Category Archives: politics

After America by Mark Steyn

This is a book review for Mark Steyn’s bestselling book After America. Like other book reviews I’ve done here, I’m sort of going to jump around here and there throughout the text, insert my own thoughts where I feel it makes sense, and the like.

I’ll start with some general stuff. Steyn presents one fairly-coherent argument throughout the book, although he jumps here and there weaving thousands of news items together, a rather interesting approach. Steyn’s writing style is quite light, and laugh-out-loud humourous at points, although you may not find it as funny at places where you disagree with Steyn. In America Alone, I found Steyn’s anti-Muslim bias to be a bit annoying. While it is present in After America, it’s not the focus of the book, so I didn’t find that to be a problem for me. Democrats are also a prime target of Steyn, so left-leaning people may want to skip the first part of the book as well as other bits.

The basic premise of the book is this: In his book America Alone, Steyn indicated that all of the industrialized nations, save the United States, were in for a big collapse. Now, however, it seems America has signed on to join the club.

The introduction of the book starts off pretty simply. If something can’t go on forever, it’s going to have to come to a stop sooner or later. Pretty obvious, right? Well, apparently not to those in Washington, because the current unsustainable level of Federal spending is one of those things that is going to have to come to a stop. If you’re spending $4 trillion a year while only bringing in $2 billion a year, either it will eventually become pretty obvious that you have no intention of ever paying the debts off, and China and everyone else who lends the United States money will cut the U.S. off, or the debt will become so enormous that it will bring the country down. Sooner or later, one way or another, the excessive Federal spending will come to a stop. But, the United States hasn’t always had to borrow the way it does now; will we be able to go back to the way thing were? Well, that’s sort of the other problem. Steyn opines that the United States doesn’t quite have what it takes anymore.

It should be no surprise that Steyn believes that government bureaucracy is unhealthy for society as a whole, and he illustrates it with many examples in the book, which would be hilarious if they weren’t true. Meanwhile, as government gets larger and larger, the amount of productive stuff that it seems to do gets smaller and smaller. The book mentions a few examples. In the 1930s, the United States federal government let a contract to build the Hoover Dam. It took only five years to construct, and the project provided jobs during the Depression, created a major tourist attraction, and provides over a billion watts of renewable energy, thus significantly helping the settlement of the area. Has the United States done anything comparable lately? Or take the decade prior to 1969, when America’s space program went from basically nothing to landing a man on the moon. Now we can’t even put a man into space; we’re dependent on Kazakhstan to send them out there. The book cites a quote that claims that Obama has asked NASA to make one of its primary goals to reach out to Muslim nations so that they feel good about their contributions to science. Since Kazakhstan’s population is mostly Muslim, this might be a good strategy to ensure that they don’t cut the United States off, but one can’t help feeling that something’s gone wrong. The book doesn’t do this, but we could perhaps compare the 1940s, in which the United States Army, with some help, managed to defeat both Germany and Japan in the space of only four years, with more recent happenings, in which it took them nearly 10 years to hunt down a single man, and where they’ve created even bigger messes in Iraq and Afghanistan than the messes they were trying to fix in the first place. Why is this all happening?

The book details a few reasons. The first is that, as government grows, it starts spending a lot of time preventing people from doing reasonable things. The book details several examples of county public health units prohibiting things like kids’ lemonade stands, people selling homemade pies at bake sales, and a hardware store providing free coffee and doughnuts to its customers. These sorts of silly rules prevent a lot of positive things; for example, a kid running a lemonade stand has the opportunity to learn about initiative, entrepreneurship, the value of money, and a lot of things that they aren’t going to learn in school. It seems, though, that local public health units would rather have kids sit in front of the TV and increase their risk for developing diabetes and heart disease, so that they can justify an increase in their budget to fight those problems. How disingenious of them.

That’s one of the other things about government, though: It has a tendency to reward failure. You’re a car company that makes cars only marginally better than Yugos and goes bankrupt? Payout! You’re a bank that blows your investors’ money on bad investments? Payout! You’re an individual who can’t hack it in the world of work? Payout! (Kind of reminds me of Flo in those Progressive auto insurance commercials. Maybe she could get a job in government). In turn, rewarding failure ends up discouraging success. Imagine that you could wave a magic wand and completely eliminate a societal problem that the government spends a lot of resources on, such as the War on Drugs or the War on Cancer or the War on Terror or even something important that isn’t really a war, like violent crime or unemployment or whatever. What would happen? Well, it would mean mass unemployment, mostly among government employees or those whose jobs are a result of government funding. So, the people in the government whom we trust to solve our problems have a vested interest in ensuring that they don’t get solved.

