reading update and thoughts

by wonderfullyrich on May 13, 2010

I have been sick for a good long while now, some where over a month.  I think I cleaned my sinuses with water that was treated, but unpurified which started an infection.  Initially I thought it was an allergy attack, but some where around week 2.5 after two visits to the doctors here I gave up and started taking the Doxycycline I have as a malaria prophylactic.  Immediately the infection responded and nearly two weeks later, I’m nearly back to normal and still taking the Dox.  (For those of you who don’t know Dox is an anti-parasitic as well as being a broad spectrum anti-biotic)

This sickness had me out of action and coughing like a very sick person (people kept joking that I had TB) and generally trying to engage in life through the haze of benadryl, and some major tears as well with my Grandmother in Sacramento dying.  I therefore spent a vast portion of my time in the last month plus indulging in comfort reading.  I re-reading/listening to all of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels that I could stand, then started in on what I have of Andy McNab’s Nick Stone novels, and have finally switched over to more serious reading of a Longwalk to Freedom by Mandela.

You have to realize that I was a kid when I was last devoutly into the thrillers and the thought pattern they pervade.  I’ve always been fascinated with the military, it’s equipment, history, how it works, etc, but I’m a converted non-violent type.  I still am fascinated by it all, which means I some times sound like a gun toting conservative, but the reality is that money spent on the military, war, your police para-military, is something I’ve realize is absolutely counter productive.  Violence begets violence.  Period.

Doesn’t matter if it’s state on state violence or individual violence.  It’s cyclical and entirely a waste of brian power (those that die and those that spend time using/developing/implementing hostile methods) and more importantly a waste of money.  I just posted this thought on facebook:

How absurd does this sound? In 2008 the world spent $4 dollars per person of the world GDP on the UN, and $217 pp on the World’s military! Of that %41 of that is the USA. You bloody oboxious Tea Party Movement blokes are yelling about the wrong god damn thing!

Which illustrates the point.  Americans spend 16% of our GDP on healthcare and 4.06% on direct military spending plus another 2.6 to 5.4% (depending on the amount of the public debt you add) on other outlays.  So we spend some 6 to 9% of our 14 trillion dollar budget on the military, which creates more healthcare spending (peace time is bad enough with training accidents) and perpetuates our debt, enriches defense contractors, but is not generally increase our economic growth as compared to other areas. I see a big dent in our healthcare if halved our attempt at creating national security through force.  (More then enough to shut the Tea Party Movement up.)

My dad used to tell me that it’s worth going into personal debt for two reasons, buying a house or going to school.  His reasoning is that they are both investments in your personal future.  If you are going to borrow money, it should make you at least enough to pay the loan back directly or indirectly.   Perpetuating violence by spending on the military definitely is not an investment in the future, it is a bad investment thinking about the security of “now.” Given that violence is cyclical and will result in retribution, any investment in force will result in an increase rather then decrease of violence.

We are ridiculously protective of our children.  Americans would scream at drivers who speed through residential neighborhoods with children around, create laws that identifies pedophiles when the risk of such acts is far smaller then car accidents.  Some how that same care and consideration is lost on us when we speak of the future we are creating for them.

We think of a big stick, a big lock, and secure walls as our security, but like any security expert will tell you, your highest risk comes from people you trust. If you give them enough incentive they’ll break that trust, but the better they know you the more human you seem, the less likely someone is to resort to violence.

It’s an old story, but rather then building barriers, bridges make you safer.  Friends–national and individual–make your life more survivable, more informed, wealthier, and much, much more secure.

All in all I’m happy to be here in Uganda (even if I still get an occasional sinus infection) rather then being ridiculous frustrated in American society with the pace, our irrationality, and the slow march of useful change.

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