11 October 2010

Gunning The Underground Economy

[And more Jenial Thanks to Janine-Mendes Franco and Global Voices Online for picking up My previous post on how We cannot survive with widespread corruption. As always, I am honored by appearing on that site.]

Several months before the sales tax passed, I predicted it would help perfect the underground economy. The visible proof of that development is the increased number, size, scope and range of flea markets that popped up all over the Island.

Now here's another prediction: gun shops are going to start seeing a decline in sales. So far, since 2008, many gun shop owners have reported increases in sales, despite serious rises in the prices of bullets and guns. As the economic crisis hits harder and crime stats are seen to be rising, one would expect gun sales to increase...and they have. But guns are pricey items, subject not only to inflation, but to bureaucracy. Local Fools--paid as legislators but essentially dumb beasts running rampant--are seeking to add even more restrictions to guns and gun ownership. Idiots, they are.

You can do the math: increased interest/need/want for guns coupled with increased cost/hassle/red tape equals...underground economy solution.

At a flea market I've visited several times since late 2008, I have seen three stalls or vans selling air guns or pistol replicas, the kind that shoot BBs, pellets or rubber shot. The most interesting thing about these stalls is that they have invariably had a crowd in the back, away from the merchandise, buying boxes of items...in cash. If they were buying air guns or replicas, they would buy where I stand. But they aren't, so they don't.

Want to guess what type of stolen property from house break-ins has risen close to 60% in the past year? Guns. Gun shop owners are telling me that they used to get 1-2 calls a week about stolen weapons: what to do, what they could replace them with, how to secure them better for the future. Now many of these businessmen are telling me they are getting 1 or 2 calls a day about thefts.

What does this mean for Us? What impact will increased gun ownership have, seeing as how much of it is illegal? Two thoughts come to mind:

1) Our society will get more dangerous. Guns reduce violence only when the ownership is one-sided and the guns are used openly. Think "police state," "prison camp" or "police shooting innocent person." When guns are deemed "secret weapons" and the chance of using them is bolstered by the "surprise factor," guns help turn critical situations into shootings. We'll see proof of this prediction in the coming months in news reports.

2) The underground economy will hollow itself out. As long as the underground economy is seen and used as a way to make extra money, ease daily life and avoid taxes, it gets stronger. When guns and gun sales enter in the equation, the underground economy ceases to be a leveler and becomes a battlefield. Literally. For each gun sold, the leveling effect tilts from cooperative to combative. Fewer people will want to get involved and what was once a burgeoning supportive market becomes, once again, a fringe activity. The center, as the phrase goes, cannot hold.

Taken to its extreme, what will replace the underground economy? Here's a hint: Think "Monopoly."

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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