Category Archives: Op-Eds

Concerning “Common Sense Gun Control”

Gun photo from RGBStock

Yes, I tire of constantly writing this kind of column. Presumably, you tire of reading this kind of column as well. But when the usual suspects (supporters of victim disarmament) break into their happy dance atop the latest pile of corpses to tout a fraudulently labeled cause (“common sense gun control”), it all needs to be said anew.

In the past, I’ve explained why “gun control” is a stupid and evil idea, but apparently “common sense” is somehow orthogonal to  fact and morality. So, fine — let’s talk “common sense.”

More than 100 million Americans own more than 300 million guns.

Common sense says that ends the discussion.

Pro-victim-disarmament politicians apparently think that antagonizing 100 million likely voters and their families is a surefire path to electoral victory. Common sense  says it isn’t.

But even if it is, what follows? Suppose the victim disarmament lobby gets its way in Congress?

Common sense says that whether or not someone owns guns, and if so how many and what kind, are none of your business, no matter how many unconstitutional laws you manage to get passed asserting otherwise.

Common sense says that if your fellow Americans want to buy, sell or trade guns among themselves, they require neither your approval nor your permission and that most will simply, as they should, ignore your demands that they fill out piles of paperwork and submit themselves to intrusions into their privacy as a condition of exercising their rights.

Common sense says that should you attempt to proceed to outright confiscation and that if even 1% of those 100 million American gun owners respond to your orders to turn in their guns with “come try to take them and see what happens,” a spike in the stock prices of companies that manufacture body bags will quickly follow.

Yes, America is full of firearms.

No, you can neither take them away nor wish them away.

Yes, it really is just that simple.

Common sense says that since all of the above is obvious to anyone with an IQ exceeding his or her shoe size, you’re wasting your time with your ghoulish celebrations of each opportunity to renew your call for something that is Never. Going. To. Happen.

And common sense says that you should probably move on to some new cause. Perhaps one where you can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY

Bitcoin: The Fearmongers’ Dirty Little Secret

The bitcoin logo
The bitcoin logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

European bureaucrats barely allowed the blood to dry on Paris’s cafe floors before calling a “crisis meeting” on November 19 to plot new ways of seizing power over the emerging digital economy. Their targets: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as well as gift cards loaded with cash. Basically, any method of spending or receiving money without the state’s knowledge and permission.

Now, mind you, no evidence has emerged linking any of these things to the Paris attacks. The attacks weren’t the REASON for this new initiative; they were a PRETEXT for it. Bitcoin in particular and cryptocurrencies in general keep the political class lying awake at night. Terrorism is just an easy hook to publicly hang their fear on without revealing that fear’s real roots. When there’s no convenient blood on the floor to point to, they purse their lips and lecture us on fraud, identity theft and other nastiness they pretend to protect us from.

Why do our masters really fear unregulated, unsupervised, unlicensed transaction systems? Because they fear anything they can’t control. And so they should.

A brief digression: Reuters, like many other mainstream media outlets, characterizes Bitcoin as “a vehicle for moving money around the world quickly and anonymously via the web without the need for third-party verification.” Two of the four elements in that description are just flat false. Bitcoin is not naturally anonymous, and each Bitcoin transaction is verified by multiple third parties and permanently recorded on a publicly readable ledger called the block chain. Bitcoin is less anonymous than, say, cash — which the political class also seems determined to eliminate in favor of debit cards issued by government-supervised banks.

That said, Bitcoin transactions can be anonymized with a little work, and there are other payment systems with more anonymity-friendly features.That’s a feature, not a bug. Terrorists will always find ways to keep what they’re doing hidden; they have good reason to work at it. For the rest of us, if it’s not easy we get lazy.

Why do the politicians and bureaucrats fear and loathe personal privacy (that’s all “anonymity” is) so much, especially where money is concerned? Put simply, consider the old anti-war saying: “What if the Air Force had to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber?”

That’s what’s at stake: If the politicians and bureaucrats don’t know who has money or where that money is or how to get at it, they can’t steal it from us at will to buy things “for us” that we’d never  buy ourselves if given the choice.

Yes, that really is all it’s about. That’s what keeps them up at night. Don’t let them scare you away from Bitcoin with their scary fairy terrorist tales.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY

End the Education Fights: Time for a Divorce

School -- girl reading (RGBStock)

Students at Mount Horeb Primary Center in Wisconsin were scheduled to read the book I Am Jazz, by teen transgender celebrity Jazz Jennings, in late November, the idea being to acquaint the student body — which includes a trans girl — with the basics of gender identity.

The reading was canceled when school administrators received a nastygram from a group calling itself “Liberty Counsel.” Since the book’s content doesn’t conform to the views of some evangelical Christian parents, exposing their children to it would, Liberty Counsel claims, violate those parents’ civil rights.

Any three people reading this column will probably come up with three different opinions on the specific issue at hand: When should kids learn about gender, where should they learn it, and what should they learn about it? In that area, I can’t say I’m a big fan of Liberty Counsel’s positions (their letter is a poisonous piece of trash that treats gender identities diverging from from their tendentious misreadings of scripture as “confusion” and “mental disorder”).

On the other hand, the incident does bring up a more fundamental point. This past year, brawls over the content of “public education” seem to have centered around gender identity issues — who uses what bathroom, locker room, etc. But the brawls themselves are nothing new. They’ve occurred with regularity ever since government’s hostile takeover of American education began in the mid-19th century. Sex education in general has been a recurring topic, as has evolution vs. creationism in science curricula. Even the state’s cultish loyalty oath, the “pledge of allegiance,” has occasioned multiple 12-round heavyweight extravaganzas.

The solution to all this constant conflict is simple: If we want to end the political struggles over education, we need to end the involvement of politics itself in education. And the only way to do that is to separate school and state entirely.

I said it would be simple. Simple isn’t the same thing as easy. “Public education” in the US, up through the high school level, is an industry with more than $600 billion in annual tax-extorted revenues and millions of employees. They’re one of the most powerful ready-made political lobbies imaginable. They will not go gently into that good night.

But there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Why not start by separating YOUR kids from the government education con game? Private schools may be more expensive and homeschooling may require more effort, but both alternatives produce better results than the combination prisons/daycare centers the state falsely advertises as “schools” these days.

Or I suppose you could just let Liberty Counsel and the local NEA chapter continue to duke it out every other week over what your kids should learn.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY

  • “End the Education Fights: Time for a Divorce,” by Thomas L. Knapp, Ventura County, California Citizens Journal, 11/29/15
  • “End the Education Fights: Time for a Divorce,” by Thomas L. Knapp, FPP News [New Hampshire, print edition], December 2015