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Monday, March 14, 2011

Man’s Quest for the Perfect World

“Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.” — Edmund Burke

Ever since I was a child I heard the old saw, “there ought to be a law” or “they should do something about it.” It did not take me long to realize that “they” meant government. If someone did not like something such as a lady wearing a big hat in a theater or a person smoking in their favorite restaurant they wanted a law passed banning it. In other words they wanted a world molded to their view of perfection.

Man’s quest for a perfect world has been going on since the day Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden. In general this is a quest demanded by liberals.

I once watched of those old hackneyed British WWII movies. The scene that comes to mind is one of two British Tommies sitting in a foxhole envisioning the world once the war was over and Hitler defeated. They were talking about a world with no more war, no more poverty, equal rights, and jobs for everyone. Many folks thought like this during and immediately after WWII. It was natural.

The Tommies (actually the lefty writers) could not see Britain 50 years later when the British government attempted to deliver on the vision of the Tommies. Instead they got a socialistic nanny state that could not deliver on any of the promises the government made.

The Tommies did not see Stalin murdering 60 million of his own people or Mao Tse-tung killing millions of Chinese through murder and famine. They could not foresee the Cambodian killing fields of Pol Pot or the mass graves in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda of the victims of ethnic cleansing. The Tommies had a dream that was based on communist rhetoric and not on reality.

The folks on the left are constantly harping on the so called “perfect world” where government has the power to protect us from every ill or tragedy. We have a United Nations, whose goal is to grind the swords into plow shears, but is powerless to so. We have an European Union that regulates everything from the curve in the banana to the size of a tractor seat. We have so many ABC departments in the U.S. government we can’t begin to count them.

We are mandated to wear seat belts, motorcycle helmets and headgear when riding a bicycle. We are told not to eat hamburgers or fatty foods. We told we consume too much energy and should walk more. While all of these may be prudent suggestions they are not the business of government. Once we used DDT to combat insects such as lice and mosquitos but Rachel Carson got it banned. Consequently millions of Africans died of malaria or dengue fever because of the lack of mosquito control — all in the name of makig a perfect world. Let’s just take a few very recent examples of our perfect world.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 33,308 people died as the result of traffic accidents in 2009. 1,522,648 died as the result of vehicle related accidents from 1975 to 2009 with an average of 43,504 per year. In 34 years we have reduced the number of traffic fatalities by about 14% or about 0.5% each year. This has been accomplished with safer cars, better roads, better trauma medicine and trillions of dollars.

As a former highway engineer I know something about the money and technology used to make our roads safer. We straightened curves, flattened grades, improved sight distances, widened lanes, used better stripping and marking materials, installed roadway lighting, and increased signage — all of this at a cost of trillions of dollars. Yes, a 14% decrease over 34 years is admirable, but it is still the nut holding the steering wheel that causes accident.

Last weekend a bus carrying returning passengers from a gambling sojourn to an Indian casino in Connecticut crashed on a New York highway killing 15 of the passengers. There are conflicting accounts as to the cause of the accident and he NTSB is investigating.

Japan Quake 3-13 ElevenLast week a 9.0 earthquake hit of the coast of Japan. Remember that the Richter scale is logarithmic and a magnitude of 9 is 103 (1,000) times greater than a magnitude 6, which we are used to in California. The quake generated a tsunami that affected coast lines throughout the Pacific Ocean, including California where one man was killed while taking video of the wave. The death toll is still unclear, but it is expected to reach into the tens of thousands.

japanquake640One of the results of the quake and tsunami is the damage and resulting meltdown of three of Japan’s nuclear reactors. Japan has 55 nuclear reactors in 17 plants. The most dangerous event was at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant 40 miles from the earthquake's epicenter. The Fukushima Daiichi unit is just one of five reactors severely imperiled by the earthquake. The Fukushima plant covers about 865 acres and it is built on solid bedrock. Opened in 1971 — the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (No.1) would be marking its 40th anniversary on March 26. Some 40,000 people had evacuated from the areas around two Fukushima plants as of Saturday afternoon, according to reports. Authorities evacuated a 12.5 mile radius around the reactor, and told residents within 16.5 miles to remain indoors.

