Sunday, January 30, 2011

NEW WEBSITE: Ontario Libertarian Party - The Party of Choice

Introducing the new banner for the new look website of the Ontario Libertarian Party.
The OLP is gearing up for its biggest ever campaign in the provincial election to be held on October 6, 2011. We need everybody's help to have an impact.
We have a committed, excellent organizational team, lots more candidates, and we are up against a provincial government that is financially and morally bankrupt. Worst of all, the chief opposition party, is not much different.
Ontarians have a chance to change the direction of the province and move Ontario from the nanny state/have-not province that we have become, under the leadership of Dalton McGuinty's Liberals, back to its rightful place as the dynamo of Canada.
Visit our site, contribute to our War Chest, and tell your friends.    

Saturday, January 29, 2011


"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable." John F. Kennedy

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Global warming is a marketer's dream

I always read the letters-to-the-editor in the paper each day. It's a reflection of the editor, and the newspaper's bias, as well as what the readers are thinking. Of course my choice of newspaper reflects my bias, and reading this blog post may reflect yours.
A letter from Glen Leis of Newmarket Ontario (a northern suburb of Toronto) was very insightful. Mr. Leis responded to this column in the Financial Post and his comments are worth sharing.

Climate change (the commonly used euphemism - I prefer global warming) is an ideal cause célèbre because it cannot be observed or measured in real time (you won't see: "Breaking News - Global warming is happening RIGHT NOW!"). No honest scientist would suggest that the record snowfall in the US north east this winter (2010-11), or the very mild Vancouver Olympics (2010) were actually caused by global warming. Those were weather events, not to be confused with climate. However, as Mr. Leis points out, because global warming cannot be definitively measured (in real time), (more and more) money needs to be sent to allow scientists to find a way to do just that.
The media (and Al Gore) however, are not scientists and they have no compunctions about saying that every hurricane, snowstorm, cold weather event, hot weather event, swarm of tornadoes, flood, every weather extreme, is somehow related to the ongoing crisis that is climate change. For them its like the War-on-Terrorism without the Jihadists, an ongoing story that can be milked day-in-and-day-out. Everyone knows who the culprits are, it's understood that global warming always underlies the event. To push that agenda, CNN now has "Extreme Weather" reports. And all of it sells TV time thank you very much!
Mr. Leis continues, the global warming scam, "creates a partnership between industry and government, paid for by the average taxpayer."
In Ontario we are blessed with government-subsidized solar and wind power generation, subsidized hybrid, and electric cars, in fact an entire green industry created by government fiat that could never exist without the crutch of subsidy it's so uncompetitive.
Climate change is a marketer's dream. It plays on fear as well as a person's desire to do the right thing. Put a hybrid label on a car, and people will buy it without thinking about the large expensive battery that will need to be exchanged within the car's lifetime. Call yourself a "green-politician," and people will blindly vote for you regardless of qualifications. That's how powerful the confirmatory bias has become.
Leis concludes by saying that this is "activism spoon-fed to the masses by corporations and governments." "Any movement that espouses massive transfers of wealth to the likes of Robert Mugabe and Communist China must be questioned."
I'm certain I have not convinced the followers of the Gorical, so strong is their zealotry. My real purpose is to save you and me a lot of misdirected expense. In Ontario election day is just nine months away. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"This ain't Canada right now..."

More fallout from last summers G20 riot in Toronto.
The video below presents a scene that would make a civil libertarian cringe. The police officer is using his experience when he approaches the bearded young man dressed in black with a backpack walking around the downtown near the G20 conference.
The cop is profiling, a technique that I think needs to be used in the broader context of airport security searches and beyond. Does profiling work? Have a look at this article that explains why the Israeli security experience has been so effective for the past 40 years.
Back to the video below, yes it looks bad, but as George Jonas points out in the National Post recent events regarding the rights of individuals and their property have been far more egregious. What is the cause of our apparent loss of freedom here in the Great White North? Jonas thinks, and this may seem counterintuitive, it's the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He may have a point.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Factories of Death"

That is the phrase James Hansen used to compare coal-fired power plants to places like Auschwitz. Its welcoming front gate is seen there in the picture.
Is it any wonder why anthropogenic global warming skeptics have been called deniers since Hansen's unfortunate comment.
Coal has been used by people as a fuel since the Bronze Age, maybe earlier. It was the fuel that drove the Industrial Revolution which ultimately gave us the modern world, and it is still the fuel that is responsible for producing 40% of the world's electricity production, 69% of China's electricity production and 90% of American electricity production. Coal is going to be around for a very long time indeed.
Niel Reynolds points out in a recent column, that coal is still the future and Alberta is a laboratory in this link

