I’m Amused

As I read headlines today I’m very amused. Just as I expected both political parties are blaming the other for the shutdown and their respective followers are joining the fray. The Republicans and their followers are blaming Dayton and the Democrats for the shutdown because he walked out during the debate. On the other side of the arena the Democrats and their followers are blaming the Republicans because they refused to negotiate with Dayton on increases taxes.

Since I’m just glad the shutdown is happening I have nobody to blame so don’t mind me as I’m kicking back and sipping on a beer later this evening with a little smirk on my face.

Stupidity and Firearms Never Mix

Update: 2013-02-20: 11:26: The story, as originally presented, was not accurate. As it turns out, as with most cases, the situation was far from black and white. According to the court ruling [PDF]:

Velure said that when they returned to Kurer’s apartment, Kurer went back into his bedroom and lay on the bed. Velure observed a Taurus Judge multicaliber handgun lying on the box spring area outside the mattress. He observed that the cylinder of the Taurus Judge was loaded with three .410 shotgun rounds and three .454 handgun rounds.

Kurer got out of bed and went into the living room, where he lay down on a short couch. Velure said that he followed, taking with him the Taurus Judge handgun. Velure said that he attempted to talk Kurer into going uptown with him, but Kurer was reluctant to do so.

According to Velure, he then made some comment, something to the effect of that he is going to squeeze the trigger if Kurer did not go with him. In reply to this Kurer had made the statement, something to the effect of, go ahead. Velure had told officers how just prior to the to this particular conversation with Kurer he had opened the cylinder on the Taurus handgun and had dumped what he thought were all six rounds into this hand and then placed all six rounds into his cargo short pants that he had been wearing. He then had utilized his right hand only and had flipped the weapon, causing the cylinder on the weapon to close. He was made the assumption that all of the rounds that had been in the handgun had been removed from the cylinder and had been placed by himself into his own short pockets. Assuming the weapon was empty, he then pointed the handgun at Kurer. At the time he was about one to two feet away from Kurer. With the weapon in his right hand he had engaged the trigger on the firearm. No explosion occurred. Kurer was still lying on the shorter couch at the time and was lying on his back. Velure continued to stand over the top of him more towards the area of his feet and continued to have his right arm extended, having the handgun in his right hand. Some comment had been made about not going uptown, at which time Velure again engaged the trigger on the handgun and this time there was an explosion as the handgun fired a round that had been left in one of his cylinders. Velure did tell officers that he had observed the wound to Kurer’s chest. He saw what he described as being pellet holes and knew that it was a .410 round that had fired, striking Kurer. Velure said he then applied first aid.

Originally the story said that both individuals had been pointing, what they assumed to be, empty guns at one another. As it turns out Velure was the only person with a firearm and had, according to him, assumed it was empty. Velure did mentioned that he and Kurer had pointed empty guns at each other in the past but that information is hearsay and irrelevant to the actual murder as Velure’s own statement indicated that he was the only one in possession of a firearm at the time. In the end this story is a demonstration of the importance of the four rules of firearm safety.

Below is the original post I wrote for historical purposes.

There are four simple rules to follow in regards to firearm safety:

  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

If you follow all of these rules you’ll never encounter a negligent discharge and two of these rules must be broken for somebody to get hurt. On the other hand if you violate those rules bad this happens as demonstrated by this article:

Twenty-four-year-old Joshua Kurer was hit in the chest Monday night and later died. Twenty-six-year-old Anthony Velure was charged Wednesday with first-degree reckless homicide in St. Croix (KROY) County. Velure told police he didn’t mean to harm his friend and that he assumed the gun was empty.

You never assume a gun is unloaded, that violates rule one. You never let the muzzle cover anything you’re not willing to destroy so rule two was violated. I would talk about rules three and four being violated but after reading the following I believe the man was sure of his target and may have even kept his finger off of the trigger until his sights were on that intended target:

The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram says Velure told police he and Kurer had aimed guns at each other and pulled the trigger at least a half dozen times in the past.

There are two lessons to learn from this; firearms are not toys and Darwin will catch up to you eventually. A firearm is a deadly weapon and should be respected as such.

Study Demonstrates Higher Tax Burdens Turn Away Businesses

From the so-bloody-obvious-why-was-a-study-needed department we have a study that demonstrates the bloody obvious, higher tax burdens push away businesses:

The study provided two lead rankings: economic outlook and economic performance.

Economic outlook takes into account 15 state policy variables – pictured right – for which Louisiana improved from 24th in 2008 to 16th in 2011.

California, Illinois, New Jersey, Vermont, and New York were the lowest five in the rankings for economic outlook – in that order – while Utah achieved the highest score, followed by Colorado, Arizona, South Dakota, and Florida.

The entire study can be found here [PDF]. Common sense should allow people to come to the realization that businesses are more likely to leave one state for another if that move means paying far less money to a government entity. Remember that every dollar a business has to send to the state is one less dollar that can be spend on employee salaries, benefits, research and development, new facilities, and every thing else businesses pay for.

A state can get away with taxing only so high until that tax burden becomes enough for those being taxed to consider moving somewhere else. Businesses especially have a major bargaining chip in this economy as they are the only providers of wealth generating jobs. If states wish to keep unemployment from increasing they’ll have to create a business friendly environment to attract new employers. Increasing taxes isn’t the way to do that and as California is learning is actually the exact opposite of what should be done.

The State Shutdown

I doubt you noticed this morning but negotiations broke down between the parties last night and Minnesota’s government went into shutdown mode:

Talks imploded Thursday between DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders in the final hours before a midnight deadline, and Minnesota began a historic government shutdown.

“This is a night of deep sorrow for me,” Dayton said in an address at 10 p.m. that was punctuated by jeers and hisses from Republicans, including some lawmakers.

Personally I’m glad the state went into shutdown mode. There are some valuable lessons that people need to learn and the only way to learn them is through experience. One of those lessons is the centralizing services is a bad thing because when the monopoly entity falters and stops providing those services everybody is negatively affected. If there were competition on all markets any single private entity failing would only affect that entity’s customers whom would then be able to go to a competing service.

I firmly believe that this entire shutdown is nothing more than a pissing contest to get votes during the next election. Both parties are blaming each other for the shutdown which has lead to parks and rest stops being closed on the 4th of July, a travel heavy holiday. Having parks and rest stops closed on this holiday ensures the maximum number of people will be negatively impacted in a way that they’ll easily notice (honestly the schools shutting down during the summer doesn’t affect too many people). People will remember the 4th of July where they had to go somewhere besides a state park and take that into consideration come voting time.

Either way the state shut down and all is still well. No riots are occurring in the streets, nobody is being murdered that wouldn’t have been had the state been running, water and electricity still work, and the highways still function.