The budget deficit was in fact $1.4 trillion -- not the claimed $587 billion (which is bad enough, incidentally.)
Last year the Federal Government spent $1,417 billion dollars out of $3,854 billion, or 37% of every dollar it spent, on Medicare and Medicaid. This was a 9.3% increase over last year's expenditure of $1,296,731 (million), all-in.
But inside this figure are even-more damning numbers.
Payments to the health care trust funds were up 13.4% (!)
Spending on CHIP, the plan for poor kids, rose last year by an astounding 56%. While the total spent was only $14.3 billion that rate of rise is utterly astronomical by anyone's measure.
Don't believe for a second that administrative expenses are under control, which is a claim often made for Medicare and Medicaid: They were up 32% last year for the primary hospital insurance trust fund. No, that's not a misprint.
Hospital benefit payments for Medicare? Up 8.4% -- the bright spot, believe it or not.
Medicare Part "D" (drugs)? Sit down: Up 26.2% to a total of $95.2 billion.
Folks, at this rate of change within the next four years Medicare and Medicaid will consume just over $2,000 billion a year, or $2 trillion -- an increase of $600 billion a year in spending.
Let me remind you that last year taxes (receipts) rose by a paltry 0.55%, and at this rate of increase over the next four years government revenue will absorb only $72.9 billion of that $600 billion in additional spending -- and this assumes that absolutely nothing else in the budget increases in cost at the same time, an utterly fanciful notion.
In other words there will be at least another $500 billion of additional annual deficit, and likely far more than the $600 billion denoted here, bringing the total to more than $2 trillion in actual deficit being run per year.
If this pattern were to continue for 10 years then Medicare and Medicaid would rise to $3,448 billion, or for all intents and purposes all of the $3,854 billion the government spends now! Worse, increased tax revenue would absorb only $184 billion of that additional cost -- for all intents and purposes ZERO.
For those politicians and others who claim Social Security is going to blow at roughly the same time, no it won't. Social Security payments (for retirees and disability) rose 3.2% last year while for both retiree and disability tax receipts rose at a 5.2% rate. Yes, on a cash basis Social Security ran a deficit last year but the rate of increased tax revenue was higher than the rate of spending growth and Social Security has a $2.8 trillion dollar Treasury security cache it can redeem to cover the shortfall. At present rates Social Security may have issues in the future, but for right now it is stable.
MEDICARE AND MEDICAID ARE NOT AND THEY ARE WHERE THE ENTIRE PROBLEM RESIDES.
We will not manage to get through the next 10 years at this rate and in fact will not get through the next President's term. If we do not put a stop to this right now the stock market will collapse and lose up to 90% of its value, all pensions will collapse and at best be able to pay 50% of what was promised (are you a teacher, firefighter or police officer? Bend over because law or no law you are screwed.) The bond market will collapse as the spiral of debt will be clear to everyone and nobody will be willing to buy a bond from anyone at any reasonable interest rate, which will instantly destroy the value of all outstanding long-term Treasury debt by as much as 50-70%, government entitlements will collapse (to put that in plain language they will go to zero or effectively so) and real estate values will collapse as demanded interest rates on mortgages will make the 1980s look like a Girl Scout Party.
And by the way it is not possible to tax our way out of this and certainly we cannot do so by "taxing the rich", as is often claimed. If you confiscated all of the money made by those who make more than $500,000 a year you would not even close the deficit gap for one year. Of course if you did that the amount of money those who make over $500,000 a year would choose to make next year, and thus be subject to said tax, would be no more than $499,999, and thus you'd get zero in tax from them via this approach in year #2. Anyone running a "pay your fair share" claim is lying and they know it; again, that's the math.
We must -- and can -- stop this crap with existing law. Specifically, by applying 15 USC Chapter 1 to all parts of the health care industry. This will collapse the cost of care for both the government and private parties by as much as 80% and permanently end and reverse the budget problems it is causing -- for the federal government, for state and local pensions, and for private firms and individuals.
I have been writing and speaking on this since I ran MCSNet in the 1990s. It has been a focus of this column since it was formed in 2007, including in this column written in 2012. We have willfully and intentionally, as a nation, ignored this issue for the last decade and we are now facing the destruction of our economy, our markets, our government, our society and our way of life if we do not put a stop to the pillaging of our economy and people NOW.
You didn't see this in the debate as it failed to garner enough votes.
Oh, and by the way, despite Trump's tape not having any votes (it was too late to be included) it got what was darn close to first billing. So much for democracy and the people's voice, which the commission claimed was going to be responsible for the order of questions and which questions got included at all.
