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An Open Letter To VT Gov. Peter Shumlin

Dear Governor Peter Shumlin,

I’ve lived in this beautiful state my entire life. I was born at Rutland Hospital (before it was re-dubbed RRMC). I attended Rutland schools (Dana Elementary, Northeast Elementary, Rutland Junior High School, and my class was the first to attend all four years at the new RHS). Aside from two years in Burlington, I’ve been here my whole life. I remember when the hard drugs swept through. I watched this city slide, its shine dampening in a faltering economy. I am one of the people fighting to bring it back. I haven’t given up hope and I chide those who slight it. But it is so hard to do that when good paying jobs flutter away in this employer’s market. I am not a social parasite nor a career welfare recipient. I want to go to work, earn my keep, and support my son.

We live in a beautiful state. All I see on social media are people complaining about taxes, the cost of living, “librull dems”, and so on. Yeah, the cost of living is high. Rents feel much higher than elsewhere. Yes, we sometimes have trouble attracting business because we tax them and insist on not allowing them to screw up our land. I think that’s a worthy trade off, considering the state of the land in more industry-friendly places. I have no qualms going to bat for Vermont to defend those policies. People who do not like that can go somewhere less ecologically sound. Vermont has a character we can be proud of.

I am not typically one to join in the mindless “omg shummy ruining vermont omg derp librulls derp” comment bandwagon often seen on social media. I’ve even gone so far as to mock them using the ‘ThanksObama’ meme as #thanksshummy. In fact, despite a couple differences of opinion (really? The GMO labeling bill? Way to make Vermont look like science-ignorant bandwagon jumpers-on… but whatever), I’ve consistently voted for and defended you. But seriously, this call for out of state workers is completely the wrong thing to do. How about spending some focus on getting local workers up to the needed skill levels? We aren’t short on people looking for work! We aren’t short on skilled workers. We aren’t short on people who could become those needed workers. I’ve been in web and IT for 15 years, but right now I’m a minimum wage employee delivering meals to seniors, barely scraping by as a single parent of a special needs child on 3squaresVT, Medicaid, and subsidized housing. I understand we have a population loss problem, but perhaps it would be better to address why young people leave rather than cull from the outside. When I think about people from out of state having a direct line advantage over me to jobs I may be qualified for, not only does it boil my blood but it breaks my spirit. It truly breaks my spirit and my heart to fight for this state and have it discard me for someone elsewhere.

I ask you, I implore you, Gov. Shumlin, do not give up on Vermonters. We deserve better than that. We deserve a chance.

Politics, part one.

      Yesterday’s press conference with President Barak Obama sounded like a parent disciplining his children, and with good reason. Congress haven’t actually written and agreed upon a real budget in years, instead patching up with supplementary short term hold-overs. Almost every hot button issue is deadlocked between the two major parties because compromise has become a dirty word. Civil debate and discussion has soured into ideological pissing contests. It’s no surprise the President has responded to this distasteful situation by speaking like an angry parent telling the fighting, bratty siblings to get along.

The Economy, Fiscal Cliff, Debt Ceiling, Monopoly, Scrooge McDuck, FML
      In the immediate, the debt ceiling needs to be raised to pay our already-approved bills and the fiscal cliff needs to be averted. In the only-slightly-less immediate future, a budget needs to be written. Congress should pay Nate Silver a quality sum of money to oversee this. He seems to be the only person who comments on politics who actually knows his maths. The GOP needs to accept that taxes on the wealthy will go up. There’s no way around this.

Sure, statistics isn’t economics, but I’m pretty sure no one in Congress knows arithmetic, so it can’t hurt.

Because No One Anywhere Is Going To Arm Up And Successfully Overthrow The US.
      What’s being proposed is a multi-faceted approach including an assault weapons ban, a high capacity magazine ban, and closing background check loopholes. Of course, there are segments of the population who will resist any firearm restrictions, hiding behind a Libertarian view of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, and arguing the usual points to death. However, before addressing the main arguing points, I say lets flip the debate around.

      Why should someone have the right to possess an assault rifle or high capacity magazine? Assault rifles are not utilitarian weapons (ie. standard rifle, shotgun, handguns) and have no practical civilian uses beyond what can be accomplished with their lesser counterparts.

Fuck yeah ‘Murrica!

      The Second Amendment was written in a time when the people overthrowing a corrupt government by force was actually a feasible thing (which we’d just done ourselves). This is no longer the case. No US civilian insurgency could succeed, nor would we want to affect change in this forceful manner. (The hypocrisy, as we chide Middle Eastern states for overthrowing their leaders every other year, would be overwhelming.) This renders the Second Amendment an outdated and obsolete notion. What was nobly written more than two centuries ago does not need to be propped up and dragged along like a sad, political version of Weekend At Bernie’s. Times change, people change, the world changes, and the tenets of a nation need to evolve with it all to remain relevant.

      Another key arguing point is the fact that, despite regulation or lack thereof, criminals will always be able to obtain these weapons. They won’t register them. To this, I say that these exampled criminals, the standard gang affiliated or independently immersed, will have known open channels to illegally obtain weapons. Some random nutjob like the Sandy Hook Elementary shooter wouldn’t have that knowledge and people like the Columbine shooters wouldn’t want to risk raising any flags by going that route when they were so easily obtainable in the ways they obtained them. These proposed measures aren’t aimed at the aforementioned criminals; they have their own supposed solutions in process (gang task forces, DEA, ATF, &c.).

      The last argument I’ll cover here is the comparison of statistic to homicides via baseball bats and knives. These attempt to suggest that it is the person using the tool, not the tool itself. This is inherently false. It is about both the person and the tool. To deny a difference in effectiveness between larger capacity clips and higher powered rifles vs. their lesser counterparts is almost as silly as comparing knives and baseball bats to firearms. You can’t mow down a considerable number of people from a distance with a knife or bat. It’s an illogical argument. Restrictions on the ‘tools’ and increased mental health services with lessened stigmas, as well as a progressive direction in culture, will go a long way toward preventing more tragedies like this.