Sunday, December 16, 2012

Further thoughts on Newtown

Since yesterday' post I came across two other interesting items. One is an article that appeared in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy:

The burden of proof rests on the proponents of the more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death mantra, especially since they argue public policy ought to be based on that mantra. To bear that burden would at the very least require showing that a large number of nations with more guns have more death and that nations that have imposed stringent gun controls have achieved substantial reductions in criminal violence (or suicide). But those correlations are not observed when a large number of nations are compared across the world.

And, lest we not forget shortly before the Newton massacre another shooting occurred at a mall in Oregon where the shooter took his own life, just as the Newtown shooter did. However, there is an interesting twist that kept the Oregon incident from becoming as awful as the one in Newton: an armed citizen. According to The Examiner:

The shooter … was confronted with an armed citizen, at which time he ran away and shot himself. By the time police arrived on the scene, [the shooter] was already dead.

Interesting that this fact has managed to not surface in the media coverage, isn’t it? The paper above has the following in its last paragraph that touches on this tendency to bury inconvenient facts.

Over a decade ago, Professor Brandon Centerwall of the University of Washington undertook an extensive, statistically sophisticated study comparing areas in the United States and Canada to determine whether Canada’s more restrictive policies had better contained criminal violence. When he published his results it was with the admonition:
If you are surprised by [our] finding[s], so [are we]. [We] did not begin this research with any intent to “exonerate” handguns, but there it is—a negative finding, to be sure, but a negative finding is nevertheless a positive contribution. It directs us where not to aim public health resources.

Why do I bring this up in light of the Newtown tragedy? Am I committing the same error as those who immediately use the victims as fodder for a political cause? To be fair both sides of the gun control debate think they’re defending the best interests of everyone. I believe the “solution” proposed would not prevent other tragedies. We’re treating a symptom as opposed to trying to figure out the root cause and coming up with a solution (if there is one) that treats the source. To me banning guns is like removing mercury from a thermometer in hopes that it will make the fever go away. Banning guns will only make tragedies like Newtown more likely, as the evidence in the Kates-Mauser paper shows. And that in itself is a tragedy.

Understanding Mass Murder by Robert James Bidinotto

This week's massacre at Newtown has set off the to be expected firestorm over gun control. I highly recommend this post, Understanding Mass Murder. Robert, a good college friend, spent a lot of time studying criminals as well as talking with the survivors of the crimes committed. He talks about the sense of power shooters like this. (I won't mention the name so as not to contribute to whatever legacy or infamy he was hoping for.)

You have to understand this to grasp that, for the mass killer, murder is an empowering event. He is playing God with other human lives, and gets a tremendous "rush" of power and control by treating other humans like playthings.

I think this is especially true when these massacres occur at an elementary school where the perpetrator know that the kids won’t be able to over-power him (and the teachers are unarmed).

I find it interesting how quickly gun control advocates capitalize on tragedies like this to clamor for more controls on guns. I hear precious little talk about what other factors (cultural, social, psychological, etc.) that lead up to this. Excuse me if I get a bit sarcastic but that would take too much time and thought … and rational argument with people who might not agree. Instead we’re urged to rush into taking action even if ultimately that action might not prevent another tragedy like Newtown. And that is the deeper tragedy that most people don’t see.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Pinocchio Press -

This article covers the new "fact checking" cottage industry that has sprung up. The Pinocchio Press -

Also be sure to check out PolitiFact Bias and Sublime Bloviations.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Elizabeth Warren and China

This article in Reason does a nice job analyzing the flaws in Elizabeth Warren’s comparison of how much China spends on their infrastructure versus ours. are a couple links below showing an example of a Chinese ghost city, an entire city that was built by the Chinese government which is unoccupied and likely to stay that way. Just what we need here, right?

Actually she does us a favor in showing how government can build an infrastructure -- which she says businesses need in order to exist – that no one uses. This is the reverseof Frederic Bastiat’s analysis of the broken window fallacy in which he refutes the claim that destroying things actually is good because it creates work for those who can rebuild what was destroyed. See more here: My point is the opposite: The Chinese government built entire cities for which there was no need. As a result the resources spent on these projects are not available for other projects for which there might be a legitimate need. As Bastiat noted we focus on what can be seen – the brand spanking new but empty city –and not what can’t be seen – the lost opportunities to meet the real needs and wants of people as well as the wasted resources.

This brings me back to Warren’s and Obama’s rant about businesses being unable to do their thing without a strong infrastructure. What strikes me is the indignation both of them exuded. Maybe I missed something but I don’t recall seeing business owners running around claiming they built their enterprises without any assistance. To me both Warren and Obama set up a straw man to advance their case for higher taxes and reveal their deep seated antipathy for business and capitalism.

In China we have examples in these ghost cities of infrastructure being provided that no one is willing or able to use. More importantly it reveals what happens in a country that with a government that doesn’t recognize or protect individual rights. It says a lot that Warren proudly holds up China as an example to which we’re supposed to emulate.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

King Barack I vs. the American Gospel of Success By Robert Tracinski

I like this analysis byRobert Tracinski. It covers a lot of ground and I agree with the points he makes.

King Barack I vs. the American Gospel of Success

Over the years I've met several business owners who have created their enterprises from nothing. One is a college friend of my wife who spent years scrimping and saving, working insane hours without knowing whether or not her business was going to succeed or not. Finally over. Here's the business to take off and eventually was bought out by a much larger organization. Our friend was asked to stay on and help continue managing the business the sheep built. But for years we saw very little of her because she was working 18 hour days six and seven days a week.

I also recall meeting a fellow while working on account where he and some of his coworkers bought the plant that was being sold by the parent company. They scraped together enough money by mortgaging their homes to buy the plant. There were no guarantees either business was going to survive. And if the businesses had failed the guys who bought the plant I mentioned above could have easily lost their homes.

Why tell the stories to uphold liberal friends of mine live in the area and indicate how much these people put on the line and how many hours they work I get to look of disbelief as if they are saying, “How could that possibly be?” In fact when one friend almost comes out and says it's not possible anybody could work harder than him. I'm not saying he doesn't work hard but I also know he engages in a lot of activities such as biking, tennis, hiking etc. that our friend I mentioned above had to completely abandon in order to build her business. I don't begrudge her the money she made. But I do sense resentment from our friends.

Obama talks about how people who have succeeded in creating and building their business are basically not smarter than the rest of us or haven't worked harder than the rest of us (although I would dispute that). He conveniently ignores one point that distinguishes people who have succeeded in creating their own businesses: they have taken risks that other people have not taken or are not willing to take.

He also conveniently forgets to mention the fact that the same people who created businesses from nothing did so from a vision of what they wanted to create.

If polled I would assume that the majority of business owners would agree with Obama's general point that it would not have been possible for them to create their business without the foundation of the infrastructure provided by local and federal taxes. To me this is the equivalent of saying we all need soil in order to grow crops. But it still takes someone with initiative, vision, and willingness to take risks to plant their seeds in the soil and spend the time and effort and sweat it takes for the seeds to grow. All this without a guarantee that their seeds will actually sprout.

Think Tough Gun Laws Keep Europeans Safe? Think Again by John Lott

This article by John Lott from 2010 talks about how strict gun-control laws in Europe have not prevented similar tragedies as the one that happened in Colorado earlier this week. It is interesting that three of the top five mass killings that Lott refers to occurred in Germany, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in all of Europe.

Think Tough Gun Laws Keep Europeans Safe? Think Again... | Fox News