Free Markets, Free People
In a recent study two Harvard professors determined that banning guns will not solve the violence or murder problem. That in fact, guns really have nothing to do with it. Instead it is instead a matter of culture.
The reason that gun ownership doesn’t correlate with murder rates, the authors show, is that violent crime rates are determined instead by underlying cultural factors. “Ordinary people,” they note, “simply do not murder.” Rather, “the murderers are a small minority of extreme antisocial aberrants who manage to obtain guns whatever the level of gun ownership” in their society.
Therefore, “banning guns cannot alleviate the socio-cultural and economic factors that are the real determinants of violence and crime rates.” According to Dr. Kates and Dr. Mauser, “there is no reason for laws prohibiting gun possession by ordinary, law-abiding, responsible adults because such people virtually never commit murder. If one accepts that such adults are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than to commit it, disarming them becomes not just unproductive but counter-productive.”
The sort of reasoning Kates and Mauser use for seems to be foreign to those who want to ban guns. It is not a problem of law abiding citizens because, as the authors state, law-abiding citizens don’t commit murder. Consequently, taking their guns away will have no fact other than to make them easier victims. The counter gun culture tries very hard to correlate guns with violence and murder. But looking at the number of guns owned in America as well as the number of Americans who own guns (45 – 52 million), we see that in reality gun crime and gun violence are statistically small. As the authors state disarming law-abiding citizens is “not just unproductive but counterproductive.”
Additionally, they use these things called “facts” to gut the myths that have grown up around gun ownership and violence. For instance, the myth surrounding the Soviet Union and its strict gun control.
In their piece entitled Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International and some Domestic Evidence, Don B. Kates and Gary Mauser eviscerate “the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths.” In so doing, the authors provide fascinating historical insight into astronomical murder rates in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and they dispel the myths that widespread gun ownership is somehow unique to the United States or that America suffers from the developed world’s highest murder rate.
To the contrary, they establish that Soviet murder rates far exceeded American murder rates, and continue to do so today, despite Russia’s extremely stringent gun prohibitions. By 2004, they show, the Russian murder rate was nearly four times higher than the American rate.
The authors also look at the gun control policies in Europe and find evidence that counters the correlation between gun ownership and violence.
More fundamentally, Dr. Kates and Dr. Mauser demonstrate that other developed nations such as Norway, Finland, Germany, France and Denmark maintain high rates of gun ownership, yet possess murder rates lower than other developed nations in which gun ownership is much more restricted.
For example, handguns are outlawed in Luxembourg, and gun ownership extremely rare, yet its murder rate is nine times greater than in Germany, which has one of the highest gun ownership rates in Europe. As another example, Hungary’s murder rate is nearly three times higher than nearby Austria’s, but Austria’s gun ownership rate is over eight times higher than Hungary’s. “Norway,” they note, “has far and away Western Europe’s highest household gun ownership rate (32%), but also its lowest murder rate. The Netherlands,” in contrast, “has the lowest gun ownership rate in Western Europe (1.9%) … yet the Dutch gun murder rate is higher than the Norwegian.”
Dr. Kates and Dr. Mauser proceed to dispel the mainstream misconception that lower rates of violence in Europe are somehow attributable to gun control laws. Instead, they reveal, “murder in Europe was at an all-time low before the gun controls were introduced.” As the authors note, “strict controls did not stem the general trend of ever-growing violent crime throughout the post-WWII industrialized world.”
Citing England, for instance, they reveal that “when it had no firearms restrictions [in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries], England had little violent crime.” By the late 1990s, however, “England moved from stringent controls to a complete ban on all handguns and many types of long guns.” As a result, “by the year 2000, violent crime had so increased that England and Wales had Europe’s highest violent crime rate, far surpassing even the United States.” In America, on the other hand, “despite constant and substantially increasing gun ownership, the United States saw progressive and dramatic reductions in criminal violence in the 1990s.”
So, if one is honest and reads the evidence clearly, they are left with the understanding that the attempted correlation between gun ownership and violence doesn’t really exist. In fact, it appears that it is indeed the culture that is the cause of violence. One could even argue that disarming the public makes them the culture of victims. For example, one of the things we hear about England is that there has been a vast increase in “hot burglaries” since firearms have been banned. That ban has emboldened the criminals. They no longer fear the homeowner. They know the homeowner does not have a gun. Why? Because they’re law-abiding citizens.
Finally, Kates and Mauser talk about the seeming change in American culture and its impact on violent crime.