Fortunately, there is a sure-fire formula for failure. It’s to cram a whole bunch of conflicting goals into any project that is undertaken. Looking back again at the Hoover Dam and World War II and the Apollo program, they all had a pretty clear focus. Would the Apollo program have met its goals if it were required to provide a venue for scientific research and the rocket ships had to be made from parts built in impoverished areas of the United States and had to be wheelchair-accessible and barrier-free and the crews had to represent all of the genders, races, and cultures of America? Would the Hoover Dam have been built two years ahead of schedule if, in order to stimulate the economy in Connecticut, they had to use concrete from Connecticut (which would probably take forever to get there and have hardened before it could be poured), and if they had to ensure there were no impact to any ecosystems in the river? Would World War II have been won as quickly if the Army’s top priority was workplace diversity? Probably not. However, once you get enough levels of government with enough departments with conflicting priorities, it’s almost inevitable that projects will wind up like that.

With government making it difficult for people to succeed and rewarding them for failing, it isn’t a surprise that this sort of mediocrity is spreading to the private sector. As I’m writing this paragraph, I’m on a bus that’s passing by a century-old office building in my town. They’re busy restoring the historic façade of the building. Well, maybe “busy” isn’t the correct word for this, because they’ve spent three years on the project and it appears to only be half done. This despite the fact that the façade wasn’t in that bad shape to begin with. Interestingly enough, the entire building only took two years to build 100 years ago. Why is it taking so much longer to do a much smaller task? The book provides a lot of more prominent examples too.

But, no matter what the evidence of decadence, Steyn feels that it can all trace back to individuals (or at least that’s my reading of the book). Sure, the U.S. federal government may be spending twice as much as it brings in, but it was the citizens that elected it. The county health unit may be making weird rules, but people meekly follow those rules. Policies may prohibit police officers from saving drowning people, but it’s individuals that choose to follow those policies.

In the introduction, Steyn quotes an interesting blog post by Bruce Charlton that asserts that human capability had peaked around 1965–75 and has been going downwards ever since. Steyn also commonly uses an example of a time traveller from 1890 who travels to 1950 and finds that everything has changed. Moving forward another 60 years, the time traveller might not be able to find the same degree of changes. Sure, the TV screens are flatter and in colour and whatnot, but the sort of revolutionary changes between 1890 and 1950 aren’t there. Personally, as someone who spends most of their time using a technology that wasn’t available in 1950, I would disagree with that statement, but let’s assume that it’s true for the rest of the review. Steyn illustrates a lot of examples of this downhill trend throughout the book, and even manages to find an interesting analogy from a socialist-leaning work of fiction. In one chapter Steyn compares, and not entirely favourably, modern humanity with the Eloi of H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine, a childlike, uncurious, undisciplined, decadent race. Steyn provides lots of examples of this decadence in the book. The basic idea is that, like the Eloi, modern Americans have sort of gone soft.

So why has this happened? The book explores several possible reasons. One reason is, as government gets bigger, the citizen gets worse. Americans donate more per person to charity than those of nations with larger governments, whose citizens spend more time worrying about what’s in it for them. Steyn paints a portrait of Greek civil service that makes me want to move to Greece and become a civil servant. The typical Greek civil servant works 24/7: 24 hours a week, 7 months a year. And don’t forget early retirement, which can come even earlier if you perform a hazardous profession like, say, cutting hair. Sure, Greece is an excellent example of a civil service gone soft, but this sort of thing can be found in America as well. However, it’s kind of hard to stop the gravy train. If you try, well, the results aren’t pretty. I’m reminded of the quote in Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love: “In a mature society, ‘civil servant’ is semantically equal to ‘civil master.’”

Bigger government also results in more micromanagement of every aspect of people’s lives. Even though Americans live in a democracy, their lives are controlled and micromanaged to a greater degree than any despot who lived at least a few hundred years ago could have dreamed of. Obviously, this makes it a little more difficult to operate anywhere near your full potential.

