Month: April 2013

From a Good Guy and His Guns

mossberg combo

By Kevin G. O’Leary

Well, above is a picture of my favorite gun. I just chose to introduce this one as an example. In practice, I do not disclose the size of my total arsenal or what I have and don’t have. This is Mossberg 500 12 Gauge Pump Action Shotgun. Identical to mine as shown in the photo, I have the combo which includes the long 28 inch field barrel and the 24 inch standard barrel. I picked up my shotgun in pristine condition used for 175 dollars. I still think it was a steal. I am not interested in pretending like I am some bad-ass and getting the jungle camoflage or the black carbon finish. I really like the rich furniture wood finish.

I do not hunt animals. As a matter of fact, my parents live on a double 20 acre farmette which is somewhat of a private nature preserve and reforestation project. My father has his deer running around and has names for all of them. In his retirement he writes columns about his deer in residence and nature for the Rock River Times. Shooting guns anywhere near there is prohibited unless you are shooting guns to scare away trespassers who happen to come in shooting guns. My father is nearly 80 years, but is much larger than I and does not have the meek personality that I do. We finally convinced him that shooting out the tires of trespasser’s vehicles and picking unauthorized hunter’s cars up with his 60 year old Ferguson Bucket tractor is not always the best method to secure the land.

My Mossy was purchased for home defense and prerequisite target practice to protect the home. I stayed in one of the guest houses on the O’Leary Acres complex for a year and a half while working in Rockford, Illinois. Rockford in famous or infamous for making Forbes top ten list of the most miserable cities in America. The crime rate is one of the highest in nation. By some strange annexing and rezoning years ago, 2/3 of O’Leary Acres is in the city limits of Rockford. Police response rates are slower than we would like. I would like to have my hands wrapped around something that makes me feel more secure while I am waiting for the men in blue to find the house.

In a perfect home defense situation, I would prefer to have an 18 1/2 or even a 20 inch barrel instead of swinging a 24 inch pipe around smacking into the doorways and knocking the crystal off the table. But, what the heck. It’s a great gun and I can live with a longer 24 incher. Besides, with close quarters practice and self-training, I am getting better every time I test myself in my security drills. The ultimate goal is that never have to consider seriously using it. One of the most beautiful features of a 12 gauge pump shotgun is that the racking sound of chambering a live shell is unmistakable. Every potential intruder knows what it sounds like and just hearing the distinctive sound is often enough to make the threat dissapear.

I have another gun on my wish list. I would like to get a Stoeger double barreled coach shotgun. Once again, I like affordability and for the price and it is a pretty classy looking gun. Unlike the Mossberg, instead of cycling the shells one by one from the magazine to the chamber by pump, the coach gun loads two shells and you can squeeze off two shots without reloading. Although many people say the over under configuration is easier to handle, I like the looks of the side by side. It is just more like a firearm that Jed Clampett or Granny would use. Might even want the higher grade to get the nice metal engraving. The coach gun would come with a manageable 20 inch barrel better suited for home defense. They come in 12 gauge an 20 gauge. In close quarters home defense protecting yourself inside the home, I reckon there isn’t a dimes worth of difference in stopping power. However if you want to do a lot of long range field shooting, the more powerful 12 gauge is better. Another difference is there is not as much recoil or kick back on the Stoeger 20 gauge as the Mossberg 12 gauge has. Perhaps, if my my mother wants a good defense weapon on her side of farm, a 20 gauge would be fine. It won’t knock her backwards.

Now, you probably have determined a certified gun nut. Not so, really. Truth be known, as a youngster, I was not allowed to have a BB gun or a pellet gun. My parents hated guns so much they did not even like me playing with toy guns. I purchased my very first gun at age 44, because I did not feel safe sleeping in Rockford, Illinois. Not only was the gun an instrument of potential deadly force, it was also a distress signal alarm. My neighbors were told that I would never ever do any shooting on that farm and if they heard the clear blast of a 12 gauge, it was a pretty sure bet there was imminent danger and to react accordingly.

Enough of my personal opinions on my guns and what not. How do I really feel about what is going on in American gun politics? Well, first off, I have no desire whatsoever to ever own an assualt weapon. I do not feel I have need for one. I personally do not care if assualt weapons are banned. I am a responsible gun owner. My guns when I leave the country are stripped down and trigger housings removed and stored seperately and securely. I do not want to have a burglary and later find out one of my deadly firearms was stolen and used in a crime. I fully support background checks. I find absolutely nothing wrong with a waiting period when I go back to the USA and select my next firearm. While I am waiting, I still have my other firearms for protection. At the present time, the government does not require me to register my guns. What if they do in future? I say that is perfectly fine. I would not only gladly register all my firearms, I would even offer my services as a volunteer to assist in such a mammouth task just like we have volunteers in the voting polling stations. So, to sum it up full background checks, waiting periods and future full registration of firearms I would support.

