Thursday, February 28, 2013

How to fix the budget mess…

As with most folks, I’ve been struggling with the ‘how’ of getting the power and programs back from the federal government and into the hands of the states.  The problem is that if you just slash the program at the federal level, you are likely going to cause a huge amount of calamity at the local level EVERYWHERE.  As with the politician hand-picking the impact of budget cuts to make them as painful as possible so nobody will want them, anytime you mention cutting a federal program, it is viewed through a one-way mirror that ONLY the federal government can provide this service, and therefore cutting it impacts too many people.  This is, at its core, one of the most serious aspects of federal control:  a change at the federal level impacts EVERYONE since everyone is under the feds.  The key to getting costs under control and making government programs nimble enough to remain efficient and service the people they are targeted at is to take that program down to the smallest governmental group you can.  A good first effort would be to move the power out of the federal government and back to the states.

 So how can you do it?  As I said, the problem is a big one – once a program is established at the federal level, it applies to people in every state and slashing it becomes seriously difficult, particularly if you view it from the perspective that it’s only a federal responsibility.  The interesting thing is that there is a fairly simple solution that would get all of this overreach out of the federal government with very little pain and at the same time preserve the things that people want while getting rid of things that folks don't need:   Instead of just slashing away at the federal level, do a little planning - work with the states to move things out of the federal government back to the state level.  This would require that the feds tell the states something like the following:

“Your share of the cost of program ‘X’ that is paid in by your state and your citizens, is such-and-such amount.  If you want to continue this program at the state level you may do so.  Regardless, we will begin to transition the funds that you send us to do that job back to you, the state.  Once the transition is complete, federal taxes will be reduced by the cost of that program, and no more money will be sent to the state by the feds for that program.  If the state wants to continue the program, it can plan to raise taxes on its citizens or it can move money from other programs.  If the state does not want to continue the program, it can choose to either phase it out or turn it off altogether.  Either way, the federal government will not be collecting money for that program and will not be providing that service.”

See how this would work?  The citizens of the state can decide if they want that specific program or service.  They can set up their own version of it to meet the needs that they have, versus trying to shoehorn a one-size-fits-all program from the feds into place.  The program can be managed locally, or if the state doesn’t really need that program, it can eliminate it completely or let a local government do it for the folks at their level.  Seems to me that any program that doesn’t have enough people in it to fund it probably doesn’t need to exist, so if you move it down to the local level and it’s too expensive, then folks will need to figure out how to take care of it themselves without government help.  As always, in the United States, the PEOPLE should choose (remember:  “…government of the people, by the people and for the people…”).  What makes us think that the folks we elect at the federal level are smarter than those of us who are not in government or are at the local/state level?

We have to get out of this star-struck awe we seem to have for federal officials.  They truly aren’t any more important than anyone we elect for any position.  I would argue that your state government is far more important to YOU than any federal official.  If you think about it, the feds should be almost invisible at the local level.  Your community should be the one making choices for those of you in your community.  You know, to be frank, YOU should be far more important to your government than the other way around.

Reality check time:  I am pretty certain this will never happen.  It could.  That’s the saddest part of this.  It really could.  It would take only a single change to bring it about:  The people we elected caring more about the country than about their power.  The problem is that this is like saying, “if only we had world peace, the world would be a better place.”  I’m afraid that human nature, once again, gets in the way of what is best for the people.  World peace will never happen as long as people are part of the equation, and smaller government will never happen as long as the people allow it unrestrained growth.  Like entropy, it requires the application of energy and intelligence to reverse.  Unfortunately, it seems we are sorely lacking in both.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Tweedle-Beetle (budget) Battle…

If you were going to go to your boss and ask for a raise, which of these two approaches would you think would be most likely to work:

1.      Hey boss, you know these on-line games are expensive and I really need a new iPad.  Also, my wife really likes to eat out so I need some more money.  How about a raise?

2.      Hey boss, my little Johnny has an incurable disease and will die if I don’t get a raise to pay for his care.  That will lead me to suicide and you’ll have to find someone else to fill my job.  Not to mention that my family is eating dog food to survive and we’re running out of furniture to burn to stay warm.  How about a raise?

