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Old 06-11-2002, 03:50 AM   #16
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Well there is a corresponding difference between the number of people murdered in the UK and Ireland and the number of people murdered in the USA in any given year. In the UK, 50 people every year are murdered by firearms while in the USA its 10,000. Crime still occurs in the UK and Ireland, just not with deadly results.
You assume that having citizens not armed will increase the likelyhood of attack with a firearm and the article mentions this blackmarket that will develop. This has not happened in the UK or Ireland, countries that have similar economic and cultural similarities with the USA. Again 50 deaths a year to 10,000 in the USA!
The fact that a citizen might be armed in the USA has never detered any criminal. Unless the victim advertises to all before the attack that they are armed the attacker naturally assumes that they are not armed, or even if they are, the attacker assumes that the element of surprise will be to much for an armed victim to handle. Again the possibility that anyone could be armed in the USA, leads to attacks that cause 10,000 murders every year in the USA. In the UK and Ireland where firearms are essentially banned or difficult to get, you have a total of 50 deaths.

Another thing with civilians having guns is that so many do not take care of them or know how to properly use them and fail to secure them leading to accidental death of family members or friends living nearby. Why should someone have to deal with the unsafe practices and use of a weapon by a neighbor who is not professionaly trained like someone in the military or police force? In the Military and entire base of 50,000 people will shut down if a single M-16 is missing. Even if that M-16 is just used for basic training and cannot actually fire a round. Extreme safety and care are used with all weapons in the military, and there is all kinds of oversite. With civilians though, there is little if anything to ensure the safety, proper use, training, and security like there is in the military.

The fact is, there is a freedom that people in Ireland and the UK enjoy that most people in the USA do not because of the gun control laws that exist in Ireland and the UK. Crime still happens in the UK and Ireland, but for the most part its not deadly.
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Old 06-11-2002, 04:01 AM   #17
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One thing about profits and making money. I think its just fine up to a point and were talking a very high point. That point is when someones accumilation of wealth through a business of some type begins to lead toward a monopoly and less competion. Monopoly and Communism are both very similar in that there is an absence of competion. The most important factor in Capitalism is Competion! The runaway profits of a few leads to monopoly which is not Capitalism. There for, government does need to step in to insure that monopolies are not formed or even start to form. The highest level of competion has to be maintained. In general I think the US government does a good job of this. I also would not complain about the US tax rate which is one of the lowest in the industrialized world. Besides the taxes that are paid allow the government and military to operate, without which you would have anarchy and no business to profit from.
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Old 06-11-2002, 05:01 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba


(As an aside, neither Canada nor the United States are technically democracies. They are republics, in which citizens elect lawmakers.)

In fact, I believe most of the West has both a republican form of government and a socialist economy, including the U.S. (though it is less socialist than most).

Either way, the resentment toward the U.S. is understandable. However, like Spain and England before it, the U.S. is the leader of the Western world; to deny the fact is to deny reality.
Two points:

Firstly - are you defnining democracy as direct/participatory democracy? ie where citizens directly participate in the decision-making process as they did in the city-states of ancient Greece? And does that mean you consider any form of representative democracy (as in the US, where an individual is elected by the people to represent their interests) to be inferior to participatory democracy?

Secondly - are you saying you believe countries in the West have 'socialist' economies? If that's the case, what do you define as socialist?

*Fizz
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Old 06-11-2002, 12:20 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by STING2
Well there is a corresponding difference between the number of people murdered in the UK and Ireland and the number of people murdered in the USA in any given year. In the UK, 50 people every year are murdered by firearms while in the USA its 10,000. Crime still occurs in the UK and Ireland, just not with deadly results.

You assume that having citizens not armed will increase the likelyhood of attack with a firearm and the article mentions this blackmarket that will develop. This has not happened in the UK or Ireland, countries that have similar economic and cultural similarities with the USA. Again 50 deaths a year to 10,000 in the USA!
First, if your numbers are correct, they do not account for the population difference between the UK/Ireland (with a combined population of about 64 million) and the US (population 280 million). You're essentially saying that there is one firearm death in the UK/Ireland for every 200 in the US. But adjusting for the population, the ratio is actually about 1 for every 45 - or 50 for every 2,300.

That's still a wide gap, but a fair comparison needed to be made.

And not everyone finds Britain to be a much safer place:

Advocates of more gun control laws often find their dream scenario in Britain. But for crime victims, repressive anti-gun laws are making ordinary life a crime-filled nightmare. The total British violent crime rate (murder, rape, robbery, assault) is now significantly higher than the U.S. rate.

....

The British government works hard to ensure that British criminals face unarmed victims; "safe storage" laws like those pushed by the American anti-gun lobbies make it illegal to have a firearm ready for home protection in an emergency. So about half of British burglaries occur when criminals bash their way into homes and terrorize their occupants. In the U.S., burglars fear getting shot by armed homeowners. Only 13% of U.S. burglaries take place when someone is home.

