Archive for the ‘free markets’ Category

I’ve got a lot of stories saved up to blog about, but like a lot of folks, have things to do besides blog.  As such, I’ve got a large number of those news stories that are still worthy of comment, but not timely enough any more for full posts.  So here goes with a few of those:

NY Post: Occupy Wall Street Mob Steals Sacred Chalice From Church

There’s no longer room at the inn at a Manhattan church that’s sheltering Occupy Wall Streeters after a holy vessel disappeared from the altar last week.

When the Rev. Bob Brashear prepared for Sunday services at West Park Presbyterian Church on West 86th Street, he noticed parts of the bronze baptismal font were gone.

In a fire-and-brimstone message to occupiers later that day, he thundered, “It was like pissing on the 99 percent.”

In Brooklyn, at another church housing OWS protesters, an occupier urinated on a cross, according to Rabbi Chaim Gruber, who has angrily abandoned the OWS movement.

The artifact vanished just three weeks after a $2,400 Apple MacBook vanished from Brashear’s office. He told the occupiers that even when the 100-year-old Upper West Side church extended help to addicts during the 1980s drug scourge, no visitors touched its $12,500 sacramental instrument.

“Not even crackheads messed with that,” he said.

Occupy Wall Street: Piss-spraying desecrating thieves that are worse than crackheads.

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NY Post: JFK’s Teen Mistress.   The UK Daily Mail’s version of intern Mimi Alford’s story it is directly from the book:

‘This is a very private room,’ he said. The next thing I knew, he was standing in front of me, his face inches away, his eyes staring directly into mine.

He placed both hands on my shoulders and guided me toward the edge of the bed. I landed on my elbows, frozen halfway between sitting up and lying on my back.

Slowly, he unbuttoned the top of my shirtdress and…

presidential casting couch

Morally objectionable is an understatement, but at least the guy understood free markets a bit and how reduced taxes help the economy.

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And from SadHill news, and sadly, it looks like it’s not parody – US Army Troops Forced to Wear Fake Belly And Empathy Breasts To Understand Pregnant Troops’ Concerns:

And if you don’t believe it, notice the video is from Stars and Stripes.  And so is this story:

This week, 14 noncommissioned officers at Camp Zama took turns wearing the “pregnancy simulators” as they stretched, twisted and exercised during a three-day class that teaches them to serve as fitness instructors for pregnant soldiers and new mothers.

Army enlisted leaders all over the world are being ordered to take the Pregnancy Postpartum Physical Training Exercise Leaders Course, or PPPT, according to U.S. Army Medical Activity Japan health promotion educator Jana York.

Somewhere, there is a balance to be struck on gender issues between having a Democrat president exploit his position to overwhelm and overpower a 19 year-old girl and the PC-gone-totally-weirdo idea of strapping a “pregnancy simulator” on Army Sergeants.

(Yes, technically field daying the folder would mean cleaning it into nothingness, but I’m just going to use it as a term to title & tag these clean-up posts.)

Several months ago, Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped selling black rifles.  It was very noteworthy because they had contracted with Troy Industries and many, many people had rifles on order from Dick’s.  Dick’s managed to screw over both the consumer and Troy Industries at the same time.  But Dick’s pulled out of the firearm market and went limp from political pressure.

Today, Dick’s has posted a major loss, coming up short, and in laughable move, has blamed their performance issues on Lance Armstrong.

If there’s a silver lining for all the people who were eagerly waiting for that Troy Carbine and were vastly dissappointed, it’s that Dick’s isn’t doing so well in the financial department.

At a time where the only thing a company has to do to sell firearms, ammo and accessories is to unlock their doors, Dick’s sales have flat-lined. In fact, their sales dropped 2.2 percent  in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to 2011 and their shares 10 percent in the last quarter.

Dick’s CEO pointed his finger squarely at, well, Lance Armstrong. “People had a very negative reaction to the Livestrong brand,” he said at an earnings report.

