The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘regulations’ Category

WHINERS

If you’ve been reading this blog for some time you may remember that for a six month period of time I took leave of my executive search business to work as the manager of the fulfillment center for a record company in which I was an investor.  The first responsibility of this assignment was recruiting one hundred individuals who would process orders that we received through our advertising efforts.

While I was comfortable with the interviewing and hiring process from my search business, I realized that there would be a challenge hiring this many people.  These were full time jobs – but they only were going to last for the first quarter of the following year since we did eighty percent of our business in that time period.  Most people either wanted a full time permanent job or were interested in working for only a few days a week.  As a result I realized that although these were relatively low skilled jobs, I would have to offer more than the going wage in order to fill all the openings.

At the time, the minimum wage was $2.60 per hour.  I began hiring people at a rate of $4.50 an hour and after the first wave of applicants were interviewed, I still had sixty openings between the two shifts we were to be open for business.  I continued to advertise and in order to entice additional workers, raised the wages they were offered to $5.00 per hour.  That still left me with thirty open positions.  Finally I hired ten more people at $5.50 per hour.  To fill the remaining openings, I contacted an agency that assisted people who wanted to work but were wheelchair handicapped.  They were able to refer twenty of their clients who accepted positions with us at that final higher rate of pay.

January came and we were, as we expected, extremely busy.  I worked both shifts and moved into a local hotel so that I could oversee the facility’s activities, returning home only for one day after the end of the second Saturday shift.  I continued that until we started gearing down in April.

Several weeks after our busy period began, my assistant informed me that one of the new employees had asked to speak with me.  She showed her into my office.  I asked her how things were going and was pleased that she seemed to enjoy the work.  However, she did have a question.

If you’ve ever worked in an office environment then you know that the matter of who is making how much is information that employees ferret out from one another in no time.  That was what had happened in this woman’s case and was the reason she had requested to see me.

As it turned out, she was one of the few employees who had been hired at the highest rate – and she had discovered that many of her co-workers who were hired before she signed on were earning a lesser amount.  She had come in to let me know that she felt that was “wrong.”

I explained how I had begun hiring at one rate and the people who had accepted employment at that rate apparently felt that salary was fair or they would not have accepted the position.  I certainly had no ability to coerce them into taking the position – that came about as a voluntary decision on their part.

This woman went on to say that, “she didn’t feel it was right that she was making more money than others for doing the same work they were doing.”  We went back and forth on this for about ten minutes and I could see that I was making no headway in changing her opinion.  So I said, “You know, I can appreciate what you’re saying and I certainly don’t want to create an atmosphere where any of my employees feels uncomfortable.  In order to resolve this, would you feel better about working here if I reduced your hourly rate from $5.50 to $4.50 per hour?”  She responded that would not be something she wanted and she went back to work.  I never heard anything more about wages from this employee.

Perhaps this employee was just ahead of her time.  Like so many people of her mindset, she had the highest ideals and wanted justice for all – until it affected her personally.  If she is still alive today, I’m sure she would applaud a decision by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights requiring that a high school in Canton, Michigan remove the bleachers that parents installed on the boys baseball field because they are of a “higher standard” than the bleachers in the girls softball field.  This came about after an anonymous complaint alerted the Feds to this horrific situation.

The fact that the material and labor for the bleachers was paid for and contributed by parents did not matter to the DOE.  They were consumed with the lack of parity between the two fields and the fact that the girls field was not as nice as the boys field after it was renovated.  I can’t help wonder if it were the girls parents who had installed new bleachers and someone had filed an anonymous complaint about the boys field whether they would have taken the same action.  But that is a matter of nothing more than conjecture.  As is the question of why the parents of girls on the softball team, were they similarly offended, didn’t make the same effort to upgrade their children’s playing field.

We live in an age, encouraged through government fiat, of finger pointing.  Rather than attempt to find ways that we can improve our own situation, we waste our time looking at those who have more than we have and shout, “unfair.”  Somehow we look at tearing down others and feel empowered if we can find a government agency who will make their lives difficult and perhaps precipitate their downfall.  That is incredibly pathetic.

By the way, if you remember back to those last twenty employees who were handicapped, when I hired them I realized that it would be difficult if not impossible for them to work for me because there were, at the time, no handicapped accessible facility requirements that were mandated and the way our warehouse was constructed, they would have had no access.  I did find a solution for this issue.

