Paul Ryan as the VP Pick Tuesday, Aug 14 2012 

Paul Ryan is the VP pick for Romney as of Saturday. Not who I thought he would pick, but after much deliberation I do think there probably isn’t a better choice. Ryan will be the shot in the arm the campaign needs and the best source for budget knowledge for the Romney team. An articulate defender of liberty and free markets, even if his voting record doesn’t solidify that.

 

Mitt Romney is a Murderer Monday, Aug 13 2012 

This show aired live on Friday Aug 10th, 2012

 

I’ve got a bunch of shows I need to edit and upload.  My fellow authors are working on some new content. Feel free to check out some of the old stuff if you haven’t.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful summer and you’re not nearly as pessimistic about the fall election as I am.

Funny those Swiss Tuesday, Jul 24 2012 

They’re brought up a lot in national debates about gun control. I’m reserving my personal judgement on the Aurora, CO shooting for now, but I thought I’d share this as it was sent to me by a friend. Kopel is an excellent writer and was the author of one of the textbooks I used in my undergrad.

Enjoy:

 

In the right to bear arms debate, pro-gun Americans point to Switzerland, where almost every adult male is legally required to possess a gun. One of the few nations with a higher per capita rate of gun ownership than the United States, Switzerland has virtually no gun crime. Therefore, argue the pro-gunners, America doesn’t need gun control.

Yet Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI), in its brochure “Handgun Facts,” points to Switzerland as one of the advanced nations with strict handgun laws.” The brochure states that all guns are registered, and handgun purchases require a background check and a permit. Gun crime in Switzerland is virtually non-existent. Therefore, concludes Handgun Control, America needs strict gun control.

Who’s right? As usual, Handgun Control is wrong, but that doesn’t necessarily make the pro-gun side right. Gun ownership in Switzerland defies the simple categories of the American gun debate.

Like America, Switzerland won its independence in a revolutionary war fought by an armed citizenry. In 1291, several cantons (states) began a war of national liberation against Austria’s Hapsburg Empire. In legend, the revolution was precipitated by William Tell, although there is no definitive proof of his existence.

Over the next century, the Swiss militia liberated most Switzerland from the Austrians. The ordinary citizens who composed the militia used the deadliest assault weapons the time, swords and bows. Crucial to the Swiss victory was the motivation of the free Swiss troops.

From the very first years of Swiss independence, the Swiss were commanded to keep and bear arms. After 1515. Switzerland adopted a policy of armed neutrality. For the next four centuries, the great empires of Europe rose and fell, swallowing many weaker countries. Russia and France both invaded, and the Habsburgs and later the Austro Hungarian Empire remained special threats. But Switzerland almost always retained its independence. The Swiss policy was Prévention de Ia guerre par Ia volonté de se défendre During World War I, both France and Germany considered invading Switzerland to attack each other’s flank. In World War II, Hitler wanted the Swiss gold reserves and needed free communications and transit through Switzerland to supply Axis forces in the Mediterranean. But when military planners looked at Switzerland’s well-armed citizenry, mountainous terrain, and civil defence fortifications, Switzerland lost its appeal as an invasion target. While two World Wars raged, Switzerland enjoyed a secure peace.

At home, the “Swiss Confederation” developed only a weak central government, leaving most authority in the hands of the cantons or lower levels of government. The tradition of local autonomy helped keep Switzerland from experiencing the bitter civil wars between Catholics and Protestants that devastated Germany, France and England.

In 1847-48, liberals throughout Europe revolted against aristocratic rule. Only in Switzerland did they succeed, taking control of the whole nation following a brief conflict called the Sonderbrund War. (Total casualties were only 128.) Civil rights were firmly guaranteed, and all vestiges of feudalism were abolished.

Despite the hopes of German reformers, the Swiss did not send their people’s army into Germany in 1848 to assist popular revolution there. When the German revolution failed, autocratic Prussia considered invading Switzerland, but decided the task was impossible.

As one historian summarises: “Switzerland was created in battle, reached its present dimensions by conquest and defended its existence by armed neutrality thereafter.” The experience of Swiss history has made national independence and power virtually synonymous with an armed citizenry.

Today, military service for Swiss males is universal. At about age 20, every Swiss male goes through 118 consecutive days of recruit training in the Rekrutenschule. This training may be a young man’s first encounter with his countrymen who speak different languages. (Switzerland has four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansch.)

Even before required training begins, young men and women may take optional courses with the Swiss army’s M57 assault rifle. They keep that gun at home for three months and receive six half-day training sessions.

