When Does It End? When Will They Ever Learn?


The DC Navy yard massacre this week has raised a whole raft of questions, everything from mental health issues to calls for more gun control, which of course I see as the larger issue in this and every other case of mass killings by a single gunman.

(A side note: As my good friend Scott Eric Kaufmann puts it, “I feel sorry for them [conservatives]…if it’s a mental health issue, Obamacare could cover it.”)

When will the culture at large ignore the little thumb-sucking babies who populate the gun nut fringe of the right wing of the country and pass sensible gun control? Moreover, when will those diaper-clad nimrods finally recognize the very evil in their midst, the very evil they perpetrate upon the rest of us?

Could these delusional yahoos really be so out of touch, could they be such blood-thirsty bastards, that they would ignore the tens of thousands of innocent dead just for the sake of stroking their barrels and thrusting their bullets deep into a chamber?

If so, could they please get the fuck out of the way of the rest of us, so WE can be safe?

Guns kill. People use guns to kill, because if they stood there and yelled “BANG!,” I don’t think too many people would die (apologies to Eddie Izzard).

Knives kill too, but a) knives have additional uses, where the sole use of a gun is destruction of life, and b) nobody has ever killed dozens in a random mass knife attack.

It’s long past time for the cowardice to end. It’s long past time for the little boys and little girls who walk around afraid of their own shadows to grow the fuck up.


17 Replies to “When Does It End? When Will They Ever Learn?”

  1. I have no real problem with gun laws, but from where I’m viewing the problem I see it as addressing the symptom rather than addressing the disease. I have Parkinson’s Disease, for which I take carbidopa/levadopa. The medication stops the tremor and loosens up my muscles; does a wonderful job of making the symptoms go away. It does not cure the disease and, in fact, actually makes it worse. That’s why we increase the dose as slowly as possible, not controlling the symptoms as thoroughly as we could. My neurologist and I have talked about how much better it would be to cure the disease itself, which is what modern research is all about.

    So, take away guns and you probably do stop a lot of the killing. But do you do anything about what is causing all of the killing? No. And we aren’t even talking about that.

    There is a trememdous amount of anger in our country today. These mass shootings are becoming commonplace, varying only in degree. Every week a guy in Louisiana gets pissed off and shoots two cops, or a man shoots his family and then himself. Gang wars are about territory, but they are really about youth who have no hope for the future.

    We have a government which is no longer serving us and no apparent way to change that. Tax the rich? That may make us feel better, but it is not going to create one single job, nor is it going to raise the wages for one singloe working person. Campaign reform? Even if the reform happened overnight it would take eight years to change the makeup of Congress, and there is no guarantee that Congress would be any better. Elect Elizabeth Warren? Sure, and she’s one legislator out of 535. Elect her as President and change Washington? Yeah, we thought that of Obama, too.

    The reality is that the fabric of our social order is breaking down, and we don’t even want to think about where that leads. We despise our government. We see cops as thugs who shoot unarmed citizens and as a paramilitary force that breaks up peaceful protests. Despite “support the troops” we don’t see our military at all, and certainly don’t want them involved in a civil role. We are leaderless and afraid and are manifesting that fear in the form of anger.

    We put our house back in order or it keeps breaking down.

    1. I agree with your basic premise. However, I disagree with one point – taxing the rich. It will add jobs. As a small business owner it is apparent to me that the marginal utility of taking larger profits is far greater than the marginal utility of hiring another worker at these tax rates. Especially in the short run inasmuch as it will take several years of training before any worker I hire will give me anything near a 60 cent return on every dollar I pay them. Raise the tax rate on the upper levels of my profits to 80% and I’m pretty sure I can get 20 cents return on dollars I pay new employees.

      It will also convey the clear message that this is a society that understands reasonable restraints on behavior. Particularly on the behaviors of those who have gained the most from living here.

      1. Sorry, but that’s just gibberish. For one thing no one is suggesting a marginal rate even within hand grenade distance of 80%, they are talking about an increase from 33% to 35% which will have precisely zero effect on anything. Secondly, the only reason to add workers is a need for increased production, and to suggest that a decrease in effective profit would result in adding jobs when no additional output is being realized is absurd.

