The boom in Austin could not have been predicted ten to twenty years ago, at least that is my impression from talking to long-time residents. The growth has been exponential and the city is responding in kind to try to keep up. The situation in Austin is a relatively small-scale example of the impact of globalization and a city scrambling to keep up with its growth.
The population of Peru is a little over 30 million people now. Approximately 1/3 of the population is based in Lima, the capital city. Between the 1940s and 1970s, Peru experienced a number of coups d’état. Millions of people migrated to Lima looking for work and a better quality of life, transforming the city from a tranquil and charming seaside port to the overly congested capital that it is today.
Lima is an example of growth that could and should have been forecasted. Automobile traffic is out of control. Long-term planning and infrastructure have suffered due to the lack of strong political parties and years of self-serving, corrupt politicians.
This is a larger scale example of an evolution that should and could have been addressed. The world is now paying a price for the lack of foresight that is inherent in institutions where the incentives of short-term gains outweigh the ethical demands of long-term planning.
The denial of global warming is yet another example of our ability to turn a blind eye to something that is staring us in the face, but can be neglected and avoided until it becomes a crisis that can no longer can be ignored.
Humanity is at its best, both on the level of interpersonal relationships and in governance, when there is a harmony between Id and Superego, when there is room for passion and rational discussion, impulse and planning, pleasure and delayed gratification. (See this article in the Smithsonian on how Finland transformed its education system: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-are-finlands-schools-successful-49859555/?no-ist.)
Fast forward five years. There’s a newborn. Mom wants to go back to work after three months, but dad wants her to be home with the baby for the first year. Mom wants to have the child baptized. Dad is an atheist. Mom would love to move closer to her family. Dad says he’ll never leave New York City. Uh oh. Who wants to deal with issues like that when you can just hop in the sack, have a candlelit meal and go for a spontaneous weekend getaway? Talk about a buzzkill.
Who wants to raise taxes to support rising infrastructure costs when it will mean losing an election? Who wants to address such unsexy things like education and healthcare when there are terrorists out there, wars to create and a ravenous military industrial complex to feed?
We live in a world full of distractions and instant gratification. It’s easier than ever to avoid the elephant in the room when you can dress it up with fancy clothes and spray perfume every time it poops. Have you ever seen elephant poop?