A distorting mirror or carnival mirror is a popular attraction at carnivals and fairs. Instead of a normal plane mirror that reflects a perfect mirror image, distorting mirrors are curved mirrors, often using convex and concave sections to achieve the distorted effect.
Looking at, and through the 2013 mirror, I realize that times have changed. If we pretend that they haven’t changed, then circling the intellectual wagons or battening down the moral hatches is no longer a realistic strategy living in the 21st century. We must accept the fact that times have changed and that we now live in an irrational world. You can’t be rational in an irrational world, because it’s not rational.
We, the older generation are trying to make sense of the non-sense of today’s’ world. Often the mirror images of people and events leave us bewildered and although sometimes we feel deeply disturbed, often we are forced to laugh at our current society’s fundamental absurdity.
As it happens often in human history, a large a number of human beings have their lives deeply altered, and in some cases violently upset, by fanatically held social and political beliefs. Some of these doctrines are dangerous, because they acquire mob momentum over multitudes of young men who may grow violent. One of these doctrines puts high value on equality, and advocates curtailing freedom in the interests of equality, and thus curtailing freedom and liberty itself. Without depriving us of our liberty, it is impossible to create “equality of outcome” that they want to accomplish.
Liberty however is not unlimited. “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” (George Bernard Shaw)
If we believe liberty is an inalienable right then, as in the case of freedom of speech versus caricatures of Mohammed, we are faced with a war of religions: the secular religion of Liberty vs. the spiritual religion of Islam. Since both are founded on strong beliefs, neither side is likely to yield.
Yet liberty has its limitations: “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.” (Thomas Jefferson)
This brings us to the critical juxtaposition of either having our liberty compromised, or suppressing the liberty of others. In society, everything that we do inevitably affects, and is affected by, what others do. “Liberty is the only thing you cannot have unless you are willing to give it to others.” (Walter A. White) History, however, provides an unpleasant record.
“Liberty is fragile. The world has seen it extinguished many times over the millennia. It must be nurtured and defended, to be sure. We cannot allow it to be curtailed because it has been abused.”(Thomas Jefferson)
When our children, grandchildren and great grand children look in the 2013 mirror what do they see? Most of them probably accept the images as normal, because they never had the opportunity to see it any other way. Just as their music, tattoos, body piercings, are strange and often offensive to us, so are their ideas, or lack thereof.
There is a growing danger that political leaders are stoking not just racial, economic, and class resentment, but an equally dangerous generational resentment that is close to approaching generational warfare. Politicians and bankers are quietly manipulating such generational resentment by proposing methods to transfer the savings of the elderly to the young. In part this will be accomplished through taxation of wealth and pension benefits, but mostly it will be accomplished through inflation, which is particularly difficult for retirees.
Wealth has already been taken from the older generation by manipulating interest rates. The government has run up such large debts that they cannot afford to pay interest on those debts and therefore they kept interest rates as close to zero as possible. People who saved wisely, as they were encouraged to do, so that they could partially live off the income generated by their savings, are not only deprived of the income generated by savings, but have to actually deplete their savings to pay their bills. Some who live long enough may wind up on welfare when their savings are gone.
This bring up an additional danger faced by the older generation. Young government employees, who have orders to cut costs, administer “Obama care”. What will be their attitude when looking at the cost of providing appropriate medical care to anyone over a certain age who can no longer contribute to the economy?
Inflation is a major tool of intergenerational transfers. Politicians understand this, especially noticing the worldwide resentment of the present economic order by the young. Debts generated by the current political establishment cannot ever be repaid by the younger generation upon which it is foisted. The young always had a problem of how to rebel and conform at the same time. “The real sinners are not the rebels but those who drive them to rebellion—the wolves in sheep’s clothing: cruel parents, teachers, preachers, bureaucrats, and downright criminals hiding behind the cloaks of station and legality.” (Roy Masters)
The fear is that the young will lose patience with conformity and start taking undesirable action to acquire the wealth for themselves. No politician can afford to be on the wrong side of this movement. On the contrary, it represents an opportunity to exploit a crisis to be elected, or retain power.
Times have changed. Most of the world’s paper money is fiat money. Because fiat money is not linked to physical reserves, it risks becoming worthless due to hyperinflation. If people lose faith in a nation’s paper currency, the money will no longer hold any value. The ultimate purpose of the huge amounts of liquidity created by Central Banks across the developed world is to stoke enough inflation to transfer wealth from the old, who have it, to the young. In the U.S. consumer debt has been rising and a substantial part of this growth has been in student loans. Ultimately, inflation will nullify this student debt.
This is our greatest simmering crisis. Our young’s view in the mirror looking for fairness is getting distorted. Seniors are on the losing side in this confrontation. Low inflation is designed to wipe out interest income on wealth, and high inflation is designed to wipe out wealth itself. While we are pre-occupied with crises du jour, we are ignoring the most dangerous of confrontations: the rising resentment of youth exacerbated by corrupt politicians eager to retain or gain power. We hear community organizers shouting that there is plenty of money, but the wrong people have it. Will the young listen to their battle cry and become part of the mob eager to “level the playing field” by violence?
“Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who Is the Fairest of Them All?” The fairy tale has morphed into a theatre of the absurd. Times have indeed changed.