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Tuesday, May 18, 1999

Smokey Briggs


By Smokey Briggs

The U.S. - one of the

first and last free nations

It's about freedom.

Not hunting. Not safety. Not crime.

Just freedom.

On the heels of the Littleton, Colorado shootings the Clinton Administration and the rest of the gun control freaks are clamoring for new and better laws to further restrict the ownership of firearms.

So far, everyone I've read or seen in the media, whether pro or con, has missed the point.

As always, the mob that supports the new wave of gun-control legislation is trying to sell it with the, "If it just saves one life it's worth it," sales pitch.

A hard statement to argue with if you live in Utopia.

Since I don't live in Utopia, I don't buy the sales pitch.

It misses the point.

The point is very simple.

An unarmed man is not free. He is a slave who lives and dies at the sufferance of those who are armed.

In an disarmed society in this modern world, those that are armed are the government. The politicians and bureaucrats who regularly prove themselves to be willing to prostitute themselves and their country for personal gain or pleasure.

I don't trust them to do an honorable or competent job of spending my tax money. I certainly am not willing to entrust them with the freedom that is my birthright.

With a freedom that over one million men have died protecting.

There are those that will laugh at the idea that an unarmed man is simply a slave waiting to find out who his master is.

One can only hope that their laughter is the product of an over-protective upbringing and a poor rudimentary education in the history of man.

The only other alternative is that they realize that unarmed men are slaves, and they simply plan to be the masters of the slaves.

Today, after decades of relative peace, and more than 100 years after the Civil War, it is probably hard for many Americans to imagine the need for armed citizens to protect their families, their nation, or their constitution.

A brief tour of history would supply the necessary fodder for their imaginations.

Germany in 1934 serves as a useful example. The German people are not devils. There is nothing inherently evil about them or their culture.

And yet, in 1934, they elected through popular vote, a man who was and is a monster in the eyes of the world.

A man who then set about exterminating millions of fellow Germans.

Did the German people elect Hitler thinking that he might then begin construction of the death camps?

No. They elected him on a campaign platform of economic reform.

Much as we elect our president every four years.

And folks, there is nothing inherently good about Americans either.

Nothing in our genetic or cultural makeup that will prevent us from making the same mistake the Germans made in 1934.

Germany is just one example. There are plenty more in the history books. But it makes the point.

But whether the gun-control crowd has their heads in the sands of Utopia, or something more sinister in mind, it really doesn't matter.

The end result will be same if they have their way.

Firearms will become the domain of the authorities — of government. (And, of course the criminals, but they are armed in every society).

And then we can strike that line about "land of the free," and begin working on an explanation to our children about just what we sold their freedom for.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Smokey Briggs is the editor and publisher of the Pecos Enterprise, whose column appears on Tuesdays. He can be e-mailed at:

Our View

Budget surplus should go back to tax payers

Texas is going to take in a lot more money over the next two years than it needs to cover the budget.

About $6.4 billion more according to state comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander.

The budget surplus is figured by comparing projected tax revenues with the state's budget over the next two years.

Amazingly, there is debate in Austin on what to do with this extra money.

There is an easy answer — give it back to the citizens of Texas.

They are the rightful owners after all. Texans pay taxes into the state treasury everyday through multiple sales taxes, property taxes, gas taxes, etcetera.

Each year it seems tax rates go up. A quarter of a cent here, a half-penny raise there, but always up and never down.

And there seems to be no end to special interest groups' and bureaucrats' reasons to expand government spending and justify tax hikes.

Looking back, it seems astounding that people just 20 or 30 years ago survived without most of the government programs that we have today.

Somehow, though, they struggled along.

They struggled along with a greater percentage of their pay check in their pockets too.

After mountains of talk about decreasing the size and cost of government at both the state and national level, it is time a meaningful step was made in that direction.

Texas has the opportunity to take that step this year.

Government can't grow without more money and the people of Texas can probably put the money to good use.

The right thing to do with the current surplus is to return it to the rightful owners.

Your View

Educational and social ruin

What has happened to our educational system?

That something has happened is obvious, and it has not been good.

Where did we go wrong?

Most teachers are hardworking, dedicated professionals. They have a basic desire to help children learn.

