Having Too Much Can Be Bad for You

I am not saying anything new here – but I think it needs to be said again, because this was one of the causes for America’s downfall.

“America’s downfall?” You may ask, “What kind of nut are you, to talk like this!” But it does seem to me that America, the land I was born into, has gone into a serious decline – and that is why I left it, and now live in Costa Rica.

Since then, I have asked myself, what was wrong with America? And the answer is not easy to come by. But it has something to do with Americans favoring their things over their people.

America became the most industrialized nation in the world – and the richest. But this did not make them better. This is an important point, and I want to dwell on it.

One of the results of Industrialization was its amazing ability to make things better and cheaper. I am using one of them now, as I have my espresso coffee for breakfast. This little machine is amazing, and was so cheap!

And I can go to a supermarket, pushing my shopping cart down the aisles, stocked with items of every description. The emotional impact of this is severe – and re-enforces the message that they are important – and not the person pushing the shopping cart – who is only a consumer.

He does have a plastic credit card, that pays for everything – but he is surrounded by a huge, invisible Financial System – that keeps telling him to buy more!

The emotional result is depression, as people realize they are not important.

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Americans did not Take Care of America

Late in the 20th Century, America stopped working – and Americans wondered why. The reason was simple – Americans were not interested in the future of America – only in their own future (that of themselves and their friends). Thinking about the future was too much of a bother – so they didn’t think about it.

This was a huge moral and intellectual failure – but they could ignore it, by insisting that the Economy was not about Morality! It was about making money – nothing else.

Morality and Making Money, however are closely related. And we don’t have to go back too far to see this – to the advent of Protestantism. That was very interested in Morality – and this resulted in Affluence also. The Market cannot work, unless Honesty is involved. Protestants were honest (scrupulously so) while the Catholics were not.

Latin America is now poor, and North America is rich. The exception being Costa Rica, who had leaders who were interested in the future of their country – and did something about it.

Being Different, Being the Same

I got to watch this during my twenty years in the Computer Industry – ten years in Southern California (1980-1990) and ten years in Silicon Valley (1990-2000). There was a lot of innovation during that period – but most people were not interested in it.

There were some intelligent people doing some amazing things – but most were fairly stupid (or even somewhat crazy) – and they were not penalized for being this way. This was normal, and everybody knew it.

In fact, a certain craziness was rewarded – if it impressed the higher ups – who were often not too bright themselves.

The amount of money wasted this way was phenomenal. Huge amounts of money was shoveled toward the Computer Industry – and they burned it up recklessly. And no one seemed to find this objectionable. Money was made to be wasted – and they were wasting it.


This was the end of an era – when crazy things often happen. A successful social process is pushed farther and farther – well past its useful limits – and then everything collapses.

The successful social process in this case was Manufacturing. An affluent Middle Class was employed in making more and more products – especially more and more cars. This was exemplified by Detroit – who went from riches to rags in only a few years.

The people involved could not understand this – their whole way of life was gone!


But I started to write about the Computer Industry, and its problems. They still thought of themselves as being in Manufacturing, when those days were long gone. This is an important point, and I must amplify on it.

Manufacturing involved the assembly of mechanical parts – the Assembly Line. And the Computer Industry started doing the same thing – putting parts together. The result was a huge personal computer, that you added Adapters to – to make it do more things. Mine had every Adapter possible – including one for the Internet, and one for a SCSI hard drive. Big, but not very smart.

But computer hardware and software were moving in a different direction. They were not getting bigger, they were getting smarter. And the result is today’s laptop computer – a few chips, a keyboard, a display, and a power supply. And software components that know how talk to each other. A different device entirely.

The Computer was getting smarter – and people were getting smarter – but only a few of them – maybe ten percent.

The rest were getting dumber. They were made to function in an economy that was no longer – and their skills were no longer needed.

Finance

This is something we have been unwilling to examine very closely – thinking somehow, that money was immoral. And best not discussed in polite society.

The American attitude towards finance and banking has been especially ambivalent. Everybody wants money – and wants to keep it from everyone else.

Thomas Jefferson’s attitude toward money was typical – he borrowed recklessly from British banks (he died heavily in debt to them) – but opposed the creation of an American bank. He wanted America to remain agricultural (including the use of slaves) and not to become industrial.

This led directly to the American Civil War – that the North, with its strong industry and financing – won over the South – that had little of either.

