I watched The Big Short
(The story is about the subprime mortgage bubble in the US that burst and took the world’s economy with it.) and here was my takeaway :
Our world is disintegrating from an epidemic of lack of integrity and a false sense of security and trust in authority and statutory bodies.
Without Integrity at an Individual level we cannot expect to structure society and trade within laws and expect rightful policing to exist.
In simple terms the person on the street EXPECTS leaders, ministers, banks, schools, the police, doctors, lawyers, engineers, auditors, ratings agencies etc to DO THEIR JOB.
You must be kidding me. A job is a job. A job is something you get paid wages to do. And we’ll throw in some incentives and benefits if you sway the right way. You don’t get paid for doing the right thing. You get paid for getting the right thing done.
Is is (ethically and morally) right? No, it isn’t. But the rot started a long time ago when you were in school anyway. You never did anything the right way. Your teachers didn’t. And in the family your parents didn’t. Many people stay married like it’s a job they HAVE to complete. Many fathers work to support their family not out of joy but out of a sense of obligation and responsibility. Many mothers work or stay in a marriage not out of love and feel burdened, weighed down and stressed by having to carry the majority of the load of a household and family.
We live in an epidemic of norm-conforming unexamined living. We get married, have a family, go to school, etc like it’s “a job” we are obligated to perform as a functioning human being even when we don’t understand why deep inside of us we seem to be falling apart and disintegrating.
I am not saying anyone is a BAD person. I am way past moral judgment these days. Lacking integrity does not make you a bad person. It just means you are not clear about life and not aware of what you have bought into.
At the same time it does not mean I do not believe in Integrity. It simply means that I’m at a point in life where I will police myself based on my own examined core values and I don’t expect anyone else to be honest.
How can anyone be honest in their job when they went into it by default and doing it only for the money?
How can any institution be trusted – when the systems of trust from bottom up : family, religion, education – is fraudulent at varying degrees?
Again, it does not mean I have given up faith believing in the good and potential of people. Neither does it mean that I believe it is OK to not have integrity. It is more like I ACCEPT that people cannot possibly be aware of what Integrity means because everywhere around us the models for living are a reflection of a lack of Integrity and Honest Living.
I do not agree with many of the systemic problems of society and the way each individual is blindly contributing to their own downfall but I have stopped resisting and just come to ACCEPT collective willful ignorance.
People unconsciously WANT to sabotage themselves so that we can complain, blame and justify. We are conditioned to crave drama, suffering, unhappiness as our DEFAULT.
“An unexamined life is not worth living.” –
So, back to the movie – I mentally reviewed the ending of The Big Short and I disagree with the morally righteous Mark Baum that “eventually people will forget who orchestrated the 2008 global financial crisis and blame economic doom and gloom on the poor and immigrants.”
To give you a bit of a background my late father asseses financial (investment) risks for a living. He was a banker and his problem was he died with too much integrity and did not become rich. Rich enough.
Like the character Mark Baum in the movie, as a young boy my father was religious and studious and studiously studied religion. He was even a novice monk. He believed he was going to be able to grow up and right all the wrong in the world. He believed you could do good and get very very very rich doing good.
As an adult he would continue to study other religions, economics and history relentlessly looking for problems with “God” and the state of humanity. As a young adult I inherited many of his beliefs until I started examining what my father spent his life examining. He passed away, his heart gave out, when he was 46. I’m 40 this year and unless I get hit by a car or a falling roof I think I have a few good decades ahead to continue telling stories.
So, the problem IS NOT THE BANKING AND FINANCIAL SYSTEM. Not alone. Not by itself. The SYSTEMS we live in is a runaway monster of our individual dishonesty and greed.
Sticking to the plot for the movie I’ll explain why I do not believe the banking system is at fault. In spite of the fact and as much as I value the time spent with retired Economics Professor Thomas H. Greco several years ago in my quest to examine the beliefs I had inherited about money and global economics and finances; in spite of what I have learned from Prof Greco in discussing the history of money and the future of our global financial systems, my conclusion is the problem is The Individual and their Greed. No system can thwart collective greed.
Yes, billions have been wiped out by economic crises. A lot of hard earned money. With the 2008 US housing bubble we blame the banks for offering “subprimes”. But who WANTED THEM ? Who created a market for that ?
The people who WANTED the loans were people with integrity issues in the first place. They either cannot or will not manage their ability to earn and spend within their means. They are people who want to upgrade their lifestyles and have “The American Dream” without learning the Entrepreneurial Financial Blueprint of America’s forefathers from Europe who made America the greatest economy in the world today.
If someone dangled a carrot in front of you and told you, against your own better judgment, that you can own this carrot via means that seem dodgy or fraudulent, how long can you last before succumbing to it?
So, you’re now going to blame Marketing and Sales? No blaming. Let’s go back to the plot.
It’s happening right now in Malaysia too. Good and otherwise pretty scrupulous people cannot wait to be seen as “successful” and “made it”. They want the condo, the cars and the second, third, fourth and fifth homes for “investment”. MLM companies, money-games, make a killing selling shortcuts. People want the “fancy coffee”, the clothes, the handbags, the catering companies to lay out a fancy feast in their big house. They want the “whole deal” without building up the currency of the parts that add value to the whole.
