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Bloggingheads 12-16-2007 09:00 PM

Gambling, Guns, Drugs and Happiness
 

garbagecowboy 12-16-2007 09:26 PM

Re: Gambling, Guns, Drugs and Happiness
 
Can't wait to see what this one is... sounds promising from the title though.

TwinSwords 12-16-2007 10:41 PM

Re: Gambling, Guns, Drugs and Happiness
 
LOL, as soon as I saw the title I had a feeling it would have a libertarian in it.

Sort of like if you said "gays, God, and guns" you know we'd be talking about the base of the Republican Party. Apparently the overlap between libertarians and Republicans is the "guns" part of the equation.

garbagecowboy 12-16-2007 11:03 PM

Re: Gambling, Guns, Drugs and Happiness
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TwinSwords (Post 66691)
LOL, as soon as I saw the title I had a feeling it would have a libertarian in it.

Sort of like if you said "gays, God, and guns" you know we'd be talking about the base of the Republican Party. Apparently the overlap between libertarians and Republicans is the "guns" part of the equation.

That's pretty much how I feel as a libertarian... until the Repubican Party decides to actually be fiscally responsible, then there would be two areas of overlap.

garbagecowboy 12-16-2007 11:41 PM

Kleiman's grand bargain
 
I would accept Kleiman's grand bargain but it makes too much sense to ever happen.

Maybe I'm wrong on this but I cannot recall any sort of grand bargain like this in the history of American politics, where two huge interest groups would give up massive part of what they want-- the anti-gun people having to give up on banning guns, and the pro-gun people giving up in the red states their right to buy guns without any kind of registration.

With that said, both sides should rationally want to give in on these things even though they never would. Legal gun owners shouldn't fear registration and tracing of guns-- they should in theory have nothing to hide, and the guarantee of shall issue would make the idea that this was just a slippery slope towards an outright ban moot. For the anti-gun people, the fact that every gun murder, the vast majority of which are now committed by, as Kleiman describes, young kids with illegal guns (mostly over drugs) would now be much easier to solve would actually be a gun law that might make a difference, as opposed to just making it harder for people who don't break the law to follow the rules.

However, I just can't see Obama supporting shall issue in a piece of national legislation (shall issue in New York! Chicago! DC! The horror! Think of all the gun packing nuts! (forget that these people have never been convicted of a crime or thrown in a nuthouse)) and I can't see the NRA signing off on gun registration in Texas. His argument for doing the gun tracing via gun-shops is quite interesting, as is his suggestion that they check people out. Gun shop owners (at least the several I've met, maybe not at Wal-Mar, though) do actually check you out and make sure you know what you're doing before they sell you (or in my case) rent you a handgun. Formalizing this process to include keeping records of ballistics and transfers is an intriguing idea, and if it could be politically viable (which I'm not sure I quite believe) this would be a great compromise.

I could get my gun in New York (and carry it around in my backpack!) it would take a huge bite out of the disturbing percentage of murders that do not end in a conviction, and I bet it would take a huge bite out of the rates of homicides committed in our inner cities (since I bet that the increased rate of conviction would actually have a strong deterrent effect).

I thought that Kleiman's argument that the gun control movement is the liberal version of the drug war was very insightful, though. And I'm not sure that these liberal culture warriors are ready to give up their jihad, just yet, just like the conservatives are not going to cave in on the war on drugs.

Wonderment 12-17-2007 12:07 AM

Compromises possible on social policy? Not holding my breath
 
Quote:

Maybe I'm wrong on this but I cannot recall any sort of grand bargain like this in the history of American politics, where two huge interest groups would give up massive part of what they want-- the anti-gun people having to give up on banning guns, and the pro-gun people giving up in the red states their right to buy guns without any kind of registration.
I think he was merely expressing his view that Obama may not be as rigid and polarizing as Clinton or the pack of right-wing extremists running as Republicans (Ron Paul excepted).

I'm pessimistic about any seriously sensible gun or drug reform, but I did enjoy listening to Kleiman. I'm very pro gun control, but I think the Kleiman compromise -- given the Red-Blue state polarization -- is well worth considering.

I'm also usually very pro-legalization of all drugs, but Kleiman made an interesting case for maintaining drug prohibition while decriminalizing consumption (a model widely used in Europe).

The big news this week on social policy was New Jersey's abolition of the death penalty. I hope someone on B-Heads will talk about that soon, and do some speculating about the Supreme Court's upcoming consideration of the lethal injection protocols.

piscivorous 12-17-2007 01:30 AM

What law is That?
 
Can anyone clarify what law Kleiman mentions here http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/742...5&out=00:13:30

TwinSwords 12-17-2007 01:37 AM

Re: Gambling, Guns, Drugs and Happiness
 
I just want to say, Wow! Mark Kleiman is great!

I've been aware of his blog for a long time, but never paid any attention to it. That will change. He was fantastic in this diavlog.

(And Megan was, too.)

I hope Mark is back often. With Megan, with other people. Whatever.

Just: More Mark!


