The New York Times, April 28, 2008:
The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners.
The Economist, May 19, 2012
Excessive incarceration is an American problem. The country has about 5% of the world’s population but almost 25% of its prisoners, with the world’s largest number of inmates and highest per capita rate of incarceration.
OK. So maybe we'll have to amend our National Anthem to say something like "he land of those of us who happen to be free at the moment." The word "free" is sung too high for must of us to reach anyway.
But what about 'home of he brave." Can't we keep those words?
SIPRI Yearbook 2011 - World's top 15 military spenders
|The world's top 5 military spenders in 2010.|
Figures sourced from the SIPRI Yearbook 2011.
|Rank||Country||Spending ($ Bn.)||% ofGDP||World Share (%)||Spending ($ Bn. PPP)|
Various reports give various numbers:
But they all agree: we spend about as much on War as all other countries combined. That does not, it seems to me, suggest that we are brave. Dangerous, surely; but not breve. Dare I say "cowedly bully?" Guess not. Not accurate. Consequences flow from being the most powerful; thos consequences include that there are those who would take us down. Call us "prudent." But don't call us "brave."
At least let us celebrate the title "Imperium;" "The United States Imperium." It has a nice ring to it.
We are, or I am, through no effort of my own, born into an Imperium that is the most influential cultural entity on the Globe, that has the strongest economy and by far the strongest military power the World as ever known.
I think Republicans would have a president use the imperial power openly, with ostentation. Our current president, who bomb whomever he pleases in what ever country he choses, nevertheless is modest in public assertion of the imperial power, which I think is likely to earn us fewer enemies that a more ostentatious suse of it. More on this in a later post.
"O'er the land of those of us who happen to be free at the moment . . .
. . . and the home of the, er, prudent."
[This chart is interesting, though not relevant to our bravery: it purports to show that the World spends now only slightly more, in constant dollars, on War than it did in 1888.]
If you wonder what it would be like to be one of those 2,300,000 fellow citizens whom we have unnecessarily locked away from the "land of the free", consider:
. . . to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished.
Conditions are crowded, too, in some foreign prisons . . .
. . . and some cruel . . .
. . . but none so cruel as libel Governor Pat Brown's Pelican Bay, where prisoners are locked alone in tiny cubicles 23 hours a day, with no tv, no writing material, no thing to read, nothing to do, indefinitely -- a period which may, at a guard's whim, extend for a day or for the rest of your life, and you can't know what the time period will be.
Footsteps approach. It is to announce my release? Footsteps pause. Or did I only imagine a pause? Footsteps fade. No human communication is permitted. No human touch. I lose my tenuous gip on reality. I go mad. Wouldn't you?
the cell; "home"
The exercise yard, to which one has solitary access one hour out of 24.
If you haven't done it already, check the site of your choice on google, and write to Gov. Brown, asking for immediate action.