Monthly Archives: April 2013

‘Obama’s Misfire on Gun Control’

Commentary from the National Review Online, copied below in its entirety:

By Charles C. W. Cooke

We’ve all seen the cartoons on television. Our hapless protagonist, caught up in the heat of the moment, fails to notice that the barrel of his gun is bent backward toward his face. When he pulls the trigger, he hits himself, blowing his Stetson hat off — or worse.

Long before Barack Obama came fully out of the gun-control closet and dressed himself in the gaudy attire of the crusader, he held a solid claim to the title of Best Inadvertent Gun Salesman in History. His credentials are impeccable: Not only did Obama record for posterity his endorsement of “a ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of handguns” on a 1996 political questionnaire, but, while running for president in 2008, he also discourteously characterized Americans who weren’t from New York City or San Francisco as “bitter” people who “cling” to guns and religion — summing up what progressives have long thought about gun owners and their recalcitrant accomplices in the “flyover states.”

Subsequent attempts to walk back the condescension proved fruitless. “My writing wasn’t on that particular questionnaire, Charlie,” he told Charlie Gibson during the 2008 Democratic primaries. “I have never favored an all-out ban on handguns.” The public appears not to believe him. A Huffington Post/YouGov poll from February of this year revealed that a plurality believe that the president would “ban handguns” and “repeal the Second Amendment” if he could.

Our beliefs determine our behavior. Since the president kicked off his post-Newtown tour, the citizens of the United States have been on what The Atlantic termed “an unprecedented gun-buying binge.” Here are the ten busiest weeks for the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Checks System) in its 15-year history:

  1. 12/17/2012  –  12/23/2012: 953,613 checks
  2. 01/14/2013  –  01/20/2013: 641,501 checks
  3. 02/11/2013  –  02/17/2013: 618,361 checks
  4. 01/07/2013  –  01/13/2013: 603,882 checks
  5. 12/10/2012  –  12/16/2012: 602,003 checks
  6. 02/04/2013  –  02/10/2013: 592,542 checks
  7. 02/25/2013  –  03/03/2013: 565,699 checks
  8. 02/18/2013  –  02/24/2013: 543,259 checks
  9. 01/21/2013  –  01/27/2013: 541,822 checks
  10. 12/03/2012  –  12/09/2012: 527,095 checks

As The Atlantic noted, “in the intervening 746 weeks since November 1998, the ten weeks with the most checks have all happened since the Newtown shooting.” These are but the high points of a remarkable trend. Since Obama took office in January of 2009, more than 66 million guns have been sold in the United States.

Bill Clinton, burned badly in 1994 on the issue of gun control, warned President Obama earlier this year that he was setting himself up for a fall. But Obama did not listen. “A lot of these people live in a world very different from the world lived in by the people proposing these things,” Clinton counseled Democratic donors in January. “I know because I come from this world.” The current president most definitely does not.

In Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, tedious Cousin Jasper comes to Charles Ryder’s Oxford rooms and, taking aim at Charles’s hedonistic lifestyle, of which he evidently disapproves, gives his charge a severe ticking off. “Jasper,” as Charles recalls, “would not sit down.” Instead, “he stood with his back to the fireplace and, in his own phrase, talked to me ‘like an uncle.’” The characterization will be familiar to gun owners, many of whom have felt as if they have been on the receiving end of such a general rebuke for the better part of four months.

Jasper’s Grand Remonstrance is so miserably ineffectual that Charles responds by reaching into his cabinet and taking out a bottle of champagne. “I’m sorry, Jasper,” he says, airily. “I know it must be embarrassing for you, but I happen to like this bad set. I like getting drunk at luncheon, and though I haven’t yet spent quite double my allowance, I undoubtedly shall before the end of term. I usually have a glass of champagne about this time. Will you join me?” General disapprobation is not, it seems, the way to win hearts.