The magnitude of the deterrent effect of an armed population was estimated by Yale Law Professor John Lott's meticulous comparison of crime rates in U.S. counties with and without right-to-carry concealed-handgun laws. The data show that allowing concealed carry would prevent about 1,500 murders and 4,000 rapes each year. It would also reduce deaths from mass public shootings by 90%. Other than suicide by the killers, armed citizens are the only thing that has ever stopped a school shooting in progress — as in the 1998 incidents in Pearl, Mississippi, and Edinboro, Pennsylvania. Fortunately, Pennsylvania and Mississippi, like 29 other states, adopted this sensible law years ago; and none of the Chicken Little warnings of the anti-gun lobby have come true in any of the states with handgun carry laws.


Also:

And the British plan (of gun control) succeeded. There isn't a large American-style gun culture in England. America's gun culture is comprised of law-abiding, hard-working, family-oriented people. In stark contrast, Great Britain's emerging gun culture consists of armed criminals, and of police "deploying the level of force appropriate to the threat."

Signs of the new British gun culture are everywhere. According to the December 31, 2000 edition of the Guardian Unlimited, "gun crime in Britain is soaring to record levels: executions, woundings and related incidents in the past year are set to be the highest ever…. The number of armed operations by police is also at a record level." And on January 11, 2001, the Guardian Unlimited reported that "the use of handguns in crime in England and Wales reached its highest level for seven years in 1999-2000". In 2000 alone, it jumped 37% from the previous year. How can this be, when a ban on private ownership of handguns — promising to reduce violent crime — became law in November 1997 under what was characterized as "the toughest gun control laws in the world"? (The British proponents of the new gun law were exaggerating a little. Nicolai Ceausescu's Communist dictatorship in Rumania actually had tougher laws, until it was overthrown.)


(No black market, indeed.)

But even making the wild assumption that your stats reflect a truly higher level of safety in the UK, you haven't been too pursuasive on connecting the legality of guns in the US to its high crime rates. The fact of the matter is, stats indicate that there IS no connection. Two hundred years ago, the US enjoyed wider rights to bear arms, and yet crime rates were low. A mere FIFTY years ago, the same held true. And, again, Washington, D.C. simultaneously enjoys (if that's the word for it) some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation AND one of the highest murder rates.

Quote:
The fact that a citizen might be armed in the USA has never detered any criminal. Unless the victim advertises to all before the attack that they are armed the attacker naturally assumes that they are not armed, or even if they are, the attacker assumes that the element of surprise will be to much for an armed victim to handle. Again the possibility that anyone could be armed in the USA, leads to attacks that cause 10,000 murders every year in the USA. In the UK and Ireland where firearms are essentially banned or difficult to get, you have a total of 50 deaths.


The possibility of an armed citizen "has never detered any criminal"? Really?

Unless you generate some facts to back that assertion, I will take it as the wildly improbable statement that it is. Honestly, if I were a criminal, I would think twice before breaking into a house in the suburbs of Texas - where the citizens are legally armed to the teeth and the culture encourages self-defense. The fact is, I DO stand a greater chance of getting my head blown clean off if I break into a Texan's house; how does that fact NOT influence my decision to commit a crime?

Quote:
Another thing with civilians having guns is that so many do not take care of them or know how to properly use them and fail to secure them leading to accidental death of family members or friends living nearby. Why should someone have to deal with the unsafe practices and use of a weapon by a neighbor who is not professionaly trained like someone in the military or police force? In the Military and entire base of 50,000 people will shut down if a single M-16 is missing. Even if that M-16 is just used for basic training and cannot actually fire a round. Extreme safety and care are used with all weapons in the military, and there is all kinds of oversite. With civilians though, there is little if anything to ensure the safety, proper use, training, and security like there is in the military.
The same point (untrained civilians accidentally harming or killing others) can be made about automobiles, and yet very few reasonable people assert that cars should be illegal. Accidental deaths ARE a bad thing, and the culture should emphasize safe gun use (following the lead of the National Rifle Ass'n). But this doesn't justify making guns illegal. What it may suggest is making guns LESS of a cultural taboo - encouraging gun ownership, as was done in generations past - so that there can be a open dialogue about its safe use.

(After all, "safe sex" didn't become a wide cultural issue until sex itself became more widely discussed.)

Moving on to your second post...

Quote:
Originally posted by STING2
One thing about profits and making money. I think its just fine up to a point and were talking a very high point. That point is when someones accumilation of wealth through a business of some type begins to lead toward a monopoly and less competion. Monopoly and Communism are both very similar in that there is an absence of competion. The most important factor in Capitalism is Competion! The runaway profits of a few leads to monopoly which is not Capitalism. There for, government does need to step in to insure that monopolies are not formed or even start to form. The highest level of competion has to be maintained. In general I think the US government does a good job of this. I also would not complain about the US tax rate which is one of the lowest in the industrialized world. Besides the taxes that are paid allow the government and military to operate, without which you would have anarchy and no business to profit from.
I agree ABSOLUTELY that competition is necessary for market forces to control price and supply. I further agree that the U.S. government should step in to ensure such competition. And while I agree that the federal gov't does a reasonable job in this respect, I also think it goes too far in terms of medling with the economy: setting interest rates, not tying the dollar to anything tangible, corporate subsidies, industry regulations, etc.

