Not a very woke title for an essay, but at least it is inclusive.
Like it or not, admit it or not, absolutely everyone is tarred with the shameful brush of idiocy at some point or another in the span of their lives. Some have cornered the market on it, while others make life decisions with the single aim being to never have an original thought, and with that ignorance is bliss. The movie Idiocracy is a humorous approach to what happens when society devolves because of its advances, and well worth a look just for the laugh if nothing else.
I, however, have no issue with admitting and acknowledging my random descents into absolute idiocy. It is a long and varied list, with which I shall share one of my idiotic moments.
One of my moments of idiocy come from my more youthful years. For it is when we entering those troublesome times as we become young adults are the times when most all of us are convinced we can fix either some, or all, of the problems that afflict humanity if just everyone would simply listen and then do as we tell them. It is in the frustration of discovering that virtually no-one in positions of power are dazzled by our insights, and those around us, more often than not, change the subject rather than argue the toss that individually we embark on foolish paths and endeavours.
For me it was to do with taxation, specifically the pending introduction of the GST in Australia as there was a fair bit of discussion on the implementation of this tax at the time. From memory it did get a bit heated for a while and then basically just simmered along until it came into effect in 2000.
Some bloke had raised an alternative to the GST, and it was called a ‘debits tax’. I read the article and the sheer simplicity of it is the thing that got me suckered in. I checked the maths this guy used to explain, defend, and promote this concept of taxation as it would see every other tax abolished, and that was a lot of different taxes. His math worked given the parameters he had set and that was good enough for me, I didn’t need to look any further in those days when an idea got stuck in my head. Ah, the arrogant innocence of youth.
The big thing back then was that the concept of the GST was unpopular as it had been raised by both political parties over the years. Bob Hawke told Paul Keating to drop the idea when he really wanted to push it. It cost John Hewson an election win, mainly because Keating ran a campaign exploiting the public distrust of the same tax concept he once promoted.
Eventually John Howard won government in 1996 with the promise of never implementing a GST. In 1998 Howard almost lost that election due again to the GST, but then described the narrow win as a ‘mandate for the GST’ and went about doing all the political posturing and deal making to get it in. In 1999 he struck a deal with Meg Lees, who wanted a few tweaks to the tax policy. It was passed by the senate that year. The GST came into being in 2000 and the rest is history.
So that provides some background as to the basics of where my act of idiocy stemmed from. Pretty much everyone was talking about the GST and everyone had an opinion. This was big stuff and it was one of the first times in my adult life that I got caught up in a political debate that was being waged in the public arena.
So, this bloke and his debit tax got some newspaper time, not very much, but some.
I read the article, checked his maths on it and considered it from the point of view of charging one percent on every bank transaction as he presented it. This was when debit cards and ATM’s were sort of new in society and people still largely carried cash around for purchases and worked weekly budgets, getting the cash needed for the week out in one visit to the bank. You also paid your bills by cash or cheque, and a lot of the time in person back then. All that fun stuff that is not fashionable these days, but common practice back then.
Using ATM’s and using your debit card for purchases in shops was a small part of how things worked back then and considered somehow suspect and dangerous to some degree. We still had cheque books and writing, and cashing cheques was a reasonably standard part of life for lots of people.
I worked with what I had, being the examples provided in the article. The numbers were impressive considering the amount of tax the government took in each year on average using the old system. This one tromped right over the current old-fashioned revenue raising and blitzed anything the GST could offer.
I was sold on the debit tax and couldn’t for the life of me understand why the government and all their experts could be so stupid with thinking that the GST was a better tax. I got self-righteously angry about how dim-witted these politicians are and decided that it was time for me to make myself known to them. After all, I had done the math on the debit tax, I had seen how it was much fairer and simpler for everyone.
It had fallen to me to enlighten these deluded fools and make them see the error of their ways.
After all, on the strength of just one newspaper article, some selective maths, and my unwavering conviction of the brilliance that was me was all that was needed to change the way in which revenue raising was conducted in Australia.
With the strength gained from the passion of my convictions I sat down and wrote John Howard a letter.
