A couple of economic notes and an environmental question.
On the econ side, unemployment. The Mercatus Center explains our current unemployment situation and why the “official number” is a feel-good fantasy:
In case you missed it, the real unemployment rate is in the 11% range. Also note that before the recession, we were at around 9%. We’re certainly doing better but why they continue to publish misleading numbers on the unemployment front is a mystery … oh, politics. Never mind.
It’s better to be lied to and feel good about it than to know the truth.
Also, as a followup, the $15 minimum wage in SF and Seattle continues to take victims. While neither has fully implemented the wage at present, its enough to push business owners into making decisions which are unlikely the intended consequence of the wage raise. We told you about Borderland Books in SF. Here’s an example from Seattle:
Cascade Designs, an outdoor recreational gear manufacturing company based in Seattle, announced it is moving 100 jobs (20% of the workforce) later this year to a new plant it is leasing near Reno, Nevada. The company has offered some employees positions in Reno, but others must reapply.
Founder John Burroughs and Vice Chair David Burroughs blamed Seattle’s new $15 minimum wage, indicating it “nudged them into action.” According to the owners, Seattle’s new minimum wage would “eventually add up to a few million dollars a year.”
Once established in Reno, you may see further moves. And:
The San Francisco Eater, a local publication following the city’s restaurant scene, predicts that the impact of the $15 minimum will likely lead many restaurants to close their doors this year. Abbot’s Cellar and Luna Park, popular locally owned restaurants, already made the decision to shut down. The owners both blamed the $15 minimum wage.
What’s $15 times zero?
Finally on the enviro front, where’s the outrage? From CATO:
Nicaragua’s plan to build an Interoceanic Canal that would rival the Panama Canal could be a major environmental disaster if it goes forward. That’s the assessment of Axel Meyer and Jorge Huete-Pérez, two scientists familiar with the project, in a recent article in Nature. Disturbingly, the authors point out,
“No economic or environmental feasibility studies have yet been revealed to the public. Nicaragua has not solicited its own environmental impact assessment and will rely instead on a study commissioned by the HKND [The Hong Kong-based company that has the concession to build the canal]. The company has no obligation to reveal the results to the Nicaraguan public.”
In recent weeks we have seen similar opinions aired in the Washington Post, Wired, The Economist, and other media. In their article, Meyer and Huete-Pérez explain how the $50-billion project (more than four times Nicaragua’s GDP), would require “The excavation of hundreds of kilometres from coast to coast, traversing Lake Nicaragua, the largest drinking-water reservoir in the region, [and] will destroy around 400,000 hectares of rainforests and wetlands.” So far, the Nicaraguan government has remained mum about the environmental impact of the project. Daniel Ortega, the country’s president, only said last year that “some trees have to be removed.”
Some trees?! Where are the enviros whackos on this?
Interestingly, despite this potential massive threat to one of the most pristine environmental reservoirs in the Americas, none of the leading international environmental organizations, such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth or the Sierra Club, has issued a single statement about the Nicaragua Canal.
We know for a fact that this is not out of lack of interest in Central America. After all, some of these organizations were pretty vocal in their opposition to CAFTA. Why isn’t the Nicaragua Canal proposal commanding the attention of these international environmental groups?
Why? Because as Insty points out, “commies get a pass” on this sort of thing.
Because, as we’ve been observing for a while, it has now become a tool by which the left finds itself the victim.
And they don’t like it.
By the way, Chait even defines it:
Political correctness is a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate. Two decades ago, the only communities where the left could exert such hegemonic control lay within academia, which gave it an influence on intellectual life far out of proportion to its numeric size. Today’s political correctness flourishes most consequentially on social media, where it enjoys a frisson of cool and vast new cultural reach. And since social media is also now the milieu that hosts most political debate, the new p.c. has attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old.
More “radical” my rear end. Unless Chait wants himself labeled a radical leftist he’s used it any number of times (and there are plenty of those who have commented on his article that point that out). It’s how the left works. It’s a product of the left’s identity politics. It is meant to kill debate by marginalizing the opponent and thus dismiss their argument. It focuses on the facile but effective use of sex, gender, race, etc.
