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It’s Time to Amend the Second Amendment

by Fred Flaxman

How many school children have to be slaughtered in their classrooms before we do something serious about the easy access to assault weapons and other guns of war to civilians in the United States? How many movie theater audiences have to be mowed down? How many church congregations killed in their own houses of worship? How many innocent shoppers need to be shot in a shopping mall?

We need to amend the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees our “right to bear arms,” in order to pass sensible gun regulations.

Although adults have a right to drive, which is not guaranteed by our Constitution, they need to pass a driving test and obtain a driving license. Gun owners should also pass a test to prove that they can handle firearms responsibly, and they should then receive a license. They should not be allowed to purchase weapons of mass destruction. Criminals and people with serious mental problems which could lead them to violence should not be able to obtain guns at all, never mind so easily.

Please join me in supporting a simple amendment to the Constitution which would make sensible regulation of gun ownership possible on a national basis. It could read as follows: “The Second Amendment to the Constitution is hereby amended to permit the registration, licensing, regulation, and limitation of firearms by the Federal Government.” Sign my petition to the House of Representatives and the Senate at Change.org.

fredflaxman.wordpress.com/

Author of Sixty Slices of Life … on Wry: The Private Life of a Public Broadcaster, winner of the 2011 Pinnacle Book Award for memoir.
Rave reviews at Amazon.com, Rhapsody in Books, Reading at the Beach, BookPleasures.com, The Book Nook, and Radio World.
Editor of The Timeless Tales of Reginald Bretnor.
Producer/Presenter of Compact Discoveries.

Compact Discoveries programs are available for streaming-on-demand without charge by listeners at www.compactdiscoveries.com. The series is also broadcast as well as streamed on the internet by several public radio stations throughout the United States and abroad. For further information go to www.compactdiscoveries.com.

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Selling Candidates like Hemorrhoid Ointments

©2014 by Fred Flaxman

Last time I looked at a Gallup poll it showed that Congress’s approval rating was at an all-time low of 9 percent. Polygamy, pornography, and the BP oil spill all had higher approval ratings. Even the “U.S. going communist” was more popular!

Why? I think it’s because the public perceives that Congress has been corrupted by the influence of money on the electoral system. A century ago comedian Will Rogers said that the U.S. had the best Congress money can buy. That’s still true, but it has become a great deal more expensive.

That’s because candidates for political office these days feel the need to purchase expensive air time on commercial TV and radio stations in order to get elected. But the electoral process is demeaned, and knowledge of the issues diminished, by “selling” candidates like soap and hemorrhoid ointments in 30- or 60-second spots.

Radio and television stations in the United States are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to use the public airwaves for the benefit of the public. They should not be allowed to charge candidates money for air time. They should offer the time without charge, not as political advertising, but as debates on the issues, and in 15-minute blocks for candidates to make their case for election and re-election.

If radio and TV stations are not willing to do this, they should lose their licenses. After all, those licenses are granted to broadcasters who are supposed to use the public airwaves for the benefit of the public, not just for private gain.

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Don’t be misled by Billy Graham

Don’t be misled by Billy Graham
©2012 by Fred Flaxman
As a non-Christian subscriber to the Asheville (North Carolina) Citizen-Times, I think it is unfair and blatantly discriminatory for our community’s only daily newspaper to run Billy Graham’s conservative Christian column every day without giving equal space to proponents of other religious and nonreligious ethical points of view.

The headline on his column in today’s paper was: “Don’t be misled by nonbelievers.” But it is Billy Graham who misleads his readers when he argues that: “If God didn’t put us here, then we are here by accident, and therefore our lives don’t have any real purpose or meaning.” I think being put here by accident gives us more purpose and meaning: the unique and one-time opportunity to use our lives for the betterment of others.

The rest of his column continues with equally uninformed, ridiculous assertions such as: “If [God] didn’t put us here, we can live any way we want to, no matter how selfish or hurtful we are,” as if nonbelievers have no morals or ethics.

Remember that there is no mention of God in the Golden Rule, nor do you need to believe in anything supernatural to follow it. Just treat others as you want to be treated yourself. You may not go to Heaven as a result, but at least you’ll help improve the situation down here on earth.

