America’s Other Pandemic–Stupidity

I now know now that the Pledge of Allegiance was about the insidious brainwashing of innocent children, and most of those brains cannot be restored.

Are Idiots Born or Created?

Seen from abroad over the past half century, one gets the impression that the United States has embraced a vibrant new tradition. Along with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness they are pursuing stupidity. And they are doing a sensational job of it. A few decades ago this would have sounded like a gratuitous insult, but today it is widely acknowledged as a simple fact of life. Are you reluctant to believe it? Try googling “American stupidity” and you will find think piece after think piece, authored by Americans themselves, dissecting the many facets of widespread US mental deficiencies. They have titles like, “Have We Reached Peak Stupidity,” “Are Americans Just Stupid” and “Americans Just Want to Be Free to be Stupid.”

Isn’t Stupidity Universal?

Is this to suggest that stupidity doesn’t exist in other places? No, of course not, but not to the degree that it thrives in the United States where, due to a unique combination of factors, stupidity rules almost every manifestation of American society: what they value, what they admire, what they aspire to, what they demand, what they vote for, even what they eat. And certainly what they watch, listen to and follow. Nowhere else does the stupidity factor hold such sway. What is the great American stupidity enabler?

Like everything else, it’s the profit motive, and we’ll discuss that later. For now, suffice it to say that in a country whose cherished traditional values include rugged individualism, false exceptionalism, fast money, relentless militarism and distrust of collective solutions. Americans think these solutions smell of socialism and consider them wholly incompatible with their fictional “free world.” I thought Neil Young had razed that place back in 1989, with his song, Rockin’ in the Free World. (“People sleepin’ in their shoes… Keep on rockin’ in the free world.”)

The American Gold Rush Mentality

When grave mental deficiencies are detected in great swaths of the population, the American tendency is not to regard them as people to be helped, rather as opportunities to be exploited. It’s the American gold-rush mentality: “Thar’s gold in them thar hills!” How do they mine those unfortunate souls? Let me count the ways. They put them in private, for-profit prisons where they are obliged to work for an average of 63 cents and hour–and in some states for free. Only 8% of state and federal prisoners are held in private prisons. But 73% of immigration detainees are incarcerated for profit. By cost cutting on everything–installations, staff, staff training, education programs–the private operations manage to undercut the manifestly better state and federal facilities in order to make a profit. (Source: Statista.com)

They lure them into life/death lottery which is the armed forces Even when they’re not in the army or behind bars, members of the American working class are under represented by unions, underpaid and over exploited. A significant part of them does not earn enough money to live a decent life and raise their children in conditions of health and wellbeing. And we’re talking about the richest country in the world. Could someone explain to me how that is possible?

One thing is certain: the United States is the outland in outlandish. And they will, sooner or later, pay the price, not just for inequality and racism but for all the exceptional rest, the mass gun killings and the solitary suicides, the tolerated far-right militias, the discouraged teachers and parents, the holy men who travel in private airliners, the congress people on the payrolls of banks, arms manufacturers and big pharma, the honest business people with accumulation psychosis, the black and brown kids who don’t have a chance…

Societal Failure or Business Opportunity

The authorities don’t consider possibilities for more, better, free schooling for people who have been left behind, or equality programs to raise levels across the whole society, but private prisons and reality TV. It’s not by accident that America’s worst-ever president was a reality TV star. Mediocrity seeks its own level. For every Lincoln or Roosevelt that Americans have enjoyed as their president, they were obliged to suffer dozens of Harry Trumans (who was the only US president not to graduate from college), Ronald Reagans and George W. Bushes.

There is a gleam of hope, however. The most thoughtful commentators on the subject agree that Americans are not born stupider that the rest of humanity. They’re essentially normal as their intelligence quotients compare positively with those of other countries and conform to the familiar bell curve. But wait just a few years and you’ll find that outlandish, senseless, anti-social and counterproductive notions have crept into their heads, such as the Pledge of Allegience to the Flag. I was nurtured on that nonsense through most of grade school and I clearly recall not having any idea what it was about.

