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Cocooning Boomers and their Kludges, part 2 Vol 50

September 26, 2014

If you still have the newspaper delivered, you must be a Boomer !

What stops Boomers from doing the right thing ? What gets in the way of our passions, stops us from fully exercising our abilities, stretching outside the box ? Where do the mental and physical fences we erect around us come from ? Its like we are born free, then allow nature and nurture to grow our inhibitions for us, sometimes without actually knowing it.

Boomers have grown this protective armour, and now use it as a logical excuse menu whenever something risky or dangerous appears. Its a Boomer tragedy to have allowed this to occur, and we will all have to self diagnose and start the purging, if we are to fully realize our generational potential and stop all this self-absorbing navel glazing. And we can, if we are able to see the impediments to our growth. Whether you do is up to you, but lets identify some roadblocks first.

Its these fences that we paste onto ourselves, like a cocoon, to keep us safe in this terrible world. These are basically kludges, add-ons of a legal, personal, and physical nature we have developed and allowed to be activated all around us, to keep our personal space safe. In a world of seven billion, space is becoming of paramount importance.

As a reference, a kludge, as denoted at length in a recent blog, is defined as a clumsy but temporarily effective patch that fixes some type of problem. Its a software term, which I am borrowing to describe how Boomers can review their lives, to ascertain how they got here, so changes can be made. An emotional kludge alluded to above would be blaming the banks for the housing crisis, when really we, the public, got greedy and insisted on low mortgage rates. When things went bad and the bubble burst, we blamed everyone but ourselves, the real culprit and victim.

Another legal kludge is what happens after an accident. Instead of just admitting that sometimes shit happens, and bad luck is exactly that, we institute lots of controls to assure that the event will not happen again. Drowning in a boating accident, or someone getting killed at an intersection gives rise to all kinds of new laws, kludges that are supposed to make us feel better / safer / secure, but actually sap our collective freedoms and inhibit our life. And they are forever. Think of a stop sign installed in your neighbourhood because an accident happened there once. Rather than blame someone, we installed the kludge, and its there forever.

Personal kludges are easier to see, but the toughest to delete. My favourite is believing that the medical system will save me from overeating, smoking, excessive drinking, and driving fast. So, I get to do all these inherently destructive activities, without feeling guilty. Car safety, as expressed in deaths per thousand divers, is way way down from the 1960’s, as car safety has dramatically improved. So why do we all drive faster ? Because we know our survival rates have also improved. Good thing we are richer, as we see this kludge play out with increased insurance rates.

Don’t feel loved ? Eating will fill that void. Stress too much ? Smoking gives that little high that hides my fears. No Friends ? Drinking at a Bar will hide our loneliness. Want to grow some self-esteem ? Give everyone a participation medal ! Too fat ? Blame a relative, or a gland ! Viagra ? Nuff said !

Please note that not all kludges are bad. Some emotional kludges include certain behaviors that keep us sane in this ever spinning world. Having kids, my personal favourite is how kids blame their parents for all the misery in their lives. Their smarts, athletic ability, looks, social status, all their parents fault when things go wrong. Its a kludge because they were not born with this add-on. It was pasted on later.

Physical kludges include plastic surgery, liposuction, hair transplants, or our gym obsession. While some may think that these items are the result of the society we have created, pointing to more wireless waves, modified foods, pollution, and thus that everything could be a kludge, I do not. We must accept society’s tradeoffs as necessary, to feed and care for all of us. Adding a new kludge is usually done to cover-up a failing, like using Rogaine to cover a perceived lack of masculinity.

To see policy kludges in action, one need look no further than the mind-numbing complexity of the tax system. When we get frustrated trying to understand our taxes, or perplexed at the complications of our civil-litigation system, they need to recognize their problem as a part of a larger set of issues that links to other, seemingly unconnected grievances and frustrations. We do not want to pay other peoples bills, and yet need to pay taxes to fund our own problems. Governments use kludges to make us feel like other people are paying part of our share of our costs.

While it might seem like an uphill climb, a simpler, less kludge’y government is an immensely attractive goal, and should appeal to all of us. Imagine a system whereby the tax code was scrubbed to one page (ok, one double sided page ! ).

The point is that no-one wants to hear the truth about their cocoon, because exposing your real self hurts. Cocooning wraps up all these safety nets and shields us from consequence. So, look inward, and figure out a few kludges that you can work on. Let’s face it – Boomers are going to have to fix ourselves, before we can use fix our government or our society.

Next on Boomers – wtf !, Islam and its gastric ulcer called ISIS.

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