Monday, July 30, 2012

Built it, and They Will Come, Part II

Build it, and they will come, I suggested. And, now, I will defend that view.

For I do believe it would be good to add all the hotel rooms necessary and expand the convention space so the nation's largest conventions can be held in Salt Lake City.

But, what a foolish thing, you say, to build hotel rooms and convention space that will be used but maybe twice a year, a colossol waste of space, money and resources, foolish to no end.

I would say, in reply, that it is private business people who would be asked to take on the project, and if it so be that they want to "waste" their money, who are you to tell them to spend more frugally? Let a person spend their money on what they will, and if they think this is a good cause, let them undertake it.

A better approach against my suggestion is to note that even if Salt Lake City were to add massively to its hotel space, and to its convention space, and thus win some of the nation's bigger conventions, it would only be a matter of time before other cities would step forward to also built more and more and more.

An arms race, of sorts.

The city that wins would be the city that has a natural tourist base, perhaps, a Miami with its beaches or Las Vegas with its night life  . . .

Or, a Salt Lake City with its nearby mountains to hike in and ski on. We might, indeed, have something to offer.

It is true that come a bad snow year, much of our tourist appeal is lost, but conventioners would be coming for the conventions, having multi-year contracts, and would come through the lean years and still enjoy the snow years.

The best argument against this idea, is that we would be building a reliance on convention tourism that might be swept away when the conventioner suddenly selected another city. Seeking a diversity of sites, most every convention might rotate along to another city sooner or later.

But, by the same logic, they would also be rotating out of other cities and coming here.

I say, built. Nothing is for certain. Few ventures are without the possibility of failure. Build. Embrace the possibility and success and work to keep the conventioners when they do come.

And, I tell you this: Salt Lake City, which proudly hosted the 2002 Olympics, can continue to work for things that bring people to our city, people from all every clime of the earth. I think it a good thing to dream to become more such a city, and to make it happen.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Build it, and Conventions Will Come

Built it, and they will come. Wasn't that the sentiment from Field of Dreams?

Perhaps Salt Lake City should built it: thousands of new hotel rooms, and a fourfold expansion of the convention center.

The city is on the verge of losing its largest annual convention, the Outdoor Retailer show, which comes to town twice a year, the summer version ranking as the 44th largest convention in America.

The Salt Palace simply isn't big enough, and, what with the city not being one of the nation's largest metropolises, it has nowhere near the hotel space of say, a Chicago.

Some would call it foolhardy to expand, since the Outdoor Retail folk are going to pull out, anyway, and the city cannot come close to offering the facilities of many other cities.

But, maybe we should just build it, and see what comes.

Expand the convention space from about a half million gross square feet to 2 million gsf. Expand the hotel space within walking distance from 5,200 rooms to 10,000 rooms.

I do not know whether this can be done. Would such a convention center fit on its current parcel of land? Would we have to go too high with a skyscraper to get that many hotel rooms?

If it can be done, do it.

But, not with government money. Instead call on private donors. It will take more than one. It will take a bunch of the richest folks to be found. Tell them, this is not a for-profit thing, but a public service. The convention space and hotel rooms might need to be mothballed much of the year.

Be willing to do that. Why would that be such a bad thing, if it is not coming out of government coffers?

Build it, and see if they will come. If the city does do this, when conventions are looking for sites large enough to fit their needs, SLC will be one of the few places fitting the bill.

I say, conventions this large are out there, and are to be had. If we do built it, yes, some of them should, indeed, come.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Closing in Los Angeles

Wish I had more time tonight to study this story: The Los Angeles City Council has voted to close its medical marijuana dispensaries.

There are 762 dispensaries, making them more abundant than Starbucks. One councilman said they are twice as many dispensaries as Starbucks. Now, if there are that many, I'd say all that marijuana is not ending up in the hands of just those needing it medically.

What is most interesting about all this is the reason the dispensaries are being closed: too much crime, whatwith all the burglaries, murders and more occuring in the neighborhoods where the marijuana is being sold.

This is most interesting, given those who oppose prohibition say it only leads to an increase in crime.

