New anti-Trump trend on TV: Say you’re sorry when you do something wrong

When one advertiser does something completely new and different, like when Budweiser put a dog named ”Spuds MacKenzie” in TV ads in 1987, you may not notice. But when every third ad has a dog in it, as what happened in the first decade of this century, you see a pattern.

So without further ado, let’s have a light drumroll and OpEdge announces the latest trend in television advertising that may have broader social implications…

Big corporations using TV commercials to apologize for past bad behavior. Currently in frequent rotation on multiple channels and cable systems are “mea culpa” ads from Facebook, Uber and Wells Fargo Bank.

What’s most fascinating about these potlatches of apologies is that there are many similarities between the ads these three titans of the 21st century American economy have created to seek the forgiveness of their customers and the general public. The first and most obvious similarity is that all three companies used advanced digital technology to do some very nefarious stuff. Facebook allowed fake ads from foreign governments to interfere in our election and let its vendors raid the personal information of Facebook users. Wells Fargo opened fake accounts, changed customer documents without permission and guided clients with retirement accounts into the wrong investments to get higher fees, all by manipulating customer databases. Uber’s laundry list of bad behavior would take dozens of pages to list but includes violating laws in 20 states, data breeches, illegal disruption of competitors’ operations and at least one old-fashioned crime that doesn’t always require a computer—sexual harassment.

But using computer technology to break the law or, in the case of Facebook, betray a lot of people, isn’t the only thing that these companies and their “We’re sorry” commercials have in common!

All three have produced and are broadcasting ads which completely sanitize the pain their corporate misbehavior caused. All three companies issue very clear apologies but we never learn for what. Even Facebook’s cute-as-a-Smurf rendition of what happened talks about the bad guys who got onto Facebook and not about how Facebook facilitated and made tons of money off their manipulations of data and people. Wells Fargo never tells us explicitly what its managers did without the permission of customers. Uber doesn’t even reference the badness of the past in its intense focus on how wonderful things are now.

While ignoring the past, the companies all brightly tell us how they are fixing the problem and making things better. Wells Fargo talks about changing manager incentives. Uber touts its new leader and a new corporate-wide attitude that puts good treatment of drivers and riders first. All Facebook says is that the bad guys can’t get in any more so we’re free to build our beautiful global networks of friends again. We never learn why these large companies made the changes they did, and all three companies suggest in subtle, sub-textual ways that it wasn’t their fault. The changes and the reason for them are never placed in a context, but float weightlessly is some weird corporate ether.

The styles of the spots are so similar that you might guess it’s the same ad agency that created all of them, but you’d be wrong; the fact that three different agencies came up with similarly squeamish approaches suggests an industry-wide trend. All have bright, happy music. The visuals in all depend almost exclusively on extreme close-ups, in Facebook’s case of computer screens, many of hand-held computers that also make phone calls and take photos. Oh, yeah, smart phones. The visuals in all cases communicate the same message: The company improves your quality of life. In the case of Wells Fargo and Uber, the effect creates a hyped-up, go-go feeling; the Facebook ad feels dreamier, like a bedtime story. But all three ads reside in a corporate fantasy land in which mistakes are no longer made. (And note how I used the corporate passive “mistakes are no longer made” which never tells us who made them instead of the more upright and direct “they no longer make mistakes.”)

Wells Fargo, the oldest and most traditional of these companies, has also laid out a ton of moolah on a print advertising campaign that creates a two-page spread of what is supposed to look like real news. I saw the spread in the middle of the first section of the Sunday New York Times. The seven stories detail the support the bank gives charities and how its loans help improve lives and society. Wells Fargo hits all the hot buttons: climate change, affordable housing, help to veterans, Native Americans.

The apologies seem strange and somewhat refreshing in the take-no-prisoners, never-back-down zeitgeist created by the Trump Administration. In the Age of Trump, the level of public discourse has sunk so low, so many media outlets endorse so many lies by Trump and others, and the tensions between conflicting sides has been stoked so intensely that we may have collectively forgotten how powerful a sincere, or sincere-sounding, apology is in winning over the hearts and minds of those angry at you. For Trump and Trumpites like Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the Washington State University head football coach Mike Leach, who tweeted out lies about President Obama last week, there’s never a need to apologize, no matter how outrageous the lie or how horrendous the action. Of course, if the current administration and its supporters publicly atoned every time they lied or did something that harmed our country, we would need not one but two or three 24/7 government news services that did nothing but pump out apologies!

