Lispian Random meanderings on whatever catches my fancy

Lispian
Rant: Politicians, Especially US Ones

It’s election time down south which means a bunch of politicians are running around making promises about things they usually don’t understand. These self-same politicians are usually also going on about things they don’t understand, like science, having probably not taken a science class since elementary school or, worse, thought it some form of witchcraft to avoid at all costs while genuflecting to some idiotic belief that runs contrary to reason and science.

But what really gets me going is hearing politicians, like Romney, say outlandishly retarded things such as people not dying because they have no insurance:

“We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance. We don’t have a setting across this country where if you don’t have insurance, we just say to you, ‘Tough luck, you’re going to die when you have your heart attack.’ No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital.”

Other than the fact it appears obviously untrue is the fact that research by nonpartisan groups have shown that 18,000 or so people die in the US each year because they’re not insured. It only stands to reason that if you have no insurance and you become ill you’ll only visit the hospital when you’re so sick they have to take you in. And when that happens, it’s probably all ready too late.

It’s why, were it up to me, I’d make the rule that if you become an elected official you immediately get no better coverage than the average citizen. That means living through the inevitable waiting period before benefits kick in, having your insurance provider ensure you’re “insurable”, especially in the US where you need to provide data on “pre-existing conditions” — which seems to be code for being “non-insurable”. I would also make each elected official in Parliament, the Senate, or Congress make whatever the average is for a citizen in their country. They have to live within those means and have no perks. No free car, no driver, nada. You want to travel around the country, do it on your own dime to see how the rest of us do it. I’d allow regular trips back to respective ridings, but that’s it. I’d only exempt specific individuals from this such as the Prime Minister/President, Secretary of State, various Ministers/Secretaries such as the Minister of Agriculture, etc. who really have to go hither and yon and that should all be footed by the government. But for the rest of them, make them comprehend that not everyone has a gold plated benefit package, not everyone is paid exorbitant amounts to know little, talk incessantly, and screw things up with abandon and little consequence.

As to the rich folks running, well, I’d take their money and dump into a trust fund until they’re done. No access to that money. Live like the folks you represent so you comprehend what you’re representing.  I don’t care how successful you were doing whatever it was you were doing in your prior life. It’s immaterial to running the country or state or province or city. You claim you want to be one with the people, so let’s make it so. Claiming you “understand what it’s like” is bullshit if you’re sitting on tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. You simply cannot understand what the average citizen goes through if you don’t have to worry about how much anything costs.

I’d also pass a law that said the Ministers have to have a degree or serious experience in the area of their respective ministries. For example, the Health Minister would be, oh, I don’t know, a real MEDICAL doctor. The guy or gal in charge of industry is, oh, I don’t know, a businessman. Maybe the guy in charge of science actually comprehends what science is and that it’s not a bunch of wishful thinking and “theories” held by “elites” in various universities. And I’m talking about real scientific degrees from recognized universities. Not some wishful thinking, magical thinking “degree” where you use stones, herbs, water, or bodily alignment to “treat” patients, figure out the orientation of your furniture or anything else that is utter and complete bullshit. If you’re going to be the minister or secretary in charge of true, scientific endeavours then they must hold a recognized degree in math or science or engineering or computer science so they comprehend what the Scientific Method is, does, and means. So they comprehend the notion of peer review. What it means when something is shown to actually be scientifically reasonable and possibly correct. And anyone who is considered for such a position and can’t explain the difference between a law, theory and hypothesis in science is immediately eliminated from contention — same for anyone who doesn’t believe in evolution. If you let stupid run your world view you don’t deserve to be in any way in charge of anything scientific.

Obviously, I’d hold the Prime Minister, Deputy PM, President and VP to the same level of scientific literacy. If you don’t comprehend science and engineering at a rudimentary, high school level you shouldn’t be allowed to run the country. I’m not asking them to be scientists, just to comprehend what science is and what it does. Otherwise, we’ll have a bunch of morons running the show. Or, put another way, how can we trust that a politician who doesn’t comprehend the sciences will actually make reasonable decisions regarding scientific research, areas of interest the country should be pursuing, etc. It’s crazy to think you can just drop a bunch of scientific illiterates into Parliament/Congress/Senate and they’ll do the right thing. Science isn’t done by voting what is right, it’s done through a rigorous process and decisions going forward have to be made by using what is known today to drive what we want to know tomorrow. Sure, sometimes science is wrong, but randomly guessing or going by someone’s specific religious beliefs is just fodder for catastrophe.

In the end I fear for the US in particular. For decades, from the moment of the writing of the Declaration of Independence, they lit their way forward through reason and scientific inquiry. But today reason seems to have fallen out of favour with many, with many preferring to latch their futures to the yolk of emotional belief as opposed to scientific validity. I find this stunning since I doubt any of them would take some charlatan’s word that a rope is strong enough for them to climb down from the Empire State Building, yet that’s what they prefer when dealing with myriad scientific theories — they prefer the babbling of imbeciles over the reasoned thought of individuals who have spent decades perfecting their understanding of how the universe works.

Sadly, as Americans head into the voting booths they have what I’ve long termed a now incumbent empty suit running against an empty head. I’m not sure which is better or worse, but too much magical thinking is coming from one candidate who seems to believe that cutting taxes for the rich will somehow improve the lot of the rest of Americans even though it’s been shown time and time again that this does not work. Of course, the surest sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result, but when you’re belief systems aren’t grounded in reason, fact or even ethics most times, it’s not hard to see why someone would continue  to believe in stupid things. After all, empty is empty. But perhaps ripping away every politicians wealth would make them comprehend reality a bit better. The wealth surely hasn’t allowed them to grasp reality.

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October 2012
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