Some reasons not to buy an electric car

From Fox News:
. . . But I wouldn’t buy an electric car if you paid me. Here’s why: . . .    
It isn’t cost effective. I spent my career in the high-tech industry. When I tell you that it’s smart to be a late adopter of anything new, especially technology, you should listen. In time, competition increases, prices come down, and reliability goes up. Let rich people like rock stars and actors buy Teslas and Volts.    They’re not for you. . . . 
You have to plug it in. Hybrids are great. They’ve come down the technology learning curve. They’re actually more efficient than standard gas powered engines. They deliver more bang for the buck. They don’t have to be subsidized. And, more importantly, you don’t have to plug them in. Ever. 
The whole government subsidy thing. I bought a solar array. It was government subsidized. Do I think it should have been? No. But for our needs, solar power made fiscal sense. I’m not going to cut off my nose to spite my face. Do I think the U.S. government should subsidize specific companies like Solyndra and Fisker? No. That’s just plain idiotic. That’s for venture capital and private equity firms with limited partners with beaucoup bucks and high risk tolerance, not for a government that owes $17 trillion or American taxpayers who can’t pay their bills.   
Who says electric power is clean? When China has electric cars, they will be powered by electricity from coal plants that pollute the atmosphere, big-time. The assumption that, just because a car is electric, it must be green, clean, renewable, whatever, is nonsense. Just to be clear, I don’t have a problem with where our electricity comes from. I think we should drill, frack, and nuke to our heart’s content. I want America to actually export energy. What I don’t get is why anyone would think an electric car is in any way greener than a hybrid. It’s not.    
I don’t like dumb fads. I guess the bottom line is that I don’t like the color green for the sake of being green. In other words, I don’t like fads, especially fads that are fueled by overblown hypocrites and bad science. In case you’re wondering, by “hypocrites,” I mean Al Gore. And by “bad science,” I mean man-made global warming, climate change, or whatever the hypocrites are calling it these days. . . .

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Fisker: Another government investment is about to go bankrupt after a half-billion-dollar federal loan

It has been clear for well over a year that Fisker was having trouble.  From Fox News:
Fisker Automotive -- the electric-car maker that was granted a half-billion-dollar federal loan and on Friday dismissed about 75 percent of its remaining workforce -- is purportedly facing a lawsuit from the same firm that sued the government-funded Solyndra company. . . . 
Employees told the publication they were give no severance pay besides compensation for unused vacation days. . . .  
A source told the news agency that Fisker will retain about 53 senior managers and executives to primarily help sell off company assets. 
Fisker has received $193 million of a $529 million Energy Department loan, mostly for work on its luxury Karma vehicle that sells for about $100,000. The deadline to repay the loan is purportedly in late April. . . .

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Privatizing police and personal security

With police officers being cut in cities, people are turning to themselves to keep safe.  For example, there has been a massive increase in people carrying permitted concealed handguns (going from about 4.6 to 9.3 million between 1997 and 2012).  Because of budget cutbacks, some police are recommending that people move to protect themselves.  Yet, some have also gone in a different direction and are hiring security guards to help protect them.  

