Freedom and Liberty
From The Hill, this paragraph concerning the brothers who perpetrated the Boston bombings:
The news that the suspects were not authorized to own firearms will likely add fuel to calls for tougher gun laws – an issue that was put on the back-burner last week after the Senate blocked the central elements of a gun-control package backed by President Obama.
A) I told you so … I said a few days ago that the defeat of the latest gun control legislation was only a set back and hardly the end of the left’s efforts to further restrict the right to own a firearm. B) I also told you I feared the aftermath of the bombings. And here we go. And finally C) WTF?
It is clear that Massachusetts’ very strict gun control laws has no effect here. None. Absolutely zero. How many times and in how many ways must we say that scofflaws don’t obey laws? How often does the “we ought to pass a law” crowd who think legislation and restriction is the answer to everything have to see that their way is a failure before they quit trying to take our freedoms away?
Gun control laws don’t work. If they did, there’d be no criminals running around with “illegal” guns, would there? There’d be no source of those guns if those laws worked. But, in fact, criminals almost exclusively obtain “illegal” guns and/or completely ignore any gun control legislation. Look at Chicago for heaven sake. Some of the most restrictive gun control laws in America and criminals have all but made it a free-fire zone.
When will the left understand that the problem isn’t guns, it’s criminals? How often does it have to be pointed out to them that criminals, by definition, don’t obey laws? How will more legislation suddenly stop (or even deter) two determined people, like the Boston bombers, from illegally obtaining guns? Harsher penalties? Obviously they were willing to take the risk. And that seems to be the case with all the other criminals who use guns in the commission of their crimes.
The only people that will be deterred and restricted by new gun control legislation are the law abiding. And watch out for this – at the end of this road (or slippery slope if you prefer) is the rationalization that the only way to “control gun violence” is to completely outlaw guns. It is the logical end of the left’s push for more and more restrictive gun legislation. And, as they often do, they’re willing to spend the time, exploit and politicize tragedies and achieve incremental success in taking guns away. It’s no different than ObamaCare. That’s not the end of anything. It is the first grab. The end state, if you are a student of the left’s actions at all, is fully government run single-payer health care. ObamaCare is just the beginning. Once it fails, because government has, whether on purpose or inadvertently designed it to fail, government will blame “the market” and claim it is the solution.
It’s an old pattern being repeated, in a slightly different way, in the gun control saga. One only has to harken to the era of prohibition (or not even that far back … how about drug laws?) to know that restrictive legislation doesn’t work, has never worked and will never work.
Violence and criminal behavior are the problems. Passing all the laws in the world won’t change that. As usual, government chooses to treat the symptoms and go after a tool rather than the actual problem.
If and when they finally find a way to ban all guns, run gun manufacturers out of the country and put more untold thousands of citizens in jail, they’ll be shocked, shocked I tell you, when gun violence continues and violence in general rises.
See the UK and Australia for case studies.
Apparently Barack Obama threw a bit of a hissy fit when the gun control legislation went down in the Senate. And, as James Taranto points out, Gabby Giffords managed, in a 900 word screed, to employ about every logical fallacy one can employ in here denunciation of the failure of the legislation to pass.
Finally, the NY Time’s Jennifer Steinhauer weighs in claiming that the vote went against the will of the people and that it was the gun lobby’s fault.
Gun lobby? Oh, we all know about the NRA. However here’s something I don’t think the left fully comprehends. The real “gun lobby” is the majority of the American people. In the US, there are 88.8 guns per 100 people. The highest in the world. Yet all the rhetoric about increased gun violence simply doesn’t pan out. Certainly there have been some high profile sprees and shootings, but on the whole, there hasn’t been an increase in gun violence, and certainly nothing like being claimed.
The left’s problem may be that the people of the US know that. And they’ve also sniffed out the ulterior motive for this incremental attack on the 2nd Amendment.
So while they throw their hissy fits and put forward their fallacious arguments, they continue to miss why there is so much resistance to gun control legislation.
Because, quite frankly, a large portion of the people simply don’t trust government. And you can add to that a fundamental understanding that self-defense is a personal responsibility and right.
The left just can’t wrap it’s head around that concept. If they pass laws and give the responsibility to government then we’ll all be safer, right?
