I’ve stayed away from dwelling on the reasons that we are leaving the US. Better to spend time on the mechanics of the activity. I’ve avoided the subject, partly because, you can become quite occupied with the forms to fill out, the documents to locate, the money to spend and the moving companies, realtors, lawyers and bankers to communicate with. But in the end I keep coming back to the fact that the US has become a theocracy. Not moving toward it, not in danger of falling into it. It’s there.
I learned the other day that according to a poll in 2003, ’79% of Americans believed in God’. I think the numbers are even higher than that (I heard something like 90% on the news. By the way, when broken down by religion (same poll), Jews had the lowest belief in god: 48%. Among adults as a whole, 66% were absolutely certain (the poll’s language, not mine). (Here’s the poll: http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/index.asp?PID=408)
George Bush constantly uses religion to keep people complacent about the job he is doing (or rather what he is doing to the country). That only goes so far, as his ‘poll’ numbers show. Nevertheless, while people may disapprove of his handling of the war, Social Security, Health Care, the economy, and whatever else he could have an impact on, they nevertheless follow that up with ‘But he’s a good man’ or ‘I still believe in his morality’. And for that, they give him a free pass to do whatever he wants, giving handouts to corporate cronies, or privatizing (which usually means dismantling) some other aspect or activity of the public sector.
In fact, Americans now no longer believe that you can be moral without being religious. They believe that the two are one in the same. That’s just ludicrous. And it gets really weird when you start to look at things logically (which religion seems to be counter): OK, in Freakonomics, a fascinating new book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, a bunch of economists do some analysis on everyday things, like what do people typically die of, or why drug dealers live with their moms. Logic, and statistical analysis, as the literature about the book put it, “regularly turn the conventional wisdom on its head”. It offers this extremely non-religious, non-mystical, and refreshing view:
“What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world, despite a surfeit of obfuscation, complication, and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and — if the right questions are asked — is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking.”
Why did I segue into this discussion of Freakonomics from religion and morality? Because it can indeed be more moral, to take the non-religious view. The religious view, particularly of Christian Conservatives has been that abortion is immoral, that we should save the life of the unborn child. Yet, here’s an abstract from a paper posted on the National Bureau of Economic Research site, (a view that is echoed in Levitt and Dubner’s book):
“We offer evidence that legalized abortion has contributed significantly to recent crime reductions. Crime began to fall roughly 18 years after abortion legalization. The 5 states that allowed abortion in 1970 experienced declines earlier than the rest of the nation, which legalized in 1973 with Roe v. Wade. States with high abortion rates in the 1970s and 1980s experienced greater crime reductions in the 1990s. In high abortion states, only arrests of those born after abortion legalization fall relative to low abortion states. Legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime.”
— NBER Working Paper No. 8004, Issued November 2000
It seems that those unwanted children grow up to become career criminals at an alarming rate. Therefore, if you want to save lives by preventing 50% of future crimes, (murder among them), keep abortion safe and legal. The moral thing to do for the future as well as the women forced to support these unwanted children is to allow them (after their own careful deliberation) to terminate their pregnancy. Yet, if we logical non-religious types bring up such facts (and they are facts, not belief), the howls of the pious descend upon us. We are not only wrong, we are bad people, we are immoral and unamerican.
George Bush was interviewed back in 1987 regarding his views on Atheists by Robert I. Sherman, a reporter for the American Atheist news journal. The exchange went like this:
Sherman: What will you do to win the votes of the Americans who are Atheists?
Bush: I guess I’m pretty weak in the Atheist community. Faith in god is important to me.
Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are Atheists?
Bush: No, I don’t know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.
Sherman (somewhat taken aback): Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?
Bush: Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I’m just not very high on Atheists.
So there you have another reason for why we are leaving.