Critically, Dr. Kates and Dr. Mauser note that “the fall in the American crime rate is even more impressive when compared with the rest of the world,” where 18 of the 25 countries surveyed by the British Home Office suffered violent crime increases during that same period.
Furthermore, the authors highlight the important point that while the American gun murder rate often exceeds that in other nations, the overall per capita murder rate in other nations (including other means such as strangling, stabbing, beating, etc.) is oftentimes much higher than in America.
As should be obvious to anyone, those that are murdered really don’t care about the means that murder. Dead is dead. The key to reducing murder is cultural. It has nothing to do with the weapon involved. As Kates and Mauser pointed out the per capita murder rate in other nations is often higher than ours. And many if not most of those include countries with strict gun bans.
It should seem clear, given the experience of many European countries with strict gun control, that banning guns does not solve the murder and violence problem. It would be nice for a change if we would learn from the experience of others. As horrific as the Newtown massacre was, it wasn’t perpetrated by a person anyone would consider a law-abiding citizen. In fact, he had no concept of the principle of law or his responsibility to abide by it.
If we want to learn from that incident, the lesson isn’t about guns. It’s about how inadequate our means of handling those who pose a danger to society really are. Megan McArdle does a good job of discussing that very important point.
This study seems to point to what many would argue is obvious. However there is a strong, emotional lobby that continues to want to ignore the primary problem in favor of banning the instrument of murder in this particular case. It is foolish and shortsighted. It would be feel-good legislation, made in haste as usual and in the end accomplishing nothing. We have a history of knee jerk legislation made in haste in which the consequences are unforeseen and usually unintended.
What should be clear is we don’t want to end up like England.
If you love ObamaCare, you’re sure to be thrilled with whatever comes out of this attempt to cash in on taxing thin air. Climate change is going to be a “priority” because it would be a new source of revenue, nothing more:
President Obama has identified climate change as one of his top three priorities in his second term after coming under fire from environmentalists for giving the issue short shrift during the campaign.
The president, in an interview for TIME’s Person of the Year award, said the economy, immigration, climate change and energy would be at the top of his agenda for the next four years.
The interview took place before the fatal shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, an incident that had pushed gun control to a top spot on Obama’s agenda.
Obama said his daughters have influenced his thinking about the need to tackle climate change.
“[O]n an issue like climate change, for example, I think for this country and the world to ask some very tough questions about what are we leaving behind, that weighs on you. And not to mention the fact I think that generation is much more environmentally aware than previous generations,” he told TIME.
The comments continued a trend of Obama vowing to focus on climate without laying out details of his agenda.
You have to be stunned by the irony of his statements. The man has been “influenced” by indoctrinated children. Just as stunning is his statement about asking “tough questions about what we are leaving behind”. One has to wonder if he’s looked at the record debt he’s piling on which will have to be paid by future generation in their standard of living, taxes and productivity. Now he wants to add more cost to that future by involving government in regulating CO2.
That despite the fact, no inspite of the fact, that the science he’d base his “priority” upon has simply fallen apart.
The analysis of global combined land and ocean surface temperature in [the IPCC’s draft report] is inadequate for what it admits is seen as the prime statistic of global warming. It is highly selective in the references it quotes and in the use of time periods which obscures important, albeit inconvenient, aspects of the temperature data. It is poorly drafted, often making a strong assertion, and then somewhat later qualifying if not contradicting it by admitting its statistical insignificance.
Real science simply doesn’t agree with the alarmist creed established by Al Gore, the UN IPCC and the other prophets of doom:
We can now estimate, based on observations, how sensitive the temperature is to carbon dioxide. We do not need to rely heavily on unproven models. Comparing the trend in global temperature over the past 100-150 years with the change in “radiative forcing” (heating or cooling power) from carbon dioxide, aerosols and other sources, minus ocean heat uptake, can now give a good estimate of climate sensitivity. The conclusion – taking the best observational estimates of the change in decadal-average global temperature between 1871-80 and 2002-11, and of the corresponding changes in forcing and ocean heat uptake – is this: a doubling of CO2 will lead to a warming of 1.6-1.7C. This is much lower than the IPCC’s current best estimate, 3C.
But a politician has an inherent ability to sniff out potential revenue sources even when they’re just faintly carried by the wind.
The result of such policy and legislation will be even worse of an economic disaster than ObamaCare. The “solution” will cost us much more than the “problem” was ever worth in terms of GDP, jobs and economic progress.
However, Obama will then be able to report to his two daughters who’ve been feed the alarmist creed for years that he “did something”, even if that something was, as usual, with your money and has forced you to reprioritize your own life downward.
