« To Change Others, First Change Yourself | Main | Media Induced PTSD »

December 18, 2012

"...Companies must operate in the world that actually exists, not the world that [Congress] would prefer"

The best part of this excellent article on gun control neatly summarizes many of the arguments used to justify "meaningful action":

1. Something must be done

2. This is something

3. Therefore this must be done.

The obvious implication being that if you're not willing to buy off on that "something" then you don't care enough. How easily the entirely foreseeable real world consequences of various legislative "fixes" are trumped by unsupported accusations of bad faith:

When employers like Microsoft MSFT +1.05% and Intel go searching for engineers and complain that our artificial caps on high-skill immigrants place them at a competitive disadvantage with their global competitors, lawmakers in Washington dismiss such concerns. Protectionist politicians argue that these high-tech firms are merely interested in "cheap labor" and that foreign nationals are displacing U.S. workers, not filling jobs that would otherwise go unfilled.

In fact, labor regulations and fees make foreign professionals more expensive to hire than Americans. But the other reality often ignored in this debate is those test scores cited above. Our K-12 education system is not producing the world's top talent in math and science, and hasn't been for some time. U.S. companies want access to foreign workers to help them stay competitive and keep jobs in America. We all want the U.S. to do a better job of educating children, but companies must operate in the world that actually exist, not the world that they would prefer.

*sigh*

Posted by Cassandra at December 18, 2012 07:48 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.villainouscompany.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/4458

Comments

I am sorry Cass, I do not think the article is excellent.

Her article makes me want to scream. Her whole article is about how far she thinks the government can go in restricting our rights and still get away with it. She is advocating restriction on my rights, why on earth would I think that was excellent.

Posted by: Russ at December 18, 2012 11:49 AM

Well, first of all you don't have to be sorry for disagreeing with me!

But I am a little confused. How do you get "she wants to restrict my rights" from an article entitled, "There's Little We Can Do to Prevent Another Massacre"

...and subtitled,

"The things that would work are impractical and unconstitutional. The things we can do won't work."?

...which concludes by saying:

It would certainly be more comfortable for me to endorse doing something symbolic--bring back the "assault weapons ban"--in order to signal that I care. But I would rather do nothing than do something stupid because it makes us feel better. We shouldn't have laws on the books unless we think there's a good chance they'll work: they add regulatory complexity and sap law-enforcement resources from more needed tasks. This is not because I don't care about dead children; my heart, like yours, broke about a thousand times this weekend. But they will not breathe again because we pass a law. A law would make us feel better, because it would make us feel as if we'd "done something", as if we'd made it less likely that more children would die. But I think that would be false security. And false security is more dangerous than none.

None of this sounds like she wants to take anyone rights away, or is even advocating ANY new laws. It may be my reading that was at fault - I read it late last night and did not have time to reread it this morning.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 18, 2012 12:05 PM

She does state that she would oppose a gun ban, but manages to list restrictions that she is OK with. I guess that I just get tired of seeing people so willing to give our rights away in order to feel better. She states, "I am okay with outlawing magazines that contain more than ten bullets." She then says that she is not sure that it would work. Why is she okay with it? Why the willingness to restrict a basic right?

She at least knows the difference between semi-automatic and automatic, which is way more than most of the reporting that I have heard lately.

Her logic is faulty when she states, "But I think there's no question that our homicide rate would be lower than it is now, simply because fewer killings would succeed." All available data points to the opposite being true.

Posted by: Russ at December 18, 2012 01:47 PM

I guess that I just get tired of seeing people so willing to give our rights away in order to feel better. She states, "I am okay with outlawing magazines that contain more than ten bullets." She then says that she is not sure that it would work. Why is she okay with it? Why the willingness to restrict a basic right?

I guess I don't think of being able to buy a clip with 30 (vs 10) bullets in it as a fundamental right.

I understand your point about being willing to do something to feel better, but then McArdle makes that point too, several times. Here's where people like me have a problem: I don't think all rights are equally important. I also believe that living with other people means no side gets their way 100% of the time.

Try as I might, I just don't see anything in the Constitution that guarantees - as a fundamental right - 30 bullet magazines ... any more than I see a fundamental right to have abortions in the Constitution. It's just not that specific a document, hence all the arguing over what it all means 200+ years later :p

I'm joking to lighten things up, not because I think questions of Constitutionality are funny.

Mind you, not espying a Constitutional right to buy them isn't necessarily an argument FOR banning 30 bullet magazines. It is, I think, a possible argument against treating every proposal to limit the purchase or sale of weapons and ammunition that far exceed anything the Founders ever had to deal with as an impermissible breach of liberty.

