The Problem With Citizens United

Like many people in this country I have always thought the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision was problematic, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why. Then today, for some unknown reason, it came to me.

As I understand it this controversial decision, the Supreme Court stated that corporations have exactly the same legal status people; even when it comes to political contributions, which it stated was equivalent to free speech.

I see two problems with this.

  1. Almost without exception corporations are owned by a group of people–shareholders. If these people are American citizens they have the right to vote and to say what ever they want, politically. The corporations themselves do NOT have the right to vote and so should not have the right to free political speech. They are a business entity–created for the sole purpose of conducting business. The Citizens United decision allows not only the individual shareholders to participate in the political process as individuals, but collectively as well. It seems like a violation of the “one person, one vote” rule to me.
  2. Additionally, people who are NOT American citizens can own stock in American corporations. That means that people in other countries can influence American elections. I am sure everyone can agree we don’t want that.

Get rid of Citizens United, what ever it takes.

#Neveragain Part 2

In dealing with the mental health aspects of mass shootings it is important to realize there are two components: Immediate needs and prevention. I’ll address them in that order.

The obvious choice is to respond immediately and appropriately when someone talks about committing a mass shooting or if someone has reason to believe a person is planning one. The appropriate response when someone makes a “terroristic threat” is for the police to pick them up for an involuntary commitment to a mental health facility of some kind.

In addition, all the guns in their possession should be confiscated. Temporarily suspend their Second Amendment rights until it can be determined they are no longer a threat. I have heard such a thing referred to as a restraining order. That means a judge would have to sign off on it. The person would need the approval of a mental health professional and a judge to get his 2nd Amendment rights and firearms back.

I believe if you couple this with better background checks when you buy a gun and a ban on civilian purchases of assault rifles it would significantly reduce these kinds of tragedies.

The question of prevention when it comes to mental health is a complex one. I have a couple of suggestions that revolve around the idea of beefing up mental health services in schools. Many schools today are teaching mindfulness practices because the students benefit by learning better and behaving better. I say make it mandatory in all schools as part of a comprehensive mental health curriculum.

Start in the first grade or even pre-school and continue through high school. Teach mindfulness principles and practices. Teach that mental illness should not be stigmatized. Teach the symptoms and signs of mental illness and teach what to do and who to reach out to if you experience those signs and symptoms in yourself or others.

I’m not saying that doing these things will be a quick fix. I am saying that implementing this would start to show positive results very quickly in improved performance on standardized tests, better behavior generally and reduced bullying. Furthermore, as time goes on and the kids who are in the lower grades now reach the age when they might be thinking about getting that AR-15 and shooting up the place, they will have had years of learning how to NOT act that way–years of learning how to be mentally healthy.

All this is going to cost money. I, for one, would rather spend money on this than making our schools a more dangerous place by putting more guns in them regardless of how much training and bonuses you give teachers for bringing guns to class.

 

#Neveragain

Once again, our nation’s children are being murdered. That’s the truth of it: conditions are such in this country that anyone can buy a military assault rifle and shoot people until somebody stops them. Most often the people that get murdered are our children.

This is an issue that transcends partisan politics. No sane person is in favor of murdering children. I feel safe in saying that the vast majority of Americans want this fixed–whatever it takes. As I see it the problem has two components: The Second Amendment and mental health. Both areas need attention.

There are people who adamantly believe that we can’t outlaw assault rifles because the Second Amendment  says we all have the right to bear arms. It also says that it is related to a well regulated militia. A guy buying an assault rifle just because he thinks it is cool is not part of a well regulated militia. In fact we already do regulate firearms. Anyone who has ever hunted knows this well. Where I live in Minnesota it is illegal to hunt deer with any kind of rifle–only shotgun slugs are allowed. If you want to hunt waterfowl you can’t have more that 3 shells in your gun and you can’t use lead shot. So we already accept regulations on our right to bear arms. The question is: What regulations do we need?

Since the Second Amendment was written, the technology of war has changed significantly. I don’t think any thinking person thinks it would be OK for any individual to own an atomic bomb–or a functioning war plane or a functioning tank or any number of mass killing machines. So where do we draw the line? I say no civilian needs an assault rifle.

