Friday, December 19, 2008

Questions and thoughts

Staggering developments in the world lately, and it's important not to get so shellshocked by events that one gets numb to the sound of the bombardment. I posted those links yesterday to some very timely topics for a start, but it isn't going to take much for anyone to find more. We all know, it's a mess.

I'm concerned however, that few understand what this mess means, or are adequately informed about of the magnitude of this issue. This is for a couple of reasons, but the primary one is that the crisis as it exists only exists in its full form at institutional levels. While the housing market is certainly an indicator of a larger problem, when one looks at the global indicators of large business on the macro economic scale--the scenario is nothing short of apocalyptic. Whether it is the demand for crude, or any of the various shipping indexes, or at sum amalgam of financial activity in the world we're looking at declines of 75% or more, comfortably, in the given amount of economic activity occurring in the world. These are very very very big numbers, utterly unprecedented, and to most, unfortunately, utterly unimaginable.

We, most of us, in spite of perhaps being conversant in the details, sense something needs to be done. And yes, it sure as hell does. There is no lack of bright ideas out there either, a lot of them coming from well connected folks soaking up what's left of endowment or grant money. In Hawaii, there is a push here locally as well to get involved with local issues, and one can see the well intended efforts of of Freinds of Puna's Future and others as examples of people participating in what they personally perceive as constructive good for the community.

The question I'd like to ask is this: In light of the world economy, in context of the economy of Hawaii and where it's going to end up--Do you really believe that personal civic involvement or government in general even remains relevant to our future?

I don't ask this in a snarky manner whatsoever. I don't ask this in a rhetorical context either. I'm asking directly--can we in the forthcoming environment expect any constructive aid, or services, or leadership from government entities in general? Personally, I think not. Even if the good will was there, and the process allowed for timely policy that reflected real needs in a timely manner--and there was actually any sort of funding to do anything with--I might be able to be persuaded otherwise. As it sits, with a massive budget shortfall in this state, and the Federal government committing half of the GDP of next year already to bail out bad banks--not a chance.

The point of ask this question isn't to berate the attempts of those who might still seem some viability in the government sector. The point is rather to suggest, in fact insist, that the vast bulk of the work that is going to be required to keep society intact is going come directly from the hands of individuals--not from a government agency, and we may as well be prepared for that inevitability. That process of "keeping things running" is a large one, and there's much work to do. As far as I can see it, we really need to get started.

Representative government in general is very poor at dealing with crisis, and almost utterly incapable of dealing with crisis in a timely manner. If the crisis has any element of novelty to it, you can fully expect all government may be capable of is helping others to pick up the pieces. This is made much more difficult today in a complicated world dominated by complicated technical issues. Very few people are even capable of understanding the basic issues, let alone offering sensible leadership. In public discussion or in civic activities, the progress of the group isn't so much engendered by the amount of visionary leadership present, but rather by the relative lack of idiotic, self-indulgent hypocrites. Since for example, any meaningful local "policy" pertaining to global climate change will be forced to be a consensus process between the most knowledgeable climatic scientists involved in the discussion--as well as the astute observations of the right-wing fundamentalist flat earth society--one can quickly discover that there is no grand vision of a future for humanity that can't get simply stomped out by simple cold hard stupid.

We should be very afraid of this. We haven't time to make stupid choices.

But this is leading me to a new topic that I'll need to think about before proceeding with.


subgenius said...

My reasoning is that it is better to prepare yourself and build a community of other like-minded people with a diverse skill base, and totally ignore the current systems of "management". I have never ceased to be amazed at the insane waste of time and energy dealing with any current political structure is.

Blue Pearl said...

The saying that comes to my mind is ...."think globally, act locally." Governments are most effective at the local level where solutions can be tailored to the specific problems, culture, etc.

When people finally start to realize the situation we are in, I think it will be at the local level that real change starts to occur. Until there is real hands-on involvement by individuals things won't change much for the better.

drobl said...

Hey, check out the Surviving in Argentina blog hosted by FerFal fascinating!

Gary said...

it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

This planet does not listen to the sound and the fury. I am lovin' all the fine stuff of human imagination. like witnessing a great fireworks display ...ooohhh, ahhhh. My gut tells me livin' aboard with my hunting, fishing, gathering (nothing more fun by the way) is my comfort.