Beyond the Cusp

September 10, 2016

How Could Gun Control Lower Gun Violence?

 

This has been a basic question where conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, gun owners and advocates against gun control advocates have wrestled and neither side has ever found the magic, pardon our word usage, silver bullet to end the violence resulting from criminal firearm usage. Every time there is a dramatic milestone reached as was recently in Chicago where they reached five-hundredth homicide of the year or a dramatic firearms related death toll resulting from firearms usage such as the Orlando club shooting or the string of homicides in San Bernardino for the anti-gun forces to rush to blame the guns even if the real culprit was terrorism as in Orlando and San Bernardino. There is the demand for long waiting periods, deeper background checks, limits on firearm purchases per person per year or any of a number from a plethora of inventive laws which would presumably end criminal purchases of firearms at gun shows, gun stores, private sales or other legal forms of firearms purchases. This begs a simple question, how many criminals are purchasing their firearms legally. Yes, there have been some tragic cases where a person legally purchased the firearms they use all too often in violent mass shootings such as too many school shootings or mass public shootings such as in movie theaters or nightclubs or as vengeance workplace violence or even terrorism. These tragic cases often are the first criminal act of the shooters and they went through all of the existing checks and even if further checks and wait periods were enacted they would have had little if any effect beyond waiting periods causing them to plan longer and delay their shooting sprees but not preventing them. Still, over ninety percent of shootings are committed by people with criminal records who already would be unable to walk into a gun show or gun store and purchase a firearm legally and most of the firearms used in these crimes are often stolen weapons which were bought illegally from nonstandard sources which operate beyond the law. The idea that making legal firearm purchases more time consuming, burdensome and legally tangled with more and more layers of paperwork and legal hurdles does nothing to prevent criminal firearm purchases and the politicians know this and the crime data records prove this. So why if these facts are well known and understood do the politicians continue to call for restrictions on firearm purchases and even have many calling now for the repeal of the Second Amendment and the complete ban of legal firearm ownership despite all evidence pointing to this leading to increased firearm use by criminal elements as they then are assured they will be the only people armed in any criminal incident.

 

There are at least two easily understandable reasons for the politicians calling for more restrictive laws. The most obvious is their receiving funds for making such demands coming from the anti-gun lobbies who will love such legislation and will spend liberally supporting political campaigns for those supportive candidates. Another reason is the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) who also favor more firearm laws as each law, regulation and licensing required by law increases the numbers of government employees required to process and handle the additional forms, research, background checks, license issuing or renewal and any other directives and requirements such legislation demands. These are two of the most active groups a candidate can get behind them in order to finance their campaign. The other reason which looms over the gun debate even more than campaign finances is the general lack of real information and education of the public, especially in most major metropolitan jurisdictions. This is largely due to the complete lack of intimate knowledge, education, training or even the slightest use of a firearm by the majority of the voting public. With a smaller and smaller percentage of the population having served in the military, especially suburban residents, and even less training in firearms in such organization as the Boy Scouts and other youth groups and there no longer having any firearms training in summer camps, the public is generally unfamiliar with firearms and many even developing a symptom bordering on maniacal fear of firearms to the point of hyperventilating at the sight of a gun other than on the belt of a uniformed police officer. Additionally, the use of firearms in entertainment venues such as movies displaying firearms in ways which are wildly inaccurate such as handguns or rifles firing well over one-hundred rounds without ceasing fire for reloading even firing six-shot revolvers twenty or thirty times before changing to another weapon or reloading, has fueled misconceptions of the lethality and practical use of firearms which if applied to swords would have the sword being capable of killing merely by removing it from its scabbard. Another misconception furthered by the entertainment industry is the range at which weapons, particularly handguns, are lethal. With shots being taken with a 9mm or a 45cal semi-automatic handgun at well over a quarter mile, 440 yards or four and a half football fields (pitch) which is a highly dubious range even for a really good marksman, but that is the short end of impossible shots as many a movie aficionado can attest. I have actually seen neighbors shrink away when friends and I would return from the outdoor public range and transport normal handguns and a few hunting rifles from the trunk of the vehicle into the house for cleaning and once had an extremely paranoid neighbor call the police claiming that terrorists were meeting in my place with dozens of guns and other weapons. The police were not all that amused but as two of my friends had Federal Firearms Licenses and one had a Class III Weapons Permit and worked at a gun store, they were forced to allow us to retain our weapons. The neighbor was frantic that we were not taken away in chains and the arsenal confiscated. Ah, reliving the good old days of my misspent youth.

