Extra early mentions of my new book

My book isn't really out yet, but some have gotten early looks at it and James D. Miller and Richard Miniter have been nice enough to say kind things about Freedomnomics.



Tony Blair's Explanation for The Root Cause of Terrorism?

Ben Zycher writes me:

n NPR's Morning Edition today, the utterly confused Tony Blair offered the following wisdom for the ages: "The world’s inability to execute a global agreement to seriously reduce greenhouse gas emissions is fueling Islamic terrorism."

Who knew? Amadinejhad, Bin Laden, Hamas, Hizballah, all of them: They're nothing more than we-are-the-world greenies. And that's the real reason the Iranians want nuclear reactors.

How many virgins do they get when they die if they buy a smaller car? On many issues, Tony Blair is great. Unfortunately, this is not one of them.

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More Guns, Less Crime makes the Modern Library's top 10 list for Nonfiction

The Modern Library has produced its list of the top 100 nonfiction books. The Virtue of Selfishness finished first and my book More Guns, Less Crime just made the top 10. The list has a decidedly conservative/libertarian slant. Still pretty neat, though I wouldn't rank my book above such classics as Thomas Sowell's Conflict of Visions (71) or PJ O'Rourke's Parlament of Whores (72) or Eric Hoffer's The True Believer (20) or certainly F.A. Hayek's Road to Serfdom (16) or Milton and Rose Friedman's Free to Choose (14).


Concealed Handgun Permit Holder Stops Helps Stop Robber: "Authorities say `good Samaritan' bought deputies time"

Chappell handed a teller a few bills, and the teller collected the coins for him. Shots rang out. Chappell glanced up and saw that the teller at the next window, Eva Lovelady Hudson, had been fatally shot.

Merriweather continued firing down the line of tellers, Chappell said, killing Sheila Prevo. Customers and employees ran for cover.

At the counter, Merriweather demanded money and keys. No one is sure whether that demand came before or after he fired his gun, or if it was during the barrage.

Merriweather then dashed behind the counter and grabbed teller LaToya Freeman by the hair and ordered her to open the vault. Another teller, Anita Gordon, tried to protect her co-worker, but Merriweather turned and shot Gordon in the face and neck. Freeman fell to the floor, leaving some of her hair in Merriweather's grip. Merriweather fired shots at Freeman, blowing off the tip of her right index finger.

Amid the rampage, Chappell and at least one other customer fled the bank.

Chappell was carrying his own gun, for which he has a concealed weapon permit. He took cover by his sport utility vehicle just outside the front doors, drew his weapon and waited.

Inside the bank, with Freeman wounded and no longer able to comply with his demands, Merriweather grabbed bank manager Myron Gooding and forced him to open the vault. Merriweather then grabbed a bag of money and exited the bank.

He found Chappell waiting.

"I was prepared to shoot him," Chappell said.

Returned with hostage:

Merriweather threw his hands up and turned to go inside after seeing Chappell. He returned to the doors a second time only to go back inside the bank. But when he returned a third time, he had taken Gooding hostage.

At the same time, sheriff's deputies Ray Sorenson and Randy Davis were passing by the bank when they spotted a woman falling. She fell, rolled, got back up and kept running.

The deputies, who serve outstanding warrants, quickly turned around to investigate. That's when they spotted Chappell standing outside, his gun drawn. Chappell screamed that an armed man inside had shot "two or three people."

"I'm very surprised that the guy he held hostage didn't get his head blowed off," Chappell said.

Thanks very much to John Harlow for sending this to me.

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Ask before you eat

One warning that I should give Americans who eat sushi in Japan and that is apparently one of the selections is raw horse. I kid you not. I had to ask about five times before I actually believed the answer that I was getting. I love sushi, but this is going too far.

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Other thoughts on Japan

1) It has been 19 years since I last visited Japan, and there are a number of things that have changed.
a) There are a lot fewer English advertising signs now, but the ones that you see generally seem to make more sense. When I was here before there were signs such as "I feel Coke" or "I touch Lark (cigarettes)." There are still a few things such as a drink called "body love," but this is more silly than anything else. Most English signs are something like "Great Selection" or "Hair Make," something I saw at many beauty salons. I like the packages in the grocery stores that have an English label reading "tastes great," but the rest of the package is in Japanese and I couldn't figure out what it was inside the bag, though I was tempted to buy it just to find out what tasted so "great."
b) When I was here before it seemed most people smoked. I thought that I needed an air tank with me to go on the trains, and the smoke was unbelievably thick. Now I have seen one person smoking. Before the sidewalks were filled with automatic dispensors for cigarettes, but I have only come across a couple of set ups this time.
c) The population seems visibly much older. I kind of expected this because of everything that I know about the birth rate here, but the ratio of older people on the trains is quite high.

