Creative Clash

Distort the economy of a sector, an industry or a city to benefit an industry, a policy or a class of people, and you’re going to cause unintended consequences – almost all of them bad, at least for someone.

Fifteen years ago, the NPR-listening, Whole Foods-Shopping, Volvo-driving set nodded and snapped their fingers to the beat of Richard Florida, who wrapped up a bunch of toxic economic interventions in a bunch  of artisanal wrapping paper and slapped a name on it – appealing to the “Creative Class” – that was marketing genius, making the children of America’s upper-middle-class feel like their apps, their hedge funds and their vegan restaurants were part of something Big and Important.

Cities – or rather, city planning wonks (who love to see themselves in that Creative Class – fell all over themselves to engineer cities to draw this class, on the promise that they’d spur economic growth.

The results?   Well, I predicted this – and now, Richard Florida himself is acknowledging it:

The rise of the creative class in such cities as New York, Washington, and San Francisco did produce economic growth—but mostly just for those who were already wealthy. The poor, and especially the working class poor, were right out of luck. They were priced out of the city and driven out to the suburbs, where they created the kind of urban problems known only to the cities. The modern city is the greatest economic engine the world has ever known, but these days it seems to run only for the aid of those who need its benefits least. When the rich, the young, and the bohemian revitalized Austin, Boston, and Seattle, they induced a cycle of soaring prices and class replacement. The creative class brought an income inequality that hadn’t been predicted. Florida could call them a new class all he wanted. They proved to be merely the children of the old white-collar meritocracy, grown doubly rich from the rising tide of urban renewal.

So, in The New Urban Crisis, Richard Florida takes a long second look at the nation’s cities. He doesn’t admit that he had been wrong in 2002 with The Rise of the Creative Class, mostly because he doesn’t think he was wrong. The city progressed just the way he described. But what he has called the “externalities” have mounted to such an extent that they now outweigh the gains he saw 15 years ago. The creative class triumphed, and his prize cities have turned into wealth preserves—the old gated communities of the suburbs, transplanted to the urban core.

The whole thing is worth a read.

Bob and Carol & Jane & Alice

Two’s company; three’s potentially legal

A narrow national majority favors same-sex marriage.  Will that majority favor a plurality?

When it comes to debating social issues, the  “slippery slope” argument often holds the least amount of traction.  As Minnesota was racked by contentious debate surrounding last year’s marriage amendment, one of the litany of debate volleys was that opening the door to same-sex marriage could inevitability lead to polygamy.  Same-sex marriage supporters dismissed the notion, suggesting the argument was tangential at best, and a “scare tactic” at worst.


Advocates for so-called plural marriages are applauding a ruling by a U.S. District Court judge that struck down key segments of Utah’s anti-polygamy law, saying they violated constitutional rights to privacy and religious freedom.

In a 91-page decision issued Friday, Judge Clark Waddoups effectively decriminalized polygamy in Utah, ruling that a central phrase in the state’s law forbidding cohabitation with another person violated the 1st and 14th amendments.

In all fairness, the lawsuit, brought about by the stars of the TLC reality show “Sister Wives”, depicting a Utah Mormon family with one legal wife and three “wives” who live with them, was more over striking down language that prevented religious cohabitation than actually allowing polygamy.  Kody Brown, the “star” of “Sister Wives” remains only legally married to one woman.  But proponents and opponents of polygamy alike agree that the ruling has opened the door to potentially allowing multiple partners in a marriage.

The debate reached the pages of the New York Times, and in true Gray Lady fashion, presented four arguments in favor of what is now being called “plural marriage” with only two dissenting points of view.  To ape T.S. Eliot, this is how social convention dies, not with a bang, but with a series of op-eds.

