Saturday, May 28, 2011

Giving back or just giving - The Morality of Profit

This is a picture of Bill and Melinda Gates, among the most generous people in the world. Bill Gates is often quoted about his generosity as saying he is just "giving back." The video below from the Atlas Network points out that when rich people say they are giving back, most of them like Gates, are doing no such thing. In fact they are mis-speaking at the best, or being falsely modest at worst. At any rate it is a distortion of the truth. Watch the argument:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bad choices made right

At our regularly scheduled pub night recently, a libertarian friend posed this question to me: "Why are you a libertarian?" I had to think for a moment then I blurted out something about having choices. Deep thoughts aren't generated at pub nights, so I was not prepared for the question and my answer was poor. My friend followed with something like this:
"So, if libertarians are all about choice but want to get rid of government health care, and allow people to seek private insurers or have no insurance at all, then libertarians are restricting choice by eliminating the government option and effectively forcing people to have private health care or none at all. What kind of choice is that?" Again I did not immediately grasp the fallacy in that thinking, not until afterward, and that's why I writing about it here. So here is a more thoughtful answer to both of the above questions.

Suppose the government was in the food production industry. Food is essential to life, often health care is too, but overall it can be argued that food is more important, most of the time to most people, I hope you agree.
Governments in this part of the world are not involved with food production (not directly) nor should they be. Food is produced by efficient producers, for profit, and marketed all over the world. Food moves rapidly and efficiently across borders without much government fuss (except for the "marketing boards" in Canada, but that is another story). Food scarcity is controlled by price and so is food abundance, supply and demand rule most of the time. I have lived here in the Greater Toronto area virtually my entire life, and I have never known there to be a shortage of food. If you can't find red apples there are green ones, there are always choices that generally fit everyones budget. It's amazing, never a shortage, always more than enough in stores, and yet profits are to be made, and wealth is produced. So much wealth, and so much food in fact, that even the poor are able find enough through private charity and food banks.

In Canada, and much of the Western world, governments are involved in health care. A true libertarian thinker would say that they should not be. A hypothetical libertarian government by eliminating the option for government regulated health care, is not removing a choice, rather, that libertarian government is righting a wrong. The government should not be doing that, should not be involved in health care. Unlike food production, where shortages are controlled by price and choice, supply and demand, ALL Canadians in all provinces know too well that there are shortages in health care, because scarcity is not controlled by price, it is controlled by government edict. All Canadians are familiar with the term "wait-time" when it is used to reference health care. But did you ever have to wait to buy bananas? Maybe one store had sold out, but in the larger centres there are always bananas nearby! Rarely a shortage, even in the depths of a Canadian winter.
But health care? Now you're talking shortages. Can't find a family doctor? Have you ever waited in a hospital emergency room for yourself or a loved one and been "triaged" almost to death? Have you ever been in a doctor's overbooked waiting room, waiting and waiting and waiting? Have you or a loved one ever had to endure a long wait to get much needed treatment for any sort of ailment, surgery or otherwise? I'm certain most Canadians would answer in the affirmative to one or more of those questions. It's the Canadian way of life and death. Yet for some reason Canadians are proud to say that: "free health care" is what separates us from our less caring American cousins to the South. This is a fallacy that needs to be examined on several levels, but not here.
The point of course is that food production and distribution is relatively unregulated, driven by the profit motive and yet it fulfills the needs of most Canadians most of the time. Health care on the other hand, is almost totally regulated, removed from the profit motive because it is somehow unseemly, yet it rarely ever fulfils the needs of its customers at any time. The chart in the corner may be dated, but the message is the same today.
What about the poor, what about catastrophic situations? These are issues that can be accommodated, even in a competitive system. While I don't have all the answers, I do know that what we have now can be made much better with choice. A libertarian government would strive for choice, but there are some choices that are just plain wrong.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