Oakland, California:  
On the streets of Oakland, budget cuts have made the beat cop a rare breed, and some of the city’s wealthy neighborhoods have turned to unarmed security guards to take their place.
After people in Oakland’s wealthy enclaves like Oakmore or Piedmont Pines head to work, security companies take over, cruising the quiet streets to ward off burglars looking to take advantage of unattended homes.
“With less law enforcement on the streets and more home crime or perception of home crime, people are wanting something to replace that need,” says Chris de Guzman, chief operating officer of First Alarm, a company that provides security to about 100 homes in Oakland. “That’s why they’re calling us and bringing companies like us aboard to provide that deterrent.” . . .
More on Oakland is provided here: 
. . . . A few weeks ago, it was reported that even Mayor Jean Quan's own Oakmore neighborhood had hired a private security firm to patrol streets after a rash of brazen daytime break-ins in the area.
However, the Oakmore neighborhood was far from the first neighborhood to hire private security. The number of Oakland communities relying on private companies to keep them safe has been snowballing in the past couple of years. . . .
"Private security is extra eyes and ears out on the street for us," said the Oakland police spokeswoman Johnna Watson. "We look at it as a partnership. Even with a couple of hundred more officers, we can't be on every block around the clock. Individuals investing private security to deter and reduce crime, that's helpful for everyone." . . . 
Here is a similar case in Houston, Texas:
A Houston-based company with offices in London and Dubai that helps protect cargo ships from pirates is now helping a southwest neighborhood protect itself against common thieves.
As Officer Leroy Bill patrols the streets for the Sharpstown Civic Association, he looks and sounds like a cop. . . .
He and his fellow officers are certainly armed like cops and even have their own K-9 units. In reality, they are security officers for Seal Security, and they’ve been contracted by the subdivision since November.
“We actually patrol districts and subdivisions like this one to give them a little more security for their money,” said James Alexander, Seal’s director of operations.
“The civic association used to contract with the constables office for a deputy to patrol the area, but now that it's gone with Seal security, it has three to four officers patrolling the streets at any given time, and at half the cost. Also cut in half: the number of monthly burglaries.
When a young mother in the neighborhood was recently stabbed multiple times in front of her children, a Seal security officer was the first to arrive on scene.
“Our guy was on duty making a routine patrol. He comes around the corner and was flagged down, sees the assault, draws his weapon and breaks it up,” said Jim Bigham, president of the Sharpstown Civic Association. . . . 
In Chicago, they will let private philanthropists pay extra money to hire additional police for parts of the city.  I would worry a lot about fungibility of money.  You add more money and the city could move then to reduce how much it is spending.
Under his plan, off-duty officers would work minimum six-hour shifts and make $30 an hour. The money would be paid by businesses, civic groups and churches at a time when city finances are stretched thin. The officers would be in full uniform and under the command of police supervisors. . . .
It will be interesting to see what happens to crime rates in these areas.

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Explaining why cross-sectional data is not useful for comparing the impact of gun ownership on crime rates

I have made this point so many times, but it seems that people need this point made again.  I don't really expect much from the leftwing Center for American Progress, but they are again using purely cross-sectional data to make their claim that "Weak State Gun Laws" are associated with more gun violence.  Reuters and others have picked up on the claim without any attempt to talk to academics or others who might be critical.

Here are just two of paragraphs from my book The Bias Against Guns:

First, the cross-sectional studies: Suppose for the sake of argument that high-crime countries are the ones that most frequently adopt the most stringent gun control laws. Suppose further, for the sake of argument, that gun control indeed lowers crime, but not by enough to reduce rates to the same low levels prevailing in the majority of countries that did not adopt the laws. Looking across countries, it would then falsely appear that stricter gun control resulted in higher crime. Economists refer to this as an “endogeniety” problem. The adoption of the policy is a reaction to other events (that is, “endogenous”), in this case crime. To resolve this, one must examine how the high-crime areas that chose to adopt the controls changed over time —not only relative to their own past levels but also relative to areas that did not institute such controls. 
Unfortunately, many contemporary discussions rely on misinterpretations of cross-sectional data. The New York Times recently conducted a cross-sectional study of murder rates in states with and without the death penalty, and found that “Indeed, 10 of the 12 states without capital punishment have homicide rates below the national average, Federal Bureau of Investigation data shows, while half the states with the death penalty have homicide rates above the national average.” However, they erroneously concluded that the death penalty did not deter murder. The problem is that the states without the death penalty (Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Vermont) have long enjoyed relatively low murder rates, something that might well have more to do with other factors than the death penalty. Instead one must compare, over time, how murder rates change in the two groups – those adopting the death penalty and those that did not.
Of course, there are times when cross-sectional data still shows more guns mean less crime (see also here), but that is still a wrong way to look at the data.  As I have described in my books More Guns, Less Crime and The Bias Against Guns, you need to use panel data.  When that is done the results clearly show more guns, less crime.

UPDATE: Ken Mauer emails me the following:

There was once a cholera epidemic in Russia. The government, in an effort to stem the disease, sent doctors to the worst-affected areas. The peasants of the province of S_____ discussed the situation and observed a very high correlation between the number of doctors in a given area and the incidence of cholera in that area (i.e. more doctors were observed in cholera areas than elsewhere). Relying on this hard fact, they rose and murdered their doctors.   
Franklin M. Fisher, The Identification Problem in Econometrics, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966) pp. 2-3.

