Archive for the ‘#commonsense’ Tag

Why Worry about Income Inequality?   1 comment

I’m not rich by Alaska standards. I make less than the median Alaska income. That means I’m wealthier than 99% of the world’s inhabitants.

Image result for image of a snap recipient indulgenceIs that unfair? Hmm ….

Well, I can tell you that living at less than the median Alaska income presents challenges for my family. We aren’t as rich as some of our neighbors. There’s a man in this town who makes millions of dollars a year.

Is that unfair? Hmm ….

If I were to make somewhat less … let’s say so I’m in the 1% worldwide, I couldn’t afford to live in Alaska. So if you took the income of the people who live here and distributed it to all the “poor” people in the world, what would happen? People in Alaska would starve and freeze without shelter or fuel.

Would that be fair? Hmm ….

I make a whole lot more money and live in a nicer home than my working class parents did.

Is that fair? Hmm ….

My parents were always able to feed me. My mother’s parents, at the height of the Depression, struggled with that.

Is it fair that I grew up without going hungry, but my mom got rickets as a child? Hmm ….

So, then I think about all the “poor” people in the US who own cars, live in nice apartments, are able to buy food with SNAP benefits, and afford $100 a month smart phones, but they don’t actually work for their living.

Is that fair? Hmm ….

We have to careful not to confuse income inequality and poverty. Standards of living are increasing, albeit unequally, in most of the world. Developing countries are particularly benefiting handsomely from declining barriers to trade and movement of capital. That’s why inequality between countries is actually shrinking. As for inequality within countries, enrichment at the top has not caused mass impoverishment.

The market economy is not a zero-sum game, where someone’s gain must come at someone else’s expense. “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer” is a synopsis of the socialist critique of the market system, implying the perceived inevitability of what Marx called the Law of Increasing Poverty.

But, guess what? It’s a myth unsupported by empirical evidence. Absent government interference in the marketplace, the poor in most developing nations are gaining ground even as those at the top end of the income spectrum are also amassing greater fortunes. Poverty is reducing all across the world.

So what difference does it make if  your neighbor has a million dollars he won’t share with you if you’re making a real income far in excess of your basic needs?

Oh, right, fairness …. It’s not fair. Why can’t he give up some of it so I can be even richer?

Maybe because I didn’t earn it, but also maybe because he’s going to take that money and provide a job that will someday make my kid far wealthier than I ever hoped to be. But if I rob him of that money he earned, he won’t create that job because: a) without resources nobody can create jobs, and b) why should the victim feel beholden to the one who robbed him?

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What Might Have Happened 2?   Leave a comment

Apparently this burglar was unarmed – or got rid of his weapon before reaching the police – but he just as easily could have been armed with a gun, a knife or a club. Being a guy, he’s probably bigger and stronger than Ms. Reeves, so whether he was armed is actually immaterial. He had the means to hurt or kill her with his bare hands. So what would have happened had she not been armed? Nobody died, but I imagine someone might have if the perpetrator had been afraid enough of not seeing his grandmother for several years.

http://www.foxcarolina.com/story/37881137/woman-with-gun-who-chased-burglary-suspect-from-home-confronts-him-in-court

 

WALHALLA, SC (FOX Carolina) –

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after a suspect entered a woman’s home on Wednesday.

Deputies said they received a 911 call around 1:45 p.m. about an intruder at a home on North Laurel Street.

According to investigators, a woman at the home was armed and pulled her gun on the suspect, who fled the scene.

That woman’s name is Keri Reeves and she spoke with FOX Carolina following the incident.

“I immediately thought, he going to get a gun he’s about to shoot, me I’m not about to die in my own house,” said Reeves. “This could’ve been a very different situation had I not been properly armed.”

She says after she phoned the Sheriff and realized the seriousness of the situation, she was shaken up.

