blank.gif (51 bytes) 'Fairness': Just
an Excuse to Steal

I enjoyed Randy Lloyd's article ["Still Got Money? You're Not Being Fair," May].
Arguments about what would be fair, however are already hopelessly biased towards redistribution.
The core issue, rarely raised, is that life is fundamentally unfair, and property so.
Fairness is not even close to a viable goal. Faorness is politically fashionable excuse to steal.
If you confine your debate to deciding what is fair, rather than showing that fairness itself is a false goal, then you have already lost.
The next time someone uses the fairness argument on you, try this: "If life were fair you would look like me." Then continue, "Just what makes you so sure life should be fair?" Followed by, "Aren't you just trying to justify people helping themselves to someone else's private property?"
Keep up the good work.

Ed Seykota
Incline Village

Receptivity to Reality

I support your activities, but would like to add a few comments for your consideration.
For years, I have felt that it was axiomatic that an electorate with access to relevant information about government and its performance would necessarily make sound decisions. Events of the last several years have brought this axiomatic relationship into question, both at the national and local events.
Locally, open meeting laws are not respected. Ethics Commission studies and findings are orchestrated minutes of absolution. National revelations are without impact. It seems that our social and political structure has become a matrix saturated with venality and sterile of principle.
Information that should set the public aflame flickers and fizzles like a lighted match tossed onto a wet of wet moss.
I understand the function of NPRI to be the collection, organization and dissemination of information enabling the electorate to hold government accountable. But his is only a first step. Some thought should be given to enhancing the receptivity and response to the work product of NPRI. Otherwise the control loop is not closed is destined for disaster.

George V. Eltgroth
Las Vegas

Another Perspective
on School-to-Work

As a member of the Nevada School-to-Careers Evaluation Team I feel compelled to provide a perspective on the STC system that is grounded in a growing body of evidence. The claims in Nevada Journal ["Schooling Kenny Guinn: Ten Steps for Nevada Out of the Education Cellar," January] seem to reflect personal opinion rather than first-hand knowledge or experience with the system as it has been introduced across this country, and specifically in this state. Evidence gathered from the nation al research and evaluation studies as well as that gathered during the last academic year in Nevada (1997-1998) portrays a different picture of School-to-Careers and the academic life expectancy of the students in Nevada's schools than the article would have you believe.
Nationally, the course selection patterns and post-high school plans of students who have participated in School-to-Careers in their states are more rigorous than those of their peers who have not participated in School-to-Careers activities. A greater number of students involved in School-to-Careers take advanced (i.e., college prep) courses and plan to go to college as those who don't get involved.
In Nevada, data was collected this past year to assess the success of the School-to-Careers system in meeting specific academic and careers-related benchmarks. The benchmarks include: Career Paths, Tech Prep articulation, Dual Credit  (high school and college concurrent enrollment), applied academic credit professional development, preservice education, for student teachers, students enrolled in advanced science courses, reduction in dropout rate, increase in drop-in rate (those returning to school for Graduation Equivalency Diplomas), Careers Planning, Work Based Learning experiences, enrollment in advanced technical courses and the number of business involved.
In 10 of the 14 benchmarks the benchmark measure was met or exceeded. The data on benchmarks demonstrated that the School-to-Careers system was supporting academic achievement and a broad -based education. This data was obtained from actual course enrollments. Six of the ten benchmarks related to course enrollments, all of which documented that more students were enrolling in academically rigorous coursework (advanced science and math and courses earning students college credit) as well as courses with a more applied focus, such as Tech Prep and Advanced Technical courses.
Linking students and teachers to business has enhanced academic preparation and individual career choices are being increased.
If you have questions or interest in participating please let the School-to-Careers State Council know by calling Charlotte Curtis, School-to-Careers State Coordinator at 775-687-9244.