Welcome to the world of politics.  Every time the government wants more money, they figure out what will cause the absolute MOST pain to those paying the bill (you and I).   They tell us that firefighters will be laid off, teachers won’t be able to teach, city services will be cut, jobs will be lost, travelers will be inconvenienced!  Oh woe and dispare!  Wailing and gnashing of teeth will ensue!!! 
These guys are pro's.  They intentionally aim the ‘cuts’ at those things.  Does anybody out there REALLY believe that there is no other place to do budget cuts ($44 billion from a $3.6 trillion budget???) than from the most critical places???  The frightening thing is how many people have been suckered in to believing this hogwash.

The government, in the guise of our elected representatives, have figured out that doom and gloom are far more effective at getting you and I to open our wallets.  Imagine if they came to us and said, “You know, we need to raise taxes or else we’re going to have to eliminate waste in some of our government spending!”  Most of us would say, “Ok.  So eliminate waste.  Sounds better than raising my taxes.”  See the problem?  They can’t tell us that there are alternatives to shutting down control towers in airports or eliminating TSA checkpoints or cutting the military budget during a war.

But first, we have to have a reality check.  The budget is NOT being cut.  The budget (read as ‘spending’) is actually going up, AFTER THE CUTS, by 15%!  Remember, only in Washington do they consider last year’s budget as a ‘baseline’ or zero point, and figure everything from there.  In their minds, what we gave them last year is now the starting point.  They tacked on about 18-20% above that baseline for this year and now are looking at reducing that increase by 3%!  I have to ask:  How did we make it last year without all of these cuts?  Somehow these elected idiots have figured out how to get 15% more money and call that a cut since they originally were going to increase it by 18%, and that somehow, Armageddon will ensue because of that non-existent 3%.


One other thing that comes to mind for me:  if these cuts REALLY will cause ALL of this calamity, then we now have proof positive that the Federal Government is involved in too many things.  Think about it.  Why should Federal budget cuts impact firefighters, policemen and teachers, all of whom are paid at the local level with city or state funds?  The only reason is because the Feds send money to the states to help pay for that stuff.  The sad truth is that the states have decided that they love that federal money more than they love their sovereignty.  Why should Federal budget cuts impact air travel?  That’s a private industry!  Oh, yeah – The FAA and TSA.  I don’t have a beef with the FAA.  As a licensed pilot, I think they perform a vital role.  However, the TSA is another story.  Why is this job a government job?  So here’s a question for you:  If the airlines still ran security, would the Federal Government having money problems impact travelers going through security?  Probably not. 

One quick aside:  The reality here is that until it was taken over by the government, searches of our ‘stuff’ was perfectly legal since the airlines paid for and ran security. The moment the government took over airport security, our 4th amendment rights were violated.  I personally don't think that's a good thing.  But I’m getting off topic.

The bottom line is this:  our politicians are scum.  Our media are scum suckers.  All of this ‘theater’ is destructive.  We are being played.  The media are not complicit – they are part of the ‘play’.  None of what’s happening makes the life of any citizen better.  We’ve completely lost our way – the role of government was to listen to the people and find ways to allow the individual to grow and become all they are capable and desirous of becoming.  Our government has become a business in its own right.  Virtually everything you see or hear from the Federal Government is managed by PR firms.  Companies like Hill and Knowlton massage every aspect of the message.  These companies get literally millions of dollars every year to figure out how to ‘push’ the public in the direction the politician wants them to go.  In other words, they are using our tax dollars against us.  No real surprise there, though – we should be pretty well trained by now by the IRS, TSA, BATFE, EPA, FDA, USDA… the list goes on-and-on.  Maybe that’s why they need 3.5 trillion dollars in tax money from us.

Unfortunately, our Federal Government provides very little value from the value they take from us.  We give of our blood and treasure, and in return, they take more. 

Kinda sad, isn’t it?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chris Rock Civics Lesson...

I hate to even have to bring this up – I really shouldn’t have to – but it’s got to be said:  Chris Rock is an ignorant idiot.  Whether intentionally, or not, he is completely lost.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, as reported on, comedian Chris Rock said:

“I am just here to support the President of the United States. President of the United States is our boss, but he is also... you know, the President and the First Lady are kinda like the Mom and the Dad of the country. And when your Dad says something you listen, and when you don't it will usually bite you on the ass later on. So, I’m here to support the President.”