I was able to find a steel ramp which we put in place when their bus arrived and removed when they were all inside.  We repeated the process when they left after their shift ended.  I didn’t need a government regulation to figure this out – just common sense.

But the truth of the matter is that if I wanted to hire these people today, I’m sure that the federal government would not accept my very workable solution and would have prevented me from hiring them – and most likely would have demanded that until I retrofitted the entire entrance I would have to shut down – thus eliminating the positions not only of our handicapped employees but all my other employees as well.

To paraphrase an old expression, “Whiners never quit.”  But in today’s climate and culture, there is no dearth of government bureaucrats willing to listen to their complaints.  America, what a country.

SANTA’S WORKSHOP

It was nearly quitting time a few days after Christmas when the door knocker at Santa’s Workshop began sounding.  As he was the nearest of the elves, Godwin walked to the front of the factory, hopped up on a little stool and then on to the stepladder by the door.  When he reached the top rung, he swung open the peep hole and saw the snow blowing fiercely outside.  He was used to that – but what surprised him were all the tanks and other vehicles and the large assembly of men and soldiers who were outside the door.

“May I help you,?” Godwin asked.

A man held up a badge which said, ‘Federal Bureaucracy of Interrogation.  Godwin had never seen one of these before.

“We’re here to see one S. Claus,” the man said.

“Just a minute, sir,” Godwin said.  And he closed the peep hole and quickly scrambled down the ladder.

When he got to the bottom he turned to face the workshop, put his hands around his mouth and yelled, “Santa.  We have visitors.”

Santa was in his office.  He had just finished setting up the “Naughty and Nice” book for the next season.  He grabbed the book and put it on the shelf space which had been reserved for it, next to all the other ones that he had inscribed in years past.  He pulled back from the desk, walked through the workshop and went to the front door.

When he opened the door the agent at the front of the entourage without greeting barged through the door and shoved his badge in Santa’s face.

“Special agent N. Quisitor.  Are you S. Claus?”

Santa, a little startled at the man’s rudeness replied, “I’m Santa Claus.  May I help you?”

“Please, gentlemen.  Come in from the cold.”  And the group waiting outside the door came into the warm workshop, stomping the snow from their boots.

“We’re here because there are some serious problems which have been raised by your operation.  In fact calling them problems is an understatement.  I have a list of violations, an extensive list for which you must answer.”

“Violations of what,?” Santa asked.

“Federal regulations,” Special Agent N. Quisitor replied.

“I can’t imagine anything that we’ve done anything wrong, “ Santa replied.  “What exactly are these violations?”

“Well, to start with, we have no record of your filing any tax returns.  That means that you are not only in violation of the IRC as a non-filer but you have not paid over the FICA tax you are withholding from your employees’ paychecks, nor have you paid your employer’s share of that tax.  And we have no record of your having paid any unemployment insurance for your employees.”

“Well, that’s easy to understand.  You see, sir we don’t pay the elves any salary.  They work for the simple joy of it and receive their room and board in return.  And we don’t make any profit at this business.  We do this simply for the joy of being able to provide presents for the children all around the world.”

A look of shock came over N. Quisitor’s face.  He responded, “Well, in addition to your failure to file the appropriate returns you are also in violation of the Federal Minimum Wage law.  In fact, you’re probably also in violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution which abolished slavery.  Your elves are little more than indentured servants.”

“Indeed,” said Santa.  “Nothing could be further from the truth.  Feel free to ask any of the elves if they are held against their will.  They all share my joy at the work we do and if any of them wanted to leave he is free to do so at any time.  But if you speak with them, you’ll find they have all been with me for centuries and are happy to be here.”

“Then there’s the matter of your violating OSHA requirements that you provide ramp accessible access to your facilities for your vertically challenged and otherwise physically handicapped employees.  You will admit that your elf employees have a height issue, wouldn’t you?  I suspect that you haven’t properly retrofitted your lavatories to accommodate them either.”

N. Quisitor went on.  “Then there’s the issue that there are only male elves here in your workshop.  That is a clear violation of the EEOC requirement that employment be offered irrespective of gender.”

“Well, you see,” said Santa, “the lady elves are all at home taking care of their children.  They are busy rearing them, feeding them and they also are the teachers in Elf School.”

“And what is the curriculum in your so-called ‘Elf School’?   Do you use the Common Core which is now mandatory in all grammar schools?”

“No.  We teach the same thing that we have taught for centuries – toy making,  Since that’s what we do here, that’s what the young elves need to learn.”

