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November 19, 2020 80 mins

Robert is joined by Jamie Loftus to discuss Elite Panic.


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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Pie. Well, yeah, like of dolphins, but in this case
also of casts, a cast of pods, for example, like
Attorneys General podcast. I'm Robert Evans. This is Behind the Bastards,
a show where we talked about I do have a
lot of podcasts, thank you, Jamie. As you might notice

in my show about talking about bad people, I have guests,
and today that guest is Madam Jamie Loftiest. I'll take that. Yeah,
that lofts lofts US. Mhmm, lofts US. Yeah. That's when
there's more than one of us in the room, it's
loss and and and then there's Sophie's Lichtman. It's it's
all we should Attorney's General. All plurals is what? What

the statement I'm coming into. It's a complicated language. But
but beautiful, Jamie, how are you doing? Uh? You know?
All things sooner? Good? I learned question. I have HPV.
I have HPV. I learned, Oh, I have HPV. Sorry, No,

it's fine. It's a it's a fun it's a fun
middle non threatening HPV. Uh that yeah, first, it was
a fun. It's nice to have some suspense in your
life that is, like, you know, not a little less
existential where They're like, is it good HPV or bad
HPV And they're like, well, it's you know, it's it's

middling HPV. Well, I'm going to ask our listeners. I'm
gonna ask all of our listeners when this episode drops
to tag us on Twitter and tell us if you
have HPV as well have HPV. It's just fill our
Twitter mentions. Individual threads don't comment on the episode like
tag us individually each time. Absolutely over Walmart twitters everyone

that so many people have HPV and I know it's
so but my my dad did see my Twitter post
about it, and then he was just he was shocked.
He thought HPV was really going to get me, and
then I just had to tell him, it's not going
to get This is We're going to raise awareness about
HPV by overwhelming and making our Twitter's unusable for several

days with a lot of people discussing their presence or
lack thereof of of HPV. Um. So that's my since
between the last Updade the last episode I was on
in this I I learned I at hpd I don't
think I got it. Then I just went to a
ganacologist for the first time in four years because it's

good to have health insurance. I've been to a gynecologist
in a long time. Well, that's you really got to
get your pap. Every couple of every comple careful. Huh,
paps and bagels both need schmir swish sailed it with
the swish. All right, well we should talk. We should

do the thing that is our job to do. Yeah,
the only thing that matters in this world. What's fun
about this episode, Jamie, is that this is an episode
about disasters and how human beings respond to them, and
we're recording it right before the election, and by the
time it drops, the entire world could be a radically
different place. And that's fun. I want to I want

to listen back to this episode later and feel absolutely
sick to my stomach. Yeah, it's gonna be awesome. It's
gonna be so good. I can't wait. We're talking today
about elite panic. Oh yeah, that's the bastard of today.
So I want to start our story are our episode
today with the story of a man named one Peel Piva.

He was born on September in Kazappa, Paraguay, and while
he is most definitely a bastard, he's not the bastard
of our episode. We're gonna start with him though. Um
One grew up working class in a town two fifty
kilometers or fake miles southeast of Paraguay's capital was his now.
His dad was a bus driver, and he started working

at age sixteen selling tickets on his father's bus. His
family also owned a butcher's shop, and he worked there
as a young adult until he had enough money to
open a small butcher's shop of his own in the capital,
which is again scion now, which I'm I probably pronouncing
somewhat wrong. Well, you famously pronounced everything, but I famously
pronounced everything right. I know. By the time he was thirty,
he owned two butcher shops uh, and through frugal money

management and a keen sense of finances, One was able
to open his first grocery store in nineteen eighty five.
He named it Kua Bolognios, which means well of water
and was a reference to a mythical healing spring near
his hometown. Now One's business was successful, but his growing
wealth was met by a growth in the stingy tendencies
that had helped him rise above his humble origins. He

kept his own accounts, and he paid suppliers himself. He
forced his employees to work under what one local paper
described as an enslaving regime. H yeah, so that's not
you know, nice. You get one butcher shop and look
what happens. It's funny too, because like the positive articles
that you'd read about them would call him like, say

he came from a peasant background. But it's like, I mean,
I guess, like you're not rich just because your family
owns a butcher's shop, but like you're not like, I
don't know, peasant seems weird for a family that is
a business owner. I don't know. Yeah, Like, not not
that there's anything wrong with owning a butcher's shop, but
like peasant is anyway. Whatever. One kept his office behind

the cashiers so he could watch them at all times
through the large glass windows that he had installed and
intervene at once if he was unhappy with their performance,
which he frequently was. Um, it's kind of a dick boss.
You know. We've all I mean, I guess most people
who have worked in the service industry have had a
boss like that, really unnecessarily obsessed with your what you're
doing at all times. Now Quotlannos became a modest chain

of supermarkets, with two full grocery stores and one hyper
market just kind of similar to them, all multiple restaurants, shops,
you know, a bunch of you can hold a shipload
of people, like a really big grocery store, right, like
a normal grocery store in the United States, but big,
you know at the time. Again we're talking like the
eighties here. Yeah. His company's slogan was Quablan, synonymous with

quality and low prices. One whose nickname was apparently the Baby,
expanded his business and to a Yeah what, Jamie, he's
the baby. He's the He's the baby, and you gotta
love him. Why is there any reason? I don't know.
I mean, I've only found out that baby unless you're
the rapper. I think that's what people call him. The baby.

The baby is from Dinosaurs, that TV show, right, Yeah,
the baby that come on continue. I know the baby
from so what he's called the baby. And then he's like,
but don't ask why I'm called the baby. No, just
only a lot of so for because of the story
we're about to tell is primarily there's some international stories

because it's wild, but most of the good stories were local,
and so I had to Google translate them, and I
was not able to find anything else about why he
was called the baby. But his nickname was the baby. Okay,
the baby. I'm gonna struggle getting past this. But but
but I'm here, I'm here. Yeah, So he's the baby. Uh.
And he expands his business into a joint stock company.

So he makes it into a corporation with like stock
and shareholders and ship and he starts soliciting investments. Now,
the number of Yukwa Bolanos hypermarkets increased after this point,
because now they have a bunch of funding. In two
thousand one, one opened his largest store yet, Yukuo Bolanos Botanico,
named for its proximity to the Capital Botanical Gardens. This

massive new building was twelve thousand square feet with a
dining area that was capable of seating six d people alone.
So very big fucking store. He's he's it's a big baby.
It's a big old baby. It's old botanical baby. Yeah.
So yeah, he gets he gets things going on, um

and everything's yeah, he's making a lot of money. He's
got a bunch of stores. His net worth climbs to
more than eight million dollars um. And at this point,
you know, he's too busy and has too many employees
to watch over each of them. And like the slightly
creepy stalking way that he had before, this caused him
a lot of anxiety because he was always terrified that
his employees might steal from him. To ensure that the yeah,

I'm gonna go now, to ensure that the crowning jewel
of his empire didn't lose a single centavo that was
due to it, uh One appointed the only man he
could trust to the job of stalking his employees, his son,
Victor Daniel. Now Victor had always been something of a
disappointment to one. The father had hoped his son might
one day play for the national soccer team, but Victor
tended towards obesity and was not at all athletically inclined. Still,

he was able to earn some amount of his father's
pride by being every bit the miser and tyrannical enforcer
that Juan had been. One journalist described him as tough
on employees and stingy on suppliers, but they go him.
The little baby, the baby's baby, the baby baby, the baby. Yeah,
let's let's I've settled the son of the baby. Yeah. Yeah,

uh so. Stingy was kind of an ongoing theme in
the growing empire of one Peel Piva and his son.
While the Ukua Bolanos Botanical was a massive structure in
the pride of his corporation, corners were cut at every
single stage of construction. The ducts from the grill in
the kitchen, the bakery and the rotisserie did not vent outside. Instead,
they pumped smoke and gas into a chamber between the

ceiling and the roof of the building. The roof had
no hold on. Yeah, okay, okay, So there's just there's
just a pollution room. There's a fire room. Yeah, there's
a there's a room to cause a fire. Yes, there
there is a poison room. They like like our recording
studio in our in our in our beloved place, that

we can't record it anymore because of the plague. There's
a poison room in the Yukua Bolanos Botanic. Oh miss
poison room. I miss it too. I miss it too.
As soon as this plague is over, I'm gonna throw
more poison into it room. I'm ready. Yeah, yeah, We're
all ready for the poison room, a workplace poison room.
Now I feel more connected. Yeah, except for in there's

they're venting all of the gas and smoke from their
many ovens cooking for tens of thousands of people on
a weekly basis. Uh, into this room. And the roof
of the room has no wind extractors. Also, you know else,
they don't have Jamie, what smoke alarms? No? No, no, no,
what do you have smoke alarms in your death trap?

