Gun Control? Crime, Death And The Media

As usual, whenever there’s a “newsworthy” crime that involves guns in any way, you can be certain of one thing … there will be calls for more gun control. People die every day from unnatural causes and most of those deaths are tragedies, in one way or the other. More and more though, the actual numbers have been quietly dropping without fanfare. Even in the face of a massive increase in gun ownership (much of it due paradoxically to the threats of those pushing gun control to make them illegal), court cases upholding the 2nd Amendment as an individual right, and most states making it easier to legally carry concealed, the US homicide rate is now as low as it was in the 1960s and still dropping.

What has changed is the extremely broad availability of news media. We didn’t use to have 24 hour news channels that had to have something to report and crime is always good for increasing viewership. Same for the internet. Posts about a crime that would have been on page 3 of your physical newspaper (if anywhere at all) now go viral where everyone sees it because, once again, crime reporting sells. Violent crime appears to be up when it’s not, not by a long shot (no pun intended).

Highway AccidentPeople, for better or worse, are voyeurs. If there’s a wreck on the freeway, the traffic on the other side slows way down too, just to take a look. The tabloid covers are (almost) always filled with bad things that have happened; deaths, crimes, and scandals. The same mechanism holds true on internet media. The one biggest thing we could do to cut down on these sorts of crimes? Just call them crimes. Stop sensationalizing them. Don’t give the perpetrators the expectation that the end of their lonely miserable lives (at least by their thinking) will be in a flash of “glory”. They’re crooks and criminals, no more and no less. Treat them that way.

The Constitution, A Government Of Laws, Not Of Men

In a comment about a Supreme Court ruling on a Constitution issue, I saw the often repeated but wrong statement: In the US, the majority rules.

My response:

Constitution of the United States of AmericaNO, No and no!! We are NOT an unlimited democracy and never have been. The majority does NOT automatically rule. We are a Constitutionally limited Republic.

If the power to do a thing has not been given to the government by the Constitution, then it doesn’t matter how many people do or don’t want it. The government does not have that power. If the majority want the government to have a power that it doesn’t currently have, then Congress and the people can change the Constitution itself. Until and unless that happens, the Supreme Court has no rightful power to rule other than what the Constitution says as those who wrote it intended it to mean.

If words don’t have meanings or you can twist the meanings of those words at will, then we become a government of men and not of law and we might as well just tear up the Constitution. It has no real significance other than as an antiquity that we like to pull out every once in a while to smile at. We will no longer be the United States of America, but just the State of America. Unfortunately, there are some people who want just that.

If you want to learn more about what the words were understood to mean when it was written, there’s a couple of books worth getting: Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Reported by James Madison and the two book set The Debate on the Constitution : Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification: Part One, September 1787-February 1788 and Part Two: January to August 1788 by Bernard Bailyn.

Gun Control Means Using Both Hands

Many years ago, my husband and I were at a local bar for dinner when some drunk at the bar dropped his gun on the floor and it went off. The bullet hit within about 6 inches of my foot.

Did it give me the shakes? A bit. But the thought never even crossed my mind that it should have been illegal for him (or anyone else) to have it there. Self-defense is one of the most basic unalienable rights there can be.

If some robber breaks into my place of business I would have no hesitation in protecting myself or anyone else. Not that I have any desire to hurt or kill anyone, in fact, for a long time, when I was living in a place with stairs,  my first action would have been to grab the shotgun and pump it. That sound is distinct enough that any intruder with two brain cells to rub together is going to decide that he might not have picked the best place to hit and that he probably better get out.

Given that the shotgun was a .410, not good for much beyond birding, that would get dropped and I’d pick up the .45. If someone was dumb enough or drugged up enough to not pay attention to the pump sound, I wanted a gun big enough to make sure that if he still came up the stairs, he would be going down and staying down.

I’ve recently moved and the requirements for concealed carry here are a bit more expensive than where I used to be, so I haven’t gotten the permit yet, but I will. In over 20 years of carrying, I’ve only ever put my hand on my gun in my purse (not even drawing it) one time. Hopefully, I’ll never need to. But I intend to have the option.

And your aim is better if your gun control is done with both hands 

State of California vs Amazon Affiliates vs Amazon

A little background first:

Standard law on sales tax, in the states that charge them, is that businesses that have a physical presence in the state, even if the particular sale is fulfilled through an out-of-state facility, are required to collect and remit sales taxes.

On the other hand, if you buy a new fishing rod from Joe’s Bait Shop in another state it’s up to you to follow the law in the state you live in and send in your sales tax equivalent (usually called a use tax). Joe doesn’t have to keep track of and comply with all tax laws in each and every state, county, city or other government jurisdiction that charges them.

California is the 5th or 6th state that has passed a law which basically says that if you have affiliates who live in their state, that is sufficient to be considered a physical presence and the company is therefore liable for charging, tracking and remitting sales taxes.

Amazon has done the same thing in each of the other states that have tried this sort of law. If they have no affiliates in the state the state then has no pretext to require sales tax collection.

It has nothing to do with a “club” or threat being held over the head of California, it’s simply Amazon protecting their business from laws being aimed at them.

