Tag Archives: rate

Slate – U.S. Gun Deaths since Sandy Hook

Gun Deaths vs Gun Ownership

From BusinessInsider.com, a graphic showing the obvious, near linear relationship between gun ownership and gun deaths, by country. In the U.S., we have, by far, the highest rate of gun ownership. Other than Mexico, with their ongoing drug war, we also have the highest rate of death by firearm. OK NRA...do you STILL say that gun control laws are ineffective?

From Slate.com, a site that every day has been tracking people killed by guns since the incident at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut.  Man…talk about a depressing page, especially since they show little symbols that show the breakdown by age and sex.  Incidents like Sandy Hook obviously make the news, but in terms of total number of U.S. gun deaths, the day Sandy Hook occurred wasn’t shockingly higher than other “normal” days in the U.S.  There were more people killed by guns on Christmas Eve than were killed at Sandy Hook. 

The number of people killed in Great Britain by guns?  Recent yearly numbers have been around 50 or lower.  In the U.S. in recent years? Between 10,000 and 13,000 murders a year with guns.  Even at the low end…on average, more people are murdered by firearms in the U.S. every TWO DAYS than are in Great Britain in a given year. 

But yet, you have the NRA coming out and saying that gun control laws are “ineffective”, that the only way to stop armed people is by putting MORE armed people out on the streets.  Obviously, gun control laws are EXTREMELY effective, as evidence from other countries shows.  It’s one of our greatest failures as a people that Americans value a culture of guns more than they value the very lives of our citizens.

Folly indeed – Our Non-representative House of Representatives

GOP Cliff Diving

The House of Representatives is anything but representative. Democratic House candidates received more votes than Republicans in this past election, yet thanks to gerrymandered districts, Republicans somehow maintain House control. The non-representative House of Representatives is about to drive the economy to ruin, defying what Americans want from these negotiations.

And over the cliff we go…

Early on Monday, it appeared that a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff was within sight.  President Obama agreed to spending cuts, including cuts in entitlement spending.  Many Democrats weren’t happy that Obama evidently agreed to a change in the way inflation is calculated for adjusting federal benefits.  Obama also moved on his prior insistence that tax rates go up for all earners over $250,000, raising that number to $400,000.  John Boehner finally gave in and agreed that tax rates would have to rise for high earners.  With the moves from Obama and Boehner, on Monday, a deal appeared imminent.

Then, within the course of a few hours, John Boehner caved to the conservative nutjobs that control the Republican Party.  Suddenly Boehner’s “Plan B” appeared, where Republicans would unilaterally pass legislation in the House that extended tax cuts for everyone making less than $1 million a year.  It was purely a political ploy, as passage of such a bill in the House would only serve as a political tool Republicans could wield in trying to convince the public they were being reasonable on fiscal cliff negotiations.

Yesterday, Boehner pulled “Plan B” in the House and adjourned for the holidays.  They couldn’t even get enough votes within their own party to pass the legislation.  One and a half months after a disaster of an election for Republicans, and they still haven’t seemed to have gotten the message that the political winds have changed.  Republicans are still allowing the radical conservative wing of the party to dictate the party’s direction.

Why are we in this mess?  Why, with months to find a solution to this mess, are we about to merrily tumble over the fiscal cliff, even when politicians know the severe harm it will cause to our economy?  Look no further than our non-representative House of Representatives.

Conservatives constantly point to the Constitution and our founding fathers on issues such as gun rights and other issues.  I wonder what the founding fathers would think of today’s political system that allows for a House of Representatives to be composed of a NON-representative suite of politicians.  Even with the political and economic headwinds against him, Obama decisively beat Romney. Even with Democrats defending many more seats than Republicans, Democrats managed to GAIN seats in the Senate.  In the House?  DEMOCRATIC HOUSE CANDIDATES RECEIVED MORE VOTES IN THE HOUSE THAN DID REPUBLICAN HOUSE CANDIDATES!!! Yet thanks to a system that allows state legislatures to gerrymander House districts, Republican-controlled states managed to game the system and send more Republican House members to Washington than the vote of the American people would imply.

