Monday, May 26, 2008

Choosing taxes. Could be an eye opener!

Over the past couple of months or so, I've been getting increasingly more aggravated by what I'm hearing coming out of Washington DC. I'm not one of those that's screaming "The sky is falling! We're in a RECESSION!!", because by definition that's not where we are. I am, however, seeing rising prices as the dollar loses value, which is not happy, happy fun times. What's really driving me crazy about all this is that the people that We the People elected to represent their interests seem to be so out of touch that I can't quantify how wacky they are. They seem to think that there's no end to the money they can spend and that earmarks are Constitutionally protected. They don't seem to understand that what they're spending is OUR MONEY. Its not theirs, first last or ever, and yet their actions lead me to believe that they don't have any idea that its not theirs to spend with impunity. I don't understand how they account for that in their own heads. When I spend more than I have, it causes real trouble and has real retributions attached to it. How its any different for a government defies explanation.

It's gotten me to thinking, though. Part of the problem that Americans seem to have with taxation, besides that there's so doggone much of it and that its my money taken against my will, is that money is just being pissed away on some ridiculous projects-you've heard of them; I thought about listing some here, but all it was doing was raising my blood pressure-that could be going to pay off our massive debt. Make no mistake: debt is not a good thing. We cannot continue to refinance our debt with more debt indefinitely. Sooner or later, that bill comes due.

Since earmarks seem to be the fun thing for the Legislature to do, I got to thinkin'. What if we had that power? What if Americans got to choose where their money went? It wouldn't be that tough to do. Add a page to the tax forms we already file. What, like another page would make any difference? It would be a basic survey, with categories to choose from. Perhaps one thinks, mistakenly, that welfare is where money needs to be spent. That person could choose that box, and his tax money would be applied to that budget. If one was interested in funding defense, one would check that box, and probably a few others. Of course, there would be a write in slot, or slots, in case somebody felt passionately that their tax money needed to go somewhere else.

Of course, this system has some holes. The progressive system we have now, where there are a ton of people not paying tax, and the highest earning 1% of Americans pay something like 65% of the total tax bill, would concentrate the funding wherever they want it. That might lead to disenfranchisement. Perhaps going to a simple flat tax system would solve that. Oddly enough, new Republics that have gone to flat taxes, and found their economies booming. The only loser seems to be IRS employees, but if more companies can keep more of what they earn, chances are there would be no problem in finding jobs for those displaced people. I don't advocate somebody keeping a job over what's best for the rest of the country, even if its my job. I'll find another.

What we'd find out real quick is what's important to Americans. If a certain program doesn't gain any funding, then it goes bye-bye. At least citizens would have a chance to say where their tax money goes. As it is, we just get to be baffled by what Congress spends money on, and how much. If they want to keep doing that, they'll have to do a much, much better job of communicating with their constituencies as to why their money should go to that stuff.

I know its not gonna happen anytime soon, if at all, but it is an interesting mental exercise. But, since it's Memorial Day, I'm gonna go make myself a mojito and toast my friends and acquaintances that are still deployed, or who gave all. There have been entirely too many of those. A big chunk of my money would go to getting that job finished right.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

New Gun Parts! Ace rail sling mount

I know, I know. Another gun parts post. What can I say? I really haven't done much of anything these days that didn't have something to do with guns. Blog what ya know, I guess. The big action item on the to-do list is to watch the Laker game tomorrow and catch Iron Man when Top gets back from Flo'da in a week. The pace of life is a little slower here in KY than it is in Cali. lol!

I'm still diggin' my Blue Force Gear Vickers Combat Action Sling, but I've got a couple of VTAC's now, too, and I'm thinking about swapping them. I think the only really good course of action would be to get another rifle or two, but I'm not sure how I'm gonna pull that off with my current cash flow. I have some a'rns in th' f'ar right now, but it'll take a little while to shake out. At any rate, I'm still running the VCAS at this time, and I still dig it a lot. Highly recommended.