Except while Dick’s sales are going soft, other companies are doing quite well.  Cabela’s has been doing very well due to firearm sales – and those firearm sales have brought people in to the store to buy other products as well:

“First-quarter results exceeded our expectations on every line of the income statement,” said Cabela’s Tommy Millner. “In addition to expected increases in firearms and ammunition sales, we saw particularly strong performance in softgoods and footwear.”

Remember this is what Cabela’s gun racks looked like just three months ago:

Cabelas Rack 130127

Cabela’s at the floor level has a general approach within the company that it’s best to underpromise and overdeliver, and that may well extend to their higher levels as well.

“Without firearms and ammunition, same-stores sales increased just 9 percent — still strong, but clearly much of Cabela’s growth was driven by gun buyers,” wrote Jeremy Bowman of the Motley Fool. ”As the stock has now tripled in the past year and a half, investors may want to take a cue from their senators and sell while the stock is hot.”

We suspect it’s a bit early to start bailing on Cabela’s, that gun sales will stay strong for the coming months. What we can be sure on, however, is that while this boom is also a bubble, Dick’s failed to get in on much if any of it.

Cabela’s is wise enough to know that people are coming for the guns, but staying for the rest of the store, and that guns sales are a government-induced artificial bubble.  They probably will be continuing to do very well, even if their stock price begins to plateau.

To give some idea what it’s looking like elsewhere in the gun world, consider that Sturm Ruger has had huge sales, and are now hammered with massive backorders.

Demand is still exceeding supply, and the bubble increase in demand (assuming the government doesn’t get progressively more tyrannical and spin us into Mad Max territory), is going to end up leaving an ultimately higher permanent demand than existed before the bubble started.

Some people are getting into the gun market so they can get their homeland security rifle and that’s it.

oleg volk rifle girl force multiplier for liberty

Some are getting into it because they think it’s a “last chance”, and some are getting into it because of concerns that guns will be more difficult to acquire – not a last chance, but a last easy option.  Some are getting into it because others are, and they want to see what it’s all about.

If the government’s inexorable push for citizen disarmament is stymied again for a while (and Joe “I Get Drunk With Your Rulers On My Black Tie Yacht And We Disarm You Pissants” Manchin is introducing another anti-rights bill), there will be a permanently elevated demand for ammunition and arms.

The public’s interest in firearms will have changed by the millions of votes in favor of the Second Amendment – the millions of votes not made at the ballot box, but with the money in Americans’ wallets.

The American public is still taking the Brain Gremlin’s advice:

From WSJ:

Every time Congress has taken a serious look at proposals to boost Internet sales taxes, it has rejected them. That’s probably why pro-tax Senators are trying to rush through an online tax hike with as little consideration as possible.

As early as Monday, the Senate will vote on a bill that was introduced only last Tuesday. The text of this legislation, which would fundamentally change interstate commerce, only became available on the Library of Congress website over the weekend. And you thought ObamaCare was jammed through Nancy Pelosi‘s Democratic House in a hurry.

You should always worry about measures that are rushed through, and you should always worry about taxes.  Time to call and email those senators again.

For Senators curious about what they’re voting on, it is the same flawed proposal that Mike Enzi (R., Wyo.) introduced in February. It has been repackaged to qualify for a Senate rule that allows Majority Leader Harry Reid to bypass committee debate and bring it straight to the floor.

Yup, rushing it through, no committee debate, no discussion, no time for input.

Mr. Enzi’s Marketplace Fairness Act discriminates against Internet-based businesses by imposing burdens that it does not apply to brick-and-mortar companies.

Almost every bill these days has an Orwellian name.  There is nothing “fair” about this act.

For the first time, online merchants would be forced to collect sales taxes for all of America’s estimated 9,600 state and local taxing authorities.

New Hampshire, for example, has no sales tax, but a Granite State Web merchant would be forced to collect and remit sales taxes to all the governments that do. Small online sellers will therefore have to comply with tax laws created by distant governments in which they have no representation, and in places where they consume no local services.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire’s brick-and-mortar retailers will bear no such burden. They will not be required to collect taxes on the many customers who drive across the Maine and Massachusetts borders to shop in New Hampshire. Bill sponsors say it would be too big a hassle to force traditional retailers to ask every walk-in customer where they live, but these Senators are happy to impose new obligations online.

What this does is it creates barriers to competition for the online marketplace.  It’s cronyism – the physical stores are having government be their thug enforcer.

Right now, internet companies have the advantage of reduced taxes, and they have a broad customer base, as they have access to any customer with internet access.  Brick-and-mortar stores have the advantage of specific taxes (no use tax), no shipping charges, and they allow customers to actually see what they’re buying before they purchase it.

Brick-and-mortar stores have the added cost of maintaining a store; but only suffer online disadvantages if they don’t expand their business online.  Some online businesses have already dominated certain markets, but with the viability of searches and search engines that will help the consumer seek out the best price, all they have to do is offer the best product at the lowest price.  That’s capitalism.

What the brick-and-mortar stores want now is to force their online competitors to suffer the myriad of regulations that exist throughout the nation.  Making a medium-sized online business (something like OpticsPlanet, for example) know every state, city, township, county, municipality and local district’s tax status might be possible, but it will drive their prices up as they hire lawyers.  Making a little business comply with the same regulations is an exercise in using government to destroy competition.

It’s noteworthy that Walmart and Amazon are supporting this bill.  While a lot of times I’m willing to voice support for Walmart, that’s when they recognize that their best interests and their customers’ interests coincide and follow their customers’ demands.

In general, that’s the case, because Walmart usually exemplifies free markets.  In this particular instance, however, Walmart has looked at its balance sheet and decided that it’s in its best interest to use government force to crush its competitors.  Walmart does provide a lot of good for its customers, but ultimately Walmart is only a creature as moral as the system it exists in.  When it recognizes the demands of customers and represents them, it does well and is as moral as its customers who drive it; when Walmart exploits the governmental system that lets it collude with the IRS to destroy competitors, it’s as villainous as the vampiric politicians who enable it.

Any Internet seller with more than $1 million in annual sales would be forced to serve all of the nation’s tax collectors.

Note that says “$1 million in annual sales”.  That doesn’t mean $1 million in profit.  A company could barely be breaking even after expenses and find itself destroyed by the taxation burden and regulations it now has to wade through.  The red tape would be monstrous.

This bill, and all federal bills like it also tax citizens in addition to state-based use taxes.  The citizen is already hit for taxes if they buy things out of state when they do their end-of-year state taxes (there’s often a “minimum use tax” whether or not you bought anything online), and now they’ll be hit for taxes from the business.  This is a federal bill to make you pay more taxes for products, taxes which most every state is already assessing you for.

This rush to tax is an attempt to overturn the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Quill v. North Dakota that forcing businesses to collect and remit taxes to jurisdictions where they have no physical presence was too big a burden.

Noteworthy from Quill v North Dakota:

In Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, the Supreme Court ruled that a business must have a physical presence in a state for that state to require it to collect sales taxes. However, the court explicitly stated that Congress can overrule the decision through legislation.

The power to tax is again the power to destroy.

The WSJ piece ends with this:

Some of our conservative friends are backing this Internet tax raid as a way to raise revenue to avoid more state income-tax increases. More likely the new revenues will merely fund larger government.

They aren’t conservatives.  They’re RINOs.  Raising taxes reduces the benefits for producers, and increases the demands on consumers.  People will make less money per unit, so they will make fewer units; people will pay more per unit, so they will buy fewer units.  Volume will decline, consumers will suffer, and all but the chosen winner businesses and the redistributor politicians will suffer.  “Revenues”, a polite way to say government taking from you (while giving you nothing that you need), will not be increased.  It will simply fund more pet projects of worthless “representatives” who will seek to bring home pork barrel projects to get themselves reelected.  This is Bastiat’s example of everyone plundering everyone.

If you want to steal from the people of the US in order to line your filthy thieving nest with taxes that destroy businesses, this is one way to do it.  If you’re a scum-sucking almost-obsolescent whip-and-buggy maker who wants to make sure no one can be more successful than you and that their businesses are destroyed so you can feast on their carcasses, this is a great tool to use government force to destroy their success because you’re too lazy to earn it yourself; all the while screwing over your customers because you’re too weak to make an honest buck.

