What is Going On?

The killing of 27 people is the latest in a long list of atrocities that people are doing against others.  We are hearing that it is because of taking God out of public usage or that it that guns are readily available; but is that really the causes?  I do not think so; the problem goes deeper and is more complex.

Our society has gotten more violent over the last decades.  This shows not only in the movies and TV programs we see now to how our government resorts to violence to solve political disputes overseas.  When I was a kid, you did not see cartoons where people were killing people or hurting them, you saw animals doing it, ie: wiley coyote, mighty mouse, heckle and jeckle.  Yes, Batman and other super heroes were around, but their foes were clearly bad guys. Our heroes back then were the guys who wore white hats; Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and others.  Today, our heroes are drug taking, dog beating athletes or music recorders who promote violence, not to drink milk.

Gang activity was left to the mafia for the most part when I was young, though there were some ethnic gangs in the big cities.  You never heard of gangs in small towns like in today’s world.

Our government has gone from diplomacy to buying friends and sending in bombs if another country disagrees with us too strongly.  While we used to be known as a good country willing to help others, now we are the international bully.

Kids in my generation might have guns at home to hunt with and had imitation guns to play cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers.  We were taught not to point a real gun at anyone.  Nowdays, though those toys are still available, many parents do not want their kids to have them, so kids are not learning about gun safety at home.

Our society has become such that the nuclear family is no more for the most part.  Spouses are disposable and having kids has become a way to obtain unconditional love for our teenagers.  Single parents, stretched to breaking points due to the high cost of living, no longer have time to teach kids the basics of societal living.  Furthermore, our society has become so dangerous that kids are not allowed to play outside, who is there to monitor them, mom and dad are working to try to afford houses and cars that they really do not need or can pay for.

Civility has gone out the window in today’s society.  If you do not agree with someone, you are stupid, ignorant, a liberal, radical, or just a jerk.  Flaming abounds on social networking sites as does pornographic photos and sayings where women are disrespected openly.  Even our politicians are not to be looked up too with safety; they are having affairs, taking bribes or promoting violence as a way to solve problems.  Strangely, people have become depersonalized to other people; they are an avatar on a website or just a line of text.

People with mental illnesses are given silver bullet pills and sent on their way do to budget cuts for mental health care.  People are not held to any sort of responsibility for their actions; oh poor Johnny, he had ADD so cannot control himself, give him a pill not give him a swat and make him mind.  When Johnny grows up, he is an out of control adult with some real mental health issues; no one cares until he picks up a gun and kills people.

Is it because God is not in the public any more or less than before?  Where are the parents and preachers who should be teaching kids at home and church the lessons about societal living found in the Bible or other religious works.  Are the preachers teaching love thy neighbor or kill those who do not believe the way they do.  Are parents so busy keeping up with the latest trends in goods that they cannot teach their kids to behave without calling in The Nanny then televising it as a reality show?

Finally, guns do not kill people people kill people.  Remove guns and other ways will be found to do carnage unless the underlying problem is solved.  The same day as the shootings in CT, in China, someone took a knife and stabbed 22 kids and one adult, no one died.  Pundits covering the CT shooting used this as a good thing to happen, because a gun was not used so, according to them, no one died; they could have.  Mcvey took down the Murry building in Oklahoma with fertilizer and diesel fuel, the 9/11 terrorists used planes and box cutters, the fire in Bengazi was started with a molitov cocktail it is thought.

If people want to kill other people, they will find a way.  What we need to do is correct the underlying problems to stop this type of thing from happening.  We need to start taking responsibility for our own actions and teach the youngsters we come in contact with to do the same.  We need to look at our kids and our family and friends objectively and watch for signs of possibility to do violence then intervene.  Furthermore, we need to force our government to start using diplomacy instead of bombs to correct political issues saving the bombs only to protect our own borders.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have lost children to violence…and to those poor souls who are so tormented that they take those precious lives.







BAaa BAaa American Sheeple

By Sandy Long

Through calculated moves, the government has taken a proud country with a proud productive population and turned the country into close to a third world country and the once proud productive people into sheeple.  A sheeple is someone who is like a sheep who follows the bell ewe over the cliff while bleating BAaa BAaa BAaa ineffectively to their doom.

