Gun Control and Mass Shootings

May 29, 2014

Because gun-control laws have been such a failure in the past, the natural response is to…. demand more gun-control laws. :/

International Liberty

Well, another loser killed a bunch of people, this time in Santa Barbara, California.

Which gives gun control zealots an opportunity to seize upon the tragedy to recycle their calls to restrict private firearms ownership and otherwise erode the Second Amendment.

But I’m not too worried that they’ll succeed. The evidence is simply too strong that gun ownership reduces crime. The research shows that criminals are less aggressive when they fear potential victims may be armed.

Moreover, they don’t even have practical proposals. Here’s some of what Jacob Sullum wrote for Reason.

None of the items on the anti-gun lobby’s wish list makes sense as a response to the crimes of Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old college student who murdered Martinez’s son and five other people on Friday night. …the Isla Vista massacre, which took place in a state with firearm laws that are among the strictest in the nation…

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About that melting Antarctic ice sheet

May 29, 2014

volcano

One word: volcanoes.

Let me repeat that: volcanoes.


Pelosi channels Whoopie Goldberg on the #VAscandal: It’s not really a scandal-scandal…

May 29, 2014

Oh, brother.

While her minions race to the microphones to denounce VA Secretary Shinseki before the voters take out their wrath on them, House Minority Leader (1) Nancy Pelosi took the softball question lobbed to her by Vox’s Ezra Klein (2) and explained that, yes, the poor treatment of veterans was scandalous, but she wasn’t sure if it really was a “scandal:”

Gee, Nancy, it sure seems to me that VA administrators and employees manipulating federal records to hide the poor treatment of veterans and win themselves some bonuses amounts to a scandal. Maybe even a criminal matter. What else do you need? Oh, wait. I know.

An (R) after the president’s name.

via The Right Scoop

Footnote:
(1) And a person very much responsible for creating that minority. Thanks, Nancy!
(2) He who thinks the Constitution is too old to understand.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Seattle: $15 minimum wage already costing jobs

May 28, 2014
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least we raised the minimum wage!”

And it’s not even in effect, yet.

But, it’s not surprising. Business managers have to plan for the future, and a looming huge increase in their labor cost will force many to rethink how they do business in Seattle, if they continue to do business there at all. Writing for the free-market Washington Policy Center, Erin Shannon reports on how small businesses are planning to cut back on hiring, delaying expansion, or moving out of the city to deal with the new wage law. Most striking, though, is the account of one business owner who supported the law, but now thinks she may have made a mistake:

One of those business owners is a well-known and active supporter of “progressive” labor policies, including a higher minimum wage. Jody Hall, owner of Cupcake Royale, initially supported a $15 minimum wage. But now Hall admits the proposed policy is, “keeping me up at night like nothing ever has.”

While Hall has serious concerns with Mayor Ed Murray’s plan to phase in a $15 minimum wage over seven years with a temporary tip credit, her biggest fear is if voters approve the radical charter amendment sponsored by the group 15Now. The charter amendment would force all large employers to begin paying $15 in 2015, and would give small business owners just three years to acclimate to the high wage. And the 15Now proposal would not allow for any tip credit.

If the charter amendment passes, Hall says she would be forced to close half of her seven locations and lay off 50 of her 100 workers.

But beyond the differences between Mayor Murray’s proposal or the more aggressive 15Now proposal, Hall says she now has “serious second thoughts” about a $15 minimum wage in general, especially since Seattle would be “going it alone” with a wage that is significantly higher than any other minimum wage in the nation.

Hall’s second thoughts about a $15 minimum wage have led to second thoughts about expanding her business. She was set to open a new business in Seattle this year, but has tabled the plan until after voters have their say on the charter amendment in the November election. Hall says if she considers any new locations before then, they will be outside the city limits.

In other words, when progressivism meets economic reality, guess which wins? You would think a successful businesswoman like Hall would have seen this coming. Maybe she thought she’d get a waiver from Obama.

And pay special attention to her comment about “going it alone.” As minimum wage increases are applied and then have the same effect in various places, there will be more and more calls from the fairness crowd to apply these laws statewide and even nationwide, to make sure business owners can’t just move to a friendlier jurisdiction, which would be “unfair.” The minimum wage thus becomes a wedge issue in an attack on local control, federalism, and jurisdictional competition, things progressive just hate, because their favored policies usually fail.

Meanwhile, I want to thank Seattle for volunteering to be a case study on the foolishness of government control of wages.

via Adrian Moore

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Why Obama’s polls will never tank with limousine liberals

May 27, 2014
"My will is enough!"

“Ruler of the New Versailles”

Historian Victor Davis Hanson writes at PJ Media about Obama’s poll numbers and why they’re not likely to hit the dismal late-term numbers of, say, George W. Bush or Harry Truman, in spite of the man’s obvious incompetence. While he discusses Obama’s support among minorities and the cover given him by  a protective media, it’s what he wrote about a third group, wealthy liberals, that I want to share:

 3) The well-off are indifferent to the Obama record, interested only in its symbolic resonance. Doctrinaire liberalism resonates mostly with the very wealthy. We see that by the voting patterns of our bluest counties, or the contributions of the very affluent. In contrast, Republicanism is mostly embedded within the middle class and upper middle class, while liberalism is a coalition of the affluent and the poor.