Further, let us not compare the U.S. tax rate to other Western countries; let us compare it to PREVIOUS (particularly, pre-WWII era) tax rates. From that standpoint, Americans are being subjected to confiscatory, punitive taxes. And while some of these taxes go to operate the military and justice system, FAR TOO MUCH of it goes to social programs, corporate and personal welfare, services that can be provided AT LEAST as well by the private sector, and the simple redistribution of wealth.

(America is, after all, the "great experiment" in freedom. Should we not compare our current state to the ideal of freedom rather than the realities of Europe?)

Finally, Whizzbees' post:

Quote:
Originally posted by FizzingWhizzbees
Two points:

Firstly - are you defnining democracy as direct/participatory democracy? ie where citizens directly participate in the decision-making process as they did in the city-states of ancient Greece? And does that mean you consider any form of representative democracy (as in the US, where an individual is elected by the people to represent their interests) to be inferior to participatory democracy?

Secondly - are you saying you believe countries in the West have 'socialist' economies? If that's the case, what do you define as socialist?

*Fizz
1) I am defining "democracy" in the most strict sense of the word: law-making through direct participation. That doesn't mean the American republic of representative rule is in any way inferior; it's just a matter of calling a spade a spade.

(All apologies if I insinuated otherwise; I merely have a tendency to be precise in my choice of words. I'll call a thing a "square" only if all four sides are equal and meet at right angles; otherwise, I'll call it a "rectangle", "rhombus", or "quadrilateral" as applicable).

2) I do believe the West has socialist economies, and I define socialism as having the government determine much of the state of the economy. Look at the amount of government-run programs (including health care, job placement, and outright welfare), the amount of price-fixing, and the level of social taxation (taxing to punish certain groups or certain behaviors). I know of no other word to describe these economies but socialist.
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Old 06-11-2002, 02:20 PM   #20
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I would just like to say that according to world-renowned professor Elliott Leyton the homicide rate for britian is 2/100,00 tying it with Canada while the homicide rate in the U.S is 10/100,000.
Almost ten times more.

Bubba,
I would aso like to point out that you confuse the terms wealthy and "elite"; they are worlds apart.
Elites do not usually earn their money but get a lot of support from the government in the old "You scratch my back I'll scratch your" deal.
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Old 06-11-2002, 02:57 PM   #21
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I don't deny that the US murder rate may be higher. First, your number (which has the US's rate at five times that of Britain - really, "five times" isn't "nearly ten times") is still nowhere as extreme as the firearm-murder rate that STING2 provides, a number that puts the US rate at 200 times the UK rate.

(And even when I adjusted for population, the claim is that the US rate is 45 times higher.)

Second, the article I quoted said the following (emphasis mine): "The total British violent crime rate (murder, rape, robbery, assault) is now significantly higher than the U.S. rate."

At any rate, it doesn't matter; I conceded the possibility that the crime rate in the US is higher. No one has yet connected that high rate with the legality of firearms. No one has offered any explanation that also accounts for the low crime rates from fifty years ago (when US gun laws were even more lax) or the ridiculous murder rate in D.C. - where gun laws are among the most restrictive.


Moving on, if I did confuse the terms "wealthy" and "elite", I wasn't the only one:

Quote:
Originally posted by Basstrap
At least the canadian government doesn't let the elite class thrive near so much as it does in the US. The unequal distribution of goods is painfully poignant.
I'd like to see a lorenz curve from each of these countries!!
If the "elite" had nothing to do with wealth, how does the "distribution" of goods have anything to do with them?
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Old 06-11-2002, 03:07 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba


[i]The total British violent crime rate (murder, rape, robbery, assault) is now significantly higher than the U.S. rate.

I have heard this is true from others as well.
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Old 06-11-2002, 07:24 PM   #23
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My figures for murder by firearms came from the FBI. It was actually just for the United Kingdom and it was 50 for the UK on average per year vs 10,000. Yes the USA is larger by about 5 times the size of the UK, and if we had a murder from firearms rate the same as the UK, the number of deaths in this country every year would be 250.

John Lotts comparison of the counties with concealed weapons laws seems to demonstrate that its effective, until you look at the fact that most counties with right to conceal weapons laws tend to be in less populated rural area's where the poverty rate is low.

The sources you site seem to be biased sources that clearly are a bit unobjective and discriminate in the "facts" they choose to print. How is refering to gun control advocates as "chicken little" informative or objective? I find this source doubtful and at best questionable. FBI and similar law enforcement agency's in the UK are the best source of factual and objective information on this issue.

I have spent weeks in both Edinburgh and London. Edinburgh last year as well as several cities throughout Scotland. In Edinburgh, my sister was staying in a guest house in the downtown part of Edinburgh 2 miles from the hostel where I was staying. Every night my sister would walk back to the guest house nearly 2 miles away at 3 am in the morning! How many major US cities the size of Edinburgh can a female do that in without any worry?!?!?! This greatly increased murder rate was non-existent in my experience. I was just in Ireland in January where guns are non existent pratically and according to the writers of the article, it should be open season on the unarmed citizens. But I talked to hundreds of people and spent hours at night in the downtown part of multiple cities without seeing this "WAR" on the unarmed citizens of Ireland. A higher level of safety in Ireland and the UK is no wild assumption! My friends and I feel far safer there and observe the people there doing things that most people in the USA would avoid doing.