That was how you did it back then, no readily available internet with email and social media to send a message. You sat down and put pen to paper, then you put it in an envelope and wrote the delivery address on the front and your return address on the back. You put a stamp on it and then put it in the mail.
We were also somewhat more polite in the days so the standard greetings, thanks for taking the time to read my letter and all that social lubricant.
I explained how the GST was a flawed tax and how the debit tax was elegant in its simplicity and that it would reap financial windfalls beyond anything the GST could hope to provide. I went on to explain that Mr Howard was perhaps subject to some poor advice from his experts and that some simple inspection of my insights would clarify that he had been duped by those that advised him. From memory I described the people who advised him as sycophants, minions, and lacking a basic education. I may have mentioned that he should examine the advice he accepted, and it may be an intellectual flaw on his behalf to allow others to form opinions that he blindly accepted. That despite his high office he may be subject to the machinations of those around him in promoting an entirely unprofitable and unpopular system of taxation.
Society was a fraction more polite back then when talking to our elected officials, particularly in writing. This politeness required being somewhat more creative when casting demeaning insults and slurs. We had more style and finesse than what passes today as normal when insulting someone.
Life moved slower back then, unlike today, and I champed at the bit for the first two weeks waiting upon the reply from the Prime Minister begging me to fix his mistake with that hated GST.
After a month I had pretty much forgotten about it, and after two months it was all ancient history.
Three months later I received a letter from the office of the prime minister.
The letter thanked me for writing to the prime minister and that he values all correspondence and strives to reply in a timely manner. In this instance the prime minister is unable to reply personally due to his commitments in his role. I was thanked for taking the time to write and that my comments were noted.
My father pointed out to me, after reading the letter, that this was a fine example of how I had been politely told to piss off and pull my head in. He said it in his quiet, matter of fact way that told me from long experience that he was right. I knew that when my father spoke in this fashion that it was pointless to argue the toss.
I did not take that well at all but seeing as how the fires of my passion to singlehandedly overhaul the taxation system no longer was that important to me, I moved on quickly. Within an hour I had organised to go fishing with a mate. After all there were things in life that couldn’t be put off in the interests of the country, leisure time being one of them.
It was idiotic of me to have the temerity to write a letter to the leader of our country and basically tell him he was an idiot, as were all those people who advised him.
It was idiotic of me to believe in a system of taxation based on flimsy and simplistic reasoning, and unproven financial figures.
It was idiotic of me to think that I knew more than the people who had done all the hard work in figuring out a new form of taxation.
A compounding cascade of idiocy committed by me as I latched onto something that looked good on the surface but was in actuality unworkable as it disadvantaged small Australian companies and gave advantage to international companies. A seriously lopsided playing field and all to the visiting team’s advantage when you delved more deeply into it.
A swing and a miss for me on that moment of blinding brilliance.
Such is the folly of youth when we believe that we can solve the big problems because we are somehow smarter than the people who have to make these things work. This brilliance stems from our lack of real-world experience combined with the arrogance of youth.
It is easier to embrace a concept rather than seeing if the concept is worthwhile or workable as one takes little effort and the other requires a lot of effort. Youth looks for the path of least resistance in many things. Youth also looks for the easy answer more often than not.
I consider I found that path with ease in that example of youthful idiocy.
That is the elegant simplicity of youth in that we are swayed in the moment, and our passions are inflamed to pursue something without inspecting that thing critically and dispassionately.
That is just one of many moments of idiocy that I reminisce on from time to time as the circle has come round in full, and now I am the parent looking at a son who holds all the answers to the world in his infinite wisdom gathered over his decade and a half on this planet.
There is a certain ironic poetry to life that is bittersweet.
Today it seems as if 2021 is going to remembered as the International Year of the Idiot. Originally 2020 was in front with the great toilet paper stampede, political machinations, public fear and paranoia, riots, protests, global sabre rattling, and of course the social media world of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
America looks to be in the running for the gold medal in idiocy and to see the proof of the idiocy running rampant in that country all you need to do is just look and see what is going on over there. America is the engine room for radical ideas that are exported globally currently.
Australia is looking good for the silver medal and again all it takes is to look at the high-quality idiocy being enacted in the public arena on an almost daily basis.
