Posted on 16th January 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Who Has The Time And Motivation to Comprehend The Mess We’re In? Almost Nobody

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

If we don’t understand the problem or the dynamics that are generating the problem, it is impossible to reach a solution or practical plan of action.

When it comes time to assess our grasp of the dynamics of this unprecedented era, how do you reckon historians will grade our collective political “leadership,” intelligentsia, central state, corporate leadership and the “common man/woman” citizen? Did we rise to the occasion or did we falter, not in acting to counter the dissolution of the Status Quo, but in simply making a concerted effort to understand the tangled web of lies, corruption, perverse incentives, unintended consequences, simplistic (and utterly misguided) ideologies, not to mention the real-world limits of a supposedly limitless world, that have become the key dynamics of this era?

I suspect future historians (presuming the funding of such scholarly assessments survives) will grade all categories either F or D-. The reasons are not difficult to discern, and it behooves us to understand why we are collectively so ill-prepared to understand our era, much less fix what’s broken before the whole over-ripe mess collapses in a heap.

1. Intellectual laziness. Very few people are willing to work hard enough to figure things out on their own. It’s so much easier to join Paul Krugman dancing around the fire of the Keynesian Cargo Cult, chanting “aggregate demand! Humba-Humba!” while waving dead chickens than ditch reductionist, naive ideologies and actually work through an independent analysis.

2. Independent thinking is an excellent way to get fired, demoted or sent to Siberia. Though America claims to value independent thinking, this is just another pernicious lie: what America values is the ability to mask failing conventional ideas and systems with a thin gloss of “fresh thinking.”
In other words, what the American state and corporatocracy value is the appearance of independent thinking, not the real thing. Since the real thing will get you fired, everyone who works for government or Corporate America masters the fine arts of producing simulacra, legerdemain and illusion. This only further obscures the real dynamics, making legitimate analysis that much more difficult.

3. Relatively few have any incentive to question authority, the state or the corporatocracy. Humans excel at figuring out which side of the bread is buttered, and who’s lathering on the butter: self-interest is the ultimate human survival trait (we cooperate because it serves our self-interest to do so).

While we cannot hold the pursuit of self-interest against any individual–after all, who among us truly acts selflessly when push comes to shove?–we can monitor the monumentally negative consequences of self-interest and complicity on the systems and Commons we share.

When roughly half of all households are drawing direct cash/benefits from the central state, how many of those people are interested in doing anything that might put their place at the feeding trough at risk? Sure, people will grouse about this or that (usually related to the conviction that they deserve more or have been cheated out of “their fair share”), but as long as the government payments, direct deposits and benefits keep coming, what possible motivation is there for the recipients to devote energy to investigating the potential collapse of the gravy train?

Corporate America is no different. The store may be devoid of customers, but the employees will strive to look busy to keep the paychecks coming until the inevitable lay-off/implosion occurs. How many Corporate America employees will critique their way out of a paycheck? In an environment this difficult for job-seekers, you’d be nuts to bother figuring out why your division is failing, knowing as you do that the truth will result in the “termination with extreme prejudice” of the naive fools who presented the truth as if it would be welcome
Does anyone seriously imagine that any employee of a bloated bureaucracy will ever voluntarily challenge the squandering of revenues when that might cost them their own paycheck, bonus, contract for their brother-in-law, etc.? A few protected people (professors with tenure, for example) can be “brave,” but their “bravery” is cheap: their protestations cannot trigger termination with extreme prejudice, so the gesture of resistance is just that, a gesture.

4. Those relative few who might have a real motivation to undertake independent analysis have little time to pursue this noble project. They are working absurd hours and enduring absurd commutes. Between getting the bundles of diapers into the elevator and planning what to cook for dinner, there is precious little time or energy left for figuring out the mess we’re in. Just getting to a second or third job can suck up a significant amount of time, money amd energy.

And so the busy employee/sole-proprietor/contract worker listens to NPR or some talk radio program for a few minutes, reinforcing their ideology of choice, and turns on the “news” (laughably bad propaganda churned up with “if it bleeds, it leads”) as background noise and spends whatever personal time they have on Roku, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. seeking distraction or solace from the daily workload.

In a strange irony, there are plenty of citizens who have plenty of time (recall that Americans manage to watch 6-8 hours of TV a day), but their marginalized status and dependence on the state drains them of motivation to do anything but seek amusement and distraction.

If we don’t understand the problem or the dynamics that are generating the problem, it is impossible to reach a solution or practical plan of action. In other words, the four points above doom us just as surely as the dynamics of insolvency, corruption, debt servitude, Tyranny of the Majority, etc. etc. etc.