Really, Chris?  Do you really believe this?  Ok, let’s break it down:

1.       The President is NOT our boss.  He works for us.  “Government of the people, by the people and for the people…”.  All elected officials work for the people.  We are the boss of them!  Trust me, you don’t want the president to be your boss.  Keep in mind, no president is in office forever.  You might like this one, but you may not like the next.  You certainly did NOT like the last one.  Was he your daddy/boss???

2.      The President is NOT our dad and the first lady most certainly is not our mom.  The president does not rule us – he should not be spanking us when we are bad or giving us an allowance or sending us to our rooms.

3.      Um… are you advocating that those who don’t support the President should be bitten on the ‘ass’?  What powers do you believe the President should have over YOUR life???

We’ve seen 'boss' leaders in other countries – Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Pol Pot, Amin just to name a few.  History is chock-a-block full of ‘bosses’.  People like this were ‘the bosses’ of their people.  They had the power to reward, punish or even kill.  With just a word, your life was forfeit.  People died by the millions under their ‘care’.  The model of a single ‘boss’ or ‘parent’ running an entire country has an abysmal record historically.

And you know, when I read Chris's words above, I wonder why this is only true for Chris now?  He certainly didn’t feel this way about the last President.  The problem is that if you take what he says literally, he is not talking about President Obama.  He’s talking about the office of the President of the United States.  That’s why this is so very, very dangerous.  It’s easy to feel this way when it’s someone you like or someone 'benevolent'.  Can you still feel this way when it’s someone you don’t?  What happens when you get a malevolent leader who decides death panels are a good idea or that they can send drone strikes against Americans?

Anyway, I think Chris needs a short civics lesson on the Federal Government where ‘bossing’ is concerned.  It’s not hard – here are the basics:

-          The United States government is broken into three co-equal branches.  The heads of these branches are equal in power.  The president is the head of one of those branches – the Executive branch.  The other branches are the Legislative and Judicial.  The president is not in charge of the other two branches.

-          The President is the boss of the Executive branch.  Any departments that fall under the Executive branch report to the President and are ultimately his responsibility.  The military is ultimately responsible and answerable to the President.  However, even though he is the boss, he is bound by the law and Constitution and is oath-bound to follow the law.  The Executive branch/President has the authority to choose people to run Departments (i.e. – State, Defense, etc), submits nominees for Federal courts, including the Supreme Court and is the ultimate signer or veto-er of laws written by the Legislative branch.

-          The boss of the Legislative branch is the Speaker of the House of Representatives.  The Speaker has no control over the other branches, but does fall into the order of succession to the Presidency in the event of the incapacity, resignation or death of the President, behind the Vice-President.  Interestingly, it’s the President Pro-tempore of the Senate (Judicial branch) that is 4th in line ahead of the Secretary of State, who is in the Executive Branch.  The Legislative branch has authority over the Executive in that the House can issue articles of Impeachment against the President, and the Senate holds the trial of the President.  The Legislative branch also has to approve certain appointees in the other branches including heads of Departments (i.e. – Department of Justice, Department of State, etc) and federal judges sent by the Executive branch.  Since the President isn’t supposed to write laws, only sign them, the Legislative branch passes laws that get sent to the President.

-          The boss of the Judicial branch is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  As with the other branches, the Judicial branch has no authority to ‘rule’ the other branches other than the power to declare a law as ‘legal’ or not, typically directed at the Legislative branch.  The only ‘bossing’ they can do in regards to the Executive branch generally, is that the Chief Justice presides over the impeachment trial of the President in the Senate.

So you can see that the three branches all share power.  They are all equal, and they are bosses ONLY of their own branch.

