Maybe it’s because I don’t watch TV. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I’m lying in the dentist chair. The TV on the ceiling is tuned to CNBC. The technician asks, “Would you like me to turn the TV off or shall I leave it on?” I tell her it’s OK either way. I think I don’t care and most of the time I am indifferent but every so often the moving images and voices attract my attention. “Look,” says an intelligent looking young man, “if we eliminated the entire defense budget it still wouldn’t fix the deficit.”
The voices were being processed by my brain all the time. Recognizing “defense budget”, something said, “heh, pay attention” and presented the entire sentence the man had spoken. The interviewer thanked the young Congressman. Nobody broke out howling with laughter.
We can’t know everything so maybe the Congressman didn’t know how much we spend on defense. Maybe he didn’t know what he said was factually incorrect. Perhaps he’s too busy to investigate what took me only a short time to learn (see this ) but can he really be a stranger to logic?
Let’s say it was true we would still have a deficit if we entirely eliminated defense spending. Does that mean we have no choice but to continue defense spending at the same rate? If those we elect can say such things and be treated as wise and suitable leaders, I must be an extraterrestrial. Why isn’t anyone laughing?
The technician continues to chip away. I try to relax, telling myself, “you’re over-reacting. He probably knows what he said is nonsense and that many people like to hear such things.” It doesn’t make me feel better but you can’t expect to feel all that great in a dentist chair, anyway.
The pattern recognizer alerts me again: “If we make enough laws, we can all be criminals”. It remembers I was interested when I heard that before. The speaker is another thoughtful looking man who also seems to be an elected representative. He’s being asked about the President’s push for stronger gun control legislation. He says new legislation will only make things worse. Again, my hopes for a raucous laugh track are disappointed.
In the decade since 9/11 when 3,000 were killed, there were no additional terrorist killings on the USA mainland. In that same ten years, 340,000 of us killed ourselves and others with firearms (40% homicides, 60% suicides).
We took action to avert more terrorist attacks. We took too much of the wrong kind but we also took some that was both appropriate and effective. Pretty much all of us are pleased by the results of the effective action. Why, then, would it be impossible to take effective action to avert more firearm deaths? Isn’t that why we elect representatives – so they will establish effective legislation?
Maybe I’ve forgotten my extraterrestrial childhood but I remember and never regretted choosing to become an American. So what if I feel like an extraterrestrial when I watch TV or read things like this ?. I’m committed to this society and I will keep doing everything I can to help it grow ever better.