30 December 2012

Culture is the Lifeblood of a Nation

Yet Beijing officials have announced plans to spend more than 10 years and £1.4bn turning the area into the "China Music Valley", a sprawling compound that will be home to recording studios, instrument makers, music schools, five-star hotels and an arena in the shape of a peach.
"Music is such an intangible kind of art," said Zhao Wei, a 30-year-old official who directed the initiative until last month. "Now with this project, we want to turn music into something that you can see, something that you can touch."
China's central government, concerned that progress in the country's film, music and drama sectors lag behind its economic development, has designated culture a top national priority and promised billions of pounds in subsidies for the arts. "Culture is the lifeblood of a nation," President Hu Jintao said at the start of the country's once-in-a-decade leadership transition in November.

This is an interesting solution to the issue of maintaining culture.  I suspect that China’s top-down efforts at influencing culture are more likely to lead to cultural improvements than, say America’s.  The reason I say this is because Chinese officials are not as hindered by political correctness as American officials, and have no problem a) recognizing cultural differences, b) recognizing what makes their culture unique and c) viewing their culture as superior to other cultures and therefore deserving of preservation.  Because the Chinese are more likely to celebrate their culture and fund art that reinforces it, they should find that their attempts at influencing culture through art will strengthen their country’s cultural bonds.

In contrast, the American government is not as likely to succeed at strengthening cultural and social bonds through art sponsorship because the American government is run by people who hate Americans, hate American culture, have no love for the founding fathers, and have bought into a large number of myths, like racial and sexual equality, and post-modernism.  How else to explain why the federal government of a country whose success was built on the backs of people who worshiped Jesus Christ as Lord sponsored an artistic photograph entitled “Piss Christ”?  Whether one like Christianity or not, it is an undeniable historical fact that Christianity and Christian philosophy played an indispensable role in the founding of America.  Sponsoring art that fundamentally goes against the grain of American culture is nothing more than an overt attempt to undermine the culture.

Thus, one conclusion that can be drawn from this is that it is not wise to trust the government to attempt to influence the culture of a country as long as those who control the government hate the culture the country was founded on.  China, for instance, will only succeed at improving Chinese culture if the government sponsors art and artists that actually revere China and its culture.  Paying people to demonstrate malice against their own country is simply paying someone to shoot your brains out.  Likewise with America, it is foolish to turn to the government for help in preserving the culture when those in charge have been the ones undermining American culture in the first place.

An Unsuccessful Shooting Spree

A man who had been arrested for allegedly stalking an ex-girlfriend overpowered an officer inside a police station, grabbed her gun and shot her and two other officers before being killed by police early Friday, authorities said.
All three wounded officers were expected to recover.
Eddie Jones III, 39, of Willingboro, overpowered Officer Ruth Burns inside the station in Gloucester Township, a Philadelphia suburb, police said. He fired at her and two officers who had been in a nearby room and came rushing to aid their colleague. The two officers fired on Jones, killing him.

While I generally think police officers are more deserving of being shot to death than the average elementary school student, I don’t find it all that surprising that an attempt at massacring a bunch of cops in a police station failed so miserably.  For starters, the potential targets are all armed, and have some training in how to use their weapons.  Furthermore, a good number of them are criminal thugs, which means they are not as inhibited when it comes to killing others.  Thus, only a suicidal fool would try to shoot up a police station, and only an insane person would think that he could succeed at such an attempt.

As an aside, it’s interesting to note that the would-be shooter was only able to even have a shot at killing a bunch of police officers because he managed to first overpower a female officer.  Since men and women are equally capable at everything, except in those areas where women excel, it’s obvious that the would-be killer only overpowered the female officer and grabbed her gun because he had the element of surprise.

28 December 2012

Predictions 2013

First, a look back:

1. Gas will go above $4.00/gallon at some point, and will remain there for at least 26 weeks.

I haven’t actually checked to make sure about this, but my gut feeling is that I completely missed on this.  Where I lived, gas was only above $4/gal. for a total of three weeks out of the year.  In fact, gas was below $3/gal. more often than it was above $4.  Maybe my state has a very low gas price average, but I doubt it, and so I’m going to say I missed this one.

2.  Commodities will be up at least 10% at the end of 2012.  For comparative purposes, we here at Le Cygne Gris will select a portfolio of five commodities for comparison.  They are wheat, soybeans, feeder cattle, gold, and copper.  The current prices are:  $6.53/bushel, $12.13/bushel, $1.50/pound, $1,566/ounce, and $3.40/pound respectively.  The predicted year-end prices are $7.18, $13.34, $1.65, $1,722.60, and $3.74 respectively.

I nailed the wheat, soybeans, and cattle prices, as all are up well over 10% right now.  The year isn’t technically over, but there would have to be quite a collapse in just a couple of days for me to be wrong.  I missed on gold and copper, but not by much.  I got the trend but didn’t nail the specifics, as both are up roughly 7% or so, give or take a point.  We’ll call this a half-point. (See prices here.)

3.  Housing prices will tank.  S&P’s US National Housing Index places the median house price at $130,3990.  I expect it to drop below $120,000 by the end of 2012.

I really thought I was going to nail this one, especially since the Q1 index saw housing costs drop to $125k.  They then bounced up to roughly $130k in Q3.  The Q4 numbers aren’t out, but I doubt that there will be a $10k drop in a single quarter.  However, there may be enough fraud going on in housing for me to make a case that I’m right.  We’ll have to wait and see to know for sure, but I’m going to go ahead and call this one a miss.

4.  There will not be any more QE.

Pure miss on my part.  I thought the Fed would cave to pressure and that we’d have a new chairman in 2013 who would start up QE on the DL.  I was wrong.

5.  The United States will send troops into Iran in the attempt to engage in some sort of conflict.

Also a miss, pure and simple.

6.  Obama will be reelected.

Nailed this one.  This wasn’t too hard a call, even from a year out, because Barack is a magic negro, and because no one wanted to vote for Romney.  Also, the GOP is run by dumb shits.

In all, I got 1.5 out of 6.  Obviously, I suck at predictions, but that’s not going to stop me from making more.

Predictions for 2013:

1.  Tech is going to start to collapse.  The current depression coupled with increasing health care costs, education costs, and an increasing tax burden means that people will stop buying unnecessary luxury goods.  Technology is among them.  Instead of upgrading phones every year, people will wait two.  Instead of getting the latest flat-screens with all the coolest features, people will learn to be content with what they have.  Tablet sales should slow down as the market starts to get saturated.  Since food is more necessary to survival than tech, expect people to start cutting tech from their budget when the squeeze inevitably happens.