Monday, January 24, 2011

School Choice

How can we make our schools better? Competition.
Spend 5 minutes and open your mind to other possibilities, watch this from ReasonTV.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Evolution and Economics

An off-the-cuff remark last week about two of my favourite topics set me off on todays rant. I was at an Institute for Liberal Studies seminar at the University of Toronto. The theme for the day was "From the Great Depression to the Great Recession - How should governments respond to crisis?" One of the speakers, Professor Steven Horwitz, compared the evolution of the eye to Austrian Economics. Huh?
In the war between creationism and evolution, one of the most decisive battles was the evolution of the eye. The creationist argument is captured in the phrase 'a design implies a designer,' and the eye is an intricate design. The argument, often called the "watchmaker analogy," claims that there could be no random series of events (the inaccurate view of evolution) that could possibly result in a complex timepiece or an eyeball. Of course that view is held because creationists have a false understanding of the theory of evolution.
Evolution is directed (not random), yet directionless (without purpose), orchestrated but disorganized, and no intelligent designer is required, thank you very much. How? Natural selection is the mechanism of evolution that Darwin and Wallace discovered more than 150 years ago. The secret to Natural Selection is time, huge almost incomprehensible spans of time; that, combined with differential reproduction (selection), genetics, and variation has given us the diversity of species that inhabit this planet.
So how does that relate to Austrian Economics? Simple, proponents of the Austrian School of Economics advocate for the smallest possible amount of governmental intervention in the economy, remove the so-called 'intelligent guiding hand of government' and let natural economic selection operate freely.
The point is, if you can believe that the eye evolved by Natural Selection over huge spans of time, surely you can believe that economies can function independent of government regulation and intervention. Of course the analogy isn't perfect, but in the case of Austrian Economics time is not the secret, the secret is hundreds of millions (billions?) of economic transactions that occur within an economy, each transaction is directed by a presumably intelligent individual (or company). Each individual or company seeks to improve their economic position by their transactions. The sum total of the economic transactions, represents the productive abilities of the individual, the company or the nation. There is nothing random about that kind of economy and it is definitely purposeful. The most successfully adapted individuals or companies will thrive, and grow their value and wealth. Those not well adapted will fall away, their value and wealth assimilated by the survivors.
I can hear the statists among you mumbling their "what abouts." What about the poor, the indigent and so on? Look around you, if you live in Canada or the United States, our partially unfettered economies has lifted everyone, even the poorest of the poor here, exceed the wildest dreams of the poor in most other jurisdictions. It's not an accident and it certainly is not a result of intelligent design. Imagine if the economy was truly unfettered.

In the picture (thanks to Redmond Weissenberger) left to right: George Bragues (Business Program Head, University of Guelph Humber and a regular contributor to Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada ), Steve Horwitz (Professor of Economics, St. Lawrence University) and Niels Veldhuis (Vice President Research, Fraser Institute)      

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Strange Bedfellows? Ralph Nader & Ron Paul Interviewed Together!

Obama equals Bush, two years later

See the picture? That is irony defined.
Reason TV demonstrates in the video below, that George Bush's war has become Barak Obama's war. No different, no hope, no change.
Where is the anti-war movement two years later? Has anything really changed?

The most distressing comment in the video is that the Republicans who started the wars, handed them to the Democrats, who will likely hand them back to the Republicans, possibly as soon as 2012.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The "Declinism" of the Anglo-sphere

I'm reading a book right now, that points out how futile it is to make predictions about the future. If you liked Malcolm Gladwell's books (The Tipping Point etc.) you might like Future Babble - Why Expert Predictions Fail and Why We Believe Them Anyway  by Dan Gardner. Its easy to read, filled with interesting historical tidbits, and offers reams of examples where brilliant people made predictions that had no relation to what actually happened. Predicting the future is a mug's game, rarely will the experts be held to account - people forget.
So when I read Mark Steyn's Dependence Day, On the erosion of personal liberty, (thanks Jeffery), it did not take long to see that Mr. Steyn was predicting the demise of the Anglo-American classical liberal democracy that has dominated the world since the rise of the British Empire.
Mark Steyn's article is long, extremely well written and very distressing if he is indeed right. I'm leaning on Dan Gardner's view that Steyn's predictions will be wrong, no matter how well argued they are. Here's hoping!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fromage from the cult of anti-humanism

