Is it really all about the Benjamins?

Those who would give up a rational discussion by purporting to know what a dead man would say about a modern issue deserve a reality check.

There is an appeal to authority that is often made in the realm of gun control talk. This appeal is in the form of a mutated strain of a Benjamin Franklin quote.

“Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither,” is what those wielders of Franklin’s infinite, immutable wisdom would have everyone believe. It’s most likely that these quote slingers honestly believe this is the quote in full, and are oblivious to the falsity they are peddling, as these things tend to have a viral quality.

This is the full quote:

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Clearly there is a bit more nuance in this quote, and in its full form it reflects Franklin’s pragmatic thinking. Franklin makes it clear that there is a difference between essential liberty and any liberty and the scale of security which is achieved by the surrender of a liberty.

But even if he had written the quote in the obtuse form that it has mutated into, what authority could Franklin hold over such a modern matter? I’m not saying that the thoughts of great and long dead thinkers be discarded. But shouldn’t we consider the reality of their times before we go imposing their words on wholly modern issues?

Just think: What absolute advice could you possibly give today, specifically about public safety, citizens and weapon ownership, that would not be obsolete after another 250 years in technological advancement?

I can only think of one time-proof statement.

“The hell are you doing quoting me? We didn’t even have pocketable disintegration ray guns yet.”

Some issues with the “logic” of 2nd amendment “advocates.”

There are a few pro-gun arguments that make me grind my teeth. I encountered quite a few of them when I was linked what I was told would be a logical analysis of gun control laws. What I found was a long-winded mess of more of the same.

Exhibit A:

The United States of America is a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy. Even if second amendment support were not pervasive – 40-45% of households report owning a gun – a majority vote to ban guns would remain unconstitutional. Even if only 1 single American gun owner were left and all others unanimously decided that all guns should be banned, the second amendment would still protect the right of this individual to be armed. It is important to understand the United States is not a democracy, and that the fashionable and fickle whims of the majority cannot alienate you from a right endowed to you by your creator and enumerated in the foundational documents of your country.” http://www.danielvitalis.com/2013/01/on-gun-control/

Why do people think this is a smart statement? A republic is a democracy. Democracy does not only mean “direct democracy,” as it seems this statement’s promulgators imply. There is zero significance to this argument, yet it is parroted quite often.

Using their logic, one might be prone to go around asserting “Nikes aren’t shoes, they’re Nikes.” And while Nike’s brand marketers, and school-aged children of my past, may have liked to pretend that were reality, anyone should be recognize that as a silly statement. 

The writer also employs a common straw man tactic of the pro-gun crowd.
Not going to waste time on this, so here goes:

Linking proposed gun control to outright handgun ban and criminalization of current gun owners is a misrepresentative farce.There is no movement to ban handguns, or even the ownership of assault weapons by current owners.

Then the writer hammers away on the constitutionality of his position. However, a look at reality reveals the situation is not as black and white he is convinced. There is precedent to legislative limitations to what armaments are acceptable for civilians. We don’t allow for the ownership of a number of dangerous weapons, and there are constitutional precedents for firearm restrictions: full-auto weapons have had heavy restrictions since 1986, when new purchases were outlawed and the ownership and transfer of previously owned weapons were made permissible.

On display, also, is a flawed perception of just how the constitution works. Sure, the document is meant to define the parameters of the law, but there is also an amendment process. If you think a democracy, even a republic, would not respond to the “whims” of 320ish million to one by amending the constitution then I’d say there is some serious detachment from reality going on. I bet there are more than a hundred American’s  whom would support private owner ship of nuclear, biological and nuclear armaments, but guess what they aren’t allowed to do?

The reader is later invited to partake in a “thought experiment.”

…whenever you hear mention of “guns” or “firearms”, change the word in your mind to “weapons”. If you hear “assault rifles” mentioned, change the word and mental image to a medieval long-bow. Should you hear the term “hand gun” change this – both word and image – to “dagger”, and if the term “shotgun” should come up, shift it to “cross-bow”. When you hear the word “magazine” switch it to “quiver” and “bullet” to “arrow”. This exercise gives you an opportunity to alter your perspective on the topic, removes the major “trigger” words, and reduces the emotional response to the issue. It may offer you a view point that was previously crowded out by rhetoric and emotion.

And to respond to this I offer a counter thought experiment:

Whenever you hear the words “weaponized smallpox” replace it with “itching powder.”

The fact that this is not an uncommon thought, that knives and bows and blunt objects share the same lethal capacity as a firearms, is an obnoxious distortion of reality.

Disingenuous Economics 101 with Stephen Moore

Wall Street Journal opinion writer, economics journalist and right-wing ideologue paid a visit to Troy University on Wednesday.

As a general rule, I don’t appreciate being painted an incomplete picture of a subject I’m not the best at by someone with superior knowledge. I appreciate it even less when I’m able to identify that it’s happening.

[PURPLE PROSE ALERT]
The day prior to Moore’s presentation I read a few of his articles, and viewed some of his television appearances online, so I was well prepared for the grinding of his ideological ax and the weaving of his economic obfuscations.

Despite a few attempts during the course of his presentation to assure the audience that he was somehow non-partisan in his conclusions, I knew better.

So it came as no surprise when the deluge his stat, figures and faulty conclusions began. By keeping a critical eye on his many graphics, I was able to pick out a number of things that didn’t jibe with reality, or that merely partially jibed with reality.

I will cover two of those things with the aid of a YouTube video of him performing the same presentation at another school, and the graphics I lifted from a copy of his PowerPoint slides I found with the almighty Google.

Thing 1:
In this portion of the video Moore makes the argument that the Bush tax cuts on the top 1 percent of earners created increased federal tax revenues from the 1 percent: http://youtu.be/3tHO-j4xTHs?t=32m15s

Click here for a clear image of the graphic he is using.

In arguing that tax breaks on the highest earners caused them to pay more in tax revenue, what he conveniently fails to state is that Bush’s $1.35 trillion tax plan also did other things. Most importantly, it lowered taxes on all other tax brackets, and raised the child tax credit from $500 to $1000.

Where is the shocker? When the people with the least amount of disposable income have more money to spend they spend it. Naturally, those in the 1% are the greatest beneficiaries of such a boon, and thus the increase in their tax contributions.

Their tax contributions increased not because of their tax rates being slashed, but because everyone else’s rates were as well.

Imagine the revenues that would have been picked up had the 1 percent’s taxes not been lowered.

Thing 2:

In this portion of the video he pretends that the education and health care industries are somehow comparable to industries that produce software, computers, apparel and vehicles: http://youtu.be/3tHO-j4xTHs?t=44m50s 

Click here for a clear image of the graphic he is using.

“Look at the two areas of the economy, setting aside energy, where we’ve had the biggest increase in prices over the last ten years,” Moore urges. “Health care and education, health care and education.”

He then insinuates the soaring costs in those industries are because of government involvement.

While I’m willing to concede that the public and private loan industries are not conducive to making universities competitive price-wise, it’s not enough to make me think the costs would be much lower sans government involvement.

How exactly are these industries subject to the same market forces? You can’t outsource: nurses, doctors, surgeons,  emergency medical technicians, teachers, administrators, janitors, lunch ladies, you get the idea.

Moore is just comparing industrial apples to oranges.