Assorted links

by on August 8, 2014 at 12:55 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 AndrewL August 8, 2014 at 1:16 pm

#4 – Technically there is no legal market for cocaine and the likes, yet trade in it still exists.

Making ivory even more difficult to get is just going to boost the status signalling effect of it and increase demand.

The solution would be to grant private rights to elephant habitats. If you own a tract of land where a majority of the worth is in the elephants (by controlling hunting and culling permits) that live on it, then you will be very motivated to protect your elephants and police illegal poaching.

2 mulp August 8, 2014 at 6:37 pm

The amount of land required is easily worth billions even in Africa, and providing the private security would easily cost tens of millions, so how do you justify that as private enterprise.

You are arguing effectively that banks have eliminated all theft because they own all the assets, so there is no credit card fraud and obviously no bank robbery, and it requires no government police force to accomplish this.

3 TomHynes August 8, 2014 at 7:34 pm

As with drugs and hookers, you can’t stop the market but you can raise the market price.

How much more does an illegal gun cost than a legal gun? Is the differential higher in states with bans on private sale? What is the shape of the demand curve for people that want to buy guns illegally?
I don’t have answers, but I think these are the questions.

4 Alexei Sadeski August 8, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Raising the market price of ivory increases the incentive to poach elephants.

5 Alexei Sadeski August 8, 2014 at 8:01 pm


Illegal guns are *cheaper* than legal ones, as they are old and used and lower quality.

Illegal alcohol (moonshine) is *cheaper* than legal alcohol.

Illegal marijuana is *cheaper* than legal marijuana.

Illegal hookers are *cheaper* than legal hookers.

And so on…

6 Ashok Rao August 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Let’s say oil is bad, ignoring the actual question of whether it is or not.

Reducing the stockpile of oil would increase the price of oil.
Increasing the price of oil would increase incentives for production.
Therefore reducing the stockpile is counterproductive.

Or obviously this isn’t the case, because if the increase in market price comes from higher costs of production (i.e. a weaker supply curve) there would be less ivory farming.

7 Alexei Sadeski August 8, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Bad analogy. Ivory is not bad and ivory farming is not bad. The bad thing is running out of elephants, which banning ivory consumption won’t do.

8 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly August 9, 2014 at 10:48 am

I’ve never actually believed this. Raising the possible *profit margin* of ivory may increase the incentive to poach, but if a higher market price is a function of increased production costs (costs of avoiding detection, pricing in probability of jail time, etc.), there is no reason for the incentives to change (in fact, it reduces the incentive by shrinking the market).

9 Art Deco August 8, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Two academics undertake a study discovering that federal regulation of firearms traffic has been a very weak vector influencing homicide rates (too weak to measure, truly). Therefore, we must extend this ineffectual regime to cover even more of the trade in firearms, because 1.7 x 0 just has to equal something. The Economist agrees that our federal politicians should devote time and attention to this, because they apparently have nothing better to do.

They start right at the beginning with an error. The organization now called the Brady Campaign was founded not by James Brady but by Nelson Shields in 1975 and initially carried the name “National Council to Control Handguns”.

Sarah Brady has been, regrettably, a monomaniac for a cause of minor import, to the point of using her husband as a prop to shiv the political party in which he had made his career. She could have put her attention to any number of antecedents to her husband’s injury: failures on the part of the DC police and the Secret Service, the common practice of announcing prominent politicians’ movements in advance (ballyhoo not done in Israel, for example), the lassitude of the police and campus security in New Haven, Ct in addressing the problems created by this bizarre nuisance of a man, the stupidity of the office psychiatrist in Colorado who diagnosed his problem as ’emotional immaturity’, and above all his family, who subsidized him for nearly five years while he wandered around from place to place accomplishing very little.

10 Michael August 8, 2014 at 2:08 pm


Particularly laughable, from the article: “Brady is directly responsible for saving lives, it doesn’t show up in the numbers. How is this possible? Messrs Cook and Ludwig point to, “in order of importance, the private sales loophole…”

Umm, how about the “criminals don’t obey the law loophole”?

The bottom line of the research still holds true, not just on the Brady Act, but across the board for gun control, is that they have no or negative effect on crime rates. Period, end of story. We need to quit tilting at this particular windmill.

11 T. Shaw August 8, 2014 at 3:44 pm


It’s about people control not gun control. It’s irrational. It’s misinformation and hysteria. And, it’s exploitation emotional horror at sudden death.

Cleverly-crafted, inanimate objects/machines composed of springs and steel are not problems. The problem/most danegrous weapon on the planet is encased by your cranium.

12 Art Deco August 8, 2014 at 4:47 pm

I’ll offer a different hypothesis.

Some years ago, a professor at a state institution in North Carolina placed an article in Law & Contemporary Problems. His thesis was that hunting should be rendered unlawful, and rendered unlawful by judicial fiat. (The nut of the argument was that the distinction between hunting and cruelty to animals in state law was ‘irrational’; I did not bother with his reasoning for making use of the judicial ukase to prevent the legislature from having its say because I thought it was all humbug anyway). What’s behind this? Prof. Whatsit does not hunt; he does not know anyone who does; the whole idea strikes him as disgusting (or reminds him of his inadequacies).

Not only do they not like hunters; they do not like cops, either. They do not like the notion that good behavior is to be had by insisting on it and punishing infractions rather than convoluted talking cures and mind games and subventions of various sorts which employ people like them.

So you have a lot of crime, you think you put boots on the ground and haul hoodlums off to jail? No, that’s simplistic and it draws on a vernacular moral calculus, not the moral calculus of people like us. In any case, “violence solves nothing”, right?

