Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Taser Use Appropriate?

I think it's important to note that the issue at hand was "Did the officer follow the Taser use policy?" The question posed was not "Do we agree with the use of the Taser in this instance?"

I think in any case where judgment is required you will have multiple opinions on what should have been done. Simply pointing out that this officer has used his Taser twice is irrelevant. As humans we tend to rely on what has worked for us in the past. If I did something and it worked before, I'd be inclined to use it in similar situations and hope for similar effects.

In this case, it appears the officer followed policy. The officer is not at fault with his actions in regard to the policy. If there are concerns with the usage in this instance, the fault lies with the policy, not the officer. I completely agree that it should be standard to request assistance from another officer if able to do so when confronted with a volatile person or situation. That is simply an officer safety issue. The Chief stated he will look at this issue, and I think we have a responsibility to ensure that appropriate changes are made as needed.

I think the most challenging point raised was the question of active vs passive resistance. While we all have our opinion on the subject, we cannot simply ignore the guideline the officer was trained to follow. In this instance it appears he followed the guidelines of the policy and his training. We should not find fault with that.

If you do not believe the policy is appropriate, you need to get involved. It takes a lot of courage to stand up for one's convictions. While I disagree with most of what my wife had to say at the meeting, I understand her concerns and applaud her courage for raising them. I thought there was a lot of great discussion on the subject in general, and I applaud the fact that citizens are willing to make their voices be heard. You will never make a difference in the world if you aren't willing to put your name beside your convictions.

Another point I would like to make is the invocation of civil disobedience and Thoreau. I don't think the argument was being made that the act of trespassing is inherently unjust. There are some that are willing to treat their property as communal, but as a general rule society respects a person's right to property. Further, the argument was not being made that the commands of a police officer placing you under arrest are inherently unjust. Without the rule of law, these conversations would not even be taking place, so there is certainly a place for it in a civilized society. I just don't see how this particular issue relates to something as unjust as racial segregation, slavery, etc. If this is in someway trying to be related to homeless rights, or mental health advocacy that's a separate discussion but at no point was that issue raised.

As a society we have empowered our police officers to protect society and establish order. It is the responsibility of society to establish the guidelines we expect them to follow. If we fault the prescribed guidelines, that is a failure of society.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Your safety is too expensive...

When are people going to realize that safety is an illusion?

The latest "breach" of airport security is a classic example. Sadly, we knew about this guy, he was also on a watch list, and he was still able to slip on board an international flight with his happy sack full of explosives.

Many people simply feel that extra airport scrutiny will make them safer. This incident is an example that it does not. You may FEEL safer, but you are not actually any more safe than you were without it because it is not a focused scrutiny. Of course thanks to this Nigerian idiot we're all now subjected to more intense regulation and scrutiny...Apparently because extra regulations have worked so well. The sad fact is we have technology to truly reduce the probability of incidents like these from occurring, but we are all told they are too expensive.

Conservatively, our nation spends hundreds of billions of dollars making places like Afghanistan and Iraq safe, yet we do not have the money available to make our OWN borders safe? One purpose of government is to protect our borders from foreign threats. Do any of us still really think we can fight the war on terror by invading countries? If so, are we going to attack Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, etc. ad nauseam until terror stops?

Random searches are about as useful as random foreign invasions.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I need a government that loves me?

There is a belief that the citizens are not fit to govern, or care for themselves. It is important to remember that our elected officials are servants to the citizens; we are not beholden to them.

Rather than government treating us like customers, we as citizens should be treated as owners. There is a vast distinction in these two concepts. The average citizens’ view of government has dramatically deteriorated, and I think there is good reason for that. Rather than exploring alternate points of view, dissenting opinions are ridiculed and vilified. There is much to learn from opposing points of view. We should not be so closed minded that we cannot entertain ideas contrary to our own.

When our political processes become fractured, contentious, and break down to party line votes, the citizen ultimately suffers. This practice of voting in the spirit of special interest, and party boss mandates, does not serve the citizen. In order to change this, we need more independent minded representation. So many of us have lost our connection with our own civic responsibility; it is even more important than jury duty, but we don’t get the letter calling us to action. The call to action must spur from within!