Clearly if there are no or few firearms to commit crime with, the death from firearms is going to be very low. Why do you think foreign or US militaries when attempting to occupy and CONTROL a certain area disarm ANY possible combatents?!? Obviously to prevent the use of those firearms against its soldiers or others, and clearly its done because it makes the situation in the area of control a more secure one. So that clearly shows there is a connection between citizens owning firearms and possible deaths of others as a result.

If American gun owners were all law abiding citizens, there would not be 10,000 dead every year. Over 600,000 Americans have been killed either in accidents involving guns or through murder, since John Lennon was killed in 1980.

As far as 200 years ago or 100 years ago its difficult to compare. Most people had large rifles for hunting and certainly not concealed weapons for security. The overall population was a tiny fraction of todays population and most of the population was spread out in Rural areas. The economy for the most part was still based on agriculture. Statistics on gun owner ship in cities in the Northeast might be helpful, because the cities are where you would be able to look at the debate more closely 100 or 200 years ago. National statistics back then though are simply a distortion to observe the problem because the population, economics, and population distrubition of rural vs. urban are so different from today.

You really think that the education of people who commit crimes is so high that they know not to invade a home in the suburbs of Texas? I would argue that wealth and proximity to those likely to commit crime are greater factors there. Again, the fact is criminals continue to commit these crimes on a massive scale despite citizens being armed. In the middle of the night, there is no way I'm going to know if house y is unarmed as opposed to house z. Yet crime continues and murders continue at an unacceptable average Plus criminals by nature are a bit naive about the logic of their actions anyways. You also forget the element of surprise, clearly an important factor in any criminal act which mere gun ownership is unable to effect.

Let me give you a personal situation I had out with friends in downtown Pittsburgh. There were 6 of us checking out "the Decade" where U2 first played in Pittsburgh back in 1981. Where were standing outside the place looking at the sign that showed all the people who had played there when a person came out of the nearby alley attempting to sell one my intoxicated friends some weed. My friend took the weed looked at it and then tried to give it back to the person who refused it. The weed dropped on the ground. The person selling wanted my friend to pay for it, and right after that, he called into the alley. Two people came from the alley with handguns not yet drawn but clearly visible. At that point another one of my friends hastily payed for the weed(still on the ground) and we left in horror over what happened. We were unarmed, but the 3 individuals from the alley did not know that. That did not stop them from forcing us to pay for something we did not want. Say for a minute that we all had handguns. I ask you how that would have helped in that situation?

There is a big difference between guns purpose in society and the purpose of automobiles. Most people need automobiles because public transit is limited in many parts of the country. Ones need to own a gun is questionable and certainly not neccessary for jobs and the smooth running of the economy. Transportation is clearly a neccessity, gun ownership is not. Since gun ownership is not a neccessity and is involved in well over 10,000 deaths when accidents and murders are combined, clearly banning them or vastily limiting their use should be considered.

On to the US Federal Government. Here is the Federal budget of the United States from Oct. 1, 2000 to Sept. 30, 2001.

BILLIONS OF DOLLARS

National Defense.........................................304.5
International Affairs.......................................16.5
General Science, Space, Technology..............20.7
Natural Resources and Environment..............23.7
Agriculture......................................................28.3
Commerce and housing credit..........................5.8
Transportation................................................53.9
Community and Regional Development...........12.8
Education, Training,
Employment, and Social Services.....................62.9
Health............................................................171.9
Social Security................................................433.0
Medicare.........................................................217.4
Income Security..............................................263.3
Veterans Benefits and Services........................45.0
Administration of Justice...................................29.8
General Government.........................................15.1
Interest...........................................................206.1
Undistributed offsetting receipts......................-47.0

TOTAL BUDGET OUTLAYS...............................1,863.0
TOTAL INCOME was nearly 2,000 producing a budget surplus of nearly 137 Billion.

This is where your tax dollars went during that year. How much would you cut from the TOTAL INCOME which is total taxes collected? Realize that there is a National Debt of 5.6 Trillion and that in this single year alone the US government was forced to pay 206.1 BILLION in interest on the National Debt.

Taxes are clearly needed of course, and comparing pre WW II tax levels to now is not a good way to get at how much we should be taxed today. In the Pre WW II era, the amount needed to spend on National defense adjusted for inflation is a tiny fraction of what is needed today. The world and are interdependency with it has changed that forever. Security is a must. Plus the number of people who live long enough to have a pension or be on medicare has vastly increased. Pre Worldwar II, these programs did not exist because the need was not there.

Also, much of the tax dollars here are redistributed to the private sector because the government contracts out much of its work and projects to private companies.

Still I'd be interested to know how much you would cut from the total collected taxes of 2 Trillion above for the budget last year, and what programs you would cut and by how much, plus how much in taxes do you think should go to paying of the 5.6 Trillion dollar national debt?
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Old 06-11-2002, 07:36 PM   #24
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Wow...I must tip my hat to you, STING2. An excellent post.

I don't wish to get too involved with this thread, nor do I wish to argue with anyone, but having lived in the U.K. for a month last year and conversing with the locals during that time, I am forced to agree with STING2. No one fears guns over there, because no one has them. In fact, due to this situation, the stereotype of America is one of a very violent place, where we are constantly afraid of being shot. So I must agree with STING2's observations of the U.K.; they are right on track.

