the eternal cynic

December 14, 2010

This should be enough to get ya creeped out!!

Filed under: Relevant Issues to the human condition — pissedoffateverything @ 11:20 pm

 

Economic Efficiency Downside No. 2:
Increased Fascism

In last week’s article (“Economic Efficiency Downside No. 1: Increased Vulnerability”), I argued that as an economy becomes more efficient, it necessarily becomes more vulnerable.

I compared a nation and/or primitive, inefficient economy to a sundial—and a modern, efficient economy to a Swiss chronometer. The Swiss chronometer is infinitely more efficient than a rustic old sundial, but the sundial was infinitely more robust. You could leave the sundial out in the wind, rain, and snow and it might work forever, but one good bump or even a speck of dust on an internal gear might be enough to cause the highly efficient chronometer to suffer a “catastrophic failure”.

Economic vulnerability is directly proportional to economic efficiency. The more efficient an economy becomes, the more likely that it will experience an unexpected event that nevertheless has enough “leverage” to destabilize or destroy the entire economy. (Witness “sub-prime mortgages”.)

The relationship between increased economic efficiency and increased economic vulnerability explains the effectiveness of terrorism and the governmental compulsion to support banks deemed “too big to fail”. In a highly efficient economy, a terrorist can detonate a relatively small explosive at a critical point and thereby damage or destroy an entire economy. Likewise, because the US economy is so highly interrelated and efficient, if one major bank on Wall Street fails, the entire economy—from New York to San Diego—might collapse.
This week, I argue that increased economic efficiency inevitably leads to fascism and political oppression—particularly in the arena of values.

It’s axiomatic that increasing economic efficiency increases an economy’s vulnerability.
As a result, people living in highly-efficient economies are not merely vulnerable to random errors, terrorist attacks or even unexpected natural events (sunspots, for example, can cause EMPs—electro-magnetic pulses—sufficient to destroy all of our highly-efficient computers), they are also vulnerable to increased regulation, control and even fascism perpetrated by their own employers and  governments.

Why?
Because average Americans perceive increased economic efficiency to be a blessing (how could anyone complain about a new, more efficient car costing $20,000 instead of $30,000?). But exceptional Americans (people in positions of corporate, academic or political power) recognize the “increased vulnerability” associated with increased efficiency. That increased vulnerability makes powerful people increasingly anxious, fearful and eventually oppressive.
For example, someone once asked Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft and one of the world’s few multi-billionaires) what, if anything, he feared. He answered that he feared a couple of unknown teenagers, working in a garage might discover a completely new computer operating system that was so efficient that Microsoft’s products would be rendered instantly obsolete.

Mr. Gates’ fear illustrates the “increasing vulnerability” concept. We see the super-wealthy Bill Gates and his almighty corporation afraid of a handful of unknown teenagers. With its increased, computerized efficiency, almighty Microsoft becomes vulnerable to sudden destruction at the hands of a couple of kids.

If Gates’ “fear” seems silly, consider a December 8th article from Reuters:

“WikiLeaks backers threaten more cyber attacks.  Cyber attacks on global companies seen as enemies of WikiLeaks drew the attention of U.S. authorities on Thursday and Dutch police arrested a 16-year-old boy suspected in attacks on credit card sites of Visa and MasterCard. Internet activists vowed to crash sites that have blocked business with WikiLeaks and PayPal, and others saw sporadic outrages.”

Major corporations are being assaulted by 16-year-old kids armed with personal computers. Bill Gates’ fear of children was absolutely rational.
There was a time when people feared that some “mad scientist” with several advanced degrees might “bring down the system”. Today, the “system” (our economy) has become so efficient that it’s now vulnerable to attack by children with two years of high school and a computer.

Imagine US Steel or General Motors in the 1960s expressing “fear” over the actions of a couple of kids. The idea seems preposterous. Back then, all the kids in the country couldn’t have combined to threaten those giant corporations. But, today, one or two intelligent kids can threaten Visa, MasterCard, and Microsoft.

How is this possible? It’s because these modern corporations are highly efficient and therefore computer-dependent. That efficiency and computer dependency render them highly vulnerable (much like the Swiss chronometer) while the old US Steel and GM were less efficient—and less vulnerable (much like the sundial).