If the contours of the New York Times‘ debate on polygamy looked familiar, they should – because they neatly conform to the same lines of argument that have defined the same-sex marriage debate.  Laws against polygamy are discrimination.  Plural marriage advocates deserve respect and dignity.  Plural marriage makes us freer as a society.  Heck, even the arguments against “scare tactics” make a triumphant return.  Opponents can sight studies showing the negative effects of polygamy on women and children, but essentially are reduced to arguing that the move represents a further tumble down that ill-defined “slippery slope.” Continue reading


The Monday Morning Quaterbacking over electronic gambling heats up.

Two gambles that haven’t paid off

When breaking down the various back-up funding plans for the Vaseline Dome, one step was neglected – the finger pointing.

For a funding mechanism that was originally billed to deliver $35 million in revenue per year, and continuously revised down to $17 million and then $1.7, the process of assigning blame should have been viewed as inevitable.  But like a legislative Atlas, who would shoulder the majority of the ownership of such a flawed model?  Gov. Mark Dayton, who was so publicly aggressive in his defense of a new stadium?  The hapless former Republican legislative majorities who acquiesced to the bill?  The Star Tribune, whose rampant conflict of interest with any Metrodome-site construction should have called into question their vocal support?

No, the Star Tribune has decided the real culprit are the gambling firms that provided the electronic pull-tab games:

While flawed, the gambling board’s sales estimates were extremely detailed, including the number of bars and restaurants that would adopt e-gambling, the number of devices in play, what hours they would be played and how much money would be wagered.

It projected 2,500 sites would be selling electronic pulltab within six months, or nearly 14 bars and restaurants joining in per day….

Nearly a year after those projections were made, about 200 Minnesota bars and restaurants offer electronic pulltabs, not the 2,500 that had been predicted. Electronic bingo games have just been introduced.

Average daily gross sales for electronic pulltabs have increased to about $69,000, but sales per gambling device have declined.

The firms may have been making bad assumptions about the capacity for Minnesota to support increased charitable gambling, but at least the firms’ figures came out of experiences in states like Montana, South Dakota and Oregon.  Still, the basic math of the gambling mechanism was public knowledge long before it was formally added to the final bill.

Minnesotans spend about $1 billion in charitable gambling, which equals the comparatively paltry sum of $36 million in revenue.  The Vikings stadium, requiring $35 million a year to cover the State’s $348 million share, would necessitate charitable gambling to either double to $2 billion or entirely overrun the current charitable competition.  In that light, it’s little wonder that other charitable organizations were not asked for their opinion.  A decision that now is being heavily criticized as charities across the State say some version of “I told you so.”

All the finger-pointing in the world doesn’t help hide the reality that the responsibility for flawed legislation needs to rest with the political leadership that authored it – a fact even the Star Tribune acknowledges:

“There was a willful blindness … driven by pressure politics,” charged David Schultz, a Hamline University political analyst and a professor of nonprofit law…

“This was a deal that was going to happen no matter what,” Schultz said. “The governor wanted a stadium. The money couldn’t come from the general fund. The charities had been asking for electronic games.”

You Were Warned

A source at the Capitol – who was heavily involved in the battle against public funding for the Vikings stadium – emailed me with his first “I Told You So” moment of the new political epoch:

I believe I said, all along the campaign for endorsement…the primary…and the general election:

“The numbers that are being projected, from gambling revenue, to pay the Vikings stadium bonds are wildly optimistic and won’t come true.”

I was right. And there are 32 references in the legislation to the General Fund. So guess who’s left holding the bag? That’s right…the taxpayer.

We were ALL sold down the river by the likes of Steve Smith, Connie Doepke, and Gen Olson…in SD33…one of THE most conservative districts in the State.

And I got their legacy…RIGHT HERE!

Both sides – well, two out of three sides at the Capitol, anyway, the “establishment” GOP and the DFL – lied to the people about how the state-funded improvements to Zygi Wilf’s real estate investment would be financed.

We – the conservative Republicans – warned you; we were right.

Note To Whatever GOP Leadership Remains In The Legislature

To: The GOP Leadership In The Legislature, Whoever You End Up Being
From: Mitch Berg, Schnook Peasant
Re:  Upcoming Session


It’s two months ’til what is going to be a couple of very grueling sessions.

