Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The lessons of Parkland

Interesting, isn’t it, how the Parkland shooting remains in the headlines weeks after it happened and the Vegas shooting, which killed over 3 times as many people, faded away in days. What’s different about this shooting?

The obvious is there were children involved. The other X factor is the kids, specifically David Hogg, who have taken the spotlight to advocate for gun control. Pardon my cynicism but I think it’s unseemly for Hogg and others to exploit the deaths of their classmates to further their obvious political agenda against guns. And shame on CNN for ceaselessly manipulating their audience with these kids for their own political gain.

As demonstrated in this space before, with a small fraction of one percent of the guns being used for evil, obviously the guns are not the problem. Crazy is the problem, and I applaud President Trump for having the courage to broach that subject when he suggested that we need more mental hospitals and more of these disturbed people in them. But solving that problem is a steep climb given the Supreme Court ruling and the large advocacy on the left for keeping these disturbed people on the street. Someone even told me there are brochures for the mentally ill to instruct them on how to find edible food in dumpsters. Don’t you think people dumpster diving would be better served in a mental institution that can tend to their daily needs and help them get well?

Given that we’re unlikely to win that battle anytime soon it is incumbent upon us to do what we can to save children’s lives. I’ve long advocated for a Designated Defender program in schools. Now we have a president with the guts to put that idea front and center. Meanwhile ‘Camera’ Hogg and his cohorts continue to blame Republicans. He actually said that Governor Rick Scott, the Republican governor of Florida, was responsible for the cowardly deputy who refused to enter the school and confront the shooter. No mention of Sheriff Israel because the good sheriff shares his views on gun grabbing.

These kids have now pressured companies like Delta and United along with practically every car rental company to sever ties with the NRA. What in the world does the NRA have to do with the shooting in Florida. It’s akin to blaming AAA for drunken driving deaths.

It’s time for good people to fight back. Google the list of companies that have cowardly bowed to the demands of the leftist gun grabbers and let them know how you feel.

Look, I have all the sympathy in the world for anyone who’s lived through the horror of a mass shooting, but that doesn’t make you an instant expert on guns or how to solve gun violence. The truth is the people on the ground in Parkland, Florida are largely to blame for this shooting. The sheriff’s department visited the killer’s home multiple times. The school didn’t want to report his criminal behavior at school for fear of blemishing their record. Nearly every student interviewed who knew this guy said they thought he was dangerous and would end up killing people. Did they say anything before he went on his rampage?

There are plenty of lessons to be learned from Parkland. We have to evaluate mentally ill people before they become dangerous. That is the primary lesson we should learn. We should also learn not to be complacent. See something, say something. Law enforcement needs to start connecting the dots. And the FBI needs to get off Russia and the NCAA and start protecting our kids.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Why they kill—The real solution to mass shootings

Everybody’s searching for answers in wake of the latest school shooting in Florida. The gun-grabbers not withstanding, I believe most people genuinely want to stop the shootings. We just have different ideas of how to get there. However, it’s becoming obvious that the debate is focused on the wrong thing.

Naturally, anytime there’s a shooting the emphasis is going to be on the gun. It’s funny how the object of the murder is never the issue when it’s not a gun. When there’s a stabbing, the target is never on the knife. When some crazy person runs people over in a vehicle, the focus is never on the vehicle. Let me demonstrate why the issue here should not be guns, then we’ll move on to the real problem.

There are over 300 million guns in America. Whether or not you like that fact, it’s still a fact. There are about 30,000 gun deaths a year. That includes homicide and suicide. That means that 0.01 percent of guns are used for evil. 

If you think the fact that America has more guns per capita than any country on Earth makes us the murder capital of the world, think again. Even though we have 101 guns for every 100 people (you read that correctly), we're only 99th for murders. Honduras has only about 6 guns per 100 people and they have the highest murder rate in the world.  Obviously, the problem is not the guns.

The path that led me to the epicenter of the problem is interesting. I knew all the facts that went into my epiphany. I had just never aligned them this way before. A friend of mine once joked on the radio while interviewing a hit songwriter that he knew all those words. Just not in that order. That’s sort of how I felt.

I don’t know if you know this, but back in 1975, the Supreme Court ruled that you could not be held in a mental institution against your will unless you were a danger to yourself or others. I had known that fact because it’s why the homeless population exploded in the ‘80s. The liberals blamed it on Reagan. Kenneth Donaldson sued his doctor and the mental hospital claiming he had been held against his will. He won.

I also knew that multiple victim shootings seemed to have exploded in the last couple of decades. I wanted to know when that acceleration began to see if I could draw any conclusions. Statisticians have an expression. “Correlation does not imply causation.” The homeless explosion is an example of that. Just because homelessness grew dramatically during the Reagan administration doesn’t mean Reagan had anything to do with it. However, correlation and causation are oftentimes related.

