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Old 06-12-2002, 04:36 AM   #31
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Well on #1 I'll give you that. I'm rather uncertain on the exact state of things 50 years ago as far as crime and the rate of murder by firearms in the USA.

Also it is true that the revolver started into widespread use in the 2nd half of the 1800s, but where do you think the term "the Wild Wild West" came from. It would be interesting to see what the rate of crime and death from firearms was for the population west of the Mississippi between 1850 and 1900. I think there might be a case to prove my point there, but I don't have any statistics all to say one way or the other. Even if there is some statistics for the period back then, their accuracy is questionable.

With Washington DC. Washington DC is an area of roughly 100 square miles. Very small and bordered by two different States. Its rather easy to drive into Maryland or Virginia to find what you may not be able to get in Washington DC. My point is that restrictive gun control laws will not work in the USA if they are only applied to a single city. You have to have nationwide enforcement of those laws for them to have any effect. No one has to pass through check points and searches when going into or out of DC. There for restrictive gun laws will not achieve their aim because they are undermine by the more lax gun laws of the surrounding area.

As far as the education of Criminals, obviously many of them are commiting the acts you say they would not because we have 10,000 dead on average per year. Criminals probably have a wide range of education, so certainly what you said is probably true in many instances, but in many other instances it may not be so. The criminal always has the element of surprise (to some extent whether he realizes it or not) on his side because people do not spend every waking minute expecting to be attacked and positioning themselves for it.

As far as what happened in Pittsburgh outside the Decade, I can say that if the situation had taken place outside say Windmill Lane in Dublin, we most likely would not of been approached because they would not have guns, and there was 6 of us to 3 of them.

The 2nd Amendment was put in place because there was no standing army so there was the need to maintain a militia to defend the country. Today we have a professionaly army that uses complex weapons to defend are interest. A militia is not needed and could not accomplish its mission with hand held firearms in the 21st century. I also do not want citizens to have the capacity to overthrow MY elected government. Of course that would be impossible with hand held weapons vs the US Military. Plus any attempt to end US Democracy from within would have to have the total support of the US military. Such an attempt would never gain that support and would fail. Of course I'm sure the movies or an X-file episode will disagree.

Of course being armed is necessary to win wars, but that is why we have a professional army armed with sophisticated aircraft, Tanks, Armored Vehicles, Artillery, and other complex weapons. Citizens armed with small arms don't have anything remotely similar to the capability of a Modern military and cannot effectivly resist a determined Modern military bent on doing everything in its power to crush resistence. Important to note that Afghanistan(USSR) and to a lesser extent Vietnam are not examples of the total use of force to crush all resistence swiftly. If they had been the Russians would not have capped their troop total at 120,000 in a country 5 times larger than Vietnam, and the USA would have invaded North Vietnam and Laos with ground troops to take over those area's. These were limited conflicts fought in a restrained manner for many political and geostrategic reasons that I will not go into here for the sake of time.

The Soviets took Eastern Europe so easily because it had been decimated by fighting between the German and Soviet armies. 85% of Warsaw was destroyed! Besides even if the students had AK-47s at Tienamen Square, they are useless against Chinese Type 69 tanks or any Chinese tank for that matter. The bottom line in all these cases is that you need modern complex heavy weapons to have a chance in defeating a similar armed military. I never said in any of my statements that a tyrant would be detered by a population armed with small arms. I did say they would sieze such weapons to prevent uneccessary losses. The only thing that deters a tyrant is a well armed modern military force of superior size and capability.

I have notice this about the two sides of the gun debate although I could be wrong. The gun control advocates chief concern is the reduction of murder rate from firearms in this country. The chief aim of gun advocates is protecting the right to bear arms regardless of the security issue.

I feel that there is no reason that the USA should have a firearm murder rate higher(its many times higher) than the UK and Ireland. Something needs to be done to reduce this. I feel that it is unacceptable. The fact is that the gun control laws of Ireland and the UK are very successful in preventing firearm deaths. It is an undisputed fact. In comparison, the USA's lax gun laws have been a terrible failure. How do gun advocates plan to reduce the level of US deaths from firearms to levels similar to Western European nations?