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Taxing the Wealthiest

©2011 by Fred Flaxman
Last month Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky introduced a Fairness in Taxation Act, which seeks to establish new tax brackets for the wealthiest Americans. The highest bracket is now 35 percent for those making $379,150 or more a year. For most of President Reagan’s time in office, top earners were taxed at 50 percent.

Schakowsky says, “We can choose to cut education, job creation and healthcare, or we can choose to ask those who can contribute more to do so.”

I agree with her except for the word “ask” and the mild tax increases she asks of the super-rich. The word should be “compel,” as the rich are likely to fight any increase in their taxes. And Schakowsky’s bill would create a top bracket of 49 percent only for those earning $1 billion and up!

This is the kind of legislation I would expect of a liberal Republican, if there were still such a creature in Congress. Democrats should go for a Greed Tax with a top bracket of 100 percent for those raking in anything over $1 million a year. No one should need more than that to lead a good, healthy, happy, productive life. No one should earn more than that, and nowhere in our Bill of Rights does it say that anyone has the right to be so greedy.

When the top 400 households in the U.S. rake in more money than the bottom 60 percent combined, it is time for a much stronger Fairness in Taxation Act than Schakowsky has proposed.

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Progressives should take over the Democratic Party

©2011 by Fred Flaxman

I’m afraid that Barack Obama, whom I actively supported for election, has become the President of Missed Opportunities. Coming into office to inherit the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, he missed the opportunity to break up the financial institutions which were “too big to fail.” He appointed the very people who caused the problem to solve it.

Coming into office with his Democratic Party controlling both houses of Congress, he and his party missed the opportunity of getting rid of the anti-democratic filibuster — a prerequisite for getting almost anything else of importance accomplished with a simple majority of the votes.

He thus missed the opportunity of obtaining a single payer health-care insurance system, or at least a public option — the only ways to really cut health care costs. And he missed the opportunity to clean up our corrupt, money-controlled electoral system by not championing a Constitutional amendment eliminating corporate political donations when the Supreme Court sanctioned them.

Etc., etc.

With the 400 wealthiest households in the United States bringing in more money than the bottom 60 percent combined, why not establish a greed tax of 100% of all household income over, let’s say, $1 million per year? Or should I propose $500,000 so we can compromise at $750,000? With multi-billion dollar corporations paying no income taxes at all, why not establish an alternative minimum tax for them?

There was so much the Democrats could have done while they had the votes to do it. They muffed it. So why don’t we progressives learn from the example of the Tea Party? They are a movement within the Republican Party trying to take over that party, and they are off to a very good and quick start! We should form a Progressive Party and try to take over the Democratic Party in the same way. That is likely the only way to bring about the real change that Obama and the Democrats promised but did not deliver.

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Cutting federal funding for public broadcasting

©2011 by Fred Flaxman
The future of public broadcasting in the U.S. is really in doubt when columnists like Steve Chapman, who consider it a “national treasure,” write in the Chicago Tribune that federal funding is no longer needed.

Chapman says that if the $430 million in taxpayer funds going to public radio and TV were to disappear, people like him would make up the difference with voluntary contributions. He ignores the fact that for the past 40 years only one out of ten NPR listeners and one out of ten PBS viewers has contributed to their local stations, despite the incessant over-the-air requests and tedious membership drives. Why would this change if federal funds ceased?

Free enterprise zealots might argue that if public broadcasting advocates aren’t willing to pay for the services, they don’t deserve to exist. But private enterprise in the U.S., with all the radio and TV stations that it owns, and all the money at their disposal, has not given us anything remotely approaching the consistent quality and in-depth reporting of NPR News, nor the educational programs for children and adults of PBS. All this despite the fact that public TV and radio have never been adequately or securely funded.

It would be fine with me if Congress cut all funds to public broadcasting, as long as they voted to provide the system with adequate funding from another source. For example: the FCC could charge annual license fees for all commercial uses of the public airwaves that would be used to automatically fund some or all of the noncommercial applications.

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