There's no sprinklers either. All of the stop cocks on
the fire hoses were closed. Um yeah, so again, absolutely
no safety measures taken in this building meant to hold
thousands of customers. Yeah, okay, okay, okay. So it's the
Titanic of grocery stars. Yes, it is the Titanic of
They no lifeboats on this business. Uh oh god, it's amazing.

It's so fucking funny. It's not because what's about to
happen is one of the worst things I've ever heard about.
One skimped on any emergency training that might have prepared
his employees in the event of a fire as well,
because if you're not going to take any other preparations
for a fire. Why would you even think about it?
You know, start now, Yeah, that would be speaking it
into being Jamie. It's like the secret. You know, if

you think about it, it will come to you. You
don't think of fire. Yeah, I don't want to manifest
a gigantic, devastating grocery store fire. Yeah. Yeah, that's why
I cut out the seat belts on all of my cars.
You know, absolutely, Otherwise you're just inviting t You're inviting
an accident. In exactly, I don't want to have an
accident when I'm drunk driving my Forerunner through a trailer park. No,

And that's why you've never gotten into trouble that way.
And that's why I've never gotten into trouble that way.
I've been saying that for years. I've been saying that
for years, shouting it at police officers chasing me in
my Forerunners for years, as you drunk drive your your
fore Runner. I admire It's it's fairfully admired. Yeah. Now,
so yeah, one takes again like not like aggressively takes

no safety precautions for his massive building meant to cook
and hold thousands of people. Um, yeah, I mean obviously
like if he had done things like train his employees
given to have some sort of fire safety plan, that
would have distracted from the time they could spend working,
which would be the same as them stealing from him.
And one is not going to allow that to happen.

Show them included a hose or two. These are all
unnecessary time sucks disabled the hoses that there were, Like,
that's so funny, more work than not, Like that's so aggressive, okay, okay,
So he's begging for this leading for an explosion. Now,

the question, Jamie, of how One's company was able to
get away with blatant violations of local fire codes. It's
an important one because again, Paraguay is a country they
have laws about making death traps, right, you're not supposed to.
So there's a good question like how did he get
to make a death trap? And it may have had
something to do with the fact that he had a
cozy friendship with one Carlos was Mossy, the president of

Paraguay from in two thousand two. Was Mosy was convicted
of stealing six million dollars from the government's Social Welfare
Institute and diverting it to his personal bank account. So
the odds are quite good that one bribed him to
make concerns over the building safety go away, right, Like
the guy who we know was crooked as ship probably

was being crooked as ship. And one Carlos was like, Oh,
that's the baby. Yeah, you gotta love of especially if
you paid you really totally thousands of dollars. Yeah, baby,
son a baby. Let them do whatever they want. Let
him do whatever they want. I often say that about
babies and about owners of grocery stores. We've given enough

passes to the baby. So unfortunately, Jamie, I don't know
if you're aware of this, but you cannot bribe the
laws of physics. Uh yet, I'm working on it. Life
finds a way, as Ian Malcolm said. So for three years,
the many ovens of the Qua Bolognas Botanica ran all
day long, venting smoke and gas up into the roof

without any way for it to escape. Eventually, more than
nine thousand cubic meters of flammable gases had accumulated up there,
turning the whole roof into of the massive complex into
a ticking time bomb. And then, sometime in the summer
of two thousand four, one of the buildings, ovens got plugged,
and timely action was not taken to unplug it, like

fix the jam, and unbeknownst to Victor, a fire burned
behind the obstruction in the ovens. They weren't cleaning the ovens.
There's a blockage and there's imber's burning behind the blockage,
so they don't realize that there's embers burning behind it.
And yeah, obviously, like so this fire catches on all
of the grease, and the grease starts to burn behind
the obstruction this oven, and it sends in burns into

the sea. Yeah, no one sees it. They think the
oven is just blocked and dead. But behind the obstruction
there are embers burn naing that catch onto the grease
and embers start to float up into the ceiling, which
is again an enormous bomb. Yeah. Yeah. On the morning
of August one, one of those embers finally ignited the

pocket of gas in the ceiling. It happened while more
than a thousand people were inside the business, Most of
them were mothers, many of whom had their children with them.
One male customer who was present later recalled, we were
entering the supermarket when there was an explosion I could
see how bodies, especially little ones, flew through the air, arms, legs.
Another customer later told press it was raining fire when

I was finishing to pay at the cash register. By miracle,
I got out before they closed the doors, foreshadowing of
what's about. Yeah, that's what we're about, the talk the door.
Oh yeah, great question, Jamie on that horrible August morning.
Victor Daniel Piva, who's again one son and the guy
who's job it is to make sure nobody steals from

the baby one son. Victor had arrived late for work
because he had been buying his father tickets for an
upcoming soccer match. It's very likely saved his life because
of where his office was located and where the explosion happened.
But if it did save his life, his survival damned
many more people. Once he arrived on scene within minutes
of the explosion, Victor gave his first order to his

security guards, don't let them out without paying. Oh my god,
why holy shit? And the security guards didn't say no. No.

It's kind of a we could talk about Germans here, um,
but I think everybody knows, like the thing that people
do when they're given orders. Yeah. By the son of
the baby. Yeah. The victor was concerned that the hundreds
of customers attempting to escape the Yuko Bologna's botanic a
death trap wouldn't hang outing thing were leaving the flaming building.

He was worried they were going to leave with arms
full of groceries and consumer goods. Victor Jesus Christ. So
the idea that to Victor that his dad might get
angry at him for letting customers get out with free
goods of his exploding supermarket was more important to him
than the thoughts of the lives of the thousand people

still inside. So he ordered his guards to close and
bar all ten exits to the store. Jesus Christ. Okay,
And they do, and they do that, they do the
ship out of that, okay. So I'm gonna quote from
a journalist in the local newspaper called Nacion quote. Outside

in front of the hypermarket, Victor Daniel Piva could not
stop sweating. He called insistently on the phone for the
employees to get the money out of the boxes while
dozens of people scratched the windows to get out. Oh
my god, it's pretty bad, right, this is like so
this is bad writing. This is horrible. If you made

a if you made a bad guy in like a
movie or a TV do this, people would be like,
nobody would like. And then you're like, no, no, no no, no, wait,
and they call the boss the baby and Jesus that
steal while the building is actively exploding. Yes, okay, it's
going to get so much worse, Jamie. But let's pause

for just a moment. Let's pause for just a just
a split second, with that horrible vision in our heads
of people scratching on the windows of a burning grocery store.
And let's have a little conversation about how money affects
the human brain. Okay, yeah, you want to do that.
You like that? Like talking about this. I love talking
about how money affects the human brain. Is my It's
my favorite thing to do. Is my kink me too. Actually,

there's been a lot of fun studies on this. For
today's purposes, I want to start with a series of
experiments conducted in two thousand six by Dr Kathleen Vose
of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
She led a group of Actually, let me mispronounced Minnesota
because I probably mispronounced something in Paraguay and I want
to be fair Mini sati uh in Minnisati and the

