We are living in a simulation. I’m not talking about a computer simulation like in The Matrix, but rather in a society that is no longer based in reality. We are doubling down on novel false narratives while simultaneously dismantling the foundations upon which our modern civilization was built.
We are akin to the cartoon character Wile E. Coyote who has run off the edge of a cliff. We know that as soon as we acknowledge the fact that we have overshot the ledge, we will no longer be able to delay the pending fall.
We took a peak downwards during the financial crisis of 2008, but hastily concluded that it was best to collectively forget what we just saw. Thus allowing us to remain suspended in thin air for a little bit longer.
We all pretend that our broken institutions, including education, banking, government and the media are still performing their intended jobs. When in reality, none of them are functioning properly, each desperately trying to pump air into a balloon that is inevitably going to pop.
We ceremoniously go through the motions of upholding the integrity and value of our academic institutions. Demanding jail time for those found guilty of sacrilegiously bribing their way in. Those individuals should have known better, and gone with a more traditional route such as donating a building or having the last name of someone influential.
We increasingly reserve additional spots for international students since they require no financial aid and can pay out of pocket, while simultaneously continuing to raise tuition on our own students. We allow many of these institutions to exchange a lifetime of unforgivable debt for degrees that are not worth the paper on which they are printed.
Likewise, we have flooded the graduate degree market to the point that full time postgraduate positions are scarce. This completion has driven salaries down to that of fast food wage workers for some of our most educated citizens.
As production was shipped overseas, the financial sector grew in the economy to take its place. However, without as many homegrown businesses to invest in, bankers decided instead to find new ways of vacuuming up the domestic capital that was left.
Subprime mortgages, auto loans and credit card debt was chopped up, rearranged, repackaged, labeled as AAA prime assets and then resold for much more than it’s actually worth. In 2008, when this Ponzi scheme started to come crashing down, the US government and central bank stepped in to buy up all these garbage assets in order to inject money into the banks. This consequently transferred the high risk of holding such assets to the American tax payers.
If the government was not so heavily controlled by lobbyists, the deregulations that took place over the past four decades which enabled the 2008 financial crisis may have not occurred. Nothing significant has changed since the crisis, with the central bank continuing to buy up more and more debt in order to keep everything afloat.
The role of traditional media is dying as online competitors replace them. There is no longer a profit motive for real journalism or even much of an incentive to tell the truth. It’s more profitable to tell a cohort of listeners what they want to hear while promoting the politics of the station’s corporate owners. The goal is not to inform but hold the viewers’ attention for as long as possible in order to generate more advertising revenue.
Instead of addressing the core issues behind any of these bubbles, we instead have decided to increasingly bend reality until the obvious becomes distorted enough to ignore. We are told to blame the guy in the cubicle next to us for our problems and pay no attention to the man pulling the levers behind the curtain.
None of these bubbles can go on forever, with the popping of one likely triggering the end of the others. Keeping with our cartoon analogy, reality is eventually going to hit back like a frying pan to the face.
You can only utilize past reserves and borrow from the future for so long before running out of scaffolding to support an artificial creation that skirts natural laws. In the end, human nature, biology, math and physics always triumph given that the cost to circumvent reality is invariably higher than to operate within it.
When this happens, we will either use the opportunity to reconstruct our society around a fact based reality, or fall prey to whichever smooth talking salesman convinces us that he knows of a better solution.