Could the sanitized corporate “Mea culpa” ad blitz spread to other companies that have stepped in it, a kind of backside-first reassertion of basic civility by a corporate America fed up with current political rhetoric? We didn’t see the same type of formal apology issued on television when we were having all those data beaches a few years back, nor when all those airlines got caught keeping people in motionless airplanes on runways for hours about five years ago. Yes, the offending corporations apologized and promised they had made things right. But they just didn’t buy expensive national ad campaigns to repeatedly say they’re sorry in front of large national audiences—again and again and again for weeks!

Perhaps corporate America feels so bad about the current direction of public discourse under Trump that corporations want to appear to go out of their way to do the right thing.

That is, after they have been caught doing the wrong thing for years!

Reaction to breaking up families—so similar to Nazi actions against Jews—may be turning point in what Americans will stomach to protect themselves from their own unrealistic fears

Virtually all Democrats and independents and significant numbers of Republicans have joined the mainstream media and much of the right-wing media in condemning the new U.S. policy of separating children from their families at the border no matter what the circumstances. Even evangelical celebrities like Franklin Graham (Billy’s boy) who have made excuses for the past immoralities of Trump have come out against breaking up families. Interestingly enough, condemnation by religious leaders and Republicans intensified after Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders declared that scriptures demanded harsh treatment of children whose parents are fleeing their countries.

Yet if Facebook and Twitter are any indication, a significant number of people are buying into the argument that those seeking asylum from natural or man-made disasters are breaking the law, and that’s what happens to criminals: they lose their families. This anti-immigration faction buys into the brand new policy that no one should enter the United States as a refugee. One heartless Facebooker even reasoned that we don’t let incarcerated prisoners stay with their children and this situation was the same thing, equating convicted felons with victims of forces beyond their control.

In her widely condemned news conference, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen played into the fears and hatreds of those voters who want to shut our borders tight and punish those who try to enter as harshly as possible. Her statement that many drug cartel members rent children to make a better case for entry is absurd. Ever since the Clinton Administration started extreme vetting of refugees and other immigrants, vetting that was quite thorough then and enhanced by Bush II and Obama, U.S. immigration officials can usually pretty quickly ferret out the small numbers of fake families. The proof of that fact is that for decades, study after study shows that crime rates among immigrants—legal and illegal—are much lower than for the native-born population, for both violent and non-violent offenses.

Thus Nielsen builds on the network of lies about immigration that Trump and his supporters have spewed for the past few years. Despite what they say, we do not have an epidemic of violence by immigrant gangs. Hordes of criminals and low lifes are not banging down the gates to get in. But Trump, Sessions, Nielsen and others keep repeating these lies and using them as the excuse for unnecessarily cruel actions such as ending DACA and ripping children from their families at the border.

On both DACA and refuge families, Trump has told the same set of lies repeatedly: 1) A law Democrats passed forced him to do it; 2) He hates it and wants to see it end; 3) But it will take the cooperation of the Democrats and they won’t give it. What a mess of lies we have here! It was Trump alone, perhaps with the urging of racist Sessions and self-loathing Jewish Nazi Stephen Miller, who decided to end DACA. Trump alone who approved the brand-new policy to separate children and parents at the border, even in the case of refugees. Finally, with Republicans controlling every branch of government, no Democrat is needed to pass a law prohibiting separating families at U.S. borders or giving the Dreamers a path to citizenship. What they present as facts are lies. Their logic is a lie.

But the supporters ignore these mendacious arguments, because they believe the main lie: that those entering are primarily bad people who will take our jobs away and that the United States should no longer welcome people fleeing state or gang violence and natural disasters.

The breaking up of families—so similar to Nazi actions against Jews in concentration camps—may symbolize a turning point in what Americans will stomach to protect themselves from their own unrealistic fears. Remember that, when the horrifying news of the Bush II torture gulag made the news, survey after survey showed that more than 50% of all Americans were okay with torture for matters of national security. Their fears and their blood-thirst for revenge after 9/11 spoke so loudly that they didn’t hear the quiet fact that torture doesn’t work. Maybe we should be proud that only 27% of people (but 55% of Republicans) agree with the Trump policy of breaking up families, while 66% are against it. Likewise, 67% of Americans want to give Dreamers citizenship and another 8% want them to stay without becoming citizens. We may approve of torture, but not of ripping families apart.

