Now, a few short comments about the state of our country: the USA. I have been listening and watching how the country is doing. It is appalling; if I were not so old, I would really get nervous. But, now I take a more detached look at what is going on and find that I cannot get too upset.
Congress is astonishingly incompetent. My comments are about both parties, and even the few independents. I try to get a feel for what is going on by reading the Pew Reports (weekly) and find them very useful. The Founding Director and Director, Pew Research Global Attitudes Project, Andrew Kohut, appears regularly on TV. He provides measured data, including historical trends. They are always interesting. Recently he gave two pieces of information:
(1) Congress is considered incompetent and dysfunctional by 90% of the voting public, and
(2) Roughly 95% of the incumbents are reelected.
When he gave this information, he just gave a wan smile and shrugged his shoulders.
It seems to me that Congress, State, and Local governing organizations are put in place to solve problems. They aren’t doing it. I think the real problem is that politicians of all stripes, ranging from wild-eyed liberal Democrats to staunch, determined, conservative Republicans are fundamentally and primarily interested in being reelected. They will do anything to achieve that goal.
Recently I had the opportunity to do a little historical research. For reasons and circumstances that are too long to discuss, I read the part of the Jewish literature called The Ethics of the Fathers. Two quotes from this book (roughly 2000 years old and studied with care for the past 1000 years) are intriguing:
(1) Love work, and despise official positions, and do not become too acquainted with the governing power. (1:10)
(2) Be cautious regarding the ruling power. Because they only befriend a person when it serves themselves. They appear as friends when it suits them, but they do not stand by a man in his time of need. (2:3)
Recently, I decided to relax and lose myself in reading some history. I chose Winston Churchill’s six-volume work: The Second World War. To take my mind off the current state of the economy and the operations of Congress, I began to read the first volume: The Gathering Storm, fascinating book that addresses the period from 1919 to 1939.
Churchill is a superb writer; he wanted to make sure that he wrote the operative history, and I think he has made a good case. Most of the material is well known to all of you. Details about events are interesting, but perhaps unnecessary. Read it and judge for yourself.
However, one part of the book I found extremely upsetting. Churchill comments about the incompetence of British government and the European states. They refused to address and solve the problems of the day. Politics were paramount. He made one observation that struck home. He pointed out that in the 1700s the importance of government and its failures and occasional successes was not really important. The world, and humanity in general, would not suffer too much. If wars occurred the casualties were nominal (a few hundred, or perhaps a few thousand). He discussed the state of weaponry in 1935 and pointed out that mankind could be in potentially grave danger of destroying itself.
This information caused me to muse about our refusal or inability to solve real problems in the United States. (I am ignoring the rest of the world). We have determined enemies (terrorists of all stripes) who have the possibility of obtaining weapons that are capable of eradicating the human race. These weapons range from world-wide attacks on the Internet connections to attacks on our infrastructure, to nuclear or biological or chemical attacks. There is no question in my mind that terrorists (who generally do not have state support from a specific country) will obtain such devastating weapons, and will not hesitate to use them, particularly on the United States of America and its citizens. Any group that encourages young women of child-bearing age to volunteer and serve as suicidal attackers cannot be stopped through the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). The weapons they obtain and will use may not be efficient, or up to modern capability, but they still work quite well. The danger to us, as citizens of the United States, is staggering.
Now, to make you feel better, I am changing the focus of my remarks. I am pointing out that the sequestration process was allowed to proceed. The financial consequences will be (I believe) staggering. And, as far as I can see, all of this nonsense is for the political forces to try to have their way.
I have lots more that I could say, but I will not do so. I can only say, again, that I am glad that I am old and decrepit. As far as I can see, we must enact solutions to the problems we are facing, regardless of political platform. I don’t see it coming. In more direct terms, I believe that we are going to cut our own throats with our own dull, rusty knives.
On the other hand, I take great comfort in seeing evidence that supports my increasingly firm belief that the current actions show us the way of the future: the complete, total extinction of the human race. We have developed many ways for this to happen, and there is no question in my mind that our complete, total demise is inevitable. The only two questions are:
(1) How long will it take?
(2) What will the methods be?
I believe that the time for this decimation to occur will be well less than 1,000 years and probably closer to 200 years. The methods will be multiple and varied, and they already exist.
These speculations are intellectual exercises; I will be dead before it happens, I think. And, I am sorry to say that all of you, including our self-serving politicians, will be in the same boat with me.