Well, it would be useful to know more about the crimes they are having near the dispensaries. Are they being committed by those on marijuana? Are people going to their neighborhood dispensary, using the stuff, and then committing the crimes?

Or, are the crimes being committed by those still running from the law? Marijuana remain illegal, albeit it is legal for medical purposes, and, in addition, it remains a federal crime even when used medicinally. So, are the crimes being committed in conjunction with the act of evading law authorities? That would support the theory criminalization only leads to an increase in crime.

I'd guess that isn't what is happening. I'm guessing people are marching over to their neighborhood dispensary, getting high, and then going out and committing crimes.

As someone posted on Facebook, does this mean California's experiment with legalizing marijuana has failed?

If so, this is not a small story coming out of Los Angeles.,0,3171935.story

The Rodney King riots are being revisited in Anaheim.

Well, not exactly, as what is going on down there is not on the same level. But, what is happening down there is still significant.

 Police shot and killed two men, outraging many. The police union has said both were known gang members. Now, obviously, whether you are a gang member or drug pusher or not, you still should not be shot and killed. The police union has said in one of the two instances, the man was thought to have been pulling a gun from his waistband. No gun was found, but if a man is suspected of being a gang member, it is understandable to see a move to the waistband as being a move for a weapon.

Police arrested 24 protesters Tuesday night, with many not doing much to warrant getting arrested. Police fired bean bags and pepper balls indiscriminately into the crowd.
So, there are two questions: Were the shootings justified, and were the arrests and bean bag and pepper ball shootings justified? America being a land of free speech, should police have allowed them freedom to protest as long as they were peaceful?
Knowing no more specifics, I wonder but what they shouldn't have allowed the protests, without the arrests. Respond against the breaking of windows and the burning of trash cans, if you can catch them, but don't shoot pepper balls into an innocent crowd of peaceful protesters.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sin has become a Freedom

I grew up in a day when sin was not considered a freedom, and have lived long enough to witness it becoming a basic right.

The freedom to gamble, to prostitute, to view pornography, to take drugs, to drink before driving, to view pornography, to marry someone of the same sex, to produce and play violent video games -- these are the freedoms of our day.

And should they, then, indeed, be freedoms? That is not to say we are condoning these things, but only to say we are allowing people the liberty to make such choices as they will.

I do have mixed feelings.

If you remember my past blogs, you know I have wondered if alcohol deserves more restrictions. Is it all or none? To be consistent, must I then condemn them all? Or, if we believe one of the items deserves to be a freedom, to be consistent, must we make freedoms of them all?

I think it not wrong to consider them individually, but can also see the argument for sweeping them all into one box and deciding them all together.

Make Becoming a Doctor a Little Easier

Nothing requires more education and training than a medical degree. And, interestingly, nowhere in our economy do we have such out-of-line prices as in the medical profession.

Requiring such a long and expensive process does have its effects. It limits the number of people who choose to become doctors.

This is not to say the time and money it takes to become a doctor is the sole reason health care is so expensive. It probably isn't even the main reason. But, it is one.

So, yes, we should consider making it less arduous to become a doctor. We need not throw away all our education requirements, but we do need to make them both less time consuming, and less expensive.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

To Make Medicine Affordable, Allow Competition

Another question given to candidates by the Utah League of Women Voters:

"Given the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act, what do you think the legislature needs to do next to ensure adequate health care for all Utahns?"

If we can see some reasons why health care has became so expensive, why not work on correcting those problems? And, I say, I do wonder but what we should be able to clearly see some of the causes.

One of them, is the restrictions we have placed on competition.

We reduce competition in many ways. We license extensively. We limit the insurance choices at the workplace. We require doctors to be part of our network before we can see them. We limit the number of medical schools in the state. We have patent rights limiting who can produce drugs and medical devices.

I suppose, if I thought awhile, I could come up with other examples.

Some of these restrictions might be good, even necessary, but we should look at each one, and ask if it should not at least be loosened. Most of us agree that a free market is vital to keeping prices in line. Why, then, at a time we are crying so loudly for affordable care, do we not consider this approach? Why not look at each situation where we are restricting competition and seek to allow more?

