Let me be clear: the headline of this piece is to be read, “The theory of everything (that is) stupid,” NOT “The theory of everything, comma, stupid.” It’s my intention to insult a lot of people here, but if you are reading this without benefit of a forefinger, not you.
America is subsiding into a new Dark Age. Its leaders are more ignorant every day, its authorities more brutal, its people more supine. To remain ignorant when the availability of information is greater than it has ever been in human history, to govern viciously and intrusively when the government is more powerful and the governed more subservient, than ever, defies comprehension. Until we formulate a theory of everything stupid.
First, a quick tour of recent manifestations:
1. Stupid Leaders
- The governor of Florida, the state that will be the most and earliest affected by sea level rise in a warming world, forbids the use of the term “climate change” by state employees.
- The Virginia legislature refuses to consider urgent pleas for help from the city of Norfolk in its struggle to stave off rising seas until the city edits out references to “sea level rise” and substitutes “more frequent flooding.”
- Ted Cruz. Enough said.
- Ted Cruz is not alone. Most of the people on the verge of running for president next year are against health insurance, don’t believe humans are causing climate change, are oblivious to the physical decline of the country, and lust for another war with somebody. Anybody.
2. Stupid People
- According to the Pew Research Center, onl y 35% of Americans think climate change is a “very serious” problem, and that’s down 10% from one year ago.
- American “millennials” — those born since 1980 — when tested and compared with those of 23 other countries, came in 17th for literacy. For problem-solving with technology they were in a four-way tie for last place (with the Slovak Republic, Poland and Ireland). And — whoa! — for numeracy they achieved a three-way tie for last place. They were tested by the Education Testing Service, largest in the world. And in this test “literacy” did not mean familiarity with the classics, it meant “the ability to understand and follow simple instructions.” Similarly, numeracy had nothing to do with calculus and more to do with the ability to make change.
- In the 2014 national elections, just over one in three of the American who were eligible to vote, did so. The lowest turnout since World War II. How stupid is that? And who is to blame for that?
3. Brutal Authorities
- The United States imprisons more people — 2.3 million a few years ago — than any other country (China, with four times as many people, is second with 1.6 million). And it jails a higher proportion of its people — one of every 100 adults.
- Police in the United States shoot and kill more citizens on the streets than the police of any other country — more than a thousand a year by most estimates (astonishingly, no one keeps an official count). In 2011, police in Germany killed six people, in England, two.
- Militarization of the police, surveillance of the general public with cameras, NSA monitoring of private emails and phone calls — all have become a pervasive part of American life. Of whom is the government, at every level, so afraid?
Here’s the theory that connects the dots. The people who now run America — Citi Bank, Exxon Mobil, the Koch Brothers, Golden Sacks, and their ilk — have the money to get what they want, and they want stupid. It cost them gazillions to elect people like Ted Cruz, to convince 65% of Americans that climate change is not a serious threat, and to otherwise insure that inquiring minds will not be inquiring into anything they do..
When the stupid get the money, more people get more stupid, quickly. When the stupid get elected, all future candidates get stupider. When stupid movies and TV news programs get funded, very soon all entertainment is stupid, including sports entertainment (in 40 of the states, the highest paid public official is a football or basketball coach).
As for the brutality, consider this. If your hold on wealth and power depended on all Americans staying stupid, all the time, wouldn’t you be afraid?
So there you have it, a theory of everything stupid. Just follow the money, stupid.