Another Review of Freedomnomics

Another review of Freedomnomics can be found here. Thanks to John Palmer at the University of Western Ontario for reading the book.

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A cure for headaches -- at least it works for some people

John Tierney has the answer here in the middle of this quote:

thanks to psychologists at the University of Texas at Austin, we can at last count the whys. After asking nearly 2,000 people why they’d had sex, the researchers have assembled and categorized a total of 237 reasons — everything from “I wanted to feel closer to God” to “I was drunk.” They even found a few people who claimed to have been motivated by the desire to have a child. . . .

Who knew, for instance, that a headache had any erotic significance except as an excuse for saying no? But some respondents of both sexes explained that they’d had sex “to get rid of a headache.” It’s No. 173 on the list.

Others said they did it to “help me fall asleep,” “make my partner feel powerful,” “burn calories,” “return a favor,” “keep warm,” “hurt an enemy” or “change the topic of conversation.” The lamest may have been, “It seemed like good exercise,” although there is also this: “Someone dared me.” . . . .


Michigan judge stopped with loaded gun at airport


England: How Socialized Medicine Saves Money

New Piece in National Review

Abortion and Crime — by John R. Lott Jr.
One has an effect on the other, but it may not be the effect you think.

Violent crime in the United States shot up like a rocket after 1960. From 1960 to 1991, reported violent crime increased by an incredible 372 percent. This disturbing trend was seen across the country, with robbery peaking in 1991 and rape and aggravated assault following in 1992. But then something unexpected happened: Between 1991 and 2000, rates of violent crime and property crime fell sharply, dropping by 33 percent and 30 percent, respectively. Murder rates were stable up to 1991, but then plunged by a steep 44 percent.

Several plausible explanations have been advanced for the drop during the 1990s. Some stress law-enforcement measures, such as higher arrest and conviction rates, longer prison sentences, “broken windows” police strategies, and the death penalty. Others emphasize right-to-carry laws for concealed handguns, a strong economy, or the waning of the crack-cocaine epidemic.

Of all the explanations, perhaps the most controversial is the one that attributes lower crime rates in the ’90s to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision to mandate legalized abortion. . . . .

This piece requires a subscription, though it is largely based on the discussion that I have on this issue in my book, Freedomnomics.

By the way, in the same issue Ramesh Ponnuru has a useful discussion on the gun control debate, though I believe that he is a little too optimistic.

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Hillary seeks to set up Public Service Academy

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton said Saturday that, if elected president, she will call on "a new generation of Americans to serve." . . .

Clinton, who has been elected to the U.S. Senate twice from New York, said she wants to create a public service academy designed to inspire young Americans to serve others. . . . .

Has she heard of public policy schools? The Harris School at the University of Chicago, the Kennedy School at Harvard, Wharton's Public Policy and Management Department, etc. What does she think universities in general do regarding social science or public policy studies? What is her concern over the content of the classes at these places? Obviously the vast majority of faculty are liberals, but does she think that the Federal government needs more direct control over what is taught in these schools? This seems like an attempt by Clinton to have even more control over what is taught to students who are planning on making a career of working in government.

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One of the many penalties some criminals face: Lost inheritance

PARTY princess Paris Hilton is $60 million out of pocket after her billionaire grandfather - appalled by her jail term for drink-driving offences - axed her inheritance.

Family patriarch Barron Hilton was already embarrassed by his granddaughter's wild behaviour - notably when her home sex video was leaked on the internet.

But the 79-year-old considered her 23-day sentence last month the last straw. . . . .

People who are disinherited because of criminal activity face an essentially almost impossible road in challenging that decision in court. If you thought that Paris' prison term was already harsh for the type of crime that she had committed, add $60 million to that penalty.

Thanks to Alex Robson for sending this story to me.

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I guess that the Cuban Athletes Just Haven't Had a Chance to See Michael Moore's New Movie

Cost-Benefit Analysis: What is the implicit value that Animal Rights Activists Place on a Mouse's happiness?

Scientists have created the world’s first schizophrenic mice in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the illness. . . . .

Animal rights campaigners have condemned the research, saying that it is morally repugnant to create an animal doomed to mental suffering.

The mice were created by modifying their DNA to mimic a mutant gene first found in a Scottish family with a high incidence of schizophrenia, which affects about one in every 100 people. The mice’s brains were found to have features similar to those of humans with schizophrenia, such as depression and hyperactivity.

“These mutant mice may provide an important new tool for further study of the combinations of factors that underlie mental illnesses like schizophrenia and mood disorders,” said Takatoshi Hikida, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a leading researcher. . . . .

One the one hand you have a disease that reportedly affects one in a hundred people. Even say that it is just people in Europe and the US who are affected, so we may be talking about say 8 million out of 800 or so million. On the other hand, possibly say 8,000 mice will be breed with this mutant gene (admittedly it may be fewer, but I am just picking an easy number here). Let us also assume that this research will only lead to a cure with a one percent chance. That means that animal rights activists would have to place a ten fold greater weight on the happiness of these mice than they do on people. My guess is that my numbers here are greatly weighted in favor of making the animal rights activists look reasonable (especially regarding the number of people affected by the disease), though on the other hand I may be too optimistic on this approach solving the problem (I really don't know). If you believe that the probability of this approach curing people is only one-tenth of one percent, the animal rights activists would be placing an equal weight on the happiness of both mice and people. Is this really serious thought? I don't even know that the term happiness applies to mice since it requires that they be self aware and I guess that I have a hard time believing that is the case.



Senator Chuck Schumer: President Gets No More Appointments to Supreme Court


Vote Fraud in Washington State

John Fund, in today's Political Diary, explains that at least someone is trying to clean up vote fraud issues in Washington State:

"Washington State became a poster child for the most mishandled election in the country in 2004, when its photo-finish governor's race required three recounts before Democrat Christine Gregoire was declared the winner over Republican Dino Rossi by 139 votes. The election was rife with irregularities, including felons illegally voting, absentee ballots mishandled and new ballots constantly being "discovered" during the process.

Since then, the Democratic legislature and Ms. Gregoire have only made matters worse by expanding the vote-by-mail balloting that was at the heart of many of the 2004 election problems. But yesterday voters in Washington State were reminded why it might be a better idea to tighten up their election laws. King County (Seattle) election officials were forced to remove 1,762 voter registrations from the rolls, finding they had been fraudulently submitted by employees of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). ACORN employees, it turned out, had gone to a local library and filled out bogus registration forms with names from the phonebook.

At the same, the King County prosecutor announced criminal charges against seven ACORN employees for vote fraud. He also announced that ACORN had signed a settlement agreeing to establish certain internal controls in exchange for the organization not being prosecuted. The move highlights the need for ACORN's dubious registration activities in other states to be scrutinized.

In a separate move, Washington State's Supreme Court voted 6 to 3 that a suit brought by several felons who were seeking to have their voting rights restored on equal protection grounds was invalid and that Washington's felon disenfranchisement laws were constitutional."

The Seattle Times has more details on Labor Unions (ACORN) finally get into trouble in Washington State for vote fraud:
Workers accused of concocting the biggest voter-registration-fraud scheme in state history said they were under pressure from the community-organizing group that hired them to sign up more voters, according to charging papers filed Thursday.

To boost their output, the defendants allegedly went to the downtown Seattle Public Library, where they filled out voter-registration forms using names they made up or found in phone books, newspapers and baby-naming books.

One defendant "said it was hard work making up all those cards," and another "said he would often sit at home, smoke marijuana and fill out cards," according to a probable-cause statement written by King County sheriff's Detective Christopher Johnson.