The attraction of gun control is that it provides an alibi. You’re ‘doing something’. What you’re actually doing is avoiding doing something which acknowledges sociological or moral truth and sticking the bill for social pathology with social sectors you despise (hunters and target shooters) instead of your peers or your slum clients. That small towns and rural areas have homicide rates a quarter the national mean (in spite of all the sport hunting and what not going on) is something you just ignore.

13 HL August 8, 2014 at 7:14 pm

180 brother

14 Marie August 9, 2014 at 10:32 am

“The attraction of gun control is that it provides an alibi.”

That’s good.
And can be applied in many different areas of legislation.
I worked in soft agriculture for awhile, EPA and OSHA rules often seemed about just that.

15 Ray Lopez August 9, 2014 at 4:25 am

@Michael – ‘end of story’ only for those that don’t think for themselves. Consider this sentence from the Economist: “However, in a sophisticated statistical analysis comparing trends in homicide rates in the 32 states forced to comply with the law with the 18 states that already had background checks, Messrs Cook and Ludwig found “no case for a causal effect of Brady” on homicide rates.” –

So the study compares homicide rates in 32 Brady Law states with homicide rates in states that already had background checks and finds no causal effect? Rubbish. It’s comparing apples and oranges, making the wrong comparison, if the wording of the article is accurate.

16 chuck martel August 9, 2014 at 10:27 am

The great bureaucratic approach to social engineering, the background check. If a record is kept, inevitably by the state, of everything, especially everything negative, that an individual has ever done, the state and even private concerns will be able to predict the likelihood that that individual will do something anti-social in the future and, through legislative fiat, limit the options for that behavior, a punishment in itself, and, should the individual violate that proscription, inflict punishment for that as well. Thus a convicted felon, regardless of the nature of the felony, is forbidden the possession of a firearm, even if no ammunition is ever loaded into it or anyone else ever even threatened, much less harmed.

The internet has made unofficial background checks an interesting part of the political and business dynamic. The records of the oral and written statements of an individual are searched for incorrect ideas that might have occurred years ago to damage his current position or future prospects.

The background check concept implies that an individual never changes his behavior or ideas, never learns or adjusts, and that the punishment for a particular unacceptable deed should go on forever. There are few aspects of the post-modern age that threaten individuality and freedom as directly and efficiently as the background check.

17 Art Deco August 9, 2014 at 11:41 am

Rubbish. It’s comparing apples and oranges, making the wrong comparison, if the wording of the article is accurate.

Presumably, it was a longitudinal study.

18 Michael August 9, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Please spare the personal insults. The efficacy of gun control was studied to death back in the 90s, and by and large, the Crimonology profession has moved on. It is no longer an interesting area of research.

Here is just one meta-study of the hundreds of studies on the topic:

19 Jan August 8, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Do criminals buy their guns at gun stores? In cases where the criminal acquires the gun through a private transaction, does the seller usually know whether the person is planning to use the gun to commit a crime? Would sellers be less likely to sell a gat to a criminal (knowingly or unknowingly) if not doing a background check were illegal?

A system of universal background checks, requiring private gun sales to be mediated by a licensed vendor, would not altogether eliminate private sales to those who would fail a background check, but it would reduce these transactions by criminalising them.

Before you say there is no evidence that it would reduce crime, I agree, but I also have no sympathy people who oppose background checks to acquire a gun. It is common sense, widely supported and needs to be implemented fully to determine how well it works. And it can’t just be implemented at the individual state level–guns flow easily across state borders–it needs to be a nationwide requirement.

20 rj August 8, 2014 at 4:03 pm

“… guns flow easily across state borders …”

Rifles are insignificant in crime statistics.

It has been illegal to sell handguns across state borders for many years (without it being formally recorded by FFL dealers in both states). That’s already a federal law.

You want to make it more illegal?

21 Jan August 8, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Ok, thanks I did not know this. It looks like you can buy handguns across state lines, but someone on one end of the transaction has to go through a firearms dealer to facilitate it. I assume this means the transaction must include a background check, but I am not sure. In any case, I don’t quite understand the rationale for the difference in oversight of in-state and interstate sales.

There is a whole thread on this topic at Smith and Wesson’s own website. Half the posts are people discussing how they skirt the law and/or plain ignore it because they disagree with it.

Given that people ignore the law I guess, sure, I am saying interstate transactions without background checks should be “more illegal.” To me, it makes more sense for interstate and in-state transactions to have the same level of scrutiny and I do think it would be another deterrent to ill-advised sales.

22 Art Deco August 8, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Jan, nobody who follows public affairs who is of a certain disposition has any trust or respect for liberal lobbies or the appellate judiciary. The resistance to gun regulations may be obstinate, but it’s obstinacy within a certain context: that small concessions are precedent for larger concessions down the road and that there is a certain logic to the demand for small concessions and to the demands which will be made as the social situation evolves. (The former principle was once enunciated by the Brady Campaign when they were initially agitating for piddling regulatory measures).

By way of example would be the view expressed in my local paper some decades ago explaining his resistance to regulation of pistol ownership, even though he did not own one: you take away pistols, more crimes get committed with long guns; there then emerges public agitation to confiscate those too. Another example would be Glenn Reynolds argument against gun registry: such registries in Britain proved to be preludes to mass gun confiscation.

The long and the short of it is that the gun control lobby is speaking to an audience which is partially composed of people who assume it’s all bait-and-switch.

23 Jan August 8, 2014 at 5:17 pm

I was wondering where all these members of a “well-regulated militia” were getting the idea that this country might grasp on to a couple small steps in the right direction as a reason to take things way too far.