Choose your metaphor of choice, but rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic has a nice ironic texture in an election year, when the “news” will be focusing on rearranging the political deck chairs on the first class deck–at least when there’s no celebrity ruckus or “if it bleeds, it leads” to crowd out what passes for “hard news” in a regime dedicated to the distractions of bread and circuses.

  1. Hollow man says:

    He it the nail square on the head. Excellent.

    16th January 2014 at 10:23 am

  2. BUCKHED says:

    Spot on……bread and circus’s are what we are being fed on a daily basis . Due to inflation and our love of ” The Kingdom Of Thingdom” we work ourselves to the point that were are barely above water ( in some cases folks are drowning ) .

    When will it end….when the whip comes down and we are FORCED to make changes .

    16th January 2014 at 10:31 am

  3. card802 says:

    Too many people, liberals and conservatives alike have been made promises that can’t be kept, bills are mounting, people are getting pissed, approval ratings are falling.
    The president promised if congress proves unable or unwilling to act on his priorities he will pick up his pen and sign executive orders.

    How fucked up in the head do you have to be to believe that just by the signature of your name, all will be well?

    OK, nothing will be solved, spending will continue until the end. The puzzle is what will happen when that moment arrives.

    16th January 2014 at 10:39 am

  4. MuckAbout says:

    And the Fourth Turning rolls on; and on; and on…..

    I’d really love to live long enough to see what happens when it all curdles and crashes. But I don’t really want to live in that sort of turmoil..

    Down in The Fire Ant Bed of central Florida (Orlando), the incidence of armed robbery is climbing like Jack’s bean stalk. Fast food joints, hotels, restaurants, convenience stores/filling stations, individuals in the wrong place or at the wrong time, they all are being increasingly the target of hit and run robberies.

    Trend of the times and it is getting worse and will continue until the MSM is flat out told to stop reporting them so everyone can keep pretending “All is well!”… humbug..


    16th January 2014 at 10:52 am

  5. card802 says:

    Muck, I’m positive once the temps start to rise in Michigan, so will the incidences of armed robbery. The thugs are still under the rocks up here.

    16th January 2014 at 11:00 am

  6. TeresaE says:

    I like CHS more and more.

    He is right, so very right. I figured this out a couple years back, those that should be pushing for a re-alignment are too busy trying to stay upright they have no time and are afraid – as they should be – of the risk of sticking out.

    The rest owe their very lives and futures to maintaining the status quo, so on what earth would they even try? Not this one for sure.

    By the time the majority figure out that “things need to change” it will be beyond too late.

    Our children will be faced with a destroyed world, destroyed environment and destroyed sense of self. Anyone with an iota of brains should cry for this.

    We have abdicated our responsibilities as humans to live for today and not worry about tomorrow.

    Sad that our kids will be the ones paying. My only hope is that within a couple more generations (after the reset), enough will want to rise up and actually begin the job of fixing things.

    Small hope though, history has proven most will sit in their state-provided apartments, eating state-provided poisons and figuring out that this is as good as it gets.

    16th January 2014 at 11:29 am

  7. card802 says:

    Teresa, And watching their state provided television and state run programing.

    16th January 2014 at 11:49 am

  8. TPC says:

    Nail + Head

    16th January 2014 at 12:08 pm

  9. dc.sunsets says:

    It’s all a massive fractal; we rise, we fall…but human nature never changes.

    After the astonishing advancement of the Common Man during the late 18th and most of the 19th century, people were ready to embrace a continuation…but the Industrial Revolution’s benefits were already “banked.”

    In their zeal to continue the party, people readily embraced the divorce of money from productive value. All of Western Civilization went on a debt-fueled binge, and academic excuses sprang up like weeds to explain how “government pump-priming” was good and private “saving” was bad (Keynesian theory to a “T”).

    We have been ruled by people espousing absurd fantasies for an entire LIFETIME. During such booms, the rational analyst refuses to go along, or even fights the trend, expecting disaster at any moment.

    Instead, it is the fools, the greatest drunks at the party who appear to win, time and again.

    A debt-fueled mania rewards spendthrifts and (seemingly) idiots. For a time, it’s like the crazy guy who puts all his money on “RED 23″ wins at roulette, spin after spin.

    Look at the Rich, today. Most nuveau rich got that way by gambling on high leverage in the markets. What you don’t see are the 90% (or 99%) who bet on BLACK 22 and lost everything. You only see the guy with the Maserati who WON the market lottery, not all the piles of losers who got it wrong.

    Prudence and other classical virtues have paid NOTHING for 35 years. The saver has seen his nest egg continually degraded by engineered inflation and (insult to injury) taxes paid on nominal gains that were in fact inflation-adjusted LOSSES.

    This has yielded the greatest mal-investment mania in recorded history. It has taught all the wrong lessons and rewarded all the stupidest behavior.