So now we see it being turned on leftists. And they’re whining.
In a short period of time, the p.c. movement has assumed a towering presence in the psychic space of politically active people in general and the left in particular. “All over social media, there dwell armies of unpaid but widely read commentators, ready to launch hashtag campaigns and circulate Change.org petitions in response to the slightest of identity-politics missteps,” Rebecca Traister wrote recently in The New Republic.
Aye, and like political activists anywhere and on any side, this army of “unpaid but widely read commenters” won’t brook any deviation from the leftist cant. Plus its much easier to be an “extremist” when you don’t have to report to anyone or have your work edited. So they expect the Chait’s of the world to toe the ideological line or be #destroyed. Liberals like Chait used to have the entire field open to only them. They had the access and the means to publish and didn’t have to be worried about being judged inadequate by some lonely leftist in Santa Barbara.
That exclusivity is gone. They’re just another voice … not even much of an agenda setter anymore. It hurts the ego a little. And then, to see yourself a victim of your own favorite device – well time to whine a little. Because what has happened is the left is constantly isolating segments of itself into little identity communities. If a man can’t speak for a woman because they’ve never been a woman and don’t understand, what in the world are feminists doing trying to pretend they understand men? Etc:
I am white and male, a fact that is certainly worth bearing in mind. I was also a student at the University of Michigan during the Jacobsen incident, and was attacked for writing an article for the campus paper defending the exhibit. If you consider this background and demographic information the very essence of my point of view, then there’s not much point in reading any further. But this pointlessness is exactly the point: Political correctness makes debate irrelevant and frequently impossible.
Under p.c. culture, the same idea can be expressed identically by two people but received differently depending on the race and sex of the individuals doing the expressing. This has led to elaborate norms and terminology within certain communities on the left.
I love it. I really do. This is so pathetic.
Kevin Williams deals with it all with one line:
Chait is stumbling, in his way, toward the realization that in political arguments intelligent adults pay attention mainly to what is being said, while fatuous children pay attention mainly to who is saying it.
And that’s really all you need to know. Sorry lefties – no exemptions for you. You birthed it and now you get to live with it.
Say what you will of Bill Maher (I’m not a fan), his statement about Muslims seems to have some legs:
“In his comments on his HBO show, Maher noted that too many Muslims reject the very notion of free thought and free speech, that the problem is not just ‘a few bad apples.’”
See Europe after the Mohommed cartoons and just about anywhere else concerning a little known video that Muslims found to be sacrilegious (and the US government blamed for the deaths in Benghazi). Or any of a thousand examples.
It is also something many of us believe about the left, for the most part. And good old UC Berkley has decided to prove the point. And Bill Maher is the “problem”:
In response to an announcement last week that comedian Bill Maher would speak at UC Berkeley’s fall commencement, an online petition started circulating Thursday that demanded that the campus rescind its invitation.
The Change.org petition was authored by ASUC Senator Marium Navid, who is backed by the Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian Coalition, or MEMSA, and Khwaja Ahmed, an active MEMSA member. The petition, which urges students to boycott the decision and asks the campus to stop him from speaking, has already gathered more than 1,400 signatures as of Sunday.
Maher, a stand-up comedian and host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, is best known for his often-polarizing political commentary. Recently, Maher faced some backlash after controversial remarks regarding Islam during a segment on his Oct. 6 show.
Navid claims this isn’t about free speech, it’s a matter of “campus climate”:
“The First Amendment gives him the right to speak his mind, but it doesn’t give him the right to speak at such an elevated platform as the commencement. That’s a privilege his racist and bigoted remarks don’t give him.”
For the most part, I agree that freedom of speech doesn’t give one the “right” to speak anywhere – that, in fact, this is an invitation to speak at a “commencement”, and that’s a privilege the university extends. Okay, got it.
But that’s not what this is about … it’s about shutting Bill Maher and those like him up. It’s about letting a certain group outside the administration of the university decide who will be awarded the privilege to speak and who won’t. And in that case, it becomes a matter of free speech, doesn’t it?