From age 21 to 32, a Swiss man serves as a “frontline” troop in the Auszug, and devotes three weeks a year (in eight of the 12 years) to continued training. From age 33 to 42, he serves in the Landwehr (like America’s National Guard); every few years, he reports for two-week training periods. Finally, from ages 43, to 50, he serves in the Landsturm; in this period, he only spends 13 days total in “home guard courses.”

Over a soldier’s career he also spends scattered days on mandatory equipment inspections and required target practice. Thus, in a 30-year mandatory military career, a Swiss man only spends about one year in direct military service. Following discharge from the regular army, men serve on reserve status until age 50 (55 for officers).

By the Federal Constitution of 1874, military servicemen are given their first equipment, clothing and arms. After the first training period, conscripts must keep gun, ammunition and equipment an ihrem Wohnort (“in their homes”) until the end of their term of service.

Today, enlisted men are issued M57 automatic assault rifles and officers are given pistol, Each reservist is issued 24 rounds of ammunition in sealed packs for emergency use. (Contrary to Handgun Control’s claim that “all ammunition must be accounted for,” the emergency ammunition is the only ammo that requires accounting.)

After discharge from service, the man is given a bolt rifle free from registration or obligation. Starting in the 1994, the government will give ex-reservists assault rifles. Officers carry pistols rather than rifles and are given their pistols the end of their service.

When the government adopts a new infantry rifle, it sells the old ones to the public.

Reservists are encouraged to buy military ammunition (7.5 and 5.6mm-5.56 mm in other countries-for rifles and 9 and 7.65 mm Luger for pistols, which is sold at cost by the government, for target practice Non-military ammunition for long-gun hunting and .22 Long Rifle (LR) ammo are not subsidised, but are subiect to no sales controls. Non-military non-hunting ammunition more powerful than .22 LR (such as .38 Spl.) is registered at the time of sale.

Swiss military ammo must be registered if bought at a private store, but need not be registered if bought at a range The nation’s 3,000 shooting ranges sell the overwhelming majority of ammunition. Technically, ammunition bought at the range must be used at the range, but the rule is barely known and almost never obeyed.

The army sells a variety of machine guns, submachine guns, anti-tank weapons, anti-aircraft guns, howitzers and cannons. Purchasers of these weapons require an easily obtained cantonal license, and the weapons are registered, In a nation of six million people, there are at least two million guns, including 600,00 fully automatic assault rifles, half a million pistols, and numerous machine guns. Virtually every home has a gun.

Besides subsidised military surplus, the Swiss can buy other firearms easily too. While long guns require no special purchase procedures, handguns are sold only to those with a Waffenerwerbsschien (purchase certificate) issued by a cantonal authority. A certificate is issued to every applicant over 18 who is not a criminal or mentally infirm.

There are no restrictions on the carrying of long guns. About half the cantons have strict permit procedures for carrying handguns, and the other half have no rules at all There is no discernible difference in the crime rate between the cantons as a result of the different policies.

Thanks to a lawsuit brought by the Swiss gun lobby, semi-automatic rifles require no purchase permit and are not registered by the government. Thus, the only long guns registered by the government are full automatics. (Three cantons do require collectors of more than 10 guns to register.)

Gun sales from one individual to another are regulated in five cantons and completely uncontrolled in all the rest.

Retail gun dealers do keep records of over-the-counter gun transactions; transactions are not reported to or collected by the government. (This is also the policy in the U.S. during those periods the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms feels like obeying the law.) In Switzerland, purchases from dealers of hunting long guns and of smallbore rifles are not even recorded by the dealer. In other words, the dealer would not record the sale of a .30-06 hunting rifle, but would record the sale of a .30-06 Garand.

Thus, Handgun Control’s assertion that all Swiss guns are registered is just plain wrong, and its claim that “Switzerland and Israel strictly control handgun availability” is more than a little inaccurate.

Anybody, including this author, can make mistakes about the complexities about foreign gun laws. Nevertheless, even the most careless authors ought to do better than Handgun Control’s brochure “Handgun Facts,” in which almost every “fact” about Switzerland is wrong.

But Handgun Control’s misstatements are no worse than those contained in a highly biased Library of Congress book Gun Control Laws in Foreign Countries (which tax dollars paid for). That book claims that in Switzerland “the policy is not to provide automatic guns and other dangerous weapons to the general population”-an utter untruth, at least if one considers adults to be part of “the general population.” The book also asserts that “the sale of handguns to individuals is restricted and reflects a clear Swiss government policy of keeping this strict control.” Yet the only individuals who are “restricted” from buying handguns are children, the insane and ex-criminals.