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Obama's favorite poet, Maya Angelou, admits to using guns for protection

Actor Jeremy Irons is a new hero of mine

You have got to admire Jeremy Irons' willingness to speak out on controversial issues where Bloomberg and others are paternalistic.  See the video here.


"Spokane Grandmother Of 10 Holds Burglar At Gunpoint At Her Home"

From the CBS affiliate in Seattle:

Spokane police say a grandmother held a burglar at gunpoint at her home until authorities arrived.
KXLY-TV reports that Sandy Mize, a grandmother to 10, fired a warning shot and held the suspect, 35-year-old Sean Denny, in her living room until he tried to get away. That’s when authorities apprehended him in her backyard early Wednesday morning.
“I told him I was armed,” she told KREM-TV. “He kept coming, so I started backing up.”
Mize says she fired a warning round at the suspect but it did not hit him.
“He laid on the couch. I stood there for a very short period of time. I asked him, ‘Did I hit you?’ There was no response. No movement,” Mize told KREM. “So I made my way to the telephone and dialed 911.” . . .
Thanks to Anthony Troglio for the link.



Washington Post: "Obama administration pushes banks to make home loans to people with weaker credit"

Obama has apparently learned nothing from the recent economic collapse.  I have pointed to evidence on this previously and of course Obama has some complicity in creating that collapse (on this last point see the first chapter in my book Debacle).  But now here is a story from the Washington Post.
The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place.
President Obama’s economic advisers and outside experts say the nation’s much-celebrated housing rebound is leaving too many people behind, including young people looking to buy their first homes and individuals with credit records weakened by the recession. . . .

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Is Gun Research by John Lott Discredited?: Responses to Media Matters' false claims

Note that I have tried to make many of these responses after the posts that Media Matters has made about me, but they do not allow me to put them up in the comment section.  I have tried putting out these points on twitter or in a few Fox News op-eds, but Media Matters never responds to those discussions, presumably because it would draw attention to my responses.  Unfortunately, as I have discovered over the years, Media Matters is uncritically read by many in the media, and possibly that is another reason that they don't allow my responses to be posted.  I also think that by constantly posting discussions about me being "discredited" they hope to influence Google searches (see the screen shot below from this morning showing a total of about 160 posts where they attack me (some of the 172 are not really about me)).  Anyway, here are some of my responses:

"The Nine Worst Claims About Guns From John Lott's New Book." -- response is available here.

"Who Is Gun Advocate John Lott?" -- response is available here.

"Mother Jones and Media Matters bungle study on Mass Public Shootings" -- response is available here.

"Why Is NY Times Citing Discredited Gun Researcher John Lott?" -- response is available here in the section labeled "update".

"Gun "Researcher" Pushes Sham Statistics In The Wall Street Journal" -- response is available here.

"Discredited Gun Researcher John Lott's Failed Attempt To Correct Obama's Gun Statistic" -- all one needs to see is the Washington Post Fact Checker article available here.  Kessler is making a similar argument to the one that I made here.  Will Media Matters attack Kessler in the same way that they attacked me?

"John Lott Tries To Substantiate His Debunked Assertions By Repeating Them" -- response available here.

"Gun Advocate John Lott: Travyon Martin's Mother Used As A Prop To Make Stand Your Ground Seem Racist-- response available here.

"John Lott Vs. The FBI" -- response available here.

Other responses to Media Matters by me:
Media Matters, 'Stand Your Ground' and me 
David Brock, Media Matters and gun control hypocrisy

"Media Matter's dishonest attacks on Fox News" -- discussion here.

Media Matters doctoring my picture is discussed here.

Often Media Matters and others will point to one single paper or two that criticize my work.  In fact, there is a large academic literature that exists on these topics, and when you look at the whole literature you will see that most academic peer-reviewed studies support my findings (see a list of published research in Table 2 available here).

A list of all my posts regarding Media Matters is available here.

UPDATE: Ann Coulter has a discussion on this attempt to keep on calling me "Discredited." See Ann's column available here.  One should also note the rest of the academic research on this topic.

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Poll on "Do more guns lead to less crime?"

Eric Veronikis at PennLive has a brief summary of a talk that I gave at Dickinson College on Monday. It was a fun talk.