I do not buy the argument that doing these things somehow attacks and targets law abiding gun owners. Wake up, America! More than 8000 people are killed annually by firearms. This is not normal. Firearm deaths in the commission of crime are largely done by people who are legally prohibited from having firearms in their possession. The problem is this. Firearms for the most part are almost always sold perfectly legally and legit on the first transaction. Then, they are illegally transferred or made accessible to thugs and people who are not allowed to be anywhere near a gun. With 8000 deaths and many of those in the commission of a felony, we must certainly look at full registration. Our government has a legal obligation to protect its innocent citizens from harm. The politicians who cannot recognize this are either stupid or cowards. This is especially true of today’s Republican party. The GOP is beholden to the National Rifle Association. The NRA is infested with lunatics which make otherwise sensible members look like idiots. I put a lot of thought into purchasing a firearm and never stop thinking about how I can be a more responsible gun owner. These people make all gun owners look like trigger happy rednecks.

Crazy Joe Biden was right on one comment that pertains to me. He said some gun owners just like the way a gun feels. Well, thats actually true with me sometimes. I do not hunt, but I love blowing up gallons of water, attacking quarry walls and pulverizing steel cans. Does that make me crazy? Well, it is my form of recreation. While I am away and living in gun-free country, what do I do to keep my sanity? I go the batting center and crack some balls. 100 yen for ten pitches. Even more fun when I connect. Yee Haw!

In my opinion, I think our President and many democrats are right on this one. Yet I am strong supporter of concealed carry in Illinois. Let’s get this gun problem fixed. From the outside of the United States looking in, my countrymen are beginning to look like lunatics. As an American, I want to keep my guns. But as an American, I am embarrassed by the actions of NRA. I won’t be the first. George H.W. Bush resigned his membership when they started getting too nutty for him.

The United States needs to wake up and smell the gun powder, by golly.

Advertisements

From the Outside Looking In: “Why Can’t We Beat Japan?”

-Kevin G. O’Leary

I have spent a great deal of time living and working in Japan since 1989. It certainly is a long time to be away from the United States. I never considered myself a Japanophile at all rather I am somewhat of an economic refugee. My earning power is more stable and higher here as long as maintain a balance between my own enterprise and selectively taking on work that is both profitable and meaningful. Truthfully, I desire to be back with my own people in my own country. I am often very critical of what my homeland has become and want America to become great once again. Americans who respond to my observations and opinions with, “Gee Kevin since you love it so much over there, why don’t you stay there until you die?” Or if I am living in the United States at the time, “Kevin, why don’t you just go back over there, then?” Stupidity like that just falls on deaf ears. I would be more likely to just respond by telling the person to go off and do an anatomically challenging sexual act on themselves. That means hey, go eff yourself, but Cheery OLeery’s aren’t raised to talk that way. It is time, we as Americans stop beating our chests and telling ourselves we are the greatest and humbly take a good self-inventory of ourselves and our nation.

Why is Japan beating us in almost every area? Do they work harder than Americans? Are they smarter than we are? Are Asians genetically superior?

Fortunately, the answer is no as far as I have seen by working in both cultures. Contrary to the stereotypes, there are plenty of lazy ass Japanese workers and a fair share of dimwits toiling away managing to hold onto jobs across the great Land of the Rising Sun. Some of the strangest birds are engaged in teaching.

In reality, the Japanese educational system is not much to write home about. Those fancy test scores we all read about come from students who spend 3 hours after school in cram schools. The level of school is determined more by external influences more than the brilliant educators and students within. It is mandatory for every student to finish junior high school. High school is not a requirement. High schools are seperated into institutions that are “academic” and “technical.” Academic basically means the students are likely to be college bound. Technical, agricultural or commercial high schools groom most of their young people for the service industry and various trades. Since high school is actually not a requirement in Japan, seats in academic public schools are highly competitive and most students do not pass the entrance examinations. As strange as it sounds to Americans, the Japanese government does not guarantee everyone a public high school education. To serve the students who fall short, a huge number of private high schools are available. These private high schools as a recruitment incentive offer several “academic” courses of study, so that some can advance on to higher education after graduation. Generally, I found most teachers to be mediocre at that subject matter and yet severely overworked. In Japan, teachers are responsible for the moral development of the students and are responsible for the students well being 24/7. Even if an ambitious teacher wanted to pursue an MA in Education or higher level training, it is extremely difficult to manage with their added responsibilities. Most of the English teachers I have worked with are often unaware of the latest advances in the language acquisition research. Besides, being far behind the times, teachers in Japan are quite territorial and often put other priorities above developing the academic abilities of students in their charge. The task of individual edcuational development of students falls on the private after school cram schools which have a huge presence in Japan. These cram schools are costly and a student’s options for supplemental tutoring depend on how deep their parent’s pockets are. I have observed that teachers are not under as much pressure to advance their skills as someone in private industry. The above observations are likely why I find so much weirdness and lackluster performance among Japan’s teachers. I find Japanese teachers to be highly individualistic just like good old Americans. Contrast that with their counterparts working in industry and production, there is clear difference.