This being America -- of all nations the nation that champions the free market -- shouldn't this be the first place we look to correct this problem? Yet, rare it is that this solution is even mentioned, even considered.

We cannot legislate affordable health care without practicing the principles that will make it happen.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Does Portugal Move Drug Users from One Mess to Another?

So, those favoring legalization of drugs point to Portugal, noting that since many penalties were lifted, drug use is down.

I confess I drove to work today thinking, Well, if decriminalization brought such clear success in Portugal in the war against drugs, then perhaps one of our states should, indeed, try it.

Then I came home and found a Wikipedia article that made me wonder if all the claims are not an oversimplication of what is going on in Portugal. In 2006, Portugal authorities confiscated a record amount of cocaine. A regular increase in cannabis resin seized has also been witnessed in recent years, although it has declined for the years 2008 and 2009.

Furthermore, Portugal has a substitution treatment program, which gets people onto such things as methadone. Moving the populace from "hard drugs" to those you don't consider "hard" deserves some scrutiny before concluding the program is a success. There are some legal drugs in the U.S. that have many harmful effects. Do we say a program is a success simply because it moves people from one mess to another?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Doing Business by the Voice of the People

Do you think public opinion should affect public policy?

I have a scripture -- a Mormon scripture -- that often affects my opinions. This scripture simply calls for honoring public opinion. I wonder if I cited it a couple months ago when the nation was discussing same-sex marriages. The nation is getting close to 50-50 on that topic, if I remember correctly. In addition to the near split, those who are same-sexed are very adamant, very convinced they are right. So indignant are they that, yes, I weigh this into my opinion. I do not want to oppress other people, nor even allow them to think we are oppressing them. (There is a scripture on avoiding the appearance of evil that plays into this.)

The scripture (the first one I referred to) also affects my opinion on a complete prohibition of alcohol.

But, what of marijuana? I continue to oppose the legalization of marijuana. The chorus against it has not risen high enough, yet, but probably will. Should the day come (when the day comes) that the people demand it, then so be it.

Mosiah 29:26-27

"Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law -- to do your business by the voice of the people.

"And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you."

There are some issues I am not so quick to let go of, regardless of public opinion, though. Abortion being the one that comes to mind. Nor would I give up the fight to make more immigration legal. Both of those issues involve what I see as injustices against a portion of our people. I'm not so quick to take what I perceive as wrongs being committed against a people, and rights being deprived, and say I can go along with them.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Civility is in the Discussion, not Lack of Discussion

I'm both a man who wants to be civil and who wants the negatives about candidates vetted.

Some criticism I dismiss as people throwing stones when stones don't need to be thrown. Like, when people criticized President Obama this past week for saying when someone succeeds, others helped, the person didn't do it all on their own.

Other times, the criticism might or might not be true, but it is pertinent and needs to be discussed. Sometimes, accusations not brought right out in public simmer, traveling by word of mouth with the accused not knowing about them to be able to defend against them.

Civility lays not in failing to discuss something, but in discussing it in a fair, respectful and open-minded manner.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fetus Looks Human, is Human

'Tis late. No time to come up with a new post, so I repost an old one.

This picture making the rounds on the Internet -- I saw it on Facebook -- makes as strong an argument against abortion as anything. The baby is said to be but 12 weeks into gestation.

"Don't know how anyone can look at this and say that is not a person." said Russell Brooksbank (a Facebook friend of mine) when he saw the picture.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

. . . And, Perhaps We Don't

As a rebuttle to my own thoughts, on having a bar next to every neighborhood, I think of roommates I've had who would not have gotten a drink some nights if it was too far for them to walk.

Out of reach, out of beer.

Do we have statistics on drinking levels of neighborhoods that do have bars versus those that don't? I doubt, but it would be interesting. I can only imagine, though, that availability is a factor in how much alcohol is consumed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Perhaps We Need a Bar Next to Every Neighborhood

Today, we consider whether I believe in the neighborhood bar.

Perhaps, a bar should be next to every neighborhood, as a service. Just as every community should be served by a hospital, and every community should have parks and libraries, so every neighborhood should have a bar.

