Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Parallel Universes

Of late there has been no point, for me at least, in watching TV news or any of the political chat shows such Ed or Rachel that I might ordinarily use to dispose of an hour so of unwanted consciousness. All they ever talk about is how the Republican candidates are likely to fare in the Iowa precinct caucuses, about which I give not a FFOARD.

This would be a pointless waste of airtime in any case, because when it's over, it will be what it will be, and 50,000 hours of speculation about it ahead of time will be completely meaningless and forgotten. But in the specific case of January 3, 2012, it's also bizarre, because there is one absolute guarantee: whoever wins will be either delusional, a cynical psychopath, or a little bit of both. The candidates are competing ruthlessly to prove that they are the most radically wrong they can possibly be about everything. The prize goes to the most profound, consistent, and unabashed ignoramus or liar.

I am quite sure, however, that Republican primary voters have a similar opinion of me and the godlesshippiecommiefaggotfreaks I hang out with. That I am a professor at an Ivy League university is an even graver insult. That this situation bodes ill for the future of our country and our planet is obvious.

What does not follow, however, is the fetishized conclusion of many a pundit that the way forward lies somewhere in the "middle" between what in my view is insanity and reason. There is no middle. There is no planet in which anthropogenic global warming is simultaneously a scientific fact and a massive conspiracy to defraud the National Science Foundation and destroy capitalism. There is no universe in which drowning the federal government in the bathtub causes economic collapse by ending necessary investment in public goods such as economically essential infrastructure, education, public health and scientific research; and simultaneously unleashes the heretofore enchained forces of the Job Creators, forced to leave us wallowing in underemployment by regulatory uncertainty and a 15% marginal tax rate. There is no universe in which allowing gay people to marry simultaneously respects individual rights and promotes social harmony; and calls down the wrath of God upon us.

There is no "center." There is no way to split the baby, even if baby splitting were a good idea in principle. We have nothing to talk about when we don't exist in the same world of facts.

1 comment:

robin andrea said...

I have reached the same conclusion you have here, Cervantes, We have nothing to talk about when we don't exist in the same world of facts. But then what? Are we gearing up for another civil war? Those parallel lines never meet.