I had planned on writing a post about media spin on big government, blaming the Reagan revolution for Chicago’s problems. But after reading some new posts by Marcus Nunes about the human tragedy of tight money, it seems like a rather trivial pursuit. There are just some days that grief over the current state of affairs gets to me. And I wonder about the humanity of folks with power, it seems like they check it at the door when it should be very much a part of everything they do.
I found a documentary that, despite its obvious salting of left-leaning political themes, makes some very good points about the psychology of how people can do some of the things they do without internalization of the situation or questioning it. It is The Lottery of Birth, directed by Raoul Martinez and Joshua van Praag. The basic point is that people are conditioned from birth not to question authority, and to just do things that have to be done without contemplating them. I don’t know how much weight to put toward it as an explanation of how and why the greatest monetary crisis in generations has persisted for years misdiagnosed, ignored by the political class, and nearly unmitigated.
I suppose I could believe whatever I wish to believe, if only to pacify myself as I am sure that nothing I have to say makes a bit a difference. Even with this documentary to explain the commission of unthinkable acts, there is still a certain something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on. Perhaps that something is justice. Or maybe that something is just a rational explanation, because I am not entirely unreasonable. It would be much better to hear the mea culpa even if as part of a general admission for the entire organization of the Federal Reserve. I want to hear that mistakes were made and that a plan is in place to mitigate them and prevent them from happening again. But it isn’t working out that way. Mr. Bernanke will ride off into the sunset without having to provide an accurate account for anything that transpired during his tenure at the Fed, leaving a considerable amount of blanks to be filled in with speculation.
And I have quite a wild imagination. Unlike the people described in the documentary, I contemplate my surroundings as a personal habit, imagining the possibilities. I’ve already examined the activities of my employer of which I am aware and have made my decisions about which ones can involve my participation. And, yes, there are things it does in which I want no part (I wish I could provide detail, but I can’t). It’s over those things that I would rather take my chances to end up just like I was before becoming reemployed than take part in them – because being able to sleep at night and to live with myself for the rest of my life matters more than money, power, or recognition.
Perhaps that is an oddity among my species, the ability to question my own behavior and set limits based on my own sense of humanity. In the documentary, a group of scientists conducted a study to try to understand how nearly an entire society can go mad and do or even tacitly endorse activities like those that happened under Germany’s 3rd Reich. It’s rather amazing that 2/3 of the people asked to torture another human being with electric shocks for every incorrect answer to a list of questions continued on even after the subject (an actor) seemingly became unresponsive or constantly and tearfully begged to stop. You’ll have to watch the scene in order to appreciate what it means.
The documentary is available on Netflix if you don’t have Amazon Prime. If you don’t have either, perhaps you can find it in a library.