Although I’ve never taken a poll, I suspect that most people in our little town in the mountains of Montana own guns. For those who do, a gun is a tool, much like a spade or a screw driver. People use their guns to hunt game which they harvest much like they do their vegetable gardens. They eat the meat and use the hides for clothing among other uses. Since we have bears, including Grizzlies, wandering through town, not to mention mountain lions in the hills surrounding the town, people who venture out in the wilds usually carry guns for protection. It’s a way of life that is difficult for those who live in big cities to understand particularly when some nut uses a gun to massacre people in some public venue, like a high school or a movie theater. And when that happens, the Left immediately starts in on the need for gun control laws. Senator Diane Finestain asks how a hunter could possibly justify carrying a gun with a 100 round drum clip. Good point. I can’t recall seeing or hearing about any hunters running around the woods shooting game with a machine gun or an assault rifle. But there are several problems with government attempting to impose restrictions on gun ownership not the least of which it’s unconstitutional. It’s also proven to be ineffective. Chicago, for example, has one of the toughest anti- gun laws on the books and the city is awash in gun killings. Even if you banned guns completely, crazy people would still find ways to kill other people. In the latest Colorado incident, the shooter’s apartment was not full of guns but instead various home made explosive devices. Are we going to ban every household product that could be used to manufacture a bomb? Although the shooter killed and wounded a lot of innocent people during the shooting spree, think of how much worse it could have been if he simply stuck an explosive device under the seat and walked away. He could have blown up the whole building. I’m afraid that restricting the ownership of guns would just give the criminals a big edge over law abiding citizens. Perhaps what we should be concentrating on is our mental health system which could use big improvements. But in the final analysis, as appears to be the case with the Colorado shooter, seemingly normal people can suddenly go crazy and go on a killing spree and while tragic, there probably isn’t much that can be done to prevent it, including trying to ban guns.
First, as you’ve probably gathered, I have no problem with gay people. I favor “gay rights” (whatever that means) and contrary to most people in my age group, I have no problem with gay people getting married. Maybe because our current Prexy pandered to gay people by endorsing gay marriage (a meaningless gesture since he has no power to effect it ), it seems we now have a steady stream of gay people “coming out,” declaring to the world that they are indeed gay. Hmm. It seems that if someone wants to be accepted for who they are, be treated equally like everyone else, why emphasize that they aren’t like everyone else? Why point out that they really are different? The latest “celebrity” to declare their difference is some CNN reporter, Anderson Hooper, no that’s not it. Let’s see. Oh yes, “Cooper.” My initial reaction upon having to read about Mr. Cooper’s sexual orientation (since that is what the media chose to report) was: “so what?” Frankly, I don’t care what his sexual orientation is any more than I care about what your sexual orientation is. Or what religion you practice. Or what your father did for a living. Hey, if you’re a stand up guy (or woman), what difference does it make if you’re that guy that had to give up those enhanced sex pills they advertise on TV because they really did give you an erection that lasted more than four hours. In the final analysis, we’re all different in one way or another. Some would say God or Budda or Muhammad made us that way, others that it was just an accident of nature. Whatever. If we want to be truly fair, then I think the media should give equal time to heterosexuals. We could have a segment where we report that Steve Slobovia of Podunk, New York reports that he’s a heterosexual. Or Kathy Stemloper of Mud Slime, Oregon reports that she’s hetro and “always has been.” Heck, maybe to keep up with the flow of gay celebrities sharing their sex lives with us, we can find a few hetro celebrities, guys and gals, to “come out” as well. What a revelation it would be to find out that the actor or actress we thought was gay actually wasn’t!
It’s unfortunate that the Wall Street protesters (remember them?) weren’t savvy enough to focus on some real corporate culprits. Their message might have resonated with mainstream citizens and reminded all of us that corporate greed really is alive and well in America. GlaxoSmithKline, one of the large drug companies, was just slapped with a three billion dollar fraud settlement after being sued civilly and criminally by the DOJ. Although touted as the largest such settlement in history, the reality is that once again, a corporation simply paid off the feds after being caught with its hand in the cookie jar. The company’s market value is 110 bil and its latest profits run about 50 bil a year. Anticipating the payoff, the company had already set aside almost the full amount of the fine and immediately after the payoff was announced, its stock rose 1.3 percent. What makes this case different is that the company was prosecuted criminally as a result of harm caused users of several of its drugs. When people commit crimes of a serious nature, they usually are sentenced to more than paying a fine. They go to jail. But in the case of corporate crime, apparently no one is at fault. Someone somewhere in the company hierarchy decided that they could misbrand and market drugs with claims they cured conditions they didn’t much like the old snake oil salesmen in the old West who sold Dr. So-in-so’s Elixir as a complete cure all for everything that ailed ya. Unless or until responsibility is fixed on an individual level, corporations will continue to have the incentive to just keep on truckin when it comes to violations of the law. After all, they can write off the fines as just another cost of doing business. Rather than trying to penalize states for enforcing immigration law or filing law suits to stop states from requiring voters to show ID, the DOJ might spend more time actually prosecuting people who really do harm our citizens.
