Opinions

THE REPUBLICANS SIMPLY DON’T GET IT!

THE REPUBLICANS SIMPLY DON’T GET IT!
Professor Bob

I don’t often write on politics but the actions of the Republicans in the U.S Congress and state legislatures of late clearly indicate that they simply don’t get it.  They continue to operate in a world where they are oblivious to those that elect them and the reasons that they were elected.  

After the manner in which Obamacare passed, the people voted a Republican majority into the House of Representatives in 2010.  Why?  So that Congress could not ram through another bill not supported by a majority of the public.  They were elected to act as a check on Obama and the Democrats but instead got a lot of bad press from being accused of creating gridlock.  When, in fact, the House passed legislation and it was the Senate that refused to bring bills to the floor for a vote.  Somehow, the Republicans do what they were elected to do and are made out to be the bad guy.  

The Republicans then blow the 2012 presidential election by failing to go on the attack and to adequately make their case to the public.  The difference in the popular vote between Obama and Romney was less than 1%.  If the Republicans had gone on the attack about the economy and about Benghazi it may have made the difference.  Then in 2014 the Republicans are given control of both the House and the Senate.  What happens?  The again are made out to be the bad guy by standing up to Obama.  But instead of exhibiting some backbone, they give in when they should not.  

Loretta Lynch should not have received Senate approval as Attorney General.  She openly admitted that illegal aliens have the same right to jobs as U.S. citizens and legal aliens.  What I don’t think that the Republicans understand is that by going down their current path they will have lost the support of their voter base by the 2016 election.  Why would anyone want to donate money to the Republican Party?  You get the same results that you would get if you gave your money to Democrats?  

People are tired of an open border, illegal immigration, and an economy run by people who never had a private sector job.  People are tired of hearing the good statistics about the economy but not being told about the equal number of negative statistics.  People are tired of front-door and back-door attempts at gun control.  People are tired of being continually lied to by the current administration.  But still the Republicans can’t find a backbone and continue to cave to the wishes of the Democrats.  Sort of reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live skit involving the Loopner’s—the family born without a backbone.  Maybe the Republicans should change the name of the party to Loopner and their symbol could be the Slinky.  “We will bend any way we have to” would make a great slogan.  

You have the same situation in the Florida legislature where the Republicans control both the House and the Senate.  In 1986 Florida pioneered the wave of concealed carry laws that have spread across the U.S.  Yet when it comes to passing a bill that would permit concealed carry holders to carry on college campuses, the Senate president, a Republican, refuses to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.  The bill has cleared all committees and is ready to roll. In Florida, concealed weapon permit holders have the lowest rate of criminal activity of any group—even police.  We could achieve the same result with a Democrat controlled state legislature.  

So again the answer to the problem is--don’t fund the Republican Party.  If you fund the party then money is doled out to candidates that tow the party line.  Therefore, if you have a particular candidate that supports the same causes as you and votes appropriately, then donate directly to that candidate—whether at the state or federal level.  But don’t give it to a party that doesn’t have a backbone.    

MY EXPERIENCE DURING A CAMPUS LOCKDOWN AND WHY THERE SHOULD BE CONCEALED CARRY ON CAMPUS

 

MY EXPERIENCE DURING A CAMPUS LOCKDOWN AND

WHY THERE SHOULD BE CONCEALED CARRY ON CAMPUS

 

Professor Bob

 

Recently numerous editorials have been published in Florida newspapers as to whether or not concealed weapon permit (CWP) holders should be able to carry on campus. I haven’t seen much substance in those writings and saw none from anyone who had claimed to have experienced a campus lockdown. Having experienced a campus lockdown the purpose of this writing is to convey what I took away from that event.

 

 

While attending a meeting I received a text alert that deputies were in pursuit of a murder suspect that may have driven onto campus. I brought the alert to the attention to everyone but the administrator running the meeting had not received a message and went on with the meeting. Eight minutes elapsed before he received the same alert via email. A few minutes later I received a text message that the campus was in lockdown. At least ten minutes had elapsed by this point.

 

 

It usually takes a special key to permanently lock or unlock exterior building doors so our next chore was to track down the key. In our case the person with the only key was off that day. Fortunately another office administrator was able to locate the key and lock all ten exterior doors. By now another thirty minutes has elapsed. This is an unacceptable time frame in an emergency situation.