This situation did not occur overnight or under the current administration, it started back in the 50’s when innovations came into being and people wanted the appliances and devices to make their lives easier.  Things such as bigger T.V.s, dishwashers, washers and dryers and other appliances and technology were desired and bought on time instead of with cash.  People wanted bigger houses, fancier cars and more leisure toys.  This created more leisure time for some folks and a bigger demand for higher wages to pay for the luxuries which caused prices to go up.  People began to live above their means.

During the 60’s, sustenance farmers, who grew enough to raise their families with a little left over to sell, started finding themselves losing money farming and had to find local jobs to supplement their farms and incomes.  In the 70’s, these farmers began to disappear and the corporate farms came into being.  Huge acreages farmed with huge equipment and huge feedlots took the place of the small family farms.

Today, it is difficult to find even canned goods filled with American grown products much less American meat.  Farmland lays fallow here while overseas, under less than perfect conditions, food is grown and imported to the USA.  Meat grown here is sent overseas while meat is imported into the USA from foreign countries.  The huge produce fields in California lay dusty and barren because of the concern of the government and a bunch of environmentalists about a minnow which is not even native to the state…yet, the state is bankrupt and people not only are out of work, but going hungry.

Trickle down economics enacted by Ronald Reagan and those who followed did not do much for the American people either.  While Reagan is almost worshipped by a great many of those same people, his trickle down policy to spur the economy did not work as Americans are experiencing now.   Any economic policy beyond war related takes 20-30 years for the full effects to be felt.  The outcome of this policy is that many companies took their tax breaks and went overseas to increase their bottom lines through labor savings thus causing increased transportation costs and loss of jobs right here in America.  Of course, Nafta only helped them do so not burdening them with tariffs to bring the goods back here to sell to American consumers.

Then there is the mass immigration to the United States both legal and illegal of people looking for work and the American dream.  President after president and congress after congress have allowed these foreign folks to come here and take American jobs; why, because they will work better and cheaper than Americans that got stuck in the mire of having more than they can afford.  Of course, the Americans had help getting there.

Banks made credit available to anyone who wanted to buy a house; of course, the government told them to do that.  Credit cards came out of the woodwork in droves to those same people who could not afford to buy all the innovations and technology they wanted without charging them.  Banks loaned money to contractors and encouraged them to build houses that no one in their right mind needed or could afford instead of homes they could afford…and they were not alone.  The government got into the deal too and provided loans to people who had no business, according to both their credit and their income, in trying to buy a house.

Then the biggie happened, 9/11.  Whether it was known about by our government beforehand or not is a moot point, what the government did to the American people after it was criminal in effect; they instilled terror into American lives and used that terror to take away American’s rights.  The Patriot Act was instituted with weeks of 9/11 and who was punished, Americans.  Did Americans stand up in mass to protest this?  No, by the time of 9/11, Americans had been indoctrinated to believe that the government only had their best interests to heart, that America was under attack and  that war was the only answer.  Americans thought that even if they spoke up no one would listen and that it was ok to give up freedom and their rights for an illusion of security.

Now the country is in debt to other countries to the tune of trillions of dollars; and Americans are without work, have lost their houses and are without hope of anything changing.  Yes, some are bleating a little louder but as long as the government keeps doing the same thing the same way, bleating is not going to change anything.  What needs to occur is that the bell ewe needs to go to slaughter and the sheeple need to stop BAaaaaaing, start standing on their own two feet and shouting ‘HELL NO, WE ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’  Until that happens, Americans are just sheep being led to their doom…and it is their own danged fault.






Lions without Courage

From the Wizard of Oz… Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?  Dorothy and the Scarecrow respond, “courage!’

A news report tells of Baylor Health Systems who is going to start testing volunteers and new hires for nicotine and not hire anyone who uses it even to the extent of nicotine patches or gum.  While Baylor of course, can hire whom they choose, few who read this article saw beyond the inherent health benefits or how they hate smoking.   They did not see that anyone was being discriminated against for participating in a legal activity.  People have been indoctrinated to dislike smokers to the extent of thinking them stupid or addicted.

