Jim Kunstler On Wokesterdom, The PPT, & “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Scenario”

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

And this solemn night a great stillness falls upon the land as the Leviathan of Washington is sent to its room to get its mind straight, and the USA gets on with collapse in earnest. There will be no visions of sugarplums for the Deep Staters as the government enters its induced coma, only premonitions of anarchy and insolvency, and perhaps some dim nostalgia for that golden age when things seemed to work in America. On the plus side of things, this may be the last year of Christmas shaming.  Even the Wokesters of Wokesterdom appear weary and bored with Wokesterism ­— isn’t that a blessing?

I have a theory for what is behind the decline and fall of this once proud and capable country: nobody answers the phone. This one change in consensual social behavior has enabled virtually everyone in authority to evade responsibility for what they do. Corporations especially don’t want to be bothered by their pain-in-the-ass customers with their tedious complaints and demands. Every time I see the smirking face of that quasi-autistic ninny, Bill Gates, I have to wonder why he doesn’t apply a tiny fraction of his gargantuan fortune to hire a few actual humans to answer the phone at Microsoft instead of that insulting tele-robot. I suppose it would hurt his feelings to learn how badly his own products work, especially just after you purchase MS Office — as I had to do last week with the 2019 upgrade — and flounder your way through the maze of protocols to get the damn thing up-and-running.

Forgive the excursion into personal reminiscence, but I remember the time some decades back when I was a 26-year-old reporter on what was then called a newspaper (as opposed to a bulletin of moral instruction from Wokesterdom). I could call just about any company in the land saying I was a reporter for ________ and get the Chief Executive on the phone in a New York minute. (It ain’t bragging if it’s true.) This was the case, of course, for thousands of other reporters on hundreds of newspapers in America. If a story was especially dicey, you could work your way up the whole C-suite food chain collecting all kinds of contradictory, ass-covering information until you got to the Big Orca at the top, and lever his mouth open with what you learned from his underlings. It worked when dealing with the government too. You could lay a line of talk on some receptionist — say, invoking the term “grand jury” ­— and get her boss on the phone pronto. I think it went quite a ways to keeping the people who run things honest.

Woodward and Bernstein could never investigate a case like Watergate under today’s conditions. Deep Throat wouldn’t even answer his phone. The two reporters would find themselves so far up an automated answering tree that they would disappear across an event horizon and find themselves in an alternative universe where Richard Nixon was a relief pitcher for the Montreal Expos and Fred Rogers sat in the Oval Office… and there would be no story to tell. These days, apparently, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee can’t even get a hold of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. They left a message on his phone a few months ago and he hasn’t even deigned to send a text back.

This national telephone quandary is a prime example of the diminishing returns of technology. We’ve spent thirty-odd years and countless billions of dollars computerizing all the phone systems in this country, and then overlaid so many bells and whistles on top of it, and the net effect is that it only made communication worse. Combine that with one of my cardinal rules of human social behavior — that you can’t overstate people’s ability to misunderstand each other — and you might apprehend the darkness we’ve entered.

We’re currently being treated to another playing-out of these diminishing returns of technology in a related realm of communication: financial markets. Go ahead and put algo robots in charge of the system and see how things work out. Today we’re informed in The New York Bulletin of Wokesterdomthat “the President’s Working Group” (also known as the Plunge Protection Team) is convening to assess the ongoing damage to stock indexes. The PPT at least is composed of humans. But are the trading algos a fair match for them? I doubt it.

I suspect the PPT and the rest of America will discover we’ve blundered into the Sorcerer’s Apprentice scenario, a techno-magical, runaway, recursive feedback-loop fiasco. How odd, though, that this is all happening during the holiest week of the year.

Sleep in heavenly peace tonight, everybody, as Santa makes his way across the rooftops and homeless tarps of our Republic. Your call is important to us!

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