Thursday, October 29, 2009

How to Properly Manage Material Abundance: TEAR IT DOWN

Hilarious! This morning on CNBC Rick Santelli issued another famous parenthetical recommendation to restore the economy:
TEAR DOWN ALL UNOCCUPIED HOUSES so we can create jobs by building them all over again.
Wow, really?

I should really be a bigger fan of Mr. Santelli's because he continues to provide some of the most clear and compelling analogies that illustrate the sheer absurdity of the Job Trance gripping America. A Job Trance crippling progress, even as we hobble and wobble in our current self-inflicted state of socioeconomic anomie, the 100% accurately forecasted result of 19th century industrial era capitalism's centuries of success.

Such absurd suggestions to TEAR IT ALL DOWN should actually encourage us, for they provide additional empirical glimpses of a tragically misguided consensus reality crumbling before our very eyes. Crumbling, finally, despite the decades of institutional denial that refused to acknowledge the obvious manifestations of an emerging postscarcity society. Crumbling, despite the academic procrastination in noodling our way through sustainable new ways to circulate resources in a manner that continues to foster breakthrough innovation and sustainable technological progress.

The parenthetical Santelli Solution is to smash it all down so we can build it back up again. Wow. Really? Last I checked, most healthy children outgrew that stage of build it, smash it, build it, smash it, self-discovery and development by about age ten or twelve at the very latest. Grown ups realize that once you have built an asset, you employ and maintain that asset in a manner that maximizes its useful life.

As a society, if you've created so much abundance and surplus that all your old assumptions are proven wrong, the solution is not to DESTROY YOUR ENTIRE LIFE in order to prove you can build the same suboptimal life from scratch, all over again. Maybe that makes sense in some bizarre Any Rand fantasy where the hero architect turns noble ditch digger, but it's just plain ridiculous in the real world. Even the bible counsels that there is no nobility in a dog that repeatedly returns to it's own vomit.

As written here time and again, the problem is not that capitalism is evil or wrong or failed (in material terms). Rather, it's a victim of it's own one-trick pony variety of success and hobbled by genetic defects that include severely crash-prone short-sightedness and manufacturing myopia. It only knows it's own perspective. It only sees it's way to the next bend in the road. It's great at transporting societies from Point A to Point B -- agrarian to industrial -- with incomparable speed and efficiency; yet, then it stands utterly stunned and dumbfounded, paralyzed by the discovery of a Point C, beyond. "Now what?" panics capitalism. "Quick, back to Point A so we can show how awesome we are at getting to Point B!"

A to B, A to B, A to B. Boom, bust; Boom, Bust; boom, BUST. That's the best we can do with our best and brightest minds? Really? I don't buy it.

I don't buy it because I can't imagine a more pessimistic view of the world or of humanity, than one that believes that build it, smash it, build it, smash it, build it, smash it permanently manufactured scarcity industrial era capitalism is the permanent state for an ever accelerating technoprogressive society.