Musings on Government

Not surprisingly, I read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction, and much of that includes the epilogue of starting over, of creating a new society and, by extension, a new government.

Without exception, each of these new societies and their various forms of government are, respectively, more independent and smaller, more simplistic. Assuming, of course, that the underdogs, the champions of the people, are the winners and haven’t been annihilated.

Of course, one is always left to wonder if, in another 200 years or so, things haven’t devolved into what they once represented.

I’m not going to even mention the office of the presidency, let alone the current occupant of that office, but suffice it to say that I believe a president should be smart, organized, educated, sympathetic, hard-working, and always keep the will of the people and their best interests front and center.

You know, like Danny Glover in the movie “2012.”

That said, I also believe that our senators, all 100 of them representing every state, should have all those same qualities and attributes. Will they be perfect? No. Will they have made mistakes over the years, either before or while holding office? Yes. Should we hold them to whatever those mistakes were, particularly the ones that occurred decades ago? Maybe. Or maybe not. All humans make mistakes, all can change.

There are 435 members in the House of Representatives. That’s roughly one representative for every 750,000 people. I defy you to be able to make nearly one million people happy. Please see above for descriptions of the presidency and senators. Ditto.

Why do people run for office? Power? Shorter work weeks? The thrill of holding office? Money-making opportunities? Book deals? Speaking gigs?

I suppose many or all of these things could be considered perks, but the abiding and most prominent reason should be broken down to one thing: helping people, or more specifically, helping those who elected you to represent them and their interests.

This could, certainly, complicate matters because helping one’s state can often also be of help to its people, but often not—sometimes helping one’s state means only assisting that state’s government.

Perhaps we should administer a test and psychological exam to anyone wishing to run for federal office, along with a polygraph, to determine their true intentions. I don’t think it’s really a terrible idea.

Let’s touch upon the passage of certain bills and laws: people often get up in arms about a certain bill that proposes infringement of freedoms or one that, again for example, marginalizes a certain group. Cutting funds, perhaps, to a veterans’ program—regardless, what the average person doesn’t know is that there are OTHER things in that bill, commonly called “pork,” that are being slid right past the eyes and ears of most Americans. That, my friends, is wrong. On so many levels.

But this is how politicians work—you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Watch any politics-based TV show or movie and you’ll see how this works. Hell, read a book, fiction or non-fiction, and you’ll see the same thing. “I’ll vote for this, if you include ABC or XYZ.” Sometimes, even, a good thing is accomplished and hidden inside.

Before you go off on what supposed law has been implemented, read the damn bill. And then know that this bullshit is wrong. If you’re going to write a law that says one must stop at a red light, don’t try to slide in something totally unrelated, like “all people must stop using plastic bags.”

I’m going to zip back up to those “mistakes” I mentioned earlier. When I was about 8, I stole a roll of Lifesavers. That was a mistake; I knew it when I did it, I knew it when I begged my dad to take me back into the store, and I didn’t eat those damn candies for a month because I just knew God was going to make me choke on one because I’d stolen them.

Yeah, I was a little tightly wound…

Now flash forward to when I was 38. Do you think I was a thief? No. I never stole another thing. But suppose someone heard about my 8-year-old self and the Lifesavers—would they be right not to trust me around candy? Don’t be ridiculous. Would they be right not to trust me say, driving a car? Nope. So why the hell do we hold politicians to different standards, such as perhaps what they may or may not have done in college, two or three decades prior? I surely hope you see how silly this is.

One more thing: money. Why in the world should it be so expensive to run for office? Why does it take so many staffers to promote one candidate? The one with the most people on payroll this election season has 300 people working on the campaign. Full timers.

THIS right here, is what upsets the playing field and why the vast majority of regular Americans will never run for office—and who are they all running for? Regular Americans. Something is clearly out of whack here.

If you were able to make changes to any of these things, what would you do?

Is War Coming?

I’m sure you’ve all heard or read the news lately, and there’s a lot of talk going around. Are we going to be “at war” as we probably think of it? Our troops have been fighting here, there, and everywhere for years, decades even, in one skirmish or another, but it could come to our country itself?

Of course. And even if battles didn’t actually erupt on American soil, there’s always the threat of terrorist actions and a credible one of cyber-attacks. But what exactly does that mean?

A wide-scale attack could interrupt gas and oil delivery, banking, food supplies, and utilities. It could happen in weeks, as has been suggested by Homeland, sooner, later, or of course, never. Do you really want to be caught unprepared by brushing this off and ignoring the possibilities? Here’s what to do:

First, when possible, avoid places where a lot of people congregate and involve either government facilities or symbols of capitalism, such as malls, theaters, and concert venues. If you can’t avoid these places, or aren’t yet convinced it could be an issue, practice situational awareness. It’s better to cancel plans or leave if you’re nervous about something and risk looking stupid than to be blown to smithereens.

Second, make sure you’re as healthy as you can be and if you’re taking prescription meds, get them filled if you can. Insurance companies often don’t do early refills, but you might be close enough to empty that it’ll work. Drink lots of water and exercise as you’re able.

Third, stock up on any items that A) you can’t live without and B) you can’t make yourself. Include seed packets too, just in case. A lot of vegetables can be grown inside or in a small pot on the deck or patio. For instance, our grocery list this week included alcohol and cigarettes because I don’t want to face whatever happens without either of these and because I don’t know how or have the capabilities to make them.

We always have six months, minimum, worth of supplies on hand, such as food, OTC meds and first aid supplies, household needs like toilet paper and trash bags, and so forth. In spite of having a well and a pond—and a pool, in a pinch—we also keep some gallon containers of water to be used in the interim if the well or pipes should have problems, until we can fix it.

Make a list of what you use every day and start shopping. Go heavy on shelf-staple and lighter on perishables. Don’t forget snacks, and make sure the stuff you buy is what you actually like. And yes, fill up water containers or buy gallons, again, just in case.

Fourth, stop by the bank and withdraw some cash in smaller bills. It doesn’t have to be much, it’s an emergency stash and you can always put it back once the threat has passed. Why do this? Well, if the internet goes down, or the power grid, both businesses and individuals will only be accepting cash; you might have hundreds of dollars, or thousands, in the bank, but you won’t be able to use your debit or credit cards. Sock it away somewhere safe and know that it’s there if you need it.

And finally, self-defense. No, you don’t need an arsenal and you don’t even have to carry if you don’t want to, but check your home for escape routes, hiding places, and weapons. Keep your cell phone charged as well as your laptop. Make a plan for your family’s safety.

Preppers have been doing all these things for a long time and are more ready for whatever may happen. You might think this is all overkill, and maybe you’re right. Or maybe not. My motto is to be ready for anything, because then you’re set and you don’t have to worry.