First in a Series: “Stop The War On Guns”

Jaffe: Stop the war on guns …


Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Edward Jaffe, a serial entrepreneur and the founder of a number of technology companies and a Vermont Registered Investment Advisor entity. He has addressed the Vermont House Ways and Means Committee on economic metrics, monetary theory and various economic observations. He lives in Bennington.

… before it becomes like the “War on Drugs.”

America’s brutality is not its gun violence — it is its incarceration madness. The incarceration rate in the United States of America is the highest in the world. The typical mandatory sentence for a first-time drug offense in federal court is five or 10 years, compared to other developed countries around the world where a first-time offense would warrant at most six months in jail. (Wikipedia).

In a civilized society, a felony conviction and a harsh sentence would require criminal intent. In criminal law the concept of criminal intent has been called mens rea, which refers to a criminal or wrongful purpose. If a person innocently causes harm, then she or he lacks mens rea and, under this concept, should not be criminally prosecuted. (Legal Dictionary).

When laws revolve around simple possession of Item X then the simple existence of Item X in your home or car is complete proof of guilt – and there is no effective defense that revolves around Item X not belonging to you – or Item X being legal for 200 years, or your lack of criminal intent, or the vagueness of the arcane law you violated.

Additionally, mandatory minimums destroy the ability of innocent people to request a trial by jury – because losing could mean 10 times the mandatory minimum – and you can’t count on “telling your story” to the jury – because it is not relevant to the issue of possession. The judge (co-prosecutor) will tell the jury, “If the defendant has Item X in his home – you must find him guilty.” The jury does not understand that they can send you home for any reason they wish – unless they are members of the Fully Informed Jury Association. (

The evolving War on Guns is being built on the War on Drugs chassis, running gear and steering components. Offenses are primarily felonies carrying mandatory minimum jail sentences – and simple possession being the basic context-dropping framework for being charged and convicted.

How can anyone negotiate or compromise about “reasonable” gun laws with people who want to apply firearms legislation to BB guns?

Like the War on Drugs, new gun laws are not aimed at criminals; they are brutal attempts to change the longstanding behaviors of currently law-abiding or otherwise law-abiding citizens. Soon people will be in deep trouble with the law, because they did not register a perfectly ordinary rifle that had a threaded barrel or a thumb-hole stock. New York insisted on seven-round magazines for pistols – even though there is no such thing – and then decided to make anyone who puts 10 rounds in a 10 round (legal) magazine a criminal.

A new law being drafted in Rhode Island has a definition of “firearms” that includes air rifles and BB guns! Toy guns! How can anyone negotiate or compromise about “reasonable” gun laws with people who want to apply firearms legislation to BB guns? Not surprisingly, some of the weapons violations in Rhode Island S.0859 have 10-year minimum sentences – without any violent crime taking place – nor even possessing a complete gun.

“Assault rifle” is a political invention – you can tell by the tortured language. Once defined by many simultaneous features, we are down to perhaps only one or two. One could register all their “assault rifles” (and toy guns) – and now they are on a list. What do authorities think of the people on this list? If the police or FBI can consider peace activists and Quakers as worth watching as possible “terrorists,” what about the guy who registers 10 “assault rifles”? Guess you’ll find out at the airport.

Let’s make an analogy to a very successful public health initiative: auto safety. Tens of thousands of people were being killed every year in car accidents. The government implemented regulation – not criminal law – and changed what features automobiles had, such as seat belts, safety glass, etc.

Oddly, older cars that did not meet these regulations were not confiscated, registered or forcibly retrofitted. All told, not one person spent one day in jail making the automobile safer. If in fact some sort of firearm should be banned – why not just stop manufacture and importation? Why try to grab all the ones that are already released into the atmosphere?

The most uncomfortable question of all is why would your publicly elected reps produce such draconian legislation? Why would a representative from a small New England state want to see a state resident serve years in prison for not understanding a complex, vague, bizarre law? Where does that viciousness come from? I guess the culture wars have gone kinetic.

People can argue over the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but here in Vermont, we are heirs to the first constitution in the new world (1777) to outlaw slavery (New York 50 years later) and we still have the following (current Vermont Constitution):

Article 16 — That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State — and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.

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Inflation and Delusion

Also from 2010 — but still presents valid points.




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Entropy Investment Advisors, Inc., (“Entropy”) was created to bring investors alternatives to a sales oriented environment where they are told that it is always a good time to buy, that asset values always go up and that everything is going to be OK.

Entropy is a fiduciary that represents the client’s interests and has the legal, economic and intellectual freedom to utilize our real history and not pitch clients using manipulative concepts of “historic returns” of various investment classes — we identify and question basic assumptions.

Entropy is here to provide an analytical framework to what is going on, help investors navigate poorly understood risks, focus on avoiding large losses, hedge against foreseeable risks and provide an alternative to the conventional wisdom —- which by some odd coincidence seems to support the interests of the sales oriented firms.

Entropy is somewhat unique in the observation that the productive aspects of the US economy have been deteriorating over the past decade – or longer – (structural decline) and that this is connected to poor investment results. As mainstream, passive “long-only” investing relies on underlying real economic growth in order to function — along with a dollar that reasonably retains purchasing power — investors are starting to experience negative compounding.

Simply put, most commonly accepted ideas about investing work best during a protracted boom or “good-times” — only to unwind thereafter. Proponents of the “buy for the long run” school will never admit that they are wrong — because the long run never comes, and is always just over the horizon – or they will refer to results from many lifetimes of investing.

Now in 2011 we are on the wrong side of a long list of unsustainable trends that have kept our society and its investor class afloat for a long time.

Many other investment and financial professionals have little choice but to believe the official hype about economic “recovery”, growth and low inflation — because they want you to buy financial products and their businesses would suffer if they were to accept — and accurately relate to their clients – anything like our analysis of the financial condition of our society, its serial asset bubbles and the investment implications thereof.

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ENTROPY Investment Advisors, Inc. — will be winding down.

ENTROPY is private, seeks no clients and will wind down completely this year (2013).

ENTROPY currently provides CFO services to several small companies.

edward AT entropyadvisors DOT COM




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Bubble Dynamics and Dividends: Another Look

A 2010 essay — but still worthwhile….




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