Kudos to the citizens (that’s us!)

I got a new ipod for Christmas with radio, which meant that while I was at the gym yesterday I watched the news.

Obama got it exactly right.  He said the government needs to investigate and learn and get better.  The government’s part is pretty much what you do anytime you have a failure, whether you’re in government or business.  You look for lessons learned and try to do better next time. Yes, the information needed to keep that guy off the plane existed, and it either didn’t get to the right people at the right time or didn’t get used.  We could have stopped 9/11, too.  So we should strive to get better at distributing information.  But I believe there is too much complexity to ever get perfect at it, even though we should keep trying.

Before that part about investigation, he said we all need to be vigilant.  He’s exactly right there, too.   There are a lot of us.  Really, really a lot of us.  Do we want a government that knows every little detail about every one of us?  Conversely, is there anything about our public life (like where we fly and when) that should be hidden from the government?  I’d say no to both concepts.  We need to be watched by the government and we need to watch them back.  Heck, I work for a small government and I get to look both ways.  But the complexity of modern life has far outstripped the government’s ability to watchdog perfectly.  And short of creating a society I don’t want to live in, and probably not even then, it’s not possible for them to protect us all from each other all of the time.

They’ve done a pretty good job lately.  They missed one.  They’ll investigate.  Hopefully they’ll get better.  But Christmas Day was saved for those passengers because of regular people acting watchful, and maybe a little luck since from what I can tell the bomber wasn’t fully competent with his underwear full of explosives.  Let’s hear it for vigilant citizens.

Back to the ipod.  The news last night was mostly people verbally attacking each other.   I get a little tired of trying to fix blame for the sake of looking like you’re right, which was what a lot of the news commentary felt like it was about.   Maybe next time I work out I’ll listen to music.


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