Now on to the Economic question of taxes and the federal budget. You suggest that the Federal government should reduce its share to about 500 Billion dollars. If you eliminate 6 big portions of the federal budget you could get down to 566 Billion. These are:

Budget surplus of 137 Billion
Paying interest on the National Debt of 206 Billion
Health 171 Billion
Social Security 433 Billion
Medicare 217 Billion
Income Security 263 Billion

The first two can easily be eliminated by paying off the national debt. The problem is that Health I think refers not just to health care but also investment in companies working to cure diseases and other health related things. I think that its very important that there be investment from everyone into the Health industry and of course a good way to insure this is through taxes. How would you propose to make sure that a portion of what every citizen earns goes to funding the Health industry without the Federal Government involved? I guess one way would be for private health sector to raise its cost, but not everyone is sick and a large portion of the country does not pay for any health insurance. I know next to nothing about the healthcare debate so yours or anyones suggestions would be helpful.

Social Security is the largest portion of the budget. It of course did not exist back in the1920s, then again the life expectancy in 1900 was only 48 because of high birth mortality rate. It seems reasonable that people should be able to fund their own retirement without the government helping them, but what if they don't, and what problems do masses of old people without the money to support themselves present for are society?

Medicare is of course for Senior Citizens and is very important because the cost of nursing homes can be huge. Without government intervention through taxes, is it really possible to correctly fund this very important program?

Income Security: 263 Billion was spent on this last year. I'm not sure what the correct definition of this is. Is this government pensions, or something similar to Social Security, or is it welfare?

Anyways, these 6 portions of the budget constitute 75% of the Federal budget. I think everyone can agree that we should get rid of uneccessary surpluses and debt interest payments eventually. The problem is the other four: Health, Social Security, Medicare, and Income Security. Can we really do away with these Federal programs or are they to important and best provided by the Federal government?

On a different note, I generally feel taxes should be lowered and raised based on the Economic growth rate, level of unemployment, and level of inflation. A tax cut does not make sense when the economy is at full employment. Once the Economy is at full employment which it was in the summer of 2000, further tax cuts or interest rate cuts will only cause inflation. Labor shortages put pressure on wages and can cause inflation. But if economic growth declines and unemployment rises then a tax cut is necessary to increase economic growth there by reducing the unemployment rate and hopefully achieving full employment without an increase in inflation.(full employment means an unemployment level that is the natural rate of unemployment resulting from briefly being between jobs or other events, but not from work being unavailable).

It seems though that your suggestion with the Federal government is mainly a major redistribution of services provided by the Federal government to the private sector. Whether this is possible, the best way to provide the particular service, and how the service would continue to be correctly funded if still needed is the big question.
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Old 06-12-2002, 04:39 AM   #32
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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?
It is actually possible to have a system of PR (proportional representation) in which you'd retain the constituency link. The most popular way of doing this is to have each constituency elect a representative in the normal way (ie the candidate with the highest number of votes wins, regardless of whether they have a majority or not) but also have a number of members of whatever representative body you're electing to who aren't elected by a constituency. To achieve this, you would probably use the party list system where each party composes a list of candidates in order of preference. Then you consider what overall percentage of the vote each party got, and whether this corresponds to the number of representatives they elect. If it doesn't correspond then parties who have a higher percentage of the vote than the number of representatives will be able to have the candidates on their list also elected.

To give an example (because I think that explanation was probably somewhat confusing):

After each constituency has elected a representative in the normal way...

Party X gained 25% of the vote nationwide but only got 20% of seats in the assembly. Therefore, the candidates at the top of Party X's list will be elected to the assembly until Party X has 25% of representatives there.

There are many, many systems of PR which can be used to overcome the problems associated with PR. The debate really comes down to whether PR is desirable at all: does it give too much power to minority parties?; does it mean that most governments will be coalitions and may be weaker than single party governments?; does it encourage people to vote for the candidate they genuinely support, as opposed to the one they think has the better chance of keeping out a candidate they dislike?; can it encourage the larger parties to be more responsive to citizens' wishes?

