I love a political discussion (even if it gets a bit heated) between informed individuals with differing perspectives. It adds diversity to our governmental and social perspective, and tends to make the country better.
However, what I don’t understand is when large groups of people take positions and vote for programs and philosophies that are completely counter to their own best interests. Here are a few examples of what I find rather baffling:
Our love of corporations. The Supreme Court and many citizen groups have successfully attempted to make the case that corporations are people. They aren’t. Corporations are owned by people. People own many things. I own a house and a dog and a few cars, and but I would never try to bestow voting rights or lobbying status upon my condo, my Range Rover, or my Yellow lab.
Corporations are essentially faceless entities formed to achieve one goal; profit maximization. Nothing wrong with that under the right circumstances, but where governmental policy is concerned profit maximization is often counter to the public good. That’s why we require some level of regulation where corporations are concerned, otherwise you get oil companies polluting our environment and banks ruining our economy. Now I am not saying over-regulate – as that stifles the economy – but we all have to realize that corporations need to be kept in check for our own good.
Our love of guns. Let me first state I am a proud gun owner. I received my first firearm for my 12th birthday, and I still own and shoot it. I believe in the basic American right to own weapons, and if the government tried to take my shotguns and rifles away from me I would be right there with much of America, letting them “pry my cold dead fingers” off the weapons.
I do not own a fully-automatic weapon, or a 50 caliber rifle. I don’t own a tank or a flame thrower. I do not own a gun capable of firing armor-piercing bullets, as I have never seen a coyote or intruder wearing armor plating or even Kevlar. In fact, aside from my 22 rifle which I believe has a clip of around 15 bullets, the rest of my guns hold a maximum of five shells. And all this is because I do not see any reason for me or any average American to own weapons solely designed for combat. The average police office that goes to work armed every day and faces difficult situations with criminals will never fire their weapon against at a human being during their entire career, so I don’t believe that the average American has to be armed to the teeth at all times.
While I also believe that criminals intent on getting weapons will ultimately find them, I don’t understand why I would make it easy to possess weapons of mass destruction. I don’t know why we allow people to easily possess guns that are only designed to kill people with clips that allow them to shoot hundreds of bullets without reloading.
And I also think that the argument that if we all had guns we would be safer is absurd. Statistically gun owners tend to kill themselves and their family members by accident. Since I have been firing weapons for 40 years and have received gun training I tend to be more competent than the average person that might own a gun but not be experienced. But like most people I have never been in an actual firefight, and the chances are high that I would probably get injured or accidentally kill an innocent bystander if I suddenly had to draw down in an “OK Corral” scenario. Here’a another hint…..if you worry about burglers and rapists coming into your house at night, buy some Bear Spray instead of a snub nose 38. It will be more effective, and you won’t accidentally kill your visiting little niece when she comes into the bedroom to ask for a glass of water.
Of course the NRA would argue the “gateway” theory – that if we limit the ownership of any firearm the government will ultimately take away our right to all guns. This is just ridiculous. I am not allowed to drive a 1200 horsepower race car with no headlights on the freeway, but that doesn’t mean I can’t own a Prius.
So these two points lead to the obvious question I started with; why do American’s vote against their best interests? Well I would suggest it has everything to do with Point One – that for some reason we love and trust corporations. So when huge financial institutions and energy companies spend massive amounts of money to make sure the government doesn’t regulate them, we believe their PR machine that it is somehow in our best interests. When gun companies use the NRA as a corporate lackey to convince Americans that if we allow any regulation we will all lose our right to bear arms so they can sell more stuff, we disregard common sense and allow ourselves to be manipulated.
I have had a great career often helping profit-driven companies convince people to buy things they probably don’t need, but these issues are too important and potentially dangerous to allow ourselves to be manipulated.