Animal’s Hump Day Inequality News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

This just in from the always-worth-reading Dr. Thomas Sowell: Fact-Free Liberals.  Excerpt:

Someone summarized Barack Obama in three words — “educated,” “smart” and “ignorant.” Unfortunately, those same three words would describe all too many of the people who come out of our most prestigious colleges and universities today.

President Obama seems completely unaware of how many of the policies he is trying to impose have been tried before, in many times and places around the world, and have failed time and again. Economic equality?

That was tried in the 19th century, in communities set up by Robert Owen, the man who coined the term “socialism.” Those communities all collapsed.

President Obama and various other pols, most (but not all!  Oh, no, not all!) on the left side of the spectrum, have been whinging on quite a lot lately about “income inequality.”  Dr. Sowell has repudiated the notion in a number of forums, including in his recent work The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy.  (I highly recommend it.)  The problem with bemoaning inequalities in income or wealth – they Sleepy-Beararen’t the same thing – are legion, but the most simple refutation is simple.  I’ve done so before in these pages, but that post has vanished into the ether, so here it is again.

Let’s say I invent something new, something sure to appeal to a broad swath of the consumer market.   My invention, the Super-Kool Hyper-Gizmo, sells in the millions and makes me a billionaire.

Now, where did that money come from?  From millions of voluntary transactions, millions of individual people who decided they wanted my Hyper-Gizmo more than the $109.95 purchase price.  Millions of voluntary transactions, in which both parties gained value – both parties walked away feeling they’d come out ahead.

Oh, and during the realization of the product, I also employed a few hundred or a few thousand people, and did business with suppliers, shippers, and many, many others along the way.  All of these things were again voluntary transactions in which both parties gained value.

Standing-BearThat’s how wealth is created.  Entrepreneurship is the wellspring of wealth; creating value from ideas.

It’s the rare pol that understands that, or any matter involving economics.  They don’t understand that the economy is not a zero-sum game; it grows.

Now, let’s consider the pols arguing that income inequality is a problem, and that something must be done about it.  No matter what the pol claims, no matter what he proposes, all government solutions boil down to one thing:  Taking wealth away from those who have earned it, and giving it to those who have not.  No matter what the pol’s claims, no matter what the pol’s promises, it must come to that.

And government – government is the only entity that can deprive you of your property without recompense, with the implied threat of force.  (Try not paying your taxes and see how long it takes the government to send men with guns out looking for you.)   Free citizens, legally, can only engage in economic activity voluntarily.  If a citizen takes another’s property by force, that is robbery; if he takes it by deceit, that is fraud.

Sad-BearThat’s the point that must be abundantly clear.  When a pol whines about “income inequality,” he is talking about confiscating the property of one citizen to give it to another.

The proper way to address this issue is through economic growth, but for the last decade or so the Imperial Federal government has been pursuing policies that may as well be deliberately designed to squash economic growth.

Animal’s Daily News

Facepalm-bearTheodore Dalryrimple asks:  Should The Age to Buy Cigarettes Be 21?  Excerpt:

While Colorado permits the use of marijuana by those over 21 for any purpose, New York City prepares to prevent sales of tobacco to anyone under the age of 21. An article in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine comes out strongly in favor of this more restrictive approach to the sale of tobacco. The arguments it uses and those it refutes are instructive.

Those who go on to smoke throughout their lives generally start at an early age: earlier, that is, than 21. Thus if adolescents could be discouraged from smoking, rates of smoking among adults would decline markedly.

My answer?  Not only no, but hell no.  In fact, since we seem to have established the legal age of majority at 18 for the purposes of the franchise, then there is no rationale argument, morally or ethically, for raising the bar higher for any other reason.  If at 18 a person is deemed too irresponsible to drink a beer, hold a concealed-carry permit or buy a pack of smokes, then why the hell do we let them vote?

Enough of the incremental-adulthood bullshit.  If you’re an adult, you’re an adult.  That age will always be somewhat arbitrary, but it has to be set somewhere.  Since we have a Constitutional amendment setting it at 18 for voting purposes, then that’s our bar.  When you’re 18, you should be able to:

  1. Peeking-Bear-150x99Buy a handgun and apply for a carry permit, subject to the same requirements as any other adult.
  2. Drink a beer, or a shot of whiskey, or a martini.  Or, in Colorado, buy some weed.
  3. Join the military.
  4. Sign a contract.
  5. Buy smokes.
  6. And anything else that requires legal majority.