Do those make you feel hungry....for food? Me neither. Who knew that one of the hottest new trends involves making cheese out of breast milk, ugh. That's right, take a look here. I was totally out-to-lunch on this, so to speak.
The Post article proves that there is no accounting for taste, and superficially I don't see an issue here, until I read this part:
"....PETA, the animal rights organization, which wrote this after a Swiss restaurant added breast-milk to its menu two years ago: "PETA was inspired to ask ice cream giant Ben & Jerry's to switch from unhealthy bovine juice stolen from tormented calves (aka "cow milk") to healthier, humane human breast milk."
PETA thinks it's a good idea, of course they would. Now this may not be fair but I lump PETA in with the 'enviro-mental' movement. You know them, the people that the George Carlin video was satirizing late last week. They are the ones that seek to diminish human value and make us all feel guilty that we are somehow intruders on the Earth, disrupting the ecological-balance of Gaia. We use up resources, polluting as we do, disrupting and destroying habitats, and just plain making a nuisance out of ourselves. We are the parasites of the planet! We stomp around in our huge carbon-footprints, altering the climate, and endangering all other species. You sir or madame, are guilty by virtue of your birth, all 6 billion of us. This makes the Christian idea of original sin look unambitious.
Here is a short old clip from one of my favourite 'enviro-mentalists', who explains how you too may reach the exalted position of second-level maggot.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Joule Unlimited: A Potential Game Changer?

Artificial photosynthesis
That is what US Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry calls the technology being developed by Joule Unlimited Inc., a company in his home state of Massachusetts.
The company claims it has developed a method of producing large amounts of cheap liquid hydrocarbon fuel using a "proprietary organism" and freely available inputs like the evil carbon dioxide and water.
Neil Reynolds describes the company in a Globe and Mail column this week. Time magazine recently touted the company as one of its Top 20 Green Tech Ideas of 2010.
Joule Unlimited claims that it uses artificial photosynthesis that it can scale-up to produce large amounts of "fungible diesel fuel" for around $30US per barrel equivalent. Their technique does not use expensive biomass inputs to produce biofuels, such as is done with corn to make ethanol.
Joule Unlimited expects to begin commercial production in 2012. In the meantime I would put off purchasing that hybrid or electric car, the future is impossible to predict.  

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Culturally Retarded

Haiti is on the westside of Island of Hispaniola
Is anyone surprised that one year after the earthquake little has happened in Haiti that indicates it is recovering?
What would a Haitian recovery look like anyway? It was a basket case (poorest in Western Hemisphere) before the earthquake, so would it recover to just being a basket case again?
The problems in Haiti exhaust the imagination, it is a situation where sending everyone away and starting over again seems almost sensible. Why is that? Why is it that a nation of 10 million has 10,000 NGO's present in country and it still doesn't help? There is no easy answer of course. There are economic problems that are directly related to property rights as noted in this column. There are political problems that go way back to corrupt leadership and government. But that I think is just part of the problem, the problem is deeper and more entrenched than mere economics. The problem I think is culture.
Over the past several days, even weeks around here, there has been a discussion about Asian students and lately Asian parenting. In November 2010 McLean's magazine published an article titled "Too Asian?", the title has since been retracted but the article remains and it implied that Asian students which represent a small portion of North American society nevertheless make up a large component of the university population because of their work ethic.
More recently an article by Amy Chua in the Wall Street Journal stated that Chinese mothers have superior parenting skills. Another article by Lawrence Solomon in the National Post takes issue with Amy Chua. Whatever the truth, I will testify (as a former teacher) that Chinese children, on the whole, make very good students indeed. Why is that? I think it is engrained in the culture. As Ms. Chua points out, if you expect more you just might get it, with patience and perseverance.
So what does that have to do with Haiti? I think a great deal. Much of the Haitian population is deeply religious (80% Roman Catholic, 16% Protestant) not that this precludes cultural success. Many populations are deeply religious. Haiti has the added burden that fully half the population practices or believes in Voodoo. How voodoo is reconciled with Catholicism or Protestantism is explained, sort of, in the Wikipedia article linked in the last sentence. 
In a column published this past week in the National Post, Dan Gardner takes I believe a courageous stand when he says: "...Haiti has been crippled, at least in part, by certain cultural values — such as the fatalism promoted by voodoo — that discourage initiative, rationality, trust, achievement, and education." Culture can foster greatness or the reverse.