It’s forcible redistribution, government finding the winners and crushing them at the behest of the losers and subsidizing the losers that harm the consumer.

And they call it “fairness”.

Rhode Island and Guns

Posted: April 9, 2013 by ShortTimer in free markets, Government, Guns, Leftists

From the Providence Journal:

House GOP Leader Brian Newberry is urging the manufacturers of Colt and Beretta firearms to relocate “from hostile territory” to “a place that wants them”: Rhode Island.

On a statement issued Monday morning, Newberry, R-North Smithfield, said: “Colt operates from West Hartford, CT, a state that has just enacted some of the most rigid gun regulations in the U.S. Beretta, of Accokeek, MD, has said it would look elsewhere if more restrictive gun legislation was passed in Maryland.

And today from the Providence Journal:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Governor Chafee and state leaders revealed a package of gun control bills Tuesday that would ban semiautomatic assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, increase penalties and close loopholes on gun crimes, and take steps to include mental-health records in background checks.

Rhode Island currently has among the toughest gun laws in the nation, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. For one, the state requires background checks on all firearm purchases.

Bans on magazines, rifles, ownership, carry, etc.

It’s like inviting in a brewery and then going full Carry Nation on them in order to destroy the fiend intemperance.

Some corners of the firearms world have been upset at Armalite and Magpul for selling to law enforcement and military in states with prohibition on ownership of firearms that doesn’t extend to law enforcement.  Armalite said they wouldn’t supply to any governments, whether state or lower, that restricted the rights of citizens, but would still sell to individual law enforcement officers.

Elements of the firearms community didn’t approve of this, viewing it as supplying the enforcers with weapons that the citizens couldn’t have.  Given that most places with bad gun laws don’t make exceptions for individual ownership by law enforcement or military – the exceptions are usually only made for duty/issue weapons – the issue seems to be blown out of proportion by some folks just a bit.

Nonetheless, there has been a lot of criticism in the last couple of days towards gun companies for sales to individual officers in the states that do allow LEOs special privileges – because those ban states then would have those same LEOs enforce unconstitutional laws on the citizenry.

Magpul was targeted for this criticism, since Magpul allowed a one-time order for law enforcement; regardless of location.  After much communication from some firearms enthusiasts, Magpul amended their duty sales program today:

Regarding LEO Sales

March 1st, 2013

Back in 1990, when I was deployed in Desert Shield and Desert Storm as a Marine grunt, some companies prioritized me items for my M16 for shipping that I purchased with my own funds.  After getting out and forming Magpul in 1999, I established the same priority policy for Military and Law Enforcement, due to the requirements of their profession.

The same policy has been in place for 13 years now and has never been an issue until a few days ago. I do not support the idea that individual police officers should be punished for the actions of their elected officials. That said, I understand the concerns that some have with Law Enforcement officers getting special treatment while at the same time denouncing second amendment rights to another citizen in the same state.

With the fight in Colorado right now we do not have time to implement a new program, so I have suspended all LE sales to ban states until we can implement a system wherein any Law Enforcement Officer buying for duty use will have to promise to uphold their oath to the US Constitution – specifically the second and fourteenth amendments – as it applies to all citizens.

Richard Fitzpatrick

President/CEO – Founder

Magpul Industries

Some firearms enthusiasts who were vehemently and colorfully pushing for the Magpul to rescind its LEO program would do well to remember that Magpul really is going to be picking up and moving out of Colorado when CO’s magazine ban passes, which is no small statement of principle.

At the same time, those in ban states are making their concerns known that selling to individual officers who would be excluded by law is creating a world where “some animals are more equal than others” – especially if providing to enforcers of unconstitutional laws, and it is a policy that a principled gun company should examine, and Magpul has.

Asking for a declaration of Constitutional understanding and principle from their customers might be worth expanding to everyone.

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Also posted here by Magpul on their Facebook page.

Milton Friedman’s distilled short version of why vouchers work:

HotAir has the news roundup on Alabama’s introduction of a voucher system, where the left reacted with rage.