Sarcasm aside, don’t even begin to think this is the end of the struggle.
They’ll be back again soon.
Just hide and watch.
Obviously my heart and condolences go out to those who were killed and injured in the cowardly bombings in Boston yesterday, and, as with everyone, I stand with the people of Boston. However, that all said, I have to tell you that when I heard what had happened yesterday, I had a sinking feeling that hasn’t dissipated yet.
I know, as usual, we’re going to over react. Well, perhaps not “us” as in you and I, but our betters in positions of elective power will. It is as sure a bet as the sun rising in the east.
Prepare yourself for more restrictions on you liberty and freedom. That’s a given. The only answer government has, in reality, is to clamp down even further on our ability to interact freely without it monitoring those interactions. How else, it will tell us, can it work toward ensuring another Boston doesn’t happen?
And, of course, this will manifest itself in the form of even more laws and restrictions all in the name of safety and security. Prepare for more justifications to intrude on your privacy. More laws that will restrict you from purchasing certain items. More scrutiny when you travel. In sum, less freedom and more government.
I’d love to believe that won’t happen. But it will. It’s not even in doubt. Just as we have seen government over-reaction in the aftermath of Newtown, CT, you can count on the same thing happening when the carnage is so much more.
Part of that will be driven by the usual media overload, the result of the 24 hour news cycle combined with “if it bleeds it leads” and the partisan talking heads who simply don’t know when to shut up. Chris Matthews, among many others, is an example of that ilk. And, of course, it will all boil down to opposing political agendas with the freedom and liberty lobby taking the usual beating.
We’ll also see a substantial portion of the population laud these new restrictions and laws, still not understanding who it is that pays no attention to (or figures out ways to circumvent) them. Instead the law abiding will live with the loss of liberty, while the terrorists and criminals will ignore the government’s “solution”.
We’re a nation without the ability to put events like this in context (thanks in part to the saturation coverage by the media and the alarmism by politicians). We’re a nation that has run scared for years.
It’s time to suck it up and stand up. These things are going to happen. None of us like that or find it acceptable. But what should be equally unacceptable and unliked is the continuous bleeding away of our liberties.
Free nations should understand that with that freedom comes risk. And, as we have seen, no matter how many laws and restrictions we put in place, these things still happen. I’m not saying we should be vigilant and take precautions. I’m saying we shouldn’t over-react like we constantly do.
Boston is a terrible tragedy. We don’t need to compound it by taking away more of the freedoms we have apparently taken for granted in the past.
Because, you know, we’re in a (perpetual) recovery and stuff like this isn’t supposed to happen:
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits hit a four-month high last week, the latest suggestion the labor market recovery lost some momentum in March.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 28,000 to a seasonally adjusted 385,000, the highest level since November, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Economists, who had expected claims to drop to 350,000, said while part of the rise reflected difficulties adjusting the data during the Easter and spring breaks, there was no doubt the pace of job growth had eased.
“What we do know is that the growth momentum has slowed, employment has slowed. The question is how much?” said Millan Mulraine, a senior economist at TD Securities in New York.
How much? Well let’s consider something shall we? What has recently and finally gone into full effect to the point that employers can now finally make some plans with reference to it as to how many they plan to employ (or continue to employ)?
Oh, yeah, ObamaCare. The taxes and penalties kick in this year and – not saying this is the only reason – companies and corporations are finally put in the position of executing their plan to avoid the prohibitive costs and penalties imposed.
That’s right – “avoid”. Again, as is usually the case, the left has ignored Human Nature 101 as they usually do. You have to remember, the purpose of their utopia is to change human nature once and for all from a self-interested and independent being to a hive worker enslaved to the state, er, an enlightened being who thinks of others first … yeah, that’s the ticket.
And when their utopian plans meet human nature, well they call the result “unintended consequences”. We who study human nature call them “entirely predictable outcomes”. They seem surprised by these “unexpected” developments. We simply shake our head at their studied stupidity.
The problem, of course, is they presently have the power of the state in their hands. What that means is they will continue to try to drive the square peg of their utopia into the round hole of human nature and use the power of government to do so.
