I am a known and well documented Eeyore: I wear it with pride.
I also recognize that said "Eeyore-ishness" is a function of age and is definitely directly related to my ever increasing dotage. But let me take this moment of your time (and by doing so, call into question your time management skills) to explain how the process of looking at the world through the lens of cynicism sometimes gives one an advantage.
Star align. Things happen in cycles. There are portents out there, they aren't found by epiphanies. They are teased out by paying attention to the world around you, looking for clues in mundane things and mass movements.
Most importantly, at the end of the day, the ability to accept that your vision of the future is nothing more than assignment of probabilities to a set of future outcomes. It also requires the understanding that one's vision into the future can never, ever reach certainty.
Most everyone in the US today is infected by the false myth of a "Positive Mental Attitude" having an effect on the way the world goes. This shit is an outgrowth of the hippie bullshit ginned-up by the self-actualization, follow your bliss idiots. It is a great way to make yourself happy, but it most certainly isn't a way to take a realistic view of what is coming.
Positive outcomes are only a part of the world. Bad things happen to good people, Good things happen to bad people. The PMA people are closing their eyes to a real set of possible outcomes, and by doing so, they are limiting the planning and thought that they can do in advance to ameliorate the negative.
So, in the twisty little back alleys of my stunted prescience gland, I have arbitrarily assigned a 30% chance of bad outcomes as a red-line for concern. Less than that, things are just operating as normal, more than that, it is time to put some thought into mapping out a set of possible future scenarios and thinking through how to best navigate them.
For the past four or five years, the state of affairs here in the land o' the free have not bumped over the 30% tripwire. But I began to notice an upward movement in my "well shit" meter in early-to-mid-2016. The eventuality of the election of one of two completely unacceptable choices started the push toward the magic 30%. Well, in a nutshell, in the last week or two, the meter has pushed over the mark.
Look, I reckon that we are about 31% chance of a bad outcome at the national level. Bad outcomes at the national level drift down to make up a bigger shitstorm that I have to navigate. This in turn makes it harder to live the simple life I so fervently desire, more chances of me having to live in an even smaller footprint than I currently reside (and that is with me consciously doing everything that I can to decrease my footprint).
There are still the usual suspects out there.
- Energy use his heading downhill. Now this might seem like a good thing, and it is a good thing in the long run, but for now, energy use and economic activity are intimately entwined. If this keeps slipping, the economy may continue to slip with it.
- Maybe it is different this time, but 2017 is looking a lot like 2007. Real estate and stock market looking decidedly "frothy" and overpriced.
- Trump is a buffoon, but he was elected fair and square. It is looking more and more like the folks in Washington might do something stupid. This might start us down the path of the Romans, It won't probably be a revolution like one expects out of a steady diet of Hollywood, but remember, removing the Gracchi started Rome down the path.
- It looks like the folks in the NeoCon wing have gotten enough mojo together to trick Trump into upping the ante again in the Middle East and in Korea.
- Politics are seriously poisoned. We are still under the force of law of the stupid debt limit, the Democratic party is in a shambles, the Republicans are a clown car with no leadership (Thanks Donald), the corporations and the rich are in charge and all else is getting poorer. There is a decent chance that the guvmint might shut down in the fall.
- The disparity in wealth is getting worse, I cannot find a time when this ever turned out well. Jobs are being eaten by offshoring, migrants, and automation. When the AI boom starts getting serious traction, wait until you see what this does to the office crowd.
- Climate change/global warming/environmental degradation is starting to get traction. We have known about this since the sixties, just never saw any reason to change what we are doing. It is just starting to get noticable. It isn't going to get better.
Now, I am trying to take a look at what may cause movement in the opposite direction. Truth be told, I don't see much. The plans that people have seem to be patches to keep the party going the way that it is going, rather than the changes required to move to something that works better.
But there is hope among the youth. I think that, for the most part, they see that the way that the deal is going down is not going to be helping them.
Most of the fixes to the macro-structures that dominate the human ecology that is the political-economic realm are really not serious about making the changes needed to move to a mature society. They tend toward the flim-flam and the promoter who tells people that they can have what they want rather than working out the ways to downshift to a system that is less energy dependent.
So, when I note that things are kinda going to hell right now, there are several big caveats that must be addressed:
- The "going to hell" process is indeterminate. No one is exactly sure where Hell starts and the road to it ends. All I note is that we are on the path and I am trying to find a sign which tells me how far it is until we get there.
- What I really most about is those things I haven't thought about. It is those thing that you don'e expect that need the most looking for. I have a truly bad feeling that the thing that sucker punches us will be something that will leave me saying: "Didn't see that one coming".