We Deserve Exactly What We Are Getting

The common refrain you are starting to hear from financial professionals, news reporters and journalists is "we would have talked more about these things, but nobody wanted to watch/read/listen to me explain the arcane products and obscure rules changes."

They are absolutely right.

But if we don't want to know anything about SEC regulations, or how the fees on our mutual funds are calculated, or what it says on page 38 of the loan documents we had to sign to purchase our homes, what is it that we actually want to know?

  • How old Chris Brown was when he started sleeping with his manager.

  • How much Octo-Mom spent on her house.

  • What happened to Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin's wedding plans.

  • I guess the real question is, would the United States function more efficiently as a nation if say, three quarters of the people in this country were serious about understanding the intricacies behind the lives we lead?

    Or is it at its optimum level of existence when one tenth of the population is willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to understand the details of the machinations that drive our society, and the rest of the country simply exists to carry out their directives?

    Would our government suffer from "analysis paralysis" if the vast majority of the populace was so well versed in the particulars of the issues facing the public sector that they could spot the inconsistencies and gaps in government programs before they were enacted into law?

    We're too busy with our entertainment schedules to even waste precious moments contemplating these kinds things, because we've got to watch TV or go the movies or play video games or compete at fantasy baseball. We have grown men scouting the collegiate potential of 6th grade basketball players as if they are charting the discovery of a new chemical compound, but understanding the fundamentals behind the financial products and services we use everyday - now that's just asking too much.

    Many of the people we see on TV - people in the White House, in Congress, and in the news media - are as fond of entertaining themselves as we are, because they really like playing the game of politics more than representing the interests of their constituents. And in good times, those times when we the public only worry about pleasing ourselves or indulging our passions, they get to play at this game without a lot of interference from us. We become "the base", or "values voters", or "the black vote" or "the latino vote", or when it's just too much trouble to subdivide us, "voters".

    I normally try to end these run-on rants with something positive, but right now, I've got nothing to tell you but this - if we can't be bothered to dedicate any more time or energy to understanding the details of how the important parts of our government and our economy work than what we are showing right now, we deserve exactly what we are getting.

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    CJP said...

    You have an excellent, well thought-out Blog, Brown Man. You say a lot of great things, and you are a pleasure to read.

    I'm a newcomer to Etalkinghead, but perhaps you may want to take a look at my Blog, which is:

    "Conservatives Are America's Real Terrorists"


    S.W. Anderson said...

    A familiar theme. I've posted more than once or twice on my own blog about how distracted Americans are. I believe one reason for the Bush administration's remarkable ability to suspend disbelief in people who should've known better than to re-elect Bush in '04 can be credited to the public's general disdain of politics and preference for "set it and forget it" government.

    It's been said the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Looking at those John Yoo memos, recalling things Bush OK'd asserting, like Nixon, that if the president does it, it's legal, I realize how far things can go wrong — how close we can come to all-out dictatorship — before enough Americans wake up and opt for change.

    The same principle is doubly true in financial matters when people's inattention and imaptience with tedious details has led them to turn things over to "free market uber alles," laissez-faire crooks and cronies for awhile. That's a setup for real peril.

    And now, we're seeing how real and how very costly such peril can be.

    Brown Man said...

    This is before Bush.

    In fact, I feel pretty comfortable in saying that there probably has never been a time when the majority of our nation was involved and engaged enough to understand what was really going on in our government.

    The difference to me is we have so much more access to information that details what is going on in government, both state and federal, in real time or soon thereafter, that we ignore until something goes wrong.

    I think we talk a good game, but like things the way they are - with someone else sweating the details.

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