Friday, January 16, 2009

Don’t Break Two or More Laws At Once

My father taught us one rule that has stuck with me for more than 30 years. That rule is; don’t break two or more laws at once. It sounds kind of mundane but it had a huge impact on me.

What he was really saying was if you are going to break the law, don’t be stupid and flaunt it or compound it so you will get caught. For instance, if you were going to drink and drive, don’t speed or fail to put your headlights on because you will dramatically increase your chances of getting caught. Or more simply, if you are going to drive a car that is seriously late on its registration renewal make the headlights are operating properly. My brother’s favorite example is; if you are going to transport illegal herbage in the car, don’t flip a U turn in front of a cop. Yes it really was my dad that taught me this.

At the time I didn’t think much of this but I often refer to it and change my course of action so I don’t do two or more illegal things at once. I have said on more than one occasion “If I hadn’t followed Dad’s advise I would have gotten caught __________________________”. I also comment how often others seem to get caught violating this simple principal.

For instance take this guy driving along I-15 who made an illegal lane change in front of a cop (although it doesn’t seem like it, it is illegal to change lanes on the highway without signaling). The cop pulled him over and smelled the odor of marijuana. He called the pot sniffing dog over and they found 50 sealed bags of the green gold. The guy and his girlfriend are going away for a long time because he violated the dumb criminal principal.

One final note, it seems this guy compounded the problem beyond just illegal lane changing with 200 lbs of dope in the car. The smell couldn’t have come from the sealed bags so the guy was smoking while making an illegal lane change with 200 lbs of dope in the van. He deserves to get caught.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

When None of the Idiots Have Guns, only Guns will be Idiots

Why do we hold onto this mystique of a bygone era? The frontier days where a person needed a gun because there was no law enforcement have been gone for over 100 years. We fanaticize that we can protect ourselves and our families if we only have a gun. Of course we want the latest, most high powered automatic killing machine to defend what is rightfully ours. The problem is that there is a disconnect between this dream of self defense and the reality that guns are very dangerous weapons that carry a very serious consequence with their use.

My first point is that you don’t need an assault weapon to defend your house. The purpose of a fully automatic weapon is to kill a lot of people in a very short period of time. This isn’t homeland security, it is war. You need to be trained to go to war and you need to know the difference before you can buy an assault weapon (that’s my opinion, but apparently not the law).

My second point is that this vision of defending your family against an assailant doesn’t play out in public. The Trolley Square shooting was the perfect place for a gun toting citizen to open fire on a crazed maniac bent on killing innocent people but none was to be found. An off duty police officer (translated – trained to use a gun) was the first line of defense who prevented further carnage. The same is true of the many campus and school shootings. Where were all the defenders of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

I think there were there. I think when faced with the reality of shooting a person they couldn’t bring themselves to it. I’m not saying that is a bad thing, I just mean that this is an example of the disconnect between the dream and reality. We should leave the defense of human life to the professionals.

My third point is that without this reasonableness in our gun ownership laws we have amateurs caught in situations that have potentially dire consequences.

I read in the paper today (surprise) that a toilet in a restaurant in Salt Lake took one in the bowl because a legally licensed weapon dropped from the owner’s holster while he was pulling up his pants. The gun fired and the toilet was hit. Luckily there was no one else in the room at the time. Someone could have been killed because a person with a license and a concealed weapons permit was careless.

I also heard about a similar situation from a person who attended the Gun Show this past weekend. Everyone with a weapon has to check in before entering the main hall. My friend was in line to do this and about 10 people ahead of him, a gun discharged. The owner was pulling his gun out of its holster and it fired. The bullet hit the cement floor and ricocheted who knows where. This truly is a miracle no one was hit.

My point in all these points is that we need to bring the dream of gun ownership and reality of what guns do, closer to each other. We need to stop reinforcing the “Old West” illusion of self protection; we need to restrict those guns that are meant only for war to the professionals and we need to require more training and testing for those who have guns. We don’t let a 10 year old, who can buy a car, drive or a person who gets his or her private pilots license fly a 747.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Its Your Money

Isn’t it nice that congress is so concerned about the us. They worked hard to pass the $700B Economic Stimulus Act and get some of that money into the hands of the banks so we could all benefit from the boost in confidence. Now they are proposing a plan to further separate the bad loans those banks made from the good loans and they want more transparency in how Mr. Obama will spend the remaining money. They really are taking good care of the American people.

The reality is that over $300B was given to the banks without any requirements at all. The facts suggest that credit has not become more readily available, retailers have had a dismal 4Q and no one really knows where the money went.

The Fed yesterday proposed a plan to let banks separate bad loans into “Bad” banks (a completely separate entity) where the American public’s meager equity interest lies from the bank’s good loans. This will give the banks more incentive to loan if they aren’t bothered by the pesky bad loans. Isn’t this like saying to a person in Bankruptcy that they can keep the car, house and goodies, all their income and not get a black mark? The Bankruptcy Court will just separate those pesky debts and loans into another entity so the debtor can go out and spend more to stimulate the economy.

This morning I saw an article in the newspaper (aren’t most of my tirades prompted by something in the newspaper) where our esteemed senior Senator Orin Hatch was calling for more control and transparency in how the Obama administration distributed the rest of the Economic Stimulus Package. Isn’t that like a burglar saying he wants to make sure the police handle his stolen items in a reasonable manner?

This is your money they are so casually throwing around. You do have a say and you can complain to your Senator or Congressman or Congresswoman. Or you can just whine about it like I do and think there is nothing we can do about it. This is what started the civil unrest in the 60’s.