I went out the other night with a friend to catch up over some drinks, and we started talking politics. Yes I know it’s usually a big mistake, but we agree on the most points so it never gets heated. Our conversations resemble a preaching to the choir, which is usually followed by many amens, but I digress.
I consider myself a political atheist, and my friend is mostly winged to the right. Our political preaching eventually meandered and found its way to the topic of gasoline. Now if you’re an American (which I assume most of you are), there is an almost eventual guarantee that you’ll be filling up at the pump.
My friend told me a couple of years back he wanted to “kill a man” (as he put it figuratively) for having to pay over $2 a gallon, but now he would “kill a man” (figuratively again of course) if he could just pay $3 a gallon. Most of us have already paid over $4 this year, and it recently has fallen to $3 and change in quite a few states.
At this point the term “incremental conditioning” popped into my mind, which I liken to a nation wide experiment on Pavlov’s Dogs, but in this case human beings. I did a Google search, but I couldn’t find the two words listed together in the way I’m proposing.
I’ll include the definitions here for reference.
Incremental – Increasing or adding on, especially in a regular series: small, incremental tax hikes.
Conditioning – Have a significant influence on or determine (the manner or outcome of something) – or – Train or accustom (someone or something) to behave in a certain way or to accept certain circumstances.
We’re seeing an incremental conditioning occur in many phases of American society. Some of them are harmless, while others are more insidious. I’ll list some examples that I’ve observed.
- The Pump: We’ve finally reached $4 a gallon. Gas prices have fallen, and there are now more than a few states where you can fill your car for $3 and change, but the fact that we feel $3 and change is a welcome price is my point.
- Check points: Whether you’re getting a TSA rub down in the airport, or a rub down attending a football game. Check points are popping up in places other than the airports. The American public is getting used to being frisked, and in a way teaching children that it’s okay for a stranger in a uniform to touch them.
- The Military: I come from a military family, and I’ve spent my fair share of time at summer camps on military bases. There are many great people that serve and protect our Republic, but it sure does seem the general familiarity has been thrust upon on us. It’s common to see troops in combat fatigues on our streets, movies, and at every football game to name just a few. There has also been an increase in public drills and exercises. If posse comitatus was an animal it would be endangered. Exercise in Florida Exercise in Los Angeles Exercise in Chicago
- Surveillance – The surveillance state has fully arrived. Whether it’s evidenced by something simple as a candid pic of your car out on the highway, because of a low balance E-Z Pass, or the persistent data collection that occurs in every facet of being a consumer.
- Militarization of the Police – All you have to do is take a look around, and you’ll see them. The desired intimidation effect has been fully realized with the incorporation of a para-military tactical dress. Growing up I thought the bad guys wore black, so why has that been adopted by many police forces? Why is there an obvious militarization of the police? I don’t have the answer, but it’s the new normal.