The bronze medal is up for grabs, but it could be the European Union as a group. Then again, they may just snatch the silver from us depending on their politicians and the actions of various populations.
It would all be funny except for the sobering fact that the idiocy going on in the world is destroying lives and causing immense damage to societies, and to our young. Also, the creation of massive government debt that a generation unborn may well be forced to pay for is nothing to be proud of.
It seems as if the world has gone mad in recent years and now accelerated due to a pandemic. Reflecting on the sudden increase in collective idiocy gave me pause to think.
When exactly did people become so idiotic that they would willingly allow things to happen that were detrimental to them and their way of life? When did it become fashionable to allow others to dictate how we live our lives?
It just didn’t make sense that everyone got up one morning and read the memo that told them to switch their brains off, and then everyone hit the off switch.
What occurred to me is that it was an incremental slide into idiocy through sheer apathy. This had been going on for decades and had been accelerated by the advances in technology. Now that’s an oxymoron for you. The smarter we became, the more idiotic we became.
Yet here we are.
In large part we are the victims of our own advancement. It is a very small proportion of any population that are the thinkers and doers in advancing humanity’s technological or scientific achievements, the rest of us are just the consumers and along for the ride.
So, a bunch of smart people invented computers and the internet, then another bunch of smart people came along and built all the stuff that we use today. Our technology has dumbed us down rather than lifted us up intellectually.
Think about it.
Most people today would be unable to navigate using a map as they depend upon GPS to tell them how to get from point A to point B. Young people shy away from a dictionary as it is a really difficult way to find out what a word means or how to spell it correctly as they now have spellchecker or Google. When technology fails for whatever reason then it is a newsworthy crisis as much of the population have no other means available to them with which they can utilise due to their reliance on the technology that is in use that they have become dependent on.
I read an article recently on how when a network goes down it then becomes almost impossible for people to even purchase basic goods as they become dependent on electronic purchases using a card and the newer method of using their smartphone for purchases. They also experience anxiety at being disconnected from their social media, email, and so forth. It simply doesn’t occur to many people to have some cash on their person or that being disconnected for a time is not really such a bad thing. But there it is with reliance on technology.
A friend of my son was suspect of picking and eating produce from our vegetable garden as he thought the food might be contaminated. Even when explained he still refused to eat the produce as it wasn’t wrapped in plastic and purchased from a shop. It was pointless to explain that fresh produce is superior to stuff that you could buy in the shops. As far as this kid was concerned it was somehow unclean to eat food grown in dirt and picked fresh. Such is the disconnect with people in where their food comes from and is surprisingly common apparently.
First world problems.
My thoughts on this was that when you remove challenges, remove the need to learn specific skills, remove the need to source information, as it is supplied to you courtesy of an algorithm in a search engine, then you become dumber. When you no longer have a connection as to where basics such as food comes from then you have set yourself up for a fail in coping with changing situations.
When these things, and more, become commonplace then people become somewhat mentally dull and listless as they no longer have to, or feel the need to, do the things that made previous generations be able to have independent thought rather than collective groupthink. When the things that create self-reliance and independence are considered suspect then people have become the product of what corporations had aimed to achieve, which is reliance on them.
There is a disturbing reduction in problem solving skills in young people today and that is due to the fact they have grown up in a technological world. The ideology of Political Correctness and Wokism is also a significant factor in the advent of collective idiocy as the mindset of these things discourages questioning, investigation, and thought. Rather it simply requires you to either agree or shut your mouth. Either way, you are along for the ride regardless of what you want, and if you dare to speak out then you are silenced.
It is far easier to just go along for the ride.
Many will disagree with my thoughts on how everyone became an idiot. They will clench their fists and punch holes in the air while screaming their dissent as they try to tear my words apart.
I have some examples to put some meat on the bones of my argument.
Recent surveys indicate that more than sixty percent of people mistrust mainstream media, but they trust their social media feeds. Of course, mainstream media is subjective and selective in what they report and how they report it as they follow a narrative, but they still have a code of ethics that is sort of followed. Social media is the wild west of rumours, fake news, conspiracy theories, and good old agitation with no ethical considerations needed just so long as you are on the right side of the political fence when you post your comments.
