Jan 23, 2008

Michigan: Awash in Guns

The front-runners in the Presidential primary process seldom fail to embellish their impeccable credentials pertaining to the usual partisan electoral hot-button issues: abortion, church/state, health care, economy, military, and guns.

The current election cycle is no different with the notable exception of the conspicuously absent gun control advocacy, most usually cloaked in an expertly choreographed patriotic event replete with at least a dozen American flags, formally dressed police officers, Sarah Brady, and a gigantic black and white picture of an Uzi. Surely the State of Michigan with its pathetic economy, high unemployment rate, and infamously crime-ridden urban areas are fertile ground for vote pandering--despite the DNC's best efforts to disenfranchise Democrats in a recently very reliable blue state.

In 2001, Michigan significantly relaxed its concealed carry (CCW) requirements precipitating a massive increase in the gun-wielding citizenry, nearly six-fold. Essentially any sane citizen without a felony conviction is eligible to reenact the Alamo in his backyard. Since Liberal orthodoxy maintains that crime rates rise during economic downtimes, gun related violence necessary should increase: bad economy + more guns = more gun crime.

The Detroit Free Press reported that gun crime, and crime in general, has actually decreased since the law was enacted:

Six years after new rules made it much easier to get a license to carry concealed weapons, the number of Michiganders legally packing heat has increased more than six-fold.

But dire predictions about increased violence and bloodshed have largely gone unfulfilled, according to law enforcement officials and, to the extent they can be measured, crime statistics.

The incidence of violent crime in Michigan in the six years since the law went into effect has been, on average, below the rate of the previous six years. The overall incidence of death from firearms, including suicide and accidents, also has declined.

More than 155,000 Michiganders -- about one in every 65 -- are now authorized to carry loaded guns as they go about their everyday affairs, according to Michigan State Police records.

About 25,000 people had CCW permits in Michigan before the law changed in 2001.

"I think the general consensus out there from law enforcement is that things were not as bad as we expected," said Woodhaven Police Chief Michael Martin, cochair of the legislative committee for the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. "There are problems with gun violence. But ... I think we can breathe a sigh of relief that what we anticipated didn't happen."

What...that a deluge of felons didn't flood local gun boards with CCW applications? That John Wayne movies didn't suddenly disappear from Blockbuster?

I suspect we're not likely to see gun control demagoguery during the general election this next Michigan autumn, either from the candidates nor the Detroit Free Press Editorial Board whose 2nd Amendment interpretation might even invoke a giggle from the likes of Justices Ginsberg and Stevens.

Then, again, why let facts subvert a perfectly illogical argument.

Jan 21, 2008

Stop the Presses! Hillary...A Fiscal Conservative, Purveyor of Meritocracy?

From today's NY Times, Senator Hillary Clinton: "The American dream is premised on a growing economy where people are in a meritocracy and, if they’re willing to work hard, they will realize the fruits of their labor."

Sounds to me like Hillary supports the idea that free people participating in free markets is essentially the American dream. Is Hillary actually a closet libertarian, espousing the ageless wisdom of Adam Smith, Hayek, Friedman, and Von Mises?

Furthermore, regarding fiscal policy her unnamed surrogate says, "Republicans say that her tax increases on the affluent and her spending proposals would increase the deficit, but Mrs. Clinton’s advisers respond that she, like her husband, is a fiscal conservative."

If she thinks she's fiscally conservative then I guess we'll have to take her word for it. All financial estimates attached to socializing the nation's health care delivery system are in the neighborhood of a trillion dollars. Is there a possible funding mechanism that would allow a semantically gifted politician a reason to call that fiscally conservative?

Clinton's advisers suggest that an immediate fiscal stimulus is needed to prime the pump of the American economy, as any self-respecting Keynesian would espouse. But not even Bill's former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reisch--a Hillary economic policy adviser--would consider himself a fiscal conservative.

Lest I become confused about what Senator Clinton's true economic beliefs entail she clarifies things a bit, "If you go back and look at our history, we were most successful when we had that balance between an effective, vigorous government and a dynamic, appropriately regulated market. And we have systematically diminished the role and the responsibility of our government, and we have watched our market become imbalanced.”

That clarifies everything. To summarize her view of markets and individual liberty, Hillary believes in a meritocracy, by definition the ability for individuals to sustain themselves through talent and hard work rather than by class or wealth--unless you're wealthy; lack government contracts; contribute to a 401k; drive an unregistered Taxi cab; practice, invest in, or provide medical care; or manufacture cars, drugs, or electricity.

This leaves me wondering if Senator Clinton and the presumptive First Lady avoid the topic of economics around the dinner table. Bill might invoke the benefits of free trade and NAFTA, assuming there were no salary cap and he couldn't be assigned to the minor leagues; and, of course, a no-trade clause would be unacceptable. America is a meritocracy after all!

Jan 16, 2008

Destructive Evolution: A New Blog

Having haphazardly written a blog in another location for the previous two years, this is the official beginning of the newest manifestation. Hopefully, the words forthcoming won't be considered a complete waste of keypunches for either the scribe or potential reader. Either way, they'll be words; and Google will track them until the Rapture, or Darwin selectively purges me from the gene pool, I'm re-reincarnated into a rat, and Christopher Hitchens dons the hijab. Or maybe death, confiscation of property, and Hannah Montana truly are the only inescapable subjugations of man. Enjoy.