Personally I'm not against PR in principle, but I do oppose it in practice because it would mean that the party I support (Labour Party, who are currently in government) would never be able to govern as just a Labour government - it would always be as a coalition. I'm also concerned about the implications of PR for extremist parties, for example, in this country PR coud give increased power to the British National Party who are a far-right racist party and who currently only hold three council seats throughout the country, but who under PR could significantly increase their representation.
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Old 06-12-2002, 04:42 AM   #33
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On a different note, I generally feel taxes should be lowered and raised based on the Economic growth rate, level of unemployment, and level of inflation.
Just out of curiosity, about what level is your direct taxation (ie that which comes out of someone's paycheck) in the US right now? And does it vary in different states?
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Old 06-12-2002, 10:13 AM   #34
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A (hopefully) quick reply...

Sting, let's say, for a moment, that the crime rate was actually quite high during the Wild West; I too have no stats on the matter, so I can't say either way. Could such a crime rate have been reduced by gun laws? Probably not. Outlaws would still have had guns - that's why they call them "outlaws." And the people they terrorized, common settlers who often had to defend for themselves, would have been disarmed. That doesn't seem to make the situation any better.

On the issue of D.C., I certainly grant that the availability of guns outside the city may make gun laws imperfect. But one would STILL think that crime rates would at least decrease, wouldn't they? Instead, they ARE among the worst in the nation.

And on the issue of how gun advocates would lower the crime rates, it points to what we think caused the high rate to begin with: a ludicrously lax criminal justice system, where criminals are treated as victims, convicted less often then they should, given lesser sentences than is called for, and serve even LESS time because of parole. The solution is to be far tougher on those convicted for violent crimes, to punish criminals even further when they use firearms in their crimes, and to imprison them for life when they've committed one violent crime too many (a "three strikes" policy).

On to the more important issue of WHY we have the right to bear arms...

You seem to think that the Second Amendment was put in place to allow for "a militia to defend the country;" presumably, you think that it has little or nothing to do with individuals having the right to defend themselves from an oppressive government. This, after the American Revolution, in which the British were clearly trying to oppress the colonists, and in which these efforts were defeated because individual colonists owned guns. I believe it's clear that tyranny was in the minds of the Founding Fathers when they added the Second Amendment.

You seem to think that defense from such a threat is unnecessary, that the U.S. Government would never overstep its bounds, that "such an attempt would never gain (the military's) support and would fail," and that such notions only occur in "the movies or an X-file episode."

I believe that such optimism is crushed not only by the movies, but BY HUMAN HISTORY. Look at the last great republic, Rome, which became a dictatorship because of the efforts of Julius Ceasar, a MILITARY LEADER. Look at Nazi Germany, which came about when Hitler used national crises to rise to power. Hell, look at American history, when FDR and Nixon were able to weild CONSIDERABLE political power. The belief that the US Government (or any government) will always look out for its people, and will do so of its own accord, is niave and dangerous.

You finally seem to think that if such a threat was real, firearms are useless against it - that they "cannot effectivly resist a determined Modern military bent on doing everything in its power to crush resistence." I disagree. Certainly, a military can wipe out entire cities with ease and can coerce unarmed civilians to do the will of the government, but they cannot easily oppress armed citizens at the individual level.

The reason is this: at the personal level, tanks and bombs are simply TOO powerful. The army generally cannot compel one person to go to work by threatening to attack his house with a tank or an arial assault; it comes down to a soldier threatening a civilian, and the soldier does that through a firearm (a rifle or pistol). If the civilian has a handgun himself, coercion by force becomes a LOT more difficult.

On to taxes...

If I may reiterate, we should not reneg on our promises in terms of Social Security, etc., but we should stop enrolling new people in government programs until the size of those programs are brought down to reasonable levels.

Now, everyone can agree that the health care system is in pretty bad shape, but not everyone can agree on the cause. I believe it's HEALTH INSURANCE itself. By separating health care from actually paying for the care, it allows providers to raise their prices substantially. Note: food is more important than health care. Yet, there is no "food insurance" and (I believe, for that very reason) food prices are low enough that there is no need for food insurance.

Assuming this problem can be corrected, the national government will have very little need to pay for individual's health care.

Further, government investing in drug research is unnecessary; it can be seen as simple investment. Some people will pay through such research through buying pharmaceutical stock, and they will be rewarded if such research produces something useful.