Most people are not aware that they have been indoctrinated. Indoctrination starts young, in school when a child is taught that the government is always good, to believe on faith what they read or hear from reporters, science is never wrong and of course, that Superman can really fly.  If you take any two or more races of young children together, they play well with each other.  When the child gets older, they may not due to being indoctrinated by the adults around them that the races are different or that one should hate another race…bigotry starts at home.

Advertisements by both business and political people repeatedly send out the message they want someone to believe…buy a certain soap, pill or believe in strictly divided political lines…and of course, one party or the other only has YOUR concerns that they will address.

Scientists do research funded by whatever corporation or government entity that is funding them…and 95% of the time find the exact results the funder is wanting.  Then that corporation or government entity touts the findings from the rooftops repeatedly, and the people, who are not aware of indoctrination techniques, believes the findings as gospel.  It must be true if they keep repeating it, right?

climate change study offer  This link talks about two things, first scientists being offered big money to deny climate change and secondly the global warming ideal.  Anyone who can think and do a little research knows that scientists are often led to the money trail.  Furthermore, anyone who has done a little studying that global warming for the most part is just what it is, the earth being at the end of an ice age and is warming up naturally.  Yet, due to indoctrination, millions of people bought into the global warming fiasco resulting in hundreds of regulations and in making the EPA what it is today…a monster.

Indoctrination has led to bigotry, discrimination and outright hate in some people; of course, racism is the most commonly thought of source of bigotry, but think about the Baylor story, smokers are disliked and discriminated against because while any thinking person knows it is most likely unhealthy, it is still a legal activity.  This is due to slanted studies and there are studies that are slanted the other way…of course funded by the tobacco industry.  People have been taught that everyone no matter what, should be in a certain size range.  Studies say so after all, funded by the pharmaceutical and insurance companies and of course, the billion dollar a year diet industry.

Why are there so many people who are indoctrinated to certain issues and so called facts?  The founding fathers had it right when they said ‘united we stand, divided we fall’.  While they were talking about the revolution, it holds true today.  If the government can keep people indoctrinated to the point that they only look out for their own interests and not their fellow citizens, they create divisions that keep people apart…it is another form of control of the population and creates hostility on one hand, and apathy on the other.

It takes courage to take a hard look at one’s self to identify areas where you may be indoctrinated in.  It takes courage to think outside of the box to end personal indoctrination.  It takes courage to think about another’s rights outside of your own interests and preferences.  It takes courage to shed the artificial bigotry and selfishness created by indoctrination.  There is no Wizard of Oz to give you a medal of courage to assist you in this, just yourself and the willingness to do the right thing for others.



Interlocking Truckers

Interlocking Truckers

Trucking is a diverse industry comprised of many different types of trucking with each type having their own problems and issues.  For instance, container haulers on both coasts are under the gun from the EPA and others over pollution and traffic congestion; some are being forced to upgrade their equipment or leave the industry.  This diversity in trucking tends to make truckers themselves isolated within their own segment of the industry, not so much as a physical isolation, but a mental one.

This mental isolation, or focused vision on only what affects their segment leads to the old saying that “you cannot get two truckers to agree on the price of a free cup of coffee” as a friends says.  He is right to a great degree.  This inability of truckers to agree on any one thing has stopped truckers from addressing issues facing them both in their own segment of the industry and for the trucking industry as a whole.  There is a lot of ‘it doesn’t matter to me so why act on it’ mindset; they do not see how it affects other drivers other than themselves; or care.

HOS and EOBRs are a good indication of this mindset.  Looking at HOS first, a driver who works for a large company who has ample equipment and drivers to relay freight might not understand, or care, how those same HOS might affect a small company who cannot compete by providing relay drivers to move the higher rate, faster moving freight.   The HOS might not affect the larger company driver, but would put say, 10 drivers at the smaller company, out of work.  While it would not matter to the larger company driver, which type of HOS rules come along, that driver should care about how they would affect the smaller company driver and stand with the smaller company driver to find a compromise rule that would not adversely hurt the smaller company driver.