Now, Governor Dayton is an addled bobblehead who is nothing but a marionette for Alida Messinger and the unions that bought the office for him.  Tom Bakk and Paul Thissen are not much but capos for two bodies that are, let’s be honest, more of the same.  Our entire legislature will be owned and operated by Messinger, the “Alliance For A Better Minnesota”, the unions, the non-profits, and the media that serves as their PR wing.

The calls will go out; “time to be “bi-partisan””.

Don’t do it.

The DFL will be trying their best to give an air of “bipartisan” legitimacy to what is going to be an orgy of tax-hiking and spending.

Resist the temptation to try to go for the Lori Sturdevant seal of approval.

They are going to plunge this state into an orgy of spending, an taxation to support it.  Major Minnesota business are going to ship jobs outstate or overseas as fast as FedEx can jam them onto the plane.  Minnesota’s medical device industry is already evacuating; there will be more to follow.

You need to keep your fingerprints away from the scene of the crime.

If the Minnesota GOP has proven one thing, it sucks at messaging.  You’ll need to learn it, and pronto – because the media will try to portray the upcoming disaster as “a result of GOP intransigence”, notwithstanding their complete control over government for the next (sigh) two years.

Stand astride history and yell “we told you so”, and for chrissake, get ready for 2014.  The approval of the left’s pundits and the media (pardon the redundancy) will get you nothing.  
That is all. 

Someday Sometimes Comes

It’s been a couple of years since elements of the regional left finally copped to the fact that key lefty propaganda institutions like the Center for “Independent” Media and the Minnesota “Independent” are funded by, among others, misery-profiteer George Soros.

It’s  catching; lefty Jewish lobby “J Street” is on the Soros gravy train as well:

J Street has acknowledged substantial donations from billionaire George Soros, reversing years of claims by the group that it had nothing to do with the liberal financier, and apologized for making misleading statements about his role.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, the director of the dovish pro-Israel lobby, confirmed to JTA a report that first appeared in The Washington Times that it had received $245,000 from Soros and his children in 2008, and added that it had received another $500,000 in subsequent years — altogether, about 7 percent of the $11 million that J Street says it has taken in since its 2008 founding.

Framing the debate:  priceless.


I’ve been saying for close to twenty years that gun control is the debate that tips the hard left’s hand on civil liberties.  While Democrats have claimed to be the party of the little guy for the past eighty years, gun control was always the debate where the Democrats lined up with the “elites” against the peasants – and, as Glenn Reynolds notes, where the peasants organized themselves over the course of the past fifteen years and beat the “elites”.  And beat them so thoroughly that most of the Democratic Party has abandoned the issue.

Is it symptomatic that we’re seeing what may be  the first Daily Kos diary on trying to make guns a liberal issue?

Liberals can quote legal precedent, news reports, and exhaustive studies [Although they usually don’t – Ed]. They can talk about the intentions of the Founders. They can argue at length against the tyranny of the government. And they will, almost without exception, conclude the necessity of respecting, and not restricting, civil liberties.

Except for one: the right to keep and bear arms.

When it comes to discussing the Second Amendment, liberals check rational thought at the door. They dismiss approximately 40% of American households that own one or more guns, and those who fight to protect the Second Amendment, as “gun nuts.” [I believe the term was “bitter, gun-clinging Jeebus freaks”, or something to that effect – Ed.]  They argue for greater restrictions. And they pursue these policies at the risk of alienating voters who might otherwise vote for Democrats.

And there the writer is correct.  The 1994 Republican landslide was as much a reaction to the 1994 Crime Bill as to Hillarycare.  In Minnesota, it’s a better-than-fair guess that Rod Grams beat Ann Wynia for the Senate seat because of the backlash over the Crime Bill and the organization of Minnesota’s Second Amendment movement.