Bill Gates seems to be a charitable kinda guy and may be willing to put up with the dangers of competition from 16-year-olds. But not every CEO is so liberal-minded. We regularly see books and movies based on the idea of an egotistical corporate CEO—determined to maintain his own exorbitant income—who’ll do virtually anything (including murder) to prevent a competitor (even 16-year olds) from introducing a product that makes the CEO’s product (and profits) obsolete.

Those fictional stories are based on a fundamental truth: some major corporate CEO’s are so maniacal about maintaining their profits, that they will do anything to stop their competitors. By anything” I don’t merely mean murder, I mean bribing congressmen and presidents to pass laws to restrict competition and protect corporations from attacks by children, “terrorists” and the great unwashed.

The essence of fascism is an intimate relationship between government and corporations wherein the government serves the corporations rather than the people. Corporate CEOs’ recognition of their increased efficiency and increased vulnerability will necessarily compel them to foster increased relationships with government in order to protect their corporations and profits.

More, the mentality of a CEO who fears his corporation may be threatened by some new competitor is identical to the mentality of a government official (say, President Obama or Federal Reserve chairman Bernanke) obligated to protect a national or global economy.
Thus, any government that recognizes the relationship of increased economic efficiency to increased economic vulnerability will necessarily become increasingly alarmed and even paranoid. In the name of protecting the increasingly efficient—and increasingly vulnerable—economy, government can be depended upon to become increasingly “regulatory,” then oppressive and finally fascist.

The December 3rd issue of Wired magazine illustrates this increasing fascism:

“Feds Warrantlessly Tracking Americans’ Credit Cards in Real Time Federal law enforcement agencies have been tracking Americans in real-time using credit cards, loyalty cards and travel reservations without getting a court order . . . . so-called ‘Hotwatch’ orders allow for real-time tracking of individuals in a criminal investigation via credit card companies, rental car agencies, calling cards, and even grocery store loyalty programs. The revelation sheds a little more light on the Justice Department’s increasing power and willingness to surveil Americans with little to no judicial or Congressional oversight.”

The Wired article only references “criminal investigations,” but an “investigation” is not a prosecution. Anyone can be “investigated” at any time under the flimsiest of pretexts, or no pretext alone.  Big Bro’ is (or at least, can be) watching you, right now; keeping track of your purchases, patterns and associates.

Why is government following you (and me)?
Two reasons:
Government knows that in our highly efficient economy all of us (even children) have the potential ability to strike a crippling blow to the highly vulnerable economy; and,
An economy is an unnatural environment whose values are frequently contrary to the more humane values of a nation. An economy’s system of values frequently inspires the people’s disloyalty and even antagonism. As an economy becomes more efficient, its inhabitants become sicker and sicker of that economy—and some of us will find ways to express our frustration by striking a blow against the economy.

Therefore, we are all part of the “usual suspects” to be rounded up or at least investigated.
Worse, these “investigations” don’t require a warrant or normal concepts of procedural due process.

Why?
The government will plead urgency, emergency or necessity as justifications to investigate people without warrants. In the name of Homeland Security, it is deemed necessary to feel up everyone who boards an airplane.

But there’s a more fundamental reason for these warrant-less intrusions: We’ve adopted a system of values that favors the economy and the uninterrupted pursuit of mo’ money. We have thereby abandoned our former system of values that favored our nation and the best interests of living men and women. In the context of an economy, you and I are no longer deemed to be men and women; instead, we’re deemed to be “human resources”.

As “human resources” we are treated like livestock on the global plantation. The line between “investigation” and “inventory” becomes blurred. Since “human resources” aren’t deemed to be men or women, there’s no need to afford them a right to due process or privileges from unwarranted government surveillance. In the context of our increasingly efficient “economy” we’ve suffered a shift in values from those of a nation composed of men and women to the “economic” values based solely on the pursuit of mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money.

Our super-efficient economy increasingly resembles (and feels like) a meat-processing plant—and we “human resources” are the meat.
The phenomenon of increasing efficiency causing increased vulnerability and then fascism is not confined to the U.S.. Christianity Today reports:

“German Parents Face Prison/Fines For Homeschooling Children . . . . In Germany, home-schooling is a crime so serious that families who ignore the law have been fined into poverty or lost their children to the state and parents have served jail time. Some families have staged stand-offs against the police, or hid their children with other families.”

Germany—now there’s a people who understand economic efficiency. And they’re also a people who, faced with the increased economic vulnerability brought on by increased efficiency, have previously achieved such a high level of fascism that their economy and nation were destroyed.

What’s the Germans’ beef with home-schoolers? The home-schoolers don’t teach children to embrace the values of the economy. Instead, home-schoolers teach children the Christian or “human” values that deem individuals to be more important than the economic collective. Home schooled children are less likely to accept their role as “human resources”. Home schooled children will grow up to insist on and even fight for those rights that can only be attached to men and women.

Home schooling is tantamount to teaching the cattle at a meat processing plant that if they walk up that chute, they’ll quickly die and be processed into steaks and baloney. Such education is very bad for the efficient operation of a slaughterhouse and similarly bad for running an efficient economy. Home schooling produces the kind of 16-year-olds who hack into and attack the computers of major corporations. That’s bad for bidness and bad for the economy. Home schooling is inherently conducive to economic inefficiency and reduced levels of fascism. Therefore, the economy tends to attack home schoolers.

Here’s another evidence from the Washington Times of our efficient economy turning government towards fascism:

“EDITORIAL: Wave goodbye to Internet freedom.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is poised to add the Internet to its portfolio of regulated industries. The agency’s chairman, Julius Genachowski, announced Wednesday that he circulated draft rules he says will ‘preserve the freedom and openness of the Internet.’
“No statement could better reflect the gulf between the rhetoric and the reality of Obama administration policies. With a straight face, Mr. Genachowski suggested that government red tape will increase the ‘freedom’ of online services that have flourished because bureaucratic busybodies have been [so far] blocked from tinkering with the Web.”

More internet regulation = more internet freedom?!! How long before the US government starts telling us that “Verk Ist Vreedom!”?
Government’s claim that more regulation equates to more freedom seems  absurd. We’re left to wonder, How could they be dumb enough to say such things?

I submit that they aren’t dumb. They know how stupid they sound when they advocate more freedom through more regulation, but they say it anyway.

Why?
Because, to protect the increasingly vulnerable economy, government must increasingly regulate every man, woman and child. Those increasing regulations can sometimes only be justified with most absurd lies.

In governments’ attempts to regulate the internet, restrict home schooling, install video cameras on every street, and separate church from state, we see evidence of a growing fascism. That fascism is not yet the kind of overt, club-wielding oppression once seen in Nazi Germany, but it is fascism of mind control—a fascism of control by means of imposing economic values upon the “human resources”.
Insofar as we predominately embrace the values of economics, we abandon many of the fundamental values of humanity. Insofar as we predominately embrace economic values, the logic of those values compels us to act in ways that serve our economic collective rather than our nation and our best interests as men and women. Insofar as we embrace economic values, we assent to degrading ourselves from the status of men to the status of “human resources”.

Under an “economic” system of values, you are either a “human resource” to be used and consumed by the “economy” or you are a “useless eater” (a human being no longer able to serve and support the economy).

Under an “economic” system of values, you can’t be a man or woman made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28) and “endowed by your Creator with certain unalienable Rights” (“Declaration of Independence”). Instead, you are merely a “thing”—a human resource, an animal at best—to be used until your usefulness is exhausted, and then discarded, disposed of and perhaps even “recycled” so as to best serve the all-powerful “economy”.

Think you can’t be “recycled”?  China’s running a large and increasingly efficient economy. China has been known to “recycle” its “human resources” by executing Chinese prisoners and then harvesting their organs for sale on the international market.
OK, that’s China. Surely such indignities can’t happen here in the USA—right?

Wrong.
Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman recently declared that our national debt won’t be resolved until government imposes a national sales tax and “death panels”. These are the same “death panels” reportedly advocated in President Obama’s universal health care plan. These death panels will ultimately ration health care among the “human resources”. Those of us who are retired, disabled or dissident will be labeled “useless eaters” and therefore “counseled” or compelled to die. In the increasingly efficient economy, those who can’t produce a profit will be discarded, disposed of, or recycled.
The “logic” of economic values will compel a “brave new world” of fascism so pervasive that it can be endured by only brutes or “human resources” on drugs. As an economy becomes increasingly efficient, it becomes increasingly fascist—and paradoxically prone to a catastrophic failure wherein a multitude of the “human resources” may die. The drive for increased economic efficiency is ultimately a drive towards national destruction.

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