2) Japan has privatized its university system, though it has left many regulations in place (such as restrictions on tuitions). The government has apparently stopped its subsidies and the universities have to make up the difference with getting donations. My host at the University of Tokyo is essentially doing consulting for major companies and turning over the consulting fee as a donation to the university. You can really tell how much he cares about the university, but it seems like are really difficult task to assume that there are enough faculty over enough years who are willing to make that type of sacrifice.

3) One hot topic among academics here is the drop in fertility. I suggested some changes in divorce laws and the property division rules that women would get on divorce. One amazing fact to me is that up until recently women did not get any of the man's retirement fund when there was a divorce. The new rule is that the fund is divided 50-50, but I explained that to the extent the man is the one who invested in market activities and the woman invested in the home, she was still being shortchanged for her investment.

4) Few apartments seem to have dishwashers and no one seems to have disposals. Dryers also seem to be relatively rare, with people hanging their clothes out to dry on their balconies. The cost to women doing these chores must be tremendous and from the comments that I have heard from people, women are the ones who are expected to do these tasks. Someone that I discussed this general issue with noted that it isn't surprising that women don't want to have many kids.

It didn't seem like a joke (I could be wrong), but one professor said he had gotten a dishwashing machine because his wife was "lazy."

5) Japanese book stores are suprisingly colorless. Their books have white covers with writing, but none of the pictures and colors found on books sold in the US. The books are also basically stuffed into every available space. The books aren't displayed nicely where you see the covers as in the US, but you only see the binding.

6) Post cards are very difficult to find. As someone who tries to send them to my friends when I go to interesting places, this has been a time consuming task with little success. strange.

7) Sake doesn't seem to produce the hangover that other alcoholic drinks do. I guess that I knew some of the differences with Sake before, but not as many as I do now. There are two types of Sake, those that are meant to be served cold and those that are meant to be served warm. The cold Sake is the high quality one, but there are many different varieties of that. The very best seem to taste very smooth -- they almost have no taste. The hot Sakes that I tried remind me of Kentucky Bourbon.

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France: The best intentioned legislation can have unintended consequences

James Miller points to how easily even the best intentioned legislation can have unintended consequences. I am glad that the new President of France seems to be willing to do a lot to get that country going again, I just don't want him to get attacked for well meaning legislaiton that goes wrong.

France's new President has proposed that there "should be no income tax on earnings in excess of 35 hours a week." This proposal is obviously designed to get the French to work longer hours. But this proposal will cause huge compliance problems.

To understand why let's say someone was earning $10 an hour and working for 35 hours a week, making $350 a week. Further assume that they pay 50% of their income in taxes so they get to keep $175.

Now imagine that the employee and firm come to a new arrangement. The employee will start sleeping at the office and the firm will consider this office sleeping time to be work. The employee will now be paid for working 60 hours a week. The firm, however, will also cut the worker's salary to $5 an hour. The firm now pays $5(60)=$300 a week. This is less than before so the firm is better off. The worker, however, is also better off. . . . .


Japanese Sake

I don't think that I have ever been much of a fan of Sake before, but I think that was because in the US I don't think that I have ever had very good Sake before. All I can say is that good Japanese Sake is amazingly smooth. A substantial amount of Sake with an absolutely awesome sushi dinner, followed by a walk through a giant (truly giant) Budist temple, was a great way to spend the evening. All I can say is that this Sake packs quite a punch. These Japanese academics have life pretty good.

A talk at Hitotsubashi University earlier today, an interesting economics and public policy faculty with lots of good question.

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Sheriff Changes Mind on Right-to-Carry


Walter Williams on everything from Global Warming to Gun Control to Taxes

I have only highlighted Walter William's discussion on gun control, but I advise people to read the entire piece.

Now let's turn to gun control laws. What do Virginia Tech's 32 murders, Columbine High School's 13 murders, Jonesboro Westside Middle School's five murders, Germany's Gutenberg High School's 16 murders, the murder of 14 legislators in Zug, Switzerland, and the murder of eight city council members in a Paris suburb all have in common? Answer: All the murders were committed in "gun-free zones." So a reasonable question is: Does legislation creating gun-free zones prevent murder and mayhem?

In 1970, Israel adopted a policy to arm teachers and parents serving as school aids with semi-automatic weapons. Attacks by gunmen at Israeli schools have ceased. At Appalachian Law School in Virginia, a gunman who had already murdered three people was stopped from further carnage by two armed students. Gun possession stopping crime is not atypical, though it goes unreported by the media. According to various research estimates, from 764,000 to as many as 2.5 million crimes are prevented by armed, law-abiding people either warning a criminal that they're armed, brandishing their weapon or shooting a criminal. In the interest of truth in packaging, I think we should rename "gun-free zones" to "defenseless zones." . . . .

