Gun control fails rationality test

For example, “assault weapons” are a made-up category of weapons that is based solely on cosmetic features that make them look like the fully automatic weapons used by the military. Banning them leaves other rifles that are functionally identical in their lethality and rate of fire completely legal. Moreover, far more powerful hunting rifles are left untouched by the law, as are shotguns. This is simply irrational and therefore unconstitutional.

The same can be said for New York’s law limiting handguns to seven rounds, while allowing both active and retired police officers to keep their handguns that hold up to 15 rounds. If retired cops need 15 rounds to effectively protect themselves and others, then so do other citizens. Arbitrarily discriminating among Americans in this way is irrational and unconstitutional.

via Op-Ed: Gun control fails rationality test |

The Middle Path On Immigration: A Guest Worker Program

Legalize the people who are already here, with a permanent guest worker program, but make them ineligible for citizenship.  

This gives the immigrants something substantial: they get the right to work, and their children will be citizens.  But it doesn’t generate 11 million new Democratic voters in the next ten years.  If you’re worried about things like public assistance, phase in a right to various entitlements over a period of years: so many for Social Security, so many for food stamps.

But while it helps immigrants by normalizing their status, it also has something for people who want tighter border enforcement: a penalty.  The price of coming here illegally is that you don’t get to be a citizen.  You can live here and work here, and retire here and collect the social security benefits you’ve accrued.  But you can’t vote, and you can’t have an American passport, because you broke the laws about who can live here.  

via Republicans Should Support Guest Worker Programs – The Daily Beast.

Union vs Union in the Twinkie Story

The baker’s union took a lot of heat for refusing to renegotiate its contracts, even as the company was obviously teetering.  Even the teamster’s union complained that they were being unreasonable, which seemed to many–including me–like prima facie evidence that they must have lost their mind.  

But a few months later, I got to talk to someone who has a lot of experience in labor negotations.  They viewed the Hostess story entirely differently from the way that we in the press did: not as a fight between management and their crazy union, but as an internicene dispute between the unions.  In this telling, the teamsters had an unreasonably sweet deal, one that was killing the company.  And the bakers declined to take cuts in order to keep the teamsters sugared up.  They were betting that whoever bought the company would still need the bakers, but not the insane distribution contracts that the teamsters had enjoyed for years.  

via The Twinkie is Dead! Long Live the Twinkie! – The Daily Beast.

Too Many College Graduates, Not Enough Jobs For Them

Nearly half of working Americans with college degrees are in jobs for which they’re overqualified, a new study out Monday suggests.

The study, released by the non-profit Center for College Affordability and Productivity, says the trend is likely to continue for newly minted college graduates over the next decade.

Vedder, whose study is based on 2010 Labor Department data, says the problem is the stock of college graduates in the workforce (41.7 million) in 2010 was larger than the number of jobs requiring a college degree (28.6 million).

That, he says, helps explain why 15% of taxi drivers in 2010 had bachelor’s degrees vs. 1% in 1970. Among retail sales clerks, 25% had a bachelor’s degree in 2010. Less than 5% did in 1970.

Does anyone find this surprising? When you subsidize something, you get more of it, whether or not it makes sense. When the government made it easy to get a loan for a house, people started buying more houses, even when they couldn’t afford one. When the government made it easy to get a loan for college, people started going to college more, even when there was no market payoff for doing so. Government subsidies lead to misallocations of capital because the distorted the emergent information system of prices. The housing bubble burst; the education bubble is going to as well. Via Study: Nearly half are overqualified for their jobs.

Lecture at home, homework at school: Teachers flip for ‘flipped learning’ class model

Under the model, teachers make eight- to 10-minute videos of their lessons using laptops, often simply filming the whiteboard as the teacher makes notations and recording their voice as they explain the concept. The videos are uploaded onto a teacher or school website, or even YouTube, where they can be accessed by students on computers or smartphones as homework.

For pupils lacking easy access to the Internet, teachers copy videos onto DVDs or flash drives. Kids with no home device watch the video on school computers.

Class time is then devoted to practical applications of the lesson — often more creative exercises designed to engage students and deepen their understanding. On a recent afternoon, Kirch’s students stood in pairs with one student forming a cone shape with her hands and the other angling an arm so the “cone” was cut into different sections.

“It’s a huge transformation,” said Kirch, who has been taking this approach for two years. “It’s a student-focused classroom where the responsibility for learning has flipped from me to the students.”

I love this. It reminds me of the fictional schools in Michael Flynn’s “Firestar” (although in that novel, the students dedicated two hours at school at the end of the day to finish homework). Via Teachers flip for ‘flipped learning’ class model – Yahoo! News.

Mother Jones Is Wrong: Mass shootings are not trending upwards. Data included.

The figure below displays the number of mass shootings — incidents and victims — from 1976 through 2010. These reflect all mass shootings in which at least four victims were killed that had been reported to the FBI by local law enforcement authorities as part of the routine collection of crime statistics. Unlike the Mother Jones approach, these data do not exclude cases based on motive, location, or victim-offender relationship. They only exclude incidents in which fewer than four victims (other than the assailant) were killed, murders committed with a weapon other that a firearm, or isolated cases that may have occurred in jurisdictions that did not report homicide data to the FBI. Also, only because of the usual time lag in crime reporting, the figures for 2011 in 2012 are not yet available.

According to these expanded figures, there have been, on average, nearly 20 mass shootings a year in the United States. Most, of course, were nowhere as deadly as the recent massacres in Colorado and Connecticut that have countless Americans believing that a new epidemic is upon us and have encouraged healthy debate concerning causes and solutions. Notwithstanding the awful tragedies of this past year, there has been no upward trend in mass shootings.