    It’s a cycle.

    The problem is that it’s a fractal, too. Little waves are part of bigger waves are part of still bigger waves. The wave we are STILL topping is one that grew for more than 200 years. The denouement of this farce will be an equally large tragedy (hopefully not quite that long), and the best we can hope for is that we who attempt to adhere to the classical virtues will suffer LESS than those who embraced the gamblers’ ethos.

    16th January 2014 at 12:17 pm

  10. dc.sunsets says:

    TeresaE, who would try to change the trajectory?

    Those who benefit from it? Unlikely.
    Those who suffer under it. They have no power and hold no sway.

    Tolstoy wrote that “Armies cannot resist an idea whose time has come.”

    A corollary to that is, “Armies cannot force an idea whose time has NOT YET come.”

    For most of a century the guiding philosophies of Western Civilization have been poisonous. Late 19th century progressives seized the levers of the political system to “Make Heaven on Earth,” to eliminate poverty and a host of other social ills.

    Progressives, communists and fascists all employed the Statist Religion to create a New Man via the mailed fist of political government.

    In so-called democracy, anything decided at an election is somehow deemed “right” and “moral,” even though H.L. Mencken noted nearly 100 years ago that an election, “is sort of an advance auction of stolen goods.”

    People forgot that theft is wrong and no society can long function where theft is officially sanctioned. This, and a belief in the efficacy of the government (a monopoly on violence & threats) to make our lives better, underlies all the catastrophe now baked into every Western country’s political economy.

    As a disciple of Rand once told me, “it’s all about bad philosophy.”

    16th January 2014 at 12:27 pm

  11. Axel says:

    I am kinda hoping, like many of us, that the inevitable collapse happens sooner rather than later, so we can deal with it and get on with what’s left of our lives ( if anything). I for one want be young and strong enough to work through whatever tribulations are in store. This artifice of debt just keeps the anticipated final result at bay in a manner similar to having to stare for a long time at that big needle in the doctors office before getting the shot.

    16th January 2014 at 1:02 pm

  12. BUCKHED says:

    This is my take on things changing.

    In 79 or 80 I spoke with a 2nd term CONgressman one to one at a young Republican meeting ( Yep at one time I was one of those idiots ) . I asked him how he felt about being in CONgress etc . His response shocked me. He said that when he was elected he went to Washington to change things . He wanted to change the way that CONgress spent money,made laws and a laundry list of other things . What he found was the “Power Structure ” took him and other Freshmen CONgressmen and told them how the game was played. If he played ball he’d be rewarded with a few nice appointments on good committees,folks would help him fund raise etc. If he didn’t play ball “Their Way “. He may not get the nomination to run for office the next go round .So those in CONgress will never change things because they’ll always want to “Play Ball” and keep the Status Quo.

    The next meeting I had was with a Federal Judge…it was chance meeting. He was in Charleston for a conference of Federal Judges . This was around the same time i spoke with the CONgressman. In our conversation he told me that in his courtroom he’s God. No one tells him what to do on the bench especially since he’s there for LIFE ! When I questioned him on how he could think so highly of his position he said because the courtroom belong to him I asked him other judges felt as he did ? His reply was yes ..So you have folks on the Federal bench who think they are Gods and we…just players on their stage.

    So as I said again…things will never change until the populace as a whole FORCE things to be changed .

    16th January 2014 at 1:04 pm

  13. Westcoaster says:

    We need to find a way to rock the “status quo” of the 1% in such a way that it doesn’t destroy the 99%. Until we figure THAT out, we’ll keep being served the same old turd sandwich.
    IMHO this country jumped the tracks when Kennedy was shot. Regarding that topic I just read “Mary’s Mosaic” by Peter Janney. What an eye-opener.

    16th January 2014 at 3:30 pm

  14. Maddie's Mom says:

    But what would we do without multi-day coverage of poor A-Rod and his ongoing woes?!?

    Likewise, the multi-day coverage (at least on CBS;)) of Capt. Sully’s heroism. We get it. BRAVO!!!
    Now, can we move on?

    And of course, it was imperative that we be informed Michelle Obama’s inaugural dress had been donated to a museum.

    I swear I’m gonna be sick…

    I thought ‘news’ was supposed to be NEW.

    17th January 2014 at 10:45 am

  15. Maddie's Mom says:

    Oh, and in case you missed it, I learned on the evening ‘news’ yesterday that the First Lady will turn 50 today. I just know that’ll help you have a better day.

    So, as you can see, there just simply isn’t enough time in a news broadcast to inform the people of all that’s going on in the world. Especially since at least several minutes have to be devoted to selling you some Big Pharma drugs.

    17th January 2014 at 10:57 am

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