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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

No Silver Bullet For Gun Control

There are many reasons why America can't seem to shed its love hate relationship with guns. Part of it has to do with living in denial of what kind of society we are.

The term "Weekend Warrior" screams to the front of my mind.

The weekend warrior by week day is the mild mannered Clark Kent type. Loyally obedient, by the book, do as your told, Charles in charge. On the weekends however, he becomes Chuck. Hell bent for leather, rawhide tough as nails mountain man. A wild man. For the suburbs.

Or so he'd like to think. And in a country where free thought is deliciously rampant, what we think we are is as real as it gets.

Enter good old American commercialism. And the constitutionally guaranteed right to pursue happiness. Which to the patriot means a god ordained reason to have fun.

Unfortunately when men have fun, something in their DNA requires that they must shoot something.

Factor in every Western, World War II and Police Crime Drama movie about it and that's why Americans love guns. Simple.

An ingrained commercially promoted, legally entitled, traditionally and socially endorsed culture of fun gun ownership isn't going to go away with the stroke of a limp wristed panty waisted politician.

To reform gun control requires an honest understanding of the reality of the current 3 problems with guns.

One problem is that mentally unstable white people are shooting up daycares and movie theaters. Certainly this problem needs to be addressed.

Another problem is that ethnic minority criminals and gangs have unusually easy access to unregistered guns. Which is illegal.

The third problem is that the current gun registration policy has too many problems and loopholes in it, and doesn't address the reality of the second amendment.

The interpretation of the 2nd amendment is ironically impeding reform in two specific areas. First, what a "well regulated militia" means, and secondly what "infringement" means.

The militia regulation part is clear, in that the constitution requires that the security of the state be maintained by some sort of all citizen voluntary guard. In other words pretty much what the National Guard does already. The National Guard is about one step up from the Boy Scouts if you think about it. Lots of camping, a bunch of training on various skills and techniques, with a lot more emphasis on weapons. The other kinds of militia you hear about (usually in the northern woods of Michigan) are not regulated and so miss that literal interpretation of the amendment. So hobby militias should not be part of the discussion as a rule.

The infringement part of the amendment is actually the stickiest part, and usually where the questions about the original intentions of the framers comes in. If you subscribe to the notion that the framers wanted a government that was kept in check by well armed citizens, you are so far behind the curve, that you have lost any argument here. Because the current government has far more firepower than the average citizen could ever hope to have, to use to scare the government back into serving the people instead of itself. You must concede that you've lost that argument.
If this concession keeps you up at night now, don't worry about it. Normally when there is a collapse, and things shift towards a crisis in which a government begins to crumble, the normal natural phase of this leads to citizens storming the armories, and the military siding with the people and refusing any orders that might harm their fellow citizens. Especially in the US where more and more we see less and less military willingness to abide by morally dubious political will.

So you don't need to own a gun to overthrow your tyrannical government. When the time comes for it you and your neighbor Bob from down the street will simply take over the nearest National Guard armory and get whatever you need. Whatever it takes.

Now onto infringement. Infringement by definition implies the destruction of a right. It does not mean to impede or slow down. If you think it means to impede or slow down, you're just plain wrong and need a lesson in language. As applied to the right of citizens to keep and bear arms, you cannot destroy or get rid of that right. But not one of the framers said anything about registration. Registration does not destroy the right. However, since then, laws have been put into place to regulate the right, and as long as the regulations do not infringe or specifically act to destroy the right, there's nothing to worry about really. Again, if you feel you need to be ready to bring down a rogue government see the previous paragraph on how that normally works out.

So what's the problem with registration? Nothing really. Those of us that want them, can get guns. But mostly we don't need them. I'll talk about the kind of reform that gun registration needs later.
By far, most of the gun crimes in the US are committed with illegal or unregistered guns. This is by far, the biggest problem we face as a nation, and the area that needs the most action and a good deal of the energy can be put into reforming this area. No questions asked gun buy backs, and harsher penalties (cash not jail) for carrying one illegally, all part of obvious solutions. Additionally and probably more important than anything is addressing the underlying reasons why someone would feel so insecure and unsafe in the US, that they would think they need to have a gun, even illegally, for mere bodily protection. In 1865 Wyoming, I can understand this. But today?

