"As fool's paradise is a wise man's hell."
- Thomas Fuller
You've heard the term, "fool's paradise," but have you ever wondered what one looks like? The trouble is real fool's paradises are a bit like sub-atomic particles, they have such short half-lives that it's hard to observe in real time. But, like Quarks, they do reveal themselves, if not in the flesh, at least in the data. The careful observer can see them coming, if they bother to look. Later. once they pass, you can observe the effect they had on their surroundings.
So it's not surprising that so many Americans are living and planning as though nothing were amiss. The stock market â€” the worst of all possible fool's paradise indicators â€” is perking right along as though these were boom times. Housing values are down a bit, but have yet to collapse. Consumers continue spending, now dipping into savings to do so. And when savings run out and lower wages can't keep up, they borrow.
The federal government apparently thinks there's not a thing wrong in continuing to borrow over $8 billion a month â€” month in and month out â€” to finance a war of choice.
Meanwhile our whole damn country runs on oil, the stuff is not only running out, but comes mostly from parts of the world busily tearing themselves apart.
The above behavior has turned our atmosphere into a trash pile which has finally caught fire â€” feel the heat? Ice caps are melting so fast you can watch them shrink in real time. Prime beach-front real estate is on the way to being submerged beneath up to five feet of water over the next few decades. The days left for thousands of low lying islands â€” and the people that live on them â€” are numbered.
Yet, by observing the behavior of government, businesses or the general population, you wouldn't think any of that was going on, or that if it is, that it mattered little. That's where the careful observer can detect a fool's paradise in the making.
Maybe you're one of those who has not noticed. If you don't look, you can't see it, or even feel it. But trust me, all the data says it's so. Even as you read these words it's ripping at the fabric of the comfortable and familiar life most of us still enjoy, and veneer that surrounds daily life. By the time you can see through it, it'll be too late.
I could try to describe this fool's paradise in words, but that would require too many words, and too many folks would still not get the picture â€” or refuse to. So at the end of this short post I have some pictures â€” data pictures â€” snap shots in time, pulses taken, demographic and economic EKGs. They show what's happening behind the facade of normal life Americans cling to. And it's that data which suggests there's really very little normal about it at all. In fact, when you look at the data, almost all it is about the abnormal. If a patient came into an emergency room with vital signs like these he would be sent straight to intensive care.
Where's it all headed? Well, that's for each of us to decide on our own. Look at the data, use your common sense and extrapolate. If you do you will likely reach the same conclusion I have; that we are living in the final days of the good times that began in the 1950's. Quite simply, we got greedy. We raped the golden goose, killed it, plucked it and are now feasting on the final scraps.
Of course most Americans will cling to the hope that it's all just another cyclical economic blip and, like the many others over the last seventy years, it'll all sort itself out and before you know it we'll be back to driving, shopping and living as usual. After all, remember what they taught us in school â€” that the changes made to our national economy after the 1930s Great Depression guarantee nothing like that can ever happen again.
That's where the "fools" come in. The fool is the indispensable ingredient in a fool's paradise. It's not a paradise for the fool, but because of the fool. And there has to be a lot of them. They all have to share an almost bulletproof sense of optimism, be rock-solid stubborn and immune from facts. (That's key.) A fool's paradise that is not allowed to achieve critcal mass is a near-miss, not a fool's paradise. The more obvious a fool's paradise is about to blow, the more important it is that the fools remain steadfast in their belief all is well and that the real fools are the onces running around sounding alarms.
There's nothing we can do about a fool's paradise once one reaches the point this one has â€” except to prepare as best we can for the inevitable. Oh, and those preparations should probably include installing good locks and mabye a large club. Because when the inevitable happens fools almost always blame those who tried to warn them first. As their world collapses around them they react badly, and stike out at those who predicted it. They claim it's all our fault â€” you know... our negative thinking... self-fulfilling prophesies .... those tax and spend liberals... etc. etc. They'll blame everything and everyone, but themselves.
That's why they're called "fools."
Here's the data. Click on the thumbnails to see the full picture. Then you decide.
Have a nice weekend.