Article 43

 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

America In Collapse 3

inage: the end is near

Here’s How Systems (and Nations) Fail

By Charles Hugh Smith
Washington’s Blog
July 27, 2018

Would any sane person choose Americas broken HEALTHCARE SYSTEM over a cheaper, more effective alternative? Let’s see: the current system costs twice as much per person as the healthcare systems of our developed-world competitors, a medication to treat infantile spasms costs $8 per vial in Europe and $38,892 in the U.S., and by any broad measure, the health of the U.S. populace is declining.

This is how systems and nations fail: nobody chose the current broken system, but now it cant be changed because the incentive structure locks in embedded processes that enrich self-serving insiders at the expense of the system, nation and its populace.

Nobody chose America’s insane healthcare systemit arose from a set ofinitial conditions that generated perverse incentives to do more of what’s failing and protect the processes that benefit insiders at the expense of everyone else.

In other words, the system that was intended to benefit all ends up benefitting the few at the expense of the many.

The same question can be asked of Americas broken higher education system:would any sane person choose a system that enriches insiders by indenturing students via massive student loans (i.e. forcing them to become debt serfs)?

Students and their parents certainly wouldn’t choose the current broken system, but the lenders reaping billions of dollars in profits would choose to keep it, and so would the under-assistant deans earning a cool $200K+ for administeringӔ some embedded process that has effectively nothing to do with actual learning.

The academic ronin a.k.a. adjuncts earning $35,000 a year (with little in the way of benefits or security) for doing much of the actual teaching wouldnt choose the current broken system, either.

Now that the embedded processes are generating profits and wages, everyone benefitting from these processes will fight to the death to retain and expand them, even if they threaten the system with financial collapse and harm the people who the system was intended to serve.

How many student loan lenders and assistant deans resign in disgust at the parasitic system that higher education has become? The number of insiders who refuse to participate any longer is signal noise, while the number who plod along, either denying their complicity in a parasitic system of debt servitude and largely worthless diplomas (i.e. the system is failing the students it is supposedly educating at enormous expense) or rationalizing it is legion.

If I was raking in $200,000 annually from a system I knew was parasitic and counter-productive, I would find reasons to keep my head down and just “do my job,” too.

At some point, the embedded processes become so odious and burdensome that those actually providing the services start bailing out of the broken system. We’re seeing this in the number of doctors and nurses who retire early or simply quit to do something less stressful and more rewarding.

These embedded processes strip away autonomy, equating compliance with effectiveness even as the processes become increasingly counter-productive and wasteful. The typical mortgage documents package is now a half-inch thick, a stack of legal disclaimers and stipulations that no home buyer actually understands (unless they happen to be a real estate attorney).

How much value is actually added by these ever-expanding embedded processes?

By the time the teacher, professor or doctor complies with the curriculum / standards of careӔ, theres little room left for actually doing their job. But behind the scenes, armies of well-paid administrators will fight to the death to keep the processes as they are, no matter how destructive to the system as a whole.

This is how systems and the nations that depend on them fail. Meds skyrocket in price, student loans top $1 trillion, F-35 fighter aircraft are double the initial cost estimates and so on, and the insider solutions are always the same: just borrow another trillion to keep the broken system afloat for another year.

SOURCE

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How Life is Going to Change as America Collapses
What Will Everyday Life in a Collapsed America Be Like?

By Umair
July 10, 2018
Eudamonia

Indulge me for a moment. Imagine, as I do, that Americas going to go right on collapsing. Who’s going to stop it? After all, in the last week alone, all three branches of government have been captured, at last, by extremists. The judiciary, with the nomination of a justice whod overturn Roe vs Wade, taking the US back half a century. Congress, whose Senators happily tweeted independence day greetings from Moscow. And, of course, the executive, in which a demagogue continued his assault on reason, democracy and truth.