 

Dianna Rigg as Emma Peel in The Avengers

Dianna Rigg as Emma Peel in The Avengers

 

The truth is that should the anti-gun and anti-weapons fanatics get their way, we will be eating steaks with butter knives if the vegans allow us to continue to eat slabs of cows. This claim is made as there have been calls in the United Kingdom, or at least in London and other cities of the Isles to make knives beyond six inches illegal which would make a number of carving knives and my bread knife illegal and some steak knives I have seen such as the ones at a restaurant in the United States and likely elsewhere called Outback. By our figuring, if these fanatics against weapons of all venues got their way, we would no longer have forks and instead be using sporks with our butter knives. The people who wish to make life so guarded that even the roads are made soft enough that falling will not scrape an elbow or a knee really have lost all sense of excitement and see danger not as a challenge to be overcome but a peril which must be eradicated so even the most inept cannot harm themselves no matter how recklessly they address life’s challenges. Where if they desire to round every corner in their homes and pad every piece of furniture while only using safe utensils such as butter knives and sporks and eat only the most bland fruits and vegetables rushing to the doctor’s office at the first sneeze or cough, let them live such lives but do not force your phobias on the remainder of us who wish to live lives dangerously using real forks and steak knives just to eat an apple because we love the thrill of the hunt. Truth be told, the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution was argued in the Federalist Papers as being the last line of defense against and to prevent Government Overreach and assure the Constitutional limits on Government power was in the hands of the people.

 

Safe Knife and Spork of the Future

Safe Knife and Spork of the Future

 

These people who claim that the gun is evil are carrying paranoia to an extreme beyond reason. I am willing to bet any of these people that a fully loaded handgun of any caliber could be placed on my kitchen table and sit there in the open for a full year and nobody I know would pick it up or fear it and it is highly unlikely, to the point of absurdness, that it would ever injure, let alone murder, anybody during that year or any number of additional years. I am willing to bet that they could not produce one person who robbed a convenience store who was claiming the firearm walked up to them, grabbed them by the hand and dragged them to the convenience store forcing them to rob it. Yet these same people would claim it was the gun if that same person had shot the clerk and simply wounded him requiring three stitches and a band aid. The tired old phrase that it is the person who commits the crime and not the firearm is true but there are those who insist on believing otherwise. They will claim that had the criminal not had the gun they would not have committed the crime. Somehow we believe it is more likely that the criminal would easily be able to buy a gun from, wait for it, another criminal if they were without a gun and believed one was needed to commit their crime. They would not go to Joe’s Gun Emporium or the county fair gun pavilion or any other legal means, they would go to a well-known criminal world individual and purchase a gun and for a few dollars more a gun without any serial number as it had been removed. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the criminal world will sell you guns made to order for the right price. It probably comes as a shock to the gun control supporters that there exist individuals who actually sell guns illegally and if they desire making it more difficult for criminal elements to use firearms, then the people they need to prevent from selling guns are the criminal elements and not the local gun store. Are there those gun store people who might sell guns under the table? Probably, but they are a rare minority and eventually they will be caught which every gun owner will be glad and hopes such a person is put away for a very long time. Gun owners are responsible citizens and are just as abhorred at criminal gun use as the next person, even the anti-gun lobbyist. Nothing would make gun owners happier than for every gun to be legally owned and never used for a criminal purpose and for not another person to die from gun violence. As far as gun accidental deaths, when you can figure out how to end the fifty-thousand plus vehicle deaths each year on the American highways and streets, then we can worry about the few hundred accidental gun deaths. It is nice to keep things in perspective and every gun death is a tragedy as is every premature death. But please let us remain sane and address the more serious causes of accidental deaths such as swimming pools and bathtubs, honestly folks.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

September 8, 2016

Why I Accept Most Inequality

 