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Old 06-11-2002, 08:34 PM   #25
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That is interesting information that you have Melon from your 1 month stay in London. I have only stayed in London for a few days. But I have stayed in Dublin and Edinburgh for months. Your experience helps to confirm my belief that the USA needs gun control enforcement and laws similar to what the UK has. It is so clear what works and what does not.
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Old 06-11-2002, 09:53 PM   #26
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Sting2:

With all due respect, you're ignoring several of my observations, observations I've made several times.


1. The crime rate was significantly lower FIFTY YEARS AGO, not just 100 to 200 years ago, when things were "difficult to compare," when "most people had large rifles for hunting and certainly not concealed weapons for security."

(And it's funny, but I thought revolvers came into significant use around 1850, over 150 years ago. Silly me for trusting those damn documentaries about the American Civil War and the American West.)


2. I've said this at least twice in this thread alone, and it apparently bears repeating:

Washington, D.C. has some of the most restrictive gun laws and among the highest murder rates in the country.

If gun control's the answer, what's gone wrong in D.C.?

(Here's a hint: the answer is not to ignore the question and name other European cities you feel safe in.)


On to things you actually did address...

Quote:
You really think that the education of people who commit crimes is so high that they know not to invade a home in the suburbs of Texas?
Yes, I do. You don't have to have a high school diploma to know that a LOT of Texans - and, frankly, Southerners in general - have guns, are more than willing to use them, and are quite open about the fact. (My neighbor in Alabama had a very straight-forward sign on his house; it said, "Forget the dog - beware of owner," with a picture of a very large handgun. I doubt very much that most criminals are so stupid as to ignore that notice.)

(In fact, I'm a bit perplexed about your notion of criminals. They're apparently smart enough to realize the element of surprise, but also too dumb to realize when a neighborhood is populated with gunracked pickup trucks and GUN NOTICES on houses. Are criminals morally bankrupt and a bit niave about permanently evading the law? Probably. Are they that fucking stupid? Not likely.)

Quote:
We were unarmed, but the 3 individuals from the alley did not know that. That did not stop them from forcing us to pay for something we did not want. Say for a minute that we all had handguns. I ask you how that would have helped in that situation?
Certainly, they didn't precisely know you were unarmed, but they could guess. Most people in Pittsburgh don't have guns at all, much less carry them concealed (and if you want to debate this fact, go right ahead - with the full knowledge that I've lived in PGH for the last 10 months). If you and your friends were armed and the thugs discovered the fact, they probably would not attempt to threaten you. And if the VAST law-abiding population was armed, the thought might not have occured to the thugs in the first place.

All of this leads to two interesting observations, which I bring to together for juxtaposition:

Quote:
Clearly if there are no or few firearms to commit crime with, the death from firearms is going to be very low. Why do you think foreign or US militaries when attempting to occupy and CONTROL a certain area disarm ANY possible combatents?!? Obviously to prevent the use of those firearms against its soldiers or others, and clearly its done because it makes the situation in the area of control a more secure one. So that clearly shows there is a connection between citizens owning firearms and possible deaths of others as a result.
Quote:
There is a big difference between guns purpose in society and the purpose of automobiles. Most people need automobiles because public transit is limited in many parts of the country. Ones need to own a gun is questionable and certainly not neccessary for jobs and the smooth running of the economy. Transportation is clearly a neccessity, gun ownership is not. Since gun ownership is not a neccessity and is involved in well over 10,000 deaths when accidents and murders are combined, clearly banning them or vastily limiting their use should be considered.
As an aside, you say that auto ownership is a necessity. It is not. The reason that commuting is required is because it is possible. If cars became illegal tomorrow, the U.S. economy and infrastructure would eventually re-arrange itself.

But my point is this: you acknowledge that individual gun ownership deters tyrants, and yet you believe that "one's need to own a gun is questionable." Is it NOT possible that the Second Amendment is in place to PREVENT OPPRESSION FROM THE GOVERNMENT?

Many Second Amendment supporters - myself included - believe that the amendment has nothing to do with hunting and everything to do with self-defense: defense from other law-breaking citizens AND defense from a freedom-infringing government.

Why else do you think the American Revolution suceeded? That the Vietnamese gave the U.S. so much trouble? That the Afghans gave the U.S.S.R. so much trouble? I'll tell you the cause. THEY ALL HAD GUNS.

Why did Eastern Europe fall so quickly to the Soviets? Why was Tieneman Square a massacre? They didn't have guns.

That is why one's right to own a gun is not only acceptable, IT'S ESSENTIAL.

You say, "So that clearly shows there is a connection between citizens owning firearms and possible deaths of others as a result." To which I say, so what? We shouldn't ban something merely because of the "possible deaths" that could result (particularly if those deaths are of people who break into houses to do others harm). And I think "possible death" is the whole point: it is the threat of lethal force that will keep criminals and tyrants at bay.