I now know now that it was about the insidious brainwashing of innocent children, and most of those brains cannot be restored. It turns out to be the first brick in the wall of American hypernationalism, a baseless concept like the Holy Trinity, that has become God’s absolute truth in America. Once that superstructure was erected, they could hang anything on it, starting with American exceptionalism, the notion that, just by being born Americans they were unique among the citizens of the world, endowed with unique privileges, all of which is, of course, the rankest hogwash. Americans are in no way unique, superior or more entitled that any other race on earth. That notion springs from the same putrid source as white supremacy. It is just a false justification (though many–most?– Americans seem to believe it) for their rampant imperialism around the world.

Mental Damage to Children

Concomitant with these outrages is the irreparable mental damage done to the minds of American young people, which have been precooked by the lies of school and church, Captain America and the American flags flapping outside their front doors. Their exceptionalist beliefs lead them to support the insane and unending litany of bullying, rapine, regime change and exploitation that their country practices for profit around the world.

To mislead and confuse its youth with uber-patriotic nonsense is to condemn a country to a dark future, the one that we are seeing playing out today in the U.S. It was not only other people’s territory and natural resources that interested America’s early international entrepreneurs and still does. It was access to markets in places like Japan and China, access achieved by “gunboat diplomacy.” Today is an interesting time to recall those snippets of history, with China gutting the American industrial base and devouring their markets without having to deploy any gunboats.

There are endless theories to explain the dumbing of America. Ron Jud, writing in the Seattle Times blames it on television, especially in its cheapest, nastiest–and most profitable–form, reality shows. He affirms:

American television has made the country what it is today–fat, lazy, uninterested, selfish, intellectually comatose and uninspired. It was around the mid-’90s… when the sinking feeling began… reality TV, shows that required little cast, sets or the inkling of creative spark God gave a common garden snail. Manna, in other words for the geniucrats running the U.S. entertainment industry.

Seattle Times, 28 August 2021

Another theory traces American stupidity back to the frontier spirit. It’s not actually stupidity. Steven Nadler calls it “a kind of intellectual stubbornness.” Here’s his take on the phenomenon in Time:

The problem is not that the people who don’t believe in climate change or who choose not to vaccinate their children, or who deny evolution by natural selection are necessarily uninformed (although many of them are, and a good deal of what passes for “information” these days comes from highly suspect sources). Rather, it is that in the face of relevant information they have refused to adjust or abandon their beliefs accordingly. We are witnessing a struggle between the dark and light tendencies of the American national psyche. The mask is its symbol.

Time

So it’s not stupidity. But it will do till the real thing comes along.

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Stupidity Is a Mortal Illness

Stupidity denotes the inability of a person to understand something due to insufficient intelligence, thus leading to the misinterpretation of a fact. (Thesaurus.com)

How Does The United States Manage to Remain World Leader in Covid 19 Mismanagement?

It’s a magical mix of of stupidity and greed in the most advanced country in the world that makes this seemingly impossible outcome inevitable. Every-man-for-himself, rugged-individualist Americans cannot win against a widespread, highly-contagious virus, regardless of their high tech and bags of money. Winning in this case requires an everyone-pulling-together effort for the common good. It sounds like socialism, doesn’t it. That’s because it is like socialism. Could that be why large segments of Americans are rejecting the collective effort–the masks, the social distancing and prophylactic measures? Whatever the case, stupidity rules.

Like everything else that’s mortally wrong with American society, the collosal losing response to the Covid 19 epidemic is a result of faulty philosophy. As much as Americans love a shooting war, there are no military solutions to a pandemic. Fighting a virus on the rampage requires the rigorous and uniform application of boring preventive measures that are disastrous for the economy in the short term. “Uniform” refers to all sections of the country, all creeds and political persuasions, rich and poor, black and white and all colors in between. America’s current approach to the problem–overlapping and conflicting authority at the federal, state and local levels, and tolerating organized resistence to vital public health measures–is a recipe for disaster. The current disaster has claimed 648,000 lives–and counting–thus far. More than 600,000 unnecessary deaths boggle the mind. This price is far too high. Even so, the country marches stupidly on.