You see, according to the media and Hillary Clinton the most-important thing to talk about is whether someone made lewd comments 10 years in the past. We cannot, of course, have the first question in the debate be about a 12 year old******victim that was sewed up after being violated, and yet Hillary Clinton, in defending the rapist, filed a motion in court alleging that she liked older men, had filed false allegations of sexual assault in the past and was taken to fantasies. I've read that motion (it's available at the above link) and it was filed without presenting any objective evidence for those assertions in Hillary's bid to argue for a psych evaluation of the victim -- despite knowing that the original report of the******came about as a result of a call from the hospital where the victim was sewn up after being physically injured from being violated (to an extent sufficient to preclude her from ever being able to have children!) and the presence of forensic evidence linking her client to the offense (which she managed to argue had been compromised.)
But leaving both sides of the "ethics when it comes to women" aside -- a topic that, if given full exposure, I believe Hillary would lose badly -- there is the fact that the media utterly refuses to talk about the issues that are actually before this nation and this goes all the way back to 2008 and the financial crisis!
In point of fact I believe a clean case can be made that my question is the top issue when it comes to both the economy and health care in this election, simply on the arithmetic.
As I pointed out in my post on the budget deficit we ran a $1.4 trillion dollar deficit last fiscal year. In a few days I will have the MTS and be able to break it down, but I already know what it's going to show me -- continued outrageous acceleration in spending on both Medicare and Medicaid, putting the lie to any claim that the spending acceleration is all about "people getting older."
No, it's not, and no, whether a candidate made lewd comments (even if there were lots of them) is immaterial to the inevitable outcome if we do not address this issue in the here and now.
The most-important issue in this campaign and in fact in our nation today is people getting screwed blind by the medical industry. It will shortly, if not stopped, become not just about the millions of Americans who are bankrupted by this outrage but will expand to include the destruction of our government's funding model, the economy, the markets, and our way of life that will happen, with mathematical certainty, in the next few years -- almost certainly during the next President's first term.
There is exactly one way to stop it, and that is to start prosecuting and thus break up all of the price-fixing and monopoly practice in said industry, which will cause medical costs to fall through the floor -- a reduction of as much as 80% or even more.
If we do not do this, and do it today, the rest literally does not matter. We cannot sustain $1.4 trillion deficits in a time of alleged economic expansion for long. The markets will not allow it and the screwing you take as an individual in your cost of living will not bear it.
We either stop this, here and now, or we lose our nation.
You don't understand why The Ticker has faded to black?
Let me start with this: Why do drug dealers shoot each other on street corners?
Answer: Joe the drug dealer cannot call the cops and tell them that Jack the drug dealer ripped him off and sold him a bag of oregano instead of weed. Joe also can't sue Jack. Thus, when the threshold of his tolerance is crossed Joe has only the use of direct force available to him because he has no recourse to the law to settle his dispute with Jack.
The FIRST foundation of civil society is The Rule of Law. Without it there is literally nothing other than the Law of the Jungle, commonly known as "he who has the biggest teeth (or the most guns) and is willing to use them first wins."
Let me remind you that Han Solo, who is widely regarded through the Star Wars series as a hero, shot first at Mos Eisley. George Lucas edited that in the second release of the film (and later had to put it back after fan outrage) but it is a fact that Han shot first in the original theatrical release. Why did Han shoot first and kill Greedo? Because he knew there was no Rule of Law and he had no recourse to the law, which incidentally was later proved to be an exactly correct expectation when he was made an ornament in Jabba's castle.
Now I want you to stop reading, go get an adult beverage or a cup of coffee, and think long and hard before you continue reading about the above.
BECAUSE THE ABOVE IS THE ISSUE THAT, IF WE FAIL TO ADDRESS IT IN THE PRESENT TENSE, RUNS THE RISK OF RESULTING IN AN IRREVOCABLE SERIES OF EVENTS IN THIS COUNTRY UP TO AND INCLUDING POSSIBLE CIVIL WAR.
Did you go get your drink, consume it, and think?
Good -- you may now continue.
This site was founded back in the early part of the financial crisis, spring of 2007 to be exact, because the Rule of Law was being blatantly disregarded -- specifically, with regard to "Prompt Corrective Action" and banks that were paying out dividends with fictitious earnings.
Did anyone go to prison for doing that? No.
Did anyone go to prison for selling "good investments" to clients that they described in their own internal emails and on recorded internal conference calls as "vomit" and "dog squeeze"? NO.
Did anyone go to prison for claiming to Congress (and all testimony to Congress is under oath) that they were "adding liquidity" to the system during the meltdown when I found, in public records, that in fact over $60 billion was pulled from the system into the maw of Lehman's collapse? That facially appears to be perjury, incidentally. The answer is again NO, and one of the people directly responsible (at the time the head of the NY Fed) was actually rewarded for this act (among others) by being appointed to head the Treasury Department (Tim Geithner.)