Just Another Cost of Doing Business
When the Affordable Care Act was being proposed, then Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D, Ca.) opined, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy.” Well, with about half of its provisions being implemented, we are finding out “what is in it.” The bottom line? $813 billion in higher taxes. Married couples earning more than $250,000 per year and individuals earning more than $200,000 per year (some 4.1 million households) will see their tax bills increase 3.8%. Although the upper earners already pay well over 30% in taxes every year, it will be easy for those who agree that “rich people should be penalized” to dismiss these concerns. The fact that such taxes will have a chilling effect on the traditional American ideal of fostering individual success will hardly bother those who believe in the redistribution of income in the Nanny State. But wait. The ACA also imposes new fees on pharmaceutical makers and health insurers plus a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices that aren’t sold directly to consumers, such as hip implants and cardiac stents. The law caps the amount of pretax money for flexible-spending programs offered by employers and requires consumers to use pre-tax dollars for over-the-counter medications and finally, makes it more difficult for taxpayers to take itemized deductions for their medical expenses. For those who choose to pay for their own medical care, at whatever their income level, they will be penalized with an excise tax of 40% if their plan is defined by the law as a “high cost” or “Cadillac” plan. All of these provisions will impact most taxpayers, not just the so-called richest taxpayers. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the law will impose additional taxes of at least 27 million dollars on middle class tax payers between 2012 and 2121 as well as adversely impacting the elderly by including a half trillion in cuts to Medicare. The effect of these provisions? Businesses, including health care providers and health insurance companies cannot exist unless they are profitable. The inclusion of expanded health care coverage for children under 26 and the ban on pre-existing conditions, in combination with higher costs will result in providers either getting out of the business altogether or passing the costs on to consumers. It is projected that employers will offer plans with higher deductibles with higher premium payments for participants. From 2010 to 2011, premiums for employer- sponsored family health coverage, for example, increased nine percent. In
addition, with states now getting a green light from the Supreme Court’s decision to opt out of expanding their Medicaid coverage, those who would have been covered will now apparently end up in the insurance exchanges which will be largely funded by taxpayers. Those states that elect to stay in the program will do so only if the additional costs are picked up by the Fed which means by the tax payers. At a time when coverage will be supposedly expanded, no provision deals with the shortage of doctors that already plagues us. This will result in a deterioration of care especially when you consider that the new law will also require even more paperwork as health care providers deal with new levels of bureaucracy at the Federal level created by the law. In addition, it has been pointed out that the enforcement of this law will fall on the IRS which is ill-equipped to deal with the problem as it is already understaffed, not to mention the privacy concerns being raised with expanded intrusion by the IRS into our lives in an effort to identify those evil people to be penalized. Is there any more bad news? Probably but there’s enough right now to make it clear that this law needs to go. Not only do a majority of Americans oppose it ( a whopping 70% oppose the “mandate”) but one of the groups most familiar with our health care, our doctors, also overwhelmingly oppose it. With due respect (and that’s a stretch) to Ms. Pelosi, the “fog of controversy” is not about to go away. Some wags are even suggesting that Chief Justice Roberts, a Republican appointee, who wrote the majority opinion upholding the law, has in effect handed the election to the Republican nominee.
Legend has it that when our first President was confronted as a small boy with the question about whether he had chopped down the cherry tree, he replied, “I cannot tell a lie,” and admitted the transgression. As parents, we teach our children to tell the truth, recognizing that to do otherwise, would only encourage their own self destruction. Telling the truth is important simply because once a person is caught in a lie, they surrender their credibility for all time. If they’ll lie about one thing, then we can never rely on them to be truthful about anything else. I cannot speak for you but I suspect that it offends you as it does me when people lie to you. It is personally insulting for no other reason than the assumption on the part of the person lying to you that you will be stupid or gullible enough to buy their lies. And the bigger the issue being lied about, the more insulting it is. And so I am mad this morning as I write this to you. Putting aside political affiliations, I’m mad and insulted that our President lied to me. And to you. And to all Americans. Knowing that not even his own party would back him up otherwise, our President sat (or stood) before us on many occasions, duly recorded in the media and swore to us that his Affordable Care Act ( “Obama Care”) was not a tax on the American people. As we now know, it is a tax. In fact, we now know that it contains over 20 separate taxes ( see companion blog). And the Supreme Court confirms it is a tax in the majority opinion upholding the ACA on the grounds that it is a tax which Congress has the right to impose on us. The President’s supporters argue that just because Chief Justice Roberts chose to call the mandate a tax doesn’t mean it is a tax. By that tortured reasoning then, the logical conclusion to be drawn is that if that is true, then the mandate should have indeed been struck down as unconstitutional since there was no other constitutional basis on which the Court said it could be upheld. And of course, there are attempts by some to argue that it’s presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Romney’s fault since the ACA was modeled after what he initiated in Massachusetts. What Romney, who has vowed to overturn the ACA, if elected, did in some state or another in the past is irrelevant to what has occurred to our country today with the passage of a law overwhelmingly opposed by the majority of our citizens. And now, to add insult to injury, we find we are to be burdened with this unpopular law largely as the result of a massive deception on the part of our own President. Lest you harbor
any lingering doubts as to his blatant deception, then you need look only to the fact that his own lawyers argued before the Supreme Court that if the Court could not uphold the law on any other basis, it could be upheld as a tax which is exactly the argument by the government accepted by the Court. To assume let alone argue that our President was not aware of the position his own lawyers were taking in their frantic attempts to get the Court to uphold the law would require such irrationality in one’s thinking to border on insanity. Apparently, our lawyer President forgot the oath that all of us take who are sworn to testify in courts of law to tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”