If ever a nation had “a well-regulated militia,” it is Switzerland. Nineteenth-century economist Adam Smith thought Switzerland the only place where the whole body of the people had successfully been drilled in militia skills.

Indeed, the militia is virtually synonymous with the nation. “The Swiss do not have an army, they are the army, says one government publication. Fully deployed, the Swiss army has 15.2 men per square kilometre; in contrast, the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. have only .2 soldiers per square kilometre. Switzerland is 76 times denser with soldiers than either superpower. Indeed, only Israel has more army per square kilometre.

Switzerland is also the only Western nation to provide shelters fully stocked with food and enough supplies to last a year for all its citizens in case of war. The banks and supermarkets subsidise much of the stockpiling. The banks also have plans to move their gold into the mountainous center of Switzerland in case of invasion.

The nation is ready to mobilise on a moment’s notice. Said one Swiss citizen-soldier, “If we start in the morning, we would be mobilised by late afternoon. That is why the gun is at home, the ammunition is at home. The younger people all have automatic rifles. They are ready to fight.” Citizen-soldiers on their way to mobilisation points may flag down and commandeer passing automobiles.

Since 1291, when the landsgemeinden (people’s assemblies) formed circles in the village squares, and only men carrying swords could vote, weapons have been the mark of citizenship. As a Military Department spokesman said, “It is an old Swiss tradition that only an armed man can have political rights.” This policy is based on the understanding that only those who bear the burden of keeping Switzerland free are entitled to fully enjoy the benefits of freedom.

In 1977, the Münchenstein Initiative proposed allowing citizens to choose social or hospital work over military duty. It was rejected at the polls, and in both houses of parliament (the Bundesversarnmlung’s Nationalrat and Ständerat). There are provisions for conscientious objectors, but this group only numbers .2% of conscripts.

In 1978, Switzerland refused to ratify a Council of Europe Convention on Control of Firearms. Since then, Switzerland has been pressured by other European governments, which charge that it is a source for terrorist weapons. As a result, in 1982 the central government proposed a law barring foreigners in Switzerland from buying guns they could not buy in their own countries and also requiring that Swiss citizens obtain a license to buy any gun, rather than just handguns.

Outraged Swiss gun owners formed a group called “Pro Tell,” named after national hero William Tell. In 1983, the Federal Council (the executive cabinet) abandoned the restrictive proposal because “the opposition was too heavy” and suggested that the cantons regulate the matter. A few months earlier, the Cantonal Council of Freiburg had already enacted such a law by a one-vote margin. A popular referendum overturned the law the next year, by a 60%-40% vote.

Whatever the effect of Swiss guns abroad, they are not even a trivial crime problem domestically. Despite all the guns, the murder rate is a small fraction of the American rate, and is less than the rate in Canada or England, which strictly control guns, or in Japan, which virtually prohibits them. The gun crime rate is so low that statistics are not even kept.

The suicide rate, though, is almost double the American rate. Guns are used in about one-fifth of all Swiss suicides compared to three-fifths of American and one-third of Canadian suicides.

It is not Switzerland’s cultural makeup, or its gun policies per se, that explain that low crime rate. Rather, it is the emphasis on community duty, of which gun ownership is the most important part, that best explains low crime rate.

In Cities With Little Crime, author Marshall Clinard contrasts the low crime rate in Switzerland with the higher rate in Sweden, where gun control is more extensive. The higher Swedish rate is all the more surprising in view of Sweden’s much lower population density and its ethnic homogeneity. One of the reasons for the low crime rate, says Clinard, is that Swiss cities grew relatively slowly. Most families live for generations in the same area. Therefore, large, heterogeneous cities with slum cultures never developed.

Proud to have the weakest central government in the West, Switzerlan is governed mainly by its 3,095 Einwohrnergemeinde (communes, sub-states of a canton). Several cantons still make their laws by the traditional Landsgemeinden system, whereby all eligible voters assemble in annual outdoor meetings.

Unlike the rest of Europe, the police force is decentralised. Judges and jurors are popularly elected. With less mobility, and more deeply developed community ties, there is less crime.

Most democratic nations impose long prison terms more frequently than does America, but Switzerland does not. For all crimes except murder, the Swiss rarely inflict a prison term of more than a year; most serious offenders receive suspended sentences. As in Japan, the focus of the criminal justice system is on the reintegration of the offender into the community, rather than punishment.

