Blog malfunction

For some reason, everything I posted bewteen this afternoon and first thing yesterday morning starts to load in and then disappears.  I have no idea what’s going on.  We’ll just have to see what WordPress can do to help.  Or if you are even seeing this :-).

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Chart of the day

No, the welfare state is not killing us.  We’re not going to become Greece because we’re spending too much on social services.  There’s basically no relationship between social spending and economic growth.  Via Matthew O’Brien:

SocSpendvsGDP.png

I know this picture is worth 1,000 words, but here are four more. There is no pattern…

It hasn’t exactly been a good decade for growth anywhere in the rich world. But it hasn’t been any worse for countries with big welfare states versus countries with small welfare states. Yes, social programs can affect growth. But so do other things. Like monetary policy. Or smart taxes. And that most ineffable of qualities, a strong entrepreneurial culture. Which, ironically, might be strengthened by some elements of the social safety net.

You don’t need to sacrifice economic security for economic growth. Other countries manage both just fine. Actually, the U.S. is in better shape than most other rich countries because our demographic crunch is much less … crunchy? Our society is still growing, if aging.
Hear that sound? It’s the death knell of the death knell of the welfare state.

The gun nuts

What is it about guns that just seems to either make people crazy or bring all the crazies to the fore?!  In a story I’ve been familiar with for a while because the reporter is a friend of mine, some local gun not (and sure embarrassment to all reasonable–and yes, I certainly admit there are some– gun rights supporters) this nut has taken to bringing the reporters family into the matter for him reporting on publicly available information!  The details in (a generally accurate, but woefully “he said, she said” ) N&O story:

In response to a WRAL report on concealed-weapons permits that included a searchable database, a North Carolina gun-rights organization has launched a campaign against the reporter and his supervisors and applied pressure to the station’s advertisers…

Grass Roots North Carolina, described on its website as “North Carolina’s only ‘no compromise’ gun rights organization,” has not quieted its campaign against WRAL in the wake of the killings at the Aurora, Colo., movie theater.

Paul V***** [wouldn’t be surprised if this guy has a google alert for his name, so I’m going to not use it and avoid drawing him into my life], the organization’s president, said the group has a long-standing policy that it will take economic action against any media outlet that divulges information about gun owners that group members think should remain private.

V***** first urged WRAL to take down the database that allows users to find out if people who live nearby have gun permits. A searcher looking at a particular town or city will see the streets where gun-permit holders live but won’t see the name or specific address of the permit holder.

When their effort to have the site taken down failed, V*****turned to his organization’s email alert network, urging more than 50,000 people on the list to deliver a message to Mark Binker, the multimedia investigative reporter who posted the information, his bosses and the station’s advertisers.

“In an apparent attempt to shame gun owners, some media outlets have a history of publishing the names of gun purchasers.” V***** said in one alert. “But that was many years ago, before the advent of the Internet. Things are now far more reciprocal. So let’s talk a bit about reporter Mark Binker, the apparent engineer of the piece to reveal concealed handgun permit-holders.”

V***** posted lots of information about Binker culled from websites and social media sites, including photos of the reporter’s wife and children.

Well, how that’s that for reasoned political dialog.  Not surprisingly, lots of fun comments from North Carolina’s less mentally stable along with the story.  Anyway, also wanted to mention the parts that annoyed me so much:

The incident demonstrates the prickliness of examining gun-related issues even before the shooting in Colorado stirred fresh debate. It also exposes tensions that can arise between advocates of the First Amendment and its protections of free speech and supporters of the Second Amendment with its right to bear arms.

This is not about 1st vs. 2nd amendment.  This is about 1st amendment versus crazy gun-obsessed lunatics who see most everything as a threat against them and as an excuse to bring a journalist’s family into the matter.

Also, I don’t know Steve Hamel at WRAL, so I don’t know if he really believes this:

Steve Hammel, WRAL-TV vice president and general manager, said his news outlet published no information that was not already available to the public when it posted its July 12 report on concealed-weapons permit holders.

