Friday, August 31, 2012

The Economics of "Wyoming Hustle"

Several people have asked if I'm moving back to the city and, yes, I am.  But allow me to share with you an economic epiphany I developed that was 100% caused by and derived from my experiences here in Wyoming and is 100% the reason I'm moving back-

The Economics of Hustle.

Now I know you people love nothing more than to point out that the epiphanies the Captain has had in the past were already observed and noted by long-dead ancient philosophers and economists.  However, "hustle" has NEVER been observed before nor incorporated into economics.  So finally at last, your Captain has an epiphany he can claim is all his own.  But more importantly I do believe there is some economic merit to "hustle" and may even write  thesis about it if I ever get my doctorate.

First, let me start off by stating something that is going to seem insulting, but I NEED YOU TO LISTEN TO ME CLEARLY to realize that is not my intent.  And that "something" is the people of Wyoming are by far the dumbest group of people I've ever met.  Again, I do not say that to be insulting or to raise the ire of Wyomingites or to use the term "dumbest" as a pejorative.  Nor do I say it to make it sound like I'm some arrogant "east coast liberal" that views the center of the country as "fly over states."  I say it because that has been my honest observation after living and interacting with the people there for a year.  Never have I met an entire population that was so dumb, slow, oblivious and uninteresting.

Were there smart people?

Oh, sure.

Were there intelligent and interesting people?

Of course.

Did I make some friends?


But as a whole Wyoming has BY FAR the dumbest population I've ever experienced.

Now, most people don't think about this because they don't observe it from the outside or put themselves into completely different cultures, but you simply cannot escape humans.  Humans and humanity permeate every aspect of life.  Every interaction you have involves a human.  From conducting commerce, to working, to socializing, there are humans everywhere.  They are inescapable.  So when THE ENTIRE SOCIETY is literally about 10 IQ points shy of the average, it not only shows, but you get to pay a psychologically tormenting price as you live in that society.

For example a "normal" sandwich artist at a Subway can knock out a sub in about 1 minute.  But it takes about 5 minutes for the average Wyomingite sandwich artist to put together your sub WITH the tripling of the chance they goofed up your order.  It got so bad your Captain would actually prefer to COOK HIS OWN FOOD than go to a Subway.  It was just not worth the hassle and blood pressure.

Speaking of blood pressure, go to the grocery store and you can observe, quite clearly the costs of this lower-IQ society.  Almost like witnessing the forming of a perfect storm, the variables for an insufferably and unnecessarily long wait in line start to conspire and collide.  Idiots who are in line, but not done shopping, darting out of line to get more food.  A 38 year old man PAYING BY CHECK.  Tilly decides to converse with the check out lady for 3 hours.  Poor staff management as it becomes obvious the check out clerk should have called for back up or opened a new lane 20 minutes ago.  And this is the LUXURY grocer.  You want to slum it, go to the local Wal-Mart in Wyoming.  That IS where the "people of Wal-Mart" are photographed.

Another example is banking.  You ever hear of a "truck equity loan?"

Of course you haven't.  Because you're not a moron and would never imagine somebody so stupid enough to "take money out of his truck" let alone a bank stupid enough to agree to such a thing.  But truck equity loans are just part of "the Wyomin' Way."  Along with 8 pieces of collateral for one loan (true story), $300,000 loans on a car wash in the middle of the state (ie-nowhere), and people late 36 times on their loans (but we'll never repossess on them).

Do you like teenage, single moms?  They got plenty!  And you get to pay plenty too when they go to the WIC office.  This did vary by town, but it seemed if you were in any of the larger towns of Wyoming (bar Cheyenne) then there was a commensurate increase in the chances you were mandated to have children before graduating from high school.

But forget fornication, let's just talk about socializing.  If you are a guy and merely want to hang out with girls on a platonic basis (for say like hiking, motorcycle rides or ballroom dancing), forget it.  The fine, upstanding, and infinitely secure men of Wyoming will have none of it.  They really do view women as property there.  One gal that was kind enough to help me move, I offered a motorcycle ride.  We couldn't drive on main street as she was afraid her boyfriend would see her.  Dance classes I offered were populated with women who only showed up once until their husbands forbade it OR would show up as a chaperone.  NOT TO DANCE, but to watch and make sure she didn't start having an affair with some stranger right there on the floor in front of everybody.  I was threatened twice by men for "talkin' to their women" when both men were declared ex's.  And a 68 year old grandpa gave me a mean look and said "No" when I asked his 65 year old wife to foxtrot.

