Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oil is our heroin

It is interesting that the Tea Party can get so upset about the new Health Care law and how it abuses the citizens of this country, yet ignore the most obvious signs in other countries that they are abusing their own citizens.

The Tea Party, for the most, grew out of the anger from the Health Care legislation. There were, of course, many other reasons that the Angry Crowd finally organized to try and “take back” America. (As if someone had actually “taken it” in the first place.) We all remember the angry faces at the health care town meetings around the country claiming that the legislation was taking away our freedoms. There are also a big reason the conservatives won many seats in congress in the last election.

Part of the mantra the party use was to cut taxes, thereby, cutting the size of government. The size of the America government, or so they say, had grown to the point that it threaten our civil liberties. By cutting the flow of cash, governments would have to make deep and dramatic cuts, reduce the bureaucracy and let the people take more control over their lives.

But, the moment we apply that philosophy to another issue, the same people that want to cut the flow of cash to their own government, will not take the necessary steps to stop the flow of cash to many other truly illegal governments around the world.

What is the other issue? Oil. It is the heroin of our culture. We don’t care what the pusher man does as long as the oil continues to flow across the ocean to keep our way of life going. It is believed that only oil can fuel our way of life and to lose it would cripple us in such a way that our economy would collapse around us like castles of sand on a beach.

But, the reason there is such unrest in the parts of the world right now is because we have supported governments that really do oppress their citizens. The only reason we do this is because they have oil that we want or because they support us in making sure the oil keeps flowing.

This blog is not about economics and only occasionally has anything been written about it. This particular post is not about the economics of oil directly. This post is about oppressing people indirectly and not taking any responsibility to stop it.

Some say that we should leave it to the market to guide our actions. But markets aren’t always correct. If it were, the cost of oil would be higher than it is now because it would somehow include the cost of oppression, the oppression that the countries that supply our oil visits on their citizens. All those countries that supply oil to the world such as Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other theocracies and outright totalitarian regimes would not be able to sell their oil on the market if it included the cost in human suffering because it would be so much higher. Countries that supply oil that are legitimate governments would be able to sell their oil much cheaper.

But that isn’t to say that we should ignore markets all together. We can use them in a responsible way that helps us realize the true cost of a product, in this case, oil. By raising the cost of oil artificially in a steady, regulated way, the market would know that in a year or two what the cost of oil would be. So would the average person in the community. The economy could plan ahead instead of blindly watching the cost of oil on a daily basis and making decision that are short term.

We should tax oil and perhaps other energy supplies in a modest, but growing amount each year, if not monthly. The increase in cost would push the market in the direction that we need it to go, to other sources. The additional revenue would help pay for the deficit.

With less oil being purchased, especially from countries that suppress their population, there would not be the funds to maintain oppressive governments that now exist.

We would also not be surprised one morning to wake up to the news that more and more countries that supply our heroin is now in turbulence.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Why do you need a silly reason to carry a gun?

Why do you need a silly reason to carry a gun. Why not just say, I want to carry a gun because I want to carry a gun.

GeorgiaCarry.org is suing Georgia over the state’s open carry law. The law states that people can’t carry a gun into a church as well as a few other places. Since 2007 the organization, that was founded to “protect the Second Amendment”, has been fighting cities and counties in Georgia to repeal gun laws. With their sights now on a state law, they claim that the restriction against openly carrying a gun at church restricts their right to exercise their freedom of religion.

Yes, you read that correctly. The group claims that the restriction that prevents the carrying of a gun in church restricts the right to exercise the freedom of religion. They suggest that they would not be able to protect themselves and their families if they don’t have a gun. Therefore, that fear prevents them from going to church.

The Constitution’s Second Amendment does protect the right to bear arms. It states:

  • “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
According to the debates on the Constitution that swirled around at the time, the authors were concerned that a strong military could be used against the country’s citizens. That is partly why they wrote in the document that funding for the military should not be longer than two years. The country, though, still needed to be defended in times of crisis. The response was to ensure that each state had a militia that was armed and trained. Yes, of course, they also knew at the time, many people needed a gun for hunting and protecting themselves from the “savages” that lived on the frontier.

The news reports don’t say why Georgia felt they needed a law that restricts the open carry of weapons in churches. Communities need a real reason that is supported by evidence to enact any law. Since the arguments made by those that would like the law declared unconstitutional were not about why Georgia made the law, it is hoped that the state had a solid reason.

The issues here are about both the Constitution and a reasonable response of a community to a concern it has. The Constitution does clearly state a right to own a weapon. The Georgia law didn’t disregard the constitution all together by outlawing the ownership of guns. Chicago and Washington, D. C. tried that. The gun ownership laws in those cities were struck down by the Supreme Court.

That doesn’t mean that congress or a legislature in a state can’t prescribe reasonable guidelines for the right to carry a gun. A community, in this case the people of Georgia, through there rightfully elected legislature, has the right to say that even though we can own guns, we just can’t carry or use them in situations where there is a perceived danger. Would anyone argue that we can own a gun and fire them where we want? Or, that we should be able to carry a grenade launcher into a bank?

If GeorgiaCarry.org thinks that people should be able to carry guns when they go to church and Georgia can’t demonstrate a reason they should not be able to, okay. But to say that it prevents people from exercising their freedom of religion, is a none argument.

Georgia didn’t make the ownership of weapons illegal. An over reaching response to any concern by the community would be to make guns illegal to own under all circumstances. According to the Constitution, people do have the right to own guns. But no right is absolute and responsible communities can prescribe reasonable restrictions on any right.

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