EOBRs might not matter too much to a younger in experience driver who comes from a prior career where they were micromanaged.  This driver perhaps started out with a large training company who already utilizes some sort of electronic logs and does not know any other way of working.  They do not understand that the cost of installing EOBRs might put a 30-truck company out of business, or how invasive they will be to a driver’s personal privacy.  They should take a stand so that EOBRs are by choice for a company, not that they are mandatory so the small company driver can stay working.

Jason’s Law is another area where there is much divided thinking.  To a driver who works in the western 11 or in the Midwest, parking might not be such an issue while to a driver who works the eastern seaboard or California, safe and adequate parking is virtually nonexistent after a certain time of day.  Drivers should understand that parking is an issue and stand up for safe and ample parking for all drivers in all areas.

There are interlocking issues and topics that lock all truckers together; we all drive trucks that are fairly standard as to engines and mechanical similarities.  We all haul freight of some sort whether it is talking, hot, cold, dead, small, or large.  We all drive on highways made of concrete or asphalt and have to deal with the same traffic.  We all are required to hold a CDL of some sort to do our jobs and we all have to follow the same federal regulations if not state.  We all do our jobs looking at the world though a windshield sitting on a seat bumping along to make a pick up or delivery while under some sort of schedule.  When you look at it that way, there are more similarities than differences and we are more like family than strangers.

In a family, the family stands together and protects each other; one steps in when another member is threatened and the good of a family takes priority over the good of a stranger.  This is how we truckers are going to have to start thinking of each other, as brother and sister drivers who are part of a larger family outside of blood relation.  We have to start working together to protect each other both in our personal safety and our job security; we all cannot work for those huge companies.

Finally, we have to stand together and show each other the respect due us as professional drivers.  No one else is going to give us that, not even our companies to a great degree.  By showing each other respect we will learn how issues can affect our brother and sister drivers and help them by standing up with them to fight for our rights and to stop the abuse of each other by everyone from the government to the companies we work for. 

John Donne had it right when he wrote

No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.  John Donne, Meditation XVII English clergyman & poet (1572 – 1631)

We truckers are interlocked in the trucking industry, it is time we understand that and remember that eventually the bell will toll for us, if not on any one current issue, eventually another will come along that affects you specifically; wouldn’t it be better if you had someone to stand with you when that time comes?  Start now by recognizing the interlocking similarities between us, the differences do not matter.

Civility and Responsibility

Civility and Responsibility

by Sandy Long

We will most likely never know why that man in Arizona decided to kill people; perhaps he wanted to commit suicide by cop, who knows.  For some reason though, he went ‘postal’ and followed a long line of others who ‘lost it’ and took innocent person’s lives in the process.  Prayers flow to the victims and survivors; and to all Americans, because his actions highlight what can happen when government fails and people stand up.

Rhetoric has flown in the days following this sad event with fingers pointing and blame being assigned.  Some superficial actions have been suggested such as congress sitting together during president Obama’s state of the union address instead of sitting divided by party.  While I have to agree that is a good thing to do, it falls short of the bipartisan concentration needed to bring our country and people together.

America has become a chaotic millstream of hate and angry rhetoric with campaign promises forgotten and special interest groups taking precedence over what is good for the country.  The government’s and our focus is on foreign countries, people’s sex lives, disasters and the bottom line of companies while our own people suffer lack of employment, health care and even homes.  This mix can only create anger, fear and lead to uncontrolled actions by some.

Divide and conquer should be our nation’s motto these days as political parties and special interest groups strive to create further division among citizens instead of bringing us together to fix the problems facing us.    No respect is given to anyone who doesn’t believe the way someone else does, labels are more important than looking at someone’s record on all things and one is judged not on their actions, but on their political affiliation.

Semantics enter in when words like ‘take someone out’ is used when referring to voting someone out of office.  Visual aids such as targets are used to stress who does not meet someone else’s idea of what should be happening.  While these two things to a normal person does not mean violence should be used, with the stressors that are flowing through our country at this time, over stressed or mentally ill people can be misled into thinking that they are ‘helping’ the country and themselves by killing someone.

Politicians want to calm the rhetoric and have people not speak out to solve the problem we face now.  I do have to agree to a point with that in that we do need to remember to be civil in our discourse even if it gets heated instead of evolving into a personal attack on anyone. 

