The Road to Hell Is Paved with Virtue-Signaling – Charles Hugh Smith (08/27/2019)

The idea that everything will be solved if we borrow a couple more trillion and give it away is the dominant paradigm. Here in the decay phase of Imperial Pretensions, The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. It’s a line from Yeats’ poem The Second Coming, and it speaks to our current stumbling descent toward the abyss, where the worst invest their energies in virtue-signaling and the best retreat from the hopelessness of actually addressing our real-world problems. The road to Hell is paved with virtue-signaling: rather than actually solve the knotty problems that are dragging us toward the abyss, we substitute self-righteousness for problem-solving. That is virtue-signaling in a nutshell. Virtue-signaling goes hand in hand with the only “solution” that’s politically correct: throw a borrowed trillion dollars at the “problem”, dance the humba-humba around the bonfire at midnight and hope that magic will resolve the underlying issues. Hence the calls for Medicare for All, Universal Basic Income, and free college for all, all paid with borrowed money, despite the virtuous bleatings that “taxes on the rich/robots” will magically pay for trillions of additional dollars to be squandered on corrupt, self-serving cartels. The well-being of the American populace is broken, with well-being including mental and physical health, financial security and access to all forms of capital, including education, infrastructure and functioning institutions. Throwing more money at the cartels that have failed–defense, governance, healthcare and higher education–won’t solve anything. The health of the American populace is in long-term decline for structural reasons: our diet has deteriorated, our fitness has deteriorated, our educational inputs regarding diet, fitness and health have deteriorated. Popping another $1,000 a month pill doesn’t restore health or well-being, yet that’s what the healthcare cartel profits from: managing our sickness. As for the “defense” industry, a.k.a. the military-industrial-intelligence cartel:rather than do the hard work of redefining America’s role in the world (declining to pursue wars of choice and policing the world) and then right-sizing the armed forces for the emerging realities of automated warfare, cyber-warfare and asymmetric warfare, we spend trillions of dollars on a jumble of horribly costly legacy weaponry with a sprinkling of pixie-dust “innovation.” This also describes the higher education cartel, a horribly costly legacy jumble that’s failing students while enriching insiders and lenders. It also describes the standard institutional response to knotty issues such as homelessness: the conventional legacy “solution” is to insist on building “affordable” housing at $400,000 per unit, which means we can build 1,000 units rather than the 100,000 units of super-low-cost housing we need. In a climate where passionately intense self-righteousness is substituted for actual problem-solving, anyone willing to consider real-world knotty problems is shouted down. It’s impossible to even discuss issues of citizenship and immigration as they relate to the long-term impact of devaluing citizenship, or the impact on aging infrastructure designed for a much smaller population. It’s impossible to even discuss systematically downsizing America’s role and military footprint without being accused of treason, as virtue-signaling support for the Imperial Project is necessary to broadcast your membership in the politically correct camp. It’s impossible to even discuss the connection between the high-profit snacks and sugar-water beverages that fill supermarket shelves and diabesity and metabolic disorders, or the connection between the decline of community and the rise of the Savior State. The idea that everything will be solved if we borrow a couple more trillion and give it away is the dominant paradigm. We all understand why: solving difficult real-world problems in a fraying society riven by shrill “advocacy” (i.e. give “us” the free money rather than giving it to “them”) is immensely more challenging than passionately intense self-righteousness (virtue-signaling) and borrowing as many trillions as needed to keep a bloated, ineffective, corrupt status quo glued together for another quarter or another year. The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. The road to Hell is paved with virtue-signaling, and we are about to discover that virtue-signaling, self-righteousness and indignation are not substitutes for the difficult task of completely restructuring failing institutions, modes of production and governance. Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 ebook, $12 print, $13.08 audiobook): Read the first section for free in PDF format. My new mystery The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake is a ridiculously affordable $1.29 (Kindle) or $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF) My book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition. Read the first section for free in PDF format. NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

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