That leaves one final part, the most important part of our Republic…

-          The People.  According to the Constitution and other founding documents like the Declaration of Independence, the people are the boss of themselves.  In our form of government, it is up to the people to decide what kind of life they will lead, where they will live, how many children they will have, who they will marry, what kind of work they want to do, what foods they eat, who their friends are, who their enemies are, what clothes they will wear, where they will shop, who they will work for, whether they believe in God or not, where they want to have our vacations, what kind of car they drive or even if they want to drive, and so many other things.  In the United States, the intent is that the people will decide what the limits are that are best for the community, and it is the responsibility of the community to ensure that those limits are maintained.  The federal government should have very little, if any, impact on the day-to-day life of the people.  There shouldn’t really be any expectations on the people from federal government.  By design, our federal government is intended to foster freedom, not limit it.  The law-abiding citizen should almost never need to think about government and it should have very little impact on the people.

Now I know that what I just said is a pipe-dream.  It would be wonderful if I could decide pretty much whatever I like as long as it does not infringe on the freedoms of other citizens.  This is the insidious nature of government involvement in our lives:  The more the government pays for with the taxes from other people, the more limits the government can put on you, since your actions affect other people’s wallets.  This is why the Libertarians among us are so stridently against government involvement in things like healthcare.  If your taxes are going to pay for my healthcare, then the government, which has inserted itself in the middle, can tell me how I must live, what I can eat (and not eat), where I can live, what jobs I can hold, how many children I can have, whether I can smoke or not, and what drugs I must or must not take.  If I fail to meet their rules, I’m a law-breaker and am no better than a thief.

It’s important to be reminded of something:  The government is the only legal entity that has the power of life-or-death over you.  They have the authority to kill you.  Corporations do not have that authority.  Other people do not have that authority.  Even your Mom and Dad do not have that power (unless you haven’t been born yet – and the government gives you permission to kill that life, if you want – so you’re really acting as a federal government proxy when you have an abortion), organizations do not have that authority.  Only the government has the RIGHT under law to take your life from you.

So, sorry Chris Rock.  The President is not my boss and he’s not my Dad.  He shouldn’t be your boss or daddy, either.  Just like the children of Israel wanting a King, getting what you wish for means accepting not just the boss you like, but also the boss you don’t.  And remember one other thing:  unlike your boss at work, you can’t change jobs to get away from the President of the United States if he’s your boss.  The POSITION is your boss, not the man!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Fix, Revisited

Back on August 20th of 2012, I wrote a blog entitled “It’s Finally Time for the Fix!”  The point of the blog was to identify what I see as the solution to nearly all of our problems, politically, in the United States.  In this blog, I laid out a list of things that, if done, would virtually eliminate every one of the most vexing problems we face by attacking the root of the issue, the politician, instead of attacking the citizens of the United States.

The changes I proposed would require no violence, no real changes to the way the electorate deals with the politicians and would not eliminate any of the few remaining freedoms that we citizens are left with. 

One of the key elements I was trying to tack into was human nature.  The Constitution is overwhelmingly a document written with human nature taken into account.  Why do you think the government is limited in its dealings with speech, religion, guns, personal property and the like?  It’s because the founders understood human nature – create a position of power and eventually you’ll find someone who will abuse it.  When I was writing my list, I decided that to best head off the most dangerous aspects of human nature, we have to remove those things that are most likely to be corrupted and to even use what we know of human nature to incentivize the politician to do the right thing.

All of this has led me to rethink my first list a bit, and here are a few changes I’d like to make to that original list.  See what you think of this:

1.    One and only one consecutive term in office for all federal elected offices including the Presidency

2.    A maximum of two Non-consecutive terms are allowed

3.    Once you have served two terms, regardless of the office you serve in, you are totally ineligible to hold federal public office of any kind

4.    The Presidency and the Senate would be four-years plus 30 days term

5.    The House would be a two-year plus 30 days term

6.    Terms of office should overlap by 30 days (this is why terms would be 4 or 2 years plus 30 days). This gives the outgoing official time to transition everything to the incoming official. Generally, power would be shared during that time, but only the incoming official has the power to vote, sign legislation, submit bills, etc. The outgoing official is in an advisement capacity only.

7.    The pay for members of Congress (House and Senate) would be limited to the base-pay salary for a 15 year E-7 (i.e. – Air Force Master Sergeant) in the military and would be taxed at the same rate.  Whatever the E-7 makes, is what the politician can make.  If the E-7’s pay goes up, the member of Congress gets the exact same pay.  No more, no less.