“We’ve released public records that anyone out there can easily obtain,” Hammel said.

Hammel used the incident as an opportunity to opine on the First Amendment and Second Amendment, saying they carried equal weight.

“Both are vital,” Hammel said in a July 20 post. “Both make this a great country.”

But, I should mention it’s a load of crap.  How exactly does the 2nd amendment make this a great country?  And the idea that it is equal in importance to the 1st?!!  Please!  There are many thriving wonderful democracies that have freedom of speech, but very limited gun rights.  Now, find me a thriving democracy that has extensive gun rights but limited freedom of speech.

The guns the Colorado killer did not use

Andrew Sullivan shares the writings of an email correspondent that are about the best thing I’ve yet read on the issue of assault weapons bans:

I’m so sick of arguments like Adam Ozimek’s that basically say “you won’t be able to keep everyone determined to get a gun from getting one, so therefore gun regulations are pointless.”  It’s just absurd.

“Strong illegality wouldn’t have stopped [Holmes],” Ozimek says, pointing to the home-made IEDs in his apartment.  Let me ask you a question, Adam – why didn’t Holmes use a fully automatic, military-issue M4 instead of the civilian AR-15?  Hell, why not full-on light machine gun, like the M249, capable of rattling off around 1000 rounds per minute, complete with canister and a hundreds of rounds of ammunition? Why didn’t he use military-issue hand grenades and booby trap his apartment with claymore mines?  Does Ozimek believe that it was some kind of merciful choice that Holmes made, deliberately forgoing the additional lethality he could have brought with him to the theater if he were simply “determined” enough to get it?  Or does it seem more likely that the strict regulations in place to prevent dissemination of fully automatic, military-grade assault weapons may have had some impact on his weapons of choice? [emphasis mine]

Even if you can never stop all wars, you still work for peace.

And here’s Mark Kleiman in the wake of the Jared Loughner shooting:

The Tucson assassin managed to kill six people and wound thirteen more, at least one critically, before he ran out of ammunition. When he paused to reload, three heroic unarmed people tackled him. If he’d had a smaller magazine, fewer people would be dead and injured.

The 31-round magazine he bought, legally, along with his 9mm Glock, last November, would have been illegal until the NRA managed to prevent the extension of the assault weapons ban in 2004.

I’m not a huge fan of generic gun control. Making it harder for already ineligible people to get guns – by passing tougher laws on gun trafficking and closing down the private-sale loophole that allows sales without background checks – would have some value, but shrinking the number of guns owned by people allowed to own guns under current law wouldn’t do much about violence. States that make it easier to get a concealed-carry permit don’t find that the permit-holders commit many crimes. And “assault weapons” constitute only a tiny part of the gunfire problem.

Still, this is a case where excessively loose controls permitted avoidable violence. The shooter hadn’t been convicted of any crime or been officially judged a risk to others due to his mental-health problems, but there’s no way he could have passed even a cursory training program for concealed carry; he couldn’t even get through a community-college algebra class without being spotted as a dangerous person. [emphases in original] Arizona is one of only three states to allow concealed carry without a special permit.

But even assuming that he would have simply ignored that law, there’s no reason to think that he would have been sufficiently dedicated or knowledgeable to acquire an illegal high-capacity magazine. If he’d had only 10 rounds in his clip rather than 32, some of his victims would be alive and unhurt.

Honestly, I cannot think of another issue in American politics where one side is just so completely irrational.  The idea that one has to defend even high capacity military assault rifles to the utmost extreme is just nuts.  Can’t gun rights supporters just admit that we can limit these types of weapons and not come and take away their handgun or rifle?!  We had an assault weapons ban for 10 years and it was not some totalitarian takeover of American life.  Nobody is coming to take your guns away!  We’re never going to complete stop psycho mass murders, but if we can limit the harm they do when they go psycho killer, damn-it, that’s something worth doing.  Especially when the only harm it causes is somebody’s “suffering” from getting by without an AR-15 or 30 bullet magazine.

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