And they do so in a way that is wholly inconsistent with their approach to all of our other civil liberties.

Those who fight against Second Amendment rights cite statistics about gun violence, as if such numbers are evidence enough that our rights should be restricted. But Chicago and Washington DC, the two cities from which came the most recent Supreme Court decisions on Second Amendment rights, had some of the most restrictive laws in the nation, and also some of the highest rates of violent crime. Clearly, such restrictions do not correlate with preventing crime.

It’d be unseemly to say “I told you so” to someone who is agreeing with me…

So rather than continuing to fight for greater restrictions on Second Amendment rights, it is time for liberals to defend Second Amendment rights as vigorously as they fight to protect all of our other rights. Because it is by fighting to protect each right that we protect all rights.

The obvious answer, of course, is that while grass-roots idealistic “liberals” may indeed be about “fighting to protect all rights”, the overall high-level goal of the movement is to empower government.  And while having the peasants running around making statues of the Virgin  Mary out of elephant dung doesn’t infringe government power, a bunch of citizens with guns does.

Atypically of a Kos kolumn, it’s worth a read; well-reasoned enough to have been written by a conservative on the issue.

Typically for a Kos kolumn, the commenters largely belie the notion that the hard left has learned to think on this issue.

Bring On November, Baybee

So they’ve done it.  The Obama Administration, speaking for about a third of the American people, jammed a nationalization of the Health Insurance industry down the American throat.

On the one hand, American people, you were warned.  If you voted for Barack Obama and are among the millions getting buyers remorse today as you confront the very real possibility that your health insurance premiums are going to jump like a point guard with a rocket up its butt as your access to service decays into a morass of DMV-like misery, remember – we told you so.  We told you Obama was going to do whatever he and his minions could to nationalize as much of the economy as possible.  And he said, even during the campaign, that it all started with socializing healthcare.  He telegraphed the punch, people!

I got a few phone calls yesterday.  “I’m scared”, they said.  I saw a bunch of similar comments on Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t be.

In the immortal words of Harry Dean Stanton’s “Jeb Eckert”  in that American trash-underground classic Red Dawn, there is a better solution.

Eckert knew everything he needed to about government “services”. 

And he had some simple advice for channeling emotions at times like this.

Let it turn into something else“.

Now is the time for anger.  Constructive anger, mind you – partly because the left and media (pardon the redundancy) will be looking for every sign of anger, translating every fit of pique into an indictment of all dissent (even if they have to make it up).  But mostly because there is no time to waste.  There are only seven good campaigning months until November.

That anger needs to come out – politely, calmly, coolly as a wolf stalking its prey – at your legislators.  If your legislator voted against Obamacare – Kline, Paulsen, Bachmann and Peterson?  Call to thank them.  They need to know – even Democrats, like Peterson – that you appreciate them doing the right thing.

For the “bulletproof” Ellison and McCollum?  You may not think it does any good, and it may not flip any seats, but if Congress knows that there’s strong dissent even in “safe” districts, then they’ll know that the less “safe” districts are in trouble.

And in those less “safe” districts?  Jim Oberstar needs to know that the political trick he turned – the latest of many in a career built on a generation of pork-mongering – isn’t appreciated.  Especially all you Catholics in the Eighth District; he flipped his vote for thirty pieces of political silver. Find him a tree (rhetorically speaking).

And Tim Walz?  Does this man represent you, First District?  Does his vote to turn the Mayo Clinic into a public hospital make any sense at all?  Walz got his office by an upset win in a horrible year for Republicans; there’s no reason the district can’t redeem itself and the country by being rid of him for good.

Franken and Klobuchar?   They’re as safe a couple of votes for Obama as exist in the Senate.  But if you don’t think an avalanche of “no” calls will flip their votes, remember – Kent Conrad in North Dakota has to run for re-election in 2012.  He’s one of the most powerful men in Washington – right behind Byron Dorgan.  Who saw the train – you and me – coming, and decided to get out of the way.  If Conrad hears that the peasants are revolting in Minnesota, what will he think of his own, conservative, disproportionally Medicare-dependent constituency?

Make your calls.  And when (and, in the case of the gutless ones, if) there’s a town hall meeting?  Cancel your other plans.  Be there.  Be polite, but don’t back down.  They’ll have their goons there, just like The Man had in Birmingham and Selma.  It’s what banana republic tyrants do when they’re scared of those they see as their subjects.

When they have to bring in the goons in the purple shirts, that’s the good news.

So don’t be scared.  What’s in the past is in the past.  What’s important is that America learns its lesson before it’s too late.  We need to not only kick out of office every single person that voted for this abomination; we need to stomp the Democrat party without mercy, until it never gets up again. The urge to socialize America must be not just defeated at the polls; it must be obliterated.  It must be beaten into electoral gunk  that swirls down the drain of American history once and for all.

Politically, naturally.

Am I asking for too much?

Was Ronald Reagan asking for too much when he spoke in the seventies, at the very lowest ebb of America’s fortunes, influence and morale (so far), of ending the USSR ? 

Of course he was.  But doing the impossible begins with the impossible dream.

So don’t be scared.  Be angry.  And let that anger turn into the kind of motivation that wins wars, cures diseases, and sends stupid politicians back to their dingy law offices.

And then be there – at the demonstrations, on the phone, at the town halls.

The Democrats planted the wind yesterday.  We need to make sure they harvest a tornado.

From The I Told You So Department

…SITD wasn’t the first to take notice, but we smelled this a mile away.

A federal safety investigation of the Toyota Prius that was involved in a dramatic incident on a California highway last week found a particular pattern of wear on the car’s brakes that raises questions about the driver’s version of the event, three people familiar with the investigation said.

On Monday James Sikes, 61 years old, called 911 and told the operator his blue 2008 Toyota Prius had sped up to more than 90 miles per hour on its own on Interstate 8 near San Diego. He eventually brought the vehicle to a stop after a California Highway patrolman pulled alongside Mr. Sikes and offered help.

During and after the incident, Mr. Sikes said he was using heavy pressure on his brake pedal at high speeds.

But the investigation of the vehicle, carried out jointly by safety officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Toyota engineers, didn’t find signs the brakes had been applied at full force at high speeds over a sustained period of time, the three people familiar with the investigation said.

Multiple sites (ex. Fox News, courtesy Bill C.) are reporting Mr. Sikes is in financial trouble and my have simply been looking to get out of his obligations on the Toyota Prius.

For Eva And Eva Afta

So Eva Ng lost the Mayor’s race on Tuesday.  And she lost it by a big margin.

I wrote my initial takeaways the other night; I think it’s huge that we actually got a Republican on the ballot at all; Eva is the first we’ve had in the 22 years I’ve lived in this city.

But I’ve had people asking me – what do you think Eva Ng should do next?

Well, the obvious response is “Ask Eva!”  I mean, it’s totally her call – and she did a job well above and beyond the call of duty.  She charged into the maw of the St. Paul DFL machine (motto:  “Like Chicago, only more passive-aggressive”), and did a great job of articulating an opposition case.  She didn’t win, but not for lack of merit.

Still, I’m going to offer this as a set of suggestions to Ms. Ng:

  1. Stay in public life.  For the next two years, set yourself up as a critic, as a part-time pundit. 
  2. Do in Saint Paul what Sarah Palin is doing nationally; use your position as Saint Paul’s leading dissenting voice to keep the heat on the Mayor – to keep the issues on which you ran (and the new ones that’ll no doubt emerge in the next 1-4 years) on the front burner.
  3. Start a blog.  And when you do, remember who your friends are; you have name-recognition, and a built-in place of honor among the Twin Cities’ conservative blogosphere, the most active political blog scene in the country.
  4. Use your soapbox – your position, your blog if you start one, and any appearance you make in a political sense, and the attention it will get you – to help keep the pressure on Chris Coleman and his administration. 
  5. Coleman wants to be mayor so bad?  He got his wish!  Now – when he raises taxes, be there showing the people a coherent alternative!  When the percent of vacant downtown space climbs above the Saint Paul Schools’ graduation rate, be there with another plan!  When hope values in the North End and Dayton’s Bluff drop down so low that Dominos offers a “Three Mediums For Your Deed” deal on Fridays, be there saying “I Told You So, And Here’s What We’d Be Doing About It If You’d Elected Some Grownups”.  When the budget jumps from crazy to lala-whoopdiedoo-out-of-our-freaking-mind deranged, be there with a better plan!    You had to cram a whole campaign against the entire DFL machine, and build name recognition, and build a platform, inside three months.  Now, you have four years.  
  6. Keep shaking hands, meeting people, and listening.  Learn what it is that people in Saint Paul really want and need.  A friendly hint; it’s not knowing that their mayor isn’t going to run for governor.  It’s their home prices; it’s their jobs leaving Saint Paul; it’s the booming taxes and failing schools.  Circulate, circulate, circulate.
  7. Because in 2013, the DFL will likely not field an incumbent.  It’ll be a level(er) playing field.  And the gray, lumpen masses who voted for incumbent Chris Coleman with no more thought than they expend on ordering a Number Three at McDonald’s might pull back the mental drapes and let some light in. 
  8. And if you’re out there, meeting people and keeping people excited about the idea of changing Saint Paul for the better, people will know who you are; you could very well have better, more positive name recognition than whatever vapid hamster the DFL nominates next time around.
  9. And having you out there building on what you started will put you in the best possible place to be a threat to win in four years; it’ll also give the Saint Paul GOP (and the Fourth District GOP, for that matter) something it’s needed for a long time; hope, a mission, a goal.

Take the rest of the year off.  You earned it.  But please think about it.

Think hard – but not too long.  This next year is going to be a great year to hit the ground running as a conservative, even in a place like Saint Paul.

This next four years is going to leave this city a cold Flint; I think the 2013 election is going to be a whole ‘nother party than this last one.

Governor Pawlenty Exonerated

So the veto of the gas tax didn’t result in the 35W bridge collapse?

My esteemed overlord hates to say “I told you so.”

Allow me.

Mitch told you so.

Number 1:  When the engineers finally release their report about what actually caused the 35W Bridge Collapse, a lot of regional lefties – Elwyn Tinklenberg, Rep. Alice Hausman, Nick Coleman and others among them – are going to owe the Governor, Lt. Gov/Transportation Commissioner Molnau, the Taxpayers’ League and the “hold the line on taxes” crowd – a lot of apologies for a lot of defamation.

Number 2: None of them will actually give those apologies.

Nick Coleman’s article of August 2nd is no longer linkable. But here are excerpts of Nick’s rabid blather at the time from Roosh Five:

The death bridge was “structurally deficient,” we now learn, and had a rating of just 50 percent, the threshold for replacement. But no one appears to have erred on the side of public safety. The errors were all the other way.

There isn’t any bigger metaphor for a society in trouble than a bridge falling, its concrete lanes pointing brokenly at the sky, its crumpled cars pointing down at the deep waters where people disappeared.

Nick Coleman: Drama Queen. Hack Journalist. Dead Wrong.

Only this isn’t a metaphor.

But when you have a tragedy on this scale, it isn’t just concrete and steel that has failed us.

In a word, it was avoidable.

For half a dozen years, the motto of state government and particularly that of Gov. Tim Pawlenty has been No New Taxes. It’s been popular with a lot of voters and it has mostly prevailed. So much so that Pawlenty vetoed a 5-cent gas tax increase – the first in 20 years – last spring and millions were lost that might have gone to road repair. And yes, it would have fallen even if the gas tax had gone through, because we are years behind a dangerous curve when it comes to the replacement of infrastructure that everyone but wingnuts in coonskin caps agree is one of the basic duties of government.