University of Minnesoti. Now she led a group of researchers
to conduct nine experiments, all of which primed half of
their students with thoughts of money. And I'm gonna quote
from Live Science about how they primed people to think
about money. A few methods were used to get the
participants thinking about money, and some experiments a stack of
play monopoly money was within a subject's peripheral view, or
a subject would unscramble word phrases dealing with money, while

in others, a participant would sit in front of a
computer screen savers showing pictures of floating money. So one
and again, they were not telling the people who were
being who are the subjects of the experiment, that money
had anything to do with it, like they were solving puzzles, basically,
and the experiment found that the group who had been
primed to think about money persisted longer at solving difficult

puzzles than subjects who weren't. And that's probably not so surprising,
right The thought of money makes you willing to kind
of like work harder long or at an otherwise meaningless task. Um,
And that's like not unsettling, right, It's pretty natural, like normal. Yeah.
The other experiments were a bit more unsettling. Quote. In
one test, a participant sat in a lab filling out
a questionnaire when a supposed student walked into the room

and said, can you come over here and help me?
She explained that she was an undergraduate student and needed
help coding data sheets, each of which would take five minutes.
Some of the participants didn't help at all. Of those
said the control group volunteered an average of forty two
point five minutes of their time, whereas the money group
gave about twenty five minutes. That's interesting. Another experiment gave
participants the opportunity to lend a helping hand in a

situation requiring no skills. In a staged accident, a random
person walked through a room where a participant sat filling
out a questionnaire and spilled a bunch of pencils. The
money participants picked up far fewer pencils than the controls.
To understand how money affects in her personal relationships, the
scientists told each participant they would have a conversation to
acquaint themselves with another participant while the experimenter went to
retrieve the other subject. The participant was to set up

two chairs for the engagement. The subjects in the money
group put more physical distance between themselves and new acquaintances
compared with control subjects. Again, interesting stuff, Interesting stuff. Now,
the right up I found made a point of note
in that the experimental results showed no difference as a
result of socioeconomic status or gender of the participants. It
seems like just pretty robust. The only real difference was

who had been primed to think about money, which is
again interesting. Now, this is just one study, obviously, so
let's talk about some other studies because a lot of
people have all all monopoly based studies are very funny
and terrified because people just turned into cartoon villains. Would
give it a money. It's fun because the next study
we're about to talk about is a U. C. Berkeley

experiment that involved a hundred pairs of strangers playing monopoly,
with one player getting double the money of the other.
And I'm gonna quote from tea, Yeah it's fun. Yeah,
I'm gonna quote from a ted write up of the
psychologist behind the study. A guy named Paul piff quote,
the rich players move their pieces more loudly, banging them
around the board, and displayed a type of enthusiastic gestures
that you see from a football player who's just scored

a touchdown. They even eight more pretzels from a bowl
setting off to the side than the players had been
assigned to the poor condition, and started to become ruder
to their opponents. Moreover, the rich players understanding of the
situation was completely warped. After a game, they talked about
how they'd earned their success even though the game was
blatantly rigged and their wind should have been seen as inevitable.
And that's really really incredible insight into how the mind
makes sense of advantage. Pif says, yeah, it rocks. Did

you see Did you see the videos of it? The
videos of it are very, very funny. It's just a
bunch of like scrawny college freshmen being like, well, you know,
I did it, so that's why. And then just like crunch, crunch, crunch.
It's it's brutal, but I love that ship. Another study
in California, which is the sensible place to go if

you want to study rich people being assholes, looked into
I find this one really interesting. It looked into how
likely drivers of expensive cars were to stop at crosswalks
for pedestrians, which they're legally required to do in California,
and they found that again, I find this very fascinating,
the more expensive the car, the less likely the driver

was to stop for pedestrians. No one driving, not a
single person. Because they studied the different categories of cars
and they like categorize them by their cost, Not a
single person driving cars in the least expensive car category
failed to stop at a crosswalk. Almost almost fifty of
drivers and expensive cars did. Ye. Corollas, Yeah, like, obviously,

if you drive, you know that somebody in a thirty
five year old fucking Corolla is going to let you
in on the highway and someone driving an Infinity is
going to run you and your children off the road
if that's what it takes to get out out of
the exit three seconds faster. And then if you see
someone in a Tesla, they'll run you over, run your

family over, and then ask for thank you. My personal
favorite thing I've seen and just of the joys of
living in West Los Angeles for a while, was to
a Lamborghini rereinding a lenother Lamborghini. It was a real
let them fight moment. This I forgot. You lived in

like the worst possible area for for pedestrians to just
get run over by tech millionaires. It was great. I
had a lot of fun jogging. Oddly enough, I will
I will say this, not all rich people this way
because dogging I had. I had Sean Penn uh would

drive through my neighborhood a couple of times, and he
was always very good about stopping and giving people time
to move. So I'll say that about Sean pin problematic man,
was polite driver. He congrats to Sean Penn for stopping.
Not congrats to Sean Penn for hitting women and marrying
Val Kilmer's daughter. I love that marrying Val Kilmer's daughter

is an equal crime to the violence violence against women
is the is the worst crime. Marry Val Kilver's twenty
five year old daughter is. It's also not right to do.
It's not you know what it is right to do.
He doesn't run down joggers. I'll give him that. But
but but it's a it's ad time, it's sad time.

It's sad time, all right, and we're returned It was
really fun because I did live in a very nice neighborhood.
It was right on the edge of of Santa Monica.
And the only way I could afford to because my

rent was actually very cheap. I pay like nine bucks
a month, which is cheap for that. Yeah, it's because
the building was was very illegal. The landlord had illegally
subdivided at the half of our power was the like
came the another unit, and half of their power came
from our house, so like when power would go out,
we'd both lose half of our like it was we

had the city coming once and be like, you realize that,
like you could sue your landlord because of all of
the dangerous fire hazards in this apartment, because of how
illegally she subdivided it. And we said, yes, but here's
how much we pay in rent And they said, oh,
I get it. Take your life in your hands every day.
Oh yeah, no, I would risk my life too for

a place that cheap. Fuck God, what a great country, God,
what the best best place in the world. No notes,
Yeah over Sean Penn. I hate Sean Penn. I'm glad
he's a terrible person. The only way he could be
worse as if he ran you over with his car.

So there's that. So you upset, Jamie. I'm sorry, Jane,
it's okay. I just I hate Sean Penn. Yeah, and
speak of you know what, Sean Pinn is a rich person.
Let's keep talking about how bad that is for you.
So uh yeah, again another study, because again, you know,

reading one of these studies, there's things to criticize, you
know about all of them, as there are with all studies.
You keep reading all of the many studies that have
been done on this, and they all make a very,
very consistent point. A two thousand ten study from UCSF
asked three D participants mixed between upper and lower income
individuals to analyze facial expressions of people in photos and
emotions of people in mock interviews. Poor people were consistently

better at reading the emotions of others. But this is neat.
If upper class participants were told to imagine themselves in
the position of poorer people, it boosted their ability to
read other people's emotions. Oh yeah, interesting, right, that's fascinating
to me to really hold a rich person's hand to

get them to empathy. Now, imagine other people were capable
of feelings. I know this is gonna be hard for you.
Just it's just a creative experiment. Yeah, it's not real.
It's not real. The poor don't feel but imagine they did,
But imagine they Okay, So there's a lot more research

on of this type out there, if you're interested in
finding it. To conclude this portion of the episode, I'd
like to read one last quote from Dr Piff summarizing
a significant body of research into how wealth effects behavior.
That's kind of this guy's deal quote. As a person's
levels of wealth increase, their feelings of compassion and empathy
go down, and their feelings of entitlement, of deserving this,

and their ideology of self interest increases. M hm neat
huh net nets. Now, let's return to the equabolagno botanica
to the supermarket actively in flames with its doors boarded
u or yeah, yeah and locked, while Victor in his
guards kept the doors barred and rescued the precious cash

from the registers. Again, he's an getting the cash out. Well,
he's preventing human beings from exiting. That is absertain, but
you have to imagine they're seizing the cash from the
hands of customers and employees who are on fire like.
People are literally describing paying being forced to pay for
their groceries while fire reigns from the ceiling. Guess it's

it's it's fucking wild. Yeah. So, while this goes on
for a while, and eventually the ground floor of the
supermarket collapses into an underground car park where dozens and
dozens of people were trying to flee in their vehicles.
Um and of course those people all burned to death.
The food court was completely engulfed in flames. A lot

of people were just incinerated. Cyanide gas given off by
toxic paint used on the building's roof because they used
poisonous paint that they weren't supposed to be using on
the building's roof, began to suffocate. Panic shoppers, the ones
who are closest to the doors and windows, started breaking
them with whatever they could find. People outside the supermarket
realized was happening and spring into action, gathering sticks and

poles to try to batter down the locked main entrance.
Yeah yeah, human beings who aren't pieces of ship do
attempt to come to the rescue of their fellow human beings.
As always, happens. We'll keep talking about. Liliana Hernandez, who
lived next door to the market, told reporters we couldn't
get inside and people couldn't get out. When the firefighters arrived,

they too were stymied by the locked doors of the
Yuqua Bolanos, and eventually they had to go into Liliana's
home and batter holes through the walls of her home
in order to get into the supermarket. By the time
they finally breached the building, there was little for them
to drag out but corpses. I'm a quote now from
a rite up in The Guardian. Some victims were found
hugging each other, one of them a woman with a