Prosecutors in King and Pierce counties filed felony charges Thursday against seven employees of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, claiming they turned in more than 1,800 phony voter-registration forms, including an estimated 55 in Pierce County. . . . .

At least for now, not all felons can vote in Washington State.

The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that felons who haven't paid their fines and court costs aren't entitled to vote. But for 16 months they could, and now the state has no way of knowing how many might be on the rolls or how to keep them from casting ballots.

As of now, the only felons the state can accurately track — and keep off the voter rolls — are those still in custody of the Department of Corrections, according to Assistant Secretary of State Steve Excell.

"That's the only rock-solid list that we know we can implement now in the short term," he said. "We have no way of finding the felons that are voting today." . . . .


Even Canadians Think that Extra Taxes on "Unhealthy" Foods are a Bad Idea

It is not even clear to me that there is either an externality or mistakes being made. If people are properly anticipating the risk, imposing the tax actually means that they will be eating "too little" of these "bad" foods. The problem is undoubtedly caused because the insurance premium doesn't vary with the risks that people take, but the most direct solution is to make them pay for their health care. I have two problems with the tax. 1) Not all individuals are likely to be equally affected by these unhealthy foods. 2) Even if everyone was about equally affected, how likely is it that the government would pick the right tax and not one that were "too high." On the other hand, it is much easier to know what the cost of the medical services are. Having a tax that is "too high" is just as bad as not having the right level of a tax.

Many adults in Canada oppose implementing extra taxes on specific foods in order to reduce both consumer demand and health problems, according to a poll by Angus Reid Strategies. 50 per cent of respondents think the proposal is a bad idea, while 43 per cent consider it a good idea. . . . .

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More on Freedomnomics from a talk I gave at the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce

John Lott, professor of economics at the University of Maryland and author of Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don’t, says he believes the 19th Amendment in 1920 that gave women the right to vote led directly to the growth in the size of the U.S. government.

At an Arizona Chamber presentation Tuesday, Lott said the rate of increase in government (as measured by percent of GDP) in the decades following 1920 tracks perfectly with the increasing voter turnout among women during the same time period. He said women tend to favor more government programs than do men, and the change in attitudes toward the proper role of government correlates exactly with the increased involvement of women in the political process. Other of his conclusions/observations included:

• The legalization of abortion in 1973 resulted in an increase in the crime rate, especially in the murder rate. Lott’s reasoning here is that whereas before Roe v Wade, women would adopt out their children born out-of-wedlock, after 1973, the numbers of women carrying their babies to term increased. Among those who chose not to abort, many instead chose to raise their child alone in a single-parent household, which, he says, studies have shown are less nurturing than two-parent households. He said the lack of quality parenting leads directly to lower grades, higher dropout rates, more delinquency and ultimately increased crime and murder rates. . . . .

Here is a discussion of my research in German.

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Criminal shot by victim: "I can't feel my legs and I got what I deserved."

EL DORADO, Ark. — An elderly man beaten unconscious by an assailant wielding a soda can later awoke and shot the man during an attempted robbery, police said.

Willie Lee Hill, 93, told police he saw the robber while in his bedroom Wednesday night. Hill confronted Douglas B. Williams Jr., 24, of El Dorado, who struck the elderly man at least 50 times, knocking him out, police said.

Hill, covered in blood from the attack, regained consciousness and pulled a .38-caliber handgun on Williams. Williams saw the gun and charged Hill, who fired one round, police said. The bullet struck Williams in the throat.

When police arrived, officers said Williams told them, "I can't feel my legs and I got what I deserved." . . . .

Thanks very much to Robert Aldridge for point this story out to me.

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New Op-ed in National Review Online on Defending Property Rights

Another Review of Freedomnomics

barbarindian writes that this is: "A must read for free market believers.."


John Palmer at the University of Western Ontario Begins Reviewing Freedomnomics

Bogus study claims medical costs are related to bankruptcy

I had heard about this claim, but I had no idea how bad the research was. This claim has been used to push for socialized medicine.

The study's central findings were that 54½ percent of all bankruptcies have a "medical cause" and 46.2 percent of all bankruptcies have a "major medical cause." . . . . the study classifies uncontrolled gambling, drug or alcohol addiction, and the birth or adoption of a child as "a medical cause." . . . . A father who has gambled away his family's mortgage payment is not the victim of crushing medical bills. Similarly, new parents who find they can no longer afford their previous lifestyle now that one of them has to stay home with the baby will usually find the obstetrician's bill the least of their problems. Babies are a financial hardship even when hospitals give them away free. . . . The authors also classified bankruptcies as having a "major medical cause" if the debtors had more than $1,000 in accumulated, out-of-pocket medical expenses (uncovered by insurance) over the course of the two years prior to the bankruptcy, even if the debtors did not cite illness or injury as among the reasons for their bankruptcy.


Army veteran stops carjacking

Movement to end tradition of keeping military weapons in homes in Switzerland shows strong support


Now this is cruel and inhuman criminal punishment

I can't wait until the courts review the prison policies discussed here.

The article deals with the clothing worn by women visiting male prisoners. There obvious concern involves the behavior of the prisoners around these visitors. On the other hand, one thing that isn't mentioned is that the more that male prisoners anticipate visiting from outsiders, the more of a penalty it is for them to have that perk taken away from them. There might be more problems during visitation, but there might be fewer problems at other times.

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Another Review of Freedomnomics

A critical review of my book by Max Sawicky can be found here. I have put up a couple of responses on his blog. As I write in my comment on his blog, I didn't expect us to agree on everything, but I really do appreciate him taking the time to write the review.

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New Op-ed: Driving the Lemon Myth Off the Lot

Here is a new piece that I have up at Fox News:

If you have ever thought of buying a new car, you are undoubtedly familiar with the claim that as soon as you drive the new car off the showroom floor its price falls dramatically. Recent popular books have asserted that simply driving a new car off the lot reduces the price by 25 percent.

Many economists explain this drop as occurring because the people who are trying to resell their cars quickly are typically doing so to get rid of “lemons.” Even if your virtually new car isn’t a lemon, people who want to buy your car can’t be sure, so they aren’t willing to pay as much as your virtually new non-lemon car is really worth. It is the classic story of “market failure.”

Nice story—except it’s wrong. In fact, the widespread perception that a new car loses substantial value as soon as a buyer drives it off the lot is really just a myth, as we shall see.. . .

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General George S Patton Speaks out on Iraq & modern world

Sonya Jones points to a great update to General George Patton's famous speach here. This is worth watching.


Specter causing trouble for future nominees

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) plans to review the Senate testimony of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito to determine if their reversal of several long-standing opinions conflicts with promises they made to senators to win confirmation.

Specter, who championed their confirmation, said Tuesday he will personally re-examine the testimony to see if their actions in court match what they told the Senate.

"There are things he has said, and I want to see how well he has complied with it," Specter said, singling out Roberts.

The Specter inquiry poses a potential political problem for the GOP and future nominees because Democrats are increasingly complaining that the Supreme Court moved quicker and more dramatically than advertised to overturn or chip away at prior decisions. . . . .



The WSJ Nails New York Governor Eliot Spitzer

When Eliot Spitzer as the New York Attorney General he was known as having weak legal cases when he went after companies, but that he uses the reputational damage that he can try inflicting on them to blackmail them into settling. The damage often seemed to occur from well timed and placed information leaks. Apparently, Spitzer was caught using the same tactic against one of his political opponents. Given this was Spitzer's standard tactic for years, the vast majority of the press coverage that Spitzer is getting is very disappointing.