Japanese in general are very community oriented. Individual virtues are not nearly important to most people as being part of a group. They are not nearly as focused on advancing themselves as they are advancing the success of their organization. This is a clear cultural difference and it is one that Americans really need to learn about to be globally competitive. In previous articles, I ranted about how much personal nonsense that is infested in American workplaces. This clearly has an impact on organizational productivity. Workers need to be focused on their job at hand and not be distracted by self-serving obnoxious workplace bullies. There is no place for cliques when the time clock is punched. If the company is profitable, it is reasonable that the financial benefits will trickle down to the workers. This is not always true in today’s American workplaces as upper management has grown apathetic to dealing with employee personal problems and under constant threat of labor actions and claims by unhappy employees.

Late last year, Sensata Corporation closed a manufacturing facility in my hometown of Freeport, Illinois. Freeport is one of the lowest cost areas in the country yet the products produced are highly accessible to outbound shipping to anywhere around the world. On the other side of the ocean, Sensata’s Japanese manufacturing facilities remained intact. It is certainly worth considering what kind of criteria was evaluated when deciding which facilities close and which remain in operation. Land costs in Japan are much higher than in Northwest Illinois. Transportation is without a doubt higher considering gasoline in Japan is six dollars a gallon. Employers are obligated to make mandatory social health insurance and pension matching contributions for their workers making labor overhead quite high. It would be reasonable to assume that the Freeport facility cost a fraction to operate compared to the Japanese plants. I would be curious to know if the justification for shipping jobs to China was based on apathy by the corporate head honchos. In America, how many times in Sensata’s history has a strike or organized labor action occured? How many workman’s compensation claims have been submitted? What is the punctionality and absenteeism record at Sensata? What are the units per month compared to other facilities around the world? Is Illinois a business friendly environment? Now, compare this with Japan or China’s Sensata plants or a similarly sized operation. Are American employees and regulatory government regulations more hostile to enterprises than in Asia? We need to ask these questions and do an extensive self-inventory of our work environments. What do we need to consider to jump back on the globe again?

Now, I have kind of peeled some skin back and gave some readers a rash with this. Up to this point, I was focusing on recent workers who may have lost their jobs or those who are currently working. But what about those who are not? I read the other day that a record 8.9 million people are on disability? Good grief, people! Yes, some need that kind of assistance, I understand. What I find strange is that in the 25 years, I have been in and out of Japan, I cannot even count on one hand people I know who are totally dependent on other taxpayers that are of working age. Once again, it is cultural divide we have between the two countries. I was particularly disturbed reading about Katherine Russell Tsanarev, the wife of the Boston bomber. She was on welfare up until the end of last year for a considerable amount of time. Yet, on television I see those pictures of that beautiful home of her parents in Rhode Island. Dad is medical doctor and mom is registered nurse. How disfunctional American families have become that people cannot take care of the own! It isn’t like she was disowned from her kin since she is living with them now. This type of situation is virtually non-existent in Japan. Japanese people are truely ashamed to take welfare themselves or have a family on assistance, yet those who have no other means do so. I thank God I was blessed to be born into a family that is willing to do whatever it takes to maintain self-sufficiency. My parents and my siblings are highly educated people who have had more than a few burps in their employment chronology. When my father, a public school teacher lost his tenure, the Dakota school district cut him away like a piece of fat on a porkchop, He didn’t whine and demand an job of equal stauts. He went looking for work willing to pump gas, by golly. My sister has an MA in Education, lives in high cost of living area and she always does what needs to be done. When the university cut back on her lecture hours, she learned how to say, “Do you want fries with that?” She worked the counters in fast food and clerked at a health food store. That is how she was made. When I left the military, I did not find much commensurate with my skills. I put on an apron, washed dishes and waited tables at the Hollywood Dining Center. Just a year and a half ago, I had to resign suddenly from a general manager job and return to my family. Although I am an experienced teacher, I came back in the middle of the school year and had to look for other work. I found a job processing vegetables in a factory. I was ridiculed on the internet by a 21 year old University of Wisconsin intern for it. Not one member of my family and not one Japanese person thought it was a silly thing to do. As a matter of fact, I like it so much I plan on keeping the midnight part time job for two more years. I know I sound like Forrest Gump when I say that. I am an executive by day and vegetable killer by night.

I write as I see things. Make no mistake, I very much love my country. I am a patriot. Nothing would please me more than to help America succeed. I don’t think I need to apologize because I have a lot invested in the United States of America. I wore the uniform defending my country for two enlistements. I own a home in the area of my upbringing where I will return to soon. I certainly hope people welcome me back home in spite of my overly direct opinions. Afterall, what good am I if I just say what you want to hear. I want to make a positive contribution. You folks just wait until I get going on my gun control article!

God bless America.