Did anyone get prosecuted for the felony of perjury in filing literally hundreds of thousands of knowingly false documents in foreclosure actions across the country? NO.
How many hundreds of thousands of Americans lost jobs and homes as a direct result of this? How many lives were ruined? Now ask this: How many people were made whole on the damage they suffered as a result of these acts, all of which were facial violations of the law?
It is broadly illegal to price-fix via any mechanism where market power exists. So says 15 United States Code, Chapter 1. Go read it. Virtually the entire US Medical System operates on business models that are facially in violation of that section of law. The latest outrage is an off-patent device called an "Epipen" used for severe allergic reactions; if you need one and don't have it you have a very good chance of dying. They cost about $60 10 years ago, and are about $100 today anywhere else in the world. Except here in the United States -- where they're $400, and if you get on a plane, buy a bunch and bring them back to sell (to make a profit and undercut the price) you go to prison. The exact same sort of price-fixing with the direct support of the US government and FDA is present in virtually every area of medical practice -- from drugs to devices to hospitals. All of this facially appears to be illegal; were I to even have had a discussion with a competitor on fixing pricing when I ran my Internet company that would have been a federal offense.
How many people are dead -- broke -- or both as a direct result of these practices? There is an entire industry that accounts for nearly one dollar in five spent on all items in our economy and it has multiplied its share of spending by a factor of roughly six through the use of these tactics. You, I and everyone else in the country are being overcharged by a factor of five times as a result, it's destroying the Federal budget and has or will destroy state and local budgets also. You can't run a car repair shop without quoting prices before you start turning wrenches and yet it is essentially impossible to get a price, nor to bind the hospital to any figure they give you, for a procedure before it is done.
What did you see James Comey do in regards to Hillary Clinton and her "private" email server, on which she knowingly stored and transmitted classified information? The head of the FBI - the nation's top police officer - stood at the podium and described, facially, a felony violation of the law, which I remind you does not require intent, and then said "no prosecutor would bring the case." Then, one business day later, he sat in Congress and described knowing that a second felony violation of the law, perjury, had taken place in that he admitted he knew she had lied before Congress about 'never' having done so and yet he insisted that he needed a "referral" to "investigate" said act.
If you were being interviewed because the FBI thought you robbed a bank and on your kitchen table was a bale of marijuana do you think they'd need a "referral" to bust you for the weed? You know damn well the handcuffs would be on you in seconds, so why weren't they on Hillary?
Next, if there was no intent as Comey claimed he could not find why did she lie repeatedly, both to the public and Congress, about the presence of classified information on her server? You don't lie about something you aren't trying to hide and you don't hide something that doesn't incriminate you! Prosecutors argue this every single day before juries and get thousands of convictions every year on exactly that basis -- the accused lied about something they did and that lie is evidence that they knew what they were doing was wrong as that's the only reason to lie about it!
Another section of the same law attaches liability to anyone who is involved in these acts and fails to report them. That facially involves Bill and Chelsea Clinton as well as Hillary's entire senior staff! This issue is, again, not just limited to Hillary's conduct. As persons with security clearances (with the possible exception of Chelsea) they all were aware of the law and their positive obligation to immediately report any breach of security of classified information, and failure to do so is a criminal offense.
Finally, contrary to Comey's assertions (which were also a lie, and since they were made to Congress were also Perjury, a felony violation of the law) there indeed are people who not only have been but are being prosecuted for quite-similar violations of the law with regard to classified data. Specifically there are service members who have been arrested, not just demoted or had their security clearances revoked, for putting classified information on unauthorized devices. One, Kristian Saucier, faces 20 years in prison; there is no apparent public evidence that this individual ever allowed anyone outside of trusted Navy circles to see the images. Comey made the blanket statement that the government does not prosecute people who do not give said information intentionally to our enemies; his statement before Congress was a lie.
If you believe this is a singular instance you have your head firmly planted somewhere that the sun never shines. As yet another example out of literally hundreds I cite the recent shooting at Pulse; 50 people died. The wife of the shooter has disappeared and the FBI has pointedly refused to answer as to where she is, despite the fact that it has been disclosed that she drove the shooter to the club and knew he was going to do it. That makes her an accessory just as you or I would be charged with murder if we drove our girlfriend or boyfriend to a bank to rob it and he or she shot dead a teller. There are now reports circulating that this woman was allowed to flee the country and is in the Middle East where she cannot be extradited nor has she been indicted. Before you say one more word about how "blue lives matter" you first have to account for and subtract back off the 50 murders that didn't matter when we had someone who we could charge with them that was both alive and able to be arrested, indicted and prosecuted.