Steyn also laments the education of the citizenry, both formally and informally. It appears that Americans are no longer educated on what it means to be an American; the school system cranks out graduates that can’t read or write; in college, feel-good courses have replaced courses that teach actual knowledge; many Americans seem unable to make sound judgements about, well, almost anything.

Steyn also sees the country being populated with Peter Pans. Sure, males may not have wanted to grow up in previous generations either, but marriage and children forced them to. Nowadays, there’s no pressure nowadays to do either. Government has a hand in here too; while there have always been idle youth in Great Britain, previously this was reserved for scions of the rich, not necessarily anyone. With the government rewarding failure and discouraging success, it makes it perfectly acceptable to “fail”.

When you sum it up, it adds up to big potential problems. Fortunately, Steyn is also willing to provide suggested solutions.

Steyn presents a very compelling argument, but the anecdote-based nature of the argument suggests that more formal investigation could be necessary. Is this generation really all that bad? There is a history of every generation seeing the worst in the succeeding generation, and possibly this is just more of the same. I wonder whether history is biased in preserving the better examples of past generations, which of course will compare favourably to the modern average.  As well, Steyn doesn’t give a lot of weight to some significant recent advances, such as the proliferation of computers (as I previously mentioned).  Sure, the fact that we have computers hasn’t made all of our problems go away, but perhaps more credit is due here?  There are various other little points of Steyn’s that I would disagree with, but I’m pretty sure that it’s impossible for any one person to agree with absolutely everything argued in a book of that size. All in all, a very interesting book.

U.S. Debt Ceiling redux, redux

Okay, last post on the U.S. debt issue for a while.  Reading some more newspapers since the last time I wrote, it also appears that S&P’s downgrading of the United States’ credit rating is also based on the brinksmanship that led to the debt ceiling crisis in the first place, that the government of the United States is not really able to deal with issues as one would suspect they might be.  True, but sorry to see.  Unfortunately, there are politicians that aren’t really interested in acting in the better good of the country.

The United States federal government is addicted to debt like an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol.  Just like the alcoholic needs to quit, the United States needs to quit borrowing.  However, if the alcoholic were to quit cold turkey, he could die (from a seizure etc.).  Similarly, the United States can’t just stop borrowing like some Tea Partiers think it should; it needs to get off borrowing, but it needs to do it gradually, not all at once.

Alright, I’m going to write about something else now.

Are America's Best Days Behind It?

A few days ago I was reading a blog entry from CNN’s Jack Cafferty with this title. As one commenter noted, the fact that the question is even being asked suggests what the answer is, and in fact the majority of commenters answered in the affirmative, noting dysfunctional government, spiralling debt, the decline of the middle class, massive expenditures on dead-end wars, politicians who have sold out to the highest bidder, a declining educational system, the loss of manufacturing jobs, citizens wasting all their time on cellphones and social media and not being educated about the issues, and all kinds of other woes that are afflicting the United States.

Throughout all of history, just about every state that has risen to the top of the heap has eventually fallen. The Egyptians, the Hittites, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Franks, the Mongols, and lots of other nations have fallen. Sure, there are a few exceptions. Turkey is the (much reduced) remnant of what used to be the Ottoman Empire, China has lasted for a few millennia, and Japan has been around for a while too, but, nonetheless, these nations have seen ups and downs, revolutions, invasions, and the like. So, it seems reasonable to assume that, sooner or later, the United States will fall or at least have some “down” times. This doesn’t mean that this is going to happen imminently, but it doesn’t mean it won’t, either.

When the United States was created over 200 years ago, it was, in part, an interesting experiment. Back then, most people felt that people were best governed by a small elite group of people who had been groomed for the role since youth and would be well prepared to lead. The United States decided to do things differently, by having the people choose who would lead them.

Back then, communication and transportation were incredibly slow, and it was only practical for people to go to elect their leaders every couple of years or so. Two hundred years later, we are all in instantaneous communication with each other, so going to the polls every two or four years seems positively slow by comparison.

Just like systems of government based on the rule of an elite aristocracy have, for the most part, either disappeared or evolved into democratic governments, it seems likely that democratic governments will eventually evolve into something better. Two characteristics of a better government would be:

  • One in which citizens are constantly able to voice their opinions in a meaningful way, not just once every four years
  • One in which all parties are able to reach consensus, not like today where 51% can enforce their will on the other 49%

Will the stalemate in Washington result in new and improved forms of government involving? I doubt it. However, I suspect it will happen eventually, and this may be the first step.