In short, our House of Representatives is anything BUT representative.  The American people are strongly siding with Obama’s positions in the fiscal cliff negotiations.  But thanks to gerrymandered House districts that allowed Republicans to control the House, despite receiving a minority of the votes, fiscal cliff negotiations are going nowhere.  Gun control legislation will go nowhere, despite the tragedy in Newtown.  ANY significant legislation is likely to go nowhere over the next 2 years, thanks to a Republican-controlled House who continues to insist on defying the voice of the American people, and instead focus on the path set forward by the hyper-radical conservative wing of their party.

Given what happened in the November election, given that the American people are behind him on the fiscal cliff issue, and given all the political clout Obama SHOULD have on the fiscal cliff issue, Obama has gone much further to meet Republicans in these negotiations than many think he needed to go.  But here we are 10 days away from tumbling over the cliff, and our non-representative House of Representatives have walked out on the Obama/Boehner negotiations, and have adjourned for the holidays.  Boehner even had the gall to say that it’s “now up to Obama and Harry Reid” to pass legislation to avoid the fiscal cliff.  WHAT THE HELL??  Republicans close up shop and leave Washington, and then have the guts to say it’s up to Obama and Harry Reid to solve this?

I hope the American people are paying attention.  In general, in mid-term elections, the president’s party losing seats in Congress.  I hope the American people say enough is enough in 2014, and, despite the gerrymandered districts, move us towards a more representative House of Representatives.  As it stands now, a handful of right-wing nutjobs are about to send the entire American economy over the cliff.

GOP Answer to Deficit Reduction – Cutting Tax Rates for Rich

Up until today, it was easy for Obama and Democrats to ignore the bluster from John Boehner and Republicans.  Boehner and other top GOP whiners certainly haven’t pulled any punches in their whining about Obama’s initial proposal.  But until today, they didn’t even HAVE a proposal of their own, making it very difficult to take their complaining seriously. 

Today, Republicans provided a supposed counter-offer to Obama.  And…it’s still very difficult to take them seriously.

Republicans counter-proposal on taxes?  Cutting tax rates for the wealthy…but closing unspecified loopholes to somehow increase $800 billion in revenue.   To begin with, there are no details on exactly what loopholes will be closed, or how the net outcome from cutting tax rates for the wealthy would somehow result in an increase of $800 billion to government coffers.  By CUTTING rates for the wealthy, but promising unspecified loophole closures, Republicans see the best of both worlds…not going against the Grover Norquist tax-cut pledge, AND inevitably shifting some of the revenue increase burden to groups other than the wealthy.

It’s amazing how far Republicans are going to protect tax cuts for the richest of Americans.  This same farce of a counter-proposal also seeks to cut $600 billion in health costs, with one stated Republican option being to raise Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67.  Another $200 billion would be saved by decreasing cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security, as well as all other aspects of government.   While doing everything they can to protect their wealthy donors, Republicans certainly have no problem sticking the poor or the sick with additional costs.

After the election, an emboldened Obama is finally showing a backbone.  He’s finally sticking to his guns on making the wealthy pay their fair share.  I just hope to god he sticks with it, and doesn’t cave once the fiscal cliff approaches. 

Going over the cliff, even with a short-term recession looming as a result, is far more preferable than caving to Republicans who not only want to maintain the gap between rich and poor, but seemingly want to widen it.

Boehner’s “Generous” Offer for Compromise

Yesterday, John Boehner tried to set the tone for “compromise” on debt negotiations.  It sounded good.  After a very tumultuous, brutal election, it sounded good for the Republican House to come out and say they were willing to deal with Obama on the debt.