It is the nature of the beast – and unfortunately we continue to allow the beast to feed at will and seem to find it natural that the beast is involved in all aspects of our life. All we argue about is which group we’re going to sacrifice to the beast. This time it’s the “rich”.
Oh, and gun control is also a 2nd term “priority” – more on that later.
What’s going to be interesting is to see is if they actually do what they say they’re planning to do. The administration has tried to ignore the court before. Just as interesting will be the substance of the “rewrite”. What will the court accept as an “accommodation” to “religious liberty?”:
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius cannot enforce the Obamacare contraception mandate as it is written, but must follow through on a promise to rewrite the rule to accommodate religious liberty, a federal appeals court ordered.
The Obama administration “represented to the court that it would never enforce [the mandate] in its current form against the appellants or those similarly situated as regards contraceptive services,” the three judges hearing the case wrote in their order. The Obama team made that promise during oral arguments against Wheaton College and The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which sued over the contraception mandate but lost at the lower court level.
“There will, the government said, be a different rule for entities like the appellants . . . We take the government at its word and will hold it to it,” the judges wrote. They ruled that the Obama administration must rewrite the regulation by August 2013 and provide updates to the court every 60 days. If the government fails to do so, the lawsuits may proceed.
The court also noted that the Obama administration had not made such an expansive pledge outside the courtroom.
Yeah, I’m sure they haven’t. Of course they could have cooled all the angst fairly quickly if they had. You have to wonder why they didn’t.
Well, not really.
Finally figuring it out? Or finally admitting it?
Sixteen Democratic senators who voted for the Affordable Care Act are asking that one of its fundraising mechanisms, a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices scheduled to take effect January 1, be delayed. Echoing arguments made by Republicans against Obamacare, the Democratic senators say the levy will cost jobs — in a statement Monday, Sen. Al Franken called it a “job-killing tax” — and also impair American competitiveness in the medical device field.
The senators, who made the request in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, are Franken, Richard Durbin, Charles Schumer, Patty Murray, John Kerry, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Joseph Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Robert Casey, Debbie Stabenow, Barbara Mikulski, Kay Hagan, Herb Kohl, Jeanne Shaheen, and Richard Blumenthal. All voted for Obamacare.
In the letter they say:
“The medical technology industry directly employs over 400,000 people in the United States and is responsible for a total of two million skilled manufacturing jobs,” the senators wrote in a December 4 letter to Reid. “We must do all we can to ensure that our country maintains its global leadership position in the medical technology industry and keeps good jobs here at home.”
For whatever reason, however, these 16 can’t seem to understand how what they’re claiming here applies across the board to all taxes. That is, they’re job killers. ObamaCare’s taxes and mandates are particularly pernicious because they have many companies trying to figure out how to avoid them and that will mean fewer jobs, not more and certainly more costs in general.
But then no one ever said our political leadership was particularly sharp. After all, somehow Maxine Waters is about to become the ranking member (senior Democrat) on the House Financial Services committee and Harry Reid remains the Majority Leader in the Senate.
Of course ObamaCare is full of job killing taxes as we’ve all become aware, and many of them will hit this year. Add those to the “fiscal cliff” tax increases as well as sequestration and you can bet the Dems will see their “pro-choice” agenda fulfilled this next year – any developing economic recovery will be quickly aborted as exactly all the wrong things government can do to kill such a recover are done.
You’d think, by now, governments would have figured out how poor they are at picking winners and losers.
Of course, they haven’t as witnessed by the witless California government continuing to push solar energy.
California’s Riverside County is producing more solar energy than anywhere in the U.S., with close to a dozen solar plants either online or proposed.
“On the face of it, it looks like a good deal. They talk about all these huge jobs and long-term benefits to the county. The truth is, it’s a very short term,” Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit said. “We’re going to be carrying the burden of having these types of facilities for decades to come, and because of the incentives that have been provided by federal and state government, there’s virtually nothing left for the county government or the local people to get benefit back after the small number of construction jobs are gone.”
Unlike Riverside’s 500 megawatt natural gas-fired facility, which pays $6 million a year in property taxes, a solar plant being built a few miles away will pay next to nothing, just $96,000. When Riverside balked at its own upfront infrastructure costs and tried to impose an impact fee, the industry sued.
So Riverside has hundreds of square miles carpeted with solar panels and no jobs to speak of and barely any revenue to show for it.
But surely, as promised, this has led to cheap, reliable and renewable energy, right?
