Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Simple Question the Democrats Won't Answer

Here is a simple question that demonstrates that Democrats are not serious about taxing the so-called "rich."  They're simply demagoguing this issue.

From National Review Online:
"A Rude Question" by Michael Walsh

"Then again, if the Democrats are really serious about soaking the rich, why don’t they come out in favor of replacing the income tax — which is basically a mechanism to prevent the upper-middle class from becoming wealthy — with a wealth tax? Holders of great family fortunes can easily live off their inheritances, with no taxable 'income' whatsoever, but imagine if the Kennedys, the Rockefellers, and those who grabbed the swag by marrying the widow of a rich Republican senator, were forced to cough up a sizable percentage of their estates to the feds each year. Then you’d see real tax reform, and in a hurry. "

Great question.  Why DON'T the Democrats tax the rich?  They constantly say that that is their intention.  And yet they simply don't do it.  Hypocrites.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Guns and Crime

You know the old saying, "Life is tough but it's even tougher when you're stupid"?  Consider this next story, from the Hampton Roads (VA) Daily Press:

"Gun violence in Virginia falls, firearms sales up" by the Associated Press,0,5325773.story

Here's the first line in the story:
"Gun-related violence has fallen steadily since 2006 in Virginia despite record firearm sales, according to a university professor's analysis."

What?  "Despite"?  Why do people cling to the ridiculous notion that increased firearm sales would lead to more gun-related crime???

Once again, the simple fact is that if you try to limit legal access to guns you are only stopping law-abiding citizens from getting guns. Criminals clearly don't obey the law, by definition!

"Baker, who specializes in research methods and criminology theory, said the comparison seems to contradict the premise that more guns lead to more crime in Virginia."
Well, no shit, Sherlock.

"It's quite possible that you can sell a whole lot more guns and crime is still going down," Goddard said. "But is the crime going down because more people are buying guns, or is the crime going down because the crime is going down?"

Here's another possibility: When more law-abiding citizens do have guns, maybe, just maybe, criminals are more likely to think twice before breaking into a house or assaulting someone is his car.

As usual, the gun rights supporters are on the side of common sense:
"Gun-rights supporter Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said whether gun-related violent crimes are committed depends on who possesses the firearms.  'As long as it's going into the hands of people like you or me, there's not going to be a problem,' he said. 'Criminals are going to continue to get their guns no matter what.'"

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Racial Profiling in the Digital Age

What is racial profiling, exactly?  Is it possible for accusations of racial profiling to obscure an underlying issue?  In related news, did you know that computers are racist?

Consider this article from Reuters:
"Professor Finds Profiling in Ads for Personal Data Website" by Adam Tanner

Articles like this make me sick.  But not for the reason most people would think.  Rather, it's because most people get outraged at the symptom and not the root cause.  I can't blame companies for targeting certain names.  The real outrage here is that there is something for them to target at all.  Why is nobody willing to confront the real problem, that blacks commit more crimes?

Let me be clear: The merchants selling these services are not actively targeting "black" names.  Rather, ad placement algorithms place the ads and provide feedback on when users are more likely to click those ads.  Ad campaigns are then targeted to hit certain names, not because merchants are racist or because the ad placement services are racist but because that is how they get results.  That is how they get more bang for their buck.  All driven by the metrics returned by a cold, calculating computer.  In other words, the computers are racist.  (See, and you thought I was kidding.)

Or, more precisely, the computers, the algorithms, are just responding to the choices that users make.  Which would mean that we, as a society, are racist.  Or does it?  Remember, according to the article, "Blacks make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population but account for 28 percent of the arrests listed on the FBI's most recent annual crime statistics."  So is this racism or a rational response to well-known facts?  Seems to me that focusing on the placement of such "racist" ads diverts our attention from the real issue.  Again: Why is nobody willing to confront the real problem, that blacks commit more crimes?

I don't want to sound dismissive.  There may be actual racist reasons that blacks commit more crimes.  Maybe there is some truth behind the notion that blacks don't get a fair shake from society.  But focusing on ads placed by computer algorithms is not going to get us anywhere.

So, is society racist?  Are we racist?  Am I?  I don't tend to subscribe to that view, exactly.  Exactly?  What do I mean by that?  I mean this: I think there is a pervasive form of racism in our society--but it's not the stereotypical racism of the old south.  The racism that I see nowadays is something that has been described as the "soft bigotry of low expectations."  The notion that we can't expect that much of certain people because of their past.  And we're not talking racism in their personal past, mind you, but a past that occurred generations ago.  The notion that it's understandable if certain people don't do well in school or commit more crime.  I find this new form of racism patronizing and repulsive.  The same people that claim to want to end racism are the ones that perpetuate it.

I understand and accept that by writing this people will say that I don't truly understand, that I've never been on the other side of such racism.  But you know what?  If I were I wouldn't use that as an excuse to commit crime or otherwise underachieve.  And I wouldn't let my friends, or my daughters, use that as an excuse either.  I'd expect more, much more, of my fellow human beings.  To paraphrase a famous speech you might have heard of, I would judge a man not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ron Paul’s Farewell Address to Congress

As you may know, Ron Paul is retiring from Congress at the end of his present term.  This is the end of an era, as far as I'm concerned.  May others rise to fill his shoes, fighting for freedom from tyrannical government.

From YouTube:
"Congressman Ron Paul's Farewell Speech to Congress" by CongressmanRonPaul

And a transcript from
"Ron Paul’s Farewell Address to Congress"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Song of the Day: Céline Dion - My Heart Will Go On

Okay, here's a song I never thought I'd post on my blog.

"Céline Dion - My Heart Will Go On"

So why am I posting it?  Simple: My daughters talked me into going on a cruise last week.  I had a lot fun singing/humming/whistling this tune while walking around the ship--particularly when the weather got a bit rough.  Some of you old folks out there will, of course, recognize this as the haunting song from the movie Titanic.  :)