Last Thursday, I attended my Bowen Family Systems Class in Austin, TX. I rode with a couple of friends, enjoyed a pleasant drive to the state capitol, and participated in the last class of the semester. Then came the ride home.
We had forgotten the President of the United States would be visiting Austin that day. We quickly received a reminder.
As we drove, I looked toward downtown and saw the entire highway blocked off. I figured there was a massive accident to shut down traffic like that. Continuing on, another major artery was blockaded. I commented, "I wonder if North Korea launched a missile? We'd better get the hell out of here." It was a joke, BTW.
We turned on the local radio and began listening. Somewhere in the recesses of my memory, something stirred. A link on the Drudge Report about the President visiting Texas. "Is Obama in town?" I asked.
"That's what I thought I just heard," replied my friend.
The local talk radio station was taking calls regarding the traffic situation surrounding the President's visit. Traffic was backed up all over town--around the airport; heading downtown; and on HWY 290 where the President was currently engaged in a speaking arrangement. We just happened to be traveling on 290 East, and we got stuck. Parking lot stuck.
We waited and visited, listening to which route the presidential motorcade would take, and it just so happened that it would pass on 290 West in full view of where we sat. We waited. After some time, the motorcade arrived, and it was a sight to behold.
I would estimate that it was over 100 vehicles: Patrol sedans, SUV's, motorcycles, fire engines, ambulances, and the President's limo. Yes, fire engines and ambulances are a part of the presidential motorcade. I didn't know that until that time. On numerous SUV's, the back windows were open with sharpshooters prepared to open fire on anyone brave--wait, rephrase that, anyone daft--enough to attack the motorcade.
My mind worked to comprehend this massive transportation machine; the shutting down of all these routes majorly inconveniencing thousands of drivers, the hours of man power and the thousands of dollars spent on this endeavor all for the protection of one individual.
I commented, "If you ever thought there was a difference in the bourgeois and the rest of us, I think that just proved it."
How important is the life of the President of the United States compared to your life? Is it worth more than yours, or mine, or the homeless man residing under the bridge close to 6th Street in Austin, TX?
Now, this question presents a bit of a conundrum, does it not? For if we say that all people have the same worth, then we must question the expenditures surrounding the presidential motorcade. If we say the President's life is worth more, then we can justify the expenditure.
On a further note, is it any wonder why the general public sees our politicians as out of touch with reality?