Yeah, not so much:
Solar also promised to be a cheap source of power, fueled by the sun. What the industry didn’t say is the technology only converts a fraction of the sun’s energy, and the intermittent nature of sunshine does not produce the power promised.
And Stanford economist Frank Wolak, a California energy expert, said solar could boost consumer energy bills up to 50 percent, a finding similar to the state Public Utilities Commission. Solar power from two recently approved plants range from $100 to $200 per megawatt hour, at least 8 times higher than the $16 consumers pay for natural gas.
“It’s probably 50 percent more (than coal or natural gas) today,” Benoit said. “Five years ago, it was probably a 100 or 150 percent more costly to generate a kilowatt with solar. The cost of these panels has come down dramatically. But still, getting back to the old equation, do you want to spend a little bit more to be green? And the legislature and the governor in California have said clearly, we’re going to do that.”
But at what cost to consumers and to what benefit to much of anything except government’s chosen crony, er, beneficiary? Instead of allowing markets – i.e. consumers and producers – to decide on the mix, government has unilaterally taken that away from them and made the decision itself.
After all, the autocrat has decided:
Answering critics at a solar ribbon-cutting earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown laid down the gauntlet, affirming his commitment to solar energy and saying he would “crush” opponents of solar.
“There are going to be screw-ups. There are going to be bankruptcies. There’ll be indictments and there’ll be deaths. But we’re going to keep going – and nothing’s going to stop me,” Brown said.
I can believe that. Somebody needs to tell Brown the whole effort is a ‘screw-up’.
But since government is involved, the crony gets the treatment other industries don’t:
“There’s been a policy to fast-track and install these utility-scale renewable energy installations that are on the scale of five to 10,000 acres each,” said April Sall of the Wildlands Conservancy. “We’ve seen thousands of acres of the desert bladed and now undergoing utility-style construction to basically convert that from pristine habitat that included those sensitive plants and animals, to becoming potentially a dust bowl.”
Now imagine if these actions and plans were those of “Big Oil”. Yup, you don’t have to imagine long, do you? But in this case?
The two largest green groups in the U.S., the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council, have remained silent on the impact of Big Solar on land use and endangered species, which is not so with gas, oil or coal. Sall and other local environmental groups say the Washington-based organizations see climate change as a bigger threat and therefore won’t get involved.
Shoddy “science” is their excuse and they’re sticking with it.
And that’s your update on the imperial blue state model today. And yes, it’s going down the tubes which is why this cartoon applies to more than small business in the state:
When is the GOP (and the public) going to learn?
How many times have we heard that the only thing standing in the way of a grand bargain to reduce our growing national debt is Republican intransigence on taxes? If Republicans would only agree to dump Grover Norquist, Democrats will agree to cut spending and reform entitlements. Then, we can all join hands and sing Kumbaya as we usher in a new era of compromise and fiscal responsibility.
Except that now that Republicans have agreed to raise taxes, er, revenue, as part of an agreement to avoid the looming fiscal cliff, liberals appear to have decided that there really isn’t a need to cut spending after all.
Yup, in fact they’ve taken entitlement reform “off the table”.
Senate Democratic leaders signaled Tuesday they would not agree to any entitlement reforms before the end of the year that cut spending on Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.
They also said that any year-end deal to avoid the expiration of tax cuts and implementation of spending cuts — known as the fiscal cliff — must include a provision to raise the debt ceiling, which would otherwise have to be addressed early next year.
The White House and Reid have indicated they will not consider cuts to Social Security, a notable change from 2011, when President Obama said “everything is on the table,” including entitlement programs dear to his party’s base.
In other words, we’re back to “tax the rich”, raise the debt ceiling and spend, spend spend. Meanwhile, it is left up to the GOP to “compromise” by breaking the tax pledge (led by the Judas goats, Saxby Chambliss and Lindsey Graham) or be forever branded as the intransigent “bad guys” in this.
Meanwhile, low information Americans who, by over 60% approve of taxing the rich, will buy the spin by the press painting the GOP as the cause/reason for the calamity while Democrats “lament” the problem (“but, hey, that’s now the law thanks to Republicans”) and gleefully rub their hands in delight at all the new revenue they’ll have to “redistribute”.
Some things never change, do they?
If you’re at all concerned about the economy, the answer is likely “not very well”:
U.S. companies are scaling back investment plans at the fastest pace since the recession, signaling more trouble for the economic recovery.
Half of the nation’s 40 biggest publicly traded corporate spenders have announced plans to curtail capital expenditures this year or next, according to a review by The Wall Street Journal of securities filings and conference calls.
