Dysfunction and its Discontents

IMG_2060There is some level of certainty… yes with this looming shutdown redux we may say with a high degree of certainty that we are in a time of great dysfunction in many formerly orderly areas of our land. Our societal dysfunction has metastasized, moved out of the cul-d-sacs, pundit shout-fests, memes and FWDs, jumped from the back pages, trickled in from RSS feeds, and otherwise has become the norm in polity. This is not the government corrupting us, we all act like strange deviants in the face of fiscal responsibility, economic equanimity, and social bonhomie. Yet the world does not appear as different than before on the outside… The surface is calm while the sands shift. There are not those easy to view indicators in our society, the hippies breaking out of the fresh pressed conformists, New Wave cinema wrecking havoc on our commercial flops, new highways trampling over downtowns, large-scale riots (riots of the Pussy variety limited to our Slavic brethren), and all those in-your-face signs of our old days of social turmoil and change way back when grandad had a solid black and white camera in order to take iconic pictures. Those pictures do not exist today. There is no little man standing in front of the angry tank, blocking the army with pathetic plastic “Have A Nice Day” bags. It is as if we all were dying and expected the clouds to stop clouding the tides to stop tiding, the strip malls to stop… stripping. No, the world turns as it has even if we are all going slightly mad. The KenTacoHuts churn out starch, oils, and sugars to the masses well past embonpoint and into stellar proportions where you are attracted to these fatties by gravitational force rather than sexual instinct as the earth finds, in some way, the sun attractive. We put on our pants, one leg at a time and present to the horde of other naked and angry apes ourselves.

