Published on: February 20, 2018
We referenced a story in the Financial Times
about the possible coming of a 30-hour work week, prompting one MNB reader to write:While the thought of a 30 hour work week might be enticing, the reality in the US (and especially, it seems, the grocery industry) is that most salaried folks are expected to work 50, 60, even 70 hours per week. I recently had a conversation with the HR person who told me my current position was expected to be at least a 60 hour per week job.
And paid time off? I am expected to take my phone and laptop, and treat it not as "vacation" but as "working remotely". Weekends? Same scenario, if I don't actually physically come into the office. Can anyone say "burnout" with me? Unfortunately, this seems to be more and more the norm across an industry that is scraping for pennies and always trying to do more with less.
An email last week from an MNB reader prompted an exchange about gun control in the wake of the Florida school massacre.
One reader wrote that if it hadn’t been a gun, the killer would’ve found another way, to which I responded:Forgive me, but that is B.S. If that killer in Florida had a knife, he wouldn’t have been able to kill as many people as he did as quickly as he did.
This isn’t a binary choice. We can address the mental health issue and simultaneously do things to get guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.
(For the record, I did not know that “B.S.” would become a refrain for high school students characterizing the political response to the shooting.)
I know that we are never going to resolve the gun issue here, and I do not want to devote too much space to it, lest we go down a rabbit hole from which we will be unable to return.
But in the interest of intellectual honesty, I do want to post some of the emails on the subject that I got over the long weekend.
From the reader whose response I suggested was “B.S.”:If they had a knife, yes.
But did they have a knife it the Boston marathon?
Did he have a knife in Brussels?
Did he have a knife in Oklahoma City?
For crying out loud, did they have a knife at the World Trade center??? No.
That, is why my point is not B.S.. All these are tragic. All these need to stop. But all the “anti’s” go right to one object as the cure all for this violence.
It is not. B.S. to stand up and say “take the hard road and work on real solutions”, not just start banning things. That is a weak, narrow minded approach, that politicizes the personal profound losses of families. Which, quite frankly, I find insulting to those families that have lost loved ones.
How about funding metal detectors for the schools. We go through them at the airports, sporting events, government buildings, but not all schools??? WHY?
You use your forum for what you wish. That is your prerogative. If you chose to print this, thank you. If you do not, then I ask you to think harder and look to real solutions.
To be clear, I print a lot of emails that disagree with me. And I think hard about most things, and look for real solutions … they may just not be your
From MNB reader Anja Bochenski:This morning I saw you say that a readers comment in BS in regards to the conversation that taking away guns would not help. I agree with the reader. You don’t think it is very easy to make a bomb with a recipe from the internet? I highly doubt a killer would use a knife. It is VERY unlikely. It makes me mad when we focus so much on the guns. There was just as many guns 30 years ago, if not more.
I do agree we do not need it to be as easy to get assault rifles. That said, there is so much more going on here. Why do hurting people feel the need to hurt others in this way? That is what we need to address. I realize there will always be differing views on this, but we must work together to take some action.
And from another MNB reader:Your comment about if the shooter only had a knife there would have been less casualties. That is correct!
But what if he had a bomb made from a pressure cooker and screws and nails, like in Boston. What if he had a truck, driving over students like other terrorist used. Or a pilots license to fly a plane into the school? Several handguns which kill many more people than assault rifles.......good luck taking away all guns from Americans.
There are whack jobs out there and hundreds of ways to kill. We need to deal with mental illness!
I’d love to see a world where there were zero guns......not gonna happen.
From another reader:Kevin, I appreciate your views on gun control, particularly given that you have immediate family in schools. I am a lawful concealed gun owner, having been licensed in every state I’ve lived – who believes in 2nd Amendment. But, I know that “right” comes with an immense responsibility on my part to never allow any of my guns (used for sport hunting, clay pigeon shooting and concealed protection in the rare instances I feel I need it) to ever be in the hands of anyone else. No one – and I mean no one – other than myself has gun safe access in my house. And, unless you know where my safe is – you’d not easily find it. But, that’s not my point in this communication…..
Why is it that everyone is looking to the US President for action on this issue? Could it be that the states we live in aren’t taking actions to make their residents feel safe? After all, the individual state is responsible for licensing each of their residents, not the Fed.