I suspect the tech collapse will be reflected in the stock prices of tech companies, and therefore I predict that the stock prices of the following tech companies will drop 5%+ by the end of 2013:  Microsoft (currently $26.96), Nokia (currently $4.00), LG (currently $37.88), MSI/Motorola (currently $54.88), and Amazon (currently $248.31).

2.  I suspect that there will be a general period of deflation that is tempered by core inflation.  As noted above, some things are not going to be as pressing over the next couple of years, like having the latest tech.  However, some things will always be in demand.  Since the general debt level is constantly expanding, we will continue to see some general, albeit mild inflation, which will eventually be concentrated in food commodities.  Thus, I predict that the price of food commodities will go up at least 5% by year’s end.  Specifically, I will target wheat, soybeans, and lean hogs.  Prices are currently $7.72/bushel, $14.14/bushel, and $0.87/pound. (Source.)

3.  I expect the Federal Reserve to announce another round of quantitative easing.  If you’re keeping count, this will the fifth of quantitative easing, or QE5 if you prefer.

4.  I expect Feinstein’s current gun control legislation to fail.  Americans love their guns, and the house is a little too red to bend to the will of pusillanimous progressives.  There will probably be a compromise, and it will likely involve tightening down background checks, particularly in the realm of mental illness.  But Feinstein’s bill, as it currently stands, will not pass.

5.  I expect to have a new Federal Reserve chairman.  Bernanke is deeply unpopular, and appears to hate his job. I suspect that Bernanke’s replacement will be as bad as him, if not worse.  Ultimately, though, I don’t expect Bernanke to stick around.

6.  I predict that legislation completely nationalizing health care is passed towards the end of this year.  The taxation effects of ObamaCare will take hold this year, jacking up everyone’s taxes.  Employers are going to try to find every last loophole they can find, which means that lots of people will suddenly find themselves needing health care but being unable to afford it.  The most obvious solution is to get the government to pay for health care (which it’s already doing to a limited extent), and the next step will be to nationalize health care.  There’s no reason for this to not happen this year, since taxes will be going up while coverage will be going down, at least for poor people.  This has the makings of a perfect political storm.

Paragraphs to Ponder

Here’s Chuck on Detroit:

By scare-quoting ‘emergency’, this woman denies that a shrinking populace and a shrinking tax base have sent the city into death spiral.  Nothing is being stolen from the people of Detroit.  There’s nothing to steal.  She ignores that the existing residents of Detroit have not bucked up and saved their city.  They have not adapted.  They are passive recipients of whatever politicians are willing to allocate to them.  Where is the organic, grassroots drive to create something of substance there that can support public services?  Lacking such drive, community organizers acting on behalf of ignorant and non-starting citizens must lay blame at external forces.  And as usual, the activists and citizens aren’t asking for help, they’re demanding justice.  This is a way to get help while maintaining ego and political power.
And what speeds up the entire death spiral process is the desperate election of activists and political organizers like Herreda who take the stage because they are the only ones who are actually offering solutions, however wrong-headed.  Nobody wants to hear “well, this is just a process that has to run its course.”  Instead, they’re drawn to the firebrand who cries for action.
As Shikha Dalmia has pointed out, the city of Detroit has exorbitant property and income taxes – the highest in the state.  Yet receipts for both have fallen 28% and 50% respectively as property values and incomes have fallen as the more prosperous citizens move away.  Desperate attempts do not work in the midst of the death spiral, they speed it up.

Detroit is progressive policy, writ large.  Unsurprisingly, it has failed completely.  High taxes, anti-business government policy, rampant welfare and government assistance have completely failed the city of Detroit.  A successful community is always built on production, and must recognize the inherent limits of economic conditions.  It’s always nice to dream of a utopia where producers are magically productive and can treat their employees as spoiled children.  The real world doesn’t work that way, an so the constant efforts to ensure social justice by taxing producers and capital end up hurting the poor because producers and holders of capital—getting the clear message sent by those wielding political power—just up and leave, thus ensuring that those who are suffering injustice (the often lazy, complaining poor) have little or nothing.  But at least they’re no longer being exploited by big business.

One More Word on Gun Control

In January, Senator Feinstein will introduce a bill to stop the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition feeding devices.
Following is a summary of the 2013 legislation:
Bans the sale, transfer, importation, or manufacturing of:
120 specifically-named firearms;
Certain other semiautomatic rifles, handguns, shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine and have one or more military characteristics; and
Semiautomatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds.

I hope that my readers, like me, will take some time to call, write, or email their representatives.  Phone numbers for members of congress can be found here.  General contact info for senators can be found here.

I also encourage readers to advocate for gun rights wherever possible:  conversations with family and friends, on social networking sites, in the comments sections of whatever blogs you read, writing letters to editor of local papers, etc.  Let everyone—not just representatives—know where you stand on gun rights, and why gun ownership is so essential to freedom.

In the meantime, I’d recommend buying as many guns and gun accessories (especially additional magazines and clips) as you can, as well as buying as much ammo as you can. If you’ve never owned a gun before, now would be a good to get a couple.  For first-time gun owners, I would recommend a Kel-Tec P11, a Mossberg 500 with barrel length tube, and an AR-15 (I’d go with Colt’s version, but I’m sure any will do). You can always add more to your collection if need be, but this is a good place to start for self-defense.

Anyhow, it is once again time to dig in against those who look to overthrow yet another part of the constitution.  While contacting representatives is a good start, this battle will ultimately be won in the hearts and minds of the people.  In the meantime, prepare for the worst, and buy lots of guns, ammo, and accessories.  Also, make sure to learn how to use them and maintain them properly.

27 December 2012

Gun Control Roundup

This will likely be my final word on the subject, in part because the coverage has been exhaustive, and because it looks like gun rights will live to fight another day.  Anyway, here are a couple more stories and commentary related to the Newtown shooting and gun control.

The NRA calls for armed cops in every school.  Basically the NRA is selling out its principles on this one.  The solution to most problems is not giving the government more power and authority.  Since the whole point of owning guns is to keep tyrants in check, calling for more government is philosophically identical for calling for increased gun control because the result of both processes is the same:  more government power, which is then used to harass and suppress innocent civilians.  In the name of keeping them safe of course.

Karl Denninger on Killing.  This is definitely a must-read post.  I would bet that quite a few of those clamoring for gun control have never killed anything.  Killing animals, in my experience, can be a very disgusting task.  I have shot and killed several animals in the last couple of years.  I’ve mostly killed chickens, as an act of mercy when they were injured and unable to take care of themselves (mostly broken legs and the like), and I’ve killed several raccoons that had attempted to kill some of my mom’s chickens.  Most of the animals I’ve killed, I killed with a .22, and most of my kills have required multiple shots.  There is nothing more disconcerting than watching an animal suffer and knowing you have to put a bullet in its brain because that’s the more merciful thing to do.  You quickly realize just how fragile life is, and you become more aware of what mercy truly is.

