I read Bunnie Huang's blog because I long to be a hardware geek, but never
actually do anything about it. Having said that, I couldn't help but comment
about his Name that Ware
posting for January, 2007, if only because he seems to feel much the same way I
do about the recent trend of idiotic
by the American public.
I believe that fundamentally, the most
effective way to deal with terror is to not be afraid of it. I say take it
with a stiff upper lip, ignore it, and live life like you used to, as a free
society with great liberties and tolerance for all walks of life. Travel.
Express. Build. Innovate. Research. Be an Individual. Be smart about who you
trust, but still be willing to trust.
I agree with everything Bunnie says here, but I think that it's unlikely to
happen, because living in fear is seductive, and because it drives a
feedback loop that only amplifies itself. Don't misunderstand-- I'm not a
conspiracy theorist who believes that this whole "War on Terror" is a big
plot. I believe that what we're seeing is the manifest result of a
confluence of the "best" interests of different social groups being advanced.
Terrorists want to inflict terror. That's what terrorists do. It's in the
best interests of terrorists to have the American citizenry in mortal fear.
The more terrified that the citizenry is, the easier it is for terrorists to
inflict more terror. At this point, terrorists can inflict mass panic by
doing nothing, while marketing companies put out lighted signs. This is, no
doubt, cause for much celebration in terrorist circles, if only for the cost
savings in materials and labor.
Most Americans (citizens and politicians) have lost touch with the fact that
the government is sanctioned "by the people, for the people", and look at
"The Government" as being a featureless black-box over which they can exert
no influence. The American political machine has discovered how to exploit
the two party system to create elections that pit candidates with no major
differences against each other, and to spin everything such that the
candidates have a superficial appearance of difference. The
American political institution, as it exists now, wants only to perpetuate
itself. Constituents are only too happy to oblige, so long as their districts
continue to receive the gravy-train of tax dollars. The "War on Terror" has
been a wonderful gravy train for pork barrel
To this end, the best interests of the political establishment lie in
pumping as many tax dollars through the government as possible to keep
average citizens happy, and to reinforce the public perception that the
operation of government isn't something citizens have any material control
over. The "War on Terror" is a great tool for politicians.
The average American citizen has little in the way of motivation or long
term goals. I get the feeling that most of my fellow citizens are working
hard and striving to make it to the next evening "reality" television show
broadcast, the next major sporting event, or the next weekend. (Perhaps a
few have a longer-term goal to buy another new SUV, obtain another home equity
loan and sink deeper into debt, or get locked into another multi-year
wireless telephone contract w/ a shiny new phone and some nice MP3 ring tones.)
We are an aimless, sedentary society. Human nature is to be lazy, fat, and
"happy"-- to expend the least possible energy for the greatest reward. Life,
in general, works this way-- sinking into a local minimum in a vast fitness
landscape. It's also human nature to want some else to take care of life's
details for you. I do think that people can rise above human nature, but
they have to have their attention drawn to their human failings.
Living in mortal fear, and asking "The Government" to take
care of you is great, because it makes a convenient excuse for such a
slovenly, fiscally irresponsible lifestyle.
For those who profit from this mortal fear, pointing out the awful humanity
of fat slob Americans is the last thing they'd want to do.
As far as I can see, it's a win / win scenario for all the parties involved!
The terrorists get to inflict terror, the political machine gets to
perpetuate itself and remain in power, and the average American citizen gets
to fulfill their basic human desires to be complacent and "taken care of"--
sinking deeper and deeper into a warm, soft cocoon of materialism and debt
while trying to seek comfort from the mortal fear they live in. Is it
sustainable over the long term? Does it really matter?
I'm not scared of the terrorists, I'd like my freedom of speech and assembly
back, and I'm damned tired of playing "security theatre". Being a late
20's / early 30's self-employed, unmarried, childless, fiscally conservative
citizen who pays for his own health insurance, doesn't drive an SUV, owns a
house, and doesn't have any credit card debt makes me feel like a hugely
underrepresented demographic, both in government, and in American society in
general. Worse, I know that I'll be paying for fellow citizens' lifestyle
choices in the next few years-- right before China comes in and buys this
whole thing out from under us.
Hopefully somebody comes out of this whole thing ahead. I don't know how to
fix it, and I don't even think I care anymore. For my part, I feel fairly
certain that the reward for my labor won't be what I'd like (an independent
lifestyle, free from the interference of others, to live and work as I see
fit), but rather will be a life of working to subsidize everyone else when
we eventually have to "pull together" and try to bail the country out.