At this tragic moment, that is small solace for a nation ashamed of itself and aching with the pain of bystanders who feel helpless to relieve the suffering of others.

Atlantic runs ridiculous article that proposes to replace NY subways with driverless hoverboards rented at market price from private companies

Atlantic’s editors must have all taken stupid pills on the same day or forgot that editors are also supposed to check the math. Or maybe they thought it was a science fiction fairy tale when they agreed to run “The New York City Subway Is Beyond Repair” by software expert Peter Wayner?

Wayner proposes to replace the New York subway system with underground paved roads on which a variety of private fleets of driverless vehicles would transport New Yorkers directly to their destinations, all guided by one central scheduling system. Prices would vary depending on the time of day and type of vehicle employed, as Wayner imagines a market for both basic transportation and luxury cars outfitted with a desk and chair. He believes it will be cheaper to convert the subway system and buy fleets of driverless vehicles than the $19 billion that Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) chief Andy Byford says it will take the fix the subways. Wayner, whose expertise in the matter seems to be that he has self-published a few books about driverless cars, prophesizes that it will take less energy to run the tens of thousands driverless vehicles than it does to run the current fleet of subways.

Wayner’s exposition has a sieve-like number of logical holes in it. First off, he never demonstrates why a $19 billion price tag means that, of necessity, we should replace the railed mass transit concept. It’s called a “pons asinorum” in Latin, or “bridge of asses”: A being true does not lead to B being true, and wouldn’t even if both were true, which in this case, they are not.

The article’s basic premise connects two ideas—privatization and replacement of trains by driverless vehicles for individual users—that don’t have to exist together. We could privatize subways or we could have the government finance, build and run the system Wayner proposes. Of course, Wayner believes that privatization will lead to a greater choice of vehicles, amenities and other features without explaining how that could be a benefit to those wanting to get to the office or the jazz club on time and cheaply. Wayner undercuts his own argument without even knowing it when he notes that the subway lines were originally privately run. Yes, they were. But he does not complete his history: Private ownership of subways didn’t work out too well, so within a few decades government took over with a pledge to provide inexpensive and reliable public transportation to 1.75 billion rides a year.

Wayner’s math never really adds up. At best, he does hasty analysis that does not take every factor into consideration; at worst, he’s purposely trying to do some math magic tricks, similar to politicians who propose that lowering taxes on the wealthy and corporations leads to greater job creation.

Let’s start with basic size, which in the case of vehicles matters a lot. The average 10-car subway train holds 1,832 people according to the manufacturer, but Wayner says 2,000 and I saw someone estimate it at 2,200. At rush hour, trains typically hold 103% of capacity, or 1887 if we use the manufacturer’s recommendation. At 1,832 per train at peak capacity, that’s 2.41 square feet per person; at 2,000, it’s 2.21 square feet. The current generation of Segways, the hoverboard I checked, measures from 5.41 square feet to 9.16 square feet, or from 2.25 to 3.8 times larger than the footprint of a subway rider. Thus, excluding the room that will have to exist between each vehicle as it rolls along the underground road, it will take from 2.25 to 3.8 times the total length of driverless vehicles to replace your average subway train at rush hour.

But wait. It’s going to be much more additional space than that. Remember that rich folk will be able to get customized luxury cars. And what about people traveling in groups, those carrying a lot of packages, or people with disabilities? Those traveling with strollers, bicycles or dogs in containers? Those who need to eat while they ride? Some people absolutely have to sit down for health reasons. A lot of the vehicles will end up being bigger than the current 5.41-9.16 square feet of a hoverboard. The bigger the vehicle, the more space needed between vehicles. That’s simple physics. Certainly the space between vehicles will be much more than the inches that separate New Yorkers on rush hour trains. Even with the efficiency of driverless vehicles under a central scheduling authority using sophisticated software, it’s hard to see how individual vehicles will be able to move the New York rush hour crowds as efficiently as an upgraded subway system with new switching systems could do.

That’s where peak pricing comes in, Wayner says. Peak pricing will influence people to select alternative times of day to travel. Let’s forget the obvious logical flaw—that a public authority can also do peak pricing for rail transit. Lots of people do not have flexible hours, and many (if not most) New York employers already stagger start and end times to accommodate the New York rush hour craziness their employees go through. The least flexible in travel times will virtually always be those who earn the least, so moving to any kind of peak pricing for mass transit will inevitably have a disparately negative impact on the poor, and thus go against the basic mission of the subway system for more than a century.