To quote George Orwell (emphasis mine):

It is a commonplace that the history of civilisation is largely the history of weapons. In particular, the connection between the discovery of gunpowder and the overthrow of feudalism by the bourgeoisie has been pointed out over and over again. And though I have no doubt exceptions can be brought forward, I think the following rule would be found generally true: that ages in which the dominant weapon is expensive or difficult to make will tend to be ages of despotism, whereas when the dominant weapon is cheap and simple, the common people have a chance. Thus, for example, tanks, battleships and bombing planes are inherently tyrannical weapons, while rifles, muskets, long-bows and hand-grenades are inherently democratic weapons. A complex weapon makes the strong stronger, while a simple weapon--so long as there is no answer to it--gives claws to the weak.

On to economics...

Quote:
Still I'd be interested to know how much you would cut from the total collected taxes of 2 Trillion above for the budget last year, and what programs you would cut and by how much, plus how much in taxes do you think should go to paying of the 5.6 Trillion dollar national debt?
To be honest, I don't think any answer will do me any good. If I suggest cutting some program or other, you or others will scream about those who will be affected. It's the bind that we've allowed the federal government to get itself into: every program benefits so many special interest groups that it's almost impossible to cut programs even when necessary.

(Though it's worth noting: spending increases have generally been THREE TIMES the rate of inflation. Just curbing that rate of INCREASE to TWICE inflation is what brought about the budget surplus. As much as others called them "Draconian cuts," they were still ONLY decreases in the rate of increase, and they brought about budget surpluses.)

So, I might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. The Gross Domestic Product for the United States (2000 estimate) was slightly less than $10 trillion.

That's right: 10,000,000,000,000.00

In Leviticus 27:30 and other verses, God demands 10% of what we earn. (I honestly believe that He wants us to give Him everything, to dedicate our entire lives to Him; but He seems to set ten percent as the minimum.) If God wants 10%, the government should expect no MORE than 10%. Ours is a federal system - with authority distributed to the national, state, and local levels - so that 10% should be distributed likewise. Since the national government has to worry about defense more than the more local governments, they should get the lion's share. I propose this system:

5% - national government
3% - state government
2% - local government (county and city)
-----
10% - total

(Certainly, if one of the governments wants to charge a LOWER rate, it should feel free to do so. But with the rare exception of war, economic disaster, or natural disaster, these governments should tax us no more than the amounts above.)

So, that means the national government should only tax its people 5% of the GDP, or about $0.5 trillion ($500 billion).

Its revenues were about $2 trillion, or FOUR TIMES the absolute maximum during times of peace and prosperity (as 2000 was, more or less). So, it should do some serious cutting.

($2 trillion. 20% of the GDP. TWICE of what God Himself demands of us. I would think the confiscatory nature of that level taxation should be obvious.)

I'm honestly not wise enough to suggest how these cuts should occur. I would think that those who have paid into a system like Social Security should not be cheated; pay off those you owe, but stop bringing more people into the system. Those programs that could just as easily be handled by the private sector should be eased into that area. And those who are beneficiaries of social programs (be it subsidies or welfare, personal or corporate) should have time to find other sources of income, but their days on the government dole should be numbered.

(Certainly, cutting welfare has the VERY rare exception of those who genuinely cannot provide for themselves. But even then, we should see how much can be provided on the local level and through private charities.)

And the national government should pay off its debts with the surplus it gets from spending cuts. My order would be this:

1. Bring spending to within 5% of the GDP.
2. Use the resulting tax surpluses to pay off the debt.
3. Once the debt is paid off, the rest of the surplus is returned to the taxpayer, and taxes lowered to ONLY what is needed to fund (1).

In terms of actual programs, I'm not entirely sure how'd I distribute that $500 billion (assuming we're using 2000 numbers). But here's one thought:

$250 billion for national defense.
$250 billion for everything else.

If there are any other questions, I'll answer them as soon as I can, but I'll soon be taking the weekend off, so please be patient.
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Old 06-11-2002, 10:30 PM   #27
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Um, I'm in America at the moment, and a great many people here dont have any or little access to healthcare.
I know a woman who has cancer, and has to wait four months for the surgery.
I myself may need surgery, but will probably never get it. Ive nearly died on more than one occasion due to the fact that i couldnt get proper healthcare.
When i was little, i was in a bad accident and the hospital refused to treat me, left me bleeding on the ER floor because they wouldnt accept our insurance.
How many times have I and other people needed medicine but couldnt get it? Or exams? Or treatment?
As for freedom, i think everyone here would be quite surprised at how little freedom Americans really have. Most people here arent even aware of it. I try to educate people, but some wont listen. You kinda have to be there to point it out to them before they'll begin to understand.
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Old 06-11-2002, 11:06 PM   #28
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Pretty peculiar that the tpic is 'The American Freedom ?' and that it turned out into a debate on the gun issue. Personally, and that is my opinion and I don't know numbers or economical impact of having guns at house, but I'm strongly against it. What's the use ?

To get back to the original topic, right before the gun discussion began, I think we were at the very complex "What is freedom ?" question. According to my dictionnary, the definition of the word 'freedom' is : "I- State of a person that is not under servitude. 2-State of a being that isn't prisoner of another state. -Animal living in liberty- 3- Possibility of movement without any danger of repression. 4- Possibility to act and think according to ist own beliefs" The definition then turns into several definitions of freedom : personnal freedom, social freedom, civil freedom, public freedom, union freedom, etc... Definition taken from the 2002's edition of 'Le Petit Larousse Illustré", Paris, France. (original word : Liberté)

Freedom, or Liberty, is perhaps the most undefinied word of this moment in History and perhaps of all History of mankind (since its mankind who invented the "restrictions" of Liberty).