Much later, we now have a tremendous need to understand our economy – and an equally strong need – to not understand it! What is going on in our minds? Perhaps it is the belief that money is dirty, but highly desirable at the same time. An attitude we inherited from our Christian ancestors.

I have a solution. We could make all financial transactions visible, so everyone could see what was going on in the Economy. This could easily be done with plastic money – the banks do this already, but do not make these transactions visible. Paper money would also have identifiers – each bill with is own serial number. When they are deposited in a bank, they would be scanned – and a record of these deposits made visible. This would also make money laundering impossible. The idea here, as you can see – is making the economy visible. Making it part of the Information Economy.

This will never fly – it will not even be considered. People do not want understand the Economy.

Or much of anything else.

People Get In The Way of Power

Americans today are very interested in Power, but not interested in People.

They are people biologically – but not emotionally.

I don’t have the words to describe what they are – probably because they do not want to be described – but perhaps they could be described as a large Machine – a definition they would probably be comfortable with.

They would probably be comfortable with this – and probably uncomfortable with it. Because this is a description of the Industrial Society, a mechanical society – and they now live in another society that is not mechanical, but informational.

This huge change occurred in two stages – first they lost their social awareness, then an entirely different technology took over. With considerable overlap between the two stages.

Let us consider the first – the loss of social awareness. This must have happened late in the 19th Century – as the final effect of Industrialization. That caused a complete social collapse – and caused the American Civil War, WWI, the Depression, and WWII (with its Holocaust). A situation so horrible, people could only endure it by not noticing it. By not being socially aware.

When I speak of People here – I mean the vast majority of people – at least 80 percent. There was always a minority who knew what was going on – but they were relatively powerless. The Great Social Engine blundered on. More powerful than ever.

People were aware of this Power – but did not want to understand it – only make it more powerful. This was the situation in the middle of the 20th Century – when I came on the scene.

America manufactured much of the world’s goods then – but now, half a century later, it manufactures little.

Meanwhile, Informational technologies were taking over. Beginning with Television. This was not seen as Information at the time – but as Entertainment – that also controlled its viewers, with its clever Commercials. TV continued the tradition of the Movies – only it was free, and could be viewed at home!

The impact on People was enormous – and still continues. A new breed of dictators arose that could control the Television that their people relied on. In America, this caused the rise of Trump.

Society had become hostile to People – but completely compatible with Power – as embodied by the Corporation.

Time marched on, and produced the Computer – that was all about Information – and created a new economy based on that. A new form of Power! But one we understood little.

Here again, the 80 percent understand nothing – but this does not bother them in the least. They have Power, and they are going to use it!

Trust

This word has two connotations, that sometimes overlap. The first is a matter of brute force – accept what I say, and obey my orders. The second is more supportive – you know how I have behaved in the past, and you can trust me to behave in the same way in the future.

In Software, an advanced area, where people are acting sensibly – trust does not even come up. You can use the Internet, because you use established protocols, that everyone has agreed on. It just works, and no trust is required.

This area is advancing rapidly because everyone builds on the work of others – they know how these technical advances work, and they know how to use them. No trust is involved.

This is such an important point, I want to reiterate it – people trust the Computer (and its Software) because they know it works. They may not know how it works – but they know it works.


Compare this to the operation of the Market, that the Economy depends on. It is prone to periodic crashes, because it cannot be trusted. Either due to internal instability (of many kinds) – or to outright fraud. Or combinations of the two.

I refer you to A high-stakes gamble: How Jared Kushner reacted to previous crises. This guy is gambling with other people’s money – and should not be trusted. But he has plenty of support in high places (including President Trump, his father-in-law).

This is corruption – that is all too common in today’s world.

A world that cannot be trusted.

The Power of Being Nothing

This power is being exercised by nearly everyone in the world. They are having a wonderful time being nothing, and destroying everything!

Logically, this makes no sense – how can anyone not be? But logic does not apply here. These people have decided to not be – and anyone can see, plainly enough – that they have succeeded completely!

One can ask “Can they go on destroying the world forever?” Obviously not. The world’s resources are limited – and they are running thin already. In one or two hundred years – the human population boom will be over. There will still be plenty of cockroaches, but not so many of us!

If we were smart – we would see this coming, and plan an orderly transition. Although how we would get rid of most of the world’s population, would be a challenge.

The rise in the level of the oceans will take care of many of them – the shortage of food, the rest.