Wayner’s numbers for energy savings are just plain sloppy. He estimates that running the hoverboards will take only 20% of the electrical energy that running the subways does, but conveniently forgets to mention that he’s comparing apples to a basket of mixed fruit. He only estimates the electrical costs for running the hoverboards, whereas the MTA annual use of 1.8 billion kilowatt hours includes the electricity to power the lighting along the tracks, in the stations and outside entrances, the signal system, the toll booths and the elevators; FYI, Weyner’s plan calls for adding more lights to the roadways. Weyner also conveniently forgets to calculate how much electricity the non-hoverboard vehicles will use. Missing, too is an estimate of the total number of vehicles included in his estimate for energy use.

Let’s not forget that after a $19 billion investment, there will be fewer delays and breakdowns, meaning the subway system will use less electrical power.

The article never considers maintenance costs for concrete roads versus rails or the lifespan of hoverboards versus railcars, but he does make a big show of trying to prove it will take much less than $19 billion to convert to his vision. But when it comes to estimating how much it would cost to clean up the subways, pull up the tracks and pave them, add lights, install the appropriate software systems and buy the vehicles, Wayner is pulling numbers out of the air, with no basis. Again, he estimates the costs of hoverboards, but not of the hundreds if not thousands of bigger vehicles that will be needed for those with disabilities, groups, people with packages, those who need to sit and luxury travelers. He never tells us how he derived the figure of $8 million a mile to clean up and he never places a number on the additional lighting that will be required. His budget lacks so many crucial items that it’s essentially worthless in making a comparison to the cost of fixing what ails the subway system.

The paragraph on the great new money-making opportunity that an underground road with driverless vehicles will create makes me wonder if Wayner has ever ridden a New York subway. He sees untapped wealth in placing advertising billboards along these underground roads. He never answers the question why companies are going to want to pay more for ads along the underground roadways than they now pay for ads in the subway cars; nor does he estimate how much more ad space will be available on these underground billboards than already exists inside current subway cars. The only way not to chide him for these omissions is to assume he has never seen subway car advertising, which means he has never ridden in the New York subway.

Another sign that Wayner has never actually ridden the subway extensively is that he never addresses what to do with the 40% of the subway system which is at ground level, or more frequently, dozens of feet above the ground. Does he propose to enclose the elevated lines or place safety rails on their sides, and how much is that going to cost? I can tell you one thing: it will take a ton more money to dig new tunnels to replace the els than it will to complete the MTA’s $19 billion laundry list of current needs.

Subway systems in general are a product of 19th century thinking, just as Wayner accuses them of being. But big deal! That does not mean subways are obsolete, as Wayner declares at the beginning of the article. The idea that dedicated mass transit systems are the ideal way to transport large numbers of people in urban areas is a lot younger than the idea that we should do unto others as we would have others do unto us, or that wheels encounters less friction than blocks in moving a weight over a surface. There are lots of old ideas and technologies that are still valid, many of which have undergone improvement over time; stereo amplifiers than play MP3s, electric screwdrivers, refrigerators that make ice, cars with electronic systems and batteries, and computers that take photos and make phone calls that you can carry with you in your pocket all immediately come to mind. Nothing in this mess of an article should convince us to abandon subways or the $19 billion improvement plan the MTA has developed.

And therein lies the real harm of this article and the real disservice that Wayner and Atlantic have done to New York and the entire country. Right-wingers everywhere will wave the article in the air and declare piously that it’s a waste of money for the state or the federal government to help fund the MTA’s ambitious but necessary improvements. And that has the potential to devastate the New York economy, and therefore the national economy, which is intimately tied to the economic well-being of its largest city. With all due respect to Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco-San Jose, Houston and Atlanta, New York has been the heartbeat of American commerce and finance for almost 200 years now. The New York subway system—like the tunnels taking rail traffic from New Jersey to Manhattan and like the Washington subway system and like our system of roads and bridges and sewer systems everywhere—are living on borrowed time. We have spent the past 30 years cutting infrastructure spending to line the pockets of the wealthy through deep and steady tax cuts. It’s time to invest in our country’s public infrastructure again, not spin pie-in-the-sky free market science fiction fantasies.

