Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Messy Democracy

One of mankind’s worst inventions is that what we call democracy. Giving an idiot or a truly ignorant person the same voting power as to the highly learned, intelligent and hopefully wise one is ridiculous. Of course in principal democracy is a noble idea, but so is communism. People are manipulated easily and votes bought. When was the last time a poor Mr. or Mrs. Smith was elected to an office of any importance in the U.S.? Campaigns are a game for the rich. Issues put in front of voters are too complex for most to understand, and it is next to impossible to get unbiased information on them. Making the opponent look as bad as possible is a standard tactic for any candidate, not trying to come up with new fresh, doable ideas.

This country has an urge to promote its variety of democracy as a model to the world. We are seeing the results in Iran, Iraq and Palestine, even Lebanon. Has anyone bothered to think that perhaps these people, a great percentage of whom aren’t even able to read, would have been better off with a different system, something they have been used to? Emotions run high in world’s political hotspots; few are willing to listen to a voice of reason. Palestine is a good example: we insisted that they have fair elections and democracy. When the unthinkable happened and a militant group that we consider a terrorist organization won, we simply didn’t know how to react or what to do. It is too late to state that we Americans and Europeans will not have anything to do with Hamas. By denying aid we are like sore losers, and are creating a perfect breeding ground for an endless number of future terrorists. People who go hungry and thirsty and have nothing to lose are easily persuaded to commit desperate acts. Without the election, PLO would be still in charge, and at least Israel and the West was having some kind of a dialogue with them. By taking part in a fair election Hamas for once did nothing wrong: they won because people voted for them. People have also given their support to leftist candidates in Latin America, most notably Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, and we are upset. Closer to home, the outcome of the Mexican election is still in dispute. Had the legal and illegal Mexicans in this country been able to vote, most likely the leftists would have fared better, but due to the strict and complicated absentee ballot system in Mexico, only something like one percent were able to cast their vote.

The Middle East situation is truly sad. I can well understand Israel’s desire to disarm their sworn enemy Hezbollah or at least weaken their ability to attack their country. However, the human suffering is hard to take, and innocents have become the victims. Our government has been too uninvolved in the area as they have been since the Clinton era; that much every expert I’ve heard has agreed on. Actually, I think the White House is quite pleased that the horrendous situation in Iraq is no longer front page news. Never mind that the number of casualties in that country is a thousand times higher than Lebanon and Israel. Suicide bombers killing 46 in a mosque barely make the news. Or are these explosions just like fireworks, set off by happy Iraqis to celebrate their new freedom and democracy? A developing pact of Shi’a fundamentalists in power from Iran to Lebanon, via Iraq and Syria, looks absolutely terrifying on the map.

A different kind of conflict is happening at the home front here. A longtime customer of Earthlink, I agreed to have them take over my second phone line and provide a promised extra fast 6 Mbps DSL on it. The previous setup worked perfectly: Qwest took care of the phone service and Earthlink provided the normal speed broadband. All our many computers were networked, no problem. On the day the service was switched the phone went dead and after talking for many hours to India it started working a few days later. The DSL was another story. The green light on the modem would come on and then disappear ten seconds later and this would happen continuously. I spent an entire day on the phone first talking to a hard-to-understand woman in India, and then to a nice and clear man from the Philippines. Finally I asked him to contact someone here locally, and the man from Covad told them instantly that our house is too far from the central to have the promised speed work. The speed was dropped back to 1.5 Mbps and I was finally able to connect to the Internet, at half that speed. However, there has been no way to make the network operate like it did before, even having had professionals come here to try to solve the problem. Essentially we are down to one PC and I dread having to spend another day talking to Earthlink’s technical support, where ever they happen to be this time. I’m also thinking of other solutions. With teenagers who are used to living with the web and a wife who is hard at work writing her book, I’m lucky to be able to check my email. I understand that outsourcing saves American companies a lot of money, but no person on the other side of the globe could have known what was obvious to a local technician. Globalization is another strange phenomena and I’m not certain it works any better than democracy.

On a more pleasant note, my daughter Anna is happy as a clam in Guadalajara and was placed in the second highest Spanish group. She will be able to take her political classes in Spanish unlike most of the others, unless they are native speakers. What a great opportunity this is for her, living with a Mexican family and being treated as a local.