HBO's "Too Big to Fail" - fails

Paul Giamatti as Ben Bernanke
"The Ben Bernank"
Some of you will smile when I refer to "The Ben Bernank." It's a bit of an inside joke that I won't bother explaining here, but if you have seen some of my previous postings featuring Mr. Tugwit's cartoon bears you will understand.
Anyway Paul Giamatti (left) plays Ben Bernanke (right) in HBO's  rendition of "Too Big to Fail" based on Andrew Ross Sorkin's best seller of the same name. I did not read the book, so I don't know how the movie compares, but Giamatti's role in the movie is not huge. He just seems to be there at critical moments in the movie to move the plot along, and save the world from something worse (as he says) than the Great Depression. Apparently Bernanke is an expert on the causes of the Great Depression so it was opportune for him to be in office pulling the "right strings" during the economic turmoil that occurred during 2008. (that is what we are told)
The movie illustrates the very fuzzy separation between the government players and the private bankers. So of course the underlying question throughout the movie is how closely the events depicted in the movie match with reality? I suspect it is close, but of course only the real players know for sure. The relationship between governments (not just American) and the banks should be enough to make everyone watching cringe, though I doubt they will.
A few things about the movie are clear, mainly that its complicated. The actors do a good job of pretending to understand what's going on, at least it looks like it. Maybe that is just the good screenplay writing (Peter Gould and Sorkin). There is a point in the movie about an hour in, when one of the characters explains what is going on indirectly, and believe me this movie needs explaining. I'm not saying it was badly done, quite the contrary, I thought they did an admirable job (though my wife thought it was boring).
The biggest problem with the movie (for me) has nothing to do with the acting, directing, casting or anything to do with its production. The movie comes to a resolution when the American government effectively nationalizes AIG and the Congress finally passes the TARP bill giving money to banks that didn't even need it. When this happens you almost expect to see the Henry Paulson (William Hurt) character and Bernanke slapping their hands together in satisfaction - job well done. The cavalry came to the rescue and everything has been fixed! That is the problem with the movie. It perpetuates the lie that an unimaginably complex creature like "the economy" can be fully understood and manipulated by a few people in a back room. It hasn't even been three years since the mess appeared, but the impression the movie leaves is things are back to normal. The Market is behaving like things are good, and all has been appropriately controlled. But if it is true, as I suspect it is, this economic repair is like the bubble gum in the cracked dam. We are not done yet.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Firecracker Day or British Heritage Day

When I was a child growing up in Toronto we called this holiday we are celebrating today, (Victoria Day) "Firecracker Day." It was our annual excuse to buy firecrackers (much easier to get in those days) at the local variety store, and spend the day getting into all kinds of mischief, like blowing up tulip blooms with  small firecrackers. I'm sure that's distressing to any gardeners out there, but the unfortunate and numerous tulips provided us with hours of entertainment.
It was a day off school and off work for most, because our true-blue Ontario stat-laws meant business was at a standstill, or else. Things are still shut pretty tight around here even in 2011. But that is another posting.
Even as a child I knew that celebrating the birthday of a dead monarch was a dumb idea, except for the fact there was no school. It still is a dumb idea, but rather that eliminating the holiday why not change the rationale behind it?
We in Canada owe our British forebears a debt of gratitude, not for the old queen or the present one, but for the rules, laws, and practices that we use to this day to govern ourselves. Canada is as successful as it is, because of the British idea of liberty from Magna-Carta to the Westminster System. While these facts may be widely known, they are not really understood by many Canadians, who have a very rudimentary idea of the concept of liberty, and somehow think that it is an American idea. Of course the Americans owe to Britain that same debt of gratitude because they are after-all our cousins.
Anyway, just a suggestion, change the name of the holiday to British Heritage Day, or Westminster Day or just keep Victoria Day. What really needs to change is what we are celebrating, not a birthday, but a way of living in liberty.  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Out there on the fringe

If you are reading this after 6 pm in the Eastern Time Zone, then you and I will likely make it through the night. Somehow I knew we would.
Apparently the mainstream media were starved for real news this week, or they were concerned that the end is indeed near, or they are giving us the old "wink-wink" with the story of the fringe Christian group preparing for the apocalypse today May 21, 2011.

