Category Archives: Op/Ed

Time’s Up – We Need Change

Bear with me, this is a bit long with no pictures, no affiliate links, etc.  Links are bold, italicized, bright blue and are done so purely for reference purposes only – Maggie

A number of years ago due to my work situation and a related assault, my ex-husband insisted that I get my carry permit.  When I got my concealed carry permit, I had to have fingerprints on file with state & fed, a federal background check and fire 100 rounds along with a 12-hour class.

For some of the people, in my opinion, it was a joke.  You have to fire the gun but there’s no proficiency required. Then a few years back I had a former friend invite me to her house (she didn’t know that I was licensed) for Concealed Handgun License training.

She lived in a rougher area of town but in a pocket of a nice, quiet,  residential area, in other words – no shooting allowed.  She then proceeded to tell me that it was only going to be 4 hours and when I asked about the shooting requirement, she said that if anyone wanted range training that he would meet them at the range. That’s bullshit, only to be made worse by the fact that the “instructor” was a county sheriff’s deputy.

I’m not dogging on Concealed Handgun License holders, far from it, but I don’t think that it’s thorough enough and I can’t see where that training or something like it shouldn’t be required when purchasing your first firearm and require renewal testing every couple of years, like a driver’s license.  Frankly, it took more training to become a Leave No Trace trainer, and to be a trainer of adult volunteers for my area Girl Scout council!

Before anyone opts to flame me about the second amendment, please understand that I’m suggesting training for the shooter, not licensing of the firearm.  Even a shooting range that I used to go to required all new customers to go through a half-hour training about proper gun safety, shooting stance as well as their specific policies.

As for the recent mass Florida (which is where I was licensed), I personally believe that charges should be the ones who knew and did nothing with an accessory charge. I heard on one of the news broadcasts that the FBI notified the school about this kid being a credible threat but didn’t follow him, the teacher can’t carry, etc…

Every school has counselors, guidance counselors, etc.  was he sent to the counselor’s office for sessions to evaluate his state?  I mean up and above the shooting, this kid was constantly having issues before being finally expelled, how did this school handle him?  Did they take steps to deal with him or did the fail him isolating him with a progression of detention, suspension, and expulsion

In lieu of this, my view has modified considerably.  Many states had enacted what’s called Duty To Rescue laws, which are largely applied or prosecuted, but they are specific to a one-on-one situation.  Clearly, it’s not necessarily applied to the situation, but I think some variation of it should apply here.

I am of the opinion that teachers should be *allowed* to carry – but that doesn’t mean that they would be required.  Just the enactment carries with it a deterrent because any potential shooter would not know who (if any) teachers can shoot back.  Further, I also feel that schools should be fenced with an armed guard posted at the entrance during school hours to restrict who comes in during the school day. 

The schools in my area all had the (ridiculous) sign stating that visitors must sign in at the office, but I was able to enter from side entrances, walk in and past the office and in one school the office was down the hall and around the corner.  Anyone could walk in unnoticed.  I also feel that schools should be fenced with an armed guard posted at the entrance during school hours. 

When I first started elementary school in Queens, NYC, the classrooms were/could be locked from the inside, there were phones in the classroom that connected to the office.  I’m not if it connected to the PA system then but that technology is available now.  The doors had glass with chicken wire in them further preventing someone from breaking the glass but allowed teachers to see what was going on outside the classroom without being at risk.

Rather than having a security guard, which was only happened during my public school career when I was in high school, we had an actual police officer.  They had the training and know how to handle situations, be it a shooter, someone getting violent, etc rather than the minimum wage security guard with a uniform and minimal or no training.

Using the past few school shootings as an example, were their classrooms equipped the same way, at the first sign of trouble, the kids could pile up at the far corner of the room or along the wall with the door and be completely out of danger with the exception of anything coming through the wall.  

