Saturday, March 31, 2012

There used to be fewer branches of government...

I need to update my compendium of the branches of government:

Federal Courts
Federal Reserve
Fannie Mae
Freddie Mac
Independent Payer Advisory Board (new! with broad powers)
National Labor Relations Board
Environmental Protection Agency
National Science Board
Trial Lawyer's Association

Now that we've covered most of the legislative branches, let's not forget the spending branch:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gun control and police popularity

You would think from this article in the online Irish Voice that when the Irish Gardai show up to protect a civilian from an armed assailant they use harsh language and possibly throw their batons if the thug doesn't turn himself in good faith.  John Spain writes, "It’s one thing when the drug gangs shoot each other[,] . . . [b]ut it is a different matter when one of these young thugs so casually tries to murder a Garda simply because he does not want to be followed. If that is what it has come to here, then should the Gardai be armed?"

Will you tell me what kind of a world we live in, where an armed thug would rather shoot a cop than be caught and sent to prison?  Has it really come to that?   Spain further points out that in spite of the Irish Republic's strict gun control laws (the anti-colonial Irish ironically have no guarantee like our Second Amendment) "[l]ow level young thugs here frequently carry guns."  It would seem that, unless young thugs don't mind going to prison, that the only thing keeping Gardai from getting shot more often is not getting into many confrontations with thugs. (Or there are somehow enough armed citizens that there aren't many sutuations being called in--the thugs have truly heretofore been content to kill each other, which I doubt.)

Spain even conjectures a case-and-effect that "in most countries where police routinely carry arms, gun crime is much higher than it is in Ireland because criminals feel they have to carry weapons," such that in spite of their gun control laws criminals will somehow get their hands on better weapons.  Yes, somehow, criminals do get their hands on them in spite of gun control, but they don't have to wait for cops to be better armed, just as these young thugs routinely carry guns when officers of the law do not.  With Spain's logic though, cops should be walking around in nothing but swimming trunks and Nerf swords, since that will induce thugs to not have to carry around anything better than knives.  This is the sort of cause-and-effect that people decide on having been "informed" solely by Michael Moore statistics.

He further writes, "I see from the American nightly news that in some parts of the U.S., for example, officers who are unhappy that all they have is handguns have now started to buy heavy duty machine guns out of their own pockets to give them firepower to match that of the bad guys."  Well, all we had to do to prevent that was to shut down those machine gun drive-thrus where any ex-con or gang member could pick one up!

Truth is that the crime lords here are getting them from across our unprotected borders, so much so that Eric Holder felt confident that if American guns were given to Mexican criminals that they would end up back here , lending support to previously made-up statistics for the gun control lobby.  This stunt has resulted in the deaths of at least two American agents and hundreds of Mexican citizens.

Of course, criminals don't always have to import them if they can be stolen from civilians or non-civilians.  But just as criminals seem to always get their hands on illegal substance, they always seem to get their hands on illegal arms.

One point that Spain raises that I can sympathize with is that of the sense that police are just deputized citizens: "In Ireland there is still a huge level of support, appreciation, and even affection for the Gardai from 98% of the population. The fact that the Gardai are unarmed is part of that relationship . . ."

From my own experience, I'll make this observation:  If an officer of the law pulls me over for an alleged misdemeanor and approaches me with his hand resting on the butt of his gun, he should not talk to me like I'm the scum of society unless he truly has reason that I've committed some felony.  Policemen who obviously had no reason to fear me have chosen to intimidate me, and this attitude isn't simply a result of carrying a gun.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What is a moderate?

What is a moderate?  Such a relative term, and usually takes its meaning within an implicit one-dimensional (literally) understanding.  We'll grant the linearity of the spectrum for now.  If one side shifts its opinion away from whatever is understood (by whom?) to be the center, the moderate opinion, by definition has moved in that direction.  More and more, I hear statists or collectivists describe themselves as moderates, while mainstream rags like Newsweek ridicule as extermists those that have antiquated 18th century understandings of our Constitution. So lets' consider...

Moderate.  Do you have a moderate or extreme belief in a fundamental right to property?  Do you have a moderate or extreme belief that certain rights are inalienable?  Do you have a moderate or extreme belief that  the Constitution is a binding contract that has (or should have) binding limits on the power of your government?   Are you an extremist on any of these positions?

If one extreme is the belief that government should assume whatever powers (whether by legislation or judicial decree or executive order or by some combination of these) that educators and political scientists say that they should have*, and the other extreme is the belief that government should be strictly bound by the contract that Constitutes the government except as amended by the legal representatives of the People, what is the nice, moderate position?  What does a "centrist" have to say?

If one side says I have a legal right to protect my property (legally gained through uncoerced transactions) and the other side says that I have to let others loot my property until government employees arrive and assess the situation (e.g. in Britain) and/or claims that the government has the right to determine exactly how much of my property I may keep depending on how (in)efficient it is has been in solving social problems through distribution.  What is the moderate position between these two extremes: the understanding of most 18th century Americans on the one hand, and that of the collectivist statism of fascism/communism/socialism?

Isn't it always good to be a moderate?  "Moderate."  It sounds so nice.  Like someone who is not frothing at the mouth. (Always a good thing.) Not at all like someone who is selling out something important.

* Or alternatively assume whatever powers some majority of the populace can be lulled into accepting (whether through envy or anger or cowardice).