12/23/13 The 2013 Sales Award Goes To . . .

The President has worked hard to sell the ACA to folks that don’t want it, particularly those who aren’t really interested in paying higher than actuarial prices for insurance they don’t particularly need to underwrite those who do. This wealth transfer system is not very attractive. But the President has worked so hard to sell it that he should apply for an insurance license to go along with his law license. But perhaps I misspeak, since it seems his license to practice law is no longer in force.

Valerie Jarrett was recently quoted as saying that Michelle Obama was the best person to sell “Obamacare.”  I know I had promised not to use the word Obamacare when writing about the ACA, but I am quoting Ms. Jarrett here. Before it crashed and started burning, or perhaps before the train wreck, Ms. Jarrett was fond of calling it Obamacare, as was the President. The new White House style sheet forbids this, forcing the Affordable Care Act on the administration players. This is OK, since The Affordable Care Act is its name, but, like so many things, the terminology and practice has changed for convenience…or effect. I think the President must be coming around on the transparency thing, because this change from The Patient Protection and Affordable Dare Act, to Obamacare, and back to the ACA is pretty transparent, thought I don’t think this was the type of transparency they were referring to or wanted. In any case, perhaps the First Lady could also get her insurance agent’s license so she would have some sort of professional credential since it is rumored that her license to practice law has lapsed as well.

I suppose if one looks at it from a statistical point of view, the President, though not directly selling insurance, has still been responsible for a whole lot of insurance sales.  I can’t think of any insurance agency that wouldn’t like having such a productive agent in their employ. Maybe the President should consider this as a post-retirement career. While the President has actively sold the ACA to anyone willing to listen, he has not been as effective as he hoped. The product itself is a hard sell and the mechanisms by which it is purchased are awkward at best and impossible at worst. He could really have used some better sales support than he had. Any salesman will tell you that no support from the home office will cause poor sales and some bad relations with the customers.

The astonishing thing is this: Barack Hussein Obama is the unintentional salesman…the reluctant salesman. He can be credited with the sale of more firearms than just about anyone else in the history of the world, except for perhaps Samuel Colt, John Browning, and Mikhail Kalishnikov (who passed away yesterday at age 94). I don’t think the world’s military has purchased more firearms than the President has helped to sell in the last five years. He is so culpable for the record sales of firearms and ammunition that it might be prudent for him to get his Federal Firearms License so he can be a Class 1 dealer…you know, the ones who sell firearms only to civilians who undergo a background check before they can complete the sale. He shouldn’t have a problem with this.

Every licensed firearms dealer in the nation should send a thank you card to the President, or maybe some sort of Christmas gift, one that falls within the legal limits of gifts to elected officials. He likes golf, so maybe a dozen golf balls, or some personalized tees. Perhaps towel that clips on to his golf bag. Just some little memento of thanks for all the millions and millions of dollars that he has steered to them since for the last five years, people have literally lined up at firearms dealers to purchase handguns, long guns, shot guns, Feinstein-defined assault weapons, and ammunition of every description, creating such a desire for firearms that there were huge shortages, with dealers being able to name their prices on any firearms they had in stock or any they could order provided they could get them.

This demand created a spike in domestic manufacturing and importation, and likely has had a measurable effect on our recovery from recession. Winchester added 700,000 square feet of manufacturing space in the Oxford, Mississippi, plant just to make center fire ammunition to go along with the rim-fire ammunition plant next door. Mr. President, Winchester thanks you, those employed there thank you, the State of Mississippi thanks you, The Governor and the Mississippi Department of Revenue thank you, the citizens of Lafayette County Mississippi thank you, and I thank you, since our company did some work in the plant for the utility that supplies them with electrical power. In addition, hundreds of separate ammunition component suppliers and machine tool manufacturers thank you. Your direct involvement in the sales and distribution of firearms has been a one man business development resource and state sales tax producer, and even a reason why hundreds of Mississippians and their families now have health insurance. If anyone dared say this President has not been good for business, they would do well to ask the firearms dealers before commenting further.