For those living in Pennsylvania, PCN (Pennsylvania's version of C-SPAN) is going to again play the talk that I gave on Wednesday morning.

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A couple of notes on Piers Morgan's show from Monday night

"305 post conviction since 1989 have been exonerated."  These exonerations also involved many crimes that occurred long before 1989.  Even just since 1989 there have been over 32 million violent crimes committed between 1989 and 2011.  I could look up the number of people convicted over that period of time, but even if it is about six or seven million, the exoneration rate is so trivial the only conclusion is that the legal system has obviously been working very well.  It is probably lower than 0.005%.  Suppose that only a quarter of those cases have DNA evidence available.  The exoneration rate is still no higher than 0.02%.  To put it differently, at least over 99.98% of the violent criminals were guilty.  That is not perfect, but it is hard to think of a system that has that low of an error rate.

The saving money claim from eliminating the death penalty is completely specious.  One thing that Ms. Clifton didn't include in her numbers is that there are plea bargains that occur because prosecutors have the death penalty as a potential threat.  If someone is obviously guilty of a murder and he is going to get life in prison either way, the criminal is going to trial.  It gets him out of prison for a week or two and he gets something different to do.  Murder trials, even when the penalty involves life in prison, are extremely costly.

On the gun issue, I would have said: the murder rates vary across countries for lots of reasons, but one thing is clear: gun bans cause murder rates to rise.  They still might be lower than the US, but they were even lower before they had those gun control laws.



Obama to push for UN Arms Trade Treaty in Senate

The Obama administration kept promising that the treaty would only be approved by unanimity, but, of course, the president broke that promise.  From The Hill newspaper:

The Obama administration defied a majority of the Senate on Tuesday by voting to approve a United Nations treaty on the trade of small arms and other conventional weapons. 
The treaty, overwhelmingly approved by the U.N., requires countries to create internal mechanisms to ensure that their arms exports aren’t likely to be used to harm civilians or violate human rights laws. 
President Obama is expected to sign the treaty within the next few months, but it faces a tough road to win the two-thirds majority support needed in the Senate for approval.  
It is opposed by the National Rifle Association, which argues the accord violates the Second Amendment by regulating small arms, such as rifles and handguns, and calling for the creation of an “end-user registry.” 
Fifty-three senators voiced their disapproval late last month by voting in favor of a nonbinding amendment to a Senate budget resolution to stop the U.S. from entering the treaty. . . .

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Note how Democrats price penalties for not buying insurance when they really want people to buy insurance

With the cost of insurance at up to $2,000, Democrats put the fine for note having insurance at $10,000.  Compare that to Obamacare where the fines for not having insurance are less than a quarter of the costs for people whose income is at $50,000.  My interpretation is that Democrats are not serious about people getting health insurance, but they are serious of stopping people from owning guns.

Yet another tax for buying guns in Chicago

With licensing and registration fees and training costs, this additional tax is part of the overall burden put on people.  From the Chicago Tribune:
People buying guns in Cook County will pay an extra $25 for each weapon under a new tax that goes into effect today. 
Although the tax has been challenged in court, County Board President Toni Preckwinkle heralded it during a news conference in Pilsen, where she was surrounded by gun safety advocates, the family of gun violence victims and clergy.
“We cannot allow gun violence to become commonplace,” Preckwinkle said, calling gun violence an “epidemic. 
The $600,000 the tax is expected to raise this year would help defray the costs of treating indigent gunshot victims at Stroger Hospital, county officials have said. The taxpayer-funded public hospital treats about 670 gunshot victims each year at an average cost of $52,000, Preckwinkle said. . . .


NRA's proposal for school safety

A copy of their report is available here.  From Fox News:
Hutchinson, though, did call for the creation of a 40-60 hour training program for armed officers. To accompany that, his group proposed a "model" state law that would allow certain personnel who have undergone this training to carry weapons on school grounds.  
"This is not talking about all teachers," he said. "Teachers should teach."  
The 225-page report also called for states to require schools to conduct a safety assessment and for a pilot program to be created assessing mental health as a pre-indicator for violence. . . .
Besides being costly, having armed officers at schools makes them a target for these killers.  There is a big benefit if the killers don't know who they have to worry about.