The president has done more than spur gun sales. As he ramped up his effort last December, precincts across the country reported a record number of applications for concealed-carry permits; shelves emptied of ammunition; AR-15s, a favored bogeyman of the gun-illiterate Left, became almost impossible to obtain; the National Rifle Association added half a million members in six weeks; and, most important, the states took up the cause. Much hay has been made of the reactionary new laws in Connecticut, Colorado, New York, and Maryland. New York’s in particular has been singled out as a perfect example of the follies of haste. But what of the 15 states that have loosened their rules?

This year, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, South Dakota, Kentucky, Texas, Idaho, Montana, Utah, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Michigan, Maine, and Arizona have all enacted bills that weaken gun restrictions. Arkansas, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Maine have expanded the list of places where citizens may keep and carry weapons; Virginia, Montana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Maine have made concealed-carry permit records confidential or limited public access to them; and the legislatures in Oklahoma and Kansas have sent bills to the governor that would provide “automatic reciprocity for all out-of-state concealed weapon permits.”

In South Dakota, residents with a concealed-carry permit may now carry a pistol while riding a snowmobile; Kentucky has not only removed its six-month-residency requirement for a concealed-carry permit but also instructed state police that they have 30 — not 90 — days to approve applications; Idaho has banned local jurisdictions from refusing to recognize concealed-carry rights; Utah has made it illegal for the state and for local jurisdictions to compel concealed-carry holders to disclose that they are carrying; and Mississippi has clarified the meaning of “concealed,” so that one cannot be prosecuted if a concealed gun becomes temporarily and accidentally visible.

These moves are certainly in keeping with a general 20-year-old movement toward expanding gun rights at the state level. But the speed with which such bills made it through the political process should worry the gun-control movement. Twenty-five measures have been passed in the four months since Newtown. More are awaiting gubernatorial signatures or are subject to further debate. Gun controllers seem to face a genuine, perhaps intractable, quandary: In order to have a shot at changing the rules, they must speak in urgent and emotional terms, and they must try to rush legislation through before reason can intrude on the debate. But it is this very emotional urgency that scares people into buying guns, turning the restrictionist into the salesman.

As the old song goes:

They say that in the army
The guns are mighty fine.
But when you pull the trigger,
The bullets fly behind!

— Charles C. W. Cooke is an editorial associate at National Review.

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The Bush/Obama Great Recession continues

By Max R. Weller

CNNMoney recently had an insightful online report: Who’s to blame for the middle class struggle?

However, it ends with this naive statement: “Food stamps cannot be used to buy alcohol or tobacco, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program.” Ahem! In fact, food stamp benefits are often “traded” for booze, dope, and cash. I’ve even been approached by residents in the transitional living program at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, offering to sell me their food stamps (which are now in the form of a debit card) for cash, generally 50 cents on the dollar, which they can then spend freely. Middle class folks should be upset at this widespread fraud/abuse, that has greatly expanded under the administrations of the last two occupants of the White House.

BTW, Bush and Obama have also directed the CIA to hand over bags stuffed with tens of millions of $$$ to the corrupt ruler of Afghanistan, President Karzai. But, I digress . . .

I manage to live without government benefits of any kind, and am better off than most of the chronically homeless people I see who have become permanent dependents on the social services system (comprised of both government agencies and private nonprofits), and then are forced to spend most of their days shuffling from one free giveaway venue to another. I pity them, and the parasites (bureaucrats, social workers, case managers, mental health and addiction counselors, and others) who enable their dependency and make a living off of their misery are despicable, in my view.

There is no political leadership at all in re the economy; instead, both Democrats and Republicans are fussing over distractions like gun control and immigration, which very few Americans rate highly in importance according to this Gallup poll. And the issue of homelessness is almost at the bottom of the poll’s list, too.

It’s open to honest debate whether Mitt Romney could have done better, but it’s painfully obvious that Barack Obama is in way over his head. I think the worst is yet to come.

‘Can we trust the municipal energy process?’

Brilliant letter-to-the-editor of the Daily Camera, copied below in its entirety:

It seems there are folks out there who think that if someone is against Boulder municipalizing power, it’s because that person is not concerned about the environment. That is so incorrect. I, for one, am extremely pro-environment, and I’ve put my money where my mouth is.

