Animal’s Daily Gun Ban News

Forewarned is forearmed.

This is a topic that’s going to be on the front burner for a while, I suspect.  The folks at Reason.com have produced three articles on the wisdom (and I use the term advisedly) of gun control as a response to violent crime:

After the Gun Ban  Excerpt:

With guns now a more explicitly partisan issue than ever, left-of-center media have taken to painting gun-friendly areas as practically in a state of insurrection. Opposing gun-friendly media return the favor by encouraging resistance to what are seen as police state tactics and by sharing tips on doing just that.

An especially troubling development is that political violence appears to be on the rise in a country where the seams are beyond frayed and where members of opposing political factions “despise each other, and to a degree that political scientists and pollsters say has gotten significantly worse over the last 50 years.” A line appears to have been crossed in the minds of many Americans, and what were opponents are now enemies.

A Cure For Mass Shootings Doesn’t Exist Excerpt:

A 2013 study of the 1994 (assault weapon) law for the National Institute of Justice said, “We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.” It also said, “Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”

Even if the law had any positive effect then, it would be far less likely to help today, because there are far more of these guns now. In 1994, Americans owned about 1.5 million “assault weapons.” The number is now around 8 million.

Restoring the 1994 law would not eliminate them. It would only block new sales—and foster new models engineered to get around the new rules. People would be able to keep and buy the “assault weapons” already out there.

Are Gun Violence Restraining Orders Consistent with Due Process?  Excerpt:

While it’s doubtful that a GVRO statute would have stopped Cruz, it is pretty clear that such laws give short shrift to due process and the Second Amendment, notwithstanding French’s assurances to the contrary. French lists five features that a “well-crafted” GVRO law should have to properly balance public safety with civil liberties. The two leading models for such legislation—the laws California legislators enacted in 2014 and Washington voters approved in 2016—lack most of these safeguards.

Read all three, by all means.

Not all problems have  solutions.  The cry after an event is always for government to “do something!”  (More on this and its associated ratchet effect tomorrow; stay tuned) but too many of the solutions proposed are based not on reason, but on emotion.  Truth told, that’s the case for all too much legislation today; that’s the truth for plenty of policy debates and, indeed, election campaigns.

Be prepared, True Believers; another round of cure-worse-than-the-disease is in the offing.

 

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

GMO corn is increasing yields and decreasing losses due to insects and so on all over.  This is pretty damn close to an unqualified success, folks.  Excerpt:

The analysis of over 6,000 peer-reviewed studies covering 21 years of data found that GMO corn increased yields up to 25 percent and dramatically decreased dangerous food contaminants. The study, published in Scientific Reports, analyzed field data from 1996, when the first GMO corn was planted, through 2016 in the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, Africa and Australia.

The researchers’ key findings:

  • GMO corn varieties increased crop yields 5.6 to 24.5 percent relative to their non-GMO equivalents
  • GMO corn crops had lower percentages of mycotoxins (-28.8 percent), fumonisins (-30.6 percent) and thricotecens (−36.5 percent), all of which can lead to economic losses and harm human and animal health

The study also reaffirmed the scientific consensus that genetically modified corn does not pose risks to human health.

“This analysis provides an effective synthesis on a specific problem that is widely discussed publicly,” study coauthor Laura Ercoli told Italian newspaper la Repubblica (quote translated from Italian).

The scientists said that the meta-analysis allows us “to draw unequivocal conclusions, helping to increase public confidence in food produced with genetically modified plants.”

I know I harp on this – blame it on an actual background in Biology – but humans have been genetically modifying crops as long as humans have been growing crops.  Only the methods have changed.  The anti-GMO clowns are of a type with the anti-vaxxers; people who reject the work done by qualified scientists in producing technological breakthroughs that improve life for the entire planet.

Farm life has its advantages.

There are plenty of people in nations with marginal farmland who could benefit from, say, drought-resistant and insect-resistant crops.  Well-meaning but poorly-informed Westerners would deny these people GMO seed crops for reasons that have little to do with reality.  Ironically, many of these same clowns would then lecture us on “compassion” when we hesitate to continue pouring aid money into these same nations.

Can anyone explain to me where the sense is in all this?