 

 

A lookout was assigned at each of the ten exterior doors and everyone else was placed out of sight from the doors. The fact is, we were now nothing more than sitting ducks. All ten exterior doors were glass. We had two people in our building with extensive firearms experience but no firearms. One was an ex-MP and the other was an ex-auxiliary law enforcement officer who has attended some of the best firearms training schools in the U.S. What we had for weapons were a stick, a can of pepper spray, and fire extinguishers. But bringing a stick to a potential gunfight is a recipe for disaster. Neither the stick nor the pepper spray are very good indoor weapons. In an enclosed space the pepper spray may have as much effect on the sprayer as on the threat. If you do carry pepper spray make sure you buy several canisters and practice with it. Fire extinguishers were a last resort.

 

 

As the saying goes, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away and we were clearly out-gunned. But as academics like to say “knowledge is power” so here are my takeaways.

 

 

First, your smart phone is your friend. If your campus has emergency alert messaging, sign up for it. But keep in mind that most phones scan for emails periodically, like every 15 or 30 minutes. That is why I received the text alert so much sooner than the administrators. Sign up for both text message alerts and email alerts. The time lag can make a significant difference in an emergency situation. Install the apps on your phone for all of your local news sources (newspaper and television stations). Also sign up for push notifications from those same sources if offered. Push notifications are like one-way instant messaging where you receive news as it is happening. They will be covering the same event and you may get additional information from these sources or get information more quickly. Just verify the information that you receive from news sources with someone on campus. Your smart phone is your friend but it does you no good if the battery is dead. It is wise to keep charging cords at you home, in your vehicle, and at your job.

 

 

Second, make sure multiple people in your building have exterior door keys (or know where the key is located) and have been trained to lock and unlock the exterior door. Have them receive training in doing so and periodically practice locking and unlocking the doors.

 

 

Third, make sure that you take active shooter training or emergency lockdown training if it is provided for faculty and staff at your school. Additionally, I also recommend that you spend 4 hours taking the NRA’s non-gun, non-shooting Refuse to be a Victim Seminar (RTBAVS) or a similar course that may be offered by your local law enforcement agency. RTBAVS is a situational awareness course that provides you with numerous crime prevention/deterrent tips that can be incorporated into your everyday life. It is not a physical self-defense course. Hold a lockdown drill to make sure that the faculty and staff rehearse what they should do. (As an aside, at your residence you should have your family practice a simulated household fire and home invasion.) In an emergency you will respond based on your level of training. If you have no training, it is too late to get any at that point. You are responsible for your own safety.

 

 

Fourth, the concept of equal force is an academic question for law schools and Hollywood. In defensive tactics courses you are taught to always use more force than that your attacker. You are also taught that there are no unarmed threats. Hands, feet, arms, and legs can be used as weapons.

 

 

Fifth, if your only knowledge of firearms is what you learned from watching television (unless it is one of the outdoor channels) and movies, then you are illiterate. Even if you do not like guns and even if you never wish to own a gun, take a day or two out of your life to learn about firearms. You may find an active shooter who committed suicide and need to pick up the weapon for potential use, to keep it away from their accomplices, or to make it safe so that nobody is accidentally hurt. Learn how to safely operate a firearm. Learn to recognize the different types of firearms and their purpose. This knowledge may come in handy in planning a route if you have to leave the building. Learn about the ammunition that is used in each type of firearm. This knowledge may help you select appropriate cover. Actually shoot a firearm. There are plenty of good instructors in our area who can teach you basic firearm safety and shooting. There are also some good local instructors that can take you to the next level. Additionally, if you wish to pursue training that is as good or maybe even better than what many law enforcement officers receive, you can travel to schools such as Gunsite, Shootrite, Thunder Ranch, etc. It is pricey but it, as they say, is a life changing event.

 

 

Last, clearly faculty and staff who are CWP holders should be able to carry their firearms on campus. The types of horrid events that have been happening for years in the rest of the world have now come to America. It’s going to get worse, not better, and foresight is better than hindsight. Keep in mind that knowledge is power and you will respond to the event based on your level of training.

 

 

SO-CALLED ASSAULT WEAPONS

SO-CALLED ASSAULT WEAPONS

 

Professor Bob

 

