Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Liberal priorities

By Frank Moraes 

Maybe I'm just a cynical old guy. But Rachel Maddow spent the entire A section of her show talking about gun control. I'm cool with gun control. As I've argued before: by the time we notice that the government is coming for us, our guns won't do bit of good. (It is interesting that those most concerned about their guns being taken away, are not at all concerned about targeted assassination and executive overreach. Instead, they cheer it on: We're number one! We're number one!) So I'm fine with the government coming in and taking away all our guns. The idea that universal background checks will destroy our liberty is more than ridiculous.

But it isn't that important either. With tighter gun control, we might reduce the number of gun homicides by a thousand per year. That's a very big deal to those thousand people who don't get murdered. My question is just how big a deal it is more generally. Families USA reported that 26,000 Americans die every year because they lack health insurance. It is hard to say how many people die early because of poverty. We do, however, know that people in the upper half of income earners live six years longer than those in the bottom half of income earners. So I tend to think it is millions.

This isn't just about what's most important. I believe that Rachel Maddow is pushing the gun control story -- which she has been doing for months -- because it is one issue that looks like a winner for liberals. But is that really what liberals should be pushing? I find that liberals do this much too much for my tastes. There was much rejoicing after the Fiscal Cliff deal, "We made the Republicans cave on taxes!" The fact that the president didn't get a good deal didn't seem to matter. And now it looks like a Pyrrhic victory.

So what are we going to get now: a universal background check that is a no brainer in exchange for the 700,000 jobs lost via sequestration? Is that what we liberals are hanging our hopes on? Are we going to celebrate nation-wide same-sex marriage while millions of children are born into perpetual poverty? I know it isn't an either/or question. It is just that liberals seem to cheer for the easy but mostly useless issues, while they don't even talk about the really important issues. 

People are dying but at least we banned that 31-round clip. Now gunmen can only kill 30 people before reloading! 

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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