Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Defy the Labels

Been awhile since I took the time to add anything to this blog.

It’s not that I don’t care.

I do care.

I’ve been listening.

I’ve been observing.

I’ve been watching.

I’ve been reading.

I’ve been looking.

I’ve been wondering.

Why do we shove people into boxes and slap a label on them and their boxes?

I have yet to find among my so-called Democrat friends, one who believes that everyone should have an abortion, should be allowed to marry their gay lover and that the Affordable Care Act is perfect.

I have yet to find among my so-called Republican friends, one who believes that we need to remove all government regulation, repeal the civil rights laws from the 1960′s and give all the tax breaks to Wall Street.

Yet these are the stereotypes that are being pushed by the media.  I was comparing what the liberal media likes to talk about (how bad and evil Republicans are), and what the conservative media likes to talk about ((how bad and evil Democrats are) and it’s ridiculous.   Last week I was flipping back and forth between Fox News and MSNBC and watching them attack the other side.  Same stories, different slants.

I believe that you will find kooks on both side of the political spectrum.  Some want our current President elected to a 3rd term. Others want him to be removed from office now, if not yesterday.

Please be careful when you hear the words and labels from the media.   Do not assume that they define your friends/enemies on the other side.

Want to have a meaningful political discussion with friends and family?

I know it sounds scary, but it could open some doors and build some bridges.

Draw up a list of issues that are being talked about by our politicians.

Take those issues, one at a time and know what you currently believe and why.  Talk with others and have them do the same.  The goal is not to judge them and label them.

The goal is to understand why they believe what they believe in.

I bet you are going to find that those nasty labels and boxes don’t fit so perfectly on you or your friends.

Will New Gun Laws Work?

It’s one of those hot topics right now.

Each time there is a mass shooting, the subject of gun control heats up.

The Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14th, 2012 was supposed to be the final straw.

Finally we would get the gun control laws passed and no longer would we have senseless shooting deaths in the United States.

Politicians spoke out for and against stricter gun laws and the promises were made that we would all be safer.

Now we are 5 months removed from that day in December and it appears that action will be coming soon on a Federal level.

It seems like no one is happy with the compromises that are being made to get a new law passed.

The anti-gun crowd says the new law doesn’t go far enough while the pro-gun crowd says it is the 1st step to taking away their guns.

I believe that there are two major problems with all of this.

1st off, I don’t believe our Federal Government has the constitutional authority to create laws, rules, or regulations at this level.  This is a State by State issue.  Many states have passed laws already.  Tough laws, laws that are appropriate for their individual states and citizens.

2nd, I don’t believe this will achieve what the gun control advocates are “promising”.

Saturday morning, I was watching the show “Up” on MSNBC and one of the guests in the panel discussion represented a group called “New Yorkers Against Gun Violence”.    That is an organization that by name, everyone except organized crime and gangs could support.  I mean, if there truly was an opposite, opposing group, they would go by the name of “New Yorkers For Gun Violence”, right?

The issue is how do we make our society safer and prevent gun violence.  But the discussion is being focused on creating new laws that restrict the use and sale of firearms and ammo.

Here’s a basic flaw to the premise that we need more laws.

Nearly every shooting of a human being is already illegal.  In other words, we already have laws against shooting and killing each other.  These laws are being broken by law breakers.  Some call these law breakers criminals.  Is there any law that will stop criminals from doing bad things?  No.

Punishment versus reward is a concept that needs to be considered.  I drive 60 miles a day. Half of those miles are on roads with a 55 mph speed limit.  I can go 60, maybe 65 without getting a ticket.  70 and I’ve definitely broken the law.  Earlier this month, I let my speed inch up to 70 and a kind sheriffs deputy just flashed his lights to remind me to slow down.  I heeded his warning and now use my cars cruise control to keep my speed at 65 or less.  The punishment for speeding is costly, so I choose to obey.  My reward is keeping my driving record clean and not having to fork over extra money for tickets and increased insurance premiums.

This punishment versus reward thinking didn’t apply to the Sandy Hook shooting, or several other mass shootings. The shooters died.  Sometimes by their own guns.  But while these mass shootings that get so much publicity are on  the minds of the public today, they probably represent a tiny percentage of gun violence in our country.

