Most gun rights advocates, even the ones who know that government is not the creator of rights, would say that the Second Amendment is where the right to keep and bear arms comes from. And you would think that we could, for the sake of argument, and because we know that most of them believe that rights are endowed by the Creator and all men are created equal, etc., etc., just drop the issue that they are technically incorrect about the idea that our legal right come from the Second Amendment, because we are all on the same side (on this issue). Right? Continue reading
Well, this blog has been registered at WordPress.com for one year now. It took a while to get it off the ground, but it hit the ground running. (How’s that for a mixed – and contradictory – metaphor, by the way?) Click here to learn more about the blog, and here to learn a little bit about it’s author.
Not bad for an amateur one-man team, right? Well, its the readers that are more to thank. Without them there really is no point in writing.
In this post I’ve already accepted that I am going to offend just about everyone. Conservatives for not being patriotic (aka flag worship). Liberals for being “anti-woman.” The meek for being blunt. The laconic for saying things in eleven paragraphs that could be said in one. Statists for opposing their will. Generic anti-authoritarians for seeking to impose my own (albeit through persuasion). Veterans and soldiers for not blindly thanking them for their service. Leftwing anti-imperialists for even (if only for the sake of argument) accepting the premise of a national military at all. Reactionaries for daring to say I believe in equal rights. Progressives for daring to say I see a distinction between moral duties and the law. To offend was not my goal at all, but the idea has grown on me. I relish the prospect of possible backlash.
The Worse Rise to the Top? More like the Willfully Ignorant! And the Implications that has on Copyrights.
High IQ isn’t worth a darn if you refuse to or are unable to acknowledge that sometimes you just might be wrong. You can be the smartest person in the world, but when you make a mistake, and out of pride or fear refuse to recognize it, all your intelligence might as well not exist.
The person I just described is rarely a particularly evil person. They are simply human. And they are found in high numbers amongst the Powers That Be, precisely because of their higher level of intelligence. This is not the same as, but neither is it incompatible with the traditional Hayekian take on the subject. Continue reading
COMPARATIVELY, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
There was a school shooting the other day. In my opinion that is non-news. That doesn’t mean I am not saddened by the incident, but there is only so much a person can do, and frankly these sorts of things are common occurrences around the globe. I have no more or less sympathy for 20 New England school children than I do 20 Pakistani funeral mourners. Or a 16 year old United States citizen. They were all human beings. They were all unjustly slaughtered. Talking about such things beyond the general underlying problems and actually trying to fix them are complete wastes of time and drains on the ability to think. They distract from far more important issues. What could possibly be more important? Anything that the average person can have a much larger impact on than a [random?] shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. And anything where there is much more at stake than the mere possibility that such a tragedy will occur at a school near you. But unfortunately there are those who want to use such a tragedy to muddy the waters. They have gun control in mind. In a way it suddenly becomes a legitimate issue apart the specific incident.
So, as long as we are going to talk about it, let us be blunt. Guns were invented (12th Century, China) in the first place, to injure and ultimately kill people. They can be used in self-defense and they can be used for assault. Hunting and recreation are secondary considerations (it ticks me off every time one of my wretched Democratic senators says people have the right to own guns and then ALWAYS qualify that, albeit subtly, with a “for hunting and recreational use”). I don’t say that because I have anything against hunting or target practice, of course. (I am not a hunter. I own a rifle that I rarely use. I do, on occasion, handle firearms for recreational purposes, and I thoroughly enjoy it. But in general, I am not a “gun person”.) Any discussion of banning or controlling guns, whether for or against, should be honest that the point of guns is to blow people away. Gun banners should feel free to use that as an argument against the ownership of firearms (though in my opinion it is an argument for it, all other things being equal), and gun rights advocates shouldn’t be afraid to admit the fact. In a world where it is no longer popular enough to do so and still have people maintain their Second Amendment Rights, the argument has already been lost. I won’t say what they are, but your options at that point narrow considerably.
THE GOVERNMENT-MEDIA COMPLEX AND THEIR LACKEYS ARE ON CUE
Some are griping that the NRA has only just now broken their silence on the shooting. Where those same folks are when the gun control lobby is silent when lives are saved by guns, I couldn’t tell you. They are probably not hypocrites. Just people who like to shoot their mouths off. Good for them. Whatever.
