Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spooky Stuff, Dude

I was going to write Scott an email, but I decided I would just throw a post up on the blog.  It’s been a while for me, but it’s bean-counting season, and I’m a bit busy at the moment.  And sorry for the cheesy title, but seeing as it is bean-counting season, my brain is a bit mushy with all the numbers going through it. 

The spooky thing is that while Scott has been trying to reconcile my tendency to chalk things up to conspiracy theories (have you ever looked at the dimensions of the Washington Monument: 555.555’ tall = 6666.666 inches! Whoa! Spooky stuff, Dude) with Scott’s theory that culture determines government (if I may paraphrase).

Well, the stars must be aligned (Spring Equinox?) because I think I found a formulation of the theories that may give us some common ground.  And it seems that Scott has done the same.

Yes, there is plenty of shuck-and-jive that goes on in politics.  I would also extend that to bait-and-switch, manipulation, and outright lying.  It happens every day.  That’s really nothing new. 

So, my thought was:  Maybe it’s what we asked for.  I’m sure you’ve seen videos like these: American’s are stupid.  Maybe they picked some really stupid Americans for this thing, but I’d say it’s probably pretty close to accurate.  Take a look at our culture.  We don’t really know much about anything, even things that affect our day-to-day lives.  And I have to include myself in that.  

What’s in your shampoo?  I don’t know.  A bunch of chemicals I can’t pronounce.

Where does that hamburger come from?  I don’t know.  Some farm somewhere.

The faucet is leaking.  What’s wrong with it?  I don’t know.  Call a plumber.

Why is our economy in trouble?  I don’t know.  Something about the banks, Bush, and toxic assets.

What is in the 1,000-page Stimulus Bill?  I don’t know.  But, it’s going to help me!

How do you know that?  Because that guy on TV told me.  He’s a smart guy!

So, are we partly to blame?  Yes.  Does our government (and marketing departments) take advantage of it?  Absolutely.

I’m not sure I formulated the argument very well, but hopefully I made some sort of point.  I would love to spend more time analyzing this, but I…MUST…GET…BACK…TO…BEAN…COUNTING.  MUST…NOT…LEAVE…CUBICLE…

(hmmm, perhaps this is the problem)

1 comment:

  1. Nice link... Yes that's a very sad video. People really ought to have a bit more of a clue what's going on around them. It's stupid to expect a democracy to function well when the people voting have no clue about very basic things that are going on.

    On the other hand, I think you're a little hard on yourself for not knowing what's in shampoo, how to fix a faucet, etc. I think Milton Friedman is wrong about a lot of things, but he did get a lot right, and one of the points he liked to drive home was that one of the great benefits of a free and open market is that it liberates people from mundane tasks so that they can specialize. By specializing, they become far more proficient and productive than they could possibly be if they had to do everything on their own. It's better for everybody to be proficient and highly productive, then trade expertise and output, so that we all get the benefit of our shared expertise, than it is for all of us to be self-sufficient mountain men. Yeah, maybe we'll be goobers when it comes to some things, but its okay as long as we can keep our system honest enough to sustain trade.

    This is the concept of the division of labor, which most people gloss over in their history or anthropology classes (I know I did.) It's actually a critical concept, especially with respect to economics in general and the success of capitalism in particular. The division of labor and trade is a big part of what makes us wealthy. North Korea, on the other hand, prides itself on its "self-sufficiency," as did China back in the day.

    So, in my book, its okay if you don't know how your faucet works, as long as you're a pretty good accountant. Or chemist. Or something.

    At least until the entire economy breaks down. Then you're screwed.