Animal’s Daily NoRK Gulag News

Thanks as always to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Apparently North Korean athletes should fear a bad performance – not fear of embarrassment, but actual fear for their lives.  Excerpt:

Having failed to land a single medal in South Korea so far, its Winter Olympic team could suffer the same fate as previous underperforming athletes – imprisonment in one of the country’s sick gulags.

The most infamous case is that of the North Korean football team which made history for reaching the second round of the 1966 World Cup.

Former leader Kim Il-Sung is widely believed to have ordered them to be arrested after they lost to 5-3 Portugal days after they were seen drinking with local women in public.

Instead of going home to a proud welcome, the are reported to have been sent to one of the reclusive nation’s most notorious gulags.

North Korean defector Kang Chol-Hwan claims he met some of the team while they were being held in Yodok prison, or Camp 15, usually reserved for political prisoners.

In his tell-all book The Aquariums of Pyongyang, he asserts that footballer Pak Seung-Zin became infamous for his ability to endure torture.

Another inmate, dubbed “The Cockroach” after gobbling any insects he could find to fight off hunger pains, would often be thrown into a solitary chamber known as the “Sweatbox”.

While they are the best known case of the country’s harsh attitude towards “failure”, they are far from the only ones.

Dennis Rodman has been strangely quiet on the issue.

One wonders why the NoRKs were even allowed to participate in the Olympics.  I suppose it was a show of how the Korean peninsula may be re-united one day.  One might also wonder why none of the athletes have (so far) made any attempt to defect to the South, but then, consider what it likely to happen to their families were they to do so.

This is the problem with autocratic regimes like North Korea, especially when one is led by a stunted little gargoyle with bad hair from a long line of stunted little gargoyles with bad hair.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and Little Kim was pretty damned corrupt when his father was still alive.  The Olympics just being one more example that, in North Korea, you piss off the dictator at your mortal peril.

What is mildly amazing is that none of this punk’s own people have taken him out yet.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

It seems some rules for our nation’s military are changing.  the new rule is, if you aren’t deployable, you aren’t serving.  Excerpt:

New rules requiring members of the military to be able to deploy or get out were put in place to ensure fairness in deployment rates, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.

“You’re either deployable, or you need to find something else to do. I’m not going have some people deploying constantly and then other people, who seem to not pay that price, in the U.S. military,” Mattis told reporters Feb. 17 in his first comments on the issue since the new policy was formally introduced.

“If you can’t go overseas [and] carry a combat load, then obviously someone else has got to go. I want this spread fairly and expertly across the force.”

Under new rules first reported on by Military Times, military members who have been non-deployable for the past 12 months or more will be separated from the military.

Approximately 11 percent, or 235,000, of the 2.1 million personnel serving on active duty, in the reserves or National Guard are currently non-deployable, Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, the senior enlisted adviser to Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford, told Military Times earlier this month.

Of that total non-deployable force, Troxell said, about 99,000 are on that list for administrative reasons, such as not having all their immunizations or their required dental exams. About 20,000 are not deployable due to pregnancy, and 116,000 are not deployable due to either short- or long-term injuries.

Maybe the Israel Defense Force has something going for it.

Plenty of service members have been non-deployable at one time or another, for injuries (not necessarily combat – plenty of folks have been hurt in training), pregnancy, family issues and so forth.  But this policy is aimed at the “permanent profile” folks.  If you’ve served, you know the type.

The military is not a jobs program.  It is an organization that is essential to the nation, one of the few legitimate functions of the Imperial government in concordance with the Constitution, and it has a primary purpose:  To kill people and break things.  Anything that interferes with that mission is bad.  It’s bad for the mission, bad for the people who have to pick up the burden of the service members who can’t, and bad for the country.

Once again General Mattis has the right idea.  Of all of President Trump’s appointments, James Mattis and Neal Gorsuch are probably the best.

Rule Five Love Hotel Friday

Note:  Another short stint in Japan beckons, beginning early next month.  Regular readers know how Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. enjoy our forays in to the Land of the Rising Sun, so look for some photos and travel commentary from those environs very soon.

With that said, and in spite of the tendency of young Japanese to eschew sexual relationships, the love hotel industry in Japan is still robust.  Excerpt:

Japan’s population is shrinking.

