the national rational international
* * * * *A few things I've put in the shop lately. In other news, I've been thinking about rationality.
People like to think they are rational. They are not. In fact, they are highly irrational.
For example: if I was rational, I would eliminate sugar from my diet, get more aerobic exercise, quit making art, quit writing, and quit the graphic design industry (the last three for the reasons of: no money, no money and -- wait for it -- no money). I would have invested early (intelligently, with study). I would never have attended university (college only, in the trades). Also, I would *never* have had a kid (also: no one would have kids, except for people in upper-middle-class-and-above range, because the expenditure-versus-hugs graph is skewed entirely out of whack).
But I am not rational. I have ideas about experience, and the nature of knowing things. I am optimistic about a few (a very few) things while invariably being negative about almost everything else. Cynical, pessimistic. Even nihilistic, on starless nights. There are times when I overestimate some people's abilities while still continually downgrading my expectations for the rest (in fact, I'm usually surprised when anybody does anything useful or charitable or worthwhile, especially for me). I worry, I get stressed. My Grade Four teacher used to yell at me for being so anxious, saying that I'd get an ulcer some day. STOP WORRYING.
ANYWAY: understanding how irrational I am helps me to sympathize with other irrationalities around me. The militant student strike in Quebec, for example. Or Greece playing the part of Christopher Walken in The Deer Hunter. These things make most people angry -- What are they protesting about? Don't they know there's no free ride! Tuition fees in Quebec are the lowest in the country! This is all down to a defect in the Greek character! I never got any breaks, why should they get a break? That's how capitalism works! -- and so on. I love to hear this stuff. I love to hear how incensed people get, with these Quebec students or unemployed Greeks who don't want to play by the rules of the rational market anymore. Who don't even seem to understand the game, or else they want new rules, or no rules at all. Don't they know how the system works? How can they be so irrational?
Easy. They see all the other irrationalities in the system or the market or the game or whatever the hell you want to call it. They see banks sailing along like pirate ships, and governments starting illegal wars, or wars of convenience, or spending billions on boondoggles like the Olympics. They see their wages repressed while credit markets balloon out of any sensible proportions. They see dirty oil and fracking. They see whole swathes of people becoming increasingly disengaged and disenfranchised as they fall by the wayside economically or just grow tired of being lied to (sometimes even by robots).
So why not embrace the irrational? Why not tear up the rule book? If the game seems to be fixed, and the rules are not serving you, then why play along? Having nothing to lose also helps.
Greece can make all the German bankers happy and take it in every orifice for two, three, four generations and *maybe* come out okay in the end (no pun intended). Or they can blow themselves up on their own terms.
Quebec students can stop the protests and go back to school and hope the government acts in good faith and tries to find other savings while keeping tuitions as low as possible. Or they can say, Well, you have the bats and the balls, but we are the players. And if we don't play, the whole field grows over.
Why shouldn't tuition be ridiculously low? Hell, why shouldn't it be free? Oh, I know, because then everybody would go to school. Uh, no they wouldn't. Everybody still has mortgages. And even if everybody *did* go back to school ... well, good. Great. A better educated population. And if it was too crowded, maybe the universities would bring back some fucking standards. You know, make a degree tougher to get, and perhaps even meaningful again? That would be rational.