U.S. National Debt, Debt Ceiling, and Hyper-Partisanship

I’ve been following the gridlock in Washington around the need to raise the debt ceiling a bit lately.  I just wanted to share a few thoughts.

The U.S. National Debt (it’s so large I’m writing it using capital letters (-:  ) is approaching $14.3 trillion dollars.  Let’s say that there are 300 million people in the United States (this is a bit of an underestimate now, as the population hit 300 million five years ago). That works out to about $47,000 for every person in the United States.  Five years ago, the U.S. national debt was about $6 trillion less than it is now.  So, over the past five years, the United States has spent $20,000 per person more than it has taken in.  If you are an American taxpayer, have you, for each of the past five years, been getting $4,000 per year more than you’ve been paying in taxes over the last five years  (whether in money, services, or some other form) from the U.S. Federal Government?  I would imagine that, for most people, this is not the case.  One might then ask where all the money’s going.  I’m not going to analyze the budget in detail, but I’m just going to suggest that I would suspect that there’s a lot of money that doesn’t really need to be spent (for example, the government paying people or nations for jobs that don’t really need to be done).

There’s one more thing that I wanted to explore.  Is it just a coincidence that this hyper-partisanship (to use a word that I heard on CNN today, although I’m sure it isn’t a new word) that is causing this problem arises around the same time as the Internet has become popular?  I don’t think so.  I would suspect that the Internet has made it a lot easier to connect with people who hold extreme opinions (whether on the left or right).  Once one connects with others who share your opinion, it will probably be quite easy to drift into holding increasingly extreme views.  Such a thing wasn’t possible 20 years ago when the mass media was virtually the only media available.

It’s a very interesting problem and it will be interesting to see what the solution will be.

Vote Compass Redux, and the Plight of the Liberal Party

About a month ago I wrote a post about, in part, CBC’s Vote Compass.  This is kind of old news now, but in light of how the election campaign has been going the past few weeks, I wanted to discuss it again.

As you’ll recall, I had discussed the scenario that Vote Compass would indicate that two people with diametrically opposite views on everything would both be closest to the Liberal party.  I assume that the algorithm that the site uses goes something along the lines of “if half of your answers are right-wing and half of your answers are left-wing, then you’d land right in the centre”.  In other words, some sort of scoring the answers and averaging them out.

Is that really the way that people think when they vote?  When you go to the polls tomorrow to vote, will you be thinking “Well, Party X is a little too left-wing for me on this issue and a little too right-wing for me on that issue, so if you put the two together, they should be the right fit for me”?  I would imagine not, for the most part.  I would imagine that you would look for the party whose stance best agrees with yours on whatever issues you find important.

To give an example, imagine that there are two parties, Party X and Party Y, and four issues, Issue A, Issue B, Issue C, and Issue D.  Say that Party X is a somewhat too left-wing for your tastes on Issue A and Issue B, and somewhat too right-wing on Issue C and Issue D, and that Party Y is a good match for your tastes on Issue B and Issue C, but is nowhere near your beliefs on Issue A and Issue D.   I would suggest that most people would vote for Party Y, with whom they agree on two of the issues, rather than Party X, with whom they don’t agree on anything.

Similarly, people who answered “Strongly Agree” or “Strongly Disagree” to every question on Vote Compass would be more likely to vote for whichever party agreed with their stance on the most issues (probably either the party of the right, the Conservatives, or the party of the left, the NDP) rather than averaging their answers out and voting for the party of the middle, the Liberals.

This brings me to something else that’s come up over the past few weeks.  Opinion surveys now indicate that the Liberals have been significantly overtaken by the NDP.  While there are many explanations, I would suggest that one explanation for this is that more and more people are finding that they agree with specific issues in the Conservative or the NDP platforms; while the Liberal platform may provide close matches to their beliefs, it just isn’t as close as the other parties.  What do the Liberals stand for, anyway?  It certainly seems that, over the past little while anyway, the Liberals have become less and less principled and instead have just stood for whatever centrist mush will get them votes.  I think that more and more people are noticing this, and, as already discussed, people aren’t going to vote based on averaging all of their opinions, it means that the Liberals are going to get fewer and fewer votes.

