Thoughts on Colorado – Freedom vs. Safety

July 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is was written as a comment on this NYT piece.  I’ve made it much longer here because the NYT limits space.

Restricting access to firearms will never stop these kinds of attacks.  As a society we need to resolve ourselves that some people are crazy and will drive cars into crowds, shoot other people en mass, and otherwise engage in spree killings.

Many believe it’s as simple as restricting access a/k/a gun control.  But what happens when a police officer’s gun is stolen?  What should we do with the 5+ million firearms already owned? What about hunters?  People who think that food comes from a store don’t have decent solutions that play nationally.

Vermont has nearly no restrictions on firearm ownership or concealed carry.  One never hears of people shooting-up a Home Depot in Vermont.  Why should Vermont be required to change their laws – which appear to work and the citizens clearly want – because of actions in New York or Colorado?

In Chicago (where I live) we have the most restrictive gun laws in the country.  It’s not working.  In addition to gangs using guns to solve problems they routinely use knives.  In Chicago over 500 people are stabbed each year.  Should we outlaw knives?

Chicago has also been the city where three times in as many years we’ve made national news because people have been beaten with baseball bats or a 2×4.  One Irish girl is still in a coma as a result of a beating; another H.S. student is dead.  Dozens of others have been seriously injured.  Should Chicago ban baseball bats and lumber?

Additionally, at least 4 kids have drowned at local pools and the lake this year.  Should we close them too?

Of course the last example are accidents.  I recently read a story about “who’s to blame” for the recent drownings.  The story quoted one dead child’s uncle who asked where the lifeguards were.  I wondered where we was.  It is not patently irresponsible for a parent to send a child to a pool if they cannot adequately swim?  While the parents may be negligent, they surely did not intend for their children to drown.  That’s a very very different situation from Colorado — that is recognized.

But accidents deserve to be included in the analysis because of how society reacts to the event.  And also because how society deals with “means” vs. “ends”.  The end result is the same, people are dead.  We as a society accept that while tragic, we should not close down pools and beaches because they take hundreds of lives each year.  We believe those losses are tragic but the risk / reward (pleasure) ratio is acceptable.

This is similar to driving.  Traffic accidents kill over 40,000 people each year.  We believe that the risk of being injured or dying in a traffic accident is acceptable given the benefit we receive by not having to walk everywhere (or take a horse which is probably more dangerous.)

As a society we do our best to reduce the risks.  At pools and beaches we employ lifeguards.  In Chicago lifeguards are paid for by the taxpayer who may or may not utilize them.  On the roads we have laws against drunk driving; we don’t let 12 year-olds drive either.  We, through our government, demand that cars have seat belts and air bags.  It appears that society in general is content with the risk / reward balance.  But of course we could do more.

It would be very easy for the government to mandate that every vehicle be equipped with a sobriety tester.  It would prevent drunks from driving.

We, through our government, could also mandate a speed control device on all cars so that they’re limited to the speed limit.  It would prevent high speed crashes not to mention high speed police chases.

Why do we not have these existing technologies in our cars already?  Because society does not want them.  We’re happy with the balance of risk / reward that is involved with driving.  We value our freedom to drive drunk and fast more than we demand additional safety.

And that is how we need to address gun control.  Do we wish to give up more freedom in order to provide more safety?  And would we in fact be safer with less freedoms?  Those are two different questions.

There is no doubt that lifeguards and air bags save lives.

There is a lot of doubt as to banning guns would save any lives.

The facts are clear that More Guns Equal Less Crime.

So however tragic the recent events in Colorado may be, further restrictions on our freedom will not result in additional safety.

We morn those who we’ve lost.  We pray for their families.  We struggle to find answers to unanswerable questions.

But most importantly, we get on with our lives recognizing that evil is present in the world and that bad things happen to good people.  In the end we also know that we cannot prevent these events from happening by passing additional laws.

New Govt Laser Reads You At Molecular Level

July 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Department of Homeland Security will soon be using a laser at airports that can detect everything about you from over 160-feet away.

