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Around the Horn of Incongruity

| Saturday, May 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

What was that inconvenient fact that too many media outlets chose not to report (or did they deliberately omit it?) from Tuesday's new Justice Department report on gun violence?

That fewer than 2 percent of state prison inmates who possessed a gun at the time of their crime purchased their weapon at a gun show or flea market. That's the “gun-show loophole,” eh? ...

Forty percent of those inmates said they obtained their gun from an illegal source; 37 percent said family or friends supplied the weapon, while 10 percent said the source was a retail store or pawnshop. Wonder what the prosecution rate was for those illegal suppliers? ...

The same Justice report shows gun crime has dropped dramatically over the past two decades. Gun-related homicides dropped by 39 percent for the period ended in 2011; nonfatal firearm crimes were down by nearly 70 percent. So much for the “explosion” of gun-related killings and crimes in America, eh? ...

The president and vice-president of the anti-gun movement, Barack Obama and Michael Bloomberg, respectively, didn't have anything to say about the declines. Or as Washington Times gun scribe Emily Miller put it, “The reason they are hiding now is because they don't want the public to know that crime has gone down at the same time that gun ownership and carry permits have increased.”

After all, the only way to preserve support for a feel-good but otherwise ineffectual agenda is to propagandize and demagogue it. ...

A May 3 news release announcing Pennsylvania House action for last week talked of “improving the commonwealth jobs climate.” It said the top priority of the House Republican Caucus is “recreating an atmosphere where people can build careers and improve their quality of life.” It also talks of revamping the state's business tax structure.

But as Jake Haulk, president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, notes: “Never a word in this release about prevailing wages, teacher and transit strikes or right to work. Not even a call to repeal the law preventing teacher layoffs for economic reasons,” all solid ways to improve the business climate. “I guess Pennsylvania lawmakers haven't been paying attention to Michigan, Indiana, or Wisconsin and the dramatic changes there.” ...

By the way, Mr. Haulk, a Ph.D. economist, says there was a little-noted but important statistic left out of last month's jobs numbers reporting.

“The index of aggregate private sector weekly hours worked fell by 0.4 percent in April. ... Aggregate weekly pay also fell,” he told me in an email. “This suggests a lot of jobs, and not necessarily just the added employment in April, had reduced weekly hours.”

The drop is especially noticeable in the retail sector, where employment numbers rose by 29,000 but aggregate weekly hours fell by 0.7 percent and aggregate pay fell by 0.6 percent.

Haulk theorizes that employers are cutting their hours to avoid ObamaCare liabilities (i.e., penalties and taxes) and hiring more people on a part-time basis to get the work done.

It's “not a particularly good way to start the (second) quarter,” Haulk adds. ...

Tuition and fees will increase by 11.2 percent for some Community College of Allegheny County students. An incorrect percentage was given in last week's column.

Colin McNickle is Trib Total Media's director of editorial pages (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

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