8.    Congressional travel would be required to be made on commercial flights in coach.  The Congressperson would be allowed to join and use frequent flyer programs and purchase their own upgrades, if they wished but all travel would be reimbursed at the coach rates.  Tax laws (written by Congress) will determine deductibility of travel and expenses and would be required to match normal corporate allowances.

9.    The pay for the President would be limited to the base-pay salary for a 20 year 0-6 (Colonel or Navy Captain) in the military and would be taxed at the same rate.  Due to the realities of the office, expenses for most day-to-day things would be reimbursable.

10. Elimination of any payment or benefit (health insurance, retirement, etc) to elected officials after their term of office ends with the possible exception of the Presidency since it is nearly impossible for a former president to work anywhere other than doing speeches.  The retired pay for a President would be equal to the retired pay of a military officer with the rank of O-6 (Colonel or Navy Captain) with 30 years.  This retirement would be reduced by the amount of any speaking fees or other income that the former president might receive.

11. Sitting elected officials would not be allowed to campaign for or publicly support ANYONE running for any office

12. Staffs are equally not allowed to serve beyond the term of their boss and will assist in the transition, but cannot be part of the next term.

Each year, tens of thousands of new laws take effect federally.  There were many news reports that on January 1st of 2012 over 40,000 new laws took effect!  This is ridiculous.  We are a nation of laws, but we are also being buried by those laws!  I can’t imagine what we need that many laws at the federal level for, considering that constitutionally, most of the power is at the state level.  Therefore, I have a suggestion:

Each term, a fund is set up and each Senator, Representative and the President get $5,000,000 each put aside for them in this fund.  Each time they pass a law, and it is signed by the President, $10,000 would be deducted from each lawmakers ‘pile’.  That means that if they want to have any of that cash left at the end of their term, they must pass less than 500 laws.  And I would stipulate that a law that contains multiple laws counts as multiple laws.  Bundling doesn’t save your stash!  This would force our lawmakers to be absolutely certain that a law is necessary and that it is worth the hit that THEY will take to their own pockets.

Finally, I would like to see things that directly affect Congress and the President to be directly controlled by the state legislatures. In other words, if Congress wants something for themselves, be it a change in the above rules or being exempt from a law they’re passing, or whatever, it must be approved by a simple majority of state legislatures.  In my vision, Congress would never be allowed to vote to change anything about how Congress operates.  It is silly to think that when we give folks the option to decide for themselves how things will work for themselves that they won’t decide to do what will most benefit themselves.

In addition, as I mentioned in my original post, I’d like to see these changes implemented around this concept:

1.    Reverting election of the Senate to the original intent in the constitution: Senators would be selected by the legislatures of the many states and would serve up to a four year term. Keep in mind that they would serve at the pleasure of their legislature and could be recalled and replaced at any time, if the state so desired.

2.    The House would serve a two year term and be elected as they are now by the people.

3.    The President would serve a four year term and be elected as happens now, via the electoral college

It seems to me that these changes could revolutionize our political system and re-invigorate our country.  The most powerful part of this is that it utterly destroys this corrupt, disgusting mess of lifetime electees and ultimately brings lots of new blood into the mix.  I doubt it can ever happen – but hey, it’s my pipe-dream, so I can have it, right?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Stupid Is as stupid does - Paying for gun ownership

There's a lot of buzz out there about the idiotic newspaper that published an interactive map of gun owners.  I will not dignify that garbage with a link.  If you really want to find it, you can.  Most everything that can be said, has been said and said well.  But as with most things, I at least want to say my peace.  In particular, I want to focus on one set of comments by the brain-dead president and publisher, Janet Hasson.  The New York Times quotes her thusly in an article that ran on January 6th:
“As journalists, we are prepared for criticism,” Ms. Hasson said, as she sat in her meticulously tended office and described the ways her 225 employees have been harassed since the article was published. “But in the U.S., journalists should not be threatened.” She has paid for staff members who do not feel safe in their homes to stay at hotels, offered guards to walk employees to their cars, encouraged employees to change their home telephone numbers and has been coordinating with the local police.

