Tuesday, November 4, 2014

One Statement I'd Like to Hear

Let's say an elected politician is talking to constituents at a town hall meeting or debate, and an audience member asks a question about a paroled prisoner who killed someone. (Or it could be about Ebola or another issue of government overreaction).

Here's how I wish that politician would answer:

I am very sorry about what happened to this person and their family. It's a tragedy when anyone dies by violence. However, I am a person who helps govern this country, and that has more to do with what happens to MOST of us as a group and less to do with what happens to one person or even one family.

People of the XXrd district, people of America, we can't keep legislating and running our country based on edge cases that happen once in a great while. You hear about the one parolee who kills a person, but you DON'T hear about the thousands who don't. Trying to make sure everyone is "safe" in some narrow sense has side effects that cause worse problems for more people. Prisons and sentencing in our ally nations are run in much less harsh ways with much shorter sentences -- sentences Americans would think were crazy -- yet those countries have lower crime rates and much lower repeat offender levels. It doesn't mean ex-cons never commit another crime. You can't make laws to make things NEVER happen.

If I had one wish to grant, it would be that all of us start to recognize the real risks that affect us all the time, and stop worrying about the ones that affect only a few. Car accidents kill us at least ten times more than homicidal maniacs, the flu kills us millions of times more -- if we haven't had a flu shot -- than Ebola in this country ever will.

The media don't help any of this, of course, since the companies that own them only make money if people watch the ads, and what better way to get viewers than to scare all of us human beings? Our minds are geared to watch for weird threats rather than the regular things that become background noise, like obesity and lack of exercise.

I know my answer isn't what anyone is used to hearing from politicians. But I've wanted someone to say this for years, and now it was finally time.

No comments: