Sunday, January 31, 2016

Variable pricing for electricity is lawful, and could lead to lower energy prices

Chris Mooney writes in the Washington Post Sunday, January 31, 2016, “From the high court, a primer on ‘demand response’”, p. G4, business. “In a decision hailed by environmentalists, Justice Kagan succinctly lays out the process that someday could mean big savings on electricity for all of us.”  The Supreme Court opinion (from Jan. 25) is here.

The practice at issue was an electric utility’s rewarding a consumer’s lower use during peak periods with refunds  This can mean that not all consumers pay the same rate, and more nimble consumers get power more cheaply.  It would also seem to pave the way for consumers with solar panels to sell power pack.

In fact, my own electric bill is averaged over the year.  I don’t have the practical hands-on versatility to put in solar in a home that could become a teardown someday, but then, why did I put in the generator?

The story doesn’t really take up the problem of security for the grids Nov. 7).

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Silicon Valley "Basic Income" promotions privatize Bernie Sanders's ideas

Matthew Yglesias of Vox describes a plan by Silicon Valley investors to develop a Basic Income plan for everyone, as proposed by Y Combinator’s president Sam Altman, story here.  In a sense, this is privatization of Bernie Sanders’s social programs.  The story is quite popular on Twitter.

The charity promotion “Give Directly” is also planning to launch a Basic Income project. Vox has been promoting the idea of simply giving poor people (especially overseas) money directly, but I think that it is hard to do much with it without some more infrastructure like clean water, electricity, Internet and medicine.

In the related racial tension area, the Washington Post reports a story (T. Rees Shapiro and Donna St. George)  about some student videos and posts, opposing “Black Lives Matter”, that contained blatantly racist content and promoted more protests.   It’s hard to respond to this.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Sanders caters to the "get something for nothing" crowd, which could prove catastrophic for health care

The Washington Post has a constructive editorial about the views and proposals of Democratic presidential candidate Berne Sanders: “They’re too facile.”
I am concerned about the possibility that the 2016 presidential election could wind up as a contest between two extremes (Sanders v. Cruz or Trump) and not candidates who are more practical.  Yes, Hillary could still get in trouble over the email server scandal (there are incidents in my own background that provide some parallel).  But, more, Sanders’s support is quite substantial, possibly enough for the nomination, and it seems driven by a “get something for nothing” mentality. No doubt, gerrymandering has contributed to this situation.

Sanders is making a lot of proposals with no specifics as to how to pay for them (other than soaking Wall Street), and with no deference to the moral considerations underneath, which can become quite personal.

Single payer, Canadian style, sounds nice, but it can have unintended consequences that liberals have barely considered.  I think back to January 1998, when I was able to get a 99%-successful hip operation for a serious acetabular fracture (after a convenience store wet floor fall) within 72 hours of the accident (in Minneapolis).  Under a single payer system, I might have lay in traction a long time.  I got back to work quickly and full activity and had one of the best years of my life.  But I had a progressive employer, ReliaStar (now Voya and ING) which had the connections, through private insurance, to get this problem world class treatment immediately, from an internationally renowned orthopedic surgeon (at the University of Minnesota) ready with the latest technology.  Not everyone is so lucky.

Update: January 30

Former (GOP) US Attorney Michael Mukasey argues that a criminal charge against Hillary is n order in the Wall Street Journal. But Max Fisher on Vox says, not so fast

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Should local governments require homeowners to clean publicly-owned sidewalks of excess snow?

Okay, here’s another “libertarianesque” question.  Should local governments require (by law) property owners to clean sidewalks on public property (which they do not own)?  The question comes up after extratropical superstorm Janos this past weekend, that turned into a miniature Sandy.

In the DC area, most jurisdictions (except Fairfax County) require that sidewalks be cleared within 24 hours after snow stops falling, or 36 hours if it is more than six inches. Generally, the elderly or disabled are exempt from the fines.  What’s a little more problematic is that usually sidewalks must be cleared a full 36 inches, to allow room for wheelchairs and baby strollers. It isn’t hard to make a narrow path (one can do that with just stomping);  moving snow 2 feet deep and 3 feet wide to a clean surface, for a need that is very unlikely to occur, is another matter.

Indeed, when I walked a mile to Ballston yesterday (still snowed in), with an achy hip, it was more difficult to walk on an incompletely cleaned walk.  But in many areas there simply was not room for a 3-foot space to exist.  In a few commercial areas, cleaning had not been done yet.

As for public safety, there’s a tradeoff.  For some people, even middle aged, attempting to shovel that much snow can be dangerous.

I also found it impossible to reach snow removal companies by the usual 800 numbers.   I have no problem paying a contractor to do it if one is available.  But 60 hours after the snow stopped, side streets in my area are not yet cleared to let them in.

Fortunately for me, a “good Samaritan neighbor” did my driveway and sidewalk (to 20 inches).  All I need is for the street to clear.  Everyone denies doing it;  I think it was the family with the dog that always watches me leave.  Many thanks.

Helping your neighbor is a good thing and is to be morally expected.  But should it be required legally? As a matter of principle,  it sounds a little bit like conscription (and there can even be some risk and sacrifice).   But, think about jury duty.  There is some use of force there, but we have no justice system without it.  One other thing – if you live in a condo or many townhome communities or even some newer gated communities, you may have a homeowner’s association that can fine you – and is in a sense, your most local level of government.
There's been a controversy over people saving spaces on public streets that they shoveled out.  In Washington DC, the police chief Cathy Lanier said, no, anyone can use it.  But there was an overwhelming public sentiment on the radio that people should not park in spaces that others have cleared, and that claiming it should be legal.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Libertarian author provides "Cliff Notes" on the "poverty trap"

Libertarian author Mary Ruwart (the “Healing Our World” books) has a detailed article today “Springing the Poverty Trap” which she says is from the “Cliff Notes” versions of her book series.

She rehearses the familiar conservative argument, that welfare programs encourage women to have children out of wedlock and father to leave them, as opposed to both men and women from disadvantaged backgrounds starting at the bottom of the ladder and working at minimum wage, then advancing, while getting educations.  One person even challenged her directly on this point. (Do I read her right;  does she also own an apartment building?)

Of course, on the other side of the world, there is the argument about insufficient worker wages, and the public example set by “unearned wealth” as discouraging “poor people” from playing by the “rules”. That’s the crux of the inequality debate.  Perhaps the woman who challenged her personally doesn't believe that "better off" people really "earned it".

She mentions marriage in the argument.  But a major part of the economic debate is that more highly educated people remain single longer and avoid having children well past the mid 20s.  That could contribute to the population demographics problem of an aging population.  And many people are disinclined to have children at all, and leave the "collective responsibility" for that to others, until eldercare demands come knocking.

I haven’t seen the “cliff notes” for her book series, but it raises the “obvious” question as to why I don’t do something like this with my “Do Ask Do Tell” series to make it more obviously.

commercially successful.  Part of the reason is that there is a lot more personal narrative in my series.  But a comparison seems fair.  I’ll come back to this again.

Update: (later Jan. 25)

Here's a disturbing story, told on Access Hollywood, about an attack on NCIS actress Pauley Perrette by a homeless man, who showed amazing personal contempt during the attacvk. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Gun control and public safety: there's no perfect solution, but a balancing act

Let’s take a time-out on the gun control rhetoric and talk practicality.

Liberals and progressives make a lot of the apparent success of draconian gun control in Australia (since 1996), the UK, and to a lesser extent, continental Europe (as well as Japan and much of Asia).
It seems to be true that in these countries, tighter gun control reduces common “ordinary” crime, and probably domestic violence and suicide. On the other hand, as we saw recently, some kinds of strict gun control may make ordinary citizens more vulnerable to determined terrorist attacks.  Gun control did not stop asymmetric enemies or professional criminals from obtaining weapons.

So the idea that “good guys (or gals) with guns” might have reduced the death and injury toll in the Bataclan does have some traction.  Perhaps a venue like that could have hired more professional, licensed security. But, then again, in western countries almost no major private concert, entertainment, sports, disco, or shopping venue allows weapons or wants to allow them.  But a similar argument could hold against determined attacks on private residences or business spaces.

In the US, there are so many guns in private circulation that European-style (especially Britain’s) gun control isn’t feasible.  But consistent background checks are reasonable (they don’t stop law-abiding citizens, including women, from being able to protect themselves at home), and the idea that this is an open door for government to come in and seize later sounds like something from the sovereign citizens’ movement.  Stricter control of small entities “in the business of selling weapons” by making them do background checks sounds consistent, but could set up disturbing areas where downstream liability is an issue, like in Internet service.

And remember, some of the cities with the most disturbing ordinary crime problem are “blue state” places with stricter gun laws, like Chicago and Washington.  One of the most disturbing aspects of crime in some areas, like the DC area, is that even though total rates may be down, the likelihood of people living and functioning in “safer neighborhoods” being attacked has increased.  But inequality plays into that aspect, as inequality, unchecked, begets instability and destroys the motivation to play by the rules.

The different camps on the gun control debate come from non-contacting moral perspectives.  While both liberals and conservatives are concerned about hyperindividualism and the decline of social capital, social conservatives believes that learning to provide for the needs of other people has to start at home and in the immediate community, even if that community as a whole lives by ideas that are flawed.  So social conservatives believe in an inherent moral responsibility to “take care of thy own” even in post-catastrophe environments where the normal system has broken down (the “doomsday prepper” mentality).

The ideology of the 2nd Amendment debate cannot be reasonably extended to unconventional weapons.  Imagine the risk if ordinary people could possess biotoxins, radioactive materials (I've wondered about Taylor Wilson's inventions -- Nov. 7, 2015) or even military flux weapons. But, unlike guns, there is no precedent that these have any real value in self-defense.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Supreme Court will hear case on Obama's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), immigration case

The Obama administration has been maligned for recent step-up of ICE or INS raids for Central American immigrants.

But it will also have to (and have its desired opportunity to) defend its program DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) and maybe later even DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), because the Supreme Court has agreed to review a injunction against the plan in Texas, later upheld by the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans (PDF for ruling ). Fusion has  brief story

Obama had issued an executive order allowing many undocumented parents of children born in the US to remain in the country, postponing deportation actions.  Of course, this practice forms the basis to the idea that “birthright citizenship”, provided by the 14th Amendment, should be repealed. In practice, it provides a practical example why the ability to have children is actually a survival skill for some people.

Robert Barnes and Juliet Eilperin have a detailed story in the Wednesday Washington Post.

The New York Times has an editorial Jan. 19, “The Supreme Court, the Nativists and Immigrants”   I have an account here of a Cato session in immigration Jan. 6.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Some inequality is necessary for the innovation that helps everyone

Jim Tanskersley writes in the Washington Post Wonkblog Sunday, “A big-shot venture capitalist says we need inequality.  What do economists say?

The big-shot is Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator, which helps start-ups.

Economists point out that some inequality comes with innovation, which makes people like Mark Zuckerberg, and probably (in the near future, with the help of Silicon Valley investors like Peter Thiel) inventors like Taylor Wilson, Param Jaggi, and Jack and Luke Andraka, rich.  Innovation generally raises the standard of living for everyone, and makes poor people “richer” although they may not perceive it so.

But globalization does tend to drive down wages for less-skilled work, and does tend to make it harder for many of those other than the most gifted or most fortunate (or combination of the two) to get a grip on their lives.  And social ties, surrounding the family, are often weaker than they used to be.

The article goes on to get into Thomas Piketty’s favorite subject, “rent-seeking” behavior.  We see a lot of abuse of this in copyright and patent trolling.  But some copyright and patent protection is necessary to make the original innovation pay off.   You could make the same “moral” arguments about the use of capital in general.  People who flip houses aren’t creating real wealth, and neither are designers of credit default swaps.

Here’s a disturbing piece on Vox by Margaret Biser: I used to lead tours at a plantation: You won’t believe the questions I got about slavery”.  Which plantation?  I visited the slavery tour at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Charlottesville, in Sept. 2015.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

French financial analyst warns US stocks due for 75% crash because Fed "bond buying" policies have expired

Chris Matthews, in Fortune, reports a study from France by Albert Edwards, at the Societe General, “Analyst: Here comes the biggest stock market crash in a generation”.  He supposedly published a research note Wednesday on a blog that I can't yet find (will update if I find the URL).

Edwards claims that the US equity  markets have been propped up artificially by the Federal Reserve’s bond buying program, which has now stopped, with a slight rise in interest rates.

Matthews points out that Matthew has repeatedly made similar predictions all the way back to 2010.

Of course, I always thought that stock prices were more a measure of what investors will pay for earnings. (Here’s a primer on how that works in the language of a CPA. )  A way to understand all this is a thought experiment where I imagine a issue stock for my book authorship and sales activity, and even music composing or performance or film, screenplay or video production. Truly a fantasy right now.

Matt Clinch has a big story about Edwards’s claims on CNBC that gives more details. The headlines somewhat incorrectly attribute Edwards's claims to China's problems; he says it's the Fed (and past 2008 bailouts catching up with us).
On the other hand, Yahoo! a story in which Goldman Sachs claims that the “fair market value” for the SP is 2100.

The idea that low oil prices could destabilize all the markets is strange.  Airlines, railroads and car companies, as well as utilities, should benefit. And the idea that our investors are so spooked by a “Communist” country’s erratic behavior (taking on too much debt, though) is unsettling. Why hasn’t Donald Trump talked about the markets in the last week?
The markets are up as I write this, but let’s see if they can hold together today.  Don’t hold your breath.  Will markets react if someone on Wall Street finds this blog post on his or her smart phone?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lead in Flint MI drinking water seems shocking, and is a real medical hazard to kids

The story about the drinking water in Flint, MI and carrying lead is pretty horrific, and CNN has a detailed account by by Sara Gamin and Linh Tran

This problem can cause learning problems in children, and organ damage to everyone, showing up cosmetically even with hair loss.  It can cause hearing loss, and may have caused Beethoven’s.

Lawyers have told me that sellers of older homes (anywhere) have to be conscious of the possibility of lead paint and of asbestos tile or insulation.  I wonder people renting older homes (like to young working adults living in “group homes”) or families have to worry about this.

The National Guard is distributing water.  The city is using Lake Huron water again, but fixing damaged and corroded pipes will take several months.  There is some suggestion that an outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease is also associated with the water problem.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture, Creative Commons 4.0 Share Alike International License   author by city.

Update: Jan. 22, 2016

Vox reports that America's lead poisoning problem isn't just limited to Flint. "It's everywhere", by Sarah Frostenson.  It causes a lot of mental disability and poor learning in inner cities. In Baltimore, Freddie Gray showed evidence of lead poisoning.

Update: March 6, 2016 

Huffington Post explains how lead usually doesn't dissolve from pipes unless the water itself has corrosive impurities;  ordinarily, treatment is supposed to keep it from affecting water.  But there have been problems in other communities (like in Ohio).

I spent my summers in the 1950s in Kipton Ohio, and we used well water for drinking and cistern for washing.  Kipton didn't get drinking water until the 1960s.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Supreme Court revisits union dues for public employees; are Powerball lotteries bad for "stability"?

The Supreme Court is reportedly skeptical of the laws in some states that allow public employees’ unions to collect mandatory fees from employees. David G. Savage covered the oral arguments Monday in the Los Angeles Times.  Savage writes that in California, unions may not mandate dues for PAC’s (political candidate lobbying) but may for general operations, as if there were a distinction.  (That’s common --- non-profits often have separate political caucuses for which contributions are not deductible.)

The case is Rebecca Frederichs v. California Teachers Association, et al , oral arguments text.  An important question is whether employees can be forced to pay to represent views they don't personally believe. Or does that dichotomy come from employment itself?

George Will also writes a compelling First Amendment argument against mandatory union dues, however construed, for public employees in the Washington Post.

Let’s move on to another issue, the lotteries. I can remember back around 1972, that the People’s Party of New Jersey claimed that a lottery is the most regressive “tax” that exists, because poor people are more likely to buy the tickets.  It gets annoying to wait for these time-consuming transactions in convenience stores.  Well, what about Las Vegas?  What about casinos?  Of course, the far Left wants to eliminate all unearned wealth (included inherited) as a source justifying revolution and expropriation (or “purification”).  Imagine how that kind of thinking adds to instability today.

Monday, January 11, 2016

New York Times discusses race in Minneapolis, a "Blue State" progressive city where popular conception does not expect to find issues

I lived in Minneapolis from 1997 to 2003, 72 months, so the New York Times article today by John Eligon “Minneapolis’s Less Visible, and More Troubled Side”,  attracted by attention, as an article about a Blue State boom town.

Minneapolis has been, by popular vernacular, in the past been publicly considered one of America’s “whitest cities”, but the problems in some communities, including Somali, have gotten press attention since I left.   (The issue of possible recruitment by radical Islam locally got very little attention in the papers even after 9/11 while I was there.  Also, employment by skilled people from India and Pakistan in corporate technology jobs was common, and never attracted any particular attention, as had also been the case in Dallas when I lived there in the 80s.)  The newspaper article concerns mostly the North Minneapolis area, but the Philips neighborhood got attention when I was there.

The city seems a lot safer than Washington DC. I lived in the Churchill Apartments, a high rise on Marquette and First Street, on the Skyway, all six years
I didn’t see a reaction on the Star Tribune page.  The main conservative think tank there is the Center for the American Experiment which has invited John Stossel and speakers from the Cato Institute before.

I worked for ING-ReliaStar from 1997 to the end of 2001, and the company presented many progressive programs in its headquarters on Washington Ave.  One of them (which I attended) was a presentation of a book by local author Deborah Watts in 1999, "101 Ways to Know You're 'Black' in Corporate America".

Saturday, January 09, 2016

NBC4 Health and Fitness Expo today: some focus on mental health

Today, I did attend the NBC4 Health and Fitness Expo in the Convention Center in Washington DC.  It also runs Sunday until 4 PM (when the Redskin playoff game starts).

I did catch a mental health symposium, in which a college student said that most students have to wait a long time before getting an appointment with a mental health professional on most campuses.

There was also a discussion of Maryland’s mental health programs, with the introduction of the concept of “family navigator”.

There was a small “Healthy Book Festival” which I will soon cover on my Books blog.
There was a “Recruiter” car for a volunteer fire/ems department in Prince George’s County.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Obamacare doesn't seem to prevent huge medical debts for some of the insured

The New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation  have conducted a study that shows that, even under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), many individuals are falling deeply into medical debt and declaring bankruptcy.   The moral of the story seems to be, don’t get sick.  Don’t have accidents.  Don’t take too many chances in life.  That isn’t too good in the long run.

I happen to remember another story, distant related: car insurance companies will start offering discounts to customers who allow their driving habits (ranging from speed to breaking pressure) to be monitored by GPS. Don’t take chances. Car rental companies already do this.

Let’s get back to medicine.  I remember, when working for a debt collector in 2003 in Minnesota, that the company had a subsidiary that did medical collections.  Had I remained there, I probably would have migrated to that subsidiary because my resume already showed a lot of health care experience.

The effects of medical bills may affect women adversely, because women have more autoimmune diseases, simply a biological result of being able to bear children.

All of this happens while the GOP gets its pyrrhic victory by an Obamacare repeal which Obama will immediately veto, ABC story.

Vox has a new map  showing state-by-state how the uninsured rates have behaved.

Also, Max Ehrenfreund and Carolyn Y. Johnson report on p. A11 of the Washington Post, “What researched found when they went looking for jobs that Obamacare killed

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Cato Institute holds forum on "The Economics of Immigration": why we don't hear appeals for "spare bedrooms" in the US but might in Canada

The Cato Institute in Washington DC held a policy and book forum event at 4 PM, to present the book edited by Texas Tech professor Benjamin Powell, “The Economics of Immigration: Market-Based Approaches and Social Policy”, from Oxford University Press.   I purchased the book and will review it soon on the Books blog. On the panel were Alex Nowrasteh, immigration policy analyst at Cato, and Neil Ruiz, from George Washington University, with moderated by Juan Carolos Hildalgo from Cato.

The general findings of the panel are that liberal, open immigration policies by advanced countries tend to lead to more economic growth over time, and tend even to reduce spending deficits. There can be political controversies or special issues and costs in the short run in some cases, such as we see now with the debate over Syrian refugees.

The book, in fact, discusses three major proposals, which I’ll get into more with the book review.  One is a visa auction, one is a “grand bargain” of reducing legal immigration but doing everything possible to assimilate all immigrants, including undocumented, and make them legal; one is open borders.

Of course, the issue of immigration bifurcates into a separate discussion of refugees and asylum seekers, most of whom need considerable economic and sometimes personalized assistance when they land, from family already here (preferred) or from non-profit groups, often faith-based.
On the matter of assimilation, the panel was particularly critical of European countries for “no fire” laws that cause delays in hiring immigrants.  This contributes to the resentment and social segmentation of some immigrant communities, especially Muslims in some countries (like France and Belgium). The panel believes that a more “libertarian” labor market policy would help undo the emotional and social tensions and reduce the terror threat in the long run, because young men would be better assimilated in the labor markets. It's important that US policy encourages refugees to get jobs (although usually menial and minimum wage) as quickly as possible, and the limited number of non-profits that help them resettle do have employment counselors (as in the movie).