Excremental Right-Wing Agendas Fertilize Stupidity

Is this stupidity catching? Yes, and it is highly contagious, thanks principally to the actions and omissions of low people in high places. The word and example of any state governor, legislator, or member of the United States Congress has a following, by default. They are, after all, elected by thousands or even millions of voters. What motivates these seemingly short-sighted politicians to lead their innocent followers into the hell of fatally-flawed public health policies?

Their justification conforms to mindless right-wing, laissez-faire agendas that extend to every aspect of American life, from hands-off-everything government policy to iron-clad opposition to regulating business. Political campaign planners rely on varied agendas to assure the fidelity of their candidates’ followers. These agendas may be ambitious like the megalomaniac Project for a New American Century or simple campaign slogans like “Make America Great Again.”

Everyone with two fingers of forehead understands these problems and their fatal outcomes, but too many adepts of ultra-conservative ideologies prefer to overrule common sense and sane public health policies with their noxious agendas. They not only harm themselves but do untold damage to people near and far (starting with their own elderly family members) by perpetuating the spread of the virus through deadly chain reactions. This is the stupidity of the thoughtless application of the Americans’ sacrosanct “individual freedom.” They are riding that tired old horse into their early graves.

The other collective that wields an unnatural–and unnaturally stupid– influence in American society is that of the merely rich. An American billionaire, no matter how crass, venal or damaging to others, enjoys massive admiration and support in that benighted country, though his or her only merit is posessing a lot of money, no matter how they came by it nor what foolish–or actually dangerous–initiatives they sponsor with it.

Stupidity Goes Hand in Hand with Other Undesirables

Supine stupidity does not come along by itself. It is usually accompanied by a group of undesirable friends and allies with equally noxious effects on American society. Hyper patriotism (and its first cousin, exceptionalism), and primitive religious cults are usually found in first rank of the mix. None of these phenomena are dangerous in and of themselves. As we used to say when we were kids, “It’s a free country.” However, taken together, they contribute to a mode of baseless, unfounded thinking that is not really thinking, rather the parroting of false premises that are useful to ruling elite. The most sinister friend of that group is militarism, fabulously profitable for a few, but mortally dangerous for millions in America and around the world. The patriotic and militarist lies, so easy to propagate in a naive society, have deep roots in America, and will take a long time, if ever, to uproot.

Who Suffers from the Pandemic?

Everybody suffers, some catastrophically, some less, but, directly or indirectly, everybody suffers. Nobody gets off scot-free… except the Chinese, who took universal, rational measures against the pandemic from day one, and never looked back.

Who Benefits?

The people and organizations who benefit from America’s current level of public-health stupidity are the usual suspects, the same elements who foment and reap benefits from an ignorant, arrogant and bigoted electorate on other playing fields. They’re the country’s smash-and-grab political demagogues first and foremost. Then, of course, there’s Big Pharma, already blessed with an iron-clad law (the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003), that prohibits the government from negotiating prices on medications sold to the Medicare system. Unless that legislation is amended, the economic results for drug companies from Covid vaccines and treatments can be expected to take their profits into another dimension.

What’s to Be Done?

The cure for countries that are occupied by stupidity is not hard to prescribe: it’s educating the country’s young people for life among one’s fellow human beings. The rest is secondary and falls into place once the matter of cordial coexistence is in hand. Though it’s not hard to recommend, this solution is one of life’s most difficult tasks to achieve. This is especially true in a country like the United States with a set of national values based on laser-beam self interest and darkest Darwinian competitiveness, with all of its powerful industrial and economic interests tearing through the society like an amoral buzz saw. Then there’s the question of size. Effecting any change in a land so extensive and varied is a monumental order. All of these elements coinciding make the most fundamental element in the mix–a willingness to convene among people of all types, conditions, and opinions–virtually unachievable. Until that first step is taken, however, nothing is possible. Will the Americans be able to make that move in time? Thereon hinges the future of their country–and the entire world–for better or for worse.

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