Inequality is part of existence and no matter how hard those who believe all inequality must be eradicated, inequality is a part of the human existence. Accepting inequality does not mean that you accept all inequality as there are certain areas where inequality must not be tolerated. The foremost of these is justice and treatment under the law and in access to services and other areas where inequality is an anathema. We must have equal application of the law, equal access to legal defense when charged with a crime and equality in all applications of the powers of government. But even in this there are limits which we must address and decide whether these areas of unequal treatment are acceptable. We can easily give an example where even the most adamant proselyte of equality likely will confess to their acceptance of an inequality. The tax code and such support programs such as food stamps, unemployment insurance payments and welfare payments are all areas where society has agreed to not only allow inequality but to strictly enforce and apply these inequalities in perpetuity. There will be candidates running for office in the United States this fall who will base much of their campaign on the application of inequalities in how the government treats members of the American public. They will favor supportive programs which apply largely to their electorate and against any supportive programs which are not applicable to their electorate. An obvious example would be any candidate running for office in the areas around Washington D.C. will support increased wages for Federal Government employees while somebody running for office in central Nebraska or central Montana would call for limiting or even freezing government workers’ salaries. Somebody running in an area where there are a majority of union employees would favor pro-union legislation and programs and probably also the raising of the minimum wage to $15.00/hr. as many union salary scales are figured using the minimum wage as a scaling point.

 

Inequality is a fact of life and the sooner people understand that, equality in all things can never be accomplished. What one should not accept is inequality which is unnatural or selective in manners other than those inequalities which are a result of natural abilities or differing efforts or difficulties of task. Obviously the greeters at the neighborhood box store and a brain surgeon will not receive equal income. Though the greeter interacts with and potentially can make a positive influence on more people; if you or a friend or relative needed brain surgery, the greeter would not likely have the necessary expertise. The brain surgeon invested a large part of their life and developed a specific and vital skill which may only have an effect on a smaller number of lives. The inequality of skill levels and number of people mastering the skills of the brain surgeon is a much smaller and more elite group of people. Of course there will always be the equality in all things who will make the claim that had the greeter had similar opportunities and training they too could have become the brain surgeon. Where that could be accurate, there would be no means of discerning the reality because, believe it or not, life itself is not equal; but if we are lucky, it is fair.

 

Scales of Life in the Balance

Scales of Life in the Balance

 

Equality is one of the important qualities we should use as the basis in how we treat one another. We should not accept biased treatment in our societies, from our judicial system, by law enforcement, in service in public areas such as restaurants, in residential opportunities and numerous places all of which have some relation to interpersonal interactions or opportunities. Even when a society achieves equality in all of these areas, there will still be inequalities for which any solution would require the force of government and would in and of themselves be a form of unequal treatment. Where equal pay for equal work can be a sticky area, equal pay for all people is not actually equality, it’s communism. The problem with full equality for all incomes is that many people will choose the easiest work rather than work harder at a more difficult profession and not receive greater remuneration. What would be the reason to work at some taxing job requiring great exertion of physical energy or years of training and constant continuing education to learn the most recent developments or techniques rather than seek easier employment such as the greeter’s job we spoke of earlier? Granted there are those driven few who seek the challenge but there would be far too many capable people who would not work to their fullest if there were to be no opportunity for additional remuneration. Enforcing universal equal pay would result in losing one of the main incentives which drives many to achieve greater achievement. Without inequality in pay scales there would be little incentive to attempt to advance or perform at a higher level than your fellow employees. Across the board equal pay no matter the level, difficulty or dedication of an employee in their choice and enthusiasm and commitment is the quickest path to across the board disinterested and lazy employees who have little drive or will to exceed or even succeed.

 

Most of the inequality we find in our day to day world has a direct relation to effort, level of education, difficulty of vocation or physical requirements. The one inequality we most often hear people complain over are the huge salaries paid to professional athletes. Every time the same point needs to be driven home. The discussion usually starts off asking if the top salespeople working on commission making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year selling top products such as real estate, high end jewelry or other high end items deserve what they earn. The answer is always a definitive affirmative. Then we ask about the top medical physicians who perform the most difficult procedures such as heart surgery deserve their high paychecks? Again we hear the answer stating of course. We then mention CEOs and the other heads of industry. Then we point out that all these people have one thing in common, they are in the top five to ten percent in what they do and so are professional athletes. People at the top of their professions, and especially in the top of high money making professions such as sports, make the large salaries in proportion to the money flowing in their line of work. Are ticket prices ridiculous, yes but on the other side the average person can have a better than front row seat with slow motion replay and professional commentary watching the same game or event on television. Pay for view being one of the most expensive television viewing protocols still is often no greater than one hundred dollars and if you have a party with nine friends then it costs only ten dollars each and you get a front seat and reasonably priced refreshments with a wider range of foods from which to choose, and you’re watching it with your closest friends, what could be better.