The last part of reform has to do with the mentally unstable getting access to guns. First, more truth. Nothing can actually stop someone with undiagnosed and untreated mental problems who appears to be normal, from legally buying and registering guns. The only way to stop someone unstable from doing something horrible is actually society's job. Or our job. As family members, neighbors, and citizens we must now be aware. To use a Washington DC Metro motto "If you see something, say something". Because gun registration cannot ever address the normal looking guy who suddenly snaps at 5:19 pm on the bumper to bumper freeway drive home.

Almost all diagnosed mentally unstable people however, are under the care of good psychiatrists and therapists, who have a very accurate record of anyone who might be a threat to themselves and others. What reform could do, is require that all patients deemed in the slightest to be even the remotest potential threat, such as schizophrenia, or paranoia, or other mental instability diagnoses, must require a family guardian to affidavit whether the patient has access to guns. If they do a simple cop visit to the home needs to be made, to ensure that the relatives' guns are secured from easy access, with locks, in safes and other precautions to make sure they cannot be easily obtained by the family member under treatment.

This will only cost money. As will gun buy backs. As will closing registration loopholes.

As you have seen the NRA was not mentioned once in any of this. The NRA is a national gun club. It has no say in legislation. It should not be invited for its opinion. It should be immediately revoked as a non profit organization and prohibited from lobbying. The NRA is a national gun club. It should organize classes, competitions, and informative lectures about new recreational shooting developments, cool jackets, sweaters with the one shoulder patch, blue tooth enabled ear muffs, and Harley Davidson safety glasses made from Genuine Recycled Deer Antlers.

In a weekday Charles, weekend Chuck society, with the reasonably necessary second amendment, you cannot, and possibly should not consider getting rid of all the guns. However by accepting the truths about the issue and agreeing to take the citizen's (not hobbyist) responsibility for it, you can get somewhere in between, reasonable gun enthusiasm, and a generally acceptable level public safety.

Friday, May 31, 2013

How to Reform Immigration and Make Money

Most immigrants aren't social welfare sucking criminals. Let's get that myth out of the way right now. The myth we can confirm is that by far the majority of illegal immigrants are Hispanics.
Like the great European migration of the 1800s these immigrants are coming to the US for personal prosperity. The theory that your Polish or Italian or Irish great grandfather came here because he believed in the romantic concept of the America you see in movies, is horseshit. He came here to prosper personally.

Lets face it, America for all its improbably idealistic ideological promises is still your best bet for a personally prosperous life.

Compared to getting a new life started in Europe, Asia, Africa, and pointedly South America, the US is by far the easiest, cheapest, and best likely choice. Order a Big Mac in London and realize that the £2.99 is more like $5.00 and you can start to see.
No offense to Sinatra, but if you can make it here, you can't actually make it anywhere. Because its not actually up to you, or New York. So put that in the pile.

To be sure South America is prospering, no doubt. But struggling with it. Institutionalized corruption, rich investor headed monopolies of agricultural and petroleum exports, telecommunications, and the banking industries, controlled by the very topmost echelons of South American society, and in many cases political leadership.

Against such odds many see the US as a far more level playing field. English, and especially American English being the easiest language to learn in the world. Being land connected to the US too and you begin to see why coming here is a no brainer good option for some.
You also start to wonder why there aren't more illegals in the US than there are. Or maybe there are and we just don't know it. I've often wondered how the estimates of either 11 million or as much as 20 million are made. But given the list of incentives there should be more. It could be the coyotes and various nefarious guides scaring off the entry process, with the horrific tales of mass murder and robbery in the desert we have all heard. Probably many more we haven't.
The other myth is that the immigrants braving the coyotes and the dangers of smuggling in across the desert borders, are the poorest destitute. If by destitute you mean someone who can afford the $5,000 on average that it takes to come here. Certainly not chump change back where they come from. Looking at the exchange rate and average income for some of these countries, and these folks are downright upper middle class.

One more myth and I promise I'll get to the reform. The last myth is that illegals are criminals and part of the massive drug cartel invasion of America that isn't actually happening.

Most and by most I mean by far, most of those who sneak in are trying to get here to personally prosper. Some and by some I mean few will fail and might turn to crime if their plans to get a real job don't pan out.