“I’m one of those people that can go from zero to a hundred in 2.5 seconds and I’m not a nice person normally, but as soon as I got on the phone with the sheriff’s department he was out of sight. The severity of it hit me, and I was in hysterics. I was crying, I was scared, I was very shaken.”

Deputies confirmed Thursday that the suspect, Ralph Jake Goss Jr., 33, was arrested and charged with burglary second degree, petit larceny, and possession of burglary tools.

Deputies said they found Goss walking out of the woods along Matthew Drive Wednesday. Items belonging to the victim were found in Goss’ possession, deputies said.

Goss appeared in bond court on Thursday where he was confronted by the victim.

“You came within 2.5 seconds of having a full clip unloaded into your skull,” she said. “Next time you will have the full clip unloaded.”

Goss addressed the victim in court and said the he was sorry and needed help. He also said he missed his children and his grandmother.

His bond was set at $65,000.

Posted April 13, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Gun control, Uncategorized

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What Might Have Happened?   Leave a comment

What would have happened to this man and his girlfriend if she hadn’t been able to defend them against these armed intruders? The story doesn’t say how far away the cops were, but even if they were next door, the homeowner might have been dead before they got there.

 

http://www.foxcarolina.com/story/37896075/coroner-woman-shoots-kills-intruder-armed-with-shotgun-after-home-invasion

 

GAFFNEY, SC (FOX Carolina) –

Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler said a Gaffney man was shot and killed during an alleged home invasion early Friday morning.

Fowler said a woman shot and killed Charles Shannon Alley, 41, of Tansi Trail after he forced his way into a home while armed and began fighting with another man in the house.

“According to witness statements Alley knocked on the door of a residence armed with a shotgun at 112 Piney Knob Drive in Gaffney about 3:25 a.m.,” Fowler said. “When a male answered the door, Alley allegedly pushed his way inside and began to fight with the resident while threatening to do harm to another male and female present also present    While engaged in the altercation, Alley was allegedly shot in the head by the female resident.”

Tim Anthony, the homeowner, said when he opened the door, two men tried to force their way in.

“I went to crack the door open and they barged, at least two of them, barged through the door and knocked me through the wall,” Anthony said.

Anthony said his girlfriend fired two shots at Alley while they were struggling in the middle of the living room.

“It was either him or me,” Anthony said.

Fowler said another man who was with Alley reportedly fled after the shooting.

Alley was pronounced dead at the scene.

FOX Carolina is working to get additional details

Posted April 13, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Gun control, Uncategorized

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Making the Bolshevik Revolution Possible   1 comment

My friend Mila sent this to me because she’s an American citizen who was born in Russia and she’s concerned about where the United States is headed right now.
https://www.rbth.com/history/326865-guns-rifles-russia-revolution
Konstantin Yeremeychik/TASS
Packing heat in the country is no easy task. You need to pass a strict background check and only then can you own a hunting rifle or pneumatic gun. Things were different when the tsars ruled over the land though: Every man and his dog owned a weapon.

The famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin enjoyed a rather odd pastime: After waking up he would lie in bed and shoot a pistol at the wall.

 

In Tsarist Russia, people loved guns. Officers, merchants, students, respectable dames, and young ladies all had a favorite handgun, sometimes more than one. However, by the end of the 1917 Revolution the authorities had restricted the right to carry firearms.

Shooting indoors no more

Before the Revolution, guns were in abundant supply in major Russian cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg. Newspapers advertised Brownings, Nagants, Mausers, and other models of handgun which were as popular as they were affordable: A brand new Mauser would set you back 45 or so rubles, so there were also plenty of cheaper secondhand guns floating around; to put this into perspective, a janitor’s average monthly salary in Moscow was 40 rubles.

Newspapers advertised Brownings, Nagants, Mausers, and other models of handgun which were as popular as they were affordable.

But even then Russians were not completely free of governmental intervention when it came to firing hot lead. The existing restrictions, however, did not regulate the ownership of guns; they regulated their use instead.