smile child in her arms. A firefighter told local radio
a disco opposite to the supermarket was being used as
a makeshift morgue. Overnight, army troops unloaded truckloads of wooden coffins.
Early today, tearful relative were filing into identify bodies. There
are no words for this, said Orlando Korea, weeping. After
identifying the corpse of his six month old nephew. He

then searched for his sister among the lines of charred bodies.
This is a moment of great anguish, said the Paraguayan President,
Nicanor Duarte, who declared three days of national mourning. Officials
said it was the worst tragedy in Paraguay since a
failed military insurrection in nineteen forty seven had left around
eight thousand people dead. Francisco Barrios, who had been shopping
at the store but managed to escape, told of the

confusing scene minutes after the fire started, with people rushing
for the doors. There were sparks as if fireworks were
going off. He said. The store quickly caught fire and
filled with smoke, triggering total confusion. I lost my wife
and kids as I rushed to get out. Now I'm
trying to find them. God. By the time the fires
were finally extinguished and the last charred corpse was identified,

at least four hundred and twenty four people had died.
That's about half of the folks who were in there.
Four hundred twenty four people. More than three hundred were injured.
Three quarters of the people in Yokua Bologno's Botanica at
the time of the fire failed to make it out
of the death trap of a market unharmed. Three quarters
of the people in there now obviously a nightmare of

the scale demands some sort of vengeance, and I immediately
turned to Wan and Victor Piva. Both father and son,
of course, denied that they had ordered the doors locked
and barred. Victor immediately blamed the store operations manager, Vincent A.
Ruise forgiving the order, since Ruise had died in the fire,
he was a pretty good escape can No. I was like, please,
don't say he blamed a person who burned up when

it was his fault. Holy shit, Yeah, it's it's it's
I don't know, I don't even know what to say.
It is. It's horrible, it's not good, it's that's I
can't even like wrap my head around that. That's and
and just like a store so obscenely large to have

no oversight is yeah, it's I it's pretty good, Jamie.
I know, like I say that, but like I was
fucking in tears reading some of these stories, like so
many little kids burnt to death in the arms of
their mothers trying to shield them from the flames, dozens

of them, like an out like like this is this
is like a war crime level tragedy. But it was
a supermarket fire, like like you could it couldn't be
a more unsuspecting group of people. And there you have
to imagine all like ordinary. I just I can't even

wrap my head around that that's so. And then they
and then they blamed someone that they had killed. Yeah,
it's like okay, it's honestly, I think to most people,
it is an incomprehensible level of evil, like and in fairness,
to most people who own supermarkets, it's an like you

have insurance, why are you It's like it's one thing
if you're like, you know, fucking big Oil did something
like that, But it's a supermarket. I mean, I guess
Jack sounds a supermarket, but but super I don't think
of supermarket owners as supervillain. You're watching dying people pound
on the windows of your store as you rescue their cash,

like it's amazing. I just the also just like the
level of brain dead, like, yeah, how does he think
he's going to get away with that? He's like, well,
at least I'll have escape money. At least I'll have
the scape money. It's it's it's super villain like cartoons supervillain,
Like honestly, not because the cartoon supervillain wouldn't do this, No,

they would, they could disappear Captain Planet villains had more nuance.
It's amazing. Um. Yeah, so these obviously they get charged
with gross negligence and a bunch of other crimes alongside
force rty. Guards from jail want issue to proposition to
rebuild his supermarket and make the families of the victims
into shareholders. He also offered to give them jobs, which

some might call him mixed offer at best. Oh, he
really is like the world's dumbest person. There's God the
son that rich people are horrible, but the children of
rich people are worse because they don't they don't even

have a skill. It's that's fucking that's so. I can't
wrap my head around this story. This is so, it's
pretty fun. So Paraguayans were not enticed by the proposition
of a store to profit the families of the dead people.
They that's a very hardcore libertarian answer for like, well,

what if we just make a store that they can
profit from, that we build over the ashes of where
their loved ones died, and my supermarket fire could be
a fun second act. Yeah, amazing, Yeah, it's the kind
of thing you do with other people aren't people to you,
you know, yes, uh so, yeah they obviously the people

of Paraguay of Socion were not enticed by this proposition.
They filled the streets of the capital with graffiti de
grning the pivos as murderers. In December of two thousand six,
one victor and one security guard were convicted of manslaughter,
receiving maximum sentences of five years. Several company shareholders had
been tried for negligence and they were all acquitted. This

did not make people happy. And the citizens, Yeah, it's
are they killed four people? Are you kidding me? They
should be killed in the town square. Yeah, they should
be publicly executed, okay with that in this case, yeah,
the people of Asuncion, led by a family member of
the dead, immediately rioted through the streets, breaking things, lighting

police cars on fire. Doing totally justified it. Right, This
is absolutely the time to riot. Right. We can debate
over what justifies a riot, this sure does. This is
you know, this is the yardstick to use. Yeah, this,
this is like the clearest justification. I can imagine a
lot of things justify riots, but for sure, this you know,

uh yeah, so yeah, they rioted and Eventually, the government
was forced to retry the case because people lit enough
cars on fire. Oh good, well that might be a lesson.
They're letting cars on accomplishes things. One could argue that,
you know, could I mean, it's it certainly did in
this case. You know, I like cars on fire in minecraft,

and it's really accomplished a lot locally. It got the
job done here sort of h better than things have
been before. One was re sentenced to twelve years in prison,
victor to ten, the security guard to five, and one
company shareholder was sentenced to two and a half years, which, yeah,
you know it's better. It's still like not how many

cars need to be set on fire to get a
reasonable sentence, Jesus exactly. The people of Paraguay, Yeah, they
had been agitating for a twenty five year sentence, which
is the maximum that like they're like is allowed. Um now.
One of the leaders that evolved out of the protest
movement was a guy named Dr Roberto al Meron. He
treated many of the burn victims of the fire, all
the while unaware that his own son had perished in

the blaze. Um so you see why this guy, Yeah, yeah,
Dr Almron told reporters. This is the country we have
where the institutions do not fulfill their function, where the
businessmen are capable of creating a crematorium for innocence. A
drawer with two doors is a roof of a karrat
and closed with fences and jail like bars for a

few dollars, just in a country with an absent state
where assistance to the victims was only media and temporary.
After that, everything remained the same, the same country where
the judiciary and the municipality itself are buildings that do
not have a fire riskape, devoid of values. In a
terminal stated, I mean he's talking like, yeah, I think

we can all identify with what he's saying, right, Yeah, yeah,
the state and the judiciary are buildings with no fire escape.
Yes I don't. Yeah, it's like, what an unfortunate metaphor,
But I I see what you're saying. Yeah. The lyrics
of a rap song broadcast on Paraguay and television after
the verdict were more succinct. Let no one leave without paying,

and so it was they paid with their lives. Yeah, yep, Oh,
well that's fucking devastating. You know what's not devastating, Jamie,
what products products? And that's you know, I think that
that if there's anything we just learned, it's that the
power of products and services, that's what's going to pull

us through the people. That's what's going to save us
as products and or services and our services. I'm so sorry,
he ads. We're back. We're back talking about how funny
it is that attorney general. The plural of it is
is attorneys general. And we were talking about Sun's glass.