Perhaps Ms. Hasson should consider paying for the hotels and armed guards for the people who were threatened by her paper printing the map.  Perhaps she should pay for all of the cost and trouble to change phone numbers for all of these folks.  Perhaps she should pay for the relocation costs for the judges who were listed, or the people with restraining orders against violent spouses, or who were (until now) hidden from the criminal they put in prison with their testamony, or...  yeah - you get the idea.  
More importantly, maybe she should consider paying for all of the NON-gun owners to move somewhere outside of the map region so that the foxes won't know where the sheep live.
I also wondered at her comment that, "... journalists should not be threatened."  As with most liberals, threats should only go one way - toward anyone who disagrees with  you.  Tolerance is only allowed for those things the liberal tolerates. 
Proof?  The conservative says, "Smoking or not is my choice.  It's my body."  The liberal says, "All must follow our beliefs.  Smoking is bad for you so you should be punished for doing it." 
Another?  The conservative says, "You have a right to decide if you want to own a gun.  It's your choice, not mine, and I will defend your right to make that choice, since it's your body and your life."  The liberal says, "I don't like guns so you must give your choice up and do it my way." 
One more, since we're talking about choices...  The conservative says, "I don't agree with abortion, and will argue against it, but believe that the states have a right to make the choice of what their laws should be."  The liberal says, "It's my body.  I can choose.  You have no choice but to accept that there will be no option.  The states rights be damned."
So now they wish to eliminate our choice to defend ourselves.  England did this for a while.  It became illegal to defend yourself - you had to wait for the police to do it for you.  People were put in prison for using 'excessive' force to protect themselves.  The law said in essence that it was not permissible to use more force than was being used against you to defend yourself.  In other words - if the outcome was anything more than a stalemate, somebody was going to jail and it was likely to be the victim.  Thankfully for our brothers and sisters across the pond, that has been changed for the better, at least somewhat.
The point is, that Ms. Hasson has decided that doing this will somehow make people feel like they should give up their guns, and be shamed into submission.  I'm not sure, but I kind of think it may backfire on her.  Think about it:  If you were now identified on that map as a gun owner, would you dare get rid of your gun?  I sure wouldn't.  What if a marrauding band of liberals came 'a-hunting' with pitchforks and torches because I was a legal gun owner?  I'd have to defend myself against the zombies of political correctness intent on stealing my birthright!  Oh, and then there's that criminal who wants to rape my wife, steal my gun and pillage my stuff - he might show up as well, so I'd better start carrying it with me everywhere and I'd better get the wife one as well!
In my experience, legal gun owners are fanatical about following the law - a gun related crime is really bad mojo.  Most of us are exceptionally careful to follow the law in every aspect of gun ownership because we don't want to lose that right.  And trust me - if you break a gun law, you almost certainly won't be in the gun owner class any longer.  We carry only where it's legal.  We transport our firearms in a safe and legal manner.  We don't 'play' with our guns.  We DO train.  We do go to the range and work on being safe and accurate. 
Mark this down, liberals:  We responsible gun owners do NOT look forward to the day we have to use our guns for something other than training and sport.  I believe I can say this with near 100% certainty:  Responsible gun owners pray that they will never have to take another human being's life.  Most of us are willing to do what we have to, to protect our families, and will not hesitate if called upon to do the deed; but you must understand that we do not relish the thought of killing.
One other thought... Maybe she should have considered that it was summarily stupid to piss off all of the gun owners in the United States. We're a big group of folks.  We have the spare cash to buy expensive items like firearms and ammunition.  We read newspapers and surf the web.  We are educated and intelligent.  We're veterans, office workers, moms, dads, construction workers, executives, maintenance guys, bartenders, stock brokers and everything in between. 
Finally, the 'journalists' articles I've read all seem to be so sympathetic of the poor 'journalists' - seems a bit self-serving to me. 
Well, the truth is that she gets no sympathy from this quarter…  Forest Gump's Mama said it best:  "Stupid is as stupid does".

Monday, December 24, 2012

Rock, Paper, Scissors

The other day, I popped into Twitter to see what was trending.  I noticed the NRA tag was trending so I bit and took a peek.  Wow.  What a mess.  It is amazing how many really stupid people there are out there.  One tweet in particular caught my eye.  I’ll paraphrase here: 

To the NRA:  If a kid hits another kid with a rock, does that mean we should arm all kids with rocks?

