Tag Archives: politics

On Guns, and their idiotic harm.

The recent shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, were horrific. 20 very young children and 6 adults were shot dead by a 20 year old boy, in a school.  Since 2009, there have been 4 mass shootings in the US.  It is pretty clear that there is something terribly wrong to allow this to happen.

Obama gave an incredibly moving speech on the Newtown incident, which you should watch. You can here, or for a shorter version, here are some highlights. It’s not often you see genuine emotion from a politician, but when Obama says that “we’re not doing enough. We have to change.” you can see he believes it, that he is sick that the country he lives in should treat murder as such a routine thing.

This incident highlights a desperately important issue in American politics: Guns.  The rights of individuals to be able to carry a tool that can kill people on demand (or as the Onion calls it: Right To Own Handheld Device That Shoots Deadly Metal Pellets At High Speed).

The US is a great country.  It really is. So many of the world’s best writers, thinkers, artists and scientists came from the States. Batman is American. So are the Drums. Pretty much every American I have met is a lovely person. Problem is, in so many ways, their politics seems entrenched in the 18th century. I know these cases do not represent the country as a whole, but a 1st World, fully developed, purportedly liberal country that has such a big anti-abortion, pro-execution, homophobic, creationist lobby just makes no sense. But these have much less power than the pro-death-stick brigade.

It is stupid to say that the ready availability of guns does not lead to the higher use of guns.  It’s just moronic.

It is true guns will still be available on the black market or whatever even if guns were banned, but that doesn’t mean that it renders a ban useless.  I don’t know where I could get a gun here (I live in the UK). I don’t know how to start looking for one.  It is thus far harder for me to go on a spontaneous rampage, or to shoot someone I dislike, or to hold up a shop, or to shoot myself.  I could well try other means to achieve the same ends, but there are fewer more efficient ways of killing someone than using a machine designed for the purpose.

Guns do not prevent murder, probably because everyone has guns. Here are some stats from CIVITAS showing that the US has one of the highest homicide rate in the developed world (though the assault rate is lower than England and Wales).  Here is another, from an Oxford University journal (admittedly from 1998) that shows the US as having the highest rate of gun related deaths (look at page 4). So whether it was someone shooting a mate when out hunting, dropping his gun, forgetting the safety’s on, shooting a guy dead for breaking into your car, leaving it on the side when a kid’s around or going out and deciding to kill someone, guns definitely contribute to death.

As I said, denying it is dumb as fuck.

Of course there are more factors. Of course.  There will be lots of reasons for things happening. Thing is, “these things” wouldn’t happen without guns in the first place.

Next thing argued by the death-spewing-phallus advocate groups is the individuals “right” to bear arms. I won’t go into any great dissection of the constitution, as I lack knowledge, experience and interest in it.  However, it should be clear: this “right” is not an inherent or inalienable human right, and it shouldn’t be treated as such.  If a right infringes upon another’s rights, especially rights as important as their rights to life and security (Article 3 of the Universal Declaration), then frankly it isn’t worth a damn. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth campaigning to protect your “right” to carry a death dispensing penis, for no real purpose. Your “right” to carry an assault rifle will endanger yourself, your friends and your children, as it’s the same for every Tom, Dick and psychopath in the country. And lets face it, the right to bear arms is not what’s stopping Obama waging war on the American populace. Don’t claim it is. Seriously guys.

So, even if a ban on a penis substitute that ejaculates lead is impractical, or politically difficult, regulation is necessary.  No one else should die.

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Don’t give a squat

This is in response to my very own response blogger, and friend, Iwanttheconch:

https://iwanttheconch.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/is-squatting-really-that-bad/
Squatting is symptomatic of a much larger problem, that is, people without decent shelter.  Homeless people.  Most of the time, people on the street have nowhere to go, and to criminalise them for trying to find shelter from the elements (as opposed to exercising their right to get pneumonia) is callous and stupid, unless the government has implemented decent homeless shelters (which they haven’t).

By definition, you cannot squat in an occupied house, so this law protects the privilege of the wealthy to own land they don’t live on at the expense of the most vulnerable.

I agree that squatters can do damage, and they should be dealt with accordingly, and that they should move when asked (by the police or homeowners, I am not going to defend their “right” to live on someone else’s property). Furthermore, the government cannot be seen to encourage trespass.

But giving someone a criminal record, for what can only be described as a crime of desperation, seems extreme.  Move them on, charge them for vandalism if you want, but for crying out loud, get them somewhere to stay!