Nationwide, business investment in equipment and software—a measure of economic vitality in the corporate sector—stalled in the third quarter for the first time since early 2009. Corporate investment in new buildings has declined.
At the same time, exports are slowing or falling to such critical markets as China and the euro zone as the global economy downshifts, creating another drag on firms’ expansion plans.
Why are we seeing this happen? As it stands, most corporate spenders see no possibility of the hostility toward corporate America easing and also view whatever is to come in January concerning taxes and tax policy to likely be a lose-lose for them however it goes:
Corporate executives say they are slowing or delaying big projects to protect profits amid easing demand and rising uncertainty. Uncertainty around the U.S. elections and federal budget policies also appear among the factors driving the investment pullback since midyear. It is unclear whether Washington will avert the so-called fiscal cliff, tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to begin Jan. 2.
Companies fear that failure to resolve the fiscal cliff will tip the economy back into recession by sapping consumer spending, damaging investor confidence and eating into corporate profits. A deal to avert the cliff could include tax-code changes, such as revamping tax breaks or rates, that hurt specific sectors.
Or, as before the election, an unstable business climate persists which does not provide any incentive to expand, spend or hire. In fact, as indicated above, it is providing precisely the opposite incentives. It’s one reason the GDP forecast for the country has been downgraded again to 1.5% (Mexico, for heaven sake, has GDP growth of 3.2%).
But when you vote for the status quo, well, you get what you vote for — enjoy.
Obama has strained to make everyone believe he is open to “negotiations” on the tax rates in dispute that are leading us inexorably to this “fiscal cliff” everyone is talking about.
The word “negotiate” implies compromise. You give a little, he gives a little, you reach a deal neither really likes but both can live with.
He has no intention of giving anything. Why should he? He can’t run for a third term. He has nothing to lose if he stands his ground. Nope, the only one’s who have anything to lose in this one are the usual deer-in-the-headlights suspects. And, of course, Obama has someone else to blame:
By taking an absolutist line, he’s basically gambling that Republicans will be more reasonable than he is and will blink. But if they don’t blink and we go over the cliff, from his point of view so what? Mr. Obama then has an excuse to blame Republicans if there’s another recession. Meanwhile, he pockets the higher tax rates that take effect on January 1 anyway, and he can then negotiate a budget deal next year without having to make any tax concessions.
He pleases his left wing for which higher tax rates are a secular religion, while pinning one more defeat on Republicans. Lest you think this is a conservative fantasy, it’s more or less the tax cliff strategy that Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington advocated on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” and that labor leaders lobbied for at the White House on Tuesday.
So, as we wander toward Taxmageddon, fear not, either way it goes, Obama figures he wins. So why try?
I don’t know how many times we have to point these out or how many ways we have to illustrate that government has no business trying to pick winners and losers, because usually, as with most centralized planning organizations, they get it wrong. Why? Because they’re absolutely blind to signals from the market. Government’s picks are founded more in preference than reality:
Obama touted it in 2010 as evidence “manufacturing jobs are coming back to the United States,” but two years later, a Michigan hybrid battery plant built with $150 million in taxpayer funds is putting workers on furlough before a single battery has been produced.
Workers at the Compact Power manufacturing facilities in Holland, Mich., run by LG Chem, have been placed on rotating furloughs, working only three weeks per month based on lack of demand for lithium-ion cells.
The facility, which was opened in July 2010 with a groundbreaking attended by Obama, has yet to produce a single battery for the Chevrolet Volt, the troubled electric car from General Motors. The plant’s batteries also were intended to be used in Ford’s electric Focus.
The 650,000-square-foot, $300 million facility was slated to produce 15,000 batteries per year, while creating hundreds of new jobs. But to date, only 200 workers are employed at the plant by by the South Korean company. Batteries for the Chevy Volts that have been produced have been made by an LG plant in South Korea.
Talk about outsourcing.
Workers are furloughed for one week every month. And guess who pays for that week?
Boileau pointed out the workers who are on furloughs one week a month are eligible to collect unemployment for that week, and he said the company covers the contributions to their individual benefits during the period.
Reality check commonly ignored when it comes to government:
“Had it been private investors rather than government bureaucrats making the decision, there either would have been a reality check about the industry, or only those who made individual decisions to invest would have lost their money, not taxpayers.”
Instead, government has “socialized” the loss.
The market has moved on – natural gas is cheap and plentiful. It is the future, at least the near future. That’s where everything is going.
Meanwhile, the government continues its near unbroken string of picking losers … not that anyone who knows a thing about economics and markets should be the least surprised. Unlike many other things, this is not “unexpected”.