What that means is at some point, when they’re finally out of power, we’re going to have to pick up their pieces of what they’ve destroyed and try to piece it together in some form or fashion, if that’s possible.
And all the while that’s being attempted, we’ll have to listen to them whining and complaining that what is being done isn’t “fair” or “equitable”.
Well, what you’re suffering now is a result of “fair and equitable” nonsense that ignored Human Nature 101. Maybe it’s time to figure that out if you’re on the left.
Oh yeah, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
Today’s example, via the usual suspects, just boggles the mind:
The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place.
President Obama’s economic advisers and outside experts say the nation’s much-celebrated housing rebound is leaving too many people behind, including young people looking to buy their first homes and individuals with credit records weakened by the recession.
In response, administration officials say they are working to get banks to lend to a wider range of borrowers by taking advantage of taxpayer-backed programs — including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration — that insure home loans against default.
This is just, frankly, incredible in its stupidity. We’ve been here, done this and suffered the consequences in terms of a financial meltdown and an economy that seems to be in permanent “recession”. We’d have the T-shirt too, but they took it off our backs.
Consider the administration’s solution to the perception that we’re “leaving too many people behind: Let’s do again what was a major contributor to the last melt down. No prob. They’ll just blame the banks and the “market”. The result: more people “left behind”.
I mean, it hasn’t even been a decade yet. We’re not even doing this with a new administration. These are, for the most part, the same people who crashed it last time.
Why is it that “leaving too many people behind” is the priority, when in the past those who were supposedly left behind, found some way in the future to catch up? Why is it government’s job to “insure” risky loans because of that feel-good claptrap?
Because we’re freakin nuts, that’s why. We’re bound and determined to ruin this country based on an ideology that plays to “feelings” and “emotions” rather than good common sense, the laws of economics and freedom and libery. That’s why.
This is tar and feathers worthy, yet we’ll sit around like lumps while a majority claims it’s a “good idea” because it is “only fair”.
“Fair”. The word that will – is – ruining this country.
I know that’ll come as an absolute stunner, huh? Not really. Regulation costs money. It costs money for compliance enforcement, which comes from taxes, and it costs companies money for compliance in the form of higher costs – costs that are passed on to consumers.
So? So – from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, find out:
Low-income households benefit the most when they act to reduce their exposure to the greatest risks they face, such as relatively common events and activities that cause illness, injury, and death, many of which can be traced to living in unsafe neighborhoods. In contrast, high-income households generally focus more on small risks—for example, tiny environmental risks that are far less likely to occur and generally affect fewer people at the expo- sure levels regulations address.
LOWER INCOME HOUSEHOLDS BEAR MORE OF THE COSTS OF REGULATION
Regulation focused on small risks delivers benefits to a limited group but spreads the costs across everyone. As a result, regulation effectively transfers money from low income households, who need to prevent larger risks, to high income households, who are concerned about small risks. Low income households are, in a sense, paying for the lifestyle preferences of the wealthy.
Such regulation increases consumer prices and lowers worker wages.
• Regulations act like a regressive sales tax, with middle and lower income households bearing much of the cost of rules that focus on the risk preferences of wealthier households, since they all pay the same, higher prices.
• Cost of regulation as a share of income is estimated to be as much as six to eight times higher for low-income households than for high-income households.
• [Diana] Thomas estimates that households can mitigate the same level of mortality risks privately for about one fifth of the cost of public risk-reduction strategies.
Well, imagine that, the laws of economics at work in a very predictable way. And, of course, completely opposite of the professed claim of the left to be on the side of the poor. Because it is that very group that continually push more and more regulation because, one assumes, they believe if some regulation is good, more has to be better. But, as a group, being mostly economically illiterate combined with unaccountable faith in government power, they end up with these sorts of ‘unintended consequences’ all of the time.
Following up yesterday’s post, this is really the sort of country I long for as articulated by Troy Senik. In fact, I long for it:
I want a “leave me alone” society — one where Christian schools can turn people away for rejecting their doctrine, just as gay rights groups can reject those who don’t share their beliefs. I don’t want us all to get along — not because I’m misanthropic (well, not just because I’m misanthropic), but because I know that “consensus” is usually a fancy word for muting minority viewpoints. I want us all to be free to be annoyed with each other from our separate corners. Is that too much to ask?
