In my somewhat limited world whatever solution is proffered to address a problem must be judged by how well it actually resolves the problem.
In the recent cases of gun violence against groups, the weapons used were legal, the individuals using them were to a greater or lesser extent mentally ill and the use of large magazines aggravated the severity of the crime.
The proposed legislative solutions at the national level address the large magazine issue (although IMHO in a way that does not solve it). It also may address the set of weapons used but probably not because there is no really adequate distinction between those weapons and weapons used historically and broadly for hunting or personal defense. Now we could and probably will discuss outlawing the “Bushmaster” rifle but I will bet that within a year a “Tree master” rife with almost indistinguishable features will be available that will still leave us with the problem. Semi-automatic rifles are a pretty homogenous set as to operation. IMHO the only way to achieve a culture where not one child will be lost to gun violence is to totally outlaw guns and to make a very, very determined effort to capture all the illegal ones out there somewhere. If one bothers to notice this latter grouping drives the majority of our gun violence. Nothing so far seriously proposed does that.
I note little focus on mental health issues. I recognize this is a difficult issue to address but a failure to do so will almost certainly lead to further repetitions of the mass murders we have experienced in the recent past. Now, I am not certain there is anything we can do to totally negate the problem but a more rigorous tie between state mental health systems and the federal gun registry would be a good start. To do that correctly federal help is IMHO needed. Now, encompassed within that is a determination of what DSM codes should lead to an inability to acquire a firearm. I suspect that effort would in and of itself open a debate as large as the one on gun control as an end in itself.
I will avoid the issue of whether our cultural has a predisposition to violence that feeds this problem. If there is one there is nothing so far seriously proposed that addresses that issue.
Now doing nothing as opposed to doing something is not what I propose. But – big but – we need to be honest about the limitation of the proposed solutions. It would be a real disservice if our ultimate effort primarily harasses innocent people desiring to acquire a firearm they are legally entitled to own while accomplishing nothing toward limiting gun violence.
In another blog I criticized one of the favored approaches to reduce carbon emissions in the US. So as to not get the inevitable “What is your solution” here is one. In 1996 when climate change became a visible issue there were about 2.9 billion of us world wide. Today there are just shy of 7 billion of us. Each of us generates carbon emissions. Doubling the numbers of us all other things equal doubles the carbon emissions. Do we need seven billion people? Not only do we generate carbon we are consuming ever greater amounts of the planets resources.
.There are a number of estimates of how much a person generates in carbon emissions but using recent government originated data for the US the average person generates 5 metric tons of carbon emission per year. For each of us with a life expectancy of 60 years that is about 300 tons per lifetime. A decline in our population of just 10% would reduce carbon emissions by something close to 30 million tons a year. That is a massive reduction in carbon (and a pressure relief on our global resources). For reference the entire coal fired infrastructure of the US generates 1.9 billion tons of carbon emissions per year
Not only do we not look to population reduction as an element of climate change mitigation, we subsidize having children. Our tax deductions and credits favor having children. The costs of rearing them have been increasingly transferred to the society at large rather than remaining with the parent (health care, education and the like). Perhaps as a first step we could at least be tax neutral about children and let market forces drive choice about the number in a given family.
Now there are other nations on our planet that have taken step to actively limit population growth. Of course that is a significant intrusion by the stare in things that are generally considered personal. I would submit that many of the proposed solutions to mitigate climate change are also very intrusive on personal choice. Why is limiting children not just considered one more such approach?
Returning our population to a level consistent with the point where climate change was identified as a problem (1960s) we could reduce our carbon emissions by an amount equal to half the emissions from our coal fired plants. Combining such an initiative with a responsible program to replace coal and we could essentially eradicate the contribution of coal to climate change without massive impact on our economy.
Why is population reduction off the table if the climate change problem is so dire that some of us want to imprison our elected officials for inaction? Are we serious or are the only solutions proffered those that redistribute income to favored parts of the electorate and disproportionally punish coal burning states (why are so many red) for burning coal?
.Could it be that we (the citizens) are not rejecting the call of our scientists but find serious fault with the solutions they put forth
Let us examine the proposed carbon tax. It is sold based on the premise that it would yield charges more in keeping with the true costs of the carbon we use and that such pricing would lead to better choices. Really? Just exactly how do we in Kansa not use coal for our utilities in the immediate future? We have no free market in which to choose.
At a reasonable rate increase it will take upwards of a generation to replace our coal plants with renewable energy supported by something like gas turbines to fill in when there is no wind. We will not have a robust power distribution system for at least a decade so until then we can not even buy from most other places. From where does the alternative come?