Gizmodo reports a scanner that could read people at the molecular level has been invented. This laser-based scanner – which can be used 164-feet away — could read everything from a person’s adrenaline levels, to traces of gun powder on a person’s clothes, to illegal substances — and it can all be done without a physical search. It also could be used on multiple people at a time, eliminating random searches at airports.

The laser-based scanner is expected to be used in airports as soon as 2013, Gizmodo reports.

via CBS DC.

Really?!  Is this what we’ve come to?

I wonder what the ACLU’s position is going to be on this.  At the airport I kinda understand; you are giving your consent to be searched.  That’s the bargain for what is supposed to be a safe flight.

But how long before Mayor Bloomberg decides that he wants to use this on people just walking down the street?

1984 here we come!!

OxyContin Redesigned: Users Switching to Heroin

July 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is a story about how smart people are stupid.

In the past, OxyContin was designed to be released into the body’s system slowly, over the course of many hours, meaning each pill contained a large reservoir of oxycodone. Drug users soon discovered by crushing the pills and inhaling them, or dissolving the pills in water and injecting them, they could bypass the slow-release mechanism and get an immediate ‘high.’  …

But in 2010, Purdue Pharma, which manufactures OxyContin, changed the formula of the opioid drug to make it more difficult to crush and much slower to dissolve, which appears to have made the drug less attractive to users, according Cicero and his colleagues.
The researchers … found that while the new formula has successfully stopped many users from abusing OxyContin, they aren’t abandoning drugs entirely. A significant percentage of former OxyContin users are instead turning to harder drugs, such as heroin and other, stronger opioids.  addicts

via Fox News.

Well what did you think was going to happen?  Let me guess, a bunch of guys in suits (the “C” level suite) and bespectacled scientists (the drug researchers) and — THE GOVERNMENT — think they’re going to stop drug addiction by making it so people cannot get high?

You don’t need a MBA from Booth or a Phd in organic chemistry to know that drugs addicts will move from one drug to another.  So why would Purdue Pharma do this?  Surely they’re selling less Oxy now with the abusers demand subsided.  They spent good R&D money on redesigning the drug to have lower sales.  Why?!

It’s not in this story but I’m willing to gamble dollars to navy beans that Purdue Pharma did this because of a request from the FDA.  Big brother getting into everyone’s business.

St. Charles School Group Hates Class Rankings

July 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Members of the St. Charles District 303 school community want to eliminate class rank at the high schools and expand foreign language and technology offerings at all levels, according to a report released Monday.

The information was compiled from several community meetings this year.

via chicagotribune.com.

Well this is easy right?

About 2% of the people love the class ranking system and 98% of the people hate it.

That mean’s that in out of District 303 2% of the graduates will be ready for jobs in the private sector and 98% will be looking for either government jobs or handouts.

New Chemical Makes Teeth ‘Cavity Proof’

July 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

A new chemical could make human teeth ‘cavity proof’ – and do away with the need for visits to the dentists forever.

The molecule has been called ‘Keep 32’ – after the 32 teeth in a human mouth.

The chemical was designed by dentists in Chile, and wipes out all the bacteria that cause cavities in just 60 seconds in tests.

Cool huh?

Now comes the creepy part.

The chemical could be added to any current dental care product, turning toothpaste, mouthwash and chewing gum into ‘super cleansers’ that could get rid of the underlying cause of tooth decay.

via Mail Online.

Eww.

NAACP Requires Photo I.D. to See Speech

July 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Earlier today, Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the NAACP Nation Convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. What did media need in order to attend? That’s right, government issued photo identification (and a second form of identification too!), something both Holder and the NAACP stand firmly against when it comes to voting. Holder’s DOJ is currently suing Texas for “discriminatory” voter ID laws.

via Townhall.com.

The double standard appears obvious enough.

Denise Rich: Democrat Who Fled the U.S.

July 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Denise Rich, the wealthy socialite and former wife of pardoned billionaire trader Marc Rich, has given up her U.S. citizenship – and, with it, much of her U.S. tax bill. Rich, 68, a Grammy-nominated songwriter and glossy figure in Democratic and European royalty circles, renounced her American passport in November, according to her lawyer.

via Independent Film News.

Another fine Tax Avoidance / Laffer Curve example.

Good to see a rich Democrat in on the action (no pun intended.)

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