Without similar precaution I also feel that schools should be fenced with an armed guard posted at the entrance during school hours, monitoring and restricting entrance to the school; preferably police or military.  That would be an employment boon for reservists and a perfect solution for much of veteran unemployment   Hell just making someone buzz you in would be a vast improvement.  

I now think that  AK-7, AR-15, M-16, etc purchases be a licensed ownership requiring extensive training and evaluation. Look at Commercial Driver’s License training or better yet a pilot’s license and how extensive the required training is before licensing not only it is a very involved piece of machinery, but the potential for harm.  You can get a driver’s license once you’re an adult without drivers ed (a whole other conversation) but you’re required to have additional training and road practice for a motorcycle license. 

So why isn’t there training for the safety, handling, and usage for automatic weapons?  Trainers have time to evaluate a potential owner during this process and if necessary refuse to sign off on their training and refer them for further evaluation.   I applied for disability and the first step was spending an hour with a psychiatrist that was contracted by the Social Security Administration, why can’t this be an option for those who are “iffy” during their extended training.  Hell I’m still trying to figure out what happened to the Brady Bill, I mean how in the world was that allowed to expire??

Image result for Second Amendment

Yes, the 2nd Amendment mandates that we have the right to have firearms, which was sidearms and long guns. The founders could not anticipate the eventual development of automatic weapons.  Remember, at the inception of the Constitution being the law of the land there was no military to protect the civilians – everyone was a civilian at the time.  So the second amendment was intended to allow civilians to band together to protect our country from foreign invaders (aka the British), as well as to protect the Constitution and make sure that we remained a democracy and didn’t turn into an autocracy or oligarchy, in other words, to protect us from the government

Frankly, someone should have anticipated this and acted on it during the first period in our country’s history that dealt with mass shootings, which was prohibition using Tommy guns.

As I said, my views on this subject have changed considerably.  As with most people, these school shootings have initiated conversations and thoughts of what can be done to prevent them.  I am no exception.  However due this recent school shooting, the numerous warning signs as well as an actual law enforcement agency warning, my thoughts are now not only thinking of the shooter, but the staff and surroundings, and the elements needed.

I hope this current polarized country can find some common ground to bring these to halt and allow something to come out of these that promote change and at least offers something positive to come out of this so that these individuals haven’t lost their lives for nothing.  Again, this is just my opinion, in hopes of joining the discussion to enact change.

May the victims and their families find peace.

Maggie ॐ 

I’m amending this because I neglected a few comments

First, most of the mass shootings have taken place in Gun-Free Zones so there’s no way that anyone can defend and possibly remove the threat.  This is not just anyone open carrying (in those states that allow it which I find to be ridiculous) but it’s concealed carry license holders as well.

In an attempt to make the point of my concern, let me share the story of Nikki Goeser whose stalker shot her and fatally wounded her husband while in a restaurant where she was forced to leave her weapon in the car and her stalker knew that she’d follow the law, leaving her wide open for assault with no chance to defend herself.

My second point is that background checks are done, but what they amount to is a rap sheet.  It is a list of arrests and convictions.  Kudos for not getting in trouble…yet.  But what about the stuff you’re doing that you haven’t gotten caught for…. alcohol or drug addiction, domestic violence, chronic road rage, fluctuating mental illness issues that aren’t remaining balanced through the use of therapy and medication, etc… ?  It’s got to be more than just a print out from the police department.

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How Far Can We Let This Go?

Just yesterday I was watching a movie, Boycott.  It’s about the Montgomery Bus Boycott and how the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr became the leader of the civil rights movement.  It’s storytelling was perfect, and for me very powerful to truly (virtual) meet the men and women who shaped the landscape of this nation as powerful.

Then this morning I learned a new word on the landscape of the internet and its one that’s really hard to object to. The word #RepubliKLANS and it’s being used to refer to those “really fine people”, on one of the two sides, you know, the ones who carried tiki torches and now have shown up armed.

