Standards of Living


Bookworm has a post up about a couple of topics. The first part deals with the similarities between 21st-century China and the 16th-century Aztec Empire. It’s well worth reading, but second part about the difference between blue state and red state economies hit home with me.

I was born and raised in Tennessee. During the early part of my career, I lived and worked all over the world, but I returned home to settle down. Then, a career opportunity took me to California. I spent most of a decade there until another opportunity took me to Maryland. I’ve been in Maryland for almost 30 years. I’m in my 70s, and as I plan for retirement over the next few years, going back home to Tennessee seems to make more sense than staying here.

Bookworm writes—

If I’m on a fixed income (which you should assume I am, so donations to the blog are always welcome), I’m a much wealthier person in Tennessee than I am in California. Here in Tennessee, my apartment costs 1/5 of what it would in California, my gasoline costs 1/2 of what it would in California, and my utility bills are 1/3 what they are in California. Produce is more expensive here, but I can only eat so many apples. In addition, the roads throughout Tennessee are better maintained than those in California, the people are delightful, and Nature’s fecundity is glorious. I’m no longer living in an elite Blue community, but I feel I’m getting a lot of bang for my buck.

Just so.

I have a few more interesting things to do before I retire, but the call to go home keeps getting stronger.

Inconvenient Statistics


Eugene Volokh has run the numbers, and it turns out that there is no significant correlation between the strictness of gun laws and homicide rates. (There is a slight correlation between strict gun laws and higher homicide rates, but that inconvenient result isn’t strong enough to be significant.)

Of course, correlation isn’t causation, but the lack of correlation is a good indicator of a lack of causation.

But since people have been talking about simple two-variable correlations between gun laws and crime, I thought it would be helpful to note this correlation — or, rather, absence of correlation.

Read the whole thing.

There were a couple of details in Prof. Volokh’s article that I found interesting. Tennessee, my home state which has relatively good (i.e., non-restrictive) gun laws, has essentially the same homicide rate as Maryland where I live now and which has some of the heaviest restrictions on firearms.

The Times, They Are A-Changin’


When I was a kid growing up in Tennessee, state elections were settled in August rather than November. That’s when the primary was held, and whoever won the Democrat primary would win in November.

Things have changed. My old hometown paper The Tennessean reports that the Democrats are disavowing the winner of this year’s senate primary.

The party of Cordell Hull, Estes Kefauver, and Al Gore Sr. and Jr. won’t have a standard-bearer — or at least not one it can stomach — in Tennessee’s next U.S. Senate race.

Less than 24 hours after a man espousing conservative and libertarian views surprised the state’s political scene by winning the Democratic nomination, the Tennessee Democratic Party disavowed him, saying he’s part of an anti-gay hate group.

The party said Friday that it would do nothing to help Mark Clayton, 35, who received nearly twice as many votes as his closest challenger in Thursday’s seven-candidate primary, winning the right to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker in November.

There has been great wailing and gnashing of teeth over the Democrats being plunged into outer darkness, at least by the usual suspects.

Of course, conservatives are having a good chuckle.

But the real lesson here is that the times have changed. Tennessee is now a reliably Republican state, but not a one-part state as it was a couple of generations ago. The voters haven’t become more conservative, but most of the conservative voters have been run out of the Democratic Party. What’s surprising is that there were still enough left for Mr. Clayton to receive 27 percent of the primary vote.

Speaking of Bridges, Mr. President


Mr. President, as Andrew McCarthy notes in this post at PJ Media, Americans were building infrastructure without the federal government’s help for most of our history.

Let me tell you how my great-grandfather died. In 1861, he was shot by someone trying to jump the toll on the bridge he operated over the Sequatchie River on the road between Nashville and Chattanooga. He ran the bridge because it was on a family farm. Tolls were collected because the family built and owned the bridge. Not the county, not the state, and certainly not the federal government. Let me repeat that. My great-grandfather died looking out for the family’s business interest in a family-owned toll bridge.

Perhaps this will help you to understand why I’m not buying your idea that honest success in business comes from lucky exploitation of governmental largesse rather than personal risk taking and hard work.

Is it November yet?