Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Readers!

Welcome new readers. I put the word out on a few gunny blogs that I read and they're all ready rolling in.

Thanks for that.

Anywho, back to my rambling story. (See Parts I and II below)

I had mentioned that I lean left politically. But not that far, and I jump back and forth quite a bit. I like to think of myself as middle of the road in a world where the extremes are all that we tend to see exemplified in the modern media.

They'd like to have us think everyone is a die hard Limbauist or a raving abortionist looking to impose "I have 2 mommies" books on everyone else's kids.

As I've matured, I've grown to see that the real world is filled with good people who vary on what they think is rational, acceptable and workable in society. I have friends across the spectrum and I can generally find good things in most people's outlook.

So as I mentioned, I lean left on issues like healthcare, taxes for social spending and the like. I love to see people come together to help the less fortunate. Yes, there will be abuse, but they'll answer to God and he's asked us explicitly in the scriptures to give freely. Its called charity.

I lean right on social issues like abortion, personal responsibility, family and gun rights.

Well that last one is kinda new.

5 years ago, I owned no guns and really felt like guns were an anachronism. I felt we'd progressed beyond a world where people needed guns to solve problems. Thinking with your head and not with your fist, as it were.

I was appalled at the disparity of gun violence in other developed countries.

I felt like having a gun was ridiculous because the odds were someone in my house would be hurt with them rather than use them to defend myself.

I had not touched a gun in 15 years, I'd grown out of them and was, frankly, scared of them.

I remember seeing a woman packing a pistol on a backpack trip with some boy scouts a few years back and was furious that she was doing so (open carry on public lands is mostly OK here in WA state).

Then Hurricane Katrina happened.

As a mormon, I spend a fair amount of time focusing on providing for my family. It is one of our tenets to prepare for emergencies, and that involves having the necessities set aside for a rainy day. Or a hurricane day, as it were.

We store food and other provisions that will help us in an emergency - be it unemployment, natural disasters or a terrorist incident.

Read more about it here: http://www.providentliving.org/

Here is a nice example: A few years ago we went without electricity for 7 days in the middle of a WA winter due to severe storms. We didn't even blink, but many around us were really hurting. No way to heat their house, no way to cook food (if they had it), no way to function. They were out of luck and by the end of the third or fourth day they were getting a bit dicey. Luckily, power was brought back online before things got really desperate.

Weirdly, many didn't learn a thing from those dark days in December. Me? I learned I needed a way to wash clothes without our machines and quickly addressed it.

You have to realize how precarious our current way of living is. JIT (just in time) is the way everything works. Food in the stores, gas for our cars. Everything. Our entire society is now based on efficiencies in a system that could easily just end with frighteningly ease.

Yes, I'm a bit of a prepper. It goes back to our roots as a people persecuted and driven about. There was an extermination order in Missouri to kill us all at one point. So that kinda stuff gets to you. Add in the fact that our grandparents eked out a subsistence living in the western states during the depression and you get a certain outlook on life.

So when Katrina hit and I watched the mess unfold a good friend of mine asked me what I'd do with all that bounty stored away if something happened in Seattle and the golden horde came knocking. He pointed out that non-violence was great code when your opponent is moral, but wouldn't work well when hungry gang members came to the neighborhood and 911 was dead.

It stuck there in my head for weeks. I had nothing to defend myself or my family with. Nothing but words and maybe a stick. Not good.

I fought it for *along* time. It took from 2005 when that went down until the fall of 2008 for me to finally address that need.

In the end I decided a few things:

1. If I didn't have weapons to defend myself and my family, then I was out of luck for sure if it hit the fan.
2. I wasn't sure if I would use them, but the time to make the decision was now, and not when they knocked on my door. I was out of luck if a disaster hit - the shelves would be empty of bullets and guns by then.
3. There are ways to mitigate and control the risk inherent in bringing a deadly weapon into the home.

So off I went to the store, a weird knot in my stomach.

Continued tomorrow...


