New Zealand to Ban Semiautomatic Weapons

Institutions matter. (No, seriously, they really, really matter).


The NYT podcast, The Daily reported on How New Zealand Banned Assault Rifles in Six Days, except that it really didn’t, at least not fully (as I expected would be the case).

The piece did provide the following pieces that help explain the outcome:

  1. The political skill of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
  2. Her ability to leverage the heinous event in Christchurch into parliamentary action
  3. The already restrictive (compared to the US) gun laws in New Zealand
  4. The very different (from the US) gun culture in the US
  5. The fact that there had been several attempts at more gun restricts in NZ in the last decade or so (2005, 2012)
  6. The historical comparison to Australia

None of that, however, explains how the ban was instituted as quickly as it was (although all of it provides context).  Clearly political skill and will were necessary, as was a ripe context in which such a bill could even be contemplated at all, let alone that quickly.

However, into that context is placed two important factors:  existing legislation and institutional design.

First, the ability to stop sales of certain firearms was accomplished via an Order in Council by the Governor-General (at the behest of the government and the PM) under the authority granted by the Arms Act of 1983. It should be noted that the order has to be ratified by the legislature no later than June 30, 2020.  In fact, the House of Representative is set to take up legislation in April.

So, a pre-existing legislative power allowed the immediate action, but the longer-term results will depend on more permanent legislative action.  As I often harp, institutions matter.

New Zealand has a parliamentary system with a unicameral legislature, meaning the voters elect parliament (using the Mixed Member Proportional system) and then a government is formed (i.e., the Prime Minister and cabinet) by the party, or parties, which can command a majority of the seats.  The current government, headed by Ardern, is a minority government formed by a coalition between the Labour Party and New Zealand First with a Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Green Party (meaning they are not part of the government, but provide the needed votes for the government to form).

Additionally, New Zealand lacks a written constitution and has no judicial review of legislation.

All of this sums to:  if Arden has the votes, she can get whatever law she wants passed (and, indeed, if she doesn’t have the votes on something this major, she is risking her Prime Ministership on the attempt, meaning it is rather likely she has the votes).

New Zealand’s system has but one veto gate.  That is, there is only one point in the policy-making process that needs to be surmounted to institute policy:  the legislature itself.  The US has three such veto gates:  the House (which has to vote out a bill), the Senate (which has to vote out a bill), and the President (who can veto the bill).  Further, in the US there are possible post-passage obstacles:  the courts and the states (in areas of policy that require their cooperation).  In NZ, parliament in supreme without a written constitution and with no route for a court challenge.  And since it is a unitary state there are no federal sub-units to throw up roadblocks.

It should be noted that in New Zealand, even once PM Arden gets the bill passed, if there is sufficient public preference that the law be changed, there is a real possibility that a future PM could, because of that public support, get the law reversed.   While such an institutional configuration can produce rapid, even dramatic, change, if public sentiment shifts, it is possible to engage in further changes to the laws later.  Put another way:  to make dramatic policy changes requirement a government that has majority support at that moment in time, and so whatever policy changes are made have democratic legitimacy.  But, likewise, if popular will shifts, a mechanism exists for that shift in will to be reflected in a very representative electoral system, which would then generate control of the House and of the government, and lead to the desired policy change.

As a comparative note, the institutional parameters of the US are on the other end of the spectrum in terms of global democracy:  three veto gates, plus a rigid constitution, robust judicial review, and federalism.  When we ask, therefore, why can NZ change their laws so quickly? the answer shouldn’t be a bromide about “political leadership.” It has to be an understanding both of the general political context and the institutional design of their governing system.

Consider how hard it was for the PPACA to pass in the US Congress, and likewise how hard it is to undo, and the comparison is quite dramatic.

FILED UNDER: Politics 101, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Teve says:

    When we ask, therefore, why can NZ change their laws so quickly, the answer should be a bromide about “political leadership” it has to be an understanding both of the general political context, but also the institutional design of their governing system.

    should or shouldn’t?

  2. @Teve: “shouldn’t”

    Thanks for noting.

  3. James Joyner says:

    If the mandatory Government classes kids take in high school weren’t inevitably taught by someone whose first name is “Coach,” I think we’d have a better understanding of these things. Although I still find it shocking that the very smart people who write for the NYT and other elite media outlets don’t understand Politics 101.