        “any worker I hire will give me anything near a 60 cent return on every dollar I pay them”

        They will give you a negative return unless your business has increased. If you hired them merely because your tax rates went up you are not going to be a small business owner very long, you are going to be an ex business owner.

        1. Excuse me but that is exactly my point. First I’m assuming highest marginal tax rate which is now 39.6% which means I keep 60 cents of each dollar earned. No new worker is going to raise production by better than 60 cents on a dollar spent in hiring them unless I am a very new business. If they raise production by less than 60 cents on the dollar I lose money that would otherwise go into my pocket by hiring them. I do better in the short run by keeping my overall production static (not hiring).

          On the other hand if my tax rates were high enough to reduce my after tax profits to less than or equal to the productivity of a new worker then I would do better to hire than to take profits. This is actually quite basic and clear. This is why the greatest surges in worker benefits have always occurred in times of high marginal tax rates.

          The fact that the some of the discussion these days is about only small increases in the marginal tax rate just shows the idiocy of those recommending it.

          I, by the way, have been a reasonably successful small business owner and manager for better than 30 years now. The fact that I believe that my profit is composed equally of having a pleasant work environment to go to every day where we can do good work as it does in my personal economic profit and so my pay and benefits scales are off the charts for my industry does not obviate the fact that I would be encouraged to do even more at higher marginal tax rates.

          1. “On the other hand if my tax rates were high enough to reduce my after tax profits to less than or equal to the productivity of a new worker then I would do better to hire than to take profits.”

            That statement is just flat in error. The hiring of new workers is not based on what your profite are, it is based on how much work you have for them to do. Hiring workers because your present workers are working too much overtime and you want to have everyone on straight time, yes. Hiring workers because your business in gaining volume, yes. Hiring workers because your after tax profits decreased is nonsensical. “Oh, dear, my profit decreased, so lets take on additional expense,” is absurd on the face of it. How many thousand people are you going to hire if your business burns down and you aren’t making any profit at all?

          2. Let me make this simple for you (to do this I have left out any discussion of debt). I have discretionary income (profits) that I can choose as a businessman to take as profits or to reinvest to create still greater profits. If the return on that investment in new or better remunerated employees is less than the profit I can realize because my profits are taxed at a low rate then I am economically foolish to make that investment. If tax rates are raised enough that hiring or remunerating produces more than my after-tax profits then I will want to hire or remunerate.

            Is that simple enough for you?

          3. “Is that simple enough for you?”

            You’ll have to excuse my low IQ and stupidity. Hard to understand how I managed to keep my own business operating at a profit for thirty years. Must have been sheer luck overriding my complete ignorance of how to manage a business.

            Be that as it may. What schools of business management did you atend and where did you get your MBA?

            Investing in employees is not a decision based on investment, it is a decision based on the amount of work you need to have performed. Having people sitting around doing nothing because they are a “good investment” does not strike me as smart. But then I only understand very simple things.

            I once had a friend whose business was losing money and had a windfall when the city bought some of his land under eminent domain. I urged him to use the money to catch up on his debts and get his business on an even keel. His tax advisor told him to reinvest the money in more land in order to avoid paying taxes on it. He bought the land and avoided the income tax but was unable to pay his business debts and lost his business. He made the “good investment” to reduce his taxes and went bankrupt. The same result would occur from hiring unneded workers as a “good investment” rather than because bisiness had increased and the extra workload required them.

            I will not insult you by asking you if you are able understand what I am saying.

  2. I gather from your answer that you have an MBA. In that case I will have to make it extremely simple for you to understand. (You started the snark)

    Any successful business has discretionary dollars to spend on either new sources of profit (investment) or to take out in the form of profits. If tax rates on profits are low I am encouraged to keep my profits rather than invest them unless the return on the investment (new sources of profit) outstrip the amount I am keeping today on low taxed income. Unless I am in a rapidly expanding part of the economy (and there isn’t a whole hell of a lot of that these days) the risk that investment in the future will outstrip what I am taking home today at historically low levels of taxation is raised. In a more mature business that militates against taking that risk, especially in a poorly performing economy. Unless of course I can use that poorly preforming economy to drive down wages to the point that I can profit more handsomely from the risk I take in hiring.

    This is why high marginal rates have historically allowed higher wages and benefits and low marginal rates have resulted, as in the Reagan to Obama economy, in pressure on wages, benefits and employment. Yes there are other factors like off shoring but the tax rates play a significant role as well.