Perhaps. Give me the statistics on how many drunk drivers are returning from the bar, and I'll probably agree that as long as we have people drinking in the bars, we should bring the bars close enough that they can walk there, not drive.

I'm not 100 percent of this opinion, but considering it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Instill a Love of Learning, and We Will be World Class

Comes a question, from the League of Women Voters, to candidates such as I. (I'm running for the state legislature, House District 44.)

"What is crucial to creating a world-class education system in Utah? How should it be financed?"

We will need to have teachers who enjoy what they do, who teach with excitement and make the topics interesting. We will need to have students who come to class excited to learn. All the funding and all the solutions to be offered cannot substitute for those two factors. Give us just those two things, and our students will excel and learn beyond what students elsewhere are learning.

So, fostering a love of education, and simple things such as parents expressing a love of education to their children are more important than fancy programs.

That is not to say we shouldn't have the best programs we can find, and the best we can afford. It is just to say that first and foremost, we should hype the opportunity to learn. We should instill in all our people a love of learning.

If we create this love of learning, it will not so much matter whether the education is public or private. Motivation trumps system.

Let's Look into the Romney Affair

Of Mitt Romney, I offer ye all some words. I am not ready to dismiss it all as just lies and libel.

I will say, instead, while I want to vote for him, his reply has not been enough.

Mitt's been charged with some pretty heavy things. The current president -- that would be Barrack Obama -- has even wondered if he committed a felony.

And, it is a felony -- I believe -- to falsify a federal document. Romney is said to have listed himself as a "sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president" of Bain Capital in 2001, and as "Executive" in 2002.

Romney has responded that Obama is not conducting himself in accord with how a president should act. "Is this the level that the Obama campaign is willing to stoop to?" he replied on CNN. "Is this the standards expected of the presidency of the United States?"

Such a reply is not enough, for me. Did Romney falsify a federal document? He is saying he "had no role whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999."

Even an independent source verifies he was no longer managing Bain. "I was an owner, and being a shareholder doesn't mean you're running the business," he says.

I would not doubt the independent fact-checkers are verifing that. Although remaining owner of it, it appears he did, indeed, step away from running Bain Capital.

Alas, that document on file with the Securities Exchange Commission says not only that he was owner, but that he was chief executive officer and president. That is a different matter. It becomes a question, then, of whether it is okay to list yourself with the title, even though your functions with the company are -- of your own admission -- not such.

 Is CEO just a title? Is there no ethical responsibility to be functioning even in the least way as CEO in order to list yourself as CEO?

CBS interviewed a former SEC investigator and enforcement officer who said it is okay to put your name down as CEO without actually being an active manager. Does that mean we, as the public, should also say it is okay? Or, can we continue to look at it and ask, you had yourself listed as CEO, so you shouldn't you be functioning, at least in some fashion, as CEO?

It has been suggested that when Romney ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2004, to establish his eligibility, he said he was still with Bain, that while he took a leave of absence, he was still affiliated with the company.

Can you have it both ways? If in order to qualify for running for office you say you are affiliated with the company, and if you are also listing yourself as chief executive, is it fair to turn around and say you had absolutely no management responsibilities?

Well, these are questions we should ask. No, it is not right to suggest we drop it all, in order that we not be involved in lies and libel. We deserve answers. 

(This post edited and updated July 19.)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Accustions are Bothersome

These charges should bother us.

Mitt Romney stepped away from Bain Capital in 1999, but had himself listed as chief executive officer with the Securities Exchange Commission as late as 2002?

Romney has countered that attack with an attack of his own, suggesting Barack Obama had a habit  of "taking your tax dollars and putting it in businesses owned by contributors to his campaign."

I'd like to study more -- the story on Romney being CEO at Bain in 2002 is now four days old and I have not had enough time on it -- but bed calls.

I'm not of a mind to just dismiss it all as mudslinging without substance. To me, the charges are important. They are things that matter. Just as important as which side of the aisle you are on, is whether you can walk down the aisle with your head held high. Integrity does matter.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

2 Nephi 28:2-3 is Fulfilled in Your Ears

Tell me, then, just how is that the Book of Mormon prophecy I think so often about being fulfilled?