April Fools! There's an Election in Canada!

Is it just me, or are more and more companies getting into April Fool’s Day nowadays? Yesterday, Gmail announced “Gmail motion”, which would allow users to check their e-mail in the same manner as they play PlayStation Move. Reddit, after having previously introduced a “Reddit Gold” account option, announced a new option, “Reddit Mold”. The Huffington Post announced subscription-only access, but for New York Times employees only. Kodak announced the introduction of “photo diapers”, and Ikea announced a new product, the Hundstol “dog highchair” (my dog would love that!). I could go on and on and on.

One group that seems to be missing from the flood of April Fool’s jokes are Canada’s political parties. With that in mind, I’ve created some of my own for them (one day late, sorry, but they kept me waiting):

  • Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, who has been looking for star candidates to run in various Toronto ridings, announced that Julian Assange would be running in Toronto Centre. Harper brokered a secret deal with Sweden to have all charges against Assange dropped (the details of this arrangement have not yet been leaked, er, released).
  • Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff announced yesterday that his party would be seeking better foreign relations with Russia, through pushing for the restoration of the Russian Empire. Ignatieff’s family, who would be nobility under the Russian Empire, would cultivate improved relationships with Canada. Ignatieff would also push for the return of Alaska from the United States to Russia.
  • NDP leader Jack Layton announced yesterday that, in order for the colour spectrum to align with the political spectrum in Canada, and because his party is to the left of the Liberal party, he would be changing the party’s colour from orange to infrared. You can expect to see infrared lawn signs, TV commercials, and the like starting next week.
  • Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe announced yesterday that his party, instead of only running candidates in Quebec as it has done up until now, would be running candidates in all ten provinces and three territories. The candidates outside of Quebec would run on a different platform than those in Quebec. Instead of promoting Quebec separating from Canada, they would be promoting the other nine provinces and three territories separating together from Canada.
  • Green party leader Elizabeth May announced that she would, in fact, be on a nationally televised debate this year, due to a CTV network insider who is a Green supporter. That same insider has also excluded Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton, and Gilles Duceppe from the debate. You can see the debate on CTV April 18th at 7:00. One thing that the news release didn’t mention is that it’s 7:00 am, Newfoundland time.

CBC's Vote Compass and Voter Apathy

It’s been about a week since the federal election was called in Canada.  As part of their election coverage, the CBC has published Vote Compass, designed to show Canadians which party’s political views are closest to their own. Several issues with this tool have been pointed out.  I think an interesting flaw was pointed out by Queen’s University professor Kathy Brock. She tried the survey three times; the first selecting “somewhat agree” for everything, the second “somewhat disagree” for everything, and the third “strongly agree for everything. Each time the survey scored the results as being closest to the Liberal party (the article didn’t say what the results were if you strongly disagreed with everything, but I tried it out myself and the result was also Liberal).

The people that designed the survey pointed out that the questions were split between the left and right of the political spectrum, so if you answer all of the questions the same you’ll answer half to the left and half to the right, which presumably averages out to the centre, which presumably corresponds to being a Liberal (only in Canada). Fair enough; if you are an independent thinker and have these half-left-wing, half-right-wing views, possibly you’d be happy with a party that’s in the middle rather than a party that drives you up the wall 50% of the time.

Let’s assume that there are two hypothetical voters out there, one of whose opinions is such that he/she would answer “strongly agree” to each of the CBC’s questions, and the other would answer “strongly disagree” to each question. Further assume that they take the advice of the CBC’s survey and both vote Liberal. Now, if the Liberals were to win the election (which I doubt, but this is all hypothetical (-: ). Now, the Liberals can only take one position on each issue. Since these two voters have opposite views on every issue, at least one of these two people is going to be unhappy with every action that the Liberals take, even though both of these people voted Liberal and even though the Liberal party is closest to both of these people’s views.

This isn’t something that only happens in fantasyland; it happens in real life as well. No doubt, assuming you’re old enough and occasionally vote for political parties that win, you’ve had the disillusioning experience of voting for some party or another, the party getting elected, and then the party doing all kinds of things you don’t like. This isn’t because the party decided to break all of its election promises. It’s because there are so many issues and the party simply can’t have the same views as you do all of the time.

