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February 9, 2013, 8:52 am
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Kid Dynamite: “But It Was Too Complicated” Is NEVER An Excuse

About universal background checks

Garrett Jones explains why GDP is automatically less volatile if/where it comes from the government. The more I read about GDP the more I wonder why it’s worth paying attention to at all.

Is Krugman’s baby-sitter’s-club obsession symptomatic of a deflation-phobia?

Hmm sentence from Arnold Kling: “A big increase in the uncertainty of property rights should raise the risk premium on private-sector projects, making government debt relatively low risk.” Does this suggest directional political trades (e.g. if you expect (R)s to do well in an upcoming election you buy corporates against Treasuries, vice versa for (D)s?), and couldn’t this be tested empirically?

Bad model + high stakes = gaming. I would have omitted the word ‘bad’ there.

Hello Kitty in space.

Should the real conservative argument against unchecked immigration be that it keeps the welfare state afloat? Since actual lefties are making this argument (i.e., in favor of immigration) I’d say this is a totally valid observation.

Museums nowadays: Glam-rock exhibition. Chronicling and preserving the timeless, for posterity. (Disclaimer: I do like a lot of glam-rock.)

Reusable grocery bags kill. I ask not for the first time: what the hell is the actual argument against plastic bags? Why wasn’t the ‘Reality-Based Community’, full of its Smart People, required to actually make one before saddling us with these policies?

Dusk in Autumn on cocooning.

The stay-at-home dude. I say go for it.

In defense of the ‘efficient’ markets ‘hypothesis’.

Steve Sailer, chronicler of the secret history of the 2000s.

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13 Comments so far
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I posted this comment on the Free Association blog [2nd link], but I wonder if you might be interested to respond as well. Quotes are his:

“People with criminal intent can reasonably be expected to find gun-buying channels that require no background check”

I don’t agree with the premise, but I will still offer this argument: Don’t all guns pretty much start out in legitimate channels? Manufactured by some gun manufacturing company. I think the benefit of the background check is to hopefully prevent the movement of guns from normal markets with all their checks, to the black market. I guess it depends on the way in which a gun goes from being manufactured by a reputable gun maker to being illegally and secretly bought and sold on a black market. If you have any insight into that, I would be keen to hear it.

“Someone determined to commit a mass shooting or other crime can reasonably be expected to buy his or her guns through channels that do not require background checks, and that won’t be too difficult”

I don’t know about either part of this. People who commit mass shootings so often expect to (and do) die in the act. Why would they choose an illegal vs legal market? Also, I have no idea about the difficulty of acquiring black market firearms, but it doesn’t seem THAT easy.

Comment by tangentstyle

Taking your paragraphs in order,

1) How/why would a (more-)universal background check prevent, rather than encourage, movement to the black market? Think of ‘background check’ as a cost/friction of doing business – just like a tax. Higher taxes = more, not less, movement to black market. No?

2) Why *wouldn’t* someone who ‘expects to die’ choose an illegal market? It’s not like prison-time is a serious consideration, let alone deterrent. As you say, they expect to die. ‘Legality’ is not playing a consideration in their thinking, and *certainly* not the legality of buying the gun vs. that of killing the people.

I guess I just don’t follow your logic in the same direction you were trying to make it lean…

As far as how ‘easy’ it is to buy black-market guns though, I like you really have no idea. Smart Europeans are always telling me how it’s super-easy to buy guns in America on every street corner with no restrictions whatsoever, but I’m pretty sure they got that from TV/movies. ;-)

best

Comment by The Crimson Reach

1. I thought of it an individual punishment basis. For example, if I was someone who moved guns to the black market, and the guns were registered to me because of some new background check (purely hypothetical, I honestly haven’t read a word of the background check bill they’re drafting, so I don’t really know how it works…), if they were discovered to have been used in a crime, I would be implicated. My thought process was that dealers like this would be implicated and punished at a greater overall rate, hopefully reducing black market flow.

