Friday, July 25, 2014

Socialists Are Cheaters, Says New Study

"The longer individuals were exposed to socialism, the more likely they were to cheat on our task," according to a new study, "The (True) Legacy of Two Really Existing Economic Systems," from Duke University and the University of Munich. The team of researchers concluded this after working with 259 participants from Berlin who grew up on opposite sides of the infamous wall.

When playing a dice game that could earn them €6 ($8), subjects originally from the East, which was for four decades under socialist rule, were more likely than their market economy counterparts in West to lie about how they fared. The Economist explains the task:

The game was simple enough. Each participant was asked to throw a die 40 times and record each roll on a piece of paper. A higher overall tally earned a bigger payoff. Before each roll, players had to commit themselves to write down the number that was on either the top or the bottom side of the die. However, they did not have to tell anyone which side they had chosen, which made it easy to cheat by rolling the die first and then pretending that they had selected the side with the highest number. If they picked the top and then rolled a two, for example, they would have an incentive to claim—falsely—that they had chosen the bottom, which would be a five.

The results were that "East Germans cheated twice as much as West Germans overall," leaving the researchers to conclude the "the political regime of socialism has a lasting impact on citizens' basic morality."

The paper discusses some potentially related reasons for the outcome, such as the fact that

socialist systems have been characterized by extensive scarcity, which ultimately led to the collapse of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in East Germany. In many instances, socialism pressured or forced people to work around official laws. For instance, in East Germany stealing a load of building materials in order to trade it for a television set might have been the only way for a driver of gravel loads to connect to the outside world. Moreover, socialist systems have been characterized by a high degree of infiltration by the intelligence apparatus.

The Duke-Munich team positions their work against a 2013 study, "Of Morals, Markets and Mice," which concluded "that market economies decay morals" but "compared decisions in bilateral and multilateral market settings to individual decisions rather than an alternative economic allocation mechanism." The new research finds that "political and economic regimes such as socialism might have an even more detrimental effect on individuals’ behavior."

In another aspect of the study, the researchers note that "we did not observe an overall difference between East and West Germans in pro-social behavior," such as donating to hospitals, the capitalist-influenced demographic does, in fact, donate marginally more.



EU calls on Hamas, Islamic Jihad to disarm

The EU does something right for a change: 28-country bloc defends Israel’s right to fight, says indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza is ‘criminal and unjustifiable’

The European Union on Tuesday called on Hamas and other Gaza terror groups to disarm, taking a strikingly pro-Israel stance and supporting the country’s “legitimate right to defend itself.”

The union’s 28 foreign ministers issued a joint statement after a meeting of the European Council, calling for an end to Hamas rocket attacks and an immediate ceasefire.  “The EU calls on Hamas to immediately put an end to these acts and to renounce violence. All terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm,” it said.

It also condemned the rocket fire at Israel from the Gaza Strip as “criminal and unjustifiable acts,” but said Israel must do more to prevent civilian casualties.

“While recognizing Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself against any attacks, the EU underlines that the Israeli military operation must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law,” it said.

The statement came as the Israeli and Palestinian death tolls climbed steadily, with some 30 Israelis killed since the operation began, and more than 600 Palestinians, many of them civilians, according to Palestinian officials in Hamas-run Gaza.

The EU, which is often stridently critical of Israeli policies, also decried Hamas’s “calls on the civilian population of Gaza to provide themselves as human shields.”

It said it was “extremely concerned” about the situation, and reiterated its call for an immediate ceasefire.

The EU also appealed for the open of crossings to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, and emphasized that the current campaign pointed to “the unsustainable nature of the status quo” in the coastal enclave.

Earlier in the day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also condemned Hamas rocket fire and called on the group to stop using civilian sites for military purposes. He also called for a ceasefire.

Responding to the EU statement, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said the statement proved “that the free world is united with Israel against Hamas terror, and Israel has the full right to protect itself.”



The sacredness of a baby

An Israeli man instantly used his body to protect a baby


Another Law-Abiding Citizen Arrested!

As you know, every state has its own gun laws. Even though the Second Amendment says that the “right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” and the Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago that this applies to the states, there are a number of gun control states that completely trample on your constitutional rights.

The People’s Republik of New Jersey is one of those states.

In the State of New Jersey, firearms are banned except for certain exemptions. It is illegal to possess a firearm unless you jump through hoops to receive an exemption.

For law-abiding citizens, that means they have to apply for a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card. The law says that police have 30-days to process these applications, but few towns even bother to meet that deadline.

Even still, an FPID only allows you to possess a gun within your home or in a locked case on the way to a gun range. If you take a gun outside of your property, you are instantly a felon.

The only way to legally take a gun outside your home in these gun control states is to obtain a License to Carry a Firearm, something that is often statistically impossible for about 26% of all Americans.

Studies have found that approximately 11.1 million Americans possess a concealed carry permit. That’s up from 4.6 million in 2007. That is significant growth. And while the number of states issuing concealed weapons permits has increased, there is still a minority of states that completely restrict concealed carry.

Approximately 3.5% of all Americans possess a concealed weapons permit. These people are certified by their home states and deemed trustworthy enough to carry a gun in public. But in many cases, states refuse to recognize the legitimacy of these permits and law-abiding citizens end up in prison over it!

But for Shaneen Allen, a licensed concealed carrier in Pennsylvania, her Second Amendment rights end at the state-line. This is an absolutely tragic story. This woman, unfortunately, wrongly assumed that her concealed weapons permit would be accepted everywhere, kind of like a drivers license. So, when she was pulled over by a New Jersey Police Officer, she wanted to be honest with him. So she told him she was a licensed concealed carrier.