Last month I attended a media gathering (but very few media were there) of "fringe political" parties in Toronto so that we, the fringe parties, could get some media attention during the Canadian election campaign.
Thats right the Libertarian Party of Canada is considered a fringe group. The party that advocates freedom from coercive force especially by government, the party that advocates free enterprise capitalism, the party that advocates property rights, limited government, adherence to a constitution that protects individual liberty, and on and on, WE are fringe! It boggles my mind every time I think about it, freedom is fringe! Did we get the same coverage as those moron Christians in the video below? No, not even close. I guess next time we should try billboards with a scary message like "freedom is not free" or something more ominous. If there is a next time! ;-)


Friday, May 20, 2011

Kids, Voters and the Nanny State

The results of the last election here in Canada has had many minds churning, not the least is Stefan Molyneux. I'm not suggesting that the following video by Mr. Molyneux was produced in response to the recent election here, but it certainly could have been.
In a very simple yet insightful comparison, this YouTube posting (The State as Family) shows that modern day voters are like children, and then continues the simile to show how the State is, and has become, like the family through a slow relentless evolution that has produced the leviathan known as the Nanny State. This has happened here in Canada, which I don't think is even mentioned in the video, but also throughout Europe and the United States which prides itself as being the "Land of the free" etc. etc. According to Mr. Molyneux, the pervasive jingoism that periodically erupts in America (shooting of bin Laden), is just blatant Nanny-statism, and I have to agree.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Conservative? Really, or just more of the same?

The new Harper cabinet has been announced, all 39 members of it. So I decided to play with MS Excel a bit and compare how the size of the Federal Cabinet is correlated to spending, debt, and deficit.
The graph on the left is mine (from this data) and shows how Cabinets have grown throughout the history of Canada, up to and including Harper's new cabinet today. If you click on the graph it enlarges, but even at this size it is clear that the size of the Federal Cabinet has grown more in the last 50 years (where the black arrow is located) than in the previous 90 years. The most significant dip in the size of the cabinet occurred during the term of Liberal Jean Chretien, but while Stephen Harper has been Prime Minister, the Cabinet has returned to its former bloated size of 39 members, last seen during the term of Brian Mulroney (also a Conservative).
Now compare that graph to the one on the right (supplied by John Shaw President of the LPC). It shows the last 50 years of government; notice the relatively flat green line (program spending) during Chretien's term in office, and the dip in the red total debt line. Now I'm not saying that the countries' debt is directly correlated to the size of the Cabinet, but it is oddly similar to the other graph isn't it?
So what does this mean? It may mean nothing, or as I suspect, it may mean that Mr. Harper will not deliver the small more limited government he has promised, but rather, he will continue on the road to more of the same. Unless he pares down the budget's of each of the now more numerous ministers (almost impossible), then his promise to balance the budget in 3 or 4 years is just idle chit-chat. Either that, or he expects rapid, solid growth, in the economy real soon, which I think is equally unlikely. Place your bets now.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The church where God is not required

Reverend Gretta Vosper is an avowed atheist and minister of the United Church in Toronto. Now if that doesn't sound like a contradiction I don't what does.
An article in the National Post today highlights that story, and discusses the issues around the title of this posting.
It has been common knowledge for a long time that the United Church in Canada is one of the most liberal of all religious organizations in the country. It was instrumental in legalizing same-sex marriage in Canada six years ago. Today it supports causes ranging from "climate justice" to the perceived plight of the Palestinian refugee, and other issues that make it among the most "progressive" of all churches. One of the ministers, frustrated with the Churches progressive stand on issues of the day is quoted as saying:

“In the 1960s and ’70s we became embarrassed about Jesus. And so we distanced ourselves from Jesus, and the point is without Jesus there’s no point in having a church. iTunes has better music and the NDP has better policies; everything else we do now somebody else does way better. The only thing we can do is this Jesus thing.”
Well, maybe iTune does have better music, but I know the NDP is not known in my circles for good policies, but they are progressive too. I'm not so progressive. For me the reality of this story has nothing to do with this church, though I do admire its liberal stand on many issues, I'm not really concerned with its survival as the Post article illustrates. The article highlights (without saying it) the question: What is the purpose of a church? Obviously it fulfills some human needs, whether rational or not, churches would not exist otherwise. Personally I don't think it is rational, however, I don't think gambling is rational, or binge drinking, or smoking, or doing drugs or any of the behaviours people can do in a voluntary way. Many people are irrational for a part of their lives, at least.
Which brings me to: churches are not going away. Once, as a youngster with Objectivist ideals, I thought (hoped) religion would go the way of the Dodo bird. Today I see religion for what it is, a social club, a fraternal society, a sorority of the like-minded; and as long as it stays voluntary with no coercive impact on government, then we can all get along. But they need to be watched.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gas Pain and Tax Pain

