In the past 18 months it has dawned on me that I have been caught in one of the oldest cons in history, the shell game. This shell game is of a different sort. Let’s call this one the Crisis shell game.
In this game each shell is marked with an “E” standing for Energy, Environment, or Economy (which also includes that other “E”, Europe).
The game has been called by a much older name perhaps more fitting; “thimblerig”. The game is rigged and never can be won. The play of the “game” is simple; a pea or small ball is placed under one of three walnut shells, and they are shifted around several times into various orders, so that the person playing has to guess which shell conceals the object. Guess right and you double your money; a wrong guess you lose your money. Usually there are several “bystanders” who the player has just witnessed “win”.
The only problem is that the pea or object is not beneath any shell at all; it has been palmed by sleight of hand early in the game by the game operator. At the end, after the player has guessed the wrong shell, the operator slips the pea, unseen, underneath one of the remaining shells to prove to the player that he simply had picked the wrong shell.
The Crisis shell game is different though; it is played daily with a whole nation of people. Every morning when I look at the news headlines and I see a Crisis “pea” placed under one of the three “E” shells. Then the bystander media, politicians and various gurus rounded up for the day start moving the shells around, while we try to guess which shell the crisis is underneath for that day. All the while, the paid “bystanders” are shouting that the crisis is under this shell or that shell, trying to influence us to make bad choices. If we reach for the shell representing Energy, voices cry out a resounding “NO, we have 100 years of the stuff left”. If we reach for the shell representing Economy, we get another “NO, we are recovering nicely”. Reaching for the third shell representing Environment, we get another “NO, global warming is a political idea, not fact.”
We then find ourselves frustrated, we pick a shell at random, and of course there is no Crisis pea beneath it. The skilled operators of public opinion have hidden the “Crisis pea” and manipulated us to expend our emotional capital. They cleverly place the “Crisis pea” under one of the other shells, with sleight of hand, and tell us that is where our crisis really is for today. After a while, with all the emotional capital expended, the player eventually wanders away to watch whatever reality show is on TV at the moment. The game operator has achieved the goal, separating you from your emotional capital, so you will not come back to question the shell game more closely. Our response is not to research further information about where the “Crisis pea” is really hiding, or if indeed there really is a “Crisis pea”.
The problem with this is that it leaves us deficient of the emotional capital needed if such a crisis is indeed hiding in our future. As skillful as the manipulators are at concealing the “Crisis pea” from us, there will come a point when the “Crisis pea” can no longer be hidden from our view. The greater issue is that we may find in the end that there were indeed crisis peas beneath each one of the shells. When we are confronted with that possibility, it can overwhelm our ability to cope.
What should we do? First realize that the operators of the Crisis shell game are counting on our gullibility and lack of understanding of issues, to sway us to place our emotional capital in the care of one group or another, without asking too many questions. Secondly, they want us trust everything that the “innocent bystanders” are shouting, without question. Thirdly, all shell games have one single purpose; to separate the player from his financial resources. The Crisis shell game will accomplish the very same thing. It allows the manipulators of the game to convince us to place more financial resources out on the table in the form of extra taxes, fees or service costs to accommodate removing the “Crisis pea” from beneath the shells.
At some point when the “Crisis peas” swell to the size of oranges, they can no longer be concealed underneath the shells. The amount of financial resources needed to remove or reduce the “Crisis pea or Crisis peas” will be greater than we can bear. The manipulators of the game will not be able to play the game when any “Crisis pea” becomes too large to palm. The people who played the Crisis shell game and lost will be extremely upset when they realize that the game was rigged.
I think that “Crisis peas” are swelling rapidly underneath all the shells today. The politicians and media are having a harder time moving the peas and shells fast enough to keep us guessing. Many will be confounded when they realize that the rigged game distracted and delayed them from making better choices.
The elections held here and elsewhere after the “Crisis peas” no longer can be hidden will be most interesting.