Why does Trump keep acting against U.S. interests in foreign policy? Stupidity? Narcissism? Or maybe it’s money from Russia & elsewhere

Let’s take a bird’s eye view at the foreign policy accomplishments of Donald Trump in the past 500+ days:

Trump has insulted our allies and made nice with long-time adversaries, showing a decided preference for autocrats such as the Philippine’s Duarte and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un over democratically elected leaders, especially those who happen to be women.

He has walked away from multilateral agreements that were working such as the Paris Accord and the Iran Nuclear agreement. He has also threatened to blow up other trade agreements and kept the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has given the Chinese an opening to dominate Pacific trade.

Trumpty-Dumpty has inflicted trade tariffs on our allies, who have always played by the international rules of treaties, while helping out a Chinese company ZTE, which was found to have broken trade sanctions multiple times.

He pissed off most of the world by making an unnecessary and totally symbolic move of the U.S. embassy in Israel and he took sides in a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar that we had no business poking our noses into.

Trump has weakened the U.S. foreign policy capability by shrinking the State Department, forcing out career diplomats and not filling open positions. Meanwhile, with the help of Congressional Republicans, he has increased the military budget and approved further development of robot weapons that operate without human intervention and the next generation of nuclear weapons. He has also jacked up American use of military power in a number of global hotspots. The net effect of these policies is to tell the world that America is turning its back on the idea of multilateral diplomacy in favor of pushing its military might around.

Even the one move that might work out in favor of the United States could end up backfiring, an instance of losing by winning. That’s the Korean peninsula. While the world would be safer from nuclear attack if the North Koreans dismantled their nuclear capability, de-escalation of tensions between the two Koreas would curtail the need for so many U.S. troops and weaponry in South Korea, military assets which are directed at China and Russia as much as at North Korea. A peace treaty could also enable China to build a pipeline through North Korea to provide South Korea with natural gas, something that will help both China and Russia. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to broker a peace and thereby denuclearize the Korean position. I’m merely pointing out that to truly contribute to world peace, the United States must in a sense “thread the needle,” i.e., construct a nuanced deal that seems beyond the capabilities of the broad-brushed, bad-with-details Trump to engineer. The result then could be a lopsided deal that while stabilizing the Korean peninsula also destabilizes representational democracy throughout the globe.

Many of Trump’s foreign policy moves, such as the help to ZTE and the bullying of Qatar have seemed to be connected to his private business matters. The move against Qatar followed Qatar denying the Trump organization some loans, whereas the help for ZTE came after the Chinese delivered a massive loan to a Trump partner. If it’s true that the Trump Administration has made deals with countries based on how well those countries treat Trump’s business interests, it will be unconstitutional (the “emoluments clause”), unethical and unheard of. Throughout American history, politicians such as Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Averill Harriman, John Foster Dulles, George W. H. Bush and others have conducted foreign policy to help American businesses, but it’s never been their own business!

Of course, virtually all of the foreign policy actions Trump has taken have help Russia in one way or another, providing at least circumstantial evidence that Trump is the “Siberian candidate,” bought and paid for long before the 2016 elections.

What kind of person sells out his or her own country for money? Some would say a self-centered narcissist. Or perhaps a ruthless power seeker, much like David, son of Jesse of Bethlehem, who used the troops of his country’s enemy to take control. Or perhaps like several British communist spies, Trump thinks his country is unjust or wrong, and has thrown in with a country pursuing a superior way of life. Based on the body of evidence made in his public statements, for Trump a superior way of life would be an ethnically cleansed white country whose autocratic government tries to control the mores and beliefs of its citizens. It doesn’t, however, matter much why Trump would have sold his soul to Putin. It still makes him the same thing: a traitor.

We should also consider the possibility that there is a basic miswiring in Trump’s brain, something that compels him almost always to make the wrong decision. I once tried to teach someone chess who, when presented with overwhelming evidence that one move was strong and another weak, would repeat with a great deal of cognizance the facts and then always make the wrong move. Always. You could see this disconnect in the person’s approach to math, too, so it was a basic miswiring in the brain, a kind of defect that made this person make the wrong choice. Perhaps Trump has a similar disability. That he also tends to take the side against evidence in immigration, environmental, healthcare and gun control issues provides additional support to the idea that his brain doesn’t work quite right, as does his past failure in every business except branding and entertainment.