The media are doing their best Claude Rains act over the revelation that the office of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer orchestrated a smear campaign against State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. But far from being a unique, out of character event, the episode is a classic example of the Spitzer political method: nasty and exaggerated accusations fed by selective, politically motivated news leaks. The difference is that this time his targets could fight back.

On Monday, the office of Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo released a 54-page report on Mr. Bruno's use of state helicopters, allegedly for personal political purposes. The investigation had been prompted by the Governor's office after Mr. Spitzer's communications aide and hatchet man, Darren Dopp, saw to it that allegations of impropriety against Mr. Bruno had found their way into the hands of gullible, pliant reporters. . . . .

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Gary Galles reviews Freedomnomics


How altruism differs by country

Here is an interesting story by Reader's Digest on the rate that lost cell phones are returned in different cities around the world. The results by city can be found here. Someone should try to explain the differences by country.



Even Democrats Respond to Tax Incentives

Robb, the wife of former Virginia governor and U.S. senator Charles Robb, drew appreciative laughs when she spoke of her mother's frugality. "She wanted to hold on until 2010, so we wouldn't have to pay any estate taxes," Robb said. "Oh, durn!"

There are actually some economics studies that find that when a tax change is occurring in inheritance taxes people appear to live a couple weeks longer to take advantage of the lower take rates.



Who gets to decide if you get treatment under national health care

iPods for addicts while others go without treatment. That said, it is an interesting test to see if incentives work.

DRUG addicts are to be offered gift vouchers and prizes on the National Health Service under plans by the government’s medicine watchdog to encourage them to stay clean.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) will recommend the system of inducements, which could enable clinics to offer televisions and iPods as prizes, to tackle the burgeoning drugs problem. But patients denied drugs for blindness, Alzheimer’s and lung cancer under Nice rationing are likely to accuse it of wasting public money.

Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, said: “Why should these people with self-inflicted problems be given priority over people who have a genuine illness? Some people with genuine disease are being forced to sell their homes for the medicines they need.” . . . .

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Political Theater: Disappearing votes in the US Senate

Well I guess that it never happened.

WASHINGTON — A brawl over presidential pardons punctured the normally courtly ambiance of the Senate on Thursday night, but Republicans and Democrats agreed to bury the hatchet and erase the evidence before the sun rose Friday. . . .

Democrats retaliated with their own partisan salvo, the Libby pardon resolution.

"Regrettably, if you are going to shoot this way, we have to shoot that way," Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., said as he brought up the "sense of the Senate" measure.

What followed was a scene more commonly witnessed on the other side of the Capitol in the more raucous House. As senators hooted and brayed amid calls of "Regular order!", Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. pointedly noted that it's against Senate rules to call an amendment politically motivated.

After Salazar's amendment failed, Republicans took their turn, offering a nonbinding resolution deploring the actions of Bill Clinton for issuing pardons to the likes of his half brother Roger, and clemency for members of a Puerto Rican nationalist group blamed for bombings in the 1970s and 1980s.

"If the Senate has decided to go into debating the appropriateness of future pardons, there is plenty of material to go around on past pardons," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the minority leader.

Before that could happen, though, the two leaders cut a deal to defuse the tension. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. said his side would take back their Libby amendment — including zapping the vote from the record — if McConnell took back his Clinton swipe. . . . .



Two talks in Arizona

Two talks in Arizona this coming week.

Sunday, July 22, 2007
from 5:00-7:00 p.m., at Pima County Republican Headquarters
5447 East 5th Street, in Tucson.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Registration and Continental Breakfast ~ 7:30 AM
Presentation ~ 8:00 AM

University Club
39 East Monte Vista Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85004


The article "Gun Laws and Sudden Death: Did the Australian Firearms Legislation of 1996 Make a Difference?" is available on the web

Jeanine Baker and Samara McPhedran
Gun Laws and Sudden Death: Did the Australian Firearms Legislation of 1996 Make a Difference?
British Journal of Criminology Advance Access published on October 18, 2006
Br J Criminol 2007 47: 455-469; doi:10.1093/bjc/azl084 [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF] [Request Permissions]

Gun Laws and Sudden Death
Did the Australian Firearms Legislation of 1996 Make a Difference?
Jeanine Baker and Samara McPhedran*
Samara McPhedran, School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Camperdown, New South Wales 2006, Australia and International Coalition for Women in Shooting and Hunting (WiSH), PO Box 184, Ballarat, Victoria 3353, Australia
* Correspondence to J. Baker, Research and Policy Unit, Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, PO Box 166, Gumeracha, South Australia 5233, Australia; jb@ssaa.org.au.


Mass murders in Dunblane, United Kingdom, and Port Arthur, Australia, provoked rapid responses from the governments of both countries. Major changes to Australian laws resulted in a controversial buy-back of longarms and tighter legislation. The Australian situation enables evaluation of the effect of a national buy-back, accompanied by tightened legislation in a country with relatively secure borders. AutoRegressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA) was used to predict future values of the time series for homicide, suicide and accidental death before and after the 1996 National Firearms Agreement (NFA). When compared with observed values, firearm suicide was the only parameter the NFA may have influenced, although societal factors could also have influenced observed changes. The findings have profound implications for future firearm legislation policy direction.

Thanks to Rich for sending this to me.


More on Freedomnomics

There are new mentions of my book, Freedomnomics here, here,here, and here.

Robin Hansen at GMU and Max Sawicky from the Economic Policy Institute will be providing comments for my talk at Heritage Foundation on August 1st at noon.


Houston homeowner wounds would-be burglar

Defensive gun use stop burglary in Kentucky 7/20

Sonya Jones' Radio Show

Sonya Jones' radio show is picking up steam. For those interested, you can listen to her show ("Sonya's Gotta Scream") from noon to 2 PM EDT on Saturdays. At least one of her topics this week is vote fraud.


Is the fairness doctrine headed back?

Reagan couldn't get the congress to get rid of the "fairness doctrine" during the 1980s so he used his ability to appoint the majority of FCC commissioners to get rid of it. This week the Democrats in congress killed an effort to stop the next presidential administration from reinstituting the doctrine through the FCC.

Senate Democrats last night beat back a Republican attempt to attach an anti-Fairness Doctrine bill as an amendment to education legislation.

The doctrine, a former requirement that broadcasters present opposing points of view on political issues, was scrapped in 1987 by the Federal Communications Commission, which said the policy restricted journalistic freedom. The bill by Sen. Norm Coleman, Minnesota Republican, would prevent the FCC from reinstating the doctrine.



I hope that this doesn't give American Politicians ideas


Concealed Carry Increasing in one of my Favorite Towns

Recent violence in Lubbock appears to have sparked a larger interest in concealed handgun licenses, so NewsChannel 11 taking a closer look into what it takes to receive one of those permits.

"The object of carrying a weapon is to prevent things from happening," Beverly Ellis, owner of Gun Shak in southwest Lubbock County said.

Ellis is also a concealed handgun license instructor. Before you can get a conceal-carry license from the Department of Public Safety, you'll have to spend hours of class time with her, or at least another instructor like Ellis, and it appears more people in Lubbock are up to the challenge.

"In the last two or three months there's been a much greater interest. With all the things that have been going on, they just feel like they want to be prepared, in the event that something happens," Ellis said.

"I am safer," Paul Bean said. . . .

You can tell it is Texas (at least outside of Houston and Austin) when not only is the article quite positive about right-to-carry, but also the news article provides a link on how people can get permits.

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Another Review of Freedomnomics

Polls evenly divided on government regulation of media for balance?