Why aren’t interested parties writing, calling and meeting with our local (state) legislators, demanding they make gun legislation a priority? If each of the 50 states had a groundswell of interest by their voters, I feel that the “gun lobby” would be overwhelmed and probably can’t manage it. You see, they’ve done an effective job at managing messaging and special interests at a federal level. This is currently a state responsibility. I can tell you personally that we have a wide variance in how states manage this topic. The least shocking thing you’ll read today is that the way Texas manages the licensing process is far different than Massachusetts. Or, Florida – or Utah. I’ve been licensed in each and the disparity in rules and regs is noteworthy.
It sickens me every time we have an incident like Sandy Hook, or Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It also makes me re-affirm my own commitment to doing my part and ensuring that my guns are tightly managed and secure.
The missing link is that we all need to get our state legislators involved and taking some action. That’s what’s on my mind today.
And from another:I was out of commission last week with a case of the flu, so I had an opportunity to watch and read more news and social commentary than usual. I’ve been a registered Republican for years, but frankly this is not our finest hour. The party has moved through the years to a place where it now is beholden to a handful of special interests, mostly single issue groups. The NRA is one. The fact that Republican legislators can’t even consider a reasoned discussion about sensible gun control because of the NRA’s abuse and misrepresentation of the 2nd Amendment is appalling.
I ended up posting and sharing more political commentary over the past week than I have in the past decade, because I had to. After seeing the kids from Florida standing up for their very lives and berating the adults for their lack of action, it seemed necessary. I came away with two thoughts about this, neither of which is original. First, guns are the new tobacco. The industry can obfuscate all they want, but we’re reaching a turning point, and eventually guns will be viewed by more and more people like cigarettes, something that provides more harm than benefit. It will take time, but they figure out what else they can manufacture because the current model is going to be staring into the abyss, probably sooner than they think. Second, for this generation of students now, gun violence is their Vietnam. The way the Baby Boomers were changed by the Vietnam War, seeing their peers sent to die while it became more and more evident that the reasons just didn’t hold water anymore, shaped us in ways we may never fully understand. This crisis is seen by this generation in a similar light. Now their peers are dying and the reasons things can’t change are ringing more and more hollow. The times, they are a-changin’, by the grace of God.
Let me repeat. I know we’re not going to resolve the gun issue here. But let me just address a couple of the issues raised here.
As I have said here before, I was not raised in a gun culture. But I respect both the Second Amendment and the feelings of the people for whom gun ownership is an important part of their lives. I don’t really understand it, but I do not take it lightly.
I completely agree that mental health issues are a critical part of this discussion. I would never argue that greater restrictions on the ownership of certain kinds of weapons, and stronger rules about who can own guns, would completely solve the issues that emerge whenever there are massacres like the one in Florida. Or the one in Las Vegas. Or the one in Connecticut. Or the one in South Carolina.
But it does seem sometimes as if the folks who talk about focusing on mental health issues are simply unwilling to talk about any sorts of restrictions on guns. I do not claim to have any answers, much less all of them. But maybe the two sides of this issue could at least have a nuanced, sophisticated conversation? And maybe do as much as possible, rather than as little as possible? Or at least something in the middle?
We’re not going to solve the impasse here. However, I simply do not understand how one can look at the pictures of the people - especially the children - who were killed in Florida, Las Vegas, Connecticut, South Carolina and elsewhere and not at least consider the possibility that we need to do more as a culture. It won’t eliminate gun violence. But maybe could it save a life or two. Maybe it could make one school or concert or church service a little bit safer.
Two more things, if I may.
First of all, about the observation that if guns are not used, bombs could be. That’s a perfectly reasonable thing to say. But I’m pretty sure that it is illegal to have bomb making equipment. It hasn’t completely stopped people from making bombs, of course. But it is a start.
Finally … and this is relevant to many of the discussions we have here on MNB … I am impressed by the passion and dedication that some of those Florida kids are bringing to this issue. It may be that they simply do not see things the way olde people do
. It may be that they simply are unwilling to accept old excuses from people who they perceive as representing old problems
. It may be that they will change the world with their passion and erudition. And it may be that we will all just have to get out of the way.
If they are not voters now, they will be soon. If they are not mainstream consumer snow, they will be soon. As so-called adults, we better pay attention.