Over Christmas my youngest brother and I killed a squirrel.  We had never killed an animal for food before, and so we decided that we would clean and gut this squirrel so we could cook it.  It was a remarkably disgusting process.  We got blood all over our hands and completely dismantled the squirrel’s body.  Tonight, we will cook it.  This is the first time we will have been directly and personally responsible for our food, and it is certainly a humbling experience.

Killing and gutting an animal is nothing like the simulated violence on television and in video games.  Killing is dirty, violent, and visceral.  Nothing compares to it, and nothing can prepare you for it.  Quite simply, nothing compares to taking the life of a living thing.  Perhaps one reason why people are so callous to killing is because they don’t understand how violent it is, and how necessary it is.  Perhaps that is the reason why neo-cons who have never gone to war are so eager to start them (paging Newt Gingrich).  Perhaps people are able to treat school killings as talking points because they simply do not know how killing works.

Guns Save Lives.  An excellent resource that aggregates reports of people preventing crime by using guns in self-defense.  Now, these sorts of stories might seem obvious (seriously, does anyone with a functioning brain doubt that weapons of any sort can be used defensively?), but it’s always good to have this sort of resource on tap, bookmarked for handy reference.  Some people are apparently so obtuse that even the obvious must be proven as fact before moving on to more productive conversations.  This is the perfect resource, then, for proving that guns can be used defensively.

Paul Craig Roberts on Agenda Drive News.  Unsurprisingly, the mainstream media appears to have quite an agenda behind its coverage of the Newtown massacre.  In addition to misusing jargon to confuse people, the media has apparently been rather quiet on following up on the mental health aspect of the story.  (I noted in a prior post that the drugs Lanza took for his Asperger’s were intended to be used by schizophrenics.)  The media has also demonstrated an extreme reluctance to follow up on why the official story of the Colorado movie shooter differs so much from eyewitness accounts.  It’s really quite puzzling, at least if you assume that news organizations are supposed to give dispassionate accounts of the facts of a news story.

Bill Powell proves that there was a conspiracy behind the recent mass shootings.  As I noted before, the respective fathers of the Newtown and Aurora shooters were supposed to testify in the LIBOR scandal.  Apparently neither shooting had demonstrated any firearms proficiency prior to their respective shootings.  Incidentally, the news site Bill linked to pulled its story shortly after publication.  It’s a coincidence, I’m sure.

Andrew Ross Sorkin notes that Wall Street is heavily invested in firearms.  This is the one good thing about Wall Street, at least these days, and bodes well for the future.  Unfortunately, this may prompt soft forms of gun control if the government decides to pressure major investment firms into divesting their investments in gun manufacturers.  The NRA and other guns’ rights organizations may want to bone up on investment laws, and may want to start their own mutual funds that invest in guns and weapons manufacturers.  In fact, if the NRA is intelligent, it may offer members opportunities to invest in owning stock in gun manufacturing companies, which would help to force the government to be more overt in its attempts at banning guns.

Stephen Williamson displays his ignorance on gun ownership.  He asserts that people buy guns for three reasons:  1) they want to shoot animals, 2) they want to shoot people, or 3) they want to threaten people. This is, of course, a very shallow view.  There are some people who purchase weapons as collector’s items, and there are some who engage in competitive target shooting.  Thus, there are more than three reasons why people would buy guns.

From there, Williamson notes that sometimes guns may be used to harm people, even when harm isn’t intended.  This is rather obvious, but the conclusion that this should lead to either gun bans or extremely strict regulation is highly dubious, to say the least, even by economists’ standards.  In the first place, Williamson ignores the unintended benefits of gun ownership (reduced crime rates, e.g.).  In the second place, Williamson ignores the fundamental rule of tradeoffs that is the foundation of economics:  sure, we could have more gun safety, but at what price?  What is the tradeoff equilibrium between the costs of gun ownership and the benefits?  In the third place, there is no way that Williamson would ever apply this logic to things like cars or swimming pools, which also account for a rather significant number of deaths.  Williamson can recognize the concept of tradeoffs for cars; why can’t he do the same for guns?

John Fund on mass shootings.  He makes two important observations.  First, he notes that there are lots of potential preventive gains to be made by addressing mental health issues.  Second, he observes that gun-free zones effectively turn people into blindingly obvious targets. This should seem obvious, but it often is not to those with an agenda.

Vox Day on why US gun deaths are so high.  Unsurprisingly, minorities account for a disproportionate amount of gun violence.  If you divided up America by race, White America would have a gun rate death in line with most Western European countries, Tan America would have a gun death rate similar to that of most South American countries, and Black America would have a gun death rate similar to that of African countries.  All this is simply a fancy way of saying that whites don’t commit a lot of gun violence, while Hispanics and blacks do.  Maybe we could reduce overall gun violence by taking guns away from minorities.

David Masciotra on the culture of narcissism.  David does a good job of pointing out the fatal conceit of gun control, which is the idea that all problems are solvable.  Since we are dealing with a complex system, the appropriate way to view the problem is to think in term of tradeoffs.  We can never eliminate gun deaths; we can only reduce them.  It’s highly unlikely that we would have been able to prevent Adam Lanza from going on his spree, unless we had the precogs from Minority Report to tell us specifically that he would do it. Adam was dedicated to the idea of shooting up a school, and his plan was not deterred by gun control laws or signs stating that the school was gun-free zone.  The only way he would not have gone through with his plan would be by divine intervention or by locking him indefinitely from the time he was of age.  There will always be violence, and we can never eliminate it.  At best we can reduce it, but even reduction has its limits.

Why Grandpa Carries AGun.  Like the Guns Save Lives link above, this is another helpful resource in the gun control debate, as it lists the various historical attempts at gun control.  Funnily enough, every time gun control is enacted, it is generally followed by mass killings at the hands of the government.  Liberals are too blinded by their faith in government (and authority in general) to see this, but I will have more to say on this later.

Yahoo has a propagandistic hit piece.  One thing that I think is important to note in this debate over gun control is how it is argued on pragmatic grounds, that is, the frame of the debate is whether people are safer with more or less gun control.  The Yahoo piece subtly builds on this by trying to speak reasonably on the subject, in that it represents both views (i.e. strict gun control works; strict gun control doesn’t work).  In America, though, the real debate should be about the constitutionality of gun control.  Pragmatism should be ancillary to that.  What I fear most about the NRA’s statement is that it focuses more on the safety issue of gun ownership rather than on the inherent right of gun ownership.  This small concession may be significant later on.

Also, another thing this article ignores is gun violence that occurs at the hands of the government.  I wonder why this never gets brought up...