I asked a question about assimilation (and referred to the film “The Good Lie”, reviewed on my Movies Blog Jan. 5), mentioning the appeals to the public for sponsors during the Mariel Boat Lift of Cuban refugees in 1980.  (I also mentioned the issue for LGBT refugees from Vladimir Putin's Russia and some African countries.) Nowrasteh answered that for that to happen, the US government has to offer a “Memorandum of Understanding” to specific faith-based groups that can indemnify the public for the cost.  This was also done for Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.  There has been little accomplished along these lines with the Syrian refugee crisis because of obvious political pressures not to.   On the other hand, Canada is much more vigorous in working with faith groups than the US, and has more legal mechanisms to encourage private groups and churches to help refugees. But in general, the “spare bedrooms” plea has little traction in the United States right now.
Another important point is that employed immigrants often send money home to extended family members, which is a privatized way of providing foreign aid to developing countries.

Also present in the audience was David Bier, Immigration Policy Analyst from the Niskanen Center, with this article (aimed at Ted Cruz), “Would white collar Americans turn against immigration if immigrants were white collar?”  He also has an article at the Foundation for Economic Education, "4 Selfish Reasons to Take in Syrian Refugees".

Here is a Fox video on John Stossel’s “Give Me Liberty” where David Bier debates Mark Krikorian (and Ben Carson makes a remote appearance).

Bier does mention the idea that the Refugee Act could be amended to make it easier for private citizens or faith groups to help refugees, as is done in some other countries (notably Canada).  That could mean that moral pressure is brought to bear on some individuals.

Update: January 7

The Washington Post has a story this morning "Harking back to the 80s, religious groups vow refuge for immigrants" p. A6, by Antonio Olivo, online titled "Religious groups offer sanctuary to immigrants targeted by ICE raids".  This may well be illegal now.  And that seems part of the point.

And note p. A13 of the Wall Street Journal Thursday, "The latest tax on business hits visas for high-skill workers".

Update: January 19

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg pointed out in a posting Jan 18 that 80% of the world's Facebook users are affected or know someone who is affected by the migrant crises (Syria, Central America, possibly Russia). 

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Erin Brockovich goes to bat for Porter Ranch residents north of LA after huge methane leak

Erin Brockovich (played by Julia Roberts in a major 2000 movie bearing her name) has said that the methane leak north of Los Angeles is the biggest environmental disaster since the BP Oil Spill.  She has called upon California governor Jerry Brown to declare a disaster and evacuate all the residents.  Apparently the company has been slowly relocating them. Democracy Now reports on her current activism.

ABC7 in Los Angeles offers this account and a video with Erin meeting with residents of Porter Ranch along highway 118.

Thomas Curwen writes in the Los Angeles Times about the history of methane in the area, and “Why the Porter Ranch gas leak could take months to fix”.  Are residents reimbursed by the gas company for their temporary relocation?

Brockovich described the intense headache the gas causes.  And methane is a major greenhouse gas.

Friday, January 01, 2016

The country is simply schizophrenic on the issue of gun ownership; what about due process?

Texas is “getting friendly” (pun, from my own past, 1961) with its new open carry law (although the last time I was in Dallas, every bar had a sign saying that Texas law prohibited guns where alcohol is served). Seattle passes a “gun violence” tax.  And the New York Times opines on the paradox today, “Two ways of dealing with guns”.

It’s been a long time when, at a Libertarian Party of Virginia convention in Richmond (around 1995), the big topic was “guns”.  Or when a LP Senatorial candidate (in my personal stead, and that is some history) from Minnesota was evicted from Mystic Lake (SW if Minneapolis) in 2000 for bragging he was carrying a weapon, at a LPMN convention.

And a significant part of our population (building on the “doomsday preppers”) believes that self-defense is a moral requirement to be expected from every competent adult.

Jim Acosta and Kevin Liptak on CNN write that President Obama will issue an Executive Order mandating further background checks on gun sales next week.  CNN also says that Obama is likely to push for extended downstream liabilities for gun sellers.

A serious question is whether the TSA no-fly list (with its total lack of due process) will be applied. Would it be constitutional to do so?

Update: Jan 3, 2016

There is a "National Gun Show" near Dulles Airport in northern Virginia the first weekend of 2016, and a CBS station in the DC area writes "Fear packs Chantilly's gun show, say gun dealers".
Also, Jeffrey Toobin has noted that Obama's Executive Order will most likely expand the definition of who is considered to be in the business of gun sales and who therefore must do the background checks on purchasers.