Cyreenik Says

October 2016 issues

"Blame Them" thinking -- hard to find a bigger example than Venezuela

This is textbook classic -- but it is a sad, sad textbook. This is Slippery Slope sliding into Blame Them. This is going to be an expensive and painful hole to climb out of, but the sooner the climbing starts, the better.

Venezuela's economic and social problems keep getting worse, and the root causes are first getting on a Slippery Slope, and now transitioning from Slippery Slope to Blame Them thinking.

This 23 Oct 16 WSJ article, Venezuelan Oil Is Largely Staying in Ground or Going Up in Smoke by Anatoly Kurmanaev, describes how badly one of Venezuela's major oil fields has been faring under the Bolivarian Revolution of Chavez and Maduro.

From the article, "PUNTA DE MATA, Venezuela—This fading oil town has an eerie glow at night, illuminated by dozens of oil wells burning off precious oil and gas for lack of functioning equipment to process it. This is a staggering waste at a time when Venezuela desperately needs cash from every barrel to import scarce food and medicine. The wells are, quite literally, burning money.

“This is pure mismanagement,” said Carlos Bellorin, an oil analyst at IHS Inc. in London. “There’s no other rational explanation for such waste.”"

And why? Again from the article, "Socialist President Nicolás Maduro has blamed the country’s economic crisis on the U.S., which he says orchestrated the oil-price collapse to aid its economy. The decline wiped out two-thirds of Venezuela’s national dollar revenue, hurting investment, the government says."

This situation is now an example of Blame Them on a huge scale. And it is a sad example of just how costly such thinking can become when a previously prosperous community gets deeply engaged in it.

The Philippines have picked a ruthless leader. Why?

In May the Filipino people voted in Rodrigo Duterte as president. He promised to take names and kick ass, and he has been doing so.

Here is the mystery: Why were the Filipinos so frustrated and worried that this clearly ruthless leader was their choice? The news I have read about The Philippines has not covered this crisis feeling issue well enough for me to get any clear idea of their deep worries. The best reason given is feeling the necessity for a War on Drugs, and Duterte has been vigorous about pursuing that in violent extra-legal ways. Of late, he has also become vigorous about changing Philippines foreign policy to make it anti-American and pro-China.

Whew! Big and scary changes all around. This 17 Sep 16 Economist article, Sceptred bile, describes the capriciousness in violence and diplomacy that has been part of Duterte's tenure.

Again, the mystery is why the Filipino community is supporting such drastic activities? What has them so scared and activated? This is still a mystery to me.

The next important question is: given that Duterte is a flamboyant and ruthless leader, when does he get adventurous as well? (My guess is in three to eight years, when the War on Drugs becomes a stale issue generating more criticism than praise.) And when that happens, what perilous cliff is he going to lead The Philippines over?

Sadly, I foresee that the social and economic damage he is going to do to the nation has just begun, and it is going to get big and long-lasting.

October Surprise for 2016: The Creepy Clown moral panic

Politics usually provides the October Surprise in election years, but this year we are also experiencing a different kind of surprise: the Creepy Clown moral panic.

Moral panics have a lot in common with End of the World thinking. Both:

o happen regularly, about every ten to thirty years a big one comes to the fore

o are surprising in what gets picked to become the important theme

o become non-events after reaching their climax, which takes a few months to a few years, but some of the actions taken while in panic mode leave behind long-lived scars that effect the community for decades

The Creepy Clown business is fitting this pattern well. The last big moral panic I recall was the one that began swirling around playing Dungeons and Dragons back in the 1980's.

What brought this phenomenon to my mind this month was social media chatter. In particular I was reading the words of a panicked mother saying she was keeping her five-year-old home from school because... the creepy clown had not been found in her neighborhood -- the logic being: He was surely out there, and if he hadn't been found yet then he was a much more dire hazard than if he had been discovered.

Ouch! This is being full-blown panicked. And, again, this woman is far from alone this month in her extreme feelings and actions concerning creepy clowns. It's moral panic time, folks.



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