It's very it's very silly to me. I know it's
correct grammar, but it's silly. If I cloned Sunny. It's
Sun's glasses? Is it Soun's glass? Son's Attorney's general, Son's class?
Mother's fuck? They should they should really change that. It's funny.
You know, it's not funny, Jamie. Oh, whatever you're about

to say for the next hour, the Equablanio supermarket fire
was not was not funny. It was a nightmares tragedy
enabled by greedy shareholders to craven manager, complicit security guards,
and a profoundly selfish company founder, One Piva. I meant
what I said earlier. One is not the primary bastard
of today's story. Our bastard is in staid, a phenomenon,

a concept, the deadly serious thing that he represents in
his actions. It's a phenomenon sociologists call elite panic. It
sounds like a boutique store where they charged to where
they charged forty for a pair of socks. But what
is it well, it's a term that was coined by

sociologists Karen Chess and Lee Clark of Rutger's University in
a two thousand eight study they published under the title
Elites and Panic more to fear than fear itself. It
opens with these words. Sociological research on how people respond
to disasters has been going on for more than fifty years.
From that research comes one of the most robust conclusions

in sociology. Panic is rare, And of course they mean
that panic from regular people directly affected by a disaster
is extremely rare. The normal human behavior, regardless of body count, type,
or duration of tragedy, is compassion and collective action. Mutual
aid is far more common and panic. Think of the

people outside of the Quabolania supermarket, right, the ones who
rushed to help their fellow human beings by trying to
batter down the doors with poles that they found nearby.
That's a bunch of people. One person made the decision
to lock the doors, you know, right, So that's so
the argument that mutual aid is is the more natural
instinct than the panic, okay, is the documented by extensive research,

most common reaction of people and disasters. Think of the
people during Hurricane Katrina who used their boats to search
for food and other supplies and abandoned stores that they
could then distribute to their fellow citizens in need. A
lot of times they were called looters by the news.
You know. It's like the people being like, well, this
place is flooding everything and it's going to go bad,
and people are hungry. Perhaps the food out of it
sold that, don't you They didn't pay for it. It

is it is the same instinct that led to that
all of those people burning to death in the UK.
Bolagnia is like, well, but they're not paying. Yeah, it
doesn't matter that it's all wasted because the buildings on
fire or flooded. They're not they're not paying. You know,
who would they pay? Their story now, The main argument

of Chess and Clark's study is that governments should include
the citizen remore in their disaster plans, rather than assuming
danger will cause the citizen read will collapse into an
unruly mob who need to be controlled by armed men,
because that's basically all government plans for disasters, Like everyone's
gonna panic and the cops will have to beat them
into responding properly, right, Like that's how we or the
National Guard or whatever. Quote, classic classic approach, classic elites. Berkland,

who has conducted extensive is another researcher who has conducted
extensive research on the matter, argues that the disaster plans
of policymakers and emergency management personnel assume it is likely
it being panic. Planners and policymakers sometimes act as if
the human response to threatening conditions is more dangerous than
the threatening conditions themselves. Politically, the problem with panic endures because,
as Tyrney argues was another researcher, it resonates with institutional

interests operating on the assumption that poll panic and disasters
leads to a conclusion that disaster preparation means concentrating resources,
keeping information close to the vest, and communicating with people
in soothing ways, even if the truth is disquieting. As
Tierney points out such an approach of advance as the
power of those at the top of organizations. Oh okay, okay,

good stuff. This is yeah, this is tracking. But you
don't hear it. Phrases me a lot all scans in
a two thousand and six and again, one of the
fun things about this is that, like, there's very little
disagreement about from people who study disasters on this subject.
In a two thousand six study of disaster responses conducted
by Dr Clark, they noted rather cautiously that disaster plans

only ever assumed panic on behalf of the general public.
People in positions of authority, including the cops, are assumed
to keep a cool head at all times. The powerless,
not the powerful, are said to panic, but the reality
is generally the exact opposite. It's great if rules we
had a ton of documented evidence of this being exactly

the case, If only people had devoted their lives to
proving that this was not the case. Quote. The image
of panic is generally associated with large numbers of people
in elites do not congregate, making it hard to transfer
the image of panic to them. Was one does not
see collections of chief executive officers amassed in a stadium,
and so it is unlikely that a story will ever

appear about CEO panic in response to a soccer stadium fire. Still,
this is not a sufficient explanation for panic to be
so rarely attributed to people in positions of authority. For
one could, in principle, explain the actions of chief executives,
heart surgeons, army generals, or university officials by a legend
that they panicked in certain situations. Yet such explanations remain rare.

So Jamie, let's talk about some of those examples. We
opened this this episode with the story of a CEO panicking,
and I think perhaps we should talk about an army
general panicking next. Yeah, let's get a wide john of
people in power losing their ship, losing their fucking minds.
At five twelve am on April eighteenth, nineteen o six,

the city of San Francisco suffered a massive earthquake. For
a full minute, the ground shook, tossing tall buildings to
the ground like discarded legos, cracking the streets, breaking gas lines,
crumpling street cars. It also sent chimneys crumbling to the ground,
and when one mixes falling chimneys with punctured gas lines.
It's perhaps not surprising that the next thing to strike
San Francisco was a Titanic fire. By the time it

was done, twenty eight thousand structures had been incinerated, and
nearly five square miles of the city was just gone.
More than three thousand people died, and obviously, like this
is six we've ever gonna know the death toll um.
Half half the city was left homeless. People couldn't even
count to five thousand back then. No, no, no, they
hadn't invented numbers larger than three thousand. That's why it

was three thousand right there, Like, well, we've stopped out.
I guess after it comes to head, we had our
scientists were trying to count to see how high numbers went,
but they kept dying of old age at three thousands.
So that was that was the ceiling of numbers at
this point that this is very sad. It's a horrible disaster. Yes,

thankfully they're further away from us in times, so it's
it's easier to say, but their clothes are so silly. Yeah. Again,
distance creates sociopathy, which is why the rich and powerful
act the way they do and why we're going to
tell jokes about a fire that killed three thousand people
in San Francisco. So where were distant from it? We are?
Every human beings are the problem. Yes, power is the problem.

Hierarchy is the problem. Distance is the problem. But anyway,
so half of the city's left homeless, which is exactly
the sort of situation you'd expect to generate a tremendous
amount of panic. There are walls of fire eating the city,
people's homes are gone, they've just had an earthquake. Yeah,
you would expect panic, right like that? That that Yeah, Instead,
the very opposite occurred. In her masterpiece, A Paradise Built

in Hell, Rebecca Soulnett tells the story of miss Anna
Amelia Holehouse, or a middle aged woman who's home wound
up in the path of the fire. So she loses
her house and she winds up. She travels calmly with
thousands of other people to Golden Gate Park, where they
are able to hide from the fire basically, and she
pretty much immediately decides to establish a mutual aid kitchen

quote whole Houses started a tiny soup kitchen with one
tin can to drink from and one pie plate to
eat from all over the city. Stoves were hauled out
of damaged buildings. Fire was forbidden indoors, since many standing
homes had gas leaks or damaged flues or chimneys or
primitive stoves were built out of rubble, and people commenced
to cook for each other, for strangers, for anyone in need.
Her generosity was typical, even if her initiative was exceptional.

Whole house or got funds to buy eating utensils across
the bay in Oakland. The kitchen began to grow, and
she was soon feeding two to three hundred people a day,
Not a victim of the disaster, but a victor over
it and the hostess of a popular social center. Her
brothers and sisters keeper. Some visitors from Oakland liked her
makeshift dining camp so well they put up a sign
this hotel, naming it after the burned out downtown luxury

establishment that was repeatedly once the largest hotel in the world.
And this was the norm. She was one of hundreds
and thousands of people who made like One of the
stories that she tells in this book is of like
a local cop who the earthquake kids he sees people
looting and instead of doing anything about that, he starts
a kitchen to feed people, like and yeah, like that's

what people do, that's what Yeah, even cops when they're
at Crown zero can act that way moment for cops
nineteen o six cops, they weren't trained yet, so that
was helpful. Yeah, that's incredible. Yeah, mutual aid networks were
incredibly common in San Francisco. Butchers opened up their shops
and started handing out free meat and mass for kitchens

like the Palace Hotel to turn into stew because they
were like, well, it's gonna go bad, we might as
well just give it away to people. And like, there
were some large butcher shops who stopped, but there were
at least a couple of very large like businesses that
were like massive butcher who were who not only gave
away their meat, but use their employees and resources and
vehicles to try to to cart it around the city
for free to hand out to people. Again, again, we're

not I'm not saying that like rich people businesses always
react the way that the Qua Bolognas guy did because
they were at ground zero of the disaster. They were
affected by it, and they immediately sue, like my house
has gone to my city's fucked up, Like this isn't
about money. People need to eat, you know, that's I mean,
very different situation. But I feel like we've even seen
some of that this year, and like, yeahs that are
highly affected by COVID where some businesses that you're like, oh,

I wouldn't have expected this business to have sent it up,
but they're just in the middle of it, so it
makes more sense that they would actually do something. Yeah,
during the worst of the of the police and federal
riots in Portland, there was a free rib restaurant that
started and was given like donated like three and fifty
thousand dollars um and then there was an armed coup
that took it over. But like that's a long story

where I look forward. I look forward, so uh yeah,
it was this is like but again, like this is
just what people started doing. They started collect people, like
groups of young men spontaneously organized to pick through the
ruins and ruins of stores and buildings to grab warm clothing, blankets,
medicine and food that they could then take back and

give away to their fellow people to whoever needed it.
Selling of such items was all but unheard of during
this period, as one man who operated a mutual aid
food delivery wagon later recalled, and the reason he did
this is because he had a horse in a cart
and he was like, well, obviously the thing I should
do is use my resources to give food to people
for free, right Yeah, as this guy said quote, no

questions were asked, no investigations were attempted. Whatever the applicant
required was given to him or her if I had it,
and the plan seemed to work excellently. Again, no means testing,
No do you really need this? Just like you say
you need it? Here you go, here you go, Like
here you fucking go. This is what I have. You know,
if I have it, it's yours. Despite the horrors of
the quake in the fire, many San Franciscans who survived

described the city in this period as something of a utopia,
with people coming together to take care of each other
in a way that everyone seemed to find more fulfilling
than their daily lives had been. The writer Mary Austin
noted that the people of her city became houseless, but
not homeless, for it comes to this with the bulk
of San Franciscan's that they discovered the place and the
spirit to be home rather than the walls and the furnishings.