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"S.C. Considers Allowing Guns on Campuses"

It would be nice if someone in the US contacted AP and told them that this story is not accurate. As has been detailed on this website, Utah is not the only place that allow guns on university campuses. Colorado State University is one example. I have it on good authority that the Dartmouth allows faculty to carry permitted concealed handguns.

Columbia, S.C. (AP) --
To prevent school shootings, some South Carolina legislators want more guns on campuses.

A House subcommittee approved a measure Wednesday that would allow concealed weapon permit holders to carry guns onto public school campuses, from elementary schools to universities. Supporters say having trained and armed gun owners in schools could prevent massacres like the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech, where one armed student killed 32 people.
Only Utah currently has a law allowing concealed weapons on campuses.

"We're not talking about kids. We're talking about responsible adults," said Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan, who sponsored the bill.
Opponents fear more guns will mean more accidental shootings, and questioned if colleges were an appropriate environment for guns.

"I'm concerned about more guns around younger people combined with emotions and sometimes alcohol," said Rep. Doug Jennings, a Democrat. "I don't think it's a proper reaction to the Virginia Tech tragedy."

The bill heads to the House Judiciary Committee, though it is not expected to pass the Legislature before its scheduled adjournment for the year next month. Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican, said he hadn't yet thought about the bill. . . . .

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Bob Levy offers DC some unsolicited advice on what to do with the Parker v. District of Columbia Case

I am not sure Bob convinces anyone that he is offering unbiased advice here, but it is still an interesting op-ed.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) has the Second Amendment in his crosshairs. He faces a crucial choice over the next 90 days with major implications for residents in D.C. and across the country: Should the city ask the Supreme Court to review Parker v. District of Columbia, a March 9 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals that said D.C.’s handgun ban is unconstitutional? On May 8, the city lost round two when the appellate court declined to re-hear the case. That leaves the Supremes as the court of last resort.

Sounds like a no-brainer. After all, the city has nothing to lose. If the Supreme Court overrules the appellate court, the mayor will be off the hook. He can continue peddling his fantasy world in which the city’s handgun ban protects Washingtonians from gun violence. On the other hand, if the Supreme Court affirms the lower court decision, D.C. will be no worse off than it would have been if it hadn’t asked for review. The handgun ban, as it now stands, will be history. . . . .

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At least Arizona state legislators understand the importance of carrying concealed handguns for their own safety

Lawmakers defend a policy that lets them carry guns into the state senate.

The sign out front says "no weapons allowed," but at least two state senators, both women, bring concealed guns with them to work every day.

"I do think there's a difference between people that work in a building day after day after day and just the general public that walks in and out," said State Senator Karen Johnson. . . . .

It would be nice if the lawmakers accepted that others want to carry a permitted concealed handgun for the same reasons that the legislators do. It would also be nice if they understood how law-abiding permit holders were and they the permit holders do not represent a threat.


Ohio State Legislator who opposed the right-to-carry law changes his mind

It is like clockwork how those who feared that the concealed handgun permit holders would be the danger change their minds within a couple of years. It is simply hard to ignore how law-abiding those people are. In addition, this experience just confirms the polling data that i have seen about how being a victim of crime (or in this case an almost victim of crime) causes people to want to own a gun.

DeBose voted his conscience. He feared that CCW permits would lead to a massive influx of new guns in the streets and a jump in gun violence. He feared that Cleveland would become the O.K. Corral, patrolled by legions of freshly minted permit holders.

"I was wrong," he said Friday.

"I'm going to get a permit and so is my wife.

"I've changed my mind. You need a way to protect yourself and your family.

"I don't want to hurt anyone. But I never again want to be in the position where I'm approached by someone with a gun and I don't have one."

DeBose said he knows that a gun doesn't solve Cleveland's violence problem; it's merely a street equalizer.

"There are too many people who are just evil and mean-spirited. They will hurt you for no reason. If more people were packing guns, it might serve as a deterrent. . . . .


Fred Thompson Responds to Michael Moore's Debate Challenge

Michael Moore views himself as sufficiently important or as sufficiently worthy of a debate opponent to debate Fred Thompson. Anyway, here is Fred Thompson's response. It is pretty amusing

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"Terror Suspect Claims Torture by Americans"

The evidence is beginning to appear overwhelming that we are unfairly treating prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. WARNING. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR YOUNG CHILDREN OR THOSE WHO ARE PARTICULARLY SENSITIVE. OK, you have been duly warned. The detainee was reportedly:

forced to use unscented deodorant and shampoo and having to play sports with a ball that would not bounce.

I admit that the "unscented deodorant and shampoo" is troubling, but I am really outraged that the prisoners were given "ball that would not bounce." This is truly shocking and almost unbelievable. If I hadn't read this news account myself, I would not have believed it.