Currently, the blogosphere is rife with people wringing their hands over this, and the common themes among them are:
If we whine about it and empathize and sympathize to no end the world will be a better place. Let’s pat ourselves on the back.
If we control guns the world will be a better place. Guns are inherently evil.
If we don’t talk about anything other than the victims the world will be a better place. Both sides of the gun control debate are wrong for not wanting to “compromise” and wrong to use this tragedy to even bring the issue up.
If we only make sure that we comply with every law on the books and all the recommendations of the experts, the world will be a better place. We are too stupid to think for ourselves or to exercise our God-given rights and so is everyone else (except the experts who do so not only for themselves, but for us as well).
But I won’t bore you with too many of those articles I read. Instead, I’ve put links to sounder arguments and relevant news in the body of this piece. But here’s one sniveling New York Times columnist’s piece just for fun. His basic points are, some stated, some between the lines:
People are dying not because of criminals but because of guns.
Some numbers. 46 die every day from non-firearm homicides. 32 die every day from firearm homicides. 83 die every day from all forms of firearm use, including by suicide, by accident and by homicide. The #1 weapon used in violent crimes is a baseball bat. Every day 2200 Americans use guns for self defense.
American kids are more likely to be murdered than kids in other industrialized nations.
I don’t doubt this, but I wonder how much of this is the result of urbanization in the United States, the high tolerance for slums (Europeans are much more likely to turn their noses up at such sprawl), localized gun control measures, and political correctness. Maybe he missed the fact that some of the most industrialized nations in the world had more deaths in days than other industrialized nations have in years, all under stringent gun control measures.
There is an argument being made that the reason places such as Europe have far less shootings is cultural. Far less individualism. And before we start an outcry to curtail that, please consider what the results have been elsewhere, notably Russia, Germany, China, Cuba, and Cambodia. And perhaps part of the reason Europe is the way it is, has to do with the fact that after two world wars it is scared of its own shadow.
Some nations with high ownership of guns, have much fewer shooter incidents.
So, comparing one country to another with just one criteria is pretty pathetic. Comparing a country to itself in a different time period would make more sense.
The gun control already on the books has nothing to do with this.
There are different kinds of gun control. The United States may be lax in some areas, but much more stringent to nations it is being compared to in other areas. That is just speculation on my part. I can’t go much further than that because data is hard to come by.
Other things going on in the public life have nothing to do with this.
The glorification of imperialism is a good place to start looking. And then maybe we could move on to the war on drugs, which though present in other industrialized nations, is at its most potent and prevalent among them in the one in which it began, the US of A. Certain kinds of unwarranted violence made justifiable in the eyes of the public and that includes the youth. Fatherless homes because of wars and prison, that sort of thing. (Is it too soon for me to ask if Adam Lanza’s father played a big enough of, or the right kind of, role in his son’s life?)
Teachers who die in a pool of blood for standing up to gunmen are heroes in spite of the fact that they realistically could do nothing to prevent the deaths.
They may have been heroes. They may have pulled kids out of the line of fire. They may have gotten in the shooter’s way long enough to buy others time. But with guns and body armor, as silly as that sounds, it wouldn’t be a matter of hearsay and speculation.
The fact that there are few cases of ordinary citizens stopping shooters is an argument FOR gun control.
It is actually an argument against it!
Arbitrary legal measures that hurt those operating inside of the law prevent a single action of those who have no regard for the law.
It is criminals that commit crimes.
The government using tax payer money to buy guns from gun owners and destroy them is a good thing.
Broken window fallacy.
The purchase and destruction of firearms by government is what caused the elimination of crime in Australia
If you think about it, you are subsidizing people not to commit crimes, so of course crime will go down! It has nothing to do with the ban, it is the subsidy! You could have just payed those among them most likely to commit crimes, or bought them gun safes, etc, and allowed them to keep their guns and have the same result!
Preventing accidents and preventing massacres is the same thing.
Obviously a seat belt can save a life in a crash. The net benefit of a seat belt, however, differs from person to person. And the idea of a seatbelt law, just like any other law with a benevolent purpose, sets a dangerous precedent. Seat belt laws are not what save lives. Seat belts are. No, people who put on seat belts are. Seat belts were invented in the private sector.