But the drug business recruits its staff more easily here. They don't need to import labor. And the drug dealers and cartel folks fly in commercially. Usually first class or on private jets.
Proof that the Hispanic immigrants are smart and deserve to be here can be seen in the not in obvious lobbying. Slowly Spanish has become America's second language. Billboards and commercial signage, all sorts of instructions and 24hour sports networks and FM stations and simulcast Major League Baseball have not been popping up on their own. There is a very good reason why there is now a great deal of pressure being brought to bear. Thank your lobby political culture. If you want to get anything done nowadays you need to buy yourself a lobbyist.
The majority of the "illegal problem" therefore isn't one. And pretty much these folks are the exact kind of hardworking future Americans we would want. If America or the politicians that misrepresent it, weren't somewhat obviously racist about this issue. I wonder if the illegals were of a fine German descent, if this would even be called a problem. The problem now though, and area that needs reform is the entry and worker permitting that makes sneaking in more attractive than showing up at the border to come in legally.

If it wasn't unreasonably harder to get in legally, than to sneak in illegally, they wouldn't be doing it. Imagine how difficult it must be that they would rather risk being cut up into pieces and buried in the sand along the way, than stand in line and get rejected on vague technicalities. Like quotas.

So revising the entry regulations is a start. All the usual criminal and background checks and source of funds verifications and issuing work visas can be done at the consular levels anyway. And fees can be charged for all this. Fees that are now going to the coyotes would more than cover any administrative costs. I'll even bet a tidy profit could be turned.

Next a special simple no-loophole income tax rate for work visa holders could be attached. Higher than normal, to encourage conversion. That way you get to stay and work, but if you want to pay less in income tax, you really ought to look into becoming a full proper resident or citizen.

Finally if they bring their kids or have kids while they are here, no problem. Simply tack on another tax, a per child fixed amount that covers any reasonable welfare costs like schooling or healthcare. I'm liking $500 a year. Now they can stay and go to school and benefit from everything this society has to offer, as dues paying members. Again I'll bet this could be a money maker too. Certainly it will be a burden, which is the best incentive to convert their visa status. Or go back home if they feel it isn't worth it.

The goal of the reform needs to allow any reasonable person who wants to come here to be able to do so easily. But it also has to discourage staying in limbo. Try it for a couple years if you want. But you'll make more money if you convert.

Most will. Some will do the math and return home after trying it out for a year or two. No problem. Call it "The Great Test Drive of America!"

Reform however, requires a zero tolerance for illegal entry to accompany it. We simply cannot risk it in the 9-11 era. The good news is with all the added worker taxes there will be plenty of money to do a fully complete job of guarding the borders now.
The final piece in reform is dealing with the purported more than 20 million illegals in the country now. Certainly the answer is some form of amnesty. But not the kind you think. Since we've just spent the previous 1000 words designing a really cool reform, we would simply fold everyone into it. ALL current illegal immigrants would be converted to the new worker visa status and begin paying the higher tax rate and per child fees. Now you can continue to work in the strawberry fields forever. But with health insurance, and your relieved kids in school. You can also get a better job if you want. No need to hide in only those cash jobs that the owner pays you under the table or usually behind the restaurant.
If in fact the number is as close to 20 million as some suggest. The tax and child fee income could be in the billions.

More than enough to seal the borders. And certainly more than enough to cover any welfare costs.

Best of all the path to residency and eventual citizenship is right there. And that should be a relief for anyone who lives in fear of deportation and losing everything they've worked for and risked their lives to achieve.

Sounds like America to me.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Trouble with Capitalism

Like most European Social Orders, for lack of a better option, Capitalism has come the closest to fulfilling most of the socio-economic dreams of mankind. Everyone by now will pretty much agree that Capitalism is by far, the best system we've developed so far, with which to fund how we govern society. Pretty much.

But although hugely successful, and wildly popular, Capitalism, and certainly Pure Capitalism like anything too pure, has inherent weaknesses in its intoxicating purity, that can be strong enough to bring the whole system down. At times like clockwork. Cyclically in fact.

Mostly the success of Capitalism comes from the concept that a free and fair and aggressive and robust and energetic and enthusiastic competition is held among businesses. The idea being, everyone tries to beat the crap out of everyone else. This leaves the consumer and society at large the ultimate winner. With a low cost, high quality product, that makes its maker millions.

The problem is when someone tries to cheat in this no holds barred knife fight. And almost all of them try. They have no choice. They simply have to. Survival and fair play are naturally mutually exclusive.