Random and frequent indoor shootings were a serious worry in 17th century Moscow, where almost all buildings were made of wood – a spark from a gunshot could start a fire very easily. In fact, such blazes were so common that a 1684 tsarist order prohibited pulling the trigger indoors.

Naturally, judging from Pushkin’s example everyone seemed to ignore the new rule until much later.

A new wave of restrictions came in 1845, when a comprehensive set of gun laws restricted owners even further. The legislation prohibited shooting outdoors in crowded places unless clearly necessary.

Although Russians were now stripped of their right to shoot for fun, nobody threatened to take their guns away – but this all changed with the Revolution.

Total disarmament

The Bolshevik Revolution put an end to the free circulation of guns among the general public. The leaders of the uprising knew only too well what the masses were capable of, especially if armed up to the teeth, and moved to monopolize gun ownership.

In 1918 the Bolsheviks initiated a large scale confiscation of civilian firearms, outlawing their possession and threatening up to 10 years in prison for concealing a gun.

The only exception was made for hunters who were allowed to possess smoothbore weapons. Gun licenses, however, were strictly regulated and only issued by the NKVD, the police organization known for its role in Joseph Stalin’s political purges.

It was only a matter of time before Russia became an almost totally gun-free nation. Some people believed Russians would regain their right to own guns after the collapse of the Soviet Union but despite firearms becoming available on the black market during the 90s, the new government did not risk liberalizing the gun market.

Today, Russians can only legally buy smoothbore guns for hunting and sports, as well as pneumatic firearms for self-defense. Applying for a gun license also involves a pretty rigorous background check.

In a nutshell, Russians can buy some guns even today but luckily most have abandoned their ancestor’s favorite pastime of shooting indoors.

Posted March 24, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Gun control

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In Defense of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms   Leave a comment

Found on Lew Rockwell

By Andrew Napolitano

Image result for image of andrew napolitanoThe Ash Wednesday massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, seems to have broken more hearts than similar tragedies that preceded it. It was no more senseless than other American school shootings, but there is something about the innocence and bravery and eloquence of the youthful survivors that has touched the souls of Americans deeply.

After burying their dead, the survivors have mobilized into a mighty political force that loosely seeks more laws to regulate the right to keep and bear arms. The young people, traumatized and terrified with memories of unspeakable horror that will not fade, somehow think that a person bent on murder will obey gun laws.

Every time I watch these beautiful young people, I wince, because in their understandable sadness is the potential for madness — “madness” being defined as the passionate and stubborn refusal to accept reason. This often happens after tragedy. After watching the government railroad Abraham Lincoln’s killer’s conspirators — and even some folks who had nothing to do with the assassination — the poet Herman Melville wrote: “Beware the People weeping. When they bare the iron hand.”

It is nearly impossible to argue rationally with tears and pain, which is why we all need to take a step back from this tragedy before legally addressing its causes.

If you believe in an all-knowing, all-loving God as I do, then you accept the concept of natural rights. These are the claims and privileges that are attached to humanity as God’s gifts. If you do not accept the existence of a Supreme Being, you can still accept the concept of natural rights, as it is obvious that humans are the superior rational beings on earth. Our exercise of reason draws us all to the exercise of freedoms, and we can do this independent of the government. Stated differently, both the theist and the atheist can accept the concept of natural human rights.

Thomas Jefferson, who claimed to be neither theist nor atheist, wrote in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal and are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Such rights cannot be separated from us, as they are integral to our humanity. Foremost among our unalienable rights is the right to life — the right to be and to remain alive.

And that right implies the right to defend life — the right to self-defense. If I am about to assault you in the nose, you can duck, run away or punch me first. If I am about to strike your children, you can strike me first. If I am about to do either of those things with a gun, you can shoot me first, and no reasonable jury will convict you. In fact, no reasonable prosecutor will charge you.

The reason for all this is natural. It is natural to defend yourself — your life — and your children. The Framers recognized this right when they ratified the Second Amendment. They wrote it to ensure that all governments would respect the right to keep and bear arms as a natural extension of the right to self-defense.