Local Toronto media have made a big issue of the price of gasoline in the last few weeks. I'm sure prices have risen everywhere in the US and Canada of late. In fact the price of gas seems unrelated to the price of a barrel of oil now. Why? Gas is refined from oil, and about a dozen refineries along the Mississippi River that control more than13% of American refining capacity are in danger of being flooded by the river (see graphic). Just the threat of less supply, with constant demand equals rising price, simple economics. But the whining media instead of explaining the story seems content with stirring the pot. Why not have government regulate gasoline? How can we help you squeeze more mileage out of your tank, and on and on? There are even stories about how consumers will have to choose between basic household necessities and filling their gas tank? At least they have a choice and once the flood threat dissipates, I expect the price of gas to moderate soon.
During my election campaign, in my closing or opening remarks, I used some research done by the Fraser Institute that illustrated just how big the Canadian government has become over the last 50 years. The research described how the price of basic necessities like food, shelter and clothing have increased over that time, but also showed that the tax burden surpassed all of them by a wide margin. In fact taxes are now the largest budget item of the typical Canadian family. So referring back to the media gas story, the tax story, the story where our choices are limited or non-existent, is ignored, not just by media but by most citizens.
The good people at the Fraser Institute updated that research in the latter days of the election and it was scooped up by the National Post too. The graph below is from this pdf, and the graph tells the whole story.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

An army of one in a losing battle - I hope

Elizabeth May is described as having the "energy of a hyperactive chipmunk and a matchless ability to hog the spotlight." That quote comes from a column by Margaret Wente in today's Globe and Mail.
I noted in yesterday's blog post that Ms. May won election in B.C. as the only Green ever elected in Canada, while her party is shrinking in popularity everywhere else in the country. Ms. Wente goes on to use Uber-Environmentalist George Monbiot, to help explain why the green-movement is in retreat across the planet.
Of course there is nothing wrong with the idea of saving the planet, if indeed it needs saving. The problem is that the supposed cure or planet saving treatment, is far worse than the disease that is alleged. People everywhere are starting to see that (I hope), and the bloom is off the (green) rose.

Monbiot laments this fact in recent essays published in The Guardian. On May 2, 2011, Monbiot sounds despondent in a column "Let's face it: none of our environmental fixes break the planet-wrecking project," you know, the one where we are hooked on fossil fuels so we don't freeze in the dark but are wrecking the planet. Do you feel guilty having survived the winter? 
In this column Monbiot spells out the problems the green-movement is facing including this wonderful passage:

"Our reliance on the mineral crunch, which was supposed to have brought the economic engine of destruction to a grinding halt, appears to have been misplaced. The collapse of accessible mineral reserves has not occurred, and shows little sign of occurring within our lifetimes. Capitalism has proved adept at finding new reserves or (in the case of fossil fuels) substitutes for those that are depleting. This takes place at a massive cost to the environment, as exploitation intrudes into an ever wider range of habitats and involves ever more destructive processes. New mineral reserves allow us to continue waging war against biodiversity, habitats, soil, fresh water supplies and the climate."
 Poor fellow, relying on mining to get those rare minerals out of the ground so he could use his computer and internet connection to continue spewing this anti-human drivel out. He laments that the damn capitalists keep finding new oil reserves, when, oh when, will peak oil happen? When will people realize that the end is near and habitats are collapsing everywhere (even though they are not)? Thats what he sounds like, its pathetic. Monbiot even has a wiki-link to the Steady-State Economy, which is what he and all environmentalists of his ilk (including Ms. May above) yearn for. This steady-state goal unmasks him (and his confreres) as wanting to be chief puppeteers, controlling all things in your life from your water usage to your usage of fuel, clothing, food, (read it if you don't believe me), the size of your family everything! Producing....
" economy with constant stocks of people and artifacts, maintained at some desired, sufficient levels by low rates of maintenance "throughput", that is, by the lowest feasible flows of matter and energy from the first stage of production to the last stage of consumption." 

