Metaphysical Rights

from Kevin Williamson at National Review, The ‘Right’ to Health Care,

Declaring a right in a scarce good is meaningless. It is a rhetorical gesture without any application to the events and conundrums of the real world. If the Dalai Lama were to lead 10,000 bodhisattvas in meditation, and the subject of that meditation was the human right to health care, it would do less good for the cause of actually providing people with health care than the lowliest temp at Merck does before his second cup of coffee on any given Tuesday morning.

Health care is physical, not metaphysical. It consists of goods, such as penicillin and heart stents, and services, such as oncological attention and radiological expertise. Even if we entirely eliminated money from the equation, conscripting doctors into service and nationalizing the pharmaceutical factories, the basic economic question would remain.

We tend to retreat into cheap moralizing when the economic realities become uncomfortable for us. No matter the health-care model you choose — British-style public monopoly, Swiss-style subsidized insurance, pure market capitalism — you end up with rationing: Markets ration through prices, bureaucracies ration through politics. Price rationing is pretty straightforward: Think of Jesse James and his “Pay Up, Sucker!” tattoo on his palm. Political rationing is a little different: Sometimes it happens through waiting lists and the like, and sometimes it is just a question of money and clout. American progressives love the Western European medical model, but when Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi needed a pacemaker, he came to the United States to have it implanted.

There is no substitute for abundance. And the great enemy of abundance is the bias against profit. There is something deeply rooted in us that instinctively thinks we are being abused if someone else makes a profit on a deal. That is a dumb and primitive way of thinking — our world is full of wonders because it is profitable to invent them, build them, and sell them — but the angel is forever handcuffed to the ape.

Knee Jerk Gun Control


For my liberal friends who do not understand why  anyone needs an assault rifle or why anyone with basic common sense would object to banning them, allow me to try and explain and offer some other solutions that may actually have some effect.

Fully automatic weapons were banned in 1934. An assault weapon has the same fire power as a traditional looking rifle with a wooden stock.  It fires the same size round and at the same speed. The AR-15 style weapon was used in Vietnam because the older wooden stocks were less durable. Banning assault style weapons is just a ban on a gun that looks evil or military. Those of us who actually own one of these guns understand that your concern is misplaced and, sorry to put it bluntly, smacks of ignorance.

On many of these memes you say that no one wants to take away your guns and then proceed to call for the ban on a certain class of guns you clearly do not understand. You add memes that disagree with the actual second amendment or the current interpretation upheld in the Supreme Court that it means an individual right.  You may be right, but these positions do not logically jive with the first statement that you do not want to take away our guns.

So when you keep posting these memes to ban assault weapons those who disagree react with their memes, and they buy more guns and ammo because they sense that there is an effort underway to take away this ‘right’.

When the Brady Bill was passed in 1993, gun sales went through the roof.  People who never owned a gun bought one when they thought the window was closing.  I bought a couple of high capacity pistols for that very reason.  It included a ban on assault weapons.  There was no discernable drop in gun violence as a result of the bill.

There has been a big increase in gun sales under Obama for similar reasons; the rhetoric of the anti-gun crowd. Sales are particularly robust immediately after a shooting because the left floods us with the same old calls, that makes gun owners fear another ban. I do not deny that the NRA leverages that fear, but you play right into their hands.

Banning the sale of these weapons would have little impact because there are so many already out there in private hands. To effectively impact the availability of them you would have to confiscate the millions of them in private hands. Picture what this would entail.  The public would never stand for it. This reality is why the gun owners do not trust those who claim they do not want to take away your guns. They have been lied to before.

You can reduce the clip size, but the same dynamic applies; you would have to confiscate the millions of high capacity clips in private hands.  If you have ever used one of these weapons you would realize how quickly a clip can be changed. The net effect would be minimal.

The posturing on Facebook and social media after yet another tragedy only emboldens gun rights advocates.   You would be better served to understand the weaponry you want to ban and the many regulations and registrations that are already in effect for a gun buyer.  With that understanding and recognition it would be much easier to actually agree on regulations that may actually work.

For example:

Currently there is a three day waiting period in which the authorities can do a background check.  If the ATF or FBI does not respond in 3 days then the sale is assumed kosher and proceeds.  In many thousands of cases the sale is deemed improper after the sale and the ATF is charged with confiscating the recently purchased fire arm. They rarely do.

If the authorities are too poorly staffed to do the background checks as legislated or to confiscate weapons from those that should have been stopped, then imagine how daunting the task is to confiscate banned weaponry from millions of law abiding gun owners.

Perhaps we need to increase the waiting period to allow the authorities to do a proper check.

Secondly increase the penalties for straw man purchases.  Often criminal gun violators do not buy their own weapons because of the checks already in place. Hold those who buy the weapons for them accountable.

Licensing may be acceptable. I have a concealed carry permit, and it requires an extensive background check. but a license may become acceptable for any firearm purchase. This would also overcome the objection of the loophole at gun shows.

Republicans objected to banning those on a no fly list from buying guns. This has been getting its share of play on the social networks. But being put on the no fly list requires no due process and many are not even aware they have been placed on this list. They rightfully asked what other rights can be denied without due process. That constitution is a pesky document.

But this could be solved with a better run background check system to accomplish the same outcome.

Given the attention that the Orlando shooter had already earned from the FBI, it is hard to conceive that he would have been given greater scrutiny with a background check.  Perhaps it is long past the time to surrender to the politically correct and start profiling aggressively.