And finally, let's not forget health.  YOu have some of the world's greatest mountains and terrain.  Hundreds, if not thousands of miles of trails to go hiking on.   What's the number one physical activity in Wyoming?


"Wha!?  The mountinnnnnz?  Wha we hiked dat back in hiiiiskool.  What we want to hike dem mountains fer?"

They take the insane beauty and nature for granted and never avail themselves of mountains that are only 15 minutes away.

Now I could go on and on, but you get the idea.  The population is slow.  It is not terribly intelligent.  Alcoholism is the new power-walking.  ie- there is 0% hustle in this state.  Presumably then, with these things going against it, the economy would stink. Unemployment should be high.  Government dependency should be high.  GDP growth should be low.

Turns out its the opposite.

Wyoming has a much lower unemployment rate than the rest of the nation.  4.6% vs. 8.2%.  It's gross state product has grown faster than the US average.  AND it is ranked 48th I believe in government dependency.  It is an economic success.

So what factors are overcoming this lack of hustle and this intellectual handicap?

Two simple factors - energy and low taxes.

Wyoming has no state income taxes and thusly people do move to the state, incorporate there, etc.  Also, Wyoming is enjoying an energy boom.  An interesting observation I had while living in Casper is you could tell the years the economy boomed and busted based on the architecture in the town.  There was the founding of the town (1870's or so type of western mainstreet architecture) and a notable influence of ugly, brown 1970's early 80's architecture (another energy boom).  Today the entire east side of Casper is all new construction attributable to the energy boom today.

Now if it seems like I'm rambling, I'm not because I'm trying to combine several points here at the same time.  So let me point out another state and hopefully you'll see the lesson I'm trying to make about hustle.

Compare the "hustle factor" of Wyoming to say California or New York.

Whereas there is literally no hustle in Wyoming, New York City or LA is nothing but hustle.  Spend one week in Casper, WY and then move to New York City and you'll get whiplash at the acceleration in the pace of life.  People are on a mission in the city.  They got to get stuff done.  No, don't bother me now, I don't have the time.  TALK IN THE CHECK OUT LANES???  Are you kidding me? New Yorkers would beat you in the alley.

There is no doubt the people of New York, California or just any major city are faster, have more hustle, and (yes, I dare say) are more educated and intelligent (wisdom, however may be another thing).

Regardless, these states and cities have a more motivated population, a faster population, they just have more hustle.

So how are their economies doing?

We all know poorly.  Both New York and California I believe still have double digit unemployment, their public finances are in the toilet.  We don't need to rehash it.

So how can this be?  Also, why would I shoot my own theory down about hustle?  Hustle you would THINK would correlate positively with economic growth and standards of living, so why do we see the opposite occurring.

Three points.

1.  The lack of economic performance by the likes of New York and California does not so much speak to the failure of hustle to translate into economic growth as much as it is a harsh condemnation of their socialist policies.  I have never seen a society move as fast, as smart and as quick as New Yorkers, Chicagoans, and the west coast.  Also, much as I hate California, there is no more innovative place than Silicon Valley.  All that hustle and flow for naught because it's been mooted by socialist policies.  On the other side of the same coin is Wyoming.  A state whose people, once again, in my experience are the slowest people on the planet.  No hustle, no flow, no care, no fire in the belly.  But despite (what I would have previously considered) a crippling handicap, the pro-capitalist policies of low taxes and free markets overcome this to deliver very low unemployment, higher standards of living and increased economic growth.

2.  Wyoming could be considered the "Votech" or "tech school" state requiring real skills and trades. While New York and California could be considered "academia" states requiring, well, no really pliable skills or trades at all.  Just a sheepskin.

