I wrote a post on October 28th concerning resistance to change, and I briefly described my Homo Demi Sapiens book effort in my last one, but the best recent show of Homo Demi Sapiens has been the Republican presidential candidate debates, which recently concluded . I understand that politicians try to say things that will cause people to vote for them, and that they usually drift toward the middle after elected (Reagan ended up raising taxes). And also that they infer that they have detailed plans (seldom published) as to how to fix everything that is wrong quickly and cheaply, But give me a break. Change is not easy nor does it happen rapidly in a society, and individual politicians are not that much smarter than each other, although some of them certainly think they are.
In the last debate, they were discussing national security—keeping people safe. The recent “extremist muslim terrorist” shootings in San Bernardino California received a lot of attention. They were tragic, and therefore newsworthy, but not off of the chart. I went to high school in San Bernardino, and even then it was far from a crime-free city. There were 46 murders in San Bernardino in 2013 with no terrorist involvement at all. At present the San Bernardino overall crime rating is about twice the national average, and as I mentioned in a previous post, is in terrible shape at present due to the closing of Norton Air Force Base, the Santa Fe Railroad Shops, and Kaiser Steel Mill and the disappearance of agriculture. True, the 14 deaths in San Bernardino were outrageous, but we don’t seem to be as outraged by the approximately 30,000 deaths per year in traffic accidents, the approximately 11,000 murders per year from gun violence, or by the 2-1/2 million people who just die each year in the U.S.
Yet this shooting of fourteen people by a Muslim couple was a prime subject of discussion by the candidates, most of whom seemed to have a simple-sounding solution to the terrorism problem. Of course, their solution had much to do with their favorite causes (Trump immigration, Fiorino technology, etc.) And the all agreed that the “bad guys” should be killed (the instigator of the San Bernardino killings was apparently a woman) and that terrorist shootings and bombings should be stopped immediately (A lot of people are trying and it seems to be difficult). Interestingly, there was little if any attention paid to Russia, China, North Korea, or other such nuclear-armed countries that we seem to be worried about.
The problems with terrorism are complex. We seem to want to blame Muslims, but only a tiny percentage of muslims are terrorists, and those that are vary widely. The husband of the couple blamed for the San Bernardino shootings was born in the U.S. To my knowledge, few if any terrorists are from countries such as India, Indonesia, Turkey, and many other countries with large numbers of Muslims. The source seems to be the Middle-East, and we have demonstrated our inabilities there.
Terrorists are not killing themselves and other people because it is fun. They are doing it because it is consistent with their beliefs and the frustrations of their lives. Terrorism seems to be very effective against the U.S. Look at the effects the perpetrators of 9/11 have had on us, not only in casualties and property damage, but in confidence and convenience (think airport). The U.S. became scared, and is still scared, and therefore weaker. Nor do we seem to be able to agree as to whether we need more guns or fewer guns. So some level of terrorism will probably continue as long as it works, or until it seems to go out of style or is no longer news worthy (remember youth gang killings), or until nations shape up their act. People who have fought in and study the mid east believe that we will be there for a long time. And as for keeping them out of the U.S. as long as we succeed in getting our spies into other countries, a few terrorists will probably get into the U.S. (or already be here)
As an aside, although I have never met the man, the campaigning Trump was an overwhelming example of Homo Demi Sapiens. He was again trumpeting about the evils of Mexican immigrants and the need for his wall, but Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin has stated the Canadian border should received more worry than the Mexican border as far as national security is concerned. And as competing candidates timidly pointed out, his fixes for stopping terrorism violate many U.S. ideals.
His suggested wall would be an insult to everyone. Remember “El Chapo” Guzman’s escape from a high security prison via a relatively luxurious tunnel which ended in his prison shower? I have spent a reasonable amount of time on the border (relatives in Somerton Arizona, U.S. Air Force duty in El Centro, California), and it is long and unsettled, and a wall along it would take many years to build, require an immense amount of money and labor, and could be breached either by tunnel, airplane, boat, or explosives. And hopefully the U.S. would not get the reputation of killing Mexican people crossing it, as was the case with the comparatively short Berlin Wall. Historically, walls have not worked well in the long run—even the Great Wall of China. But politically, there is apparently enough fear in the U.S. (cleverly bolstered a bit by Trump) and lack of knowledge about the money and labor necessary to build such a wall, that some people actually seem not only to accept the concept, but be in favor of it. I am very fond of Mexico and its people, have spent a reasonable amount of time there and going to school and working with Mexicans here, and do not remember any of them being murderers or rapists. But maybe Trump sees building the wall as a potential excellent construction job if he is not elected and can sell the concept.
Maybe some day we will accept an economy and elect a congress that keeps the infrastructure up and supports those who retire, those who are unable to support themselves, and the necessary military,. Maybe we’ll even stop killing and raping each other and be able to provide acceptable food, shelter, and medical care for all. But this is not all going to occur in the four or eight years after the next president is elected. The British are smart, educated, and civilized, and they have been tinkering with their government furnished medical care since 1948 and are still unhappy with it.
I will talk more about change in the future, but let me just say here that even though such things as technology, population size, expectations, and awareness of the finite nature of “natural” resources are changing rapidly, changes in large numbers of people move slowly, and the more disruption of which people are aware (thank the media and presidential candidates), the more they look to the past, which was never as benign as people remember it to be.
It would be nice if these candidate debates were based a bit more on well thought-out and realistic plans rather than opinions and desires for power on the part of the participants. But that doesn’t seem to be how the electoral process works, especially in the days of TV, marketing, and the internet, so bring on the fantasies. They are at least entertaining.