The reality is that we will pay through the nose for a carbon tax while those in Washington state using hydroelectric power will not. If this is a national problem it would seem that a national investment in replacing high carbon generators is more appropriate then a market solution where there is no market.
Now to further discredit this approach we have those that want to turn the carbon tax into a massive financial redistribution process. So instead of a national effort we have a process that penalizes those using coal and then further redistributes the incomes of the middle class in the coal burning regions.
Why would those burning coal want to sign up for this approach? Where is the shared sacrifice? Why are we not approaching this challenge as a nation instead of using punitive methods to “punish” the evil coal users?
Just maybe it is not the message transmitted by our scientists but the highly inequitable proposed solution that is causing people to hesitate in jumping into the deep end of this pool.
Recently, the city revealed some of the planning for the new sports complex proposed for West Lawrence. We are assured this is a good deal. I have no reason to doubt the intentions of our lawgivers but I have a nagging concern.
I have not seen any form of prioritized long range plan for major infrastructure investments by local governments. I have heard the city is working to produce such an effort but in its absence just exactly what are we deferring or worse what will require major funding in addition to this effort.
I am aware of a possible shortfall in our public safety infrastructure. There are unfulfilled needs for our mental health services. Our overall existing infrastructure is in need of repair and replacement. We have committed to a number of shared investments such as the restoration of the farmland property. There could be more – much more!
Additionally our school district could be facing a need for major resources in addition to the evolving capital plan if our governor is successful in pushing school funding down to the local level. Our city and county may be forced into significant resource expenditures to replace social services no longer provided by leaner state expenditures.
It would seem to me that the real responsibility of the city leadership is not to “sell” the benefits of the sports complex but to assure the citizenry that they have considered all reasonable future needs and have determined this is the best project to fund near term.
More importantly, assurances should be provided that we are not creating a major future obligation that will drive property taxes (already among the highest in the state) to levels causing real pain for our homeowners.
Just because there is an existing funding stream does not in any way support this project avoiding priority consideration. That money can be redirected by the electorate to any number of needs.
The magnitude of the proposed investment and the lack of visibility into what resources our local governments may need for the complete project and for future public needs suggest that as a minimum this project be submitted to the public accompanied by an initial effort at a long range investment plan. April 2013 seems a good point to address such a major investment commitment in a collaborative manner.
In a recent thread on taxes a post established a choice between the following:
Tax and spend assigned to the Democrats
Borrow and spend assigned to Republicans
The question was which was preferred. That is a false dilemma. We can match spending and taxes. Now where debt is concerned we need to be thoughtful.
Debt accrued to finance on going activities will lead to an ever increasing debt. Greece comes to mind where continuing social spending was financed with debt until it became difficult to borrow further. This is not a good use of debt.
Now using debt to pay for one time occurrences of finite duration and high cost with lasting consequence is acceptable. Wars fit this category. We have routinely paid for our wars with debt as wars are expensive, finite and multigenerational (future generations benefit). If that is not so we should not be in the war.
Since all our wars have been legally voted we will have to presume the majority agreed with this premise whatever the reader’s personal opinion of any given war might be.
Too many false issues on here!!
What is a half truth? The word truth means an absolute meaning fact or certainty. If what you say/write is not accurate it is not the truth.
Exactly what is not truthful in Representative Jenkins comment that “Right now we have people who are happy to collect unemployment and not work. We have a problem with people working the system.”
I might point out one could also write that right now we have people who are doing their level best to find a job and end receipt of unemployment.
The word “people” is a plural noun. It does not mean all. It does mean more than one. She did not say all people. Her statement is factual – the truth. My statement is also true. Neither is a misrepresentation – another word some on here use when the truth hurts.
I remember when I posted that almost half of US households pay no federal income tax. At first I was a liar until I published data from the IRS. Then I was misleading because someone pointed out that almost half of those not paying taxes do at some point return to the tax roles. Absolutely, but that does not make my point a lie or a misrepresentation.
Using the word lie or misrepresentation as a weapon to discredit others from legitimate and accurate reporting is a tried and true way to distort reality and win arguments but it contributes nothing to responsible dialogue and hardens the sorely needed debate about the future of our country.
Coming out of the conventions I cannot help but note that the level of discord is acerbic and escalating. The word liar is bandied about freely - frequently focused on opinion and beliefs. Intent is questioned and painted as base. Plans are challenged with high emotional content. Most exchanges are a few sentences long (or less). Horrendous problems are reduced to short sound bites.