Homeopathy is Bullsh*t

The People's TV Network (CBC-TV) up here in the Great White North, took a well deserved swipe at homeopathic "medicine" the other night on their program Marketplace. You can see the entire episode if you click on that link. If you harbour illusions about the efficacy of homeopathic medicine this program should dispel them.
The program shows how some of these "medicines" are manufactured by serial dilution (to the point of non-existence), and how they depend on water memory for their power. That power is, I believe, entirely due to the placebo effect. Not that there is anything wrong with the placebo effect, it sometimes works, and avoids expensive occasionally dangerous, treatments and drugs. Of course when real science is used to study the efficacy of any drug, the placebo effect must be ruled out or controlled, and that is reason for the gold-standard double-blind study. The homeopathic drugs mentioned in the program above would likely fail a double-blind study.
Of course Marketplace goes on to suggest that governments should take control of homeopathy. Across Canada government regulation of homeopathic medicine varies from province to province. Most of the regulation (coordinated by Health Canada) is designed to protect consumers from any harm due to the medicine. The CBC implies that this regulation somehow lends credence to the drug's efficacy, and the government should ban the medicines outright because they are ineffective. While understandable, prohibition never works and it will not in this case. People like to have control over their own medical care. That is an issue our governments and politicians will need realize soon enough as public funding of medical services explodes.     

Planetary Perspective

My generation was very fortunate to have George Carlin around to keep us laughing and to keep things in perspective. I'm not certain of Carlin's political views, but I know that there were many things that I could agree with and he certainly had a libertarian attitude. Carlin's views on religion are well known and when I was younger his views were a touchstone for mine before the days of the militant atheists.
Mostly he was important because his humour made us look at the world from his perspective.
People underestimate the power of humour and satire and their role in our society. Just look at how Jon Stewart has changed the way both young and old now view the NEWS.
So here, just for fun, is George Carlin's view on the Planet from almost twenty years ago: Warning: Carlin uses several of those seven words that can never be used on television. Enjoy :-)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Arizona revives gun debate. by Rod Rojas

The unfortunate, recent shooting in Arizona in which Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 17 others were attacked has revived the debate regarding gun laws, especially because Arizona has relatively lax gun laws.

It is widely speculated on the media that Jared Loughner –the alleged gunman- may have some sort of mental imbalance, so there have been calls for further screening regulation to limit the ability of mental patients to purchase guns. It must be noted that mental illness only rarely translates into criminal violence.

One of the reasons why he is being deemed mentally unstable is because of his anti-government views, and his support for the gold standard. By this definition the entire libertarian community should be moved to a mental institution.

According to Rich Daly of Psychiatric News, the mentally ill only perpetrate between 3 and 5 percent of all gun related violence. It seems that a statistical link with the brand of shoes that the killer used might yield more conclusive results.

Mental health care is no different to any other sort of health care; it affects many people around us. Most of them lead relatively normal lives while coping with their imbalance in the same way that others cope with chronic fatigue or diabetes. Because of the huge stigma attached to mental illness, privacy is vital to the mental patient’s ability to function in society. The publication of mental records through a consolidated database to allow gun dealers to perform background checks would be a huge blow to this overwhelmingly peaceful -and sometimes fragile- segment of our population.

In Congress, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) is already talking about a federal ban on high capacity magazines, like the one allegedly used by Loughner.

Considering the repeated and unmitigated failure of every single prohibitionist policy, why would anyone still advocate banning anything?

Banning a good or service only creates a black market for it. And along with the criminalization comes the violence related to the illegal trafficking. In other words, not only do the goods or services not leave the market, but we create new branches of crime, we incur huge costs in connection to the enforcement of the laws, and we see a rise in the price of the goods and services in question.

Sometimes a ban can even make the good more readily available than if it were legally obtainable. Take the case of illegal drugs for example. It is much easier for a teen to get hold of marijuana than beer.

Illegality also imparts the good or service with a certain appeal. The 1920’s prohibition of alcohol in the USA gave glamour to the underground bars. Likewise today, we see how drug dealing has been idealized in parts of the hip-hop culture.

