Monday, June 29, 2015

What is Full Employment?

Martin Feldstein thinks that we may be close to full employment, due to a combination of disincentives to work caused by entitlements and rules an regulations that reduce employers' incentives to hire.

Here is the link.

What is Full Employment?

Martin Feldstein thinks that we may be close to full employment, due to a combination of disincentives to work caused by entitlements and rules an regulations that reduce employers' incentives to hire.

Here is the link.

Trade Is Trade – Or, Economic Activity Is Economic Activity

Here is a link to a post by Don Boudreaux that puts job losses due to international trade in perspective.

Don explains why losses of domestic jobs to foreign workers is no different than losses of domestic jobs to other domestic workers.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Myths of American gun violence - and Obama's untruths

Here is an article by John Lott that illustrates the perpetuation of untruths by the anti-gun crowd, including Obama.

On Obamacare, John Roberts helps overthrow the Constitution

George Will gets it right in his Washington Post column about John Roberts.

Politicians endlessly proclaim that the United States is the land of freedom and liberty.  It is not - and is getting worse.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jokes and Puns

Two hydrogens are walking along a street. The first one says, "Hey! I think I lost an electron!"  The second one replies, "Are you sure?"  The first one then says, "Yeah, I'm POSITIVE."

Magnet: Something you find crawling all over a dead cat.

The pistol of the flower is its only protection against insects.

Honesty is the key to a relationship.  If you can fake that, you're in.

No one dies a virgin, life screws us all.

If money doesn't grow on trees then why do banks have branches?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The state of discourse on guns

The state of discourse on guns - John Lott is the "good guy".

Response to Evan DeFilippis and Devin Hughes' claims at "ArmedwithReaon" about my research

Recently Evan DeFilippis and Devin Hughes claimed that defensive gun use was a myth.  Gary Kleck wrote a response where he noted that these authors were merely repeating earlier criticisms and ignored the responses that he and others have made to those critiques.

Well, DeFilippis and Hughes use the same approach in discussing my research (a screen shot of their original post is saved here).  Let's try to go through these points in order that they are presented:

So what if Greece leaves the European Union?

A great column by George Will in the Washington Post.

An important reason why cities and countries often linger in poverty and decay is that their debts are not erased.

If a city is insolvent, a productive person can avoid the financial burden by moving out.  That worsens the insolvency and leaves the city a disaster area.

If the city goes bankrupt and its obligations are erased, taxes can be reduced to the point where it becomes economically viable.

Bankruptcy is likely to discourage lenders from financing another round of financial stupidity - which made the mess possible in the first place.  However, that depends on all obligations, such as pension funds, being kept fully funded at all times - so that borrowing is a prerequisite for further financial stupidity.

Bankruptcy will hurt those who were promised money.  City retirees and others who were handed excessive pensions or "deals" may deserve to be hurt.  Bondholders deserve whatever they get - or fail to get - it is their responsibility to evaluate their investments.  Bankruptcy can help current residents by making their city viable again.

In the case of countries, insolvency imposes a similar financial burden on economic activity.  However, it is much harder for people to avoid the financial burden by moving out - hence more people suffer.

Countries cannot go bankrupt in the sense that a city can.  While a country can choose to default on its financial obligations, the default is less likely to be sufficiently complete.  Many financial obligations to citizens, who vote, will remain - probably enough of them to prolong economic chaos indefinitely.

The Ring

I still remember the day I lost my Cub Scout "Wolf" ring, more than sixty five years ago. It's one of the few things that I remember from that time.

I had wanted a Wolf ring badly and my parents gave me one on my birthday. It was a silver color and had a sculptured wolf’s head. I loved it.

I lost the ring only a few minutes after I received it, while I was playing in our backyard during my birthday party. I don't remember whether I was wearing it or had it in my pocket when I lost it. All I remember is looking for it in the grass where we had been playing - and feeling a deep sense of loss.

I searched and searched, but couldn’t find it. I thought that I would have seen it in the grass - I wondered whether one of my friends had found it and kept it. I still wonder.

My parents did not give me another Wolf ring, and I never had one again.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Crosswind landings and takeoffs

The interesting thing in this video is the apparent lack of knowledge about how to do a crosswind landing at the flare.  The crab is good until just before touchdown.  Then it should be converted to a slip.  See if you notice upwind wing down and rudder to the downwind side.  Mostly, no.