I assume that people like the thought of "balance," but this poll is pretty worrisome. You would think that people would understand not only the difficulty in determining what balance is, but also that the effect will be to stop those programs where it is used from talking about politics. Of course, the rules won't be used to stop biased "news" coverage.

Should the federal government require radio and television stations to offer equal amounts of conservative and liberal commentary?

Yes 41%

No 41%

Not sure 18%

Source: Rasmussen Reports
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,000 American adults, conducted on Jul. 11 and Jul. 12, 2007. Margin of error is 3 per cent.



"Fiction" does have its purposes

One piece of advice given to first time authors is to write about something that you know well from real life. Well, it appears that Gore's daughter really took that advice to heart. From John Fund in yesterday's Political Diary:

Finally, a Gore Writes a Book Worth Reading

Kristin Gore, daughter of former Vice President Al Gore, is busy peddling 125,000 copies of her new political satire "Sammy's House." It's the story of a clumsy but smart White House policy wonk named Samantha Jones. George Stephanopoulos, the former Clinton White House aide who provided some of the inspiration for the character, calls the book a cross between "Bridget Jones" and "Primary Colors."

The book apparently is a good read, but official Washington has been poring over it mainly for clues to the dysfunctional relationship between the Gores and the Clintons. In the book, Sammy Jones is working for President Max Wye, a former Southern governor who is undeniably brilliant but also has an addictive personality and a problem telling the truth. Among his other characteristics: "He always stared at himself for too long in mirrors," "he wanted to please too many people to be able to consistently take tough stands," and "he lacked a strong inner compass." His problems are compounded by a nasty First Lady whose "paranoia was legendary" and who resembles a modern-day Lady Macbeth.

It won't surprise anyone that there is also a loyal vice presidential hero in the novel, a brainy former Senator named Robert Gary. He is an upright family man of high principle and integrity. He is appalled when his boss, President Wye, becomes enmeshed in a horrific scandal. There is also the opposition party to worry about. Its leader in the Senate is in league with pharmaceutical companies and is always plotting to undermine virtuous health care proposals. The leader's name, Frand, might make some readers think of Bill Frist, the GOP Senate leader until this past January. . . .


Sign up here for your own gun free zone

There is a very funny YouTube segment here. This is really very funny. In rewatching this the fourth time, it finally dawned on me that this is from Fox News' "1/2 hour news hour."

Thanks to David Hardy for posting this link.

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Ohio Newspaper printing names of Concealed Handugn Permit Holders

You can see a piece on this issue here. The point is that the benefit from right-to-carry laws is that the criminals don't know who might be carrying a gun. By publishing the names of permit holders, the safety of non-permit holders is put at risk.

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New Op-ed in Philadelphia Inquirer: Guns don't kill people, Phila. does

My son Maxim and I have an op-ed in today's Philadelphia Inquirer:

When Mayor Street spent 15 hours waiting in line for an iPhone recently, the city was not impressed by his love of new technology. Rather, Street had to answer to a passerby asking, "How can you sit here with 200 murders in the city already?"

Local politicians say they know the source of the problem: the lack of gun control. Gov. Rendell recently complained the state legislature "has been in the control of the NRA." Street blames the increasing murder rate on "the dangerous proliferation of guns on our city streets." Last Tuesday, two City Council members announced the novel legal tactic of suing the state government to let Philadelphia pass its own gun laws. . . . .

A comment tread can be found here.

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New Op-ed in Washington Times: Property-rights dispute

D.C. to Appeal Circuit Court Decision Striking Down Gun Ban

This is a big role of the dice for both sides. One more retirement could make a big difference here.

Mayor Adrian Fenty announced today that he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit striking down on Second Amendment grounds Washington, D.C.'s firearms ban. The Supreme Court has never definitively ruled on the Second Amendment, making the constitutionality of gun ownership among the most important unresolved questions in all of constitutional law.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Courts and legal scholars are sharply divided over the meaning of that language and whether it protects an individual right to keep and bear arms or merely a "collective" right of the states to arm their own citizen militias. If the Supreme Court agrees to review this case, Parker v. District of Columbia, it will be the first time the Court has considered the meaning of the Second Amendment in nearly 70 years. In the only prior case, U.S. v. Miller (1939), the Court did not provide a definitive interpretation of the Second Amendment.
"This case is enormously important, not only to the Parker plaintiffs and other D.C. residents, but to persons nationwide who care about the Constitution and the right to bear arms," said plaintiff's co-counsel and Cato Institute senior fellow Robert Levy. . . .



Americans Getting Shorter and Lack of Health Care?: Be serious

New research shows that Americans are coming up short, but not in terms of money or lifestyle. Our growing problem is with our height.

The study, conducted by the University of Munich and Princeton University, found that the United States had the shortest population in the industrialized world, and the reason may have to do with the way people live. . . . .

Komlos said height revealed a lot about a country's well-being, including how long its citizens lived and how healthy they were. Researchers said that one reason for Denmark's high ranking could be that the Danish health-care system provides better care to children when they are young, the time of life when most growing takes place. . . .

This is a recycled claim about heights. For a long time Americans were relatively better feed than people in outher countries. Nothern Europeans (people who lived in colder climates) tend to be taller. As the standard of living improved in Europe, they caught up to the US. So why is height falling in the US? Simple, the percentage of the population from northern European stock is getting smaller. We have more people from Mexico and from China and other warmer places where people tend to be shorter.


The NRA backing gun tracing as a crime fighting tool?

I am not sure how this squares with other positions that the NRA has taken on tracing (positions that I have agreed with them on). I have an op-ed that is coming out in the Phiadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday, though unfortunately I am at least a day late with my piece.

The state legislature last night passed a gun-control bill advocated by Philadelphia lawmakers, a notable feat in a state so strong on the right to bear arms and so hostile to the city's efforts to regulate them.
The Senate passed the legislation, 50-0, following overwhelming passage in the House last week.

The two measures in the bill, called minor by gun-control supporters, were nonetheless hailed as an important step in a new working relationship between the National Rifle Association and urban lawmakers.

One part of the bill would compel police departments to trace all illegal firearms confiscated from those under the age of 21 and report the guns to a state-police-run registry. The other would expand the definition of firearm under state law to include long-guns such as rifles and shotguns, providing more uniform application of state law.

The NRA backed the bills, saying the tracing requirement would help to fight crime.. . . .

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Review of Freedomnomics by Michael New at National Review Online

On Laura Ingraham Today

For those interested, I will be on the Laura Ingraham's Show at 11:15 EDT to discuss Freedomnomics today.

I will be on Larry Elder's show tomorrow at 7PM EDT.

Both should be a lot of fun.



Media distortions: Ron Paul attacked

While I may not support Ron Paul for president, the Politico did an amazing hit piece on him: "Ron Paul warns of staged terror attack". I confess that I briefly bought into this claim until I read this piece: "Robbing Paul of the Truth". You really need to read both pieces to see how really bad this is.


Even TV shows may run afoul of campaign finance laws

Well, I am only surprised that this problem hasn't happened previously.

The show, called “Independent,” aims to launch next year in time for the real presidential election, though it’s still network shopping.

The concept -- as presented in a hyperbolic press release predicting the show “will help reshape the face of American politics, including the next presidential election” -- is clever. Contestants will deal with issues proposed by MySpace users and the show’s viewers that will require interactions with supporters, protesters and activists.

“Over the course of the series, through a combination of Internet-powered direct democracy and the broad reach of TV, viewers will be empowered to put a genuine stamp on which issues they care about most and identify the one who truly represents them,” says the release, which predicts the winner will become “the nation’s next great politician.”