In its two most recent interpretations of the right to self-defense, the Supreme Court characterized that right as “pre-political.” That means the right pre-existed the government. If it pre-existed the government, it must come from our human nature. I once asked Justice Antonin Scalia, the author of the majority’s opinion in the first of those cases, called the District of Columbia v. Heller, why he used the term “pre-political” instead of “natural.” He replied, “You and I know they mean the same thing, but ‘natural’ sounds too Catholic, and I am interpreting the Constitution, not Aquinas.”

With the Heller case, the court went on to characterize this pre-political right as an individual and personal one. It also recognized that the people who wrote the Second Amendment had just fought a war against a king and his army — a war that they surely would have lost had they not kept and carried arms that were equal to or better than what the British army had.

They didn’t write the Second Amendment to protect the right to shoot deer; they wrote it to protect the right to self-defense — whether against bad guys, crazy people or a tyrannical government bent on destroying personal liberty.

In Heller, the court also articulated that the right to use guns means the right to use guns that are at the same level of sophistication as the guns your potential adversary might have, whether that adversary be a bad guy, a crazy person or a soldier of a tyrannical government.

But even after Heller, governments have found ways to infringe on the right to self-defense. Government does not like competition. Essentially, government is the entity among us that monopolizes force. The more force it monopolizes the more power it has. So it has enacted, in the name of safety, the least safe places on earth — gun-free zones. The nightclub in Orlando, the government offices in San Bernardino, the schools in Columbine, Newtown and Parkland were all killing zones because the government prohibited guns there and the killers knew this.

We all need to face a painful fact of life: The police make mistakes like the rest of us and simply cannot be everywhere when we need them. When government fails to recognize this and it disarms us in selected zones, we become helpless before our enemies.

But it could be worse. One of my Fox News colleagues asked me on-air the other day: Suppose we confiscated all guns; wouldn’t that keep us safe? I replied that we’d need to start with the government’s guns. Oh, no, he said. He just meant confiscation among the civilian population. I replied that then we wouldn’t be a civilian population any longer. We’d be a nation of sheep.

“Don’t Book Delta”   Leave a comment

Image result for image of delta airlines boycottBrad is planning a trip to visit his sister back east and asked me to make the reservations. Normally, the only things he cares about for trips like that are layovers that aren’t more than five hours or less than two. We had a horrible experience with a short layover at Newark once and so we learned that lesson. We also don’t fly American because when they absorbed Continental they took all the bad parts of them and Continental – well, I did say that was a horrible experience and then when I flew them the next time, it was not much better, so we just don’t fly American unless it is the only airline available and then we’d probably consider Amtrak as a suitable alternative.

He stuck his head in the bedroom door as I powered up the laptop.

“Have you made those reservations yet?” he asked.

“I just got here,” I reminded him.

“Good, because I wanted to catch you and remind you not to book Delta.”

We usually try to fly Alaska Airlines because of our Club 49 benefits (free baggage, nice mileage program), but since we don’t fly American, Delta is usually our back-up and a lot of times it is the most-direct flight to where his sister lives.

“Why not?” I asked.

“I’m boycotting them.”

Brad isn’t a boycotting kind of guy. Fairbanks, Alaska has too few outlets to buy the stuff we need to make boycotts feasible. I’d like to boycott Walmart and Fred Meyers/Krogers for violating my son’s First Amendment rights, but eating is more important and Safeway’s selection here is equivalent to a military PX or a country general store. But Brad wouldn’t normally join me on a boycott because he’s much less principled than I am. He simply prefers to live his life and not have to think about it. He also usually feels that boycotts are ineffective.

So, those three words, quietly and calmly stated, pounded off the walls of our bedroom. I had heard others are boycotting Delta, but again – air travel is essential in Alaska and Delta is one of only two airlines that flies here. And, it’s Brad – who doesn’t usually climb on boycott wagons.

