Four years ago doesn't seem like all that long ago which is part of the ageing process: 4 years to someone who is 10 is 40% of their life, yet to someone who is 40 it is 10% of their life. With 40% it seems like a long, long duration, but at 10% it is getting scaled down to something understandable. This is part of the experiential memory compression we all go through and it is due entirely to natural processes. Yet, today, that now appears to be having an added factor put into, which leads to some interesting results. That factor is one that Mickey Kaus hit upon: Feiler Faster Thesis (FFT).
I've been looking at this for awhile (with attention to the FFT here) as it is a part of a suite of changes due to technology that we are experiencing (which I discuss here and here). Kaus applies it to the newsroom (circa. 1970's) to describe how news cycles were getting shortened due to the public being able to process news faster, but it serves as an expansible concept that can be applied to other aspects of life. When applied to politics or economics, people ingest information about those areas and come up with mental products for themselves faster than they did one cycle previously. The FFT is a cyclic compression phenomena that tends to lower the scale of time to understand where new events and topics fit into a broader schema of ideas for individuals.
Thus proposed budgetary changes and their impacts on individuals used to be something, in the 1930's, that took years if not longer to figure out and some things were just shelved, mentally, by individuals. By the 1980's the information processing system had produced end-products for 1930's to 1960's programs that was showing a definite 'crunch' time for them circa 2030-2050. Thus the elapsed time of nearly 40 years was being compressed, for understanding, between 1970 and 1985: 15 years. We, as individuals, ingest that and begin to comprehend that the social systems run by government won't be with us in the future. Growing up, in those years, meant you were changing your expectations for life to be far different than that of your parents or even that of the Baby Boom Generation.
The first Republican Congress that ran on a fiscal tightening agenda was elected in 1992. Time span: 7 years from general acknowledgement that something was wrong with social programs. By the mid-1990's the Welfare program had been altered and tightened to start removing it as a 'social program' that was constantly expanding. That followed along with the general previous timeline of 7 years, and during that timeframe the Republicans in Congress started to demonstrate they had not gotten the message in 1992.
Even with White House victories in 2000 and 2004, the Republican majority in Congress was waning and finally shifted in 2006. Time from 1998 to 2006: 8 years. Part of the reason for the stalling of the FFT between 1985 and 2006 is that technological advances which were remaking industry, were not remaking home life and how we view news. With the Internet Bubble and its bursting, the sharing of economic data started to match up with the expansion of Internet accounts for individuals. The FFT is based on technology, in the end, with TV having replaced newspapers which was what Mickey Kaus was seeing. The advent of the digital platform along with the laws that go with it (Moore's and Metcalfe's) means that the ability to process information is increased over time by technology and the number of people on the network.
If the Internet Bubble Crash was the phenomena that rippled through the users of the 'net, then it also makes the kick-start point for the next cycle of the FFT as it is now the driver of information, not TV. This new cycle, then, picks up where the old left off and between the IBC and the changeover to Democrats in Congress is: 5 years. The election of Barack Obama would appear to be intra-cycle but, in fact, is the mark of the next cycle where the Baby Boom Generation finally gets a clue about the insolvency of social programs. They don't like that idea, as a whole, and deny it. Thus Barack Obama comes on the scene promising money for nothing... or worthless money, whichever comes first.
Now comes the fun part: what if Obama didn't interrupt the cycle?
Then you get a new set of social changes in 2009-2010.
It is called the Tea Party.
In just 2 years the Tea Party has arisen, started to take over Republican state political systems and is moving a new force into the political and economic systems. In some ways it feels like forever from the first call for a Tea Party to having Tea Party members elected to Congress, and yet that was under 2 years. If you cast your mind back 4 years, it feels like a long time ago due to the fact that it is part of the last cycle of comprehension increase. Experientially, however, it still remains rather close to an adult, and so the things done in the name of 'fiscal stability' (TARP, bailouts, printing money, taking over banks, the housing meltdown which caused those things) still remains close as it is an active part of today's mental knowledge. The bewilderment at the systems melting down turned to understanding and then moving in socially known vectors to start changing the system to get rid of the dysfunctional parts of it.
Depending on if you see government spending on social programs as a 'necessity' or a 'cost' you have two very different attitudes towards what is going on in government and society today. If you see it as a 'necessity' you can't understand why anyone wants to amend or change, or even remove the current social system set-up. If you see it as a 'cost' however, you understand that the ramifications to trying to prop up this system are bone chilling not just for you but for the Nation and the World.