Armed Trump Supporters in Az. Confront, Ask Native American Legislator If He “Is Here Legally”

I’m so, just… stunned.  What happened to the war on terror?  Doesn’t domestic terrorism count?  Any guesses what happens to the school bullies when they grow up?

How long before we sink into the cesspool that we’re being led to? All it takes is 45 declaring Marshall law and deputizing those “very fine people” and then start designating groups that are enemies of the state.  It leads to a vision of Joseph McCarthy meets Adolf Hitler.

How long before this country is so damaged and dysfunctional that the all the underlying divisions erupt and shatter our country completely?  We’ve seen this in history and we know the outcome; it’s time to stand together as one nation and start thinking of country, responsibility, and our direction.  Yes, our country’s founding principles were based on Judeo-Christian beliefs, but more importantly, our Constitution is based on the Magna Carta.

Comparing the Magna Carta and the U.S. Constitution

 

Our majority sees the problem, yet we’re not banding together (enough) to see this plague on our nation eradicated.  Who will lead the charge?  Clearly, we need one, and soon.

Maggie  

Why Is This Even Being Suggested?? It’s 2017!!

Have you seen this?  I found it to be absolutely chilling that someone would even suggest this in this point in history!

Betty Price Wonders If People With HIV Should Be Quarantined

“What are we legally able to do?” the Georgia state lawmaker and wife of former HHS head Tom Price asked during a committee hearing this week.

I can appreciate an off the wall thought process because I have an odd thought process as well (thank you ADD).  But to come off with such a horrific idea and then share it publicly… damn.   Usually, when someone is spewing bullsh*t off the top of their head, a.k.a. Freudian slips, it’s a good indicator of their character.

I thought that we Americans learned our lesson about internment camps and concentration camps but apparently, I was wrong unfortunately

This woman needs to be educated, a lot and fast. Representatives as, well as those in governance in this country should have common sense and they should be intelligent enough to  A) Think their ideas out before spewing them as soon as it hits their brain and B) Should have enough intelligence and understanding of basic human rights to do the job of representing their constituents and not aspiring to be babysitters or zookeeper.

Afterall that’s why we have elections, debates, etc. to weed out the idiots and the extremists.  Then again the last election totally blew that theory out of the water.  That’s number 14.  Go down the list and see how many you can check off because I got 14/14.

I have been saying for years that our country was leaning more and more towards fascism, and it is more and more visible as time goes on.  Just last week there was something that made it seem as though if they get their way, we’ll be wearing rainbow patches instead of yellow six-pointed Stars of David to single us out, and frankly since we already wear them anyway as a a way to show pride and solidarity, so we’re pretty easy to spot.

I pray that there will be a day when our government will stop bullying people

I wish you all peace and prosperity,                                            Maggie ॐ

Yes, #metoo

To my fellow #metoo survivors, I am so thankful to have met you and have been witness to your strength. Without uttering a word, we both know what the other has suffered at the hands of others. Knowing that we have this commonality, while not something to celebrate, truly is a gift. Few can truly understand, and many, no matter how close to us they are, will never share that commonality and understanding that you and I and too many others do.

This is such an awkward time. There are so many who support us and stand up for us even if they don’t know our names or faces, who “celebrate” this scandal as a victory of sorts, uncovering the ugly secrets from the back of the Hollywood closets and recognize that open communication and solidarity are the only things that can keep this plague of systemic abuse at bay.

#MeToo: Harvey Weinstein case moves thousands to tell their own stories of abuse, break silence

They’re right, but sadly no matter how much we appreciate their support, what they don’t realize is that as this story stays in the forefront, all of us…even without thinking about one single detail of our own incidents, are drowning in the flood of emotions that come with it. Some might call it empathy, however, I think PTSD is a more apt description. We’re left trying to stay on our feet while these waves come crashing against us, furiously trying to keep our head up and not get pulled down by the undertow.