I’ve heard the analogy that citizens’ governing themselves is like two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner. I think a more appropriate view of our current political climate is more reflected by two wolves intimidating eight sheep to vote for what’s in “their best interest”. There is this feeling in our system that we need a powerful government that will protect us from all evil, and even protect us from ourselves.

I wonder; does anyone out there really cast a vote because they think the government can take care of them better than they take care of themselves?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Political Disease

I'm always puzzled by the lack of foresight that political parties tend to exhibit. Case in point, the Vermont Progressive Party recently stated: ‘We refuse alternatives to single payer health care’

Now that type of blanket statement is dangerous. How can we possibly consider a statement like that even reasonable. I actually think the Vermont Progressive Party's platform has some interesting, even admirable statements...

Unfortunately, government is increasingly becoming unresponsive and irresponsible. The two brand-name parties frequently act in concert, because they serve the same corporate interests. They agree to take issues “off the table”, preventing discussion of issues important to most Vermonters: health care for all, property tax reform, energy independence.

We put the interests of the farmers, laborers, students, small business owners and seniors ahead of the interests of the large corporations that influence the other major parties.

Now if a proposal was offered that met the shared goals of Vermonters, and also reduced costs were offered, the Progressive Party would refuse to address that proposal simply because it wasn't single payer? That's an incredibly narrow view of the state. It's also the symptom of a much larger disease in American politics. Intolerance can be quite ugly in any form; especially when it is an intolerance of ideas.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

We need true health care reform...

I strongly oppose the current “reform” being proposed because I do not view it as reform at all. It is simply more regulation and bureaucracy heaped on top of a broken health care delivery system. It does nothing to truly reform health care delivery. To do so would require a much greater effort to analyze the existing problems and improve them.

This federal bill does not contain costs. This federal bill does not improve quality and access. We do not need rhetoric, we need reform. A bill that was in the best interest of America would have widespread support, not division along party lines.

We need to leave behind a health care system dominated by employer-provided health insurance. Health insurance should be personal and portable, controlled by individuals themselves rather than government or an employer.

We need to increase insurance competition among both insurers and health providers. People should be allowed to purchase health insurance across state lines. This simple act alone could cover 17 million uninsured Americans without increasing taxes.

Simply put, this discussion should be taking place at the state level. We do not need more unfunded mandates from the federal government. Vermont ranks first as the healthiest nation in the state. We can clearly tackle this problem far more effectively than a federal approach. The federal bill does nothing more than create a bleeding ulcer out of a case of indigestion.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


A fair tax system would be replacing income tax with a sales tax. We still wouldn't touch the necessities like food and clothing. It would make sure that people were able to provide for themselves before any tax was collected. Taxes would only be on optional purchases. We could control how much tax we're going to spend by controlling our level of consumption. We would have the option of hanging onto our money and living off the basics, or of spending as much as we feel like. We wouldn't be penalized for saving or investing.

In the current system there are plenty of industries, both legal and illegal, that get away with paying no taxes; gambling, drug dealers, cottage industries, undocumented workers. Since everyone has to buy things the tax would cover everyone.

Another system that needs revamping is the outdated property tax system. Property taxes have become regressive in nature. Today they have no relationship to the owner's income or ability to pay. The value of a property for taxation should be fixed at the time the owner purchases the property. That is the only time the true value of the property can be fixed. We currently focus on speculative valuations which results in people being forced to sell their land when the value increases. If the tax valuation is fixed at the time of purchase, individuals will know whether or not they can afford the taxes when they purchase their property. The only time it would change is when properties change hands.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Vt. hospital questions breast screening cutback: Times Argus Online

Vt. hospital questions breast screening cutback: Times Argus Online

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This is a classic example of a federal recommendation that will be pushed through to the states if the current bill presented before congress were to pass. It won't matter if you have a dissenting opinion at that point, you'll be required to pay out of pocket for an exam like this.