According to Military Spending and Economic Growth in South Asia: A Panel Data Analysis as reported by Harvard Business Review on November 30th, 2011:

A 1% increase in military spending increases real GDP by only 0.04%, according to a study of five South Asian countries by Albert Wijeweera and Matthew J. Webb of the Petroleum Institute in the United Arab Emirates. Their findings suggest that the substantial amount of public money currently directed toward military purposes in these countries has just a negligible impact on economic growth.

Well, duh.

That’s a reason why the United States should probably stop spending $660+ billion dollars on our military.

And that, by the way, is NOT counting the over $56 billion in the so-called “black budget”, which receives no Congressional oversight whatsoever.

War, what is it good for?

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I have to say, I like guns.tsmg.gif

This topic is a little off base of what I usually write about here, so I’ll be brief, but I do think it’s important.

New York Representative Carolyn McCarthy recently dusted off old H.R. 1022, which you can track here via OpenCongress.

A summary of the bill follows:

A bill, also known as the Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007, that greatly expands the list of prohibited weapons. The definition of a semiautomatic assault weapon is broadened in the bill, to include many guns that are currently legal. The text of this bill contains a long list of specific guns that would become illegal to possess, if it were enacted. Additionally, it would make the private transfer of any assault weapon illegal.

Now, a lot of bloggers are going nuts about this bill — “The Dems are trying to take away all our guns!” and “This is 10x worse than Clinton!” and “THE SKY IS FALLING!!!!”

But if they looked closely, they would notice that this bill is absolutely 100% D.O.A.

First of all, it has NO co-sponsors (nobody else is dumb enough to support it).

Second of all, it’s been referred back to Committee, where it will most likely die an inglorious death.

It’s probably just horse-trading.

Nobody is willing to sign on with her, because not only is anti-gun legislation largely ineffective from a policy standpoint, it’s also an absolute non-starter from a political standpoint.

Standing Armies vs Well-Organized Militia
Bills like this, and gun-control legislation in general, always comes back to the 2nd Amendment: Let’s review:

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.

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This is a Jeffersonian concept that is related to the idea that the free State would not be keeping standing armies. Since we do have a standing army (and an extremely expensive one at that), some anti-gun activists will say that there is no need for a well-regulated militia.

To which I reply: a well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of the free state, would be desperately needed in such times that the freedom of said State was under attack by aforementioned standing army.

To wit: Bush’s grab for control of the National Guard.
To wit: Corporations empowered to raise their own standing armies.
To wit: our ‘broken’ Armed Forces , over-stretched because of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (and now possibly Iran), and their current inability to protect our own nation in the (admittedly unlikely) event of an attack on our own soil.
Gali assault rifle
If this country continues it’s slide into corporate autocracy, I’m sure that pretty soon a whole lot of Democrats are going to wish they owned assault rifles, and a whole lot of Republicans are going to be glad they do.

Urban vs Rural
Others argue that gun control is really an issue between the soft-palmed sissy urbanites — locked in their glass condos for fear of the gritty urban gun battles taking place in the ‘bad’ parts of their city — and the rural gun owners, those rugged individualists who are either salt-of-the-earth hunters or crazy survivalists stockpiling bunkers of illegal assault weapons, depending who you ask.
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I think it’s unquestionable that urbanites and others living in metropolitan areas have a much different relationship with firearms than rural people.

It’s easy, when you are in a city and hearing about people get shot weekly or even daily, to be logical and think “Well, the guns are the problem. We should just ban all the guns and then nobody would get shot.”

On the other hand, the rural people, who have grown up around guns and treat them with respect and understand their power, can’t get their heads around this. “Take away our guns? Yeah, when you pry them from our cold, dead fingers.”
A rural marksman.
Urbanites, of course, then decide that anyone who was so strongly in favor of gun ownership must be a bloodthirsty thug — since all the people they associate with gun use in the city are either thugs or other People of Low Moral Fiber.

But they’ve got it backwards, because when you go out into the country, “gun people” are often the nicest people around.

This is the disconnection between urban morality and rural morality: In dense urban areas, there are gang wars, drug deals, “reps” to protect, and guns will be made available as tools in these social constructs regardless of their legality, since they are part of American culture.

In rural areas, a different kind of morality holds sway — more traditional moral and family values, respect for nature and the environment, respect for individual liberties and the power of guns. The cultural love of guns holds true here, too, but here, the guns are used in an entirely different way.

These are broad characterizations and as such obviously gloss over subtlety and nuance, but I think are no less useful for all that.

So it should be easy to see why the argument so quickly gets out of hand between an urban anti-gun liberal and a conservative pro-gun rural: they’re arguing across cultures and moral systems. The issue of gun control is really incidental to their argument.steyr-gb.gif

Here’s the reality: guns don’t kill people, PEOPLE with guns kill people. And the legal or restricted status of guns in urban areas will do absolutely diddly-squat to curb gun violence and violence in general.

You think criminals can’t get guns once they’re outlawed? If they want guns, they can get guns. If anything outlawing certain weapons makes them MORE likely to be available on the black market.

It’s the Economy, Stupid
I believe that the presence or absence of guns really has nothing to do with the rates and levels of inner-city violence.

People’s subjective feelings of happiness and hope, on the other hand, do.

When the economy is up, and unemployment is low, and real wages are rising (adjusted for inflation) and the poorest 10% of our population believes they have a chance to better their circumstances, crime will be low, because the perceived risks associated with criminal behavior will outweigh the perceived potential rewards that could probably more easily (and less riskily) be gained by legitimate employment or other opportunities.

When the economy is down, and unemployment is high, and real wages are stagnant or falling, and the poorest 10% of our population believes that they have been forgotten by the politicians and all sectors of the economy, then crime will rise, because the perceived rewards of criminal behavior will outweigh any other perceived rewards that an individual could gain by other means.

In closing, I believe all citizens of the United States should be able to purchase long arms, handguns, semiautomatic and automatic assault rifles, so long as they go through a mandatory gun safety and usage training course, and registered each and every weapon they owned as well as disclosed ammunition amounts.

I also believe that all gun-owning citizens should be required to take independently-verified marksmanship tests, the results of which would be tabulated and placed in a state database, so the state could evaluate the quality and amount of firepower that was available to it in the event of a “citizen’s militia” call-up.

Finally, I believe the Fed should butt out of state’s rights and the existing state militias (National Guard). In this respect I am all for strengthening state control and Governors at the expense of the Federal system.

And to conclude, a photo of the Israeli TAV-21 assault rifle, a gun I’d quite enjoy owning:

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Friday — angry tourists, acting in self-defense, put the smack down on a mugger who threatened them with a .38.

The tourists, including an ex-Marine, were passengers on the Carnival cruise ship Legend, when they stopped off in the Limon neighborhood of San Jose, Costa Rica to take some pictures when they were accosted by a thug with a gun.

The mugger was killed, his neck snapped — probably by the ex-Marine. The tourists put his body on their tour bus and took it to the police to report the incident.

No charges were filed, since the killing was an act of self-defense.

Live in fear? Hand over your treasure to avoid trouble? Or stand up to intimidation and bullying, and snap that low-life motherfucker’s neck?

I am a strong supporter of martial arts training and deadly force training for all men — not only because it enables justice like this, but because it usually teaches discipline and the proper application of force along the way.

The U.S. is currently stuck in some serious shit overseas mostly because the civilian leadership of our country has never received adequate training on the appropriate use and limits of lethal force.

My platform: an ex-Marine in 2008.