Friday, February 1, 2013

Some interesting truths to the gun debate...

I kind of quit debating the cause/effect of individual case studies because of the sheer number of variables which can be argued.  Take Chicago for example, very high crime rate and very tough gun laws but Chicago has a high number of poor and dependent however; if you take the case studies as a whole a few statistical trends do emerge.

1.  Small incremental changes to gun laws, like most being proposed right now, have no overall affect on violent crime or gun crime.

2.  Major draconian changes that drastically limit the overall volume of guns in circulation do tend to ultimately lower gun crime after a long period.  What they won't tell you is that overall violent crime actually goes up by a similar ratio.  It's actually worse but when you factor in a global recession, its about a wash.

3.  Anyone trying to make a point on either side almost always cherry picks numbers from violent crime vs gun crime and thus both sides use real numbers and appear to be right by their respective supporters.

4.  The major events that get everybody's attention and drive most legislation are actually relatively minor statistically.  When comparing the X in 100,000 deaths one is so much more likely to fall in his/her bath tub or get hit crossing the street than be a victim of a mass shooting.

5.  The follow-up legislation resulting from a specific event rarely address'es the actual cause.  Example.  The Brady bill assault rifle ban - James Brady was shot with a 22 cal but the follow-up legislation sought to control simi-auto center fire rifles that "looked like assault rifles"

6.  Local restrictions have the worst impact of all on violent crime. If every home had a sign indicating whether the residents were gun owners or not, which homes would most likely be victimized? If I'm a mugger/burglar and my neighboring community bans guns, I'm just going to where I'm less likely to get shot.

So there you have it.  Both sides actually argue ideology over results.

I guess my take is, why do we not focus on the overall violent crime numbers?  Isn't that what is important?  If you want to change violent crime, gun laws seem to have little impact.  It's really a cultural/economical thing.  With high unemployment you almost always see an increase in violent crime.  We play ultra-real video games where statistical majorities spend hours triggering our reward centers of our brain by killing people with no consequence.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Political View On Gay Marriage

For centuries, possibly thousands of years and for the overwhelming majority of civilization,  marriage has been defined as a life long commitment between a man and a woman.  That is the historical definition.  Let us not quibble over it but rather accept the reality of what is.  If two people of the same sex wish to emulate this covenant then modern society faces the prospect to defining the arrangement.  We could.  A. expand the traditional definition of marriage or B. call it something else altogether.  In most cases we add a designation or class to marriage by calling it "gay marriage" and thereby create a hybrid of the two options.  To me creating this hybrid does not redefine the basic term "marriage" meaning between a man and a woman.

My marriage is sanctified by my Christian faith not what my government tells me.  If tomorrow I were to receive a letter from the government either state or federal saying that my marriage certificate was void, I would consider myself no less married than I was the day before.  I made my commitment before my wife and God and would continue to honor it to the best of my ability for the rest of my life.  With that said, my government presently chooses to recognize that commitment and offer me the benefits of a civil contract or union with my spouse.  This allows us to define combined property rights and the ability for us to be of one voice on in legal matters.

Regardless of one's position on whether homosexuality is right or wrong morally, I can see no reasoned objection as to why our government should prevent others from entering into a similar civil contract. If we as Christians are offended by the use of the term "marriage" then I recommend it be called something else by the government such as a civil union.  Some argue that America is a Christian nation and that it should not condone the use of civil unions.  To them, I would say first I'm glad that we are a Christian nation and second I'm also glad that our government does not pick and choose the denomination for us.   The idea that our government can dictate our morality is fine and dandy for some because they live in a present majority.  What if we, as Christians, no longer had that majority?  I would not want to live under a government that would force a different morality on me.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Obama administration's new fondness of low oil prices.