It is a prophecy, you know, and it appears to be about our day. So, shouldn't we be able to look around and see it being fulfilled?

"Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die." (2 Nephi 28:7)

The verbage I hear, equating to what is in the scripture, is, "Oh, come on. Live a little."

I think of all the many who think of drinking, and taking marijuana, and viewing pornography, who insist there is nothing wrong with those things. Enjoy them, they say, for there is no harm in them. (In the 2 Nephi 28 scripture, Nephi does prophecy they would say, "There is no harm in this," but Nephi might have been saying that in regard to taking advantage of a neighbor and digging a pit for the neighbor, solely, as opposed to also referring to eating, drinking, and being merry.

When I was a teenager, and having 2 Nephi 28:2-3 quoted to me, there was a Schlitz beer advertisement out. It seemed to captured exactly the sentiment of "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die".

"You only go around once in life, so you've got to grab for all the gusto you can," said the ad. I think every time that commercial played, I reflected on how it was living fulfillment of the Book of Mormon prophecy.

That such things might be fulfillment of 2 Nephi 28:2-3 is just my thought, not something I've heard from church leaders, so I could be wrong. But, view that old Schlitz beer commercial, and tell me what you think.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Drought and Bad Economy: Two Miseries Traveling Together

They say misery loves company, and what could be more miserable than the Great Depression and the the Dust Bowl? So, no surprise the two were traveling companions,  the Great Depression lasting from 1929 to 1940 while the Dust Bowl was 1931 to 1939.

Well, as I lay down Friday's paper, it occurs to me a bad economy and a terrible drought are once-again traveling together. How bad is the drought? The paper (Trib) says about half the nation has been flagged for disaster relief. There are 1016 counties in 26 states that have been declared natural disaster areas by the U.S. Agriculture Department, more than at any time since the USDA started declaring natural disaster areas.

Hope and pray this is just a one-year thing.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Before Prohibition, There was Whiskey Rebellion

Oh, those of you who love to say if we are to learn from history, then the Prohibition taught us quite clearly alcohol should never be banned again. Consider the Whiskey Rebellion, as well, for it is an interesting parallel. Before there was the Prohibition, you might say, there was the Whiskey Rebellion, and a few of the lessons to be learned are the same.

Grant it, the Prohibition brought an outrage against the tearing away of alcohol from our bosoms, while the outrage against the whiskey tax was an outrage against taxation -- two different things.

But, similarities remain. Back in those days, they didn't ban drugs and such. But, a tax is another matter. They did think to tax the stuff -- intoxicating spirits, anyway. So, along came the whiskey tax of 1791. The response was quick. People were outraged. Remember the Boston Tea Party, they said, and they patterned their protests after the American Revolution.

Give me liberty or give me death. 

Now, a lot of people think alcohol is a liberty, same as having the "right" not to have a tax on whiskey.

Well,  as people refused to pay it, the whiskey tax made criminals out of them all, same as the Prohibition made criminals out of those who resisted it. Among other incidences, on Sept. 11, 1791, they tarred and feathered a tax collector named Robert Johnson. I just mention that because the date is fun, what with it being 200 years to the day before 9-11.

Well, eventually it escalated to an armed rebellion, people upset with a government they thought had no right to be doing what it was doing, same as people would later say the government had no right to ban liquor during the Prohibition. Washington responded two ways. First, he sent an army to quell the rebellion. Second, he sent emissaries to try to talk to the rebels. I like to liken that second approach to those who say we should have education, not legislation against alcohol.

Eventually, a vote was taken, coming on Sept. 11, 1794 (there's that interesting date, again). I don't know if it the referendum was just in Pennsylvania, but I think that was the case (and I don't know whether it was even in all of Pennsylvania). The referendum vote came back mixed, some communities voting one way, others voting the other way.

War proceeded, and after federal troops suppressed the whiskey rebels, public opinion sided with the government. That public opinion favored the government might not sound at all like a parallel for the Prohibition, where voting eventually led to the 21st Amendment, overturning the 18th Amendment and ending the Prohibition.

