Book Signing in Houston on Wednesday

Galleria Barnes and Noble for noon to 2 pm on August 8
5000 Westheimer Suite 100
Houston, TX 77056
scheduled August 8, 2007 from Wednesday, August 8, 8:00 PM to Wednesday, August 8, 9:00 PM



Congress is in need of some parental supervision

John Fund goes through the details:

The House of Representatives almost turned into the Fight Club Thursday night, when Democrats ruled that a GOP motion had failed even though, when the gavel fell, the electronic score board showed it winning 215-213 along with the word FINAL. The presiding officer, Rep. Mike McNulty (D., N.Y.), actually spoke over the clerk who was trying to announce the result.

In the ensuing confusion several members changed their votes and the GOP measure to deny illegal aliens benefits such as food stamps then trailed 212-216. Boiling-mad Republicans stormed off the floor. The next day, their fury increased when they learned electronic records of the vote had disappeared from the House's voting system. . . . .

Mr. Foley also made a very prescient warning. . . . . should [Democrats] win back control that November . . . "Democrats [should] clearly and intensely [promise] that if they take the majority back again, they will not go back and try to pay back, so to speak, what they felt were the excesses and even the outrages of this period, but will promise minority rights in reaching those majority decisions."

Clearly, his fellow Democrats in the House haven't been following his advice. . . . .


Barry Bonds' Home Run Record Tainted by Mechanical Device

Predictions on surveillance cameras

I wonder whether there will be a difference in the change in crime rates between the summer and winter with these cameras. Surely there are fewer crimes that take place in the winter, but my guess is that the drop will be smaller then because in Chicago (one of the cities mentioned in the story) most people where some hood or face mask, thus negating the benefit of the camera.

Most people in the United States have no reservations regarding the use of video cameras in public places as a way to improve safety, according to a poll by TNS released by the Washington Post and ABC News. 71 per cent of respondents support having public surveillance cameras, while 25 per cent do not. . . . .

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The penalties faced by white collar criminals

This article only mentions the prison term faced by Fingerhut. But of course he will have to provide full restitution and fines. He is retired so he doesn't have to look for a job again because if he did (as I have pointed out in Freedomnomics), he would have an almost impossible task. There is also a high probability that his wife will divorce him and take most of his assets.

In his day, Bert Fingerhut was a Wall Street player. A top-ranked securities analyst for eight straight years, making calls that moved markets, Mr. Fingerhut rose to director of research at Oppenheimer & Co. in 1980. Three years later, he retired to Aspen, Colo. He was 40 years old.

In the Rockies, Mr. Fingerhut became as passionate about conservation as he once was about stocks. He joined the boards of a string of environmental organizations. So devoted was he to the wilderness that he got married in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park.

But he couldn't get Wall Street out of his system. In the 1990s he picked up a copy of Peter Lynch's "Beating the Street," in which the former star manager of the Fidelity Magellan Fund wrote of a "can't-lose proposition (almost)" called bank-conversion investing.

When mutual, depositor-owned banks convert to public companies, Mr. Lynch noted, they must let depositors buy stock at the initial-public-offering price. The new shares are often priced at a discount. So "the next time you pass a mutual savings bank or an S&L that's still cooperatively owned," Mr. Lynch suggested, "think about stopping in and establishing an account."

Mr. Fingerhut took the advice to heart, and then some. Starting in 1995, he opened accounts at more than 400 banks across the country, from Wellsburg, W.Va., to Covina, Calif. He eventually got in on public offerings at many of them, and flipped their shares for quick profits. Over a decade, he made $11 million from the strategy.

There was one problem: The way he did it, he was breaking the law.

In May, Mr. Fingerhut pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud banks and their depositors by secretly using other people as fronts to open accounts for him, thus increasing the number of IPO shares he could buy. He forfeited all the money he earned from the strategy. On Friday, a federal judge in Newark, N.J., sentenced the onetime star stock analyst to two years in prison.
. . . .

Thanks to Jack Langer for sending this article to me.

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Fund raising with a blast

Dems on Earmarking

-- I thought that the Dems were upset about government no bid contracts (that is those under Bush even though the same ones were the same under Clinton).

