Wednesday, May 09, 2012

You cannot get someone to understand a foreign language by shouting.

A friend sent me a link to a marvelous article: What if a collapse happened and nobody noticed? I agree with the beginning, about what a collapse looks like. It's awesome. You should read it. I stopped agreeing when the author started blaming Peak Oil. It's easy to blame an outside force. It's easy to blame "others". It's a method used by leaders for millenia: when internal troubles can't be solved, attack someone "outside", someone "not us". Change the focus, at least until the leaders are out of power, or dead. Reminds me of Louis Whatsizname of France, and "after me, the deluge."

What I see as the current political/economic problem is an inability to see that a program doesn't work. I don't care if it's a low-level after school program started by the local women's club, or international economic policy. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. There are those who still claim trickle-down works, except for those nasty people who get in its way. In other words, in real life, it *does* *not* *work*. Get over it and move on. Austerity programs are not working. So what will? There are a lot of ideas getting tossed around. Some ideas work locally, some in larger regions, some internationally. No one idea works for all things, although people in power try to make it so. "Don't force it. Use a bigger hammer."

Unfortunately, far too many people are emotionally invested in their own ideas, and will *not* change, even in the face of creeping collapse. Too many people invested in the belief that the unemployed are lazy, no-good, and all they have to do is find a job. These true believers can't seem to see there are no jobs. They point to "see, that one company is hiring 50 people" and miss the fact that *500* people applied. People complain about "all that money being spent on space" and fail to see that the jobs, the manufacturing of equipment and parts, are *here* on this planet. There are no piles of Franklins on the Moon, Cassini does not carry gold as cargo. The area around Cape Canaveral is facing severely increasing unemployment, now that those who worked on Space Shuttle launches are unemployed. Those in charge cut that program as an austerity measure, thus decreasing those paying taxes: those no longer working for NASA, those families no longer buying at local stores, those stores that close because few are buying, those who used to be store employees in their turn not buying at other stores. None of them are now paying taxes, thus increasing the need for more austerity. Sounds like a nasty spiral down, doesn't it?

The article's statement "Of course they could just as easily come clean with all this..." Dude! What world are you living in? You seem to think all people in positions of power even recognize there's a problem. You assume they are all deliberately withholding information, when in fact they are blindly hanging on to beliefs that do not reflect the real world. It falls in the "all you have to do is..." thinking, which is just as bad as "of course it works, if people would stop interfering." It's not malice, at least not for most of them. It's just plain old ordinary willful blindness. We all suffer from it in various forms.

I have blind spots that I'm willing to have exposed, but only if the person exposing them shows me the numbers/data as they are *in* *real* *life*, not what they should be under ideal circumstances. We are humans, not ideals.

You cannot get someone to understand a foreign language by shouting.
You cannot solve a problem if you won't see the current "solution" doesn't work.


Lin Daniel said...

Correction: Those in charge did not shut down the Space Shuttle as an austerity move. They didn't start a new program as an austerity move. The difference to us? Non-existent. Austerity=no jobs.

Michael Z. Williamson said...

It looks as though you're criticizing solutions that haven't been tried, not the ones that are being tried and not working.

Giving money to failed corporations doesn't work. Endlessly borrowing money to have people do unnecessary work doesn't work. Stealing from "the rich" doesn't work. Insisting that some magic non-polluting, non-consuming power source will come along Real Soon Now doesn't work. Demanding that other people pay for one's problems (and the cause of those problems is not relevant to this solution) doesn't work.

Michael Z. Williamson said...

I agree with Dr Pournelle that the best thing for the space industry would be to abolish NASA. They've done far too little with far too much bureaucracy.

Lin Daniel said...

Mike, I'm criticizing people who blame an outside group for their problems. I'm criticizing people who hang on to ideas in the face of the idea not working. I am not making a detailed list of ideas that work or don't work, who's using them, who's fighting them. It's an overview of a concept, not a scholarly analysis.

bandit said...

two words: drug war

Problem is: a fair number of citizens are blind to the consequences. Within the "drug warriors" community, some are blind.

For most of the drug warriors (including the private prisons, police departments with budgets that *assume* asset forfeitures), this is a jobs program.