There is NOTHING wrong with wanting more. Do not blame Consumer spending.
What is wrong is the DISCONNECT between value creation and lifestyle upgrade.
And that is how Education and Schooling is connected. We are not educating children how to mine the creative potentials of Minds and synthesize Minds with Peers through Collaborations. We are teaching children that their self-worth is tied to how well they score in tests. We are teaching children that their potential in life and their intelligence is directly tied to how well they behave and co-operate in school and jump through hoops with tests.
Through education we are reinforcing the belief that Success in life is a result of the combination of competition and tokens of achievements (the robe, the condo, the car, the wife, the husband, the kids).
And now you know how we created an Epidemic of Stupid. We input data and information without nurturing thinking and creative potentials for OUTPUT. We not only created an Epidemic of Stupid we manufactured an Economy of Unproductive Obsoledges. Our modalities for long term individual and societal outcomes such as prosperity, purpose, happiness, joy, harmony meaning and contribution embedded in our systems of education worldwide is the TOTAL AND DIRECT OPPOSITE of the modalities that would create the desired outcomes.
People want to live BETTER than the actual reflection of the value they are able to put into society. It is as if financial success is what VALIDATES their self worth as a human being. If you didn’t do as well in school there’s still one more shot at Success – MONEY.
You can always hear a problem when someone says, “When I am rich……” or “When I graduate”. Do you know what that problem is?
No, the problem is NOT about wanting to be RICH! The problem is this disconnect – this thinking that ONLY by being rich or seen as successful are they able to do meaningful, purposeful HUMAN things. We teach that kind of bullshit in school and then we tell them here is the curriculum.
So few people live with CORE INTEGRITY as their way of validating their own self-worth, significance and purpose in this world. As a child you actually need to disintegrate your own core integrity in order to fit into a dysfunctional system.
This lack of living with one’s core goes beyond school to the home. To their parents’ marriage that leads to dishonest sex and so on and so on. It is a rabbit hole. I focus on Education and Schooling here because this phase of a person’s life could have been the Game Changer for Society. Instead, it has become the Enabler.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a better life and wanting to be rich. If you are like the Old Me and saying I am OK with being comfortable then you are just burning time on earth and being willfully ignorant like I was.
What is wrong, though, is the DISCONNECT between value creation and lifestyle upgrade. This DISCONNECT distracts people from developing core integrity because producing REAL VALUE is slow money. And slow money is, erm, Stupid Money.
People want Fast Money. And banks pander to that need. Are banks supposed to NOT pander to the need to have “a better life”? Then Ah Longs will just step in in that vacuum because that need, that greed, it won’t go away. Who will people go to that will lend to them if banks won’t? Do you think people will STOP just because they are told in their face they are a risk to the health of the collective global capitalist system?
People do not want to live Honest and with Integrity and build value that comes from the Self and how the Self contributes and builds society from the bottom up.
People want to race up to the top, prove themselves Successful, and then only will they start doing human things like finding their purpose, finding love, giving to charity, uplifting people, having a family, produce for free, leaving a legacy….
People want to build their credibility not based on their Core Integrity and Honest living. They want to BUY credibility via TOKENS of achievements. Token living versus TRUE VALUE Living.
Token are cool. But only if they are backed up by real value. Trophies are cool. Provided they are a symbol of true accomplishment and value creation. But these days even my 2 year old Toddler gets a trophy for a song he didn’t sing. What kind of society are we living in where kindergartens and daycares are focussed on tokens like uniform, tote bags, paid costumes for annual concerts, trophies and presents and cutting costs on training and certifying teachers and hiring nutritionists, nurses and cooks?
Don’t blame any system. Really. Blame ourselves.
Another huge bubble, Academic Inflation, is about to blow up in the next decade and the fallout will be even more massive, the effects more extensive and the remedy will take a lot longer than 5 years to mop up the mess and build a new infrastructure. It will take generations. The chaos and uncertainty in between will be fertile ground for extremism, social anxiety and general unrest.
Don’t listen to a word I say. I am Chicken Little.
The purpose of this post?
To remind you to watch for the indicators and the markers. They are always there if you look and analyse the data and talk to people in the streets. The Academic Bubble will have a bigger effect on the way of life as we know it than the Mortgage SubPrime Bubble in America did or the DotCom bubble. The Academic Bubble has taken decades in the making and is so self-perpetuating driven at the wheel by its own products that its destructive potential is unstoppable.
Stop fooling yourselves by continuing to invest in the Bubble from kindergarten level up to a PhD. Invest instead in yourself so that you can be a solutions provider when the fallout is upon us. It has already begun. Graduates can’t find jobs. Salaries for graduates are dropping. Graduates are travelling out of Western countries to Asian and African nations looking for any kind of employment opportunity and career path.
The Opportunity looks like this :
Adult Education and Soft Skills training and knowing how to nurture Creativity and Problem solving.