The result is a GDP that neither grows nor shrinks by some magic wave of government fiat. Of course someone or some group will be controlling all that - the puppet masters - the elite technocrats, that are experts in creating this utopia. Can you imagine?

Did you vote Green? Shame on you. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Election Day Autopsy Final Thoughts

Last weeks election has altered the political landscape of Canada (see left, the top chart are 2011results, bottom are 2008 results) , but only reflects what people have already been thinking. Elections summarize past thinking and events rather than project the future. There should be a line on each ballot that says: "past performance does not guarantee future results," like all the mutual fund companies are required to do.
This past week the mainstream Canadian media have focussed on the demise of the Liberal Party, the surge of the NDP and their rookie caucus, but very little on the most important result, namely what a Conservative majority might mean for the future.
Stephen Harper and his gang now have free rein, there are so many in the media and the general public that openly hated the Harperites, that I'm surprised that angry demonstrations have not materialized, though that may yet happen.
What will the Conservatives do with their majority? On May 6th I discussed the National Post's priority list. If Harper wants to keep his fiscally responsible supporters he is going to have to stop kowtowing to the other parties for their support, Gerry Nicholls says precisely that here. Of course Harper has no need to kowtow anymore, but he really needs to show that things will be different. One way he could do this was suggested by a Quebec writer a couple of days ago, and I like it. Appoint Maxime Bernier, a fallen cabinet star, to President of the Treasury Board, Stockwell Day's old job. I think that is a great idea, I have always viewed Mr. Bernier as "libertarian-lite" and this would be a perfect place for his talents as outlined in the article.
There are those that say Harper should not govern with an ideological bent because he will be accused of pulling out his "hidden agenda." When the Liberals or NDP suggest a new policy program for every little thing that ails us, they were never accused of being ideological, but of course they were. Its time we had some fiscally prudent ideology from the Conservatives, I hope it happens, but like some I'm not holding my breath.
In that article, Terence Corcoran suggests that the Conservatives acted like centrist Liberals in this election. This may be why the Liberals had such a poor showing, they had no where to go but to stray into "progressive socialist" territory, a realm already occupied by Jack Layton and the NDP, and since Layton was far more popular than Ignatieff, people chose Layton and the Liberals became redundant. In Ignatieff's election night concession speech he suggested he would stay as leader until he was no longer needed, 10 hours later was gone, and a day or so after that he was back to being a teacher, this time at the University of Toronto.
One of the best things that happened in this election was the collapse of the "fake-federalist-party" Bloc Quebecois, from 49 seats to 4, well deserved. Of course the poor Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe, is left only with a paltry $141,000 annual pension. Who got suckered there? 
I haven't mentioned Elizabeth May's impressive victory in British Columbia. She worked hard and moved there to find just the right group of deluded individuals from the wet (yes I mean wet) coast, land of Suzuki and all things environmental. I'm sure she will do an outstanding job of representing those people, she has proven she can play with the big boys in the 2008 leaders debate. Her party however, the Greens, is a dying force in Canada. Percentage  draw this time was 3.9%, down from 6.8% in 2008 (then approaching the peak of climate change hysteria at COP 15), down from 4.5% 2006, and even down from 4.3% in 2004. In the light of NDP cap and trade policy, the Greens are redundant as much as the Liberals. Lawrence Solomon has an interesting link that compares political support of global warming activism in today's Post.
Now on to the Ontario election, less than 5 months away, thankfully a date that was known well in advance.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Election Day Autopsy Part 3 - A hidden agenda suggestion