We should also remember that producing, buying, selling or owning a weapon does not in any way harm anybody. The initiation of violence against others or their property is what needs to be punished, and this can be done with or without guns. Victimless, voluntary exchanges are not crimes.

I suppose Congresswoman McCarthy spends time in Washington DC, where some of the most draconian gun laws have been in effect since 1976. She should be familiar with the high crime rate and with the fact that violent criminals still carry guns in the District of Columbia. Restrictive gun laws disarm law abiding citizens, not criminals.

We may contrast the District of Columbia with Switzerland, which has one of the highest private gun ownership rates in the world, and where gun crime rates are statistically insignificant. That little country has no professional army, so Swiss males between the ages of 18 and 42 are required by law to keep a fully automatic assault rifle at home. While conscription should not be advocated, we should note that the Swiss don’t go around shooting each other, just like we don’t go around stabbing each other to death in spite of the fact that we all have big, sharp, lethal knives in our kitchens.

While we feel for the friends and families of the victims, and bans appear to be the right thing to do, we need to know that they do not produce the desired effects. There was once a world without guns and both cruelty and crime were definitely present.

Do not let politicians capitalize on your emotions. Oppose the passing of legislation that restricts your freedom, endangers your privacy and causes problems while solving none.

Rod Rojas is a holder of the Canadian Securities Course designation and performs as a financial adviser in personal, corporate, and public-policy matters. Read his articles at  Send him mail.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Antimatter from thunderstorms

This is very strange and out-of-this-world discovery! This posting from a NASA website claims that the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has detected evidence of antimatter particles inside thunderstorms.
The Fermi Telescope was designed to look out into the universe, but was able to detect terrestrial gamma-ray flashes.

Monday, January 10, 2011


The recent shooting in Arizona has triggered the predictable blame game played out by the various and sundry media as well as bloggers. It's the guns, Arizona is too lax on guns, thats the cause. Or it's the acrimonious political atmosphere in the US, or its Sarah Palin's unfortunate poster with the sniperscope crosshairs on various congressional districts.
It is virtually impossible to comprehend that a 22-year-old man would pop-off six people in a parking lot as casually as you or I, tossing flat stones into a pond. But thats what happened. He planned it, he did it, and it might have been even worse.
People need reasons, people need to believe there is purpose to the world and the things that happen in it, so those in charge of the media offer up reasons. They march in the experts who have studied these situations (can you believe that!), and each expert gives a plausible cause for the incident because hindsight is 20/20, and it happened so it MUST have had a reason.
Sarah Palin like rifles, long guns with crosshairs, that poster is what I would expect, but it is not her fault.
When is the political atmosphere in America NOT acrimonious? That is not a cause.
Guns, well, thats like blaming the airliners for crashing into the Twin-Towers on 9/11, it's not guns that are at fault. It's the guy, the 22-year-old nut job and there is no reason in the world of sane people to explain it.
I'm already tired of hearing the parade of personalities invoking the deity and trying to give a reason for this story, a purpose for the six lives wasted, the twelve wounded, and for the suffering of the survivors. There is no deity, there is no purpose, and there is no getting over it if you were there.

If you think my commentary is bleak, have a look at this on the same topic.  

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rattling the cage of The Barefoot Bum 2

I was going to call this post Communist Bum, but I suspect the Barefoot Bum would have called that title "egregiously stupid," his favourite phrase when he references me, Libertarians, Randians (Objectivists), and anyone else who disagrees with him in general. I don't like calling anyone a communist (because in the USA that might get you shot), I prefer to use the word statist (but Statist Bum does not demonstrate the same level of contempt that I hold). Oh wait, Mr. Bum doesn't think the term 'statist' is "particularly well-defined." Let me help.
In my usage, statist comes from the word "statism" which means the theory or practice of concentrating economic and political power in the state, usually resulting in a weak position for the individual or community with respect to government. A statist is one who practices statism.  As far as I'm concerned there is very little difference in practice between communists, fascists, NAZI's, socialists (called New Democrats in Canada), Liberals (in Canada), Conservatives (everywhere), Democrats, Republicans, Greens and on and on. They are ALL statists according to that definition and my usage, and they differ only in degree of application. However, there is a very big difference between Libertarians and Conservatives/Republicans. Libertarians want limits on the size and scope of government, Conservatives/Republicans say that they do but in practice it never works out that way. In those so-called right-wing (Conservative/Republican) governments the state always accumulates more power, more control, and more funding at the expense of individuals and communities. That is what has happened in the US and Canada.

