Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Gun Companies Hate Him!

“The media only writes about the sinners and the scandals, but that’s normal, because a tree that falls makes more noise than a forest that grows.”
- Pope Francis
Beautiful but ironic given the Pope's advocacy for socialist policy. The flourishing of society, not only here, but in the world as a whole as measured by major improvements with regard to: infant mortality, violence, starvation, access to clean water, disease prevention and treatment, and myriad other metrics, has gone largely unnoticed.

The major driver to these improvements hasn't been central directives and five year plans but rather the small improvements in efficiency over time that the market process encourages. It seems as though Pope Francis has himself succumbed to the negative media narrative.

For many reasons, but largely due to the incentive to pander to various cognitive biases, the media conditioned worldview is one of wars, violence, and strife.

If you were to describe American life in terms of the six o'clock news, it would be one of school shootings, stabbings, terrorism, bombings, political controversy, layoffs, epidemics, and the like. It's not that these things should go unreported, but it does create a bias that makes it difficult for people to make the most effective choices for improving their quality of life.

You see the fruits of this in the arms industry both at the government and civilian level. The media obsession with violence directs the human impulse to improve one's life into excessive spending on arms. For the most part, you are better off spending $1,000 on better tires, a more stable ladder, and extra fire extinguishers than you are buying a gun, sight, ammo, and range fees.* Don't listen to people like Nutnfancy whose lifestyle revolves around preparing for the wrong disaster.** From what I understand, and I don't have actuarial tables to do a proper risk reduction per dollar calculation, heart disease, cancer, and accidents are by far the biggest killers. Natural disasters and violence are much less likely to kill you. So here's how I'd reframe the prepper discussion***:

A List of Things Americans Should Have Before Buying a Gun

  • Portable automatic defibrillator
    Although guns prevent crime, an automatic defibrillator would, on net, save even more lives. Nothing wrong with having both if you have the means though.
  • An exercise bike or similar machine for cardiovascular health
    Exercise is half the battle when it comes to things you can do to prevent health problems. Unlike a normal bike, a stationary bike does not expose you to traffic risk. A gym membership might be a good option for people who hate exercising. 
  • Heart healthy foods like fatty fish and whole grains
    Diet is the other half. In the long run, it makes sense that foods with fewer pesticides and herbicides are a lower carcinogenic risk so they are worth looking into. There aren't enough data to really price the risk so it's hard to determine an acceptable premium.
  • e-cigarettes or nicotine patches if you are a smoker
    Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Nicotine, and flavor agents aren't doing any favors for the lungs but the carcinogenic risk is far lower than from traditional tobacco products.
  • Winter tires if driving in snow is going to happen
    Next to heart disease and cancer, car accidents are high up there with regard to causes of death.
  • A large vehicle for transport
    Trains are safest followed by buses and cars. Momentum favors larger vehicles over, say, motorcycles and bicycles. 
  • Sunscreen and Vitamin D
    Avoid skin cancer but get the benefits of Vitamin D which is usually generated via sunshine.
  • An electric toothbrush
    This might be a class effect but reduced infection and reduced risk of blood poisoning seems like a reasonable mechanism to explain the benefit to longevity.
  • Fire extinguishers
    Thankfully these are fairly cheap since, although non-trivial, deaths from fire are relatively rare compared to deaths from trauma, heart disease, and cancer.
  • Trauma kits and training
    Splints, quick clot, CPR mask, intubation tube, etc. It makes more sense to take a basic life saving course instead of a tactical training course. Or maybe even both? Combat medic training, as an adjunct to prudent risk management, is about as useful as it gets in trauma situations.
  • Life Jacket
    Essential if drowning is a possibility
  • Helmet and Goggles
    Climbing ladders, dealing with cramped crawlspaces, debris, etc. Cheap insurance.
  • A college degree
    The more professional the occupation, the higher the lifespan. It may be the case that the causality direction goes the other way, i.e., "higher class" people live longer and therefore have professional jobs.
  • Friends
    One common factor among very long lived populations is a strong sense of community. For younger people, suicide risk is higher so having friends can help here as well.
  • Moderation
    Alcohol is associated with positive outcomes for some diseases but too much significantly increases risk of death. No alcohol - or any sort of drugs for that matter - is the best policy for parents to avoid birth defects.
If you do buy a gun, it makes most sense to get something that is reliable, easy to use, and cheap. Resources are finite and it's easy to spend a disproportionate amount of time and money on firearms. 

* Statistically, if you are a black male, a firearm for self defense is more important than for other demographics since black-on-black male homicide rates are particularly high. The best survival strategy though is to get out of the hood and move up the socioeconomic ladder.

** Don't get me wrong, I like multi part hour long reviews on knives and guns as much as the next guy (and specialization is inevitable and necessary for reviews), but buying into the whole "how much is your life worth to you, better carry a gun all the time as well as a backup" mentality is counterproductive. Sadly these sorts of channels are very popular which makes less hysterical firearms content producers like Hickock45 so much more valuable.

*** Doomsday preppers get a bad rap but the line of thinking is actually very rational. In typical American society, the leading causes of death are cancer, heart disease, and accidents. But this would not be the case in the aftermath of a catastrophe. Long term food, water, shelter, fuel become much more important than Vitamin D in such a society. Disasters, whether a freak natural occurrence or a man-made black swan event are difficult to evaluate. But as optimizing for disaster survival draws resources away from survival in a non-disaster scenario, it's a gamble to build Noah's Ark if you don't have inside information.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.