Perhaps the most ironic development, though, was on MSNBC (of all places) when an advocate for free speech on campus crossed swords with a spokesman for CAIR:
In a heated debate on MSNBC with free speech advocate Greg Lukianoff, CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper defended UC Berkeley students’ efforts to uninvite comedian Bill Maher for his comments on Islam, comparing him to the Grand Dragon of the KKK.
LUKIANOFF: The fact that people so vehemently disagree with him is the more reason to hear him out. It’s an art that I feel is actually being lost on the campuses, where we should be teaching people is to at least hear people out before you to get them kicked off campus.
HOOPER: So if they invited the Grand Dragon of the KKK…
CAIR, of all organizations, comparing any other organization to the KKK … well, let’s leave it at “ironic” shall we?
The left’s the “useful idiot” in the attempt of organizations like CAIR to stifle any debate or criticism of Islam. And, Maher is the Grand Dragon?
Christopher Snowden writes an article that uses an example that is quite handy in defining the essence of the disease called “progressivism”. He acknowledges that “liberal” has be coopted by the left but still has enough historical cache to be useful to both sides of the philosophical divide. However, “progressive”, at least in the US, is uniquely the left’s.
Fast forward to a city soda tax under consideration in the “progressive bastion” of Berkley, CA where we find none other than little Robbie Reich (former Clinton Secretary of Labor) ensconced as Professor at UC Berkley and waxing enthusiastic about this proposed soda tax:
To see what the word progressive means today, consider the city of Berkeley, California. According to Robert Reich, a professor at UC Berkeley, it is‘the most progressive city in America’. It has also been described as a ‘liberal bastion’. How liberal is it? So liberal that it is illegal to smoke a cigarette in your own flat (sorry, ‘apartment’) and, at the city’s university, it is against the rules to chew tobacco or use e-cigarettes anywhere at all, including in the open air.
Berkeley is also seriously considering a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages – aka a ‘soda tax’. A public vote will settle the matter next month, and, in the view of Robert Reich, ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most progressive city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’.
Well, yes, that’s correct. But Reich’s claim is also a very useful tool for a little word substitution to show the insidiousness (and true intent) of “progressivism”:
Consider that statement for a moment. If you didn’t know what the word ‘progressive’ meant – and you knew nothing about Berkeley – what could you infer from the context? If the sentence was changed to ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most oppressive city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’, it would make sense. If words like ‘tax-hungry’, ‘anti-business’, ‘puritanical’ or ‘illiberal’ were substituted for ‘progressive’, it would still read correctly.
If, however, the sentence was changed to ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most tolerant city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’, it would be incongruous. Words like ‘permissive’, ‘libertarian’, ‘easygoing’ and ‘broad-minded’ would also be confusing substitutes for ‘progressive’ in this context, and yet these are all adjectives that appear in the thesaurus under the word ‘liberal’. From this we might conclude either that soda taxes are not terribly liberal or that progressives are not terribly liberal. Or both.
At this point I’m chuckling because Snowden has made a very good point. Reich is all but giddy about oppression and feels it is “progressive” to champion it. Because, you know, the elite know best and hopefully have hammered those who should appreciate them and their ideas enough to vote “yes” and tax themselves.
Then there’s this:
In economics, unlike politics, the word ‘progressive’ has a fixed meaning. A progressive tax is one that takes a larger share of income from the rich than from the poor. The alternative is a regressive tax, one that takes a larger share of income from the poor than from the rich. Taxes on fizzy drinks are highly and indisputably regressive, not only because the rate of tax is the same for all income groups, but also because the poor tend to consume more of them in the first place. So while it is true that Berkeley is a bellwether city when it comes to eye-catching ‘public health’ initiatives, the adoption of punitive taxes on soft drinks would be a step towards it becoming America’s most regressive, not progressive, city in economic terms.
Oh my. Snowden then asks the question of the day:
This is what confuses us, America. If a ‘liberal bastion’ – your ‘most progressive city’ – is one in which the government effectively fines people for drinking the wrong type of soft drink, what on earth are your illiberal bastions like?