Mr. Bum has dissected my previous commentaries line-by-line and he did it again in a recent post after I responded to his initial attack. I don't read Mr. Bum's postings as a rule, it was only by accident that I found his attack on my posting. What I do know is is that Mr. Bum hates Libertarians. Strangely Mr. Bum has something in common with Ayn Rand, my supposed Prophet, she hated Libertarians too. Go figure.

I first read Rand's work as a boy in the late 1960's and early '70's and she obviously had a profound affect on me probably because my thinking at the time was similar to hers. Mr. Bum refers my "dreary Libertarian dogma" blaming Rand.  Of course his communist views are strictly his own, sprung from his fertile brow and certainly not dogmatic. I'm full of dogma and propaganda because I'm libertarian, he is just a communist, no dogma, no propaganda just lots of evidence and skepticism. Right Mr. Bum?

In his most recent dissection of my blog he avoids my comment "I too would be frustrated if my dream-Marxist world had collapsed to the point where just Cuba and North Korea are all that is left of the great revolution of the proletariat. The former communist world has taken on a decidedly capitalistic appearance, though it is still coercive by nature; they have moved closer to us in the West and unfortunately we have moved closer to them in many ways." He avoids it because its true, though he actually posts an apology for Communism before he dissects my blog. Nice touch. In it he says: "I self-identify as a communist. I could just as easily self-identify as a socialist. I chose "communist" for a couple of reasons. Both terms have some unfortunate connotations. Communism, of course, carries the baggage of the errors and excesses of the Soviet Union and China." So, Mr. Bum wants to distance himself from the "unfortunate connotations" of those places where communism began and had its greatest effect on humanity. He also feels free to distance himself from all the advocates of communism (Marx, Lenin, Mao etc.). Damn those unfortunate connotations! I guess he means the millions and millions murdered (possibly 110 million people!) by Stalin and Mao and others. Yes, that is unfortunate. But lets not dwell on reality. Mr. Bum shares with us his ethics: "My fundamental ethical philosophy is gob simple: I want as many people as possible to be as happy as possible, however each person construes "happiness"; I want as few people as possible to suffer as little as possible, however each person construes "suffering". I see the interesting part of politics and economics to be about how to bring about universal happiness. If I thought capitalism were the best way to bring about universal happiness, I would be a capitalist; I do not, therefore I searched for an alternative and settled — at least at present — on communism." Ugh, that sounds like the beauty contest contestant that wants "world peace," he just wants everyone to be happy, and not suffer, and that will happen in his communist lala land, but not like before, that was bad. Mr. Bum goes on to dismiss the communist (and also statist) idea of a planned economy as "unsound" and prefers "the social ownership of capital, the means of production," whatever the hell that means, I have no idea and I'm sure he could not explain it either.

I do agree with one thing that he says: "I consider economics and politics to be fundamentally scientific disciplines; I do not believe they areas merely of competing dogmas."  I agree, economics at least, is a science. Like any science, attempts should made to describe it with theories. Theories are formed by testing hypotheses, when a hypothesis corresponds with reality (i.e. is true) it is accepted. Hypotheses become theories when they describe reality and can be used to make predictions with outcomes that correspond to the real world if they work. If communist theory claims that the means of production should be owned by the proletariat for the good of everyone, fine, show me an example where this has worked or even partially worked now or in the past. Is it in Cuba, North Korea, the former Soviet Union, any of the Eastern Block satellites of the USSR, Red China, is it anywhere, anywhere but in the Communist Manifesto? Every time communism has been attempted anywhere it has led to "errors and excesses" and "unfortunate connotations" as Mr. Bum so blandly puts it. Every time! That is quite a record of rotten success, quite a record of UNhappiness, Mr. Bum!

So lets summarize, communism hasn't worked, doesn't work, and millions and millions have died, but Mr. Bum concludes: "so I'm a communist." Fine, be happy.

