Standard Issue Incompetence – More Evidence of Imperial Decay (Time for Fight or Flight?)

Standard Issue Incompetence - More Evidence of Imperial Decay

(Time for Fight or Flight?)

By

Cognitive Dissonance

 

I am certainly not the first to complain about the epidemic of incompetence running throughout our socioeconomic systems. Nor, I suspect, will I be the last. In my opinion it is simply additional irrefutable evidence that societies, cultures and empires degrade over time at all levels and in all aspects. It’s systemic, and not attributable to a single point of failure or ‘collapse’.

While history may note a ‘collapse’ at the end and point to it as ‘the’ fall of society and empire, in fact what had been occurring was a slow crumble, a spreading rot and decay until the supporting infrastructure (meaning its people, places and things) became so weak a stiff breeze, or a few barbarians at the gate, took it down in one fell swoop. Look below the surface and one finds the Empire had already been raped and thoroughly looted from within.

Of particular interest to me is the terminology and language used by our society to rationalize, dismiss or simply deny what is occurring. The devil is in the details and language is all about the details, the semantics, of the games “We the People” play to enable ourselves to live in what is rapidly becoming a cognitive pig sty.

Case in point! Please note the names and specific descriptions were changed to protect the guilty. What I am about to describe is systematic and not exclusive to this example, but simply the latest nongovernmental example I have stumbled across.

I recently sent off a unique item to an evaluation rating/grading company for an assessment of its condition, rarity and value. There are only a half dozen or so companies in the US recognized for their consistently high quality that provide this type of service. And the one I used is touted by those in the business as one of, if not the best, in the industry.

The service is not cheap, but their website assured me they were professionals and handled each item with great care and expertise. I actually paid a substantial additional fee for expedited service since their normal service usually takes 2-4 weeks.

To make a long story short, this company made several serious errors in their evaluation and handling of my item, two of which I discovered while it was being shipped back to me and one when it finally arrived. All of the errors were clearly human errors, a point I make only because of the following.

When I rang up customer service the representative was reasonably concerned and courteous, though I definitely got the impression I was being expertly ‘handled’. He carefully explained to me the process I needed to follow to get the errors fixed. This included what paperwork to submit and how that paperwork should be filled out.

While I was not very happy this top tier ‘professional’ company was so thoroughly incompetent in its evaluation and handling of my item, what followed was very enlightening.

Since I was rightfully concerned the ‘fix’ would not actually be implemented the second time around, I asked a few questions about how it could have happened in the first place. I was told in a lowered voice the ‘expert’ who was supposed to handle my particular item was no longer with the company and someone else processed my order.

Worse, I was partially blamed for the fiasco by not providing more details on my initial submission paperwork in order to direct the company to properly do its job and ‘see’ the unique characteristics my item contained. This in spite of the fact the company claimed to be an expert in precisely what I was asking it to do, to ‘see’ the unique qualities that distinguished it from others and give it its true value. I actually paid an additional fee to have this done. What I requested was an ‘extra’ service for which I paid ‘extra’ money on top of the ‘extra’ expedited service.

And his explanation was offered without a hint of shame or remorse, just sorrow over my inconvenience. To me this meant either this customer service representative had seen these problems many times before and considered them normal, or he was trained to think this was normal. Or he was a very good actor.

But the straw that broke the camel’s back came when I asked for the exact verbiage I would place on the re-submission form so the receiving department would understand what they just unpacked needed to be ‘fixed’ rather than just processed. I won’t use the exact term, because I suspect doing so would identify the company to some readers and I still need to conduct business with them, at least until they are no longer holding other of my items hostage.

Keep in mind this is an evaluation rating/grading company, meaning regardless of, or in addition to, anything physical they might sell, it is their stated “expert opinion” which is their core business and brings in the big bucks. If their ultimately subjective perspective were to be called into question, or even seriously challenged, the cash flow might be severely diminished or degraded. It cannot be over stated that their errors with regard to my item were of the ‘opinion’ rendered as well as the documentation of that opinion.

I was instructed to indicate on the paperwork that the item was returned to fix a not at fault, non human issue. In other words, it was the stupid machines or processes that were the problem and not the humans in charge of operating them. Again, I changed the actual term he used.

On the surface my complaint might appear silly and superfluous. What does it matter the terminology they use to identify an internal problem if ultimately the issue is resolved. But this goes deeper than that. Clearly the problems within this company, as within our culture and country, are systemic, meaning from top to bottom and stem to stern.

Rather than deal with what most likely is an expensive, time consuming and culturally wrenching rehabilitation of protocols and processes, not to mention castrating management where it all begins, they paper over the problem with language that shifts blame away from the problem and towards random acts of the grading gods.

The terminology doesn’t fool anyone, least of all themselves. But it does serve to defer and deflect. The machines have glitches and the result of those faulty machines was the source of your problem. No big deal, just send it back and we’ll put another machine on the problem pronto.

This, of course, is a fiction of the first order. But it is a face saving, comforting fiction none-the-less, which allows the cognitive capture to proceed unabated towards more of the same with none of the consequences. At least for now! Since their reputation for an accurate opinion is their working capital, squandering it recklessly is similar to eating your seed corn. Sooner or later, you have nothing to plant and therefore nothing to eat or sell.

In a naturally efficient world where the weak and incompetent soon succumb to the strong, this company’s competitors should be eating their lunch (or seed corn if you prefer). Since this is not presently the case, even though a reading of various blogs and industry discussion boards indicates many have noticed the severe decline in service across the board, one must conclude either momentum continues to carry the Titanic towards certain doom, or the entire rating industry suffers similar problems with their ‘machines’.