Deaths now outpace births, marriage is plummeting, and young people aren’t having sex. The media are calling it sekkusu shinai shokogun, or “celibacy syndrome”—an alarming trend that has the Japanese government funneling tax dollars into speed dating and matchmaking services over fears of an impending economic collapse.

But in a neon-lit pocket of Tokyo’s Shibuya district, BDSM equipment, mirrored ceilings, vibrating beds, and condom vending machines paint a different reality. Welcome to Love Hotel Hill, where Japan’s sex industry is flourishing.

Clandestine Encounters

True to their moniker, pay-by-the-hour love hotels cater to millions of Japanese couples every year, and increasingly, tourists. There are more than 30,000 love hotels in the country, and hundreds in Tokyo alone—a multibillion-dollar business that accounts for a quarter of the sex industry.

With increasing life expectancies, the rising age of marriage, and high population density, multigenerational households are ubiquitous. When married couples live in close quarters with elderly parents and children, love hotels offer a practical alternative to thin-walled Japanese homes where privacy is scarce.

Oddly, this isn’t a sign of any renewed fecundity:

Japan’s love hotel industry may be prospering, but the country is experiencing a paradoxical decline in marriage, childbirth, and sex.

More than 40 percent of men and women aged 18-34 in Japan have never had sex, according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. If the current trend continues, it is projected that by 2060 Japan’s population will have shrunk by 30 percent—an impending economic disaster.

But in the midst of a stagnant economy, staying single has become an attractive choice.

Now, this next stint will have us in the Tokyo region for 2-3 weeks, where a visit to the Shibuya district is not only possible but likely.  Since our first visit to that country in 2009, I have (unsuccessfully) tried to persuade my own dear Mrs. Animal to undertake a visit to a love hotel, of course strictly in the name of research; you see, True Believers, how there are no lengths to which I will not go to bring you the best reporting on other cultures and the wonders to be found in exotic lands.

However, Mrs. Animal has been and remains of a conservative bent in such matters, and prefers to eschew any role in conducting such research.  Oh well.

Anyway:  I do love Japan and the Japanese people’s demographic trends has been a cause for concern.  As scribe Mark Steyn points out, the future belongs to those who show up for it, and the Japanese seem to have opted out.  What’s more, Japan has evidently decided to die Japanese.  While Europe has become a hotbed of Islamic activism thanks to their unchecked immigration policies – in no small part to attract younger workers to prop up their generous social welfare programs – Japan remains a difficult country to establish yourself in on a long-term basis.

But the love hotel industry gives one hope.  Maybe young Japanese people will rediscover the joys of sex.

Animal’s Daily Hooray for Capitalism News

Actual illustration from the article. Go, capitalism!

Free markets are a wonderful thing – here are a few of the reasons why.  Excerpt:

When the Great Recession hit, late capitalism came back into vogue. Finally, markets and economies were collapsing all around the globe, comrades! And yet…here we are, a decade or so later and capitalism is still doing pretty well. To be sure, it’s nowhere near perfect, but what economic historian (and Reason contributing editor) Deirdre McCloskey calls “the Great Enrichment” proceeds apace, with fewer and fewer people living in what the U.N. calls “extreme poverty.” As everyone except Pope Francis will tell you, that’s because of free-er trade and more (not fewer) markets. As Ronald Bailey has documented, higher levels of economic freedom correlate strongly with longer lives, less disease, better environmental indicators, and even higher rates of life satisfaction.

Communists, socialists, progressives, and critics ranging from Fredric Jameson to Bernie Sanders to Thomas Frank to Naomi Klein to Hans Magnus Enzenberger continue to marvel at and grouse about the ways in which capitalism “absorbs” economic and philosophical challenges, “commodifies” them, and then keeps on truckin’. Capitalism’s genius, it turns out, is a form of repressive tolerance that, as economist Joseph Schumpeter observed, brought more and more stuff to more and more people. “The capitalist achievement,” he wrote, “does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within reach of factory girls.”

Or, to put it in slightly different terms, capitalism allows more people to express themselves through work and live relatively high on the hog. Which brings to me three examples torn from today’s headlines that show why capitalism persists—and why that’s not a bad thing at all.