Milton Friedman’s elaborate, thorough version of why vouchers work, why centralization is a problem, and why decentralization and freedom to choose solves many educational problems:

Around 18:40, he begins to discuss “the modern view”, which is much of what Cass Sunstein and the masters-of-men anointed elite regulators believe.  Friedman then goes on to explain how that relates to schooling, and the collectivist vs. individualist view of the purpose of education.

It’s not just Beretta that sees there’s always a problem with Maryland.  Maryland’s new anti-firearm bills are pushing Beretta towards leaving, and now LWRC is looking at the door as well.

For those unaware of LWRC, they make a lot of AR15s and AR15 parts.   Maryland SB 281 is an anti-modern firearm bill.

lwrc m6a2

Today, on LWRC’s Facebook page, they address Maryland’s new attempts at banning their products in testimony in opposition to SB 281:

Facing these 20 gun bills, he (LWRC owner Richard Bernstein) is now put in a position to abandon his home, many of his MD employees and his proud legacy to move his ventures to a state that does not ask that productive member of society fall on a sword as a scapegoat for inaction by its government against the prosecution of criminals for gun crimes. There is also apparent malaise by the government to addressing serious mental health care deficits in MD and an apparent disregard of its citizen’s Constitutional rights under the second amendment.

To understand the consequences of passing this legislation, you must know what is at stake. LWRCI’s rate of job creation over the past 7 months has been approximately 10 new jobs per month. We have expanded the business through three MD counties with employees numbering 300. Then there are the employees of businesses we subcontract to, like Eastern Plating in Baltimore County. We do so much work with Eastern Plating; LWRCI has a resident employee in house.

LWRCI will bring in excess of $130 million dollars into Maryland this year.

We already work in the most highly regulated industry in America. There are more than 20,000 domestic laws relating to firearms. As a company we are diligent to follow them to the letter of the law. Yet the Maryland Legislature, whom have already passed some of most extensive state firearms regulations in the union are attempting to pass further non-sensical laws that will do nothing to improve public safety.

Instead, these laws punish law-abiding citizens, and strip them of their rights. This law will push firearms into the black market to felons and criminals on to the streets as it did in Canada, the UK and Australia. Law-abiding citizens are faced with deciding whether to comply with an unconstitutional law or be labeled felons. Once passed, citizens with no legal method of disposing of these firearms will invariably create a black market with off the books sales with no checks, balances or regulations. Maryland seems doomed to repeat mistakes of the past while ignoring the core issues.

I came here to share this information on behalf of many Marylanders. We are asking ourselves a question everyday. Is it intent of this legislation to cause a mass exodus of law abiding citizens and productive companies? These citizens and companies will be forced to leave either on moral grounds, business grounds or both. These are the same people that are the core of civic responsibility and contribution to our community and state and its economy. How can LWRCI stay in MD and produce rifles, pay taxes, create jobs, and stimulate the economy when its government intends to restrict the rights of its own citizens? Aside from the moral issue, the citizens of this country would not forgive the hypocrisy of LWRCI staying despite passage of this legislation.

The legislation as written seems to be window dressing for political gain by a few in the face of ineffective crime control. The real issues of public safety as they relate to gun violence go largely unanswered. The MD government is making it clear through its actions with this legislation that we, nor Beretta nor other firearms manufacturers are welcome in MD. It sends the message that this is not the State to expand in.

This legislation also sends a clear message to MD citizens that wish to exercise their rights under the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution; that they are no longer welcome in MD. For criminals, it will be business as usual. As such, if this unconstitutional ban passes as written, we will comply with your wishes and move our companies out of Maryland along with as many employees and their families that wish to go.

Respectfully,

Darren Mellors
Executive-Vice President
LWRC International, LLC

LWRC addressed some conflict in the RKBA circles, but doesn’t look to be expecting much from their legislature:

 Focus your anger and outrage on those that want to take your rights away under the auspices of public safety for political gain when they now they are not addressing public safety at all. Wish we (sic) luck tomorrow testifying to a den of snakes who pretend to serve the people when all they are doing is serving themselves.

Update: Maryland’s Senate just passed another anti-gun bill today.