Problems are routinely promoted by the media-political complex into "crises."
In President Biden’s first six months we’ve seen:
- The pandemic crisis (and its echo, also promoted to a crisis, the Delta variant).
- The attendant economic crisis which (unless the nation shuts down against the pandemic, again, or inflation surges) seems mostly behind us.
- A crisis of "democracy" (in which the Republicans seem to be outcompeting the Democrats’ in their respective efforts to game the voting system in their favor.
- A climate change crisis (climate changes, but is it human induced and are the exorbitant remediations proposed a cure … or virtue signaling?)
- A border crisis.
- An (onrushing) budget/debt ceiling crisis.
- A cybersecurity/ransomware crisis.
- An opioids/fentanyl/deaths of despair crisis.
- The crisis of systemic racism. (An actual moral crisis. Good to see us addressing it with greater determination. Amp it up, America!)
Apologies for failing to list any of my readers’ favorite crises. It's hard to keep up with the above --- and others.
I beg your pardon, but it seems to me that most of this "Parade of Horribles" are problems.
Not extinction-level events.
Blowing so many things up to DEFCON 1 impairs our ability to solve these problems.
While this tendency may be great for ratings, it's not at all for solutions.
As columnist Matt Taibbi archly puts it at his Substack vertical (to which I subscribe and recommend), using the news coverage of the modest Covid setbacks as a springboard
"Are they angry American scientists didn’t solve the biggest health crisis in history more quickly? Was under a year not fast enough? Of course, it’s not hard to see the frustration — here we are, eight whole months after the first shots were administered, and they have to read about a setback?
"Outrageous! The whole thing recalls Louis C.K.’s 'Everything is amazing and nobody is happy" routine, about Americans who sit in airports with scrunched noses, furious they have to wait a whole second for their cell phones to get signals from space….'"
Louis CK goes on to marvel about other modern miracles we take for granted like crossing the continent in five hours, by air, in relative comfort instead of six months or longer by wagon train, per the US Department of Transportation. If you survived the journey.
In passing, one is reminded of Alferd Packer, notorious cross-country cannibal of Donner Pass infamy. Lore has it that at his murder trial,
"One local newspaper quoted Judge Gerry as saying, 'Stand up yah voracious man-eatin' s*n*fab*tch and receive yir sintince. When yah came to Hinsdale County, there was siven dimmycrats. But you, yah et five of 'em, g*dd*m yah. I sintince yah t' be hanged by th' neck ontil yer dead, dead, dead, as a warnin' ag'in reducin' th' Dimmycratic populayshun of this county. Packer, you Republican cannibal, I would sintince ya ta hell but the statutes forbid it.'"
Plainly, Republicans have been using Nefarious Means to suppress Democratic voter turnout since at least 1874.
"Democrats have spent the last five years so consumed with removing the scourge of Trumpism that they’ve become their own poisonous part of his story. They’re now Ahab to Trump’s whale, and their revenge trip is whirlpooling us downward even in would-be moments of national triumph."
An excellent ring both of truth and consequences. Yet . . . Taibbi fails to see the forest for the trees. Political theatrics, yes. Also, there’s the matter of human nature.
We live in extraordinary times. Few journalists report our blessings.
Those "in search of the miraculous" and reporting these miracles of progress back to us prominently include Harvard’s Steven Pinker and the team behind Cato Institute’s marvelous HumanProgress.org, edited by Marian Tupy.
They ask: "Why are we as a species so willing to believe in doomsday scenarios that never quite materialize in practice?"
"Clearly, humanity suffers from a negativity bias. Consequently, there is a market for purveyors of bad news, be they doomsayers who claim that overpopulation will cause mass starvation or scaremongers who claim that we are running out of natural resources.
"Politicians, too, have realized that banging on about “crises” increases their power and can get them reelected and may also lead to prestigious prizes and lucrative speaking engagements. Thus politicians on both left and right play on our fears…."
What to do?
Nothing for it but to ponder the wisdom of H.L. Mencken:
"I enjoy democracy immensely. . . . Is rascality at the very heart of it? Well, we have borne that rascality since 1776, and continue to survive. In the long run, it may turn out that rascality is necessary to human government, and even to civilization itself . . . "
Cheer up dear reader. Our times are better than you've been led to believe.
America is not in a state of emergency.
Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply-Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $88T. Read Ralph Benko's reports — More Here.
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