3.  We haven't looked at economies or societies that have BOTH hustle AND pro-capitalism policies.  Places like Hong Kong, Singapore, the Cayman Islands, etc.  I don't have the time today, but just by recollection knowledge about these economies, they blow Pro-Capitalism/No-Hustle countries/states out of the water. 

The larger point is not my hatred for Wyomingites.  Nor is it my loathing of the liberal coasts.  It's to merely demonstrate the power of free-market economics and capitalism and what it can overcome.  We all don't need to be doctoral students in electrical engineer slaving away 80 hours a week to increase our standards of living.  We just need to leave people be, let the free-market work its magic, and "even Wyomingites" can succeed.  About the only thing that can stop the free market from being successful is simply replacing it with a more socialistic model.

Then again, we all knew that.  Just don't try to explain that to the CCC's (a little inside joke there for the Wyomingites).

Post-post - from a reader.  IQ by state. I challenge the data (not the reader of course).


Ryu said...

What outrageousness.

The only reason you think can get away with that kind of talk is because Wyoming is 100% white.

You would never criticize Detroit or Atlanta like that. You are a kosher big city liberal. Next thing you'll want to import Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Blacks, Arabs, and Indians to diversity Wyoming.

New York, Chicago and LA do nothing for themselves. They don't grow their own food. They have no natural resources. All male intelligence and female beauty is trucked in from surrounding small towns.

Gary said...

Wonderful column. Very thoughtful.

I look at society more as a grouping of Tribes and Sub-Tribes. People "travel" in their own tribes by religion, race, language, class, education etc.

In California I belong to a fraternal order that puts up historical markers and camps out on the weekend. Even within our fraternal group we break down into sub-tribes of blue collar and college educated and moron druggies. Each group sets up camp and pretty much keeps to themselves.

I camp out with teachers, lawyers, businessmen etc.

The "slow" society types in rural areas is a good observation. But I see that in California. When I was educating myself in my profession and kicking ass and taking no prisoners, most of my co-workers hovered around the coffee pot and avoided anything like hard word.

Good luck back in civilization.

Amateur Strategist said...

Hmmm, as far as I have read in economics (which is a little bit... more than average as I am a finance major, but not nearly as much as an economics major because... I'm a finance major) NO ONE has written about this specific effect on societies: That having free-market low-government policies is more important than "hustle" in general.

Can we call it the Clarey Prioritization thesis?

Anonymous said...


Well, there is something about places where there's little to do, that young, ambitious & smart people leave, and one presumes that a couple of generations of that leaves behind a average population that, well, is lower in smarts and ambition.

That's mitigated by the fact that there is a local class of people who grow up there and are in the "managerial" class i.e. they inherit a ranch/some business, for example. Chances are they married the good local ones and are a lot more secure. And since they live where they live they tend to socialize with their own.

I've noticed that in rural areas, the farm owners are pretty bright bunch, but the farm hands, not so much.

I guess all the bright farm hands, either married up or left for greener pastures.

Same with whoever didn't inherit the farm, they were unambitious and stayed, or they left for somewhere else.

Captain Capitalism said...

Pfa! Ryu,

The reason I "will" get away with it has nothing to do with the majority of the population being white. I'm going to get away with it because it's true. Which means I'm not "getting away" with anything. Just pointing out the truth.

but, by all means, go live in Wyoming and find the intelligent people. As a previous commenter pointed out (and I believe he's correct) the educated/intelligent/class/group/etc. usually keep to themselves and build ranches outside of town, ne'er visiting the town unless absolutely necessary.

Rumbear said...

It's hard to be a Dazzling Urbanite in a suburban setting. Yannow, once you have seen Paris.....

Anonymous said...

So how did the brilliant hustlers of New York and California allow themselves to be caught in their respective socialist morasses?

Perhaps they all figured they could enjoy in perpetuity the decline they knew was coming.

Aeoli Pera said...

IQ per state. Wyoming is 21st of 51 (including D.C.).

Aeoli Pera said...

I should add, you're probably used to Minnesota IQs, which are near the top of the list.

Not that I'd guess it from living here, but data is data.

Anonymous said...

You're mixing IQ (which is a raw, general, mostly biological, theoritical construct) with cultural elements (recreational reading, intellectual appreciation).