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  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’m increasingly concerned that our very system of government is in the early stages of dementia, and the condition is incurable. Much of our basic governmental design was calculated to defend slavery. We no longer have slaves. Haven’t for 150 plus years. And if it wasn’t about defending slavery it was about coping with great distances and poor travel conditions, which no longer apply. An entire system of government constructed for circumstances which are now completely irrelevant.

    And we can’t do anything about it because the system was designed to stop us ever doing anything about it. We have an auto-immune disease. We’re killing ourselves.

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  5. @James Joyner: Indeed. Of course, in general, comparative politics is barely taught in schools and US government and politics is slightly taught, and poorly at that.

    Elite level reporting on how governments work globally, and especially how elections are conducted, it often terrible (and therefore gets really vague).

  6. @Michael Reynolds: I can’t disagree, at least in a general sense: our institutions need a serious refresh, but the irony is that the design of said institutions make such a refresh almost impossible. (Not to mention that the current holders of power have no incentive to change anything, since the existing rules are what give them power).

    On my optimistic days I think we might come to some changes on the edges (e.g., increasing the sie of the House, having a serious convo about the EC). Most days I fear we will have to have a major, systemic crisis and near breakdown before anything changes.

    My pessimism is born of knowing that out current institutions do a terrible job of representing popular sentiment, to the point of creating the conditions for minority rule (which rhetorically stating the opposite). Those are the conditions for serious crisis over time.

  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:
    It’s not just government classes, people need to be taught to think. That’s the purview of philosophy. But we can’t teach philosophy because: religion. We literally cannot teach kids how to think because of a powerful constituency that insists on believing in sky fairies.

    You know what the Germans, Chinese, Danes, Koreans, Dutch, Japanese – all the people who challenge us and too-often surpass us – have in common? None of them are remotely as religious as Americans. Who is as religious as we are? A long, long list of mid-list performers and failed states.

    If we can’t teach kids to think, they won’t think. Their competitors will.

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  8. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I’ve seen many attempts to form Critical Thinking classes in high schools that were shot down by local religious interests. Which also actually goes to the institutional problem, we shouldn’t have local control of education, both because it was a deliberate way to underfund African American schools, and because in many places the locals aren’t capable of establishing a responsible curriculum unless they’re forced to by state standards.

  9. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Yes, it’s a weird problem. Although it’s one that seems to be getting worse. I don’t think Americans were this insular and irrational 30-40 years ago.

    Like @Steven L. Taylor, I think a radical revamp of the system is called for but see no means to that end. Those who benefit from the system have all the leverage because it’s nearly impossible to amend the Constitution. And, frankly, I don’t even want to know what a 2019 version of the 1787 Constitutional Convention would produce.

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  10. James Joyner says:

    @Teve: @Michael Reynolds: In all honesty, even if there weren’t outside objections, I have zero confidence on the whole in those who teach our schools to conduct such classes. My fiance is a former schoolteacher and Steven Taylor’s wife is again teaching school after a long hiatus to raise their boys. Let’s just say that they’re intellectual outliers.

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  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    I have zero confidence on the whole in those who teach our schools to conduct such classes.

    Preaching to the choir, says the guy who used to walk out of 10th grade halfway through the day and then dropped out entirely. But if they can teach algebra – granted in most cases they can’t – then they can explain a syllogism. (Though the pronunciation of the final syllable of that word may engender some hilarity) . I’m not asking that we teach Hegel and Kant to seven year-olds, but can we not spend at least a little time on logic, ethics and fundamental epistemology?

    Try teaching the fallacy of ‘appeal to authority.’ See how long it takes some Bible thumping parent to start screaming. If you can’t even teach kids how to avoid obvious intellectual traps then how is this education?

  12. Kit says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    We literally cannot teach kids how to think because of a powerful constituency that insists on believing in sky fairies.

    For these people, teaching their kids to think is like sending their kids off to the big city: those kids probably will not return back home.

  13. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s not just government classes, people need to be taught to think.

    This, a hundred times.

    None of them are remotely as religious as Americans. Who is as religious as we are? A long, long list of mid-list performers and failed states.

