Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Thoughts on Lunatic America.

I will try to force myself to write something here. Blogs, by their very nature, need quite a lot in the way of care and feeding on a daily basis. This one hasn’t been receiving much of that in the last year or so. If my blogs were pets, they would both be lying in their own poop in a corner somewhere, quietly wimpering, hoping that someone will be nice to them or at least give them some clean water now and then.

What a nice visual… I don’t know why it is so difficult to write anything anymore. It may be that my job is mostly writing and reading. Not for their own ends, of course. There is a purpose in all that writing and reading, which usually takes a fair amount of mental concentration to do them correctly. I don’t seem to have any spare mental concentration to go around anymore. Sorry, blogs. Tough noogies, as we used to say back in the 6th grade in the Manitou Springs Jr. High School. I just am having a very difficult time on focusing in on anything that requires some amount of concerted effort and disciplined logic.

But, as I have mentioned before, I think most of my problem is that I am finding myself unable to deal with the insanity that is the United States of America. That is my main problem, I believe. I have college degrees in engineering and science and therefore tend to approach most aspects of my life with some logic and rational thought behind my approach. This approach completely falls apart when attempting to deal with or understand people who constantly exhibit the ultimate antithesis of logic and rationality.

When Barack Obama was elected president, I was very happy for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I suppose, was the fact that there would be a Democrat back in the office of the President. Secondly, John McCain and his pet showmoose wouldn’t be in power. But I was actually looking forward to the right-wing freak out because there would a Democrat AND a black man as President. I just thought it would be really fun to see the wingers go nuts. Sit back and enjoy the show, folks! Plenty of entertainment coming right up!

How wrong I was about that. The expected freak out did happen, but a) it was much, much worse than I every imagined it could be, and b) it wasn’t fun in the slightest. What it did was really make me come eye-to-eye with the fact that there are a huge number of people in this country who, from my perspective, act completely crazy when it comes to politics. They may be very nice people when not being political, but they are just crazy. Logic, facts, and rational, thoughtful approaches are not part of their repertoire. What seems to drive them are extreme tribalism, hate of “the other”, xenophobia, winning every single contest, no matter how small, at all costs, rage, and the obvious need to have an enemy, even manufactured ones, on which to take out their rage.

But to them, I am the crazy one. I don’t see the universe exactly as they see it, so, by definition, I must be crazy because it certainly isn’t them.

Here’s a little discussion, back from during the Bush administration, courtesy of Balloon Juice.

John: Hey, Bush is now at 37% approval. I feel much less like Kevin McCarthy screaming in traffic. But I wonder what his base is—

Tyrone: 27%.

John: ... you said that immmediately, and with some authority.

Tyrone: Obama vs. Alan Keyes. Keyes was from out of state, so you can eliminate any established political base; both candidates were black, so you can factor out racism; and Keyes was plainly, obviously, completely crazy. Batshit crazy. Head-trauma crazy. But 27% of the population of Illinois voted for him. They put party identification, personal prejudice, whatever ahead of rational judgement. Hell, even like 5% of Democrats voted for him. That’s crazy behaviour. I think you have to assume a 27% Crazification Factor in any population.

John: Objectively crazy or crazy vis-a-vis my own inertial reference frame for rational behaviour? I mean, are you creating the Theory of Special Crazification or General Crazification?

Tyrone: Hadn’t thought about it. Let’s split the difference. Half just have worldviews which lead them to disagree with what you consider rationality even though they arrive at their positions through rational means, and the other half are the core of the Crazification—either genuinely crazy; or so woefully misinformed about how the world works, the bases for their decision making is so flawed they may as well be crazy.

John: You realize this leads to there being over 30 million crazy people in the US?

Tyrone: Does that seem wrong?

John: ... a bit low, actually.

That’s pretty much the conclusion I cam to. 30 million crazy people in this country. People to whom facts and logic mean nothing. 30 million…. That’s a lot. And they are certainly making themselves felt these days. Put a nice label on your movement, say, oh, “The Tea Party”, scream and shout down anyone who doesn’t agree with you, be supported at every turn by a major television outlet and several billionaires willing to spend all sorts of money to support their agenda, threaten and actually succeed on occasion to throw out members of your own political party if they don’t toe the “crazy” line that you have established, well, you can find yourselves with a lot of power. People have to listen to you, even though you only make up a 30% of the voting population of the country. The “liberal” media is too concerned about appearing liberal to point out the craziness. The leaders of their own political party are terrified that the monster that they created will turn on them, so the keep upping the stakes every single chance they get.

Our President, the one that I was so happy to see elected, has turned out to be a terrible negotiator, in that he seems to continually capitulate to these crazy people. Negotiations in good faith with sane people who disagree with you is one thing, but attempting to negotiate with crazy is a losing prospect every single time.

The crazy people appear to believe that science is just opinion, that global climate change is some sort of hoax, and the United States of America is the bestest, most wonderfulist country that has ever existed, on this world and any others that happen to be around. But they are adamantly against helping anyone who isn’t one of them, who (probably through no fault of their own) are having a difficult time of it. They do not want to make any investments, none, in the infrastructure of this country. They do not want to make any investments in education for the youth of this country, upon which the “greatness” of this country will depend in not that distant future. Republican governors are turning down money from the federal government for high speed rail projects that would help their state’s infrastructure, not to mention bringing in sorely needed jobs, just because they don’t like the President and his agenda. Other governors manufacture budget crises and then use those crises to push their own agenda, which is to crush unions. Other countries are beginning to eat our lunch in terms of investment in their economies and their future.

The United States ranks among the lowest in developed nations when it comes to infant mortality and their healthcare system, but among the highest when it comes to money spent per person for that same crappy healthcare system.

Real income for the lower and middle class workers has not budged in 30 years. Real income for the upper 10% has increased about 400% in those same 30 years. Businesses are sitting on huge amounts of cash reserves, but are not investing in themselves or hiring people. Huge companies have found loopholes by which they are able to avoid paying any corporate income taxes. But when it comes to budgetary woes, the people who are being asked to “share the pain” are always, without fail, the ones who have the least ability to give any more. Families who make over $250,000 a year are “poor” when it comes to taxation, but for all other considerations, teachers who make $50,000 a year and have a good dental plan are somehow greedy and overpaid. But by God, those oil companies, the ones that have made ONE TRILLION DOLLARS PROFIT in the last ten years, they need all those subsidies they are getting from the federal government!

None of this is new to anyone, of course. This isn’t really what I started out to write. This is just a litany of the craziness which has taken over this country.

I just can’t begin to imagine where this all might lead. I am almost to the point of just keeping my head down and hoping that my foxhole is a good refuge. I hope it all holds together for another seven years until I can retire. After that, I have no idea. I have toyed with the idea of moving to another country, although who knows what the situation might be in seven years.

Given all this, I just find it difficult to write another silly movie review or post funny pictures. It feels forced and wrong, like putting on a puppet show in your garage when your house is burning down.

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