Social Security should be deprecated - allowed to run its course and pass away. People should be encouraged to invest. If they don't, I don't believe it is the national government's problem - possibly local gov'ts, but NOT Congress.

Medicare would be generally unnecessary if market forces were allowed to hold sway in the health care industry - and again, it would probably not fall to Congress to pick up the slack.

And "income security" smells of welfare, and should therefore be reduced and devolved to local governments.

Finally, you believe "taxes should be lowered and raised based on the Economic growth rate, level of unemployment, and level of inflation." I believe that taxes should be low enough that they don't have that big an impact on the country, that the government is small enough that it can't really influence interest rates.

At any case, taxes should be raised and lowered on the basis of what the government needs to operate; this use of taxes to tinker with the economy is absurd.

It's not only a question of what would work in the private sector, but what things the national government SHOULD NOT do on the principles of liberty.
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Old 06-12-2002, 10:27 AM   #35
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Originally posted by Achtung Bubba
At any case, taxes should be raised and lowered on the basis of what the government needs to operate; this use of taxes to tinker with the economy is absurd.
Allow me to explain myself further: Sting seems to think that tax cuts cause inflation, which is more-or-less true in the current wacky state of affairs. But this state is directly brought about by earlier government actions - namely, taking the U.S. dollar off the gold standard (or any standard for that matter). If THAT problem was corrected - and it SHOULD be corrected - there would be no inflation to begin with.

As is often the case, government created a problem or two (or twenty) by meddling in one area - the gold standard, for instance. It tried to correct for those problems by meddling in other areas, like the tax code. Certainly, undoing one act of meddling may lead to trouble, but that doesn't mean we leave that act alone: it means that we do not stop there, that we fix ALL the problems our wise government created.
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Old 06-12-2002, 12:49 PM   #36
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This will be just a little 2 cents, I'll write something more detailed later on tonight (it's 1:00pm now) but about taxes... my province is the place in North America where people are the most taxed, but we now enjoy the best employment-rise in North America now, people are investing more money proportionnaly than anywhere else in North America now. We have the highest minimum wage in the world and more taxes than anywhere in N/A, but we enjoy the best employement rise and investing now.... I would wonder why we do if low taxes are the ultimate goal for a good growing and diverse economy.

Cheers and good afternoon/evening to all.
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Old 06-12-2002, 02:26 PM   #37
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I would be interested to find out how much of that employment increase is directly tied to government spending - and how you define investment (that is, does the local government's actions count?).

Beyond that, assuming what you say is accurate and that PERSONAL investment is up despite the high taxes, I'm still unclear about the underlying theory.

Allow me to explain: there's a belief (typically called Reganomics) that suggests that lowering taxes increases personal investment. The underlying theory is this: personal investment is high on people's lists of how to use their income, but not at the top of the list. People pay mortgages and bills every month because they have to, and they would LIKE to invest if they have money leftover. As the theory goes, if taxes are too high, people won't have that leftover money to invest. Lower taxes will allow them to keep that extra money, they will invest, and investment will increase as a result.

What's the underlying theory that connects HIGHER taxes and increased personal investment? I personally don't see it.

And, at the end of the day, I disagree with the proposition that "low taxes are the ultimate goal for a good growing and diverse economy." Generally, a growing economy results from a lessened tax burden, but that's not the REASON to lower taxes.

The reason to lower taxes is that is immoral to over-tax, it is WRONG to rob people of their property to the degree that most Western governments now engage in. It is wrong to trample on property rights to the point that individuals see 20% AND MUCH MORE taken from them - particularly when we're not engaged in a full-scale war, mired in a depression, or suffering some natural calamity.


I doubt I'll have much chance to reply again, so I will close with, I think, my most important point:

You should not immanentize the eschaton: you should not try to force into the present what will not come about until the end of history itself.

At the moment, people are generally self-centered and ultimately motivated by what makes their own lives better. As long as that holds true, schemes to eradicate poverty will fail; attempts to overcome man's shortcomings, eliminate such selfishness, or ignore its existence will fall apart. Again, any attempt to guarantee some minimum standard of living will result in taking from one group and giving to another. You disolve the correlation between what you have and how much you work, so nobody works very hard. The economy falls apart as a result.

