A Society of Lies

“Live for today, for tomorrow never comes”: this is the great lie of our times.

There’s the people who come as close as the law allows to no money down to buy real estate on the longest amortization period possible because there’s an interest rate deal available — when it’s time to renew the paper, “tomorrow won’t come because they’ll keep interest rates low to save people like me”.

There’s the people who simultaneously demand tax reductions and ever more government spending because “programmes are needed” — and kicking the can onto the next generation, or onto the next decade, and now down the road maybe a year still beats “take what you want, but pay for it”.

There’s the people who expect consumerism to keep everything humming, including their job, yet give nothing back by constantly buying cheap junk made overseas, designed to break or wear out instantly, because it’s a few cents cheaper. The companies who offshore their jobs, but expect their customers to spend ever more freely. The executives, public and private sectors alike, who think they’re worth every penny of their latest increase, while offering their staff nothing again this year.

There’s the managers whose idea of doing the right thing is to defer maintenance yet again, hoping nothing breaks, while investing endlessly in make-work of all sorts: decision-less meetings, employee satisfaction surveys, outside opinions so that they can’t be held accountable for actually deciding anything. The ones that have numbers from measures designed to hide the truth, then say they have proof they’ve done their jobs.

There’s the politicians who call “fiscal rigour” slashing at programmes their opponents created, while racking up more debt supporting the ones they like, and the media who play the game with them rather than call a spade a shovel and hit them over the head with it.

There’s the rampant corruption of the financial sector, foreclosing on homes that have no mortgages, laying forged papers in evidence, laughing it off if they get caught and knowing that most of the time their “word” will simply be accepted. There’s the financial directors who for years failed to fund their pension obligations, and now demand that the pensions be given up rather than them have to find the monies they should have been putting in year after year to cover their obligations.

There’s the demands made by every lobbyist that commitments made and negotiated in good faith, or laws passed, not apply to them simply because now it’s inconvenient, or would stop them from increasing their profits. There’s the forcing of products down people’s throats (literally, in the case of subsidising and requiring the use of corn product additives in the food chain).

There’s the law, being perverted to treat corporate speech and spending as better than that of the individual. There’s the law, being used to wage patent trolling wars to restrict competitors. There’s the law, charging individuals with theft when supposedly incapable seeds do germinate, jump fences to where they’re not wanted — pollution of a farmer’s field and then charged with having stolen it.

There’s the notion that the water table under the land you live on is someone else’s property, to be drained from away, or contaminated by fracking, or used as a chemical dump, and it’s “tough kitty toenails” to you.

There’s the lies we tell ourselves: real estate will always go up, more eyeballs mean bigger profits, efficiency outweighs resilience, there’s nothing we can do about it.

There’s the lie that money is a store of value, in a world where credit and quantitative easing are in play. There’s the lie that duty and honour matter, when known frauds are not prosecuted, when hearings are cut off so that questions can’t be asked, when “we can’t shake the system” outweighs everything else.

There’s the big lie we love to tell ourselves, that our party is the only right choice, and the others are evil, without ever asking what makes our party different.

There’s the lie that international games and fairs “put you on the map” or “bring in billions” — and most of all “will pay for themselves”. It’s right there with “being an indispensable nation” or “we can do as we please”.

There’s the huge lie that student debt pays for itself with the wonderful, high-paying job waiting at the end of a bachelors’ degree and a graduate degree from the right schools, and then industry credentials every few years, and more degrees down the road…

There’s the lies told about so much. That we have endless amounts of energy, that technology solves all problems, that there are too many chicken littles, that we should just believe.

There have been other societies that have told similar tales to themselves.

They all fell.

But of course, the person who today says “that’s where we’re going” is called a liar.

The person who disturbs the comfort of a society of lies is never welcome.


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