“Well, that’s a violation of Article XIII of the ‘Universal Mandatory Education Act’.  You will be held accountable for this gross deficiency and violation of the law.”

“Now, on to the allegation that you have been depositing coal in certain of the stockings which people hang.  Is that true?”

“Well, sadly it is true.  You see, I would rather that no one get any coal but unfortunately … ,” which was as much as Santa could say before Special Agent N. Quisitor cut him off.

“Aha.  You realize that you are in violation of EPA regulation  27399 – Section 124 Paragraph 9.  “The use of coal or making trade in coal whether anthracite or bituminous is hereby prohibited as it is responsible for pollution and global warming.  Are you admitting that you are violating this regulation?  Furthermore, I noticed as we came in that there is a herd of reindeer outside your facility.  Are those yours?”

“Well of course they are.  There’s Prancer and Dancer…”  N. Quisitor interrupted the jolly old man and said, “You realize that reindeer in their droppings produce methane gas – a further violation of EPA regulations – and are one of the  contributing factors to the melting of the polar ice caps.  On these EPA charges alone you have a lot of explaining to do.  I hope you have a good lawyer.”

“Last but not least, it’s our understanding that you make your delivery of these toys by hitching the reindeer to your sleigh, flying around the world.  However, the FAA has no record of your ever having filed a flight plan with them.  Do you realize how you are endangering the public safety by conducting unauthorized flights, potentially compromising the well-ordered routes which licensed airlines fly?”

“Well, you know I’ve been doing this for decades – in fact long before there were airplanes.  And in all that time there’s never been an accident – not one.”

“Mr. Claus.  You’ve been very lucky – but you, sir are an accident waiting to happen.  Get your coat and come with us.”

And they took Santa Claus away – in handcuffs.  And in their hearts they knew they had done the right thing – making the world safer for bureaucracy.

WATCHING OUR WASTELINE

If you run a small business, one of your most important concerns is how to provide your clients with quality services and products and, at the same time, maximize your businesses’ profits.  By profits, I mean what you wind up taking home for yourself and your family – after the government gets its mandatory cut.

To many, the term profit is a dirty word.  They portray the typical businessman as a middle aged, jowly white man wearing a napkin tucked under his chin as he prepares to feast on the livers of the workers whom he employs.  Their mindset is that the way your typical businessman improves his profits is by taking unfair advantage of his employees.  Obviously, he is not one of the touchy-feely “good guys” which is how they perceive themselves

Perhaps there are people who operate their businesses that way – but not for long.  A free market gives everyone choices – and that includes those who work for businesses, small and large.  In a healthy financial environment, the intelligent employee will seek out the best employment opportunity and eagerly exit that sort of environment.

The problem with the ghoulish picture of the profit-driven business owner which is in vogue is that those who have captured this image have little or no experience with the way a successful business actually works.  While ignorance of the law is no excuse if we infract one, apparently that same principle does not apply when it comes to describing business.

Let’s return to the underlying premise of the left that making a profit is something that is inherently bad.  Their theory is that it is government that should be the distributor of all that is good and holy and wisely metes out to its citizens that amount of goods and services which is in their best interest.  But where does government get the funds to accomplish this noble mission?  In large measure, it comes from the profits of businesses which it taxes.  No profits, no taxes.

Then consider the company that consistently loses money.  Let’s pretend it happens to be the bank where you have your accounts.  Ultimately, one day you show up at the ATM and find that your funds are frozen while the FDIC figures out which profitable bank it can cajole into taking over from those who mis-managed this institution.

There is no business that can sustain or would tolerate a management team that loses money year after year.  That is to say, there is no privately owned business that would or could do that.  But there is one business that does not perceive itself as needing to follow the rules of profit and loss.  That business is government.

The recent partial shutdown of some government departments sheds some interesting insight into how government “works.”  While much of the media attention is focused on the closing of our National Parks and the disruption to the lives of tourists who planned trips there, less attention has been paid to the fact that this is not the first time such a shutdown has occurred and plans had previously been made to identify “essential personnel” to keep government functioning on a limited basis.  One of those departments is the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA has the responsibility of protecting us from environmental damage – most of which, it believes, is induced by mankind.

It is the EPA which has had significant input in blocking the Keystone Pipeline, which would create thousands of jobs and help to make America completely energy independent of the countries from which we import oil and which are hostile to us.