But, it is often overlooked that the resistance continued. Even after the war, people kept right on refusing to pay the tax until the tax was repealed. Yes, the tax was repealed, same as the 18th Amendment was. The resisters lost the war, but they won their cause.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

. . . But, Musk No Personal Hero

But, Elon Musk is not a hero of mine. No, it is not because, to some, he is a tax-funded billionaire.

I laud him for who he is and what he has done for our world, but a personal hero, no. Musk showed up at a party in Florida last month dressed as Marquis de Sade (1740-1815), a French writer best known for his erotic tales. Musk joked that the costume was popular with women who had read Fifty Shades of Grey, a book known for its explicitly erotic scenes.

That one choice of costumes does not sit well with me, as it does seem it probably reflects on his values.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

One of the Giants of Our Times: Elon Musk

One of the most influential persons of our time, this Elon Musk, in advancing the world scientifically.

PayPal? He was a founder. SpaceX? He founded it, and it is bringing us space transport. Tesla Motors? He co-founded it, and the company came up with the Tesla Roadster, the first production car of the modern era. SolarCity? He the largest shareholder and chairman of the board of that company, which is the largest solar provider in the United States.

A giant in our times.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Wiretapping: Is This Example of Bush Legislating?

Should police be allowed to track where cell phones are, and to get the records of who calls are made to, all without a court warrant?

'Tis a common practice these days. I am not weighing in with an opinion right now, as I haven't given it enough thought.

And, what of a related issue -- and maybe a bigger one: Should authorities be allowed to wiretap, and are they? After 9-11, George W. Bush authorized the National Security Agency to wiretap suspected terrorists.

Stop right there. Did the article (New York Times article) say Bush AUTHORIZED this? The article does say legislation followed, broadening the power, but if the initial authorization came from President Bush, isn't that another case of legislating by the executive branch, the likes of which we castigated President Obama for just weeks ago?

You might suggest it all falls under the war powers authority the president has. I, though, am not sure the war powers extend that far.

On John Roberts' Decision

I still haven't found enough time to study the Supreme Court decision on health care.

But, I do take a moment to state what probably has been obvious to some. The ruling was that the Affordable Health Act's Individual Mandate was Constitutional under the taxing powers. But, in offering the majority opinion, Justice John Roberts said the Individual Mandate was not justified by the Commerce Clause.

I say, just because you have the right to tax does not give you the right to create the program for which taxes are to be collected. If that logic is used, any program or policy can be created, as long as there is a tax for it. You might argue that the Individual Mandate wasn't the whole of the program, but it was just the taxing part. I say otherwise. The Individual Mandate was a requirement that people have insurance. Requiring insurance requires a program to administer the policy. How taxes are collected for it is a separate matter. The Affordable Care Act provided for both. It provides the Individual Mandate and it provides the "tax" upon people who do not comply. That the Mandate exists on its own merit, even without the tax, means you cannot say the Constitution's giving taxing power to Congress means the Individual Mandate program can be created.

Monday, July 9, 2012

This Prohibitionist Wavers

Yes, I have suggested perhaps we should have some form of prohibition. What, with about 40 percent of the murders and about half the rapes being connected to alcohol, if we can do something, should we not?

But, the reaction to the Prohibition of 1920 to 1933 does give me pause. The Moonshine Rebellion, we could call it. People dissed the law, disrespected the law, and disassociated themselves from the government making the law.

To this day, people view the right to drink as a personal liberty. To them, you aren't just taking their alcohol away, you are taking their freedom. And, you are forcing your morals on them.

Not right, they say.

I would counter that not all "freedoms" are protected. We do not have the right to commit murder, nor rape, so should we have the right to drink to the point of impairment, given that it greatly increases murder and rape?

This is more than one person forcing his morals on another. It is a matter of reducing crime.

Nor am I calling for a full prohibition, only a prohibition of drinking to the point of impairment.

Still, I hesitate. No law will be successful if the backlash against it brings hatred of the government that institutes it.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Alcohol does Lead to Murders, and is the Smoking Gun

Causation and the crime: Is alcohol to blame simply because alcohol is imbibed before a crime is committed?

We are talking about the statistics showing alcohol is involved in about 40 percent of our murders and 50 percent of our rapes.