So for those of you who see #metoo, we thank you for your support even though we might not be able to say it just yet, and please know that your support will help in our healing.

I wish you peace and prosperity, 

Maggie ॐ

The Quiet Hero

Despite Diagnosis McCain Returns to Senate Floor for Critical Debate and Subsequent Vote on Healthcare Bill

This is a man I respect and admire. He was not my choice for president but that had more to do with his running mate and his oppositions platform, but that had no bearing on my respect for him. To go through the hell he did as a tortured POW for several years, to take all that time healing both physically and as much as he could mentally, only to continue a life of service to this nation and its people…. That is someone to be admired and revered.

Not long ago I, like many of you, were watching the senate hearings and saw Senator McCain acting a bit out of character and became genuinely concerned, commenting to several people that I felt that something was wrong with him, he wasn’t acting right. The man is sharp as a tack and always on his game and he seemed almost sedated.

Then to hear about his health diagnosis just broke my heart. My prayers go to him and his family. His daughter was quoted that while they were all devastated with the news, the one who was calm and consoling everyone else was him.  That somehow doesn’t surprise me.

This man has once again been handed the shitty end of the stick in life and instead of immediately turning inward overwhelmed with what this means to him and his family and to spending whatever quality time he has to look forward to with his family, no that’s not his focus, not yet at least.   Instead, he’s returning to the floor to fight the good fight for the 23 million good, hard-working people of this nation who will not have the means to pay for treatment for a broken arm, their children’s vaccinations,  much less to pay for treatment for a cancer diagnosis like he has been.

Stop here and read that again, let that sink in.  Because it truly is mind-blowing to think about this in context.

How many of us would continue our duty and make it a continued priority in his situation? The answer is more than we realize. Maybe not because we want to or because we feel a higher calling or purpose, but because we have to. Yes, we take pride in our jobs and our contribution to our communities, but the fact of the matter is that millions of Americans get up and go to work each day, with pain, with a bleak prognosis, working 2 and 3 jobs, because we have to.  Because we have to pay the bills, put food on the table and keep a roof over our family’s heads.  And through all that, we hope that we can continue to have the medical care we need to make it through… another year, another month, another week, or just one day at a time because more than that is too much to bear.

I don’t use the word hero very often; as a matter of course, I find the word to be grossly overused.  However today I will say it here and mean it with every fiber of my being.  Senator John McCain is an American hero, his military service goes without saying, but for his unwavering service and dedication to his constituency, and his commitment to this great nation of ours.

I can only hope that his actions will humble and continue to inspire his co-workers to stand up for the people they have been sent to represent. Senator McCain is the man showing those in power and reminding all of us just how to make America great again.  It’s the word we’ve been looking for for a while now but it wasn’t in any of the sound bites.

“Make America great again” shouldn’t be a slogan or a brand, it’s an action and one that many of us have forgotten how to do or neglected to demand from our representatives. It’s done by standing up not just for those who stood in the polling lines for your party, but for all the people who should have representation.

The men and women who have been working to make America great again do so by reminding us of words and phrases describing what made the American people the greatest in the world… words like honor, loyalty, integrity, pride, work ethic, vision, community, melting pot.

It doesn’t have to be done on a battle field on the other side of the world for it to count. It can be done on the other side of the classroom or a coffee counter,  by donating or volunteering, by looking out for your neighbors, bartering for services, supporting local businesses, by showing pride in your community and making it a better place to be,  and not just in one place where everyone can, but in all areas of our lives, great and small.

To learn more about John McCain, click here.

Namaste` ~ Maggie ॐ

 Let’s Make It Fair Across The Board And Give A Hand Up

This is another blog post that I made about ten years ago that I had tucked away on another server.  I thought it was time to dust it off.


I agree there’s a need for low-income housing in this country but I’m not sure that we’re going about it the right way.  With the exception of the elderly or the permanently disabled, I’m of the opinion that subsidized housing should be a vehicle to help until you’re ready to move to a better position.  Instead it tends to permanent placement.