Question: Was I dreaming or did Megan really say she was 6' 2"? Gosh, that reminds me of one of my best friends, and girlfriends, of all time. When I was in the 11th grade, journalism class. Mary was her name. And she was quite tall. And beautiful.

But very, very funny. I just loved her sense of humor. Her whole family was a riot. Her brother was a senior that year, and he was a laugh riot as well.

Mary and I went to see Pee Wee's Big Adventure for our first date....

Ah.... memories... :D

If you want to laugh: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41tMlDiuF7U


.

CrowsMakeTools 12-17-2007 01:55 AM

Re: What law is That?
 
The Pareto Priniciple is the term coined by the management Guru Joseph Juran, also known as the law of factor sparcity or the 80/20 rule. See the Wikipedia entry for a reasonably good introduction:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle

According to Kleiman, 50% of the alcohol consumed in the country is consumed by people who have four or more drinks per day, i.e., are problem drinkers. Hence the industry advertisements about "Drink Responsibly" simply are not serious admonitions. The optimal drinking pattern, from the point of view of the industry, is to consume as much alcohol as possible up to the point of death or incarceration (after which one can no longer participate in the market).

Ottorino 12-17-2007 01:55 AM

Am I the only one
 
who tires of these happiness debates being conducted in terms that many reflective people would consider rooted in ~pseudo-happiness~? There are many and varied traditions of thought according to all of which if you're measuring happiness by positional gains or crude materialistic pleasures, you're quite missing the point. Lao Tzu, Plato, Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius, Rumi, Thoreau, Kierkegaard...~Ayn Rand~ for chrissake - do such people's insights on human well-being count for nothing? If we're going to seriously measure genuine happiness, we need a more sophisticated operational definition - one ~based~ on hard-to-quantify-or-report-or-even-verbalize matters like authenticity, creativity, relationship dynamics, following one's life calling, cultivating virtue and talent, personal growth, coping effectively with loss and tragedy. That someone beat out his colleagues for a promotion, and feels good about it, tells us, as far as it goes, almost ~nothing~ about that person's actual happiness, deeply understood. Those aren't simply hedons to add to the plus side of the ledger in some social analysis. Anyway they shouldn't be.

testostyrannical 12-17-2007 02:04 AM

Refreshing honesty:
 
My sentiments exactly.

piscivorous 12-17-2007 02:16 AM

Re: What law is That?
 
thanks for the llink

Incompetence Dodger 12-17-2007 03:44 AM

Re: Kleiman's grand bargain
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by garbagecowboy (Post 66696)
Maybe I'm wrong on this but I cannot recall any sort of grand bargain like this in the history of American politics, where two huge interest groups would give up massive part of what they want--

Well the first thing that leaps to mind is the Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850, etc. That ultimately didn't work out too hot, though....

On another topic, and I know this is a backhanded compliment at best, but I have to commend Megan for a vastly better performance in this diavlog than in the one with John Bowe (shudder).

Kleiman notes on his blog that his next diavlog will probably be with Glenn Loury, with the agenda being "crime and drugs, especially as they interact with race". As a general matter, I don't particularly care for lib-lib diavlogs, but I'm really really looking forward to that one.

robert61 12-17-2007 08:16 AM

I'd rather be rich, thanks
 
Mark Kleiman's notion that there is no intrinsic benefit to being more wealthy is bananas. His point could be argued at the individual level after a certain level of wealth, but it is certainly not true at the collective level.

Greater wealth is a tide that lifts all boats, especially those of the relatively poor. Richer societies are better places to be poor. Where would you rather be just scraping by: Los Angeles or Minsk? Richer societies are also better places to be middle class or rich, because of the greater utility their citizens derive from their markets.

Here's an example: yesterday I got a lift home from a friend who just came back to Stockholm after serving at the UN in New York for four years. He was driving a Swedish car that he bought for about $45,000 in America. Here in Sweden it would have cost him almost $80,000. Part of the difference is simply lower sales tax, but most of it is because there's a huge market for fancy Volvos in the richer US, while only a tiny percentage of Swedes can afford them. That's a collective benefit of greater wealth, albeit one that affects the relatively wealthy. On a more down to earth level, I'm wearing a pair of snug and cozy loafers that I picked up at Target in San Diego for $30 last winter; I challenge you to find a comparable pair at that price here. And I'm just talking about the difference between wealthy Sweden and wealthier America, never mind the difference between countries with a serious wealth gap.

For a more analytical take on the issue, see "Income inequality isn't as bad as you think" from Will Wilkinson's and John Nye's diavlogue.

Sure, wealth isn't everything, but give it its due. Wealth can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you opportunity - to live more comfortably, to beat deadly illness, to improve your lot in life. Happiness research strikes me as being starry-eyed socialism's rhetorical weapon du jour.

bjkeefe 12-17-2007 09:11 AM

Re: Gambling, Guns, Drugs and Happiness
 
I would note that except for the nebulous worry that Mark expressed about Anheuser-Busch's marketing prowess, he had absolutely nothing bad to say about the dangers of marijuana. So can we please legalize it already?

