Robb: Rage and Health Care
Read John Robb's latest Global Guerrillas essay, which begins:
Here's some fun thinking about drivers of political fragmentation and the slow failure of America.
We expect the universe to make sense, to be consistent, and when the contingencies change, we get testy. Interestingly, this is not unique to humans. In one experiment, two pigeons were placed in a cage. One of them was tethered to the back of the cage while the other was free to run about as it wished. Every 30 seconds, a hopper would provide a small amount of food (a fixed interval schedule, as described earlier). The free pigeon could reach the food but the tethered one could not, and the free pigeon happily ate all the food every time. After an hour or so of this, the hopper stops providing food. The free pigeon continues to check the hopper every 30 seconds for a while, but when it's clear that the food isn't coming, it will go to the back of the cage and beat up the other pigeon. Now, the interesting thing is that the tethered pigeon has never eaten the food and the free pigeon has no reason to think the other is responsible for the food stopping.
The frustration is irrational, but real nonetheless.
John Hopson, a game researcher at Microsoft.
The above example illustrates the driver behind the furor over the passage of health care legislation in the US. The trigger, or the change in the game (the economic system) that prompted the confusion and anger we see today was the 2008 financial crisis. The inchoate anger this crisis caused is now being directed against the US government and the party in power. Here's a fuller explanation for this.
We have collectively developed the belief that the capitalist system that we work in and our system of governance, although very messy at times and often harsh, is fundamentally fair. The financial collapse proved that these beliefs were completely unfounded and we (collectively) were fools for believing in such nonsense. Here's how this realization rolled out, step by step.
First, the meager rewards of system (the status quo game) stopped coming:
•Easy, endless debt in lieu of gains in income (for increasingly productive hard work) was either made impossible to get or converted into usurious debt.
•Wealth, particularly in the form of home values/pensions/expected future earnings, evaporated.
•Incomes tumbled (cut backs in hours, permanent to temp status, outsourcing, or outright termination) while prices (education to health in particular) kept accelerating.
Second, in contrast to the game depicted above (where the pigeon was first given regular rewards and then suddenly and without explanation denied those rewards), it was now generally known why our rewards for participation in the system had at first dwindled and finally stopped: our capitalist system had become so corrupt that a relatively small group of people were able to perpetrate the greatest financial theft in the history of mankind.
The final and most damning step in this process was how that even after this theft had become public knowledge (on the front page of every newspaper from here to Timbuktu), the governmental system we expected to punish malfeasance didn't work. Not only didn't it work by failing to punish these traitors (as those who damage a nation in the worst possible way are termed) for their acts, it actually rewarded them. It made them rich with hundreds of billions of dollars in bailouts and tens of trillions in public guarantees (to protect them against losses on their future thefts), in effect extending them a golden invitation to pillage our future again...
Read the rest.
And this is just the beginning....