Sure, 18-year olds are sometimes (OK, frequently) immature, impulsive, irrational, irresponsible.  And sometimes they aren’t.  18 is an age of transition, where you have one foot each in two different worlds.  So, once again – why do we let them vote?

The point isn’t so much where the age is set – the thing is to have it set at the same bar for everything.  No more incrementalism.  You’re an adult or you aren’t.

Alice said it best.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five linkage!

An interesting weekend here in the upper Midwest, passed in my possibly-futile quest for one of two items:  a Browning Sweet Sixteen (the small-frame version of a 16 gauge Auto-Five) or a 1940s vintage solid-rib Model 12 Winchester in 16 gauge.

Why those two guns?  And why in 16 gauge, a bore size many American shooters consider all but obsolete?

Auto-Five
Auto-Five

As for the two guns, I do have 12-gauge versions of both arms.  My Auto-Five is a 1943-44 American-made (Remington) version, originally a plain field gun, picked up with little or no bluing left and a badly worn stock.   With a polish and reblue, refinished stock, a Simmons ventilated rib and Carlson choke tubes, the 70+ year old Browning is now as modern as an iPad while still retaining it’s 1940s – era craftsmanship.  My 1940-made Model 12, bought with slightly worn bluing, a barrel cut for an old Poly-Choke and a rather ugly stock, is now in the process of being polished and deep blued.  A new American black walnut stock is in the works, and that gun will also be cut for choke tubes to replace the bulbous Poly-Choke – a touchy proposition, as Model 12s have notoriously thin barrel walls.

Model 12 - Before
Model 12 – Before

And why the 16 gauge?   One of my oldest friends is a 16-gauge nut, and Mrs. Animal shoots trap and birds with a 16-gauge Browning White Lightning.  The 16 is a great mid-range gun – large enough to pack nearly 12-gauge wallop, but often found in smaller-framed, lighter guns, like the Sweet Sixteen.  It’s one of those rare things in the gun world; a compromise that works.

To carry on this search on this weekend just past, I visited several local gun shops and a 300-table gun show up in Elkhart.

Now, mind you, I have no particular sense of urgency in finding either of these two sporting arms.  If and when I stumble on the right example of either, I’ll probably buy it.  But since I can think of fewer more enjoyable ways to spend a weekend than bumming around gun shops and shows, talking with people who like guns and like to shoot, I took the opportunity.

The 300-table Gunslinger show in Elkhart was a tad disappointing.  While Mrs. Animal and I each own an AR-15, we have both resisted the “tactical” craze that seems to be sweeping the country.   The gun show circuit, however, has largely been taken over by the proponents of all things “tactical.”  That’s fine; the market is at work.  But it makes it a bit frustrating for those of us who prefer old shotguns.  I’m something of a traditionalist; I like old shotguns, large-bore revolvers and precision bolt guns for big-game work, although I do favor my Glocks as carry guns.

Back to the weekend:  While I didn’t in fact find any prizes, I will give a shout to a couple of fine gun shops here in northern Indiana that are well worth patronizing if any True Believers are in the area.  The first is Gun Town, on Highway 30 in Grovertown.  They have an extensive selection of used and new guns, including a 1942 small-frame 20-gauge Auto-Five that tempted me for a few long Splashing-Bearsmoments.  The second, right here in Warsaw, is the very fine Eagle Creek Firearms, who also have a decent selection and whose owner is a Model 12 aficianado no less than yr. obdt. – and, again, while there I was briefly tempted by a very nice 1897 Winchester, but I resisted.

It’s always fun, popping around to old gun shops.  Who knows what treasures you might find?

