Thursday, 17 July 2014

Tranquility in the Real World

"We live in a complex world, and at a challenging time."
  -- President Obama, 17 Jul 2014

After eight years of the Bush administration.....most folks (to include a fair number of independents and Republicans) would readily admit in 2008....they were hoping for some kind of change.  US relations around the globe were stalled.  Things were getting stagnant.  Banks were hyper about US policy.  The US economy wasn't going much of anywhere.  And what people were mostly looking for a logical guy who would ask questions, get assessments, and take the steering wheel for a while to readjust things.

In essence, we are still waiting.

The PR guy for the administration came out a few days ago and used the expression that the President had "brought tranquility to the globe".  Which someone within the White House Press area asked if that area of the globe was Iceland?

After hearing the comment, and having been through Iceland on numerous occasions (more than eight, but I've never ventured outside of the airport).....I can attest to one single thing that I've noticed about Icelandic folks at the airport.....they tend to be focused, professional and courteous.

In general, there are roughly two murders on average a year in Iceland.  It's not exactly a hotbed of oppression, greed, frustration, or hostility. There were 394 assaults reported in 2011.  Although, to be honest....if you could weasel out the drunk and druggies on the 394 number......you'd probably get closer to the 275-number.

Back in late December of 2013.....less than eight months ago....the Icelandic news folks reported the first police situation since 1944 where a cop had to shoot a guy.  Yeah....I know....pretty amazing.  The cops tried to calm the guy a bit....but he had a history of mental disease (oh yeah, they have that as much as we do), and after the guy fired.....the cops fired just enough to drop the guy.

Why is Iceland so tranquil?  Well.....this is a bit difficult to believe.....but because of taxation and income levels.....the upper class of Iceland is noted to involve only 1.1 percent of society.  The lower class of society?  1.5 percent.  So the MIDDLE CLASS is made up of 97.5 percent of society....hence, the reason why everyone is so happy, and TRANQUIL.

So you sit and think about this.

There's not much to get frustrated over.  No one can really afford to drive a high-end BMW....so they all drive average cars.

There's not much to envy.  No one can really afford to go off to Aruba for a week of hard partying, or Hawaii for two weeks of fun in the sun, or spend $7,000 on a weekend trip to Vegas.

There's not much to get hostile about.  Your cousin is making the same money as you.  Your wife is making about as much as you.  Your postal carrier is making as much as you.  Your barber makes as much as you.  So you just kinda tip your one beer tonight (that's mostly all you can afford in Iceland) and nod at the bartender that it'll be a long one-beer night for you.....sipping very slowly.

 There's not much to get disheartened about at a class reunion.  Everyone got to the same point in life as you....even after thirty years.

There's not much to feel defeated about.....the neighbor is about as screwed as you are on promotions.  Your doctor might note your blood pressure is awful low, but that's ok.

Complex world stuff?  Well....it's hard to say if the President knows much about complex stuff.  You don't run into many complex problems as a Illinois legislature guy, a part-time professor, or community organizer.  Stuff from Harvard, Columbia or Occidental that fits into this issue of a complex world?  I doubt if any professor from the three schools ever taught a class that hinted of complex situations in the world.

Complex stuff in Iceland....the tranquil land of snow and ice?  I'm imagining the toughest thing that might turn a Icelandic guy upside down and get him all frustrated.....is a 300-piece Lego set.  Yeah.....in an entire year......there's just not much to get the feeling of complexity into your thinking in Iceland.

In the US....because of all the various issues, problems and chaos that exists.....we tend to vote guys into the position of President....so they can do....what we can't.  And if they grasp at some point that things are fairly complex and beyond them....then ask for help or get the right people around you.  And if you just won't take such action?  Well....it might be time to get a park ranger job, or start looking for another professor's position.

Long, Long Time Ago

This was the week....thirty years ago....that drinking ages suddenly went to twenty-one.  President Reagan pushed on this a bit, and the legislation was pretty easy.  It was actually introduced by a Democratic Senator on 26 April 1984 as a bill.  It took four days to pass the House, and sixty days to pass the Senate.....both on voice votes, and no one is noted having voted against it.

Could you get the same enthusiasm today for such a vote?  No.

By 1984, I was past twenty-one....so this never affected me.  To be honest, I don't even remember this being a page one item with the local Stars and Stripes newspaper (maybe it was).

It's an odd item to get into a discussion.  You accept eighteen year old punks into the Armed Forces....to kill people and destroy entire cities if necessary, but the same logic doesn't hold if the kid wants a beer.  Same for driving skills....at age sixteen getting a license.  Same for credit card applications or loans.  A nineteen-year-old kid could walk into a doctor's office.....get a prescription for a major painkiller, and take the dosage himself that night. The list goes on and on.

Up until this point.....states controlled their situations.  Again, one of those cases where the federal guys exceeded their authority, taking a little bit of power from each state.

The curious thing about the law?  Well....it had a waiver written into it.  If you were doing communion wine for religious reason....even several bottles for the afternoon service at some friend's backyard 'revival'......that's ok.  Wine for Godly reasons.....was written into the legislation....which makes you wonder about how they could write fine acts of legislation in 1984....but really lost the art to such writing by 2009/2010.

Did it fix much?  I'm not sure about this.  Maybe it did.  But you can walk into any college dorm and find eighteen-year-old kids puking their guts out at midnight because they drunk a lot of booze and don't remember much of anything.  Who sold them the booze?  Don't know.  The taxes for the booze?  Oh, that went into the county and state taxation racket.