Tom's Thoughts

Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Whole Bill of Rights

I believe in the entire Bill of Rights, unlike those on the right who want to do away with the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, and those on the left who want to do away with the Second and Tenth.

I once read a column (in Playboy, by the way) that said the author was a member of both the ACLU and the NRA. The reason was that he believed in both the First AND Second Amendments.

I'm the same way. Today, though I want to concentrate on only the Second Amendment.

As my son, along with both sets of grandparents, sat around taking turns holding my new grandson I mentioned that the other grandfather said he would teach little Hayden how to turn a wrench. I said that my son would teach him how to hit a ball and throw a ball, and that I would teach him how to shoot pictures and shoot a gun.

We all agreed that this last would be some long years into the future. When he is old enough. But I also told them that when I was a child my grandfather had a pistol hanging in his open closet door. I was curious about that pistol, and I wanted to hold it and examine it, maybe even shoot it. BUT all us grandchildren knew it was not to be touched. It was not a toy. It was a dangerous weapon. We would stick with our BB guns (OUTSIDE), and leave the big guns to the big people.

My son and I both want my grandson to understand that a gun is not a toy, and that if another kid comes along carrying one and saying, "Look what I found!" that Hayden will know not to go near it, and to tell an adult right away.

Too many on the right practically worship guns and use them to express their deathly fear of the "bad" people out there. Too many on the left have an unhealthy fear of guns themselves, and thus prevent their children from knowing what to do in the presence of one.

If children were taught what do do in the presence of guns, what guns are, and how to handle themselves with and around firearms, then there would be fewer casualties when idiots like the Pittsburgh killer use guns as a means of compensating for some real or perceived inadequacy.

As Crosby, Stills, and Nash sang, "Teach your children well."

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

On Competition

Why is it, I have asked over and over, that those who are so eager for the government to compete with private enterprise through school vouchers are so deathly AFRAID of the government competing with private enterprise in the field of health care?

After all, isn't competition the American way? Look at UPS and FedEx. They have been quite successful in competing with the U.S. Postal Service.

But then again, maybe competition isn't the American way. Look at the oil companies. Big oil companies--Texaco, Shell, Amoco, Mobil--have been bought out by bigger oil companies--Exxon, BP. And big banks have been bought out by bigger banks. NCNB bought out some other banks and became NationsBank, then bought out BankAmerica and became Bank of America. Northwestern Bank was bought out by First Union, which then bought out Wachovia and changed its own name to Wachovia, because First Union had such a bad reputation among its customers. Now that Wachovia has been bought out by Wells Fargo.

And so it goes.

So mergers and acquisitions seem to be the business model of American companies rather than competition. Big Microsoft couldn't let WordPerfect have the field to itself; it had to come out with MS Word. There were perfectly good spreadsheet programs available, but they had to make Excel the industry standard. Now that Google has metastisized to the point it has Microsoft has to come out with Bing to compete with them. They are also trying to buy Yahoo, which was the big dog for a while.

As I have also said, "too big to fail" is a phrase we are too familiar with, but it raises the question: How do we keep companies from growing to the point where they are too big to fail?

Teddy Roosevelt, where are you now that we need you?