Obama calls for more gun control.  Obama wants the assault weapons ban back in place, as well as stricter background checks and limits on high capacity clips.  The impact of the assault weapons ban would be to drive up the price of existing assault weapons; its impact on reducing violence would be marginal at best.  The impact of the second requirement would likely be nil, unless applicants were asked about mental illness.  The impact limiting high capacity clips would be minimal as well, since there are already a good number of high capacity clips, and since lower capacity can be switched out quickly and easily by any experienced shooter.

Are Mass Shootings Increasing?  Maybe, maybe not.  Shooting sprees, of the sort witnessed at Newtown, seem to be on the rise, while overall mass gun violence is stagnant. I think what’s happening is that rational killers are becoming a little more cautious, probably due to increased conservatism in the criminal justice system (judges are not as lenient today as they were forty to fifty years ago), while crazy killers are becoming more bold.  I would imagine that this is evidence that American society has become increasingly perverse, and this development is masked by the fact that America has one of the world’s largest incarceration rates.

Brian LaSorsa on enlightened wimps.  While I ultimately think that the mental illness aspect of the Newtown Shooting is significant, I also think it may be best to simply look at Adam Lanza’s actions and say that he and he alone is to blame for them.  And it may well be the case that Adam was simply evil.  Not crazy; evil.

Karl Denninger on mental illness.  Karl brings up another good point, and one that I suspect is relevant to the matter at hand:  the mental health profession has continued to increase its base of defining illness.  For some reason, psychologists have this idea that he human brain is to have a stagnant, non-fluctuating emotional state of quiet happiness and confidence at all times, and that any deviation from this state is a disorder.  Depression, moodiness, lack of focus, social awkwardness (basically, an autistic spectrum disorder on the lighter end of the scale) are all considered diseases, brain malfunction.  To me, this is nothing more than ignoring basic facts of human nature. Sometimes we’ll be depressed.  Sometimes we’ll lack focus.  Sometimes we’ll be moody; sometimes we’ll feel awkward.  That’s life, we move on.  We don’t need to go on meds the second our confidence is challenged or the second we find ourselves be less than perfectly happy.  And constantly medicating everyone for every last minor, abrupt deviation from that which is perceived as normal is simply foolish.

Eric Peters has some perspective.  Here’s a helpful reminder that the worst mass-killing at an elementay school didn’t involve guns.

Larry Correia on gun control.  It’s deep and thorough, and well worth bookmarking for future reference.

This op-ed on Nancy Lanza contains the interesting observation that Adam Lanza does not appear to have had any significant gun training.  Now, you probably don’t need a whole lot of gun training to effectively kill a decent number of defenseless people at close range.  However, you’d think someone who spent a lot of time planning an attack would, you know, practice the most important part of carrying it out.  Again, I’m starting to smell a conspiracy here.

Gun control advocates apparently know little about guns.  Here’s a good way to start a debate with a gun control advocate:  ask them to define their terms.  If they can’t tell the difference between a clip and a magazine, a revolver and pistol, an automatic and a semi-auto, or a rifle and an assault rifle, then they clearly have no clue what the hell they’re talking about.  Make sure everyone is aware of their ignorance before you proceed, and the discussion just might go in your favor.

On a personal note, both my mother and sister—both of whom are schoolteachers, and both of whom are rather squeamish about guns and violence—are now considering buying handguns.  I recommended Walther P22s to start, but would also recommend a compact 9mm, like the Kel-Tec P11.  Anyhow, I only mention this as anecdotal evidence that even those among the half of the population less inclined towards logic are not convinced by the nonsensical and unrealistic argument that gun control advocates have been offering of late, so maybe there is hope after all.

23 December 2012

You Can Trust Science!

Because it’s never wrong:

The pygmy right whale, a mysterious and elusive creature that rarely comes to shore, is the last living relative of an ancient group of whales long believed to be extinct, a new study suggests.  [Emphasis added.]

And it’s never hacked:

Now, Retraction Watch has learned that the Elsevier Editorial System (EES) was hacked sometime last month, leading to faked peer reviews and retractions — although the submitting authors don’t seem to have been at fault. As of now, eleven papers by authors in China, India, Iran, and Turkey have been retracted from three journals.

People who put their faith in science are fools because not only is scientific knowledge limited, it is often fake.

Going Green

Bioversel Trading hired CN Rail to import tanker loads of biodiesel to the U.S. to generate RINs, which are valuable in the U.S. because of a "greening" policy regulating the petroleum industry. The EPA's "Renewable Fuel Standard" mandate that oil companies bring a certain amount of renewable fuel to market, quotas they can achieve through blending biofuel with fossil fuel or by purchasing RINs as offsets.
Because RINs can be generated through import, the 12 trainloads that crossed into Michigan would have contained enough biodiesel to create close to 12 million RINs. In the summer of 2010, biodiesel RINs were selling for 50 cents each, but the price soon fluctuated to more than $1 per credit.
Once "imported" to a company capable of generating RINs, ownership of the biodiesel was transferred to Bioversel's American partner company, Verdeo, and then exported back to Canada. RINs must be "retired" once the fuel is exported from the U.S., but Bioversel says Verdeo retired ethanol RINs, worth pennies, instead of the more valuable biodiesel RINs. Bioversel claims this was all perfectly legal.
However, one of the companies Bioversel approached to be the ‘importer of record’—Northern Biodiesel Inc. of Ontario, N.Y. — discovered that the same fuel was going back and forth across the border and the same gallons were being used to repeatedly generate new RINs under their company’s name. The company called the EPA and also sent a letter that would become an open letter to the biodiesel industry, accusing Bioversel of “trying to perpetrate a fraud against NBI and the Renewable Fuel Standard program.”

I think the only person who could love this story is Paul Krugman because while Bioversel broke a few metaphorical windows in the process of pretending-to-but-not-actually-saving the planet, it at least provided some stimulus in the form of extra jobs.

Anyway, what’s really great about this story is how the efforts of the green lobby have not only been a colossal waste of money, but have actually ended up harming the planet even more than would have ordinarily been the case, at least by the standards of those who propose these sorts of policies.  Basically, the green lobby is not only wasteful, but also harmful.  And so, while the green lobby should have been disbanded simply because it imposed unreasonable costs on the American taxpayers, it appears that it should also be disbanded because it is fail.

Ape the Rich

There are probably diminishing returns to this investment strategy, but aping the rich is not a bad idea, at least in this case:

Investors worried that inflation and financial market turmoil will wipe out the value of their cash have poured money into gold over the past decade. Prices have gained almost 500 percent since 2001 compared to a 12 percent increase in MSCI's world equity index.
Sales of gold bars and coins were worth almost $77 billion in 2011, up from just $3.5 billion in 2002, according to data from the World Gold Council.
"The rich are buying standard bars or have deposits of phsyical gold. People that have less money are buying up to 100 grams," said Michael Mesaric, CEO of Valcambi "But for many people a pure investment product is no longer enough. They want to be able to do something with the precious metal."