(Certainly, that doesn't mean that we should ignore poverty completely. We should try to help those who are genuinely unable to help themselves - and perhaps help those in times of crisis, such as disasters and having to change jobs. But it's possible that this task should be left to local governments and individual charities, and it's folly to think that we can ever guarantee some universal level of comfort.)

At the same time, power still corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Thus, governments tend to become more corrupt as they grow in power, and grow in power because of the innate corruption. To assume that the government will not oppress its people the first chance it gets is both niave and dangerous. For that reason, the individual needs the power to defend himself, not only from other individuals but from the government that is supposed to protect his rights. The most effective form of personal power is the ballot box, free speech, and economic rights, all exerted during times of liberty. But in times of tyranny, the most effective personal power is the easy-to-use lethal force of firearms.

Note that I'm suggesting a balance between government and the people; that the government has the power to incarcerate criminals and people have the right to bear arms - all towards the end of protecting the most freedom for the largest number of indivdual human beings.

This balance of one potentially evil force against another seems necessary, and it may help explain why the American system of government works: rather than deny the existence of selfish motives, the U.S. Constitution acknowledges these motives and pits them against each other in the hope that freedom will be preserved in the process. The three branches of government (Congress, the President, and the courts) have checks and balances against each other. The several layers of government (national, state, and local) have a similar balancing act. And the people themselves have defenses against the government in general, most notably through the Bill of Rights.

So, there are supposed to be mechanisms that balance one group's desire for power against another - all towards the end of maximized individual liberty. When one group overcomes that mechanism and gains more than is necessary, things begin to go wrong. I think it's clear that the national government already has too much power; giving it the impossible task of eradicating poverty and giving up our own right to bear arms makes the situation even worse.

The truth that power corrupts leads to another observation, one first made by Thomas Paine: "government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one."

How do we arrive at this conclusion, and what does it mean for this discussion?

Well, we start with this first, essential premise: man is and should be free, free to determine his own fate to the degree that he does not trample on the freedom of others.

(If you disagree with this statement, we are at an impasse. There's no way on God's green earth I will change my mind, and I cannot convince you of what seems to me self-evident.)

The problem is the second basic premise: mankind is not perfect. While most individuals show moments of charity (in the strict sense), we ALL exhibit selfishness.

Because we are all selfish, government is necessary to protect individual rights from some person or group of people (sometimes in the form of another government). But because the government is run by selfish men, government ITSELF is also evil: power-hungry and willing to seize more power whenever possible.

Government is both necessary and evil - and it will continue to be both until humanity itself chooses to change (or, as I believe, God reveals Himself in all His glory). Then, when all people are good, government will be obviously good, but ALSO unnecessary; after all, what would government need to do if rights are respected and all men are charitable?

There will (hopefully) be a time where all men become purely good - the eschaton, the end of times. In the meantime, the government CANNOT circumvent the process, speed it along, or ignore the present reality. It cannot bring the end of times to the present by assuming that the government or all men are good or that they can be made to become good.

(Again, eradicating poverty assumes that men are good, or the fact that they are not can be circumvented. Revoking the right to bear arms assumes that the government is good and will not oppress its people. Both assumptions are disasterously wrong.)

Government cannot immanentize the eschaton. It cannot bring about heaven on earth, and every attempt will bring about something much closer to hell.
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Old 06-12-2002, 06:56 PM   #38
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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.
To clarify, I stayed a month and a half in London and ten days in Edinburgh. My observations on what I think makes the U.K. safer:

1) Strict, long-running gun control. FYI, you *are* allowed to own hunting rifles, but only if you hunt. Hopefully, this will dispell a common superstition.

2) CCTV in public areas. Outdoor areas are constantly monitored by closed-circuit television, monitored by the police. And, yes, there are signs that inform you that CCTV monitoring is in place, so you can't complain that you weren't surprised. Speed cameras are everywhere as well, so you really can't get away with speeding either. Honestly, I must admit that I have a problem with the latter, if only because I think our speed limit laws are too low.

In America, there seems to be pride in averting the law and finding loopholes in laws. Does anyone else find that a bit odd?