Solar power is the cleanest of the renewable energy alternatives. In 2006, I hired Namaste to install PV panels on my house. Now, with only 16 panels, I generate more electricity than I use, no more electric bill, only the meter fee. I own my system, not lease, thanks to the assistance of Xcel’s generous rebate program. In exchange, I signed a contract with Xcel to give them my carbon credits for 20 years. They installed a meter that runs backwards so I can be credited for the excess electricity that I generate, which I roll over. The system adds value to my house, off-setting my out-of-pocket cost.

I also bought all new Energy Star appliances, and a 95 percent efficient furnace. (The new refrigerator particularly lowered kw usage dramatically.) I cook with an electric stove since I generate my own electric power. I had every window replaced with new low-E windows. Since doing that, I no longer need to use air conditioning. I grow most of my summer’s produce with a drip system. I am very sparing with my power and water use. I use my car less than 6000 miles per year which is completely off-set by my PV system. Is everyone doing their part?

Look at all the money Boulder is spending to study (and ultimately go ahead with) municipalizing power. Instead, they could have subsidized putting PV panels on every existing house in Boulder, not just lower income residences, utilizing Xcel’s rebate program, and still had money to spare. Each house would then have become a little clean-power generation plant, like mine. Boulder could have mandated that all developers must provide 110 percent PV power for each new building. The remaining money could have been used for a municipal ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program, to replace old, inefficient appliances, etc., and/or an eventual electric storage facility to generate power at night. But, they didn’t, and now the rebate program has ended; opportunity lost.

Longmont’s municipal energy provider could not afford to provide the solar rebate incentives that Xcel did. Will Boulder’s? I doubt it.

Have you noticed how Boulder municipal water rates increase every year? After we all cut back usage for the drought, the rates sky-rocketed. Why? I called and asked: Because since we were using less water, they needed to make up the loss of revenue since their overhead was still the same, so they raised our rates. Ironic. Xcel, however, gives us real breaks if we cut back usage, like the $40 Energy Saver Rebate. What will be the city’s response if we cut back our energy usage? I live in Palo Park, which is unincorporated Boulder County. I went to several meetings to discuss my concerns before the city-wide vote. At each meeting, I was told that my concerns did not matter since I live in the county, and that municipalization would not effect me. I had already discussed the issue with Xcel, so I knew way back then about the difficulties in just ‘stopping’ the power at the borders, since the substations don’t work that way, and tried to discuss this with Boulder City Council. Again, same response: it did not matter, the county would not be affected, we would still have Xcel, we did not need to worry about the vote (since we were not allowed to), etc., etc. Boulder knew about the substations then, but would not reveal this as an issue. Now the Boulder City Council wants to condemn the substations that provides our power, and we didn’t even get a say, nor a vote, on the subject. If we had been allowed to vote, the issue would have likely failed. Of course, Boulder City Council probably knew that, too.

In my 21 years living in Boulder (within and without city limits), I have observed that when the City Council wants something to go their way, they will do it regardless of majority public approval, or whom it affects. They have their “Idea” of what they think Boulder is and will do anything to meet their agenda. Their pretentious attitude that “Everyone wants to live in Boulder”, which was directly stated to me at a Council meeting a few years ago, just proves their bias. In the case of municipal energy, their bias was proven again when they refused to allow Suzy Ageton to become mayor because she had a more rational approach toward this agenda, and was not 100 percent gung-ho on pushing it through. What will become of the contract I (and many others) signed with Xcel if Boulder takes over my power? Will buying out those contracts be additional costs to the taxpayers that have also not yet been disclosed?

How can you trust these people when they blatantly hide the truth?

I am completely in favor of clean energy. I am absolutely against the City of Boulder running it.

I am not affiliated with or paid by Xcel.

S. REAL

Boulder

——————————————————————————————-

The answer is NO.