That person will get a $1 million prize, but not to keep. Instead, the release says, the winner must choose how to spend it from “a list of options, all political in nature.” . . . .

Here’s where the reality “candidate” might run into real problems with the really complex real laws governing how much real candidates, committees and parties can raise and spend for real elections.

Federal candidates can give as much of their own money as they want to their campaigns. (That’s why political parties recruit millionaires to run for Congress and why the possibility of a Michael Bloomberg independent presidential run is so intriguing.) But the issue here is whether the $1 million would truly belong to the winner, with no strings attached.

If “the winnings becomes the personal property of the winner,” said Brett Kappel, a campaign finance lawyer for the firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, “he or she can do with it as they wish, including running for federal office.” . . . . . . . .



Charles Murray: Get rid of the SATs

Can I believe that the SAT scores correlate very highly with the achievement tests? Sure. The correlation though isn't perfect (.83 is high, but it isn't that high and there will surely be cases where the SATs add critical information). The question how big that benefit is relative to the cost and I don't think that Murray really answers that question.

There is good reason to think that a world in which achievement tests have replaced the SAT is not going to be a world in which motivated high-ability students from bad or mediocre schools have less opportunity to get into the college where they belong. It may be a marginally worse world for a small number of unmotivated high-ability students who want to attend selective colleges, but that outcome is not necessarily undesirable.

But why get rid of the SAT? If it works just about as well as the achievement tests in predicting college success, what’s the harm in keeping it?

The short answer is that the image of the SAT has done a 180-degree turn. No longer seen as a compensating resource for the unprivileged, it has become a corrosive symbol of privilege. “Back when kids just got a good night’s sleep and took the SAT, it was a leveler that helped you find the diamond in the rough,” Lawrence University’s dean of admissions told The New York Times recently. “Now that most of the great scores are affluent kids with lots of preparation, it just increases the gap between the haves and the have-nots.”
Almost every parent with whom I discuss the SAT believes these charges. In fact, the claims range from simply false, in the case of cultural bias, to not-nearly-as-true-as-you-think, in the case of the others. Take coaching as an example, since it seems to be so universally accepted by parents and has been studied so extensively. . . . .

UPDATE: From a reader:


My response: The question is why the top schools make this requirement. Apparently, they must believe that they get enough new information that they can separate out what must be a lot of pretty close calls on who to admit.


My response: I agree on both points. I think that the reason that Penn State and some other public universities put little weight on standardized tests is for affirmative action reasons. If you use GPAs, you end up with a more racially diverse student body with respect to African-Americans. There are a number of high schools where most of the students are African-Americans so if you take the top 10 percent of the class you know that you will pick up some African-Americans. Unfortunately, if you purely use the SAT African-Americans don't do as well.


The EU is upset that the Czech use castration in a few very limited cases

This is very weird. Murders who are repeat offenders for sex crime are asked to voluntarily get castration. The EU is upset because this isn't "voluntary" because if these creeps don't agree to the surgery, they will be locked up until they are no longer viewed as a threat to others. You can really see that most of Europe has no notion of deterrence or punishment.

Surgical castration was confined mainly to offenders who had committed murder, and only with their consent.

But the committee cast doubt on how free that consent could be, if the alternative for the prisoner was indefinite confinement in a psychiatric hospital.

The committee said it was concerned about the overlap between the doctors treating the offenders and the panel of experts responsible for approving the operation.

The Czech government said castration procedures were carried out according to law, but improvement in legislation would be debated this year.

One of the hospitals involved said the procedure was only used for repeat offenders, many of whom were alcoholics and individuals with learning disabilities.

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More on Freedomnomics

More mentions of my book here and here. Ann Coulter's review is still being picked up on blogs and in various newspapers.


What Feminist Candidate?


Do these guys understand any economics?

WASHINGTON--AT&T's exclusive right to sell the Apple iPhone drew complaints on Wednesday from Democratic politicians, though it was unclear whether they were planning to do anything about it.

"The problem with the iPhone is that the iPhone with AT&T is kind of like a 'Hotel California' service," Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey said--in a nod to the Eagles hit, of course--during a hearing. "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave." . . . .

So why did Apple give an exclusive deal to AT&T? That is not a tough question: Apple wanted AT&T to let Apple design how the phone worked. Doing that presumably imposed significant costs on AT&T. What type of phone do you think that Apple would have been able to design if this type of regulatory threat had kept AT&T or any other carrier from making a deal with Apple? Would the market have been better for consumers if the regulatory environment had kept the iPhone from turning out the way that it did?

There is a second problem with the Democrat's reasoning. Let's assume that they are concerned about some type of monopoly power caused by the agreement. In fact, it is hard to see how that creates any more monopoly power than Apple already has. Apple is still the single producer of the iPhone.


Still More Reviews of Freedomnomics

Cao has a nice review of Freedomnomics over at her blog:

Freedomnomics explains a lot of things in an easy-to-understand conversational way. He surprises the reader with fascinating information. I’d never stopped to think, for example, that there is a relationship between the increasing number of out-of-wedlock births and abortion and increasing crime statistics.5 Did you know that? Or that there is a relationship between single parent and cohabitating unmarrieds and children who are not engaged in school, children who cut school, children who don’t perform well in school, etc. . . . .

David Henderson also has a nice review of Freedomnomics:

For the first years of its existence, radio seemed like an economic loser without government subsidy. No one could figure out how to make listeners pay, and, consequently, radio hosts and entertainers usually worked for free. In 1922, Herbert Hoover, then Secretary of Commerce, asserted, "Nor do I believe there is any practical method of payment from the listeners." But that same year, AT&T discovered that it could make money by selling ad time on radio. It sounds obvious now, but it wasn’t then. After that, radio thrived and is still thriving.

John Lott tells that story and many others – and tells them well – in his latest book, Freedomnomics. . . . .

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Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich under fire

John Fund: "Airhead's Night Out"

John Fund writes at Political Diary that:

Al Gore certainly can't claim his series of eight concurrent "Live Earth" concerts designed to raise consciousness about global warming were a stunning success last weekend. NBC's three-hour special broadcast scored ratings even below the traditional rerun programming for a summer Saturday.

It may have been just as well. Mr. Gore's call for a seven-point pledge to cut carbon emissions received only lukewarm endorsement from the performers on stage. Other than Melissa Etheridge, most of the overheated rhetoric about a pending global warming catastrophe had to be supplied by a handful of political wannabe participants. Typical was Robert F. Kennedy Jr., president of the environmental group Waterkeeper Alliance and son of the late New York Senator. He screamed himself hoarse at the New Jersey Live Earth concert, urging viewers: "Get rid of all these rotten politicians that we have in Washington, who are nothing more than corporate toadies." As for anyone who opposes Mr. Gore's climate agenda: "This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors." . . . . .

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Texas Legislator doesn't practice what he preaches


"Is America ready for a president with a trophy wife?"

Is the New York TImes a serious newspaper?

Now, with the possible candidacy of Fred D. Thompson, the grandfatherly actor and former Republican senator from Tennessee, whose second wife is almost a quarter-century his junior, comes a less palatable inquiry that is spurring debate in Internet chat rooms, on cable television and on talk radio: Is America ready for a president with a trophy wife?

The question may seem sexist, even crass, but serious people — as well as Mr. Thompson’s supporters — have been wrestling with the public reaction to Jeri Kehn Thompson, whose youthfulness, permanent tan and bleached blond hair present a contrast to the 64-year-old man who hopes to win the hearts of the conservative core of the Republican party. Will the so-called values voters accept this union? . . . .