The problem I had with the sling really doesn't have anything to do with the sling, but rather my old-style Daniel Defense QD sling mount. As both the readers of my blog know, I'm a big fan of the DD stuff. The latest version of this mount has a limited range of rotation that my older model doesn't have. 

The reason that's significant is that if the QD swivel is free to rotate, your sling will become tangled, rolling up on itself. The newer, slimmer design doesn't spin all the way around, so that can't happen. However, the shop was sold out of 'em when I went lookin' for a mount. Several of my more gun savvy friends have been raving about a new fixed rail mounted sling design by Ace, which I decided to give a shot.

There are two versions, a 1 1/4" and a 1 1/2". I went with the smaller one. Its a nicely made part: the edges have all been broken, and the inside edge of the sling path has been radiused.

Its very slim and once its tightened down, its rock solid. I think I oughta Locktite that bad boy, but I haven't done it yet.

I think I saw one in flat dark earth, too, at one point. I could go check...but...nah. I don't care enough to do that right now. Mine's black, and it goes well with the rest of the black. Obviously I need to hook up some black ladder covers, but I haven't managed to do that yet.

The best part of this mount is the price: its only about $20. So far, I'm totally stoked with it, and its solving my problem nicely. I still have that Daniel Defense mount, so I guess that means I have to get another carbine goin'. Somewhere there's gotta be $1200 I can spend on a Colt 6920.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

What the...

What's up with Blogger's wacky formatting these days? I've noticed for the past couple weeks that it'll randomly start a new line, or run off to the right of the page for about 25 meters unless I edit it myself. That's just weird. What's up with that?

I got paid for this! The SOF 3 Gun Match

I spent yesterday both having a blast and learning quite a bit. I was working a table for ATS at the 2nd Annual Special Operations Three Gun Match at Fort Campbell, which was made up of members of 5th Group and 160th SOAR. Even the guys who weren't in jobs that required shooting as part of the description-some of whom were very new to the shooting sports-did very, very well. The guys that do shoot as part of their jobs...damn. I saw some guys just absolutely RUN stages of this match. A couple of our friends from Group just blew my mind with what they could do.

Even though a lot of these guys are in a combat arms MOS, it appeared that the shotgun was the great equalizer. I think most of that had to do with ammunition. Since I don't think any of these guys use shotguns for anything other than hunting (I saw some guys running upland bird guns that they borrowed for the match) or breaching, trying to run stages well with somebody else's gear proved to be difficult for almost everyone. Additionally, at least one stage was meant to make the shooter work for it, rather than being practical in terms of tactical use of the shotgun. That said, when somebody stepped up who had time with a gun, it showed. If this proves anything, its simply that a shotgun is a niche weapon for special situations. Characteristics such as the difficult-to-manage tube magazine showed why an M4 has become preferred for so many applications.

Speaking of the M4, the Viking Tactics barricade was used in this match. I tried 
finding a decent pic of it, but came up dry. Its about a 7' sheet of plywood, with a "stair step" pattern cut from the top to about the middle of the sheet, decending right to left. There are various shaped cutouts in the sheet, from long, narrow rectangles at angles, to squares and triangles. The match had these different cuts numbered, and had to be used in numerical order. This meant that the shooter had to go from standing or crouching a little, to prone, to kneeling, to rice paddy prone variations. It became apparent that most of the shooters hadn't encountered this particular barricade before, and had interesting approaches to solving the various positions required. There were three targets downrange at about 25 yards that had to be engaged with double taps. One of those cut outs required rotating the rifle about 90 degrees to get sights on target, so we saw a lot of shooters essentially rolling their rifles through a 180 to get their sights unblocked. One thing that was universal: those guys just kept working the problem until they solved it. I've seen shooters get rattled and mad at these kinds of issues, but these professionals just kept working until they were done. That was great to see.

It was a good day for the company, but it was mostly fun and instructive for me. 
I got to hang out with some guys I usually only see in the store, met some new friends, and saw some really inspired shooting. I'm tellin' ya, I'm glad these dudes are on our side. I wouldn't want to have to fight 'em.