I had to chuckle.  Really?  So let’s play this game out a bit: 

"If all the good kids had rocks, would the bad kids hit good kids with rocks knowing that the good kids would hit them with rocks?"

Oh – how about this one:  "If we allow good kids to carry concealed rocks, will bad kids be afraid to hit other kids with rocks?"

And maybe just a bit further:  "If you were a bad kid with a rock, where would you go to hit other kids with rocks?  A place where the kids may have rocks or a place where you know NO kids have rocks?"

And one more:  "In a world with rocks, would you rather your child go to school where an adult with rocks will protect them against bad people with rocks, or would you rather they go where the only rocks were wielded by bad people wanting to hurt them?"

See?  I LIKE this analogy!  It really helps put things into focus for me. 

Let’s try another tack:  If you send your child to Karate or Tai Kwan Do or Judo or other ‘self-defense’ classes, it’s obviously not just because of exercise.  Kids can get exercise doing a lot of other, non-violent things.  What if your kid is a jerk and uses that training in a wrong way; say to beat up other kids at school to steal their lunch money or sneakers?  The question then has to be asked:  Is the child to blame or is the martial art to blame?  To remain consistent with the anti-gun crowd, you would have to say that the child is not to blame – the martial art is to blame.  We should then ban all dojos and fight training of any kind, regardless of the reason.

Many times the argument about guns is that since nobody with a legal carry permit prevented the crime, that obviously guns are not the solution.  The thinking is that since it wasn’t stopped, that it couldn’t be stopped, and therefore guns can’t be part of the solution.  The other argument I hear is that the legally armed citizen could wind up killing or injuring other innocent folks if he/she gets into a gun battle with the crazy.  History seems to tell us something different.  There are many times when a citizen has stopped a rampage by simply pointing their firearm at the nut job.  Even if the wacko intends to kill himself, it seems that they don’t want to take the chance that the other person might make a mess of it and leave them suffering and alive.

The first example that springs instantly to my mind is the Pearl High School shooting in Pearl, Mississippi.  One of the main reasons that this one sticks out for me is that Pearl High School is where I went to school.  You may remember the story - a 16 year old student slit his mother’s throat, then went to school with a .30-30 rifle (not an ‘assault rifle’ or AR-15 – a hunting rifle) and started shooting folks.  The assistant principle, Joel Myrick, ran to his truck to retrieve his .45 caliber pistol.  He then chased the student down and held him at bay by pointing the pistol at him.  He then forced the kid down on the ground and held him down by putting his foot on the kid’s neck.  Two female students and the shooters mother were the only deaths.  Seven others were wounded.  But because of his actions, which did NOT include any shots fired, nobody else was killed and the shooter was arrested.

The shooter had planned to kill a bunch of kids at the High School, then go to the Junior High and do the same thing, but an armed citizen stopped the rampage.  Basically, the good-guy with the rock stopped the bad-guy with a rock, and a lot of good-guys are alive today because of that. 

An interesting aside is that the hero, Assistant Principle Joel Myrick was treated awfully and was roundly criticized by gun control advocates for pointing his gun at a student (it doesn’t seem to matter that the student was killing folks) and for holding this nut-job down with his foot on the kid’s neck.

Another example of this is Nick Meli.  He is the gentleman who, in December at the Oregon Clackamas Town Center mall shooting, brandished his weapon at the shooter and likely ended the rampage.  What?  You didn’t hear about that?  Huh.  I wonder why?  Anyway, the official report says that the shooter likely stopped shooting other people and shot himself when his gun jammed. 

Now, I don’t know everything about everything, but normally when guns jam, they don’t do it in a way that allows you to shoot yourself and not others.  As reported by KGW, a local television station in Portland, Oregon, a citizen with a concealed weapon’s permit, Nick Meli, drew his firearm and pointed it at the shooter, Jacob Roberts, but held his fire for fear of hitting other innocents.  The shooter was having problems with his rifle and saw Meli, and it appears that when he cleared the gun, rather than shoot other folks in the mall, he decided to shoot himself. 

