If you’re a writer, you’ve accumulated notes for the entirety of 2011, most of which have gone unused. I don’t care who you are. You might be Thomas Friedman (great mustache, buddy), or Karl Rove (perfect muffin-top, pal), or Kim Kardashian (way to get paid, girl!). You’ve got extra material, you’ve got a platform, and you’re going to rub our fatted-with-holiday-fudge faces in it.
I am no exception.
Most of my unpublished notes pertain to my strong and wildly swinging opinions about one of our species’ more tumultuous years on this planet. People overthrew dictators. Earthquakes shattered a nation and further fractured a global economy. Politicians and business leaders everywhere dangled their ineptitude in front of media hungry to exploit, taint, twist, and incite.
Believe it or not, I often held back thoughts that added little additional spice or insight to the ever-stewing debate about the 1% and the 99%. Plenty o’ pundits opined about who should pay more and who should shut up and who’s right and who’s a selfish bastard and who’s lazy and who should not live in parks and who should pay for parks and cleaning up said parks, yadda yadda yadda.
Enough has been said. Very little has actually been done to make things better. It’s been difficult to engage in balanced commentary, per The Smatterfesto, that furthers human progress. This economic and social malaise affects everyone, so we are by definition all too close to it to pursue objective truth and equitable action.
We have to accept that there are no “facts”, an exceedingly difficult notion for intelligent and strong-willed people to grasp. Objectivity has been and will always be impossible. Humans are built imperfect and are inherently selfish. That’s why we survive. That’s why the 1% will always have more. That’s been true of any society and social and economic stricture, ever.
So then, why are we all quibbling over the distribution of a few billion dollars in a global economy of over $60 trillion? That number is from Wikipedia and therefore should not be considered a fact. Most of us could go make more money over time and dole it out however we wish. Most members of the 99% will find the more money he or she gets, the less willing he or she is to part with a larger percentage of it just because he or she makes more than his or her neighbors, per a progressive tax scheme. That’s been the case for eons, too.
More evenhanded income distribution gets you something like Europe. I’m not saying that’s bad; it’s just a different set of niceties and challenges. Communism gets you, well, communism. In the US of A, we ain’t perfect, but we’re in a pretty uncrappy middle ground.
For some reason, we’re all uncomfortable in the middle. We want to be the best or the worst, the most extreme, the loudest, the craziest, the smartest, the fastest. We want to stand out. We want to be noticed, and technology makes all the world our stage, for better or worse.
My petulant wish for 2012: that we all fear not the Middle, that we embrace discourse and open-mindedness, that we consider our sources, that we engage in constructive skepticism of everything, including our own opinions. That’s how we’ll learn, and that’s how we’ll progress.
If the Mayans prove to be prescient, the next world will be all the better for it.
Happy new year from The Smatter! Read Camus! Nothing matters!