THE RATIONAL VERSUS THE REASONABLE

Okay, who’s gonna say that ripping off the American taxpayer for every possible nickel of lucre you can conceivably steal  is not rational? I mean, it enriches your company, it is makes it possible for a corporation to grab even more resources, and best of all, it is LEGAL. So why not? That’s what Apple sez, anyway – and Google, and Bain Capital, and a host of other American companies.

(Just as a personal aside – it just slays me when these companies come up with this very rational excuse for their theft behavior: “It’s legal”. Well, I suppose that tattooing pictures of your genitalia on your forehead is legal too, but that doesn’t mean you should DO it. Most people know better! Letter of the law, spirit of the law, you know. But this completely reminds me of that thing that so many conservatives do when you are trying to discuss health care with them: they create the inarguable. The conversation ALWAYS grinds to a halt when they say “But I personally have insurance so I don’t have anything to worry about. If everybody else was as prudent/sensible/smart as me (read as “lucky/white/employed/born at the right time in the right place”) then they’d be fine too.” And you cannot budge them off of this rock. They seem to be unable to imagine a world in which they were not fortunate or blessed in multiple ways. Much like those guys on the legal team of Corporate Logo Here – it’s allowed under the law! That’s it! Not one damn thing more to discuss!!)

Anyway, so here we have prominent American corporations making the completely rational decision to fuck over the citizens of their home nation – because they can! It pays! Of course, it pays because other corporations since the 60’s have plowed the road for your Apples and Googles by buying politicians, lobbying for legal sanctions to dodge their national obligations, and jiggling the legal system to work the way they want it – in a very rational, self-aggrandizing way.

You know, if you are a big wolf in the pack, it’s rational to at least try for some perks out of it. Bigger haunches of caribou, first crack at the lady wolf, lots of cute genetically-identical-to-you pups running around. Nature is eminently rational, which is why we humans  will probably all be extinct in about 200 years, as we will be rationalized right out of the equation by Big Momma Planet Earth. The rational is devoid of guilt, sorrow, pathos, ethics, loyalty, honor, empathy, and all the rest of that stuff that makes us human. Reason takes humanity into account – rationality emphatically does not.

Reason can convince you that even though you want that Big Mac, and biology wants you to want that Big Mac, you can find your way out of it by reflecting on fatter thighs, a rumbling gut, and the potential of preternaturally high blood pressure. Or you can reason with yourself about how you actually would rather not eat a hunk of currently dead cow that was treated like it was dead even when it was alive, and maybe could be content with a nice salad instead. Similarly, when one looks at the fact that global climate change is indeed real, is creating havoc now, and widespread havoc to come, we could REASON ourselves into solving the problem by changing our behavior. Right?

Wrong. Because most humans are RATIONAL, not REASONABLE, intent on maximizing immediate or short-term rewards. Like our wolfy parallel, we are built that way. Plus, we have the awesome ability to intellectually rationalize practically any stupid shit we can come up with! We can rationalize a ton of straw into gold while dumping Reason right into the crapper! Nice play, humans! You’ve got the immediate short-term handled! Snap!

I hate to be negative, but because of our sorry propensity to value rationale over reason, the future isn’t looking good. As a pragmatist – that’s right, not a Democrat, damned sure not a Republican, not a Progressive or a Libertarian, or a Communist, but a small-“p” pragmatist – the kinds of changes we would have to embark upon right now, today, are gargantuan and extraordinary. Many people would be very unhappy, especially if, say, their farm subsidies were cut, or the Keystone Pipeline got shut down for good, or maybe they could only water their lawns on Tuesdays and Saturdays instead of pouring hundreds of gallons of potable fresh water onto useless greenswards every bloody damned day of the week. But not to be  … because we are the RATIONAL species, and we find it a simple challenge to come up with most excellent and sense-making excuses to avoid doing what we must do to give ourselves and our descendants a fighting chance in days to come. Eventually, reason will happen, but probably a little late to help anybody above the evolutionary level of bacteria. Oh well! Not to worry! Jesus will save our asses! Oh, wait … perhaps I am rationalizing…

 

 

 

 

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