“It’s always been this way” the Kidsthesedays say when the older august heads tip and shake and spew vitriol at the deterioration of life in general and protest, “this isn’t the country I grew up in.” We are angry, those older ones. We are angry that flying the American sky is no longer fun. That the rent is too damn high. That the beaches are crowded and the soda is flat and our farts way too moist. “You just don’t remember how shit it was then” the Kidsthesedays say. Everything changes. If you are sad because they tore down another historic structure and replaced it with a WalMediRiteReed drugstore-n-beercavearia, or replaced every building at the crossroads with a WalMediRiteReed so that each shop could Gander at the next, we are reminded that those historic buildings from the 1880s replaced ones from the 1840s, those replaced forest, the forests replaced ice flows, the ice flows replaced forests, the forests replaced dinosaurs, they replaced bacteria, replaced rocks, replaced lava, replaced space, replaced dark matter, replaced void, replaced whatever is nil to the void power…. True, things have always changed and always have never worked out quite the way they should have gone. Especially when humans are involved. Even the greatest ideas had blow-back or otherwise set in motion forces that resulted in new and improved problems requiring even greater levels of clever ideas, solutions, innovations, and all then caused even greater problems. In our search for solutions people have always disagreed. There has always been small wars and feuds and factions and tribulation and turmoil among various individuals, collections, and all manner of groups, except for certain co-joined twins, and I am sure that if they do not share a brain they too bicker. Indeed, we are told that we live in a peaceful time, perhaps the greatest peace ever known. Except for the occasional mass shooting. Those bombs that go off in The Iraq every day. The occasional Kenyan Mall or America mall/facility/base/school/freeway freakout (not sure why an attack on a mall has implications for us, but those bombs that go off in The Iraq with regular frequency enough one could tell time… Boom! “Akch, Ahmed, the 12:37 is early today…”), the regular war calendar we maintain, and those stories that make it up the chain from the muck of humanity to the racking of certain infotainment outlets and purveyors of pestilent necrophiliatic encomiums about killer teens, the 2 year-olds who shoot their brothers, dogs who shoot their owners, runaway brides, stalkers, and mini crime sprees (fun sized crime spree?) that may or may not make it past channel 9 or whatever your local station is.
Some may think we are dysfunctional because we are complex. One of the great issues with a complex system is that while it offers more scope of variation. We can have 100xA(3) types of socks. Variation also risks in its complexity the dynamic forces of chaos and entropy. One day our world will be so connected and dependent one worker who late for their shift doesn’t get there in time to fold the stack of yellow “Yuck Fou” babytees slated to ship to [crappy tourist location here] sets off a chain reaction in the Yuck Fou teeshirt industry, that impacts the “Duck You,” the “The Bitch Didn’t Fall Off, She Got Her Own Motorcycle,” the “Fuck You You Fucking Fucker,” and “It’s 4 O’Clock Somehwere” industries which leads to a dumping of yellow textiles in India, then the plastic iron-iron economy of Zangzumquangqong collapses and people riot over the cost of rice, a trade war pits Uncle Bens against Cock Brand Rice, the price spikes and a trade war ensues, the economy of goods in Asia and the West freeze and Free Trade halts, thousands of ships are left to wander about and nothing can be transported, cities run out of food since all our produce comes from thousands of miles away and ships are full of tee shirts and pet rocks they cannot unload, food runs short, skinny size 2 baristas get too starved to serve double-latte-mocha-frapa-chinos and collapse right behind the counter onto the rubber safety mat leading to a loss of essential services, our Knowing Ones in tech alleys and valleys thorught the land without coffee cannot innovate or write code or do hackathons leading to a total loss of the Knowledge Economy, no one has used a pen in ages and cannot even remembers how to write on bathroom walls, lots of thick black rimmed glasses slip off noses, without working code or email the banks can no longer conduct nano-trades, send you e-statements, or track ATM fees, late fees, over/under fees, fee fees or Phoebe, who still owes me money. The banks shut, money is worthless, gold is worthless, a lot of people who bought gold are very very disappointed. They cannot smugly laugh at their neighbors who did not buy gold or talk to them about buying gold. They cannot laugh at you for not buying gold, or talk to you about gold after dinner and try to sell you some stake in a mine in Gloombovia. They cannot read magazines that extol the value of gold and how smart they are to have bought said gold, so they reach for their guns, their neighbors bought bullets, beans, and bunkers and were just itching to use them, so they reach for their guns too, a shooting war breaks out, retirees versus rednecks, Beatniks against Hipsters (who owned guns ironically), and even the old hippies were stashing guns under bales of pot. It’s a free-for-all. The government is no longer in charge of the army, having outsourced it. Xe contracts require martial law only after the 999,999th person is shot as part of a special limited time offer sold to the government in a no-bid situation to drone the 1,000,000th person for free and then take on suppressing all citizens and put them in to those FEMA camps that were supposed to be built, but the services were never scoped, the drones never built, the leadership considered that clause unlikely and never monetized the process, never built the FEMA camps beyond doing a feasibility study, the leadership flees to their bunkers in the Cayman Islands, the various war-making companies don’t have enough Bitcoins(tm) to pay their ranks, the Xe soldiers don’t get paid, defect to various warlords bands who can pay for their services in women, cows, and sacrifices to the Corn God, tribes replace states and counties, and everyone starts dressing up in football gear, animal skins and leggings, remember leggins, people start wearing them again, they will drive modified 1970s muscle cars, and talk about “juice” and “spice” and every day is Soylent Green day, and the collapse of the exceptional America Dream leads to global collapse as we are no longer there to pay for dictators, coups, and Free Trade Agreements, so naturally this leads allows terrorists to leave their herds or flocks of goats or pigs or ducks in order to launch unsecured atomic missiles and everything blows up, the Lord comes down from Heaven, dogs and cats live together in peace, even those “dangerous breeds” we read so much about. And all because we made things too complex, to connected, and sinned.