Is Jeri Thompson just some good looking airhead whom Thompson carries around on his arm? Hardly. Everything that I know about her indicates that she is extremely smart. Is the fact that a beautiful, very smart woman who is twenty-four years younger than Thompson loves him enough to marry him a bad sign? Surely Jeri Thompson could have married many men much nearer her own age. I would think that it shows that this guy must really have something going for him. I would also bet you that she keeps him much younger than he would be otherwise. Can someone name one single similar article that the NY Times has run on any Democrat's spouse?



Book Signing at Heartland Institute

What do workplaces owe their workers?: Banning Perfume?


Why are milk cartons square or squarish, but soda bottles round?

Have you ever wondered why milk cartons are square but containers for soda bottles are round? I have. I was talking to a former engineer that I know recently and he suggested a simple explanation. First, one would think that there is a benefit to make all the containers square because less space will be wasted in stacking the containers. Rounded containers end up having a lot of air space between them, and the extra air space also would make it harder to keep the milk cold. So why aren't soda containers square? In a single word: pressure. Round containers deal much better with pressure than square ones. Even if you put the soda in a square container, the pressure would push out the sides so that the container would become more rounded in any case.


On the returns to studying at University

1) Eric Rasmusen raises the question of why student grades can't be posted with their names next to them. When students' grades are posted they have to use an ID number that makes it difficult to identify who got the grade.

The question is: wouldn't posting of grades create even more of an incentive for students to work harder? It is not really clear to me what the downside is, though I suppose that it would create even more pressure for grade inflation. In any case, Eric points to England where posting of names with grades has been allowed at least at Cambridge for 300 years. There is a push to end it because:

"It just adds to the stress . . . ."

But that is another way of saying that it adds to the incentive to do well.

2) I was talking to my second oldest son today about studying at universities. He has been taking summer school classes, and he pointed out to me that the range in ability in his university classes seems narrower than was the case in high school. Given the sorting that goes on as you move up through different levels of education, I don't think that claim is too surprising. The question that we discussed is what does that do to your incentive to study and the implication seems pretty clear. In high school, if there is a large gap between yourself and the next student, you could slack off some with out it making much difference. But if all the students are really tightly packed in terms of ability, the returns to studying would be higher.


More Discussions of Freedomnomics

In a discussion about "Why Did Crime Fall in the 90's?" Mikeroeconomics writes that:

John R. Lott offered a rebuttal in his book, Freedomnomics, on why crime fell in the 90'2. Lott's explainations include the death penalty, better law enforcement, the right to bear arms. This book is a fast read and exceptionally well written. . . . .

While he hasn't yet read the book (though he says that he plans to listen to it on tape), Rogue Genius did listen to a radio interview and offers a less flattering review of my discussion on abortion:

I downloaded a podcast of Micheal Medved's program today. It said in the listing that he was interviewing the author of Freakonomics... Actually, it didn't. What it really said was the author of Freedomnomics. A guy well known in gun-nut circles, John Lot (who is now, suddenly, an economist). So, I got suckered. Anyway, I'd already downloaded it, so I listened.


Now, as you know, I'm not much impressed with what passes for intellectualism on the right. But if anyone - and I do mean ANYONE - can't 'out logic' the arguments presented in this podcast (and, presumably, the book) that person must turn in their social security card: they can no longer be considered human.

Rogue Genius and I have a bit of an exchange at the end of his posting.

Lemuel Calhoon and SayUncle promise reviews of my book soon. The Pittsburgh Tribune also ran Ann Coulter's review of my book.

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People Don't Even Go to a FREE Concert?: Gore's Global Warming concert a flop

Former US vice president Al Gore took a swipe at global warming doubters Saturday as he opened the Washington leg of the worldwide Live Earth concerts that he helped organize. . . .

A few hundred spectators turned out for the concert, which began at 10:30 am (1430 GMT). . . . .

A "few hundred" people showing up for this event in Washington DC is an amazingly bad turnout. I had to read this a couple of times to make sure that I had read it correctly. I assume just using the staff of one or two environmental organizations in Washington could have provided this many people. To make matters worse, this was even the event that Al Gore showed up for. Can't Gore get more than a few hundred people to turn out for one of his talks?

UPDATE: Small UK Television audience

ive Earth has been branded a foul-mouthed flop.

Organisers of the global music concert - punctuated by swearing from presenters and performers - had predicted massive viewing figures. . . . .

The BBC blamed the poor figures on Saturday's good weather and said its Wimbledon tennis coverage had drawn away afternoon viewers.

Critics said however that the public had simply snubbed what they saw as a hypocritical event. . . . .

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"SoCal founder of No Guns pleads not guilty to gun crime"


Crazy school rules: Terrorism v. a completely innocent statement

Can't the school differentiate these different types of statements?

KATY, Texas — Writing "I love Alex" on a school gymnasium wall brought a 12-year-old the same punishment as if she had made terrorist threats.

The Katy Independent School District rated the message, written with a baby blue marker by sixth-grader Shelby Sendelbach, as a Level 4 infraction — the same as for threats, drug possession and assault.

Only murder, gun possession, sexual assault and arson are considered more severe by the suburban Houston district.

For her punishment, Shelby was assigned to an alternative school from Aug. 27 through Dec. 21.

School district spokesman Steve Stanford said the district was just following a state law, saying it requires assignment to an alternative school for graffiti.

Her parents have appealed and a hearing is set for this month. Lisa and Stu Sendelbach said they don't condone what Shelby did but think the punishment is overly harsh.

"We are shocked that the school district rules as they are written make no distinction between what Shelby is accused of and what a gang member does with a can of black spray paint," Stu Sendelbach said. . . . .


Possibly this explains why Hillary was recently Attacking Fred Thompson

It is amazing to see that Hillary's negatives are at 48 percent. Will her campaigning cause them to rise back up above 50 percent? My guess is that this means that 2008 will be one of the all time nastiest presidential campaigns. If she can't get above a certain level, the best thing to do will be to tear down the other guy.

Front-running Democrat Hillary Clinton can do no better than tie unannounced Republican candidate Fred Thompson in the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Asked whom they would vote for in a head to head match-up, 45 percent said Sen. Clinton and 45 percent chose former Sen. Thompson, with 5 percent saying they would vote for another candidate and the remainder unsure.

Clinton also outpolls Mitt Romney in a head to head race, 46 percent to 42 percent. But Clinton has lost a net five points against both Thompson and Romney since a survey conducted in early June.

In the latest Rasmussen survey, 49 percent of voters said they have a favorable opinion of Hillary, and 48 percent have an unfavorable opinion – including 30 percent who have a "very unfavorable” opinion of the former first lady.

That’s more than 10 points higher than any other current candidate.

"Because Clinton generates such strong feelings, all general election match-ups involving her are competitive,” a release from Rasmussen stated.

Curiously, that’s true even if the Republican candidate is unknown. Clinton’s support stays between 45 percent and 50 percent when matched against any of seven potential Republican candidates.

And Clinton’s GOP opponent earns between 41 percent and 46 percent of the vote regardless of who the Republican is.

Rasmussen adds: "If Clinton is the nominee, third party candidates could make the difference. It is hard to see Clinton winning a majority of the vote, but it is also hard to see her falling much below the mid-40s in terms of popular support. . . . .

UPDATE: Yet another apparent attack by Hillary on Thompson is discussed here:

The AP, taking their cue from the new because-she-said-so story offered by the L.A.Times, has run with a short clip on a story that claims Fred Thompson was working as a lobbyist for an abortion agency in 1991, giving the hearsay evidence against him but not offering the meat of his against the claim. The result is that the AP offers more "evidence" against Thompson than it does for him making it too easy to conclude he is "guilty" of the charge of lobbying for an abortion advocacy organization.