Despite some propaganda to the contrary, children will learn and do learn when taught with sound, traditional teaching principals.

So what is the problem?

Student literacy and intelligence, as measured by the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores, were an ongoing source of improvement and pride through the first five decades of this century.

These scores suddenly reversed themselves in the 1960s and started a steep decline from which they have yet to recover.

The results have been disastrous.

Today 13 percent of American 17-year-olds are functionally illiterate, and the figure may be as high as 45 percent among minority youth.

Between 25 and 44 million American adults cannot read the poison warnings on a can of pesticide, a letter from their child’s teacher, or the front page of the daily paper.

In 1930, 80-85 percent of Chicanos over the age of 14 could read.

By 1990, after the doors of desegregated education were opened to offer minorities what was thought to be a new era of opportunity, only 46 percent of Chicanos over the age of 14 could read.

Sixteen percent of white adults and 56 percent of African American adults are functional illiterates or only marginally literate as well.

The erosion of America’s educational performance was noted in a 1976 Los Angeles Times article:

“After edging upward for apparently more than a century, the reading, writing, and computational skills of American students from elementary school through college are now in a prolonged and broad scale decline unequaled in history. The downward spiral, which affects many other subjects areas as well, began abruptly in the 1960s and shows no signs of bottoming out.”

We have heard cries for more and more money, thinking that without looking for the cause of the problem, that more money and teachers were the answer.

But they are not.

We have increased educational funding in America to astronomical levels, currently spending each year on public education some $300 billion. And the situation continues to get worse.

Nor is the situation bad only in America. While my focus here is upon the United States, the message is relevant to all nations.

Do once-proven methods of education no longer work? Are children today so different from children of a few decades ago?

Are parents less loving, concerned, or able to help?

You will find the answers to such simple questions rooted in conflict — education itself, like the so called war on drugs, has become a battlefield reflecting the society in which it operates and leaving thousands of young victims in its wake.

What is this conflict? The following quotations represent two directly opposing views on education today, illustrating the turmoil which until now, has all but consumed the heritage, purpose, pride and accomplishment of our educational system.

“Every child in American entering school at the age of five is insane because he comes to school with certain allegiances to our founding fathers, toward our elected officials, toward his parents, toward a belief in a supernatural being and toward the sovereignty of this nation as a separate entity. It’s up to you as teachers to make all these sick children well — by creating the international child of the future.”  (Psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce in his 1973 address to the International education Seminar. )

“One raises the fundamental question of who should decide what values, attitudes, and beliefs a child should be taught. Should it be the parents or the U.S. Department of Education, which funds outcome based education? Of course, it is the Parents. Responsibility, authority, and accountability for educating our children belongs to parents first, then the local communities and schools.” (Phyllis Schlafly - editor for Child Abuse in the Classroom.)

We should all be concerned of the historical development of this conflict in order to observe how the educational system has been infiltrated, subverted and brought to the brink of collapse.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

If ever there was a tyranny over the mind of man, what has been done to American education serves as a model.

Deny man proper education and you provide possibly the most destructive and permanent social tyranny imaginable — ignorance.

It has been said that “knowledge is power.”

Once you know what has really occurred in our schools, and only then, can you hope to both make sense of, and in your own area, to do something about, what is the most urgent crisis threatening free society today.

“From a sociological point of view child psychiatry is a secular institution for regulating domestic relations. From my point of view it is child abuse.

Herbey Armendariz
Pecos, Texas

Critic's Corner

Selling is not all that hard

Harry Frish uses the art of friendly persuasion to describe "How to Be a Super Salesman...and Still Respect Yourself in the Morning."

In his 12-chapter paperback, Frisch lays out in simple terms how anyone can develop into a salesman. In the first chapter, he debunks eight myths that most of us have heard about salesman: "they are born that way," "are pushy," "ability to speak well," "always in control," etc.

Then he outlines what a sale is, gives the five steps and tells how to follow through. Each chapter closes with a summary page that cements the information into the reader's mind.

In his conclusion, Frisch says "You can do it," and "The sky's the limit."

Available in bookstores nationwide, online via, or directly from the publisher. Call 888-0727-9992 or send $24.95 to STI Publishing, P.O. Box 4125R, Glendale CA 91222-0125.

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