If I, as an ordinary person, fire a gun I own every single round that comes out of the barrel until it comes to rest. Even if I am perfectly justified in drawing and firing that weapon if I shoot an innocent person I remain responsible for the round that did not go where I intended it to and the results of same. Now contrast this with the police of any stripe, who may fire indiscriminately, emptying weapons containing dozens of rounds even into targets that are facially wrong such as a pair of women in a truck when they are seeking a man in California, and yet they are never held accountable for the damage those rounds do to either person or property.
How many people are dead in Orlando not as a result of a terrorist but rather due to the rounds fired by police, along with their intentional 3+ hour delay in entering the building? Where are the manslaugher (or felonious assault) charges for the persons who were hit with wildly-sprayed rounds from police weapons during that breach? Why has there been no accounting for those rounds and the persons killed by them? Why is there never any accounting for said rounds fired by the police wildly and with outrageous disregard for innocent persons in the vicinity? You or I would be charged immediately for such a flagrant display of gross negligence, likely with multiple felonies.
Now consider all of the above flagrant violations of the law, all of which were observed by many officers of the law of all stripes -- federal, state, county and local. Exactly how many of said officers made an arrest and processing of said suspects (including other police officers, CEOs or politicians) for behavior they personally witnessed that was (and is) a facial violation of the law, turning over same to a prosecutor?
If that's not enough the shooter in Dallas was cornered -- "treed" if you will, isolated in a parking garage from which he could not escape. Rather than wait him out and arrest him, then go through this entire pesky "due process" thing including a trial and sentence even though he was not presently shooting at anyone the police instead mounted a bomb on a robot and blew him up. You got that folks? Yeah, he was obviously guilty as hell but if you catch someone having just killed your daughter and he's cornered in your shed, either out of ammo or choosing not to shoot at that time, you cannot blow the shed up rather than arrest him! Due process of law? What's that?
Boobus Americanus cheered that on too and yet what you just invited the next guy to do is throw a grenade or make damn sure he has a really BIG bomb with him instead of surrendering when cornered! If one person has no right to due process of law THEN NEITHER DOES ANYONE ELSE -- including the cops.
Folks, all of what has gone on of late is traceable and chargeable to the destruction of The Rule of Law. The destruction of millions of American's financial status, their wealth, their freedom, their health and frequently their very lives are destroyed because CERTAIN PEOPLE, namely the rich, politically powerful, those wearing a "blue" costume of some sort or those who happen to run big corporations can and do whatever they wish and are simply not prosecuted for violations of the law that you, I, or anyone else would be and are.
When you back a bear into a corner it will attack you because it perceives that as the only remaining course of action that it has available to it other than death.
We created the conditions under which drug dealers resort to shooting each other because we made the consensual act of trade in and consumption of certain substances a crime, and by doing so denied them any other recourse under the law for disputes among themselves.
They are at fault for shooting at one another but it is our responsibility because we intentionally removed their recourse to the law.
We created the conditions under which millions of Americans, most of whom are not drug dealers, believe they have no recourse to the law through our willful and intentional acts and then we sit still, swill beer and post on Facebook when the fact that ordinary Americans have no recourse to the law as soon as someone rich, powerful or wearing a costume who wants to screw them is shoved in our faces instead of demanding that all of this crap stop. That message - "you have no recourse" - has been driven in day after day as every "important person", cop or company you care to name pulls some stunt that would result in anyone else facing down an immediate felony indictment and walks away laughing or, equally as bad, collects hugs, donuts and, for corporate executives, million dollar bonuses.
Specifically, and in reference to recent events, it is our refusal to demand that police officers be held accountable for every round they fire just as is any other person.
It is our refusal to demand that those in political power who perjure themselves are prosecuted while if you lie you go to prison for obstruction of justice.
It is our refusal to demand that "law enforcement officers" who aid and abet someone who can facially be indicted for multiple counts of murder "disappearing" be held accountable as accessories after the fact and indicted themselves, never mind refusing to demand that our former Attorney General and current President who between them, along with dozens of other "sworn officers", knowingly armed drug dealers also face indictment for their acts.
It is our refusal to demand that the cops who claimed they had video footage of an innocent man shooting and plastered same all over the media when they knew they did not be prosecuted for intentionally causing him to be subjected to death threats and have his reputation destroyed while if he had told the slightest untruth to said cops he would have been charged with obstruction, lying to investigators or both. Worse, instead of tendering that demand and sticking to it we bring the cops donuts, pay for their lunches and post all sorts of laudatory crap on social media, cheering on the lies!