Of course, Trump’s problem could be in his head, not mental, but emotional. In his extreme narcissism, perhaps Trump believes that the power of his will can overcome the reality of facts. As the superior man, he can bend the actions not just of other humans, but of nature itself. He wouldn’t be the first to mistake Schopenhauer’s “will to power” for an advantage the superior man has over others. Hitler and his crew beat Trump to the punch in trying to will the world into their own base and debased image. In saying that he dominated the most recent G-7 summit, in not seeing that he embarrassed himself and the United States, we see signs of the narcissism that makes some people believe they can shape, change or twist reality to their own liking.

So yes, it’s quite possible that the Trump foreign policy derives from a small brain malfunction, his emotional illness or even just his unfortunate but almost laughable combination of ignorance and low intellectual abilities.

But I’ll bet on the money. He has sold out his country for a bag of gold coins, like Benedict Arnold or Judas Iscariot.

One group cheering the separation of children from their parents at the border is the private prison industry

Many of us remember the feeling of needing to wash off the collective sins and corruption of torture when the news first came out in 2006 of what American soldiers and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives had committed in the name of freedom in Abu Ghraib and other detentions centers around the world.

We are feeling the same sickness, the same heartache and the same shame this week in learning that under the current administration, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) has routinely been separating children from their families, even if the family is legally seeking asylum as a political, wartime or natural disaster related refugee. These children, already burdened by physical displacement and whatever impelled the family to seek a new country must now also suffer the additional trauma of separation from their parents and housing in prison-like conditions. Even if treated with kindness, most children would be terrified by the separation. Their time apart from their mothers and fathers would be lonely and insecure. It’s enough to scar most people for life, the kind of insecurity that the latest research shows lowers our intellectual abilities.

There can be no doubt that Trumpty-Dumpty and his crew take a special pleasure in inflicting pain on those unable to defend themselves. They believe that it’s part of the get-tough image that communicates that the United States has ceased being the door mat that we supposedly were during the Obama Administration, and specifically that we no longer welcome immigrants, at least from certain “s***hole” countries, and will make the lives of those attempting to come here as miserable as possible.

But when you follow the money, it turns out that greed is the main motivation for this horrific new policy which is causing so much unnecessary human misery and harming the America’s international reputation as a beacon of freedom and opportunity.

The money leads directly to private prisons, which already collect about $2 billion a year from ICE to run detention centers. Private prison corporations have contributed mightily to the political campaigns of Trump and Sessions. Once threatened by their own incompetence and the Obama Administration order to phase out the use of private corporations to incarcerate prisoners, the private prison industry is making a strong comeback since the new administration took power. They sit with defense contractors and developers of nuclear weapons and other sophisticated war machinery at the round table of death that the Trump has assembled. This modern incarnation of what Dwight Eisenhower called the industrial-military complex brings together a number of economic players united by their essential mission to help create additional human misery and their dependence on government for funds for their existence.

The math is simple for the private prison industry. The more people who are criminalized, the more people private prisons get to detain, house, feed, control and abuse, and the more money their shareholders and executives make. The more people swept up in ICE raids, the more people can be fed to the private prison leviathan. And separating children from their parents creates the need for more guards, another business opportunity for private prisons. The calculus that leads to pulling children as young as under a year from their parents starts with the need to goose a market to reward political cronies.

As usual, Republicans prefer privatization even when it has been proven not to work. And virtually everywhere, private prisons have proven to be a failure. Over the past few years, the news media has reported fraud, cost overruns or mistreatment of inmates in private prisons in many states, including Idaho, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky. But the private prison lobby has clout, especially among Republicans. So, just like the defense industries, elected officials seek to expand the market for its cronies.

But in a racist society, the math only works when the victims are considered less than human. While fear may serve as the rational for locking up families, racial superiority prevents the perpetrators from feeling guilt for their actions. We are after all talking about lesser creatures, “animals” as Trump recently put it. It’s easy to separate, process, herd and mistreat lesser beings. And in the case of the victims of our bombs and drones, to kill and maim.

Thus a nation that can’t afford to provide adequate healthcare for all its residents, that begrudges poor people food, shelter and other basic necessities and that pretends not to be able to afford to offer quality public schools, free access to higher education, research and development of new technologies and the fixing of its crumbling infrastructure of mass transit and sewage systems nonetheless can dig deep into its pocket to create cruel and mean-spirited opportunities to promote death, destruction and suffering.