Finding accurate numbers is nearly impossible.  Here are a few sites that offer some data:

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20130201-closer-look-at-gun-violence-statistics-can-offer-clarity-amid-the-emotion.ece

http://www.heedinggodscall.org/content/pfctoolkit-10

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/02/gun-violence-in-america-the-13-key-questions-with-13-concise-answers/272727/

That last source has a few quotes I want to share:

Several criminologists deny that mass shootings are increasing. Although these incidents dominate headlines and conversation, it’s important to remember that they account for only a small fraction of gun violence in the United States. For example, the spike of 72 deaths in 2012 includes only 0.8% of all firearm-related homicides in 2011 (the last year for which statistics are available.) Many gun deaths, especially in large cities, never make the news. This means that the most effective gun violence reduction strategies — in terms of lives saved — might not target mass shootings at all.

And:

In principle, it’s not necessary to keep guns away from everyone, just those who would misuse them. Background checks are promising because a high fraction of future killers already have a criminal record. In one study in Illinois, 71% of those convicted of homicide had a previous arrest, and 42% had a prior felony conviction.

Yet current federal gun regulation (see above) contains an enormous loophole: While businesses that deal in guns are required to keep records and run background checks, guns can be transferred between private citizens without any record. This makes straw purchases easy. In other words, these laws may generally make guns harder to come by, but those who really want them can still obtain them through private sales.

Also, although it’s generally illegal to sell guns across state lines, in practice this is very common. There’s abundant evidence that under the current system, guns flow easily between legal and illegal markets. Washington, D.C,. banned all handguns in 1976, and Chicago did the same in 1982. In neither case did the percentage of suicides using firearms — considered a very good proxy for general gun availability — fall significantly.

Also:

Here are some approaches that don’t seem to work, at least not by themselves, or in the ways they’ve been tried so far:

  • Stiffer prison sentences for gun crimes.
  • Gun buy-backs: In a country with one gun per person, getting a few thousand guns off the street in each city may not mean very much.
  • Safe storage laws and public safety campaigns.

We don’t really have good enough evidence to evaluate these strategies:

  • Background checks, such as the Brady Act requires.
  • Bans on specific weapons types, such as the expired 1994 assault weapons ban or the handgun bans in various cities.

These policies do actually seem to reduce gun violence, at least somewhat or in some cases:

  • More intensive probation strategies: increased contact with police, probation officers and social workers.
  • Changes in policing strategies, such increased patrols in hot spots.
  • Programs featuring cooperation between law enforcement, community leaders, and researchers, such as Project Safe Neighborhoods.

There is no obvious solution here, and there’s a huge amount we still don’t know. But it’s possible that combinations of these policies, or variations in a different context, might work better. For example, background checks would probably be more effective if they were also applied to private sales. Also, of course, this list does not include policies that have not yet been tried.

If you’ve read all 1000 plus words I’ve written, so far, congratulations.  You apparently care and want answers.  You want to make a difference.

I believe new gun laws alone will not work.  As mentioned above, we need more community involvement.  We need to provide alternatives to a gang or criminal lifestyle.  We need to take responsibility for each other.  Person to Person, at a grass roots level.  You don’t even need any organized effort or special funding to make this work.  You and I just need to open our eyes, our ears, our lives to others whom we can have a positive impact on, and begin, one person at a time.

Gay Marriage in America

Earlier this week I wrote about this subject on my other website.  I proposed that the arguments that were presented to the Supreme Court in the two separate cases they were presented actually has a solution that is both a compromise and one that can create a victory for both sides.

I encourage you to read it by going here.

One of the problems is that marriage is a states rights issue.

In other words, constitutionally, the Federal Government is not given power over marriage, it is done state by state by each state government.

Yet the Federal Government gives people like me, a heterosexual married guy special consideration because I am married to my wife.  These special considerations are not given to homosexual couples.

What special considerations?

One example is income tax.  My wife and I get to join our incomes and expenses and file jointly as a married couple.   Last week I asked our tax preparer to double check to see what the difference would be if we filed our taxes separately.

The difference was over $1000 more that we would owe if we were not allowed to file as a married couple.

I encourage you to read what I wrote for a more complete solution to this issue of  Gay Marriage.

Why This Blog?

Welcome to those of you who have recently discovered this blog and those of you who have subscribed.