  1. Good stuff, thanks for sharing, but I must take issue with one thing you said (I realize that this wasn't a major point, but it really stood out in my mind):

    So as I mentioned, I lean left on issues like healthcare, taxes for social spending and the like. I love to see people come together to help the less fortunate. Yes, there will be abuse, but they'll answer to God and he's asked us explicitly in the scriptures to give freely. Its called charity.

    But, you see, that's exactly where you miss the boat. As soon as government agents begin forcing you to "help the less fortunate" it is no longer "charity". When the government comes and takes it under threat of violence, it's not "giving freely".

    The recipients of the help no longer need to see it as a gift for which they should be thankful, but as an "entitlement" which is owed to them.

    Every study of which I'm aware that's looked into it has determined that those on the right side of the political spectrum give significantly more of their own money to charity than those on the left. (The most recent one)

    It's not that people on the right don't care about others or don't support charitable giving, it's that we don't believe that it is the role of the government to administer it, nor to force it upon anyone.

    In that respect, you've struck upon a major difference between the right and the left:

    To the right, caring about the "less fortunate" means giving our own money to support them.

    To the left, caring about the "less fortunate" means taking someone else's money to support them.

    You have to be careful about assuming that we who don't think charity is the proper role of government are just stingy or uncaring. We are the ones who put our money where our mouths are.

  2. I was going to say pretty much the same thing as the first commenter, but he beat me to it.

    Charity is not forced from me, and distributed in a manner not under my direct control. Taxes are forced from me, and are used as somebody else sees fit, and all too often not as I would use that money to alleviate suffering or improve the world.

    So let me hit another point. Collectivists such as socialists and Democrats in general and progressives and communists and communitarians believe they have a right to exert control over others for the benefit of a group.

    This collectivism is antithetical to the ideal of individual rights and liberty this nation has succeeded with for two centuries. It will destroy the exceptionalism of American economic success and personal success for Americans.

    Please change your mind on this and join the right side of history. On your side lies the horrors of the communists and other totalitarians, with genocide as their primary legacy and natural conclusion. On our side lies the glories of two centuries of successful empowerment of the individuals who make up a great civilization.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. All,

    Thanks for the comments.

    I get what you're saying about Charity. I do.

    And I don't believe that those on the right are less giving - I have to many friends on that side fence. Yes, I've seen the studies. Personally, I think that those on the left feel like by voting for those who enact social legislation, feel they've done their part and don't give outside that. That would certainly skew things, statistically speaking.

    If I vote for someone who promises social legislation, knowing I'll be taxed, and then see it come to fruition, then I'm not being forced to do it. Its still charity in my mind. If the majority decide we're going to share some burden, is that really the same as the tax man knocking down your door and stealing from you?

    The problem I see with the conservative view point is that if you leave it up to people to provide welfare for others, it won't happen. Lots of history there to prove my point. Safety nets are a new thing, and many good people have died before they existed.

    FWIW I give between 10-12% of my income to charity on top of the stuff I'm taxed for.

    As to Mikee's comments on collectivism, we have to walk a fine line between personal liberty and the needs of society. And the right has lot of nasty baggage to atone for, as does the left.

    In the end, money rules, not ideology. We have a saying in Mormondom - power begets abuse, and it is the sad story of mankind that people begin to exercise dominion the moment they attain a bit of that power. It affects everyone.

    As a society, governments exist to serve us (theoretically) and sometimes we ask them to do stuff collectively because we can't all build roads, fight wars and check for lead in our water. I realize we all differ in where those lines be. Me? I don't want all our $$ to be put into the Military Industrial Complex. Sadly, we don't get a line item vote on those things - so I pay for the bombs you want and you give some kid a hot lunch at noon.

    It ain't perfect, but its better than some other alternatives...

  5. "I love to see people come together to help the less fortunate."
    So do I. But taxation is very very different. I don't get to decide how much to give, or when, or who gets it.

    "If the majority decide we're going to share some burden, is that really the same as the tax man knocking down your door and stealing from you?" Yes. It's theft on behalf of the "needy." Why does "the majority" get to decide that someone else deserves some of my money more than I do?

    "The problem I see with the conservative view point is that if you leave it up to people to provide welfare for others, it won't happen." That's pretty odd given the studies you yourself refer to showing that conservatives give more to charity than "liberals." See, they believe that charity should be private, then they follow through. And they could give more if they were taxed less. Admin costs are lower, too. Government keeps what percentage of money it funnels from taxpayers to charity? I'd bet it's close to half.