All things must follow that iron clad domino effect McNamara and others proposed as our foreign policy for so long to keep us in a hot war and when Vietnam fell, the others soon followed proving that theory correct… and even if it didn’t happen, we are setting up a world where that will indeed be the case. Exactly as this author has set out, or something close to it.
It is indeed a time of great dysfunction in our upper branches of government. The DC political classes have departed from our dimension and appear to live in their own, even know that they have removed themselves from the “real” that most of us live in and yet they refuse to leave the bubble, beltway, or the confines of their dark and perverted aspirations. It is not yet the time of roaring boyos and routy pioneer politics, the cudgel and revolver, but I would say “bully boy-o” were I to see an actual fisticuffs break out on the floor of any branch of connived politicos. The same is true for the Kaptians of Industry. The companies innovating their way into scoliotic atrophy, the downsizing and constant cutting of personnel until we may have to place middle managers on the endangered species list, if not the entire middle class. Cut out the middle man and save big? Perhaps. Then we can have corporations and companies where there spans a gap between workers, front line and minimum wage, and distant owner-job-creators who are never in the office, don’t know what the actual work entails, and become as the French kings, locked away in their safe houses from the peasants…. and we know how that all ended. Not in class warfare. In actual warfare.

I met a man on a certain flight from the district of D- en-route to the city of P- S- who enjoys a certain level of comfort the the majority of us may not realize in our, or several lifetimes. We started discussing the way the Kidoftoday(tm) are stoopid. Lazy. This I have heard from young an old farts and from educators or all stripes. There is a troubling development in our yout. And yout dese days don wanawork. True, thinktanks like the Labor Studies of Northeastern University say that if you don’t have a job at 14 you are less likely to work at 15, 16 and 17 and less likely to have a job in college. This does not include kids who work to support themselves before or after their college years. You know, the ones who work three jobs just to pay the rent and buy premo drugs. This is the educated class, the supposed middle classes, the whelp job-creators, who have not had their own job before being shat out of college and their expectations of work are quite out of touch with real life, as most of us know it. Anyway, this man, we will call him Edward, thought that managers were increasingly out of touch. Lazy. Not in tune with how to manage their own work as well as the work of others. If you haven’t done actual work, how can you realistically assign it to others. This was not an assessment of someone saying that the new American Worker would not do those jobs we carefully preserve for Mexicans, but those managers of corporations who cannot scope out work in a way that others can follow. We seemed to be on the same page, however, the conversation took a darker turn when he expanded this theory to that of mergers. And mergers of healthcare…. hospitals.

In this icky age we are seeing that science can make advances, there are ways to save everyone, but we can only afford to live long if we can pay hard. He proposed that doctors don’t make good managers. I tend to agree. Academics don’t make good administrators. I could not agree more. However, some of the thoughts on competition was out of the Randian playbook and the thought of merging hospitals – actually two huge healthcare systems that I had heard of in Gothem and dinging that he felt doctors were cut-throat politicians when he said that according to the merger there were duplicate people who had to fight for a new, merged, and much harder, heavier workload, that he would be surprised that people would fight for their livelihoods, little Billy’s, Zoe’s and Cloe’s college tuition, the mortgage on the Connectacunt house, the payments on the condo in Foxtit Hollow, the car… the dog from the puppy mill with the fake AKC papers.

“I, thankfully, did not have to worry about this condition since there was only one of me. And they could not replace me.” he said.

There is indeed a dysfunction going on if we can extend our opining for the days of hard working youth racking leaves or delivering papers or whatevertheasshole they did, to not seeing that not all competition is good, to seeing that perhaps the youth are not alright if they must be paid nothing to work three jobs to make ends meet and are ruled by those who have not worked a day in their lives and fall out of college with an entitled view that as long as they are safe from exclusion and termination, they can hold the rest of the workforce to that high standard, as if the playing field was level or otherwise in the interests of anything other than the monied classes, the profits of investors, and profits over people, especially when it comes to healthcare.

Now, in fairness, my traveling companion was a nice guy. I could not agree more that managers are out of touch with reality, but I am not sure about the more Darwinian views. However, perhaps his is a view of the old guard. The soon to be Dead White Men. Perhaps our state of dysfunction is because of said DWM and that as they retire or die we will free ourselves and finally enter that Hopiechangie age of no wars, thunder arms, fuck sticks, and moonpies that don’t go straight to your lumpy ass.

