Friday, January 25, 2013

Newspeak on Gun Control

The Orwellian name change for anything that has to do with firearms continued this week and last with the President and Vice President's rebranding of the term “gun control,” with newspeak, "I don't view it as gun control, I view it as gun safety," Vice President Biden said. The term gun control is now oldspeak. From now on watch for the word “gun safety” to come from the mouths of politicians and the media because gun control just became an unword.
In case you haven’t read George Orwell’s classic dystopia, “1984,” Orwell envisioned a totalitarian society in which the government sought absolute control in part by changing the language from English (i.e. oldspeak) to a new language (i.e. newspeak) that eliminates “any vocabulary that expresses such concepts as freedom, free enquiry, individualism, resistance to the authority of the state . . .” – Wikipedia. 
Here are just a few of the newspeak terms that the government and the media have created to control your thoughts on the gun debate:
  • Newspeak, gun safety. * Oldspeak, gun control and gun banning.
  • Newspeak, military assault rifles. * Oldspeak, sporting rifles and hunting rifles.
  • Newspeak, gun violence.  * Oldspeak, violence perpetrated with a gun.
  • Newspeak, automatic weapons, i.e. machine guns.  * Oldspeak, semi-automatic weapons.
  • Newspeak, high capacity clips.  * Oldspeak, standard magazines.
  • Newspeak, "preserve" the Second Amendment. * Oldspeak, overturn the Second Amendment, ban confiscate all firearms, ammunition, and accessories starting with 158 popular sporting and hunting rifles.
So now, using newspeak, the government (Big Brother) can “preserve the second Amendment” (i.e. ban and utlimately confiscate all firearms starting with 158 popular sporting rifles and hunting rifles), get “military guns and machine guns” off the street (i.e. ban popular sporting rifles and hunting rifles), and increase “gun safety” (i.e. implement draconian gun control laws starting with a ban on standard magazines and more than 158 popular civilian firearms), and eliminate "gun violence" (i.e. disarm Americans and eliminate the Second Amendment) without actually saying so.
Mark VanSchuyver

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mexican Coke!

Mexican Coke - Drink Coca Cola -12 Oz. (24 Pack)

I'm crazy about Mexican Coca-Cola. Mexican Coke is the real thing! This is because Mexican Coke is made with real sugar. Yum! As far as I can determine Mexican Coke follows the original Coke recipe. This is not true of "Coke Classic" because Coke Classic is made with corn syrup. Yuck!

How did this happen. Well, you may not be old enough to recall "New Coke." After getting trounced by Pepsi in the "Pepsi Challenge" (blind taste tests pitting Coca-Cola against Pepsi Cola) in the 1980s, Coca-Cola reformulated their product and conducted their own blind taste tests. New Coke won and management decided to dump their original formula for sweeter, New Coke.

The switch was made in record time. Almost overnight the original Coke left the shelves and New Coke took its place. But the people, including yours truly, rebelled. New Coke was universally rejected. Coca-Cola management was forced to pull New Coke off the shelves. Rather than return to the original formula, however, they reformulated Coca-Cola again removing the real sugar and replacing it with corn syrup. The new/old Coke was rebranded as Coca-Cola Classic. I've never forgiven them for this.

For years I wondered why they didn't just put the original Coke back on the market. Then I discovered what I believe to be the root cause, import restrictions on sugar. You see our government wants us to buy American made sugar. To see that we do they imposed import restrictions on sugar including those in the Agriculture and Food Act of 1981. I believe that this is why Coke Classic and lots of other sweet drinks are made with corn syrup rather than sugar in the USA.

The big losers from federal sugar programs are U.S. consumers. The Government Accountability Office estimates that U.S. sugar policies cost American consumers about $1.9 billion annually. At the same time, sugar policies have allowed a small group of sugar growers to become wealthy because supply restrictions have given them monopoly power. The GAO found that 42 percent of all sugar subsidies go to just 1 percent of sugar growers. To protect their monopolies, many sugar growers, such as the Fanjul family of Florida, have become influential campaign supporters of many key members of Congress. - Agricultural Regulations and Trade Barriers, Chris Edwards

Score! By accident I discovered Mexican Coke at my local grocery store's Hispanic section. Lo and behold Mexican Coke is made with real sugar, yum! No import restrictions on sugar in Mexico I suppose? Long story short I now have access to real Coke and so I now officially forgive Coca-Cola for changing its formula to include corn syrup (yuck) instead of real sugar (yum) in the USA. It wasn't their fault really; it was bad governmental policy that killed the original Coke.

Mark VanSchuyver

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Gun Violence?