— MRW

‘The Butchering at Wounded Knee’

A billboard on U.S. 85 and 18th Street in Greeley has residents upset on how the political billboard is depicting American Indians. (Jim Rydbom, Greeley Tribune)

Chapter 24 of “Black Elk Speaks” — by Nicholas Black Elk, as told to John G. Neihardt — is copied below:

That evening before it happened, I went in to Pine Ridge and heard these things, and while I was there, soldiers started for where the Big Foots were. These made about five hundred soldiers that were there next morning. When I saw them starting I felt that something terrible was going to happen. That night I could hardly sleep at all. I walked around most of the night.

in the morning I went out after my horses, and while I was out I heard shooting off toward the east, and I knew from the sound that it must be wagon-guns (cannon) going off. The sounds went right through my body, and I felt that something terrible would happen.

When I reached camp with the horses, a man rode up to me and said: “Hey-hey-hey! The people that are coming are fired on! I know it!”

I saddled up my buckskin and put on my sacred shirt. It was one I had made to be worn by no one but myself. It had a spotted eagle outstretched on the back of it, and the daybreak star was on the left shoulder, because when facing south that shoulder is toward the east. Across the breast, from the left shoulder to the right hip, was the flaming rainbow, and there was another rainbow around the neck, like a necklace, with a star at the bottom. At each shoulder, elbow, and wrist was an eagle feather; and over the whole shirt were red streaks of lightning. You will see that this was from my great vision, and you will know how it protected me that day.

I painted my face all red, and in my hair I put one eagle feather for the One Above.

It did not take me long to get ready, for I could still hear the shooting over there.

I started out alone on the old road that ran across the hills to Wounded Knee. I had no gun. I carried only the sacred bow of the west that I had seen in my great vision. I had gone only a little way when a band of young men came galloping after me. The first two who came up were Loves War and Iron Wasichu. I asked what they were going to do, and they said they were just going to see where the shooting was. Then others were coming up, and some older men.

We rode fast, and there were about twenty of us now. The shooting was getting louder. A horseback from over there came galloping very fast toward us, and he said: “Hey-hey-hey! They have murdered him!” Then he whipped his horse and rode away faster toward Pine Ridge.

In a little while we had come to the top of the ridge where, looking to the east, you can see for the first time the monument and the burying ground on the little hill where the church is. That is where the terrible thing started. Just south of the burying ground on the little hill a deep dry gulch runs about east and west, very crooked, and it rises westward to nearly the top of the ridge where we were. It had no name, but the Wasichus sometimes call it Battle Creek now. We stopped on the ridge not far from the head of the dry gulch. Wagon guns were still going off over there on the little hill, and they were going off again where they hit along the gulch. There was much shooting down yonder, and there were many cries, and we could see cavalrymen scattered over the hills ahead of us. Cavalrymen were riding along the gulch and shooting into it, where the women and children were running away and trying to hide in the gullies and the stunted pines.

A little way ahead of us, just below the head of the dry gulch, there were some women and children who were huddled under a clay bank, and some cavalrymen were there pointing guns at them.

We stopped back behind the ridge, and I said to the others: “Take courage. These are our relatives. We will try to get them back.” Then we all sang a song which went like this:

“A thunder being nation I am, I have said/A thunder being nation I am, I have said/You shall live/You shall live/You shall live/You shall live.”

Then I rode over the ridge and the others after me, and we were crying: “Take courage! It is time to fight!” The soldiers who were guarding our relatives shot at us and then ran away fast, and some more cavalrymen on the other side of the gulch did too. We got our relatives and sent them across the bridge to the northwest where they would be safe.

I had no gun, and when we were charging, I just held the sacred bow out in front of me with my right hand. The bullets did not hit us at all.

We found a little baby lying all alone near the head of the gulch. I could not pick her up just then, but I got her later and some of my people adopted her. I just wrapped her up tighter in a shawl that was around her and left her there. It was a safe place, and I had other work to do.

The soldiers had run eastward over the hills where there were some more soldiers, and they were off their horses and lying down. I told the others to stay back, and I charged upon them holding the sacred bow out toward them with my right hand. They all shot at me, and I could hear bullets all around me, but I ran my horse right close to them, and then swung around. Some soldiers across the gulch began shooting at me too, but I got back to the others and was not hurt at all.