In the debates President Obama called for renewal of the assault weapons ban. This was followed by the Oregon mall shooting after which the media ran a story about the confusion over whether the gunman had an automatic or semiautomatic rifle. It was also followed by Bob Costas’ rant which indicated a lack of understanding of firearms and the gun culture. What do all of these things have in common—ignorance of the subject. During the push for the Clinton assault weapons ban (which was only cosmetic in nature) the media repeatedly referenced “assault weapons” while showing footage of individuals shooting machineguns. First, I am not sure that the term assault weapon makes sense as “assault” is an act and a weapon can be anything from a vehicle to a baseball bat. Second, a big part of the problem with the gun discussion is that there are no real or workable definitions for terms such as assault weapons or Saturday night specials or small cheap handguns. Third, there is much confusion among the media and lack of knowledge about the difference between automatic and semiautomatic firearms. Based on my research the Nazi’s were the first to use the term “assault weapon” in the late 1930s. The Germans equipped crack infantry troops with light machineguns. This term was then resurrected by the Democrats and the media in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s but was used to refer to semiautomatic firearms instead of machineguns. A machinegun is commonly referred to, today, as a fully automatic weapon. One pull of the trigger fires multiple shots until the trigger is released or the magazine runs dry. Based on what is on television and in the movies it would lead one to believe that machineguns are everywhere. Even in the movie version of John Grisham’s book a sharecropper had a machinegun. Really? Machineguns are regulated by the National Firearms Act, sold only by Class III dealers, require a complicated purchase procedure, and are very expensive. The last full auto Uzi I saw was priced at $17,000. The last I read Florida had more legally owned machineguns than any other state at more than 20,000. A small number when you consider that Florida has over one million people with concealed weapon permits. Semiautomatic weapons, on the other hand, fire one round each time the trigger is pulled. A semiautomatic may be more appropriately called an autoloader as what it really does is simply load the next round for the shooter. The semiautomatic came onto the scene in the late 1800s and became popular with the military during WWII. Since then the semiautomatic has become the most popular shotgun used for hunting, skeet shooting, and trap shooting. Additionally, there are some very popular semiautomatic hunting rifles and for at least three decades semiautomatics have taken every national match in the target shooting arena. What the media and politicians refer to as an “assault rifle” is simply a semiautomatic firearm that is made to LOOK like a full auto military firearm. The Clinton gun ban was not really a ban at all. It simply made them look less like a military weapon. Today, the top selling rifle in the U.S. is the AR15 style of rifle which is now commonly used in hunting and competitive shooting. Also of interest, is that the standard cartridge fired by the AR15 style rifle is typically much less powerful than the predominant rifle cartridge used in WWII. The question is are the media and politicians simply ignorant of firearms or whether they deliberately mislead people to believe that semiautomatic firearms are machineguns in order to scare them? Either way, having accurate information reported about firearms would go a long way.

 

WILL THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BE THE NEXT COMPANY STORE?

WILL THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BE THE NEXT COMPANY STORE?

Professor Bob

 Decades ago it was not uncommon for mining companies and even some manufacturing companies to have what was known as “company stores” or even company towns. The businesses were located outside of town as to make it difficult for employees to shop in town. The businesses then created what became known as the company store for people to do their shopping and company housing for the people to live. The companies usually did not pay the employees in money. Instead they paid the employees in scrip which could be used to pay the rent on the housing and to shop at the company store. Of course the price of rent and merchandise was so exorbitant that it was impossible for employees to save. This made it virtually impossible for them to ever improve their lot in life. This got me to wondering if maybe the federal government will become the new company store. Last spring several articles appeared on the subject of delinquent student loans. These articles were about the fact that it had become necessary for the government to garnish the social security checks of people in their 60s, 70s, and even 80s for unpaid student loans. These articles also addressed the issue of delinquent loans of people much younger—those that had incurred what amounted to student loan balances into the six figures for degrees in disciplines that would not pay enough to enable repayment of the debt. This is not the only burden that the public has involving the federal government. There is the horrendous national debt, the effect of quantitative easing, anticipated inflation as a result of quantitative easing, and future increases in interest rates to curb inflation. Then throw in the direct and indirect projected impact of Obamacare on the pocketbooks of the public, the increasing burden of social security being created by the unfunded expansion of unearned benefits, and the rising cost of Medicare and the problem is greatly compounded. Obamacare has a truckload of taxes built into the bill. (Obamacare is not about healthcare.) Some of these taxes/penalties fall on the individual, like the 3.8% tax on net investment income on the profit arising on home sales. But most of the taxes fall onto businesses. Obamacare defines a full-time employee for the purpose of health insurance as one that works more than 30 hours per week. So businesses are doing the same thing they did when the government required retirement plans for those employees working 40 hours per week. They cut the hours of employees. In the case of retirement plans low margin businesses like grocery chains cut employees to 37.5 hours per week. Under Obamacare low margin businesses like restaurants are cutting employees to 30 hours per week. This will mean that health insurance does not have to be provided for those employees but the business must pay a hefty penalty for not doing so. But the penalty is much cheaper than the cost of the insurance. The problem is that those taxes and penalties that fall onto businesses must be passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices. Businesses have to earn a rate of return in line with the risk level of that business in order to attract investment capital. This means that the taxes and penalties from Obamacare cannot be absorbed by business. You and I will be paying those costs in addition to providing our own coverage or paying a penalty. This also includes the health insurance companies which will have to increase rates in order to compensate for the increased coverage. The CEO of Aetna recently projected a doubling of health insurance rates over the next year. Others project an even greater increase. Some healthcare professionals anticipate that Obamacare will eventually make it unprofitable for private health insurers to exist. The end result being a single payer system with premiums paid to the government with care provided on the model used by the VA. The impending social security problem which is several decades down the road will require an even greater contribution to the program. Medicare costs will also continue to rise (14% increase in Part B for 2014) and the Medicare tax will probably increase, possibly to the point where it becomes necessary to replace Medicare with Obamacare. Then throw in the increases in the income and death tax (plus a host of others) requested by the current administration. Increasing the burden on the wealthiest taxpayers will not provide enough to cover Obama’s vacations. This means that rates must eventually go up for even more people. Maybe, in the not so distant future, the federal government will become the new company store. We will simply have our paychecks direct deposited to the U.S. Treasury in return for housing, higher education vouchers, health insurance, retirement, disability, child care vouchers, food stamps, etc. One stop shopping at the company store.

