“If all you have is a hammer,” says the old proverb, “everything looks like a nail.” And I’m hard pressed to think of a better way to describe the destruction of the US economy (and many others) over the past few weeks. It has been a foolish set of reactions, and I’m going to show you both why it happened and why it was unnecessary.
First, however, I should clarify that the financial meltdown and the blowing up of the economy are two different things:
- As many of us have long noted, the leading finance regimes of the world were insanely over-blown bubbles, just waiting for some kind of pin to pop them. This was a virtual economy of fabricated currency units contained within carefully controlled securities markets.
- The real economy of goods, deliveries, repairs and so on was separated from the virtual economy, and its surplus was skimmed away with paid-for regulations and obligations. The people in this economy got relatively poorer and poorer, the big corporations treated them as serfs and their rulers despised them, but they were allowed to keep working.
Finally the financial bubble popped, hurting lots of people, both comfortable and poor. But that didn’t require the burning down of the real economy… the aforesaid making, growing, repairing and distributing of everything that really matters to us.
Why They Burned It Down
Really, it boils down to this: When the shit hits the fan, people revert to their basic psychological premises. And for politicians… for rulers of most any sort… that psychological premise is control. If and when they reach down into their souls, that’s what they find.
On top of that we should remember that politicians aren’t much different than perpetual beauty pageant contestants. When such people see a parade developing, they run to the front and grab the parade’s attention any way they can. And if the parade has come together mainly out of fear, you get their attention by agreeing with them (loudly) and being just a little bit more extreme than they were. Then, you present yourself as the solution.
“Hooray, it’s now my parade!”
Afterward, when the other beauty pageant contestants up their ante (more fear, more control) you raise yours too. Politicians react to the other contestants, not to some schlub on Main Street.
Complications aside, the actual economies of America and much of the world have been shut down because of this. The damage is already severe and the fallout may last a long time.
“They Had No Choice!”
To those saying the politicians had no choice I have a very simple response: “No; they saw no choice.”
Now, since almost everyone has been taught to see the world as the ruler sees it, most people saw no choice either. But there were far better choices… choices that didn’t burn down economies.
“What Other Choices?”
I suppose we can begin our list of other choices with a respectable adult – an actual grown-up – standing up, day after day, explaining to people the history of epidemics, the choices we face, the costs of each, and how every person can either save their neighbor or endanger them. We had several weeks, after all.
But this was not done. Sure, politicians acted a little bit like this after the horse was out of the barn, but people need time to assimilate such things, and a one-shot effort doesn’t work. Any ruler worth his or her salt would know this. But, they didn’t. Instead they reverted to what they did know: more control. Their psychological bias was for war rhetoric, soldier boys, tanks and quasi-tanks, more cops, fines, punishments and jail cells. Everything, to them, looked like a nail, and so the real economy was hammered.
But even without a respectable adult talking sensibly, most people were intelligent enough to take precautions. By the time the first lock-down orders were given, most Americas were already “sheltering in place,” and I suspect that most other peoples were too.
Here are a few other choices the rulers never considered:
- Tell the people they won’t be taxed upon – won’t even have to report – their income from making masks, ventilators, valves, etc.
- Tell the people that patents and regulations are suspended for the next year… that they will be held to account for negligence, misrepresentation, and so on, but that they needn’t get approvals.
- Put every bit of data, every proposal, every blueprint and chemical formula online, available to the world. Upon receipt. (Why not? Because the people are brute beasts and the ruling class is not?)
This list could go on at length, but just this much would put millions of intelligent and motivated people to work – immediately and at zero cost – fixing the crisis in far more and better ways than command-and-control processes.
The proof of this is that even with none of the above, and at significant risk to themselves, some people are still acting independently. Here, for example, is a home-made ventilator (cleverly hacked together from CPAP materials) that could save many lives:
The Price We Pay For Being Ruled
Things didn’t have to go this way, and the price we’re paying now is the cost of rulership. I’ll spare you the details, but millions of us have already realized that rulership was never as advertised and that other options, while less than perfect, are far less bad than the bloody, arrogant and exceedingly expensive mess we’ve had.
You are not a nail; you’re a thinking and productive human being. Be clear on the fact that you didn’t deserve to be hammered and that it wasn’t okay. Because you didn’t and it wasn’t.
This is not the kind of world we deserve, and it’s up to us to improve it. The rulers are unable to move forward, and they just proved it again… this time on a massive scale.