Rule Five Friday

2014_01_17_Rule Five Friday (1)I had originally intended to spend today’s bandwidth talking about secular arguments on gay marriage, but something else captured my attention – something breathtakingly stupid.  It seems Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein and actress Meryl Streep are planning a movie taking aim (use of metaphor deliberate) at the NRA.  Excerpt:

Movie producer Harvey Weinstein announced for the first time on Howard Stern’s radio show that he is making a full feature drama to try to destroy the National Rifle Association.

Mr. Stern asked Mr. Weinstein on Wednesday whether he owned a gun. The Hollywood heavyweight replied that he did not and never would. “I don’t think we need guns in this country. And I hate it,” the producer said. 2014_01_17_Rule Five Friday (2)“I think the NRA is a disaster area.”

Mr. Weinstein then revealed his secret project about the gun rights group. “I shouldn’t say this, but I’ll tell it to you, Howard,” he said. “I’m going to make a movie with Meryl Streep, and we’re going to take this head-on. And they’re going to wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them.”

If you’ll allow me to make a prediction, Mr. Weinstein (and even if you won’t) I will make one, and also an observation:

  1. The NRA will be just fine, in fact they may gain members because of you, and
  2. You’re an idiot.

2014_01_17_Rule Five Friday (3)In the first place, political movies never go down well, whether they are Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth or the right-of-center American Carol.  The American movie-going public wants to be entertained, not to be lectured or harangued – yr. obdt. included.   These kinds of movies attract pathetically low audiences made up almost exclusively of viewers who already agree with the political statements being made in the film.

In the second place, the NRA is nothing like the silly caricature Mr. Weinstein seems to have in mind.  (Full disclosure:  Mrs. Animal and myself are both Life Members of the NRA.)  The NRA is not a sinister organization run by a cabal of masterminds; it is, honestly and in every sense of the word, a true grass-roots organization boasting 2014_01_17_Rule Five Friday (5)more than four million dues-paying members.   The NRA’s officers and Board are elected by their members, and the organizations by-laws and organization priorities are likewise decided by the members.

How many other civil-rights organizations can make that claim?

So, the NRA is powerful because its members give it the power.  Through memberships starting at $35 a year, they empower the NRA to act on their behalf, not only to provide training, insurance and a host of services but also to protect their Second Amendment rights in Washington and the several state capitols, because they believe it’s the right thing to do.

So, this film, assuming it gets made, will amount to naught.  But it’s worth examining Mr. Weinstein’s credits as a producer, which include violent, gun-filled films like Django Unchained and 2014_01_17_Rule Five Friday (4)Grindhouse.   Weinstein is a hypocrite of the worst sort.

And, incidentally, this won’t be his first act of cinematographic futility.  Does anyone remember 2009’s Capitalism – A Love Story?

Anyone?

Anyone?

Me neither.

Animal’s Daily News

Sleepy-bearA couple of different things today.  First, the recently departed Ariel Sharon.

In 2006, the always-worth-reading Dr. Charles Krauthammer wrote:

We’re now at the dawn of an era in which an extreme and fanatical religious ideology, undeterred by the usual calculations of prudence and self-preservation, is wielding state power and will soon be wielding nuclear power. 

Dr. Krauthammer was writing about Iran, and was describing a nightmare scenario that the late Mr. Sharon, as one of Isreal’s most able leaders, dealt with, lived with, contended with throughout his life.

Angry-BearConsider the situation in which Israel finds itself.  Israel is a modern, Western democratic state the size of Delaware set in the middle of violent, backward regimes possessed of a Dark Ages religosity and a burning desire to wipe the Jewish state from the face of the earth.

Ariel Sharon dealt with this threat throughout his adult life.  He was a military officer in the infant Israel’s military starting in 1948, distinguishing himself in the Yom Kippur War and the Six Days War.  Later he served as Prime Minister, steering a course largely down the middle of the road, including being one of the first Israeli leaders to openly advocate a Palestinian state.

Sharon was one of the good guys.  We could use a few more like him.

Moving right along, here’s something new from another always-worth-reading scribe, this time Dr. Victor Davis Hanson:  The Rural Way.  Excerpt:

Hard physical work is still a requisite for a sound outlook on an ever more crazy world. I ride a bike; but such exercise is not quite the same, given that the achievement of doing 35 miles is therapeutic for the body and mind, but does not lead to a sense of accomplishment in the material sense — a 30-foot dead tree cut up, a shed rebuilt, a barn repainted. I never quite understood why all these joggers in Silicon Valley have immigrants from Latin America doing their landscaping. Would not seven hours a week spent raking and pruning be as healthy as jogging in spandex — aside from the idea of autonomy that one receives by taking care of one’s own spread?