 

WHY THE STIMULUS FAILED

WHY THE STIMULUS FAILED

Professor Bob

Obama’s trillion dollar stimulus bill was to have turned the economy around and reduced unemployment to an acceptable level.  Unfortunately it failed to accomplish either.  The government manages the economy through monetary and fiscal policy.  The Federal Reserve (Fed) handles monetary policy, much to the chagrin of many.  To those who would like to eliminate the Fed, remember that the duty falls to Congress if the Fed is eliminated.  Fiscal policy includes actions such as the stimulus bill and the tax laws.  During the Great Depression the government used fiscal policies without any significant impact.  Unemployment remained relatively stable and the economy did not come out of the tank until the country geared up for WWII.  In short, there was no sound economic history behind Obama’s stimulus bill to indicate that it would pull us out of the economic doldrums.  The GDP, the measure of economic output, is measured by summing Personal Consumption (C) plus Business Investment (I) plus Government Spending (G) plus net Exports (E –I): 

GDP = C + I + G + (E – I)

Funds for government spending must come from taxes provided by individuals or businesses or C and I.  So the only way that increased government spending can significantly add expenditures is to reduce the contribution of both individuals and businesses to GDP by increasing taxes on those two groups.  A major problem with trying to use government spending to stimulate the economy is that government is a non-profit entity.  Economic growth comes from profits generated by the private sector.  The only way that government spending can stimulate economic growth is for those funds to be funneled to the states and then to private sector entities such as road and bridge contractors.  The problem is that the stimulus bill did not do so.  Yes, the stimulus bill was sold to the American public as a bill to fund shovel-ready infrastructure projects.  In truth, only about five percent of the funds went to infrastructure.  The bill was largely a political vehicle used to payback Obama/Democrat supporters and had little to do with stimulating the U.S. economy.  A significant chunk went to fund an electric auto plant in Finland and several GM plants in China (the government outsourcing of jobs).  Money went to fund green energy companies of which more than a dozen have gone belly up (no clue who ended up with the money).  The real winners in the stimulus bill were labor unions and, in particular, state governments (and government employee unions).  It has been reported that the stimulus bill created 400,000 government jobs at the expense of 1,000,000 private sector jobs.  If the bill had gone to infrastructure it would have been wisely spent on needs of the country and the funds would have gone to private contractors who bid on infrastructure jobs.  Profit making firms would have benefitted which would have added jobs and the increased profits would have provided much needed tax revenue.  (Contrary to the logic of some, tax revenue is largely raised by economic growth which expands the tax base and not by increasing tax rates.)  The stimulus failed mainly because such a large portion of the funds went to state governments.  Of the money that most went to education, colleges and universities, research grants and other research funding.  The problem is that none of these areas of funding generate profits (thus, economic growth) and tax revenue.  State agencies are tax-exempt agencies that pay no federal or state income tax nor do they pay state sales tax.  So the bill actually harmed both the federal and state governments by inhibiting or curtailing much needed tax revenue.  The expenditures did not live on through profits which are reinvested by private sector business and promoting economic growth.  In other words, it was not possible for the bill could generate anywhere near enough tax revenue to pay for itself.  What is even worse is that monies went overseas, to failed enterprises, and to small operations that could not possibly have any positive economic impact on the U.S. economy.  If that money had simply gone to the public or to private sector businesses it would have had a more positive impact on economic growth and tax revenue.

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