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The Midas nudge The Midas nudge
by Jan Sand
2006-09-27 10:26:38
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Human excess is not so much a sin as a miscalculation of sufficiency. Sometimes it can get you in trouble, sometimes it can get everybody else in trouble and sometimes it can get you fame, fortune and a reasonable crack at happiness or what is assumed as happiness before it is attained.

As witnessed by the popularity of lotteries, Las Vegas, TV programs that subject participants to a full spectrum of minor horrors with a pot of gold at the end, also popularly known as “The American Dream”. They present a fantasy to the general public of total fulfilment of every desire to be available to anyone willing to exert his or her inborn capabilities to the absolute limit.

It is not like prayer, which is close to an attempt to manipulate the great unknown with indeterminate results. There always is a lotto winner, some guy who marries the movie star, and, of course, Bill Gates. But attainment of the absolute goal is a social instrument equivalent to that phoney rabbit which makes dog racing possible and if some especially gifted dog ever managed to catch the rabbit he would surely be terribly surprised and disappointed.

There is a notable difference in the dynamic social philosophies current in the USA and countries like Finland and comparable European countries. In Finland, which is a small country with an overwhelming disposition towards social rationality, there is a realistic evaluation of its limited resources and capabilities and an understanding that the most valuable resource of the country is its citizens. There are fine creative artists, designers, engineers, scientists, writers, and all the other human specialties in both countries but the treatment of these valuable people differs in the USA and Finland.

The much larger US population has a much larger pool to draw from and the opportunities for perfection of capabilities and talents is treated as a high privilege there. The treatment of the arts in the public education system is filigreed with contempt in contrast to those capabilities which might be found useful in business operations. It is ironic that all of the arts which require great talent and long years of concentrated development are sources controlling large parts of the financial economy.

The so-called abstract sciences are the foundations upon which great commercial technologies are based. The bulk of people striving for monetary success seem not to be able to grasp that people with special scientific and artistic capabilities are driven by anything other than the Midas nudge.

Tuition in US institutions of higher education is so great that students are very frequently burdened with debt for years after graduation. In stark contrast, Finland charges little or no tuition for higher education, thereby encouraging the development of its capable students to contribute fully to its social environment.

Social development and support for the arts and sciences and considerations for the difficulties of the poor and the sick is not cheap but it is a necessary expenditure for a civilization with a core of good sense and decency. Neglect of these expenditures leads to a multiplication of these difficulties into far more expensive areas and far more difficult and deleterious social situations.

The USA seems completely oblivious to this multiplication and even justifies the resulting growth of prisons and occupants in that it provides employment for guards and supervisors in areas that need jobs. On that logic, of course, the Mafia and all the drug people do a great job of keeping people employed and feeding inhabitants to the prison system. The USA now has one of the largest prison populations in the world as it crows to the world about freedoms and opportunity.

Finland does have high taxes to pay for all its necessary social services. But US politicians have built careers on cutting taxes and services so that its citizens suffer great miseries for their absence. There is a pervading philosophy in the current US administration that large government is inefficient and as Katrina clearly demonstrates, it re-enforces and fulfils this belief by installing incompetent and under funded institutions and administrators. Every country has its corrupt officials and criminal business operations but the USA recently seems to be especially capable in developing these problems.

The huge tragedy, of course, is that the USA has such wonderfully talented people and is still very much at the cutting edge of science and the arts, whatever the difficulties. But there now is obviously a dynamic and powerful effort in the government to blunt this edge and the bean counter officials with odd evangelical support are doing real damage. For what gains, I cannot imagine.

That gold that Americans seem to perceive at the end of the rainbow is the result of being uninformed. Rainbows, when perceived in their entirety, are colored circles and they have no end, no beginning.


  
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Asa2006-09-26 14:42:05
Top drawer effort, Mr Sand!


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