While in reality there are probably more than two explanations for the current state of affairs, I suspect not only is their entire industry in a state of constant decline, but so is the supporting culture that feeds the sloth and malaise that rots the core of both company and country.

I have met the problem and the problem is me, myself and I.

The rest of the world sees the US for what it is, a decaying empire still extremely dangerous to others and its 'self'.

This decline of empire, and the rot clear down to the core that undermines the very fabric of society and structure, can best be seen as systemic corruption throughout. Naturally we plebs at or near the bottom don’t view ourselves as corrupt, but rather as victims of a socioeconomic system gone bonkers, drunk on power and greed, blind to anything other than the narcissistic navel gazing by those at the top.

I do not dispute for a nanosecond those at or near the top of the heap carry the lion’s share of blame for the current state of affairs we find ourselves in. As they like to say, the fish rots from the head, and both head and body presently stink to high heaven. Leadership at every level has forsaken their sworn duties in the pursuit of personal power and enrichment.

No argument from me on this point.

What we fail to acknowledge is our own complicity in the corruption by not pushing back consistently and forcefully. Going along to get along simply fuels the flames which engulf us in the same wildfire we claim was set by others.

The fire steadily progresses towards my home. What have I done to cut back the trees near the house that are obvious fire hazards? Why haven’t I cleared the deadwood and dry kindling strewn about the yard and around the outbuildings? Is it really true I don’t even have my bags packed and ready to go in the event I must flee even though the flames are within sight?

I completely understand the socioeconomic system is designed to compel our participation. Those at the top of all levels of government, along with (multinational) corporations, use the implied force of the gun to oblige you and me to pay their tax assessments, obey their laws and pay their bills. I get it. But there is a world of difference between toeing the line while watching our P’s & Q’s and abject consumerism, blind obedience and willing debt slavery.

Because so many of us have fully bought into the insanity that more can be extracted from the system than put in, meaning we believe unsustainable doesn’t pertain to us personally, therefore carry on as before, we are the demand that fuels the endless supply of crony capitalism and coerced corruption. I don’t care if we are speaking of economics, food, water, health, government, crime, population density; it’s all interrelated and therefore all unsustainable, even those parts that might be sustainable if only they were not now dependent upon the whole.

I once complained to my mother about ants in the bedroom I shared with my two brothers. My mother glanced in the doorway and then informed me if I didn’t live in a pig sty, with old food and filth all over the place, the ants might just leave. Since I shared the room with others, I had a few simple choices. Either I convince my brothers to share in the labor of cleaning up the mess, clean it up myself, live with it or move out.

I was eight years old at the time, so moving out wasn’t a viable option. I didn’t wish to live with it and they had no interest in joining the cleaning crew, so I often cleaned the place myself. Unfortunately my act of perceived self preservation simply reinforced and enabled my two sloppy brother’s no-consequences behavior. They received the benefit of a clean bedroom without ants with no effort expended on their part, simply by doing nothing.

They extracted more from the brother system than they put in. And for them it worked. All they had to do was tolerate, even enjoy, a system they actually contributed to that served their needs and didn’t demand of them any interaction they did not wish to provide.

The basic infrastructure, meaning the surrounding house, utilities, taxes, food, heat and entertainment, were already in place and maintained by others. While there were some demands placed upon my brothers, these were minimal in relation to the gains received when seen from the whole. We were children of various ages and were not expected to fully contribute towards equalizing the unbalanced equation.

So what is our excuse now that we are adults and supposedly mature enough to take our place in society and pull our share? It appears to me we have never fully matured, encouraged not to do so by seen and unseen forces who wish to manage a pliable, compliant and subservient (slave) population……and who have mostly succeeded in creating and controlling one to date.

For the vast majority of people reading this article, moving away from the pig sty is an admittedly difficult but still viable option, though it brings with it consequences of its own. While not always the case, a change, possibly even a reduction, in our standard of living is necessary if we are to move out, or simply move further away, from the pig sty. And while moving doesn’t necessarily mean we are ‘free’ from the tentacles of the government/corporate corruption, it does mean we are less enmeshed than we were before. Less is more in this case.

So why are so many people complaining about the pig sty in one form or another, but remain firmly ensconced within the pig sty? While nearly all will explain how impossible it is right now to do much more than tread water, what they really are saying is they don’t wish to burden themselves with the major and minor inconveniences of taking a stand, then backing it up with personal and proactive action.

In other words, the pig sty isn’t really that bad, at least not for me, and I wish you would go away and point your damn finger elsewhere. And stop calling my home a pig sty because it’s not.

These are really uncomfortable truths we seek to ignore, explain away or rationalize all together. While the lobster pot is certainly a bit warmer than I would prefer, it ain’t boiling and I have it pretty darn good.

And admittedly, for quite a few people this is the case. Life is pretty good, it’s not my problem and I’ll be damned if I clean up anyone else’s mess. And I certainly won’t move just because others are peeing in the pool or there are ants in my bed.

So the majority of the complaints we hear are just talk, people bitching in order to feel better about their victimhood. They have no intention or desire to do anything other than complain. The lobster is perfectly happy, or at least not totally unhappy, with conditions inside the pot at the present time. So for the most part, these people can be ignored as just background noise of little or no consequence.

But what about you? Should we ignore you too?

Or more to the point, should you ignore the pig sty and simply make the best of the ants in your bed? Will you remain within the perceived safety of the herd and continue to ignore the reality that if the herd stampedes, a distinct and very real possibility, you just might become collateral damage?

Maybe it’s time to stop averting our eyes while turning up the music to drown out the sounds of the imperial crumble. I am only a victim if I agree to be one.

 

03/26/2017

Cognitive Dissonance

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