As for the non-criminal Swiss, the saying is that everyone is his own policeman. Foreign visitors are surprised to see Swiss pedestrians always waiting at traffic lights, even when there is no traffic. The mass transit systems successfully depends on voluntary payment.

Clinard infers that strong central governments weaken citizen initiative and individual responsibility. He concludes: Communities or cities that wish to prevent crime should encourage greater political decentralisation by developing small government units and encouraging citizen responsibility for obedience to the law and crime control.”

In Nations Not Obsessed With Crime, Freda Adler comes to many of the same conclusions as Clinard. She, too, emphasises the communal system of government-in which all laws are enacted by popular vote-and the stability of residential patterns.

Most Swiss still live in traditional patriarchal families. In fact, Switzerland has the lowest percentage of working mothers of any European country. While America was debating the Equal Rights Amendment, Switzerland was wondering whether women should be allowed to vote. (The long delay in female suffrage may have something to do with the equation of civil rights and militia service.)

Schools are strict, and teenagers have less freedom than in most of the rest of Europe. Studies shows that Swiss teenagers, unlike teenagers in other countries, feel closer to their parents than to their fellow teenagers. Communications between the generations are open.

Among the factors contributing to the inter-generational harmony is military service, which provides an opportunity for all groups of males to interact. Adults and youth share many sports, such as skiing and swimming.

Target shooting is another important shared pastime, with community awards and team trophies often displayed in restaurants and taverns. At the annual Feldschiessen weekend, more than 200,000 Swiss attend national marksmanship competitions.

In the home, writes John McPhee, “while a father cleans his rifle at the kitchen table his son is watching, and ‘the boy gets close to the weapon’ “. Marshall Clinard explains that because army weapons must be kept in the home much activity associated with the proper care of weapons, target practice, or conversations about military activities become common in the family. All of this, together with the other varied activities carried out in Switzerland across age lines, has served to inhibit the age separation, alienation, and growth of a separate youth culture that has increasingly become characteristic of the United States, Sweden, and many other highly developed countries. Although these factors represent only one aspect of a total Swiss way of life, they play no small part in the low crime rate and the crime trend.”

Close analysis of Swiss gun laws also shows how silly it is for Handgun Control to point to Switzerland as a model. If-as Handgun Control claims-Switzerland’s lenient licensing system is the reason Switzerland has so little handgun crime, then Handgun Control ought to commit itself to reform of several American laws.

First of all, Handgun Control should oppose the gun prohibition laws in Washington, D.C., and other cities-since Switzerland proves that lenient licensing is all that is needed to stop gun crime.

Second, Handgun Control should work to repeal laws which prohibit Americans from owning howitzers, anti-aircraft guns, and other military weapons. Switzerland allows ownership of these weapons by anyone who can meet the simple requirements for a handgun license. And thanks to the “howitzer licensing” system there is no howitzer crime in Switzerland. Since Swiss-style handgun licensing is the main reason Switzerland has no handgun crime (claims Handgun Control), a Swiss-style system of howitzer licensing would also be a good idea for America.

Lastly, Handgun Control should reverse its policy, and work for repeal of America’s ban on the possession of machine guns manufactured after 1986. Handgun Control should push America to adopt the Swiss policy: having the government sell machine guns at discount prices to anyone with an easily obtained permit.

It is not likely, though, that Handgun Control will follow the logic of its advertising, and work to let Americans own licensed machine guns and howitzers. But until Handgun Control does so, it should stop talking about what a good handgun licensing system Switzerland has.

If Handgun Control should stop its rhetoric about Switzerland, what should pro-gun Americans do? They can talk about Switzerland, but they cannot expect to win the American gun argument with the Swiss example.

Analysis of Switzerland does demolish the simplistic notion “more guns, more gun crime.” More important than the number of guns is their cultural context. In Switzerland, guns are an important element of a cohesive social structure that keeps crime low.

While Switzerland is clear proof that guns are not in themselves “daemons” (as one Denver priest recently claimed), Switzerland does not by itself prove the ease against gun control in America. Indeed, author Clinard argues that strict gun controls are necessary in the U.S.

Clinard’s argument cannot be dismissed out of hand. After all, few readers of this magazine would want America to adopt the lenient criminal sentencing practices of Switzerland. Opponents of lenient sentencing would argue, correctly, that America does not have the stable, integrated community structures of Switzerland. Thus, the American government must take a more coercive, authoritarian role in controlling prisoners, to make up for the lack of community controls.