Some companies stand to gain from Pelosi's earmarks. The California Democrat has won funding for six companies in a 2008 defense funding measure. One is a $4 million request to develop a ``novel viral biowarfare agent'' for Prosetta Corp., based in her San Francisco district. Tom Higgins, the company's chief executive officer, says he talked to the Speaker's staff directly rather than hiring a lobbyist and hasn't given money to her campaign. ``We're just a little company,'' he says.

Another of Pelosi's earmarks was $2.5 million to Bioquiddity, Inc., a San Francisco biotech company with nine employees, to continue developing drug-infusion pumps. Bioquiddity President Josh Kriesel, who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the state legislature in 2002, has donated $6,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee since last September. The company received a total of $3.9 million in earmarks in the last two years. Kriesel declined to comment directly on the earmarks.

Pelosi has said some earmarks are ``worthy.'' And she said there is a distinction between those for public projects, which she sometimes touts with press releases, and special interest earmarks. . . . .


Democratic Presidential Race Getting Tighter Where it Counts

Concealed Handgun Permit Holder Stops Murderer at Seattle Party


Congressional Energy Bill Farce

The Energy Bill adopted by the Congress has many problems and provisions that will make the US poorer. For example, requiring that we use more expensive, less efficient sources of energy. This discussion in the NY Times caught my attention:

The utilities provision, or the so-called renewable electricity standard amendment, was among the most contested measures in the energy bill. Sponsored by Representative Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, and several others, it will force utilities to make a significant share of their electricity from solar, wind, geothermal, water and other nonfossil fuel sources, although they can meet part of the requirement through conservation measures.

The standard applies only to investor-owned utilities and exempts rural electric cooperatives, municipal utilities, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the state of Hawaii from the mandate. . . . .

If cutting back on carbon dioxide is so important, why do these rules only apply to "investor-owned utilities"? Surely municipal utilities should also count? What about Hawaii? Carbon dioxide is being added to the atmosphere every place. Why does the administration only threaten to veto based upon the lack of oil production in the bill?

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Some recognition for a permit holder who helped stop a bank robbery

A man who helped thwart an armed robber's escape from a Bessemer bank in May died this morning in a bulldozer accident in western Jefferson County.

Christopher Lynn Chappell, 41, was accidentally killed at 8:15 a.m. by the bulldozer he was operating, said Jefferson County Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Randy Christian.

It is believed he became entangled in the track of the bulldozer and was run over while working alone. Deputies and the Concord Fire Department responded, but Chappell was pronounced dead on the scene.
On May 14, Chappell was a customer at the Wachovia Bank on Ninth Avenue in Bessemer, when a gunman opened fire, killing bank employees Eva Hudson and Sheila McWaine Prevo. Two other bank employees, Anita Gordon and LaToya Freeman, were wounded.

Chappell, who was approaching the bank and heard the gunfire, got his gun from his vehicle and confronted the gunman as he was leaving, forcing him back inside and giving law officers time to respond..

Thanks very much to James Roberts for sending this to me.

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"Burglar is shot by store owner"

GREENCASTLE - An Antrim Township mini-mart owner who has been the victim of several recent burglaries shot an intruder during a confrontation early Thursday, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

Merlony Colaco, 29, has seen his Molly Pitcher Mini-Mart at 13640 Molly Pitcher Highway burglarized more than half a dozen times since March.

Colaco has owned the store for a year and a half. The first year was relatively tranquil, but in March the establishment was robbed four times in 14 days. In one incident, Colaco held a woman at bay with a gun until police arrived.

On Thursday at 1:46 a.m., Colaco pulled the trigger when Thomas Philip Candeloro Jr. allegedly approached him after breaking in a side door.

“I shot him because he was coming at me,” said Colaco this morning. “I didn't shoot him because he was stealing the cigarettes.”

Colaco said he has never shot a gun in his life and believes his actions were in self-defense. . . .



