Archive for October 10, 2011

Why the Ongoing Loss in Income Security is a New Creature: 1

October 10, 2011 12 comments

There are a few major and fundamental differences in the life experiences of people born after 1970s and those born before it. While the lack of large wars, normalization of effective contraception, mainstream feminism, decent nutrition and health care are the most well known differences- there is one we rarely talk about. It is-

The loss of income/ livelihood security.

Read that again.. I did not say lack of income or livelihoods, merely that both are less stable than in any previous era in human history. The type of income/ livelihood insecurity we see today (especially if you are young) was inconceivable in peaceful periods throughout human history.

There is simply no equivalent for the current state of income insecurity, due to the magnitude of the problem and change in social parameters.

Let me explain the “change in social parameters” part a bit more explicitly.

Civilization as you know it has always been a ponzi scheme based on exploiting a youth heavy demographic profile. However fairly basic technology, public health measures, sanitation and effective contraception have caused a voluntary worldwide decline in fertility thereby destroying the source of fresh suckers to ‘compete’ against each other and keep the scam going. Now add in the effects of individual alienation, loss of social cohesiveness, feminism, atomization, technology etc- something that is far more common in those born after 1970.

So how do these changes interact with the loss of income/ livelihood security?

The short answer is that they amplify the effects of income insecurity and will make the endgame that much worse. The somewhat longish answer is-

Imagine that you were a man of working age in any relatively peaceful period of human history. It is very likely you would have been involved in doing something alongside people who were related to you or otherwise very familiar. Though your ‘peoplesphere’ would have been limited to a few hundred people in your direct and indirect circle of acquaintances, your mental grasp of the world around you would have been very good. While things did go to hell during wars, epidemics, famines etc it was not the default state of affairs. For most of the time- things were reasonably predictable, secure and you were always surrounded by people who were very likely to help you.

The industrial revolution and urbanization did not change that to any significant extent. There is a reason you could find entire blocks, neighborhoods and cities filled with people who came from the same part of the world and were related to each other. Even people with marginal employment and skills could aspire to a reasonably secure existence by being part of a larger group. However the direction of social and economic evolution after WW2 created an atomized and physically disconnected society. The reasons behind that shift are not important for the purpose of this post- but the results are.

Today most of us live around, work and socialize with people who we hardly know or trust. The funny thing is that we are very aware of this fact but pretend that it is irrelevant.

So how does existing around people you don’t trust affect your behavior and attitudes? and what does this have to do with loss in income/ livelihood security?

Answer: We don’t trust people around us under the most optimal of conditions, let alone under less than optimal ones. The true extent of its impact on society was temporarily obscured by the prosperity, growth and social changes which occurred after WW2. As I have said before, people will play along and seemingly accept incredibly fucked up systems as long as they believe that doing so is profitable- and that was the case for almost 50 years.

But the last decade has slowly but irreversibly exposed the lies, bullshit, scams and lunacy behind the promises for progress- let alone maintaining the status quo. We are now in a peculiar situation where the pre-1950 system have been trashed beyond repair AND its replacement is falling apart before our eyes.

I will write about the likely chain of effects of this situation in the next part of this series. But first I have to write follow ups to a couple of posts from the last two weeks.