Marco Rubio Is Wrong: We Are Safe

Very Old Power SawOn Sunday, I was with my father over at Sturgeon’s Mill — a steam powered sawmill that dates back to the 19th century. Once a year, they fire it up. It is loud, with steam everywhere. And it filled me with a sense of dread. Everywhere on the property are reminders that life for people a hundred and fifty years ago was extremely hard and dangerous. I’ve provided a photo of one of the many bits of rubbish on the site. This is the 19th century equivalent of a power saw. The user connected a belt between it and a motor and then used it to cut logs. There is basically no guard and I have no doubt that people often lost lives and (literally) limbs.

Sturgeon’s Mill was part of the logging industry. Logging is still the most dangerous job in American. And it is far more safe now than it was then. The mill is now very much like a museum and there are many pictures of the people who worked at and around the mill. These were hard men. They couldn’t just assume that they would live into old age. There were many ways to die, and they saw that on the job every day. Many people in other countries face the same thing. But things have gotten infinitely better since that time.

Safe - Marco RubioAs a result of this, it is deeply offensive when politicians stoke fear in people and talk about how we aren’t safe. And this is just what Marco Rubio is pushing as his new foreign policy, “The fundamental problem we have in America is that nothing matters if we aren’t safe.” Just on the merits, it isn’t true. Squirrels aren’t safe, yet they still have to go out and gather nuts. The idea that we must be “safe” before we can’t deal with anything else is the thinking of a coward. And let’s face it: for a long time, the rhetoric of the Republicans has been the rhetoric of cowards. Brave people don’t beat their chests.

This, of course, is all about terrorism, which understandably freaks people out. It’s similar to people’s fear of sharks. Most people would choose to be killed by a bear rather than a shark. But the truth is that sharks kill quickly. Everything I know indicates that being killed by a bear is a slow agonizing process. Terrorism is almost no threat — even for people outside the country. Last year, the CDC reported, “Motor vehicle crashes — not crime or terrorism — are the number one killer of healthy US citizens living, working, or traveling in foreign countries.” And just like with logging, cars are far safer than they used to be.

Jonathan Chait referenced the Nazi dentist torturer Christian Szell in Marathon Man, Morbid Marco Rubio Asks America, “Is It Safe?” He doesn’t put it this way, but Rubio’s kind of demagoguery is a form of torture. Even if one is safe, it is traumatic to be afraid — to be constantly told that you are not safe.

But Americans are safe. We are vastly more safe than we used to be. And the things we should worry about are simple things: workplace safety, careful driving, washing your hands before you eat. But look at Rubio’s plan: he wants to get rid of Obamacare, which would make the millions of people getting insurance through the plan far less safe. At the same, his Taken foreign policy ideas will also make us less safe when it comes to terrorism. They remind me of Tom Clancy Combat Concepts.

We are safe. But we will be less so if we allow Marco Rubio to become president.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “Marco Rubio Is Wrong: We Are Safe

  1. When it comes to conservatives and their views of the appropriate role of government, I apply the million dollar test. If a guy in Orange County with a million dollars in assets and 100k per year income can get something or solve a problem privately then he believes that government has no role to play that sphere of life. The million dollar man can buy a comfortable and safe SUV so the government must not spend money on trains or buses. The million dollar man cannot afford to build his own roads so that is an appropriate role for government. The million dollar man does not have to worry about ever being so poor that he will be unable to afford food so food stamps are socialist and evil. A guy worth a million dollars, who owns a warehouse, cannot hire an effective security detail so he “supports” the police.

    Applying this threshold, we can see why ISIS and Ebola dominated the conservative narrative last fall, a terrorist attack or an extremely virulent disease can kill a rich guy as quickly as a poor guy. Aside from a few billionaires, most rich people do not have the resources to control the boarder or to launch an expeditionary force to kill terrorists on the other side of the world so on those matters our Orange County millionaire is socialist and “supports the troops” and applauded Chris Christie for his illegal quarantine last fall. At the local level, I have noticed that conservatives are turning socialist in face of this drought, all these objectivists are suddenly talking about how “we” need to do something.

    I may disagree with a conservative billionaire but I at least respect the fact that he has enough resources to take care of himself. The millionaires and near millionaires are the worst because they are like the hosts of those Fox Business Network shows. When it comes to something like OSHA or workman’s comp, they emphatically say that we don’t need government and that government cannot do anything right. Then when it comes to ISIS, they say how we must rally together “as a nation” and “we” must bomb ISIS into the Stone Age.

    I wish that the allegedly “liberal media” would call conservatives on their small government rhetoric. If you want to cut the size and scope of government but you make exceptions for the Military, the police, prosecutors, courts, highway funding, air traffic controllers, California water projects, farm aid, medicare and social security, what you really want to do is to cut the relatively modest programs that make life for poor Americans a bit less miserable.

    • That’s an excellent model. It also explains why I generally find small business owners to be the most heartless conservatives there are. Of course, I’ve pretty much never met a small business person who wasn’t convinced they were one clogged toilet away from bankruptcy. I understand how they get that way, having grown up in such a family. But really: at some point you need to get a clue and admit that you are doing well.

      The whole “small government” thing really annoys me. The truth is that both liberals and conservatives have a list of the things that they think the government should be doing. So the question is what we are going to spend money on. Liberals don’t care about the size of government — they just want it to do certain things. Conservatives do care about “small government” — but only in a theoretical sense, which is to say in no sense that matters. Are they willing to forego any kind of government that they like for the sake of “small government”? No. In fact, the kinds of government they most like are the kinds that are most threatening to liberty. The list you presented is a good one because it shows that it is all selfish. And that’s fine! But they shouldn’t make out that they are for those for any grand philosophical reason.

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