🌎 PALACED #10: The American Dream is Deadly
Nobody can do it on their own. Not even you.
|Jihad Esmail||Apr 6|| 2|
We’re back and better than ever for newsletter #10.
The past few weeks have been nuts. Since getting home, I’ve had a lot of time to myself without the stress of school (that changes today). A lot of that time has been spent playing Xbox and spending time with family, but I’ve used a solid portion of it on reading, writing, and just organizing my life.
If you’re home with a lot of free time, take advantage of it. That doesn’t mean you need to spend all of your time working on something — you shouldn’t. You’ll never have time away from the constant hustle of life again. Not like this.
But if you’re resting, rest mindfully. If you’re working, work mindfully. Make sure you are spending your time the way you want to spend it.
With that, let’s jump right in…
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The American Dream is deadly.
There are a lot of lessons we can take away from the coronavirus outbreak. The biggest one is that American individualism has gotten out of control.
On one hand, there are the relatively minor indicators. Some people just won’t stay inside. Others are hoarding insane amounts of supplies. These are absolutely massive problems, but they pale in comparison to the systemic issues:
America lacks universal healthcare.
America is not ready for automation and the future of work.
78% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, and many of the same are now left without jobs with no idea as to when — or if — they will return to work.
There are a variety of explanations for these problems, many of them true. But the most glaring to me is that community has lost its place in American culture. Author Bill Bishop says it best:
It used to be that people were born as part of a community, and had to find their place as individuals. Not people are born as individuals, and have to find their community.
The problem, then, is that community becomes a function of the individual. As a culture, communities matter to us only when they are self-serving.
That’s how we got here.
The Big Ideas
💸 Welfare in the Exponential Age. What does welfare look like in the world of automation, remote work, and exponential politics? Azeem Azhar chatted with Hilary Cottam — an author and social entrepreneur — on this extremely timely episode of his podcast. Definitely worth the listen.
🦠 Antifragility and Coronavirus. Nassim Taleb is well-known for many ideas, one of which is “antifragility.” He argues that an antifragile system is one that does benefits from disorder. It is not simply resilient, but chaos actually makes it grow stronger. Alex Danco applies this concept to Coronavirus, with a rather optimistic take that while America may not be handling the health aspects of this crisis very well, the nation will come away stronger in the end. I’m not sure I agree, but a fascinating argument nonetheless.
📱 The Man Behind Trump's Facebook Juggernaut. This one is just a really cool read. Andrew Morantz of The New Yorker takes a deep dive into the story of Brad Parscale, the mind behind Trump’s 2016 social media strategy. Really scary stuff.
😕Why Americans Are Dying From Despair. If you read one piece, make it this one. I love Atul Gawande. His book, Being Mortal, is a heartfelt deep dive into the heart and mind of a physician. This piece, though, is a book review of another book. Gawande explores why so many Americans are dying of “despair” — a phenomenon not seen in any other country. I’ll let you read to find out what that means.
The Little Stuff
⛰️An eye-opening mental model: are you climbing the mountain or climbing a hill?
💡Have any ideas or feedback? Shoot me an email!
🤫Also, new project coming soon. Stay tuned :)