Weapons Assessment

The way Hal Crowther endlessly bemoans the evils of firearms and the stupidity of the people who own them (“High Noon: Where Laws Have Failed,” 5/15/09 TPP), without offering any original ideas or viable solutions, I had to check to see if I was reading an edition of The Progressive Populist or The Puritanical Pronouncements. While my mind may be clouded by the fact that I grew up in a time and place where almost everyone had guns, and used them, but no one ever got shot, I contend that there is logic in the arguments that:

1) If you live where only the police are allowed to have guns, you’re living in a police state;

2) Criminals are more likely to commit violent crimes against vulnerable victims, and less likely to commit violent crimes against people capable of responding with equal force; and,

3) The disintegration of the nuclear family, the disappearance of single income households as a result of decades of deliberately depressing working wages and benefits (in favor of corporate greed), and repeated displays glorifying graphic violent images ... repeated displays glorifying graphic violent images ... repeated displays glorifying graphic violent images have done much more to fuel the seemingly senseless outbursts of gun violence in America than the mere presence of firearms.

Even if you agree with Crowther’s one-hand wringing opinion that people don’t kill with guns, guns kill with people; or that the Second Amendment is as antiquated as the Geneva Conventions — Americans aren’t going to give up their weapons until you pry them from their cold, dead fingers — hardly a logical solution to the problem of gun violence. A more reasonable alternative would be to balance the rights of an armed citizenry with the civic responsibility prescribed in the Second Amendment.

What if every American who owned a firearm had to spend one weekend a month and two weeks a year practicing firearm safety, first aid, CPR, neighborhood and household security, recognizing criminal conduct, anger management, good neighbor relations and leadership skills? How much money would be saved on healthcare expenses if every gun owner had to pass military style physical readiness tests and body fat measurements for the next 25 years?

Might your boss be easier to get along with if he was your subordinate once a month? Might your workplace be safer if one person out of every ten was a certified Emergency Medical Technician? Might America be better able to respond to natural disasters and catastrophic events if every community had a disciplined, organized, and equipped citizenry?

Requiring gun owners to drill in state sanctioned militias would:

1) Bring Americans together to work towards our common betterment;

2) Empower Americans to believe that we are responsible and capable instead of powerless and fearful; and,

3) Portray gun owners as the upstanding, concerned, law-abiding citizens they are, instead of the wild-eyed amoral idiots Crowther would have us believing. The education and training associated with militia membership could even result in lowered incidents of firearm violence. What militias will not accomplish is the continued hammering on wedge issues that keep ordinary Americans from coming together as a people.

Thomas A. Gallup
Waukegan, Ill.

Memorable Cars

Re: Donald Kaul, “Enjoy US Cars While You Can” (6/15/09 TPP). Going down the line:

• Packard — 1949, bathtub, built and ate gas like a tank.

• Studebaker — “Dictator,” ca. 1930, name lost popularity.

• Hudson — 1950s, Denver Wheeler-Dealer went to prison for con games.

• Auburn — Friend still has one, non-supercharged.

• Oldsmobile — GM’s experimental car long ago.

• DeSoto — Chrysler’s Olds.

• Pierce-Arrow — Father-in-law was D.C. distributor in ’30s. Didn’t save one for us.

• Stutz — Never saw one.

• Cord — Front-wheel drive; 100 mph+, boy’s dream (I’m 82).

• Marmon — MAMMON! GOD OF GREED. You mean GM! Abstruse! Clever!

Eugene D. Lorig
Paonia, Colo.

Bush’s Appointment

While Bob Burnett’s positive “Obama’s Passed his Probation” (6/1/09 TPP) seems sound, he does commit one flagrant gaffe, viz., stating that in 2000 “Americans (by which term he apparently means a minority of US voters) elected George Bush president”. Why are commentators still unwilling to admit that the 2000 Federal travesty consisted in a reactionary Supreme Court appointing “Bush” (actually Cheney) President, that he was not elected? Is historical accuracy simply too damning, too embarrassing for central North Americans to face as they continue to nurse the delusion that they live in the greatest country that ever existed? Certainly this land was God’s own country, naturally incomparable, but that was before it was infested with homo “sapiens,” especially the paleface subspecies.

Rob MacLeod
Porthill, Idaho

Quitting Time

Re: Ted Rall’s call for Obama’s resignation (7/1-15/09 TPP), YES! YES! YES! At last someone writing for TPP has the hormones to call a spade a spade (or as the nun complained in an old joke, “a f****** shovel”). Only problem is, would that leave the used-car salesman Biden to run the show? If we were living in a democratic society, Nader would have finished his second term as president eight years ago, and we would be, comparatively speaking, living in Nirvana right now. Instead, we are on the brink of extinction (let’s hear it for the cockroaches who will survive to begin anew). No doubt Garrison Keillor is sincere and conscientious in his views of “moving on,” and is no doubt who Martin Luther King had in mind when he said “There is nothing in the world more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

Bernard J. Berg
Easton, Pa.


I emphatically agree with Richard L. Morgan’s appellation of CONdems for conservative Democrats. (Letters, 6/15/09 TPP)

Since the word that Republicans hate the most is “public” I think they should be prohibited from using it in their party’s name. Instead they should be called Reprivacans or better yet Reprivycans.

