in one of several classes. Among these classes, the “Alphas” are the smartest and most physically fit and beautiful.

When a lab worker is asked why don’t they just create all Alphas and have a society entirely made up of the most capable people, he explains that this was once tried. The result was that none of the Alphas wanted to do the jobs that make civilization possible like tilling the soil or delivering products to the market. They would sooner wage war against one another than to sink so low, and eventually they completely destroyed themselves.


Numbed to everything by drugs and circumstance, seeing no hope for their futures, the people of our society may or may not show up to work for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Far fewer can be said to enjoy their work or see any importance to what they do aside from the need to pay rent and buy food.


And so, instead of the elites fleeing to Galt’s Gulch, we have a sort of Bizarro Atlas Shrugged situation. The entry level employees of our society are “quite quitting” at best, and in more and more cases completely dropping out to become homeless drug addicts.

Rather than solve this problem, our elites have decided to replace these human beings with computers and robots. Visit a McDonald’s, if you dare, and you are much more likely to place your order on a touchscreen than by speaking it aloud to a cashier.

For now, a human being will still hand you the bag, but it cannot be long before Carl’s Jr. is the dominant chain, and the entire process is completely automated, such as in the 2006 comedy gone documentary film titled “Idiocracy”.


What shall we do about this?

I regret to say I have not the vaguest idea.

But, somebody better figure it out, and fast.


More on this, and plenty else, plus your calls, tonight at 9:30pm US Eastern on the Radical Agenda.


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