I remember hearing the President’s name being mentioned in an unfavorable manner many times in gun shops, but this was always by consumers who were paying the high prices for the highly demanded firearms. I cannot remember a single gun dealer ever saying anything beyond offering a breathless, “Next!” just as soon as he finished the background check of his previous customer.

Firearms accessories such as scopes, other optical devices, rangefinders, brass, bullets, primers, gunpowder, dies, presses, scales, grips, gun safes, biometric lock boxes, and holsters have flown off the shelves just as fast as they could be stocked. I’ve witnessed a shipment of dozens of cases of ammunition coming in to a dealer, being received, and then being sold with a limit of two boxes per customer, and the two-box-limit customers snapping them up so fast that the boxes never made it to the shelf. Mr. President, if those boxes had had your signature and personal endorsement on them, I don’t think they would have sold any better, or worse.

I don’t think this was really what the President intended, but it is sure what he got. There are more firearms in the country than there are people to fire them, though many folks, not just a few, own more than one firearm. Some folks collect Vinyl LP records. Some collect postage stamps. Others collect firearms. Some of those collected firearms are terrifically expensive, handled only with cotton gloves and no one would dream of actually shooting one, and were they to think you might mishandle it would not let you get close enough to take a good look much less touch.

I have a close friend who is just such a collector. He has a pair of Remington Civil War era single action revolvers (there were no other kind of revolvers back then). They are consecutively serial numbered and have never been fired. They look like they were manufactured yesterday. If you have to ask how much this pair of pistols costs, you can’t afford them. Though I have seen lots of firearms in my time, my jaw dropped at the sight of these, though my hands stayed in my pockets. They have never even been dry-fired, which means they’ve never been cocked and had the trigger pulled to allow the hammer to fall on the empty chamber).
All this firearms business was certainly an unintended consequence of the President’s actions, and he was not entirely alone. He had plenty of help from congressional leaders, and more than a little help from Michael Bloomberg. Had they known what they were helping to sell, they might have taken a different tack altogether. As it stands, President Obama is very likely responsible for the sales of more firearms to more private citizens than any human being on the planet.

I had a curious dream the other night.

I decided to throw a party, well, not really a party, but just a little get together. I invited the entire nation. Upon learning this, Debbie just threw a fit. “You never think about what all it entails when you throw one of your little get togethers,” she said to me with a scowl.

“It’ll be nothing. I’ll just make a big pot of gumbo. You won’t have to do a thing,” I said with all the confidence I could muster.

“Well, this house is a mess. You’d better get busy picking up all your stuff that’s scattered everywhere because I don‘t want folks to see how cluttered up it is around here.” She was right. I looked around and sure enough, a guitar here, a mandolin there, books, CDs, papers, an errant banjo or two…and more than one pair of shoes residing right where they came off my feet…OK, several pair. I just got busy and started picking up as Debbie shook her head and grunted at me every time she looked my way.

We were lucky that everyone didn’t show up. The folks who didn’t attend were several big time government types, Hollywood types, and a few arbitragers and investment bankers and such, and those incarcerated or ill who wanted to attend but were unable. The rest of the 300 million or so folks all had a good time, but I‘ll admit that the line at the bathroom got a bit tedious at times, and parking was a problem, too. But we managed. We did run short of gumbo since I had gotten distracted and scorched the second pot, and no Southerner with any moral character would ever so much as think of serving scorched gumbo to their guests. If it’s mildly scorched, many of the guests would not know, but I would, and I just could not bring myself to serve it. We had to go down to the store and get some hotdogs to serve the rest of the folks. You should have seen the look on the cashier’s face when I went to the checkout stand with 100 million hotdogs.

After eating, everyone had a pretty good time. There were a few petty squabbles, but folks were mostly neighborly and well behaved. We even broke out some instruments and played a few tunes. You should hear the sound of 300 million voices all chimed in on “There’s No Place Like Home.” There wasn‘t a dry eye anywhere.

Later that evening, by the light of the campfire, We all got to talking. I decided I’d poll the group over a question or two that had been pestering me. I asked their permission, explaining that I did not want to raise any controversy, but wanted to try and understand a few things. Everyone nodded and seemed agreeable since I had approached this as sincerely as I could. Even so, I was still reluctant.