No matter how the insurance totals foot up, what landmarks,
what treasures of art are vanished? San Francisco are San
Francisco is all there Yet fast as the tall banners
of smoke rose up and the flames reddened them, rose
up with it, something impalpable, like an excellation. That's really beautiful.
I feel bad, I mean, I mean I felt I
feel that I made fun of them. Timis, Yeah, it's beautiful. Yea.

The tech industry wasn't there yet, so people were better
before got there. It sounds like a beautiful place. There
was a community spirit at one point. Yeah not. I'm sorry,
San Franciscans. I know a lot of people who will
anyway we should do in the right thing, and I
keep doing it because there's yeah, there's too many of

the other ones. Yeah. So hundreds of plumbers worked free
for a full week to like stop broken pipes so
that like there wouldn't be water flitting everywhere. One automobile
dealership lent all of its cars out as ambulances for
the sick and wounded. Was just like, take all of
our fucking cars as ambulances, like to do whatever with them,
Like like, we trust that you will use them as
they need to be used. Clearly, people need vehicles right now.

The manager of the dealership later gave a quote to
a reporter that was essentially an early summary of the
concept of elite panic. I find this fascinating quote. All
the big hotels, such as the St. Francis, the Palace,
and others were filled with Eastern and other tourists who
seemed to have lost their heads entirely. Indeed, the only
really scared people that I can remember having seen through

the first three days of the fire were people of
this class. In many cases, these would come to the
garage offering to pay any price for the use of
an automobile that would take them out of the city. However,
we at salutely refused to accept money from any such applicant,
and as long as we saw that the petitioner was
able to walk, we refused to furnish a machine. Hell yeah, yeah, yeah,

But it's the rich people trying to prioritize their needs
over yeah people, over ambulances. Yes, yeah, fucking great. The
people of San Francisco by and large did not panic.
But Brigadier General Frederick Funston, the commanding officer of the
Presidio Military Base, was a different story. According to Rebecca

Soul that he quote perceived his job as saving the
city from the people, rather than saving the people from
the material city of cracked and crumbling buildings, fall in
power lines, and towering flames. Uh So what other people
saw is it millennial good fellowship, which is one of
the things ways that, like the spirit in San Francisco
was described Funston and others in power saw as a

mob to be repressed and a flock to be heard.
It sounds familiar, funds. Yeah, Funston did the only thing
that a guy with an army at his beck and
call generally thinks to do, which is sin soldiers in
about it. Now. He had no legal right to do this,
because it's illegal to do this without under very specific circumstances. Um.

But he forced the city under martial law again illegally. Now,
in Funston's eyes, the civilians who picked their way through
ruined shops to save precious food before it's spoiled, we're
not engaging in mutual aid they were, in his words,
an unlicked mob, licked meaning like them and beaten. You know,
we need to beat them to stop this bank, these

these lawbreakers. Yep. The city mayor, Eugene Schmitz was a
working class labor union supporting populist, but he wound up
reacting no differently than Funston, a man whose prior work
experience had mostly consisted of violently suppressing the International Workers
of the World, a quasi anarchist workers union now mere,
Schmidts issued a proclamation, the federal troops, the members of

the regular Police Force, and all special police officers have
been authorized by me to kill any and all persons
found engaged in looting or in the commission of any
other crime. No wait, people are feeding each other, and
he's like, shoot him again. This is the populist, working
class labor union supporting mayor. This is it's just what

happens when you're in power. That's that's a that is
a more extreme example than I was expecting. Just do
a hell turn on every Actually I've had a change
of heart. Kill them, like you know, when the looting starts,
the shooting starts, because as we all know, property is

the same as human life. Yeah, when once you got
once you're in charge of a lot of property, that
just just how you start to think, Wow, that's a
that's a that's a bad one. Yeah. Well, obviously, being
again people following orders, the federal troops did as they
were old as soliman rites quote in treating the citizens

as enemies. The occupying armies drove residents and volunteers away
from scenes where fire could be prevented. In many parts
of the city, only those who eluded the authorities by diplomacy, stealth,
or countering invocation of authority were able to fight the blaze.
Those who did saved many homes and work sites. There
are no reliable figures on mortality in the earthquake, but
the best estimates are that about three thousand died, mostly

from the earthquake itself. One historian suspects that as many
as five hundred citizens were killed by the occupying forces.
Another estimates fifty to seventy five. Again, we'll never know,
because when they would shoot people, they would throw their
corpses into burning buildings. This is the US Army. Okay, okay,

good stuff, holy sh it, okay. So that so that
three thousand number you know, yeah, Jesus again, who knows
how many people they actually shot to death. The soldiers
didn't only kill people. In many cases, they made the
fire worse. So, you know, you have these fires raging
through the city, and one of the things you do

in that situation is you would demolish a bunch of
buildings in order to create a firebreak. Right, It's the
same thing you if you've got like a fire in
the woods, you might like like burned down. You might
do a controlled burn to destroy like a strip of
trees in order to create a break that the fire
that's is uncontrolled can't spread through. It's a pretty normal strategy.
It's a fine strategy, and would be demolition buildings to
stop a fire not a bad thing to do when

you have a situation like this. However, when you are
doing this in a massive urban fire, dynamite is the
preferred or at least at that point, was the preferred
thing to use, because dynamite is less likely to start
fires outside of the blast area, just because of the
way that dynamite works. Instead, the soldiers barrels of gunpowder. No,

and again you're just like, this is the army, this
is supposed to be there. But you're supposed to and
you probably have dynamite because you're the army. Where was
all the dynamite at spoken? Obviously, the armies failures like
massively spread fires and destroyed thousands of buildings that might

have otherwise been saved. I really do recommend reading like
and there's there's other ship that they did too. Like
one of the things that most fucked up, but maybe
least obvious, is that they started establishing soup kitchens to
feed people in some cases like pushing other ones out
of operation. But when the military did it, everyone got
like ration cards and you had a very strict limited
set that you could get and you could only come in,

and it was like they were basically like they were
almost like treated as prisoners while they were getting their
food and stuff, because they didn't want to encourage dependency
by giving out too much free food or making it
be pleasant, as opposed to the mutual aid kitchens that
were like eat your phil you know, yeah, like eat
what you take, what you need and people will do that. Yeah, yeah, yeah,
I didn't. I honestly I didn't know that about this book.

