Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

The world may be doomed and most people don’t pay attention, but is that anything new?

Posted by Lissa on July 9, 2012

Unsustainable debt. A deteriorating military apparatus. A breakdown of the blue model in Europe and in many states; local governments and municipalities going bankrupt. The rise of a competing economic power in China that comes with a dictatorial government and an absolutely unsustainable demographic time bomb. And yet, the majority of adults in our country can’t name our Attorney General, can’t name the major players in the European Union, and will look at you blankly when you inform them that Medicare and Social Security cannot and will not continue as they have, because you can’t make up numbers forever.

They can probably tell you who the finalists are in American Idol, though. Or maybe Survivor, or Dancing With the Stars.

And yet . . . is this really any different than normal?

I’m too young to really have perspective on this, but surely during the Cold War the world was far more dangerous than it is today. The breakdown of the USSR was surely more disruptive than watching Russia and China angle for political and regional influence and power. And while the Middle East is a sucky mess, at least none of the neighboring countries have tried to push the Jews into the sea in the last few decades.

Were voters *actually* more informed twenty years ago? Thirty years ago? Hell, it hasn’t been THAT long since politics was “men’s business.”

Information is much more easily accessible nowadays – and, I think, much more interesting. We just have to convince our fellow adults that following politics is more fun than following soap operas.

4 Responses to “The world may be doomed and most people don’t pay attention, but is that anything new?”

  1. Brad Kruse said

    Sony, and Nokia, and Apple, and Microsoft, and WordPress and Blogger (and NakedNews.com) and the legions of their competitors and kin have replaced word-of-mouth traditional news channels and traditionally limited broadcast channels, with individual connections to ‘the net’. People don’t see their neighbors and visit with their neighbors at Amazon.com, not at Craigslist, not at facebook. The historic community function, politics, is today often played out without a community connection, without a component of implications and meanings of political choices to the community.

    Our awareness of Social Security is now a matter of what it means to me, not what it means to my extended family, or to my community or even my workplace. We get empty, talking suits, now, that work the masses of the US, or the state, the way Dawn sells dish washing liquid (though Dawn is a pretty good product, unlike some politicians).

    As for Social Security failing in a decade or so, that has been true since it started, and has been a cry of woe and despair at most elections, especially since the 1970s that I recall. I read articles today that SS is a “ponzi” scheme — which is great blog fodder, but unrealistic. SS was never about contributing enough to pay for one’s own retirement; it was always that those working would be caring for those in need. Except politicians extended the “in need” to “might vote for me”. And Obama’s policy of “fixing” unemployed masses by fiddling with the reported statistic — mostly by stopping counting those unemployed a long time — is making the problem worse since there are way fewer workers today, contributing to SS and those “in need” or that “might vote for politician X”. SS failing might not be a case of crying wolf, but the imminent failure cry has been with us regularly for a long time. It hasn’t helped that SS collections are made separate from income taxes — but Congress lumps all SS contributions into the general fund, and used to buy votes, for decades.

    8.2% unemployment doesn’t tell the story, compared to 6.2% some years ago, that it appears to tell. What matters is that today’s 8.2% unemployment only regards folk that were employed six months ago. Those that haven’t worked since Obama came into office, those folk aren’t counted. There has been no recovery for them, or for young people, or for minorities, or the middle class or the poor. Ever higher minimum wages appeal to minority and poor voting blocks — even though history shows that minorities and the poor are hurt the hardest by minimum wages. Obama gets to report a bare 2% rise in unemployment, an improving report — and ignore the fact that there are millions fewer working then when he took office,

    The individual connection and the plethora of information channels, means that most folk watch and hear only those that they already agree with, instead of the majority of Americans getting the same news as everyone else. That lets the propaganda and advertising campaigns sell their message to individuals and preferred regions and markets, selling each person the story that might sell the most soap, or win a particular vote — instead of having to settle for telling the same story to the whole nation, and have a nation of voters, and buyers, hear the same story and figure what it means to their neighbors and to them.

  2. Old Windways said

    I have a similar view on the level of partisanship in modern politics. Everyone assumes that the level of rancor between the two sides of the isle (or between branches of the government) is a recent development, often blamed on the Tea Party movement. They forget that for the first 80+ years after our nation declared its independance, it was not unusual for politicians to murder eachother by dueling over a percieved insult or a difference of opinion. It has always been this bad, we just don’t have very good memories.

    And don’t get me started on modern scandals, Teapot Dome in 1920’s dwarfs them all (resulting in the first cabinet member to go to prison, the second being a result of Watergate 48 years later).

  3. momiss said

    I have mulled this over myself a lot in recent years. I tell myself that probably it has more to do with my own age than politics, and that my mother was probably just as terrified when she tried to imagine the world I would live in.
    Then I try to believe it.
    It’s all a matter of perspective; and that does not come from watching what passes for TV these days. I can remember my own grandparents being afraid that TV was a way for the govt. to control our minds. If it was, I would say they have attained a high percentage of success. At the time I thought they were nuts. NOW I think the rest of the world is, pretty much…..

  4. I used to get really upset at people who weren’t interested in politics. Then I realized one very important thing. If they voted, they almost always voted for the Democrat/liberal candidate because their limited attention span only allowed them to way the Main Stream Media. So, I came to the conclusion that we are better off if they DON’T vote, so now I encourage them to be completely ignorant and decide it’s not worth voting.

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