However, back to #1, I doubt that it would even be successful here. First off, there are too many weapons out now, and if you suddenly changed the laws, how are we to retrieve all these guns? Secondly, even I must admit that gun control legislation as strict as the U.K.'s would likely never pass the Second Amendment, which does guarantee a right to bear arms. Of course, I've always been for a medium. We *do* have a right to bear arms, but we don't have a right to bear armor-piercing bullets, semi-automatic weapons, grenade launchers, etc. It's all about mediums that I'm sure the Supreme Court would uphold.

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Old 06-12-2002, 07:46 PM   #39
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In America, there seems to be pride in averting the law and finding loopholes in laws. Does anyone else find that a bit odd?
yes...especially after just coming out of a sociology course when talking about the murder of Bonnie Garland and the corrupt US law system.

It seems to be a fairly common thing now to put the victim on trial and diminish the reponsibility of the criminal. You can hire fancy 'shrinks' who will coin new terms that will impress a naive jury. Terms to point to the criminals past as being the culprit no himself.
To demean the victim as almost having desevred it.

Not long ago a guy walked into a US firm and shot 3 people. How di he get off with a slap on the wrist.
well...they said he had been living on twinkies and that he had some kind of sugar enhanced mental illness!!

Theres WAY TOO much room for maneuverability in the US Judicial system and although there are sometimes instances in Britain and the US it is by no strech of the imagination as corrupt.

I highly recommend reading "The Killing of Bonnie Garland". It was written by an American writer so its pretty unbiased in that regard.

Anyway...
this thread is beginning to turn into a nationalistic thing in which case nobody will convince the other.

Arguing is FUTILE when nationalism is invovled.
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Old 06-12-2002, 10:15 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon
In America, there seems to be pride in averting the law and finding loopholes in laws. Does anyone else find that a bit odd?

I must admit that I am quite proud of being exhonerated by the City of Los Angeles for a parking ticket I received in September, 2000.

And Basstrap, don't get me started on the increasing of putting the victim on trial (especially on sexual crimes). Such criminals who "beat the system" due to that defense should have to spend a moment in a locked cell with the victim's brother/father/husband/etc.

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Old 06-12-2002, 10:41 PM   #41
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Melon,
Interesting info. Do you have an idea of how popular hunting is in the UK or how many people have hunting Rifles. I have also heard about the CCTV and it has been very helpful in combating the IRA.

I do think that over time more restrictive gun laws can be instituted in the USA and I feel that the 2nd amendment should be amended. I don't look at things as being impossible and believe given time and effort, positive developments can take place.
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Old 06-13-2002, 01:47 AM   #42
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I'll agree with you on this point, the lawless and spread out nature of the Wild Wild West obviously prevents effective security to be provided by the government for every individual travelling west. This is the late 1800s. No such thing as 911 and a nearby police station with cars or helicopters. Of course this brings up a new point. Perhaps the increase in technology will eventually mean that local security forces will be able to deal with all problems or that citizens will have the means to deal with criminals using some type of non-leathal device. The Pentagon is already investing several Billion dollars in non-lethal weapon systems for soldiers carrying out operations in third world countries to control unruly mobs of citizens without having to resort to lethal force. It can also make it easier to engage an enemy attempting to use the local population as a shield.

With Washington DC I do not think restrictive gun laws in such a small area are going to have any effect at all when the surrounding area's do not have similar laws. You have to have enforcement of the same law everywhere in the country for it to work. In Pennsylvania, fireworks are actually banned, but people just cross the state border into Maryland to get their fireworks for the fourth of July. The reason for the high murder rate in DC is the availability of guns(in DC and the surrounding area) coupled with a high crime rate caused by a level of poverty not seen in most other area's of the country.

I certainly support tightening the juctice system to prevent convicted criminals from commiting their past crimes again. But this does nothing to stop first time offenders who I think make up the majority of those who have commited firearm murder. While prior criminals do commit way to many firearm murders, most are commited by people who have yet to be caught by the Police or other law enforcement. Since they make up the majority of offenders, how would you bring the firearm murder rate down to the levels in the UK and Ireland?