To me, that weakens the case for opposing what truly *are* fundamental rights. Your opponents can fairly say, "He says that's a fundamental right, but then he thinks he has a Constitutional right to buy grape-flavored Fruit Rollups". It's an easy position to ridicule, and doesn't fly well even with people who are inclined to support your case.

I don't think anyone knows with any certainty whether limiting guns or ammo would reduce the murder rate. There is evidence pointing both ways, none of it involving *this* country, *this* culture, etc.

Australia points one way, Germany another, and neither side is above cherry picking their facts to support their desired outcome. Honestly, I don't claim to know what will happen if X, Y, or Z. I don't believe anyone does - McArdle or the folks who claim that if we all packed heat, mass shootings would go the way of the Dodo bird. What I've seen of human natures leaves me with precious little trust in the intelligence or restraint of my fellow men and women. It's bad enough when all I have to do is listen to them prattle on about their feelings - that's painful, but ultimately survivable. Imagining some of these folks with loaded weapons just makes me want to drink myself into permanent insensibility.

What I do know is that we are rapidly losing our ability to debate these matters reasonably. I think the Internet makes this worse, but since I'm naturally disinclined to ban things absent strong evidence, that leaves me SOL :p

Thanks for the explanation, Russ :) I think I misunderstood at least part of what you were trying to say, and your second comment helped clear things up.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 18, 2012 02:13 PM

I guess I don't think of being able to buy a clip with 30 (vs 10) bullets in it as a fundamental right.

This probably belongs on the other thread, but...

The question to me is where does the federal gov't have the power to ban it?

You mention that asserting the fundamental right to buy grape flavored fruit roll-ups is silly. But then again, by what power does the federal gov't ban it?

It seems to me that we are looking at the constitution from the wrong direction. We are looking at it as if the Constitution lays out the things the people may or may not do rather than laying out what the gov't may and may not do.

That was, in fact, the argument against including the Bill of Rights. That people would start looking at it from the perspective of "Does the Constitition allow the people to do XYZ". To them, the answer was simple. There was no need to have the First Amendment because the unamended constitution never granted the power to congress to pass laws restricting speech, press, religion, or petitions of redress, nor the power to establish a state religion.

Since it didn't have that power to start with, banning the gov't from doing so only served to make it "illegaler" for the gov't and to give people the wrong perspective.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 18, 2012 02:41 PM

I am easily misunderstood as I find it difficult to write clearly. Your writing deserves a clear response, it is just hard to get it on paper.

You state, "What I've seen of human natures leaves me with precious little trust in the intelligence or restraint of my fellow men and women."

I agree, and I believe that the founders would have agreed with you as well. I think that was one of their reasons for codifying the right to bear arms. The founders feared government though they accepted it as a necessary evil.

Would your comment "that far exceed anything the Founders ever had to deal with" not also apply to the internet? Should we allow restrictions on the internet because the founders did not have to deal with it?

The founders were pretty straight forward about our right to defend ourselves, our family, and our community. In fact, I would say that they saw it as a duty to be prepared for that defense. I think that they would look at a 30 round clip with admiration.

Posted by: Russ at December 18, 2012 02:49 PM

"I don't think anyone knows with any certainty whether limiting guns or ammo would reduce the murder rate. There is evidence pointing both ways, none of it involving *this* country, *this* culture, etc."

I believe that John Lott's book, "More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Third Edition (Studies in Law and Economics)" might be helpful.

Posted by: Russ at December 18, 2012 02:54 PM

Yu-Ain Gonnano nails it.

Posted by: Russ at December 18, 2012 03:00 PM

Would your comment "that far exceed anything the Founders ever had to deal with" not also apply to the internet? Should we allow restrictions on the internet because the founders did not have to deal with it?

You won't like this, but I suspect my answer to this would be, "Quite possibly". Crimes are committed on the Internet every day, some of them violent. And traditional laws were not designed for the Internet.

I can't think of too many human activities that aren't regulated by state, local, or federal governments and I find the notion that the Internet should be a law free zone to be risible. Cyber crime is a growing problem that will almost certainly entail some regulation of the Internet at some point.

We can disagree about the merits of 30 round clips, Russ. We can even disagree about the tipping point where the damage or efficacy of a proposed law makes it either unthinkable or possibly a good idea.

I'm not an absolutist. Never have been, never will be. Anyone who has read me for long knows that I believe in considering all sides.

I also believe people of good faith and decent morals can look at the same issue and not agree. The question is whether you're more afraid of the government or of your fellow citizens. Different circumstances suggest different answers to that question may be appropriate.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 18, 2012 04:18 PM

We are looking at it as if the Constitution lays out the things the people may or may not do rather than laying out what the gov't may and may not do.

