Is smart doomed?

Faced with a massive failure of the Wall Street Casino, it would seem that enlightened leadership would take a shot at reforming the system to prevent a repeat swan dive. So far, that hasn’t happened. True, President Obama (the closest thing we’ve had to an intellectual leader since Clinton, who was too stupid to understand that messing with the help was bad form) has been busy trying to restore confidence in the system by propping it up- but is propping up a bad construct the answer?

Should Wall Street be torn down and rebuilt in a saner fashion?

Probably, but after reading about “Weishaupt’s fallacy” I’m prepared to say that Wall Street and Main Street are both doomed, until we either have a smarter general populace or toss away our entire system of democracy and hand it off to a benevolent dictator.

Who is this Weishaupt guy? It’s well explained in a post by the Archdruid- but, the time frame of our American Revolution- and the word “Illuminati” should give you enough of a clue. Believe it or not- there were other things happening around the world in 1776, we just ignored them in US History class. Weishaupt thought that smart people should evolve to power:

The problem with Professor Weishaupt’s fantasy of an illuminated Bavaria was a bit of bad logic that has been faithfully repeated by intellectuals seeking power ever since: the belief, as sincere as it is silly, that if you have the right ideas, you are by definition smarter than the system you are trying to control. That’s Weishaupt’s Fallacy. Because Weishaupt and his fellow Illuminati were convinced that the conservative forces in Bavaria were a bunch of clueless boors, they were totally unprepared for the counterblow that followed once the Bavarian government figured out who the Illuminati were and what they we

via The Archdruid Report: The Political Ecology of Collapse.

Unfortunately, our system which was originally designed only to let a small subset of the general population vote – now lets everyone have a shot at choosing leadership and deciding on things like casinos- all guided by soundbite ads and buzzword slogans.

So, if we have a group of smart people come up with a plan to solve Dayton’s woes, like too many leaders for a dwindling number of followers, it’s going to fail too- because the system gravitates to the lowest common denominator: the highly overrated American Voter. And, it’s our fault. We’ve taken “debate” to a new low with our “moderated forum” style of political conversation- we’ve given the average voter something like 150 decisions to make from Coroner to Congressman, and we’ve dumbed down the system to 2 parties- the red and the blue- take a side.

With the Internet, the amount of information available is infinite, transparency is growing, but that requires even more work for voters to inform and evaluate the limited choices. We have a simple 2 party system in place to manage a very complex country- and it’s straining our ability to think outside the accepted.

With 10% unemployment here and not much indication of changing- we are setting ourselves up for the rise of a charismatic leader who may not have our best interests at heart. I’m sure some of you think we may already be there with Obama, but, maybe he is just the harbinger of what’s to come.

Studying history tells us that when the masses aren’t valued, neither is the institution that controls them. In short, just taking away Wall Street bonuses will do little to create employment- and employment is what we need.

If we accept that brave new leadership can’t solve the problems with bold mastery of the current system- maybe, the answer is to work hard to educate the masses on the true issues at hand. Maybe, it’s time to simplify elections so that we vote for fewer representatives- at fewer levels. Or maybe, we’re just doomed?

Until we value smart over popular, we’re going to get more of the same.

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6 Responses

  1. David Lauri January 13, 2010 / 11:24 am
    I’m prepared to say that both Wall Street and Main Street are both doomed, until we either have a smarter general populace or toss away our entire system of democracy and hand it off to a benevolent dictator.
     
    James Fallows, in his cover story article in this month’s The Atlantic, “How American Can Rise Again,” says the same thing — “We could hope for an enlightened military coup, or some other deus ex machina by the right kind of tyrants.” — although he doesn’t think a coup in the United States is likely.
  2. jstults January 13, 2010 / 9:40 pm
    I thought this was an interesting point from the article David L. linked to:

    Historically, the prospect of imminent decline has been used as a rallying cry, to get Americans committed to whatever is the agenda of the person doing the rallying, often the elites

    Since you mention the internet, I think the cooperative efforts of individuals in the private sector enabled by new technology rather than a government solution decided by the voting public is the ticket to more jobs.  From David L’s article again:

    Everything we know about future industries and technologies suggests that they will offer ever-greater rewards to flexibility, openness, reinvention, “crowdsourcing,” and all other manifestations of individuals and groups keenly attuned to their surroundings.