Shaneen Allen was pulled over for a minor traffic violation. The police officer alleges that she improperly changed lanes. But, because she handed her concealed weapons permit to the officer along with her driver’s license, she now faces a MINIMUM of three years in prison!

The aptly named Graves Act requires that first time gun offenders receive a minimum three-year prison sentence in New Jersey.

Shaneen Allen is a black, single mother of two young children. She has no prior criminal record. Before she was arrested, she worked as a licensed phlebologist. When she was robbed two-times in just one year, she made the decision to purchase a gun to protect herself and her family. She went through the process to become a licensed concealed carrier in the State of Pennsylvania. There is zero evidence that Shaneen Allen intended to use the gun for any malicious purpose. Yet, she was still arrested. She spent a whopping FORTY days in jail before she was actually released on bail and even now, she’s facing a felony charge that, if convicted, would bring a three-year mandatory minimum prison term.

This woman made a mistake… She admits to that. But while actual criminals cop plea deals to get less prison time, the prosecutor refuses to show Shaneen Allen any leniency!

This is a textbook example of why we need National Concealed Carry Reciprocity! But when Republicans tried to insert reciprocity into a Senate bill this month, Harry Reid shot it down!

Innocent Americans are being tripped up and having their lives ruined by these ridiculous and unconstitutional concealed carry laws.

The Second Amendment is clear… It says our right to bear arms “shall not be infringed.” Yet in states like New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, Maryland, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Washington DC, the state does just that!

And for those who happen to travel through these gun control states, they are forced to decide between disarming and putting their families in danger or defying the law entirely.

There shouldn’t even be a law to defy! In 1986, Congress passed the Firearm Owner Protection Act (FOPA). The goal of this was to ensure that people could travel across state lines with their locked firearms without becoming felons. This law MUST be extended to concealed weapons permit holders!

There is absolutely no reason that a law-abiding citizen like Shaneen Allen should face the prospect of a felony conviction and prison time for exercising his or her constitutional rights! There is no reason that Americans should have to disarm while traveling through the most dangerous states!

The answer is simple. We must demand National Concealed Carry Reciprocity now!



Living on the Fumes of Greatness

Only men over sixty have ever been subject to the military draft in America. Knowing you could be forced by government to fight in a war focuses one's attention on what's happening in the wider world beyond the peaceful shores of the Unites States. Today, however, our military is all volunteer. Fewer than 1% of Americans serve now and that's been true for decades. If you don't want to, you don't have to. Is that a good thing? I'm not so sure.

Americans under sixty have led a remarkably pampered life by world historical standards. They've grown up in the most powerful country the world has ever seen and have never been forced to seriously consider how brutal other humans can be when they're allowed. The vast majority of people who lived out their lives on this planet did so in walled cities or constantly looking over their shoulders as they moved about with weapons close at hand.

Some of us, though, have paid attention to what goes on outside our borders. Some have studied history and have come to understand that the Pax Americana we've known all our lives is more the exception than the rule. Most, however, never consider Orwell's observance that: "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." We don't appreciate how fortunate we are to have been born in late-20th-century America. We still have rough men ready to do violence on our behalf, but we don't have a government that either appreciates them or knows how to use them properly.

I hate to point this out, but we're not just getting fat, dumb, and lazy; we're already here, and have been for some time. Obesity is epidemic. We don't know much about history, geography, civics, or anything else, and more than 90 million of us have dropped out of the workforce. The evidence is overwhelming that our citizenry is in serious decline. Consequently, so is our nation. More and more of us are dependent on government entitlements and, due to our ignorance of simple arithmetic, we are unaware that those expensive programs are mathematically unsustainable. Bankruptcy looms, but we keep on spending as if it weren't.

We keep reelecting a government that is a reflection of us. Paradoxically however, opinion polls indicate that we don't approve of the government for which we keep voting. Why do we continue to reelect congressmen, senators and a president we dislike? Is it because they tell us what we want to hear? Perhaps the lyric in the Sheryl Crow number applies to us: "Lie to me. I promise, I'll believe," she sang. How long can this continue though? When I ponder that, something columnist Mark Steyn wrote comes to mind: "Sometimes societies become too stupid to survive."

Peggy Noonan, former Reagan speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist, penned something last week that also haunts me. Commenting about the illegal alien crisis on the Mexican border, she observed: "America is the house that is both falling apart and under new stress. Those living within it, those most upset by what they're seeing, know America has big problems-unemployment, low workforce participation, a rickety physical infrastructure, an unsound culture, poor public education. And of course discord of all sorts... They know America can't pay its bills. They fear we're living on the fumes of greatness. They want us to be strong again."

"Living on the fumes of greatness." Yes. That is indeed what we're doing.

Noonan was describing Americans who do pay attention, who understand history, who know we cannot go on doing what we're doing. But I'm afraid such people are in the minority now. Remember: 52% of us reelected Barack Obama two years ago in spite of what he did in his first term. The Wednesday morning after that sad election day I was forced to realize that yes, the America in which I grew up has fundamentally changed.

First generation immigrant Dinesh D'Souza just released a movie titled, "America: Imagine The World Without Her." I haven't seen it yet, but I know what's in it. He sees what I see. I have been imagining such a world and it isn't a pretty one, because I know there are brutal people out there who ponder it gleefully. They smell American decline and they extend their probes further and further to see what they can get away with. How far will that be? I'm afraid to think.

I still choose to believe in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary that it's not too late, that enough Americans are beginning to understand we simply must turn things around.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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