Since the President started his efforts to impose gun control and gun bans on us I've been paying close attention to the way the media talk about the issue.  One of the most interesting things is how the media refer to violent acts using firearms as "gun violence."  Gun violence sounds like newspeak to me.  Guns don't do violent things.  People do violent things.  What if the media used this rhetoric when talking about violence perpetrated with other tools?  Here's how the headlines might look.
  • Two killed in car violence today.  A crazed driver purposefully crashed his car into a crowd at the corner market . . .
  • Fifty-nine murdered in bomb violence. Fifty-nine died and dozens more were injured when a suicide bomber wrapped himself in dynamite and blew up a wedding party . . . .
  • One killed in paper weight violence. Woman kills abusive husband with single whack on the head with a paper weight . . .
  • One killed in water violence.  Police say a crazed swimmer killed his swimming coach by holding him under water for four minutes . . .
  • Two killed in stapler violence.  A man killed two people today with a metal stapler . . .
  • Three killed in bat violence.  A man used a baseball bat to bludgeon three pedestrians to death . . .
  • One killed in knife violence.  A woman stabbed her boyfriend to death after an argument . . .
  • One killed in fist violence.  Former boxer bashes buddy to death in fisticuffs frenzy . . .
  • Seventeen killed in fire violence.  An arsonist killed seventeen people by setting fire to their apartment complex . . .
Why do the media use different language when speaking about violence done with firearms than violence done with anything else?  I suspect it is because most folks in the media are opposed to the right of self-defense and the Second Amendment that protects that right. Using newspeak helps the media frame the debate in the negative.

Mark VanSchuyver


Monday, January 7, 2013

Zero Sum Thinking

Monopoly pack logo.pngEconomic fundamentals are not taught in our public schools. Therefore many of us learned everything we know about economics from playing Monopoly. Don’t get me wrong. I love the game of Monopoly. But Monopoly is not a game based on economic reality. The game of Monopoly is based on zero sum game theory. Someone wins and everyone else loses. The game of Monopoly teaches us to use zero sum thinking as if it were true in the real economy. It is not.
A zero sum game describes a “situation or interaction in which one participant's gains result only from another's equivalent losses.” Unfortunately it seems that most of our elected officials think that our economy operates like a zero sum game.  Even worse it seems that most voters believe that the economy operates, as Karl Marx would have us believe, as a zero sum game. But the economy is not a zero sum game. When unburdened by the zero sum thinking policies of excessive regulation, excessive taxation, trade barriers, and re-distribution a free society’s economy will grow, expand, and amplify prosperity.
Consider the example of Henry Ford.  When Henry Ford made the Model T he effectively destroyed the horse and buggy industry. A horse industry worker living in that time might have foreseen the imminent loss of hundreds of horse and buggy industry jobs. If such a person applied zero sum thinking he or she would have marched on Washington DC seeking a ban on horseless carriages to save jobs in the horse and buggy industry. Chanting, “Too big to fail! Too big to fail! Too big to fail!” If the politicians of the time agreed they might have employed zero sum thinking and passed laws protecting the horse and buggy industry from the intrusion of horseless carriages. It is true that hundreds of horse and buggy industry jobs were destroyed in the short-term but thousands and thousands of new jobs emerged in the new automobile industry. The automobile industry increase mobility opening the door for thousands and thousands of new jobs in hundreds of new and/or expanding industries. The economy is not a zero sum game.
Here’s another example, the typewriter industry.  The typewriter was a wonderful technology made possible by the ever expanding (not zero sum) economy.  Business was great until personal computers came along. Seeing the looming threat typists who applied zero sum thinking would likely have marched on Washington, DC demanding a ban on personal computers in order to save jobs in the typewriter industry less they be stolen by new technology. Chanting, “Too big to fail! Too big to fail! Too big to fail!” Yes it is true that thousands of jobs were destroyed in the typewriting industry in the short-term but millions of new ones were created with the rise of the personal computer industry. And the new personal computer industry opened the door for countless other new businesses thus greatly expanding economic opportunity for millions of Americans. The economy is not a zero sum game.
When our leaders taxed and/or borrowed trillions of dollars from the private sector and redistributed it to special interests they were applying zero sum thinking. When the government passed the Dodd/Frank financial reform bill institutionalizing bailouts and establishing a policy of too-big-to-fail they were applying zero sum thinking. When our government raised income tax rates on our society’s top producers on New Year’s Day seeking “fairness,” they were employing zero sum thinking. These zero sum governmental policies are destroying innovation, crushing opportunity, and preventing jobs from being created.  It is time for our leaders to stop institutionalizing failure and robbing the private sector to support government waste. The economy is not, as Karl Marx would have us believe, a zero sum game.  It is time for our leaders in Washington to stop playing Monopoly with the economy.
Mark VanSchuyver

Friday, January 4, 2013

Manchurian Gun Control Candidate

I grew up in the country.  Like most everyone in the country I learned to shoot and handle firearms safely when I was very young.  To us country folk guns are tools just like any other tool.  Their uses are many, hunting, target shooting, collecting, and in the gravest extreme self-defense.  So I was surprised when one of my relatives from the country said this to me just last week.  "I hate guns, especially automatic handguns and automatic assault rifles. The only guns I like are shotguns and hunting rifles.  We should ban those ugly automatic military guns that are not made for hunting."