 

Equality is something which is a target which we aim to satisfy as best as we are able. Will we ever attain complete equality in those areas where it serves society? Very likely not but that allows for improvement which gives us a reason to try that much harder. We need to fall short from time to time such that we have reason to improve and find new and better means to achieve equality. The one caution we need to remember is that equality in all things should never be the goal. Equality in measure to difficulty, level of performance, importance to society and other considerations will always provide inequality in payments to individuals who satisfy the most demanding needs of the society. Sometimes the inequalities may not be apparent to all people but as long as there is a segment of society willing to put out the money, there will be those who will find the means to satisfy those demands. The good side is that as long as there are these opportunities which offer unequal pay scales, there are opportunities for anybody to find such a niche and make some of those higher paychecks for yourself. Most of us will not take the high risk route and settle for a more equal salary which is guaranteed steady and less risky, which is our choice to make. Sometimes we can make inequality work for us but the one thing we need watch is that we deal with greater equality with the people whose paths we cross. As long as we deal with care and equality we can expect similar treatment ourselves and if we have quality friends and business associates, then we can consider ourselves fortunate and thank Hashem for such goodness in our lives. As a last note, we are all equal before Hashem and Hashem alone judges our goodness.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

September 4, 2016

Foundations of Pay to Play

 

The Clinton Foundation, or should we call it the Clinton’s Fundnation, where donations of varying sizes were deposited often in direct correlation to the length of time they were granted with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Well, not all the visits with Secretary of State Clinton were linked to contributions to the Clinton Foundation; some were linked to very impressive payments for speeches by one former President William Jefferson Clinton. Of course we are told that there is no smoking gun or definitive proof or actual links, well, provable links. It is remarkable the degree to which far too many highly placed law enforcement agencies and individuals voluntarily develop tunnel vision. It is a miracle they can drive a car safely with such obstructed eyesight. Yet the news has been filled with reports about the horrors and downright dastardly practices and unconscionable business relations which apparently have plagued Donald Trump over the years. We can only assume that previously law enforcement and business oversight and enforcement departments have suffered an equal measure of tunnel vision when it came to policing the business deals of Donald Trump. Of course the surprising item is the lack of law suits brought against Donald Trump if so many of his business dealings were actually as fraudulent as we have been led to believe. There was one business venture though which truly could have qualified as fraudulent had it actually made the guarantees or promises claimed by the media, and that was Trump University. Fortunately for Donald Trump the only actual guarantees given by Trump University were that one might be able to benefit and enrich themselves with the lessons and they would receive a diploma and a picture of them with the facsimile of Donald Trump. The picture with the cardboard Mr. Trump was only worth slightly less than the wisdom one might have gleaned from the lessons. So, there has seemingly been loads of the blind leading the blind in law enforcement around both Presidential candidates if the media reporting on one and the claims of ignoring direct evidence on the other are to be believed. This leads to one big question, which one is the least crooked and least seriously soaked in criminal behavior and thus the lesser choice to be President.

 

I know what you’re thinking, where am I going with this and that I sure started with some twisted and tortured lack of logic. Well, why should editorial commentary here be any less confusing and in the dark than the rest of the media? If you answer is because you have come to expect better, then thank you for your confidence and read on, it will hopefully be worth your time. The problem is that far too many of the politicians are crooked as a broken and twisted ancient oak tree with the varieties of corruption, insider trading (which is actually legal for members of Congress and the members of the Administration of the President), bought and paid for political hacks, politician turned lobbyist and other crimes of unimaginable complexity and criminal behavior obvious even to the most casual of observers which reach out from the rotting central core of the political tree in the ever outward reaching branches seeking new and more imaginable ways to deceive and steal. Are there some politicians who are clean, respectable and trusted to work for their electorate? Astonishingly, yes. Unfortunately they are also the politicians shunned by the opposition party and their own party and unfortunately cannot seem to get together on issues due to their different beliefs and political orientations. If only there were some means of getting the true representatives of the people to work to clean up the rest of the political quagmire, that would be simply grand. Unfortunately most of the truly honest representatives of the people fall into one of a few categories, socialists even bordering on communist, religious conservatives often referred to as the religious right, and the true believers of causes which are as varied as often separate be the narrowest of degrees yet still chasing mutually exclusive dreams as one can paint. There are likely more than a dozen of causes which come under the ecological umbrella from save the whales or the seal cubs to save the rain forests as well as stop acid rain who sometimes protest with the save the oceans and even save the polar bears who have been taking care of themselves quite well. Then there are those who want electric cars, hydrogen cell cars, universal transports which take everyone to their destinations, public transport such as busses, light rail or subways and those who want to ban all vehicles which run on petroleum even including aircraft and the rigs without which we would soon have less choices of food and other goods, but that is not their concern. There are some who desire making the United States a Christian based nation where Christianity would become the recognized religion of their state or even the nation. And then there are our favorites, the constitutionalists who simply desire to have the United States return to the limitations intended by the Founding Fathers.