On the takeoffs, rudder should be on the downwind side and upwind aileron should be up.  See if you notice that.  Mostly no.

Here is the link.

There is a word for people who are anti-gun - Prey

How to prevent mass murder in churches

From the Washington Times.  A lesson to be learned.

"He was a young gunman bent on shooting as many worshippers as possible, but Matthew J. Murray never got as far as Dylann Roof, the suspect in Wednesday’s South Carolina church massacre.

Murray had already shot and killed two people in the parking lot when he burst into the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Before he could pull the trigger again, however, the 24-year-old shooter was gunned down by Jeanne Assam, a volunteer security guard with a concealed-carry permit.

That was eight years ago, but even though Ms. Assam was credited for saving as many as 100 lives that day, a dozen states continue to restrict the carrying of concealed firearms in churches — including South Carolina."

If you want to know the facts about concealed carry and its impact on violent crime, read John Lott's "More Guns Less Crime",

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Gun-free zones an easy target for killers

Here is a column by John Lott about the recent church shooting that killed nine people.

The horrible tragedy last night that left nine people dead at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., probably could have been avoided. Like so many other attacks, the massacre took place in a gun-free zone, a place where the general public was banned from having guns. The gun-free zone obviously didn’t stop the killer from bringing a gun into the church.

Indeed, the circumstantial evidence is strong that these killers don’t attack randomly; they keep picking the few gun-free zones to do virtually all their attacks.

For some reason, people who would never put up a “gun-free zone” sign in front of their own homes, put up such signs for other sensitive areas that we would like to protect.

Time after time, we see that these killers tell us they pick soft targets. With justtwo exceptions, from at least 1950, all the mass public shootings have occurred in these gun-free zones. From last summer’s mass public killers in Santa Barbara and Canada, to the Aurora movie theater shooter, these killers made it abundantly clear in their diaries or on Facebook how they avoided targets where people with guns could stop them.

And even when concealed handgun permit holders don’t deter the killers, the permit holders stop them. Just a couple of weeks ago, a mass public shooting at a liquor store in Conyers, Ga., was stopped by a concealed handgun permit holder. A couple of people had already been killed by the time the permit holder arrived, but according to Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett:

"I believe that if Mr. Scott did not return fire at the suspect, then more of those customers would have [been] hit by a gun. It didn’t appear that he cared who he shot or where he was shooting until someone was shooting back at him. So, in my opinion, he saved other lives in that store."

Yet, even though there was a video of this heroic action, the story got no national news coverage. Case after case occurs where concealed handgun permit holders stop what would have been mass shootings. While many don’t get news coverage because the permit holder prevents people from being killed, some, such as the recent Georgia case, still don’t get coverage even when there are dead bodies.

These heroes just don’t stop attacks in small towns in Georgia. In the last year, multiple mass public shootings in both Chicago and Philadelphia (the third and fourth largest cities in the U.S.) have been stopped.

But just as frustrating as the lack of coverage these heroes receive is the news blackout on reporting mass public shootings when killers pick places where victims are not allowed to defend themselves. While the news will go into details about how the killer got his guns or the types of weapons used (and often the initial news reports are wrong), the simplest fact would be whether the attack occurred in a gun-free zone. The gun-free zone signs are often right in front of the buildings and are seemingly impossible to miss.

The gun control debate would probably be dramatically different if even some of the news stories would occasionally mention that another attack has occurred in a gun-free zone. I have been able to find just one Associated Press story that mentions an attack occurred in a gun-free zone -- a recent attack at a mall this year in Pittsburgh.

Over the years, news editors have told me that it would be injecting politics into the coverage to mention gun-free zones. But why would that be any more political than the rest of their coverage?

Churches, like the one in Charleston, preach peace, but the killer there probably chose that target because he knew the victims were defenseless.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A reminder from Ecclesiastes

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to
the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to
the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet
favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to
them all.

Connecticut's strict gun licensing law linked to steep drop in homicides? Not really

John Lott uncovers more misleading statistics by anti-gunners.