Having weapons in the Revolution was important, but the colonist had to have weapons without a Revolution or not. Colonist militia's were needed during the French and Indian war and of course, this is the18th century and having a rifle is a necessity for hunting purposes for a majority of the population. But without support from the French government and military, including firearms, the Revolution may have failed. Again if you read the second amendment it says the right to bear arms shall not be infringed so as to maintain a well regulated militia, to obviously defend the country. It was not meant so a vocal minority could overthrow the government when they decided it was evil.

With Nazi Germany, even if a large number of German civilians had taken up arms against Hitler, they would have been easily defeated by the German war machine. The sad fact is that Hitler did much of his work(not the murder of 6 million Jews) with the support and approval of the German people who blamed the Allies from World War I for their economic and social difficulties. At least initially in the begining.

In the US military, soldiers are trained to follow a code of ethics and respect for human rights and the US Constitution. The US military is not an organization of unthinking robots who simply follow orders. My Father was an Army Officer for over 30 years and would if needed correct the observations or orders of a direct superior if those were unethical, inhuman, or dishonest in some way. There were several times during his career when he did just that, and others in higher rank saw this leadership and it helped with being promoted to the next rank. It was not insubordination but taking action that was necessary to the proper running of the unit as well as giving other Superiors the most accurate picture of the situation.

This type of professional training and learning is not something that existed in the military's of most democracy's at the time of World War II. The new members of NATO, Poland, Czech Rep., Hungery, and later this year Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia are having their military officer corps trained in this area of military-civil relations in a democracy in addition to ethics and human rights.

So yes I do have faith in the Federal Government and the US military. It is not naive because I understand the checks and balances that the US military and Federal government have that other institions of Democracy and their military's in the past did not have. There are of course bad apples in every organization of course, but they are in the minority and do not have real power.

But as I have said before, even if the US Government became tyranical and the US military supported it, US citizens armed with small arms would be useless against a modern military. If the military was trying to coerce an individual, armored vehicles could and would be certainly used in situations that lightly armed soldiers were deemed unable to handle a possible level of resistence. The fact is that most of the Army is based on Tanks with the infrantry following behind in Armored Infrantry fighting vehicles from which they can fight and fire from without exposing themselves. These weapons are not to powerful that they would not be used in these situations rather they are an unstoppable means of destroying any resistence a population armed only with small arms could muster. The Iraqi resistence has had plenty of small arms, it is their lack of heavy weapons(Tanks, Apc's, Artillery, aircraft) which prevent them from being able to overthrow Saddam Hussian. Only US airpower and the ability to flee across the border prevent them from being destroyed entirely by Saddam Hussian.

It is true though that 220 years ago when the country was formed that small arms would have been enough to overthrow the government if sufficient numbers could be mustered to a cause. But in those days, rifles were the #1 weapon. Heavy weapons only existed in the form of cannon which had to be towed and was only effective against large rather fixed positions or masses of troops. The point is, most of what the military had was readily available to most citizens as well 220 years ago. Today that is light years away from the situation. Pratically everything that the military has is unavailable to citizens. So even if there was an "evil government" with the support of the military citizens with firearms(small arms) would be unable to stop it. So the arguement that the right to bear arms is so that citizens would be able to defend themselves against the government does not hold any water because they simply would be unable to in the 21st century unlike the 18th century..(unless you are able to demonstrate an example that it could be which I highly doubt but would be interested to see non the less.)

As far as the government is concerned, you view as a necessary evil. I view as a necessary good. Again there is a large amount of corruption and evil inside the government. This is individuals though, bad apples, and not the government as a whole. As whole the governments failures are mainly that it is slow and bureaucratic in its operations and there is often waste and mismanagement because of this rather than evil monsters. But the reason that government is slow and cubersome is often because of the checks and balances that prevent individuals from instituting some form of absolute power with in the government. Most people who work in the government especially those in the military do so at a pay rate considerably lower than what they would make from the same type of work in the private sector. The Billion dollar people are not in government but in the private sector.

Joining the military is one of the most selfless acts an individual could do. The men and women of the US military risk their lives every day for the safety and security of US citizens regardless if those citizens appreciate it or not. The work that the Diplomatic service, FBI and other intelligence agencies do is vital to safety and of US individuals and private business both in the USA and abroad. Again these men and women serve the american people! They do this at rates of pay that are not equal to what they could make in the private sector. Good noble people serving you and me, and not being payed the full amount that they should for it.