Possibly these types of outrageous conditions are causing people around the world to become terrorists.

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Do reporters understand that demand curves slope downward?

This statement in the NY Times caught my eye:

"While New York City has always had a vacancy rate lower than most other cities, rental prices jumped last year by a record 8.3 percent."

So more people wanting apartments then are available is associated with a jump in rental prices? What is the word "while" doing in the sentence?


Right-to-carry States Map

Say Uncle has a map of right-to-carry laws. I like that the map points out gun free zones, though I have two points.

1) I wish that 98 percent of Montana was shown as green. You only need a permit to carry a concealed handgun in urban areas, which make up virtually none of the state.

2) I wish that they had shown the other big gun free zone shootings, for example, at the Lubby's Cafeteria in Texas in 1991.


Letter in Columbus Dispatch on Multiple Victim Public Shootings

Random Impressions about Japan

1) A very common way of people committing suicides is for people to throw themselves in front of trains. I can only imagine the social costs of this form of suicide in that the trains appear to be stopped for an hour or so. It would be interesting to compare the costs of say Americans committing suicide with the cost of Japanese. It is not clear why Japanese want to commit suicide in such a was as to inconvienence so many other people, with trains delayed by an hour during the busy rush hour.

2) The only English language programming that I can pick up on the TV is when they are showing American baseball. Right now I am watching Detroit play Boston. Possibly it is being covered because a former Japanese star seems to be pitching for Boston.

3) Japanese food is actually pretty cheap. If I had as much sushi in the US as I have had during the last couple of days, I would have had to take out an extra loan on my house. Instead here I have been quite stuffed and gotten to eat the food for around 1300 yen. But the food is great.

4) Japanese yell a lot when they do sports. Whether it is soccer or what appeared to be Lacrosse with huge goals, there was a lot of yelling going on.

5) I watched some Summo wrestling on TV and all I can say is that it goes by extremely fast. A match appears to take as little as 5 seconds sometimes and I don't think I saw anything longer than 15 seconds. They do it fast and then two other contestants come on. It makes it somewhat difficult to get very involved in watching a match.

Further point

6) Japan's crows are huge and extremely large and agressive. I have been told that they are originally from Africa, but wherever these crows are from, they certainly make an impression.

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Students at Virginia Tech felt that they could have stopped the recent attack if permitted concealed handguns were not banned

Fred Thompson's campagin picks up steam

Mistitled story on Fox. 10 month old gets FOID card

In Illinois, you're never too young to own a gun.

That's what one father found out, when he registered his 10-month-old son for a Firearm Owner's Identification Card.

Daily Southtown columnist Howard Ludwig registered his son —- Howard David Ludwig, nicknamed "Bubba" — online after the child's grandfather bought him a gun shortly after the baby's birth. Ludwig chronicled the road to gun ownership in a story that appeared in the Southtown on Sunday.

So the grandfather set aside a gun for his grandchild? What is the problem with that? Is the kid firing the gun or carrying it around? Is the kid actually even touching the gun? I doubt it. Illinois is one of the few states with this type of FOID card requirement. Possibly the solution is to get rid of the FOID cards. Given the parents' obvious hostility to guns, I doubt that there is much concern. I doubt that there would be any concern anyway.

One other point. There are other laws on the books in Illinois that make it a crime for an adult to let a child under 14 have access to a gun if the gun is used improperly. It is part of their safe storage law.

Thanks to Robert Aldridge for sending this.

UPDATE: The title of the piece was fixed. Previously it was "Toddler Packing Heat."


"Homeowner fatally shoots burglar"

Showing Smoking will get movie R-rating

Let me get this straight. Movies with immoral behavior are OK. Movies with dangerous behavior are OK. Movies with other addictive products are OK. At least for now, movies with alcohol are OK. Is it just because smoking is considered politically incorrect? The US is obviously becoming a much less free country.

A girl and her grandparents have sued the Chicago Board of Education, alleging that a substitute teacher showed the R-rated film "Brokeback Mountain" in class.

The lawsuit claims that Jessica Turner, 12, suffered psychological distress after viewing the movie in her 6th grade class at Ashburn Community Elementary School last year. . . .



Happy Mother's Day

By the way, they celebrate Mother's Day on the same day here in Japan.


Did Hillary raise more money than OBama?

Why is this movie shown to 12 year olds? Why is it shown at all to students?

Colorado State University allows students with concealded handguns on campus

Japanese Baseball

Stopped by and saw a Tokyo Giants baseball game tonight. All I can say is that Japanese baseball games are very loud and their fans are fanatical, indeed I have never seen such fans at a sports game in the US. These guys were looked really intense. Banging these plastic sticks together while they are standing and yelling as load as they could.