A caveman can have an above average IQ, and he will still be a bore to talk to (that's a guess); whereas someone with a relatively average IQ in Uptown is still someone who reads a lot, has an education, converses on many varied topics, and otherwise lives in a culture that requires and rewards those attributes you weren't getting in Wyoming.

Ryu said...

I'll say this for Wyoming: you can walk the street at night. There are no flashmobs. Unlike NYC, there are not 10 surveillance cameras on every corner. Chicago had 40 murders last weekend - Wyoming probably had none the whole year.

All those brilliant NYer ruined the place. Then they run to the non-diverse areas to ruin them as well. I wished they'd all find some multicultural jungle to live in and just stay there.

Hustling is a good word. Steal water, money, talent, food, women from the rest of the country. Kind of like DC's current boom. Bah!

I don't care for this manner of intelligent people, using their gift to screw and out-hustle others. That's why you left - too much competition.

And now you want to welcomed with open arms! I'm smart! Worship me! I'm so tolerant, diverse and worldly!

Norm said...

I lived in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada for a few years after graduating college. The perpetual poor economy meant PEI was a place you "moved from not to". The welfare state mentality of the local population mirrored your Wyoming observations. If you wanted to marry a young lady without kids, you'd best go to the high school dances!
PEI had a highly regulated economy (the Utilities Commission governed whether you could open another gas station for Pete's sake!), high taxes and large welfare rolls (40 weeks federal unemployment benefits after 10 weeks of work) "equalization payments" from the federal government (free cash to the local government so it could provide the same services as Toronto even though the economy was rural agrarian) meant a perpetual basket case of an economy.

kurt9 said...

I can confirm the jealousy of the men in semi-rural places. My wife and I stopped in Susanville, CA for lunch, on our drive to Las Vegas from Portland. There was a young couple in the sandwich shop that we decided to eat at. I checked out the women, who was rather attractive. A few minutely later, while my wife and I were eating, the couple got up and left. While they were leaving, the guy turned to me and said "I would be careful with my eyes if I were you, seriously". Then they walked out the door, got into his truck, and drove off.

What surprised me is how this guy could be so paranoid with me "checking out" his lady when, in fact, I was there with my wife. If I were by myself, I could understand.

BlackCat said...

Hm, "hustle" actually sounds a lot like "busyness" as explained in The Tao of Pooh.

So how did the brilliant hustlers of New York and California allow themselves to be caught in their respective socialist morasses?

Because in addition to busyness, they are also busybodies. One of the problems with intelligensia, is the not-inaccurate observation that one is smarter than other people. Unfortunately, this then leads to the inaccurate observation that being smarter than other people equals knowing better than other people, and thus being entitled - no, obligated (i.e., noblesse oblige) to tell them what to do or not do. This thinking is present on all sides of the political/philosophical divide, although with socialism we are of course talking about intelligensia of the leftist liberal persuasion.

Defining people who like to tell others what to do as asses, more intelligensia socialist busybodies equals more asses, with the predictable outcome of a socialist morass.

Anonymous said...

I always thought one of the major problems of socialism was that it lead to lack of hustle. Why hustle if 50% of your check is going elsewhere. Isn't that the whole point of captain capitalism simplifying his life and leaving Minnesota.

Anonymous said...

Sorry cap, most hustle is just makework. Most busy people are just making a lot of bustle and not achieving much.

Anonymous said...

I could use a more relaxed lifestyle than the crazy hustle I live in now.

And if I moved to Wyoming, I'd be one of the smarter people there.

What a deal!

just kidding

Anonymous said...

lol piss off Ryu

Anonymous said...

I think your Wyoming experience probably heavily oversampled the small-town bar demographic-which is a poor sample to base your opinion of a place on. Not much motivation there.

Per "No Physical activity"-I suspect that a lot of Wyoming males have jobs with lots of physical activity-oil rigs, construction, factory floor-etc.
Speaking from experience-for several years I was outside for most of every day all winter long(I live and farm in western MN)-The last thing on Sundays and evenings I wanted to do was go snowmobiling/ice fishing or other outside activities.

I also suspect that you are not a hunter and you missed/dismiss/laugh at that aspect of the Wyoming outdoor/physical activity experience.