Because of these facts, unlike you, I'm far more likely to trust a person in the US government(which includes the US military) than a person who works in the private sector and serves no one but himself or his company.

While I am a US citizen and a registered Republican, I believe that the government will always have an important role to play in society as it has for nearly 10,000 years since man came out of the wild from the stone age and began to live in cities. Government is necessary for Capitalism to work. Without government regulation, capitalism naturally leads to monopoly which is Communism in a sense. The absense of competition.

Given what the government has to do, the taxes even under your system will always give it a large role in what happens in the economy. The level of taxes, how people are taxed, will continue even under reduced conditions to greatly effect the economy. In addition when the economy is at full employment, giving more money back to the public only creates inflation. There are limits to how fast the economy can grow. The US went off the Gold Standard because there simply is not enough Gold to back up every dollar that exist in the economy. The level of Gold in the USA is constant, but the level of wealth is NOT! Adjusting for inflation, the USA is 3 times as wealthy today as we were in 1968. In 1968, the USA's GDP was $3 Trillion in year 2000 dollars. We of course know that USA GDP in the Year 2000 was around 10 Trillion.

I also disagree that we should not try to end poverty. Ending poverty after all benifits those who are not impoverished just as much as the individuals in poverty. The USA has only benifited from ending widespread poverty in Europe following World War II. Today nearly 20% of US GDP comes from the Export of US goods and services to other countries. Decreasing poverty hear in the USA also lowers the crime rate which is good for everyone. Helping people become productive citizens and there by bring them out of poverty creates income and service for everyone. As a Catholic, I believe it is are duty to try and help everyone and end poverty. The eredication of poverty is possible and a country like the Netherlands with the lowest unemployment in the world of 2% is almost there.

This has been an interesting debate, but back to the original point I made way back in the thread, people in Ireland and the UK do enjoy a certain freedom that most in the USA do not because of the low rate of death from firearms in those two countries. It is clearly a result of those countries gun control policies and I feel that the USA should move toward a similar system so that we can enjoy this freedom that the Irish and the British have.
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Old 06-13-2002, 08:14 AM   #43
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Do you think the paranoia of government comes about from our history?

A great many of us came here because the government in our country of origins did things to our ancestors....persecuted them because they were the wrong religion...seized their land because they lost the war...starved them....I think if any of our families have been in this country for any length of time...they have a similar story to tell. And this doesn't even address the more modern people who came here as a result of the Nazi's or the communist regimes...

And the government here has a history of turning against its own as well...Jim Crowe laws...Japanese internment...the Trail of Tears....

Is it any wonder we don't trust it...?

Of course we dont' walk around in a constant state of paranoia...but I wonder if its part of our collective conscience or something..

As far as the gun laws in DC....I live in VA in the metro area...we have the more liberal gun laws of the three districts...and watching the locale news at night I note that the crime reported in VA is quite low as compared to the other two places. This is a very unscientific observation...but I would ask anyone who lives in the area take note and watch the locale news and see how many shootings take place in MD..and DC...and compare it to the lower number in VA....

I have no idea what this means...if it means anything at all.


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Old 06-13-2002, 10:15 AM   #44
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Quote:
Originally posted by STING2
Do you have an idea of how popular hunting is in the UK or how many people have hunting Rifles. I have also heard about the CCTV and it has been very helpful in combating the IRA.
I live in the UK but have also spent some time in the US and in my experience, hunting is nowhere near as popular in the UK as it is in the US. I live part of the year in a rural area and even there, very few people hunt, although of course many farmers keep rifles to kill wild animals on their farms as well.

Also - I'd say the reason there has been very little IRA activity in UK recently isn't so much to do with CCTV as the fact that the IRA are on ceasefire because of the peace process and Good Friday Agreement.
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Old 06-13-2002, 10:17 AM   #45
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STING2,

I just wanted to add that my previous post wasn't in any way a criticism of what you'd said - just another perspective. And also, I think you made some great points in your previous post - particularly regarding fighting poverty.

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