Consternation….

I am consternated. I have not put keyboard to screen in several weeks. At least one of you noticed. As usual it has not been for the lack of topics but just too many for this poor little brain to try to make sense of things.

I have been looking for the right word or theme to describe my mien. The topic says it all: amazement or dismay that hinders or throws into confusion. It is not just Flalaland but the world in which we live. I love change and thinking outside of the box, but this is ridiculous. There are so many disparate views on things I could be wandering around for a long time.

I have just read a book sent to me by my daughter and written by Andrew Yang, former presidential candidate and also tossing his hat in the ring  for mayor of New York City. He seems thoughtful enough and describes his presidential run, a synopsis of the problems we face in the US and finally his proposed solutions. 

For the moment let’s not judge by political association whether we love or hate this guy but just listen to what he has to say. His campaign laid bare some of the inadequacies of our democracy. To be heard you need stature. To have that you need money and a lot of it. Just to be noticed. So much for voices in the crowd. 

Another aspect was the dearth of local news reporting. The internet has deprived the weeklies of classifieds and regular advertising. Without that you can’t hire journalists. There are over 3,000 counties and almost 20,000 incorporated places in the US. There are around 1,000 newspapers. Circulation has gone from 60 million in 1992 to 26 million today. On one hand you are not going to get a lot of diversity of thought and on the other maybe a lot more people could care less. 

He spoke of automation and social media in not so flattering terms. Both are wildly successful in today’s world but beyond problematic in their logical conclusions. We will eliminate thousands of jobs. We will have knowledge of your most intimate secrets. But we will be moving towards a more real time and technologically driven universe. My point of consternation is that in some ways this is great and on others  it scares the hell out of me. 

To wit the latest on Facebook. They knew what they were putting out there was bad for some segments of their viewership, especially teen age girls. Ditto Google but they have so far eluded the radar of the press. The real scary part is they have been at this for 17 years for Facebook and 23 years for Google. Yes, they have connected us and made life more interesting but did we ever stop to think of the downsides? We rarely do?  

One also has to consider our dependency on drugs….legal ones. Last year 100,000 people died from an overdose of something. OxyContin was first introduced in 1996. It was hard at work for over 20 years before anyone questioned its efficacy in laymen’s terms. Now we as a country are paying for all that ease of use in terms of hospitalizations, rehab treatments and heart break for families involved. Is that consternating to you?

The coup de grace was a conversation I had with an ex military  buddy last night. He was senior officer and  described the procurement process for anything in the military from everything to advanced weapons systems to a simple piece of hardware. The bureaucracy, red tape, hoops to be jumped through and compliance made this a living nightmare. And folks we pay for all of this. 

I put my head on the pillow last night and it was exploding. Not from a couple of vodka and tonics but from all the surrealities my discussion had conjured up. It seems to me that everything from education to commerce to restaurants to automobiles is so fraught with pratfalls and pitfalls that it is a wonder we get anything done. Yet we continue to push on, open new frontiers and want to venture in outer space  without cleaning up what we have now. 

I am not so pessimistic this foretells our demise. We have a lot of great going for us. But to look at this world with rose colored glasses is foolhardy. For some of us to try to get out the door and leave it to our kids to solve is a total cop out. 

The first step is not to throw more money at a problem unless it happens to be a deteriorating bridge or roadway. Education suffers not from a lack of snappy looking classrooms but a coordinated effort of both the school and the parents.

 Secondly we don’t need more rules and regulations. Some of these are hundreds of pages long. This is not the libertarian but the pragmatist in me. 

Lastly, we do not need another department, detailed study or anything else that contributes to our overly bloated bureaucracy. Look at what is in place. Clean it up and root out the dead wood. Give people respectability but also responsibility. Make them answerable for their staffs and the decisions they make. 

My consternation is my own fault. I should just chill out and ignore all this Maybe my cranium should explode? I told the lovely Kathy last night I was giving up thinking for awhile. A few moments ago she asked me how that was going for me? What do you think?

As always

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Consternation synonyms:  alarm, amazement, anxiety, awe, bewilderment, confusion, dread, fright, horror, panic, perplexity, terror, trepidation, distraction, fear, muddle, shock, stupefaction, wonder. Any of these work for you?

The not-for-profit Social Progress Imperative ranked social progress in 128 countries in 2017 based on three criteria: basic human needs like food, water, and shelter; foundations of well-being such as access to information and environmental quality; and opportunity, including personal rights and freedoms and access to education.

The US came in 18th on the list.The US spends about three times as much per capita on healthcare expenditures than other countries with comparable incomes, yet Americans have a lower life expectancy than people in those countries

Countries With The Best Education Systems

RankCountryMathScienceReading
1China591590555
2Singapore569551549
3Estonia523530523
4Japan527529504
5Korea526519514
6Canada512518520
7Finland507522520
8Poland516511512
9Ireland500496518
10Slovenia509507495
11United Kingdom502505504
12New Zealand494508506
13Netherlands519503485
14Sweden502499506
15Denmark509493501
16Germany500503498
17Belgium508499493
18Australia491503503
19Switzerland515495484
20Norway501490499
21Czech Republic499497490
22United States478502505
23France495493493
24Portugal492492492
25Austria499490484

Need I say more ?

On more positive note I took an airplane ride on Thursday. It was in a WWII P51 Mustang. We flew over the Stuart Veteran’s Day parade and were supposed to return to base. My pilot broke formation and headed west to Lake Okeechobee where we did about 8-10 minutes of aerobatics. What a ride!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

One thought on “Consternation….

  1. Keep writing, keep putting those ideas out there. Lack of comment doesn’t mean lack of interest, it’s just that, well, some days I bite the dog and some days the dog bites me. (That is a saying isn’t it?)🤪 I knew you’d understand! Life is a puzzlement and I love how you keep stirring the pot! Happy Thanksgiving! Jay

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