If people who make their money in stocks don’t think that stocks are going to be very profitable for much longer, then one of two things is the case:  either we’re about to see a very impressive opportunity for making money in the stock market because all the experts are collectively wrong, or it’s time to buy gold.  I’ll let the reader decide which scenario is more likely.

Men and Church

Chuck, channeling Rod Dreher, considers the question why men don’t like church:

I’ll admit that I know very little about the Orthodox church.  From my outsider vantage point, its ritual and its rigidity (Dreher notes that many men come to Orthodox faith because it is difficult; it tests them much like the Marines or a triathlon) seems much more masculine than the more female-centric Protestant churches with which I’m more familiar.  In those you have a few head men and some fathers who take their families to church and help maintain some of the finances or do some handy work around the place, but you have a very strong female influence.  All of the social activities are soft and fluffy and polite, and everyone at church is soft and fluffy and polite.

This is pretty spot-on, but I think a couple of points are in order.

First, the modern form of the church is little more than a social club intended to praise nice people for doing nice things.  This is not its original intent.  The church that Christ established was meant to be the family of God and a place of spiritual refuge from the world.  It was to be a place where sin had no hold (though it inevitably creeps in).  Reading passages like I Corinthians 5 makes it abundantly clear that a lot of distinctly un-nice things were said in the early church, at least insofar as dealing with sin tends to be unpleasant.  I doubt that few modern churches have the balls to deal with sin properly, especially when they are busy castrating men who try to actually exercise some form of church leadership.  In many ways, the church is nothing more than the tyranny of the petticoat writ large, which is pretty much the reverse of the natural hierarchy of the church.

Second, most church doctrine is completely corrupt.  H.L. Mencken wrote, in his book In Praise of Women (review here), that many of the male activities—such as smoking, hunting and drinking—were activities that belonged more or less exclusively to males.  None of the activities are inherently sinful, and many male Christians over many centuries have engaged in these activities without ever once thinking that doing so was sinful.  Nowadays, many Christians view drinking and smoking as sinful (most fundies believe this, as do some sects of more mainstream denominations). While most do not regard hunting as sinful, a lot of Christians tend to be squeamish about it, and some do certainly frown on it.

Furthermore, the doctrine of equality has entered the church, and has even been supplanted by the myth of female superiority.  This denies the natural hierarchy established in the beginning (and later affirmed by not only the apostle Paul, but Christ himself), and undercuts male leadership.

The martial language of the New Testament (cf. Ephesians 6, e.g) has been replaced by a doctrine of pseudo-peace.  Jesus has been transformed from a savior that demands your best to a boyfriend that accepts you for who you are.  Theology is slowly dying, and is being replaced by, alternatively, a collection of busybody rules that subvert a true relationship with God and a paganistic pantheology that is so broadly accepting of any and all potential human degeneracy that invoking the name of God simply serves the reinforce the rationalizations of weak-willed women who want to sin as they please without ever having to feel guilt.

Finally, the church does little of value anymore.  Most of what is passed off as the work of the church is nothing more than activities for busybody Marthas.  The church-centric model of activity—things like youth groups, bible classes, multiple worship services, ladies’ classes, and some outreach programs—exist simply to give people something to do.  It is busywork.  The church often seems unconcerned with helping people in need, and with making sacrifices for others.  This is not always the case for all churches, but these are simply general observations.  This work gets in the way of a relationship with God, for there is no time for personal study and prayer, nor is there time for self-examination or meditation (Psalm 1:1-3).  Instead, the only thing there is time for is meaningless activities that are of no profit to anyone.

In sum, the church has become a vapid, busywork social club for feminists.  Nothing of value is accomplished, for nothing of value is attempted.  Male leadership is condemned wherever it is practiced.  No wonder men don’t like church.

Liberty, Culture, and Politics

Republicans have a greater tendency to drink their own Kool-Aid than Democrats. For example, if you look at a map of where people who vote Republicans live, you'll notice that they congregate (if that's the right word) in the more open parts of the country. The Democrats assiduously try to increase population density via immigration and environmentalist policies, such as declaring large swathes of lands wildernesses. (You might think that immigration promotion and wilderness preservation are contradictory impulses, but in terms of increasing population density and thus Democratic-voting, they're all good.)
An intelligent GOP would tend to promote policies that benefit its own kind of people and make life better for people who choose less densely populated regions over more densely populated ones. But too often Republicans are ham-strung by libertarian ideology.

It would probably be more correct to say that Republicans/conservatives are hamstrung by a very shallow belief in the magic of “free markets,” a mystical entity that has not ever really existed in any form save for a short period in southeast Asia many, many moons ago.  What passes for free market ideology is more times than not a rather rationale-driven defense of big business and the corporate entity.  This is hardly libertarian, except in perhaps Ayn Rand’s usage of the term.  Nonetheless, Sailer’s inaccurate terminology aside, the point is well-taken.

What libertarians seem to miss in their astonishingly detailed look at economics and politics is that economics success and growth is merely a consequence of culture.  Therefore, preserving liberty starts with preserving the culture of liberty.

Now, many libertarians do seem to have some grasp of this principle, which is why some libertarians spend a good portion of their time writing, blogging, and otherwise spreading the message of liberty, for they recognize that change must begin in men’s hearts.  That said, many libertarians often fail to realize that state intervention can lead to greater liberty.

For example, free immigration, amnesty, and eliminating borders and/or immigration restrictions are favored by a good number of libertarians (e.g. Bryan Caplan).  What these sort of libertarians seem unable to grasp is that allowing a lot of foreigners into a relatively free nation can undermine the culture of that nation and eventually make it less free.  If you import a large number of humans from a culture that favors big government and massive state intervention into the economy and then allow these people to vote for what sort of government they want, you should not be surprised if they elect politicians that promise big government and state intervention in the economy.  And if the recent presidential election results are to be believed, it appears that this exact thing has happened.  And so, some libertarians advocate a policy that appears to be libertarian in nature but, on the whole, actually hurts the cause of liberty because the policy fundamentally undermines the culture of liberty.

(As an aside, I’d like to take this time to note yet another flaw in libertarian ideology:  the belief that all people innately desire liberty above all other things.  This is pure projection, and has no basis in reality.  Roughly half the population of the world generally prefers security to liberty—the latter being inherently more risky—and a good number of the remaining half don’t seem to have much use for liberty, either.  Thus, the libertarian ideal of liberty above all else is very much a minority view.  The observable facts of history suggest that most people desire to be ruled with an iron fist, and these people often get their way in that regard.  As such, it is ludicrous to think that liberty will flourish anywhere and with anyone at any given time.)