Berkley (and New York and … ).
Glad you ask.
I’m not sure how else to describe actions like this. Here’s the lede from an article about George Will being uninvited from an appearance at Scripps College:
A prominent conservative political pundit was uninvited from speaking at Scripps College, in a program designed to promote conservative views on campus, because of his conservative views.
Got that? Yes, it is terribly written, but still, you have to almost laugh at the irony. Because of his conservative views, he was uninvited from a speaking engagement that was supposed to promote conservative views.
You simply can’t make up half the stuff the left does. Apparently the trigger was a column Will wrote about campus “rape”. I put rape in scare quotes because many schools now have such a broad definition of rape that you may be at risk by simply saying “hello” to a woman who doesn’t particularly care for you. Like “racism”, rape is being radically redefined on campus and Will had the temerity to address that.
Apparently, those at the college disagree with much of what Will said in the column. And so, totally untrue to their supposed academic claims, they’ve cancelled Will:
The Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program was established under the belief that “a range of opinions about the world – especially opinions with which we may not agree, or think we do not agree – leads to a better educational experience,” according to the Scripps College website.
That’s certainly one way to discourage “opinions with which they may not agree”, but the cancellation certainly doesn’t lead “to a better educational experience” does it? In fact it should make it clear that opinions they don’t agree with are not at all welcome at the campus. Instead of taking the opportunity to challenge Will on their own home ground, they ban him. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me then, to find out that the college also bans certain books that don’t conform to their orthodoxy. I mean, why not?
If I were considering going there, that would be a huge warning sign that I would be sure to heed.
Unless, of course, you’ve a desire for indoctrination. Then Scripps may be the place for you.
All my life, racism has been defined as you see it below. It is a “belief” that your race is superior to other races based on nothing other than racial characteristics, such as skin color.
racism [ ˈrāˌsizəm ]
1. the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
2. prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
Racism, then is displaying the “prejudice, discrimination or antagonism” to others of different races based on that “belief”. Makes sense. Simple. Direct to the point. Racists think they’re superior to other races because of the color of their skin.
However, as such, the definition is unacceptable to the left. For the left it fails in two particular areas. It means that, based on this definition, anyone can be a racist which means, then, it doesn’t allow them to identify and cultivate a victim class (or in this case, race) while excusing what they perceive as an oppressive race. Useless. The solution? Move the goal posts. Redefine the word so it has a more culturally useful meaning for the left. Too many people were pointing out that the definition was something that correctly identified all races as susceptible to racism. No good.
Enter academia. What better place to make this happen than by pitching an ideologically biased new definition to those impressionable students who walked their hallowed halls? Here, for instance, is how the University of Delaware defines racism:
A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality.
Now the left has a useful definition. Now the oppressors are clearly identified as is the victim class. This allows them to “capture” the victim classes into their entitlement schemes. And, of course, when you load in the race baiters such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, a virtual cottage industry is created in which the discontent this sort of nonsense inspires is kept hot and fresh. With this definition, all whites are racists, have been forever and will be forever if the left has anything to do with it. This definition conveniently removes the expiration date from the definition and gives it a forever fresh date. With the first definition, it is obvious that it depended on a “belief” – a belief which could be changed. However with the second definition, that belief is relegated to irrelevancy and now, per the left, racism is only based on the color of one’s skin.
Ironic, isn’t it?
If you know anything about hockey, you’re aware that for the spectators it’s a testosterone filled affair that satisfies our base urges for battle. Much like football. What better to accompany a manly-men game than pretty girls in skimpy outfits? So, sometime in the early 2000’s, NHL teams starting employing Ice Girls to skate around the rink during TV timeouts, etc, in order to clear the playing surface of built up snow. Predictably, it was a big hit. At least, until Mother Jones decided to stick its buzz-killing nose into things: “The Freezing, Hungry Lives of NHL “Ice Girls“:
I co-wrote an article last month about the working conditions of NFL cheerleaders: Five cheer squads had recently sued their football teams alleging sub-minimum-wage pay and mandatory “jiggle tests,” among other indignities. Not long after the story ran, I received an email from a woman who had worked as one of the Philadelphia Flyers’ “ice girls.” “Speaking from personal experience,” she wrote, “ice girls are treated very similarly.”
