The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Half-Empty ?

01/24/2019

Despite repeatedly failing the physical exam, I have often been called with a girl’s name of Pollyanna, due to my natural optimism.  Glasses are always half-full, not half empty.  Probably, that optimism derives from my undying love of country, my naive love of democracy, my enormous respect for capitalism or my well-studied belief in globalization.  I have been through wars, numerous recessions (including The Great One), political upheaval (including impeachments), and countless doom-and-gloom predictions.  Yet, I always retained my optimism.

Until now.

I worry about the Shutdown.  I worry about a collapse in trade negotiations with China.  I worry about raising the debt ceiling next month, when we can’t even produce an annual budget.  I worry about the silence surrounding our rapidly growing national debt.  I worry about the uncertainty of BREXIT the following month.  I worry about impeachment, which is certain.  I worry about the tyranny of Big Tech and the ignoble death of privacy.  I worry about the internet becoming the “splinter-net.”  I worry about artificial intelligence, especially after it gets hacked, which is inevitable.  I worry about the political anger and instability caused by either the wealth gap or the income gap.  I worry about globalization being replaced by populism.  I worry about the growing instability of the stock market, where the danger from machines grows every day.  And, I didn’t even mention sea-level rise.

Of course, there is always a long list of things to worry about.  However, this time is different, because I fear that we have lost the ability to compromise and have therefore lost the ability to deal with problems.

During the debate over BREXIT, a Conservative Party member of parliament said “democracy is like sex.  If it is not messy, you’re doing it wrong.”  Democracy in America has also become very messy.  How will we know when we have reached the limits of democracy?  And, what comes next?

This is not the first time that democracy got messy.  Remember the Civil War?  Democracy was very messy then and failed, due to slavery.  Democracy may fail again, this time due to immigration, which may be just another variety of slavery.  Then, the enemy was clear, depending on the state where they lived.  Now, the enemy is not clear and could be your neighbor or other church members or whomever..

Just as cigarette smokers voluntarily quit, just as alcoholics sober up, and just as junkies get off drugs . . . America will eventually stop watching Fox News and MSNBC.

Then, the glass will be half-full again.

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