Should Lunatics Be at Liberty with Guns?

Why does this make me feel like freedom is under seige?

News item: Anti-Obama protesters in New Hampshire and Arizona took to the street with firearms visible. Two brandished assault rifles. No laws were broken because state laws allow people to walk around in public with weapons.

Have New Hampshire and Arizonan lawmakers lost their collective minds!? Boy, do I feel secure knowing that some idiot with the IQ of a fern was able to get a license to carry a gun on the streets of Concord and Phoenix. I’m pretty sure these folks won’t protect America from terrorists and criminals; they’d have to be able to spell those words first.

A person who would show up at a presidential rally with a gun has a personal death wish. What will happen next is as predictable as a sunrise. The irresponsible commentators at Fox News—like former drug addict Rush Limbaugh—and leaders of the NRA (Nazi Rifle Association) will hail these people as heroes of freedom. Copycat protesters will appear at future Obama appearances and one of them—no doubt inflamed by Fox or the NRA—will make a menacing gesture with his weapon. The Secret Service will drop him like a bad date and we’ll have another preventable gun casualty to add to growing list. Of course, the deceased’s estate will sue the government and lose. (No one has ever won a wrongful death suit against the Secret Service). And, of course, Fox News, the NRA, and Internet conspiracy nuts will accuse Obama of having personally ordered the man’s murder. (One of the latter will probably reveal that the dead man had Obama’s “real” Kenyan birth certificate.”)

Is it an assault on the second amendment to say that it’s a bad idea to carry guns on the street? Is it unreasonable to think that those without the capacity for reason ought not to be allowed to have assault rifles? Can’t we at least agree that nobody’s precious freedoms would be jeopardized if we made it a federal law to disallow guns at a presidential rally? Before you say “no,” consider a few names: Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and Kennedy. (Americans have gunned down a whopping 9% of their presidents!)

Several protesters spoke of “exercising their freedoms.” Horse manure!! Their actions were little more than variants of a Ku Klux Klan cross burning. Obama was in town to speak about health-care reform, not the second amendment. What purpose did carrying a gun have other than to signal racist discontent with being governed by a black man? What message was sent other than an assassination threat?

Spare me the freedom malarkey. Like too many Americans, the protesters conflated freedom and liberty. Freedom, in political terms, is a synonym for civil liberty, not for absolute liberty. It stems from the type of liberty—freedom from foreign or arbitrary rule—secured during the American Revolution. Anti-government protesters insisting on their “rights” don’t get it that without the government they have no rights. Government is (or should be) the guarantor of freedom, not its enemy. But freedom is not the kind of “liberty” marked by having no external restraints. Unless government imposes limitations on freedom it cannot guarantee any rights. The anarchist freedom sought by those who think they can do as they wish is the type of liberty whose noun form is “libertine,” a person who is morally profligate and possesses weak internal controls.

Let us make no mistake, those parading around with assault rifles were not advocates of freedom; they were libertines. They are also walking advertisements for those who argue for the second amendment’s repeal. If that ever happens, don’t blame Obama; cast the accusing finger at those whose recklessness made a mockery of freedom.--LV


Do You Really Want to Prevent Socialism?

Who knew that Chairman Karl was in charge?

My goodness, you’d think that Karl Marx had risen from the dead to hear all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the specter of national health care. I’ve seen earnest, obese, white guys­—and that’s generally their profile—showing up at town meetings to tell their white, male Congressmen—and that’s usually their profile as well—that they “don’t want America to become socialist.”

I hate to break the news, but America already is socialist in many respects. Can we take a look at a calendar, folks? The Cold War has been over for more than decade. Nobody is talking about making the United States into the former Soviet Union. (For the record, the USSR was an autocratic oligarchy, not a haven for socialism.) Socialism may be the least understood term of our time. (Even the dictionary defines it improperly.) It could mean the abolition of private property, but that’s simply one variant; it’s a catchall term like “religion” that describes a broad category of belief. Any activity that involves public (as opposed to private) ownership of goods and services is socialist. That ownership can—as in does in the USA and Western democracies in general—come in the form of tax-supported enterprises. The sole difference between the USA and other democracies is the degree of socialism we support. Imagine a world without it. Want to be socialism-free? Let’s start with these:

1. No public education of any sort. Phoenix and I have no kids, so why should we pay for those who do? Let parents send their kids to private schools or home school them. Can’t afford it? Well, you should have thought about that before you decided to have kids, shouldn’t you? Why should we pay for your reckless behavior?

2. Get rid of the military. It’s the ultimate socialist program. I’m a Quaker, hence a pacifist, so paying taxes to support the military is a violation of my freedom. No terrorist has ever bothered me. Besides, under the second amendment we all have the right to bear arms and form “well regulated” militias. We’re shirking our duty when we use taxes to hire mercenaries to do our fighting for us.

3. Can the cops. Use your second amendment right to protect your person, home, and property. Don’t dial 911 and ask tax-supported law enforcement to solve your problems for you. If someone makes off with your BMW, well you should have been more careful.

4. Why do we need intelligence agencies? While we’re on the subject of protection, do we really need an FBI or a CIA? Let’s be brutally frank. If these agencies ran according to the merit system that conservatives wish to impose on teachers, most agents would’ve been out jobs years ago. How come the FBI and police detectives can’t break up a drug ring when everyone in town knows who runs it? As for the CIA and military intelligence, don’t get me started. Forget finding Osama bin Laden; they couldn’t find cholesterol in a can of Spam!

5. Hoses not fire departments. Why do we have to pay for a fire department when our house has never caught on fire and we have insurance in case it does? Buy a garden hose—it’s much cheaper than the local fire department. We think fire engines are red to symbolize the communists who operate them!

6. Pay to go. All town, county, state, and interstate roads and highways are supported by public money. Ditto bridges, tunnels, and many subway, train, and bus lines. Let the private sector maintain the entire lot and let the free market determine what it costs to use them. For thousands of years people seldom left their own villages and, when they did, they knew they’d have to pay tolls to do so. We say, ante up or stay home.

7. Let them starve and suffer. Let’s get rid of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. For decades conservatives have decried these programs as ones that were never meant to be depended upon. Okay, so let’s apply harsh medicine. Although tens of millions do rely on these, cut the cords. If Gramps has to eat cat food, well he should have saved more money, right? And if Grandma breaks her hip and has no private medical insurance, let her family pick up the tab. As for all the indigent, mentally ill, and physically incapable folks who can’t tend to themselves, who are we to tamper with nature? Let the Darwinian imperative winnow out the weak.

8. Price chopper. I could go on in this vein, but instead let me simply list other tax-supported “socialist” activities that could be cut: the post office, FDIC, subsidized student loans, Fannie Mae, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Agency, NASA, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Interstate Commerce Commission, county extension offices, your local parks and recreation department, the Coast Guard, municipal beaches, the Federal Reserve, air traffic controllers, the National Parks System, state parks, INS, all government offices and officials, most mental health and social services….
This is just a short list. But if this is the world you want, as Jean-Luc Picard would say, make it so. We’ll just put up signs along the border (with private money of course) warning: “Welcome to America. You’re on your own.” Better dead than red, eh?