Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gun Morality

Today, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is an individual right, and as such the District of Columbia ban on handguns is unconstitutional. I agree strongly with this ruling, but the debate on that specific topic has been going on for a long time, but the best moral argument I have ever seen on the issue was printed in 2007 by Marko at the Munchkin Wrangler.

Marko put it plainly; “Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force.” Guns really are the great equalizer, allowing a 98-year-old widow protection from a 25-year-old burglar, for example, or a woman living alone at night to enjoy her rights as a citizen through her own ability to protect herself. I have never seen an effective argument which refutes that position.

The problem, however, comes down to individual cases. I can agree that individuals have a right to defend themselves, and firearms are the simplest, most effective and constitutionally-protected way for someone to do that. The problem comes down to where we draw the moral lines in specific. For example, the court was clear that some restraint is appropriate. Just as my right to Free Speech does not give me the right to file false reports with the police in order to disrupt their work, so too my right to keep and bear arms does not mean that I can have any sort of weapon I should like, nor does it bar me from responsibility for security of my weapons. I have a daughter, whose safety is paramount to me. Obviously, while it would be unconstitutional for the government to require things like keeping my guns in a locked vault at all times, or unloaded, or so on, it would be morally contemptible for me to leave a weapon anywhere my daughter could possibly get her hands on it. It would be wrong as well, for me to fail in any of the reasonable precautions in having a gun, such as keeping it clean and safely away from places where it could be stolen, where it could fall and discharge, or similar risky conditions.

Now that the United States Supreme Court has recognized the constitutional right of citizens to own guns, maybe it’s time for a mature debate on the boundaries of responsibiity for owners and governments alike.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Monday, Part II

The big TV started making a grinding noise last night, so it needs to be repaired.

I am also studying the FASB statements, pretty much all of them.

Neighbors had a ruckus, a can of varnish ended up spilled on the driveway.

The weeds in my side yard have launched a major offensive to take over the fenceline.

My two dogs are having a contest to see who can poop in a place that will most surprise me.

Mid-year company internal audits are going on.

And I just started a diet.

How’s your week going so far?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Unqualified Leadership

Ever wonder why Congress just cannot seem to grasp things which are obvious to you and me? I do not mean just one party or the other, but Congress’ long-standing tradition of being clueless about what America needs and wants. Every so often, folks get fed up and chuck out most of Congress – sorry Mister Obama, but “Change” was a campaign theme long before you ever started using the word – but the new crop never seems to be much better than the one they replace. I can try to explain that condition by noting a real-world case.

Without mentioning the specific company, because it’s actually a pretty common occurrence anyway, my wife works for a dishonest moron. I say this not only because I have a strong dislike for anyone who insults someone’s race on a regular basis, particularly when they are harassing my wife, but because those two characteristics, corruption and stupidity, are annoyingly common in some places. This branch manager is costing his company money, but they hired him because they wanted cheap, and so they are also too cheap to hire proper auditors to see who’s a top performer, and who’s trying to steal them blind. He’s good at selling a line to his own boss, so he manages to keep a job he could not do properly on his best day. Well folks, this guy will never be a winner in business, but he’s a good representation for the average Congressman.

Let’s have a look at the resumes of the top dogs in the House and Senate, shall we?

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi – born 1940, graduated Trinity College 1962. Intern to Senator Brewster, then moved to New York as a housewife, then to San Francisco, where she was elected to City Council and the County Board of Supervisors, in 1969. Won special election to Congress in 1987 (was protégé of outgoing Rep. Sala). Re-elected 10 times. House Minority Whip 2001, House Minority leader 2002, Speaker of the House 2007-date.

House Minority Leader, John Boehner - born 1949, graduated Xavier University 1977. Salesman, later President of Nucite Sales. Elected Union Township trustee 1982, Ohio State Legislature 1984. Elected to Congress, 1990. House Republican Conference Chairman, 1995. House Majority Leader, 2006. House Minority Leader, 2007-date.

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid - born 1939, graduated Utah State, 1962. J.D. George Washington University, 1964. Elected Nevada State Assembly, 1967. Elected Lt. Governor, 1970. Chairman, Nevada Gaming Commission, 1977. Elected to Congress, 1982. Elected to the U.S. Senate, 1986. Senate Democratic Whip, 1999. Senate Minority Leader, 2005. Senate Majority Leader, 2007-date.

Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell - born 1942, graduated University of Louisville 1964, J.D. University of Kentucky 1967. Six months active service U.S. Army Reserve, 1967. Intern to Senator Cooper 1968. Assistant to Senator Cook, then Deputy Assistant Attorney General U.S. 1975. Elected Jefferson County Judge/Executive 1978. Elected to the U.S. Senate, 1984. Majority Whip, 2004. Senate Minority Leader, 2007-date.

There you go, folks, the top four people who make the laws governing more things in your life than even the President or the Supreme Court. How you get paid, how you pay taxes, how much of each, how you are protected (or not) from those forces and those people who would hurt you and your family, and so on. Only one of the four ever held a job in the real world, and that long ago and only for a short while. Is it really surprising, then, that the peope in the House and Senate are so incapable of comprehending what folks really need, much less care about making it a priority in their office? Sure, these people have aides and staff, most of whom are also political mandarins, hoping for their own eventual election to office on a resume which has no real work experience. I am sure they mean well, but they really have no skills relevant to making things work. They know how to take your money, they know how to make speeches, and they know how to point fingers. But they can only be counted to put their self-interest first, and to make mistakes as they blunder along. Just something to think about.