The same point might be made about guns. Although guns are more available to the Swiss, Swiss gun culture is more authoritarian than America’s. Gun ownership is a mandatory community duty, not a matter of individual free choice. In Switzerland, defence of the nation is not a job for professional soldiers or for people who join the army to learn technical skills for civilian jobs. Defence of the nation is the responsibility of every male citizen.

Thus, American gun owners must win the gun control argument based on conditions in America, not conditions in Switzerland. The implicit argument of Clinard (and of most American gun controllers) is that while the Swiss may be responsible enough to own even the deadliest guns, Americans are not.

Before rejecting this argument, American gun owners might wonder if an unmanned American mass transit system could count on payment by the honour code. Further, America obviously has a large criminal class of gun abusers, and Switzerland does not.

If strict gun control could actually disarm that criminal element in America, there might be an argument for gun control. But as Josh Sugarmann, former communications director for the National Coalition to Ban Handguns (NCBH), wrote in The Washington Monthly: “handgun controls do little to stop criminals from obtaining handguns.”

Sugarmann and NCBH favour gun control not to disarm criminals, but because they believe that non-criminal Americans cannot be trusted with handguns. The coalition’s political affairs director, Eric Ellman, has said that “the majority of gun owners are not responsible.” Yet a look at the facts shows that more than 99% of American citizens who are not professional felons are just as suited for gun ownership as any Swiss militiaman.

Ordinary American citizens use guns competently. Every 48 seconds, someone uses a handgun to defend himself against a crime (according to Florida State University’s Gary Kleck, using data collected by liberal pollster Peter Hart in a poll paid for by the anti-gun lobby).

Regular American citizens do not shoot each other in moments of passion; the vast majority of such shootings are perpetrated by thugs with a record of violence and substance abuse.

And contrary to the claims of the anti-gun lobby, Americans are not so careless that they cannot be trusted with potentially dangerous objects like guns. Gun accidents account for less than 2% of the nation’s 92,000 accidental deaths annually.

Suicides have little to do with gun availability. Japan has no guns, while Switzerland is deluged with every gun in the book, and both nations have the same suicide rate.

Of course the more that U.S. governments can do to make gun use in America even more responsible, the better. Switzerland shows how successful governments can be in promoting responsible gun use.

Elementary schools in America should have gun safety classes which teach children never to touch a gun unless a parent is present, and they should be taught to tell an adult if they see an unattended gun. The NRA actively promotes this idea, and the National Association of Chiefs of Police endorses it. But Handgun Control opposes this reasonable, sensible safety measure. Has HCI gone off the deep end?

High schools and colleges wishing to offer target shooting as a sport should be allowed to do so. Unlike football or swimming, scholastic target shooting has never resulted in a fatality. The anti-gun groups oppose the sensible step of allowing the schools to offer students the safest sport ever invented. Have they gone off the deep end’? Finally, local governments should enact reasonable zoning laws, which allow the construction of indoor shooting ranges (properly ventilated and sound insulated) in urban areas. In some cases, governments should subsidise the building of ranges. At target ranges, Americans can take lessons in gun responsibility, and practice safe gun handling skills.  As you might expect, the anti-gunners oppose this simple safety measure too. They’ve gone off the deep end.

What have we learned from Switzerland?’ Guns in themselves are not a cause of gun crime; if they were, everyone in Switzerland would long ago have been shot in a domestic quarrel.

Cultural conditions, not gun laws, are the most important factors in a nation’s crime rate. Young adults in Washington, D.C., are subject to strict gun control, but no social control, and they commit a staggering amount of armed crime. Young adults in Zurich are subject to minimal gun control, but strict social control, and they commit almost no crime.

America-with its traditions of individual liberty-cannot import Switzerland’s culture of social control. Teenagers, women, and almost everyone else have more freedom in America than in Switzerland.

What America can learn from Switzerland is that the best way to reduce gun misuse is to promote responsible gun ownership. While America cannot adopt the Swiss model, America can foster responsible gun ownership along more individualistic, American lines. Firearms safety classes in elementary schools, optional marksmanship classes in high schools and colleges, and the widespread availability of adult safety training at licensed shooting ranges are some of the ways that America can make its tradition of responsible gun use even stronger.

