We, as a nation, behave like sulky, self-centered teenagers

I have come to the conclusion that we, as a nation, are a bunch of self-centered, poorly mannered teenagers. We hate being told what to do by authority figures and often ignore said advice to do whatever we want, yet we whine and complain unmercilessly when we experience negative consequences from ignoring that advice. We are, of course, orders of magnitude more intelligent and better informed than experts who have spent years studying the subject and who may have access to additional, better quality information upon which to base those discussions. Somehow, we have still convinced ourselves that we are smarter than those persons and we just know better. I realize that there is a general disdain of pronouncements from government agencies/spokespeople telling us what to do. We, the citizens, are, of course, immensely more intelligent than any bureaucracy or bureaucrat. They cannot possibly be correct about much, right? You know, occasionally the "officials" are right. Just as our parents were occasionally right when we were teenagers. The difference is that on some of the occasions when we choose to ignore the officials, the consequences can be deadly.

I've been listening to stories of folks who did or did not evacuate in advance of Hurricane Ike. People who decided "This is my first hurricane and I don't want to miss it." For lack of a better description, these people are morons. There are currently over 1400 emergency 911 calls outstanding in the Galveston area. Calls from people who did not evacuate and are now in trouble. People who now need rescue or other assistance. And they'll be waiting for hours or days for that assistance. For many of them, that will be too late. No doubt there will be complaints about how that will be handed because the governments should have been prepared to save the idiots who failed to follow the directions provided well in advance. Yes, I have no sympathy for you. You were warned. You chose to ignore that warning. You will have consequences.

We know this. Hurricanes strike the US every year. We just forget that Mother Nature can be more powerful than anything humans can build. She is inexorable and indomitable and she cares not a whit for our survival as a species. But as the time since the last local devastation grows, people's memories of the severity of an incident fade. It's called "time discounting". The further something is in the past or the future, the less important it is. With disaster preparations, this will bite you in the behind. We're already seeing this affect emergency preparedness planning and funding at a federal and state level. You see, it's been seven years since the US experienced a major terrorist act within its borders. It's been three years since there was a major natural disaster involving multiple states and weeks of active rescue and repair work. With budget crunches at the state and federal levels, bioterrorism and emergency preparedness monies are being cut. I predict within a few more years, we will be back where we were prior to September 2001 with regard to our ability to handle an unexpected national emergency. The staff will be cut. The funding will be cut. It just won't be a priority any more. We will forget. Until the next surprise.

Back to the teenager issue.... People complain bitterly about our nation approaching being a nanny state where we are told how to do everything and when to do it. People complain that Big Brother is watching. Well, if you behave like an idiot and demonstrate that you are incapable of making intelligent decisions about protecting yourself, your family and your property, it is easier and cheaper to take those decisions out of your hands. You cannot have it both ways. You will either have to think for yourself ("Ow! That's hard!") or you will have to be treated like an idiot who cannot think for yourself. There is no good or easy way to balance those two states of being.

So why do we have to receive warnings that say "Get out or die"? Because we watch television and nothing bad happens to the idjit broadcasters standing outside in 100 mph winds. What desperately needs to happen is for a chunk of plywood or other debris to come flying past and decapitate said broadcaster so as to demonstrate CLEARLY that this is stupid behavior. There need to be NO interviews of people seeking their 15 minutes of fame by jet skiing through downtown Galveston. Do not give attention to the behaviors you do NOT want to promote. Put up a webcam and show people the weather. Don't give the idiot public the idea that if Anderson Cooper can stand outside in a Cat 3 hurricane that it's ok and safe for me to do so. They American public is dumb enough to mimic that, videotape it and post it on YouTube. Then again, perhaps that will be the fastest and most effective way of cleaning our gene pool.

I have decided that there is something more annoying in the morning than finding my regular NPR broadcasts have been replaced by pleas for money during the spring and fall pledge drives. That something is when my regular NPR broadcasts have been replaced by nitpicking and repetitious "he said, she said" coverage of political contests. Perhaps it isn't truly more asinine and juvenile this year. Perhaps I've just ignored it better in the past. It's really annoying now. The questions directed at the candidates seem to be largely on the level of "Candidate X said you were a boogerhead and that you aren't smart enough to put your underpants on right side out. What do you think of that?" or "President Bush has done Y during his administration. What do you think of that?" If I wanted criticisms of the current administration, I could listen to various political pundits and I can criticize the current set up myself. There is a world of difference between criticizing the current system and creating your OWN policies, agendas and programs. That's the stuff I want to know, but there are few questions about what Candidate X or Candidate Y's policy statements are about various subjects. That's the stuff I will base my voting decision upon, not whether or not a candidate can make a coherent statement about the boogerhead status of his or her opponent. I can figure out for myself who the boogerheads are. Hint: if you are seeking elected office and are a professional politician, you might be a boogerhead.


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