On January 20th, 2009 Steven Chu, a vocal climate change activist and Nobel scientist, was appointed by President Obama as Secretary of Energy. Just prior to his appointment Mr Chu was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels of Europe.”   In order to fill his roll as secretary representing the interests of the American public, Mr. Chu's fundamental ideology needed to change the moment he was appointed.  Interestingly, Mr. Chu has waited 3 years, long after his comments were publically released and right before an election, to state his new affection for lower gas prices. Two weeks ago in a hearing Rep. Alan Nunnelee asked Secretary Chu if the goal of the administration was to reduce oil prices. Mr. Chu replied an emphatic No!. He then went on to say, the overall goal of the administration is not to get prices down; the overall goal is "to decrease our dependency on oil."

Unfortunately for Mr. Chu's ideology, America has experienced a huge surge in the amount of recoverable oil thanks to fracking technology. No longer are we at the often quoted 2% of proven reserves. We may in fact be the next Saudia Arabia.  Of course, all of this has occurred on permits issues prior to Obama's 2008 election.  Most newer drilling is taking place on private land as the administration had greatly reduced the number of permits approved on public lands.

ANWR, the Canadian Pipeline, slow permitting etc...actions speak louder than words. It's true a president can't directly control global prices but he can choose to apply downward instead of upward pressure on them. He can also choose for the US economy to benefit by producing oil that is being sold at near record prices.

President Obama while giving a smug reply to the question of gas prices said, "Do you think the President of the United States going into re-election wants gas prices to go up higher? Is there anybody here who thinks that makes a lot of sense?”

The key words here are election year.

President Obama is by his actions, very vulnerable on this issue for the 2012 election.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Republican Nominee Campaign Slogan

I was recently reading a Facebook post about President Obama's comments on the 2006 budget/debt ceiling debate.  I'll save the details for another post but the gist was raising the debt ceiling is a failure of leadership (then President Bush) that was going to be carried on the backs of our children.  Obviously President Obama's opinion on the subject has changed.  Considering some of the other economic challenges over the last three years like 15% real unemployment, $4 gasoline and spiraling health care costs, whoever wins the Republican nomination will have quite an arsenal of statistics to contrast in the election debates. 

The topic of campaign slogans comes to mind.  What type of campaign slogan would allow the eventual nominee to distinguish himself from the current administration's failures?  The best I can come up with is, "Hope and Change", but it seems like I've heard that before somewhere...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Initial thoughts on the Obama 2012 budget proposal...

So I've been reading a little bit of the White House's 2012 budget. Aside from the typical rhetoric from both sides, a couple things stick out to me that don't seem to be well reported.

It's no secret that any claimed balance in this proposal will be on the backs of America's wealthy. Taxes on dividends seem to be increasing in some cases 300% from the current 15% rate to 45.6%. With a 1.3 trillion proposed deficit, if you take 100% of the income of those making over $1 million per year you couldn't balance the current budget. The White House is claiming some balance via a tax increase over the next 10 years. One could actually take the position this budget is balanced because the $1.3 tril is offset by 10 years of revenue increases. My question to those who see this as reasonable is: With this spending trajectory, how are you going to balance the 2013 budget? You just gigged the rich with a 300% increase. Do you intend to do the same thing again and effectively raise it to 95.2% of dividends to pay for 2013? What happens when we run out of rich people?

Perhaps the intent is to use 20 years of revenue increases at the same rate to pay for 2013 and then 30 years of revenue for 2014? This 10 year view keeps being exploited to rationalize very bad decisions today.

Perhaps we are wagering by making ourselves comfortable today that our GDP will magically double in the next couple years?

I just don’t get it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'll never be given the satisfaction of having changed anyone’s mind during a debate. I've found that as long as I don't call names or blow up in an incoherent rant, I can have influence. It usually shows up by seeing or hearing a person recite a point (always to someone else) I made while debating them in another discussion. Conservatism is a bit like tough love. It's difficult to articulate, feels less caring and doesn't always seem fair, yet if followed to it's ultimate conclusion, it results in more well being for our society and for that I have a passion.