Tuesday, September 06, 2005

In God's Country

I'm glad we're offering some degree of assistance to the people of the US Gulf Coast following the hurricane. If our soldiers can help 500 people then that's great. Even if it's token, a needle in a haystack, those 500 would not view it that way. However giving money seems just a bit daft and makes it easier for paddywhacks to indulge in some more anti-Americanism ("They spend 600 gazillion dollars on photon death rays each year, why are we... etc." - although I'd actually be sympathetic to that point of view in this case). Money is surely not an issue, men and supplies must be, so shouldn't we concentrate on helping with that?...

At times like this you learn a lot about the US; and realise that there's so much more you don't realise. We think we understand the place but, really, we have no clue. All those levels of government, one of only two political parties in charge at each level, different localities and States competing for federal funds and investment. Sherriffs, Mayors, Governors, Congressmen and Senators. Overlapping government departments at federal level that overlap again at State level. CIA, FBI, NSA, Secret Service, State Troopers and local Law Enforcement. All that bureaucracy and jockeying for money, power and recognition. All that then coupled with racial fault lines and an obvious example of poverty being the difference between life and death.

1 in 4 black people (African Americans) live below the poverty line in the States. 42 per cent of all Americans believe that God created the world as described by Genesis and that life has existed in exactly that fashion since, for less than 10,000 years. Out of a population of just under 300 million (218 million adults) a staggering 7 million are in some form of "correctional supervision" and 2.2 million people are imprisoned (including nearly 10% of all black males that are the same age as me).

Americans despise big government. Most Americans believe that the federal government should do a few things that no one else can do - defense, decent public education, police, law and order among the most obvious - and leave the rest to individuals and the private sector. The protection of individual freedom is a cherished right, hence the utter fascination with the right to arm bears. The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats would like to tax just a wee bit more to redistribute wealth ever so slightly or carry out just a touch of social engineering (in other words they're a big bunch of pinky, lefty, liberal communists).

And yet, oddly, a nation that prides itself on individual freedoms allows one man to completely run the show for four full years with only death or indictment for crime being able to stop him. He can pick his own cabinet of unelected officials and can mould the judiciary, thus allowing the constitution to be interpreted in a manner that suits his own beliefs. He can also tell a mate of a mate (that's supposed to be heading a federal emergency agency) that he's "doing one heck of a job" while people are dying of dehydration in front of TV cameras five days after a hurricane in the (by far) richest country on the planet.
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com Irish Blogs