Here’s something you may not realize: Gun ownership has been declining for decades. According to the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, in 1977, 54% of American households had guns. By 2010, the number had fallen to 32%. Yet gun sales are at record highs. That means that existing gun owners are buying more and more guns. It’s not enough to have a hunting rifle over your mantle; you need an entire arsenal, just in case the government falls, society disintegrates, and you have to protect your cave — sorry, your home — from the marauding hordes.
That’s exactly what the gun manufacturers want you to think, so you keep buying. They know that hunting will never again be the pastime it once was, and as more Americans move from rural areas to the suburbs and cities, their natural market withers.
That “responsible gun owner” politicians talk about, the one who reverentially passes down to his son the bolt-action rifle his father gave him? That guy isn’t good for business. The manufacturers need the other guy, the one who fears he may not be all the man he could be.
The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.
Although I know a dozen billionaires and over a hundred millionaires, I never once heard one express the idea ‘I was going to start a business, but with the marginal tax rate at 39% instead of 35%, I guess I won’t.’ Rather, every entrepreneur I know is interested in whether their venture will have a 1000% return or a 10,000% return — the tax rate is irrelevant. I think Obama’s policies fit the world as I see it: we need small businesses and consumers to grow together. Obama is concentrated on helping them; Romney seems to concentrate on making the rich richer.
Getting rid of representative government and calling in a private entity to handle things, in our current Opposite Day political moment, represents a glorious triumph of people power. The “parent trigger” invites parents to use their vote to give up their vote—that is, to be enormously powerful for one short moment of direct democracy, which they will use to dispose, in the long run, with the “public” part of public school, and thus with any actual power over their children’s education.
Liza Featherstone is one of the reporters whose work made me who I am, and she is so on point with this.