Decent People

March 8, 2008

In months where I have had few heart- warming thoughts there has been one: people are fundamentally decent.

I lie, there has been more than one heart warming thought but all the others are either pornographic or involve ideas for elaborate practical jokes- one in particular needing access to 1005 garden gnomes and a thermonuclear warhead.

But as far as sensible, heart-warming thoughts go (or sensible thoughts at all) it can be, pretty much, whittled down to just the one. In case you have already forgotten it is that people are fundamentally decent.

The proof is in Democracy. In order to get people in a democracy to support ideas that are not fundamentally decent you have to lie to them (or blackmail them, bribe them or offer them sex). The failings of modern democracies like the USA, the UK and some of the European countries comes down to information. The gathering of it, the access to it, the dissemination of it and how much it is valued by people. You and I are being lied to every day and most of the time we don’t realise it.

We are never taught, either by our parents or in school, how to value information. We are not shown how to look at and absorb information we find abhorrent and that conflicts with our world view. We are not shown how to look for jewels of information in sludge or great ideas from those we dislike or hate.

We are taught to reject ideas or thoughts based on the people who presented them to us rather than the merits of the ideas. It is possible that one day Paris Hilton will say something insightful- possibly off a cue card. It is possible that George Bush will be vindicated by history- possibly on mental grounds and it is possible that, one day, the world will look back on Donald Trump’s hair as the beginning of a fashion trend. Yet these are things I just cannot accept in my reality. It’s a bit too far beyond “The Matrix”. But I try to keep that mind open.

What school needs teach is a critical mind. Less regurgitation of the traditional national exports of Mongolia and more thought on whether what their tutor just said is utter bollocks.

People are basically decent. But we are also basically ignorant and the ignorant cannot choose a government because their “choice” isn’t theirs. It belongs to whoever fed them the information.

But, then again. Perhaps I am wrong.

Maybe there is someone out there willing to offer me money or sex to change my opinion… it’s worth a shot. I am a flexible guy.

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It’s been demonstrated all over the world but the best recent example of why local government is important is in comparing Switzerland and the USA when it comes to that ‘ol favourite, guns. Oddly enough, when it comes to guns the USA has, in government structure, the right idea. They had to get something right eventually. Here is why.

I am assuming, first of all, that we are dealing with a gun-toting, trigger-happy nation. It will probably come as a massive surprise to anyone reading this that the Swiss are, indeed, keen on drilling small pieces of metal into inanimate things and furry creatures at high speed. This has come about because the Swiss government has a ruling stating that every soldier in the country MUST have a gun in the house. An unregistered gun.

All of this, according to a leading psychiatrist who lives in my head, has a lot to do with insecurity over the jokes made about their deadly Swiss army knives and their masses of experience on the front lines of conflicts. That experience consisting mostly of standing behind their bankers, wearing odd clothing, yodelling and cursing their little red knives, unable to get the cork out of a recently pillaged (I mean ‘donated’) bottle of Chardonnay since the corkscrew attachment is rubbish, as said bankers quietly melt the gold picked out of dead soldiers and civilians teeth. Not that I am being nasty or judgemental or anything.

Not me.

This wide spectrum gun- ownership is by no means a bad thing since it at least adds a level of excitement to a country officially voted the second dullest on earth after Sweden. By who, you ask? Me, as it happens. Five minutes ago, shortly before consulting the aforementioned imaginary psychiatrist. It’s been that kind of day. So Switzerland has quite a lot of deaths with people going nuts and killing their families, office colleagues and, thankfully, themselves as well.

The American government, however keeps these issues local. South Carolina, it seems, site of a fun day out with death and carnage at Virginia Tech (when a graduate student decided he was sick to death of whiny rich kids bitching about nothing and decided to kill as many of them as possible- a reasonable guy by any standards), has decided to make the carrying of concealed weapons on campus legal. Presumably to make any future shoot-outs a little more fair. Given the American love of “friendly fire” this seems perfectly in keeping with their national psyche.

Why is it better to do this locally rather than nationally? Well… personal tragedy, rights of man and general compassion aside it’s to do with having a successful democracy and the advancement of the human race in general.

If you have these sorts of gun policies locally it has to be supported by the community. This means that most (more than 50%) of the community is dumb (or the smart people are too apathetic to do anything about it which is just as bad). The smart, non- apathetic, people then move away from the nut-balls to somewhere safer and more sensible, like Iraq or Beirut, tipping the balance even further. Now, if someone goes on a rampage there is a far better than average chance that the people killed will be dumb. Bigger shoot-outs due to armed civilians and masses of “friendly fire” will ensue between civilians all over dumb areas culling the herd on a regular basis and lowering the chances of idiot politicians winning a national vote and increasing the country’s average intelligence.

If you allow it nationally it offers no benefit as the odds of someone in the smarter 50% of your population being killed are the same as for the stupider 50%. This has no benefits to the nation whatsoever.

Localised gun control rocks…!