The AP did a wonderful job making this story seem more cut and dried than it really is, of course, but the fact is, this claim of Thompson's supposed lobbying for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association is nothing but an unproven (and maybe unprovable) claim against Thompson made by people who are well-known, far left activists and heavy contributors to the Hillary Clinton for President campaign. Naturally, neither the AP nor the L.A.Times wastes any time to detail the history of those making these claims against Thompson, leaving their relevant backgrounds completely out of the story. . . . .

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Man with concealed handgun permit comes to wife's rescue

A follow up to the piece that I posted about the concealed handgun permit holder who stopped a robbery in Fort Worth can be found here.

The Dallas Morning News writes:

Fort Worth police praise man who shot at Albertsons robber
FW: Suspect in crime at store left at hospital; 2 others sought in case
12:00 AM CDT on Thursday, July 5, 2007

By MARISSA ALANIS / The Dallas Morning News
A Fort Worth man who only wanted to protect his wife stuck in an Albertsons store during a robbery is being hailed for his heroics by police.

The retired man may have shot one of the robbers early Wednesday at the store in the 3500 block of Sycamore School Road.

Three men armed with guns robbed the store shortly after midnight and stole wallets and purses belonging to customers, said Lt. Dean Sullivan, a Fort Worth police spokesman.

The man, whom police didn't identify because he is a witness, saw two of the men walking around nervously before they entered the store. The witness said he called 911 when one of the men pulled out a gun and fired as he walked into the store.

About 20 seconds later, the witness's wife tried to call him from her cellphone inside the store. But he never got to talk to her.

"I just heard her saying, 'There is nothing in my purse,' " he recalled. "And there was a 'pow.' The phone went dead."

The man, who has a concealed handgun license, sprang into action. He walked into the store with his .45-caliber pistol under his shirt.

"I really thought I'd find her in the store shopping and get her out the back door," he said. "That was my intention. ... I had no intention of confronting these armed bandits."

But in the store, one of the robbers pointed the gun at the man. The man then fired twice. The robber ran away, and it's unknown whether he returned fire, Lt. Sullivan said. Outside the store, the retired man fired again. . . . .

Read the entire piece.

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Once I get the audio link to work, this will be what I will be listening to from noon to 2 PM EDT on Saturdays

Just follow this link and hit the listen button here. A synopsis of the show is given here.



Concealed Handgun Permit Holder Stops Robbers in Texas, video included

FORT WORTH -- Police released surveillance video Friday that shows a witness shooting at two grocery store robbers.

The video shows two robbers entering Albertsons, 3525 Sycamore School Road, Tuesday night. Armed with semiautomatic weapons, they took wallets and purses from customers and employees, police said.

The witness, a 56-year-old Fort Worth man, then walks into the store with a cellphone to his ear. He walks out of camera range, then returns, firing his Beretta at the fleeing robbers.

The witness is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, police said. Blood found at the scene led officers to believe he wounded a robber.

A short time later, Ramsez Hall, 21, of Fort Worth, was dropped off at a south Fort Worth hospital with gunshot wounds to the buttocks and foot. He could face aggravated robbery charges, police said.

Thanks to Andrew B for the link.

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Interview about book at FrontPageMagazine

Bernard Chapin has a discussion with me about Freedomnomics here.

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Freedomnomics makes the 60 range on Amazon.com


Among College Students Men and Women talk about the same

Some more discussions of Freedomnomics

Some more discussions of Freedomnomics can be found here, here, and here.



Fox New Interview on whether crime is increasing

ANGLE: Are you safer on the streets today than you were a decade ago? How about a generation ago? We have heard some scary-sounding statistics about the U.S. crime rates, but what are the real numbers? National correspondent Catherine Herridge spoke with one expert who has undertaken a close study of the subject.

CATHERINE HERRIDGE, FOX NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, thank you for being our guest. Let's lay out a foundation for people. When we look at crime statistics over the last two or three decades, are we safer today than we were in the 1960's?

JOHN LOTT, AUTHOR, FREEDOMNOMICS: Well, early 1960's, murder rates were roughly similar to what they are now. Violent crime rates are still much higher now. But during the late 1960's they we want up and they pretty much stayed high during the 70's and 80's. And it was only in the beginning of the 90's that we began to see the drop.

Since the beginning of the 90's, murder rates are about half of what they were at that time. And finally, crime rates are down nearly a third. So we have seen big drops in crimes over the last decade and a half or so.

HERRIDGE: If that is the case, why is it, when we look at big newspapers, like the "New York Times" or "USA Today" and the headlines say that violent crime is up for the second or third year in a row, and they almost suggest that it is almost some sort of a spike in violent crime in this country?

LOTT: Right, well, there has basically been a couple waves of this publicity. We had some stories the very end of last year and the beginning of this year, and they were mainly motivated by studies that were put out by something called the Police Executive Research Foundation, which is kind of police chiefs mainly for large cities in the United States. And it was kind of picking data. So they would go and pick some cities to report. They would pick some crime numbers.

So, for example, they would exclude rape rates, because rapes were falling. And they would look at the number of crimes, rather than the crime rate. . . . .

(Click through to read the rest)


Jodie Foster might have an interesting movie about a crime victim who takes on crime in NYC


Ann Coulter reviews my new book Freedomnomics

Happy Birthday America

I got to spend a little time with a couple of my kids today. Here is a picture of my youngest, Dagny, eating a hot dog.

More from the local July 4th parade where my kids live.

By the way, the pictures were taken with my new iPhone. This cell phone is amazing. It is a really amazing computer. You get real email and web browsing. The integration with the address book is fantastic. The telephone is crystal clear. It is better than some land lines that I have used recently. Everything from being able to look at maps for traveling to getting local weather at the push of a single button is great. As far as the Edge network goes, I think that it is plenty fast enough for email and getting most data. The one place where it is slow is the web browser, but getting emails is much more important to me. I had to settle for a 4 GB version because I just couldn't find the 8 GB in stock, but I am still happy with the memory for the 4 GB version.

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Allerca cats, firms capturing the benefits from innovation

My book Freedomnomics has a paragraph on the fact that patens may not always be enough to capture the return to innovations, but that companies have still figured out ways to capture the benefits. One case that I pointed to regarding Allerca cats, which were neutered so that those who bought the cat wouldn't be able to breed them for resale. A picture of one of the first cats can be seen here. By the way, it is a very cute cat.

UPDATE: Science Blogs has pictures of multiple cats up. They also note that Time magazine found that this was one of the best inventions of 2006.

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Dennis Prager's Interview of me on Freedomnomics

For those interested, Dennis Prager's interview with me can be found here. I have to say that I have been a regular listener of Dennis' since I was in graduate school at UCLA in the early 1980s.


Canadians oppose stiffer gun control laws

Steve Sailer reviews Freedomnomics for the Washington Times

Steve Sailer is nice enough to have a review of my new book in today's Washington Times. Personally, I think that the review contrates too much on controversies outside the book and is a little to vague on its critiques of my book, but it is nice that he has written the review.

Mr. Lott is an even more fecund generator of plausible explanations than is Mr. Levitt. For instance, he suggests in "Freedomnomics":

* The big mark-up on restaurant drinks stems from customers tending to lingerlonger over beverages than food, tying up valuable tables.

