Monday, March 19, 2007

Cores and Facades

Everything is equal opportunity here on this blog. I welcome comments from individuals of every ideological stripe, every religion, every race. Even Romulans and Volcans are welcome. I am a libertarian, but readers don't have to be. I value industriousness, personal responsibility, and individuality. Readers and commenters might be collectivist by inclination, and believers in the notion that we need a nanny state to take care of our neighbours and ourselves if we stumble and fall. I don't care about our differences. To me, this blogging stuff is all about an exchange of ideas.

When I cruise around on some of the blogs on my blogroll, I read posts that are sometimes touching, sometimes infuriating, sometimes hilarious, always edifying. Want to cycle through every possible emotion in thirty minutes or so? Sit down with your favourite drink and read some blog posts. Make it a policy not just to read posts by people who think just like you. Give yourself some variety. Be prepared to be surprised that at the core we are all simply human beings, doing the best we can for ourselves and our families.

Of course, whether we meet in person or in cyberspace, our core is not immediately evident. It is the facade that we experience first, the face that we each present to the world. Our facade is the result of years of experiences, good or bad; our education; where and how we grew up; and even some characteristics that we can simply and justifiably blame on our genes. Our facade is how we are judged initially.

Sometimes, we never get a second chance to be judged. Impressions based on our facade is what others carry with them, and account for how they act with us or react to us. Is this fair? Maybe not, but it is a fact.

I am one of those weird characters who thinks that we are headed for disaster in North America and that we are close to, or maybe even past, the point of no return. There is a moral decay everywhere. Values like honesty and industriousness are disappearing. We have changed from a society of achievers and doers to a society of slackers and do-nothings. We expect to be taken care of, cradle to grave, and think that we can safely squander our income because ultimately, when we need help at retirement or in ill health, the state will be there to take care of us. We all know that the state has no resources of its own, and that in order to give to us it first has to take from someone else, but we don't care.

What does any of this have to do with cores and facades? Keep reading.

What is going to happen when the well runs dry, when it becomes evident even to the thickest and most uninformed among us, that what we have grown to expect over the decades as our just due is simply not there? The American government not only spends all of its tax revenue every year, it spends hundreds of billions more. No money is set aside to pay for the retirement needs of its citizens, nothing is invested for the health care they will need. Instead, the national debt grows larger and larger, and the percentage of tax revenue needed to pay interest on the debt grows along with it. Soon, Americans will all be up that proverbial creek without a paddle. Will Canadians fare any better? Our national debt is actually decreasing, but most provinces, including Ontario, where I live, have debts that are out of control. Alberta is an exception. It has no provincial debt.

When the excrement hits the whirling blades of excess, as it will sooner or later, we will all be in the same boat. Our facades of liberal, conservative, libertarian, communist, or i-just-don't-give-a-damn-ist will all become irrelevant. We will all be scrambling to find ways to mitigate the disaster that we face. We will all be trying to pay our bills and feed our families, and will need to do so without help from anyone else, governments in particular. We will need to protect ourselves, at a time when social unrest will likely be at its worst, when municipalities will have very little money available for police forces. When all this happens, it is what we all are at the core that will matter. Will we stop blaming everyone else and concentrate on taking care of our families, or will we still be out there demanding more slop from the government troughs that have long since run dry?

I truly hope that the values we will all need to survive cooperatively, the core values we all have, will triumph. The day of financial reckoning gets closer every year and with every year that passes the average person is even less prepared. Governments will not, cannot, be the answer. They will be broke. We will have to look to ourselves and summon our inner strength to survive. And when the worst is over, when the excesses have all been purged, we must all resolve that such a thing will never happen again.

And when we rebuild, as we will, those core values that we all have will help set us straight for a few dozen years. After that, if we have learned nothing from the dreadful experience we will all have shared, the cycle will begin all over again.

I am not a soothsayer. I have no crystal ball. I don't know when things will fall apart. I just know that it will happen, sooner or later. When it does, I am not going to be checking your political affiliation and, I suspect, you won't care about mine either. We will simply all put our minds and shoulders to the tasks at hand and we will survive, and it will be what is at the core of each of us that will help us do so.


  1. Well, gosh.. I hope your vision of what should occur would occur. My faith isn't so strong when it comes to such a catastrophy taking place after years and years of socialization that says it is only our individual happiness that matters.

    I don't think I've ever mentioned on my site that Thailand has no social service programs. No welfare. The reason for that is that the socialization there emphasizes the importance of family and community. If Crazy Uncle Somchai can't work, the family takes care of him. If sister Nong can't work because she has lupus, the family takes care of her. That further extends to community, to village, to province and so on. Thai people don't depend on the government for their basic needs. They depend on their families and their communities.

    Medical care is cheap because there is no malpractice insurance. Health insurance is available but it's very affordable.

    Cooperation is emphasized from the cradle to grave. Competition is used for an entirely different purpose, mostly in academics and sports.

    They would survive a disaster such as you mention and have many times through history.

    Here? No. Won't happen. It will be a feeding frenzy. It will be absolute hell on earth.



  2. Obviously.. meant "catastrophe". It's still early for me. :)

  3. Hey, I resemble that remark :)

    Great post Sieg. As usual it is well written and thought provoking, and I agree 100% with you on this one. We are heading towards a brick wall, and I think the USA will hit it first. The wall is not only a financial one, but also a resource wall, an environment wall, and a geo-political wall.