    Let me begin by saying I hate religion and look forward to the day it finally goes away (hopefully). That said, I think the problem isn’t religiousness per se, but the public, ostentatious, political manner in which many Americans insist on practicing it. Not to mention the way many also use it as a cloak for their prejudices.

    A quick summary of what this means would be “You can’t do that, it’s against my religion.”

  14. Teve says:

    even here in the Deep South, the local high school, which I taught math at for 2 years, teaches calculus, and one of my fellow math teachers had a degree in aerospace engineering, but she was laid off from NASA due to budget cuts. They could teach critical thinking here with no problem intellectually, the problem is that the 23+ churches within walking distance of the high school, half of them Southern Baptist, would never allow it.

    when you pull out of the north entrance of the high school, waiting to turn left or right, there is a huge billboard of the ten commandments in your face sitting barely on private property.

  15. Andy says:

    @James Joyner:

    If the mandatory Government classes kids take in high school weren’t inevitably taught by someone whose first name is “Coach,” I think we’d have a better understanding of these things. Although I still find it shocking that the very smart people who write for the NYT and other elite media outlets don’t understand Politics 101.

    I have three school-age kids. They get “civics” in 7th grade and then one semester of “government” in 9th grade (which is high school here). There are a couple of electives, but most are restricted to honors students. It’s not enough.

    I wrote my district about the lack of good civics education. They responded there is no room to add more mandatory coursework because of state and federal mandates. I’m not sure I believe them, but the only choice I have is to supplement their learning at home.

  16. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    But we can’t teach philosophy because: religion. We literally cannot teach kids how to think because of a powerful constituency that insists on believing in sky fairies.

    I don’t think that’s the case. After all, most colleges that I’m aware of don’t require coursework epistemology, philosophy or even the theory of knowledge. Many high schools don’t offer any coursework on these topics, even as electives.

  17. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    My fiance is a former schoolteacher and Steven Taylor’s wife is again teaching school after a long hiatus to raise their boys. Let’s just say that they’re intellectual outliers.

    There are a lot of “outliers” who teach. Teachers as a group love kids and want to see them succeed and grow into decent adults. Don’t underestimate the colleagues of the people you know and trust – that’s fairly creepy; they’re obviously not in it to get rich and perhaps also enjoy educating young minds and guiding young people into adulthood.

    You’re ghettho’ing teachers that you don’t know and personally trust into a weird amorphous blob. Your fiance and Taylor’s wife are not outliers. They’re likely closer to the norm of the pool of current teachers.

    Yes, there are cynical teachers as there are cynical project managers. Many corporate projects fail. Many, many, many (I personally know).

    And unlike Catholic priests, they, as a group, are much less likely to be active pederasts, and much more likely to be caught and punished if they are.

  18. Tyrell says:

    @Andy: I have noticed that the school systems in general go in cycles and the latest “fads”. Every so often the administration will jump on science and get everyone focusing on that, with workshops, training, science fairs, and robotics.
    Writing is pushed more. Math and reading still dominate, with reading done through Accelerated Reader and Scholastic or Time For Kids. Textbooks are no longer published. Social studies right now gets short shrift or teach it with whatever time you have left. Health is included with science, but very little.

  19. Sleeping Dog says:

    @James Joyner:
    30-40 years ago a significant part of the political, social and business leadership lived through the Great Depression and/or WWII. Experiences such as those tend to focus the mind on things other than yourself. Insularity and irrationality are problems and you can add lack of inquisitiveness as well.

  20. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl: My view is jaded, I’m afraid, from having spent several years teaching American Government 101 to Education majors, who were required to take the course. For a variety of reasons, Education majors tend to be among the worst students on campus. And, alas, the education bureaucracy tends to drive all but the most committed of the smart, creative ones out of the classroom in frustration.

  21. de stijl says:

    @Andy:

    I wrote my district about the lack of good civics education. They responded there is no room to add more mandatory coursework because of state and federal mandates.

    Good on you for trying, but you have to admit you were a bit naive in the attempt. Seriously, it’s not a menu where, if 10 kids want civics instruction, a new AP teacher magically appears. Schools have to teach basic language and math skills (those hated state and federal mandates). Everything else is both and opportunity and an opportunity cost.

