Reading Edmund Andrews's Busted: Life Inside the Great Mortgage Meltdown (see my review of it here), made me think about how our entire society is held hostage by the mind-numbing immaturity of a large group of people. Even if it weren't for the housing bubble and the market collapse, I am convinced that we would have experienced some sort of a profound systemic crisis anyways. If the economic collapse hadn't happened, it would have been something else. The time has come for us to bear the fruits of a profound infantilization that plagues our society.
We are all complicit in this. We look at a president who can't read and then go and elect him for a second term. We seriously consider as a vice-presidential candidate a person who is dumb as a door-nail. We keep trying to dumb down our college-level courses. Instead of asking students to read, think, analyze, and write, we make them look up information on the Internet and then regurgitate it. We accept it as normal when people proudly tell us that they never read anything or follow the news. We read articles in the leading newspapers written by people who cannot compose a sentence without making three mistakes. We watch TV shows where stupidity is celebrated and education is ridiculed.
Andrews's book is so scary because if a supposedly educated person whose job is to analyze events and report the fruits of his analysis (which is meant to be an intellectual endeavor) turns out to be as immature, irresponsible, and stupid as a 12-year-old, what can we expect from people who have not been as blessed by education and very well-paying white-collar jobs?
When an entire society turns away from intelligence and embraces a cult of stupidity, chances are there will be a systemic crisis of major proportions. This time, these immature, unintelligent, whiny jerks have led us into an economic collapse. Tomorrow, it will be something else. Unless we, as a society, embrace the idea that being stupid, irresponsible, and immature is unacceptable, we will keep being shaken by these crises on a regular basis.