Turns out he was completely unaware that boycotting Delta is now a thing. We’re not NRA members. Brad used to be, but when they agreed to ban the sale of cosmetically-enhanced rifles 25 years ago (what ill-informed people call the “assault weapons ban”), he withdrew his membership. He’s been a sporadic supporter of the Second Amendment Foundation and Gunowners of America, of which I was a member until I modified my position on felons owning guns — I think ALL your constitutional rights should be returned to you. I’ve been considering the National Association for Gun Rights in recent years. So when I mentioned that other groups were boycotting Delta, he was actually flabbergasted. He couldn’t care less if Delta severs its ties with the NRA, but he had decided all on his own that if Delta wasn’t going to support the Constitution, they didn’t need his money.

I called my friend Craig and then another friend, Chris, who are both travel agents here in Alaska. I worked with them for a short while between good jobs about 20 years ago. I asked them about the Delta boycott and they verify, it really is a thing. Delta may be surprised at the drop off in traffic among Alaskans. Big 2A state here. Chris says that’s good because he really would prefer not to book people on Delta. He’s among the 4 million of America’s 200 million gunowners who belongs to the NRA and he is personally boycotting Delta. When a travel client says “Don’t book Delta” he says “no problem.” Quite a few of them have told him that it’s not about the NRA for them. It’s about the 2nd Amendment and sending a message to all the gun-grabbers that we’re not letting them get away with it. “Imagine if Delta cries for mercy in a month,” Craig, who isn’t pro-boycott, said. “That sends a resounding message to the minority of American adults who are not gunowners.” Craig’s philosophically on the side of the gun-control folks, but he recognizes that money talks and says Chris has convinced him that Delta overstepped a line that it shouldn’t have crossed and that it stands to become the poster child for ill-conceived corporate partisanship.

At some point, people who believe in the Constitution have to stand up for their pre-political rights. I’m not an NRA member so I really don’t care about the discount Delta gives or doesn’t give to NRA members. It doesn’t affect me at all. But when any business decides that my constitutional rights can be infringed, then I will (to the extent possible) exercise my constitutional rights to not give them my business. When you decide to alienate 50% of the adults in the nation, that can actually damage your bottom line.

Tyranny of Good Intentions   Leave a comment

I posed a question on my Facebook page – To Protect Us from Bad Drivers, Should the Government Mandate Autonomous Cars?

I still don’t know what the consensus was on that because it became a gun-control debate. I guess I’m not surprised because both are liberty issues. It’s why I pose these questions, to drag liberty and tyranny kicking and screaming out into the sunlight where they can be discussed.

I think a lot of us harbor tyrannical thoughts wrapped up in the guise of good intentions. Why do we encourage the curtailment of free speech through the institution of speech codes? Our good intention is that nobody be insulted by ideas we have deemed inappropriate this decade (subject to change next decade), but I think the underlying psychology is that we like to control others and force them to parrot our beliefs back to us even if they don’t believe the same thing.

Image result for image of the lower crime rate in high gun ownership communities

Why do we think it is our right to tell business people who they may and may not serve? Our good intention is so that people can access goods and services without being discriminated against for things they have no choice about – colors of skin being the primary one. As an American Indian, I don’t disagree with the intention — I like being able to walk into any restaurant in America and know I’ll be served. But then the tyrannical psychology of human beings rears its ugly three heads and we start setting aside people’s free exercise of faith rights in order to satisfy a political agenda because in our heart of hearts it’s not really about fairness and eliminating discrimination. It’s about imposing our will upon others.

So, during the unintended debate on gun control, the thing that struck me was how people believe they have the good intention of making everyone “safer”, by eliminating guns from society, while ignoring the facts that communities with a lot of guns in private hands are much safer than communities where private guns have been banned.

They mean well, but they’re making us all less safe and may even get some of us killed — if they haven’t already. For example, with 98% of all mass shootings happening in so-called gun-free zones, why would we think turning the entire country into a gun-free zone would be a great idea?