These two different outlooks trend towards different eras of processing via the FFT and those with the 'necessity' outlook are still adhering very much to a newspaper attitude towards things where social and economic costs really aren't projected out beyond a 6 month time horizon. With those in the Internet side of processing information (not via computer but you, personally) the time horizon is collapsing in front of you AND behind you as you see the direct cause and effect of social programs that are unsustainable. As I went over elsewhere, this becomes an 'OODA loop' phenomena in which the rate of new information processing as part of the Observe stage then feeds faster into the Orient stage based on the FFT cycle. Also the Decide stage is done faster by those with a higher FFT basis than those in a previous cycle, so that those in the mental era of the 1990's are having rings run around them by individuals who adapted to the new FFT circa 2001. What happens is that the modern FFT individuals then Act faster and more decisively than those in the older cohorts.
By processing more and orienting on it faster, the memories necessary to sustain the modern FFT then come closer to you in the present. The rancor of politics circa 2006 is still felt, today, by those who the rancor was pointed at, but they have put that to use in their OODA loop boosted by the FFT: winning is a long-term prospect, not just the next election. The time compression forward means that 4 years doesn't seem that long, at all, no matter how bad the personal experiences are, the days flow quickly by. Yet on that experiential front, individuals in the modern FFT are now taking in more than 4 years worth of data per year, and perhaps as much as 3-5 times that while their pre-cycle counterparts are still at 1.2 – 2 times standard.
This is purely experiential, there is no way to measure this feeling and outlook, and it must vary by an individual's age and background, and their willingness to accept information cycle changes over time. The language of just the 1960's now seems quaint and even archaic, so those spouting similar language, today, come across as detached from modern times and unwilling to adjust to them. As events go on, as budget items come up, those still struggling with the limited horizon FFT mindset are finding themselves besieged at every turn by people who, though wildly different in age and computer skills, have accepted the new cycle's capabilities and applied them. FDR's programs have gone from glorious wonders of social security to spendthrift economics of a Ponzi Scheme that did not lift the Nation out of the Great Depression but actually lengthened it and made it worse over time. That is disturbing to the pre-Internet cycle individuals as this is liquidating their outlook on economics and society in a single blow. Yet those in the Internet cycle FFT understand, intuitively, that this is so and the cost of government 'help' is far too high and absolutely unsustainable due to demographics.
If the society of a Nation is its engine, then the government is the vehicle in which it moves, and the old vehicle, cobbled together out of feel good programs in the 20th century has ground to a halt with its transmission grinding. A new transmission is being put in place, one that is 21st century advanced but based on ageless principles of self-government, self-reliance and charity. The Tea Party is just the lowest gear of that new transmission and those stuck in the old pre-Internet FFT fear it like all get out as it is a future that none of their theorists ever predicted, that no one on the Left ever foresaw, and that Marx didn't account for. Centuries of Leftist thought are about to get churned out of the system as the new transmission goes into place.
It doesn't feel that far off, although it may be a decade to do that.
It will be a different world, then, as we change it as we go. No matter how horrible the circumstances those on the Internet FFT understand the horror that is government when given power over individuals. That is not a turning away from social duty, quite the contrary, it is putting faith and trust in individuals to do this and no trust in government to do it at all. Yet the memory of what happens when government DOES get its fingers into everything will be remembered with a very fresh face even once that new way of doing things is put in place. The past is still, by year, growing distant just 4 years down the road, but the memory of it is fresh and hard... and while the way ahead is harder, still, the outcome must be one that shears politics and economics asunder, so as to leave society to dictate to government what few things need be done.
Those who don't want that don't want to change.
They want a world that is stagnant, dying.
It doesn't work that way, the pie does grow and when the poor do well then the society is doing good. There will always be a difference between rich and poor, but when the poor can have food, provide shelter for themselves and find a job to sustain themselves, then society is doing very well. We had a short taste of that until government ruined it during the 1990's to 2005. It is understood that government is the problem, not corporations or individuals. When those clinging to the old way of thinking finally come to understand that, they will have a new horizon open to them: a frightening one of personal freedom, personal liberty and the responsibilities of charity thrust upon them.
Your memories do get compressed, and if you are uncomfortable with the process, then welcome to the Internet FFT.
The next compression cycle will knock your socks off.