I’m on record as both 1) admiring Megan McArdle, and 2) advising you to always supplement her analyses with this:
She’s highly intelligent, highly imaginative, highly principled…and highly credulous. Her latest essay is a perfect example of the quadfecta. She lavished time, effort, and economic expertise on this: should Americans be forced to buy liability insurance for their firearms?
…bad faith. By bad people.
This, from mild-mannered Prof. Reynolds, is akin to Jesus cursing the fig tree. And why the outrage?
It’s just an effort to raise the cost of gun ownership, and to accomplish back-door gun registration so that antigun newspapers can run lists of gun-liability-insurance policyholders.
To which we and all other non-credulous, non-tyrannical Americans reply, “Well, duh.” But Megan doesn’t see this. At all. Instead she offers a masterful analysis of gun insurance and concludes that it’s incredibly stupid.
The problem is, it’s not clear to me that any law which could actually be enacted would [be] even a partial solution to gun crime.
That is Diplomat for, “I live and work with the folks making this incredibly stupid proposal which I’ve just riddled with a nine-pointed blade.”
But because her logic is so irrefutable, her blindness is equally obvious. She toils mightily at a false premise: those seeking gun insurance are trying to reduce gun crime. Their motives are so obvious that even good-natured Instapundit is calling them “bad people”. Yes, he knows that among them are her friends and neighbors and colleagues.
They are also bad people. They are the Ruling Class, its members and sycophants and courtiers, and this is just their latest attempt at putting the colonial peasants back under the imperial heel. This happens at every moment in every society in every time period in all history. Here is the exception that proves the rule.
Ignoring the existence of totalitarians is like ignoring gravity. Both lead inevitably to a very nasty fall.
But perhaps Megan acknowledged the tyrannical impulse, considered it, but then explained why it doesn’t apply in this case? And as cogently as she destroyed the proposal itself? Sigh.
From early in her essay:
The first question we have to answer is why we want to require the insurance.
She’s right so far, our lovely Atlantic starling.
There are three reasons I can think of:
1) it will simply raise the cost of owning guns to the point where people aren’t willing to do it.
We’ll skip reasons 2 and 3, since she goes on to address those and, as noted, utterly demolishes them. But what of Reason Number One?
Number one is unfair to advocates of stronger gun control,
There is no such thing as fairness in logic, there are only true and false arguments. But why, pray tell, is unfair?
…most of whom say that they do not want to take all guns away from law abiding citizens.
Ahhh. And people never lie when meddling in the business of others.
I see no reason to doubt them,
Because people never lie when meddling in the business of others?
…and so I’m basically discounting any interpretation of this proposal that seems like it would just raise the cost of guns until they were unaffordable for all but the very wealthy.
Megan acknowledged three possibilities yet considered only two of them. Note the qualifier:
…I’m basically discounting…
“Basically” is her one-word bridge between “ruthlessly honest” and “unwilling to face the truth”. Imagine two mini-Megans sitting on her shoulders. But instead of the classic angel/devil duo, one is Rational Megan and the other is Social Megan. Basically she is trying to satisfy both of them.
“Basically” is there to fog the starkness of “discounting any interpretation…” Further, ponder this: why bring up a possibility only to dismiss it without consideration? If Megan doesn’t believe it’s theoretically possible then why mention it in the first place?
Because Rational Megan made her.
Rational Megan knows that people lie and hedge and dissemble and that the power-hungry do it without cease. She knows history and human nature and Occam’s Razor. Rational Megan knows that not only is #1 a perfectly valid argument, but that it’s also the best one. Why can’t Megan acknowledge the simple truth?
Because Social Megan won’t let her.
Megan McArdle was born in NYC and lives and works in Washington D.C. Her life is smack-dab in the middle of the Ruling Class world. What would happen to her if she “spoke truth to power”? Social Megan knows exactly what would happen, and Social Megan always trumps Rational Megan. Reason forces Megan to acknowledge the obvious, but her relationships require her to exclaim, “Bosh! Balderdash! Let us speak of this no more!”
Megan’s response to her own question was exhaustive, yet false. Instapundit’s answer was true, but curt. He didn’t explain why the proposal is made in bad faith by bad people. Allow me:
Should people be forced to buy liability insurance for their speech?
That was the first thing that came to mind upon seeing Megan’s question. Now imagine asking gun-grabbers the question. Would they take it seriously? Of course not, but First Amendment insurance is just as reasonable as Second Amendment insurance. Example: a sweet yet emotionally fragile English nurse commits suicide after accidently betraying a patient’s confidence during a prank phone call made by two Australian shock jocks. Outlandish, you say? Yes. But did it happen? Yes.
Or suppose someone falsely calls out “Fire!” in a crowded theater and in the ensuing panic people are trampled to death. Is that a deadly abuse of the First Amendment? It is. So can’t we require insurance to cover such damages? Remember that no one is making you buy it; you can always just keep your mouth shut.
This policy is quite obviously stupid and unworkable and authoritarian and stupid. We already have better mechanisms in place for dealing with those who abuse their rights or are dangerously negligent in exercising them. We begin at social approbation and end in lawsuits and criminal prosecution.
Go to a gun range and watch some newbie carelessly point his firearm at another person. Observe the reactions of everyone else and some of you will actually feel sorry for the idiot’s shame and disgrace. Don’t. It’s for his own good as well as ours. The alternative is having a few more people getting accidently shot. In those cases, please note the reactions of the victims’ lawyers. In fact Ms. McArdle fails to consider that insurance will increase accidental shootings, to the entent that it reduces financial hazard. “Oh, come on,” you reply. “The careless could still be sued.” Yes…but they can already be sued now.
There are only two possible reasons Americans would argue for “gun insurance”. Professor Reynolds says it’s because of bad faith by bad people, but he would acknowledge the other as being possible in theory:
They are dumber than a Styrofoam gas tank.
Ms. McArdle brought up three reasons, dismissing one and dismantling the others. But by annihilating those two arguments she reveals how ignorant you’d have to be to advance them in the first place.
So, Megan…for the sake of argument…let’s say you were entirely correct to dismiss bad faith as a motive. Well, then, just how stupid are these people?
(“Don’t answer that!” Social Megan screams in your ear, “It’s a trick question! Ignore it, deflect it, change the subject CHANGE THE SUBJECT!”)
Pick your poison, Ms. McArdle. Those folks are being perfectly honest? Then they are profoundly retarded, both mentally and morally. They can’t advance beyond a three-year-old’s magical thinking and they’re trapped in the self-righteousness that afflicts us all in our narcissistic youth. Geez-Louise, Megan, take a step back and look at what you just did to their so-called argument. Yet you’re going to keep taking them seriously? If so, from now on you need to account for Honey Boo Boo’s opinion as well.
Megan McArdle, you have three choices:
1) Admit that bad people are making bad arguments in bad faith.
2) Admit that children mustn’t meddle in adult business, no matter how old they are.
3) Continue to be a woman divided.