    Wouldn’t it be awesome if schools confederated and had districts where specialized classes could be taught in individual schools and the students could take subsidized buses between them. Oh, right, that already happens because school districts are rational.

    Perhaps they should invest in infrastructure that allows for students interested in, say, civics to take on-line classes, you say. Oh right, they already do that.

    Pitch your civics education possible mandate at the the district, not the individual school. BTW, it will never be part of the core curriculum. That’s waaay too crowded.

    —–

    We have schools that support the society, and since we’re end-stage capitalists we produce young adults who are trained to be wage slaves for amoral corporations. Yeah! America!

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  22. Modulo Myself says:

    IMO Many Americans view civics as a way to avoid politics, which makes sense when you look at American history–which on a large scale is about dealing with slavery and then its aftermath. There’s a strange tendency now to view politics as threatening American liberal democracy, which was not apparently threatened by putting up statues celebrating the lifetime achievements of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

    And what @Kathy said about religion applies to all parts of life–America is performative as hell, and people can appear religious while voting for Trump and there’s no contradiction at all.

  23. Andy says:

    @de stijl:

    Good on you for trying, but you have to admit you were a bit naive in the attempt.

    I’ve spent most of my life working in large bureaucracies, so I knew it would likely come to naught, but if parents don’t make their preferences known, then nothing will ever change.

  24. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    I sorta know when a corporate data project will fail. If they primarily base the success criteria on the build out, it will likely fail. Infrastructure unused is pointless.

    Changing behavior is very hard and providing data infrastructure affects a few analysts at the margins. Good on those folks though – they are actively trying to make their corporation better. But I made many, many dollars off projects I knew to be doomed from the start and I learned a lot of skills on someone else’s dime. Thank you to that amorphous, amoral blob that cut me a check, BTW!

    This is very cynical take. We are end-stage capitalists and educate and encourage our children to be future wage slaves.

    My entire industry is utter shit. Google gets data infrastructure and does it really well. Amazon, too. And they are utterly and totally societal disasters. The corporate entities I work for are either actively shitty (really big banking concern – if you initialize What the F*$5! but drop the “the” and add a C on the end you can figure it out) or strenuously desire to grow and be big enough to be actively shitty also.

    I, who hate this, owe my income to shitty corporations who do a bad job at delivering basic banking services – kinda on purpose. I decry corporatism, but it buys my groceries. I am a total hypocrite.

    I super-duper apologize – I briefly worked for [major big 6 consulting firm totally not called Anderson Consulting] when I was a whelp. I’m really sorry. We were the worst. At that time I probably advocated for not shutting your division down. If you lost your job I’m really super sorry! I really am, it bothers me a lot on basic moral and values basis. It’s why I left.

    Good golly, I have to think this through.

  25. steve says:

    It has been 6 years since my kid graduated high school, but he had a pretty rigorous civics education. He also participated in speech and debate and in his chosen areas it was necessary to have a pretty deep level of knowledge in the area. However, I dont know of any high schools in our area which teach philosophy. I would bet that some of the elite big city schools do and some of the privates. Our experience was that the teaching and courses were always there but kids needed to want to take advantage of them. Most kids, just like when I was in high school 50 years ago, seem to want to do the minimum.

    Steve

  26. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’m increasingly concerned that our very system of government is in the early stages of dementia, and the condition is incurable. Much of our basic governmental design was calculated to defend slavery. We no longer have slaves. Haven’t for 150 plus years. And if it wasn’t about defending slavery it was about coping with great distances and poor travel conditions, which no longer apply.

    So, you want to bring back slavery and then institute the Green New Deal and eliminate air travel? Got it.

    I wouldn’t have thought of that myself, but if you’re pissing off both sides, you must be doing something right. This is the new moderate third way position that will appeal to all those who are disillusioned with our two party system.

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  27. Kathy says:

    There must be some optimal ease of change in government and the constitution of a nation. If there is, the the US is too hard to change. Mexico’s for example, is too easy. There are so many amendments to the 1917 Constitution, it resembles an old sock more than a legal document.