What is abundantly clear from the full array of mass shootings, besides the lack of any trend upward or downward, is the largely random variability in the annual counts. There have been several points in time when journalists and other people have speculated about a possible epidemic in response to a flurry of high profile shootings. Yet these speculations have always proven to be incorrect when subsequent years reveal more moderate levels.

(Emphasis mine.) You mean Mother Jones picked their data to suit their narrative? Quel horreur! Via Mass shootings not trending – James Alan Fox – Crime & Punishment blog –

David Mamet on Marx, Government, the Police, and Guns

Karl Marx summed up Communism as “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” This is a good, pithy saying, which, in practice, has succeeded in bringing, upon those under its sway, misery, poverty, rape, torture, slavery, and death.

For the saying implies but does not name the effective agency of its supposed utopia. The agency is called “The State,” and the motto, fleshed out, for the benefit of the easily confused must read “The State will take from each according to his ability: the State will give to each according to his needs.” “Needs and abilities” are, of course, subjective. So the operative statement may be reduced to “the State shall take, the State shall give.”

All of us have had dealings with the State, and have found, to our chagrin, or, indeed, terror, that we were not dealing with well-meaning public servants or even with ideologues but with overworked, harried bureaucrats. These, as all bureaucrats, obtain and hold their jobs by complying with directions and suppressing the desire to employ initiative, compassion, or indeed, common sense. They are paid to follow orders.

The Founders recognized that Government is quite literally a necessary evil, that there must be opposition, between its various branches, and between political parties, for these are the only ways to temper the individual’s greed for power and the electorates’ desires for peace by submission to coercion or blandishment.

Healthy government, as that based upon our Constitution, is strife. It awakens anxiety, passion, fervor, and, indeed, hatred and chicanery, both in pursuit of private gain and of public good. Those who promise to relieve us of the burden through their personal or ideological excellence, those who claim to hold the Magic Beans, are simply confidence men. Their emergence is inevitable, and our individual opposition to and rejection of them, as they emerge, must be blunt and sure; if they are arrogant, willful, duplicitous, or simply wrong, they must be replaced, else they will consolidate power, and use the treasury to buy votes, and deprive us of our liberties. It was to guard us against this inevitable decay of government that the Constitution was written. Its purpose was and is not to enthrone a Government superior to an imperfect and confused electorate, but to protect us from such a government.

The police do not exist to protect the individual. They exist to cordon off the crime scene and attempt to apprehend the criminal. We individuals are guaranteed by the Constitution the right to self-defense. This right is not the Government’s to “award” us. They have never been granted it.

The whole thing, while a bit rambling, is worth reading in its entirety. Via David Mamet: Gun Laws and the Fools of Chelm – Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

Cyprus Will Default On Its Debt

EU economics commissioner Olli Rehn went on the record telling him that Cyprus is going to have to restructure its debt — just two weeks after ruling such a thing out.

That might come as little surprise, given that Cypriot banks were loaded up to the gills with Greek debt, and Greek debt suffered a 70% haircut. Cyprus is tiny, and could never afford the €17 billion needed to bail out the banks and the government — especially since that would bring the country’s debt load up to more than 140% of GDP.

Still, after the EU forced Greece to default, it drew a line in the sand: no more sovereign defaults, it said, since Greece was “unique and exceptional”. So this does go to show that you can’t really trust Europe’s promises. What’s more, Cyprus’s now-certain restructuring is going to be significantly messier than Greece’s was.

Emphasis mine. Via Cyprus’s now-certain default | Felix Salmon.

Government Bans Debt Rating Agency From Rating Government Debt

As with any good scam, the government must maintain public confidence.  The moment someone says ‘the Emperor has no clothes,’ that shallow, fragile confidence will come crashing down and expose the scam. Dissent must be vigorously and swiftly pursued.

So when S&P finally downgraded the US one notch in August 2011, the SEC and Justice Department announced that S&P was under investigation, just two weeks later.

Egan-Jones, a smaller rating agency, has been even more aggressive, downgrading the US credit rating three times in 18 months. And while the federal government may not have imposed Diocletian’s death penalty, they are just as willing to squash dissent.

In a country that churns out thousands of pages of new regulations each week, it’s easy to find a reason to go after someone. As you read this letter, in fact, you are probably in violation of at least a dozen regulatory offenses.

In the case of Egan-Jones, the SEC brought administrative action against the agency within two weeks of their second downgrade. And a few days ago, the case was settled.

I’m sure you have already guessed the ending: Egan-Jones is banned from for the next 18 months from rating US government debt. They’ve effectively been silenced from telling the truth.

Emphasis mine. Notice the running theme lately of prosecutorial discretion: when there are so many laws, everyone is a criminal waiting to be prosecuted. Do something the government doesn’t like, they’ll find something to charge you with, even if it’s not related to whatever it was they didn’t like. Via Scam Complete: The US Government Takes A Page From Diocletian’s Book… | Zero Hedge.

The Temperament Of The Dissident

The dissident temperament has been present in all times and places, though only ever among a small minority of citizens. Its characteristic, speaking broadly, is a cast of mind that, presented with a proposition about the world, has little interest in where that proposition originated, or how popular it is, or how many powerful and credentialed persons have assented to it, or what might be lost in the way of property, status, or even life, in denying it. To the dissident, the only thing worth pondering about the proposition is, is it true? If it is, then no king’s command can falsify it; and if it is not, then not even the assent of a hundred million will make it true.

This explains *so much* about me. Via Dissident Of The Month « Chateau Heartiste.