Random Bits and Bytes

Obama took an unplanned trip to Afghanistan for …? Did he do anything there other than to try to make the news? How many millions, if not tens of millions of dollars did it cost to make the morale-boosting trip? Who was he trying to boost? The troops or himself and therefore his party?

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Interesting article about immigrant citizens vs native-born Americans and how they do in life. As a general rule, the naturalized Americans do better and that only makes sense. They’ve already self-selected as wanting more for themselves and being willing to do what it takes by leaving their birth countries and coming here.

What prompted the note though was this short passage: “Here we [native born Americans] think freedom means whatever I wanna do, whatever I wanna say — that is freedom.” As long as what you do doesn’t interfere with someone else’s equal right to the same, that’s true. But there’s the other side of it as well. Freedom means you have to accept responsibility for the consequences for your actions, for good or bad.

If you screw up then, while it’s ok to ask for help, you don’t have the right to demand it. Especially not at the end of a gun, whether you wield it yourself or second hand through a government’s.

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What pushes people into unemployment is when their gross pay and employment costs are more than the company makes from their work. Plus there’s always the group that simply expects a paycheck just for showing up, whether they actually do anything or not.

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From The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social PolicyThomas Sowell

The call for more “public service” is then a call for more people to work in jobs not representing the preferences of the public, as revealed through the marketplace, but the preferences of third parties enforced through government and paid for by the power of taxation.  Sometimes work for foundations and other nonprofit organizations is also included in “public service.”  What is crucial is that public service not be service defined by the public itself through its choices of how to spend its own money in market transactions, but defined for them by third-party elites.

Thanks for the reminder from Don Boudreaux

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For all the talk about whatever the particulars are of a given killer in these attacks, they all have one thing in common. They are a danse macabre with their very senselessness being the point, being an attack against society in general. A society that didn’t give them what they thought they deserved to get, just by existing.

The revenge is completed by the media and others who, with all the ongoing questioning of why this particular person did this horrific crime and how, if his life had been different it wouldn’t have happened, plant the fear and guilt in everyday people that the killer wanted them to feel. Thus proving to the next killer that he really CAN get the response that he dreams of.

Gun Control? Crime, Death And The Media

As usual, whenever there’s a “newsworthy” crime that involves guns in any way, you can be certain of one thing … there will be calls for more gun control. People die every day from unnatural causes and most of those deaths are tragedies, in one way or the other. More and more though, the actual numbers have been quietly dropping without fanfare. Even in the face of a massive increase in gun ownership (much of it due paradoxically to the threats of those pushing gun control to make them illegal), court cases upholding the 2nd Amendment as an individual right, and most states making it easier to legally carry concealed, the US homicide rate is now as low as it was in the 1960s and still dropping.

What has changed is the extremely broad availability of news media. We didn’t use to have 24 hour news channels that had to have something to report and crime is always good for increasing viewership. Same for the internet. Posts about a crime that would have been on page 3 of your physical newspaper (if anywhere at all) now go viral where everyone sees it because, once again, crime reporting sells. Violent crime appears to be up when it’s not, not by a long shot (no pun intended).

Highway AccidentPeople, for better or worse, are voyeurs. If there’s a wreck on the freeway, the traffic on the other side slows way down too, just to take a look. The tabloid covers are (almost) always filled with bad things that have happened; deaths, crimes, and scandals. The same mechanism holds true on internet media. The one biggest thing we could do to cut down on these sorts of crimes? Just call them crimes. Stop sensationalizing them. Don’t give the perpetrators the expectation that the end of their lonely miserable lives (at least by their thinking) will be in a flash of “glory”. They’re crooks and criminals, no more and no less. Treat them that way.

The Constitution, A Government Of Laws, Not Of Men

In a comment about a Supreme Court ruling on a Constitution issue, I saw the often repeated but wrong statement: In the US, the majority rules.

My response:

Constitution of the United States of AmericaNO, No and no!! We are NOT an unlimited democracy and never have been. The majority does NOT automatically rule. We are a Constitutionally limited Republic.

If the power to do a thing has not been given to the government by the Constitution, then it doesn’t matter how many people do or don’t want it. The government does not have that power. If the majority want the government to have a power that it doesn’t currently have, then Congress and the people can change the Constitution itself. Until and unless that happens, the Supreme Court has no rightful power to rule other than what the Constitution says as those who wrote it intended it to mean.

If words don’t have meanings or you can twist the meanings of those words at will, then we become a government of men and not of law and we might as well just tear up the Constitution. It has no real significance other than as an antiquity that we like to pull out every once in a while to smile at. We will no longer be the United States of America, but just the State of America. Unfortunately, there are some people who want just that.

If you want to learn more about what the words were understood to mean when it was written, there’s a couple of books worth getting: Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Reported by James Madison and the two book set The Debate on the Constitution : Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification: Part One, September 1787-February 1788 and Part Two: January to August 1788 by Bernard Bailyn.