24 Willitts August 8, 2014 at 5:22 pm

First let’s recognize that most gun crimes are committed with illegally obtained guns and/or people not legally entitled to buy a gun. The law may stop some crime, but it obviously isnt stopping much.

Second, stop saying “common sense” because it is neither common nor sense. The overwhelming majority of 50 million gun owners commit no violent gun crimes. Many of the people you see on websites use guns as a hobby – no less benign than scrapbooking. There are so many absolutely stupid gun laws in the books, one could scarcely list them all. Chief among them are restrictions on cosmetic features. I think voter ID is common sense, but that’s just me.

The people claiming they skirt laws are either A) false flag, B) lying for bravado, or C) actually breaking the gun law but otherwise committing violent crime. It could also be the case that what you think they are bragging about is actually legal. For example, I can buy an 80% lower receiver, mill it myself, add on internet parts, and have a completely anonymous weapon. This weapon might also blow up in my face if I assembled it improperly. Cops dont usually find weapons such as this with no serial number. They usually find it milled off or identify a stolen gun.

If someone has someone else mill the lower or if they resell it, that is illegal. But these crimes arent inherently violent.

25 dearieme August 8, 2014 at 5:27 pm

“Another example would be Glenn Reynolds argument against gun registry: such registries in Britain proved to be preludes to mass gun confiscation.” Oh that’s pushing it: British guns had been registered for decades. My rifle was registered: I never had the slightest fear that the government would seize it from me. The ban on pistols (it wasn’t “mass gun confiscation”) followed a particular mass shooting on the American model, and the hysterical response of the government of the day. I preferred my own solution: leave the pistols be, but ban the showing on TV of reports of Americans “going postal” (or anyone else for that matter). That was on the proposition that the only half-decent case for censorship I’ve ever come across was limited to the narrow topic of copy-cat crimes. Moreover, if the censorship proved ineffective it could be easily reversed. You’d have to have far more faith in governments than I can muster to suppose that a pistol ban would be easily reversed.

I sold my rifle long ago, and let my licence lapse, or perhaps I just lost it. I bemoaned having done so a few times on the web. People have commented that my woe was misplaced since I could get a rifle licence again easy as pie. No pistols though. A foolish law – how are little old ladies to defend themselves from young, large, strong burglars? – but miles away from Mr Reynolds’ silliness.

26 Jan August 8, 2014 at 9:05 pm

It’s commonsense because it is logical and a large majority of people support it. It doesn’t harm any law abiding citizen (something like voter ID bars people who do not have ID or the money to purchase an ID from voting). Very few people cause mayhem behind the wheel, but we all take driving exams.

27 Willitts August 8, 2014 at 10:19 pm

No, they are not logical. They are the most assinine laws on the books.

Case in point:

In California, a weapon cannot have a detachable magazine if it has a pistol grip. Logical? A pistol grip makes a weapon substantially more dangerous?

Or how about:
A rifle with a barrel under 16 inches is called a short barrelled rifle and requires a federal tax stamp. But i can buy an otherwise identical “pistol” as long as it doesnt have a stock – you know, to brace in my shoulder. However, if I add a vertical forearm grip, the weapon now becomes an illegal Any Other Weapon, which I can make legal with a tax stamp. Oh, but if I put an angled foregrip on the front, that is OK. Now it gets interesting – i can legally put a 16 inch barrel on my “pistol” lower and convert it to a rifle. Then I can legally put a stock on it. But it is now illegal for me to reverse thar process to make it back into a pistol.

Logical? Not on your life.

The most predictable thing about gun grabbers like you, Jan, is that you dont know what the fk youre talking about when it comes to weapons. But dont let things like facts get in the way of your persuasive arguments.

28 ivvenalis August 8, 2014 at 11:37 pm

Some of the laws are the result of people without a clue writing laws based on ignorance (e.g. laws against switchblades) but others are intentionally written in order to inconvenience gun owners or manufacturers, or simply to create a precedent for more restrictions. The NYSAFE act provisions seem to ban a lot of “pointless” cosmetic features, but the upshot is that it’s basically no longer legal to buy, transport, transfer, or inherit (!) autoloading longarms in NY State. Explicitly banning semiautomatic rifles probably wouldn’t hold up in court, but the law walks right up to the line of what (today) will get upheld.

29 Turkey Vulture August 8, 2014 at 11:38 pm

I don’t see how you can both believe that requiring background checks would not hurt any law abiding gun buyers but believe voter ID laws would hurt law abiding voters. Hell, wouldn’t I need an ID to even start the background check process? If it hurts some law abiding voters in the voting context, the same or even more stringent requirement must hurt some law abiding gun owners.

30 Jan August 9, 2014 at 7:52 am

Willits, I am talking about a universal background check requirement, not the little add-on regulations you are referring to.

31 Jan August 9, 2014 at 8:09 am

TV, denying someone their vote because they don’t have ID is different than requiring a background check to buy a gun. If I understand correctly, the requirement for ID is a state by state issue, not part of the federal requirement. But in any case, we now have a situation where it is easier to buy an assault weapon than it is to vote in many states, and that doesn’t take the private transaction loophole into consideration. Does that feel right to you?

32 TMC August 9, 2014 at 9:46 am

Jan, what state will give you a free gun if you can’t afford it, as they will for a state ID?
The issue with voter ID is that a single person will not be able to vote more than once. This is not an issue with buying a gun.

If we passed voter laws like we pass gun laws, it would be voter intimidation.
Any frankly, stupid voters have caused much more harm than any guy with a gun could ever.