It is our refusal to demand that an officer who claims to pull over a car for a broken tail-light when both lights are clearly illuminated on the dashcam video and then shoots said motorist be immediately brought up on murder charges and as prime evidence of his guilt we use his intentionally false statement that he was stopping the car for a broken taillight.
It is our refusal to demand that police officers who steal property under so-called "civil forfeiture" when they have no actual offense they can charge the owner with be prosecuted and imprisoned for grand theft and the entire department so-involved dismantled for Racketeering, exactly as you or I would be if we all got together and held people up at gunpoint claiming that they had committed some crime, stealing everything they owned.
It is our refusal to demand that executives in the medical and pharmaceutical industries face the music for conduct that facially appears to violate hundred-year old anti-trust laws that not only mandate a decade long prison sentence for said executives they come with company-ruining fines big enough on a per-count basis to destroy any corporation that pulls this crap.
It is our refusal to demand that all of the "finance professionals" who sold mathematically impossible schemes in the pension and insurance space to teachers, police officers, firemen and others go to prison and have their firms confiscated for promising that which is impossible.
And it is our refusal to hold accountable all in a given role who are aware of this rank corruption, have taken an oath to uphold the law and have violated that oath by either not doing their job directly or sitting silently while others refuse to do so. It is illegal for a person to be associated with Daesh even if they do not personally commit a terrorist act. Given that fact why can any member of a police force or other government agency, whether federal, state or local, cover up or refuse to investigate blatantly unlawful behavior without everyone involved in same being charged as co-conspirators when the law clearly defines that someone who acts as an accessory before or after the fact is equally liable.
If this issue -- the utter destruction of The Rule of Law -- is not addressed now there is a very real risk that the spiral of events that has been growing, first slowly and now exponentially, could erupt into literal war within our own nation.
If it does you had better get up and look in the damned mirror because it is the collective inaction and refusal to demand the restoration of the Rule of Law by the American people that has and will lead to this outcome. There is no violent repression -- by police or anyone else -- that can stop it.
Only restoring the Rule of Law so everyone has equal recourse to the law will stop and reverse what is otherwise inevitable.
It is for this reason that I have decided that for the present I am going to go enjoy whatever time is left in a reasonably-peaceful society here in America instead of writing for your consumption, for I neither believe that this relatively-peaceful state of affairs will persist for long nor do I believe any material number of people will lift a single finger to do anything about it other than whining on so-called "social media."
Eight years is enough time to see whether or not there is any indication that any material percentage of the public gives a good damn and absent a marked change in the evidence my verdict is in.
Han was not wrong in his assessment of the state of Rule of Law in the Star Wars Universe. We must not, as a society, allow that assessment among people in this nation to continue on the path it is on here in the United States or the outcome will be the same.
The we must ban guns meme is of course cranked up once again in the wake of California's terrorist attack.
I am willing to and in fact claim we must as a society have a public and open debate about what we should do in regards to terrorism, the Second Amendment, immigration and all other facets of what happened in California -- and in the other incidents across this land.
I have only one rule: All points of debate must be grounded in and resort to logic; those that do not must be discarded and those who refuse to debate on that basis must be ignored.
This is a serious time for serious people. Getting shot or blown up is serious. But our Constitutional Republic is also serious; it is a unique political experiment among the various governments of the world, and to dilute or worse lose it over an un-thinking overreaction not only risks destroying our way of life it is likely to make our lives more dangerous rather than less.
Now let's look at the alleged "reasonable" response that the NY Times ran this morning.
It is not necessary to debate the peculiar wording of the Second Amendment. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation.
False. A right is immune from prior restraint. The First Amendment is absolute. This does not absolve you from responsibility should you exercise that right in a blatantly and grossly irresponsible manner. This is the infamous "fire in a crowded theater" example so often cited. But what is being intentionally mis-characterized is that you cannot be forced to wear a muzzle when entering a theater because you might utter the word "Fire" when there isn't one.
There is nothing wrong with punishing someone who falsely claims there is a fire in a crowded theater when there is not, just as there is nothing wrong with punishing someone who brandishes or otherwise uses a firearm for an impermissible purpose.
However, the mere possession of firearms is a right just as is free speech and until and unless it is misused and by doing so one harms others you cannot inhibit a right.
Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.
First, let's talk about the ammunition. Here are two actual bullets next to each other just so nobody can claim that games are being played with scale to make one "scarier" than the other. Incidentally, the picture is scaled to be of approximately actual size on most monitors.
One of them is the "evil" type that the NY Times is referring to, and is probably identical to the ones used by the San Bernardino shooters -- if it's not identical, it's damn close.