  6. If I vote for someone who promises social legislation, knowing I'll be taxed, and then see it come to fruition, then I'm not being forced to do it.

    But what about all the people who don't support your social legislation? Shouldn't they get to choose whether they want to contribute or not?

    Even though the majority approves of the program, that majority is forcing the minority to fund something that they don't support. That's not charity, that's theft.

    As economist Walter Williams puts it:

    "What is the essence of slavery? It's the forceful use of one person to serve the purposes of another person. When Congress, through the tax code, takes the earnings of one person and turns around to give it to another person in the forms of prescription drugs, Social Security, food stamps, farm subsidies or airline bailouts, it is forcibly using one person to serve the purposes of another. "
    --Walter Williams

    I'd like to see some support for your contention that "if you leave it up to people to provide welfare for others, it won't happen".

    Private charities abounded before the great depression and helped people that really needed it. Private charities to this day still do the same (my church co-sponsors a local food bank that, every day, provides food for people who have fallen on hard times)...albeit on a much smaller scale. I wonder why?

    Private charities typically offered “outdoor” relief—aid “outside” the poorhouse or almshouse. It could be cash or food or coal and was doled out on a case-by-case basis.

    When economic conditions worsened, private charity typically surged to deal with the increased hardship. In the severe depression of 1894, for example, the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor provided $100,000 in aid to the poor of New York City. Other organizations, such as the New York World Bread Fund, the Herald Free Clothing Fund, and the East Side Relief-Work Committee, spent similar amounts. A single individual donor, Nathan Straus, was said to have contributed $100,000 by subsidizing low-cost sales of coal, food, and lodging (Closson 1894; Rezneck 1968).

    But with the dramatic increase in public aid during the Great Depression, which began in late 1929, private charities were “crowded out.” They could no longer successfully compete for donations with a federal government that could compel “donations” via the tax system. Table 1 shows how private charity during the Great Depression grew initially, then faded as government spending surged dramatically. [emphasis added -sailorcurt]

    As public aid continued to grow and then remained in place, many private charities that helped the poor simply folded, presumably because they could no longer generate contributions.1 Why give when your tax dollars already go toward the same goal?

    The "public assistance" programs that were created during the depression were touted as temporary measures and were widely seen much the same way that you see them...as a societal effort to help out the needy.

    The problem is that they crowded out private charities and morphed into permanent "entitlement" programs that have condemned entire generations to a permanent underclass that is completely dependent upon them.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    -to be continued

  7. continued-

    Private charities are more efficient than government bureaucracies, a VASTLY higher percentage of every dollar given makes it to the intended recipients in the case of private charities. With government entitlement programs, only about 30 cents of every dollar consumed by those programs actually gets to the intended recipients. The rest is absorbed in the bureaucratic costs.

    According to the American Institute of Philanthropy, for a charitable organization to be even considered minimally satisfactory (with a "C" rating), at least 60% of its income must go directly to charitable efforts. Government "assistance" programs might be able to boast half of that.

    That's not even to mention the previously alluded to profound societal effects of transmogrifying "assistance" from something for which one is appreciative and thankful into an entitlement that one is "owed" by society simply by virtue of breathing air and taking up space.

    You are correct that governments exist to serve roles collectively that would be impractical to do individually...like build roads, defend against foreign invasion and civil uprising, negotiate treaties, administer justice, moderate interstate relations...you know...all those things spelled out specifically in the first three articles of the Constitution.

    You'll note that charity isn't listed as one of those things. Probably because the founders well realized that charity is not the role of government and is more efficiently and effectively served by the private sector.

  8. Sorry about the filibuster. I was in a hurry and didn't have time to write anything shorter.

  9. The difference between charity and taxes is that if you can't afford charity this year, nobody puts you in prison.


  10. Katrina was the turning point for me as well.

  11. Sailorcourt is correct. I came over her from Says Uncle. The government, once in power has police powers and prosecution. Taxes are nothing more than a state forced way to get Peter to pay for Paul whether Peter wanted to do so or not. That is extortion.
    I have given to charities and donated food and clothing. I have given my time and money to BSA to help other kids learn skills and have a good time and build character. All that without recompensense because I wanted to.
    If the state said I had to do it it would be slavery. A free person should be free to live his life and decide on his own whether to help another or not.