But a person with intent to kill is a another matter entirely. There are far more variables. Making policies meant to control the physics of a situation boils down to a mathematical equation. Making policies meant to control one of the least understood things you can think of (human nature) almost always has the opposite of the intended effect because humans are self-aware.
Preventing automobile deaths are as easy as driving carefully and that includes putting on the seat belt. Cars do not have intent, so they do not respond to preventative measures by operating outside of the law. I doubt there would ever be black markets (nor the violence associated with them) in seat belt free cars because it is the natural disposition of every driver not intending to commit suicide by crashing his vehicle, to live, and if he chooses not to, it is a as simple as taking the belt off. People, whether killers, or gun owners, or gun sellers, do have intent. This includes the intent to do what they feel is necessary or what they enjoy doing regardless of the consequences. Or perhaps because of the consequences. Men are not so malleable as matter.
SO, WHAT TO DO
It’s counter-intuitive (more guns, less violence), but some lawmakers in Tennessee have the right idea.
It has long been my opinion that government-run indoctrination centers are far more dangerous than guns (though perhaps neither is more dangerous than the criminally insane that abuse both of them). There are two primary reasons. One, the children are inculcated with pablum from their first day of kindergarten. They are told they are there to learn but alongside their traditional studies they are run through the emotional wringer and told that recess and coloring books are academic activities. Any meaningful sense of personal responsibility that they may have once had is scraped clean from the insides of their noggins by the time they graduate.
This learning model helps to eliminate critical thinking skills and shrink emotional IQ. I would even go so far as to say that lack of these engenders not only the shooter mentality (and the criminal mind in general) but also the prohibition mentality (which ignores the historical record which shows that prohibition incentivizes not only violence, but the use of the prohibited item by those who we seek most to keep it away from), which in this specific case I would hazard a guess that they share at least as much blame as the shooter’s mother and her lifestyle. Public schools themselves practically invite shooters. Innocent, harmless children all together in one place; small rooms crammed full of them with usually one way in or out; mostly female staff; self-defense banned on school grounds and in some cases anywhere within 1000 feet of a school. The inherent vulnerability of this environment is only a small part of the reason why public schools should be abolished (or highly decentralized).
Some have already said those who want to place some of the blame on public schools are little different than those who want to ban guns. They say that neither “right” should be taken away. I already responded to one person saying this with,
“There is no right to someone else’s money. There is no right to free education. There is no right to kidnap children. Thus the public school system is invalid. It is not a question of whether it should be banned instead of guns. It is a question of whether its existence does not, by necessity, already ban other far more fundamental things. The right to the fruits of one’s labor. Responsibility for oneself and one’s own. Freedom of association. All these things are partially banned by the mere existence of a public school system.”
BEING UNPLEASANT AND UNCHARITABLE
I don’t want to come across as insensitive or anything. My views are far more nuanced than that. On a lighter note, another example of my apparent heartlessness can be relayed in something that happened about an hour and a half ago. A good friend of mine called and chewed me out (in that friendly sort of way) for staying home and not going Christmas caroling with him and a few of our friends later this afternoon. Before I hung up on him he called me a Grinch. I wasn’t quick enough to quote anything from How the Grinch Stole Christmas so my last words came instead from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, “Bah, Humbug.” If I had been thinking on my feet, these would have come to mind:
From the 1966 Cartoon:
~That’s one thing I hate! All the noise, noise, noise, noise!
~Their mouths will hang open a minute or two, then the Whos down in Whoville will all cry, “Boo Hoo.”
~And then, they’ll do something I hate most of all. Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, will stand close together… with Christmas bells ringing. They’ll stand hand in hand… and those Whos… will start singing!
From the 2000 live action rendition:
~Blast this Christmas music. It’s joyful and triumphant.
~I tell you Max, I don’t know why I ever leave this place. I’ve got all the company I need right here. [points to himself]
~Be it ever so heinous, there’s no place like home.
But the truth is, I have my reasons. Some selfish by certain standards, some not so much.
The following is the seventh paragraph of Barry Germansky’s op-ed Tea Party Heroes Ron and Rand Paul Make for a Bitter Brew, from earlier this year, interspersed with my rebuttals from within the last few days.
BARRY GERMANSKY: The Pauls’ default stance of misrepresenting the historical record also helps them peddle the absurd Austrian School idea to deregulate all private businesses and subsequently create a utopian free market.