You probably would say that you'd ban the one on the right; it's bigger and scarier. You would probably also be shocked to discover that the bullet on the right is commonly used to hunt deer and, if it's not obvious by its size and mass, you definitely would prefer to be shot with the one the San Bernardino shooters used if someone is going to give you a choice!
Now let's talk about weapons for a minute. The firearms used by the San Bernardino shooters are no more dangerous to the person or animal shot than any other. In fact they're less dangerous than many other common rifles simply because the bullet they shoot is of .22 caliber -- less than a quarter of an inch across. They are also autoloaders, which means that they fire one round for each depression of the trigger. There are probably a hundred million said autoloading weapons in the United States today and they are not "weapons of war"; those typically have the capability of "select fire", which means they can shoot more than one bullet for each press of the trigger, the common settings available being three (a "burst") or until you let go (the latter is usually called a "machine gun" but the legal definition includes any weapon that fires more than one round per trigger press.)
It is currently unlawful for any civilian to posses a select-fire weapon manufactured after 1986, and for those made earlier you must first apply with the BATFE, submit a full set of fingerprints and a (relatively large) tax payment and then wait for them to approve the sale before you can take possession. This typically takes six months to a year or more.
There are a decent number of select-fire weapons in civilians hands; people are willing to go to that much trouble to buy and keep them. Due to their scarcity and legal restrictions they're very expensive and shooting one is extremely expensive as well simply because of the quantity of ammunition they consume (cartridges are not cheap!) Of the lawfully-owned machine guns in civilian hands I believe the count used in a crime since that law was passed number two, with one being committed by a former police officer. These actual "weapons of war" have never been involved in any amount of criminal activity that one can actually find in the statistics.
That doesn't mean machine guns haven't been used in crimes; they have. In fact the San Bernardino shooters were reported to have attempted to convert one of their civilian rifles to select fire (there was apparently evidence of that found in the weapon) but failed at doing so. It is quite difficult to successfully do this, with success being defined as "it shoots bang-bang-bang when you pull the trigger and doesn't blow up in your face" -- a very real risk if you do it wrong.
Civilian semi-automatic 22 caliber weapons, including the type used by the shooters in San Bernardino, are extremely popular in America. They're popular because they have myriad legal and proper uses, including depredation (that is, the taking of small invasive animals that damage crops and similar), target shooting and smaller-animal hunting. They are in fact illegal to use in the hunting of deer and other larger animals in many states because they are not lethal enough to be reasonably certain of a humane kill and no sportsman wants to see an animal suffer unnecessarily.
What the NY Times is talking about is the appearance of weapons. That is, a gun that looks scary. The idiocy of this sort of "regulation" has been tried and found wanting, specifically during the "assault weapons ban" of the Clinton Presidency.
That ban failed to produce any verifiable positive effect. This should not surprise given that only about 2% of all crimes committed with firearms use these sorts of weapons in the first place. Never mind the impossibility of "removing" them from America -- or anywhere else. Note France flat-out bans civilian ownership of pistols, any automatic weapon and requires strict licensing of semi-automatic firearms of any sort. All gun sales and transfers must be documented and are subject to license and registration there.
Of course this didn't bother the terrorists that shot up Paris despite them not having lawful firearms. It did, however, prevent any of the Parisians there, who obey the law, from having a usable defensive firearm on their person so they could attempt to defend their own lives.
They were slaughtered, just as occurred in San Bernardino where again, nobody in the room was armed.
In fact despite Obama's and other claims the United States is not the "mass shooting" capital of the world. You've probably heard that enough that you take it as truth, but it isn't. Adjusted for population we're somewhere between 8th and 10th depending on what you exclude (e.g. does some sort of civil insurrection count?) But just in raw numbers, not adjusting for population, France has had more people killed in mass-shootings this year than has the United States during the entirety of Obama's Presidency and yet they have some of the strictest gun laws in the Western Hemisphere.
Indeed, it's quite idiotic for anyone to argue that we could actually ban guns and get rid of them in the hands of anyone other than law-abiding citizens when we have banned a huge number of drugs since the 1920s and yet you can buy damn near any illegal drug you want on virtually any street corner of any city in America.
And this is where we come back to logic and the truth.
There is evil in this world.
There always has been and there always will be.
The Second Amendment exists because in The Declaration the founders declared that you have a natural right to life; that is, you have a right to live simply because you are human.
No right is real unless you can defend it for yourself and those who you love (such as your children.)
The Second Amendment codifies a pre-existing right to defend your life, and the life of your loved ones, against any evil individual or group that would attempt to take life by unlawful means. That right is absolute and thus so is the Second Amendment. It is only when that right is abused by criminal action with said firearm(s) that one may be sanctioned.
The security of a free state does not only require that an invading army be able to be repelled.