The result is that the Kerrys, Gores, and Pelosis are dittoed by millions of the affluent in Malibu, Silicon Valley, the Upper West Side, the university towns, Chicago, academia, the arts, highest finance, corporate America, foundations, the media, etc. Their income and accumulated wealth exempt them from worries about economic slowdowns, too much regulation, higher taxes, or the price of gas, electricity, or food. That under Obama gasoline has gone from $1.80 a gallon to $4.10 is as irrelevant as it is relevant that he has so far not built the Keystone Pipeline. That the price of meat has skyrocketed or that power bills are way up means little if global warming is at last addressed by more government.

For the liberal grandee, there is a margin of safety to ensure that the California legislature takes up questions like prohibiting the sale of Confederate insignia or ensuring restrooms for the transgendered or shutting down irrigated acreage to please the delta smelt. In their view, Obama represents their utopian dreams where an anointed technocracy (1), exempt from the messy ramifications of its own ideology, directs from on high a socially just society — diverse, green, non-judgmental, neutral abroad, tribal at home — in which an equality of result is ensured, albeit with proper exemptions for the better educated and more sophisticated, whose perks are necessary to give them proper downtime for their exhausting work on our behalf.

In other words, unlike the rest of us, the liberal elite can actually afford the society they want to impose on us all. For our own good.

And of such times are populist revolts born.

Footnote:
(1) Seems like VDH and I were thinking along the same lines. As usual, though, he says it a lot better than I.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The IRS wants to tax your frequent flyer miles and hotel points

May 27, 2014

taxes IRS shakedown

It’s as if the agency was worried it wasn’t hated enough.

Writing at Reason, Ira Stoll reports that the Internal Revenue Service is looking at taxing rewards points offered by airlines and hotel chains:

Just in time for your summer vacation, the IRS is getting ready to toughen the tax treatment on frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty reward programs.

The IRS announced in 2002 that it wouldn’t try to go after individuals for income taxes on frequent flyer miles or hotel loyalty points earned on company-paid business trips. Yet the temptation to wring some tax revenue out of the vast non-dollar economy of Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints, Marriott Rewards points, American Airlines AAdvantage miles, Delta Skymiles, and so on is apparently so great that that the government just cannot resist.

Sure enough, the Tax Foundation, a research group that tracks tax issues, flags a recent post on the View From the Wing blog that runs under the provocative headline, “The IRS Looks To Be on the Verge of Imposing a Big Tax Burden on Loyalty Points.”

The IRS’s plans are vague, but they have airlines and hotel owners concerned enough about the issue that they reportedly sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. “The IRS’ proposal to alter the tax treatment of loyalty programs will impose a significant new tax on existing and future loyalty points that travel customers enjoy and rely upon,” said the letter, according to a report in Politico. “Any change or clarification of loyalty program accounting should be made through the legislative process, not IRS promulgation.”

Frequent flyer mile fanatics got a wake-up call on the issue back in 2012 when Citibank sent IRS Forms 1099, documenting “miscellaneous income,” at a rate of 2.5 cents a mile, to customers who had signed up for an American Airlines-branded credit card and gotten 40,000 AAdvantage miles as a bonus. It was an unpleasant surprise to cardholders who thought they were getting a free trip, not an unwanted extra tax bill.

I’ll say. I rarely rack up enough points for a free flight or hotel night, but I know plenty of people who fly a lot and who rely on those points to help cover the occasional vacation. Suddenly taxing them not only diminishes their value as a customer-retention tool, but also burdens the consumer by imposing a monetary cost for a non-monetary reward. (Sure, the points have “value,” but it’s not like real income. Just try paying for a meal with airline points…)

Stoll covers several problems with this plan, but I’ll add one of my own: this is another example of the gradual bureaucratic usurpation of legislative power that’s grown to be such a problem since the Progressive Era. Congress writes laws that allow regulatory agencies to create rules for their implementation, but agencies, like bureaucracies everywhere, constantly push the bounds of that authority to accumulate ever-greater power to themselves, to the point whereat they’re no longer writing rules, but actually making law in place of the elected legislature. Which, for progressive ideology, is a feature, not a bug. (1)

Although, perhaps “usurpation” is too strong a word. After all, congresses dominated by both Democrats and Republicans have gone along with this, even if they didn’t agree with progressive ideology, passing vague legislation and letting agencies “fill in the blanks.” It’s a tempting bit of laziness: as Washington accumulated more power to itself, Congress had to deal with more and more, until it became expedient to let someone else deal with the details. And it gives them political cover: It wasn’t your congressman who decided to tax your airline miles, it was the IRS. Left unsaid is how generations of congressmen and senators have enabled this.

Of the many reforms our government needs, congress reclaiming its power to make laws and reining in the bureaucracy —especially the IRS!— is high on the list.

Footnote:
(1) The basic idea is that democratically-elected legislatures are too prone to public passions, too full of unqualified people, to be trusted with governance. Progressives prefer unelected, dispassionate boards of technocrats who would practice scientific management of public affairs. They may be right about the problems of legislatures, but I think the last century has shown their solution is even worse.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


(Video) Concerned environmentalists can’t figure out if it’s “global warming” or “global cooling”

May 26, 2014
"We're still here!"

“We’re still here!”

So, PJTV’s Michelle Fields went out among the people in Washington, D.C., to find out what self-described “environmentalists” thought about global warming… or, maybe, global cooling. Or maybe both at the same time. Either way, most were sure government should do something about it. Whatever “it” is.

Just do something!

Actually, I agree with the last person’s mother: they can’t even accurately predict the weather a week out, so why take seriously predictions for a century from now?

But, government should do something!

PS: That 97% consensus among scientists that catastrophic anthropogenic climate change is real that one person mentioned? It’s bunk.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)