    I will not be a slave to need and especially other peoples needs. That encourages sloth and entitlement attitudes.

    This stuff is basic common sense just as the personal need to protect yourself and family with guns from others needs in times of extremity. Your guns are there to prevent others from saying their need is greater than yours and that you have to give up your supplies that your earned with your life's labor and time. That time spent to earn your supplies is your life and is not replacable.

    Think on that. No one is owed your life's time to get their needs satisfied.

    Charity and social programs should not from by government with it's power of police enforcement.These should only be fromm voluntary contributions of groups and people.


  12. Welcome! I've added you to http://www.gunbloggers.com

  13. I'm enjoying you blog so far.

    I'm also glad to see so many people beat me to the punch about your comments on taxation as "charity."

  14. BUT, to get back to the point, welcome to shooting.

  15. I was going to make the same points as most of the rest of you. To quote a good friend of mine: "Money in the hands of private citizens will ALWAYS do more good than money in the hands of government." LeftyWithaGun, if you haven't read Atlas Shrugged, you need to.

  16. Atlas Shrugged?
    Christ, try finding something to back up your opinions that's not fictional.

  17. With one leg on each side of the fence, it can get uncomfortable.

  18. Hello!

    I myself went through a similar journey very recently. Let me share a story with you.

    In the beginning, I was a "liberal with a gun," just like you are right now. Oh, I would wonder why the left couldn't be more okay with gun ownership, but I was still in favor of expansive social safety nets, free public education, regulation of mega-corporations, affirmative action, higher taxes, etc. etc. etc. I too was a lefty with a gun.

    Soon, I had dived into gunny literature and gun blogs. I learned about personal responsibility; about morally protecting what you have legitimately earned; about the difference between that which is taken by force versus that which is given voluntarily; about the history of governments murdering their own people; about the monumental failures of publicly-run programs despite dramatic increases in revenues brought about by higher levels of taxation; about the unintended consequences of regulation by bodies necessarily open to pressure by those who are affected by regulation.

    I incorporated this new information into my views. I acknowledged that it was appropriate to defend what was yours from those who would take it without your consent. I conceded that throwing money at social programs did not empirically appear to generate better results. I recognized the history of government murder following gun control. I saw how regulations passed with a wink and a nod that killed competition and protected industry giants were corrupting powerful regulatory agencies. Slowly, I realized the maxim that you already know: "power begets abuse." I began to understood that the government is the ultimate storehouse of power.

    Then a funny thing happened. I realized I wasn't a lefty any more.

    Originally, I became a gun owner because I realized that gun control doesn't work. But I became a Libertarian because I realized that the entire liberal social agenda doesn't work.

    It will not be an overnight process. But if you are a logical man, willing to learn new things, to challenge deeply-held beliefs with new and possibly frightening facts without resorting to name-calling or denial, then I believe you can do it, too. You seem reasonable. Keep an open mind. Listen. And prepare for quite a journey.


  19. Dear Lefty with a Gun:

    I find your story so far to be the very sort of sane, rational kind of narrative that everyone (but especially the gun-controllers) need to hear.

    I won't presume to argue taxation and whatnot with you on your own blog. I'm just glad you've joined the pro-RKBA side.

    Everybody else: Be nice. We want Lefty on our team. Maybe after he's hung around us a bit, some of the other stuff will rub off on him. ;-)

  20. It seems to me that everyone is being nice...I haven't seen any name calling or insults...just some civil disagreement on the subject of "taxation as charity".

    I probably disagree with him on more subjects than that...but that's OK...we're allowed to disagree and when I do, I will do so with civility and respect.

    Mr. Morganthen has shown the ability to put away preconceived notions and evaluate positions based upon reason with his decisions regarding firearms; so, I hold out hope that he'll be open to reasoned and factual discourse about other subjects too.

