Friday, December 14, 2012

The Sins of the Few

As a country, we have been through this too many times.  Whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago -- these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children.  And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.

~Barack Obama

I will have a substantive debate with anyone over just about anything, with very few caveats.  One such caveat is that how ever ideological you may be, I ask only that your ideology maintains internal consistency.

One of the main debates that I continually have with my more conservative friends regards so-called "entitlements"(your welfare, food-stamps, unemployment benefits, etc.).  The conventional wisdom among my peers seems to be that it is poor and lazy people who are mooching of the government by abusing social programs that is slowing economic growth and contributing greatly to the hard times that have befell all of us.  The key phrase here is "abusing social programs".

I've never understood this mindset.  I understand that in the wake of an economic breakdown, our political representatives' course of action is to divide and polarize us by putting the blame across the aisle or on another class, but the fact remains that so-called "entitlements" are an extremely small sliver of our overall budget, and do not contribute significantly in any way to our debt or our paychecks whatsoever.  If you want to look at what's really strapping your pockets, you should look at Wall Street bankers who gamble with your pensions.  You should look at the "Job Creators" who haven't created any jobs, let alone in the last 12 years of Bush tax cuts they've been enjoying.  You should look at House Republicans who wouldn't allow simple bills like infrastructure to get through.  You should look at austerity measures putting a stranglehold on the public sector because, as it turns out, you need an influx of capital to rebound any business, public or private.  You should look at the supply-side, low-tax, trickle-down economics implemented in the 1980s which not only didn't work, but has actively contributed to some of the most jarring fiscal trends we're currently dealing with.

Like this one:

Or this one:

Or this one:

Or this one (okay, Reaganomics isn't really responsible for this one, but you get my point):

These things are actually what are significantly contributing to the slower-than-we'd-like-cause-we're-impatient-and-have-no-grasp-on-how-close-we-came-to-depression recovery.  It's corporations and Wall St. that are, to this day, posting record profits while we pay all the bills.  But when rich people get tax breaks and preferential treatment they deserve it, yet when poor people get it, it's an entitlement.

Internal consistency is all I ask.

I think this might have something to do with wishful thinking and/or delusion of status.  Coming from middle class suburbia, I know all too well the lifestyle of "keeping up with the Jones'" by way of becoming a blind product sponge.  It is, after all, the only status of success that our economic system encourages: Money.  You are your bank account in the eyes of America, which I believe is a fundamental problem plaguing our existence and contributing to excess greed, private equity vultures, and the overall perversion of American Capitalism.

It is this mindset that I believe are harnessed by wealthy "conservatives" who are then able to convince middle class Americans to vote against their own interests, because such Americans believe on some level, that they are part of the "elite", when, in more cases that not, they aren't.  Look no further than the current Fiscal Cliff arguments for evidence of that.

These people instead continue to believe that it's "moochers" and "takers" that are hurting us.  Well, the number of Welfare recipients have actually gone down.  It the food stamp recipients that have gone up, and I don't know about you, but don't we just make a direct correlation between that and the economy imploding and NOT people suddenly wanting free money?  Wouldn't that be the sensible thing to do? Not to mention, I don't enjoy living off of $300 a week.  I just got off unemployment benefits, and I can assure you, I wasn't taking them cause they were super awesome and I was lazy.

BUT, in spite of that long winded introduction, let's just say, for the sake of argument, that my esteemed friends have a point.  Let's say that there are some people who are scamming the system.  After all, there are bad eggs in every basket, and I'm sure there are people out there who are legitimately okay with sucking on the government teet.  We might should look at what inner-city social constructs contribute to such a mindset, but again, for the sake of argument, lets not and just take it for what it is, and instead, ask this:

Do we punish the many for the sins of the few?

As I speak, we are currently dealing with the fallout from our latest disgusting mass shooting which killed over twenty children in Connecticut.  I ask the above question to compare two fundamentally different issues as if they were similar, based on the common thread of what we should do by people "abusing" laws, to illustrate how ridiculous our priorities in this country have truly become.

So, we come to the curious conclusion that if there are a minority of people abusing entitlements, then we should get rid of an entire social system which is designed and indeed does help people through our darkest of times, yet hundreds have died in the last fifteen years alone by abusing a set of gun laws that are actively hurting and murdering people, but... don't take away my guns?!

I get that the second amendment love comes from a Revolutionary mentality, which is to say, if the government is, say, "treading on you", you can fight back in rebellion.  This, as so many things in the modern era, have become grossly outdated, yet are still perceived as chiseled-in-stone fundamentals of human life.

We just so happen to have tools slightly more powerful than muskets these days, yet we still don't have so much as an assault weapons ban in this country.  Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the fucking face with a handgun that had an extended clip in it.  Why?!  Can someone please explain to me what the fuck you need an AK-47 for in modern America?!  Is it to hunt?  I'm sure you can do that with a handgun that takes some fucking time to reload, and if you're in that much of a hurry, you probably shouldn't be handling a firearm.  Is it to protect you from the tyrannical government?  We live in a country with nuclear bombs and predator drones.  We also live in a country that passes laws like The Patriot Act which infringe directly on your civil liberties, yet conservatives tend to be totally okay with that.  Well, if that's the case, please stop deluding yourself into thinking anything other than that if Big Brother wants you, YOU GON' GET GOT.

By Second Amendment standards, you should be given a musket and a pat on the ass, yet we view this mandate with complete disregard to technological development, to our own peril.  You want more?  When does it stop?  Should we give you your own personal nuke?  How much is too much?  At what point does it stop being a liberty and start being a national security risk?  This is not something that the Second Amendment addresses, because it wasn't a reality of the times.

I'm sick and fucking tired of having to watch these mass slayings on a bi-yearly basis while we argue about fucking welfare reform.  It's fucking disgusting.  Times change, and we need to change with them, or we get left in the dust, or in a pool of our own blood and tears.

So I ask again:

Do we punish the many for the sins of the few?

If we do, maybe we should get our priorities straight.  I'm not personally hurt physically, morally, or financially in any significant way by someone getting help from the government when they need it, but your Glock is designed primarily to do just that.  When it comes to social programs, the sins of the few do not adversely affect the many.  The same cannot be said of firearms.  Regulating gun laws doesn't take away your right to have them, nor does it make your standing or opportunities in life and for social mobility any worse, and therefore is not by definition a punishment.  The same cannot be said of entitlements.

The gun doesn't just affect the one behind the sights, but those in front of the barrel. Unfettered gun laws force us to submit to the whims of the worst angels of our nature.  We become our own collective lowest common denominator.  Yet, many believe we need entitlement reform, but gun laws can stay the way they are.

Internal Consistency.


1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with this. But I gotta admit I'm a little biased or you could say conservative when it comes to guns.

    I don't need an AK-47 or an M-16 but I would definitely enjoy having either. Not because I gotta protect myself against the governments or to hunt. But because I happen to really enjoy weaponry and would probably just use them for target shooting. I dunno maybe something like FPSRussia does on Youtube, minus the whole posting videos to Youtube thing.