Category Archive 'Cult of Statism'

05 Dec 2015

The New York Times Makes Some History Today

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NYT-TheGunEpidemic

The New York Times today for the first time in 95 years ran an editorial on the front page.

It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.

Opponents of gun control are saying, as they do after every killing, that no law can unfailingly forestall a specific criminal. That is true. They are talking, many with sincerity, about the constitutional challenges to effective gun regulation. Those challenges exist. They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did.

But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not. Worse, politicians abet would-be killers by creating gun markets for them, and voters allow those politicians to keep their jobs. It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically — eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.

It is not necessary to debate the peculiar wording of the Second Amendment. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation.

Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.

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Jonah Goldberg was moved to note some of the major news events which failed to provoke an equivalent emotional response.

The Peace of Versailles, Buck v. Bell, the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, the Hitler-Stalin Pact, the Ukrainian famine, the internment of Japanese-Americans, the Tuskegee experiments, the Holocaust, McCarthyism, the Marshall Plan, Jim Crow, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy Assassination, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Kent State, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, Watergate, withdrawal from Vietnam, the Killing Fields, the Iran hostage crisis, the Contras, AIDS, gay marriage, the Iran nuclear deal: These are just a few of the things the New York Times chose not to run front page editorials on. But, the “Gun Epidemic” in America? That deserves a front-page editorial.

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I myself find it interesting to reflect that not one single member of that New York Times editorial board could properly define an assault weapon, nor if challenged justify placing ugly-looking semi-automatic rifles chambered in a slightly modified version of a cartridge introduced in 1950 for the purpose of shooting groundhogs in a special category supposedly more “designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency” than any repeating firearm which appeared on the market later than the Henry Rifle of 1862 or even the Colt Patterson Revolver of 1836.

The really important distinguishing category to which the editorial board of the New York Times belongs is the class of limitlessly self-important, limitless self-entitled holier-than-thous, the category of persons The Godfather referred to as “pezzonovantes” (90 caliber individuals) who get to hand down regulations and edicts, even if they do not actually produce the desired result, because “at least [they] are trying.”

The New York Times Editorial Board is composed entirely of fanatic liberal devotees of the cult of the Leviathan State, and their personal religion demands a symbolic regulatory response, a sacrifice of somebody’s rights, liberties, and property, as a means of addressing any perceived PROBLEM. When something bad happens, you must immediately invoke Nobodaddy, the administrative state, and make that sacrificial gesture. Then, and only then, is “la patrie” no longer “en danger.” It doesn’t matter if the ceremony of Statism has any practical effect. It doesn’t matter if what the priests of Leviathan do is actually counter-productive. The point of all this has nothing to do with reality or practical results. The point is the emotional satisfaction of the assembled congregation of the worshippers of the State through the performance of the proper ceremony.

If we don’t respond to every shooting which makes a major headline by banning something, by passing some brave new law, the urban-based cult of Leviathan will shriek at us in pain until we do.

21 Jun 2010

The Drums Are Talking, The Natives Are Restless

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We have a much larger journalism pollution problem than the current oil spill represents. Government responses, costs to government and private industry, and public interest in the matter have all been massively inflated by orders of magnitude beyond anything rational or appropriate, all for the self interest of journalists and news organizations. The American public is simply led around by the nose by people with the resources and ability to exploit and exaggerate the significance of certain kinds of unfortunate events.

Who cares about those oh-so-terribly-fragile, fishy-smelling, mosquito-infested marshes? What about the impact of all the journalism pollution on energy costs, people’s jobs, American due process, the rule of law, our political decision-making processes, and the ever-expanding role and power of government and the immense regulatory burden we all have to pay for?

Take sensationalist reporting out of the equation, and we have an unfortunate industrial accident with some serious economic costs and a few seasons of regional environmental impact. Add in the media and we have a circus of emotional Sturm und Drang fueling stupid policy choices and lawless governmental behavior, with devastating long-term costs to every consumer in the country, the entire economy, and the trajectory of American government.

My understanding is that there are something like 4000 oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. The last major accident was in 1979. One oil spill every 30 years, one serious problem in a generation, strikes me as a pretty decent record.

Exactly how many gazillion dollars of extra energy cost would it be worth to reduce by some undefinable percentage the itsy bitsy, teeny weeny, remote possibility that every so many decades there could be an accident, fouling so many miles of beaches and inconveniencing the fishing industry (and a certain number of pelicans) for several seasons?

Perfection, of course, is unobtainable, even if regulations and costs are piled to the sky, there is always going to be
happenstance, human error, and acts of God.

What happens in America when something goes wrong is that the press sees an opportunity to run with the story and to play heroic watchdog of the public interest. A scapegoat is always required for our civic religious ritual. The press gets to identify some business entity as heartless, irresponsible, and greedy, and one or more public officials as incompetent or corrupt. The press can do whatever it pleases with the data. Words are easy. Capping leaking wells is hard. There is always the same moral. We need bigger and more active government. We need to spend more in taxes and regulatory costs. Then, once we have punished the scapegoat(s) and made due sacrifice to Leviathan, all will be well. The Great Big Nobodaddy Government will see to it that life will be perfect and nothing will ever go wrong again.


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