He touched on the idea that making something legal (easily available) tends to increase the consumption, but there's another aspect that he didn't mention. If you have to go to some effort to acquire your drug of choice, you tend to buy more of it at one time. This, in turn, tends to promote consuming more while you have it. On the other hand, if you always know you can get more, maybe you don't binge as much. For example, if I knew I could buy one joint or gram at a time, rather than buying by the ounce, I suspect my consumption of pot would have been less, averaged over long time periods. That was certainly the case back in my college days, when everybody knew ten people who sold.

For the record, I don't smoke pot anymore, partly because of the hassle involved in acquiring it now that I'm no longer surrounded by casual users, and partly because I know that if I have a big bag around, I tend to smoke too much. Still, I miss it, and I wish I could buy small amounts as easily as I can a six-pack of beer.

I acknowledge that my thinking on this is not based on any studies, but I think there is something to it, using the Megan model of thinking only about how things affect me and my friends. And if she can get onto BH.tv regularly, and get paid to blog, using this technique, then I demand the same consideration for my speculations.

Bloggin' Noggin 12-17-2007 10:06 AM

Grand Bargains and Tutti Frutti Ice Cream
 
This was an immense improvement over Megan's last diavlog. Really interesting and well done.

On the subject of grand bargains, there's an old story (from the era of train travel), where a man in the dining car orders tutti frutti ice cream. The waiter tells him that they have just run out of tutti frutti -- would he like something else on the menu? The man throws a fit which eventually subsides into sullen silence. The waiter actually sends a runner at the next stop to buy some tutti frutti for the man. The waiter brings the man a bowl of tutti frutti with an air of triumph. The man stares at the bowl for a bit, clearly nonplussed. Eventually, he sweeps the bowl off the table and says angrily, "I'd rather have my grievance!"

There seems to be a social version of this, where politicians and interest groups would rather have the grievance, even if most voters could be happy with a grand bargain. The politicians and interest groups represent their constituencies up to a point, but because their interest in the existence of the conflict exceeds that of the voters, they're happy to play up the identity politics-angle of the debate that the diavloggers mention: unfeeling, gun-toting hicks vs. bleeding-heart, latte-sipping, nanny-staters.

I thought the drug discussion was fascinating: the idea of lowering the social costs of prohibition through more intelligent, less mindlessly punitive enforcement, rather than legalizing drugs sounded like a good one.

Bloggin' Noggin 12-17-2007 10:24 AM

Re: Am I the only one
 
I'm sympathetic to your point about more objectivist notions of happiness. But first, I think it's dangerous to separate these objectivist notions too far from people's actual sense of well-being -- too easy for the Great Leader to tell us all that our happiness REALLY consists in serving him -- or for the Catholic Church to tell me that my desires are "objectively disordered." Here's an old joke on the subject:
Mother: Come the revolution, we'll all eat strawberries and cream!
Child: But I don't LIKE strawberries and cream.
Mother: Come the revolution, you WILL like strawberries and cream!
One's subjective sense of happiness may not be what happiness consists in, but it is still essential evidence about how happy people actually are.
That said, one of the difficulties is that people are not in a very good position to judge how happy other people really are, so their sense of how happy they themselves are compared to others is not very reliable.

And second, Aristotle and others who would propose a more objectivist conception of happiness would not be the ones to argue that more and more material goods always make people happier. Those with a subjectivist theory of happiness would be more likely to support such a position. Therefore, the studies in question are actually backing up the more Aristotelian view that beyond a certain sufficiency of material goods, people aren't made happier by more -- the evidence that people still pursue more and more is undercut by these studies. So if you look at the dialectical context, the subjectivity of these studies is not really problematic.

bjkeefe 12-17-2007 11:56 AM

Re: Am I the only one
 
BN:

Good answer, not that I expected anything less from you on this.

I agree with your larger point: there's no sense in telling the average person what should make him or her happier. If that isn't liberalism run amok, I don't know what it.

Wolfgangus 12-17-2007 12:17 PM

Does this bargain even work?
 
Great diavlog, and Megan did an excellent conversation with a real scientist.

Perhaps I misunderstand something; but it sounds to me like the responsibility devolves to the gun shop owner for bg checks. I see problems with this:

1) Unlike government agencies, gunshop owners may have financial incentives to lose records or engage in under-the-table trade with criminal elements. I suppose agencies can always be bribed, but an agency has more checks and opportunities to be caught than the proprietor of a storefront, and government employees (with guaranteed income, benefits and retirement) have fewer financial pressures on them than does an independent businessman. The government clerk collects her pay even if she has zero customers to serve; the shop owner is under relentless pressure to make sales or face bankruptcy. Who is more likely to crumble?

2) I don't get how we track down the last legal owner of a gun if the government doesn't have the records of legal gun transactions. Are we supposed to subpoena the gunshop for the records? How are we supposed to know which gunshop to subpoena? Must they submit a list of the guns whose records they "control"? What happens if they go out of business? What happens if their records are accidentally lost in a flood or fire? What happens if the bg check is off a fake or stolen id, do we prosecute the shop owner for the murder we are trying to solve? That seems unlikely. Not to mention the myriad details of what we are supposed to do about stolen guns, inherited guns, loaned guns, etc.
I am pretty leery about turning over critical record keeping functions to tens of thousands of independent mom-and-pop businesses with a significant incentive to cut costs and cut corners.

I certainly support the idea of ballistic signature keeping, closing the personal sale loophole, bg checks, Megan-style gun-operator licensing, etc. I have no problem with people owning guns for personal protection (I do) and I have no problem with the government knowing about every transaction on my gun or anybody else's, I think they should even record ammunition sales, and I'd support ammunition signatures as well (a ballistic signature isn't good enough if the bullet fragments; but it is possible to create unique chemical signatures in the lead that would allow us to identify from even the tiniest bullet fragment the specific box of ammunition sold, who sold it and who bought it.)

I am not a libertarian by any means; I believe in the welfare state. I am a Democrat. But this is one issue where I disagree with many of my fellow Dems. Citizens have a right to own a gun, and not just rifles for hunting (which I abhor anyway), they have a right to own a gun that protects them from predatory humans, and that means a gun designed to kill people. But that doesn't mean they have a right to own a gun anonymously.

patrick 12-17-2007 01:08 PM

Megan McArdle, "or whatever"
 
Once again, Ms. McArdle misses the point. When discussing the issue of parental notification, Megan makes the foolish assumption that girls who don't want their parents to be notified of an abortion procedure do so because they don't want to reveal that they're having sex, not the fact that they're 1) pregnant, and 2) getting an abortion! Did it ever cross her mind that a pregnant teenager might not want to be put under the duress of parental compulsion to have a child, and that her individual reproductive rights are not the legal domain of her parents? Probably not, considering Megan's own mom is a pro-choice advocate, "or whatever." Again, this is a case (just as with the slavery diavlog) where Megan cannot relate with or even put herself in the shoes of somebody unlike herself.

I'd venture that the ubiquity and obviousness of pre-marital sex at 15-17 is NOT the main issue for a young woman in that situation, and that in many cases, parents are already aware (if disapproving) of this behavior. Its the pregnancy/abortion that's the issue. A 16 year old should not be put in the position whereby the private excercise of her individual reproductive rights is first vetted through her father or mother. Maybe Megan would understand this if she had had intolerant, controlling parents who didn't regard her body's reproductive system as exclusively her domain.

I believe that parental notification laws are formalized paternalisms which seek to legalize a father's control over his daughter's sexuality and fertility. Proponents of such laws seek, by proxy, to deny abortion to young women, in the form of familial shame, admonishment, and punishment.

These absurd laws reward bad parenting with big-brother oversight. If parents are doing their job well, a pregnant daughter would seek out their advise and concil without trepidation. But if they're not, and she makes her own legal choice, they should not be aided in deterring her by making the state an agent of their bad parenting.

If it were just a matter of caring parents simply wanting to know about the medical welfare of their child, such laws would mandate parental notification of maternity of (even paternity) and childbirth by a minor. Because this issue cuts both ways, a young woman who wishes to conceal a pregnancy from her parents may do so to prevent being compelled by her parents to get an abortion. Should that women give birth in the hospital (a major procedure as well), there is no "parental notification." A woman who changes her mind just prior to an abortion procedure should not then have to defend that choice against a parent who's been notified and wants her to carry though with it.

Forcing a young woman to seek the (tedious and time-consuming to the point of health-threatening) protection of the courts to make her own reproductive choices is inhumane and unacceptable. Megan's incapacity for perspective outside of her own is appalling. This is just the latest example.

bmichell 12-17-2007 01:53 PM

Re: Megan McArdle, "or whatever": guns, drugs, happiness
 
Excellent diavlog. Who would have thought anything fresh could be said about drug or gun policy?

Viewers who are interested in pursuing the topic of happiness might want to look at the evenhanded and thorough review of the topic in The Psychology of Happiness, by the distinguished English social psychologist Michael Argyle (2nd edition, Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0415226651). Not to forget, of course, the locus classicus, Aristotle's Ethics.

breadcrust 12-17-2007 02:28 PM

Re: Gambling, Guns, Drugs and Happiness
 
In his statements on how different classes are affected by drug prohibition, Kleiman asserts that it's probable that the lower class is worse off for it: http://www.brainwaveweb.com/diavlogs...3:39&out=44:07 If he considers this truth important in the decision as to whether drugs should be legalized, then why doesn't he mention the actual size of the lower class? It's HUGE, because it's not contained by our borders; It's the policy of the US government to stop the importation of meth, coke, and heroin from much poorer places like Mexico, South America, and Afghanistan, but it's the policy of a nation of wealthy drug users to import it en masse. So these countries suffer all the horrors of giant black markets; their crops are destroyed by our poisons, their governments at all levels are even more corrupt than they need be (being bought off by our drug money), and terrorists like the warlords of Afghanistan stay rich, rich, rich because their product is made much more valuable through our lunatic policies. Oddly, the December, 13 issue of Rolling Stone (upon the cover of which Led Zeppelin appears as (from left to right): founding father, pot dealer, techie) has a giant article/history on our stupid drug war.

Malthus 12-17-2007 02:31 PM

The Inefficient Market Hypothesis
 
I cannot help but suspect that history will laugh at the bulldog tenacity with which people like Megan McArdle cling to the Pangloss-like utopian doctrine of the Market Society (Even as she herself cops to the blindingly obvious observation that "Bubbles Happen" without asking "But why?")

Markets are physical institutional systems. Any attempt to intellectually equate the with some kind of Platonic absolute will ultimately lead to thinking that is shaky, flakey half-fried Ayn Rand. In short, the present age. I honestly wonder how many more American generations will be so shaped by Rand's Nietzschean naivety.

Until America puts Tom Friedman (and McArdle) back on the shelf and brushes up on some basic history, starting with Plutarch, we are destined to continue to numbly tell ourselves that unencumbered market forces are the central pillar of human civilization- history, philosophy, empirical evidence, international experience and common sense to the contrary.

Civilization is bigger than market forces can either conceive of or manage.

Wolfgangus 12-17-2007 02:59 PM

Re: Megan McArdle, "or whatever"
 
(I am responding to Patrick, if you are a reader that is foolishly using the linear version of this crappy vBulletin interface). Patrick, I get the impression that Megan thinks like I do, but I will speak for myself. Your premise is wrong in the extreme; what makes you think a 15 year old girl's reproductive system is her property to do with as she pleases?

That is not true at six, and it is not true at 15, and not true at 17. She doesn't legally have and does not deserve to have this control at this time of her life; she isn't mature enough to make such decisions. That is not just my opinion, that is the physiological facts of life, her brain is undergoing a major overhaul that makes her impulsive, emotional, and on average incapable of making a reasoned and rational decisions. The frontal lobes responsible for making such judgement calls are woefully underpowered at 15-17, and the emotional reward and response system easily outraces and overwhelms any weak input the frontal lobes provide. It takes massive amounts of willpower for adolescents to overpower their emotions.

So your entire premise is flawed. It doesn't make a lot of difference specifically why the teen doesn't want to tell her parents. In the sole cases where it does make a difference, (e.g. when the parents are themselves unreasonable, or in sad cases where they are responsible for the pregnancy) the teen should have access to a judge that can sort out emotions and reasons on all sides and overrule the parents for the benefit of the child; something else Megan advocated. In 14 to 15 year old teenage pregnancy throughout the USA, excluding those pregnancies resulting from incestuous relationships, the average age of the father is 22. That seven year age disparity does not suggest some rational choice on the part of the 15 year old, it suggests emotional manipulation and exploitation of immature minds by equally immature 22 year old males. This turns out to be the uniform judgement of professional pyschologists when they interview the girls and the fathers; as is often done when the fathers are prosecuted.

Joel_Cairo 12-17-2007 03:35 PM

worst libertarian ever
 
What kind of libertarian needs more than six-degrees-of-separation to get their hands on some cocaine? Clearly the bad-assest thing about Libertarianism is their principle-clad recreational use of drugs, and everybody who is anybody knows that all the cool kid Libertarians get high (Murray Rothbard: that guy could party). But nooooo, Megan's all in it to deny the elderly any moral claim to her money, and other such square motives. I can certainly understand why she's always being booted out of any group she identifies with; she brings the lame.

Joel_Cairo 12-17-2007 03:35 PM

Intra-Atlantic Online smack-talk?
 
Consider this little aside from Megan re: gun control & gun noobs.

Now consider this Yglesias post from a little while back.

garbagecowboy 12-17-2007 04:00 PM

Re: Does this bargain even work?
 
Quote:

I am not a libertarian by any means; I believe in the welfare state. I am a Democrat. But this is one issue where I disagree with many of my fellow Dems. Citizens have a right to own a gun, and not just rifles for hunting (which I abhor anyway), they have a right to own a gun that protects them from predatory humans, and that means a gun designed to kill people. But that doesn't mean they have a right to own a gun anonymously.
Well said.

As for your questions about how the record-keeping could be done by the gun-shops, I agree that this is probably not a workable system.

However, gun shops currently do perform the background check (via computer by plugging into the Federal instant background check database, or at least that is my understanding).

Perhaps to draw even more heavily on the car analogy we could satisfy concerns about the Federal government having the data on all the gun owners by delegating the powers of licensing and records management to the states. For instance, you register your car with the state and get a state license plate, but the statutes are set up in such a way that all licenses and registrations from one state are interoperable with those of all the other states.

The idea would be to package a mandate of shall-issue and allowing handguns in all states with a Federal mandate to the states to keep the types of records that would be needed to help quell the problems of illegal guns (all gun owners have state licenses, all guns have the equivalent of a state registration and license plate, all transfers of guns require a transfer of the title to the gun just as you have to do when you sell a car). This would be a massive change to the current status quo where in some states there are virtually no roadblocks to obtaining a gun beyond the Federal background check when purchasing at a store or from a gun-dealer or a concealed carry permit (which in some states is already shall-issue) and in other states and jurisdictions legal gun ownership is virtually impossible or has all sorts of hoops to jump through written into it. With the current status quo we have this crazy-quilt patchwork set-up where say, your Nebraska concealed carry permit is valid in Texas, but you're not even allowed to bring the gun into Washington, D.C. at all, let alone carry it around concealed.

As a person with a significant interest in gun ownership and accessibility to guns for law-abiding citizens, I would find this kind of legislation to be very appealing. I'm not so sure, however, about lots of NRA types who would probably like to have "Vermont carry" (where you can carry a concealed weapon without any permit at all) throughout the country. I personally think it would be a good idea if there was some sort of Department of Firearms in every state where you could go, take basically the same test and fill out the same paperwork and undergo the same background check in every state (and every state had to issue concealed carry permits to people who wanted them).

This would eliminate the wild and woolly situation we have now where you can go to a state with loose gun laws and buy a handgun from a private individual with no record of the transaction (like Lousiana, for instance) but where in other states obtaining a gun is virtually impossible. And of course, the other massive benefit to registering all weapons and logging all transactions would be obvious. I think that if this were enshrined into law it would actually strengthen gun owners' rights, since it would not really make access to guns difficult for anyone who should be allowed to have one, it would secure shall-issue rights to every legal gun owner strengthening the ability of gun owners to use their guns for self-defense, and it would also send a clear message that what gun owners really do care about the safe and responsible use of guns by introducing much more accountability to those who buy, sell and use guns.

patrick 12-17-2007 04:05 PM

Re: Megan McArdle, "or whatever"
 
Wolfgangus:

"Your premise is wrong in the extreme; what makes you think a 15 year old girl's reproductive system is her property to do with as she pleases?"


Your choice of words is perhaps revealing. I never used the word "property," because a woman's (even if younger than our legally defined age of majority) body is absolutely more significant than that. It is HER body, her domain, her person. It and its capacities are not her father's "property."

"That is not true at six, and it is not true at 15, and not true at 17."
A woman "inherits" her reproductive rights at age 18, in your view? Until that time, decisions regarding usage of her reproductive system are made by its "owners," her parents?

"...she isn't mature enough to make such decisions. That is not just my opinion, that is the physiological facts of life, her brain is undergoing a major overhaul that makes her impulsive, emotional, and on average incapable of making a reasoned and rational decisions."

I find this woefully condescending as well as entirely inaccurate. I vehemently disagree that a young person is "incapable of making a reasoned and rational decision." That, in itself is BS. If a pregnant young woman decides she doesn't want to be a teenage mother because she's not ready (among other reasons) its ENTIRELY rational to do the prudent thing and legally terminate the pregnancy. Your argument that young, pregnant women are incapable of thinking for themselves and thus require the decision-making of a parent regarding their reproductive choices is wrong.

"That seven year age disparity does not suggest some rational choice on the part of the 15 year old, it suggests emotional manipulation and exploitation of immature minds by equally immature 22 year old males."


Are you kidding me? Though this factoid is completely irrelevant, your stating it strikes me as exactly what I pointed out: the ongoing attempts of fathers to control the fertility and sexuality of their daughters, particularly with an emphasis of denying it to males they disapprove of. It may be hard to grapple with, but young women enjoy sex, seek it out, and may indeed desire an older partner, perhaps even just for sexual gratification. Its not always the result of a exploitation and deception. This reality is disturbing if not outright unacceptable to many. I've seen men act hostile, idiotic, and irrational in trying to deny this truth about female sexuality. Because fighting this losing battle is a futile endeavor, some men want to utilize the state to extend their loosening grasp on something they cannot control.

Bloggin' Noggin 12-17-2007 04:11 PM

Re: Am I the only one
 
Hi Brendan,
I might not be quite so sensible as you suppose. I'm inclined to think a liberal society has good reason to encourage people to seek fairly uncontroversially "better" goods over less good ones. In my view, and the view of many, education and the ability to think and decide for oneself are non-instrumentally better even for those who think they prefer to do without them. A liberal society could well seek to encourage a "liberal" education (i.e., one intended to "expand the horizons" of the individual, not just narrowly taylor him to some craft or profession) at the expense of other goods we regard as less valuable for the individual. Of course, liberalism itself would limit how coercive this "encouragement" can become, but it doesn't follow that a liberal society can't form or act upon any view at all of what makes individuals genuinely happy.

Dee Sharp 12-17-2007 04:42 PM

Re: Am I the only one
 
"If we could have British or German or Australian level of private gun ownership, we'd have less homicide."

So if we really tighten our guns laws to match those in Mexico, we'll reduce our murder rate? Mexico's murder rate is twice ours. We are not the world champ of homicide, and most of the real champs have tight gun control. South Africa went from being a violent country with modest gun control to being a violent country with strict gun control.

I will not sign on to a grand bargain between ignorance and facts.