I think that this disillusionment is the cause of a fair bit of of voter apathy, another topic that is often in the news around this time of year. Who wouldn’t get tired of year after year of voting and then not have the party in power doing what you want?

I feel that this is a problem that technology can solve. Looking back to the dawn of democracy in ancient Greece, the people (well, at least those people who were citizens) would participate in the political process directly, instead of electing representatives to participate for them.  This would require that those participating in the democratic process spend a significant amount of time away from their farm or their profession, which was rather inconvenient. Thus was born the practice of electing political representatives, instead of people representing themselves. However, in a world where people vote for their favourites on Dancing With the Stars and American Idol every week, it seems way too infrequent for people to only have one chance to voice their political opinions every three or four or five years.

It doesn’t seem likely that we can just immediately ditch the existing political machine and replace it with one where people directly represent themselves electronically. On the other hand, I think that, with modern technology, it would be important to create something where the general public can actually influence government decisions. I think that the best way to start would be to create various votes along the lines of referendums (referenda?), which bind the government to taking some action or another based on the result of the vote. These should be held online in a manner that it’s not prohibitively expensive to hold. We should probably start with matters that aren’t too significant, as I’m sure there will be flaws in the system to start. I suspect that giving people this sort of direct involvement will stimulate their interest in politics, and turn “voter apathy” into a thing of the past.

Jared Loughner and the Quest for Certainty

Like many people, I’ve read many of the news reports on the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and the killing of several other people by Jared Loughner.  Two articles in yesterday’s (Monday) USA Today caught my eye.  The first one, on the front page, asked: “Have nasty politics gotten out of hand?”  This article, among a large number that can be found at various news outlets, essentially asked whether the strong partisanship and anti-government language that have become a hallmark of modern American politics might incite nutjobs like Loughner to violence against politicians.  The majority of readers don’t agree, and with good reason.  Certainly the current political climate preceded the recent shooting, but that doesn’t mean that it was necessarily a cause of the shooting; believing otherwise would commit the fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc. Of course that doesn’t rule out the possibility that, in this case, it may have happened to be a cause.  So, what should we do?

I don’t think that it makes sense to tone down the nasty political rhetoric simply to prevent violence.  Why?  Well, one of the reasons why nutjobs like Loughner scare people so badly is because of their unpredictability; we just don’t know what will set them off.  Conceivably anything at all could set them off.  However, we can’t just stop doing everything for fear of setting off this very rare breed of person; it doesn’t make sense.

The other thing that I noticed was on the editorial page, a quote from The New Yorker, written by Amy Davidson:  “Where can you take a child in this country?  If to the supermarket, to meet her congresswoman, is no longer on that list, then we are in trouble.”  This seems like a highly irrational idea to me. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, there are around 50 million children aged 11 or under in the United States.  Out of all of these people, only one of them has been killed on a visit to meet his/her congressman/woman.  Odds of 1 in 50 million are pretty good, especially compared with the thousands of children killed each year in automobile accidents.  It’s still safe to go to the mall and see your congressman/woman; this was just an isolated incident.

I think that both of these opinions stem from a single erroneous belief, the belief that a risk-free world is possible. In the book Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear by Dan Gardner, he writes about surveys done by Daniel Krewski that found that this incorrect belief is shared by about half of the Canadian population, and that these people expect that the government should protect them completely from all risk in their lives.  While this sounds nice, it simply isn’t possible because everything that one does involves risk.  There has never been a place where you can take a child where there is zero risk of anything bad happening.  If you take your child to see your congresswoman, there may be a tiny risk that they are shot and killed by a nutjob.  If you take them to karate instead, they may get injured performing a karate move, or they could get killed in a car accident on the way there.  If you have them stay at home, they could become obese and die early from diabetes or heart disease, or they could read extremist material on the Internet that triggers them to commit violent crime, or there could be an earthquake and the house could collapse on them.  No matter what you do, the possibility of something bad happening is always there; it’s just that the risk is usually so low that we don’t have to worry about it.  Certainly the chance of getting shot by an insane person is so incredibly low that we don’t need to worry about it.

So, to conclude, don’t change your life just because of Saturday’s shooting.  Just continue doing what you do best. Don’t worry that you’re going to set some nutjob off.  Don’t worry that you’re going to get caught in a shootout. The risk are just too low to waste your life worrying about, and life’s just too short to waste time worrying about stuff that most likely won’t happen to you.