And that is the main trouble with Capitalism. The bastards that win and survive are almost always the bastards that cheat. This is also connected to that whole other theory.

"The good die young, but bastards live forever".

Cheating in capitalism also predicates the other ultimate goal, namely becoming a monopoly. Capitalism that is left unchecked or pure, encourages cheating and breeds monopolies.

The other problem is that regulating capitalism or even attempting to control it stifles the very energy that drives its success. This is why most capitalist societies go through cycles of no regulation and then obsessively restrictive reforms.

Call it the "Circle of Strife" if you will.

May the best [bad] man win. Hakuna Metadata.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The 2nd Amendment is Outdated and Irrelevant

With the recent shootings in the US, the subject of gun control and gun rights, very quickly leads to the 2nd Amendment.

Which states: "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."

Which was added to the US Constitution, along with several other much more interesting and important amendments, (like the Bill of Rights) on December 15, 1791.

Yes, 1791.

In 1791, the state of the art assault rifle of the day was this:

The only accessory or option you could buy for it, available at the time, was this:

All of this was based on the assumption that you absolutely needed this kind of firepower in order to resist and be seriously offended by King George who was trying to take away your freedom to not pay his taxes. Or, you needed to be ready in case you had to fight this:

So here's you in 1791, all armed and ready with your state of the art answer to the hegemony that is standing between you and your God given freedom. Namely Britannia.

Fast forward to today.

The National Rifle Association, the pre-eminent proponent of guns in the US, often headed by famous windbags, would still have you believe that the only thing between you and your freedom being taken away by not the Brits, but your own government, is your personal preference for a customized, fully automatic, high capacity clip fed full of hollow points, this:

These people say this, while they tacitly approve of the same government they are willing to overthrow one day if necessary, wire tapping every single phone call in the US in the same name of freedom. This time freedom from terrorists. These people:

The argument for preventing horrible acts like the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut? Armed School Guards. Something like this:

Of course, as you can see, all of this is entirely ridiculous. You cannot arm school guards. Even if you did, someone bent on shooting a school will simply wait until lunch break, or some other time when the guard is off duty.

A good friend of mine is a Safety expert. His job is to ensure safe workplaces, factories full of heavy equipment, high voltage power, and nasty chemicals and gases of all kinds. Especially in dangerous areas where hazards are present, the rule and standard proven procedure is, when you cannot control the environment, remove the hazard.

In the case of guns, this rule and procedure most certainly applies perfectly. Since we cannot control the environment in which guns exist, whether on crime-ridden streets, whitest of homes, gun shows, unregulated clubs, and all the illegal trafficking going on, the "Safest" thing to do is to remove the hazard. Or, outlaw guns.

Right about here is where the right wing gun supporters chime in, right on time, right on schedule, but entirely wrong, on the premise they continue to misguidedly put forth. The whole fallback position of "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."

The fault lies with the Supreme Court. They turn a blind eye to the stats, and actually believe all that horseshit about guns as a fun and healthy hobby. They have apparently not seen this:

As an Iranian-American, who witnessed firsthand, exactly how easily a far lesser armed populace overthrew a far more armed and far more ruthless government during the 1979 revolution, I can tell you, that should it come to it, there will be no problem overthrowing the government if things get that bad, if that is indeed what you rednecks really think that you want to do.

In 1979 Iran, largely goofy people like these, went in and simple took the guns they wanted, from the army, and took over the country:

Some of the goofs used the tried and true "Peace & Love" approach:

But mostly things got rough enough that nothing but the total collapse of a fairly well entrenched system resulted in 3 days of this:

And it was over.

In 1979 the redneck part of the people of Iran, fed up with the indignity that their tyrannical Shah and his sodomy obsessed government had shown them, woke up, went to the armory, and with absolutely nothing left to lose, took the guns from the army, and took back their country.

This story would normally have a happy ending if it was your typical Hollywood story. But especially in the case of Iran, this naive simple act of defiance, unfortunately resulted in an almost exact duplicate Tyrannical government replacing the old one. This one not ruled ruthlessly by Man. This one ruled ruthlessly by God hisself.

The moral of the story of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the reason why overthrowing a brutally oppressive government that has gone out of control may not be as fun and cool as it sounds could easily be, "Be careful what you wish for, you might actually get it."

But especially in the case of Iran, the moral and especially greater lesson for Americans to learn could also be, "Never let the rednecks overthrow the government!"