    And yet, I can’t help but notice that, ultimately, it’s popular mores and pressures that bring change about. There was no basis in the US Constitution, for example, to bar same sex couples from marrying. But that didn’t come about until after the notion had gained popular support.

  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner: For a significant time, at least some of the Government (and AP Government, too) classes in our high school here were taught by someone whose first name was “Councilman” (as in County Council), but it didn’t make any significant difference that I can see. Most of us simply aren’t interested enough in how government works to pay any but the most rudimentary attention to it. Remember, we, specifically those of us out in the hinterlands, elected Trump as president.
    (And the county that I live in has a 90-some % voter registration rate.)
    One more thing, these days, in most high schools around where I live, if you don’t coach something, you’re not likely to get hired (goes for women mostly, too). Nearly every application posting for 25 or more years has had “preference will go to a candidate with demonstrated coaching skills.”

  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner: I’ll second that. Part of the reason that I opted for teaching part-time at the post secondary level was because I could actually expend more of my effort in teaching students how to go about thinking rather than what to think. It’s always been interesting to me that some of my best students in 2-year college composition classes were students who had been kicked out of their local schools as “troublemakers.”

  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Sorry, but I just can’t resist: whose ethics? The field isn’t monolithic.

  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: My objection is even simpler than yours. Most American “christians” have little acquaintance with the teachings of the founder of their religion and even less ability to put whatever teachings they may be familiar with into practice. If “christians” practiced actual “Christianity” instead of “conquering the nation for Jesus…” well, I’ll just stop there, the rant goes on far too long.

  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: Additionally, we should pull up a little on blaming the teachers to look at the structures of the system itself. In addition to the problem of trying to instill whatever we’re trying to instill into people who are going through vast hormonal changes at the same time period, there are problems with the balance of personality types between students and faculty–70 or 80% of teachers are ITNJs, as are almost all administrators, whereas only about 15 or 20% of students are (ITNJs also seem to be the least flexible of all the personality types), problems of homelessness–15% of the students in the two closest school districts to my house have no permanent address (and the total population of the two cities is about 50,000), and I could go on from there, but I won’t.

    While I was in Korea, I used to tell other teachers who were new to the schools or to teaching (you don’t actually need training in education to teach as a foreigner in Korea) that, just like foreign classes that I had seen in the states, Korean classes consisted of several types of students: 1) Students who were only in the class because the state had mandated it
    2) Students who wanted to learn a foreign language, but not this one (usually scheduling/class size issues in both cases)
    3) Students who really had wanted to take this class, but have discovered that it is too labor intensive for their situations (either academic or personal) and
    4) Students who sit in the back of the classroom with their baseball caps pulled down over their eyes to make it easier to sleep (easy to understand in Korea, where until university, students above grade 4 leave for school at 6 am and return home between 10 pm and midnight–I used to have them in my private school classes, 7-9 pm, after which the older ones would go to privately run study halls to work more before they went home).

    And guess what? These same types can be found in any classroom in any high school or any university intro class, too. The only places that I’m told (never experienced the other personally) don’t have this type of problem are places such as China and India, and it’s usually because there are way more students than there are desks, or seats, or enrollment spaces.

  33. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    But that’s true of most Christians, and Jews, and Muslims, and I suspect every other religion, the world over. Take a prayer common to both Christianity and Judaism, which admonishes people to love god with all their heart, all their soul, and all their mind. That doesn’t sound at all like attending services every other month or so.

    Outside of the US you don’t hear terms like “Christian nation,” even where the majority is Christian by a large margin.

    Mexicans tend to be quite religious, but not militantly so. Lots of workplaces like warehouses and factories have a little altar to the Virgin Mary, adorned with fresh flowers and candles (or candle-shaped light bulbs most often). On Ash Wednesday (whatever that is), a sizable part of the population walks around with a smudge on their forehead. The whole country goes wild when the Pope visits.

    Ok, there was a period in the 1850s or so, I think amid the Reform War, that a constitution was adopted which declared Roman Catholicism the official state religion. But that didn’t last. The current constitution, dating from 1917, decrees the state to be secular.

    How about that? Mexico already has a wall. Of separation between Church and State.

    Perhaps we can lease it to Dennison in lieu of his border wall?