All three branches of government captured mean that there are virtually no checks and balances left, save slender hope here or there, and so American collapse is likely to continue unabated. Into what? Into well, no one knows. Theofascism, maybe. Klepto-authoritarianism, perhaps. Pick your poisons - now shake up the cocktail mixer. Something new, a new form of all the old diseases of the body politic, combined in a strange, novel, lethal way, most probably.

While we cant say what the final form of American collapse will be yet, we can say life is going to change. Faster, harder, and nastier than you think. Here are five ways life is going to change under authoritarianism - and you’d be quite correct to notice, as you read, that they are ways in which life has already begun to change.

(1) What’s Normal Becomes Forbidden. The first thing that happens - at least which people notice - is that things which used to be normal, everyday affairs, happening in broad daylight, now go underground. They happen in secret places, through closely guarded networks, behind closed doors. So thats my first change: parts, my guess is large parts, of American life are going to go underground. Like what? Well, like abortion, quite obviously. But that’s just for starters. Civic organizing, refugee assistance, elderly care, various forms of healthcare, art, music, literature, politics - these will go underground, too. Whatגs the theme of this change? Authoritarian states are Nietzschean places - designed for the survival of the strongest, the predators. And that means that activities associated with taking care of the weak, the infirm, the frail - matters of human fragility, let us simply say - will be driven underground.

So what’s decent and humane and good and right - these things must be done in secret, where no one sees, in authoritarian states, because only what’s indecent and obscene can be done in public, with a proud, cold, calculated smile. Thats how authoritarians, who are mafias, maintain order. By intimidating and punishing, with public example, frightening people into submission. But what does a culture of fear do to a once free society? Well, it has ripple effects, which pulse outward. Soon enough, a society becomes a place of two kinds of people - bellowing demagogues, and frightened cowards.

(Go ahead and look around. Do you see that now-famous lawyer of a porn star who supposes hes taking on the President? See how he bellows and shouts and calls names? What about the many ғanti-Trump GOP men ԗ arent they all a little bit, well, bellicose, abrasive, and nasty, too? All these men are just the same sorts of demagogues in different suits, my friends. You might not like to hear that җ so by all means, think about it carefully. They are hardly FDR, Churchill, or Cicero. Are they after power  or real change, reform, transformation? You judge. Let the point, which is this, stand.)

(2) Silence descends. A culture of fear selects for bullies, on the one hand - and it creates a kind of paralysis in people, on the other. It becomes dangerous to say what you really think. To express how you really feel. Who knows which thug, mafia, scoundrel, might take your words and twist them, shame you publicly, send his goons and dogs after you? Thus, when norms of fear emerge, the tone and tenor of life in a society changes. Free expression withers. Free association wanes. Ultimately, freedom of thought itself is corroded. People become afraid to even think the very things they might be punished for.

So my second change is that the true self of society is lost. People who were once authentic, open, honest, passionate about being so with each other, at least a little bit, grow frightened, when they are not weary, and weary, when they are not frightened. And in between, the idea that society must be a place of people telling one another truths about themselves - how else is a democracy to emerge - is lost. And that is just what the authoritarians want. The coarsening of public life, too, is a kind of degeneration of a republic.

(3) New norms emerge. And that brings me to my third change - life will become obscene. I don’t mean naked people will run down the streets. That’s funny, maybe gross, but hardly immoral. So I mean that moral perversity will soon enough become normal - and what will be abnormal will be moral decency itself. Isn’t it that way already, a little bit? A handful of rich Senators take healthcare away from millions of children - just another day at the office! The pundits gather to discuss it on the nightly news as if they were calculating the value of oranges or cars or shoes. Do you see what I mean by obscenity? But that scene is replayed every day, isn’t it? A whole culture soon shifts as a result of authoritarian’s new norms of control through fear, conformity, and boot-licking - and, morally speaking, ethically speaking, what is abnormal becomes normal, and whatגs normal becomes abnormal. The grotesque triumphs. What was once the better part of a nation, its true self, its nobility and triumph, soon becomes just its despised shadow.