It remains to be seen what Boehner means by “compromise”.  Note the language of his statement. He specifically says they’re willing to raise ‘revenue’.   From his comments yesterday, Boehner still says Republicans are unwilling to raise tax rates on the rich.  HUH!?!?!  How is that compromise?  After the election, even some hard-core conservatives admitted that tax increases had to be part of any realistic deal to cut the debt.  Yet despite Boehner’s “magnanimous” offer yesterday to compromise, Republicans are still unwilling to raise tax rates on the rich.

How do you raise “revenue” without raising taxes?  According to Boehner, Republicans plans for raising revenue comes from a “byproduct of a growing economy, energized by a simpler, cleaner, fairer tax code, with fewer loopholes, and lower rates for all.”  WTF!?!?!   This is EXACTLY what Romney had been campaigning on!!!  It’s the same old trickle-down economics “solution”!!!  Cut taxes!! Then we will magically generate new revenue simply because the economy is growing!!!

Nice political play, Boehner.  You certainly fooled the press into getting a big headline.  Right after an election, you made it LOOK like Republicans were being magnanimous.  It sets Boehner and the Republicans up more favorably when negotiations start, and I’m sure you’ll hear today’s proclamation referenced to, when Republicans refuse to raise taxes and blame Obama.

Americans Love Obamacare Provisions

Sometimes it’s downright scary to know we allow everyone over the age of 18 to vote.  I’m not saying it shouldn’t be that way, but, it’s scary to have a democracy built on majority rule, when far too often, the majority are completely ignorant.

In this story, MSNBC notes that 56% of Americans are against Obamacare, with 44% approval.  However…they note that Americans are strongly in favor of the actual CONTENTS of the health care legislation behind Obamacare. 

It’s like someone really LOVING a bag of cookies, but throwing it away because they don’t like the wrapper.  Content good!! Obamacare PR? Bad…in no small part due to Republican distortions (aka, lies) about the bill, and the idiot electorate who is dumb enough to believe the lies.

Just the facts – Gun Ownership

Just the facts

Just the facts. Just the evidence, and science. In other words...something most Americans are very good at ignoring.

It’s been quite laughable what people have been trying to post this week, once some gun nuts took objection to an old post.  The common characteristics of the attempted posts were:

1) Inability to communicate.  My god.  I’m insulated from it a bit given where I work.  A scientist HAS to be able to write well, as you certainly won’t get published if you aren’t a capable writer.  However, I always knew that basic writing was a skill lost on most Americans.  If you try to post something, I’m not going to take your arguments seriously if you’re incapable of writing a coherent sentence, or are incapable of writing a sentence without 3 misspellings. 

2) Vulgarity - Sorry folks, if you start a post by calling me an asshole (or worse)…it isn’t going to be posted.  The automatic filtering alone will make sure that those posts are directed right to the trash bin.

3) Complete rejection of reality.   My god it’s scary what people believe. Looked through the trash bin, and saw all kinds of wonderful attempted posts about citizens with guns being more important than police, that more people are saved by civilians with guns than are killed, etc.   It’s scary to read posts from people who think of THEMSELVES as America’s TRUE policemen (an EXACT phrase used by one guy…god that’s scary).  I guess it goes back to a previous post of mine, about peope’s insecurity and carrying guns as a way to pump up their ego or feelings of self-worth. 

Fortunately, as with most phenomena, you CAN actually take a scientific approach to the issue, and look at the data.  The data are pretty damned clear:

1) Kellermann, A., and Reay, D.T., 1986. “Protection or peril? An analysis of firearm-related deaths in the home.”  New England Journal of Medicine 314(24): 1557-1560. This research found that a homeowner with a gun is 43 times more likely to kill a FAMILY member, than a home intruder.

2) Kellerman, A., Rivara, F.P., Rushforth, N.B., Banton, J.G., Reay, D.T., Francisco, J.T., Locci, A.B., Prodzinski, J., Hackman, B.B., and Somes, G., 1993. “Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home.” New England Journal of Medicine 329: 1084-1091.   Households owning guns are three times as likely to be a victim of homicide as non gun owners

3) Miller, M., Hemenway, D., and Zarael, D., 2007.  State-level homicide victimization rates in the U.S. in relation to survey measures of household firearm ownership., 2001-2003.  Soc. Sci. Med. 64(3): 656-664.  This study found that homicide rates, including homicide of children, were directly correlated to regions with higher proportions of home gun ownership.  The top 25% of states with highest gun ownership had homicide rates 114% higher than the states with lowest gun ownership. 