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A Taxing Approach To Breaking The Laws

The constant clashes between tax avoiding millionaires, benefit cheats, and the sanctimonious and often corrupt politicians that condemn them could well go on for centuries, if by then we haven’t come up with a better way of paying for our roads and health service. There has always been a gross disparity between the consequences for those involved, and those with the least, and stealing the least, being dealt with most harshly.

Tax avoidance isn’t illegal, though costing the states billions in potential income. The excuse given to leaving the loopholes open are usually along the lines of “there are too many” and the impending fear of losing all the potential tax from all the rich that would leave as a result. The former can be dismissed with a stern “just deal with it. It’s your job.”, but the latter does provide an interesting idea. Companies in the UK make lots of profit, as we are a country of ravenous consumers. Would they really leave simply because they had to pay some more tax? If instead, the alternative was to operate from a different country (such as…Luxembourg), then that just means we’d have to make regulations regarding that (this also seems like a useful job for the EU). The situation does not appear to be that insurmountable. If instead, it’s conniving individuals who want to leave the country if they have to pay a fair amount of tax, then I don’t think it’s too harsh to say that we’re probably better off without them. However, it’s not just avoidance that is granted amnesty by the government, but also illegal evasion, if you’re rich enough. In 2010, Vodafone was let off £6bn in tax (even after it was declared they had broken laws by not paying it).  It’s true, Cameron did criticise Jimmy Carr for avoiding tax, but he employed Phillip Green, tax avoider extraordinaire, as a Government advisor.  This is largely illustrative of the current government’s attitude towards paying tax.

Moving on to figures of government, where there does seem to be a “protect yer own” attitude prevailing, notably with the issue of David Laws, which has been circulating social networks recently:

It’s true, looking deeper into the situation makes him look a bit less like greedy scum, as there is the personal matter of him wanting to keep his sexuality private, and as soon as discovered he started to pay the over-claimed amount back.  The subsequent loss of outrage isn’t helped by the group complaining about him being so homophobic (It’s not that he’s gay, but…) However, it doesn’t change the fact that his actions were no less deliberately misleading than that of Carol Irving, and he has had very little consequences for his actions. Even feeling all sympathetic and liberal (as I am often prone to do), this sort of comparison does not look favourable at all, and that fact that he is returning to government is quite ridiculous.  Surely, for society to run smoothly, we need consistent punishments for crimes?

What this country, and indeed the whole world, needs more equality. Not only in the level of income people receive (which is my usual harping point), but in their punishments, criticism and consequences.
Bit more to read on this subject:

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-1704527/Taxman-let-Vodafone-off-6bn-bill.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/expenses-cheat-david-laws-to-return-to-government-8081390.html?origin=internalSearch?afid=af

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/7780642/MPs-Expenses-Treasury-chief-David-Laws-his-secret-lover-and-a-40000-claim.html

http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/Plymouth-single-mother-jailed-pound-44k-benefit/story-16385837-detail/story.html

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Panic on the streets of London, Panic on the streets of Birmingham…

The London Riots, eh?

I think what most people think when posed with such situations is “Why?”.  My first thought was a sense of disbelief.  Not because of the disastrous scale of it, that came later, but because there didn’t seem to be any clear cause, motivation or reason behind it.  This wasn’t a protest that got out of hand, not really. Protesters would try to make their message clear wouldn’t they? Rather, than just breaking things in a cryptic and completely unhelpful way, akin to babies’ crying or the riddles left to ‘help’ heroes find the MacGuffin in lazily plotted adventure films (I mean, why?).  Last time I looked, we weren’t in a socially motivated Indiana Jones film. As was widely stated, Footlocker hadn’t stopped EMA.

The next thought that the Telegraph, our Prime Minister (the Right Honourable David Cameron), and every outraged old person within earshot had was that it was motivated by greed.  It’s probably very likely that this was a factor in the riots, you don’t steal a laptop just because you’re cross, or as a grand political statement. However, if these people had the attitude that if they wanted something, they’d steal it, wouldn’t they have done this earlier? In a subtler manner? As in, not in broad daylight, in front of CCTV cameras?  It jars somewhat, and I think it’s skirting the issue to place it simply on personal self interest, even if they thought they could get away with it.

It has to be more complicated than that.  A combination of desperation from poverty, undirected anger at the government and those around them, and mob mentality.  I am not saying that people should not be dealt with, rather that the roots of the problems are faced.  These riots that weren’t thought out at all. Trumped up charges (16 months for stealing some doughnuts!) will not prevent future problems.

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