One popular video has the President answering a question on PBS from a concerned gun owner.  Obama compared the safety features we built into cars and the impact it has had on reducing traffic fatalities.  The critical difference is that nobody is suggesting that we ban cars, or restricting the horsepower that we are allowed to have under the hood. Yet owning a car has little constitutional protection.

The knee jerked reaction from the left just attracts the same from the right. But with some understanding we should be able to dramatically reduce such tragedies. But I fear the hardened hearts that carry out such acts will require us to take actions that many on the left and the right will find objectionable.  But at least we should take actions that will do more than deliver the short term satisfaction that we did something, no matter how ineffective.

Recommended further reading and viewing

Conservative for Gun Control by Kevin Williamson

The massacre in Orlando is horrifying, but the great majority of our murders are nothing like that. They are the ordinary work of ordinary criminals, who in most cases (more than 90 percent in New York City) already are known to police, as indeed was Omar Mateen. These killers and future killers are on the street committing their crimes because our criminal-justice system, with its vast resources, does not do its job. The police, the prosecutors, the jailers, and the parole-and-probation authorities all must answer for the fact that such a large share of our murders are committed by people already well known to law enforcement.

Charles Cooke expresses his frustration on Morning Joe for those who fail to get specific with suggestions on effective gun control measures, and we see agreement on some proposals.

Ranking Risks

Kevin_Williamson (1)

From National Review, Theatrical shootings aren’t the problem, hysterical reactions aren’t the solution, by Kevin Williamson:

These acts are dramatic because they are unusual (not as unusual as we’d prefer), extraordinary because they are unrepresentative of the contemporary experience rather than representative of it. Those of us who were around for the Clinton years do not recall them as a time of bloodthirsty savagery, but in terms of being shot to death, Americans are about twice as safe today as they were in the early 1990s. We are not, in fact, a polity dissolving into chaos. Our streets aren’t filled with blood — they’re filled with mediocrity. Politicians sell you emergency when they want to take something away from you. Terrorists are not the only people who know that a scared population is a compliant population.

We insulated moderns are not very good at ranking risks. We are fascinated and terrified by predator attacks, but in reality you are a hell of a lot more likely to be killed by a cow, a deer, a bee, or a moose than by a shark, a wolf, a bear, or a crocodile. But we love stories. We love them more than we love reality: The Republican party is not run by a secret cabal of warmongering billionaires; Barack Obama is a cookie-cutter Ivy League lefty, not a Kenya-born al-Qaeda plant; you’re going to die from emphysema or from being fat rather than from Ebola or a resurgent Islamic caliphate; the people who commit the murders are for the most part going to be ordinary criminals going about ordinary criminal business, and a fair number of the people they kill are the same thing.
Our ordinary crime is largely the result of ordinary failures: failed families, failed schools, failed communities, failed police departments, failed penal institutions, failed parole systems. Even our dramatic crimes are mostly rooted in ordinary failures: those failed families, again, failed mental-health practices, etc. A scary-looking rifle is visually arresting, a fact that tells us something about the weapon, and maybe something about us. It doesn’t tell us anything useful about the actual challenges facing the United States in 2015.

But if you are going to be worried about something, that ordinary crime — not the bloody pageantry of mass shootings — is the place to look.

A Last Opportunity Denied

the wire

From Townhall Walter Williams writes The True Black Tragedy


The minimum wage law and other labor regulations have cut off the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. Put yourself in the place of an employer, and ask: If I must pay $7.25 an hour — plus mandated fringes, such as Social Security and workers’ compensation — would it pay me to hire a worker who is so unfortunate as to possess skills that enable him to produce only $5 worth of value per hour? Most employers view that as a losing economic proposition. Thus, the minimum wage law discriminates against the employment of low-skilled workers, who are most often youths — particularly black youths.

The little bit of money a teenager can earn through after-school, weekend and summer employment is not nearly so important as the other things he gains from early work experiences. He acquires skills and develops good work habits, such as being prompt, following orders and respecting supervisors. In addition, there are the self-respect and pride that a youngster gains from being financially semi-independent. All of these gains from early work experiences are important for any teen but are even more important for black teens. If black teens are going to learn anything that will make them a more valuable employee in the future, they aren’t going to learn it from their rotten schools, their dysfunctional families or their crime-ridden neighborhoods. They must learn it on the job.


While many may benefit from a higher minimum wage certainly one group that will not is the black youth and other youth shut out of their first job.  That job is often the last opportunity to learn how the world works.


Unpredicted Solutions


From the Economist, The curious case of the fall in crime:

There is no single cause of the decline; rather, several have coincided. Western societies are growing older, and most crimes are committed by young men. Policing has improved greatly in recent decades, especially in big cities such as New York and London, with forces using computers to analyse the incidence of crime; in some parts of Manhattan this helped to reduce the robbery rate by over 95%. The epidemics of crack cocaine and heroin appear to have burnt out.

The biggest factor may be simply that security measures have improved. Car immobilisers have killed joyriding; bulletproof screens, security guards and marked money have all but done for bank robbery. Alarms and DNA databases have increased the chance a burglar will be caught. At the same time, the rewards for burglary have fallen because electronic gizmos are so cheap. Even small shops now invest in CCTV cameras and security tags. Some crimes now look very risky—and that matters because, as every survey of criminals shows, the main deterrent to crime is the fear of being caught.


Liberals have predicted higher crime as a result of increasing inequality. Conservatives have predicted higher crime as a results of social decay.  Both have been wrong.  It is worth considering that much of our social policy fails because we are unable to predict trends and causes.  Solutions often are discovered without the heavy hand of government.