The Unintended Cost Of Being Us

Another 10 people were killed in Iraq today when a suicide bomber detonated his vest.  This is nothing new.  These deaths are not the first, nor will they be the last.  In a poor country, hopelessly divided by education (far too little), religion (far too much), and history (none they can remember), Iraq like most others in the Middle East (along with Afghanistan) are sentenced to an endless cycle of violence.

The Iraqi citizen’s crime?  Just wanting to gain some economic security.  Hmmm.

So, how does this work?

Most living in the Middle East and Afghanistan carry the disadvantageous of being dirt poor, unskilled, and uneducated.  The question each person asks is how will they live today and maybe tomorrow, and get ahead?    The answer they choose is to follow religiously aligned political parties who promise a bright future.    There are virtually no other options.

The cycle promises a better life (bread, housing, security) in return for loyalty.  Those leaders offering the better life, of course, are intent on living even higher up the food chain themselves.  But if they could deliver the “better life”, one might argue this was fair, at least for a while.

The problem is that there are other religious/political groups making the same promises and citing other religious/political groups as the opposition.  While these groups feud, the Middle East burns and people die.

Far higher on the global food chain, we can see similar examples right here in the US.  There are about 30,000 deaths each year (over 80 per day) due to citizen use fire arms.   In some major cities, the average is one per day for murder by handgun.  Why does this phenomena persist?

Many answers are given but my best guess is the “shooters” are looking for a better life.  Compared to the Middle East, Americans are better educated, wealthier, and have far less direct religious motivation to kill others.  So why don’t we band together and do better with gun controls and violence reduction?

It is quite possible that killing is just the nature of the beast.  While we have religious traditions that condemn killing (when not aligned with a church objective), and while we have many laws banning the use of force, Americans seem content to flood the country with the “means” to kill others.  The rest is history.

The unintended cost of being us can be measured around the world.  Iraqis who choose to follow their religious leaders can look forward to years of violence, poverty, and ignorance.  They could (in theory) reject their religious or political leaders demands and seek compromise policies where every boat rises.  They don’t seem to recognize the difference.

Americans have a very similar opportunity (admittedly from a better starting point).  The nation’s focus could be on policies that enable each person to seek a better life while not doing so at the expense of someone else’s chances.

Congress is debating gun control laws (background checks, banning assault weapons, and eliminating high capacity ammunition clips).

What is it about any of these proposals that hinders anyone from a better life?

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6 Comments on “The Unintended Cost Of Being Us”

  1. FLPatriot Says:

    “There are about 30,000 deaths each year (over 80 per day) due to citizen use fire arms.” how many of those involve legally purchased and owned fire arms?


    • FL, one source for the 30,000 is http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_people_get_shot_by_someone_using_a_gun_each_day_in_the_US
      This source does not address legal or illegal guns.

      One surprise is that more than half are suicides…

      It may turn out that assault weapons, high capacity clips, and back ground checks are not highly correlated with suicides or many of the straight out killings (hand guns seemed to be used more). But I can not think of a reason that “life will get better” encouraging assault weapons, high capacity clips, and doing away with back ground checks.

      • FLPatriot Says:

        “But I can not think of a reason that “life will get better” encouraging assault weapons, high capacity clips, and doing away with back ground checks.” I’m not making that argument.

        What I would ask is how would life “get better” by making harder for law abiding citizens to own a firearm or by restricting the magazine size of a law abiding citizen?


  2. FL, you ask a good question and in it lies the heart of the argument about gun control…

    First, law abiding may be the case today, but mental illness or just later in life, under different conditions, someone decides to rob a bank, kill his wife, or may experience psychological changes in his/her behavior in the future. For criminals and mentally ill people, it should be clear that limitations are a good idea. So judgement needs to be made with the recognition of what a freedom might mean in unintended circumstances.

    Second, life in a society, especially a complex society like in America, can not get better for everyone if some are allowed to maximize their individual acquisition of a good life (or what they think is a good life)… Automobile speed limits, zoning limitations, monopolies, progressive taxes, and sensible limits on 2nd amendment rights are a few examples of where the most people can achieve the “better life” when there are limits on how much individuals can amass.

    • FLPatriot Says:

      To your first point. Are you saying that we should punish people for what they might do in the future? Are we to restrict the rights of the community because of the possible actions of an individual that they may do in the future?

      I do agree that there should be some limitations on gun ownership, and we have those limitations today. I am only arguing that additional limitations do nothing to make the situation better. It has not been demonstrated how limiting magazine size for a law abiding citizen will make life better for anyone, or do you have information to the contrary?

      As a percentage of population, very few people are killed by legally owned fire arms. We should spend more time on finding a way to stop those that use fire arms illegally obtained?

      The problem is that it is easy to get people to limit the ownership of scary assault rifles despite the fact that more people are murdered by knives every year than rifles (assult and non-assult).
      http://theday.com/article/20130115/OP02/301159984/-1/today

      If gun laws where really about saving lives we would be taking up knife laws instead.


      • FL, there is no “punishment” for anyone about what others might do… Rather if the law applies to everyone, then let’s anticipate what could go wrong and require everyone to meet that standard… regulations about septic system “foresee” the future and require anyone installing one to meet certain standards that guard against injuring others in the future…

        Again you mention “law abiding” citizens as if they wear a mark on their foreheads… Laws apply to everyone, those who follow and those who don’t. Laws that limit are meant to create a safety margin where the most are better off…

        “very few people are killed by legally owned guns”… Hmmm. Unless there is a robbery of an arms manufacturer, all guns were once legally owned…

        There is a good and practical option for citizens who just must shoot an assault weapon or fire any gun with high capacity clips… Join a sports club and use their assault weapons and large capacity clips THERE.


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