It is the EPA which has created regulations which effectively will kill the coal industry, eliminating thousands of jobs and raising the cost to consumers whose energy needs are provided by burning coal.

It is the EPA which has identified the number of its staff who are “essential.”  By their own statement, of the approximately 20,000 EPA employees, only 7% of them are “essential.”  But the agency has stated that in order to “effectively enforce” all the regulations that it has created, it needs to hire an additional 230,000 people to get the job done – at a cost of $21 Billion per year.

Maybe there is something positive that will come out of the partial government shutdown.  Perhaps it will force us to look at the way we spend money on supernumerary people and programs.  Perhaps we will pull our belts one notch tighter and constrict our wasteline just a little bit.  But I have to tell you, I really doubt it.

WHEN IS A FETUS ACTUALLY A PERSON? IT DEPENDS.

If you are concerned that the object of this post is to revisit the question of abortion you will be disappointed.  I’ve expressed myself on that issue quite clearly and those who have read this blog for some period understand that I argue against this “procedure” on Constitutional, rather than moral grounds.  Nevertheless, with the advent of Roe v. Wade, abortion procedures are the law of the land.  So is Obamacare and so was slavery.  That something is the law of the land does not mean that it is necessarily a good thing.

Clearly, whether your position, is Pro Life or Pro Abortion, if we knew with certainty that a fetus, at some given moment in time, was a person, we would feel compelled to offer it all the protections to which any person who was born was afforded by our Constitution.  But we can’t.  Frankly, looking at the number of mass murders both in this country and elsewhere throughout the world, describing the perpetrators of these atrocities as human seems a stretch.

Those who are Pro Abortion justify their position variously.  One such justification is that performing an abortion to save a mother’s life seems reasonable to me.  I have more difficulty with the case of rape or incest – but I suppose a person could make an argument in those cases as well.  As we all know, these represent a very small percentage of the millions of abortions which have been performed since Roe v. Wade became the “law of the land.”

Returning to my original thesis, by defining a fetus as a “non-person”, we can justify performing abortions.  Were it otherwise, I think even those who are morally moribund might find it difficult to justify their views.  That a fetus is nothing more than an “appendage,” to be dispensed with as desired, is the official position of this administration.  Or is it?

In the previous post, I wrote about Obamacare’s first day as the “law of the land.”  As part of that post I published the regulation which deals with the question of whether a person, seeking insurance on the health exchanges, would be entitled to receive a “subsidy,” based on that person’s income and family size.  I suspect that this regulation, which was approximately four times the length of the post in which it was included, might not have been as diligently read as the language in which it is written is confusing and about as interesting as reading the list of preservatives contained in a box of Rice-A-Roni.

So for purposes of extracting something that is germane to this post, the following is a quote from the regulation which enables a person to determine how many people are in a household so that their insurance “subsidy” can be calculated accurately:

“Family size means the number of persons counted as members of an individual’s household. In the case of determining the family size of a pregnant woman, the pregnant woman is counted as herself plus the number of children she is expected to deliver.” – 42 CFR–PART 435

There is little in the regulation which is easily understandable to the average person.  But this particular paragraph seems crystal clear to me.  At the same time that Obamacare mandates that all insurance contracts pay for abortion procedures, presumably because the fetus is a non-human appendage, it then goes on, in this regulation, to define the unborn fetus as a person or, in the case of multiple births, persons – calling them children.

With this administration in charge, it’s got to be a confusing and dangerous time for kids – especially ones who have yet to be born.

OUR LIVES ARE AN OPEN BOOK

The reality is that apparently Obamacare is going to move forward with the state exchanges open for business in October, 2013.  It will probably take a little bit of time for us to really see the full impact of how poorly designed this law was from inception.

Of course, by illegally deferring the employer reporting mandate, the administration put off (until after the mid-term elections) some of the effect this portion of the law would have in reducing the number of workers who will have their work weeks cut in order to avoid the act’s onerous requirements.  So we will have to wait until 2015 to see how harmfully this affects the economy and “recovery”.

Of course, now that Congress has gained an exemption for themselves and their staffers and then gone on vacation (although they have a long way to go to catch up with the vacation time the Prez has taken), these esteemed lawmakers can just sit back and let the dice roll as the Obamacare craps game plays itself out.

