Monday, November 06, 2006

The horrors of sensibility

On Saturday I had occasion to ride in a truck with two of my friends. We rarely discuss politics, as we are brought together for musical pursuits. On this occasion, however, given the length of the trip and the impending elections, the topic of conversation tuned decidedly political.

Eventually, the percussionist mentioned that he had read in the Times (whether local or New York I am uncertain) that the U. S. government had spent many billions on research. In particular, military research.

My woodwind friend mentioned that he had read something similar, and yet had only spent a relative pittance on energy research. "And all that research," he added, "was on oil and coal based technology anyway."

Both of my friends mean well, I can assure you. They are decidedly liberal, but without the all-too-common rabid streak. I normally remain relatively quiet during such activities, but could sense this time would be an exception. Especially when my woodwind friend continued, "With gas prices so high and oil about to run out, the government should be doing more to research alternative clean energies."

Is that so? I wondered. I asked, "What brand of car do you drive?" We had a Nissan and a Volkswagen, as well as my own Saturn. "I notice," I said, "that none of us drive a U. S. Government brand car." When I received the predictable confused looks, I asked whether they even "priced U. S. Government brand cars last time" they shopped?

Of course, you needn't have me tell you there is no such thing. I asked, then, who protected them from invaders and enemy states. After allowing that they could disagree with the Iraq war for this particular exercise, they agreed that it was the Army and other military that served these functions. It wasn't private militaries or other such independent entities.

"Great!" I said. "We are all - and by 'we' I mean everyone in this country - protected by the U. S. government-owned and -controlled military, and we buy our vehicles from private businesses. Why would we expect the government to research on behalf of the private companies but not for their own military?"

The silence from my friends was very satisfying. They both with minimal coaxing admitted my point and proceeded to discuss the merits of the Iraq war (merits indeed, they said). Why be so imperialistic when we have so many problems with education that could be solved with all that wasted money (or something to that effect)? I again took up my silence and allowed their conversation to run its course, content with my victory, such as it was.


At 4:22 AM, November 07, 2006 , Anonymous Jim - PRS said...

Their child-like thoughts would be endearing were they not so potentially dangerous in these times.


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