Obviously, we won’t ever truly know what led him to shoot himself instead of continuing with his rampage – However, it seems odd to me that he went to the mall to kill lots of folks, was heavily armed with multiple magazines so he could accomplish that task, and after shooting only three people, has gun problems, cleared those problems and then decided to shoot himself instead of continuing what he came there to do.  I tend to believe that he thought it likely that if someone else started shooting at him, he might be injured and taken alive, so he killed himself to make sure it was done right with the least amount of pain on his part.  It’s also possible that he may have intended to kill himself when the police arrived, and may have mistaken Meli for an officer.  We’ll never really know.

What we do know is that a citizen with a firearm was present, and contrary to everything the left wants us to believe, there was no bloodbath caused by the law-abiding citizen.  In fact, this seems to be another case of a major bloodbath being prevented by the ‘rock’ carried in the hands of a citizen who hopes sincerely with all his heart, that he never has to ‘throw’ it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Deconstruction - the 2nd Amendment

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” – 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

 We’ve all read these words and seen them.  We have heard people pontificate over and over about how the 2nd amendment gives us the right to have and carry arms, or that it only gives those in a well regulated militia that right.  In light of all of the angst and hand-wringing after the tragedy in Connecticut last week, I think it’s high time that we actually read the words above to see what they are saying.  Once we cede a right to the government, it’s very unlikely we’ll ever get it back.

Before we do, however, it is CRITICAL that you remember that the Constitution doesn’t GIVE us anything.  It is the definer of the limits on the government.  It is NOT a limit on you and me.  So first and foremost, the 2nd amendment does not give us the right to have and carry guns.  It prohibits the government from taking that right away from us.  See the difference?

Ok.  So let’s move on:  Tell me what this sentence would mean to you:

“A great loaf of bread being desired by everyone in the house, the right of the people to keep and use flour shall not be infringed.”

Does that mean that the ONLY reason we can have flour is to make a great loaf of bread?  Of course not.  Any normal person would read this to mean that we have the right to keep and use flour with the outcome being that we may make a great loaf of bread.  In fact, you have a right to keep and use flour, even if you produce an awful loaf of bread.  Also, it says nothing of using that flour to bread our chicken or to thicken the gravy, but it’s understood that from the perspective of the writer, the defining function of the flour in this context is to make a great loaf of bread.  If this were in the constitution, you’d have to say that you have the right to keep and use flour, and that the government couldn’t prevent you from keeping and using that flour, even if you couldn’t make a great loaf of bread.  The limit is on the government, not on the flour user.

So carrying this forward to the 2nd amendment, the right of the people to keep and bear arms will have the effect of providing a well regulated militia.  It is not exclusionary.  Nowhere does it say that we can’t use those firearms to hunt or target shoot.  It also doesn’t say that we can’t use those firearms to provide protection against those who would do us harm.

Most importantly, if you remember the core premise of the Constitution and the bill of rights, you’ll remember that the 2nd amendment limits the government, not the people.  The very idea of a ‘constitution’ is to explain what constitutes the government.  It does not anywhere define limits on the people.  It’s a document that explains how the government works and what it can and can’t do.  In the case of the 2nd amendment, this means that regardless of whether we hunt, shoot skeet, or want to protect ourselves, that because we want a secure free state, the government cannot prevent you from keeping and bearing arms.  In fact, there doesn’t even need to be a well regulated militia, but if there is, it is the government’s job to regulate that militia.  If the government does not see fit to maintain a militia, that still does not allow the government to limit the ‘RIGHT’ of the people to keep and bear arms.

Remember – when you allow the constitution to become a document that defines the people’s rights in any way, you become bound by the government’s interpretation of those rights.  The bill of rights is ultimately a definition of the line the government can’t cross, not where our rights end.

One last thought:  You might think that the ends justify the means – that if we give this right away and let the government decide that we should all be stripped of this right, that it’s a good thing.  But what will you do when they come after the rights that YOU hold dear?  Like the freedom of speech?  Or the freedom of assembly?  Or the freedom of the press?  Or the freedom from self-incrimination?  Be very careful when you are picking and choosing your freedoms, or you may find you have none left.  The U.S. wouldn’t be the first country to give away it’s freedom.