I’ve been the same since I was eight years old. I still wish I were a superhero or a baseball player, or maybe a fireman. I work hard, I’m nice to people, and I try to conduct myself in a manner that is pleasing to the opposite sex.
In the real world, I’m surrounded by plaster testimonies to my failed dreams, my dubious qualifications as failed novelist and successful finance guy mired in the soothing doldrums of corporate life. Therefore, it’s quite refreshing to expose my unerring consistency as an unpaid blogger belching unsolicited pompous prose into the flickering pixels before you.
On the Internet, we reach enough bored souls as to elicit praise enough to continue on, and that’s a good thing, I think. The approval of three strangers in the comments section below packs a larger self-congratulatory wallop than any lollipop I was ever awarded for childhood compliance.
Now allow me to get metaphysical on your asses.
Why? These three little letters have opened the doors to everything we have known and ever will know. I’m on a porch in Tahiti looking out at the rippling turquoise South Pacific wondering, Why?
Why me? How did the errant molecules and decisions and mediocre parenting and honest but unfocused hard work plant me here, in this most wondrous place?
Why am I not in a sleeping bag in Zuccotti Park or a trailer in Enon, Ohio?
Why ask why? Why is a 1980s Bud Dry commercial still such a prominent part of my psyche? Do they still make that crap?
This is territory covered much more eloquently and controversially by Kipling, but what am I doing here pondering the arrival of European culture on these unspoiled shores, centuries ago? Without that invasion I have no chocolate-slathered profiteroles or the embarrassment of cultural debasement.
Why does everything have to have a point? Can there be just questions?
We as a species are tortured by unanswered questions, and this torture in equal parts inspires and destroys. No one can possibly accurately calculate the destruction ahead as pensions are underfunded, mortgages are underwater, and executives’ salaries are doled out despite dubious, or downright evil, performance.
It’s why we have contracts, that minute, buttressing vessel of capitalism and general social order. We all, all 100% of us, rely on them to protect our invisible rights, our amorphous claims on the fleeting spoils of this madly spinning globe. Contracts are why bad CEOs get paid so much when they get fired, and why union leaders take home far more than the workers they supposedly protect. Contracts ensure teachers get what they deserve in a vacuum of competition, and they preserve the rituals of war, elections, governance, and monetary policy. They require public servants paid overtime by taxpayers to clean up after protesters.
Problems arise when those in power amend those contracts, as in bailouts of financial institutions (name a bank, anywhere on earth) and the government-sponsored entities that enabled our persistent little crisis (Fannie, Freddie). Problems also arise when citizens do not comply with contracts (taxpayers in Greece, or anywhere else), or when policymakers overcompensate with vast social and legislative contracts fat with unintended consequences (Durbin, Obamacare, the tax code, etc.).
It seems to me that all of our global woes are caused by contracts in which we the broader populace had little to no say in the drafting process, which we basically all agree to in any rational form of governance. We are the modern serfs, the swaying reeds with voices and opinions and good ideas about how things could be better.
People never change, ever.
Not that I care about any of this. I’m understanding Gauguin, on an island, and weaning painfully off the reassuring flicker of my iPhone.
Was this really a flamboyantly packaged treatise on contracts and their role in distributing the inequity that looms large upon our crystalline planet?