  3. Will Brooks January 14, 2010 / 9:49 am
    There has been a general shift from the age of logic to the age of emotion. Years ago the populace was educated and resorted to reason. In other words, people thought for themselves. Today, it’s all based on emotion. Silly example is how cars are advertised. The advertiser rarely spells out the merits of the product culminating with why one should own one. Instead, the advertiser will show some scene that appeals to the emotions without giving a logical reason to buy. Educating the masses is a must and it is happening today via the internet. Where it all goes is anyone’s guess. At this point in time the internet has become the bane of the elite’s existence and it may well serve as the catalyst to derail many of the draconian efforts being forced on an unwilling populace.
  4. Ice Bandit January 14, 2010 / 9:59 am
       President Obama (the closest thing we’ve had to an intellectual leader since Clinton, who was too stupid to understand that messing with the help was bad form) has been busy trying to restore confidence in the system by propping it up- but is propping up a bad construct the answer? (David Esrati)

       Well, dear David, just what evidence do we have that the Great Helmsman is an intellectual? Furthermore, just what has he done to “restore confidence in the system.” It appears, dear David, you have mistaken the office of the presidency with the role of Captain of the Titanic, for the economy is the independent  interaction of millions of providers and consumers, and polls indicate the folks who really have the power to turn the economy would rather have Michael Vick watch their dogs than trust this administration with the economy. Just as sure as tides rise and recede, the American economy has suffered numerous high and low points. And the historical record shows that, without massive government intervention, the life span of a recession is about eight months. The Great Helmsman helped steer the economy unto the iceberg over a year ago, and every measure indicates the economy is still taking on water and listing. The Old Bandito will concede to Obama one goose to the economy; folks scared of Obama’s history of hostility towards the Second Amendment has kept guys like Bill Goodman driving Caddys and eating caviar. The Old Bandito has had to shelve his beloved M-14 for lack for affordable 7.62 Nato rounds. So dear David, you made your statements about Obama’s astronomical IQ and his Herculean attempts to right a sinking ship, now, defend those statements…………

  5. David Lauri January 14, 2010 / 12:26 pm
    Years ago the populace was educated and resorted to reason. In other words, people thought for themselves. Today, it’s all based on emotion. Silly example is how cars are advertised. The advertiser rarely spells out the merits of the product culminating with why one should own one. Instead, the advertiser will show some scene that appeals to the emotions without giving a logical reason to buy.


    Take a look at this 1926 Packard ad (one of many found on http://www.packardaustralia.com/advertisments.htm), the copy of which starts, “Grace – It is not surprising that Packard cars have eleven times won international beauty contests abroad.” Is that the kind of logical reason to buy you were referring to?
     
    In contrast look at this 2010 BMW ad which appears on the inside front cover and page 1 of the January 11, 2010 issue of the New Yorker, touting “the intelligent dual-access tailgate [that] delivers flexible solutions for loading,” accompanied by illustrations of how the new BMW 5 series Gran Turismo’s hatchback/trunk works.  Looking for a sporty car that has room to haul things?  This ad gives you some information you need to make a logical decision as to whether this car might work for you.
     
    It’s all too easy to pine for the good old days.  Sure there were good things in the past, but not everything about the past is better than the present.  John Oliver of The Daily Show recently went looking for the good old days whose passing Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly so lament, and Oliver wasn’t able to find them: http://www.indecisionforever.com/2010/01/06/john-oliver-searches-for-glenn-beck-and-bill-oreillys-good-old-days/
  6. Will Brooks January 14, 2010 / 6:49 pm
    @David L. – cool links. The BMW ad does offer a little info but it is somewhat stark compared to the info offered from the old ads. As for the good old days, I really don’t pine for them. Glad we are here and it’s today. I appreciate the response.

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