  4. Chani: The Thailand way was also the European way when my parents were there, and even the North American way up until the fifties or so. Now, the old are sent off to retirement or nursing homes, and if they have no financial resources to pay their bills themselves, they become the problem of the taxpayer. My parents both ended up in nursing homes because they were too fragile in their waning years to be cared for by me or my siblings, but they had saved carefully all their working lives so that they would never be a burden to their children or anyone else.

    Sylvain: I agree that the 'wall' is made of many bricks and that there will be much more than just a financial reaction. However, that is the one that we will feel first as we all scramble to survive.

  5. At (dude, this wasn't posted last Thursday was it?) i can't agree more. it's coming, friend. one of the many reasons i am working to move to another place - but who knows what will exist there as well when things really start to come undone.

    it's strange, because in a way, i sit in anticipation. if i didn't have a child, i'd feel that even more strongly.

  6. Jen: Ooops! I started it on Thursday but life intruded and I didn't finish it until today. I changed the time stamp accordingly.

    A lot of people are worried about what might come in our future. That is one reason why there is an exodus to other places where living is inexpensive, where there is likely to be less civil unrest, and where lifestyles are more relaxed. The flow of people leaving will escalate with time as more people become disenchanted and apprehensive.

  7. I find it interesting that you have such a pessimistic outlook for our immediate future and such an optimistic outlook for beyond. I think I understand why - the immediate future is beyond individual control, the bureaucracy is in charge and is bound to fail; after the failure individuals will be in control again and all will be well. You may well be right. But then again......

    I see that many people are frustrated, they don't think the individual can make a difference anymore. I don't accept that. Businesses and bureaucracies are run by people. People can change. People can be replaced. Where others see no hope, I choose to see hope. Today, more than any time since maybe the revolution, The means exist for the individual to have more of an impact. Technology admittedly is a double-edged sword. But it is an enabler. Without it, we wouldn't be having this discussion. It is helping us come together, building a community that exists across physical boundaries, one that could not have existed as recently as 15 years ago. It is up to us to find the tools we need to make the changes necessary to preserve the way of life important to us. It may be easier to find communities elsewhere that reflect our values, but who was it that said, where ever you go, there you are? We take our problems with us where we go. Unless we figure out what caused the current problems and fix them we are bound to repeat them.

  8. Bob: Yes, the technology helps us all communicate and word of excesses by government gets around very quickly. Trouble is, no-one cares enough to do anything about it. Many people see no problem with the excesses. Those who do recognize the problem don't want to be stirred out of their lethargy. The problem with things like the RICO Act and the Patriot Act, for example, is that people get used to the restrictions of their freedoms and various abuses and once entrenched, the programs are all but impossible to get rid of.

    You are right about your last starement, that we will repeat problems if we don't understand. Problem is the human race has never learned from history. Each new generation repeats the mistakes of the last.

    But, as you say, it is good to have a dialogue. Maybe it does help.

  9. Interesting post but I actually spent more time today whizzing all around your Pedde site, reading your poems and seeing pics of your parents and your story/stories. I think it is interesting that you have tales to tell of survival beyond national identities and boundaries.

    These times are interesting...and selfish. Tribal affiliations such as the family ties inn Thailand are also part of Native American culture... or were. I drove my friend not too recently through the Santa Clara Indian reservation and she remarked on the poverty. However even the most well-to-do think in terms not of building the most lavish home or owning the most material goods, but of the care they are then able to provide to their families.

    It is interesting to see the largess from the casino culture filling the coffers. Not sure if this will change the cultural values...

  10. Wow, motherpie... I haven't updated the site in years, and almost forgot that it is still there. I hope you found things of interest there.

    I think that the trend in recent decades towards more and more centralization in government is something that is going to cause all of us much, much grief in the years ahead. Reverting to smaller groups,like local communities or even back to the individual family unit, is one way to restore balance and keep liberties, whatever few are left, intact.

  11. Superb diagnosis, Dr. Atavist.
    We are in the "carrot" phase of the socialization of the west right now. This is the phase in which promises of massive amounts of money that doesn't exist are guaranteed to various designer causes, ethical fad promoters, gimmee-groups and other voter blocs of looters so as to maintain power by the pull-peddlers. The economic collapse comes the day the bill arrives: One cannot rob an empty safe. This is followed by the "stick" phase of the socialization. Yes, there will be great social unrest, almost all of it caused by government! You'd be surprised the amount of social unrest purges and mass-confiscations cause! I hope you have planned a timely escape to Panama or such similar settings, because individuals like yourselves will be the targets, those sought by the government as the source of wealth to pay its bills.
    Some say civilization itself is nothing but a facade; what lies at the core is what the facade is designed to hide, the realities best not faced, the responsibilities we'd rather shove off onto others or ignore entirely. The facade is deteriorating.
    I think I'd better read up on Thailand and plan a "permanent vacation" for the not-to-distant future.

  12. There is a moral decay everywhere. Values like honesty and industriousness are disappearing. We have changed from a society of achievers and doers to a society of slackers and do-nothings.

    Atavist, I agree, but I think there have been many generations before us who said the same things. Hasn't the 'new world' always been horrible?

    I agree that we are heading for disaster. In fact, I think we've already begun. But, I do not think the apocolypse is a myth.

    Hope, Faith, Joy and Love. It is gone from the secular world, as it always has been. It is fading from the religions of the world, giving way to anger and fear. But, we are keepers of our own hearts. And, the hearts of our children. Do not despair, Atavist. Fear breeds fear breeds hate breeds all the reasons the world is as it is.. the consumerism and it's fear of death, the immorality and it's fear of death, the cleansing and it's fear of death. Fear is what haunts the world. Fear, the opposite of love.