HENRY MOORE: We have already dealt with the historical record, which you have ignored, but must you now ignore the point of science (economics is a social science, one for which there are many competing theories)? You are here misrepresenting the Austrian School of Economics. To quote Walter Block, “No, Austrian economists can’t oppose or favor anything. To say that they do is to violate the normative positive distinction. Austrians are limited to saying that a given policy will have thus and thus effects; they logically cannot say, qua Austrians, that a policy is good or bad, nor may they favor or oppose it, again qua Austrian economists. Certainly, they can do so as citizens, as ethicists, as philosophers, but economics per se is and must be value free, despite the fact that this stricture is all too often violated, as in the present case.”
So Austrians do not oppose or favor any policy, such as deregulation, privatization, “utopian” free markets, as Austrians. They may do so as libertarians, which many Austrian economists are in varying degrees, but not as members of the economics profession, regardless of the school they find the most useful. Why is adherence to the Austrian school or other free market theories, and to libertarianism often found in the same people? Emphasis on such things as individual choice and individual action, as well as the fact that utility (relative to societal norms) applied to knowledge gleaned from the scientific theory, and the morality of the philosophical/political theory often lead to compatible conclusions.
A general example would be where policy a leads to unintended result b, an Austrian neither favors nor opposes policy a in and of itself, rather its merit depends on whether result b is in line with the original intent of policy a and/or the societal norms that the policy derives from or is in reaction to. To the scientist, the policy and its result have no moral value relative to science, only relative to the purported intentions of the policy in question. To the philosopher, especially one coming from a framework that values liberty highly, the Austrian (though not as an Austrian) may oppose the policy (and favor alternatives) on those grounds, regardless of whether or not he favors or opposes them (or remains objective, in the case of science) on other grounds.
A specific example following these same lines would be economically interventionist policies that intend to increase homeownership rates because the societal norm is that home ownership is a worthy and valuable goal, which then have the result of decreasing homeownership or stopping the growth of home ownership in the long run, or that have myriad other unwelcome (by society, not necessarily the scientist, who is mostly an observer) effects that outweigh those results considered more positive. The Austrian that is also a libertarian might oppose these policies on the grounds that public policies favoring one group (generally socio-ecnomic, ethno-cultural, political, or regional) at the expense of others necessarily violates the rights of the those in other groups. I just described to you the Housing Bubble and ensuing economic crisis.
[It is sometimes observed that Austrian school luminary Ludwig von Mises, though libertarian in his conclusions, was very much a utilitarian/consequentialist, and when coming to conclusions about the moral worth of a policy, applied this to his scientific knowledge, rather than a deontological libertarianism apart from his scientific knowledge. This is somewhat true, taking into account semantics, but upon further study, when all is put into context, the label is somewhat of an oversimplification.]
Furthermore, your idea of regulation is arbitrary. Because there is a public policy and it is called a “regulation,” that automatically means it regulates? No. Often so called “regulations” create irregularities, and occasionally the blame for economic crises rests on their shoulders. The free market, on the other hand, is capable of regulating without the aid of government so-called experts. Markets can regulate themselves because each person only needs knowledge about a small portion of that which affects him, whereas central planners can not regulate markets because there are far fewer of them and by comparison the knowledge required is too vast for them to master, in a given point in time, let only keep tabs on throughout a large span of time. This is an overly simplistic way of looking at it, of course, but when one clearly can not even grasp this concept, up till now I hope, it is pointless to delve much further. Though I have attempted to do so here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
BARRY GERMANSKY: The Pauls refuse to believe that deregulation caused the Great Depression and the 2008 recession, despite vast quantities of evidence to the contrary.
HENRY MOORE: There is hardly any evidence (it is certainly not vast) that deregulation caused the Great Depression or the 2008 Recession, unless of course we see deregulation (which is often cleverly misused to refer to not only deregulation, but regulation, reform, and combinations of all the aforementioned) as a mitigating factor (e.g., rapid deregulation of a sector accustomed to regulation can indeed cause “problems,”; a separate issue entirely is the fact that these “problems,” though painful for some, are necessary to liquidate malinvestments and to shift misallocations, and that without these temporary wounds reopening, worse infections would fester).