This website is not my usual hang-out.  It is merely a place where I will share thoughts of a political nature.

When I started blogging 10 years ago on another blog platform, I purposely wanted to keep my political thoughts away from my other writings.

Politics can be very devise, it can create heated debate, and for some it can create wedges in otherwise good relationships.

My professional life had nothing to do with politics and I worked with folks who were very liberal and others who were very conservative.  I worked in the world of sales and media.  Mostly radio advertising along with media and marketing consulting.

But I also wanted to capture my thoughts “on paper” on occasion to help my family to understand, if they want, where I stand on the role of government in our lives and related items of a political nature.

Unless you Googled “ScLoHo” you would not find this website.  Actually for a few years, I even hid this from the search engines as I did not want my political thoughts to be used either in my favor or against me as a public figure working in the media world.

Now when you Google “ScLoHo” this site appears as one of the first page Search Engine Results.

If you dig in and read when I have presented over the past 6 years, you’ll find I am generally conservative but I often contradict myself too.

Politics are all around us, not just in our government.  I encourage every one of us to do some examining of the world we live in, and be prepared to have a solid answer on things you believe.

 

The Illusion of Fair

As I recall the months between July 1998 and November 2001, I remember a particular value that a woman tried to live her life by.

That value was Fairness.

That woman was my Mom.

I moved back to Fort Wayne the summer of 98, back to the home I spent most of my childhood living in.  A few months before I returned my Dad passed away.

Three years before moving back I became a divorced Dad and was living about an hour away, in the same community as my ex-wife and we shared parenting with the help of her parents.

But when my Dad passed away after receiving the news of incurable cancer a few months earlier, I switched my people priorities.

It was a huge struggle emotionally as to what direction to go.

My new family (wife and kids) had been my priority as a husband and Dad.

Even when divorce entered the picture, I stuck around fighting for joint custody as my kids Dad for the first 3 years.

See, I didn’t think it was fair that one person could end a marriage without the agreement of the other, but gave in when I saw no other choice.

But I also didn’t think it was fair for my kids to be stuck in the middle and lose a relationship with me, their mom or grandparents.

That’s why I stuck around, for the love of my 3 kids, wanting to create as much fairness in their lives as possible despite circumstances they were beyond their control.

And quite frankly, I was not sure what to do next except what I was doing.

Enter the reality of my Mom in the spring and summer of 1998.

She needed to move to a smaller place without stairs.

She used a walker and cane and literately would have to crawl up and down stairs to get from the main floor (where the kitchen was) to the basement (where the laundry and a bathroom were) or the 2nd floor (Bedrooms and another bathroom).

She wasn’t mentally frail, or aged.  She turned 65 in 1998.  But she had health issues including stress fractures in her legs that were related to the osteoporosis she had which were the last of several other health issues she had dealt with as an adult.

Being her one and only offspring, I felt an obligation to do what I could to help her achieve a move to a more reasonable place.

Looking back on this decision I made, I also know that I wanted a change in my own living circumstances and this was a temporary solution.

Was it fair?  For my kids, I doubt it.  I had promised them to stay with them despite their parents divorce.

For my ex-wife, I did what was fair and faithfully paid child support.

For everyone, I was also faithful in my involvement with my kids visitation.

Except one weekend in June.

It was a weekend that involved a trip to New England to attend my cousins wedding.  It was a trip my Mom wanted to take and I wanted to go too.  So we went.

In the pit of my stomach, I knew that despite all of the fun I was having visiting family and seeing a part of the country I had not visited since my teens, something wasn’t fair.

That something was due to the weekend I was gone was also Fathers Day weekend.

The first Fathers Day that my kids would spend without their Dad.

That wasn’t fair.

It has taken time and talks, but my kids and I have gotten through that and other life events.

Life isn’t fair, so we make the best of what we have at any given time.

You may wonder what this has to do with politics or government.

As I said at the beginning, I spent nearly 3 years sharing a home with my Mom, the last 3 years of her life and saw the importance she placed on everything being fair.  She wanted even distribution of things at Christmas time for her 3 grandkids,  Everyone got the same number of gifts or same amount of money spent on them, at least that was her goal.

Fairness is what our government officials say they are looking to create too.

Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Liberals, Progressives, Moderates, and Conservatives all have some area that they say isn’t fair and they want it to be more fair than it is.

Sorry, but life doesn’t work that way.

Not in this country, or nearly any nation on earth.  There will always be unfairness.

So do we give up?

No.

Please no.

But be very, very careful Mr/Mrs Politician and Bureaucrat.

When you play with the balance of power and fairness, there are unintended consequences.

And as I look at the example of my three kids and two stepkids now…

I see that each have adapted to whatever unfairness has occurred in their lives and adapted over time.

Which are lessons for all of us.

What If (part one)

I’m going to do some occasional wandering down the “what if” trail on this website starting with:

What If  people obeyed the laws that are already on the books?

Would it reduce crime?

Would it eliminate crime?

Would we still need law enforcement officers?

Think about this the next time you want another law passed.

What if we had a review of all of our laws and start eliminating those that are no longer relevant?

What if we applied this standard not just to laws, but regulations?

What if a healthy majority (60%) of United States citizens knew the difference and started discussing this?

Would it lead to changes?

Your thoughts are always welcome.

Fighting for Life Arguments

Weaved into our pastors message at church this weekend was a reference to the Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice Movement.

(At the end of this story, I’ll share my church habits and history.)

The reason for the pastor bringing abortion up was at least two fold.

This weekend was the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

Also the recent Time Magazine cover which says, 40 years ago abortion-rights activists won an epic battle with Roe v.Wade. They’ve been losing ever since.

time cover

The Supreme Court issued their vote and decision on January 22, 1973.

It’s true that the past 40 years have not settled the abortion debate, but intensified it over time.

I know women who have found themselves with a choice to make and some decided to carry the baby to term, give birth and give that baby up for adoption.  Others I know who in the same situation decided to keep their child as a single parent and sometimes it worked out, other times it was a rough life for the Mom and the kids.

A rough life is better than no life.  The Pro-Choice advocates always talk about the choice of the Mom, but not of the unborn child.

I have yet to meet a woman personally who is proud to have had an abortion or multiple abortions.  I would like to meet one so I can have a better understanding of where they are coming from.

If you are Pro-Choice, I would like to hear your reasons why, backed with research too please.

I have met women who have lived through the guilt and depression of having an abortion.  One in particular told me she feared that God was going to punish her for her multiple abortions by killing the children she later had.

As our pastor pointed out, and I already believed,  Sin is sin. Confess any and all sins and we are forgiven due to the saving grace made possible when Jesus became our substitute and died as a sacrifice for all our sins.  The sin of an abortion or the sin of telling a little white lie are all equally sin for which Christians are forgiven.

A few more thoughts about fighting for life this weekend.

Saturday night my wife and I also watched a DVD of the movie Bella for the 1st time. It was a random selection from 4 films we borrowed from the library for the weekend and woven in the story is abortion and adoption.

Saturday morning the talking head shows on MSNBC included more discussion about gun control and the likelihood of any meaningful legislation that will prevent violent acts like the shootings of kids last year in Connecticut. One of the guests who wants to protect school kids from being slaughtered also spoke in praise of her right to slaughter an unborn child with an abortion.

A few years ago I read the Freakonomics books and one chapter included this:

The estimated number of lives lost varies but one study suggests 3000 per day which would mean 50 million over the past 40 years.

Let me share one more clip, this time from President Obama:

The closing statement at the end, around 1:40 about saving one child is justification for the changes they want to make about guns, what if that statement was applied to abortion policies?
Just like I believe the answer to gun violence goes beyond a few simple laws, the answer to saving lives lost to abortion will also go beyond a few simple laws.

But my question is shouldn’t we fight for all human life?
For your information, I have been a member of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana for about 10 years. My personal viewpoints are not always in sync with our church, but over time I have been able to see their biblical viewpoint on a couple of items that I originally disagreed with and now I am neutral on who’s view is correct.  I grew up in the Lutheran Church and then as an adult have been a member or participant in Baptist, Presbyterian, and other non-denominational independent evangelical Christian fellowships.

My return to the Lutheran church in 2000 was due to making peace with my previous experience with the denomination with prayer and conversations.  You’ll usually find my wife and I attending on Saturday evening for the contemporary service or Monday evening on occasion.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.