Manny Kramer
Charles City, Va.

Why Object to Public Insurance?

As a consumer in this capitalist democracy of ours, it seems to me the hypocrisy of those in the health insurance industry who rail against the notion of a public option in healthcare insurance because a public healthcare insurance plan would out-compete private insurers rests in two things. One is the fact that it is every entrepreneur’s dream, despite lip service paid to the virtues of free markets and the stimulation of competition, to dominate the market for his product. The second is the assumption that healthcare in general is a marketable product, the sale of which should generate profits for owners of healthcare related businesses and investors rather than as a socially valued and necessary service to which all in our society should have ample access.

If health insurance company A, for example, could muscle health insurance company B out of the market, it would do so in a heartbeat, and the increase in subscriber numbers and dollars would not be used to improve benefits for subscribers but to superfund a monopoly and keep profits high. There is further nothing to suggest in the history of capitalism that the individual entrepreneurial self-interest of insurance company A would focus on a long-term, sustainable flow of income from its consumer subscribers in exchange for a high-quality and always-improving product rather than on short-term squeezing of the market for every penny with an inadequate product until consumers could no longer afford to participate in their own exploitation. The successful private entrepreneur does not allow competitors to prosper; he seeks to eliminate the competition and make himself the sole provider upon whom consumers have no choice but to depend. That being the case, why, if it can, should the US government, which is answerable to all the citizens of this country, consumers, producers, and owners of production and service entities alike, not be the successful entrepreneurial entity to dominate the market in healthcare insurance albeit with its somewhat more incumbent interest in long-term sustainability? Why should we all not be allowed to take our best crack at providing and benefiting from a public healthcare plan that would be run by individuals answerable to the people we elect to serve our interests as a society rather than paying through the nose ultimately to support a group of strangers who view our healthcare as an opportunity for private profit?

Personally, I’d prefer universal health coverage funded by taxes. But objections to a public insurance option because it would eliminate the competition cannot plausibly be made. That is the way the game is played. And objections certainly cannot be rationally raised based on the argument that healthcare is a product for which consumers should be competing as if it were a luxury rather than a mortal need.

C.C. Halitsky
South Orange, N.J.

Government Health Plan Popular

The NYTimes/CBS poll 6/21/09 showed the people were strongly behind a government-run health system that would compete with a private insurance plan. In fact 72% of all respondents signified approval! And 50% of the Republicans agreed. The question was “would you favor or oppose the government offering everyone a government administrated health insurance plan like Medicare that would compete with private health insurance plans?”

It is noteworthy that unlike the public in general and half of the Republicans interviewed in the poll that the Republicans and some Democrats in the House and Senate are adamantly against adding a public plan to compete. Paul Krugman (New York Times 6/22/09 column) raises the ultimate telling point: “Isn’t the purpose of health care reform to protect American citizens, not insurance companies?” Why aren’t our representatives protecting us?

Sid Moss
Elkins Park, Pa.

By the Book

One of the most basic axioms of conspiracy theory is that a newly elected President is taken into a secure room, handed a large book and told to read it in order to find out the real job requirements. Lest there be any confusion about “conspiracy theory,” please note that the definition of a conspiracy theorist is “someone who believes that undemocratic people are trying to influence events behind the scene.” If you don’t believe that, you are a foolish simpleton. We can argue over who they may be and how successful they may have been, but it should be obvious to anyone that those who are mentally ill behind money and power will do anything to feed their addiction.

Which brings us to our new President. Apparently, Barack Obama was initiated almost immediately after his election, because his first response to the economic crisis was to gather around him a group of “economic advisors” who were the very people who led us into the mess in the first place.

Now that he has been in office for a while, we have two choices: either he was lying to us during his campaign for office, or that “book” left him no choice but to renege on all of his promises. The second choice does allow for the possibility that his “initiation” convinced him that failure to continue with business as usual would lead to a catastrophe such that history would remember him as the Captain when the ship of state hit the iceberg and sank to the bottom. Recent interviews with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke (on 60 Minutes) and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (on PBS News) made it clear that they have been telling him that all along.

There is no doubt whatsoever, though, that he has reneged on all of his promises. If you bother to follow the news, you know I’m right. If you don’t, then you don’t deserve to live in a putative democracy.

Shorey Chapman
San Francisco, Calif.

Whose Democracy?

Joe Conason’s “Another Round for Democracy” (6/15/09 TPP) describes quite well the convoluted thinking process of Dick Cheney specially with his statement that “the merest discussion of the troubling issues raised by the war on terrorism only encourages the enemy” — encourages them to do WHAT, Mr. Cheney? They have already done (with the 9/11 attack) whatever was needed to do to put the nation in a tailspin — thanks mostly to Mr. Bush’s (or should I say your) knee-jerk reaction. The enemy has been sitting on the sidelines watching with amusement our leadership position in the world being diminished. They estimated correctly that further attacks would not necessarily be “cost- effective” while they had you doing such an admirable job on their behalf. In a paradoxical way you have kept us safe from further attacks — and for that we thank you!

G.M. Chandu
Flushing, N.Y.

From The Progressive Populist, August 1, 2009

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