* The introduction of secret ballots lowered voter turnout. Why? They reducedvote-buying and thus voting. Crooked political operators could no longer be surethey got the votes they paid for.

Mr. Lott offers so many fascinating theories that the "Freedomnomics'" ideas-per-page ratio is more daunting than that of the frothy "Freakonomics," which Mr. Levitt's writing partner, journalist Stephen J. Dubner, optimized to not tax tired travelers' oxygen-deprived brains at 35,000 feet. . . .


So why are such a large percentage of British doctors trained abroad?

Question and Answer posed on Dennis Prager's radio show: The simple reason is: Socialized medicine. Medicine pays so poorly in Britain, most doctors come from abroad.


"Americans Oppose Signing Kyoto Protocol"

Given all the massive doses of incorrect information on global warming, this poll is pretty amazing. Possibly things are better than we think.

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - Many people in the United States would disagree with their government ratifying an international treaty seeking to reduce global pollution, according to a poll by Zogby Interactive released by UPI. 47.9 per cent of respondents think the U.S. should not sign the Kyoto Protocol.

In 1998, several countries agreed to the Kyoto Protocol, a proposed amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The agreement commits nations to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The U.S. has not ratified the treaty, which is due to expire in 2012.

The term global warming refers to an increase of the Earth’s average temperature. Some theories say that climate change might be the result of human-generated carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Earlier this year, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report which states that global warming has been "very likely"—or 90 per cent certain—caused by humans burning fossil fuels. . . .

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New Op-ed on the Connection between Minimum Wage Laws and Illegal Immigration

Government indoctrination of kids here

An example of government indoctrination can be seen here.

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Eagles and DDT: I hope that the Pacific Legal Foundation Fixes this

The Pacific Legal Foundation had an important role in finally getting the Bald Eagle off the endangered species list. Unfortunately, their website also perpetuates some myths:

Q. Why has the eagle recovered?
A. Perhaps one of the most important reasons is the banning of DDT in the early 1970s. DDT is believed to have contributed to reproductive failure of eagles by thinning their eggshells.

Here is something to think about the next time you hear this claim:

the Associated Press reached into its file of bald eagle folklore and reported, “DDT poisoned the birds, killing some adults and making the eggs of those that survived thin. The thin eggs dramatically reduced the chances of eaglets surviving to adulthood. DDT was banned in 1972. The next year, the Endangered Species Act passed and the bald eagles began their dramatic recovery.”

While the AP acknowledged the fact that bald eagle populations “were considered a nuisance and routinely shot by hunters, farmers and fishermen” – spurring a 1940 federal law protecting bald eagles – the AP underplayed the significance of hunting and human encroachment and erroneously blamed DDT for the eagles’ near demise.

As early as 1921, the journal Ecology reported that bald eagles were threatened with extinction – 22 years before DDT production even began. According to a report in the National Museum Bulletin, the bald eagle reportedly had vanished from New England by 1937 – 10 years before widespread use of the pesticide.

But by 1960 – 20 years after the Bald Eagle Protection Act and at the peak of DDT use – the Audubon Society reported counting 25 percent more eagles than in its pre-1941 census. U.S. Forest Service studies reported an increase in nesting bald eagle productivity from 51 in 1964 to 107 in 1970, according to the 1970 Annual Report on Bald Eagle Status.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service attributed bald eagle population reductions to a “widespread loss of suitable habitat,” but noted that “illegal shooting continues to be the leading cause of direct mortality in both adult and immature bald eagles,” according to a 1978 report in the Endangered Species Tech Bulletin.

A 1984 National Wildlife Federation publication listed hunting, power line electrocution, collisions in flight and poisoning from eating ducks containing lead shot as the leading causes of eagle deaths. . . .


More rationing of health care in socialized medicine

Hillary seems most worried about facing Fred Thompson

Is this the first Hillary Clinton attack on a Republican presidential candidate? If so, is it to help her with Democrats? Hurt Thompson (her distortion of what he was saying doesn't seem to go very far)? Or actually help Thompson by making him standout relative to other Republicans? Given that I think that Thompson is the strongest Republican candidate, I guess that I vote for hurting Thompson.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Taking a swipe at a potential GOP presidential rival, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday criticized Fred Thompson for suggesting Cuban immigrants pose a terrorist threat.

"I was appalled when one of the people running for or about to run for the Republican nomination talked about Cuban refugees as potential terrorists," Clinton told Hispanic elected officials. "Apparently he doesn't have a lot of experience in Florida or anywhere else, and doesn't know a lot of Cuban-Americans." . . . .

Responding to a query Saturday, one Thompson press aide, Burson Snyder, referenced that post Thursday in which Thompson said, "Our national security is too important an issue to let folks twist words around for a one-day headline. Cuban-Americans are among the staunchest opponents of illegal immigration, and especially so when its sponsored by the Castro regime." . . . .

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Defending Oneself in England can lead to fines or prison

This ought to really dissuade criminals from attacking people. Here is a guy who gets in trouble even though he was already being physically attacked. Even more bizarre is that he apparently faced prison if he hadn't pleaded guilty.

A shopkeeper has been fined £250 and given a criminal record because he fought back when he was attacked by shoplifters.

Jacob Smyth chased three youths out of his hardware shop in Penzance, Cornwall, when he was set upon. When he was kicked in the groin by one of the hooded youths who had stolen cans of spray paint Mr Smyth hit back.

Police issued fixed penalty tickets to the shoplifters but charged Mr Smyth and a colleague with assault.

Yesterday he pleaded guilty to assault at Truro Magistrates’ Court. He claimed after the hearing that he had been advised to plead guilty because otherwise he could have faced a six month prison sentence.

The court was told that Mr Smyth, a father of three, caught the youths stealing the spray cans in October last year. Two of them turned on him and he was kicked in his groin just weeks after a vasectomy operation. He retaliated and punched 18-year-old Craig Spiller to the ground.

Paul Gallagher, defending, said: “The court can only imagine what they intended to do with that spray paint. He could see the cans poking out of their pockets. He leant forward to get them and at that stage he was set upon.

“He did punch one of them to get him off. In the heat of the moment he kicked him once or twice. Initially he was acting in self defence. Frustration at the situation took over. The lads were interviewed and given fixed penalty notices by police but unfortunately for Mr Smyth ended up in court today.

“He was the one who was trying to do the right thing and get his stolen property back.”

Julian Herbert, prosecuting, said the “aggravating factor” of the case was shop staff “taking the law into their own hands”. Fining Mr Smyth £250 and ordering him to pay £43 costs, Angy Haslam, chairman of the magistrates, said: “The act was aggravated by the fact you kicked the victim on the ground. We feel it has been mitigated because you acted in self defence.”

Speaking outside court, Mr Smyth said: “I did nothing wrong. I was getting a good beating from this lad. I had no choice but to defend myself. . . . .

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"11-Year-Old Arrested For Using Rubber Band Gun"

How can someone really honestly confuse a rubberband gun with a real gun?

OCOEE (Florida), June 7: An 11-year-old Ocoee boy was arrested for playing with a toy gun. Police said the arrest was necessary, because it was a safety issue.

The boy was using a rubber band gun and his father said the kid did nothing wrong, but police said they take it as a serious threat and the 11-year-old is facing felony charges.

The crime isn't very common, but Ocoee police said it is serious. It centers on an 11-year0old boy and his toy short-barreled shotgun.

The incident started Sunday afternoon, when the 11-year-old was riding in his dad's pickup near Clarke Road and White Road in Ocoee. Someone driving nearby called police after they said the boy pointed what looked like a real gun out the window. The victim told police she was afraid for her life. . . . .

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