And I'm a soul knit head she's great, have no
idea what this is, what I'm I have very favorite books.
I really do recommend reading A Paradise Built in Hell.
She goes into tremendous and fascinating and it's again for fairness,
like the army did other stuff that was like they organized,
like medical ambulances and ship like. There were good things
that soldiers did and that like individual local leaders did,

but there were a lot of bad things and I
in my head it kind of outweighs the good. Um, yeah,
it's Soulnet's book has been very influential. It's I think
uh was influential. One of my favorite books Tribe by
Sebastian Younger, which delves into some of the same topics.
UM is more about PTSD, but talks a lot about

why like um, why U S soldiers probably suffer PTSD
at a higher rate than any other soldiers in the
history of warfare and it it his The kind of
conclusion he comes to is that it's because of the
society they come home to, rather than the specific details
of modern combat. Um, it's because of how fucked civilization is.
It's because like when when you break down, as when
you head home to an empty apartment. You know, it's

not when you're out in the field with your buddies
and ship. It's when you come home and you're in
an empty building, the way that we tend to live
alone and isolated. Then you shatter into a thousand pieces. Anyway,
Also a good book tried, Yeah, soul Nets book has
been very influential to a number of people who I
think are pretty darn smart. One example would be Corey Doctoro,
who I like quite a lot. Yeah, and he wrote

this on the subject of elite panic quote. Elites tend
to believe in a venal, selfish, and essentially monstrous version
of human nature, which I sometimes think is their own
human nature. I mean, people don't become incredibly wealthy and
powerful by being angelic necessarily. They believe that only their
power keeps the rest of us in line, and that
when it somehow shrinks away, our seething violence will rise

to the surface. That was very clear in Katrina. Timley
garden Ash and Maureen Doubt and all these other people
immediately jumped on the bandwagon and started writing commentaries based
on the assumption that the rumors of mass violence during
Katrina were true. A lot of people have never understood
that the rumors were dispelled and that those things didn't
actually happen. It's try Jake now I found another write
up in Commentary magazine that continues Doctro's line of thought

with more concrete examples, both from Katrina and from our
present disaster. Quote elite panic frequently brings out another unsavory
quirk on the part of some authorities, a tendency to
believe the worst about their own citizens. In the midst
of the Hurricane Katrina crisis in two thousand five, New
Orleans Mayor Ray Nagan found time to go on Oprah
Winfrey Show and lament Wholigan's killing people, raping people in

the Superdome. Public officials in the media credulously repeated rumors
about street violence, snipers shooting at helicopters, and hundreds of
bodies piled in the Superdome. These all turned out to
be wild exaggerations or falsehoods, arguably tinged by racism, but
the stories had an impact Away from the media's cameras.
A massive rescue effort made up of freelance volunteers, Coastguard, helicopters,

and other first responders was underway across the city, but
city officials, fearing attacks on rescuers, frequently delayed these operations.
They ordered that precious space and boats and helicopters be
reserved for armed escorts. Jesus Christ, if that doesn't sum
up America failing to rescue people because you needed more
room for guns, is like we love guns more than

we love our own since that's such a strange thing
to even like here repeated back, because it's like, I
mean in certain circle that it's like known that that
is not something to happen. But I clearly remember when
I was a kid when that was happening, that being
just fully the only coverage you would really see. It

was like that first saw off there there was a
horrific tragedy, and second off that the citizens were being
blamed for a thing like that was so there was
more of that and you didn't really hear the other
side at all. Nope, No, why would you. Again, it's
the same thing that is Twitter's purpose, which is so
that you can tell a lie and then corrected with

the truth. But nobody reads that second Twitter. It's there,
it's all there, it's there, but we don't read it.
I'm going to continue that quote from Commentary magazine as
it moves into the present day. Too often, the need
to avoid panic serves as a retroactive justification for all
manner of official missteps. In late March, as the coronavirus
pandemic was climbing towards its crest in New York City,

Mayor Bill de Blasio appeared on CNN State of the
Union to defend his record. Host Jake Tapper pressed the
mayor on his many statements as recently as two weeks
earlier urging New Yorkers to go about their lives. Tapper
asked whether those statements were at least in part to
blame for how the virus has spread across the city.
To Blasio, didn't give an inch. Everybody was working with
the information we had, he explained, and trying, of course,

to avoid panic. How advising people to avoid bars and
Broadway shows would have been tantamount to panic was left unexplained.
And again, yeah, it's the same thing. Right. People had
shut down earlier, it would have meant less money. It's
locking the doors and saving the money from the cash
registers while people burned to death. That's the It's the
same thing. They all do it, ever the period of

days and months instead, and then people still pray it
is de Blasio for his you know whatever. He did
a terrible job. He's a monster, like he's yeah, they're
they're all, they're all trash. That's the point, you know. Like,
and the fact that he's better than someone who has
actively pretended that the virus isn't a problem doesn't say

anything good about him. It's just me. It's like the
bar is beneath the floor, the bar is in the
parking garage. Like it's like if you step on a
rusty rake and it goes through your foot, and then
the person ten feet away steps on a land mine,
like like you're like, well, I'm glad I didn't step
on the land mine, but you're not happy, you know,
but I'm still gonna die if I didn't get my tea. Yeah,
you still have a problems rake tenness rake v land mine. Well,

the election of our lives. Well, it's like, well, this,
this horrifying metaphor has has really come full circle. Thank you. Now.
That Commentary magazine article goes into detail about another disaster,
a nine point to magnitude earthquake, off the Alaskan coast.
In March of nineteen sixty two, Anchorage, the state's largest city,

was devastated. Thousands were rendered homeless, Whole neighborhoods fell off
of cliff sides, and then the thing that happens in
every disaster happened. People spontaneously organized search and rescue teams
to find their trapped neighbors. Meanwhile, the people in charge panicked.
In order to protect local businesses from looting, the police
immediately deputized a crowd of volunteers, many of whom had

been drinking in bars and instant like right before the
quake hit. So they find a bunch of drunk men
and give them arm bands with the word police written
on them in lipstick. No, no, it's very funny. They
also gave a lot of them guns. But it's Alaska.

Everybody was already packing. I mean, let's be honest here. Yeah. Yeah,
oh my god. Yeah. Now, in doing this, cops were
acting in accordance with the science of the day, as
embodied by the work of social scientist Richard Titmus, which
let's just let's take a moment for Titmas. Like Titmus,
it's like a boob based Christmas. That sounds like either

really terrible disease or oh she's got the titmos yeah,
or very titmus, and then you're like very aggressive. Yeah. Yeah.
So he believed Titmus believe that any major disaster would
cause quote a mass outbreak of hysterical neurosis among the
civilian population. Civilians traumatized by death and destruction, he thought

would behave like frightened and unsatisfied children. The only way
for authorities to avoid such horror was to use force
and the threat of force immediately. And again, this was
very heavily influenced over the Cold War. Right, people are
every one of the governments thinking what's going to happen
when the nukes fall? In The assumption is everyone will
panic and we'll have to shoot a bunch of them
in order to maintain order. The fun thing about this

is they don't even have the excuse of like, well,
they didn't know at the time, They hadn't done as
much research. The bombing of London had happened, like the
Blitz had occurred, right, and they had going into the blitz,
we talked about this and it could happen here. Younger
talks about it and tried going into the blitz. Everyone
had expected that the entire city would panic and people
be like eating each other and like committing rape and murder.
And instead everyone did the thing people always do in

disasters and took care of each other collectively cared. Okay,
but nobody listened, you know, no one, No one had
charge paid attention because they just can't imagine that that's
the case. It's you have to imagine it actively benefits
them to make people afraid of each other. Yeah, yes, absolutely,
because then other things might happen that they wouldn't like.
So the elite panic over the possible chaos outweighed any

obligation to protect the citizens of Anchorage. The police chief
immediately suspended the search for survivors in the rubble, like
because he's worried about chaos. Now, we don't have time
to look for any survivors. Like, we have to get
these lipstick cops out on the street, give guns to
more drunk that's what's gonna protect people. Okay, I would
see a movie called lipstick Cops. Lipstick cops, especially if

they're police who only police the quality of people's use
of lipstick. Right, and that was the same violence as
modern cops. Yeah, with the same amount of baseless judgment
and violence as a model swat teams just opening up
in Los Angeles malls. There's whole corners of YouTube devoted
to this, this very ellipstick copery. Not after the lipstick

cops get in it, there won't be purged. So yeah,
so again, everyone in charge, a lot of them at
least panic. The people, of course do not. And since
the police chief has called off the search for survivors,
the citizens of Anchorage spontaneously organized groups of citizens and
pull every single survivor from the ruins. And in fact,
they had done it by the time the police chiefs

like like by the like. While the police chief was
like panicking about chaos like, people were actively like finishing
the search for survivors. It's very funny quote. By the
morning after the quake, more than two volunteers were jammed
inside the Anchorage Public Safety building and they brought equipment.
Earth movers and dump trucks lined the street outside. Two
volunteers took it upon themselves to organize the crowd. They

wrote down names and skills carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and started
matching people to the tasks that were pouring in. Somebody
hung up a sign manpower control. In little more than
twelve hours, the gangs of shatting pastors by pulling victims
from the wreckage had turned into a workforce where authorities
expected panicked crowds. Instead they found gun hole volunteers, skilled workers,
asking only to be pointed towards jobs that needed doing.