I think with drunken driving (about a third of traffic fatalities are attributed to drunk drivers), most accept that there is a causation. We understand that alcohol impairs the ability to react, so we do not question that the driver's ability to operate the vehicle safely is compromised.

But, the relationship to violent crimes is not as easy. Still, to me, it is evident. A person on alcohol does have impaired judgement, and is more inclined to irrational decisions. Given this, when they commit murder, it is, indeed, likely their irrational decisions lead to the crimes. Maybe not every time alcohol is involved, is it a causing factor, but in many and probably most, it is.

If a man shot and killed another man, but nobody saw the shooting, but a crowd of people saw him seconds later, holding the gun and blowing the smoke from it, it would be circumstantial evidence. I imagine the shooter looking up at the person who spotted him. "You can't prove a thing," the shooter says.

Technically, he would be right. He could have happened to have shot the gun at something else.

But, not all circumstantial evidence is created equal. I say, even without a forensics test to determine the bullet came from his gun, the man would be convicted.

So I think it should be that we should see a causation with alcohol. If we know too much alcohol leads to irrational decisions, and a lack of good judgement in what we are doing, and if alcohol is taken in 40 percent of the murders and about half of the rapes -- if those figures are correct -- then, of course, alcohol should be considered one of the causation factors.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Take the Most-Damaging Drug and Spike it

If society were in position to reduce murder, rape, and other violent crimes, should it do so?

Be quick to say, "Of course," if you will.

So, what of alcohol? If the website linked below is correct, alcohol is a factor in 40 percent of our murders and half of our rapes. Alcohol use leads to more violent crimes than any other drug. And yet, it is alcohol that is legal. Is not there argument, then, that of all drugs, the one that should be outlawed is the one causing the most damage?

I will pause to say maybe not all alcohol use should be prohibited, but much of it should. Can we look at all the harms and simply sit back and say, "No, people just would not accept a prohibition."

Perhaps they should. Perhaps the public should be educated. Perhaps we, as a society, should say we will do something about murder, rape, and violent crime when it is in our power to do so.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Did Founding Fathers think of Alcohol as a Right?

Driving home, just now, I considered what freedom is, and what it was back in 1776, and whether it included the right to drugs, alcohol, pornography, and prostitution. I wonder if many (or any) writings or comments remain from our Founding Fathers, on this topic. Today, many consider the right to drugs and such to be rights, to be freedoms awarded them by the Founding Fathers. What thought the Founding Fathers, then? Was freedom to them simply the right of self-rule? Yes, there are quotes suggesting limited government, but did limited government, to them, mean alcohol and prostitution should not be infringed upon? Are there any quotes from the period, suggesting how they defined freedom and whether those definitions included freedom to drink and prostitute as one pleased? The Bill of Rights doesn't hardly say government shall make no law abridging the right to prostitute or drink alcohol. Is that simply because those were assumed rights, and no one imagined government would infringe on them?

Prohibition Increases Murder?

Outlawing alcohol increases murder rates? I don't think so, but some do. I posted on a Facebook debate site about whether prohibition of alcohol is a deterrent to its usage, and was surprise that more than one poster suggested outlawing the stuff causes people commit more murders.

I then learned murder rates did, indeed, increase during the Prohibition.

But, I also learned that apparently the increase wasn't due to the Prohibition. Much of the increase came in the African-American communities, and the African-Americans were not much involved in running illegal alcohol.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Those American, They Just Don't Drink

Those Americans, they just don't drink.

Although it sometimes seems every which way I look, I spot a bottle of alcohol, see someone with a drinking problem, our problem in America are evidently less than what it is in most parts of the world.

Word is, the United States has one of the lowest drinking rates in all the developed world. I take heart in this. As American Exceptionalism is taking a beating with reports that our education is no longer at the top, and that others have passed us up in standard of living, it is good to hear good news.

Let's Take Technology, Use it to Provide Government Openness

How about requiring all personal expenses by any government worker by to be paid for on a card programmed to automatically post the expense to the Internet? The cards could be linked to automatically tally the expenses of all employess, and just like that we would know what percentage of government expense is for personal expenses (dinners, travel and such).