Re: Dai Vernon's Close-Up Non-Sequiturs Explained (was Re:

Keith Elis (
Mon, 22 Dec 1997 15:39:38 -0500

I'm sorry, I thought you were debating the substance of my post.

What I originally posted was:

> If this is so, then firearms are not as inexpensive as the market is
> telling us, and they may not be the most practical method of ensuring
> your own personal autonomy and freedom.

After your accusations of illogic, I explained myself:

> If the aggregate external costs are greater than the aggregate
> external benefits, then firearms are not as inexpensive as the market is
> telling us because those costs are not included in the cost of
> production. If guns aren't as inexpensive as the market is telling us,
> then before we decide if they are practical we best figure out how much
> they *do* cost us. I'm using "practical" in one of its common sense
> meanings: "efficiently accomplishing the stated purpose."

This is the extent of my argument, I have gone no further than this.

Even after this explanation, you are still telling me that I am drawing
a conclusion which does not follow. And you explain why:

> You never dealt with any reading of Benefit, either True OR Market.

In my original post I wrote:

> A
> firearm designed for the express purpose of making killing more
> efficient has external benefits only insofar as killing something can be
> a benefit (rare and isolated situations which constitute a separate
> issue).

There is no reason for me to discuss benefit at all because I have only
attempted to show that external costs may exist. If external costs
exist, this means that they must enter our calculations. You will recall
that if aggregate benefits do not outweigh the aggregate costs (I don't
say they do or do not) then guns COST MORE THAN WE THINK. If this little
bit of theory becomes fact, and guns cost more than we think, then that
means that thanks to the existence of external costs, guns may actually
be inefficiently accomplishing their stated purpose.

Sure, other data is necessary, but I did say "may."

You continue explaining why I was so illogical:

> And
> *then* some OPTIMUM came blackwinging in from hypertheticalspace (your
> phrase was "most practical") if such a thing could be determined or
> was the measure that was being discussed.

You don't like my superlative? Deepest apologies. But don't tell me that
the practicality of firearms is not "the measure being discussed." In
fact, the *ENTIRE* debate up to this point has been about whether
firearms are more trouble than they are worth. We've discussed whether
crime rates increase, we've traded fancy anecdotes about horrible deaths
by handguns, we've traded fancy anecdotes about self-defenses, we've
given numbers of extropians that have guns (as if this is will prove
guns are more extropian), we've lectured and nitpicked.

As I said in another post, practicality is "efficiently accomplishing
the stated purpose." The question this debate has been trying to answer
is whether we should have guns, regulate them, or let them do their
thing without concern. I've attempted to show that they may cost us more
than we think they do. If they cost more than we think they do THEY MAY
utter disregard for Michael M. Butler's sanity, to use the word
"practical" to convey this concept.

> AND you never said anything about
> the fact that without any other data, if all you've determined is that the
> magnitude of your expenses is greater than the total of the checks you
> registered in your checkbook, you can't tell if you're broke.

I sure did. I said "you MAY be broke." This seems to suggest the proper
measure of nomothetic causal uncertainty. Maybe I should have said
"ceteris paribus" but I mistakenly assumed you might fill in the blank.
Profound apologies.

> You might as well have said "Since orange juice might be more fairly priced
> higher than $1.75 a quart, which is what they charge me down at the store,
> orange juice may not be the perfect food."

<sigh> You're totally mischaracterizing me.

If orange juice costs us more than than we think, it may not be
practical for us to do drink it, no matter how much we like it.

If guns cost us more than we think, it may not be practical for us to
make them, no matter how amusing they are.

> Huh? yourself. : Until you mentioned it, I don't recall anyone talking
> about the "most practical" (the "perfect food").

Again, I apologize for using a superlative. But we are talking about
practicality, whether you like the word itself or not. Are guns
efficiently accomplishing the stated purpose?

> >>
> >> I don't want this to devolve into a kneejerking match, but let me pose the
> >> same question I asked earlier in a slightly different form: what is the
> >> external cost of that left-for-dead fifteen year old girl?
> >
> >It is beyond my ability to assign a monetary value to a human life.
> Seems to me someone with that limitation would have a hard time evaluating
> TrueMarketBenefit and TrueMarketCost, no?

Please point out where in any of my posts I was trying to assign a
dollar value to the two variables you invented above?

<sigh> For the last time, I'm trying to show that costs may exist that
do not enter the cost of production. I do not care what the dollar value
of these costs are. If they exist, and the age-old economic cost-benefit
balance shows that costs exceed benefits, then guns cost us more than
the market is telling us. If guns cost more than the market is telling
us, then CETERIS PARIBUS they may be inefficient.

> :)
> I'm left with only one possible explanation for this misunderstanding: Is
> it your impression that one side of (or even _any_ of) the participants in
> this specific discussion think that "orange juice is the perfect food" (to
> use my analogy)? Did they SAY that anywhere, or is someone doing a little
> amateur mindreading here?

Okay, Michael. So now I am not only illogical, I am irrelevant? I have
made a logical argument. And now I must prove that I'm relevant. Fine.

The very beginning of the first post I made on this subject said:

> The force doctrine doesn't imply that *firearms* are necessary to
> preserve freedom. It merely requires that an individual have the right
> to keep and bear arms. I agree that this essential point is obvious and
> unassailable in light of the Second Amendment. Much of the debate going
> on around here concerns whether firearms are a practical means to this

If the purpose of guns is to protect your freedom and they are
inefficient, why not find something else to protect your freedom that is
more efficient? As Lorrey explained, the right to keep and bear arms is
necessary to protect our freedoms and secure power. Great. Fine.
Wonderful. But where does it say that in order to protect our freedoms
and secure power we must necessarily use guns? Why not something else
that might not have the external costs of firemarms?

I've attempted to show that external costs may exist, with all of the
attendant ramifications for efficiency. If I can show guns are
inefficient economically speaking, then I can argue that the right to
keep and bear arms should probably not include guns. If I can show that
external benefits make guns even more efficient, then I can argue that
more guns should be produced. Either way, every argument for or against
gun control implicates practicality.

> _I_ certainly never said that. Who did? Raise your hands, please...

I don't have the time to pull out examples of statements you have made
that implicate practicality.