Apparently. Ask Sarah Conely (I still can’t get over the title of her book and the implication it carries which, if she even realizes it, should chill her to the bone). Ask Mayor Bloomberg. Ask most of the left and a good portion of the right.
How did we ever wander away from that direction and end up on the one where a major news organ, the NYT, even gives a forum to crypto-fascists like Conely? What a horrifying person she is. Imagine someone as cavalier about your rights actually in a position of power. Imagine the possibilities. Oh, that’s right, we don’t have too, do we. We have history to provide the examples. Tons of them.
And yet here is this supposed “learned” academic parroting the same authoritarian themes in a soothing voice designed to lull you into feeling good about giving everything away to the authoritarians (or at least enough so that at some point they can just take the rest).
I want what Senik wants. I don’t have a problem with most discrimination. Yeah, I know – that’s heresy isn’t it? Look, if someone wants to discriminate let them – and let them pay the “stupid tax” for doing so. But here’s the point – you should be free to do that. You should have the right to be stupid and to do stupid things (with the usual caveat that it’s only okay as long as your stupid acts don’t harm others or violate their rights). You should have the right to fail, get fat, smoke, drink, and be an ignorant slob without the do gooders deciding they have to save you from yourself and the only way to do that is to take your freedom away. Or to tell you how to act, talk, or interact with penalties for not being politically correct.
Why is it that the Sarah Conely’s of the world are published in the NYT and the ideas of the Troy Senik’s of the world have to settle for blogs? When did Senik’s idea, which was once very main stream in this country, become extremist while what was once not only extremist, an anathema to America, but thoroughly discredited throughout history somehow gain respectability again?
When you boil it all down, it is that dilemma which amply describes why we’re in the awful shape we’re in and why we see our freedoms under constant assault and slowly being taken away.
I’m just wondering when the tipping point occurred.
That’s essentially what Sarah Conely does in a NY Times op-ed. Oh, she cloaks it benignly enough -”it’s just soda” – as he supports the Bloomberg ban on large volume soda sales. But in essence what she claims is “government knows best” and “giving up a little liberty isn’t so bad if it benefits the majority”.
You see, liberty, in her world, is much less important that security or safety. And we, as knuckle dragging neanderthals, don’t always know what is best for us or how to accomplish our goals without the hand of government to guide us (how we ever managed to make it to the 21st century without that guiding hand is still a mystery in Conely’s circle). Sure some can do it, but most can’t and so laws should be designed to protect and guide (coercively of course) those who can’t (or are believed to be unable).
A lot of times we have a good idea of where we want to go, but a really terrible idea of how to get there. It’s well established by now that we often don’t think very clearly when it comes to choosing the best means to attain our ends. We make errors. This has been the object of an enormous amount of study over the past few decades, and what has been discovered is that we are all prone to identifiable and predictable miscalculations.
Research by psychologists and behavioral economists, including the Nobel Prize-winner Daniel Kahneman and his research partner Amos Tversky, identified a number of areas in which we fairly dependably fail. They call such a tendency a “cognitive bias,” and there are many of them — a lot of ways in which our own minds trip us up.
For example, we suffer from an optimism bias, that is we tend to think that however likely a bad thing is to happen to most people in our situation, it’s less likely to happen to us — not for any particular reason, but because we’re irrationally optimistic. Because of our “present bias,” when we need to take a small, easy step to bring about some future good, we fail to do it, not because we’ve decided it’s a bad idea, but because we procrastinate.
We also suffer from a status quo bias, which makes us value what we’ve already got over the alternatives, just because we’ve already got it — which might, of course, make us react badly to new laws, even when they are really an improvement over what we’ve got. And there are more.
The crucial point is that in some situations it’s just difficult for us to take in the relevant information and choose accordingly. It’s not quite the simple ignorance [John Stuart] Mill was talking about, but it turns out that our minds are more complicated than Mill imagined. Like the guy about to step through the hole in the bridge, we need help.
So, now that we have these Nobel Prize winning psychologists and behavioral economists on the record saying we’re basically inept shouldn’t it be clear to you, as Conely concludes, that “we need help”?