    Sadly lower tax rates, particularly capital gains, also promote speculation in the markets rather than the slower but steadier growth possible through increasing productive capacity by investing in labor and machinery rather than bogus paper on the corrupt markets.

    1. I will end this semseless discussion with one rebuttal to “you started the snark.” You may or may not realize that asking “is that simple enough for you?” is extremely insulting. When someone is that rude to me I consider him a total idiot and stop listening to him.

      1. You may not think calling my writing “gibberish” and telling me that I couldn’t possibly run a small business is an ad hominem attack but I do. I haven’t heard a word of apology from you. In fact you now call me a total idiot.

  3. I’d like to nominate this for the “Best Off Topic Discussion Award”
    I’m hopeful that Jayhawk understands your logic at this point, but I must confess to being a bit confused on your standpoint at the beginning. I do think it shows how brainwashed many of us have become by the mantra of “low taxes = higher growth”.

    1. Thank you.
      And I’d like to apologize to jayhawk for my snark. I don’t like ad hominems addressed to me and I really shouldn’t do that in return even if it is only meant as banter. I don’t know jayhawk, or he me, well enough for that.

    2. He’s refuting the “low taxes = higher growth” by claiming that the opposite is true, that “high taxes = higher growth.” The logic of that is really shaky and the evidence is largely based on the idea that if two things happen at the same time we can know with certainty that one of them caused the other, and can also know which was cause and which was effect. (The sun came up and my dog died, therefor the sun coming up caused my dog to die.) Never occurs to anyone that taxes and growth may not have any great correlation to each other, and that growth may be determined by other factors which greatly outweigh the effect of taxes.

      Make no mistake, I am not opposed to higher taxes, and I think our tax code should be far more progressive than it is. But my purpose in that is so that we can have a sustainable, repeat sustainable, social fabric which serves the needs of the people, one that is paid for rather one that is propped up by ever increasing debt. I do not support the idea that government policy should be used to manipulate the business environment and that doing so is an abuse of government power.

      1. Actually I would argue with you with regard to government manipulating business environment. It does so by every taxing decision it makes. It does so with regard to maintaining a level competitive playing field through monopoly law. It does so with subsidies to oil and gas exploration. It does so with regard to its interpretation of corporate charters (which exist only because government permits). etc. etc.

        I personally want government to regulate monopolies (it doesn’t anymore and in fact encourages them). I want government to put a progressive tax regime in place that encourages investment in real production not in speculation and the gross accumulation of wealth. I want government to strictly construe (as our founding fathers demanded in response to the abuses of the Kings chartered corporations) and to strictly limit the powers of corporations. I want the government to subsidize investment in alternative sources of energy and in conservation rather than its current subsidies to dying and dead extraction industries.

        So frankly I don’t know what you are talking about when you say that it is an abuse of government power to manipulate the business environment. It does. Our attention should go to how it does so.

      2. Also you claim that my argument is based on a shaky correlation. That is plainly not true. My argument is based on the consequences of “rational” economic decision making which you seem still not to understand. The noted historical correlation merely supports that argument. About the historical correlation, as I noted and you repeat, it is not the only cause, but the right wing’s incessant yammering about low taxes = higher growth despite its absolute lack of support in the historical record and its lack of logic (except as applied to workers not business owners) has blinded everyone to the real effect of low taxes on business owners (by owners I mean entrepreneurs in small businesses and managers of large corporations whose primary compensation is stock and stock options as well as the many speculators in the markets).

  4. Taxing the rich is about the distribution of wealth in the country and taking away the power that the corrupt crony capitalists have accumulated by the “one dollar one vote” rule that is the basis for US democracy at this point.
    The Koch brothers and other oligarchs have completely confused the US public through their propaganda outlets at the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council, to name a few. We have a corrupt crony capitalist oligarchy running the country now and they distract the rubes with God, Guns and Gays while they are looting the whole economy. Regualtory capture, fraud control, yadayada.
    It’s worked pretty well so far. There was a class war and the oligarchs won, bitchez.
    The corrupt oligarcy is the degenerative disorder of the US central nervous system, to use the Parkinsons metaphor. And we are entering the era when the disorder will begin to shut down major important functions.
    And I run my own small business, too;-))

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