One of the great unnoticed things about the current crisis is that the rules that everyone said were inviolable no longer seem to apply. This is most obvious in the economic realm where nothing makes any sense. Things that were said to be impossible a generation ago are now the default. Similarly, politics is now operating by a set of rules that no one can explain. Things that were considered outside of the realm of the possible are the new normal.
Way back in the before times, when Covid got going, the world literally shut itself down in response to the virus. In America, over twenty-five million people were laid off and tens of millions more were sent home to work. The official unemployment rate peaked at thirteen percent and was then restated to be just under seven percent. What the actual unemployment rate was at the peak is unknown. Regardless, it was an unprecedented attack on the economy that should have been devastating.
According to official statistics, the economy shrugged it off. The official figures say the economy contracted by 3.4% in 2020 but all of the decline was contained in the third quarter of the year. The fourth quarter began a massive rebound. The official numbers say the economy grew by 5.7% in 2021. That more than made up for the decline in the prior year due to Covid. It turns out you can literally shut down an economy and nothing serious will happen. No wonder people want to stay home.
It is not just in America where the laws of economics have been suspended. In Europe they are allegedly facing an energy shortage. Since forever we have been told that steep increases in energy prices trigger recession. Germany is literally facing the prospect of having no gas and no one seems to notice. The massive disruptions to the flow of energy into the EU has thus done little to upset the economy. According to the old rules, this should not be possible.
It is possible that the media is simply lying to us. Maybe people are seething at the suffering that has been inflicted upon them. The official media, controlled as it is by state actors, is ignoring this in favor of happy talk. It could also mean that all of those economic rules were just made up. No on really knows why the economy does what it does but like court magicians, economist pretend to know in order to provide authority to the ruling class. The whole thing is a put-on.
It is also possible that we live in a simulation. What we think of as reality is just a bit of software that the creators can tweak as they please. Those old rules had to be abandoned because the system got a computer virus. In order to keep the simulation from crashing entirely they changed the code. It is a temporary patch to the system until the next upgrade. Maybe that is why big events from the past, like the lockdowns, suddenly feel like distant memories. We rebooted.
Politics has the same weirdness. Everyone reading this is absolutely certain that we did not arrest people for speech. That was written down somewhere and everyone agreed that you could say what you like with some very narrow limits. Yet Douglas Mackey faces a decade in jail for making fun of Hillary Clinton on Twitter. Maybe like the economic rules, there was a patch done to the software, a hard reboot and we are suddenly operating under a totally new set of rules.
This confusion is obvious with the political actors. Salman Rushdie was stabbed on stage in New Jersey. All of a sudden, the people dedicating their lives to suppressing speech were bemoaning this attack on free speech. In Britain, Boris Johnson has people thrown in dungeons for using the wrong pronouns, but he was out there decrying this attack on our sacred liberty. Maybe the software engineers forgot the update these guy’s code during the last service pack.
Even taking a step back and looking at things in the most general sense, the rules no longer seem to apply. Politics used to be defined by the three big human motivations, money, power and sex. How does drag queen story hour fit in here? Who is benefitting from this lunacy? The point of this assault on the children seems to be the promotion of general mayhem, which used to be the opposite of what rulers sought. The old rules said order was the goal of the people in charge.
Of course, we know that a tenet of the new religion states that only through mass confusion can we transcend this world. They believe if they get everyone into a state of agitation that we somehow break free from our old thinking. This lets us adopt a new model of thinking which is the passage to the glorious future. The endless “subverting expectations” is a deliberate effort to make everyone crazy. It is hard to accept, but this does explain why the rulers now prefer chaos.
That does not explain why the system trundles on, despite violating all of the rules we have been told are inviolable. We have double-digit inflation, periodic food shortages and record high gas prices. The whiplash effect is now emerging, where price hikes are followed by demand destruction, which collapses prices, only to see demand return and drive prices back up again. In other words, we are seeing stagflation in the economy but no one seems to notice or care all that much.
Reality is that thing that does not go away when you stop believing it. Maybe it takes us a while to recognize reality after a long absence. Perhaps what lies ahead is a mass recognition of reality and a sudden return of the old rules. Maybe the people running the simulation get bored and shut us down. At this point, given the general weirdness we are seeing, we cannot safely assume anything. For now, at least, we are in a new world with new rules and a new sense of reality.
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