My definition of freedom is most of a social or public freedom. I am nearly 20 years old and I haven't quite read all the sociology, geopolitics, articles that I would have liked on Freedom, Democracy, Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, etc, etc... but I certainly have my view on this from what I have read and experienced.

Freedom is obviously going, necessarly going with Democracy and to me, real Democracy (the big 'D') and the most honest one goes with proportions. For example, if 24% of the people voted for the X Party, well the X Party will have 24% of the whole National Assembly of a country. In Québec, and Canada, the system we have is the old british parliament system, too old to my eyes, no representative at all, weak and... old after all. But other countries already achieved that goal, proportion, and I won't eternize myself in it, but its definitely part of my vision of social freedom.

I say Social Freedom because I'm one of those Social-Democrats, although I don't like to define myself as one because my thoughts may change a lot, since I will start serious University studies soon in, perhaps Geopolitics.

Personnal Freedom goes with Social Freedom and it implies that each person takes consciences of its own existence, political and social abilities and, of course, conscience that he/she is living in a society and therefore he/she has to work, not only for himself, but for the whole society. The goal isn't to become the world's first power, the goal is all about helping others and himself and make sure that the social rights will remain. The willing of the people will always be there, through elections, referendums and public concertations, but there will be a "social running goal" that will be taken as a fact.

This "social running goal" is composed of diverse aspects :

I - Free and completely accessible Education system to all : Education is the important point for democracy and that is what, I think, people tend to forget nowadays, esp. in the United States (because its them who, obviously, talk more about Democracy being a reason of their diverse foreing political and military operations, without bashing). It is very nice to talk about democracy in Africa, but you can't achieve democracy without education that brought you the abilities to read, write, that gave you conscience of the exterior world, your culture, etc...

I am not against private school. I went to private schools, but those schools really are accessible, in 99% of the cases, to the "social elite" (bourgeois or "the riches" is you like). A good public system, accessible to all and attractive to all social classes is a formidable place to take conscience of the others.

2 - Free and completely accessible Health-Care system to all : no one will ever be able to make me think that you have to pay to have health care, I just can't imagine it even if it exists. Each humans have the right to health care. The First point of the Human Rights Constitution is : "Every human is born equally". I strongly believe in it. I won't bring personnal experiences (by myself or friends deeply sick that I have). Of course, this system is applied to Health... not to "personnal operations" (see what I mean ?).

3 - A decent lifestyle and house to everyone : Poverty is unnacceptable. I'll bring a personnal example because it really stucked me (again) today. I work downtown Montréal, just near the Financial District (I call it like this... the part of downtown where its alive only from 9am to 5pm) where there is all the class-skyscrapers and office buildings. I was comming out of work (I work in a lawers office between my school session, as a messenger), heading to the metro station underneath the I000 de la Gauchetière building, Montréal tallest office building, very high-class, etc... (you see the style ?), a beaufitul building, a kind of miniature World Financial Center is you like (architecture look). I was people sleeping in sleeping-bag, underneath a little bridge over the street. It was the perfect contradition and would have made a "beautiful" black&white picture (I would have taken it if I have my camera) : the masters and of the world and the poor of the world. How can a society tolerate this ? A decent lifestyle and a home to everyone is acceptable, the opposite is unacceptable. Of course, giving the poor one or those who lost their jobs a home and a decent lifestyle isn't the complete solution, we must help them find another job (even if its volontary work). Nowadays, a lot of companies move towards the south, take their factories down in Mexico and employs "slaves"... while people here loose their jobs.. UNACCEPTABLE. In that case, I strongly applaud the Québec's government to adopt an "anti-poverty" law next week. I hope thise law will be at the highs of my expectations.

4 - Democracy : I said it and I say it again : Democratic proportion in the National Assembly is real democracy. Public consultations, referendums, regular voting for politicians, etc... everyone agrees with that. You have to listen to the people otherwize the people will change of government, sometimes for better, sometimes for worst (exemples : Extreme-Right rise in France and Europe, dangerous right (or economical extreme ???)-right wing in Québec). In the France and Québec cases, the government in place, and social-democrat, respectivly, distanced themselves from the people and from new ideas. See what it does, esp. in Europe ?

I have nothing against private enterprises. I'm no communist at all, I do believe the private sector have to play a role in economics and social aspects of a society, but the State must preserve democracy and give the basic needs to the people. That is my definition of freedom (the "social deal"). I don't vote for corporations, I vote for my government that will (I hope) work to provide my society well-being, that will help to solve unemployment, that will eradicate poverty. And I believe the private sector must also play a role in it and sometimes forget its goal (profits).

Free Health-Care, Free-Education, the right to a home and a job, democracy, freedom of speech, thought, action is the whole freedom.

Is it utopic ? Yeah. I think you can't achieve that without a personnal and social mentality change. But Democracy was utopic before the American and French revolution, was it ?

Cheers and I have to say that even though I think the debate turned into a gun debate, that I appreciate the absence of personnal-bashing.