Moron Of The Day Award Friday, Jul 20 2012 

Today’s award goes to the person who appeared to be teaching his wife how to drive a dump truck in the middle of Austell, Georgia during rush hour.  I had the privilege of getting caught behind this wonderful human being, who apparently did not teach her that you cannot make a left turn at a red light.  She kept creeping out into the intersection as though she really thought it was okay for her to go, but perhaps she was merely not strong enough to hold the brake down. At stop signs she would stop, start to go, stop again, start to go again, stop again and finally go.  Just like that.  Every time.  There was nowhere for me to pass them.  They had PLENTY of opportunities to pull over and let folks by.  It appeared that I had done something bad in a previous life and Karma had finally caught up with me, as they appeared to be going EXACTLY the same way I was going.  The knew I was becoming irate, because they kept looking back at me.  They had to, also, notice the long line of mounting hostility behind them. I was only the first one. I will go so far as to say that it actually appeared they were doing it on purpose.  Getting caught behind a school bus is NOTHING compared to this!  People going the other way were actually LAUGHING at those of us with the misfortune of being behind this jerk!   Finally, when all hope seemed lost and I was about to pull into oncoming traffic and end it all, blue lights signaled the end of this episode in bad judgement.  Apparently, the cop had been back there for a while and was getting every bit as angry with these idiots as I was.  He pulled around everyone and yanked the rush-hour driving lesson off the road.  The good policeman’s presence did NOT discourage people from shouting obcenities at the couple as they drove by.  I swear…  Some people…

Can we learn from Europe? Friday, Jul 20 2012 

Here’s today’s radio program. I pick up where I left off on Tuesday (video posted earlier today) on the subject of the President and his belief that the greatness of America comes from the government. Or at least that is how i perceive it, and his recent remarks in Roanoake:

 

“You didn’t build that” Friday, Jul 20 2012 

I assume you’ve all caught on. The President, speaking in Roanoke:

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the internet so that all the companies could make money off the internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”

 

So, I couldn’t not talk about it. And in talking about it I encouraged one of my regular callers to grant my a career first: An insult.  Something along the lines of calling me a “pessimistic jerk.”

Here’s Tuesday’s show: (The caller is at 9:00’ish)

Some of my favorite answers to my favorite questions when carrying Wednesday, Jul 18 2012 

It never ceases to amaze me how nosy people get when they see me wearing a pistol.  I can understand a mild degree of curiosity, but to brazenly confront someone you dont know when you DO know they are armed seems a bit foolish…   especially when you suspect they are up to no good, because lets face it:  If you DIDN’T, you wouldn’t be quite so curious, now, would you?   Dont worry, I have a permit, and practice my right to keep and bear arms in a perfectly legal fashion.  Here are some of the questions people have asked me and the answers I have given them.  You will find some of them more amusing than others. (And yes.  I really said these things.)

“Is that a real gun?”  No, it’s a water pistol filled with malt vinegar in case I get attacked by a plate of fish and chips.

“Why are you carrying a gun?”  To protect myself from curious bystanders.

“Is that loaded?”  Well, if it isn’t, I’ll just tell the bad guy where I could have shot him and he’ll run away.

“Is that for self-defense?”  No, I use it to signal my wife on the other side of the mall when my cell phone battery dies.

“Isn’t it illegal to carry a gun out in the open like that?”  It sure is.  You should call the police immediately and report me.  Oh, and if they hang up on you, call them back over and over.  They are just making sure you’re not pranking them.

“Do the police hastle you about wearing that gun like that?”  They did, once.  I doubt they will again.

“Are you gonna shoot someone?”  Only if they really want me to.

“Is that really neccessary?”  Well, nobody texted me this morning telling me the world was a safe place and all my worries were over, so yes.

“Have you ever shot anyone with that?”  Not this one, no.

“Can my husband carry like that?”  Yes, and so can you. 

“Are you a cop?”  Nope.  And if something goes down, I wont NEED a cop.

“What, do you think someone’s gonna rob you?”  Not likely, pal.  Not likely.

“Why dont you wear that concealed? It wouldn’t freak people out if they couldn’t see it.”  Well, the only people it freaks out are the people who dont realize they have the same rights as I do. 

“Do you just wear that to scare people?”  Yes.  Potential muggers, yes.

“So, what, you think you’re some kind of badass walking around with a gun?”  Yes and yes. 

“What’s that for?”  making holes in criminals. 

Okay, that’s all I can remember for now…   I DO encourage all who can to not only support the second ammendment, but to PRACTICE it as often as possible.  The more people carry, the more comfortable society as a whole becomes with it.  The more people become aware of their rights, the less they will be willing to hand them over to the government in exchange for something they have no guarantee of.

