American inhumanity to Americans:
There are a lot of people in jail in this country.  (Rough Justice ECONOMIST vol. 396 no. 8692 July 24, 2010 page 13 and Too Many Laws, Too Many Prisoners page 26)  We lock up people for a long time for things that, and the ECONOMIST makes a persuasive point of this, things that should not even be criminal activities.  We lock up more people than any other society that has ever existed. 

Well to be fair, one must allow for the fact that we lock up people for things that elsewhere they might be shot for, but we still seem to lock up far too many.

The article has a simple explanation.  Politicians lack the courage to stand up to the demands of their constituents for harsh penalties.  Here I part ways with the article.  The politician’s job is to expedite the will of the people.  If you cannot live with the will of the people, don’t offer to serve them that way.  Apparently this journalist feels that the politician should be above the will of the people.  He will never get my vote. 

I am never going to be governor.  This state has the death penalty.  I would not be willing to sign a death warrant.  In this I take no principled stand against this barbaric practice; I simply don’t want to do it.  That does not mean I am not against it.  I just don’t have to be against it in order not to want to be part of it.  If I am called for jury duty and the death penalty is a possibility, so be it.  I obey the law.  But I would avoid it if I honestly could. 

I rage against politicians who act in defiance of the will of the people.  I am hardly in a position to make an exception here.

So it is not the politicians’ fault, this high incarceration rate.  Well I can’t go that far.  The article points out that the law, is not only unfair in their eyes but the number and complexity of the laws are such that an honest man cannot always be sure he is on the right side.  But basically, yes, the harsh penalties are there for one reason.  Americans want them. 

So we commit more violent and other crimes than other advanced societies and we punish perpetrators more severely.  I think there is a pattern here.  We don’t like each other very much.

In times past I have traveled widely.  I found one thing everywhere I went.  The people were wonderful.  People have an endearing innocence, and openness, an eagerness to be helpful and to understand.  I find this heartwarming attitude almost everywhere I go.  Only I really don’t find it that much in America.  Again, it looks like we don’t like each other very much. 

We are rich, but not the richest.  We are educated but not the best educated.  We are free but except for doing business not the freest.  Why are we so exceptional when it comes to our attitude toward each other.

Alas, I fear it is our ethnic diversity.  We have more than anybody else.  We are awash in it. 

And why should ethnic diversity turn us into misanthropes?  The thing that I cannot shake off is that there is an automatic hostility to outsiders.  It is not just humans.  All animals face the threat of excessive gene pool size.  Some are territorial.  Some have specific mating sites.  Humans it would seem try – and fail – to work it out by personal animosity. 

Hence the packed jails.

And it’s curable.  Once we understand that mating needs to be kept within a rather tight circle in order to assure high enough fertility to survive, there are going to be two obvious choices.  Some won’t care.  That’s fair enough, pretty much.  They will make their mating choices according to the criteria now used.  And they will fairly quickly die out.  One wishes they would not have children at all, because the children will be affected and they might not be with the same program.  But the right not to have children is, I think, something most of us would agree on.

The others will care.  They will do something about it.  They and their progeny will be the future.  And they will understand that ethnic diversity has nothing to do with it.  It’s a mirage, a red herring, a distraction.  And they will be free to treat those who are different most cordially.

And for Americans that means just about everybody.

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