Another way in which an interventionist approach to government can defend the cause of liberty is to use the government to subsidize the culture of liberty.  This is a paradoxical position for any politician to be in, to be sure, but it is nonetheless a necessary one.  In this modern America, leftists often seek densely urban areas for congregation, and these areas often provide many otherwise unaffordable luxuries (like high-speed communication or cheap transportation) that benefit from economies of scale.  This has the consequence of luring rural folk—who are more often conservative/libertarian to the more urban areas.  One consequence of this trend is that conservatives and libertarians become more progressive, and subsequently less inclined towards freedom as a result of living in a locale where the culture constantly bombards them with propaganda that promotes the progressives’ cause,  In this case, the most libertarian outcome would be to separate the goodies of progressivism from the propaganda and offer services that are generally only affordable through economies of scale at a subsidized rate, thereby separating culture from perks.  By having access to urban goodies, rural conservatives/libertarians will not be as inclined to leave their cultural homeland and will thus be less inclined to embrace progressivism.

Really, the best cultural foundation to lay for liberty is one that is relatively isolated.  The culture of liberty tends to somewhat fragile, even though it has incredible productive potential.  This should not be particularly surprising since the most productive systems are, in general, the most fragile ones.  As such, the culture of liberty needs to be left to flourish in peace, away from the siren’s song of collectivism and enslavement.  Necessarily, these means that there must some mechanism in place that discourages other cultures from imposing their will on those inclined to liberty, and it must prohibit other cultures from singing the sirens’ sweet song in the land of liberty.

This, then, suggests having a government that is isolationist both in its foreign policy and its economic policy.  Quite simply, a state that defends the interests of liberty (which is itself a paradox that some libertarians seem unable to wrap their heads around) is one that is generally anti-war and one that avoids entangling alliances.  It is also a state that is suspicious of allowing foreigners free entrance into the market—whether in the form of a finished product or as labor—and is generally unwilling to let people from outside the culture enter in the gates without having first ascertained whether those outsiders have the capacity for assimilation.  It is also a highly limited state whose lack of size discourages the corrupt from assuming control.

If liberty is to be defended, then those who advocate for liberty must understand that defending liberty begins with defending the culture of liberty, and oftentimes defending liberty requires using force to repel those who would assault liberty—whether by overt force or subvert culture.  That the defense of liberty may be contingent on restricting others is a reality that may be unpleasant to some who call themselves libertarian.  However, there is no point in calling oneself a libertarian if the application of one’s ideology ultimately leads to the death of liberty by undermining the culture upon which it rests.  Ergo, libertarians would do well to come to grips with the fact that liberty can sometimes only be defended through coercion.  And they had better come to grips soon.

21 December 2012

It’s What The Founders Would Have Wanted

Here’s why the founding fathers overthrew the British Government:

The FDA dictates that US nog have at least 6 percent milk fat. Since whole milk is only about 3.5 percent, many manufacturers add a dollop of cream to boost the lipids.

Yep, the founders fought against a guy who violated a litany of rights just so the federal government could micromanage the producers of eggnog.

IP and Fashion

It appears that congress is proposing to give fashion designers a three year copyright term on their designs. (Bill text here.)  This is a remarkably stupid idea.

In the first place, this means that the fashion industry will eventually be overrun with lawyers whose sole purpose will be to sue everyone who designs and manufactures clothing for violating copyright law. One firm—probably one with mediocre design and production processes—will find it more lucrative to sue other companies than to come up with something that people would want to buy, and eventually all the other companies will go down the lawsuit path to cover their own butts.  The lawyers will, unsurprisingly, ague for strengthening copyright laws for fashion designers, which will only make the problem worse. Eventually, clothing designers and clothing manufacturers will spend as much time and money suing one another and threatening to sue one another, and trying to coerce money from one another as they do designing and producing clothes.  Prices will go up, fashion will become somewhat more stagnant, and consumers will have to pay more to not look so old-fashioned.  The only ones who will improve their bottom line will be the lawyers.

In second place, copyright law cannot solve the problems of a tanking market.  Just ask the RIAA.  If people are going broke, using government force to reduce competition is not going to make everyone else richer, nor is it going to make them buy your product.  Eliminating knockoffs isn’t guaranteed to make one richer because there is no guarantee that people would have bought your product in the first place.  In fact, if the music industry is any indication, a relatively lax IP system actually boosts sales because it increases exposure and spurs demand.  Also, if you’re mark-up is such that you’re pricing yourself out of business, the problem is not so much the competition as the problem is you.

Finally, this simply is not necessary.  The government is hypothetically supposed to have a limited function, per the bounds of the constitution , then the government would do well to recall the point of copyright.  According to the constitution, the purpose of copyright is to promote the arts.  Now, the question is this:  does the fashion industry seem to be lagging in creative output?  Compared to other artistic mediums (movies, television, music , painting, sculpture, etc.), fashion is not doing all that poorly.  It’s interesting to note that the media with the least mainstream innovation (as opposed to fringe innovation)—movies and music—use a direct pay model while the most innovative medium—television—uses a subsidized model.  Applying copyright law to fashion would cause fashion to shift more towards a direct pay model, and would likely stifle innovation since designer would have a smaller support base and would be more beholden to it (also, designers would probably be more repetitive with their designs so as to avoid copyright disputes).

In sum, applying copyright law to fashion is a terrible idea because it will lead to the further infestation of lawyers and lobbyists, it will tank the fashion market, and it will stifle innovation.  Given all these strikes against it, I bet the fashion copyright legislation eventually gets passed.

19 December 2012

“Come At Me, Bro,” Says School to Potential Shooters

A sixth-grader at West Kearns Elementary School near Salt Lake City, Utah, brought a gun to school on Monday, saying he wanted to protect himself and his friends after Friday's shooting in Newtown, Conn.
He "continues to assert that he brought the weapon to protect himself and his friends from a 'Connecticut-style [shooting],'" Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley said.
Two of the 11-year-old's classmates told their teacher on Monday afternoon that the student had a gun. The teacher immediately "apprehended" the student and contacted the authorities, Horsley said. The boy is being charged with one count of possession of a firearm on school property and three counts of aggravated assault, for allegedly threatening some of his classmates.
He will be charged in the juvenile system and eventually will be transferred to another school.