There in the chart you see the preliminary results of Monday's election (click to enlarge). The Libertarian Party had candidates in only 23 of 308 ridings across the country. If the Libertarian vote count in the chart were projected for the all 308 ridings, it would amount to about 0.5% of voters, about the same as I achieved in Markham-Unionville. Among so-called minor parties we did well, especially compared to the Marxist-Leninist/Communist Parties with a total of 93 candidates but only twice our vote count.
Most of the polls in this election got the party order of finish correct (first to fourth) but they really missed on the important outcome. Gerry Nicholls, who calls himself one of the top five political minds in Canada, actually made some fairly accurate predictions, including the timing, the Harper majority, and the Liberal Party's demise (he thinks they are done for good).
Advance polls in this election were busy, giving the Statist media (CBC etc.) hope that a major change like a Harper defeat was imminent. No such luck, polls are run by fairly inexperienced temporary employees so it doesn't take much incompetence to create a long lineup and the illusion of a crowd. The actual voter turnout (61.4% of eligible voters) is not significantly different from 2008 (59.1%), and my theory that BIG government causes small turnouts still holds.
Of course the most important thing that happened in this election was the Harper majority. It has been a while since a majority government  (Chretien 2003)  ran the country, one that does not have to pander to the other parties. Mr. Harper has a Master's degree in Economics, he is not a fan of J. M. Keynes, at least that was the conclusion in his 1991 Master's thesis:
So we can hope that Mr. Harper, now unleashed with a majority, will actually encourage free markets in Canada. We can hope. 
The National Post in their editorial May 4th outlined what should be on Harper's agenda, I think it represents a good start for a freer Canada. Here it is in italics with my added commentary:

1. Balance the books within three years. Good, but don't stop at that, phase out entire government departments and portfolios as well.

2. Enact income splitting. Yes, it cuts taxes for families but also revenue for government, so see #1.

3. Offer all Canadians full freedom of choice in health care. Starting immediately, the government should suspend the application of the Canada Health Act for the duration of its mandate, to allow provinces freedom to experiment with alternate financing and delivery models, including private insurance and hospitals. Excellent, and allow universities to open up medical schools to more students, and encourage competing medical licensing organizations like the OMA or CMA.  

4. Pass new crime legislation - but strike a better balance between punishment and the protection of society. Certain provisions, such as those prohibiting prisoner contact with visitors, for example, serve no discernible purpose and come across as merely mean-spirited; they should be scrapped. Likewise, mandatory minimum sentences for Canadians who own a few marijuana plants (a substance that should be legal anyway) make no sense. Moreover, the law should be reformed to ensure that Canadians engaged in legitimate acts of self-defence are not treated like criminals by our justice system. Rather than just this, move to decriminalize marijuana altogether, and look for ways to provide restitution for victims of crime possibly instead of incarceration for non-violent criminals.

5. Abolish the gun registry (finally). Good start in first mandate.

6. Increase funding to the Canadian Armed Forces and veterans. If Canada is to play a serious role on the international stage, assert our sovereignty in the Arctic, and take care of our veterans after they have served their country. I disagree, maintain or reduce funding and remove our troops from their role on the international stage, period. But take care of the veterans that have suffered in those ill-advised international adventures.

7. Stop distorting internal markets through corporate welfare, regional handouts and protectionism. In this category, we would also put the Canadian Wheat Board, which should be put out of its misery at the earliest possible opportunity. Good start for the first mandate.

8. Reform the Senate to make it equal, elected and effective - and subject to term limits. A worthy goal.

9. Scrap political-party welfare, otherwise known as the public per-vote subsidy. While Quebec voters have mercifully defunded the Bloc Québécois on their own, by slashing their support and the dollars that accompany it, the government should now make good on its pledge to cut the cord for all parties. Absolutely.

10. Reinstate a culture of openness, transparency and accountability on Parliament Hill. Now that the Conservatives have a majority, there is no excuse (not that there ever was) for the paranoia, secrecy, rule-bending, shirking of due process and committee bullying that rightly has become the subject of opposition ire in recent years. I would also like to see constraints put on lobbying, but done in a such a way that political benefits cannot be given to companies (see # 7 above) and regions of the country (like Quebec) with the goal to eliminate government influence from economic issues eventually.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Election Day Autopsy Part 2 - What I learned.