A new study in the American Journal of Public Health claims that the state of Connecticut’s 1995 gun licensing law has reduced firearm homicide rates by 40 percent. But this just released study gives academics a bad name. Not surprisingly, anti-gun activist and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and the left-wing Joyce Foundation funded the research.

The study cherry picks which states with gun licensing laws are examined, which years are looked at, and the type of crime to study. Any normal researcher would look at all the states in the country that have passed a similar law and compares the changes in crime trends between those states that passed the laws to those that didn’t.
Sure, from 1995 to 2005 the firearm homicide rate in Connecticut did indeed fall from 3.13 to 1.88 per 100,000 people, a 40% drop over a ten-year period. Not mentioned is that the firearms homicide rate was falling even faster immediately before the licensing law went into effect, falling from 4.5 to 3.13 per 100,000 residents -- more than a 30 percent drop in just two years.

When researchers throw out data, there had better be a good reason. They didn’t have one. They cite a paper that looked at the impact of smoking for 12 years after cigarette taxes were increased. What cigarettes have to do with explaining crime rates and what 12 years has to do with only looking at 10 years of data is never explained, though possibly they thought no one would actually read the paper they cited.

In any case, their results change appreciably if just one more year is added to their data. Between 1995 and 2006, Connecticut’s firearm homicide rate fell byjust 16 percent. By comparison, the rates for the U.S. and the rest of the Northeast fell respectively by 27 percent and 22 percent. If Connecticut’s firearm homicide rate didn’t fall as much as the rest of the country, why should we think that the licensing law was so beneficial?

The authors also don’t explain why they chose to focus solely on the state of Connecticut. If you have 10 states and the District of Columbia that have had these types of laws for at least some time, you really ought to look at all the state laws for all the years available.

For example, Massachusetts started its licensing rules in 1998 and has seen a large rise in both firearm homicides and other violent crime relative to both the rest of the United States and other states in the Northeast. Between 1998 and 2010, Massachusetts’s firearm homicide rate soared by 88 percent. Michigan only recently gotten rid of its licensing law in December 2012, but firearm homicides fell 15 percent the next year. After Missouri made it easier to buy handguns in 2007, the growth in murders was cut in half.

The authors of this study clearly coordinated its publication with congressional Democrats so that the new federal "Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act" was introduced the very same day that this new study was released. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) noted that this was no difference here between requiring a license to drive a car, but a closer analogy would be a concealed handgun permit. People don’t need a license to drive as long as they have the car on private property, only when they take it out in public. You also don’t need a license to carry a concealed handgun unless you are doing it in public.

Yet, despite all these flaws, the cherry picking and distortions, the media gave the study massive amount uncritical news coverage. Apparently it was too good of a story to bother with journalistic concerns about getting both sides of the story. Among the media there was the Associated Press (with newspapers across the country carrying their story), Washington Post, Newsweek, US News & World Report, Philadelphia Inquirer, Newser, Baltimore Sun, Arstechnica, andHuffington Post. The notion that they might want to ask another academic if they had any concerns about the study never seems to have crossed these reporters’ minds.

Here is a simple rule for journalists to follow: if a study doesn’t have a really good reason to exclude or omit data, it shouldn’t be taken seriously.

At least Michael Bloomberg and other gun control advocates thought they got their money’s worth for funding this “study.”

Friday, June 05, 2015

Life at 77 years old

Recently, I decided to relearn elementary differential equations.  I began to read a differential equations book I have, published in 1929 (it was my Father's book).

One type of solution method involves the use of the differential operator, D, in symbolic form.  It's nifty, and once I had some of the basics, I decided to do one of the book's problems that way.

The particular problem looked pretty simple, and the book gave the answer, which I was supposed to verify.

I had a nice elegant and simple approach to solving the problem, and proceeded to apply it.  I did not get the book's answer.

Over the next few days, I redid my solution and reviewed it, endlessly.  I am error prone, and did find careless errors on my part.  Nevertheless,  I did not get the book's answer, although I did, the last few times, get the same "my" answer.

I decided to double check everything one final time.  Glancing at the book, and at my worksheet, I noticed that I had copied the problem wrong.  Yeesh!!!

I used my approach to solve the right problem in my head in five minutes.

Such is life when you are 77 years old.