A recent local television news story highlighted how an upscale apartment complex was about to have a new complex built next to them.  The two complexes would be virtually similar but one would be subsidized.  The “powers that be” assured folks that it would be nice and modern and not “look like” low-income housing so that no one could complain about depreciating property values.  How angry would you be, paying maybe $1000 a month for your apartment knowing that someone now could get virtually the same apartment in the same neighborhood for less than $200?  I know I’d be livid!

Also, what’s the motivation for the person in the $200 apartment to work hard, gain job skills and advance their income only to be in the same place at several times their current cost?  It’s not fair to either party.  It’s also not fair to the taxpayers knowing that the difference in rents is not markup or profit margin for the landlord but rather the bill is being paid by taxpayers in the form of higher taxes. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard enough time paying my own bills without having to pay someone else’s.

I’m of the opinion that percentages are fair.  For example, sales taxes are fair, you pay according to what you spend and everyone pays proportionally.  Flat taxes are disproportionate.  A $500 fee will crush the person making $300 a week but would be only irritating or inconvenient to the person with a 6-figure income.

The housing market in this country is completely based on paying per square foot, in both the commercial and residential markets.  So I think that (again with the exception of the elderly and the permanently disabled) we should make an effort to build smaller housing.

If we’re paying by the square foot, then there shouldn’t be the need (or as much of a need) to subsidize to create affordable housing.  The smaller the housing, the more efficient you make it… Solar power, smaller, more energy efficient appliances, all keeps utility bills low or nonexistent, so there’s less/no need to subsidize them either.   Provide wifi in the cost so that residents still have ample opportunities for schooling, work, etc. especially for folks with children.

Make sure it’s functional and efficient and if you want more room to spread out, then you work harder to make more money so that you can afford a bigger place.   No entitlement, you work and you earn, then you get because you deserve.  Principals that this country was founded on that we need to get back to.

Unfortunately (and I was guilty of this too) a young person often feels that they should continue to live in the lifestyle they’ve been accustomed to while living with their parents, not realizing that this should be their goal, but it’s not owed to them.  Their parents live that way because they’ve worked hard to achieve it.  Sadly, this sense of entitlement causes a lot of heartaches because it’s not readily achievable.  It sets people up for failure.  We need to teach people that you start small and get as big as you’re willing to work and save.

Many people look at Tiny Houses and shake their head, but I know when I lived in a homeless shelter I would have LOVED to have one of these to live in, and I know that many others I was with would have as well.

Imagine a homeless shelter being replaced with a “subdivision” of Tiny houses.  You could easily put 100 of them in just a couple of acres. And in the process help people get re-established so they can work their way back up instead of dealing in depression and anxiety at the overwhelming situation they’re in.  The ability to have a place your own, to keep what few treasured possessions you have, privacy, dignity.  That people can make or break someone.


Places like Hong Kong and Japan have limited space with large populations.  It’s not uncommon for people to live in 300 sq. ft. apartments with all their necessities.   Utilizing their models, not only could we offer affordable housing to more of our citizens but we’d also be able to house more people in less space.  Imagine being able to take a current apartment complex and tripling or quadrupling the number of people that can live there. You now have the potential to reduce waiting lists, people living in cars and living on the streets because they have nowhere to turn without warehousing or supporting them in the process.

26 crazy pictures of micro-apartments around the world

Helping people, not only those who need affordable housing, but also the taxpayers who can’t handle the financial burden anymore while motivating folks to work for what they want in life.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Maggie

My Epiphany For Social Change

I want to precursor this by letting you know that I actually wrote this about 10 years ago.  It’s just as relevant now as it was then.  I probably should have sent it to the White House as a petition.

If any of you have any ideas or connections to make this happen, or make it better, by all means, let me know and feel free to share this.