The other night I watched Marco Rubio say that he did not support a bill banning specific weapons because it would be too easy to get around. I say that writing a bill to solve the problem of readily available assault rifles would be easy. Really, it needs only 2 components:

  1. Rate of fire: Any rifle that keeps firing automatically when you hold the trigger down should be illegal.
  2. Magazine size: Any rifle that holds more than 6 or 8 bullets should be illegal. Reloading takes time.

Again, we already regulate what weapons individuals are permitted to own. I think a law that does these 2 things will go a long way toward solving the “readily available assault rifle problem”. Politicians need to transcend party politics and fix this ASAP.

I see this post is getting long so I will address the issue of mental health in my next installment.

Before I close I want to applaud the efforts of the students of Stoneman Douglas High School in addressing this problem. They are in the crosshairs and we need to listen to them.

Christmas wishes

I haven’t blogged in quite a while. You see, my house burned down on April 10 this year. I had intended to blog regularly to keep posting on progress and changes. However, I under estimated the stress of getting my life back on track. If not for the concepts and practices of mindfulness I don’t know how I would have made it.

It wasn’t all bad, though. I have talked a lot over the years of compassion, about how we should all cultivate compassion in ourselves. Since the fire I have met so many compassionate people. I find that when I try to express the depth of my gratitude that words fail me. A simple thank you doesn’t seem to be enough, but it’s all I have to offer.

We moved into our beautiful new house (the house that State Farm built) on December 14. Since then, we have been busy unpacking. Finally, yesterday my wife and I were able to relax. The best Christmas present ever. After eight months of living out of a suitcase we are finally home.

Thinking about this situation caused me to realize that, in spite of all my hardships in life, I have been truly blessed on many occasions. So, my Christmas wish for all of you is that you can see the compassion in others and feel the gratitude I do on this Christmas Day. It feels pretty good.

Merry Christmas to all.

 

A Review I Just Had To Share

Every now and then an author gets to feel like he really made a connection with a reader. It is a good feeling. I got such a feeling yesterday when I found this new 5-star review on Amazon:

on April 26, 2017
Format: Paperback
The Rebecca Pendragon Trilogy is a book for young adults. But is far from being just for young adults. It is a tale of Rebecca, a 12 year old that loses her mother in a car accident and finds herself moving to rural Minnesota to live with Naomi, her grandmother; and finds that magic is real. Gary Green has given the literary world a gift in my humble opinion. A gift on the lessons of life. This book not only deals with the hardships that young people face every day, but also those we not so young adults face. It addresses not “fitting in”, depression, death, creation; but also compassion, truth, tolerance, and love.
Yes, there are Dragons, Elves, Gnomes, and Arthurian characters, but with a twist and wow, what twists! Usually reviews come fairly easy, however I am at a loss to describe this series. It is not only amazing, but important. It has historical events that are accurate, quotes from Lao Tzu, myth and legends, and of course magic. Not just Faerie tale magic, but the magic of life and the human spirit. The magic that comes with the realization that everything is interconnected and without the whole, the Universe is lacking.
I would recommend this book to all ages. It made my heart fill up, so much so it rolled down my face in tears. And I will recommend it over and over again. Please trust me when I say, once you read it it will change your perspective on life. Again, it is for young adults so keep that in mind when reading it. And by-the-way Mr. Green, I have found the magic in all things. Thank you for reminding me that it has been there all along.
You are very welcome, E McCord. And thanks for making my day.

The Rebecca Pendragon Trilogy #1

OK, so I just had to brag about it. The Rebecca Pendragon Trilogy, which is free on Kindle today, has hit #1 in the children’s Arthurian category. You should check it out while it is still free.  Get The Rebecca Pendragon Trilogy Now

In other news: The cleanup of my burned out house continues. Today I looked in the dumpster where they have been throwing unsalvageable furniture–not a good idea. It really hit home to see the accumulated stuff of 30 years all piled in a heap in a dumpster. But life goes on. Tomorrow we sign a lease on the house we will live in until we can rebuild. I am almost finished on the shed I need to put the tools in I will need to farm this year. I fully expect to get back to farming in the next week or so. I continue to be impressed with the kindness we see from others. I guess that just proves that most present moments are OK–even good.