November 19th, 2008


Now that we've really stepped in it.

First a disclaimer: I lie. I try to be honest, but sometimes I'm not. This isn't anything I'm proud of, but face it: we all live in a world of gray areas in which we muddle about, and we're weak and selfish and fearful.

So perhaps I'm not saying the things I'm saying below from any sort of moral high ground.

Here's the thing -- Human society is in dire straits, and aside from the contingent cause (competition for resources), the proximate cause is lying.

And not just any generic sort of lying. I'm talking about lies told where the liar knows they're lying, and the liar knows the people he's lying to know the liar is lying. Those giant, malodorous Graf Zeppelin-sized turds of dishonesty that fill the sky.

Here's one example -- no one really thinks corn-based ethanol as a fuel is a good idea. And yet Barack Obama has a policy stance in favor of it. Ethanol production soaks up excess corn production pushing prices up, and corn producers are a big part of the economy in the politically important Midwest. So as a politician, saying no to Ethanol for fuel can put you on the shit list in Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, etc. So Barack Obama says he's in favor of it, even though it's a bad idea for several reasons I won't elaborate here.

And the news media reports it, and the audiences in rallies applaud it, even though everyone knows it's a stupid thing to do. Why? Because Barack Obama only has so much political courage, and the people who benefit from the Ethanol industry don't care if they're involved in something thats ultimately counter-productive. Or if they care, it doesn't win out over their own selfishness.

Let's take another case: Barack Obama favors civil unions and does not support gay marriage. Why? Because there is a significant portion of the voting public who are moderate, reasonable people in every way except for their irrational hatred and fear of the idea of two guys in tuxes snogging while people throw rice.

Does anyone seriously think Obama gives a shit whether gay people get gay married? Of course not. But he's trying to split the difference between gay people and all of the homophobes. If you look at it from the standpoint of political calculus, it makes sense, because Obama cobbled together a slim majority that included both queers, and those who fear queers.

But hypocrisy actually costs. Anyone who has worked in a corporation knows that there is the public and intra-company mythology of "we're the greatest, we're a team" rah rah bullshit, and then there's what's really going on. You know what the rules are, and if you are careful and pay attention, you can find out what the REAL rules are. What happens a lot is that since reality and perception are disconnected, people start nurturing and supporting the perception, and neglect the reality. Welcome to the American Auto Industry!

Now maybe it's naive to think we can cut the crap, but we're at a point now where we can no longer afford it -- i.e. all the bullshit. We're drowning in it. You'll notice I used Barack Obama as a case in point above. There's a reason for this: Although we've spent the last eight years awash in a sea of lies unprecedented in human history, there's no value in continuing to obsess over it. The Emperor has no clothes, game over. There's no way we could ever punish George Bush enough for his dishonesty. I have fantasies of him leading a parade in his underwear like Nelson on the Simpsons, while we jeer and throw rotten produce, but alas it will never happen.

Now that we have a new President in the US who at least tries to be on the side of the angels, we're going to need to hold his feet to the fire. We're going to have to insist that as a country, we make decisions based on reality. We need to be calling bullshit whenever we see it.

We need to reject what has been the norm for too long: the consensus based on believing each other's lies. We need to find a consensus based on what's real, or we're going to go the way of the dinosaur.
If it's not too late already.