I have been remiss about addressing the questions, concerns and opinions of our fellow, foreign cruisers about the good old United States of America. Most of the people we have interfaced with have either been from the United Kingdom, Australia or Canada. There are many people from other countries, but it appears we are drawn to the people from the English speaking countries. Speaking of which, I perfectly understand the Canadians and Australians, but those people from the United Kingdom are difficult for me to understand. Is that really English? Do the people of Scotland really speak English?
Anyway, here were some of the topics discussed during our recent cruises by our foreign friends.
Guns and Violence
Glen and Willene were a very pleasant couple from Canada. They sat at the adjacent dinner table for about five weeks during our recent South America cruise. Willene, being the strong minded and opinionated person that she is, was appalled by Americans owning so many guns and the gun violence in America.
So, Willene, this is for you. When America gained its independence, they got it from Great Britain. At the time, Great Britain was ruled by a dictatorial meanie named King George III. After winning this war, (with the use of guns) the biggest concern was that we did not form a government that would allow a dictatorial meanie to rule the new America. The Constitution was signed on September 17, 1789. Federalists claimed that the new government would only have limited powers expressly delegated to it. This wasn’t enough assurance for anti-federalists like George Mason. These anti-federalists wanted explicit guarantees to certain rights in order to prevent any potential encroachment by the federal government on state or individual rights. Mason wrote: “A well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural , and safe defense for a free State.”
The Second Amendment was specifically included in the Bill of Rights to prevent this.
Currently, the population of the United States is approximately 330 million. It is estimated that there are about the same number of guns in America. I personally believe that gun estimate is low. Coming from a Midwestern state, hunting was popular. Most hunters had a gun for every hunting occasion. (It is the same principle as women having shoes!)
We introduce guns to our children at the earliest age. After all, once a child is done with a pacifier, a sippy cup or a play pen, you can easily find these items in a garbage can. But you will never find a Colt, a Glock, or a Smith & Wesson in a garbage can! In the age of technology, a handgun is very much like using a computer mouse…..just point and click!
OK, now that I have your attention, I will admit that I don’t think anyone needs an assault weapon. I have never seen anyone hunt with an assault weapon. Police and military – si. Everyone else – no.
Being a country of armed citizens does have its advantages. Japan decided not to invade the United States during WWII because they realized the populace was well armed. Most of the people serving during the two World Wars in the 20th century from the USA were not strangers to weaponry. I believe this can be said about Canada at the time, also. This weaponry knowledge contributed to the winning efforts.
America is the third most populated country on the planet. There are more people in the state of California (38 million) than there are in the entire country of Canada (35 million). Whereas a Canadian would have to travel hundreds of miles to commit a homicide, we Americans do not have any such restrictions! One more thing…..which state in the US has the most concealed handgun permits? Texas? (the most logical choice) Oklahoma? Arizona? The state with the most concealed handgun permits is………….Florida, with over 1 million permits representing over 5% of the population. You may want to remember that before raising a ruckus at Disney World. Mickey could be packing heat! Don’t even think about pinching Snow White! The United States does not even crack the top ten for homicides per capita.
Because of our vast American movie and TV industry, it really does appear that everyone is murdering everyone else on a regular basis in America. Just think of the most popular shows on TV: NCIS, NCIS New Orleans, Blacklist, Castle plus many more. These are some of our favorite programs and they all are murder mysteries. And……….the only way to have a murder mystery is to begin with a murder! Unfortunately, this is what we are exporting to our foreign friends on TV. We no longer have the once popular comedies and variety shows of my formative years. It is murder shows and reality shows, with just a few comedies worth watching.
Movies? We are already at Fast and Furious 7. Most of our movies? Murder. Sex. Violence. How many parents would drop their children off at a movie theater today without knowing which movies were playing? None. But, this is what my parents did while I was growing up as our theater would not show anything not appropriate for all ages.
So, Willene, we are not all really killing each other off here in America. But my offer to you still stands. If you ever feel unsafe in Canada, you can come to our house. We’ll protect you.
Robert is a production manager for a company in Australia. He was one of my smart trivia teammates. He asked me, “How can America have such a huge national debt?” What he really meant was, ‘How can we have such a huge national debt and survive?’ ‘How can we pay it off?
I explained that this is the first year of the Obama administration, when the Republicans gained control of both Federal houses, we have had a budget. Harry Reed, as the Democratic gatekeeper to hell, vowed to never allow a budget bill to be presented to the US Senate for a vote. He kept his word. Now that Harry is no longer Senate majority leader, we surprisingly have a budget!
The majority of our budget is spent on social-welfare programs. Medicare, Medicaid, Social security, Food stamps, welfare a hundred ways………take up the vast majority of Federal Government expense. The military, the usual first target for budget cuts, takes up approximately 22% of our budget.
We will have to eliminate/reduce many welfare programs, revamp social security and address many of these dubious federal departments and policies. This is going to take a strong willed POTUS and a strong willed Congress that will be willing to tackle these huge issues and finally, finally do what is right for America and for the future of America. Paying off the debt? Not during my lifetime. Maybe my grandkids will see it.
America at War!
Rudy was from Canada, one of my trivia teammates, and totally against war. The imposition was that America went to war. Often! Well, let me think. Since 1900, we have only been in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Afghanistan. That’s not so bad for 115 years is it? One war every 20 years. That sounds about average. Oh yeah, then there was occupation of Nicaragua (1912-1933), occupation of Haiti (1915-1934), occupation of Dominican Republic (1916-1924), Russian civil war (1917-1923), Bay of Pigs (1961), occupation of Dominican Republic II (1965-1966), Invasion of Granada (1983), Invasion of Panama ((1989-1990), Somali Civil War (1992-1994), Kosovo War (1999), Libyan civil war (2011), and military intervention against ISIS (2014-?). Did I miss any wars, invasions or occupations?
What can I say? Summer television reruns really suck and we need to keep our military in shape with practice.
Seriously, I agree with Rudy. It would be a much more enjoyable world if there weren’t any more wars. My sister-in-law joined some peace organization and asked me if I took offense to her membership, being that I was a retired military officer. Here was my response. “I absolutely support your efforts to achieve world peace. I don’t know of one soldier that wanted to go to war to prove his manhood. You have me convinced. Now go convince our enemies.” She was taken aback by my response.
So Rudy, you are correct about the United States becoming too involved in world affairs that result in military intervention. But the world, in particular our allies, have thrust the mantle of world power on us, so we have become an easy target.
What concerns me more than the number of military interventions we have been in is this; who are our allies and who are our enemies? Are we helping the dictator of Syria, Assad? Who are the bad Muslim extremists? Sunnis? Shia? Is Iraq our ally or are they going to do the guppy flop to Muslim extremism? Nukes for Iran? What is our stance concerning Israel? I am totally confused as to what is our national policy and who are our enemies and friends. In the meantime, we are still committing military resources all over the world.
So there you have it. My thoughts and responses by three very intelligent people to three legitimate issues concerning our country.
Even though no one from the United Kingdom really expressed their opinions about the USA (I think they are still smarting from losing the Revolutionary War!), I very much admire them for one thing. The political campaign season in the United Kingdom is 6 weeks long! OMG! Our next national election is still 18 months away and I am already suffering from sensory overload as to the potential bazillion candidates from each party. Didn’t we learn anything from them? There ought to be a law!