33 Willitts August 9, 2014 at 2:37 pm


No, it is NOT anywhere easier to buy an assault rifle than it is to vote. You are just breathlessly spouting out democrat talking points.

First, let’s point out your mouthbreathing grunts of “assault weapon.” You don’t know what an assault weapon is. To purchase such a weapon, you need a Class III federal firearms permit which amounts to the difficulty of you voting in Mongolia.

Second, to purchase a garden variety rifle, you need a state issued ID. You must pass a background check. In many states you have to go through a safe handling demonstration. We could only be so fortunate as to put the same requirements on voting as we have on weapons!

Most importantly, if I find some so-called loophole to purchase a firearm without going through any fuss or muss, this DOES NOT MEAN I intend to harm anyone with the gun. The mere purchase of a gun, EVEN IF BY A FELON is not, in and of itself, a harmful act.

In contrast, EVERY vote cast by people not eligible to do so is harmful. The harm is IMMEDIATE as soon as the law is broken. In most states, the only thing you need to vote is proof of residence, e.g. a utility bill, and your SIGNATURE on the registration card swearing that you are eligible. And if you live somewhere where there is a democrat Courty Recorder, rest assured no pne will EVER check to see if you are eligible to vote.

Guess what, Jan, 300 million guns failed to kill you yesterday. The results today are likely to be the same. You need to get over your irrational fears and ignorance. One way for you to do so is to actually go out and buy and shoot some firearms. You can always sell them later.

The only thing you

34 Jan August 9, 2014 at 2:58 pm


Not so. It is up to the state whether you need ID, and in many states you don’t. For private, in-state transactions nothing is required except a willingness to sell one’s gun for a price. Nobody said the sale of a gun in itself was a problem. Straw man.

Obviously rules are not adopted to target the majority of good citizens. So let’s get over whether or not 50 millions gun owners are law abiding. I don’t care. Should we do away with driver licenses because most people do just fine on the road?

The lack of evidence on widespread voter fraud is staggering, while the evidence of gun crimes is equally staggering.

As for the personal recommendations, yes, I have shot guns on numerous occasions and I liked it. I don’t own one because I have no use for it. But the act of shooting and interacting with plenty of family and friends who have guns showed me that taking away guns is not the answer. Better regulating who gets their hands on them is a good step, though.

35 T. Shaw August 8, 2014 at 4:11 pm

It was probably said by Agemenon or Hector, but attributed to either Frederick the Great or von Clauswitz or some other German militarist, “He who defends everywhere defends nowhere.” It’s economics. Limited resources unlimited needs.

t doesn’t stop me from blowing up jumbo jets. I get to remove my belt and shoes, stride in stocking feet through a metal detector, and get frisked (two titanium replacement knees) every time I fly. I wasn’t going to blast it, anyhow. The guy that would is going to sneak past the TSA.

Know the other difference?

I don’t have a Constitutional Right to fly in a jet plane.

36 Art Deco August 8, 2014 at 4:49 pm

The guy that would is going to sneak past the TSA.

Very seldom, unless it’s an inside job.

37 Willitts August 8, 2014 at 6:37 pm

A woman in California just got caught doing that aftet attempting it several times.

Security doesnt have to be perfect to deter terrorists. It just has to have a reasonable probability of catching terrorists and no systematic flaws that can be reliably exploited.

Terrorist groups have few resources, and the most scarce is the terrorist himself. No one wants to spend their life in prison getting caught by an overweight TSA agent in the security line.

If terrorists only wanted to kill people, there are any number of poorly guarded venues with lots of victims. The fact these events don’t happen often is either a testament to fantastic intelligence apparatus or no significant threat.

38 Art Deco August 8, 2014 at 9:07 pm

The fact these events don’t happen often is either a testament to fantastic intelligence apparatus or no significant threat.

I think you mean no significant threats to those particular venues. Skyjackings have been a problem since 1969, even though it’s rare for an indoor mall to get shot up by a terror outfit in North America.

39 andrew' August 8, 2014 at 9:35 pm

It isn’t really common sense, popularity is bull, and it also isn’t legal.

40 Willitts August 9, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Someone missed the “minority rights” class in Government 101.

41 Thomas August 9, 2014 at 4:20 am

“Would sellers be less likely to sell a *gat* to a criminal”

Jan has done extensive research in to the lyrics of Notorious B.I.G.

42 Jan August 9, 2014 at 8:14 am

My childhood was “diverse.” Yours was, I’m sure, a sad tire fire.

43 Willitts August 9, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Or he watch the movie Looper.

44 Sigivald August 8, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Also, “ The Brady Act requires a five-day waiting period for gun purchases during which time prospective buyers are vetted to ensure that they have never been convicted of a felony or committed to a mental institution.

This is true, but they never outright mention that NICS makes for instant sales. (They mention the National Instant Check System, but … don’t point out that it replaced the original Brady “waiting period”, which was also a maximum wait for slow background checks, not what people mean by “waiting period” in gun control contexts.)

Sloppy work, especially for The Economist.

45 mulp August 8, 2014 at 6:48 pm

In other words, the problem is not enough government controlling guns, but too little government controlling the actions of people. If only the government fired the 1000 people trying to control guns and replaced them with a million people going after the millions of people who will use guns badly, and all they need to do is monitor everyone.

After all, how will the government find the idiot that leaves guns laying around for kids to play with or people to grab and fire in anger without watching what’s going on in everyone’s houses and lives?