By now many other Lakotas, who had heard the shooting, were coming up from Pine Ridge, and we all charged on the soldiers. They ran eastward toward where the trouble began. We followed down along the dry gulch, and what we saw was terrible. Dead and wounded women and children and little babies were scattered all along there where they had been trying to run away. The soldiers had followed along the gulch, as they ran, and murdered them in there. Sometimes they were in heaps because they had huddled together, and some were scattered all along. Sometimes bunches of them had been killed and torn to pieces where the wagon guns hit them. I saw a little baby trying to suck its mother, but she was bloody and dead.

There were two little boys at one place in this gulch. They had guns and they had been killing soldiers all by themselves. We could see the soldiers they had killed. The boys were all alone there and they were not hurt. These were very brave little boys.

When we drove the soldiers back, they dug themselves in, and we were not enough people to drive them out from there. In the evening they marched off up Wounded Knee Creek, and then we saw all that they had done there.

Men and women and children were heaped and scattered all over the flat at the bottom of the little hill where the soldiers had their wagon-guns, and westward up the dry gulch all the way to the high ridge, the dead women and children and babies were scattered.

When I saw this I wished that I had died too, but I was not sorry for the women and children. It was better for them to be happy in the other world, and I wanted to be there too. But before I went there I wanted to have revenge. I thought there might be a day, and we should have revenge.

After the soldiers marched away, I heard from my friend, Dog Chief, how the trouble started, and he was right there by Yellow Bird when it happened. This is the way it was:

In the morning the soldiers began to take all the guns away from the Big Foots, who were camped in the flat below the little hill where the monument and burying ground are now. The people had stacked most of their guns, and even their knives, by the tepee where Big Foot was lying sick. Soldiers were on the little hill and all around, and there were soldiers across the dry gulch to the south and over east along Wounded Knee Creek too. The people were nearly surrounded, and the wagon-guns were pointing at them.

Some had not yet given up their guns, and so the soldiers were searching all the tepees, throwing things around and poking into everything. There was a man called Yellow Bird, and he and another man were standing in front of the tepee where Big Foot was lying sick. They had white sheets around and over them, with eyeholes to look through, and they had guns under these. An officer came to search them. He took the other man’s gun, and then started to take Yellow Bird’ s. But Yellow Bird would not let go. He wrestled with the officer, and while they were wrestling, the gun went off and killed the officer. Wasichus and some others have said he meant to do this, but Dog Chief was standing right there, and he told me it was not so. As soon as the gun went off, Dog Chief told me, an officer shot and killed Big Foot who was lying sick inside the tepee.

Then suddenly nobody knew what was happening, except that the soldiers were all shooting and the wagon-guns began going off right in among the people.

Many were shot down right there. The women and children ran into the gulch and up west, dropping all the time, for the soldiers shot them as they ran. There were only about a hundred warriors and there were nearly five hundred soldiers. The warriors rushed to where they had piled their guns and knives. They fought soldiers with only their hands until they got their guns.

Dog Chief saw Yellow Bird run into a tepee with his gun, and from there he killed soldiers until the tepee caught fire. Then he died full of bullets.

It was a good winter day when all this happened. The sun was shining. But after the soldiers marched away from their dirty work, a heavy snow began to fall. The wind came up in the night. There was a big blizzard, and it grew very cold. The snow drifted deep in the crooked gulch, and it was one long grave of butchered women and children and babies, who had never done any harm and were only trying to run away.

————————————————————————————

Sadly, many of today’s politically correct Native Americans just don’t understand their own history . . . It holds an important lesson for all Americans, however. Thank you, Nicholas Black Elk and cousin John for telling the story.

— MRW

EPA report debunks anti-fracking hysteria

By Max R. Weller

Read the good news from the Associated Press via The Washington Post. Quoting from the article below:

The Environmental Protection Agency has dramatically lowered its estimate of how much of a potent heat-trapping gas leaks during natural gas production, in a shift with major implications for a debate that has divided environmentalists: Does the recent boom in fracking help or hurt the fight against climate change?