But what does it mean that the obscene becomes the everyday? That the grotesque triumphs? What it really means is that human life itself has become devalued  in a very special way: folded back on itself, to be worth not just zero, but less than zero. How can that be? Well, this change too, has already long begun to happen in America. Think of healthcare: people donגt get it because theyre seen as ғburdens, thanks to a generation or three of crackpot economics, lunatic ideology, and impoverished social thinking. But how can a human being be a burden - ever? You dont know who tomorrow’s Einsteins and Salks will be, and neither do I. The elderly have decades of wisdom and truth to share with us - if only we listen. And so on.

(4) New institutions take hold. But authoritarian states maintain power by building or reconstructing whole institutions whose sole purpose is to devalue human life. Thatגs what Gestapos and Stasis and morality polices are, when you think about it. Soon enough, Americans are likely to live under the thumb of just such repressive institutions  if they aren’t already, whole towns being raided - whose purpose is to control, discipline, and punish them, not liberate and lift and empower them. So my third change, the devaluation of human life, means that genuinely repressive institutions are already emerging, whose goal isn’t to help Americans live better lives - but to prevent them from ever doing so, unless they lick their masters boots, with just enough enthusiasm, to be rewarded with the very freedoms they have last. That fatal calculus is how authoritarians build societies which arent free, but vast hierarchies of flunkies, each more eager than the last, to commit daily obscenities, that are now normal, in the degenerate place a once proud republic stood.

What does the devaluation of human life suggest? It means that there’s no room, rhyme, or reason for a society to invest in people, doesnt it? So the quality of life in authoritarian states, usually, plunges downwards precipitously, ruinously. Consider the effects of appointing a Supreme Court justice who’ll roll back Roe, repeal what little healthcare there is, and loosen gun controls. American life expectancy, which is already cratering downwards at record speed - falling by a year every year -will continue to decline. It’s already five years shorter than in Europe. Soon enough, it will be ten. Where will it end? Who knows?

(5) Life becomes worse. Much worse. That is my fifth change. The life of the average American is going to get worse, much worse, in the hardest and most concrete of terms. Americans will live shorter, meaner, POORER, unhappier, lonelier, and more desperate lives than they already do - and already they are at the bottom of the list of rich countries, if not far below. Their lives will resemble those of RUSSIANS, in a great and funny cosmic irony.

I want you to really understand this point - because it has the truest reason of all behind it. How do the authoritarians really hang on to power, for so long, decades sometimes - even when whole societies seem to despise them? They make everyone powerless. They shatter them inside and out, destroy their social bonds, taking away the resources, institutions, norms, rights, and privileges they once had to live good and decent lives. And then they dangle all those things right back in front of people, saying: if you do what we say - you will live just as well you used to! You will live a normal life again. Wouldnt you like that? All you have to do is lick our boots. Just a little taste. A taste of dirt, for a taste of freedom. Isn’t that only fair? And when a person has been subjugated for long enough, there is little they won’t do, no one they wont turn on, just to get back even a small part of the dignity, freedom, and power they once had.

Do you see how the game works? Authoritarians build societies where the hold the power to take everything away from you - your identity, dignity, pride, place, status, family, rank - nd then use that very threat to tempt you into betraying everything and everyone that you should hold dear. That is the game the Soviets, the Maoists, the Nazis, and all the monsters throughout history have played. Americans, funnily enough, have played it too - with poorer, weaker nations. And the great irony is now they are playing it upon themselves. How foolish. How sad. How strange. Sorry, Americans. Your future is not a happy one.

Now, you are quite right to ask at this (alarming) juncture - but is the way it has to be?!” The answer, of course, is no. The future is like the sky. Nothing is written on it forever. Americans have a few short months to change their destiny. But after those months are gone, alas - the time will have gone, too, when the future could have been altered. Nothing is written on futurity forever. But once the hand of history begins to write, its not so easily stopped.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 07/28/18 •
Section Dying America
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