The US imprisons more people per capita on the basis that by jailing people for minor offense you will stop the bad ones like killing, but obviously the number put in jail needs to increased by another order of magnitude to get another 10% reduction in gun violence. After all, no one opposes paying taxes to lock up more people because that means you can have an unlimited number of guns.

46 andrew' August 8, 2014 at 9:36 pm

I think you are wrong.

47 collin August 8, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Simple question on “Average Is Over:

Will this reality cause the birth rate to lower? Parents are sending more time and money on kids so in a rich world we can not afford more children. Or will over time there will be so much free time that we return more toward single income families. (I believe some of the dropping of the labor force is the increase of house’spouces’)

Also the birth rate had the slightest of increase in 2013 but it continues to drop for people under 25.

48 Cliff August 8, 2014 at 5:02 pm

25-30 are still prime baby-making years

49 dirk August 8, 2014 at 5:16 pm

See Idiocracy for your answer.

50 Ted Craig August 8, 2014 at 1:34 pm

2. Since people like John Hinckley are exceptions from the typical shooter, why would anybody expect a drop in homicides? A better test of the efficacy of the law would be a drop in suicides.

51 Art Deco August 8, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Sarah Brady and the people making hay over Newtown are not anti-suicide crusaders.

52 Willitts August 8, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Perhaps, but that requires a little more thought.

Most people who use a gun for suicide already own one, so you’d have to look at the firearm suicide rate with guns recently purchased.

Of course, someone committed to suicide may likely wait 10 days or so or go to a gun range and rent one.

People don’t tend to rob a liquor store or murder a jogger on impulse. It is an order of magnitude more likely that a person predisposed toward crime seeks a weapon than a person with a weapon decides to commit a crime. Gun control literally punishes millions because of the violent nature of a handful. If guns and the people who fondle them were that dangerous, the homicide rate would be many times its current rate, with gun crimes spurring more ownership. This simply hasn’t happened. We see crime where criminals live, not where guns are.

53 andrew' August 8, 2014 at 9:38 pm

1. Don’t punish non suicidal people.
2. Don’t punish suicidal people.

54 Willitts August 8, 2014 at 10:36 pm


In places where there are few guns, people jump off cliffs or bridges. In Korea where there are almost no guns in private hands, people hang themselves.

55 andrew' August 9, 2014 at 4:00 am

What Korea, and everywhere else should do is make life better. I know that seems hard.

Also keeping guns out of easy reach of suicidal people is smart, but it seems like a job for the family and friends.

56 Willitts August 9, 2014 at 2:42 pm

No arguments from me.

57 yo August 8, 2014 at 1:44 pm

I understand why airlines don’t like those inflight TVs. The devices and the content are expensive and heavy. They’re going to do away with them just as they did with inflight meals. They probably add a few $ in price per flight, while with paid content, on the contrary, they can earn cash back. I’ll miss them though, just as I sigh every time I see a paid menu in a plane.
Actually I shouldn’t complain, as like the majority of passengers I always choose my flights based on price, except sometimes for long-hauls. In those, the screens just like the meals will probably disappear last.

58 Slocum August 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm

I find the seatback entertainment systems in planes as useless as the ‘infotainment’ screens in cars. I’d much rather just use my own phone or tablet, and I don’t really care if they provide streaming video-on-demand services as an alternative either, since it’s easy enough to bring a bunch of mp4 movies along. Inflight Wifi is appreciated, though — they should focus on that.

59 yo August 8, 2014 at 4:32 pm

I use inflight TV on intercontinental flights often for watching movies I would otherwise never know about, current Asian, African or Latin American productions (you need the proper airline for that, of course). They often turn out to be excellent. Meanwhile everyone around me seems to be wasting their time watching the same crappy US series or the latest “Transformers”.
Streaming on demand at the price points mentioned in the article is ridiculous. Very few people would use it. Probably airlines will notice it doesn’t make sense to offer paid VOD any more after 1-2 years, since due to the fixed cost, it’ll be unprofitable – lack of scale. People will just go to the internet. Unless, of course, the fancy airplane satellite link will cost passengers $20 an hour. Which I think is probable.

60 Axa August 9, 2014 at 9:51 am

On board video as you said is heavy physically and heavy on bandwidth usage if you want to watch TV real-time. However there is low bandwidth entertainment and perhaps more useful than VOD. WiFi allows email, whatsapp, facebook, phone calls, newspaper reading from people smartphones, tablets, whatever. It’s really useful to tell a friend that’s gonna pick you up at the airport “the plane is half-hour late”

61 Hadur August 8, 2014 at 1:51 pm

I know that MR commentators are all geniuses with upper six-figure jobs that will survive “average is over” and thus only fly first/business class, but has any airline actually installed electrical outlets for mobile devices in coach? The article says this is happening but I have yet to see it.

62 bob August 8, 2014 at 2:57 pm

I’ve been on a bunch of flights that have usb chargers. I only fly coach.

63 Mark Thorson August 8, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Seems like a great opportunity to insert advertising, maybe a trip planning app featuring the airline, some tracking software to learn more about the customer base, etc.

When you buy your ticket, you’ll be agreeing to all this in the fine print, of course.

64 Mike August 8, 2014 at 3:36 pm

I was in coach on a Delta 737-900 a few weeks ago and it had chargers at all the seats. I’ve seen this before on other planes (I think Air Canada had that several years ago when I flew to Toronto and I think I encountered it on an American 737 with that fancy Boeing interior).

65 Keith August 8, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Virgin America does.

66 andrew' August 8, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Idk. I haven’t flown since 9/11.

67 Axa August 9, 2014 at 9:55 am

AirFrance 777s got USB chargers on coach.