What a kid!  There are grown men who lack the balls possessed by this kid.  Sure, they’re alleging he threatened his classmates (probably by simply mentioning he had a gun).  But given that he didn’t, you know, shoot up the school might indicate that perhaps he really was concerned about defending himself and was not all that inclined to shoot up the school.  What this sixth grade boy understands—and apparently some leftist idiots/wimps are too stupid/weak to understand is that guns help keep people safe.  It’s not just a coincidence that mass murders don’t occur at gun shows.  And it’s not a coincidence that murderous psychopaths choose schools as their targets.  After all, schools are basically telling would-be murderers, “hey, we just got rid of the very people who would stop you were you to come and attack the school; why don’t you come on in and make yourself comfortable?”

I Smell A Conspiracy

Congressional gun rights supporters showed an increased willingness Tuesday to consider new legislation to control firearms in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shootings — provided it also addresses mental health issues and the impact of violent video games.

I will say that I would be willing to support a law that flat-out bans people on psychotropic meds from owning guns.  The video game angle is interesting, since video games were invented to help soldiers become desensitized to violence and prepare for battle, but that concern is not under the purview of congress.  That aside, my bet is that soft-bellied sacks of canine fecal matter that are currently masquerading as conservative political “leaders” will fall all over themselves to compromise on this issue and sell out their base, all in the name of bipartisanship.

What’s more interesting, though, are the circumstances that brought about this gun control debate in the first place:

The father of Newtown Connecticut school shooter Adam Lanza is Peter Lanza who is a VP and Tax Director at GE Financial. The father of Aurora Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes is Robert Holmes, the lead scientist for the credit score company FICO. Both men were to testify before the US Sentate in the ongoing LIBOR scandal. The London Interbank Offered Rate, known as Libor, is the average interest rate at which banks can borrow from each other. 16 international banks have been implicated in this ongoing scandal, accused of rigging contracts worth trillions of dollars. HSBC has already been fined $1.9 billion and three of their low level traders arrested. 

Well, we don’t hear the media report on this, do we?  Of course, the media was complicit in covering up the Aurora, Colorado shooting.*  Now, perhaps, it’s complicit in sensationalizing a tragedy for political gain, a la Rahm Emmanuel style.

Perhaps both these shootings were done, in part, to intimidate two of the witnesses in the LIBOR scandal (which makes the fraud committed by, say, Goldman-Sachs look like child’s play).  LIBOR involves some serious fraud, and one thing that has been repeatedly demonstrated over the last four years is that the US government and various European governments are all highly invested in covering up any and all fraud that the banks have committed.  The current monetary system, and consequently most economic systems are on the verge of collapse, which is why the banks—especially the central banks—are constantly hiding everything they do.  The system is broken, and nearing collapse, and every banker and politician is trying to pretend otherwise so as to rip of the idle class a little bit more for a little bit longer.

One way to ensure that fraud continues is to intimidate witnesses (Chicago style, of course).  Bonus points if you can do so in a manner that convinces people to give up their right of self-defense while simultaneously using a tragedy to distract them from the fact that their wealth and freedom is being taken from them by politicians and banksters.

Anyway my thought is that Holmes is possibly guilty but is definitely being railroaded.  Lanza may be a bit of good luck for the government in their attempt to strip people of their right to self-defense, but  I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Lanza got the terror cell treatment.**  No matter how you slice this story, it’s simply too coincidental for two witnesses to the same scandal to both have sons arrested for mass murder within months of each other.  Something is definitely rotten here.

* Yes, it’s a coverup.  Direct eyewitness reports and first response reports said there were multiple shooters, at least one of whom was dressed in dark camo.

** The terror cell treatment is when a domestic defense agency, like the FBI, goes around looking for potential terrorists and, in the course of building a case against said potential terrorists, provides them with weapons, a detailed plan of attack, and basically strong-arms them into attempting to carry the plan out.  This is highly immoral, and quite crazy to boot, because all the FBI is doing is trying to prevent a terrorist attack that, essentially, they’ve caused.

Paragraphs to Ponder

Why does the media only cover guns in the face of such tragedy? Why don't they discuss it when we can examine the subject coolly and rationally, and maybe get somewhere?
Because then we might learn something. Because then the public could become educated, and the media does not really want this to happen. Because then you might learn that guns have social utility, and are indispensable -- that guns serve good purposes -- instead of being pounded with the hopelessly false idea that arms are bad.
If the media covered guns without tragedy as a background, you would learn that guns save lives, which is why we want our police heavily armed, with high-capacity magazines, and high-powered rifles, and all the ammunition they can carry. You would learn that you need guns and ammo and full-capacity magazines -- for the exact same reason.
You would learn that your need is even greater, because YOU are the first responders, and police are always second. You face the criminals first, in every event. Police, with all their deadly bullets only show up later. Police are the second responders. Media stories are always wrong about that. That's what you say.
People would learn that guns are for stopping crime. Guns protect you. Guns are good. Guns keep you safe, and help you sleep quietly at night. Guns are why America is still free. And the media doesn't want that message to get out. That's why they only haul out the subject with horror as a backdrop. That's what you say.
Thirteen scholarly studies show that guns are used to prevent crimes and save lives between 700,000 and 2.5 million times each year (depending on study size, time frame and other factors). You could get the book entitled "Armed," by Kleck and Kates, and read the studies yourself. Why doesn't the media ferret out those stories and put them on the front page? That's what you say.
Even the FBI says justifiable homicide happens every day, and they're only counting the cases that go all the way through court. Most armed self defense is so clean it never even makes it to court -- or the gun isn't even fired. Why isn't that in the national news every day?
Because you, Mr. and Ms. Reporter, don't want the public educated about guns. Because you want the public ignorant, misinformed and terrified of guns, just like you are. Because you are pushing an agenda to vilify and ban fundamental rights we hold dear, that have helped make America great. Because you want people to have a lopsided unbalanced distorted view, and you're doing a great job of that.

Forget the NRA, support the JPFO.

Violence and Mental Illness

One angle that media has been decidedly less than shrill about is that of Adam Lanza’s mental illness.  At least New York Magazine has been willing to report that:

 Adam Lanza's mother had been increasingly concerned over her son's well-being in the weeks before the tragedy, telling a friend just a week before that he was "getting worse" and that "she was losing him," the New York Daily News reported. That report makes no mention of Asperger's syndrome, but it cites Adam's uncle who said he was taking an anti-psychotic drug called Fanapt. The Atlantic points out that several diagnoses have been bandied about in the press, including autism, Asperger's, and "personality disorder." [Emphasis added.]

According to both Wikipedia and Fanapt’s site, Fanapt is a drug that’s intended use is the treatment of schizophrenia.  That being the case, we can conclude a couple of things are possible:  a) either Adam Lanza was a schizophrenic and had been misdiagnosed as suffering from an autistic spectrum disorder or b) Adam really was suffering from sort of autistic spectrum disorder but was given an inappropriate medication.*  If the former conclusion is true, then the root cause of the school shooting was not an absence of strict gun control, but the fact that a crazy person was let loose on society.  If the latter conclusion is true, then it is highly likely that Adam was driven crazy by the meds that he was taking because drugs administered to schizos are potent and deeply affect brain chemistry.  In either event, we are talking about a mentally unstable person.

