America’s dynamic ever-changing past is slowing into a complacent stagnation. People don’t move as much or expect change. This hurts class mobility, and eventually needs to change. Inspired by his visit to China, which has grown 10% every year for 30 years, meaning every 7 years it’s like a whole new country is built. America is relatively halted.
There has been a fundamental shift of societal energy away from building a new and freer world and toward rearranging the pieces in the world we already have.
There was something to be said for less-compatible, more challenge-laden accidental pairings with all their conflicts and messy resolutions. At the end of the day, you weren’t quite satisfied with your pairings, and so you felt you had to go away and do or build something great, because you had no notion of just waiting for the next social network–based encounter to come along.
The great adventures of life, the surprise of strangers, of strangeness, of the electric and eclectic moments of happenstance, and also of extreme ambition, are slowly being removed by code as a path to a new contentment.
Of all the drugs that might have been legalized, American citizens chose the one - marijuana - that makes users spacey, calm, and sleepy.
A new city or state forces people to rethink their assumptions about the best ways to do things and about what their lives really should consist of. A move forces individuals to start working with a whole new set of people and business practices; even if this change is not always for the better, the resulting creative ferment will breed change and progress. A dynamic, moving society may be less comfortable personally, but it is likely to be more innovative. Just contemplating the prospect of a move can force people to start reexamining how they are spending their time, their future job plans, and who the friends they really can count on are.
Countersignaling is when you go out of your way to show you don’t need to go out of your way.
The boss doesn’t have to wear a tie or even dress up. If he did, that would suggest he had something to prove, which would be a negative rather than a positive impression.
A culture of the casual is a culture of people who already have achieved something and who already can prove it.
In an art gallery or some other high-end retail outlet, the dealers and directors know that very often the biggest spenders walk in the door wearing jeans and sneakers.
Those who show up in the suit and tie are less likely to drop $10 million on a Basquiat, as the choice of formal garb signals they still have something to prove.
Since the 1960s, the cultures that have produced the most upward economic mobility include Japan, South Korea, and China, due to their supercharged rates of economic growth.
It is no accident that these are the same cultures obsessed with business cards, stereotypical blue suits, submission to hierarchical authority, and bringing the perfect gift, among other customs.
The young and ambitious really can set themselves apart from the slackers.
Voters don’t seem impressed by experts anymore, and one even wonders if a lot of people aren’t voting against experts and elites just out of spite or a desire to show them up.
The better-run governments in the world tend to be trusted by their people. They can announce what they want to do, be believed, proceed with concrete steps, and at the end of the process be evaluated by voters in a more or less fair way.
In contrast, the untrusted governments usually have to resort to subterfuge, lies, and trickery, and that tends to come bundled with corruption, economic distortions, and a general lack of transparency.
Rebellion into a vacuum:
Lost faith in the system, but without a strong ideology and a strong belief in the future, the vacuum can be filled by other, worse ideas.
The biggest story of the last fifteen years, both nationally and globally, is the growing likelihood that a cyclical model of history will be a better predictor than a model of ongoing progress.