Every experience is a learning experience. This was the first election (out of two) that I had election signs. What I learned three weeks ago is that sign stakes need to be pounded deeply into the ground or you will be chasing and repairing signs for the whole campaign. Yesterday, with my wife helping, I learned that pulling out those stakes is back breaking work. Fortunately we have had a very cool wet spring, the ground was soft, so I managed to get most of the stakes out and I lost about 40% of the signs for a variety of reasons. I think I had mentioned that electioneering is hard work.
I also learned that neither effort, ability nor experience will necessarily get one elected. You might think otherwise.
See the picture over there? These young people are all part of the "orange crush," the surge of NDP candidates elected in Quebec, approved and led by the guy in the middle of that montage, Jack Layton. Layton seems to be looking at Ruth Ellen Brosseau, previously an assistant manager at Oliver’s Pub on the Carleton University campus in Ottawa. Ms. Brosseau, who speaks French poorly, was elected in a largely Francophone riding 300 km away from where she lives. She spent part of the election campaign vacationing in Las Vegas, and now there are irregularity questions around her nomination papers, particularly the 100 signatures required to be nominated.
In the top right hand corner of the montage picture is Pierre-Luc Dusseault, just completed one year of university, almost 20 years old, and now the youngest person elected to Parliament in Canadian history.
Then there is Mathieu Ravignat not in the montage, but he previously ran (1997) as a candidate for the Communist Party in Quebec, illustrating for all what the NDP really stands for.
Now I'm sure these people are passionate about NDP beliefs, but what were Quebec voters thinking when they cast their ballots for them? These young people will be receiving a $157,000+ annual salary, plus other perks and will represent voters for the next four years at least. They will be running the country in some small way. What kind of understanding do they have about...well, anything? I would not even have voted for myself when I was 20 years old. I had no sense of community, or family, or a real work ethic (outside of school), or much of anything. Sure I had ideas, values, morals, but little practice. These young people have skipped the apprentice stage, and have gone straight to prime time. Their victories underline the stupidity of large parts of the electorate. Most politicians say they yield to the wisdom of the electorate, what wisdom was displayed here?
I will have more to say.   

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Election Day Autopsy Part 1

Some of you out there in cyberspace might be wondering why I have yet to post my election results. 
Wonder no longer, I've had a busy day deeply involved in the attempting to procure a service that only the government will provide here in Ontario.
My elderly Mother (92 yrs) has macular degeneration, and receives treatment in the form of an injection into the eyeball of the affected eye. Lately, injections happen once a month. Ugh! I know, but that can happen when you live long. This 10 minute procedure took 6 hours to deliver to my mother by the expert doctor whom we waited on. I take her to these treatments because she is virtually blind now, and I can "speed" her through the rigamarole. Some speed eh? 
The rational behind a six hour wait in Ontario, is that government bean counters have calculated, that if the government reduces the number of doctors in the health care system they can control billing, and thus cost. Of course this results in long wait times for many procedures, any savvy adult living here knows this, and this article might help explain it to those who don't think it is true.
So that was my excuse, I spent an unproductive 6 hours in a waiting room, and I do this regularly. Who would stand for this? Well, Canadians of course, because "health-care" is "free." (see linked article to explain "free")
My 2011 results are up in the leftmost picture, the 2008 results are on the right. I believe I have identified about 230 hard core Libertarian voters, I wish I knew who they were. I will have more analysis and comments in a day or so. Stay tuned.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

Election Day - Last Gasp and Predictions

The two pictures show my final campaign day (May 1) at the local shopping mall and my attempt to 'use-up' leftover lawn signs on a major roadway so they would be visible on election day. Electioneering is just plain hard work, with a very uncertain payback. Why anyone would be  attracted to being a politician as a job, is way beyond me. It's not a fun job at all. As I suggested on my radio interview a couple of weeks back, the job of MP should be part time, certainly the legislative part of it. In several American States that is exactly the way it is. During the many lengthy breaks that our MP's take throughout the year, not to mention election campaigns, the country seems to function just fine thank you very much. The government bureaucracy can handle itself quite well, and a smaller bureaucracy, as I would suggest, would function autonomously for lengthy periods of time without legislators mucking up the works. I can dream, can't I?