 

Founding Fathers of the United States

Founding Fathers of the United States

 

Those chasing causes, dreams some call them, are probably the least harmful as they are easily predictable and can be clearly understood. The less than honest politicians are also predictable once their motivations and those who own their pocketbook are understood. There are those who have so many positing bribes, sorry, contributions and charitable donations, which work their way back to the politicians through nefarious and twisted paths making them not so obvious. Let us say that a politician or group of politicians receive contributions to their campaigns and to supportive political action committees (PACs) as well as donations to charities or other groups who also contribute to the election campaigns where all this cash finds its way back to the politicians and they simply promote a bill which provides funding for some aid package helping the poor or the sick in impoverished nations which in turn buy drugs or food using much of the aid from the United States from those who initially arranged the funding from the varied sources for their campaigns. The twisted paths and the indirect funding leads to crossing the eyes of any investigations such as there is nothing directly untoward making these actions prosecutable. There are thousands of scams which have been operating for more years than any care to admit. Ask historians or political studies professors and one can learn that these problems assisted in the fall of empires past and have predated writing. There are theories about what is the oldest profession and it very well may turn out it was politician and the first politician was the individual who convinced the leader of their clan that they needed a religion and they should be the priest or medicine man or any position which did not require brawn as much as brains. That politicians got to eat without having to hunt as hunting was dangerous and too often the hunting parties came back minus one or more members while priests or medicine men stayed at the camp near the fires and out of the rain.

 

We have come a far way since then and now we have entire echelons of politicians in layers upon layers doing all sorts of functions. But in modern society the politician is not the greatest menace, just the most efficient ones where the greatest concentration of money can be found. The menace are those faceless individuals who sit in offices and cubicles making up rules and regulations and even law in some instances when directed to flesh out legislation which is all too often loosely written and paints broad swipes leaving room for interpretations and that leads to mischief. There was a temporary position a number of years back which was referred to as the Regulations Czar whose lead individual was Cass Sunstein known officially as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget. The position was directed to review laws and legislation from the last fifty years or so and define or formulate new regulations which could be enacted with a special emphasis to use these reviews to enact and formulate regulations supporting policies the Administration was having difficulty passing through Congress. How many thousands of additional regulations were discovered hiding in laws recent or ancient we probably will never discern. Things have gotten to a choking point with the numbers of regulations, requirements and other rules holding an equivalence of laws that the average citizen cannot be expected to even have knowledge of the extents and depth of what is considered illegal and can place one on the wrong side of the law in court. The sad truth is difficult to put one’s arms around but be it the United Statesor be it Briton or any nation in Europe or potentially the entire world, the reality is we all break laws as part of our normal everyday lives and the criminality of living increases by thousands of new laws and regulations annually. This is the real criminal output of politicians who are paid to pass laws which outright or through inferred regulations give those who can pay an advantage over the rest of the population. This is the crooked legacy which is almost as criminal as the money stolen from our pockets through taxes, fees or higher prices so that others can benefit from corrupt politicians. This is why elections matter and primary elections this year proved to be the surprising ones which mattered. In the United States the choice is between two political forces either of which will provide the media, and especially us if we choose, more to cover than they will know what to do with. One will have half the media screaming about the illegalities with the other half excusing it while the other will have half most of the media claiming they are completely lost as to what are the motivations of the actions from the White House and others will play the game of guess what’s up next. Either way we will have plenty of news we just as soon would rather tune out, but it will affect our lives and the effects will be anywhere from minor inconveniences to drastic enough to threaten the entire planet. The real problem is none of the candidates, including third party, have even an inkling about the state of the world and what needs be done to repair the most egregious of the difficulties or threats, and it will be some of the threat which will offer the greatest danger if not mitigated and mitigated right out of the gate. Many will claim that will simply cause more difficulty but indifference to the world of problems has worked so well that we’ll gladly risk actually addressing threats and problems over leading from so far behind you may as well not be there at all, which too often was the case, Benghazi anyone? Please America, choose well.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

« Previous PageNext Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: