Tom Knighton

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More laws won’t prevent the next shooting

I get a little sick of having to write this post every time some maniac shoots up a place.  Every single time it happens, the left begins hand wringing and plotting how to take away our Second Amendment rights, and folks like me are left to talk about how new laws wouldn’t have prevented anything.

First, let’s note that it’s still very early so the policy wonks who are screaming at the top of their lungs like teenage girls at a Justin Beiber concert really can’t possibly know what the hell would prevent another tragedy like this even in their Utopian world of all knowing government and unicorns that poop cotton candy.

Now, let’s take a look at some facts.  A shooting happened on Monday that claimed 12 innocent lives.  It took place in a pretty secured building on a military base.  It was, probably, the safest place to be in D.C. short of the White House and the Pentagon, right?

Military bases are great big “gun-free zones.”  It was that way when I served in the mid 90’s, and nothing has changed in that regard.  Neither military personnel, nor the civilians employed there, were permitted to carry a firearm.  People have this view of military bases as bristling with firearms, but that’s false.  There are tons of weapons there, but the rank and file troops have little to no access to them and they can’t carry personal weapons either.

The Washington Navy Yard is no exception.  The laws already forbid weapons on the base, but the shooter (I am not going to use his name as a choice to not encourage the next maniac seeking to make sure he gets a Wikipedia entry) didn’t care.  He made it through security, entered a secured building, and killed a dozen people and wounded more.  Gun free zones clearly do not intimidate the criminal.  It’s time that the left comes to terms with this fact.

Is ‘shaming’ a form of coercion?

Miley Cyrus

Libertarians aren’t as in lock step on issues as one might think.  There are various grades of libertarian, and a good example of how we’re not in lock step popped up over at Thoughts on Liberty yesterday.  Cathy Reisenwitz took aim at “shaming” as a way to alter behavior, and had this to say on the subject:

Somewhere we’ve decided that the tools the state uses to influence behavior are “coercion” while the tools non-state actors use are cooperation. Where is the justification for this? I didn’t sign a contract with slut-shamers any more than I did with my government. I may find complete ostracism much more oppressive than a small fine. In fact, there are studies which indicate that social exclusion is far more psychologically damaging than property crime.

Reisenwitz went on to say:

But say my actions are completely and totally cooperative, but frowned upon. Maybe I’m doing heroin, or having sex with lots of dudes. What right then does anyone have to coerce me by threatening to criticize, ridicule, shame or ostracize me?

And how is this private coercion any better than public coercion? It is safe to say that those who would criticize, ridicule, shame or ostracize me do not have all of the information I have about my environment and behavior. The same knowledge problem which makes state planning inferior to markets makes other people shaming me into certain behavior inferior to me making decisions separate from that outside threat of shame.

Why ‘telling men not to rape’ is hardly a solution

I’ve had women tell me that I’m wrong for sharing certain advice to other women to prevent rape. I didn’t write the advice, but it made some sense  Advice like not wearing a pony tail when traveling alone, after dark, because it can be grabbed and used against you.  I’m told that instead of that, I should tell men not to rape women.


Folks, I get part of what these women are trying to say.  They don’t appreciate the onus being on them for preventing rape.  I shouldn’t be.  Rape is a horrible crime with a psychological that doesn’t necessarily accompany the aftermath of other violent crimes.  I wouldn’t appreciate anyone trying to present it as being “your fault” if I were them either.

Once upon a time, it was apparently standard practice for lawyers to defend men accused of rape by trying to paint the women as having “asked for it.”  That’s BS, and it needs to be denounced any time someone tries that crap from now until the end of days.

However, that’s not what people offering advice to women are trying to do.  Yes, it tells women that there are things they should do to minimize their chances of being selected as a victim, but how is that different than other situations.  We also tell people not to flaunt how much cash they are carrying in an effort to minimize their chances at being robbed.  We tell people to lock their car doors, especially in bad neighborhoods, to minimize their chances of being carjacked.

Recently over at Red State, John Hayward talked about the firestorm Serena Williams found herself in over her opinions on the Steubenville rape case that made national headlines:

Libertarians are the new what?

Don’t you just love it when people who don’t really understand your ideology decide to pontificate on just what is wrong with it?  Well, that’s what happened over at Bloomberg when Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu took to the bandwidth to announce that libertarians are the new communists.

Oh yes, you read that right:

Most people would consider radical libertarianism and communism polar opposites: The first glorifies personal freedom. The second would obliterate it. Yet the ideologies are simply mirror images. Both attempt to answer the same questions, and fail to do so in similar ways. Where communism was adopted, the result was misery, poverty and tyranny. If extremist libertarians ever translated their beliefs into policy, it would lead to the same kinds of catastrophe.

This just tickles me because it comes from two progressives.  You know, progressives: the guys who have given us the non-recovery from the worst financial crisis since the great depression?  But catastrophe will follow if our policies were implemented?

Funny, if complete BS:

Let’s start with some definitions. By radical libertarianism, we mean the ideology that holds that individual liberty trumps all other values. By communism, we mean the ideology of extreme state domination of private and economic life.

Some of the radical libertarians are Ayn Rand fans who divide their fellow citizens into makers, in the mold of John Galt, and takers, in the mold of anyone not John Galt.

Way to completely miss the point on Ayn Rand’s works.

Quit whining about the minimum wage

I’ve heard a lot recently about the minimum wage.  Fry cooks throughout the nation took to the streets to lament their dreadful lot in life.  Liberal wonks have taken to the airwaves to complain about how one just can’t live on $7.25 an hour, and it should be raise.  Some of these wonks say it should be doubled even.

Oh, cry me a freaking river.

Before I get into specifics, let me point out that as an entrepreneur, if I took how much I made running two businesses and divided it by the number of hours I work, I’d probably make less than $1 per hour, so don’t try to counter this as being “the rich looking down on the poor.”  I can barely pay my bills, so I hardly count as rich.  Also, for the record, only one of these businesses is mine, so don’t pull the “you own two businesses, so clearly you’re well off” crap.  My wife makes more than minimum wage, but not by a whole lot.  We have two kids.  We are scraping by, and just barely.

Now, about the minimum wage.  There are some things the wonks are right about.  One can not live on a minimum wage income — $7.25 per hour just isn’t enough to pay rent, a car payment, insurance on said car, utilities, and some kind of phone.

Of course, it’s also not meant to do that.

Minimum wage jobs aren’t skilled labor.  They’re entry level jobs.  That means they’re for people entering the workforce.  They’re for high school and college kids.  They’re for people who have left high school and are trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up.  They’re for the young person trying to get established.  Hence the term “entry level.”

Sen. Paul Responds to President Obama’s Comments on Syria

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul released the following statement today in response to the President’s request for Congressional authorization of the use of military force:

“I am encouraged President Obama now says he will fulfill his constitutional obligation to seek authorization for any potential military action in Syria. This is the most important decision any President or any Senator must make, and it deserves vigorous debate.”

Obama throws more roadblocks for lawful gun ownership

Following the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School late last year, President Obama began his crusade against guns.  This despite a first term election promise to not do anything about guns because he didn’t have the votes.  Well, as President Obama found out, he still doesn’t. But that’s not stopping him from doing whatever he can to solve problems that don’t really exist:

With no chance remaining for a legislative solution on gun control, President Barack Obama on Thursday targetted the issue for the first time in months with a pair of executive actions.

The moves, along with the morning swearing-in of Todd Jones, the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, mark a fresh push to spotlight presidential efforts to fight gun violence in the face of congressional inaction.

The ATF will now require background checks for all guns that will be registered to a corporation or a trust, the White House said.
Obama’s second order will stop authorization that allows the re-importation of military-grade firearms that had been sold to allies or given as military assistance.

The White House said the government has approved requests to re-import more than 250,000 military-grade firearms since 2005.

First, let’s address the issues of trusts and corporations purchasing firearms.  On the surface, this isn’t a big deal.  After all, theoretically, a felon could establish a trust and bypass the background check to purchase firearms.  That’s what the White House says happens.  Of course, they say that without providing anything like numbers as to how many felons have purchased guns this way.

Slate columnist: Parents who send their kids to private school are “bad people”

Public education is a sacred cow to the left.  Despite throwing more money at public schools, test scores continue to fall.  Desperate parents, who only want what is best for their kids, are flocking to either private schools or homeschooling their kids.  However, Slate’s Allison Benedikt says that these parents are “bad people”:

You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad.

I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good. (Yes, rich people might cluster. But rich people will always find a way to game the system: That shouldn’t be an argument against an all-in approach to public education any more than it is a case against single-payer health care.)

So, she knows she’s not an expert in educational policy, but she’s going to get on her soapbox anyways?

Arkansas seeks new levels in Nanny-dom


Every time I think I’ve heard it all, some politician out there decides to up the ante and show me just how much farther they can push the Nanny State.  The latest installment comes from Arkansas, the state than gave us Clinton.  What are they seeking to protect us from?

Why, apparently, it’s important to stop us from getting certain kinds of tattoos.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would ban non-traditional body art and skin implants.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Missy Irvin of Mountain View, wants to limit body art procedures, particularly scarification and dermal implants.

Scarification uses heat to create “tattoos” out of scar tissue.  In a way, it’s kind of like someone branding themselves.  Dermal implants are where someone places “ornaments” under the skin.

Now, Arkansas has a 7.4 percent unemployment rate, according to the state’s Department of Workforce Services.  That’s on par with the national average, which just about everyone agrees is too high.  So State Sen. Irvin’s attempt to dictate what someone can and can’t do with their own bodies comes in the middle of the worst economy since the Great Depression.

I can’t really grasp Irvin’s thoughts here.  After all, she voted for people in Arkansas to be able to purchase raw milk.  The idea of people being able to make a decision about what to put into their bodies is a good one, and she should be applauded for that vote.  However, I don’t see how she can reconcile that with voting against people being able to modify their bodies however they wish.

School wants parents to contract against guns

Imagine you’re looking through the typical first day of school paperwork that kids invariably bring home.  Stuck in the stack of forms asking about school lunch and who can pick your kids up is a contract.  This “contract,” however, deals with your guns.  What would you do?

Well, some parents in Arizona know exactly what they will do…since they’ve been dealing with it for a couple of years (emphasis added):

The parents of junior high and high school students in the Flowing Wells Unified School District in Tucson are being asked to sign a contract agreeing to teach their children to settle arguments without violence. The “Student/Parent/Principal Contract For Eliminating Guns and Weapons at School” was sent as part of the district’s registration packet for the 2013-2014 school year.

Under the contract, parents must agree to teach “…including by personal example, my teenager about the dangers and consequences of the misuse of guns and weapons and I will keep any guns and all weapons under lock and away from school grounds and away from my children.

Now, on the surface, this isn’t a big deal.  The school system says there are no ramifications for students whose parents refuse to sign the contract.  In addition, it asks that you keep guns secured and away from school grounds.  All sound pretty reasonable.  However, it also says that you will keep guns away from your children.

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Tom Knighton

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Tom Knighton has been a blogger here at United Liberty since 2010. In 2011, he made history when he became the first blogger anywhere known to have purchased a newspaper when he purchased The Alba... Click here to read full bio

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