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The cost of mandated insurance for gun owners

From Fox News:
In Illinois, the House rejected a measure 34-74 that would require people carrying concealed weapons to also carry $1 million in liability insurance. Chicago Democrat Kenneth Dunkin was behind the defeated bill. He said an insurance policy would cost between $500 to $2,000, but Illinois Republicans successfully argued the costs were too high for citizens exercising their constitutional right to carry a gun, and the bill was defeated. . . . .
Guess who is going to pay the highest insurance premiums: Poor people who live in high crime urban areas.  Meanwhile in Congress there is a push to mandate such insurance.
A New York Democratic lawmaker is behind a national push that would force gun owners to buy liability insurance or face a $10,000 fine.
The Firearm Risk Protection Act, pushed by Rep. Carolyn Maloney and seven co-sponsors, follows efforts at the state level to create the controversial new kind of insurance for gun owners.  . . . . 

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As people learn more about the proposed gun laws, they are less supportive

Is the drop in support for gun control since shortly after Newtown due to memories fading or that people learn more about the legislation?  The media and Democrats always claim it is the former, but it isn't obvious how they can be certain about that.  Note for example how Democrats in New York and elsewhere feel the need to push through regulations before people even have a chance to read the legislation.  They seem to fear people being able to read the gun control bills.  From CBS News:
Currently, support for stricter gun control laws stands at 47 percent today, down from a high of 57 percent just after the shootings. Thirty-nine percent want those laws kept as they are, and another 11 percent want them made less strict. . . .
Indeed, if you look at the CBS News poll when it was done at other times, support for more gun control has only been lower at one other point during the previous six polls.

An earlier CNN also showed a similar drop.  
Although a majority of Americans favored major restrictions on guns or an outright ban in the wake of the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, when a heavily armed gunman killed 20 young students and six adults, a new CNN/ORC International survey indicates that support has tumbled to just 43%, as more time has passed since that December tragedy. . . .

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Member of "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" facing gun charges as well as "reckless endangerment, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, and furnishing a minor with alcohol"

From myfoxphilly.com:
The Delaware County DA's office has announced that James Schiliro, the mayor of Marcus Hook, has been arrested. 
He is facing multiple criminal charges, including reckless endangerment. Schiliro surrendered to police early Thursday morning. 
Earlier this week, the Delco Times reported that the borough council and the Republican Party asked Schiliro to resign following a drunken encounter with a 20-year-old man, which resulted in the discharge of a firearm. 
According to court documents, the mayor is accused of having a police officer pick up a 20-year-old friend in a police cruiser and bring him to his home. Inside, the mayor allegedly served the minor alcohol and asked for sexual favors. 
When the man refused, the mayor allegedly told him he was a hostage and fired his gun inside of the home, court documents said. . . .
Yet, of course, the media accounts leave out the fact that Schiliro is a member of “Mayors Against Illegal Guns.”  If it was a conservative who engaged in an affair, the media would be all over it because it would show hypocrisy.  How come the same doesn't apply to liberals?

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What does 20 year hiatus in rise in global temperatures mean for global warming?

For twenty years global temperatures have been flat.  Global warming advocates are having some trouble explaining why temperatures haven't gone up with rising CO2.  Some such as The Economist magazine make it seem that this inconsistency is somehow unique.

The mismatch between rising greenhouse-gas emissions and not-rising temperatures is among the biggest puzzles in climate science just now. It does not mean global warming is a delusion. Flat though they are, temperatures in the first decade of the 21st century remain almost 1°C above their level in the first decade of the 20th. But the puzzle does need explaining.
The mismatch might mean that—for some unexplained reason—there has been a temporary lag between more carbon dioxide and higher temperatures in 2000-10. Or it might be that the 1990s, when temperatures were rising fast, was the anomalous period. Or, as an increasing body of research is suggesting, it may be that the climate is responding to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in ways that had not been properly understood before. This possibility, if true, could have profound significance both for climate science and for environmental and social policy. . . .

In fact, over the last 150 years there have been a number of such anomalies.   Temperatures rose until the 1930s, then fell until the late 1970s, then rose again after that.  How does that possibly fit in with the continually rising CO2 over that period of time?  No explanation has been offered for these past inconsistencies.