The Animals In The Barnyard Are Nervous

Posted Feb 23, 2016 at 17:53. Revised Sep 24, 2019 at 19:01.

For many years, farmers in Central and South America noticed that occasionally their animals would become restless, and would sometimes attempt to smash their way out of their pens or corrals. Many farmers believed this behavior was because the animals knew a major earthquake was imminent.

Knowledgeable people thought this was just ignorance and superstition on the part of the farmers, but over time, there was a growing realization that the animals knew something. No one was able to explain with certainty how they were detecting impending earthquakes, but there is much evidence that they knew when an earthquake was coming.

The 2016 political situation in America was similar. Many people (the animals) knew that something was wrong and that there was trouble ahead, but they weren’t sure what to do about it or whom to blame. The people in the Establishment, like the farmers in Central and South America, had a hard time believing that many in the ordinary rank and file (the animals) could know something that the elite did not.

By 2016 politics had manifested itself in two extreme groups of people, a group of conservatives who wanted to throw the rascals out and replace them with people who respected traditional values, and a group of extreme progressives who wanted to throw the rascals out and then massively redistribute wealth.

Even though these factions regarded each other as enemies, they had a great deal in common. Both wanted to tear up the current order and replace it with something much more to their liking. In each case, the people of these two extremes were often ignorant and simple, having simple-minded solutions that would create more problems than they would solve. Because of this, the Establishment had difficulty listening to inarticulate outsiders. Ironically, the Establishment itself was also ignorant and uninformed about what was happening in the world beneath its feet.

Much of what was happening was a result of the ever-growing complexity of society, technology, and current life. This complexity guaranteed that people would be progressively less informed about what was going on because there was too much for any one person to absorb. It also resulted in ever-increasing specialization to deal with the fragmenting pieces of everything.

The people best able to master a world of growing complexity and keep it running become increasingly more valuable and thus can demand bigger paychecks. Those less able to stay on top of developments are less valuable economically and paid accordingly. Neither a return to the traditional values of earlier years nor wealth redistribution can reverse the forces of growing complexity.

Since 1981, there have been many conservative and liberal income-tax changes that promised to produce more tax fairness and less extreme wealth distribution. The result of each reform was the inequality increased, partly because increasing tax complexity makes the most successful people more able to game the growing tax system’s rules. Tax revisions suit the self-interest of tax accountants and tax attorneys because even a simplification to the tax code usually requires more compliance advice. Each tax revision helps tax practitioners to become ever bigger leeches on the economically productive segments of society. It is simple: more tax law complexity (and change) generates more wealth for tax specialists. The beauty in this scam is the people will demand tax revisions forever, thereby giving the legislators a perfect excuse for saying: “We are only complying with what our electorate has requested – which is what our job requires us to do!” (And we are laughing all the way to the bank in the process!).

If pro is the opposite of con,
then what is the opposite of progress?
Congress!

As complexity grows, it places an increasing drag on people’s lives. They then seek simplicity by oversimplifying everything in their lives. Ever-increasing complexity ultimately generates a complexity trap that ends each complexity sub-cycle. The result is the situation devolves into chaos and a new simplicity, which can be far more perverse than the original simplicity was.

The biggest complexity cycle, consisting of all the smaller cycles, similarly has an ultimate complexity trap. What the limits to complexity are, when they might happen, and how our complexity will simplify and will correct itself is not known. We do know that nothing can grow exponentially forever.

All this is unfolding before our very eyes, and we don’t believe what we are seeing.

Now you can honestly say “Nobody told me.”

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Feb 23, 2016 at 17:53. Revised Sep 24, 2019 at 19:01. –> Retrieved Dec 14, 2019 at 17:07.
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