68 Peter August 8, 2014 at 2:05 pm

With James Brady’s death, I wonder if the District of Columbia will prosecute John Hinckley for murder. What with the District’s demographic changes over the past three decades it might be much easier to get a conviction today. It’s not unprecedented to try a person for murder when a crime victim dies years later. New York does so from time to time, usually in cases of people who were shot in the brain or spine. In many of these cases the criminals have already served prison sentences for assault and attempted murder. New York’s practice was inspired by the case of Andy Warhol, who died of gunshot wounds 20 years after being shot and after his attacker got off with a light sentence for assault (she already had died by the time of Warhol’s death).

69 Art Deco August 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Neither Warhol nor Brady died of gunshot wounds. Warhol had a heart attack after gall bladder surgery.

Ten of the twelve jurors at Hinckley’s trial favored the not guilty verdict and the other two finally gave up. The two holdouts were both black women and the whites on the jury agreed with the majority. I cannot see how DC’s changing ‘demographics’ would alter the jury pool.

70 Peter August 8, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Warhol never fully recovered from his injuries and his body was left in a permanently weakened state. The chances of a 58-year-old dying from gallbladder surgery are so low as to be essentially zero, unless the patient is already in bad shape.
Brady’s cause of death hasn’t been released, but even though he was older than Warhol it’s more than likely that his injury and lingering disabilities were a major factor. New York prosecutors have gotten a number of convictions in the cases of disabled shooting victims who died many years later.
Fair enough about the Hinckley jury, though insanity defenses are pretty much in disrepute today (in large part because of him), so a murder conviction today is possible.

71 Sigivald August 8, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Murder’s pretty hard to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” when the death takes place 30 years after the injury, and after the original injury is healed.

“Killed specifically by secondary effects of the accused’s actions, decades later” is a pretty tough one to prove.

If the original wound only contributed to the death, it’s not remotely clear-cut murder.

(Imagine a plain battery where someone’s arm is broken severely enough to leave it permanently incapacitated. This leads to them being generally weakened and not exercising and being depressed (a plausible case).

Eventually, 30 years later, they get pneumonia, don’t see a doctor, and die.

Did that battery become murder because it caused a thing which caused them to do a thing which caused them to die?

Lots of luck with that theory.)

72 Art Deco August 8, 2014 at 6:13 pm

The chances of a 58-year-old dying from gallbladder surgery are so low as to be essentially zero,

In that age group (ages 55-64), your chance of dying in any given year is about 0.78%. It wasn’t any lower in 1987 than it is today and it isn’t any lower for men than it is for women. The modal cause of death is cardiovascular problems. Why not write the widow of Tim Russert (1950-2008) and tell her that her husband’s chances of dying were essentially zero and Valerie Solanos must have shot him at some point?

New York prosecutors have gotten a number of convictions in the cases of disabled shooting victims who died many years later.

You’re not going to get a murder conviction when the assault victim in question dies of a heart attack 19 years later.

73 Peter August 8, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Medical examiners have just ruled Brady’s death a homicide.

74 Art Deco August 8, 2014 at 8:02 pm

The medical examiner is engaging in performance art to please the prosecutor. You expect more professionalism than that from officers of the court, and you don’t get it.

75 chuck martel August 9, 2014 at 12:03 pm

So a nameless, at least to me and millions of others, bureaucratic apparatachik has made a statement and now it’s holy writ. That settles it, then.

76 Jan August 8, 2014 at 3:42 pm


77 gabe August 8, 2014 at 4:48 pm

No won’t be prosecuted for murder. Hinckley family is a friend of the CIA/Bush family. The favour was done and now it is over.

78 Art Deco August 8, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Go away.

79 andrew' August 8, 2014 at 9:45 pm

I prefer Gabe.

80 andrew' August 8, 2014 at 5:29 pm

I wonder what is the rationale for markedly different sentences for murder versus attempted murder.

81 Turkey Vulture August 9, 2014 at 12:19 am

We take pity on failures.

82 andrew' August 9, 2014 at 4:02 am

Well, perhaps we shouldn’t. If you shoot someone in the head, that they survive is just luck.

83 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly August 9, 2014 at 11:25 am
84 Milo Minderbinder August 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm

# 5. What a bunch of whiners. I have never watched TV on a jet. I always bring my kindle and at least one real book.

85 T. Shaw August 8, 2014 at 4:14 pm

I always buy two drinks.

86 Denier August 8, 2014 at 10:12 pm

+ 1 Ambien and maybe a Xanax, and maybe another drink, and you’re all set.

87 Chris S August 8, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Bunch of whiners is right. I always meditate out of my third eye due to my greater proximity to space, makes the vibrations amplify.

I have no idea why not everyone shares my preferences. Must be something wrong with them.

88 Ryan Decker August 8, 2014 at 2:42 pm

#1 actually is about small establishments. Fairly common unit of analysis in the empirical productivity literature, but not the same as firms.

89 Urstoff August 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Service guarantees citizenship?

90 Byomtov August 8, 2014 at 4:47 pm


Having passengers use their own devices reduces demands on aircraft power, and the weight of cabling. It also permits better user interfaces.

I for one, am delighted to see seatback TV’s disappear, if for no other reason than that on some planes they seem virtually impossible to turn off and keep off. I remember a flight attendant once telling me that it would stay off so long as I didn’t nudge the remote embedded in the side of the arm rest. If only I were a stone I suppose I could have sat stock still in my seat for two hours, but being human I actually shifted position occasionally, despite those useful instructions.

91 Denier August 8, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Are you really going through the trouble of complaining about that? How will you ever get married, let alone have kids, if you can’t ignore a mute 3 inch screen?

