My Thoughts on America in June of 2018

I’ve been writing more defined and concise posts lately—usually clean ideas that have a beginning and an end. I like it, and I plan to keep doing it.

But not today.

Today I just need to write. Today this will be an old-school blog, or a journal.

There are a lot of things happening in America right now. I cannot help but feel that Trump’s election was our definitive shark jump, and I’m not sure what we can do to grow the beard.

I find it truly remarkable that we’re watching in real-time while a KGB agent, basically the head of the new KGB (and Russia itself) is actively managing the President of the United States as an asset.


Imagine being a new CIA recruit right now, learning the signs of someone who’s being managed. Or how to apply leverage to get what you want.

Imagine someone adding that up for the first time as they think about our current president, and turning white with horror.

I wrote this back in 2016:

That seems pretty solid right now. I mean, let’s look at the moves that Putin (Trump) has made:

  • Make Canada an enemy

  • Start a trade war with China

  • Pull out of the human rights community

  • Make friends with North Korea

  • Completely alienate Europe

  • Put 2,000 defenseless children in internment camps

  • Canceled Christmas

Technically he didn’t do the last one, but there’s still time.

The point is these all seem like precisely the moves that an enemy would want us to make, and specifically that Putin would love us to make.

Putin needs to break up the coalition that’s against him, and that’s exactly what’s happening. Once that’s out of the way he can move aggressively and nobody will oppose him. Or, more accurately, many small and disjointed groups will oppose him—but not a unified voice backed by unified force.

There’s also a flaw in taking this theory of Putin control too far, as I do think he’s truly random and chaotic. So Putin is leading a wet and hungry cat, not a loyal dog.

Why is a 70-year-old billionaire trying to grow a business anyway? Why not relax and people play golf? Oh yeah, he’s an egomaniac. Anyway.

American society is changing

I think the primary change that’s happening to America is that it’s becoming another part of the world.

The Chinese are coming, with their new found wealth, and buying things up. Much of the real estate in the Bay Area is owned by Chinese, who are super disciplined (high grit) and so they have the money to spend on down payments.

In my old town the nightlife is dominated by Cofee/Tea/Pastry bars full of basically 100% Chinese people, who seem quite wealthy, and with no other groups in sight. And as far as I can tell, they’re recently here from China—not Americans whose parents are from China.

The point is, this change is happening very quickly. America will just be another place full of rich and poor people. The races will separate from each other. The rich and poor will separate from each other. And it’ll be just like everywhere else.

In most moods I see this as a good thing. I see it as inevitable. I see it as progress (the part where it becomes more like the rest of the world, not the rich separation part).

But in some moods I feel like America is special, and that we should keep this equality and populist concept from the 50’s, where the boss only made like 3-5x what you made. And everyone still lived in the same neighborhood.

It’s not like that at all now. Not anymore.

The rich and poor live in different universes. Even if they’re just a mile or two apart. For the young Indian and Chinese kids of educated and recently-arrived parents, the kids are on absolute fire. They are energetic, they study constantly, they’re planning for college early in high school, and they’re talking about their first jobs and their careers.

Across town, where I’m from, there’s a dullness to the kids’ eyes. They’re showing up. They’re all on Android phones (not a single Android in the other coffee shop), and nobody’s talking about college.

These are all anecdotes, and anecdotes—even in numbers—aren’t data. But the data show the same thing: the rich are pulling away. And as I write about in other pieces, it’s based on a cultural mindset that the soon-to-be rich are instilling into their kids.

They’re teaching them to delay gratification (grit), to focus on education and career, and to see the world as a competition that you have to win.

The sad truth is that while it’s cynical to see the world this way, parents who don’t, and the kids of parents who don’t, are going to be making these kids their food, and washing their cars. That’s the reality.

Where was I?

Russia. Right.

  1. So, the KGB is controlling our dear leader.

  2. The chess moves are dissolving alliances that will enable Putin to move aggressively in Europe and elsewhere.

  3. The U.S. is moving from being flat and equal, to being stratified by a new rich class coming from Asia and also being grown here as well, largely by immigrant parents with education and strong work ethic.

  4. America is becoming just another country.

That’s the punchline I think. America is just going to be a place.

It had to happen eventually, if we were going to get to Star Trek. That’s always been my ideal destination anyway, so bring it on.

But Star Trek is very equal. It’s equal because money has stopped being the focus, replaced by intellectual curiosity, public service, and other higher pursuits.

We’re very far from that right now. The furthest we’ve been in decades.

People are pulling inward. Especially the older, more conservative (see racist) types living in the rural areas and in the center of the country (not all, obviously, don’t spam me).

We saw that with Trump’s election, and we saw it with Brexit.

But not everything is bad.

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The young people are more liberal than ever. They’re more racially open than ever (unlike recent immigrants who tend to have the strong racism of the home country).

They’re more open to free sexuality choices, they’re not religious, and they’re tired of the story that the big government and corporations are there for everyone’s best interest.

Those are good things.

I just worry about the mental health aspect. People are miserable. They have no meaning in their lives. They realized religion is bunk. They want to worship consumerism but they either did that and found out it was empty, or they’re too poor to even get started.

So suicide is rising. Opiate use is out of control. Gun violence in schools because the kids have no idea how to demand meaning in their lives other than to do something spectacular that is guaranteed to get everyone’s attention.

There’s an incel movement where some subset of these kids are uniting in feeling unseen and unrespected by women, so they think it’s ok to lash out because of it.

Go play some D&D like a regular dork, go to college, get an education, meet someone. Enter the world. It’s the only path.

But it’s not their fault because they’re not being taught this. They’re being told that if they work hard everything will be ok. Or maybe they’re not being told anything because their parents are busy on social media or working 3 jobs and not raising them.

Lots of problems, lots of causes.

I wrote this post and created this calculator to help people tactically move out of depression.

But the result is the same: people growing up with no path to meaning. No way of tangibly pursuing happiness. Nothing to do but escape and/or lash out.

This is definitely true in the U.S., but I think it’s happening globally as well, in different ways.

This is going to sound strange coming from an atheist, but the fruits that were offered by secularism came with some toxins as well. The most dangerous of which is the lack of a meaning structure.

The modern world keeps eliminating primitive struggle from our lives. We don’t have to try to survive anymore. Or to be full. Everything is given to us by fast food and delivery.

The poorest people are the most obese.

But while secularism cleared a lot of fallacies, and bigotry, and myths, and harmful stories, it also stripped away the underlying message of struggle.

Humans aren’t happy unless they’re reliving the early days on the African plains to some degree. Shelter, reproduction, safety, food, etc. It’s not having these things that makes us happy, it’s earning them.

It’s hard to earn things these days. That’s the problem.

They’re either given to us (not earned), or they’re impossible to earn no matter how hard you try.

That’s a problem for humanity. Hence opioids and suicide and school shootings.

Anyway, I’m going to stop here.

We have opportunity. And we have challenge.

I am skittish. I am optimistic.

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