When a player walks in, it’s time to go: Both the Kings and the Flyers, like a number of other NHL teams, have adopted policies that strongly discourage relationships between ice girls and hockey players: There was to be no fraternization of any kind, the women told me. To prevent rumors from starting, the ice girls were instructed to make sure they weren’t in the same place as the players outside of work. But the burden of responsibility was placed on the women: If a Kings ice girl was at a restaurant or bar and a player walked in, she was expected to get up and leave, even in the middle of a meal.
Short shorts in frigid weather: Some teams, including the Flyers, have co-ed ice crews, but the men aren’t wearing booty-shorts and crop tops. And while most games are held indoors, teams and their cheer squads sometimes participate in outdoor games and events. In early 2012, the Flyers took part in a three-day outdoor festival and game called the Winter Classic. “It was 20 degrees and we were in shorts, with two pairs of stockings,” a former ice girl told me. Depending on the day, they spent six to nine hours outdoors: “It really felt like we were in some kind of torture camp.” Said another: “I’ve never been so cold in my life.”
Blah, blah, blah. There’s more, but you get the picture.
For the most part, political correctness nonsense results in silly annoyances. In this case, however, it cost a bunch of women their jobs. That’s right, in the aftermath of this article, the Flyers decided to get rid of the Ice Girls … and only the Ice Girls. If you know anything about Philly fans, you know that didn’t go over well:
Flyers fans booed the guys on the ice Monday night … because they weren’t women.
We’re not talking hockey. We’re talking the crew scraping the ice during breaks in the action.
Apparently, the team and other NHL clubs succumbed to complaints about sexism and working conditions, including duties like manning doors in frigid temperatures. A June article in Mother Jones article may have played a key role.
Actually, by Philly standards, the reaction was pretty positive.
But the really strange thing here is that, while some of these women had complaints (and, seriously, how unusual is that?), for the most part, they loved the job. But because of the disdain invited by the MJ article, they now have none. But the guys all kept theirs. It’s almost like another confirmed kill in the left’s War on Women (I say almost because, as far as I know, Ted Kennedy still has the only confirmed kill (h/t: Dave Burge)).
I suppose the Flyers organization could have just dressed the girls up in warmer, less skimpy clothing (that’s basically how they are in Carolina and DC, for example), but that wouldn’t address all of the complaints. The team would have to give the girls (but apparently not the guys) raises, and alter team rules re fraternization, among other things. But what would be the unintended consequences of that? I guess they just figured it wasn’t worth the hassle because, it probably isn’t.
It really is comical, though, how the left can so consistently promote policies and behaviors that hurt the very people they purport to protect. It’s as if they are completely incapable of learning from, well, anything. They simply try to wish a world into existence and then are completely flummoxed when things don’t turn out the way they planned.
Oh well, at least these poor girls won’t be so exploited anymore working in a position that they had to beat out 100’s of other girls just to get. Way to go, lefties!
An interesting article I think you’ll want to read. At least I found it interesting. It discusses the foundations of Islam and why, essentially, it is really not a “religion of peace”. In fact, as the author argues, as much as the West would like the name of the religion, Islam, to mean “peace”, in fact it means “submit”. We’ve talked here before about the need of a reformation in Islam to reorient it away from violent jihad and to a religion that actually preaches and practices “peace”. The outlook isn’t very promising. Here’s one reason:
The Qur’an contains many peaceful and tolerant verses, and these could well be used to create a genuine reformation — something several genuine reformers have tried to do. But there is a catch. All these moderate verses were written in the early phase of Muhammad’s career, when he lived in Mecca and had apparently decided to allure people. When he moved to Medina in 622, everything changed. He was soon a religious, political and military leader. During the next ten years, as his religious overtures were sometimes not welcomed, the peaceful verses gave way to the jihad verses and the intolerant diatribes against Jews, Christians and pagans. Almost all books of tafsir take for granted that the later verses abrogate the early ones. This means that the verses preaching love for all are no longer applicable, except with regard to one’s fellow Muslims. The verses that teach jihad, submission and related doctrines still form the basis for the approach of many Muslims to non-believers.