Oh Roberts Monday, Jul 2 2012 

I’m not sure I can say much else that hasn’t already been said about the ruling last Thursday.  As much as I think Roberts actually made the right move, I just thought image this was damned funny.  After letting the decision sit on my mind for a few days I think he just didn’t want another Bush v. Gore.  His decision keeps the supreme court “apolitical” for good or for bad. As much as I wanted the mandate scrapped, the decision is good in the long term with regard to the size and scope of the federal government.

Roberts has effectively kicked the ball back to Congress and said “It’s your ball, YOU bounce it.”

The election forecast looks pretty grim for Romney, but a lot can change between now and then.

 

The Gap Between Reality and Myth: A Perspective on Obamacare Sunday, Jul 1 2012 

As all of you may know, the so-called Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare.” But the law was not upheld on the constitutional premise that most proponents believed it to be:under the Commerce Clause. Obviously, that did not appear to be the case considering that the Commerce Clause under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution does not codify regulation of commerce between private individuals and businesses. Instead, the Supreme Court upheld it as a tax.

As you all may know, President Obama touted during the Healthcare Reform debate that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would not be at all a “tax.” The President was totally wrong, but he played “fast-and-easy politics on this: the law originated in the Senate, and if bills concerning taxation do not originate in the House as it is constitutionally-mandated to do so, then the law is essentially null and void. But President Obama just made an honest mistake I’m sure. Yeah, that’s it…

I’ll spare you all the Constitutional ramifications of it all. It is pretty clear that the Supreme Court isn’t the Protector of the Constitution that it was originally intended to be. But I want to focus on some issues concerning the new Healthcare Law.

First off, Obamacare really is the government takeover of healthcare that opponents have warned about. I had been reading the Obamacare law on and off, but its so long that I gave up and just tried doing additional research on the law to make some short-cuts. Thankfully, this article gives a breakdown of what components of the Law detail in each section. Keep in mind that these provisions are very real. I even looked each section up for myself. Some of the most concerning provisions design a bureaucratic entity similar to the National Institute for health Clinical Excellence in the United Kingdom. The Obamacare law does this by empowering the Obama Administration’s Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. Currently, the CCER lacks the authority of NICE, but that will change by 2014.

For those of you curious, NICE is a board that decides what treatments that individuals may receive for their ailments and conditions based on cot efficiency. The Wall Street Journal puts into a nutshell perspective of NICE’s history on some of its practices:

In March, NICE ruled against the use of two drugs, Lapatinib and Sutent, that prolong the life of those with certain forms of breast and stomach cancer. This followed on a 2008 ruling against drugs — including Sutent, which costs about $50,000 — that would help terminally ill kidney-cancer patients. After last year’s ruling, Peter Littlejohns, NICE’s clinical and public health director, noted that “there is a limited pot of money,” that the drugs were of “marginal benefit at quite often an extreme cost,” and the money might be better spent elsewhere.

In 2007, the board restricted access to two drugs for macular degeneration, a cause of blindness. The drug Macugen was blocked outright. The other, Lucentis, was limited to a particular category of individuals with the disease, restricting it to about one in five sufferers. Even then, the drug was only approved for use in one eye, meaning those lucky enough to get it would still go blind in the other. As Andrew Dillon, the chief executive of NICE, explained at the time: “When treatments are very expensive, we have to use them where they give the most benefit to patients.”

The practices are only the beginning. Another controversial practice of NICE in the U.K. is the limitation of healthcare funding for individuals in the last 6 months of their lives. With only $22,000 granted to the individuals to fund their care. That is totally outrageous considering the fact that the last years of an individual’s life is when they need healthcare money the most. And this is only the beginning of the horrors of universal healthcare.

Another point that is often ignored is the survival rates of cancer. If you look at cancer survival rates for the United States vs Britain, survival rates for breast cancer rates show favorable for the US 84% to 73%, and for prostate cancer 92% to 57%. This is no accident. One thing I tend to notice is that survival rates in general rank better in the US than in most other countries with universal healthcare. Even while our system is eroding due to government intervention, we have succeeded due to economic freedom in healthcare and innovation made possible by competition. But this does not stop universal care proponents from attacking medical freedom and the doctor-patient relationship. They confuse the failure of government intervention and subsidizing with the market.