The unexpected news last night about Osama Bin Laden's demise, might affect the outcome of this election - or not. Reminders of 9/11 and discussion about terrorism throughout the day might favour Harper's gang, we will see. If the Harper-ites squeak out a majority, that could be the cause. At dissolution the House of Commons seat distribution was: Conservatives 143, NDP 36, Liberals 77, BQ 47, Green 0. 
Gerry Nicholls predicts: Conservatives 157, NDP 85, Liberals 56, BQ 10, Green 0, I think he has a soft-spot for the Harper-ites. 
My go-to-blog poll,, predicts Conservatives 143, NDP 78, Liberals 60, BQ 27, Green 0. 
Another poll has it: Conservatives 146, NDP 65, Liberals 63, BQ 33, Independent 1, Green 0.

My prediction for the country (which is just a guess): Conservatives 149, NDP 72, Liberals 57, BQ 30, Green 0.

My prediction for Markham-Unionville: Turnout will be fairly light, 50 to 55% of eligible voters will actually vote here.

The Liberal will win without a problem getting about 50% of the total, Conservative: ~30%, NDP: ~16%, Green less than 2%, and me the Libertarian, around 1%. A victory for me would be beating the Green candidate, its possible, but 1% would still double my showing from 2008 and I would be happy with that. With that base we could make some noise in the Provincial election this Fall. Even with less, there will be noise!    

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Election Day minus 1 - CHOICE

Day 37: MAYDAY, MAYDAY! - Tomorrow is election day, and in just 23 ridings in two provinces across this great country, there is a real choice.

Choose the big Blue Statist governing party - Maybe they will keep your taxes at the same level, but their historical record shows they tend to be big spenders, and to grow the size of government, so expect more deficit and debt. They tend to be repressive in their social views and feel that somehow government should control individual choice with regard to one's body vis-a-vis drugs, sex, and abortion etc. They also believe that somehow Canadians should forgo their liberty in favour of a government big brother that knows what is best for each of us, so they will build more prisons to house the perpetrators of victimless crimes. They believe Canada should be involved in foolish international military campaigns that will "protect" us from terrorists or whatever happens to be in vogue at any particular moment (see Libya).
Choose the big Red Statist party - See above, except this bunch is possibly less repressive socially, and strangely has a recent record (Chretien-Martin) of being more fiscally responsible by shrinking the size of government. Otherwise they differ from the above only by their colour. This party also may fade from the scene at some point because they may be viewed as redundant.
Choose the big Orange Statist party - This bunch is possibly less socially repressive than the other statist parties, but they are the most fiscally irresponsible. They believe in sharing wealth at the point of a gun, like the other statist parties, but they really mean it. Like the others, they have a government program for EVERYTHING that supposedly ails us. In fact this party is the philosophical driver that underpins all the statist parties, and has done for the last 50 years in Canada. All of the other statist parties have stolen ideas from this bunch. They appear to the general media as the counter to the blue bunch above, but realistically only by degrees of difference.  
Choose the big Green Statist party - Also see above. Greens began as a party concerned with the environment, but that idea was stolen by the other statist parties. So the purpose of this bunch is vague at best, and I would expect them to fade from the scene at some point, because even they don't believe they are different from the orange mob.
Choose the Libertarian Party, the party of choice. Unfortunately this group has a very hard sell. Libertarians offer liberty and limits to the size of government. They would remove entire government departments, forcing those employees to find real productive work, but reducing the government salary burden and thus lowering the tax burden. They would remove a variety of "entitlements" that government now offers, reducing government spending and thus lowering the tax burden. They would remake the Canadian Military as a defensive organization, remove troops and equipment from various theatres of war and eliminate government spending for those efforts. In general Libertarians would give people their own money back, and let them choose how, when, and where to spend it. Government revenue collectors would be effectively disarmed, choice would be returned to government services with user fees and just plain less intrusiveness. If you read this blog, you may already know that, but it's still a hard sell, but it is the moral alternative to what we have now. CHOOSE LIBERTARIAN if you can, or select an alternative way to indicate your displeasure on the ballot with the choices in your particular riding, but, go vote. Uses your ballot as a weapon!

Just as an aside, I did an internet poll this morning where I was asked some very leading questions on my political views. I love screwing up the pollsters, and here is an example of one of the questions that I could not answer in all honesty (like a ballot with no Libertarian option OR none of the above options), but I had to, in order to complete the poll.

Some choice!

And now for something completely different: