The Age of the High-Functioning Sociopath

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I’m old enough to remember when Donald Trump, the President-elect of the United States, and Masayoshi Son, CEO of Softbank, had an impromptu press conference in the Trump Tower lobby to trumpet the FIFTY THOUSAND JOBS and FIFTY BILLION DOLLAR INVESTMENT that Softbank would be bringing to the US.

As the articles covering this “incredible and historic” meeting pointed out, “Mr. Trump took credit for the investment, saying his November victory spurred SoftBank’s decision.”

When Billionaires Meet: $50 Billion Pledge From SoftBank to Trump   [Wall Street Journal]

Masayoshi Son, the brash billionaire who controls Sprint Corp., said Tuesday he would invest $50 billion in the U.S. and create 50,000 new jobs, following a 45-minute private meeting with President-elect Donald Trump.

The telecom mogul, who made his fortune in Japan with SoftBank GroupCorp., announced his investment plans in the lobby of Trump Tower, though he didn’t provide details. Mr. Trump took credit for the investment, saying his November victory spurred SoftBank’s decision.

The focal point of Son’s meeting with Trump was a three or four slide powerpoint deck that they both initialed. I have no idea what it means to say “$50bn + $7bn” and “50k + 50k new jobs”, but what the hell.

I thought about that Trump Tower deck when I saw the most recent Softbank and Vision Fund investor deck, presented in the aftermath of the WeWork IPO debacle and Softbank’s subsequent refinancing of the company.

That deck, apparently meant to “reassure” investors, was chock-full of slides like the ones I’m going to present without comment below. Honestly, when I first saw these slides on social media, I was certain that they were photoshopped. I was certain they were a put-on.

They’re not.

At some point, I expect this deck will be lost to the sands of time, so to preserve it for posterity I’ve saved a copy on our servers. You can download the Softbank Investor Deck here, if you like.

In the immortal words of transcendentalist poet Walt Whitman,

You just can’t make this shit up.

Haha, JK. Walt Whitman never said that.

But then again … maybe he did! How do you know for sure he didn’t? Maybe he muttered it to himself after a series of fishing mishaps out there on Walden Pond.

What’s that you say? … it was Thoreau who lived on Walden Pond, not Whitman? Are you sure about that, friend? Are you sure that Walt Whitman never visited Henry Thoreau and went fishing and lost a couple of hooks and said this?

Because lots of people are saying that it’s possible he did.

Because apparently I can say ANYTHING in an SEC-compliant investor presentation if I just put some 3-point font disclaimers at the bottom of a slide and say it’s possible.

Why should we play by the rules when raccoons like Donald Trump and Masayoshi Son not only break them with impunity and ludicrous intent, but are celebrated and made rich for breaking them?

Why should we care about anything when nothing matters?

Because you’re not a sociopath.

Because you care about your Pack.

Yes, this is the Age of the High-Functioning Sociopath. Yes, this is the Age of Sheep Logic. Yes, this the age where scale and mass distribution are ends in themselves, where the supercilious State knows what’s best for you and your family, where communication policy and Fiat News shout down authenticity, where rapacious, know-nothing narcissism is celebrated as leadership even as civility, expertise, and service are mocked as cuckery.

Stipulated. What, did you think this was going to be easy?

These clowns don’t deserve us. And it will take decades of a persistent, bottom-up social movement that rejects and negs and ridicules them … ALL OF THEM … before we have the opportunity to reclaim our world.

The Age of the High-Functioning Sociopath will never change on a single point of failure like an election. Or a “suicide”. Or an impeachment. Or a busted IPO.

But a MILLION points of failure? A MILLION points of rejection and negging and ridicule?

Yeah, that can work.

So let’s get started.


  1. Ben, I second your last two posts emphatically. Our challenge as financially literate Boomers & Gen-X’ers is to reverse this pattern, ASAP, because if we’re feeling radicalized imagine how Gens Y and Z feel! They’re smart, and to them we are complicit. Our thirty+ years of financial scandals, pocketbook voting, non-accountability, and environmental obtuseness have made us into the seagulls of Finding Nemo (“Mine, mine… Mine, mine…”)

    The average citizen has been signaling for redress (voting against elites) since 2008, but it’s only gotten worse. They’re still a paycheck from poverty. No wonder our industry is dying and the gyre is widening. It’s not because of the WTO or the Great Recession. It’s this betrayal. We’ve delegitimized the best political and economic organizing principles presently operating anywhere in the world, and if we persist our generation may be the last to enjoy cradle-to-grave liberty.

    Young people see this. Soon, we’ll be withering away in the nation’s last public hospitals, spending the last social security checks ever issued, pleading: “But it was legal!”, “But we beat our numbers!”, “But GDP growth!” while our kids, exhausted from manning the ramparts against some virulent, violent orthodoxy respawned from pre-Enlightenment times, will mutter “Ok, Boomer,” and pull the plug. The only financial advice they’ll need is about usury and penury. Shame, indeed!

  2. Ben, great work as always. I wonder if what you are witnessing/chronicling (thanks for bringing to front of mind) is the formation of a form of societal vicarious living. We non-sociopaths increasingly worry about what we can say (think in silence pretty soon) in a climate of wokeness, me-too, political correctness, ESG, social justice warriors (er socially sanctioned bullies), etc. We self-censor strictly for fear of being “erased/deleted”. Meanwhile, social pressure builds…its only relief comes by way of the bombastic and bald-faced lying sociopath. Using your terms, everyone knows that everyone knows that they’re lying sociopaths, but they vicariously serve our need to be unfiltered and dare I say “free”. In doing so, we give them power. The more society crams down free expression, the more unbelievable the sociopaths can become…and we’re ok with that.

  3. I love that line …”socially sanctioned bullies”…thats exactly it !

  4. Orange Bad Man and Evil Orange Family are the Gracchi you know.
    The people do, even if they never heard of the Gracchi.

    The animus for Orange man is fear of the plebes. This fear is whipped into frenzy by guilt.

    As far as softbank or anyone’s slide decks … ?? What SEC?

  5. This spoke out to me so thought I’d bump this back into purview.

    Also I like Ben’s message of not engaging in sociopathic behaviour of “doing stuff for the greater good” that I am sometimes entertaining without realising it.

    I wonder how softbank is doing in these turbulent times and whether they did inject 50 billion into the US economy? :thinking:

  6. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    Taking a quick look, I found it hilarious that one of their most recent 2023 investments was in WeWork, the “women founded” company the Vision Fund II can now check off as a diversity category for the portfolio… SoftBank Vision Fund - Investments, Portfolio & Company Exits

    I’d also like to take this opportunity to re-post this PR launch for our new round of bullshit monetization.

Continue the discussion at the Epsilon Theory Forum


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