In fact, it is more accurate to blame regulations. I use the term loosely (but nowhere near as loosely as some use the term “deregulation”) to refer to such things (during the 2008 Recession) as the Federal Reserve’s Dual Mandate of price stability and low unemployment, manipulation of interest and exchange and tax rates, price controls, implicit bailouts (this is the type of regulation most commonly ignored by progressive-types griping about the so-called “repeal” of the Glass-Steagall Act, which often bears the brunt of the blame for the 2008 Recession), the Community Reinvestment Act and related or similar laws, the financial actions of certain Government Sponsored Entities, and the exacerbation of the ensuing problems with things like explicit bailouts, stimulus, and Quantitative Easing.
BARRY GERMANSKY: Following the Great Depression, when FDR introduced strict, compartmentalized regulation of the marketplace, the United States enjoyed a forty-year period of virtually uninterrupted growth, transforming the country into a superpower.
HENRY MOORE: The growth was not the result of any regulations, it was the result of a reinvigorated post-world war private sector, which had been stifled by the Hoover and Roosevelt economic and foreign policies in the 1930s and early 1940s. Without these policies the boom would have been that much sooner and by the time in question that much bigger. This is part of the reason the US became a superpower (it already was prior to the Great Depression, but after World War Two, increasingly so), but just as significant was what occurred with World War Two. The United States was comparatively insulated from the world wars in terms of structural damage. So it recovered from them more readily than the other superpowers, those in Europe and Asia. The competition, even that from the other supposed superpower, the Soviet Union, simply did not compare.
BARRY GERMANSKY: Then, when Reagan took office in the 1980s, he was aided by Alan Greenspan and company to remove the historically-proven regulations.
HENRY MOORE: The regulations were not historically proven. They led to the end of Bretton Woods in 1971, and the regulations imposed because of that (which were diminished some by Carter, Reagan, and Volcker), including wage and price controls, and the slow unravelling of the currency, both of which were major factors in 1970s Stagflation.
A lot of the regulations that Reagan got rid of were not just FDR’s. Some of them were also Nixon’s. Paul Volcker (under Carter and Reagan) actually did more to deregulate than Greenspan (only briefly under Reagan, more closely associated with Bush Senior, Clinton, and Bush Junior) ever did. A lot of Reagan’s policies, including deficit spending were the opposite you make them out to be. Supply-side economics is not the same thing as free market economics. Any “economics” that puts too much (i.e., artificial) emphasis on either the supply side or the demand side (or on both as they are not mutually exclusive) is liable to create distortions. It is true that supply drives demand, but this does not mean supply should be propped up in any way by government. For the record, supply-side economics is subtle corporate welfare (as opposed to that which artificially prop up demand which is things like wage and price controls and welfare for the poor) and has been practiced by every administration and Congress going back for decades, including FDR, often in combination with more policies aimed at propping up demand.
Greenspan’s policies were far from free market reforms. For a former proponent of the gold standard and follower of Ayn Rand, he had comparatively little to show for it in his actual policies, often moving in the opposite direction.
BARRY GERMANSKY: This helped big businesses make more profits while sending the rest of America into the gutter. This culminated in the 2008 recession.
HENRY MOORE: So is it deregulation or profit that causes recessions? Which is it? Didn’t small businesses get profits too? And didn’t some wages go up in real terms? And weren’t the wages that didn’t go up start on that trend before Reagan and Greenspan? What is it about profit (or deregulation) that sends “the rest of America” to the gutter? Is it that some of these new profits are not in fact new, but simply the same profits but less of them stolen through taxation? In other words, is the reason that some of these Americans were no longer permitted to live off of someone else? If you want a policy to blame for making the middle class poor and the poor desperate, look at things like minimum wage laws, which take the bottom rungs off the employment ladder; unsustainable lines of production encouraged by an elastic currency and cheap credit; dependence on high priced foreign cartel energy sources because the Executive Office, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and public rent seeking special interests don’t want the United States to access her own abundant natural resources; and outsourcing caused by high tax rates, onerous regulations and managed trade. Those are your culprits.
BARRY GERMANSKY: The Pauls are able to ignore all of these historical events because they treat their personal ideology as more credible than primary evidence. This is a big no-no for any serious historian.
HENRY MOORE: You mention few, if any, actual historical events, and virtually no reliable evidence. Mostly personal ideology and vague platitudes. And hardly any context to accompany them. You are not a serious historian. Neither are most of the people you have been reading or listening to. You are all certifiable laughing stocks. You and your arguments have no credibility whatsoever.