Lately I've been thinking about a few broader trends in society from the lens of witnessing the rapid decline in trust in our political and financial institutions1. I've blogged a fair bit on various economics topics but mostly avoided talking too directly about the nature of the collapse in confidence that's going on at the moment. Unfortunately in the last few years many terrible events have happened that indicate clearly that we have hit a turning point. People are starting to say "enough is enough" on a number of topic. There's a sense in the air at the moment that the pendulum is starting to swing the other way. We see a good example of this with the recent topic of free speech with many people having very contradictory and hypocritical views on free speech getting exposed. The Musk purchase of Twitter being a fantastic example of ethically challenged people being exposed all over the place. I think the common theme behind all of this is that far too many people don't have a solid ethical and moral framework that they are operating under. The absence of a shared ethical framework is causing a huge number of problems in the modern world.
Given everything that's going on it's super important that you know what your ethical stance is and where your ethical line in the sand is. What ethical lines will you not transgress? You can only know when your ethical lines are crossed if you know what your ethical lines are in the first place.
Over these last 2 years where so much has happened I've noticed many people have no line in the sand. There's a relatively small group of people who are pushing for revolutionary change in society that are happy to use whatever unhinged means necessary to get what they want. These people will just engage in whatever unethical behavior comes up with a variety of justifications but much of what they are arguing is in bad faith. The issue is there is a much larger group of people who will follow along with these dangerous groups, they are the boiling frog, and as long as the ethical transgressions slowly build they will be along for the ride. When you look back at history and ask "how could people have done such terrible things?" this is an important dynamic to be aware of, people who don't have a solid system of ethics are capable of doing exceedingly depraved things. They get sucked in and slowly things change for the worse but because they have no ethical principles to guide them the behavior can just slide a disturbingly long way. This is exactly the sort of thing we are seeing in the educational sector where its become disturbingly common to push absolute garbage in the STEM subjects, where people are now claiming preposterous things like "mathematics is racist". Far too many otherwise sensible people are along for the ride here. This campaign to destroy the sciences has started slowly but will people wake up before propaganda disguised as scientific education becomes the norm? Will people take a stand when blatant falsehoods such as
2+2=5 are pushed in the classroom? What level of absurdity will it take for people to finally act? You may think the
2+2=5 situation is too absurd to be taken seriously, but recent events are showing that obvious absurdity is not a sufficient defense, people are already pushing things at this level of derangement and even more disturbingly managing to gain traction at times. Forcing people to repeat clearly untrue ideas is a power play designed to demoralize the opposition.
I remember in the middle of 2020 someone linked me to this article. This came up in the context of discussing a CNN live news feed where people were literally dragging people out of a car and basically beating them to death while the news anchor was constantly talking about "how peaceful the protests were". I pretty much instantly knew when watching this that some sort of line was crossed. It was obvious to anyone not caught up in delusion that this wasn't journalism. The spectacle of seeing so called journalists engaging in such clearly transgressive behavior was very jarring because I hadn't become acclimatized to it (I don't watch TV and I try to limit my consumption of toxic "news" media). It was clear we were watching something either completely unhinged or sinister because the connection to reality had been completely severed in service of pushing a predefined narrative. Something bothered me deeply about this event that I couldn't quite put my finger on, why were these people doing this? Did these people have no self respect as journalists? Did these people not trust their own eyes? Did these people have no respect for themselves? Did these people have a psychotic illness whereby they weren't able to actually be connected to reality? In retrospect I think this situation could only arise because the people involved had no line in the sand for their personal conduct.
There's a lot of people out there who will have lots of opinions on things but a line in the sand I have is that central bank digital currencies will destroy our current political systems and will greatly harm our societies. I don't think there will be much economic benefit to these systems either, for the same reasons the USSR fell this sort of central planning for money will also fail. If it "succeeds" it will be on the back of such extreme human misery that failure of the system will seem like a great outcome.
I have other lines in the sand too where I think I'll be compelled to fight against tyrannical overreach, but importantly I know what these are and I won't be caught by surprise in the moment if they are to come up.
What is your line in the sand?
I think the decline in trust in institutions is becoming the largest political issue of this era. Rebuilding this trust should be a high priority for everyone and doing this will involve fixing some festering problems that have existed now for a number of years. ↩