One problem is that no one can change the Qur’an in any way. If the book contains the direct word of God, then the removal of even a tiny diacritical mark or a dot above or beneath a letter would be blasphemy of the most extreme kind. Any change would suggest that the text on earth did not match the tablet in heaven — the “Mother of the Book,” much as Mary is the Mother of Christ — that is the eternal original of the Qur’an. If one dot could be moved, perhaps others could be moved, and before long words could be substituted for other words. The Qur’an itself condemns Jews and Christians for having tampered with their own holy books, so that neither the Torah nor the Gospels may be regarded as the word of God. The Qur’an traps us by its sheer unchangeability.
And, as he points out, the most “modern” interpretation does anything but put Islam in a “moderate” context:
Regrettably it is impossible to re-interpret the Qur’an in a “moderate” manner. The most famous modern tafsir, or interpretation, of the holy book is a multi-volume work entitled, In the Shade of the Qur’an. It was written by Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966), the Muslim Brotherhood ideologue often regarded as the father of modern radicalism. His interpretation leads the reader again and again into political territory, where jihad is at the root of action.
So that seems to be where we stand. Here, however, is the problem that confronts the West:
The besetting sin of modern Western politicians, church leaders, and multiculturalists is their ready acceptance of ignorance and their promotion of their own ignorance to the rank of expertise. Islam is one of the most important topics in human history, but how many schoolchildren are given details such as the ones mentioned above in their history classes? How many textbooks paint an honest picture of how Islam began and how it continued as a background to how it continues today?
Furthermore, how many real experts are denied contact with government and politicians so that lies are not made the basis for governmental decisions in the West? How many times will truth be sacrificed to fable while Muslim extremists bomb and shoot and behead their way to power?
These facts do not come from modern Western accounts; they are there in the founding texts of Islam, in the histories of al-Waqidi and al-Tabari. No-one is making any of this up. Muslims who avoid their own history should be brought face to face with it in all future discussions.
But, of course, that isn’t what is happening is it? We’re told over and over again that Islam is a religion of “peace” by those in the West who would rather believe that than confront the awful fact that its own founding documents portray anything but a peaceful religion — not to mention its history. For instance, were you aware that it is estimated that “between sixty and eighty million Hindus may have been put to death during the centuries of invasions by Muslim armies from 1000 to 1525.” That’s Stalin and Mao territory.
If you can’t or won’t deal truthfully with the problem, how can you ever expect to confront it successfully? When you remain in denial and you let the practitioners of the religion also deny the truth, how does one “reform” anything? And what does the continuous denial portend for the West in the not to distant future?
It is in that benighted land that irony, reason and hypocrisy are unknown concepts:
In California, Ventura High School Principal Val Wyatt barred the football booster club from selling meals donated by Chick-fil-A at back-to-school night to raise money. Wyatt cited company President Dan Cathy’s opposition to gay marriage as the reason for the ban. Superintendent Trudy Tuttle Arriaga backed up Wyatt. “We value inclusivity and diversity on our campus and all of our events and activities are going to adhere to our mission,” she said.
What could be more “inclusive” than allowing opinion that doesn’t agree with you to “coexist” without forcing everyone to suffer your biases because you have the power? I mean if you’re really, honestly and truly interested in “inclusiveness”. Oh, and what happened to tolerance, Arriaga and Wyatt? What could be more diverse than a community that welcomes all opinions as long as they don’t advocate violence or other forms of coercion? Is there something wrong with having a differing opinion about a subject based on principles that may be different than yours but are certainly shared by much of the mainstream (such as students at this school)? Apparently. Conformity with the opinion in power is the rule there it seems. The irony? This sort of action is blatantly exclusive and it makes a laughing stock of the word “diversity”. It says diverse opinion certainly isn’t welcome if it doesn’t conform with the people in power’s opinion.
