A SOCIETY THAT RUNS ON EXTORTION. I used to spend a lot of time wondering why so many smart, powerful people in government and business make so many obviously dumb and self-defeating moves. Then I realized that most of these can be explained if you assume the elites spend a huge percentage of their time engaging in legal and illegal forms of extortion against one another (and the public–you don’t wanna kill grandma, do you?). Throw in an all-seeing corporate/state surveillance apparatus, and things start to make sense. But if you’re going to extort someone for favors, you have to actually deliver the goods.