However, I lay the problem and the solution right at the feet of our government.  Our representatives from the president on down need to work towards the betterment of our country and our own people and need to listen to our voices.  THEY need to check themselves and their actions and remember both their responsibility to the people they serve and to remain civil to their peers.  THEY need to put their constituents first before foreign interests and special interest groups.  THEY need to cut their pay to help our country to recover financially instead of asking for more money for ‘protection’.  THEY need to be honest in their words to the public; Americans will work themselves to the bone if they have honest goals to achieve.  THEY need to refrain from divide and conquer tactics, instead find ways to bring people together.    THEY need to be transparent in their dealings so the public knows what is going on.  THEY need to remember that they serve the people of the United States of America and by oath our country, not their or other’s bottom lines.

Finally, we all need to remember that we are Americans first and all else follows second.  If this country falls, we all fall; if our politicians don’t do what is best for us first, then we need to exercise our rights and impeach them for fraudulent promises made to get them elected.   As Americans, we have the right to speak out and to hold our government’s feet to the fire of our anger and can use our rights to remove from office any politician that does not take the country’s needs into account first. We also need to remember to bring civility back to our discourses and let our words not encourage violence. We do not have the right to stir others to such a heated pitch that they take vigilante actions even if they are mentally ill.

America is knee deep in alligators so to speak and we all need to find ways to work together to bring us out of the swamp.  The energy spent on hate, rhetoric and pointing fingers by our government would be better used to work with ALL Americans to find solutions to jobs, housing and affordable medical care.  I agree with Thomas Jefferson that a little rebellion is good for the country, however, let’s focus that rebellion towards the WHOLE government and stop the corruption of our system instead of attacking individuals in it.  In my opinion to use an old saying, “if you put them all in a bag and shook it up, none of them would come to the top”; every one of our representatives is guilty in this chaotic mess we are in, the real blame lies with them for allowing it to go this far.

Things that go Bump in the Night

Long, lonely nights, dark ribbons of road with no signs of inhabitation all lead to flights of fancy and ghostly sightings by truckers…or are they flights of fancy?

Throughout the days of modern trucking there have been many of these ghostly happenings popularized in song…Phantom 309 for one. During long nights, you might hear stories of ghosts on the cb as drivers while away the hours. Perhaps one of the more famous ghost stories, the gray lady, comes out of Alabama.

On state route 278 in Alabama there was a race track…legend has it that a young woman had an argument with her boyfriend at the races one dark night. She stormed away to walk home along the two lane highway…it got late and the mists rose. A trucker running along the highway didn’t see the walking woman in time and hit her…panicking; the driver sped off leaving the woman dying along the road. It is said that on dark, foggy nights the gray lady jumps up on the running boards and looks in the window of trucks running along that highway looking for the driver that killed her. Rumor has it that several drivers have wrecked and had heart attacks from the fright.

Alabama is ripe for paranormal happenings it seems. One day about dusk, I was driving along a two lane stretch of highway 78. I saw a little boy who looked to be about 5, walking in the bar ditch on my passenger side. He was dressed in a dirty, tattered, long white shirt and nothing else. There were no houses along there for several miles, only trees, so I put on the brakes and looked in my mirrors for the little boy…he was gone.

A friend of mine related this story of the haunted house she lives in (we will call her Sue). Sue had bought her house a couple of years ago. There was no door bell so she bought one of those types that plugs in the electrical outlet. A short time later, the bell would ring for no reason. At the same time, she started smelling that menthol, musty old person’s house smell at times in her house. She consulted with a friend who had some psychic abilities who told her that there was the spirit of an old man that had lived there a long time ago who’s name was Charley. The psychic said that Charley liked Sue because she loved his house. Sue wasn’t afraid.

Sue had been living with another driver who she thought she was going to marry and while she was on the road, he moved out unexpectedly. When Sue got home, she was very upset, the door bell started ringing and would not stop for over 30 minutes…she finally had to unplug it totally. She knew that ’Charley’ was trying to comfort her.