A little back story… My ex-husband (Kid’s biological father) was ordered to court when she was 5 so we could start receiving child support.  He never responded to or complied with court information requests for job and income information.  The child support order was written based on minimum wage (which was $4.25 at the time).  Truly, each time there was a minimum wage increase I should have gone back to court to have it adjusted.  I, however, didn’t feel it worth the time since he wasn’t paying it anyway.

President Clinton signed into law a bill making it a felony to flee the state to avoid paying child support.  Shortly afterward, I discovered that he moved to Kentucky.  I called child support enforcement and was told that they couldn’t go after him because even though we were separated we were still legally married.  (I was not able to collect government assistance including him in our ranks however because we didn’t live together.  See a little problem there?  I know I did.)

Fast forward our story to about 3 years ago.  All of a sudden I start receiving small child support checks.  To this day I’m not sure if a) he just ran out of under the table jobs, b) he finally stayed at a job long enough for the support order to kick in or c) lost track of time and thought she was too old to have to pay child support somehow thinking it goes away when they get older.

The checks lasted a couple of months (every two weeks) before child support finally issued me one of their new debit cards.  Then the payments stopped.  Over the next year, I would get one randomly here or there before they stopped again altogether.

Well these sporadic payments triggered an audit and I was required to go to court several times and of course, he never showed up.  After almost 14 years of non-support and arrearages of over $20,000 (remember, this was based on $4.25 an hour) child support they decided that it was the time that an arrest warrant was issued and that he should go to jail.

I asked the attorney when he goes to prison does the state pay the support on his behalf?  No.  So let me get this straight… he hasn’t willingly contributed to the raising of his daughter at any opportunity, he owes me over $20K and now I have to support him during his incarceration via my tax dollars???  In addition, when he gets out of prison he’ll have a record making it even more difficult for him to get a job?  How does this help me, our daughter, him, anyone really?

I know that mine is not the only side of the coin on this issue.  I know that many “deadbeats” are classed as such, not because they don’t want to take care of their kids but because they can’t.  Poor job markets, unfair support orders (ones favoring the child/ren with the ex but not factoring in the children living with you because you don’t have a support order for them since they live in your home), support orders that don’t allow enough left in your check for you to live on but if you get a second job they’ll take that too, etc…

So here’s the epiphany… open the draft to “deadbeat parents” after say, one year of non-support.  Don’t wait for 5, 10, 15 years for things to get so out of control.  Here’s my reasoning…

By being drafted into the military, the draftee’s pay is based on the number of dependants guaranteeing that all parties are covered and no one is getting the short end of the stick.

All parties would be covered by insurance.  Sadly, even if an employer does offer insurance the cost is even more prohibitive when you have child support being deducted from your pay.  In addition, life insurance is also part of the package making sure that your child will continue to be taken care of on your behalf should something happen to you before they reach 18.

Being in the military is recession proof as well as lazy proof.  You can’t get laid off or fired.  Your job will never be outsourced and your hours will never be cut.

Being in the military is salaried position so there are no fluctuations in pay making it difficult to pay a set support amount if you miss a days work.

Being in the military will offer the opportunity for you to learn a trade and/or go to college.  Most Americans can’t afford to go back to college once they take on the financial responsibilities of a family.  This tends to add to the frustration because this is where we truly see the value of an education at its fullest as an adult. We now “get it” that we need the degree to get the better job to better support our families.  The military allows you to do both without you or your family starving and/or becoming homeless.

I realize this is a two-sided coin.  There are those that would find the miliary as a deterrant and that’s fine.  Do what you have to do to keep from being drafted.  For others out there, this would be a welcome solution and a means to get on track as opposed to prison which will have negative ramifications for the rest of your life.  By and large I believe this could be the most proactive step our country could take to reform a system that isn’t working.

Please give me your feedback and let me know what you think.  If you really like the idea, share it with others – including people in position to make change.

Maggie