I do understand your point about thinking of it like a friction. That would mean more buyers and sellers would want to make their lives easier and ‘go black’. I just thought maybe more registration would help us catch them when they do so.

2. I was saying not that they would choose one vs the other, but rather that they would be ambivalent. If, as your earlier point suggests, it becomes easier to buy/sell in an illegal, they’d probably choose that for ease of use. I guess my point being for those that did end up purchasing in a legal market, wouldn’t the background checks catch them? Maybe not. I always wonder what % of people who commit crimes would even be stopped by the proposals people are bandying about. I mean, you’re not a criminal until you commit the crime…

3. I spent a summer in Germany, and some Europeans felt that way, but when you kind of bring up that Texas and NYC are part of the same country, they kind of rethink their outlook (my experience anyway).

Comment by tangentstyle

“If they were discovered to have been used in a crime, I would be implicated” is 100% true now. Why is there a black market at all?

They’d choose for ease of use – is exactly my point. More restrictions = black market looks ‘easier’, relatively speaking.

Comment by The Crimson Reach

Austin is about to implement “our” bag ban next month. In preparation I have ordered some of these:

http://www.webstaurantstore.com/1-6-size-white-thank-you-t-shirt-bag-700-cs/433NHT101.html

I can’t wait to take these babies into Whole Foods. I will be mildly disappointed if I don’t offend anyone’s religious sensibilities.

Comment by S

That’s good. I think you’ll get some wonderful reactions from a certain type of officious female Whole Food patron. You should probably wear a Go camera while checking out.

Comment by Mike

I might buy some too. What is “$X/CS” – does CS stand for ‘case’?

The really annoying thing about plastic bag bans/taxes is you have a constant shortage of plastic bags to line your e.g. bathroom wastebaskets. If spending $10 every 6m cures this headache it’s totally worth it.

Comment by The Crimson Reach

Yeah, it stands for case. I only ordered one to start, just to see how durable they are, but if they work out they will be a permanent solution…

Comment by S

I will wander boldly into a space I’m barely qualified to comment on: If I thought the R’s were going to do well in the next election, I would expect the volatility in the difference in return between corporates and T’s to stabilize. The D’s seem to run from crisis to crisis, hunting the latest racist or evil corporate doer, alleged polluter, etc. They swing their Eye of Sauron like gaze from industry to industry. The R’s are more likely to just fix a drink and look out over the 18th green.

I’m certain one of those smart academic economists could test this. Me, I’m getting another cup of coffee.

Comment by Mike

Right, but that just leads directly to Kling’s theory that (because of the hypothetically lower volatility) Treasuries should trade at ‘less of a premium’ under Rs.

(I guess we are also hypothesizing that it’s indeed true that property-rights are less risky/volatile under Rs, which is debatable – but that would be part of the trade idea.)

Either way, if you anticipate Rs, you buy corps, short Treasuries, and pocket that premium as it shrinks. A quick 5min look at some historical data might allow for rejecting this whole theory if it’s bunk.

Comment by The Crimson Reach

“we are also hypothesizing that it’s indeed true that property-rights are less risky/volatile under Rs”

There really is no reason for us to believe this, is there? Eff em all.

Comment by Mike

If the reality-based community had to make arguments before saddling us with policies, there’d be no policies from them. Did you know Reality-Based types are trying to get American small farmers back on draft animals? Yes, draft animals.

You follow stupid economic and financial stuff they inflict on us or desire to, I follow stupid farming and food stuff they inflict on us or desire to. The two are increasingly converging as a way to chase returns for hedge and pension funds desperate to hit those 8-12% annualized return targets and as a bonus destroy capital for small-scale, non-crazy entrepreneurs.

Comment by A Lady

Cost to manufacture a plastic bag (estimate): $0.0000006
Cost to manufacture a reusable bag (estimate): $3.00

A reusable bag needs to be used approximately a billion times in order to be better for the environment. And a plastic bag will be just a plastic bag in 100 years. A reusable one will biodegrade into chemicals which will leech into our water supply.

Comment by Tim




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