92 andrew' August 9, 2014 at 4:04 am

Because nobody warns you prior to marriage and kids.


Okay. Any books you ever want to read do it now.

93 Byomtov August 9, 2014 at 12:57 pm

The 3-inch screen is a 3-inch light that shines in my eyes whether I want to look at it or not.

94 Denier August 9, 2014 at 2:05 pm

My is now doubly true.

95 Spencer August 8, 2014 at 4:55 pm

I’ll raise another que4stions about small firms.

The SBA paid for an economic study that concluded that small firms account for over half of GDP and have stronger productivity than large firms.

I really question that conclusion. Small US firms average salaries are significantly below average salaries in large firms.

But average salaries should be proportional to average productivity.. If small firms average salaries are significantly lower than large firms average salaries shouldn’t there productivity also be lower.

I suspect that the econometric study just assumed the higher productivity, as they presented no data to support that finding.
Of course the conclusion that small firms accounted for over half of GDP was also dependent on higher productivity in small firms.

Interestingly, according to the SBA data small firms share of employment has not been growing over the last couple of decades.

96 Brian Donohue August 8, 2014 at 6:04 pm

#3. I think ‘Average is Over’ is a bit on the weak side, but it’s your narrative, so flog away! Anyhow, the reference to “two Americas” triggered a recollection of Michael Harrington’s 1962 “The Other America”, which paved the way for The Great Society (misnomer). Which caused me to wonder: when exactly were the halcyon days everyone so fondly remembers and that we have drifted so far from?

#3b. Required reading for those who can’t do or even teach.

97 Art Deco August 8, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Which caused me to wonder: when exactly were the halcyon days everyone so fondly remembers and that we have drifted so far from?

Ca. 1959, when the attrition rates of extant marriages was sufficiently low that you would not expect more than about 15% or 20% to end in divorce; when 4 child families were common; when 97% of all children were born within wedlock and those that were not went up for adoption; when abortion was unsafe, illegal, and rare; when the White House was occupied by the most capable man ever to hold the position; and when Dave Brubeck was riding high.

98 Thomas August 9, 2014 at 4:46 am

*Art Deco’s nostalgic childhood

99 Art Deco August 9, 2014 at 6:20 am

I’m not describing ‘my childhood’, but my parents’ young adulthood. What’s ‘nostalgic’ about it?

100 Jan August 9, 2014 at 8:17 am

Polio, Jim Crow laws, McCarthyism, domestic violence, and J Edgar too.

101 Urso August 9, 2014 at 10:21 am

So basically, what’s improved is now we have a polio vaccine.

102 Art Deco August 9, 2014 at 11:35 am

Polio vaccines hit the market in 1954;

Joseph McCarthy was a public irritant from February of 1950 to September of 1954; there was a great deal of ambient anxiety in the Foreign Service and the U.S. Information Agency during his time in the sun and he and his staff bullied and humiliated people in the chain of command of an Army dentist named Irving Peress. One unscrupulous U.S. Attorney will do at least as much damage to people as McCarthy ever did, but you do not know about it because pinko journalists and historians identify with their own, not with the likes of Conrad Black or Lewis Libby.

I was not aware that domestic violence had been eliminated or that there is any hard data that it is less common now than in 1959.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation engaged in some troublesome practices. Get it through your head, no institution run by human beings is incorruptible. Ask Billy R. Dale (financially ruined but acquitted in 90 minutes what he thinks of the Clinton-era FBI). By the way, the number of people actually injured by the era’s signature abuses was quite modest, but, again, Jessica Mitford is the sort of person Ellen Schrecker identifies with; a small town banker shot dead by Clyde Barrow is not.

As for Jim Crow, what was done to address the problems created thereby? Waal, a series of legislative measures which pretty much ruined the idea of free association and freedom of contract – not only in law but in culture.

Human beings are sinful. They are damaged goods. Any social order gets it wrong to some degree. Unless we adopt a somewhat mindless and dubious assumption of a sort of temporal law of conservation of wretchedness, some era will be better than some other era.

Now to you. It just amazes me the condescension which seems bog standard in the mentality of people like you, as if I knew nothing or understood nothing or remembered nothing of the times in which I have lived in my own country or about human institutions generally. Sorry, but those understandings are open to anyone whose got a few miles on their odometer and has put in time in domestic life and workplaces.

103 Jan August 9, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Art, I’m just saying it wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows. Don’t get your panties in a bunch.

Yes, domestic violence is certainly less common now. Are you serious? It had been almost completely ignored by society. Here is some reading, since you seem to be ignorant about this whole issue:

You act as if contemporary America must be perfect now in order for it to be better than the 50s was. No, we still have lots of problems. We just had a lot more of them–and different ones–in the 50s.

104 Jan August 9, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Also, “pinko.” Ha.

105 Jan August 9, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Are you Joseph McCarthy?

106 Art Deco August 9, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Yes, domestic violence is certainly less common now. Are you serious? It had been almost completely ignored by society.


107 Art Deco August 9, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Art, I’m just saying it wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows.

Thank you very much. I do not know why that would not have occurred to me.

You act as if contemporary America must be perfect now in order for it to be better than the 50s was. No, we still have lots of problems. We just had a lot more of them–and different ones–in the 50s.

1. No I do not.
2. You either have deeply stupid set of priorities or you make it your business to know nothing of the contours of the age bar ancillary matters which fit a certain narrative. (Joseph McCarthy, &c.).
3. Everything you say is stereotyped. I could have written out your reply without bothering to receive it from you because every element of it was a cliche.