San Francisco Makes it More Difficult for People to Defend Themselves

For those in San Francisco who really believe that this is the solution: "San Francisco residents will be required to keep their guns in lock boxes or have trigger locks on their firearms under a law signed Wednesday by Mayor Gavin Newsom. "

See this:
"these storage requirements appear to impair people?s ability to use guns defensively. Because accidental shooters also tend to be the ones most likely to violate the new law, safe storage laws increase violent and property crimes against low risk citizens with no observable offsetting benefit in terms of reduced accidents or suicides. During the first five full years after the passage of the safe storage laws, the group of fifteen states that adopted these laws faced an annual average increase of over 300 more murders, 3,860 more rapes, 24,650 more robberies, and over 25,000 more aggravated assaults. On average, the annual costs borne by victims averaged over $2.6 billion as a result of lost productivity, out-of-pocket expenses, medical bills, and property losses."

Well, at least San Francisco has almost eliminated the need for self defens. Here is an news article from the end of 2005: "San Francisco Murder Rate Highest In 10 Years"


A thought on bridges collapsing

Given the tragedy yesterday and all the discussion about it, I just thought that I would look up the number of major bridges in the US. One source, even if the source is of questionable reliability, puts the number at 467. (I didn't count all the covered bridges, though there certainly seems like a lot of those. I also only did one faset count so that I might be off by a couple.) In any case, I think that it has been something like 17 years since the last bridge collapse. 1/(467*17)= 1/7939 is the rate per year that a major bridge collapses. I guess that the rate is a little higher than I would have thought, but the number hopefully gives one some perspective. If the list that I am using is incomplete, the rate of collapses will be lower than what I report.

I am not putting this up to minimize the tragedy, but to give some perspective. Especially since everyone is going to extrapolate from this into claiming that something needs to be done instantly across the entire country.


Insights from John Fund at Political Diary

On Senator Patrick Leahy recent comments on Justice Roberts:

. . . . "I think in his actions and the actions in which he has joined, he has made the court an arm of the Republican Party," Mr. Leahy said. "They (the Republicans) say they don't want an activist Supreme Court, but this is the most activist Supreme Court we have ever seen, running roughshod over the Constitution, like Plessy v. Ferguson did."

Those are fighting words. In the infamous Plessy case, the Supreme Court in 1896 declared that states could practice racial segregation under the "separate but equal" doctrine. The decision was finally overturned in 1954 in the famous Brown v. Board of Education decision that led to the desegregation of many of the nation's schools.

Mr. Leahy is comparing that history with a five-to-four decision that Mr. Roberts joined in last month which declared that it was impermissible for governments to use race in the assignment of children to public schools. Many legal scholars believed the Roberts court was acting in the finest tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., who declared in his 1963 "March on Washington" speech that he longed for the day when people would be "judged by the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin." While Mr. Roberts didn't quote King, he clearly shared those sentiments when he wrote: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

Rather than at least grant Mr. Roberts has an honest disagreement, Mr. Leahy has chosen to smear him. As for President Bush, the Vermont Democrat was openly contemptuous of his court choices. "I am not sure the president realizes what he has done with the court. He was told by Dick Cheney and others, 'This is what you are going to do.'" . . .

On the "ethics reform" legislation before the Senate

Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid has brokered an ethics reform bill that is a travesty when it comes to shining light on earmarks, the pork barrel projects members slip into bills without any real scrutiny. Mr. Reid, for instance, made sure that he retained the right to decide what qualifies as an earmark instead of giving that responsibility to the nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian. . . . .


Problems with discretionary concealed handgun permits

SaysUncle in his piece on "Like you and me, only better" notes how not everyone is treated equally when there is discretion in granting permits. Note my book doesn't say that permits increased in New York City, just that it was higher than most people might think.


New York Times concerned about Wall Street Journal's objectivity

If we were in any other business, a risky takeover of a powerful competitor might lead to celebration. Not in our business. Good journalism, which is an essential part of American democracy, thrives on competition.

More than anything, competition makes our work better — more ambitious, more in-depth, more honest. When Americans are served by many different, responsible, competing news outlets, they can make more informed judgments. That is why we, and so many others, are paying such anxious attention to Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of Dow Jones & Company and its crown jewel, The Wall Street Journal. . . .