  34. Stormy Dragon says:

    The purpose of public education isn’t to teach people to think. It’s to teach people how to work in factories. In most cases, being able to think (in the Big Ideas sense) is actually a detriment to that.

  35. de stijl says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Yup. You get it.

    Except update “factories” to cubicles. Every now and again we need to refresh our rhetoric. Most people work in beige or gray or beigish gray cubicles for 40 to 50 years.

    Drop “factories” and insert “beige cubicles” (beige has negative cultural baggage) and you are spot effing on.

    Not that I think educators are inferior. They are probably the best of us. Optimistic and desirous of a better future.

  36. de stijl says:

    Not all beige cubicle workers are beige. In fact, most are not beige.

    They are vibrant people full to the brim with hope and possibility and curiosity and have partners and children and pets and have endearing quirks. (Well, some are shitty people – we do live in a bell curve world.)

    We manufacture young people to take beige cubicle jobs because our economy depends on that.

    They’re not beige. We make people into folks who can sit in a beige cubicle for 2/3’s of their life so in the 1/3 of their life they’re outside of the beige cubicle, they can pursue happiness. Shine on, I say.

  37. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I’m nearly as frustrated by people who run their lives with blind faith in a bunch of nonsense that some preacher sold them in between passes of the collection plate. But the idea that this causes America’s isn’t at all obvious. We have always been more religious than Europe yet we excelled in our first two centuries despite this. And we have become markedly less religious in the last twenty years, which is when you are pegging the decline.

  38. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    from having spent several years teaching American Government 101 to Education majors, who were required to take the course. For a variety of reasons, Education majors tend to be among the worst students on campus.

    I’m going to be salty to you. I future apologize.

    You are damning an entire class of people (Education majors) as “among the worst students on campus”. (Which is a self-defeating cycle).

    Whereas, they are likely behaving rationally and have decided that what you are teaching is marginally less important than the other classes they are also required to take. N percent of your class is there to tick a box, and you don’t like that.

    If you’ve decided that an entire class of people is wrong and that you’re correct, you’ve likely chosen poorly. They’re behaving rationally and you are not. What you teach has been analyzed and many future educators have downgraded that as a pertinent subject to their future success. Public school educators have to be a mile wide and then decide where to allocate their resources into being a foot or two deep – math, history, sociology, etc.

    Most likely, education majors have rationally allocated their limited resources to where what you teach is merely a required box to be ticked and not pertinent to future success and thus not worthy of a deeper dive.

    That was very salty. I’m so sorry. I’m trying to helpful. Mr. Joyner, I like you and think you are a good person despite our political differences.

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  39. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t think Americans were this insular and irrational 30-40 years ago.

    It’s worth remembering that before the civil war and lasting several decades we had a party that proudly wore the banner “The Know Nothings” (think the modern day tea party). That the term Jingoism is nearly a century and a half old. And that “The Ugly American” was written 60 years ago.

  40. de stijl says:

    Treat your job as a necessary evil and view your boss and your boss’s boss as essentially evil – they wittingly serve a diseased ethos. Be very mercenary.

    I would be the worst person to ask to talk at Career Day at my local school. Or maybe the best, hmm.

  41. de stijl says:

    How did we get so off topic? NZ just banned all the guns that make proto-school shooters dicks hard.

    And they did it in a week. It’s a big deal and we’re missing the point.

    New Zealand just banned all AR-15 variants and very, very good on them.

  42. de stijl says:

    I dig how Crowded House and the Finn brothers basically became the de facto founding fathers of New Zeeland.

    This was inevitable – Crowded House, Don’t Dream It’s Over. Official version

    https://youtu.be/J9gKyRmic20

    God, such a perfect song. I love it so much!

  43. de stijl says:

    I have this on original vinyl. The Split Enz

    https://youtu.be/YmQlBfxh4Us

    The Finn brothers rock so hard. I flipping love these guys. They are awesome x a million. Fight me.

  44. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: Anti-intellectualism in American Life ©1963

    of course if you move from a world where everybody gets their news from David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite, to a world where half the people get their news from The New York times and The Washington Post etcetera, and the other half tune in to Sean Hannity’s Communist Hillary Email Watch with a special segment on AOC the Mexican Terrorist Welfare Cheat, duh there’s going to be some insularity and division. “LOCK HER UP! LOCK HER UP!” isn’t from a missing stanza of Kumbaya.

