America 3.0 and the possibility of another economic depression

great_depression-2Even if we experience an economic downturn that is so dramatic, and catastrophic, and lengthy that it falls under what economists have traditionally termed a depression, can we avoid the dramatic consequences by simply changing the terminology? Labeling an economic condition in such a manner, as they did in the 30s (calling it The Depression is depressing), and it could cause people to jump from windows. It could cause chaos in the streets, and it could bring political harm to those who passed the various pieces of the legislation that caused it. To those who disagree with this new lexicon, we could ask them why they want to hurt people. “People jumped from windows in 1929, do you really want that to happen again?” Even if the terminology is honest, I think we could all agree that it’s excessively harsh and a little mean. To combat this, we could introduce a modern, kinder lexicon to define our economic conditions. We could introduce a 3.0 operating system to Americans to avoid panic and pain. 

The best way we found to avoid the rampant fear that could’ve resulted from acts of terrorism was to simply change the word. For social and political reasons, the word terrorism was declared too provocative, too political, and an over reaction. The best way we found to avoid social and political mayhem was to frame these acts of terror better with different terminology, we called them acts of violence, criminal acts, and acts that “would not be tolerated”.  Why can’t we provide the same framing to the economic language of America 3.0?

President Obama Signs Finance Reform Bill Into Law.  Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Obama Signs Finance Reform Bill Into Law. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Would it be possible for us to slide into an economic downturn that economists traditionally called a depression without ever knowing that we were in a depression? Would it be possible for the United States to have one of her tallest buildings bombed and have most individual American citizens believe that the bombing was a simple, criminal act? It happened in 1993. To be fair to those who adopted the terminology, the word terrorism wasn’t as prominent in the American lexicon as it is today. They did know sexual terminology, however, and they did know lying, and they were convinced to upgrade their operating system to allow for a sitting president to sexually manipulate a young intern, and perjure himself, under oath, before a grand jury, all while preparing another person to suborn themselves for him in 1998. “Everyone lies about sex,” was that mantra that we chanted throughout the preparations for our America 3.0 upgrade.

History is replete with precedents regarding the media agreeing to rename incidents for the political expediency of their candidates. It’s happened in third world countries, and it’s happened in America. What would stop any of them from doing it again, if another one of their candidates led while an economic downturn of dramatic and catastrophic proportions occurred as a result of their policies?

“Nothing would stop them from trying to do that,” you are probably saying, “but they wouldn’t fool me.  I would know.” But, in a nation of 300 plus million, does it really matter what you, the informed consumer, know to be true versus those who have refined our lexicon with “new normal” language in a more modern 3.0 operating system? Is it also possible that we could be persuaded into adopting the lexicon when those who don’t are labeled extreme radicals? No one wants to be labeled, so we adapt, upgrade, and assimilate. 

Is a slide away from America’s founding principles, and its subsequent slide to an economic catastrophe, inevitable? Pessimists would say that upgrading our American operating system through incremental refinements of our lexicon is the gateway to all of this happening, but the author of the book “How to Analyze Information” Herbert E. Meyer does not believe this will happen. He says that Americans will eventually wake to what’s being planned, and that they will eventually do something to prevent it.

HMeyerPhoto“What made us different from every other country was that our Founding Fathers established a relationship between the individual and the state that was unique. The individual was in charge, and the state worked for the individual. That was America 1.0, and it was our general operating system for 200 years. Every time our Congress passed a law, or a Supreme Court made a big decision, it was simply an attempt to improve on that operating system. In this manner, we can say that the New Deal is version 2.0, and the Great Society is a 2.5 version of America. Were these versions better or worse for the general, operating system of America? That was up to you, the citizen to define, but most would say that these enhancements of the operating system were what amounts to a fiddling with the dynamics of the relationship between the citizens and their government.

“As a natural progression of our analogy,” Meyer continues, “We could call this current era of Obamanomics, Obamacare, and the unprecedented levels of spending that have occurred in his administration, the 3.0 operating system of America, but this isn’t just a fiddling with the system in the manner it could be said of the New Deal and the Great Society. This is the type of revolutionary change that has caused those that are paying attention to be very worried and ultimately pessimistic. What makes this proposed new operating system different is that for the first time we have people in power in Washington who want to fundamentally change the relationship between the individual and the state. That’s never happened before in American history. This is going to be an operating system in which the state is overwhelming and the individual is subservient to the state. If we do go forth with all this, and it works, then all of the pessimists will turn out to be correct.”{1}

There are reasons for even the most pessimistic conservatives to be hopeful however. There is this idea out there—among the optimistic—that Americans won’t allow the ultimate re-definition of this unique relationship to happen. It may take a while, say the optimists, but Americans will eventually recognize what’s going on, and they will eventually prevent it. But, why would they wait so long? Why would they allow so much destruction to occur before they finally turn around and turn it all back?

“We’re procrastinators,” says Meyer. We hear prognosticators of different stripes predict doom and gloom on the horizon every other week. We’ve been pounded over the head by so many bell ringers predicting doom, that when the next bell ringer comes along—no matter how fact-based that bell ringer’s warnings are—Americans ignore them based on the number of bell ringers that preceded him. We’ve heard it all before, in other words, and we tune these people out as wackos that hate for one reason or another.

Our parents and our grandparents taught us the horrors of procrastination, in everything from the most mundane tasks to the potentially and personally catastrophic, yet we keep doing it. And chances are…they did it too. It’s almost endemic in our culture to wait until five minutes before midnight before we move. We wait to see concrete proof and undeniable truths that our backs are, in fact, against the wall before we act, and most Americans don’t believe they’ve seen the concrete undeniable truths that this new America 3.0, operating system will be harmful … But they will, say these optimists, and they will eventually act to overcome seemingly overwhelming odds to prevent the breaking of the bond and trust individual Americans have with their government.

One would think that Republicans sitting in office would not be subjected to the same procrastination in this way. One would think that they are privy to insider forecasts on this economy, and that that would cause them all to sit up a bit straighter, but they are as susceptible to procrastination as the rest of us. They are also as susceptible to the idea that this current lot of Democrats and liberals don’t want to fundamentally change the relationship between individual and state, but that they simply have a different view of how the economy works.

Another fear endemic to the modern Republican politician is that they don’t stick their neck out. The one who sticks their neck out is the one who stands the greatest risk of having it lopped off. 

“But one of the reasons I tend to be optimistic,” says Meyers, “is the Tea Party.  They get it. In a billionth of a second, they got it. The Tea Party suggests something fundamental about Americans that doesn’t exist in Europe.”

Pessimistic conservatives don’t see it that way. They look at the voting patterns of 2012, and the possible, future voting patterns of the twelve million new voters who will be invited onto the rolls as a result amnesty, and they don’t see any hope that America 3.0 can be slowed or prevented. They look at the “outdated” Republican views on social issues, the prominence the party places on these social issues, the idea that everyone wants everything for free on the economic front, and that we’re at a point where individual citizens can vote themselves money. The pessimistic conservative foresees disaster. They don’t think that America 3.0, and its probable economic depression, can be averted.

“There is hope,” Meyer says. The American legacy provides hope. We survived Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Johnson, and Carter, and we’ll survive this. Ronald Reagan wouldn’t allow this degree of pessimism in his party. He knew we would survive economic conditions that were much worse than these. He wouldn’t allow America to fail, and he knew we wouldn’t either…even if that optimism required patience. He was the eternal optimist, and he always thought we were going to win eventually.{1}

{1} Rush Limbaugh.  My Conversation with Herbert E. Meyer. The Limbaugh Letter. February 2013.  Pages 6-11.  Print.


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