Saturday, January 26, 2013

What To Do About Gun Violence

We are constantly bombarded with solutions to the problem of "gun violence". Inevitably, these solutions involve "gun control". The problem with this, as I see it, is that there are two things in play when it comes to gun violence: "guns" and "violence". And, of the two, the root cause is not guns, it is violence. So why are we not hearing a public outcry for "violence control"?

Think about this for a minute... Guns are inanimate objects. Millions of people own guns in this country - the vast majority of which will never be involved in a crime. Why? Because they are in the hands of non-violent people.

What gun control does is turn those non-violent people into criminals. Gun control makes it illegal for a non-violent person to own certain types of guns - even if they may have owned them safely and legally for years.

If you really think that guns are the root of the problem, let me ask you one question: If you had been at Sandy Hook Elementary School that morning, and you had a gun with you, would you have been shooting at the kids or would you have been shooting at the guy who was shooting the kids? If you say you would start shooting kids just because you had a gun, then yes, guns are the problem. If however, you would have used your gun to defend the kids, to save innocent lives and to stop the bad guy, then you've just proved my point.

Gun control is typical blanket, one-size-fits-all policy. It reminds me of grade school where the teacher's solution to a few disruptive kids was to make the whole class stay in for recess. It doesn't deal with the root of the problem but rather satisfies the demand to "do something about it".

We live in a schizophrenic society when it comes to violence. On the one hand we campaign against bullying and hate crimes. On the other hand we resist those who would instill notions of morality and "good and evil" into our kids. Then we flock to violent movies and video games.

The "war on drugs" is also a factor in this equation. So much of our legal system is tied up in prosecuting drug users and dealers that we end up with short sentences and plea deals for violent offenders because of prison over-crowding and an overwhelmed criminal justice system.

In conclusion, we need to stop waiting for the government to solve our problems. We need to become a non-violent society in our own houses, our own families and our own schools. And if we are going to push for laws, let's push for laws that punish violence first, and let's push against laws that punish non-violent people and treat them as if they are criminals.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

We Live in a Libertarian World

One argument I’ve often heard against libertarianism goes something like this: “we’ve never seen a libertarian government in actual practice, so there’s no way to know if it would even work”. Well, I think I may have an answer (and a big one at that!)

My answer? Well, to understand my answer we first have to lay some groundwork. Traditionally, libertarianism has been all about the individual and the relationship of the individual to the government. But, libertarian concepts also apply as we go up the ladder of the various levels of government. A county government’s relationships to its constituent cities can be libertarian, for instance, if the county gives the cities freedom to do as they choose. Likewise, a state government can be libertarian in its relationship to counties, and the federal government in its relationship to the states. So libertarian principles apply - not only to the individual - but also wherever there is the possibility for one group to have authority over another.

Which brings me to my answer: the world government. But wait, you say, there is no world government! Well that’s kinda the point. Because there is no central government for the entire world (though some are pushing for one) the world essentially runs on libertarian principles between the constituent nations. Now some would say that "no government = anarchy", but that’s not really what we have. There are several “one-world” organizations like the U.N., the W.T.O., etc., but these organization’s power is derived solely from the willingness of the participating nations. In other words they are like private, voluntary organizations that take the place of a strong central government – just like libertarians advocate for. If enough nations decide to ignore a U.N. or a W.T.O. “order”, and if there are a few powerful nations among the dissenters, the order goes unheeded.

So the world basically runs on libertarian principles –chief among them, the principle of a market driven society: If a nation gets along well with other nations and produces things other nations want, their status as a nation goes up – if they don’t get along or are unproductive, their status diminishes. These are libertarian concepts – only “the individual” (the cornerstone of libertarian philosophy) is replaced by “the nation”. Yet we can see working in the macro what could also work in the micro. In the world, nations have to form coalitions; they have to come to agreements and sign treaties, they have to learn to work together without a behemoth centralized government forcing them to do so.

That, my friends, is libertarianism.