The Opinion Economy

We live in an Opinion Economy.  An economy based not on skill, or experience, or facts, but on the mere supposition of these things.  In this 21st Century, while it is relatively easy to find someone with an opinion on virtually any topic, it is nearly impossible to find someone who actually knows what they are talking about and can back it up with solid research and examples.

 If we do actually encounter someone with experience and facts, that person is quickly overwhelmed by the sheer force of opinion.

 Nowhere was this more apparent than in the last election for the Presidency.  On the one side was the Opinion Candidate, armed with a slogan (“Forward”), but no economic plan, little or no understanding of basic economics, and opinions about everything from the Death of Trayvon Martin (“If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”) to pregnancy as a disease we need to work to prevent (“A law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women.”).

 His opponent, the Botox Candidate, was armed with detailed plans, an awesome knowledge of economics and business experience that gave him a decent chance of pulling us out of this fiscal morass and get people back to work again without bankrupting the country.

 He bored people to death.  The few opinions he had were [shudder!] neither emotional nor fun.

 Consider, too, how the Opinion Economy has affected the jobs market.  At a time when 30 percent of the nation says they can’t find a job, we have a critical shortage of skilled labor – electricians, welders, plumbers, carpenters and tool-and-die operators.  These, of course, are jobs that require skill and experience. 

 Contrast that with “Information Technology,” “Hedge Fund Management” or “Journalism,” which are careers in which you can participate based on nothing more than opinions.  And as you can tell by these three examples, your opinions don’t even have to be right.

 Imagine how frustrating it must be to find that after you have spent four to eight years and hundreds of thousands of dollars getting a degree in college or more, to find that the job you might have had has been taken by the high school graduate who simply has an opinion.

 The Opinion Economy is the product of our shift toward political correctness, because evaluating people based on opinions rather than education or experience makes all of us equal.  We do not discriminate based on education, knowledge or skill.  You can be dead wrong, sublimely stupid, woefully ignorant or even mentally ill, and you will still find acceptance as long as your opinions are consistent with those of the collective mind, the media and your political party.

 And the ramifications of this economy are legion.  Consider simply this:  we no longer care whether “green technologies” actually work or ever will, we will continue to invest trillions of dollars in them based on our opinion that they are “good.”  In fact, the whole ecological/green/global warming movement demands that you be unable to read a balance sheet or review any facts, otherwise you could not believe.

 We shut down the NASA manned space program not because the facts are against it, or that we did not see a humongous returns on our investment, or that we failed.  We shut it down because it required too much skill and knowledge, and because someone had a different opinion.

 Johnny can’t read because you can’t fake it with opinions.  Union employees are promoted based on their tenure in the job, not on their skills.  Restaurants can’t find decent chefs because what passes as  haute cuisine today is little more than someone’s opinion.  And don’t even get me started on the ratings given by wine magazines.

 You might be tempted to point out that this blog post is rambling, bordering even on being incoherent.  You might be tempted to point out that it presents not one verifiable fact, but merely a string of opinions based on conjecture and nothingness.  You might even go so far as to say it is merely the thoughts of a braying jackass.

 And you would be right.

 But it will be marvelously successful.

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