Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Immodest Proposal

Due to recent events, it has come to my attention that this State is not fulfilling the obligations of the Second Amendment to the Constitution.  We will therefore enact the following:

1.       All weapon-owning residents of this State will report once a year to a State center with all of their weapons.  At that center, they will receive training in operations as members of a State militia and in use of those weapons for militia purposes, via State-certified instructors.  If the obligation is fulfilled correctly, including following the regulations established by the instructors, those residents will receive a State certification of their ability to act as members of the State militia. This obligation will continue until the resident dies or no longer owns a weapon.

2.       The object of this training will be to protect the State against those threats to it not covered by the Federal Government.  Specifically, the training will be for call-up at any time to fight against persons in the State who seek to overturn all or part of the State by force. Such call-up and training can only be done by a State-certified or Federally-certified authority, and during training and call-up weapon-owning residents shall be deemed in violation of regulations if they attempt to use their weapons other than under the supervision of such authority and under the regulations governing the militia.

3.       Penalties for failure to act as part of the militia shall be as follows:  first, failure to rightfully gain such certification or to fulfill such call-up each year shall cause, in the first year, a fine of $100, in the second such year, a fine of $1000, in the third such year, a jail term of a minimum of one month with confiscation of all weapons for that term, in the fourth such year  a jail term of a minimum of one year with confiscation of all weapons for that term, and for the fifth and ensuing such years, a jail term of a minimum of twenty years.  If it shall be found that a resident has concealed weapons or failed to train for longer than the time period since the last training, he or she shall be liable for all such years so established.  Second, use of weapons outside of training or call-up in such a manner as to indicate inability to use them properly as a member of the militia, and specifically use in commission of a felony crime or use by the gun-owning resident or another person deemed legally improper and causing harm such as accidental death shall be deemed a crime separate from and with penalties in addition to all other related crimes, and will involve a minimum jail term of one month. Third, the State shall distinguish between weapons useful for purposes of the militia and weapons not so useful, and use outside of training or call-up as described above shall also be deemed a crime separate from and with penalties additional to all other related crimes, and will involve an additional minimum jail term of one month. Fourth, sellers of weapons who fail to verify that the resident has certification will be personally liable for the same penalties, and their corporations as people shall be liable as well, for one million dollars per felony crime committed.

4.       Failure of the State to adequately fund and staff such training shall not be a cause for voiding these requirements. Moreover, the State may not in its funding assess those who do not own guns more highly than those who own guns.

Let me add two comments on this change to our State laws.  First, there seems to be a pervasive misunderstanding of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, involving in many cases those of the legal branch.  The Second Amendment does not state that the people in general in the United States may bear arms. Rather, it states that the people as well-regulated members of States may bear arms. This is made clear in the very first words of the Preamble to the Constitution, which states not “We the people” but rather “We the people of the United States,” thus defining the word “people” for the rest of the document. I find that commentators often overlook this – a mistake comparable to saying that “I believe” (in the tooth fairy?) rather than “I believe in God[s]” is an expression of religious faith.

The implication of this is that the right “of the people” to bear arms extends no further than their rights as members of a State (and, of course, where Federal law does not intrude).  Whether they have any rights to bear arms when their State has allowed militias to wither, I leave to others – my personal opinion is that they do not, unless the State law specifically establishes such a use and its relation to the interests of the State. However, it is very clear that in the absence of such laws, establishment of such a militia, as I have done above, means that weapons may be used only for the purposes of a State militia. Moreover, registration of weapons for purposes of a State militia is in no sense a violation of individual Constitutional rights, but rather a right and proper duty of residents of a State.

Second, it should be understood that while residents of this State have a right to acquire or sell any weapon they wish, they also have an active duty once any weapon is acquired to use weapons in a manner consistent with the purposes of the State, and that neither ignorance of the law nor passive failure to comply with the militia’s regulations will serve as an excuse for failure to do so.  I believe that the net effect of this will be that, while residents and visitors may continue to use weapons for such purposes as hunting and self-protection, weapons used for killings (mass and other) will be more difficult to acquire and retain, and users far less likely to cause unintended deaths.

Finally, I view this enactment as the minimum necessary to re-establish our State’s proper fulfillment of the Constitution.  Any attempt to “water down” the necessary laws shall simply remove the rights of weapon owners altogether, since without Constitutional sanction there are no legal weapon rights.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gnastly Climate Change: Our Revenge on Mark Twain

First off, I give credit for the word "gnastly" to Jeff Jones of IBM and Charles King, writer of Pund-IT Review.  It's not their fault I'm choosing to use the word (which I define as extremely nasty, nasty by nature, perpetually nasty) to describe climate change.

Anyway, the reason I cite Mark Twain is that he is reported to have wisecracked:  Everyone always talks about the weather; but no one actually does anything about it.

Mark Twain was wrong.  We have spent the last 45 years proving him wrong.  We have done something about it.  We've made it worse.

The figures I look at are disaster costs, and there I am amazed to find that it has reached the point where it is actually affecting GDP.  According to some sources, Hurricane Sandy took 0.2 % off US GDP in 3Q, and will have at least that effect in 4Q, because so much of the US lives in the areas affected (of course, its span of damage was 1200 miles at one point, according to Jeff Masters).  Projections were that each increase of, say, 1 degree C would increase average energy in the atmosphere to increase average storm speed by 10 mph, not to mention storm surge and precipitation amounts, which would seem to argue for at least a doubling of disaster costs; well, the average disaster costs for the US at least seem to be closer to a tenfold increase, and James Hansen cites this kind of effect as an unwelcome "surprise" of an underestimate of the effects of global warming.

Of course, at least initially, no negative trend is complete without some positive aspects.  Last winter was unusually warm in the US, as one would expect with both the North Atlantic Oscillation tilting the right way and winter temperatures warming about 5 degrees anyway from global warming.  On the other hand, that led also to baking summer heat that exacerbated the Midwest and Southern droughts that are still going on.

Last winter's mildness helped the economy. I suspect that this winter we will see alternation of cold/snowy and warm like last year, as according to a study the warmer Arctic air from summer ice melting causes oscillations up and down of the jet stream that carries the relative cold (to us temperate zones) south. Overall, I would guess, a slight plus to the economy.  On the other hand, we should anticipate more disaster costs next summer and fall ... And this is just the start of the gnastliness, folks.  Another decade or two, ten times as much in disaster costs maybe, a 1-2% hit to GDP, food prices really beginning to be impacted -- if not before then.

Oh, well, we still haven't reached the point where it's on the top of the strategic list for CEOs.  Not even close, according to recent IBM surveys.

An old Flanders and Swann describes English weather as "cold and dank and wet" and concludes:  "Freezing wet December then ... Bloody January again!"  Except for the "freezing" part, I suspect that's what may be coming up.  Happy holidays, everyone!  It's not gnastly yet!