Last week a murder was committed in San Francisco. That’s not especially news-worthy in a city where 45 people died by the hands of others last year, but Kathryn Steinle was killed by illegal immigrant Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a man with proven disregard for the law and a long rap sheet.
Ms. Steinle’s murder was entirely preventable, but the institutions and people charged with preventing the situation deliberately failed. This wasn’t a case of a complex system breaking down, or one person ‘slipping through the cracks’. This was a case where misguided people in positions of power deliberately decided to ignore the societal legal safeguards and allow people with bad intent to live among us.
The trade off in a democratic society is that the citizenry abrogate some of their freedoms in exchange for a measure of security. Implicit in that social contract is that those tasked with providing the security do their jobs free of individual feelings. But as with any human institution, it’s impossible to completely separate the personal from the professional. Most folks do a good job in that regard, but most folks aren’t responsible for the security of others. To enforce the law takes a special kind of vigilance against emotional judgement.
The Western world in general and the US in particular have seen the rise, and political ascendance of, immaturity and ignorance. It’s all about ‘feelings’ and ‘being nice’. While those sound nice in kindergarten, it’s not how the universe works. In the real, rational world, hard decisions are based on unflinching assessments of risks. It may not be popular, but it is effective. Hope isn’t an effective strategy. ‘The way things should be’ isn’t the way things are.
Kathryn Steinle didn’t have to die. A very small number of illegal aliens commit violent crimes in this country annually, but that’s no comfort at all to her family and friends. Every person who has advocated for ‘open borders’ and ‘sanctuary cities’ has her blood on their hands. Let them explain to her family how soft policies mitigate their hard reality.
Congratulations to NASA for shepherding the New Horizons probe through nine years of space flight to give us our first good look at Pluto. Demoted to ‘dwarf planet’ the same year the probe was launched, Pluto may yet regain planetary status. Even though it’s rather small, it is large enough to be spherical, has a star as it’s primary, and has it’s own system of satellites. The concern now is that the probe remain functional for the 2+ years it’s going to take to send the encounter data to Earth.
The mission cost $700M, which in these days of multi-billion dollar government programs doesn’t seem that expensive, especially for what we’re likely to get. And that price tag only comes to 4.7 cents per mile.