Another driver told me of a stretch of mountain road in West Virginia that is curvy where at certain times of the night; you will come around a corner to see two vehicles wrecked on the shoulder of the road. Smoke is rising, the vehicle’s lights are on and the tires on one are still spinning. By the time you get pulled over to the shoulder ahead of the wreck where it is wide enough for a rig to park and get out of the truck…the vehicles have vanished.

One driver’s story sounded like a variation of the girl in the cemetery story. This driver was traveling down a lonely stretch of interstate out in the desert one night when he saw a young man standing on the shoulder with his thumb out. Starting to get tired, the driver thought that a little company would be good so stopped and told the young man to get in. The young man climbed into the jump seat and they carried on a lively conversation about old rock and roll and of course, girls. As the lights of the next desert town came into view on the horizon, the young man got quiet. When the driver looked over, the young man was gone.

Who can say if there are truly ghosts or not besides the people that say they have seen or experienced them. It may be just an active imagination, the play of light and shadows, a deer caught in the headlights…or it might actually be the restless spirit of someone who has gone before. One thing is certain, as long as truckers drive through lonely stretches of road there will be a never ending supply of ghostly sightings.

Be Careful What You Wish For…

Be Careful What You Wish For…

By Sandy Long

We are hearing more and more that laws are being considered that enter into how one lives one’s private life. Starting with helmet and seatbelt laws, these commonly called ‘nanny laws’ have gone on to including smoking, guns, obesity and sugar containing foods among others.

Everyone has their own reasons for supporting or not supporting nanny laws. Perhaps someone has quit smoking or lost a loved one to lung cancer, so they firmly support non smoking laws. On the other hand, perhaps someone else doesn’t support non smoking bans because they are a smoker, which is after all still legal to do, and feel that it infringes on their rights to participate in a legal activity.

Many of these types of laws are supported by scientific data that is skewed to support what ever agency or focus group that pays for the data. People who are against ownership of guns have studies that say that guns kill X amount of people a day. In the studies supporting their claims they do not show how many are killed due to suicide, police actions or other types of shooting deaths; they put them all together.

Anti smoking groups took scientific studies about second hand smoke that were based on mice kept in a totally enclosed space with constant tobacco smoke 24/7 and extrapolated that out to show that second hand smoke affects people adversely. Smoking supporters have shown that, through their own studies, that people who inhale second hand smoke say for as long as it takes for them to eat a meal in a café then go outside are not affected by second hand smoke.

Many people are supporting laws governing obesity such as BMI and mandatory sleep apnea testing for commercial drivers. One person states, “I was tired all of the time. I spoke to my doctor and was sleep tested. Now that I use a C-PAP machine, I feel great. Therefore everyone should be sleep tested and the government should make them do so.”

Another person states that, “My taxes shouldn’t go to pay for people who are obese and have disabilities so cannot work due to being obese. I wish the government would set standards for people’s sizes.”

California’s actions show how supporting one cause can come back and bite the supporter. In California where pollution is high due to overpopulation in most of the state’s larger cities and due to topographic ways the land lays, the California CARB has instituted harsh laws enforcing clean air acts. While many supported these laws initially, it has since been found that the scientist who worked with CARB was not properly educated and cannot back up his so called studies with any data.

Yet, the people who initially supported CARB now are being required to go as far as having three way controlled thermostats put into their new buildings both private and public so that CARB can control how hot or cold one keeps one’s building along with many other prohibitive laws to the enjoyment of life by the people.

While it is normal to support causes or laws about one thing, where does one draw the line? Everyone has something they like or enjoy doing that someone else might object to. Gambling at casinos throughout the country is one example. Many enjoy going to the casino near them to play the games; some thinking that they are going to make their fortune. Many are on fixed incomes and cannot really afford to spend money foolishly to some and end up broke sooner in the month thereby perhaps needing more financial assistance from the taxpayers.

Yet little is heard about these folks from supporters of obesity laws perhaps because the supporter of obesity laws likes to go to the casino while both tap into the taxpayer’s money. If one supports the giving up of a freedom for one group of people, does it not follow that at some point it will affect another group of people as more and more nanny laws are put in place?