Deborah Loesch-Griffin
Virginia City

Peace Comes from
Freedom, not Force

As a student at an international business school, I am frequently asked by foreign students why, in the wake of the Columbine shootings, the government does not simply outlaw all guns, just as was done after similar tragedies in Scotland and Australia. Given the shocking nature of the tragedy, the pressure to pass gun control legislation will be immense. But Nevada's policy-makers should continue to tread cautiously before doing so, since hastily-crafted gun control legislation is bound to be bad policy for our state.
From a practical standpoint, and simply stated, gun-control laws just don't work. They have failed dismally in the past, and the cities in which they were attempted wound up with significant increases in their crime rates as a result. Everyone, of course, should be for ripping weapons away from violent criminals and denying them future access. But that is not what gun control has meant when and where it has been implemented. Instead, it usually means restricting the rights of, and disarming, peaceable citizens. What is worse, gun control laws act  perversely. As Daniel Polsby argues in The Atlantic Monthly, "while legitimate users of firearms encounter intense regulation, scrutiny, and bureaucratic control, illicit markets easily adapt to whatever difficulties a free society throws in their way."
When Nevada's policy-makers consider gun control efforts, they must realize that harsher gun laws will not make a dent in crime statistics. Why? Because people in Nevada and nationwide who use guns to commit violent crimes are overwhelmingly breaking current laws already. More gun control will simply take firearms out of the hands of responsible and law-abiding citizens, and therefore won't make a difference in preventing crimes from being committed. In fact, it will most likely do the opposite.
In Nevada right now, there are over 13,000 individuals licensed to carry concealed weapons, and only one has been involved in a shooting, that being in self-defense. Other states have also reported similar encouraging results, topped by Vermont, a state in which any citizen can carry a concealed weapon without permit, with the lowest violent crime rate in the entire United States.
This is why a recent piece of legislation in front of the Nevada Legislature--Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick's Assembly Bill 166, which allows concealed weapons in public buildings--was a good idea. If more Nevada's carry concealed weapons, the state will ineluctably become a safer place for everyone--except criminals. Studies have shown that areas allowing concealed weapons saw an average 8.5 percent drop in murder rates and a 5 percent drop in rapes and other violent crimes. The ultimate question Nevada policy-makers must ask themselves is this: Does allowing citizens to own guns on net save lives and protect citizens? The evidence strongly indicates that it does.
However, I believe that there exists a much more fundamental explanation for our current policy of allowing private citizens to own weapons. It's about the relative positions of the citizens and government, and the roles each has. The United States, uniquely among the nations of the world, has defined its government as a rational product of the cooperation of its citizens. It has no mandate of heaven and no royal pedigree. It's here became we say it's here.
In most other countries, there seems to be a view of the government as a sort of parent, that controls and guides the citizens through the ministration of an elite. I think that in the U.S., the government is see, and should be seen, as no better than its citizens. If the citizens of the U.S. can be trusted, collectively, to have weapons of mass destruction, then it must therefore be the case that its citizens can be trusted individually with handguns and rifles. To believe otherwise is to believe that there is an elite within the United States that has the reigns of power and is able to temper the lunacy of the mob. certainly, there is a system of political hierarchy and elitism, but to the degree it exists it is an anti-democratic force, and should be controlled if not actively eliminated.
To say that no one has the right to handle a firearm except as an agent of the government seems to me to encourage elitism and centralization of power. It says that power is the government's to give as it pleases, while the fundamental theory of the American experiment is that power is the citizen's, to give to the government as he/she pleases.
Finally, I don't see much risk in the prospect of our country's 270-plus million people in armed revolt, because that's a pretty good description of what this country is, and has been since 1776 (the population and the calibers have changed, but the gunpowder remains the same). The domestic peace and tranquility of both the U.S. and the State of Nevada (such as it is) is not the product of government mandate, but cooperation among free individuals. Limiting access to guns doesn't make people less diverse, or more loving. It simply decreases their power, and in light of what we want our relationship with our government to be, seems a risky prospect.

Walter B. Andonov
The Wharton School
(Permanent address: Las Vegas)


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