The next thing to consider is the costs that will be brought about. Not only the initial, but long term costs as well. Mandi Woodruff of the Business Insider highlights some of the major costs that will be imposed on tax payers to pay for Obamacare:

  1. The Tan Tax: This is bad news for routine tanners and has been since July 2010. While it does not apply to phototherapy, it penalizes the action of the individual by imposing a 10% tax hike on typical tanning services.
  2. Consumer penalties: These penalties will be divided into tiers that will significantly rise over a 3-year period starting in 2014. In addition to these penalties, individuals will be forced to purchase government-mandated plans, which will be referred to as “exchanges” (for legislative terminology purposes). Though there are exceptions, they come in extremely rare cases and give no opt-outs for other individuals.

The list goes on and there is plenty of costs to go around for everyone. This makes no economic since and will only create more economic uncertainty for individuals and businesses since they will have less money to spend, save, and invest. My home state of Georgia is already flooded with costs from Medicaid, and it has been projected by the State Legislature that the costs would skyrocket and create untold deficits for the State budget if Obamacare sees fruition by 2014. It goes back to basic economics: if you tax something, then you will surely get less of it in the long run. Businesses will lose money and the starving economy will only be further drained.

Lastly, I would like to consider the moral issue of it. I will make this very brief with a couple of questions that I encourage you, the reader, to answer for yourself. What authority should a centralized governing entity have over an individual’s private decisions for their OWN healthcare, do they not know what’s best for themselves? Why should the individual be penalized through unfair tax treatment for pursuing insurance plans outside of business or the government? Proponents of universal healthcare argue that the insurance companies and businesses “exploit” the individual and hold them hostage on their health plans. Yet, government empowers those groups with tax breaks that are not extended to individual plans. This is essentially a safety net for businesses and insurance companies to “exploit others,” which is often hyperbole of those UH proponents. Lastly, is healthcare at the expense of others truly a “right” even if it exploits the property of others?

What is often believed of the universal healthcare system is that you will have more choices when the government intervenes (even more than before) into the healthcare market. But what is not considered is the costs, monetary and personal freedom, that go into such a system. Suddenly your life has a price tag on it, but not at your own discretion. You no longer have a say-so in the matter of choosing treatment options because they are “too costly.” In the end, we will lose our personal freedom to make our own decisions in this regard.

I only wish this was false. But the law is written, and the systems show. When you look beyond the surface of the “good” of the system, you will find some pretty bad stuff. It is no wonder why people left other countries like Canada to come to the US anyway. The costs will also come with another expense: human life. As Political Economist Robert Reich puts it with the Universal Healthcare system, in the most chilling words possible, in order to maintain cost-stability in the system, we need to “let old people die.” He was applauded for saying that in this video: 

The free market system is not perfect in any means: there will always be booms and busts in which markets must correct itself to get back on track. But I’d rather be free to make my own decisions with my doctors about my health coverage that could save me some money in the long run then have a system where I’m “guaranteed” healthcare at the expense of higher costs and not having a choice in my treatment options. I’ll take the decentralized approach any day. For my health’s sake. The gap between the myth and reality of universal healthcare is, unfortunately, large. But the tide is turning and its not too late to stop. If we use economic logic and some common sense. What a concept.

-Nathan

 

The Terrorists are going to get you! Monday, Jun 25 2012 

Saw this in The Atlantic today:

  • “The total number of worldwide attacks in 2011, however, dropped by almost 12 percent from 2010 and nearly 29 percent from 2007.” (9)
  • “Attacks by AQ and its affiliates increased by 8 percent from 2010 to 2011. A significant increase in attacks by al-Shabaab, from 401 in 2010 to 544 in 2011, offset a sharp decline in attacks by al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) and a smaller decline in attacks by al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).” (11)
  • “In cases where the religious affiliation of terrorism casualties could be determined, Muslims suffered between 82 and 97 percent of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years.” (14)
  • Of 978 terrorism-related kidnapping last year, only three hostages were private U.S. citizens, or .003 percent. A private citizen is defined as ‘any U.S. citizen not acting in an official capacity on behalf of the U.S. government.’ (13, 17)
  • Of the 13,288 people killed by terrorist attacks last year, seventeen were private U.S. citizens, or .001 percent. (17)

All based on a report found here.

The article concludes:

According to the report, the number of U.S. citizens who died in terrorist attacks increased by two between 2010 and 2011; overall, a comparable number of Americans are crushed to death by their televisions or furniture each year. This is not to diminish the real–albeit shrinking–threat of terrorism, or to minimize the loss and suffering of the 13,000 killed and over 45,000 injured around the world. For Americans, however, it should emphasize that an irrational fear of terrorism is both unwarranted and a poor basis for public policy decisions.

Just some food for thought before we dive right into spending billions more on airport security.

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