As this last study ponts out…it’s simply easier for criminals to obtain guns in areas where more guns are present.   One study found 90% of guns used for crime were obtained illegally.  Gun proponents thus say criminals are “going to get guns anyway”, so they too need legal means of obtaining guns to “defend” themselves.  However, these and other studies note the direct correlation between gun availability/ownership, and violent crime.  In areas where guns are more easily obtained through legal means, there are also more guns available illegally, and crime rates are much higher.

The facts are pretty straightforward.  But those on the right seem little interested in fact nowadays, be it gun owners…global warming denialists…Obama “birthers”…etc.   

And none of this even addresses the wacko “Right to Carry” groups who have been filling up my trash bin.  Consider this research:

Branas, C.C., Richmand, T.S., Culhane, D.P., Ten Have, T.R., and Wiebe., D.J., 2009.  “Investigating the link between gun possession and gun assault”. American Journal of Public Health 99(11): 2034-2040. – This study found that those carrying a gun are FAR likelier to be both shot, and killed, than unarmed crime victims.  People who carry are 4.5 times as likely to be shot compared to unarmed crime victims.  As Branas notes, it may be the “type of people” who carry firearms, but it also is likely due to the “sense of empowerment” gun carriers have.   For those wackos who think they can carry a gun and use it defend themselves (seemingly EVERY wacko who tried to post fits this category), the study also notes that in the cases where a gun-carrying victim has some chance to defend themselves, they are even MORE likely to be shot…5.5 times as likely to be shot than an unarmed victim.

Yes, even this study notes that there are some successful defensive gun uses each year, but they note “the probability of success may be low for civilian gun users”.  The study notes that you’re in far MORE danger when you carry, than if you don’t.

Just the facts!  Scientific, peer-reviewed literature!!  Not some wacko gun nut sending me a profane email, with a link to a pro-gun website touting all the “benefits” of carrying  a gun.  And you wonder why your posts don’t make it past the trash bin?

Gingrich Tax Plan: Cut Rich Tax Rate by over half

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich and the rest of his rich buddies would be laughing all the way to the bank, under Gingrich's proposed new tax system.

Newt Gingrich has been criticized by many in the Tea party, and by conservatives in general, for being too moderate.  With the analysis of Gingrich’s proposed tax plan, conservative wackos have nothing to worry about.  Gingrich is showing he’s just like the rest of the completely unrealistic GOP candidates, and will do anything to pander to the wacko right who believes taxes and government are the root of all evil.

Gingrich’s plan would allow you to keep your current taxes, or, take a flat 15% tax.  So in theory, nobody’s taxes go up!!  Consider, however, that the richest Americans currently have a tax rate of 35%.  That would go down to 15%!  Plus, Gingrich proposes no taxes on capital gains, and no estate taxes, two taxes that currently largely affect the wealthy.  The net result?  MASSIVE tax cuts for the rich, far beyond what even most other wacko Republican candidates are offering.  The richest 0.1%?  They would receive an AVERAGE of a $2 million cut in their taxes!! 

The poorest people in America?  ONLY 20% would receive ANY kind of tax benefit!!! And the average tax benefit for those few, lucky poor folks who WOULD get a tax cut under Gingrich?  A whopping $63 a year!!

There is just one SLIGHT problem with Gingrich’s plan.  Under the plan, tax revenues would drop by at least 35%, adding at least $1 TRILLION a year to the deficit!!  Considering the debt-reduction committee couldn’t agree on that much savings over TEN years, adding a trillion a year to the deficit doesn’t seem too smart now, does it?

But then again…who ever accused the GOP of being smart?