Notice that it isn’t aimed at anyone who buys from an out-of-state source in general. Mail order catalogs and most smaller on-line businesses aren’t affected by it at all. It hits ONLY those companies that have an affiliate program. The big boys. Amazon. Overstock. eBay cancelled their affiliate program altogether.

Way to go California. Wipe out one more source of income for your residents. Somehow they still haven’t learned that laws have consequences that they may not want or intend. Now instead of a new source of revenue for the government, existing revenue from income taxes has been lost.

They’ll all be sitting there in Sacramento scratching their heads saying where did that money go? We were supposed to be MAKING (well, really taking) more money and instead have lost it.

One extra note for the many I’ve read saying “Well it’s about time that Amazon started baying more in taxes” or the like. When you go to Sears, is the sales tax part of the basic price? No. It’s added to it, plus a bit of the base price is from having to cover the overhead of having to comply with those laws.

Those taxes wouldn’t have been coming from Amazon, but from every Amazon customer in the state of California. Once again, another little way in which it costs more to live in California.

The really sad thing to me is that I’ve lived in California. It’s a great state with an incredible diversity of places to go and things to do. The only problem I have with it and the only reason I won’t move back there is that it’s run by the government of California.

‘Nuff said

Two Tantalizing Tidbits

Two tantalizing tidbits in today’s mail on the differences (and lack thereof) between governments and criminals I thought were worth passing along.

The first, from H.L. Mencken:

“It seems to be difficult if not impossible for human beings to avoid thinking of government as mystical entity with a nature and a history all its own. It constitutes for them a creature somehow interposed between themselves and the great flow of cosmic events, and they look to it to think for them and to protect them. In democratic countries it is theoretically their agent, but there seems to be a strong tendency to convert the presumably free citizen into its agent, or at all events, its client. This exalted view of its scope, character, powers and autonomy is fundamentally false. A government at bottom is nothing more than a group of men, and as a practical matter most of them are inferior men…. Yet these nonentities, by the intellectual laziness of men in general, have come to a degree of puissance in the world that is unchallenged by that of any other group. Their fiats, however preposterous, are generally obeyed as a matter of duty, they are assumed to have a kind of wisdom that is superior to ordinary wisdom, and the lives of multitudes are willingly sacrificed in their interest.”

The second, from St. Augustine’s City of God

Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, “What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.”

The difference between governments and a criminal gang is that the government is SUPPOSED to be the protector of the rights of its citizens while the crooks just take what they want, when they want it. More and more lately I see the differences eroding down to rubber stamp elections won by the person who promises more of things he has no right to have or control in the first place. When {fill in the name of your elected officials} robs Peter to give to Paul, he can always count on Paul’s support.

Paying For Social inSecurity

I’ve been trying to explain this to people for many many years now:

A Radical Re-Imagining Of The Tax System

Russell Roberts, Forbes, 1-23-09

The payroll tax [Social inSecurity & Medicare] a regressive tax that falls harshly on the poor. And it is deceptive, an unacceptable characteristic of a tax in a democracy.

Half of the payroll tax appears to be paid by employers. In fact, studies of the payroll tax show that the employer merely lowers worker compensation in response to the tax burden. So workers pay virtually the entire 15%.

Worse, the payroll tax gives the illusion that taxes are “contributions” toward future social security payments. In fact, the payroll tax is used to finance current recipients of Social Security and Medicare along with other government spending such as the war on Iraq and welfare for wealth farmers.

This fools workers into thinking such programs are cheaper than they actually are. This artificially encourages the demand for such programs.

Does this clarify it a bit? Sometimes all it takes is a different person’s words to understandingly explain.

Rationing Health Care

I finally ran across an article advocating single-payer that openly admitted that there would be rationing. They’re absolutely right. They’re right as well when they say rationing takes place today. The important question is who decides what health care is worth what. If it’s the patient or those around them, that’s fine. The problem is when it’s a disinterested 3rd party that makes an irrevocable choice.

When Canadians need health care (in a timely fashion – instead of waiting for months) They come south of the border and can get it here. Tests and procedures that they may have to wait 6 months for there can be gotten in two days here.

Where will we go if we can’t get the health care we need and want in the US? Go south of OUR border into Mexico?

There’s another issue it brings up as well, and that is the “cost” of a human life. I would like to see that codified in any health care legislation … and in any OTHER legislation that’s supposed to be for our own good. Health standards, product safety, OSHA, and the like. It’s not uncommon to see “safety” legislation costing $50 million to save one life. If it’s your own life or that of someone you know, it’s hard to say that there is any price too high to pay for even just a few more months of life. When we’re all paying that price for someone else that we don’t know, that’s a different matter.

“Even if it’s just one life” is the battle cry, but that’s a totally untenable standard. Even when it gets to the courts, there is a saying: Hard cases make bad law. When you’re looking at the person face to face (or their grieving widow or parents or whoever) and have to say that it just would have cost too much to make that change that would have prevented that 1 in 100 thousand cases from happening to your loved one, it’s had to tell them – so sorry, but life has no guarantees.

Given unlimited funds, there aren’t many patients whose life can’t be extended by a few days, months, or even years. Where do we draw the line and, more importantly, who draws it? Something to think about.