Archive for November, 2010

Top 10 Libertarian Articles this Week

David — November 29, 2010

  1. VIDEO: “Britain’s Trillion Pound Horror Story”

    It is said that every generation needs to learn the broken window fallacy.

  2. Torture Tort Terror

    “Obama uses national security as a cover for violating people’s rights.”

  3. Ideas Are Free: The Case Against Intellectual Property

    Stephen Kinsella argues that ideas cannot be owned.

  4. Boom, Bust, and Gold

    A Mises Institute look at what would happen if we switched to the gold standard.

  5. End the IMF

    IMF continues to cause more problems.

  6. Rare Earth Ruckus

    Reason magazine covers China’s recent refusal to sell rare earth metals to Japan.

  7. Block’s Building Blocks

    Walter Block the intellectual successor of Murray Rothbard?

  8. Doctors’ Orders

    “The government’s war on medical ‘price fixing’ squelches speech without helping consumers.”

  9. Ron Paul, the Fed, and Changing Times

    Congressman Ron Paul won the war of ideas. Will the powers that be accept it?

  10. Let Them Eat Cookies: Canadian Journalism and Medicare

    A look at Canada’s health care system.

Advice For The Police

Dave Killion — November 28, 2010

Victoria Police Officer and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) speaker David Bratzer is a regular contributor to the blog Cops Say Legalize.  In his latest post, Bratzer mentions the video “10 Rules For Dealing With the Police” (watch it here), and asks, “(Imagine) you were making a film for police officers: “10 Rules for Dealing with the Public.” What would your rules be?”

This is a real challenge.  The original list is meant to help civilians protect their rights when they deal with the police, but what’s the intention of the proposed list?  At first I thought to outline a sort of code of conduct for police, and judging by the comments in Bratzer’s original post, that’s what others thought as well. On reflection, this doesn’t seem the right way to go.  After all, police already have a code of conduct, plus they already have practices they are trained to follow to protect themselves physically from potentially dangerous citizens. Should the new list aim to help law enforcement officers protect their rights when they deal with civilians?  It never occurred  to me that might be a problem.  I know of many instances in which innocent citizens have had their rights trampled by police, but when has a taxpayer violated the rights of a police officer?

Ultimately I could only come up with one rule – always assume you are being recorded, and conduct yourself appropriately.  That means knowing the regulations you are sworn to enforce and the limits of your authority.  I know plenty of bad cops have violated this rule and suffered no consequences, but not everyone gets away.  As recording becomes cheaper and more widely available, more bad cops will be outed and there will be more public pressure for action to be taken.  Do not doubt that political pressure will cause some decent officers to be sacrificed out of expediency.  Do what you can to avoid becoming just such a target.

I hope to hear some other ideas, but like I said, this is a real challenge.

Government Efficiency

Dave Killion — November 25, 2010

Here in the Capital Regional District (Greater Victoria) we have a ‘blue box’ recycling program.  Neither snow, nor rain, nor federal or provincial holidays stay the recycling trucks from the swift completion of their appointed rounds, and that means there are pick-ups on Labour Day, Easter, BC Day, Victoria Day, and just about every other holiday.  Since government usually shuts down on these days, I knew there must be a private sector actor involved, and sure enough it turns out that International Paper is paid to pick up recyclables on a per-house basis.  As a libertarian, I’m somewhat pleased with this, because it means my recycling pick-ups are more consistent than my municipally-supplied garbage pick-ups.  But government suffers from what I call The Minus Touch.  It differs from the Midas Touch in that everything the government touches turns to crap, rather than gold.  I saw more evidence today that I am correct.

If you don’t live in Victoria, you may not know that snow falls here infrequently, and it doesn’t stay for long.  Because of this, residents and businesses simply struggle through these brief interludes rather than keep a stock of the skills and supplies needed to deal with snow.  You also may not know that it snowed here on Monday, and last night as well, so the roads are a mess and the recycling trucks are behind schedule.  Since today is recycling day, I put my blue box out nice and early, because the truck usually rolls by around 8:30 and gets my side of the street, then loops back around 9:00 and gets the other side.  That’s not what happened today.  Today the truck showed up at about 11:00, and got both sides of the street at the same time.

See that?  They were late, and they got both sides of the street in one trip.  That means they were trying to speed things up by being more efficient.  Why did they wait until they were late to act more efficiently?  Because a government-endowed monopoly protects them from competitive market forces that would have forced them to seek efficiencies earlier on in the process.  That means taxpayers like me are paying more for recycling than they otherwise would.

Like I said, the Minus Touch.

Shaky Foundations

Dave Killion — November 24, 2010

If you get a chance to watch The Stossel Show, you should check it out.  Stossel is a former consumer journalist turned libertarian journalist, and he has a knack for stating the libertarian position in clear and simple terms.  The opposition gets to make their point, so there’s a fair hearing for all sides.

During the episode “Libertarians and the Election”, Stossel spoke with Newsday reporter and Democrat supporter Ellis Henican, and also with Republican Kate Obenshain from the Young America’s Foundation.  Listening to folks like this fills me with gratitude for being libertarian, because it reminds me that I don’t have to engage in the intellectual and moral contortions they have to in order to deceive themselves and others.  Like what, you ask?