  45. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Sorry, but I just can’t resist: whose ethics? The field isn’t monolithic.

    No, of course it isn’t, and that’s exactly what you teach. Teach the uncertainty, acknowledge reality. When I read my Goodreads reviews (which I do because: insecure) readers thank me again and again for not feeding them pap, for talking about complex issues without facile solutions. They love shades-of-gray characters.

    Through a 3000 page series I run three long character arcs on religion. One involves a very smart Catholic girl who loses her faith, one is a brutal thug who finds faith and is redeemed by it, and one is a character who is a Christian and remains so. I don’t lean on it to push a conclusion, in fact I’ve been accused of being both a Christian evangelist and an atheist evangelist. I present the parameters of a discussion. I require the readers to think and amazingly they don’t seem to resent it. But just try putting that kind of look-at-all-sides-of-religion formula in a public school. It’s not happening.

    I believe it was Dave Schuler who made a comment differentiating training and education, and I thought that was spot-on. I’m relatively free in what I write so I get to educate, while the schools too often just train. That’s not because I’m so terribly clever, it’s because school systems are so often so fcking dumb. So when I talk about the need to teach philosophy it’s because I think education is more important for more people than is training. Education accelerates and deepens training.

  46. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Actually in our early history we were less religious than Europe, they still had established state religions. One of the accusations thrown at the Founders was that they were anti-religious.

    But the larger point is that over the last century or so we’ve moved dramatically from being a society where most folks tilled fields and fed cattle or worked at looms, to a society where a larger and larger percentage of workers need to be able to think. The importance of intellect has gone through the roof while the value of human muscle has declined.

    Moving into this more intellectually rigorous and global environment we’ve begun to lose a step relative to our socio-economic peers. We value education less than most other developed societies. We are far more culturally anti-intellectual and I suggest that this is in large part because we are handicapped by having significant portions of our population unable to connect to reality because they’ve been trained from the cradle to believe nonsense. You cannot be both an empiricist and a person of faith, they are incompatible systems of thought.

    Put it this way: you have two equally educated and experienced engineers you’re considering hiring. But one believes in Santa Claus. Which of the two do you hire with en eye to adapting to the challenges ahead? People who believe nonsense are at a disadvantage relative to people who are more rigorous. If more of our people are of the less rigorous variety, down goes Humpty Dumpty.

  47. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl:

    How did we get so off topic? NZ just banned all the guns that make proto-school shooters dicks hard.

    And they did it in a week. It’s a big deal and we’re missing the point.

    I think it’s just a function of Steven’s original point being well taken: Our institutions simply don’t allow what happened in New Zealand to happen here. We’re not a parliamentary system but a presidential one. We have a written Constitution with a 2nd Amendment. It’s apples and bowling balls.

  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Now if we only had factories and they only paid wages that would make both rent and groceries, life would be perfect.

  49. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    The rest of the world is way better than us at quelling mass shootings and properly responding when mass shootings happen there.

    We suck at this.

  50. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: In fairness to Joyner, more than half (by a lot) of the students in schools of education come from the bottom academic quartile of the student body. With admissions pressures being what they are, they aren’t dummies, per se, but they aren’t the brightest bulbs on the Christmas light string either. Still, your point is certainly valid and well made also. There are such things as priorities. Additionally, Dr. Joyner, as an ITNJ, probably drove some of his students up the wall. I’d probably have dropped his class after the first class meeting. I did that several times when I realized that I wasn’t going to match (and would probably irritate) the professor.

  51. Teve says:

    teve tory says:

    Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 16:34

    I lost interest in gun control years ago when I realized that the only thing that would be really effective would be banning all semiautos, and that we were many years/decades away from the voting population supporting that.

    Still my position.

  52. Tyrell says:

    @Teve: How will they enforce this? I can understand the restriction of sales, but how about the people who already own them and they are stowed away in their basements, garages, gun safes, and and cabinets? I can’t see the police storming into someone’s home searching for these kind of rifles unless the owner has committed a crime with them. And I would say most guns that the people have there are probably handguns, shot guns and bolt action; few machine type guns.