Joel_Cairo 12-17-2007 05:20 PM

Re: Am I the only one
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Bloggin' Noggin (Post 66746)
A liberal society could well seek to encourage a "liberal" education (i.e., one intended to "expand the horizons" of the individual, not just narrowly taylor him to some craft or profession) at the expense of other goods we regard as less valuable for the individual.

But then again, doesn't education inherently impart bias, a narrowing rather than broadening? To borrow a nugget observed by Amy Gutmann, "to educate" was synonymous with "to govern" in Aristotle's day. Any education guides, and necessarily closes doors even as it opens, rendering your "broadening horizons" formulation a bit misleading. The classic example is an aspiring professional ballerina, whose training is so intense, and must be committed to at such a young age, that it precludes a whole host of other options (to become a radiologist, for example). A more local example is in the Will Wilkinson / Ezra Klein diavlog, where Ezra tells the story of his friend who longs to become a writer, but can't because of her law school debt. This applies likewise on a less literal level (as I think you meant it): the education you espouse may close off access to other authetically chosen, and happy-making, lives. It has been successfully argued by the Amish that such education was a threat to their free exercise. Do you really think a liberal society has the right to deny someone their personal belief in empirically-unsound Creationism? It seems to me that this liberal education, with its critical reflection and rational autonomy and all that good stuff, could easily be construed as part of the fatal flaw of liberalism, Mark Schmitt's "technocratic ideal", where a supposedly value-neutral Enlightened world-view is fostered, without regard for the many other possible alternate belief systems it tramples underfoot.

Maybe I'm just nit-picking your word choice, and I'm certainly taking your and Brendan's conversation on a detour, but since you're assuming the Liberal Perfectionist stance, I thought I'd push back with some of the classic critiques :)

A great diavlog touching on this topic is to be found here (the last half especially)

dudeman 12-17-2007 06:10 PM

Re: Gambling, Guns, Drugs and Happiness
 
I think he's great too. As long as control-freak, do-gooders like him are spouting their frightening & bossy social engineering theories on bgh.tv instead of in government, it's always "great".

Wolfgangus 12-17-2007 06:47 PM

Re: Does this bargain even work?
 
A state level registration would be fine by me; even if the feds required it to be uniform. The feds can always subpoena any specific information they need from the state; and basic discovery can proceed without a subpoena (e.g. "Do you guys have this ballistic signature on record?")

That would be quite a bit different than the feds having a list of every registered gun owner in the country, I think. Some NRA nuts might kick back about even the state having such a registration; under the assumption that the fed will get a copy by hook or crook. I don't know what can be done about that, as the Bush administration has made abundantly clear, the fed doesn't really have to worry too much about what laws they break or demand broken, if they can't obstruct justice, they can just pardon the convicted (or in the case of the telcos, pre-pardon them).

Wonderment 12-17-2007 08:52 PM

Re: Megan McArdle, "or whatever"
 
Quote:

Forcing a young woman to seek the (tedious and time-consuming to the point of health-threatening) protection of the courts to make her own reproductive choices is inhumane and unacceptable.
I agree. Megan viewed parental consent as a somewhat trivial non-deal-breaker issue, but it is an important human right of girls. Children may not have the right to get a tattoo or body piercing without their parents' permission, but it doesn't follow that they must have children because their parents say so or pressure them to.

Wonderment 12-17-2007 08:59 PM

Re: Megan McArdle, "or whatever"
 
Quote:

In the sole cases where it does make a difference, (e.g. when the parents are themselves unreasonable, or in sad cases where they are responsible for the pregnancy) the teen should have access to a judge that can sort out emotions and reasons on all sides and overrule the parents for the benefit of the child; something else Megan advocated.
Bringing a judge in would result in a tremendous disincentive to reveal the pregnancy and seek the abortion. Many kids would look for underground abortions or simply fess up and have the child because the parents had religious objections to abortion or wanted early grandchildren. The child should not be under any pressure to bear a child she doesn't want.

Having said that, we, as a society, should do everything possible within a framework of human rights, to reduce abortions. That would include adequate sex education and easy access to free or very affordable birth control, as well as promoting a culture of adoption.

Wonderment 12-17-2007 09:06 PM

Re: Am I the only one
 
Quote:

So if we really tighten our guns laws to match those in Mexico, we'll reduce our murder rate? Mexico's murder rate is twice ours. We are not the world champ of homicide, and most of the real champs have tight gun control. South Africa went from being a violent country with modest gun control to being a violent country with strict gun control.
Mexican gun laws are poorly enforced. There is tremendous police corruption, which results in lots of cop guns ending up in the hands of criminals. Also, American gun dealers funnel gazillions of guns into Mexico; most Mexican guns are MADE (or distributed) IN USA. Also, the drug trade, in order to satisfy US demand for controlled substances, has created vast mafias in Mexico -- in partnership with US gangsters and suburban teenagers.

Comparing the US to Mexico in terms of gun laws is ridiculous. The US has the legal infrastructure to enforce sane gun legislation, like keeping assault weapons illegal for starters. Compare the US to Britain, Holland or Japan, not Mexico.

Dee Sharp 12-17-2007 09:38 PM

Re: Am I the only one
 
The US is mostly first world, but we have third world enclaves. Those enclaves tend to be violent, while most of the country is not. Last time I checked, the entire state of North Dakota had the same murder rate as Japan. N.D. gun laws are far more relaxed than Japanese ones, while our national murder rate using hands and fists exceeds Japan's total rate. Therefore, I can be excused for thinking that culture, not gun policy, determines murder rate.

Mark Kleiman noted that our drug dealers have guns, and stated that gun availability in the wider culture makes this possible. I'm supposed to believe that someone who sells contraband for a living will go without a gun if they are not sold in stores. Hard, that.

I did notice that Mark Kleiman is quite pro-gun for someone at his point on the political spectrum. I don't care. I want my bloggingheads to know a lot more than I do about the issues they discuss, wherever they sit politically. If I wanted to watch people share feelings, I'd plug in the TV.

JIM3CH 12-18-2007 01:52 AM

Re: Megan McArdle, "or whatever"
 
This response is directed at Patrick

I am pro-choice. But I am fully against any attempt to justify abortion as merely a convenient form of birth control, and Patrick’s arguments seem to be pointing in that direction. Young men and women have trouble making good choices (is not getting pregnant at such a young age sufficient evidence for you Patrick?). It is the responsibility of the fathers to protect the hearts of their young daughters for as long as they can. That doesn’t mean to “control” them. It means to be their loving parent, fully involved in their young lives, as a father first and a friend later. Unfortunately parents are not perfect either, so it is easy to imagine situations where young women may need other places to turn. But unlimited access to abortion on demand, without the knowledge of the parents, is not a good course of action in my opinion.

testostyrannical 12-18-2007 03:46 AM

My attitude is different.
 
I just don't think the concept of happiness matters. It isn't just that it's objectively incommensurable. It's that happiness is overrated. This comes largely from having been raised in a (by American standards) poverty-ridden environment. Having both endured the heavy consequences of a childhood on the craptastic end of America's miraculous wealth distribution, and having spoken with many well meaning idiots about their conceptions regarding ideal social policy, I have developed a keen appreciation for policy discussions that focus less on heady notions of contentment and more on where the bacon is going. Getting good food in what would otherwise be empty stomachs makes sense. Of course this will make otherwise starving people happier, but it isn't their happiness that should be driving our efforts.

Making health a primary indicator is both easier to measure and, I think, just more logical. Are people getting fed, clothed, sheltered? Are there classes of individuals with unusually low life spans, or unusually high infant mortality rates, or who are unusually prone to specific illnesses? If so, what are the causes, and what can be done about it? These sorts of questions both make sense, and are a hell of a lot easier to deal with than questions about who feels good about life and who doesn't. If we could ever say we had dealt with even just the bare majority of these perennial challenges, I think we could claim rightfully to be living in a golden age.

Beyond the really basic requirements for survival and good health, and equality both of opportunity and before the law, I am agnostic regarding the role of public policy. If we solved all of these problems, and then, on top of that, could give everyone Rolls Royces and mansions (because studies showed how much happier everyone would be with them), to me this wouldn't be any better than just solving these problems. Beyond the satisfaction of basic human needs, everything else is a meaningless flourish of materiality.

Wolfgangus 12-18-2007 07:43 AM

Re: Megan McArdle, "or whatever"
 
Quote:

The child should not be under any pressure to bear a child she doesn't want.
I don't think so either, at least for the first trimester or so, when I think abortion is clearly not murder. (The fetus doesn't even have a cortex). I see the judge as a way for the child to appeal the parental decision, even if she hasn't consulted the parents and knows what the decision is in advance. But I don't think a girl 16 or under is mentally capable of making the decision on her own; she needs an adult to counsel her and provide the reasoning power she doesn't possess. Not to single out 16 year old girls; 16 year old boys don't have it either, the frontal lobes are simply still under development and not up to the task. The brain is being re-wired to operate faster for adulthood; the emotional centers (amygdala) are the first to get super-charged starting around puberty, and the frontal lobes are the last to be upgraded, a process that is largely complete by 21, but there is much evidence suggesting it isn't fully complete until 24 or maybe even 26. They are children, at least six and perhaps ten years before cognitive maturity without the physical equipment to make adult decisions, and allowing them to make adult decisions in that condition is a form of abuse and neglect, not charity or fairness. And likewise for forcing them under the hand of parents that are also cognitively impaired, whether by religion, drug addiction, psychopathy, depression or whatever mental illness is responsible. My goal was to give the girl a legal option to substitute a professional adult (a judge) for her parents.

I guess there are two scenarios; parents demanding an abortion and parents demanding the child be carried to term. In the latter case, the girl should have the right to safe and legal abortion without her parent's consent. In the former (parent's demanding an abortion) I have no easy answer when the girl wants to bring the fetus to term; she may be too young, the fetus may be handicapped or the result of incest, or other extenuating circumstances may apply. Somebody needs to understand the situation and determine what is best for the future of the girl, and it isn't her. Maybe her parents are right and an abortion is in her best interest, or maybe she needs an alternative environment to complete her pregnancy.


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