    I am perfectly willing to change my position based upon reasoned, factual arguments. I'm not perfect and I'm very capable of being wrong (just ask my wife)...when I am, prove it to me and I'll adjust my position accordingly. I would hope that any rational, thinking human being would have the same viewpoint.

    At any rate, it is Mr. Morganthen's blog so if he'd rather not discuss this and just keep the subject on gun rights, I'll respect that too.

    I do welcome him to the wild and woolly world of gun blogging and hope he sticks around for a long time. I'm always interested in hearing other viewpoints...whether I agree with them or not.

  21. Welcome to the gun blogs!

    Katrina was somewhat of a turning point for me, too. I've always been more or less "pro gun, pro self-defense", but I never saw a real issue with registering your firearms. Then Katrina happened and they grabbed up the guns. And I didn't even know that. I sure didn't see it on TV. I stumbled onto the story reading someone's gun blog.

    If you haven't read Gordon Hutchinson's book "The Great New Orleans Gun Grab: Descent into Anarchy", I highly recommend it. To those who say it won't happen here, this book shows that it already did.

    Anyway, welcome aboard.

  22. I came to "comments" for the same reason as everyone else who commented above.

    I intended to be very polite and rational, but... After seeing your response (above) -- er... No.


    You, Sir -- and I mean this in the most respectful way possible -- are a coward.

    You feel it is "proper" to FORCIBLY -- at the point of a gun -- rob me of the fruits of my labor for the benefit of those you deem more "needful" thereof than I. That makes you a Lefty -- the world is (unfortunately) full of them.

    What makes you a COWARD is that you are unwilling to come and actually do the robbing yourself, so you appoint others (also paid with the forcibly taken fruits of *my* labor) to stand and threaten or do violence in your stead.

    You are also a hypocrite - because having admittedly voted for and *willingly* payed your designated small portion of the costs of the "charity" you've extorted from me, you then go on - PROUDLY - relating how you came to obtain the tools necessary to do violence of your own.

    Not to enforce your will and rob me, but to avoid having the same done to you by *TRULY* desperate, starving people in the midst of an unspeakable horror.

    Can you really not see the hypocrisy inherent in being willing to kill or maim people who try to do to you EXACTLY what you're FINE with having others to do me -- that is take more of the fruits of **YOUR** labor from you than you're willing to give?!


    Just. Frigging. WOW.

    You're the epitome of what C.S. Lewis tried to warn us about when he said

    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.

    The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences."

    May G*d have mercy on your cowardly, hypocritical soul.



  23. PS: Obviously I was engaging in a bit of hyperbole in my last post, but my point stands:

    If it is acceptable to forcibly take my property for the benefit of others on an average, sunny, summer day, then how in the world could you possibly justify using a gun to protect YOUR property in the midst of total anarchy when people are literally starving?

    If you're willing to pay taxes to be wasted by Leviathan government (I've worked in a Federal office -- you'd NEVER pay taxes willingly if you'd seen what I have) then that truly is "charity."

    The only difference between being robbed at the point of a gun by a criminal, and what you're "OK with" the government criminals doing to ME is that the criminal who robbed you isn't acting with YOUR approval.

    What you call "Charity" moral people call "armed robbery" -- the only difference is MOB RULE. If 50.0001% of the residents of your town decided post-catastrophe "let's go take Fritz's food/fuel/supplies -- we need it more than he and HIS family do" would you be OK with that?

    HOW is that different than what you're "OK with" doing to me, today?




  24. Hope y'all don't mind if I slide on into the discussion here so that I may welcome a fellow PacNW gunnie into the fold.

    Feel free to email me if'n you're looking for someone to hit the range with. I'm not seeing your email addy anywheres so I figured this might be the best way to contact you.

  25. Welcome to being a free person. I disagree on you thinking about government charity, but if kep up this progression you may chnage your thinking.

    Most people are a product of their upbringing. If you live in urban east or west the liberal culture and liberal thinking is endemic and it is picked without having to think about the morality of state run charity and other issues.

    Eventually reality starts to hit and you rethink your assumptionms. I am glad you rethought your gun stance.

    Welcome indeed.