Wed 18 Mar 2009
The maelstrom and convulsion we entered some time ago, which we have been so slow to notice even as the passing scenery has begun to repeat like the same bunch of clouds and mountains, documented in the incredibly shrinking newspaper sense, here. Maybe cartoon language is one of the few we still understand. It’s got to have something to do with that ‘all I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten’ sort of thing. If that’s true, good for you. Anyway, that’s an excellent piece above, so thanks, Andy.
You might wonder, and I can only hope you do, why the clockwise newspaper drain swirl, financial melt and eco/energy colossus are all coming of age at the same time. It could make you curious about what we’ve been feeding them. Born mostly at about the same time – say at or near about the time governments began insuring East India companies in their forays into the New World – all of our societal sub-structures are breaking up into mini ice floes, drifting out to Dieu knows where, as we struggle with how to tie them together again. As much as that might be an unfortunate metaphor, it can’t help but seem – even to a kindergartener – like practice for something.
To that end, and pardon the pun, it’s always better take in a geographer-anthropologist matinee:
PAUL SOLMAN: Of all the cultures you’ve studied that have tried to deal with severe economic dislocations, what’s the marker of resiliency?
JARED DIAMOND: It seems to me that one of the predictors of a happy versus an unhappy outcome has to do with the role of the elite or the decision-makers or the politicians or the rich people within the society.
If the society is structured so that the decision-makers themselves suffer from the consequences of their decisions, then they’re motivated to make decisions that are good for the whole society, whereas if the decision-makers can make decisions that insulate themselves from the rest of society, then they’re likely to make decisions that are bad for the rest of society.
That last bit via the Poorman.