Anonymous said...

One big thing I don't get about this post is you are all about "Enjoying the Decline." Sounds like Wyoming is "Enjoying the Decline." One solid thing I do know is that the people of Wyoming with their practical "Vo-Tech" skills are in a lot better position to weather the decline than the hustlers on the coasts.

lelnet said...

Dude. What kind of economist are you? :)


When a resource-rich environment enables people to maintain society without "hustle", it will always end up with more people who don't have any. Wyoming is clearly doing fine (at least by its own standards) without an ethic of hustle. Whereas if you look at New York or California...well, without hustle, they'd be literally nothing but smoldering ruins.

Did you really, seriously expect that hustle would be as prevalent in a place where folks can obviously get by without it, as it is in a place where anyone who lacks it gets eaten?

Captain Capitalism said...

I think we need to discern between people just "taking it easy and enjoying a more laid back lifestyle" and a genuine lack of "hustle" due to a lack of intelligence.

Wyoming isn't like "Mayberry" where people are in no rush because that's the culture.

I'm talking people are unaware of their surroundings, don't take into consideration others around them, and end up "clogging" the system.

It's the difference between taking a leisuring Sunday stroll on a far flung rural highway vs. driving unattentively in a DT rush hour.

Additionally, and I didn't go into as much detail about this as I would have liked, but this cripples any kind of production in the business sector.

The Rule of 3 I came up with because it takes at LEAST 3 times get to people to respond or do something right. Three calls, three e-mails, three attempts.

By all means, go there and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Also to address another comment, yes, I was in the eastern part of the state. I did not go to Jackson which "isn't" Wyoming. It was Casper, Gillette, Wright, Douglas, Kaycee, Buffalo, etc.

Anonymous said...

Texas might be interesting to look at in this context. Productive hustle and free markets. Probably as close as anything in the US will be to Hong Kong,etc.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure it's just a coincidence that Wyoming is, after Utah, the most Republican state.

kurt9 said...

Texas might be interesting to look at in this context. Productive hustle and free markets. Probably as close as anything in the US will be to Hong Kong,etc.

Which is why I've considered moving there.

Anonymous said...

I am kind of fascinated by this topic. I am the MN farmer who posted earlier. Oddly enough-for the past few years, I have worked part-time on a project by project basis in Uptown Minneapolis-so I have seen some of that side of things.

I think as you develop this topic-you need to differentiate between Productive Hustle and Asshole Hustle. You being upset with someone writing a check is Asshole Hustle.

I think an area of low unemployment and lower welfare payments like Wyoming might employ a class of people that are not employed or visible in places like NY, Ca or MN.

In other words, the incompetent "Wyoming Subway sandwich artist" still exists in Minneapolis, but you do not see her there, because she is on welfare and doesn't have to work and is not needed because of the plethora of under-employed sociology majors.

heresolong said...

That data looks iffy to me also. I don't think you can actually draw a direct correlation between test scores and IQ. There are way too many other variables that don't appear to be taken into account.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the urban hustlers from the coasts and other urban centers could keep up in a place of productive hustle like the Bakken. A place that is on the true cutting edge of applied science and tecnology.

Anonymous said...

Segregation. Big cities have it, small ones don't. You can't create a ghetto out of three families of law-breaking knuckleheads. You need a few hundred to do that.
In big cities, morons have their own enclaves - and unless you are a cop or a moron, you won't encounter them too often. In small towns, morons have to mix with the general population. Thus you encounter a lot more morons running around in small towns than in big cities.

Indiana_gol said...

I have just read the greatest post in internet history.

See, I'm currently 23 years old. I grew up in New York City for eighteen years befoe I moved down here to Virgnia to go to college. This is not Richmond or Alexandria, mind you, but the mountainn country of central-southwest VA.

The culture shock was maddening. These "young adults" who were my classmates we still learning things that I had learned in eigth grade. It wasn't six months before I stuck my middle finger up to it and joined the Army.

As you, Captain, I have had some good experiences, made some friends, but simply do not wish to deal with the idiocy anymore.

Thank God I'm leaving in two weeks.