Continuing:

The scope of the EPA’s revision was vast. In a mid-April report on greenhouse emissions, the agency now says that tighter pollution controls instituted by the industry resulted in an average annual decrease of 41.6 million metric tons of methane emissions from 1990 through 2010, or more than 850 million metric tons overall. That’s about a 20 percent reduction from previous estimates. The agency converts the methane emissions into their equivalent in carbon dioxide, following standard scientific practice.

The EPA revisions came even though natural gas production has grown by nearly 40 percent since 1990. The industry has boomed in recent years, thanks to a stunning expansion of drilling in previously untapped areas because of the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which injects sand, water and chemicals to break apart rock and free the gas inside.

Look on the bright side, anti-frackers; now you can rid yourself of the unwarranted guilt you must have been feeling for using natural gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing every day, either directly or indirectly.

Indeed, the system works: the industry adopting best practices, and regulatory oversight based on science.

We can hope that the protesting Froot Loops will conduct themselves more reasonably in the future, and there will be no need for another statement like this one from Boulder County Commissioners:

Statement on public conduct at Tuesday, Dec. 4 public hearing on oil and gas development in Boulder County

The Boulder County Board of Commissioners deeply disapproves of the conduct of certain individuals who came to disrupt the public hearing on proposed Land Use Code regulations for oil and gas development in unincorporated Boulder County last night.

As a county, we have a long history of respecting the First Amendment rights of all, and as a Board we greatly respect and appreciate the opinions and information which was brought forth at the hearing and for the respect and conduct of the majority of attendees once the hearing was underway.

The troubling activities last night included the disruption at the beginning of the hearing by a group of individuals intent on overpowering anyone in the room with an opinion different than their own; the jeering of a spokesperson from the oil and gas industry during her testimony – and mob harassment, cursing at and intimidation of the same representative and her colleagues as they left the building and walked several blocks to their cars; a bullying atmosphere in and around the hearing room; and outbursts of cheering for threatening rhetoric aimed at quashing opposing opinions.

Suppressing alternative comments and shutting out voices through intimidation and fear is not part of the democratic process we hold dear. As your publicly elected officials, we strive to create a safe environment for people of all opinions to come forward and provide input and feedback in our public hearings.

As we mentioned repeatedly during the hearing last night, we call upon residents to be considerate of all by allowing everyone’s voice to be heard in a respectful manner.

Last night’s efforts by a small segment of attendees to threaten and intimidate a speaker walking to her car was nothing short of shameful. Public hearings should create a space for everyone to feel comfortable to participate. Furthermore, any speaker should be able to attend and leave a public hearing free of threatening harassment.

As much as it pains us to do so, we will be creating a security plan for future hearings to ensure that everyone is made to feel welcome for taking the time to let his or her voice be heard. In the interest of helping to create this safe environment, the plan will entail the removal of individuals who elect not to participate in civil discourse and the prosecution of individuals who threaten the safety of other individuals.

We are saddened to have to make this statement and disappointed by the actions of a few. It is our intent, however, to take corrective actions to avoid a repeat of the events that took place at last night’s public hearing and to continue to ensure a safe and democratic process for everyone.

Sincerely,

Board of County Commissioners of Boulder County

Cindy Domenico, Deb Gardner, Will Toor

‘Nonprofit Accountability and Ethics: Rotting from the Head Down’

By Max R. Weller

Read the article from NPQ. Quoting from it below:

Formally, nonprofits are answerable to state attorneys general and (if they are also tax-exempt) the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, but they ought to feel answerable to the people they serve and to the public as well. Nonprofit status, tax exemption, and deductibility of charitable contributions are legal artifacts — privileges granted by the public’s elected representatives to organizations run by law-abiding, personally disinterested, socially minded individuals performing socially desirable activities. Most nonprofit organizations may not discern the general public as a major actor, let alone the dominant one, yet it is the ultimate source of every privilege they enjoy.