Here’s an example for you:  Wal-Mart (or, as it’s known these days, Walmart.)  Some years back, the Old Man had to buy tools, construction stuff and housewares from the old Coast to Coast store in Decorah, Iowa, the nearest town of any size to his old homestead.  He remembers buying a toaster-oven form there for $65, a year or so before the massive Walmart Supercenter opened on the edge of town.

At first, the Old Man didn’t care for the Walmart, thinking (correctly) that it would put some small locally owned stores out of business.  He was a convert when next he needed a toaster-oven, and was able to buy one at Walmart for $25.

Markets, given time, usually get things right.  No person or body of people could ever hope to “manage” the tens of billions of individual daily decisions that make up a national economy; only the people, freely deciding for themselves what they want to do with their money, their time, their talents and abilities, can properly make up an economy.  And that’s the only way an economy should exist -free people making their own decisions freely.

If you disapprove of my choices, then you are free to piss right off, and the same applies in reverse.  That’s the wonder of liberty, True Believers; that’s the wonder of liberty.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

National treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson weighs in on embarrassing Republicans.  Excerpt:

Free-marketers are right that tax cuts stimulate economic growth that in turn lead to expanding production and eventually more federal tax revenue.

But the problem traditionally has been that to obtain tax reductions, Republicans also have had to sign on reluctantly to larger expenditures. Or, worse, they willingly believed they could spend more, simply because more money poured into the federal treasuries.

George W. Bush doubled the national debt. After running against Bush profligacy (remember the Chinese credit card trope), Barack Obama doubled it again by doubling Bush’s levels of borrowing. Conservatives blasted Obama for his even greater lack of thrift. The Tea Party movement emerged in reaction to reckless expenditures and borrowing to fund Obamacare.

Now Donald Trump is caught in the same old matrix. His deregulation, tax cuts, and energy expansion will likely increase federal revenue. But his various budget concessions and his own proposed increases in defense spending and infrastructure would likely bleed the budget at a far greater rate than the growing federal revenue.

Once again, new spending will discredit conservative vows of budget prudence and supply-side economics. (Budget-wise, what good does it do to expand the economy if the political price is acquiescence to ever greater and costlier government?)
Trump is blasted for not filling federal positions and for his threadbare staff. In reality, he probably gains support for the mere appearance of parsimony. He should press that advantage by enacting a government hiring freeze and a pay-as-you-go philosophy, even if at first it is only symbolic.

If Trump wants to build the wall and “make Mexico pay for it,” why not simply slap a 10 percent tax on the $50 billion in remittances that flow annually to Mexico and Latin America, largely from illegal aliens and foreign nationals? In addition, the government could help fund the wall with fees and fines from DACA qualifiers who seek green cards.

President Bush (43) was only a mediocre President at best, but his rhetorical blindness is rather staggering, as Dr. Hanson points out:

While in Dubai, Bush criticized the Trump Administration’s lack of progress on immigration reform. Then he weirdly noted, “Americans don’t want to pick cotton at 105 degrees, but there are people who want to put food on their family’s tables and are willing to do that.”

Where to start when Republican elites confirm their own stereotypes?

Doing work American’s won’t do?

(I’m sternly resisting the urge to type “Now, wait just a cotton pickin’ minute” here.)  Picking cotton?  Seriously?  For one thing, cotton picking has been automated for decades.  As Dr. Hanson also points out, many other types of agricultural work, even the harvesting of fragile crops like peaches and grapes, is likewise becoming automated.  So President Bush’s argument is not only ill-advised and rather condescending, it’s factually incorrect.

They don’t call the GOP the Stupid Party for nothing, and the recent Senate-passed budget is another example; increasingly, both parties seem to only be concerned about spending and debt when the other party is in power.  As a staunch libertarian, I generally vote GOP because 1) I live in a swing state, and a protest vote for a Libertarian party candidate may have the outcome I desire least; b) the Libertarian Party seems to have a penchant for running knuckleheads for office (“What’s a Leppo?”) and 3) the GOP generally at least comes close to what I want to see in matters such as the 2nd Amendment, trade and tax/fiscal policy.

But they make it difficult when their supposed “senior statesmen” spout off in foreign countries.  What the hell ever happened to politics ending at the border, anyway?

Animal’s Daily Blue Flight News

File this under “big surprise:”  People who advocate for statist policies increasingly flee the places where their preferred statist policies are in place.  Excerpt:

According to United Van Lines, the top 10 states people are leaving include the blue states Wisconsin, Ohio, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. Only three red states made the list; Kentucky, Utah, and Kansas.