However, I'm a libertarian, I support freedom and I do not support coercion, and communism requires coercion and removes freedom, always. My choice of economics is the Austrian School or Theory. What is the Austrian Economics? Just click on that for a lengthy history and explanation. In essence it is a laissez-faire approach to economics. Where it has been tried, it has been wildly successful. Witness the United States, Canada or any country or territory that remotely resembles laissez-faire Austrian Economics. Again it is a matter of degree, but if you check out this interactive map of Economic Freedom and correlate it to the wealth, life expectancy, yes happiness, of individuals in those countries found in this document, then you might agree with me. If you live in Canada or the United States you are still free to choose. You are also free to agree with the Barefoot Bum and the dreck that he spews.      

Friday, January 7, 2011

The needs of the one vs. the needs of the many*

(Yup, I like Star Trek. *The Wrath of Khan was a great movie.)
In Judaism is there is a well known saying supposedly from the Talmud "To save one life is as if you saved the world." It is likely derived from the Talmudic principle that the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious consideration. I can't disagree with the principle, except that I would leave out the religious qualifier.
That saying came to mind when I read the story of the superhero vigilante in Lynwood Washington that patrols the night-time streets in costume like the kid in the movie Kick-Ass. I liked Kick-Ass the movie, so I love this story.
Phoenix Jones is his name and he has been doing this for 9 months so far, and as he says: "I symbolize that the average person doesn't have to walk around and see bad things and do nothing."  Jones saves lives and protects property; admirable, but dangerous.
Fortunately Mr. Jones has some military training and a team that assists him. I think this makes the local police look bad, remember in most towns the Police have the monopoly on protection, but they are generally not around to do it. I know, Police aren't omniscient or omnipotent, but I like the idea of competition in the protection racket, so I hope Mr. Jones and his team can turn this into something lucrative. Here is Mr. Jones on YouTube:

The reverse kind of story happened this week, a homeless man in Columbus Ohio with a radio voice was saved by many. Ted Williams who has a checkered past, was taken off the streets of Columbus and given another chance. There are a couple of reasons I think this story is important.
The most obvious reason is that this story shows the power of YouTube and the internet. The internet has become a tool of referendum. The "share-ing," the blogging," the "Like-ing," all of it from YouTube, to Facebook, to Google and beyond, adds up to a new and powerful force that can satisfy the needs of the many and in this case the one.
The Williams story also shows that people like to help people, one-to-one, it's a natural instinct. It does not require the coercive force of government along with the bureaucratic infrastructure that frequently gets in the way of help. Help can be given informally, without strings on a local scale.
Both stories are very local, tiny, but ultimately huge. I hope they end well.  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bad Science

Finally the full story is out on the fraudulent link between MMR vaccine and autism. It seems to me that the purveyors of this fraud beginning with the original 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield including celebrities like Jenny McCarthy should be libel for something. That is not likely going to happen, but the good news about this story is that investigative journalism is still alive and effective. Brian Deer of The Sunday Times certainly deserves credit here. The other good news is that science still works. Despite all the chicanery, and all the media attention, politics, bullying, all of it, the truth comes out. Science is still self-correcting, even though it takes 12 years!
The bad news, I suspect that the link between vaccination and autism or anything else will remain in the public psyche, kept alive by charlatans and conspiracy theorists.

While I'm on the topic of bad science, here is a lie that has yet to be squelched: its man-made global-warming. Yes, Earth is warming, and as I've stated previous posts, it has been warming since the most recent ice-age 10 to 12,000 years ago. I'm more convinced than ever though that humans play only a tiny role in that warming.
A recent article in the National Post by Lawrence Solomon points to fudging some of the numbers, maybe not to the degree that Wakefield did in his vaccine scam. Solomon's article, 97% cooked stats talks about the so-called scientific consensus that purports that anthropogenic global warming is settled science. Its that apparent certainty, supported by an unquestioning media, that has led people and governments to act in nothing less than self-destructive ways.
One just needs to spend a few minutes reviewing the electrical generation policy in my home province of Ontario, to realize the harm that bad science can foist on an economy. Lawrence Solomon is also the executive director of Energy Probe and has written often criticizing Ontario's Liberal government.    

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

Is Canada underpopulated?