“Go ahead, man,” someone nearly all the way to Alabama said, “We‘re all friends here.” Several from near Tennessee and Arkansas said so, too. Everyone nodded in agreement. I was touched that everyone wanted to see if they could help me with my concerns, but this is what usually happens when you feed friends a good pot of gumbo. It seemed that the ones who got the hotdogs were not quite as enthusiastic, but they were still cordial enough. I took a deep breath, and I asked my first question, which was not really a question, but still required them to respond.

“Could you speak up a bit? We can‘t all hear you,” said someone just this side of Shreveport. I tried again.

“Would everyone who is in favor of illegal guns please raise your hands,” I said. The request was repeated around and eventually got to everyone. I looked out and saw about a twenty or so hands raised. Surely, they must have misunderstood or were some sort of felonious criminals or sociopaths. A few of the looked around, noticing their small number, looked a bit red-faced, and put their hands back down. There were about a dozen left.

A dozen out of 300 million…that’s a pretty small number I thought. Still, they seemed determined and kept their hands in the air.

“How many of you are against illegal guns?” I asked. Six hundred million hands went up into the air all at once, causing an updraft that sucked all the paper plates and bowls up into the air where the prevailing winds caused them to settle just a bit east of Birmingham. I reminded the folks to please be sure and pick up their trash before they left and put it in my garbage can so I could put it out for the Monday morning trash pickup. Right after all that confusion, I said, “Just one hand please. Not two.” I saw 300 million raised hands minus the dozen or so who had raised their hands the first time, and those looked around furtively, trying to find each other without really being noticed by the crowd. It has to be a lonely feeling being overwhelmed so. Several big city mayors also had their hands up in the air, but Mayor Bloomberg wasn‘t among them; he had sent his regrets, citing scheduling conflicts, but we were pretty certain what his position was anyway, so we counted him among the vast number.

“How many of you own a firearm?“ Ahhhh! It was a bit different this time. About half the people out there raised just one hand, remembering what had happened the last time they had raised them both. At least 150 million or so had their hands up in the air. This was the 150 million or so that collectively owned about 2.16 firearms each.

I looked at all the hands in the air. This was all I had wanted to know. Anything further might get into controversy which would spoil the remainder of the party, and no one wanted that.

The mayors might want to know that they are not the only ones against illegal guns. Everyone is against illegal guns, except for a very few mysterious people who don’t think like the rest of us. I thought about this for quite a bit as the guests began to leave and return to their homes, near and far. I decided to let folks think about it on their own. I thought about it, though, and upon waking from my dream, I still had thoughts.

The mayors were right to be worried about illegal guns. They were right to be worried about illegal crime, illegal tax avoidance, illegal diversion of city assets for personal use, illegal corruption, illegal drugs, illegal zoning infringements, illegal building code infractions, illegal food safety violations, illegal searches and seizures by their own enforcement officers, illegal transfers of city office supplies to home offices, illegal pet poop on sidewalks, illegal parking, and illegal couch cushion tag removal. There are a whole host of illegal things that mayors are supposed to be concerned about, after all, it is their job. Illegal guns is just one among many.

Hopefully, none of the guns the President helped sell were illegal. I expect a few were, or maybe even more than a few, for in my dream I saw that some were in favor of illegal guns, and there were likely more but they seemed wisely ashamed to admit it. If we’d just ask, even demand that criminals stop committing crimes, the world would be a much safer place. It seems like they would, since crime is already illegal. That should be our first and foremost concern, and that of the mayors, too. How do we, as a nation, make sure that illegal crimes are not illegally committed? Do we do that by making them doubly illegal? Or better, the treble-illegal-trifecta?

Criminals are such a pesky lot. They just will not do what you want them to do. We should point out to criminals that their crimes are criminal behavior, subject to punishment under the penalty of law, which is a heinous penalty. After all, you non-criminals, how many pillow and couch cushion tags have you removed lately?

Uh-huh! I thought so. You should turn yourself in.

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