Cheers.
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Old 06-12-2002, 03:04 AM   #29
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John:

First, if I may be honest, I'm not sure what you mean by "personnal freedom, social freedom, civil freedom, public freedom, union freedom, etc." With all respect, please share with us what these terms mean.

As far as I've known, there is only individual freedom, applied to several fields: religious freedom, the right to choose whether to worship, Who to worship, in what ways to worship, and with whom to congregate in worship; political freedom, the right to make our own laws or elect those who do; and economic freedom, the right to earn property in whatever way you see fit, to own the property you earn, and to do with that property what you will. From this perspective, "public freedom" seems very odd indeed.


Second, I agree that a minimum level of education is necessary. Only with the right technical skills (literacy, math skills, etc.) can a man make a decent living; and only with a knowledge of history, civics, philosophy, and economics can a man become a responsible citizen.

Beyond that, a well-educated workforce is a very fluid workforce, which is good for both the employee and the consumer (which is often the same person at different times).


Moving on...

I believe that an ideal existence is goodness freely chosen; a state where man is free to choose good and evil, but chooses good - where man enjoys freedom but accepts the responsibility that comes as a natural consequence of that freedom. When men freely choose to be perfectly good, society itself will become perfect - every man will work to feed himself and others, will not interfere in the affairs of others, and will give to those in need.

(I further believe that a perfect society is the natural result and not should not be the goal in itself; the goal is goodness. The moment that religion and philosophy - the two pursuits of goodness - are twisted to serve society rather than pursue what is right is the very moment that everything will fall apart; neither goodness nor a good society will be found.)

So, the ideal is goodness freely chosen. It's clear that we're not yet perfectly good - a fact that will remain unchanged, I believe, until this world passes away. So what do we do for the time being?

Well, I believe that our government should do little more than ensure that we are always free (its primary concern, I believe) and help in times of overwhelming needs, such as natural disasters on a catastrophic level. We as individuals try to find the path to goodness and lead others to it. We should not try to force the issue by having government short-circuit freedom and bring about a good society. As long as men still choose to be selfish, the efforts will backfire. (And the moment all men choose to be truly selfless, the efforts will be completely unnecessary.)

In case I am not believed, let's see what happens if the government tries to provide a decent existence to all people - sufficient food, shelter, health care, and transportation. After all, "a decent lifestyle and a home to everyone is acceptable, the opposite is unacceptable."

The state of things will be this: some people will have more money than they need, and some will have less than they need. The only way this will work is to take from those who have more to pay for the benefits of those who do not.

(Keep in mind: men will still be the self-centered individuals that they have been since the dawn of human history.)

First, you're clearly intruding on property rights, the right to own goods and do with them what one will. You're intruding on property rights by taxing away the property itself. Second, consider: what will be the effects of taking from those who have more than enough? Well, you eliminate or severely weaken the incentive to earn more, so they will work less. After all, why work overtime if that extra money is taxed away from you? Finally, what will be the effects of giving to all those who do not have? Well, you eliminate or weaken the disincentive from laziness, so they too will work less. After all, why work in the first place if you're guaranteed food and shelter.

(You can then require some minimum amount of work, but some will still refuse. At that point, you either abandon the requirement of labor or abandon the idea of universal contendedness. Let's assume you do not give up the latter.)

By eliminating the work incentive in both directions - the spoils of hard work and the dire consequences of not working - you will find that everyone works less, everyone produces less. The economy then goes south, and the entire society is worse off for it.

In summary, you cannot short-circuit history, and you can't override human nature.

Without getting too technical, you cannot immanentize the eschaton - you cannot achieve in the here and now what is meant to occur in the great hereafter.

The good news is, men are partially good; the response to 9/11 was proof enough of that. People will often rally to help those who are truly in need. But the reality remains: you can stand up and declare, "No more poverty!" but you might as well declare, "No more selfishness!" at the same time. In fact, the former will only arrive after the latter is achieved; there's no way to circumvent that fact - or to speed it along with government intervention.
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Old 06-12-2002, 03:17 AM   #30
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Finally, a quasi-random question:

Quote:
Originally posted by Holy John
Freedom is obviously going, necessarly going with Democracy and to me, real Democracy (the big 'D') and the most honest one goes with proportions. For example, if 24% of the people voted for the X Party, well the X Party will have 24% of the whole National Assembly of a country. In Québec, and Canada, the system we have is the old british parliament system, too old to my eyes, no representative at all, weak and... old after all. But other countries already achieved that goal, proportion, and I won't eternize myself in it, but its definitely part of my vision of social freedom.
Why are proportions more "honest" than, say, the current system the U.S. employs in electing its representatives? In the American system, each citizen can vote on three people to represent him: two for the Senate, where these two are elected by the entire state; and one for the House of Representatives, an individual elected by a section (a "district") of the state.

As far as I can tell, the system you recommend is the following: everybody votes for the party of his choice; the percentages that each party received is reflected in the number of seats they are allocated; and the party fills those seats with its members.

In other words, as a voting citizen, I do not actually vote for an individual. Further, the individuals in the offices are not directly accountable to a small group of people - a state or a district.

How exactly is this more honest?
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