If one supports laws governing how fat one person is, how long before laws are passed that govern how warm you keep your house or how often you can go to the casino and then whether you can drive your car to the store or have to walk? When one discriminates against any person for their lifestyle, health, spending habits, mental capacity or whatever for any reason, it will eventually backfire in their faces at some point in the future when someone else takes issue with what the original person is doing and supports laws against it.

It is a viscous cycle of governmental control of the citizens of this country so be careful of what you wish for; you just might get it.

More Than Just the Blues

More Than Just the Blues

By Sandy Long

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has added testing for depression to its medical survey of truck drivers. This follows along with the recent recommendation of the FMCSA Medical Review Board (MRB) that suggests American truck drivers be screened for depression and other mental illnesses as part of the medical qualification physicals. While the FMCSA has yet to act on the Board’s recommendations, it is most likely to do so sooner rather than later.

While everyone suffers from some level of occasional depression in their lives, perhaps a loved one dies, or a relationship is in trouble, these ‘blue’ days are not what are being talked about. What the ATA and the MRB is referring to is the debilitating type of depression caused by mental illness such as one being diagnosed as bi-polar or suffering from major depression that can radically affect ones job performance and safety. What is bi-polar or major depression?

From About.com: “Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings—from overly “high” and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between. Severe changes in energy and behavior go along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression.” “Major depressive disorder is a mood disorder characterized by a depressed mood, a lack of interest in activities normally enjoyed, changes in weight and sleep, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, difficulty concentrating and thoughts of death and suicide. If a person experiences the majority of these symptoms for longer than a two-week period, they may be diagnosed with major depressive disorder.”

Other types of mental illness can affect ones job and safety also. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, often found in combat veterans or survivors of wrecks, crime or abuse, Panic Disorder, Anxiety Disorder and some Phobias to name the most common ones.

As recently as 30 years ago, having a mental illness carried a social stigma and many people would not go for treatment. Since then however, with the development of new treatment protocols and medications, this stigma has almost totally disappeared.

Most depressive disorders and stress disorders can be treated with medication and perhaps some talk therapy with a psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist or councilor. Many councilors will work with patients over the phone after an initial face to face visit and there are mental health clinics in most medium sized towns and hot lines available too.

Medication for mental illness is slightly more difficult to deal with as drivers. Many have side effects such as drowsiness and can cause stomach upset and a lessening of alertness. Also, some medications require adjusting as the time taking them lengthens so repeat visits to doctors are mandatory at specified times. Some side effects go away as medicine levels increase in ones body.

Because of the above, the ATA suggests, and I am sure that the FMCSA will, if they make checking for depression part of the physical, require a period of time where the driver is considered unfit to drive until the effects of the medication is known.

Many famous people suffer from mental illness; Van Gogh, Mozart, John F Kennedy to name a couple along with millions of other just plain folk who, with treatment, go on to lead normal productive lives. Truck drivers can function quite well having some mental illnesses such as bi-polarism or major depression; with treatment.

If you think you might be suffering some on-going depression in your life, or if you have major mood swings, get a jump on the regulations and talk to your family doctor first and if he/she agrees that you might have a mental illness, have them refer you to a mental health professional to start treatment before the regulations force you to do so.

Always remember, there is no shame in being mentally ill, only shame in today’s world for not getting treatment for it.

American Counseling Association 800-347-6647 www.counseling.org

National Mental Health Association 800-969-NMHA (6642)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255)

Rusty Guns

Rusty Guns Copyright Sandy Long

One of my favorite word pictures of any pro-gun ad is the one that says, “A gun can lie on a table until it rusts and will not harm anyone until someone picks it up and pulls the trigger.” Powerful word imagery that tells the whole story of gun crimes in a nutshell is it not. Anti gun lobbyists fuel their fight to increase laws that ban guns from citizen’s hands with junk science.

Laws have been passed recently to try to control the buying and selling of guns at gun shows and shops while ignoring the huge black market that exists where criminals can buy guns. The black market grows with every new law restricting gun ownership.

From the NRA: “The black market is responsible for the estimated 1 to 2 million guns illegally possessed by 8 million New York City residents, even after a century of punishing Sullivan Law licensing regulations.”