108 Jan August 9, 2014 at 8:54 pm

You said something foolish and got dinged for it. Your only response to my evidence on one of the points was “rubbish.”

Ok…I wasn’t alive in the 50s, but I am pointing real, documented problems. It seems you have some subjective, idealized version of the time that makes it better than current day. Fine, but don’t try to argue with me about it, because you have to use facts for that.

109 Urso August 9, 2014 at 10:19 am

“when exactly were the halcyon days everyone so fondly remembers and that we have drifted so far from?”
I’d like JAMR Commodore to weigh in on this

110 Art Deco August 8, 2014 at 9:20 pm


I’d forgotten the antecedent to the Brady Campaign had been founded to push for confiscation of privately-owned handguns.

No biography of Nelson Shields will likely ever be written, but it would be interesting to investigate why it was when his son was shot dead in a racially-motivated (but otherwise random) murder series, his father’s reaction was to blame the equipment.

111 prior_approval August 9, 2014 at 8:41 am

‘his father’s reaction was to blame the equipment’

Sort of like MADD blaming alcohol, you mean?

112 TMC August 9, 2014 at 9:59 am

Yes, prohibition worked out so well.

113 TMC August 9, 2014 at 10:00 am

Best satire on the web, prior. Thanks.

114 Art Deco August 9, 2014 at 11:04 am

Come again? The trouble drunk drivers cause is derived from bad judgment (impaired further by alcohol) and bad habits (exacerbated by the sort of feedback loops you see in people with these issues). They seldom intend to injure anyone.

MADD’s campaigns concern various ways of inducing problematic people to behave better in the interests of public safety, not in generating irritants to non-problematic people in the hope that there will be knock-on effects which remove opportunities for problematic people.

MADD’s address to this problem is boots on the ground (sobriety checkpoints, monitoring liquor dealers’ exchanges with minors), technical fixes (cars equipped with breathalyzers), judicial asperity, and publicity campaigns. It’s hard to see how you’d address the problem of drunk driving any other way.

115 Careless August 11, 2014 at 8:39 am

Like keeping a ban on adults under 21 drinking?

116 Art Deco August 9, 2014 at 11:16 am

While we’re at it, you neglect the specific features of the younger Nelson Shields’ murder which make his father’s reaction particularly puzzling.

The younger Shields was minding his own business moving cargo around in the rear of his station wagon and someone came up behind him and shot him dead a propos of nothing in particular other than his white skin. He wasn’t shot impetuously in a store robbery or during a bar fight or during a domestic argument. His assailant intended to kill him and could have done so successfully with a number of implements given the element of surprise.

If he’d been beaten to death with a baseball bat, I seriously doubt his father would have resigned from DuPont to found the National Council to Control Blunt Instruments. Something about the fact that it was a gun (and perhaps that it was an unusual black-on-white homicide) resonated with the father. If you’ve seen snippets of the public debate between Shields and Harlon Carter held ca. 1977, you notice at one point the sotto voce growl when Shields looks at Carter and says “…for your macho“. No one remotely like Harlon Carter killed the younger Shields. A malicious black nationalist slum dweller did; but in 1977 as now, it would have been considered bad form to give evidence of a loathing for black nationalist slum dwellers.

117 andrew' August 9, 2014 at 4:20 am

As an aside, I personally find it hard to believe the 40% fugure on private sales or that attaking it would save the gun control disappointment.

Not to mention it is not a loophole. It is constitutional federalism. The same part that that supreme court had to cut flips to save obamacare, still wrongly of course.

If background checks for dealers don’t work it is just wild and unjustified speculation that expanding it will work.

118 sam August 9, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Two problems with 3b:

1: The majority of the expected compensation of federal service is the pension and medical benefits. To what extent will today’s pension structure be available 30 or 50 years from now? At this point, federal service is a job with slightly sub-par compensation and the promise of fantastic deferred compensation from an organization that looks unlikely to be able to meet all its future obligations.

2: Unless you are a member of a politically-favored demographic, your chances of promotion are slim. Your ability to produce has little effect on your career track.

119 chuck martel August 9, 2014 at 12:22 pm

The background check is the evolutionary descendant of the post-Calvinist Puritan mindset that radiates from its base in New England and is assumed as the norm by the Americanos of the hinterlands. Rather than a scarlet letter on Hester’s forehead, the bad people, those that are not predestined for economic success, are permanently digitally marked as anti-social by bureaucrats at keyboards representing those predestined to pay off their mortgage and enjoy an untroubled retirement. Unfortunately, those that fail the background checks will, unless suicides or homicide victims, continue to require food, clothing and shelter. If they are unable to do this legally, or at least in a socially acceptable manner, they will be forced to use what ever means are required. Creating a caste of undesirables that can’t take part in their own economy is a recipe for big problems for the “good” guys.

120 Mesa August 9, 2014 at 12:53 pm

We regulate other dangerous things like cars and force people to insure against accidental misuse. The same should happen with guns. Insurers would not offer insurance to those who shouldn’t have it. If you don’t lock up your guns or take training your insurance will be expensive. IIf you want to own a bazooka that will be very expensive – maybe insurance is not offered for that. If you have behavioral legal or mental issues you won’t get gun insurance. Insurance companies are good at measuring the real risks and charging for them They do that sort of thing. Without a gun insurance card you can’t by bullets, scopes, etc. Its a felony to sell a gun to someone without a gun insurance card. Will this stop all gun misuse or violence. No. Will it be subject to fraud, yes. But it’s a reasonable way to regulate the non criminal component of it, and perhaps compensate some victims of gun violence as well.

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