The top 10 states people are moving to include the red states Idaho, South Dakota, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Nevada and Colorado (the last two are purplish states). Only three solidly blue states made the list, Vermont, Oregon and Washington. In 2017, Vermont slipped, with its inbound and outbound moving becoming about equal. Notably, all three of those states used to be much more moderate, only turning blue within the past 25 years or so. Longtime residents in Washington and Oregon regularly rant about Californians taking over their states and turning them blue. People in Vermont complain about Democrats from Massachusetts and New York moving into their state. The bluer those three states become, the fewer people will move there as we’re already seeing with Vermont.

Last week, CBS in San Francisco reported that the number of people leaving the Bay Area reached its highest level in more than a decade. Topping the list of reasons for moving was the high cost of housing. Democrats are more reluctant than Republicans to allow permits for homebuilding, and pile on regulations.

A comment on the linked article expressed the hope that the people leaving those blue states would contemplate why they left and vote accordingly on their arrivals in their new residences.  While that may happen in some cases – California has made life pretty unhappy for anyone to the right of Leon Trotsky, and part of that state’s polarization is due to the departure of right-of-center types – the opposite is more often the case.

I can point to my own Colorado as an example.  Having lived in Colorado for almost thirty years, I can attest to the transformation of that state from a right-of-center state with some strong libertarian influences to a purple state today.  And that purple is increasingly turning blueish; the state went for Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I in 2012, even as many purple states (Michigan and Wisconsin, among others) answered to President Trump’s populist message.

When I first moved to Colorado, I figured I’d probably stay there for the rest of my life.  That was before I saw Alaska.  Hopefully The Last Frontier will stay clear of such nonsense; urban illiberals that try a move there generally don’t seem to last through their cheechako year.  Alaska may remain one of the few good places left.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks once again to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Moving right along:  Sometimes, you know, the difference between the political Left and the political Right really starts to blur.  Here is one such incidence, in which PJMedia’s Michael Walsh calls for the breakup of the Big Four tech companies by the force of the Imperial government, because, reasons.  Excerpt:

Monopolies themselves aren’t always illegal, or even undesirable. Natural monopolies exist where it makes sense to have one firm achieve the requisite scale to invest and offer services at a reasonable price. But the tradeoff is heavy regulation. Florida Power & Light serves ten million people; its parent company, NextEra Energy, has a market cap of $72 billion. However, pricing and service standards are regulated by people who are fiduciaries for the public.

The Four, by contrast, have managed to preserve their monopoly-like powers without heavy regulation. I describe their power as “monopoly-like,” since, with the possible exception of Apple, they have not used their power to do the one thing that most economists would describe as the whole point of assembling a monopoly, which is to raise prices for consumers.

Nevertheless, the Four’s exploitation of our knee-jerk antipathy to big government has been so effective that it’s led most of us to forget that competition—no less than private property, wage labor, voluntary exchange, and a price system—is one of the indispensable cylinders of the capitalist engine. Their massive size and unchecked power have throttled competitive markets and kept the economy from doing its job—namely, to promote a vibrant middle class.

Not all of us, Mr. Walsh, have a “knee-jerk antipathy towards big government.”  Some of us have a thoughtful, carefully-considered antipathy towards big government, and part and parcel of that antipathy is due to people like you flipping over to the side of more Imperial intrusion at any perceived “wrong” on the part of private enterprise.

If you don’t like Amazon, don’t use it.  If you don’t like iPhones, don’t buy one.  If you don’t like Google, use another search engine.  If you don’t like Microsoft, set up a computer on Linux.  There are alternatives to all of these things that Mr. Walsh decries as the “Big Four,” and what’s more, more will arise.  Nobody had heard of Microsoft before about 1984, and in another thirty years, Microsoft may well have been supplanted by some other software company with products that appeal to more people – you know, in the marketplace.

In the meantime, Mr. Walsh would be well advised, if he wants to continue to claim to advocate for liberty and free markets, to stop calling for Imperial power to shut down private enterprises.  It’s not the role of government to pick winners and losers in the marketplace – it is the place of consumers.  Hands off my free market!

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.