All those who believe that Boulder, CO’s nonprofits (and let’s include the quasi-governmental Boulder Housing Partners along with Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow, Bridge House, and others) are really “answerable to the people they serve and to the public” — RAISE YOUR HANDS. No, not you who work or volunteer at any of these organizations, only your clients and the public at large can participate in my cyberspace show of hands.

WTF? Nobody has raised his hand in support of our local homeless shelter/services industry? If you did raise your hand and I missed it, please feel free to comment here. Keep it civil and relevant to my point, and I’ll publish your thoughts. Otherwise, I won’t. Again, only clients or members of the public not associated with the nonprofits need reply.

‘Pack mentality may do more harm than good . . .’

By Max R. Weller

See the informative article from the Denver Post. It’s the first reasoned analysis I’ve seen in re the recent avalanche near Loveland Pass, in which five men died. Quoting from it below:

The cause of the April avalanche that buried the five men near Loveland Pass is well known and easy to document: a weak snow layer, lurking since fall, failed and released a huge slide.

But the reason behind the five deaths is murkier, involving the inexact and most challenging aspects of avalanche safety: human factors. The second avalanche in as many years to involve multiple deaths of experienced backcountry travelers has avalanche educators and researchers wrestling with ways to better teach and inform skiers and snowboarders about avalanche danger.

It’s sort of like the packs of homeless people who get together in Boulder, CO’s Central Park and elsewhere, perhaps to enjoy the fellowship of others in like circumstances, but whose behavior quickly deteriorates into poor decision-making. Some of them die, too.

Frequently, I feel like I’m all alone in urging the homeless to be more accountable for their actions — whatever good advice I offer, based on my own experience of being homeless for many years, is quickly negated by the apologists/enablers who work (or volunteer) in the shelter/services industry. They are all too ready to accept the lowest common denominator of bad behavior, as if their homeless clients are incapable of anything better; a very condescending attitude, it seems to me. One longtime staff member at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless even said this to me, a few years ago: “Max, you can’t teach these people anything, so we don’t try to. They’ve been living like this for twenty years!” This was not only shocking to my delicate sensibilities, it opened my eyes to the cynical posturing of those running BSH and other nonprofits which purport to serve the most vulnerable among us.

It led me to express the homeless shelter/services industry’s unwritten and unspoken creed this way: More Homeless People = More Money.

Quoting again from the DP story, and making its relevance to homelessness clear for the reader:

Group dynamics are encapsulated in the scientific concept of “group polarization,” one of the oldest tenets in social psychology. It holds that groups leaning toward risk — like taking a ski tour through avalanche terrain — could make a riskier decision than any of the group’s individuals.

The problem is not only understanding the phenomenon but how to mitigate it. That involves recognizing the really powerful but subtle pressures involved in group decision-making, said University of Colorado psychology professor Leaf Van Boven.

“You look at someone in the group and they don’t appear to be having any doubt. They aren’t saying anything … they seem confident. They don’t seem to be feeling the same concern you feel,” he said. “Those kinds of pressures can change a person’s personal risk assessment. And people often have no awareness that their views are shifting.”

When it comes to the homeless rat packs we can observe in Boulder, the worst-behaved bums among them seem to be able to drag most others down to their level — drinking and drugging, petty crimes, and violent outbursts. Meanwhile, the fools running Bridge House, Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow, BSH, and other groups acting in supporting roles to the Big Three only exacerbate the problem by catering to the sociopaths. I’m disgusted that a (former) Facebook friend of mine is still caught up with the ridiculous notion that city parks should be turned over to hordes of transients from Denver and elsewhere, on a 24/7 basis. No good can come of such an enabling scheme, not even for the homeless campers themselves, many of whom fall victim to the predators who are a part of their so-called community.

Can you imagine if those folks in authority with the skiing/snowboarding industry just threw up their hands, and did nothing to help those who are skiers/snowboarders to improve their decision-making? I can’t imagine it, either.

Just goes to show how little value is placed on the lives of homeless people in general.