This is a very significant point because psychiatric drugs have a proven link to violence.  People who are on psychotropic drugs are far more likely to engage in violent behavior.  And, as was demonstrated in a prior post, one need not have access to guns to commit violence.  The root problem, in this case, is not guns but mental problems.

Now, here’s the rub:  if anyone is truly concerned about preventing the sort of grotesque and perverse evil put on display last week from ever happening again, we must consider our approach to handling mentally ill people.  The sanitariums of fifty years ago were no picnic.  But by the same token, neither are these school shootings.

Gun control advocates may be well-intentioned in their desire to protect innocent children from harm.  However, it is not clear that more gun control would solve the problem.  In fact, none of the existing gun control laws would have prevented Adam Lanza from acquiring guns:

Lanza brought three guns into the school, all owned by his mother. He killed his victims with a high-powered semi-automatic rifle, but he also carried two pistols, one of which he used to take his own life. Police say he sprayed hundreds of bullets inside the school and had considerably more left over to use.
Shooting his mother while she slept and preloading numerous rounds of ammunition into the gun clips signals that Lanza was on a mission, O'Toole said.

Gun control laws generally look to control guns at point-of-purchase.**  These laws would not, under any circumstances, have applied to Adam Lanza because he stole the guns from his mother, whom he murdered.  He did not purchase any weapons.

The only law that would have applied to him was the provision prohibiting carrying a gun on elementary school property.  As should be obvious, that regulation had little effect on him.

So, to recap, Adam Lanza violated preexisting laws against theft and murder to acquire guns, thereby circumventing the existing gun control laws, and blatantly ignored the law prohibiting him from carrying a gun on school property.  Thus, what we can see, is that more gun control laws focused on point-of-purchase would not have done a single thing to have prohibited this tragedy, and the laws that were supposedly in effect were not enforced (and how would the law against carrying weapons on school property be enforced without the credible threat of violence?).

Gun control advocates, then, are only left with a handful of effective options.  They can recommend straight up banning all guns.  This would mean tracking down every last gun in existence and melting it down, and not leaving any guns for anyone, not even government employees.  Even liberals are intelligent to recognize both the futility and stupidity of this idea.

An alternative to this is to beef up point-of-purchase laws regarding mental health.  For example, states could ban sales of guns to people taking psychotropic medicine.  This probably won’t automatically stop school massacres, but it might reduce them.  Plus, crazy people have no business owning firearms.***

An altogether better approach—which has been addressed before—would be to give teachers guns so that they can defend their students instead of sitting around helplessly in the event that a crazy person decides to shoot up a school.

More importantly, though, the thing to seriously consider is how to deal with the mentally unstable.  These people, to put it simply, have no business in normal society.  Schizophrenics, the severely retarded, the extremely autistic, the ones with multiple personality disorder, and others with extreme mental handicaps are clearly not able to operate properly in society.  And they should not be forced to try. Imagine how difficult Adam’s life must have been, trying to fit in at school, while being mocked, possibly harassed and having to deal with an apparently severe mental illness.  Why subject him to this when he could have been homeschooled, and thereby placed in an environment that was far more conducive to his personal growth, development, and well-being?  Or why not put him in a mental care facility where he could deal with his problems in relative peace?

It takes a sick, possibly evil person to do what Adam Lanza did.  Is anyone seriously suggesting that preventing the next Adam Lanza from going on a rampage is more closely tied to point-of-purchase gun laws than social mental health policy?

Now, I’m not trying to suggest that all social ills can be solved by adjusting how society deals with the mentally unstable.  In fact, I would suggest that we can never cure all social ills in their entirety.  We will always be confronted with the problem of evil, and with the problems arising from random chance.  Only a fool would think that perfection is attainable in this life.  And only a fool would think that more gun control would prevent crazy and evil people from committing murders.

Instead, the best we can hope for is to reduce the amount of evil and the amount of crazy that is permitted to run loose in society.  And even then, this would be subject to diminishing returns.  But if we are going to take some time to reflect on this tragedy and what we can do to reduce the odds of another occurrence, then perhaps we should look beyond increased gun control and take a little bit of time thinking about ways we can prevent crazy people from acting out their sick fantasies on the more innocent members of our society.  Perhaps focusing on the perpetrators might be more effective at reducing violence than focusing on their tools.

* I’m not an expert by any means, but what I remember from studying neurology is that autism and schizophrenia are in different leagues, neurologically, and their treatments are rather dissimilar as a result.

** There are a couple of laws regulating where one can carry a gun and the circumstances of carrying, but the general approach is to regulate/limit the purchase of guns at point-of-sale.  For example, it is legal to purchase full-auto guns, but you have to jump through a lot of hoops in order to do so.  This is an example of point-of-purchase regulation because the regulation of the gun occurs at the point of sale (it’s legal to manufacture and shoot one, but purchasing it requires jumping through hoops).

*** This is actually a gun control measure I support.  I’m generally pretty laissez-faire when it comes to gun ownership, but I do not want convicted felons or crazy people to own guns.  They should flat-out be banned from owning them.  But everyone else should be able to buy as many guns as they please without any restrictions or limitations.

17 December 2012

“Cheap Labor”

“In 2010, 36 percent of immigrant-headed households used at least one major welfare program (primarily food assistance and Medicaid) compared to 23 percent of native households,” summarizes the document which was published by the Center for Immigration Studies and examines a wide variety of topics relating to immigration. Click HERE to read the full report.
The document breaks down the immigrant families by country of origin and gives specific types of welfare and percentages of the families that used it in 2010. An average fewer than 23 percent of native households use some type of “welfare” which is specifically defined in the study. 36 percent of households headed by immigrants use some type of welfare. Families headed by immigrants from specific countries or areas of the world range from just over 6 percent for those immigrants from Great Britain to more than 57 percent of those from Mexico using some type of welfare. [Emphasis added.]

From now on, I’m going to call bullshit on people who tell me how hard-working and thrifty Mexicans are.  If that’s the case, why are 57% of Mexican immigrants receiving money from the federal government of the United States?  Why are the taxes of American citizens being used to pay for people from shithole third world countries?

Also, I’m going to call bullshit on dumbass economists who insist that what we need is more cheap labor from Mexico.  Hint:  labor isn’t actually cheap if it’s federally subsidized.  The savings of cheap Mexican labor are apparently illusory.  What cheap labor really amounts to is federal subsidy scam.

What we’re seeing now is nothing more than a government that is forcing its citizens to pay for their cultural, economic, and social suicide.