Security also includes internal threats within a nation whether individual or collective.
The Security of a Free State was violated in San Bernardino just as certainly as it is when a thug breaks into your home in the middle of the night.
There are those who argue that we should have a list of prohibited guns, persons and the like. What those people are arguing is that those persons have no right to either their life or that of their loved ones.
Think about what you're saying if you hold those beliefs very, very carefully:
You are declaring some people to be so much lesser than you that they do not have the right to live and further, you are declaring that someone else gets to make and update that list -- which could quite-easily wind up with your name on it. Further, you have managed to collectively get some fifty thousand gun laws on the books of this nation and every one of them, and thus every one of you, has directly contributed to the lack of security of a free state exhibited in San Bernardino and elsewhere.
If that is truly your position then you are not an American. It's that simple.
I understand the argument on the other side when it comes to persons who have committed a crime. However, the problem with a former criminal having guns does not come from them having committed a crime because a criminal by definition does not obey the law. Rather the problem lies in our refusal to keep dangerous people who we identify as dangerous by their criminal activity locked up until they're not dangerous any more. Since a criminal by definition doesn't give a damn about the law whether it's legal for him or her to buy and have a gun is immaterial; either he or she is not going to do something criminal with that gun (in which case they can only contribute to the Security of a Free State by owning one) or they're going to acquire said weapon anyway to commit their next criminal act. The only means by which we can deal with that problem is that once we identify someone as a criminal dangerous to others through our judicial process we do not let him or her out until he or she isn't dangerous any more. This is logic, not politics and if we wish to solve problems we must apply logic to them.
As an example of why so-called "gun control" doesn't work and can't Tashfeen Malik and Sayed Farook obviously did not give a damn about the law; they not only committed murder but they apparently constructed and amassed a number of bombs, every one of which was very illegal to make and possess. In fact they had roughly four times as many bombs as they did guns. The only saving grace in that regard is that they were piss-poor bomb-makers and their instruments of destruction failed to explode. Neither of these individuals appears to have been known to be dangerous beforehand, although again as usual we seem to be ignoring the negligence of our government, just as we did after 9/11, after Boston's bombing and in myriad other cases, a few of which I've documented such as the three-time jackass in central Florida who killed a Marshal that was attempting to serve papers on him.
In this case there are allegations that Malik at least misled the government about where she lived when she applied for her Visa to enter the US. It appears probable that she not only was the radical intent on jihad and stoked its fire she may have come to the United States for the explicit purpose of committing jihad and her "marriage" may have been nothing more than a vehicle to accomplish that. That we do not yet know and may never find out with certainty, but the timelines and acts involved certainly appear to support such a belief.
Who will be held accountable for that? Nobody. They never are, just like we've never held anyone accountable for the hundreds if not thousands of guns our government knowingly trafficked to drug lords in Mexico (including at least one that was used to kill a border agent), the former Florida Governor Bush (now Presidential contender) who gave Driver Licenses to people here in the state who were neither citizens or permanent residents (who continued on to kill 3,000 Americans in part facilitated by that state-issued ID), and of course the Boston Bombers who we had explicit warning on from foreign governments and ignored same.
But leave that aside, because even if we closed all those loopholes, even if we punished everyone involved in all of these "oversights" or even went to the degree of charging them as accessories before the fact to terrorism (which in my view we ought to do) it doesn't matter because you can't detect them all.
In short not all evil presents itself before you in a way you can determine before the fact. Most of the time it does, but not always.
And this, inevitably, comes back to the Second Amendment.
You see, at San Bernardino they had a nice "gun free" zone -- an office party for government employees at which nobody was armed -- except, of course, the two shooters. The assault wound up being terminated before everyone was murdered only because one of the shooters either got unlucky with a ricochet or was a crappy shot and hit a fire sprinkler, setting off the fire alarm, and then their lack of skill at bomb-making kept others from death as their IEDs failed to explode despite the remote for them allegedly being found in their rented SUV.
There is of course no guarantee that if some or all of the people at that party had been armed the outcome would have been different. It might have meant nothing. But then again when faced with evil it is not a question of guarantees, it is a question of time before an effective response can take place.
Watch an MMA fight or boxing match for one 2-minute round. That's the minimum amount of time you can expect to pass before the police can show up if something bad happens right here, right now wherever you are.
Contemplate the pounding that you would take from mere fists during that intervening time; as an untrained individual would you be alive? Now consider that the person doing the pounding isn't using fists, they have acquired a gun -- whether legally or not.
What is the only thing you can do to improve your odds?
There is only one thing you can do and you know damn well what it is. Carry a gun yourself as a means of attempting to deter evil should the quite unlikely but possible gravest extreme arise.
