Clowns to the Left, Jokers to the Right, Jackasses Everywhere
It should be uncontroversial to state that the world is full of jackasses. We all know when someone is acting as one, and if we are honest, we should recognize that we at times are one ourselves. In our day-to-day lives this is not much more than an irritant. Most of this kind of jackassery involves the way we act toward one another at work, or when out shopping, or maybe in a social setting. It is usually comprised of silly, at times outright stupid actions and statements. This kind of interpersonal jackassery is usually fleeting. Most often it is fleeting enough and not repeated enough to warrant being labeled a jackass, as opposed to just acting like a jackass.
It is easy enough to look past personal Jackassery and move on, or at least to remove oneself from the presence and the effects of such jackassery. As for our own jackassery, we will hopefully be able to recognize it, or perhaps have those close to us point it out for us. Either way, this is a relatively small problem for humanity.
The Larger Problem of Institutional Jackassery
Things get dicey when jackassery moves from the interpersonal realm and becomes institutionalized. Someone, or a group has taken their jackass idea or foible and made a policy out of it. This may all be well-intentioned, yet it is jackassery, nonetheless. It is usually driven by ignorance, or more disturbingly some kind of prejudice. It is always illogical, and to the extent that it has state power behind it, it is always immoral. As is befitting a God that is both principled and practical, anything that is patently immoral will also fail to be a practical path for humanity. Let’s look at the main manifestations of institutional jackassery.
The main area of institutional jackassery is economic policy. Most policies are economic in nature or have a substantial component that is economic. We can start simply by looking at the big picture. At the top, the Federal Reserve seems to think if they just create enough money the economy will grow. The amount of money in circulation has nothing to do with increasing the production of goods and services. In fact, an increase in the money supply will only raise prices higher than they would otherwise be, in addition to distorting the allocation of scarce resources, thereby forcing the economy to produce less goods and services. Yet year after year, business cycle, after business cycle, the Federal Reserve keeps doing the same thing, with the same damaging results, the same wild ups and downs in the economy. This represents pure jackassery. This kind of economic jackassery continues all the way down from the top to your local zoning board restricting the number of houses built and then wailing about how high home prices are. These are but two examples of the economic jackassery all around us.
The other main locus of institutional jackassery is in the realm of culture. We see this in two main areas, one on the left, and the other on the right. The left has come around to the notion that anyone who disagrees with them is a fascist and a hater. Anything coming from the mouths of such people is therefore “misinformation”, or perhaps its darker cousin “disinformation”. Therefore, any such speech is to be curtailed, and censored. They are quite comfortable with the government doing this, to the point that they consider free speech advocates to be white nationalists. Never mind that much of what the left saw as dangerous misinformation, say during the pandemic, turned out to be correct; mask mandate effectiveness, the immunity conferred by vaccines and the social consequences of lockdowns, they want to continue to shut down speech with which they disagree. Again, pure jackassery.
As for the right they are engaged in what to them is an existential fight over drag queens, yes drag queens. They have ginned up a full-blown moral panic, simply because some people choose to wear clothing that is at odds with someone else’s perception of their gender. They have pretty much conjured up a worldview that thinks that the trans segment of the LGBTQ community has a quota to fill, and reaps some kind of downline benefit, say the way an Amway distributor might.
They have also conjured up a world in which anyone who wants to teach their children progressive values should not be allowed to, and they argue this in the name of parental choice. Both sides simply cannot live and let live and have so institutionalized cultural jackassery.
We Should Control Our Own Jackassery
This very brief overview of the main forms of institutional jackassery on the right and left is not meant to be definitive. Nor is it to deny that there is a great deal of overlap, bipartisan jackassery if you will.
The main point here is not to deny that humans often engage in jackassery, but rather to minimize the damage our jackassery causes. We do this by devolving control of our jackassery unto ourselves. I am totally capable of acting like a jackass multiple times every day. I have no need of a bureaucrat instructing me on the subtleties of acts I have refined to an art form.
By devolving the locus of jackassery to the level of individuals or small groups we remove most of the damage we can do. We only make fools out of ourselves this way and we only cause consternation for a small group of folks unfortunate enough to be interacting with us at the height of our jackassery. If we greatly reduce the scope of jackassery, we will, for instance, be unable to blow up the economy, or create a moral panic that can do real harm to others. None of this is going to create a utopia, there being no perfection available to humanity this side of eternity. What it will do is see us engage in some real harm reduction by reducing the circle of damage our jackassery can do. Rather than socialize our jackassery we should privatize it and make us own that jackassery and its consequences. This will not eliminate jackassery, but it will minimize it. To that end I propose a new slogan in Latin to embody this philosophy “Ego asinus mihi sum” (I am my own jackass).
Praise Be to God