That, of course, is really only the concern for those of us who remain who actually will be compelled to obey the law.  The unions who were ardent advocates for the passage of universal coverage have now looked at the law (probably ahead of former Speaker Nancy (Pip Squeak) Pelosi and decided that it reeks and have asked for exemptions.  This includes the union representing those who are given the responsibility of administering a significant portion of the law – the IRS.

While we do not know how much of this law will play out – whether we include the limitation of services (death panels), the actual cost of obtaining insurance, whether the predication of Obamacare’s success that younger, healthier people will actually enroll or just pay the rather minimal penalty that will apply in its first year of existence which could sink it, there is one thing that we do know now.

The administration (translation Health and Human Services) which has had nearly four years to develop a secure system to maintain the personal information to which it will be entrusted, has yet to test their system and prove that it is hacker-proof and secure.  It missed its first deadline to do so earlier this year and is going to try again later this month.  We will need to see if they are able to accomplish this.

The IT systems developers with whom I have spoken have unanimously doubted the likelihood that this test will prove the system to be secure.  Their experience suggests that a system of this scope and magnitude needs one to two years of constant testing before it is safe to unleash.

You’ve probably heard of a service called “Life Lock” which is supposed to protect your financial information from hacker intrusion.  There are a number of such services which attempt to alert us and provide early detection against hacker intrusion into our private financial records.  But what this service protects against, the amount of data that they monitor on our behalf, is so small compared with that which will be collected under Obamacare that it pales in comparison.

Imagine listing not only your social security number, your DOB, your home address, your marital status but add to that your entire health history – all reposited in one unsecure data base.  What a field day for our hacker friends to gain complete access to our most intimate, private matters.  Are you comfortable with exposing your life to anyone who is clever enough to hack into these servers?

But let’s assume, and this is a big assumption, that HHS is successful in implementing a secure system.  We will have eliminated one threat – or so we hope.  But there is another that might be even more dangerous.

Think about the bureaucrats who will have access to all that personal information.  Under normal circumstances and with a functional administration that conducted its affairs based on some at least minimal moral standard, that might not be much of a concern.  But that is not this administration.

We have all heard President Obama descry those who are “distracting the American people by raising the specter of all the ‘phony scandals.’”   Those, of course include the truth about Benghazi; the revelation that the IRS not only targeted conservative organizations – delaying their approving tax exempt status for purely political reasons – but the latest part of that “phony scandal” that they apparently communicated information to the Federal Elections Commission and redacted (translation deleted) certain information which they might have had to supply to Congressional committees based on what their friends at the DEA taught them; and, of course, the last “phony scandal” that the NSA has actively been collecting information on law abiding Americans and archiving what we once thought was personal, privileged communications.

My grammar school English teachers would have raked me across the coals for producing something akin to that last lengthy paragraph.  But when the administration continues to provide so much fodder, it’s hard not to run on a bit too long.

With an ever-growing list of such malevolence, it’s simply too great a leap of faith to believe that those in this administration will not use whatever information is available to benefit their own political agenda and not the citizens of this country.

reallyyoustilltrustthegovernment

WHO’S GOT THE POWER? (PART ONE)

Those of us who had the benefit of learning grammar as part of our elementary school curriculum may remember that words which modify nouns are known as adjectives.  An example would be “Fearless Leader” – as it was used by Jay Ward in “Rocky and Bullwinkle” – perhaps the most creative cartoon series of all time.

Recently, I’ve noticed a trend in journalism.  I’m not sure if this is an intentional attempt to introduce yet another classification into our grammar, but it seems that certain nouns almost always are preceded by the same adjective – as though the two are inseparable.  I refer to this new entry into the English language as an adje-noun.  The most apparent example to me is the “POWERFUL NRA”.

Being powerful means that someone or something has a great deal of inherent strength and exerts that power to achieve its ends.  In the world of politics, at least in the United States, that usually takes the form of lobbying our elected representatives to influence them to vote for those laws which will benefit a company or an association.  A great deal of money is spent by respective organizations to accomplish that mission.

As I have heard so much since the Newtown tragedy about the Powerful NRA’s gun lobby, I thought I would take a look at how powerful that organization actually is, how much they spend on their lobbying efforts and to compare that to other industries and groups which also engage in lobbying activities.

What follows is a list of lobbyists by industry for the calendar year 2012, compiled by OpenSecrets.org:

Opensecretsindustry groups

The original link to this chart may be found at https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/top.php?showYear=2012&indexType=i

If you go to the source and want to review this information, clicking on each industry brings up the companies and organizations which are included in the compilation.  Incidentally, this data is available going back to 1998 and although there is some slight variation on who spends the most money on a year to year basis, the same industries consistently appear at the top of the list.