If you do not support and are not willing to stand and demand a literal, word-for-word recognition of the Second Amendment as written it is your responsibility to explain why in the comments, using only arguments that can be validly addressed and either confirmed or refuted through logic.
There are some very disturbing reports coming in about the Oregon shooting.
First off, it was clear within minutes that the shooter targeted Christians. How many people in our political system have been outraged that Christians were targeted for execution while others were either shot in the leg or not shot at all? I have heard exactly nothing from Obama or anyone else in political power in that regard. Why not?
Second, you've heard my screeds over the years about The Second Amendment. If you cannot argue facts and logic then get the hell off my lawn -- you're unwelcome around me. In matters of life and death there is exactly zero room for any sort of "squishy", "touchy-feely" or "feel good emotionalism."
Let me be clear: If you resort to emotion when life or death are on the line you are going to die.
If you wish to entertain the debate here on firearms, gun control or anything of the sort then you are going to argue logic and facts. Here they are:
If you cannot argue these points from a perspective of logic then you have no basis to be here as a member with the privilege of commenting and having your state (e.g. what you've read, etc) between sessions. In point of fact this is a perfect illustration of the difference between rights and privileges -- you have no right to be on this site on the Internet at all as it is private property, and therefore I may deny you entry as I wish.
Now let me leave you with one more thing to contemplate.
There are reports that the shooter reloaded during his rampage. If these reports are true and he was in the room with a bunch of people who were about to become deceased then you need to hear this very clearly and must read this next sentence over and over until it sinks in:
Stop watching the damn movies and become educated now about firearms.
The instant that jackass dropped his magazine and thus announced he was out at the close range that exists in a classroom (30-50' or so maximum, right?) there was absolutely no reason on God's Green Earth why the persons there should not have immediately grabbed something (e.g. a chair!) and threw it at him and/or bum-rushed the shooter.
He was empty and thus at that point he was a thug with a club until he could reload.
Everyone reading this needs to spend some time in the deep, dark recesses of their mind and drill this singular fact far, far into your consciousness:
If you find yourself in a situation like this you must assume you are dead.
Therefore, logic says that anything you do from that instant forward can only change things for the better. Yes, you may fail. One ex-military member reportedly did try to rush the shooter and was shot several times. It is reported he is expected to survive. His doing so likely prevented some number of other people from being shot as the shooter was occupied with shooting at him. He is a hero but the point here is not to urge people to be heros -- it is to point out that once your life is under assault in this sort of fashion nothing you can do will make the situation worse; you can only improve your odds.
You won't hear this from the mainslime media nor from the so-called "pundits" and "experts" but it is true. You do not know how many rounds or what other weapons the person threatening you has. You only know that that person's very presence and presentation means that from an objective point of view you must assume you are dead and thus if you get any tactical advantage, no matter how small, you must take advantage of it immediately and without a second thought.
On United Flight 93 the passengers did exactly this, collectively. They saved a tremendous number of lives by doing so. They correctly surmised that they were all dead at the moment they learned the plane had been hijacked and was intended to be used as a bomb. There was, for this reason, no downside to any action they might take -- they could only improve their odds and those of others, and decided to do so.
This was the correct decision. It is the only logical decision and the only logical set of actions in a circumstance such as this.
Folks, firearms do not shoot themselves. They do run out of ammunition. If they are not aimed, but rather wildly fired, they either miss or if they hit someone it is much less likely to cause serious injury or death than if they are deliberately aimed. Bullets do not have a GPS embedded in them as you see in the movies and without deliberate, concentrated action most of the time they will miss. There is an infamous Youtube video of a bar fight in Toledo a number of years back in which many shots were fired at close range typical of the distance you'd find in a classroom. Watch the video folks, and then realize this: Not one of those rounds hit anyone.
Therefore anything you can do that detracts from an active shooter's concentration and deliberation who is targeting you increases your odds of survival and that of everyone in the area with you.
If you are scared of firearms then do something about that. Take a shooting lesson from an instructor or someone you trust that owns firearms. Learn how they work and how to handle them safely without quivering in fear. A gun is just a mechanical device and simpler than most that you use every day; it is vastly less-complex than a bicycle, lawn-mower or car. Safe use and handling of firearms is not difficult to learn at all and every gun works essentially the same way. Understanding this and having at least a passing level of comfort with it means that if you find yourself in a situation such as what occurred the other day and you are given a tactical break no matter how small you will have a clean opportunity to save not only your own life but that of everyone in the vicinity.
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Submissions or tips on matters of economic or political interest may be sent "over the transom" to The Editor at any time. To be considered for publication your submission must include full and correct contact information and be related to an economic or political matter of the day. All submissions become the property of The Market Ticker.