People are glued to their smartphones. At times it overrides practical considerations and becomes an addiction as they suffer anxiety without it. People complain about a permanently hectic life, but they refuse to switch a phone off and take time out. Not real smart.
Mob rule got a big look in during 2020 and the destruction of history without inspection became what was needed to right the wrongs of the past. Destroying history fixes nothing but try telling that to a screaming mob. Do they think that by destroying history that they can insert some ersatz form of history that offends no-one whilst validating their reasons for doing the things they have done? That is just plain dumb.
Kids go to school and get bullied all day and then go home, hop onto social media, and allow the same bullies in the school to bully them online. Rather than just staying offline, or off social media, is simply not a consideration for them. Despite the irrefutable fact that they would give themselves some downtime from the bullies and deprive them of their entertainment. It makes no sense despite any argument to the opposite. Not smart.
The polarising of the sexes is simply idiotic as it creates social divides rather than any of the stated objectives in realising equality between the sexes. The same goes for all of the societal issues between the sexes, as it is painted as one sex being the innocent victims and the other being the violent offenders with little lip service paid to the reality of the issues nor any real or tangible solutions formulated. It is easier to just shoot from the hip and appease the loudest voice. Not smart.
The demonising of white males as being the root cause of absolutely everything wrong in the world is simply racism and sexism rolled up in one neat package. History tells us that demonising or repressing an entire segment of society is always counterproductive. The more this mentality is propagated then the deeper the racial and sexual divides will become, and for that alone it is blatantly idiotic.
The last two examples are more disturbing, as the problems arising from these forms of idiocy is to create problems that will take generations to repair, if at all. When you demonise and belittle one segment of society over time resentment builds, and from that resentment more problems are created. Think about it in broadscale, all men are evil bastards, and all white people are racist without exception in 2021 as the tarred brush has been applied without constraint. It is a self-defeating spiral that virtually none care to see.
Perhaps the greatest single act of collective idiocy is what is termed as the ‘silent majority’ of society.
The silent majority is mentioned frequently in recent times as the group that will reject all the craziness in the world. Yet the silent majority are largely just that, silent. The silent majority allow idiocy to be enacted that impact into their lives and besides a bit of a grumble, they accept and wait for the next invasion into their lives at the hands of the screaming minority and enacted and enabled by a weak and cowardly political class.
The silent majority are the bulk of the population and they are the most idiotic as they allow others to implement laws and dictate terms and conditions on how they will live their lives regardless of what they think or want. Even our political class wax lyrical about the silent majority and then cave into the screaming minority or go about addressing their own agendas regardless of what their electorates want or need. For the political class this is arrogant idiocy at its finest.
There is an almost inexhaustible list of examples that illustrate collective idiocy in our modern world as it seems that almost every week there is yet another example of the hypocrisy that is abundant within modern society.
People have become little more than commodities in more than one way as we have become the victims of our own advances. When what one person creates becomes the means to manipulate entire societies, then perhaps we as a species have taken a step towards our decline.
It is through the successive manipulation of our young down through generations that idiocy has been achieved. More so in recent decades than ever, as it appears that dumbing down populations is the vehicle by which radical change can be enacted. As one generation grows into adulthood, they then enforce their beliefs on the generation of young they have created. Label it how you will, it is generational manipulation fostered by human advances that have allowed people to become like sheep in how they live their lives and how they allow others to dictate terms in the way that life will be.
Every generation despair, to some degree, at the generation that they have created and the ideals that they hold, there is nothing new in this, it is historical. The desperation is in the embracement of new ideas or ideals and the rejection of the way that society is ordered currently. Usually the emerging generation embrace many of the ideals of the generation that raised them as it promotes stability and security.
It is during those moments in time, historically, that the emerging generation makes a radical change in the way that society operates that is the most concerning. Historically, radical change has never ended well for any but the few at the top of the heap who have the resources to insulate them from the results of radical change, even when they engineer, or promote it. It takes generations sometimes for society to realign to more pragmatic and practical thought processes. It is during those turbulent years that damage is done that impacts adversely on all of humanity.
Unfortunately, this is nothing new in the history of humanity.