In the island of K- W- I managed to chat with a staff of a certain tour company. There was an issue with dredging an area that may or may not kill the very environment that brings people to the location. She was sure money would win no matter the vote. I couldn’t agree more. She was on some committee about saving certain environments. It came to a head over a dumpster and a tree. The Powers That Be wanted to cut down the tree to place the dumpster there. There was plenty of other land on each side, but they figured that that place, that very sacred spot must be the residing location fo said dumpster. People signed papers, placed names in ink, protested. And in the end, money had awoken one morning with a grand erection that could only be solved by cutting down such-and-such a tree and replacing it with a dumpster.
I managed to mention the dysfunction of our times. She thought it was the old guard hanging on. Again, I thought to my traveling companion. He, and old man, descended from several European groups who fled this or that war and came here, had the influence of the Greatest Generation(sm), and a tradition of American exceptional-ism and an ugly side to all those semental 1950s TeeVee shows from Gun Smoke to…. that one with the themesong we all know… that goes… do, de do do do de do do do, do da do, duh duh, dee da doo doo dee da doo doo dah dah.

I at first agreed. Yeah, those damn Old Guard. And then I thought of Edward, the best intentions, the subtle greed, the exceptionalism… and then I thought of Uncle O. His believe in that same thing. Exceptionalism. The deep dysfunction that exist in the politics of the town I was visiting. The deep dysfunctional politics, private goings on, and social order in my own village of Fort Mudge. And I proposed to my latest traveling companion, the lady from the tour company, that this dysfunctional system and docility was not a condition of the Old Guard soon to be shuffled off to the egress of history, but a sign of our new generation. Those out-of-touch men and women of all colours who were ascending. With the gas of privilege and all those bad attributes of the Millennials blown up their collective asses, and that they, are to be in charge from boardroom to petty officer in some far and distant town, and that to a person they take what was worst about Edward, the most jingoistic and obtuse elements of that Greatest Generation, and have learned nothing from Phish concerts and Bonaroo and will harvest the best of the worst of and our current state is not the old gripping power, but the young assuming the throne.

“Fucking TeeVee babies” Matt says from Drugstore Cowboys. “Fucking TeeVee babies seen more drinking and fucking on teevee they don’t know what is real.”
And so, here, today, may be arriving those TeeVee babies and indeed they are spoiled and don’t have an understanding of work. As managers they cannot lead. They drop out of programs having learned only what was on the test. They laugh at Colbert and yet are insidiously unaware of the current vile and corrupt system as they believe in competition and froth as long as there is “only one of me” competing. As workers they know not how to protest. They are a eunuch generation who bark banner adds and cum as mental Fine Arts, but do not know how to continue sustained attention to a specific cause. Turns out, they can’t even save a fucking tree from a muhammad-damn dumpster.

If indeed I am wrong, then there is hope. I am old, but young enough to outlive those bastardo/a/s currently holding on like Skecksies from Jenson’s Dark Crystal to their power and increasingly fantastic view of reality. However, if I am wrong… And our state is a condition of the young harvesting all that is worthless from those older ones…. learning the worst of the Greatest Generation, the most selfish ideals of the Me Generation… those lazy and intentionally stupid ideas. Those Darwinist and unfulfilled children of men. Those wymon and identity politicos whose only identity is that of a certain brand of hot-sauce from a certain casual dinning company that appears nationwide…. Then we are indeed to sip those bitter waters from the river, and that river will be named despair. Or YouTube River, after the Googles buys the naming rights to the river.

We can only hope. That we are indeed seeing the Old Guard swept out. One Big Gulp Burger heart attack at a time. However, if the current administration is to demonstrate, and the younglings are in charge and following behavior rather than we are indeed in for a long stretch of stupid and those of us who are older may actually not regret our aging towards that long and eternal night since we can miss out on a time of those locusts, and a culmination of the American Dream in a selfish fetish fantasy managed by those who feel entitled to rule, and those who have to stitch together three jobs in order to survive and have no imagination to change this condition since they learned everything about everything, as long as it was on the assessment tests.

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