According to the European Nuclear Society there are, as of Jan 19, 2011, in 30 countries 442 nuclear power plant units with an installed electric net capacity of about 375 GW are in operation. There are an additional 65 plants with an installed capacity of 63 GW in 16 countries under construction. (The gigawatt (GW) is equal to one billion (109) watts or 1 gigawatt = 1000 megawatts). Hoover Dam has two 2.4 megawatt electric generators A wind turbine will produce 1 megawatt when operating.

France produces about 70% of its electrical power with its 58 nuclear power plants and sells surplus energy to Germany and the UK. The U.S. has 104 nuclear plants with one under construction.

There have been 26 incidents at nuclear power plants since the first one came on line in 1960. Most have been rated at level 1 or 2 on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster was a 7 (the most serious) and Three Mile Island (1979) was a 5. The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station incident has yet to be rated.

Now the harangue against nuclear power will begin from the leftist environmentalist In the words of their number one spokesman, Ralph Nader, They will claim that nuclear power is unsafe at any speed. The 9.0 earthquake and resulting Fukushima power plant incident has given plenty of grist for their anti-everything mill. Once again we have leftists looking for a perfect world.

The third example is the recent conflict in the Middle East. Tunisia, Egypt and Libya in revolt. Terrorism emanating from Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen. Thousands of people being killed and maimed for one reason or another. It may be for independence or it may be because these people just hate each other and want you to adhere to their religion. The British Tommies in the fox hole would be very disappointed in their brave, new socialist world. Somehow the perfect world is escaping them.

Since the end of the Second World War in 1945 there have been over 250 major wars in which over 23 million people have been killed, tens of millions made homeless, and countless millions injured and bereaved. In the history of warfare the twentieth century stands out as the bloodiest and most brutal — three times more people have been killed in wars in the last ninety years than in all the previous five hundred. [Source: Global Issues Overview]

Professor By R.J. Rummel of the University of Hawaii writes in his Democide Since World War II: “From 1945 and up to 1987, about 76,000,000 people have been murdered in cold blood by one regime or another, around thirteen times the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Most of this democide has been done for political reasons (reasons of state or power), but also much of it has been outright genocide (the killing of people by virtue of their ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality--for the difference between democide and genocide, click here). From 1900 to 1987, about 39,000,000 people, including Jews in the Holocaust, were killed in genocide throughout the world. I do not have a breakdown of this total for the post-WWII years, but it seems that the proportion of genocide to overall democide has remained roughly the same. If so, genocide since the war possibly accounted for near 20,000,000 of those murdered.”

“The greatest source of post-war democide was communism (see the communist death toll). During and after the war communists seized power, or came to power with the help of Soviet military might, as in Eastern Europe. In addition to the USSR, Mongolia, Eastern European regimes, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia, communist regimes eventually also included China, North Korea, North Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, Grenada, Afghanistan, Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, and South Yemen, or 26 regimes in all. These communist governments and the communist guerrillas they supported in other countries account for about 66,000,000 of the 76,000,000 murdered since the war, or about 87 percent. Clearly, of all regimes, communist ones have been by far the greatest killer. During these years it has been mostly death by Marxism than more generally by government.”

Was this the dream of the Tommies? I am sure it was, but the dreams were unrealistic. We do not nor will we ever live in a perfect world. No matter how hard man tries to, through his governments or organizations to mold he world to his view of perfection he can’t succeed. Only God can do that and if you believe in the teachings of the Bible God is not really interested in his world, but in his kingdom in heaven or paradise or whatever you want to call it.

The Muslims hate the Jews, the Sunnis hate the Shiites, the Indians hate the Pakistanis and the Hindus hate the Muslims. The Hindus hate the Buddhists and the Croatians still hate the Serbs. The environmentalists hate the developers and the progressives hate the conservatives. I could on and on with this list but it would be redundant and boring. The point has been made.

Albeit we cannot make the world perfect we can, however, make our lives more perfect. We can’t change the world we live in we can only change our lives and adapt. I am not advocating ignoring evil in the world, but trying to live in a world where we can combat evil without expecting perfection. Only people can make a difference, not the government.

In the words of Reinhold Niebuhr: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

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