In the end, and this is the writing of a
social scientists named Muallam who studied this. In the end,
this diffused wave of unofficial first responders had reclaimed almost
all the cities engine dead before nightfall on Friday morning.
All over the city, ordinary people urge surged into action,
teaming up and switching on like a kind of civic
immune response, which is how Muallam describes this, which I

really find. Yeah. When reporters from what Alaskans call outside
and reaching the city, many were openly skeptical of the
low fatality numbers being reported by Davis's search crews. At first,
twelve four believed to be lost, but survivors kept turning up. Eventually,
the Anchorage death tolls settled in an almost miraculous five people,

so thankfully not another supermarket fire. Now. This situation fascinated
a team of social scientists from Ohio State University who
arrived a day and a half after the disaster, and
there they were studying people's disaster response under funding from
the U. S. Army because the military, like it was
the Cold War again, the defense industry had a deep
and abiding interest of knowing, like if there's a mass

disaster in the city, how do people react? Um, And
they had the military had sent them there basically being like,
tell us how they panic, Like, so we can figure
out ways to like violently corral the citizenry once they
panic and a disaster. Some blame tactics were always looking
for new material. Here, give us, give us like who
tell us who we need to shoot next time this happened?

They suck, right, go on, tell us how bad they sucked. Yeah.
Researchers though, like again they come, so they come expecting
chaos and violence, and instead they find like people taking
care of each other the way they always do. Researchers
approached citizen after citizen in the work groups and asked
them each variations of the same question, who told you
to do this? And the answer always boiled down to nobody,

like someone needed to do this. So here, I am
just I'm a person. Yeah, I'm a person doing the
thing that people do. Minimum what about Yeah? Yeah, why
aren't you fucking helping you put the fucking clipboard down? Dude?
Question is that? Yeah? Yeah, there's people who are hurt. Like,
what do you fucking mean? What am I who told

me to do this? Yeah? Quote from commentary. The team
stayed for a week and interviewed nearly five people, and
we Coo Quarantelly. This leader of the study was particularly
interested in Anchorage. A small civil defense office, it should
have been in charge of search and rescue, but Quarantelly
noted it had quickly become bogged down over questions of
bureaucratic protocol. Of of course, the amateur mountaineers, the people

who would like basically volunteered to do search and rescue,
had taken over that function almost immediately. Quarantelly used the
term emergent groups to describe teams of self organized volunteers
like Davis's searchers. He didn't miss the irony that the
agency created to protect civilians soon became an obstacle. That
this emergent group of rescuers had to work around God. Okay, yeah,

you argue, especially in times of this, the state's really
just an obstacle for people, you know, trying to do
important work. Yeah, they're just getting in the way of
people doing the work that needs to be done better
and for free. Yeah you could argue that. I could
argue that, But then arguing that would lead you to
other things that are very radical, and so we will
let's never continue this line of thinking. Definitely, don't continue

this line of thinking in your own house. Don't read
a Paradise Built in Hell and Tribe and then think
about the implications of that in terms of like how
a polity should actually function. No, I wouldn't. I would
never lead with empathy. I think that that's actually kind
of a dangerous path to go down. Oh horrible, horrid.
Find yourself doing things thinking thoughts, you might find yourself
as part of an emergent group, taking the responsibility for

the safety and security of your fellow citizens into your
own hands. And I would never Yeah that, then we're
then we're really fucked. Then we're fucked. We start banding together,
we're fucked. Yeah, my god. If we're taking care of
each other instead of letting the the armed and angry
young men like men with Yeah, we've talked enough about cops.

It is funny that the story that I read right
before recording this episode is about how a group of
the state police in Kentucky, one of their training documents
about a warrior mentality came out, and in it they
quote Hitler positively, perceptions and actions are not hindered by
the potential of death. They also quoted Robert E. Lee.

They encourage police to be ruthless killers. I don't know.
I prefer emergent groups of people taking care of each other,
but whatever. I love emergent groups. I love that that. Yeah,
they was still found sounds scary. I don't want to
when any of those emergent groups getting near you and
saving your life. You wouldn't want that. No, no, no, no, no.

They might loot. They might loot food from a burning building.
That is so Yeah, but you didn't pay. You're like, yeah,
the building is full of building is on fire. Yeah. Oh,
it's just like shove a dollar bill in a fish's mouth.
They're like, Okay, we're more square here. Yeah, well, Jamie, Yeah,

that's my episode on Elite Panic. I uh First of all,
I think we should start a band called Elite. I agree,
we should start a punk band we should started years
ago called Elite Panic, get some wigs, do some metal,
absolutely and really addicted to cocaine. Later be found to
have engaged in a whole bunch of questionable sexual behaviors,

like just oodles of them on our private yet like yeah, absolutely, absolutely,
and then and then and then twenty years after that,
someone writes a best seller about that, and we get
canceled in the press, and then there's an HBO mini
series based on us. We're played by that same guy
who played David Koresh. Sec Es and stop both played

by We're both We're both played by David Koresh. Absolutely
and Emmy. He wins all of them. Actually, I would
say he's nominated for an Emmy, but that he loses
to Fokey. That's what I would say to your last
episode and to the thing that happened to you with
the Emmy. I'm never over. Okay, So this is being

recorded like the day before Halloween. Did see a child
dressed as Fokey on the street today and I was triggered.
I was I still have no idea who Forky is,
and I will every weapon at my disposal to avoid
learning that was I have to say this is for
all of the horrible atrocities we talked about today. Uh,

there there was some optimism to be found in in Uh,
in this one, I feel I feel not completely terrible. No,
because again, the lesson that people learn over and over
again in times like this is like, oh, people take
care of each other when things are bad, like which
everything goes to ship at once. People tend to be like, well,

how can I help? That's the normal human response, unless
you're rich, or the mayor, or a general or the
CEO of a supermarket, shape or a rich mayor. Yeah,
if you're the baby, you're not. Don't be the baby.
Don't be the baby. Don't be save babies. Don't let
them burn to death while saving cash registers. Don't be

the baby, and definitely don't be the son of a baby.
Be a person. Babies aren't people, That's what I'm saying. Yeah,
all right, Well this will drop after the election, so
it may land in a world incomprehensibly different than the
one that we're currently in, but will probably be broadly
similar to the one that we're in but either shittier

or maybe slightly less shitty. No, no real way to know. Yeah, this,
this podcast exists in a strange void in time. It does,
it does. It is weird recording this and being like,
who the funk knows where everything's going to be? So yeah,
give us, give us ninety six hours. Who fucking knows? Yeah? Anyway,

Well I had fun. I have fun. To Jamie, I
enjoy talking about elite panic. It turns out I do too,
now that I know what it is. Well for the
people who are not elites, who have panicked already, you
want to give your plug doubles plugging away, You can
follow me on Twitter dot com at Jamie loftus help.

You can listen to my new show, Lolita Podcast, which
examines the legacy of the book Lolita and gets really
into who the character to Laura's Hayes was and how
she got lost in translation throughout the adaptations that that
this book was given over the years. And uh yeah,

that starts on Munday, novemberye and episodes will release every Monday.
And Robert, you're going to be playing Vladimir Nabokov, the
role of a lifetime, the role of a lifetime. It's
the part I shouldn't say that. This is not a
time for It's the part I was born to play.

He's actually not a terrible person, so he's uh and
I've looked, but wait, wasn't he didn't? Oh wait no,
Lolita was supposed to be like Antie that right, is
the guy fucking the kid was supposed to be a
bad guy, right, he was a village. Yeah. The book,
I've never read it because it seems that's good. But

everyone's interpretation, like the greater cultures, uh, interpretation was the
exact opposite. Is it kind of like like Starship Troopers,
where it's like they made a movie to make fun
of how bad fascism is and how bad how close
to fascism America was, but instead everyone was like, look
at those cool guns. I want to be those guys.

It's literally, yeah, it's just like the smartest people in
the world being like, so I think you are. Yeah.
So it's it's it's interesting and funked up, and it's been,
you know, ruining my day every day for a while.
So you should listen to never make anything with a
message because people will misinterpret it and molest children. That's

the message of today, and now there's going to be
a whole podcasts about it, all right, well, the episodes
fucking over whatever. It's reasonable when the incomprehensible world you
live in now bite

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