I’m not just pointing fingers at Pawlenty. The outrage here is not partisan. It is general.

At the federal level, the parsimony is worse, and so is the negligence. A trillion spent in Iraq, while schools crumble, there aren’t enough cops on the street and bridges decay while our leaders cross their fingers and ignore the rising chances of disaster.

I-35W bridge was doomed from the start

Investigators will say the blame lies with designers who erred in calculating the size of key gusset plates, sources say.

Original designers of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis likely neglected to calculate the size of key gusset plates that eventually failed, a human mistake that culminated 40 years later when 13 people died after the span collapsed, federal safety investigators have found.

They also have determined that corrosion of certain gusset plates, extreme heat and shifting piers did not contribute to the bridge’s collapse on Aug. 1, 2007, according to sources with direct knowledge of the probe.

Elwyn Tinklenberg, Rep. Alice Hausman, Nick Coleman will undoubtedly not be reachable for comment. Mr. Coleman’s resume can probably be found on

Better Late Than Fascist

21 years ago, Florida passed its once-controversial concealed-carry bill. At that point, less than ten states had “shall-issue” laws (the Dakotas among them, if memory serves); Florida was the first big state to adopt one.

Florida state representative Ron Silver famously predicted that the state would turn into “Dodge City West”, with shootouts after fender-benders and blood gushing through the streets. Within a decade, seeing the untrammeled success of Florida’s carry law, Silver famously recanted. In so doing, he sparked a pattern that’s been repeated ever since:

  1. Carry law passes
  2. Chicken littles declare sky will fall
  3. Sky stays snugly above
  4. “It’ll fall! Soon!”
  5. No fall
  6. “Really!”
  7. Nothing.
  8. Silence.
  9. Nada
  10. Finally, after years of mostly nothing, and a few mildly-publicized cases of citizens defending themselves, a thin film of former detractors comes out and admits that concealed carry works just fine, and that they were wrong.

The Rochester Post-Bulletin may have been the first of Minnesota’s anti-gun orcs to break the thin lumpen gray line.

Sort of:

Five years after Minnesota loosened its rules concerning who can legally carry handguns, we must admit our surprise at the lack of problems that have resulted in Olmsted County and Minnesota as a whole.Handgun owners aren’t accidentally shooting themselves. Kids aren’t finding the pistol under Dad’s side of the bed and hurting each other. Vigilantes aren’t taking the law into their own hands. Police officers aren’t being shot as they approach cars during traffic stops.

I suppose it’d be graceless to say “I told you so”…

Clearly, the hoops applicants must go through, including background checks and handgun safety training, have been effective. People aren’t able to buy a gun on impulse and carry it with them the next day when they go to work or to their favorite watering hole. The right to legally carry a gun in public requires a fairly significant investment of time and money — 10 hours of training and a $100 fee — and that’s as it should be.

Actually, there’s no statistical link between safety and up-front financial investment. But let’s not digress just yet.

Hopefully, the above statements will be just as true five years from now, because in the wake of a recent Supreme Court ruling, “right to carry” laws nationwide appear to be on extremely solid ground.

I’d be interested in the editor’s list of instances where “reinforcing the Constitutional rights of the law-abiding has had a bad effect”.

Get back to me on that?

But in southeastern Minnesota, we’re more interested in the number of people who actually feel the need to carry a gun in public. In the eight-county region, which includes Dodge, Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona counties, 3,097 people received right-to-carry permits between April 2003 and Dec. 31, 2007.It would be easy to praise that relatively low number, which represents less than 1 percent of the area’s total population. From the “glass is half full” perspective, one could argue that based on this low number, most people in our corner of the world feel safe without pistols under their shirts.

We won’t go that route.