Well, on the plus side at least the New York Times will maintain its objectivity. That should be a real boon for the NY Times circulation, right? Personally, I think that the news pages of the WSJ have a left wing tilt. I could see the problem for objectivity if the news stories moved to the middle.


Coverage of Concealed Carry in Philadelphia Inquirer

A month ago, with her frustration mounting over all the guns and killing, she shredded her own gun permit. She won't seek to renew it, she says. . . .

This woman is understandably upset about what appears to be gang shootings in Philadelphia. But it would have been nice if the Philadelphia Inquirer could have had some discussion of whether this response by a law-abiding citizen to disarm herself made any sense.


The Pacific Legal Foundation tries to reign in some nutsy interpretations of the Endangered Species Act

"Are salmon really endangered?" (Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon) An interesting part of the article is here:

But how do you define hatchery and naturally spawned fish as different species? There are no biological or genetic differences, the only way you can tell the fish apart is a clipped fin on hatchery fish. Environmental groups claim that some hatchery fish behave differently, but that is hard to take seriously. Why ignore all hatchery fish just because some behave differently?

But think where that logic ultimately leads. By defining different species based on behavior, how many different species of humans do you think that there would be?

The claimed distinction largely stems from hatchery and natural fish survival rates. Hatchery fish have a higher survival rate from egg to smolt, but a lower survival rate from smolt to adult. Yet, that is hardly surprising. Many of the weaker naturally spawned fish have already died off so that there are fewer of them to die off in the next stage. In the past, the government’s policies have lurched from one extreme to another. . . .



Heritage Talk Available Here

The talk that I gave at the Heritage Foundation can be found here. Hopefully it provides a quick understanding of economics is and how powerful of a tool it is. For those with Windows and Windows Media Player you can watch the presentation here.


Another Review of Freedomnomics

Phil Miller over at Market Power has a review of Freedomnomics:

John Lott has given us a book that gives an important perspective on the workings and intricacies of markets and what happens when private citizens are economically free.

John Palmer has more thoughts here and Stephen Karlson has his comments here.


Talk at the Heritage Foundation Today

I will be giving a talk today at the Heritage Foundation at noon on my new book Freedomnomics. It is my understanding that C-SPAN's Book TV will be covering the event for broadcast at a later date.

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First Gore, now Bloomberg

First it was Al Gore using something like 20 times more energy than the average household in just one of his four or five mansions. Then it was Gore's frequent use of private jets. Now Mayor Bloomberg's reputation for being green is being tarnished.

He is public transportation’s loudest cheerleader, boasting that he takes the subway “virtually every day.” He has told residents who complain about overcrowded trains to “get real” and he constantly encourages New Yorkers to follow his environmentally friendly example.

But Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s commute is not your average straphanger’s ride.

On mornings that he takes the subway from home, Mr. Bloomberg is picked up at his Upper East Side town house by a pair of king-size Chevrolet Suburbans. The mayor is driven 22 blocks to the subway station at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue, where he can board an express train to City Hall. His drivers zip past his neighborhood station, a local subway stop a five-minute walk away. . . . .

Personally, given Bloomberg's value of time, I don't begrudge him doing things to shorten his trip. But I didn't think that was the environmental thing to do.


Man stops two pit bulls attacking his dog by using his gun

From Gainesville, Florida:

A Gainesville man awoke to the sounds of a dog fight early Monday. When he walked outside, he found his dog locked in the jaws of a large pit bull.

"I'm sound asleep and my wife says there's a dog fight in the yard," said Fletcher Sutton, 58. "And within 90 seconds I find myself standing in the yard in my bathrobe with a knife in one hand, a gun in the other and a dog dead between my legs."

Sutton and his grandson, Robert Koehler, 16, reacted quickly when they found their 110-pound Labrador-Mastiff mix being attacked by two pit bulls, the larger of which had clamped down on the dog's neck.

"We tried to beat him off, we tried to kick him off, and it was like it was to the death," Sutton said.

Lt. Scott Meffen with the Gainesville Police Department said they arrived at the home, 2415 SE 11th Ave., around 7:30 a.m. Monday to find a large black pit bull shot twice in the head. Sutton's dog had wounds to his neck and two front legs from the fight.