Neil Reynolds thinks it is, and he may have a point. Neil's column today in the Globe and Mail is titled "Go forth, multiply and fill the provinces." This will make environmental activists pull their hair out. Can you see David Suzuki pulling his hair out?
If you have ever traveled across this vast country as I have, you have to be struck by it's emptiness compared to traveling in Europe for example. We have very few large metropolitan areas outside of Toronto and Montreal (maybe Vancouver), most of the cities are relatively small with big spaces in between. Population density in Canada is around 3.3 people per square kilometre, yet most of it is closer to zero. Our replacement birth rate is well under 2.1, which means we are not going to grow unless we have a huge influx of immigration.
In Brian Lee Crowley's recent book Fearful Symmetry he mentions exactly that idea, and that many entitlement programs cannot be maintained as well as labour shortages looming in Canada's future unless the birth rate changes dramatically.
Of course this is true in much of Europe; Japan's population is already shrinking, and wait until the Chinese figure out that their one-child policy could hurt them. America has one of the highest birth rates in the industrialized world, but it too is below 2.1. This issue will give policy-wonks in the industrialized world grey hair.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rattling the cage of The Barefoot Bum

Evidently I have rattled someone's cage too many times. "The Barefoot Bum," a fellow blogger, got annoyed with my most recent post of all things, the new years list of political economy cannots. He deconstructed my New Years list in a lengthy rant, and then proceeded to deconstruct my humble reply in another rant.
Mr. Bum and I have one thing in common, that is we are both skeptics of religious and mystical stuff, at least I am. Ergo we both get posted onto Planet Atheism, a collection of free-thinkers and atheists of all political stripes. Mr. Bum's politics is statist, verging on Marxist/communist and of course I'm not.
Months ago, maybe a year ago, Bum asked if I would debate him on the Richard Dawkins forum, a neutral site he said. The topic was to be libertarianism vs. Marxist-socialism or something like that, and I foolishly accepted. Fortunately before the 'debate' the Dawkins site was hacked, closed down and reopened in a new format, no longer was the same kind of open forum available. That was fine with me, I'm more of an empiricist with principles, and debating fundamentals is not really my style. I prefer looking at evidence, which of course is one reason I am an atheist. Even there I have a fairly laissez-faire attitude. Mr. Bum is much more of a rabid atheist than I. Like many bloggers on Planet Atheism, it is just their disbelief defines them.
I am trolling for skeptics on Planet Atheism, hoping that some of that healthy skepticism readers might have may extend into the political sphere, the real world, where it actually makes a difference what you believe.
Of course I do think religious belief is harmful in many ways to the believer and those around, but the libertarian principle of non-aggresion applies. Religious beliefs should not be used to subjugate or coerce others period. The right to live free, without coercion is a fundamental human right. It is not a right given by government or by a deity, or a proclamation by any authority. It is like oxygen, (the right to life) and almost as important. I won't debate that, and everything else that I believe follows from that.
So, if you have read Mr. Bum's rants (or just scanned them), you might surmise Bum is a bully. Of course that makes sense, how else can one believe in communist ideals? The essence of Marxist philosophy is that your life is not your own, you owe a debt to society by virtue of your birth and your upbringing, and in Canada and much of the Western world (including the USA) that is the philosophy that underlies our so-called democracies. Bum is a bully, as much in his politics, as his lack or religious belief.
Why is he so upset with my New Years list? Why now? I've been ranting for two years, why is he so pissed off with me this week?  Maybe he is frustrated with the way things are going. He resorts to name-calling:
"I'm deeply suspicious of the intellectual integrity of anyone who calls him- or herself a Libertarian or who admires in any way the politics of Ayn Rand. I'm convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Allen Small himself is not an honest seeker after the truth, every bit as dogmatic, tendentious and impervious to reason as any Creationist."
That is a sign of frustration, I am "not an honest seeker after the truth..... dogmatic......impervious to reason," well pardon me for living.  I too would be frustrated if my dream-Marxist world had collapsed to the point where just Cuba and North Korea are all that is left of the great revolution of the proletariat. The former communist world has taken on a decidedly capitalistic appearance, though it is still coercive by nature; they have moved closer to us in the West and unfortunately we have moved closer to them in many ways.
That will be reconciled at some point, and I think it is likely to happen in the West sooner than later. It may already be happening, and Mr. Bum can smell it! So he is angry and frustrated with the media because now there are competitive viewpoints available on radio and television and because there are folks like me that spew libertarian propaganda and dogma across the internet.
I'm sure not much has been solved by this posting, but as an empiricist I will let the evidence speak for itself. Do libertarians have all the answers to all that ails us? I doubt it. What I do know is that if there is a competition of ideas, and people are free to choose what are the best ideas for their own circumstances, that is a dogma and a truth I am willing to defend.