Sad-BearAs the product of a rural upbringing myself, I can appreciate Dr. Hanson’s concerns for his homeland in central California.  The Golden State is collapsing; several of our major cities (Detroit, Chicago) are not far behind.   Worse, the Imperial Federal government has spent us into insolvency.  As noted in the Animal Manifesto, our elected representatives have spent us into insolvency while ignoring the decay of our vital institutions, and future generations will – rightly – damn us for it.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Halfway to Friday!

Not many people know that the United States’ oldest corporation is a gunmaker, namely the Remington Arms Company.  From 1918 to 1927 Remington made the Model 51 pistol, a small pocket piece in .380ACP and .32ACP.  The Model 51 was a popular pocket pistol; George Patton owned one, and reportedly used it to fire at German bombers attacking his North African headquarters in 1943.

Remington 51
Remington 51

Incidentally, even though General Patton is one of my personal heroes and was a warrior without peer, shooting at an attacking bomber with a .32 is pretty much the definition of futility – but, knowing Patton’s flair for the dramatic, it’s likely the motive was a bit of inspirational showboating, rather than effective fire.

Now, in a bid to enter the fast-growing concealed-carry market, Remington has given the Model 51 an update and redesign, and is re-introducing it as the R51.

Remington R51.
Remington R51.

The R51 is a neat-looking piece of hardware.  It’s a 9mm rather than the .32/.380 of the original, which gives it a little more punch.  Better still, the R51 is rated for +P ammo, which gives it quite a bit more punch.  The layout looks simple and usable, with a 1911-style trigger, a grip safety and a slim grip wrapped around a single-stack magazine.

What’s best about this new Remington?  Quite possibly this:  The price tag.  Suggested retail is $420, which means the gun will probably retail most places for $375-400.  Upshot:  Remington is going after the mid-priced compact 9mm market in a big way, and the R51 has the Ruger LC9, the Beretta Nano, the Taurus PT709S and the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield squarely in its sights.

Remington went through some bad times in the past, particularly during the phase of importing some truly awful Russian-made P.O.S. shotguns and putting the Remington name on them.  The R51 would seem to be an indication that they are on the way back.  Let’s hope that trend continues.

Animal’s Daily News

Standing-BearThanks to Robert Stacy and Smitty for the Rule Five links!

I’m not sure why certain pundits insist on discussing the 2016 Presidential race this far out.  At this point in the 2008 election cycle, for example, everyone knew the race would be between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani.  Look how that one ended up.

So, with that said, National Journal‘s Ron Fournier is wondering aloud if a Donald Trump Presidential run is in the works, due in no small part to the ongoing Christie TrafficGate flapdoodle.

My thoughts?  Trump is no dummy, but he is a buffoon.  If the GOP really wants to lose this race, nominating Trump would be the way to go.

Still.  2016 is an eternity away, election-wise.

Were I to pick my own candidate for President, I’d take a long shot and push former Colorado Governor Bill Owens for the job.  Bill was, brown-bear-1024x768once upon a time, our state representative, before he was Colorado Treasurer and then Governor.  Down side:  Bill has no intention of getting back into politics.

Still, he’s about as likely as Trump – or Christie – at this point.

A couple of tidbits:

Mike Tyson Calls Dennis Rodman an Idiot.  Pot, meet Kettle.  Kettle, Pot.

Supreme Court Appears Poised to Overturn Obama Recess Appointments.   We’ll see.

Food for Thought.
Food for Thought.

Sex Makes You Smarter.  Well, that explains my own particular genius.  (Mrs. Animal may disagree.)

And, finally, I found this interesting:  How Fish Moved Onto Land, Bone by Bone.  And yes, the juxtaposition of those last two stories was deliberate.  Heh.

Well, OK, that was four tidbits.  Oh well.  Have a superior Tuesday, True Believers.

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