In order for this to be a fair comparison, I looked at the mass shootings in the 43 years prior to 1975 and the mass shootings in the 43 years after 1975, which would bring us up to 2018. I excluded gang killings for obvious reasons. I also excluded robberies and terrorist attacks. These aren’t motiveless crimes. This also doesn’t include U.S. territories nor does it include serial killers. We’re trying to figure out why crazies are randomly killing people in the United States of America.

Here’s what I learned in the course of my research. In the 43 years prior to 1975, there were 4 mass shootings resulting in 29 deaths. That's an average of about one per decade. In the 43 years after 1975, there were (get ready) 150 mass shootings resulting in 864 deaths. That's an average of 38 mass shootings every ten years. If that’s not startling enough, in the 43 years since 1975, there have only been 6 years when there wasn’t a mass shooting.

People want to point to the breakdown of the family unit or increased use of psychotropic drugs. They could certainly be contributing factors. Especially when it comes to psychotropic drugs. One has to wonder if, in the absence of being able to commit someone to a mental hospital, we over-medicate them instead. That's certainly a possibility. Everyone involved in these multiple-victim shootings was mentally unstable. It's distinctly possible that they were also on medication. Whether it was the mental illness or the medication that caused them to become violent is the age-old chicken or egg question. 

However, one would be hard-pressed to discount the Donaldson ruling in 1975 as a major turning point. There are simply too many dangerously mentally ill people roaming the streets. By the time they actually kill it's too late. That doesn't mean we need to start locking up anybody and everybody somebody deems crazy. However, in every one of these mass shootings there were danger signs in the killers that people simply chose to ignore. Or maybe they had no choice since our justice system now makes it extremely difficult to act. But act we must unless we want to continue the carnage.

Imagine if everyone who knew the Florida school killer was a threat had acted. Not only would 17 people still be alive but we could possibly help this disturbed person recover. Instead, we act as though it's someone else's problem. Until it becomes the nation's problem. Right now, mental competency hearings are usually held before someone goes on trial for murder. What a difference it would make if we had mental competency hearings before they kill. Can you imagine the Florida school shooter would've made it through a competency hearing and still been allowed to buy a gun based on all we know now? 

Let's get the dangerously mentally ill off the streets before they kill. That is where our efforts should be concentrated.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A 'Universal Basic Income' will trap people in poverty

The town of Stockton, California is trying an experiment. They’re giving every low-income resident a “universal basic income” of $500 per month. There’s no catch, no obligation. Mayor Michael Tubbs believes it’s a way to end poverty. I’m betting right here and now that he’s wrong.

The Economic Security Project is contributing $1 million so they can gather data to see if this really works. What they’ll find is Stockton will become a magnet for people who don’t want to work. Bums are what we used to call them before the PC police drove that word from our lexicon. But bums are what they’ll see.

From the Los Angeles Times
The irony is some Silicon Valley tech moguls are pushing the UBI. This in the competitive world where meritocracy is how one gets ahead. Innovation and hard work drive the valley. Why would they think giving anyone a UBI would be the answer? Guilt. These people have gotten so rich so fast that they feel guilty about it. They believe that “giving back” means welfare. That’s exactly what people who are stuck in poverty don’t need.

How many times have you seen a guy standing at the off ramp with a sign claiming he’ll work for food? And how many times have you seen a motorist offer him work? Never. They give them money. The person rarely buys food with it. He or she uses the money to buy whatever substance that’s pushed them to the side of the road in the first place. They had it right with their sign. If they actually worked for food they wouldn’t be on the street. But most aren’t willing to work. That’s the problem. And offering someone a UBI will only exacerbate the problem.

Los Angeles’ homeless population has exploded in recent years. Why? Because they’ve made themselves a magnet for the homeless. The county of Los Angeles now spends over $1 billion a year managing homelessness. One of the brilliant ideas they’ve come up with is tiny homes for the homeless. I’m not kidding. There’s an organization called My Tiny House Project LA. They build cracker box houses for the homeless. Right now they’re mad at the city for not providing enough space to put these ridiculous little dog houses. They actually think that solves the problem.

I know this may sound counter-intuitive, but homeless people aren’t homeless because they don’t have homes. They’re homeless because they don’t have jobs. There are myriad reasons why they don’t have jobs. Until we get at that problem we’ll never solve homelessness. 

Many of these people are mentally ill. You can thank a judge back during the Carter era for turning them out on the streets. The rest mostly have substance abuse problems. Putting them in a tiny house is not going to solve either of those problems.

For the mentally ill we need to get them mental health care. And not just a diagnosis and a thirty-day supply of Xanax and put them back on the streets. Many of these people need to be institutionalized. Until we change the laws and overrule that court back in the ‘70s they will continue to roam the streets without proper mental health care.

As for the addicts, there’s only one solution and that is to get off the drugs or alcohol. That’s only going to happen when that person decides they’ve hit rock bottom and they want the help. Until then, giving them a UBI is only going to prolong their misery.

Stockton, unfortunately, will judge their success by how many people they suck into the government system.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.