Monday, September 29, 2008

Why the Bailout Failed

Hoisted by one’s own petard

1. (idiomatic) to be hurt, or destroyed by one’s own plot or device, of one’s own doing which one intended for another; to be “blown up by one’s own bomb”

He has no one to blame but himself; he was hoisted by his own petard.

Most people have a short attention span during non-stressful times and when they are afraid that attention span drops to zero. As a result people jump without thinking, onto what they hear, draw the wrong conclusion, and then remain fixated there resistant to new facts and evidence. Such a mindset is much stronger than all the logic and convincing in the world.

Witness how a tantruming baby can bring an entire dinner if not vacation to its knees.

This is what is happening in the current financial crisis and why once people are locked onto believing that the bailout is all about Wall Street and giving the pigs who caused it a second chance at the trough they will not change their minds.

Given how often I have seen people stay fixated on the wrong thing until the bitter end, I am not optimistic about their changing their mind soon in this crisis. I hope I am wrong.

What usually changes their mind is such a real threat (vs. “dire”) to their survival –losing that job, not having money to buy food, having their car repossessed, or junior returned from college for failure to pay tuition—that they finally see the light and being right or self-righteous doesn’t seem so important. People will keep choking on pride until something is literally choking them to death.

How did we develop such “jump to the wrong conclusionitis?” Americans by nature find reading, listening, thinking painful and will avoid all of them if they can. They have lost their curiosity and replaced it with what is exciting in the moment. They have become adrenaline junkies where they keep chasing after what is interesting at the expense of what is important. And that compulsion/addiction is reinforced everywhere. Why wait for something to be satisfying when you can get immediate gratification now? Why bother with college when you can become an American Idol? Why bother learning when you can be a “know it all” today?

Wall Street, sensationalistic movies, video game manufacturers, ipoderations and political candidates have done everything they can to take advantage of this increasing tendency to be both thoughtless and impulsive.

On the latter note, both candidates do everything they can in every ad they run to take whatever the other has said out of context, because they know they can hook you and me and bend you to their will.

Unfortunately, this devolution (reversing evolution) of Americans from thoughtful humans to thoughtless animals has now put us all on the hook.

No comments: