Monday, August 12, 2013
Historian of the Future Writes A Letter To A Friend
Date: August 6, 2075
How are things there in the Desert Areas? I've been here in the Undersea Districts for about six months now, working on that research project I told you about -- the one where I try to understand the douchebags -- sorry, I mean "citizens" -- of the time before ours, from about 1980 to 2050. That period is called the "Age of Affluence" because of this amazingly prescient philosophy book from the time that tried to imagine what their moral theories would seem like to us.
Philosophy is one thing, but this archival work I'm doing really sucks. I've wasted hundreds of hours sitting in this damp, cavernous archive, sifting through Tweets and Facebook postings from those overprivileged, spoiled brats, trying to weed out the cats, the "irony," and then more cats.
Maybe you remember that when I applied for funding, I promised the The Nostalgia Institute that I'd produce a monograph about the Mystery of Economic Trust -- why the Affluent were so credulous about economics.
But it is really hard to understand what the hell they were thinking. Like, I discovered that the economic models that led to the First Great Collapse in 2008 were part of standard economic theory at the time. Though for some reason they kept issuing new textbook editions year after year (why? a mystery), the theory hardly ever changed. What is up with that?
And you've heard of "austerity," right? It turns out that after the IMF -- one of the economic power players from those days -- acknowledged that they had way underestimated the damage it would do in Greece, they still concluded in 2013 that "the thrust of policies under the program [were] appropriate." I mean, WTF?
And in the middle of all this, as the rich were getting richer and the poor were getting screwed, President Hope and Change appointed the same people to finance positions over and over -- like this one guy Larry Summers, who must have had everyone hypnotized or something.
The one real discovery I've made is about an actual protest. They called it the "Occupy" movement, though I can't figure out what they were Occupying -- was the name a riff on "Occupied" vs. "Vacant" on bathroom doors? Anyway, they seemed hell-bent on challenging the status quo. From what I can gather, though, everyone just thought they were doofuses. This one TV talking head of the time, P. J. O'Rourke, referred to them as "drum bangers who had failed Econ 101."
I have three hypotheses -- but I can't figure out which one is right. Were the Affluent dupes, deer in the headlights, who just didn't know what was going on? Were they devotés, who abandoned their judgment to a cult of experts, like a herd of lobotomized goats? Or were they more like racketeers, who knowingly exploited their fellows for economic gain? I know they watched a lot of mafia shows, so racketeering might have been on their minds.
Well, Julie, I'd better sign this and get it off before the weekly postal cycling brigade leaves town.