Mouthing of platitudes doesn’t change that. Their “mission” has nothing to do with “inclusivity and diversity”. It has to do with ideology. A particular ideology. One that abuses the english language daily as well as our freedoms.
How do you argue a point with a side which hasn’t a clue how the real world works or what a logical “non-sequitur” is?
I think we all know which side that is.
Here’s the premise put forth by an article in The New Republic:
“Libertarians Who Oppose a Militarized Police Should Support Gun Control”
Here’s a sketch of the argument:
There is indeed agreement between many liberals and libertarians that the militarization of the police, especially in its dealings with racial minorities, has gone too far. But this consensus may crumble pretty quickly when it’s confronted with the obvious police counter-argument: that the authorities’ heavy firepower and armor is necessary in light of all the firepower they’re up against. At that point, many liberals will revert to arguing for sensible gun control regulations like broader background checks to keep guns out of the hands of violent felons and the mentally ill (the measure that police organizations successfully argued should be the gun control movement’s legislative priority following the Newtown, Connecticut shootings) or limits on assault weapons and oversized ammunition clips. And liberals will be reminded that the libertarians who agree with them in opposing police militarization are very much also opposed to the gun regulations that might help make the environment faced by police slightly less threatening.
But it doesn’t “crumble” at all. You have to buy into the premise that it is a more lethally dangerous out there for police than it appears to be. But it isn’t:
The number of law-enforcement officers killed by firearms in 2013 fell to levels not seen since the days of the Wild West, according to a report released Monday.
The annual report from the nonprofit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund also found that deaths in the line of duty generally fell by 8 percent and were the fewest since 1959.
According to the report, 111 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty nationwide this past year, compared to 121 in 2012.
Forty-six officers were killed in traffic related accidents, and 33 were killed by firearms.
The number of firearms deaths fell 33 percent in 2013 and was the lowest since 1887.
And the drop is credited to bullet proof vests, not SWAT Teams and MRAPS. Pretending that the threat is any higher now than it always has been seems obviously wrong, given the facts. Certainly there are toxic cultures within our society who believe that violence is the answer to whatever they encounter as a problem. And yes, police have to face that potential threat all the time. Do I think police should be armed adequately? Yes, but that doesn’t at all begin to cover what we see among today’s police forces in terms of both equipment and tactics. In fact, I believe it is all of these “wars” on everything from drugs to terrorists which have had a hand in helping to militarize the police.
That said, agree or disagree with that point, gun control is essentially not only been shown to be ineffective but is a non-sequitur in this “argument”. See Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC for proof the ineffectiveness of the ban. But you have to ask, who in this day and age but a clueless journalist would even begin to believe that “broader background checks” are going to keep guns out of the hands of “violent felons?” Have they in the past (their answer is they just haven’t be stringent enough)? Honestly, do they really believe a felon is going to waltz into a gun store to buy what he wants knowing full well he’ll have a background check run? Really?
Have these rubes never heard of a black market (they can buy guns from Mexican cartels, thoughtfully provided by the DoJ)? Do they not realize that any “violent felon” who wants a gun isn’t going to even try to get one legally? So, knowing that, why in the world would any libertarian grant the absurd premise knowing full well that doing so only limits the freedom of the law abiding citizenry? It’s absurd on its face. And, logically, it is a non-sequitur to any libertarian (again, libertarianism isn’t about shrinking rights and freedoms for heaven sake). How does making it more inconvenient for citizens who aren’t “violent felons” to buy a gun for self-protection going to stop a felon from obtaining his gun illegally? It isn’t.
Because, of course, that’s not what they really want (i.e. incremental change via “broader background checks”). They want a total ban on guns, for government and felons to be the only people with guns and to essentially outlaw then outright. Obviously they are oblivious to the danger of only government having guns and they certainly don’t seem to be able to wrap their heads around the fact that felons aren’t going to pay any attention to the law. Nor will the black market in illegal guns. So why, again, should anyone grant this argument credence?
I swear, you just wonder at times what goes on between their ears all day, because it certainly has nothing to do with the real world or reason.