If you spend a few minutes with this chart, perhaps you will see the same thing that I noticed.  There are four industries, Pharmaceuticals/Health Products; Hospitals/Nursing Homes; Health Professionals; and Health Services/HMO’s which aggregately spent $359 Million in 2012 to advance their agendas.

In addition, if you look at the detail under Insurance, the top two lobbyists in that category were Blue Cross/Blue Shield and America’s Health Insurance Plans which paid an additional $17 Million to lobbyists.  That comes to a total of $376 Million spent in one year by businesses and professionals in the Health Care Industry.

I returned to the OpenSecrets.org website to try to put the powerful NRA’s lobbying efforts in perspective.  Here is the link to that information:

http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000082

By comparison, the powerful NRA spent only $2.2 Million last year in their lobbying efforts.  That’s five percent of what the defense and aerospace industry spent and five percent of what the auto industry spent; that’s four percent of what unions representing government workers spent; that’s three percent of what unions and others involved in education spent; that’s two and one half percent the amount that the entertainment industry spent; and that’s just over one half percent the amount that people involved in healthcare paid their lobbyists.

I have yet to hear the argument that gun owners are the cause of our anemic economy, our spiraling deficits, our unacceptable rates of unemployment or the out of control costs associated with healthcare, although it is not hard for me to believe that those in Washington who are, apparently oblivious to the facts, might try to advance that case.

Despite the recent comment by President Obama that “we do not have a spending problem,” most people with the smallest grip on reality realize that statement is exactly the reason that we have many of our problems – and at the heart of it is our healthcare system.

Is it mere co-incidence that the industry which is most greatly benefited by our excesses is the largest single contributor to lobbying efforts to maintain their place at the top of the food chain?

Is one of the causes for the murders we commit the fact that more and more Americans are feeling helpless and bereft of hope and turn to irrational, violent acts out of despair?  Or is it the intransigent Powerful NRA which is at fault?

So in America, who’s got the power?  I think the numbers speak for themselves.

A FELON WHO WASN’T ALLOWED TO POSSESS WEAPONS …

William Spengler will become the next buzz word  as we discuss the most recent mentally disfigured person who went on a killing spree.  This time it was two firefighters in Webster, NY. The police believe that he was also responsible for the death of his older sister, either through shooting her or because of the fire he started in her and other homes in this community.

Mr. Spengler will not achieve the same degree of attention that Adam Lanza is receiving as the number of his victims was small and they were both adults – and people who had signed on to put their lives at risk in the service of others.  That should in no way diminish our sorrow for them or their families or minimize their status among the murdered.  They were both heroes on their jobs and victims in their deaths and they, and all others who place themselves in jeopardy for the welfare of society, deserve both our respect and our gratitude.

In 1980, Mr. Spengler accepted a plea bargain of manslaughter in the death of his grandmother.  He served 17 years in prison for this crime.  Unlike his recent victims, he murdered his grandmother with a hammer.  In some ways, his earlier crime is even more gruesome than the one he just perpetrated.  It was far more personal.

After reading about Mr. Spengler, when I came to the part of the story that briefly addressed his grandmother’s murder, I couldn’t help but think of the late Elizabeth Montgomery in the title role in, “The Legend of Lizzie Borden”.

While most of us remember her best for her portrayal of the lead character in “Bewitched,” Ms. Montgomery showed herself in a very different light as Lizzie.  She was distant, aloof – and frightening.  Much like the man who left the note before he began his shooting spree, which said in part:

“I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighborhood I can burn down, and do what I like doing best, killing people.”

What kind of mind could not only believe in but admit to that statement?  I think we all know the answer.  And that answer, to which I believe both my conservative and liberal friends would subscribe is “sick.”

This goes beyond argumentation about guns and gun control.  This goes to the question of whether a person has a right to defend himself should he be confronted with one of these “sick” people.  And I believe, that the answer to that question is that we do have that right.  There are, apparently, more than a few of them roaming these United States.

Because Mr. Spengler was a convicted felon, our laws denied him the right to possess any weapons.  But he apparently ignored that law and made himself armed and dangerous and deadly.

So, before I need to get a background check completed so that I may purchase a hammer at my local Ace or Lowe’s or Home Depot, I think I’m going to stock up … just in case.

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