Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time



Idiocracy: a nation or government run by idiots.

What a marvelously simple and descriptive word.  I saw it used in an editorial about a month ago (I don’t recall who the author was, unfortunately).  I’d never heard the term before, I guess.  But it seemed like I should have.  Once you see a descriptor like that, you think yes, of course, that’s the right word.  That defines what he’s talking about exactly.  Anyway, I had a good laugh and then promptly forgot about it.  Until about 2 days ago.

That was when the latest installment of the Healthcare soap opera here in the U. S. began to unfold.  It was also smack-dab in the middle of the international climate change summit being held in Copenhagen.  Both of these events strongly  reminded me of this latest addition to my vocabulary.

The details are not worth getting into.  Especially the details concerning the healthcare debate currently raging in the United States Senate.  The U. S. Senate, you see, is not exactly a great example of democracy in action.  In all fairness, it was never meant to be.  As part of the system of checks and balances in this country, it’s supposed to be difficult to get legislation through this body.  For a bill to pass, you need 60 votes (out of 100).  A simple majority won’t do it.  It will in the House of Representatives, but not in the Senate.  In other words, 3 of every 5 senators have to vote “yes” to get a bill through.  Again, it’s not supposed to be easy.

The problem, though, is that it can give a small group of senators, or even a single senator, enormous power.  A senator from a small state, representing only a small fraction of the U. S. population, can become the most powerful person in the country if the right set of circumstances occur.  And that’s what’s happened in this case.

The current bill in the senate has been turned into something that nobody wants, all in the name of “compromise”.  A few senators, knowing that their individual votes are critical, have removed virtually every part of the bill that could be called “reform”.  The single payer option – gone.  The public option – gone.  The Medicare at 55 option – gone.  There is, in fact, nothing left in this bill that will force the insurance companies to truly compete.  The bill is a Christmas present to the insurance companies and only to the insurance companies.  The rest of us get, well, more of the same old crap. 

Now, guess where some of these senators come from.  Joe Lieberman is from Connecticut.  Have you ever driven through Hartford, CN?  If so, and if you’ve looked up at the names on the buildings, then you know who this guy actually represents.  As one pundit put it, Joe is the senator from Aetna.  Or as another said, he is nothing more than a Senatorial prostitute.  He did what he did for the money.

There are others.  Grassley from Iowa, DeMint from South Carolina, and Baucus from Montana.  All bought and paid for.  Not an altruistic bone in their collective bodies.  It’s just about money.

And what a coincidence, that’s exactly the problem at the so-called climate summit.  Money and greed.  The real debate is over who’s going to come out financially ahead if some agreement is actually reached.  Who’s going to pay for fixing this mess – that’s the only relevant question under consideration.  The rest is all window dressing.  If I’m the leader of China, my one and only concern is whether or not an agreement is going to hurt my growing manufacturing sector in particular and my overall economy in general.  The same holds true for any other developing nation.  Everything else is just collateral damage.

So pardon my renewed cynicism, but I honestly don’t see a way out of either mess.  At least not one that will do anything that benefits the average person.  In my mind, the evidence is pretty clear.  The inmates are running the asylum. 

Two pieces of advice, then:

1.  If you live in the United States, don’t get sick.

2.  No matter where you are, try not to live too close to a coastline.


4 Responses to “Idiocracy”

  1. Markus

    Paul, unfortunately this is an only too necessary addition to everybody’s vocabulary, regardless of the government you happen to get your lies told by. Having to watch the US debate about health care, the copenhagen talks (especially Schwarzenegger’s keynote) or Germany’s tax cut decision if favour of a small clientele, it is pretty similar, the only difference maybe the concentration and distribution of the greedy and intellectually handicapped both in government and voting public. (And no, not being allowed to vote doesn’t improve the situation). But “senatorial prostitute”, that is an expression, that I will add to my vocabulary. Sad enough that it’s necessary.

    And yes, regarding cynicism: The sad truth is that the cynics are the ones that well be proved correct after all. The problem is only that there probably is no “after”.

  2. Markus

    Addendum: I found the plot for idiocracy on wikipedia. It confirms the german saying that reality surpasses the best satire.

  3. The Landscapist

    thanks to my friend Jimmi Niffin’, I have introduced to the word, “deepity” – a word coined by Richard Dawkins that is somewhat akin to Stephen Colbert’s, “truthiness”. The meaning of the word, “deepity”, is roughly – a statement that has two meanings, one of which is true but superficial, the other which sounds profound but is meaningless.

    Dawkins coined the word and others in the atheist camp use it in their various assaults upon religious logic (or lack thereof). But, IMO, it can be used equally accurately when addressing one of the principle causes of the idiocracy.

    That cause is quite simply the fact that we live in a nation / culture that has no interest, in fact, one might say a nation / culture that actively avoids the truth and the nature of reality as it applies to everyday life on this planet.

    Politicians of every stripe use this aversion in the voting public to truth/reality much to their advantage. This aversion – which engenders things such as non-critical thought – allows the political class to spew “deepities” at will and without any critical analysis. “Deepities” like –

    “taxes are too high”, “government is too big”, “global warming is a big-government socialist hoax”, “healthcare reform is a big-government socialist plot”, “handguns don’t kill people, people kill people”, “the poor are just lazy”, “the market gets it right / let the market correct its own mistakes” and on and on and on ….

    … ending with my 3 favorites: “there is no such thing as truth”, and, “there is no such thing as reality” – both based upon the deepity that “everything is relative”.

    hey, if “everything is relative”, then one man’s opinion is as good as any other man’s opinion – it all comes down to which man can utter opinions with the most “deepity” and “truthiness”. Which is, in fact, exactly where we find ourselves in this idiocracy.

  4. Paul Maxim

    Markus: Well, I hope that there will be an “after”, although at present I see no evidence that that will be the case. I see you found the movie reference. Made in 2006, it tells the story of 2 people who wind up 500 years in the future – a future that could easily be described as “Dumb and Dumber” (also a movie, of course). I think some of our politicians may actually be from that future…..

    Mark: Yes, I’ve heard the term “deepity”. And there’s a lot of that “sounds profound but is meaningless” crap being thrown around today. Not to mention the not so profound but equally meaningless (and dumb) stuff. The other day that idiot congresswoman from Minnesota – Michelle Bachman – gave a speech in front of a bunch of Tea Baggers and said that their efforts were like the “Charge of the Light Brigade”. When I heard it, I laughed for at least a solid minute. Is she really that stupid? Does she know anything about history? Does she know what the “true” fate of the Light Brigade was? That a little more than 600 men on horseback charged a Russian force of well over 5,000 (who occupied the high ground) during the Crimean War? While incredibly brave, it was also incredibly stupid. And disastrous. Does she really think that that’s a good analogy for her “cause”?

    Doesn’t matter, of course. Most Americans have no idea what happened to a British cavalry unit more than 150 years ago. But they may have heard the term “Charge of the Light Brigade” (or saw the movie) and believe that it was something heroic and noble. Just like their cause. So mission accomplished. Fiction on top of fiction on top of fiction equals – Truth. It’s just that easy.


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