In our own little LJW world, ad hominem attack is the coin of the realm. Both sides are absolutely certain as to the righteousness of their opinions. Contrary opinions are belittled and reduced to ridicule. A poster may be cosigned to psychiatric services for expressing anger at what in his/her opinion is a gross misrepresentation.
Now, I spend much time buried in our nation’s history with emphasis on our civil war. I have recently been reading James McPherson’s book “Battle Cry of Freedom“. I would commend it to our free wheeling debaters on here with focus on the political and civic environment from 1850 to 1860. In my reading a similar environment to the one today existed (different topic). That one led to a civil war and 600,000 casualties.
I cannot help but wonder where we are headed with our current debates. Having thoroughly debased the opposition is compromise any longer a possibility? Are we really so sure that our opinions are transcendent and our opponent’s ideas are so worthless? Shades of my kindergarten playground!
One of the basic tenants of Mr. Obama’s campaign was a more equitable distribution of income. The process to be used to achieve this goal was not presented in detail at that time. After almost four years I would contend we can see the outlines of his approach.
The Democrats created in Mr. Obama’s first year in office a 1 trillion a year imbalance in our annual federal national budget which continues into the foreseeable future. Many Democrats call for continued spending at that level of GDP or perhaps a further expansion to 25% of GDP. It is my contention that the only way we can pay for that is to soak the upper half of the middle class because they are the group paying the taxes now. No rationale increase on the wealthy would cover an increase so large.
It is also my contention that for the most part there is no such thing as a “Bush Tax Cut” .The current tax rates on the people who pay most of our federal taxes (upper middle class) are in excess of what they were paying pre the Reagan tax cuts. While presumably ending those cuts would also increases taxes on the rest of us, in fact the expansion of deductions since Reagan means the near 50% paying little or no federal income tax now will see no increase. Letting the “Bush Tax Cuts” expire will tax the upper middle class at a rate unique in our history (except wars), exempt about half the tax payers from federal taxes and barely nick the rich.
I further argue that the ACA is an exemplar for all future broad based entitlements (Social Security and Medicare) where they will be heavily means tested. The ACA will be and most other federal programs are already. Note that part of the rational for the $ 600 billion in cuts to Medicare is a change in the means te4sting formula. This enhanced means testing on broad based national programs will devastate the upper half of the middle class, expand entitlements significantly to the lower half and essentially hold harmless the rich.
In short through tax and entitlement policy the Obama administration is relentlessly moving toward redistributing income from the upper half of the middle class to the lower half of the middle class while avoiding most impact on their rich donor set? In fact his administration may well smother any ambition to make more than about $50K as the government in one form or another will take most of it in excess to that level. Only the already really rich (>.1M) will still have incentive to achieve.
We on this list have on several occasions had discussions as to whether the Democrats ever had the votes in the 111th Congress to pass a tax increase.
If my research is accurate from July 7, 2009 to August 25, 2009, and September 25, 2009 to February 4, 2010, the US Senate had only 40 (39 at one point) Republican Party Members. To establish a filibuster 41 votes are required. During that period the Republicans by themselves apparently could not muster a filibuster to block a Democratic Party attempt to raise taxes.
During the same period The US House had over 250 Democratic Party members - more than enough to pass a tax increase if so inclined.
It would seem that there was at least a four month window of opportunity during the 111th Congress to pass a tax increase (any version favored by Democrats) if the party leadership could have held their respective caucus to the task. Does anybody know what happened?
I remember back in the old war movies where that line was frequently used just before a character sacrificed himself for the survival of the group. You do not hear it much today.
Elsewhere on here I have posted a series of opinions as to just how we are all sharing in supporting the future of our nation. The wealthiest among us have an effective tax rate lower than that levied on the middle class. Almost half of us draw or anticipate drawing federal benefits but pay no federal income tax. The investment of public funds for personal aggrandizement is rampant and growing. The clamor in this space and the national media is focused on more- much more - for me or for my friends. The collusion between elected officials and the overwhelming numbers of “rent” seekers is flaunted – whether it be the enacting of selected tax breaks, the provision of unsustainable public pensions or other costly largess (like maybe a new recreation center).
We seem to have lost focus. However we may perceive the need for some public service somebody has to pay for it. There are few volunteers. Can we really expect that those who our involuntarily anointed to pay will not reciprocate by finding their own way to avoid paying? After all, is that not what is happening. To quote Mrs. Helmsley “only the little people pay taxes”. It has become everyman for himself and somebody else can take the consequences.
I wonder just how long this can continue before we are once again confronted with a scene where somebody must “take one for the gipper”. Will there be a volunteer? I am beginning to think not.