That sort of “help” used to come from family, friends and community. We somehow managed, for around 200 years, to grow and succeed splendidly without government intruding and trying to control our lives.
The basic premise of her piece is much the same as Bloomberg’s more direct assault:
The freedom to buy a really large soda, all in one cup, is something we stand to lose here. For most people, given their desire for health, that results in a net gain. For some people, yes, it’s an absolute loss. It’s just not much of a loss.
Or to quote a more succinct Bloomy: “I do think there are certain times we should infringe on your freedom.”
Notice the arbitrariness of the “I do think”. His choice, not yours. Bloomberg picked sodas. What else could he or those like him arbitrarily pick next time? Think government health care for example and your mind explodes with where they could go.
And notice Conely’s dismissal of the loss of freedom as “not much” of a loss. Incrementalism at its finest. Pure rationalization of the use the coercive power of the state to do what they think is best for you, because, as her academic colleagues have stressed, “we need help.” And our betters are always there to “help” us, aren’t they?
Funny too how the solution is always the same, isn’t it?
And their desire to intrude? Well its wrapped up in their concept of government’s role in our lives:
In the old days we used to blame people for acting imprudently, and say that since their bad choices were their own fault, they deserved to suffer the consequences. Now we see that these errors aren’t a function of bad character, but of our shared cognitive inheritance. The proper reaction is not blame, but an impulse to help one another.
That’s what the government is supposed to do, help us get where we want to go.
No. It’s not. That isn’t at all the function of government as laid out in the Constitution. Not even close. It has always been our job to “get where we want to go”. Government’s job was to provide certain functions to ensure an equality of opportunity (like a fair legal system, stable monetary system, etc), but on the whole we were free to pursue our lives without its interference as long as we stayed within the legal framework and did no harm to others or attempted to defraud them.
Conely’s last sentence is the mask that fronts and justifies/rationalizes every authoritarian regime that has ever existed. If you don’t believe that, I invite you to look at the title of her last book. “Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism.”
Kind of says it all, doesn’t it?
At least in terms of your freedoms?
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Sunday: Sometimes government does know best. And in those cases, Americans should just cede their rights.
“I do think there are certain times we should infringe on your freedom,” Mr. Bloomberg said, during an appearance on NBC.
Well, he may not be THE most dangerous, but he’s right up there with them. He’s just more blunt and obvious about it than most of the others.
I’m sorry folks, but this is an attitude that has pervaded our politics for quite some time and it is unacceptable. Totally unacceptable and should be stomped on like you would stomp a cockroach.
Government rarely “knows best” and has a dismal track record in that area. More importantly, this was a country founded on the principle of individual freedom (liberty) and heavy restraints on government power. As someone said, the Constitution doesn’t grant rights – they’re natural. What the Constitution is is a restraining order on government. Or was. It is government via people like Michael Bloomberg who’ve turned that upside down and feel comfortable enough to blurt what can only be considered authoritarian drivel (pick your brand) because he thinks he has the “right” to infringe on yours. His statement is anathema to all this country once believed in.
Yet, there are a good number of people today who will back his play and agree that he his job entails being big daddy and using the force of government to save you from yourself.
Yeah, not really.
Let me preface this by saying there is absolutely no need for new gun control legislation. None. Nada. Zip. Zero.
The claims by the left that gun control legislation will solve problems of violence are nonsense. Period.
But that likely won’t stop the usual suspects among GOP Senators from helping the left in their incremental but determined efforts to limit your 2nd Amendment rights. Apparently “Congress shall make no law” has a different meaning to some people:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has emerged as a key player if Senate Democrats are to have any chance of passing legislation to expand background checks for private sales of firearms.
McCain and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) are at the top of a list of Republicans considered most likely to sign on to legislation expanding background checks after talks with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) stalled earlier this month.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has signaled he will likely support the yet-to-be-finalized proposal he negotiated with Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to expand background checks to cover private gun sales, according to Senate sources.
Of course we’ve been assured by some that this is really of no big consequence and we should relax and let it happen.
Like I said in the beginning – there is absolutely no need for new gun control legislation – none. The fact that some in the GOP seem poised to make that happen anyway should tell you all you need to know about certain members of that party and their professed claim to believe in your Constitutional rights all while negotiating parts of them away.