There has been a larger push to control supply-side support of the black market through pro-active police action and stricter licensing laws, citing some control in the short term in the black market sales of firearms in high crime areas of Chicago slums. Economist R. T. Naylor explained, “Never in history has there been a black market defeated from the supply side . . . .”

Supply-side controls, like the Sullivan Law’s handgun licensing requirement, merely serve to increase availability of, and profits from, the illegal item or service. Phillip J. Cook, an anti gun criminologist, wrote an article titled “Underground Gun Markets.” After publication, Cook and his researchers stated that their findings “stand in contrast to conventional wisdom in the sociology and criminology literatures . . . . There may remain some question whether our data are misleading.”

Cook, along with co-author Jens Ludwig wrote a book “Gun Violence: The Real Costs” In the book, they came up with supposedly accurate statistics about how much gun crime costs, $100 billion per year. Paul Gallant and Joann Eisen, authors of the book, “Post Heller Junk Science” explain how Cook and Ludwig came up with this figure. “To come up with this figure, they conducting a survey of 1,204 adults, they asked respondents if they would pay $50, or $100, or $200 in increased taxes in order to reduce firearm-related crime by 30 percent. They then extrapolated their figure to arrive at what the total number of households in the U.S. would be willing to pay to eliminate firearm-related violence by 100 percent. Adding in jury costs and other estimated costs; they came up with their huge cost of gun crimes.” Cook and Ludwig did admit that by coming up with that figure “they hoped that they would “provide some leverage in moving the policy debate ….”

New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) April 3, 2008, published an article by Dr. Garen J. Wintemute, an M.D. with a master’s in public health, entitled “Guns, Fear, the Constitution and the Public’s Health.” In the article, Wintemute used the statistic that, in 2005, 30,694 people “died from gunshot wounds.” Dr. Wintemute got this figure from the CDC. In the CDC’s June 28, 2006, National Vital Statistics Report: Preliminary Data for 2004 listed firearm-related homicides in the U.S. at 11,250 and firearm-related suicides at 16,603 (which is not about method, but motivation). By using the combined number, Wintemute maximizes the perceived danger firearms pose to society.

In an Oct. 7, 1993, NEJM article entitled “Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home,” Dr. Arthur Kellermann and his co-authors stated, “keeping a gun in the home was strongly and independently associated with an increased risk of homicide. A gun kept in the home is far more likely to be involved in the death of a member of the household than it is to be used to kill in self-defense. In light of these observations and our present findings, people should be strongly discouraged from keeping guns in their homes.”

If one takes the time to read the complete study, one finds that approximately two-thirds of the offenders lived apart from the victims and more than likely brought the firearm to the scene of the crime. To slant their findings further, the authors counted both criminals and their prey as victims, even those “killed by police in the line of duty.” They even labeled four police officers as “offenders.”

Following the money trail behind why reputable scientists would slant findings like this, Kellermann received over $3 million in taxpayer money for numerous papers of this nature. Dr. Wintemute again got into the act over private gun ownership used in defense of the gun owner by disputing Gary Kleck’s 1995 research with Marc Gertz on the self-defensive use of guns. From the NRA: “ Wintemute claimed that Kleck’s figure of 2.5 million defensive gun uses (DGUs) was “too high by a factor of 10,” citing as the sole basis for his claim a research paper authored by anti-gun researcher Dr. David Hemenway, “Survey Research and Self-Defensive Gun Use: An Explanation of Extreme Overestimates.”

He (Wintemute) did not report that anti-gun criminologist Marvin E. Wolfgang wrote, in an article entitled “A Tribute to a View I Have Opposed,” “The methodological soundness of the current Kleck and Gertz study is clear. I cannot further debate it.”

“Guns do not kill people, people kill people” is another one of my favorite pro gun word pictures. It evokes the true picture of responsible gun owner ship and the role that guns play in criminal behavior. Anti gun lobbyists may win in the end but that will not keep guns out of criminal’s hands. Even if it did, when the common citizen no longer has the right to own a gun legally, the criminal can use a knife to commit his crimes, who is going to stop him, the victim with a rolled up newspaper?