Image result for image chicago's murder rate related to gun control

North Dakota almost matches Alaska in per gun ownership. They have the lowest crime rate in the nation. Some people would like to insist that is a coincidence so they can dismiss that data point. Alaska, specifically my community of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, has the highest per capita gun ownership rate in the nation. We don’t have the lowest crime rate. We lead the nation in rapes and alcohol-related crimes. But we have practically non-existent night-time burglary and armed robbery rates. Home invasions do happen here occasionally – mostly drug related – but they’re few and far between.

What North Dakota and Alaska share in common is that we’ve had very few mass shootings. Why?

Maybe it has something to do with our preserving our ability to defend ourselves a long time before the cops can be there. Because we’re not big on gun-free zones, we have created safer armed havens within our communities.

Are you safer walking the streets of New York City at 3 am or Fairbanks Alaska at 3 am? I’m thinking that even people who live in New York City recognize that the streets of Fairbanks Alaska are safer than the ones outside their apartment. It doesn’t mean Fairbanks is risk-free, only that it is comparatively safer. And, yet police response time in New York City is magnitudes faster than it is in Fairbanks Alaska. New York City has more cops per block than Fairbanks Alaska has per mile. It takes 10 minutes for them to reach my home (minimum), but it takes 45 minutes for a cop doing 80 mph to reach my cabin (minimum). Fortunately, we don’t have a huge need for cops because we retain the ability to defend ourselves.

Image result for washington dc murder rate related to gun control

But circle back – it is safer to walk a dark street in Fairbanks than it is in New York City. New York City pretends to be a gun-free zone, but of course, there are a lot of illegal guns in the hands of criminals in New York City while in Fairbanks there are a lot of legal guns in the hands of ordinary citizens. Why would criminals prefer New York City where there’s a cop on every corner rather than Fairbanks where there’s a gun in every house (well, maybe 75% of them)? Wouldn’t they have more chance of getting caught in New York City? No, because if they kill the person who they’re victimizing there is no witness to turn them in. But if the Fairbanks homeowner shoots them rather than being a victim, then they’ve been caught. Chances are greater that a criminal will be brought to justice here in Fairbanks than they are in New York because criminals here stand a good chance of receiving the natural consequences of their criminal behavior than they do in a city where they are pretty much the only people armed.

That translates into it being safer to walk the streets of Fairbanks at night. Now, it might potentially be safer to get drunk while playing poker in New York because your ordinary neighbor is unlikely to have a gun with which to shoot you if he thinks you’re cheating. That is a downside to living in an armed community. But, guess what … don’t play poker with drunk people and you’re probably going to be okay. It’s really kind of counter-intuitive when you think about it. In a community that is awash in guns, you’re safer walking down the street, but aggression toward others is also ill-advised. Most gun incidents here are really alcohol or drug incidents.

Image result for new york city murder rates related to gun control

Oh, that makes sense. It’s the advice I gave my kids about driving drunk. Don’t! If you’re driving, you don’t drink alcohol. If you’re drinking alcohol, you don’t drive.

If you’re drinking, lock your guns up. If you’ve got a need to have a gun out, you shouldn’t be drinking. That was pretty much the gun safety advice my parents gave me.

The good-intentioned tyrannical crowd would say “Let us take away the cars so you can’t hurt yourself with them. We’d take away the alcohol, but we already tried that and it was a miserable idea, but surely this great idea will work out fine.” Eventually, they’ll come to that conclusion about cars. We know that because they’re insisting about that conclusion with guns. Ignore the fact that not all of us live or even want to live where there’s a cop on every corner who still isn’t there to prevent our death. Guns are dangerous in the wrong hands, so they insist the answer is to remove the took from all of us … except the two segments of the population who most want to victimize the disarmed – criminals and cops.

Image result for new york city murder rates related to gun control

 

 

Posted March 2, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Gun control, Uncategorized

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