Well, I'm not! The Constitution preserves a limited bundle of rights against the federal government (IOW, it allows individuals and once upon a time, states to say, "Get off my lawn".)

Subsequent amendments passed by voters have broadened out many of these rights so that they are now enforceable against the states.

It bothers me that conservatives are all for broadening the Constitution when it suits their purposes but often insist on incredibly narrow readings when it does not. Liberals do the same thing. That's why I stopped writing about law, a subject I love and am endlessly fascinated with.

I don't think I'm laboring under any misunderstanding of what the Constitution does. I had several years of law classes and read fairly extensively on the subject, and despite my lack of credentials I feel pretty confident that I understand basic Constitutional issues and the pros and cons of various positions. But more importantly, I've argued with spd and KJ for nearly a decade now. I should have a law degree!

[just kidding - if anything, listening to their arguments over the years has convinced me that none of this is as simple as either side makes out. Moreover, I'm an idiot whose opinion is and ought to be interesting only to me.]

Liberals want to expand the Constitution and to invent all sorts of rights that aren't explicitly spelled out in that document. Until they run up against something like the 2nd Amendment, and all of a sudden they're strict constructionists.

Frankly, I don't see a whole lot of daylight between them and conservatives who insist on the strict, plain meaning and narrow construction... until suddenly we're espying a right to buy Fruit Rollups lurking beneath an errant penumbra or a dangling participle :p

I'm not saying it's right, but we all argue passionately to prove our points. It's hard for me to step back and honestly entertain arguments I disagree with, but I'm rarely sorry I took the trouble even if, in the end, I'm not converted.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 18, 2012 04:32 PM

Cass, my comment on the internet pertained to letting the government restrict our right to free speech in a different way using the internet then it could in a newspaper or pamphlet. Would that be acceptable?

Posted by: Russ at December 18, 2012 05:26 PM

I don't know, Russ. I would want to hear all the arguments for and against before making up my mind.

I'm extremely skeptical of placing any limits (of any kind) on political speech, which is as close to being an absolutist as I'll ever get.

I'm less hostile to limiting a lot of things that are commonly called speech or "Art", especially when they involve children being tortured for entertainment or sexual gratification and if someone were to propose a sensible measure that I thought might help the cops put traffickers and child pornographers in jail or keep terrorists from taking down our power and water grids... well, I'd certainly listen with an open mind.

In a world where morons claim that a giant inflatable rat is covered under the First Amendment, anything is possible.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 18, 2012 05:37 PM

Liberals want to expand the Constitution and to invent all sorts of rights that aren't explicitly spelled out in that document. Until they run up against something like the 2nd Amendment, and all of a sudden they're strict constructionists.

Frankly, I don't see a whole lot of daylight between them and conservatives who insist on the strict, plain meaning and narrow construction... until suddenly we're espying a right to buy Fruit Rollups lurking beneath an errant penumbra or a dangling participle :p

The difference, to me, is that abortion involves the forcible taking of life of a non-consenting non-adult. Unless state lines are crossed, this should not be a Federal issue and I would oppose a federal ban on it for that reason.

At the state level, the question is whether this non-consenting non-adult has an enforcible right to that life against another person. If this non-consenting non-adult has no rights, then the State Gov't should not stop it either. It's just a lump of cells no different than the chunks body modifiers remove for God knows what reason. And saying otherwise would be inventing rights out of penumbras and dangling participles.

If it does have rights, though, then this is an improper taking of life unless it presents a threat of death or grave bodily injury to the mother. The enforcement of rights is a proper role of gov't.

The ownership of a grape flavored fruit roll up does not infinge on anyone else's rights. And thus, the gov't should not prevent you from obtaining one.

If it did have rights, that would be a different story. (Not to mention a pretty darned impressive rhetorical feat.)

This seems to me to be wholly consistent and not inventing rights not explicit to the constitution.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 18, 2012 05:42 PM

Before I hie me to my patiently waiting Bowflex, the Fruit Rollup was a joke and not a serious argument I'm going to defend.

Posted by: Pain Is Just Weakness, Leaving the Body... at December 18, 2012 06:15 PM

"high-tech firms are merely interested in 'cheap labor'"

Horrors. I know we all want employers to be motivated chiefly by the desire to pay higher wages than the market demands, so that their products can be more expensive.

Posted by: Texan99 at December 19, 2012 08:49 AM

Post a comment

To reduce comment spam, comments on older posts are put into moderation 5 days after the last activity. Comments with more than one link also go into moderation. If you don't see your comment after posting it, try refreshing the screen. If you still don't see it, your comment is probably in the moderation queue.




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)