And while that might be a good thing – it was a dry hole – the editors unfortunately swerve into a little orthodoxy that sorta ruins the promise of their initial epiphany:

The fact is that before “right to carry” became a buzzword among gun activists, people in Minnesota had the right to keep a handgun in their homes — where, we’d argue, they are most likely to encounter a situation in which a handgun could be justifiably used in self-defense.

In public, however, we aren’t aware of a single documented instance during the past five years in which a permit-carrying handgun owner has used a gun for self-protection or to aid others who faced a deadly threat.

Then the editor is mistaken. I’ll refer you to Joel Rosenberg, David Gross and company for the details, but yes – there’ve been cases.

As to the first paragraph – “people could already keep guns in the home” – well, that’s well and good (and one of the reasons that “hot” burglaries, where the resident(s) are home during the crime, are 1/4 as common in the US as in Britain), but as usual it misses the point. Indeed, actually using the gun to thwart a crime, while an inherently morally excellent thing, isn’t the point.

“Giving criminals that sense that they could get their brains blown out for threatening a law-abiding citizen, anyplace, any time, without (much) warning” is.

The NRA and its supporters probably will claim that having more guns on the streets — in the hands of law-abiding, permit-holding citizens — has had a preventive effect. After all, violent crime did decline 7 percent last year in Rochester.

And, despite Rochester Police Chief Roger Peterson’s statement that “I don’t think (the law) has had a significant impact on crime, frankly, one way or the other,” [Urban police chiefs are the last people to ask – Ed] we’ll at least admit the possibility that some would-be criminals might be thinking twice before attempting a home invasion or mugging. There’s no doubt that “right to carry” laws have increased the likelihood that a potential victim could respond with deadly force.

Whew. Well, grudging acceptance is still acceptance.

And ignorance is still ignorance:

But our concession comes with a condition: the NRA should admit that mandatory criminal background checks and handgun training do keep guns out of the hands of criminals and aren’t infringements on the public’s right to bear arms.

We won’t hold our breath.

Well, it’s a good thing you won’t, since the NRA – while advocating strict limits to prevent abuse of these background checks and the information gathered – has led the way on legislation that’s actually kept guns out of the lands of criminals.

As opposed to the law-abiding.

Reinforcing Failure

One of the great legacies of the Bush Administration is further proof that tax cuts work.  They stimulate the economy.  They put people to work.  They are a just-plain-good thing.

Now, the Bush Administration screwed up, and badly, by not cutting domestic spending.  Those of us who supported Steve Forbes up until the end of the 2000 convention are justified in going “I Told You So”.  And so we shall.  But Bush’s tax cuts have given us an economy that, by any rational measure (except Lexus/Nexus hits) is one of the best ever.

Oh, the Democrats will barber than they starve the government of revenue – which, of course, exposes the central problem with their thesis; the role of our society is not to keep government afloat first and foremost.

The Dems have that wrong – aggressively so.   And they want to “fix” that – to put government at what they call its’ rightful place in the fiscal food chain, way up front.

Jay Reding on the Dems’ plan to gut the US economy:

 To [re-raise taxes] would be to erase the millions of jobs created in the past few years, introduce a huge amount of uncertainty into the market, and ensure that businesses would delay job-creating capital investments until they know what the tax consequences of those choices would be. The Asian markets had a massive sell-off because of similar fears, and the same would happen in America if there was a credible threat of a major capital gains tax increase…However, the worst thing that could happen is for the Democrats to raise taxes, spurring another selloff and then add more to the already burdened entitlement system. That is also precisely what the Democrats want to do — which is why the President should be prepared to veto any bill that raises capital gains taxes beyond the current level.

The economic reality is that capital gains taxes are economically wasteful — they don’t generate much revenue and they hurt economic growth, reducing tax revenues in other areas. Even if a 0% capital gains rate isn’t politically acceptable, neither is a return to a time when capital gains rates were acting as an anchor on economic growth.

It’s here, again, that elections matter.  It’s here that we pay for having the likes of Amy Klobuchar and Tim Waltz in Congress; their philosophy is “government comes first”.