Sunday, October 30, 2005

Command Hallucinations

The American public is hearing voices. And like auditory hallucinations experienced by psychiatric patients, these voices whisper continual doom and gloom. They tell the American consumer that prices are too high. That the economy is tanking; that poverty is on the rise; and that everything is bad bad bad.

These voices are persistant and continual. They are unrelenting. They are often frightening. And like the command hallucinations that torment many of my patients, they are completely and totally untrue. You are bad. Life isn't worth living. They are trying to hurt you. Don't try, it's not worth it.

It is very rare for such voices to say anything at all positive. They have a specific goal--and that goal is the distortion of reality.

So why do patients believe them? Especially the one's that are bizarre and so obviously out of touch with any known reality? You know, the ones that say aliens have implanted electrodes in your brain and are monitoring your thoughts and things like that.

It is a triumph of false perceptions over reality. It is testimony to how profoundly and fundamentally people trust their perceptual faculties and let their peceptions rule, even when those perception come in conflict with common sense, truth, or reality.

We, the American people have come to have a similar trust in the voices of the MSM. Over the years, they have almost become an additional perceptual faculty that we rely on--simply because life has become too complicated and overwhelming, that the use of our ordinary senses is insufficient in the modern world.

In other words, we rely on the media in the same way we rely on our own senses to provide us with the information necessary to make decisions and judgements in the real world.

The MSM has become those evil voices inside our head.

Here is the latest information on our economy that I found online at an MSNBC Business site, but which I did not read in the newspaper, or actually hear on the regular MSNBC news. It was probably on reported on the business channels:

Economic activity expanded at an energetic 3.8 percent annual rate in the third quarter, providing vivid evidence of the economy’s stamina even as it coped with the destructive forces of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The latest snapshot of the country’s economic performance, released by the Commerce Department on Friday, even marked an improvement from the solid 3.3 percent pace of growth registered in the second quarter.

Growth in the third quarter was broad-based, reflecting brisk spending by consumers, businesses and government.


Meanwhile, consumer confidence fell sharply.

So, like a patient hearing the command hallucinations we become more and more hopeless and depressed in spite of the reality around us.

We are hearing the voices of the MSM inside our heads and they are tricking us into believing something that isn't true.

The Anchoress points out:

Economists had forecast GDP would advance at a 3.6% rate in the July-to-September quarter. The economy has now expanded faster than 3% for 10 straight quarters.

So when was the last time the economy expanded faster than 3% for 10 straight quarters?

It didn’t happen during the 1990s (the longest streak was eight).

It last happened during the 13 quarters from 1Q 1983 through 1Q 1986. Not coincidentally, a president who believed in lowering taxes to stimulate economic growth was in charge the last time it happened.

So despite being at war, despite devastating storms, and despite legislative and regulatory drags on the economy like Sarbanes-Oxley, this has been most consistently growing economy in almost 20 years.

I would wager that the instant the Democrats take over the White House at some future date, the voices will cease to trouble us and we will be cured of our "malaise". Not because anything will have changed, but because the voices will have achieved their purpose.

UPDATE: Bizzyblog has more details about how well the economy is doing.

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