Her comment concerned me because she is very active in politics and has been considering a run for office.

"Have you ever fired a gun?"  I asked.

"No," She replied. (amazing for a country born woman!)

"Why are shotguns and hunting rifles okay?"  I asked.

"Because they are not dangerous automatic assault weapons."  She said.

"What is an assault weapon?"  I asked.  I showed her a page full of pictures of rifles on Google. She pointed to the AR15 and the AK47.

"Show me a hunting rifle," I said.  She pointed to the Marlin Model 336W .30-30 rifle.

"Which rifle is more powerful?"  I asked.

"The automatic assault weapon," she said.

When I explained that the .30-30 was much, much more powerful than the AR15 and the AK47 she was shocked.  No kidding? she said.

"Why do you call the less powerful rifles 'assault' rifles?"  I asked.

"That's what they say on TV," she sad.

"Did you know," I asked, "that your son, your grandson and thousands of other hunters use AR15s and AK47s to hunt wild hogs and other game?"

"No way," she said.  "Really?"

I pointed to the AR15 and the .30-30 again. "Which one is an automatic?"  I asked.

She pointed to the AR15.  "Nope," I said.  "Neither gun is an automatic."

"What is the most lethal close-range civilian firearm?" I asked.  "Do you know?"


"Most people say the shotgun," I replied.

"The shotgun?  Your kidding!"

"Think about it.  Every police force in the US and most in the world use the shotgun for close quarter battles with bad guys.  Shotguns are super-lethal."

"Well at least the government should ban automatic weapons," she said.

"Automatic weapons are illegal now, accept to persons with very expensive federal licenses," I said.

"Really?" she said.

"Yes," I said.  "The narrative about firearms has been totally politicized by the media and by anti-gun politicians. People that don't know anything about guns are being brainwashed."

"Maybe so," she said.  "But I still don't like those ugly guns!"

Mark VanSchuyver

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Physical Cliff

I made the conscious decision to bite the bullet and go over a physical cliff of sorts over the holiday.  Double-hernia repair surgery.  It needed to be done.  I'd put it off for years. Each year it got worse and each year I resolved to get it fixed.  But year after year I just kept kicking that double-hernia can down the road.
This summer I got brave.  I scheduled the surgery for December 18th to give me a combination of sick days and holidays for recovery.  This is day 15 of my recovery by the way and I'm happy to report that it was far, far easier than I anticipated.  That's not to say that recovery has been a picnic.  It was uncomfortable to be sure but amazingly I experienced no real pain. I only took pain medicine for the first three days. On that pain scale of 1 - 10 with 10 being the worst pain you've ever experienced, in fifteen days I never got above a one.
Full recovery is a long way out.  My doctor says six weeks to return to most physical activities, two months or more to return to rigorous exercise.  I am very pleased to have this done and I'm really glad that I had both hernias repaired at the same time.  I expect that my quality of life will be greatly improved.  I'm glad I finally got brave enough to go over the physical cliff.
It seems to me that my personal double-hernia physical cliff is a pretty good metaphor for what our government calls the fiscal cliff.  Last night the Congress passed a measure that protected some Americans from some tax increases but did nothing to address out of control spending.  The Congress and the President just kicked the fiscal can down the road.
In a couple of months our country will hit the debt ceiling again and Congress will be faced with a choice, raise the debt ceiling and continue to borrow and spend money we do not have, or get brave and put a cap on spending.  To fix this gapping hole the Government must stop borrowing and spending more than it takes in, stop raising taxes, stop rewarding failure, stop punishing success, stop meddling in the private sector, stop building the nanny state, stop manipulating our currency, and stop trying to be Greece.
Sure it will hurt a little to go over the fiscal cliff.  Recovery from decades of reckless spending and government dependency won't be a picnic.  But my guess is that it will hurt a lot less than we think it will and that the pain will be short lived.  With a return to sound economic principles our economy will soar.  Prosperity will explode.  If we bite the bullet and go over the fiscal cliff now our future and the future of our children and grandchildren will be much brighter.  It is time to stop kicking the fiscal can down the road!
Mark VanSchuyver