Like this: Obenshain wants Stossel to tell her what women he has spoken to who say they desperately want to be prostitutes.  Well, of course she has to use the word ‘desperately’, because exaggeration and distortion are the only way she can get the answer she wants.  If she was intellectually honest, she would have to acknowledge that every prostitute (other than literal sex slaves) was demonstrating her preference to work as a prostitute over all other options available to her.

Henican is no better, of course.  While discussing social security, he speaks about providing for the elderly and asks rhetorically “… isn’t that part of the deal we have, as decent people?”  Ugh.  What decency is there in taking money away from people without their consent, and handing it over to someone else who may not even need or deserve it?  Isn’t it part of the deal we have, as decent people, to find a way to help others without resorting to theft and the threat of violence against each other?

Such a shame.  These are two bright, engaging people, and they could make great libertarians, if they could give up distortion, exaggeration, fabrication, and self-deceit.  For the moment, that seems a little too much to ask.

To Stay or to Leave

David — November 23, 2010

Should libertarians stay put and try to fix the system, or should they establish a free society elsewhere? History has shown that as much as it is important to fight for liberty at home, sometimes one needs to leave and establish a better way of living elsewhere.

Consider the Europeans who left their continent to come to the new world. They faced the classic dilemma: stay and work for change, or start a new society elsewhere. Many groups were forced out of Europe as they faced intense religious persecution. The Huguenots were one such group. They were forced out of Catholic dominated France for their Protestant beliefs. The Puritans left for the Americas because of religious persecution as well. Economic reasons forced others to journey to the new world. Thousands of Irish came to the US because of the Great Famine in the 19th century. Whether for economic or political reasons history has shown that mass migrations or an unfortunate reality when times get tough.

Although the situation today is not as immediately dire as in the past, governments we live under grow increasingly authoritarian. While the Europeans of days past could set sail and come to the Americas where there was vast amounts of untouched land, we face a problem of land constraints: governments have claimed everything. However, working within constraints is beneficial as they force creative solutions and provide a path to completion. For instance, the medium an artist chooses helps them to bring to life their vision. They will use paint brushes not clay; blues and greens, not reds and yellows. Constraints force decisions and decisions move one closer to solution.

The following ideas, albeit impractical, are meant to be suggestions that work within the constraints of our day. As crazy as they may sound their purpose is to get one thinking about what the future could hold and to spark ideas. It is cheap to generate ideas and expensive to execute on them so iterating through as many concepts as possible is beneficial.

From the improbable to the impossible:

Floating City

A city floating on the ocean

With the oceans its playground the floating city has the most potential to exist of the following scenarios. Food would be harvested from the ocean and energy derived by the sun. The city would need to dock at friendly nations from time to time but besides that it would be a free land floating on the ocean blue.

Castle in the Sky

A colony of attached hot air balloons floating in the sky.

Hundreds of hot air balloons would be connected together on the ground and then floated into the skies above. Supplying this floating village with food and energy would be difficult. It would need a host of friendly nation states to trade with. The colony would float above the air space claimed by governments. With the earth as its footstool the hot air balloon colony would be free to roam the sun lit skies.

Commune on the Moon

An off world colony on the moon. Sun and earth can be seen in the background.

Although an impossibility at the moment the idea of forming a colony on the moon is increasingly becoming a reality as space technology advances. The moon holds the closest off earth refuge for those looking to leave the home world. A commune would be difficult to establish but bring large reward to those who risk the journey.

In short libertarians should continue to engage our enemy at home (big government) while working on a side plan at all times in case the situation gets dire.

Top 10 Libertarian Articles this Week

David — November 22, 2010

  1. Kitchen Light Turned On, Cockroaches Object

    Kevin Carson ridicules the criminals who object to the light shone on them by WikiLeaks.

  2. The Aussies Are Coming! Of Potash and Protectionism

    Adam Allouba explores foreign ownership of Canadian companies.

  3. Grand Juries Are Democracies’ Grand Idea

    Randy Hillier on the institution that allows individuals to hold government accountable.

  4. Edmund Burke, Anarchist

    Murray Rothbard builds a case for young Burke’s interest in anarchism.

  5. A Theory of Bullying

    The government contributes to bullying through the structure of its public schooling system.

  6. Stimulus: Still Not Working!

    Unemployment is up and the economy hasn’t recovered: the Austrians are right again.

  7. The Arms of King Abdullah

    Brian Anderson analyses the recent US arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

  8. Quantitative Easing: It’s Sinking the Fed’s Status

    Bernanke comes under increasing pressure as the US boat loses its float.

  9. Anarchism, Reason, and History

    Joe Sobran reviews Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s book Democracy: The God That Failed.

  10. Going Broke by Fractions of a Percent

    Quantitative easing has become a public relations disaster.

Electing Not To Vote

Dave Killion — November 20, 2010

Between the recent US elections and today’s City of Victoria by-election, we’ve all been subjected to an annoying amount of ‘get-out-the-vote’ exhortations.  It pleases me to imagine that all the new voters they recruit come at the cost of existing voters who get so annoyed at this constant hectoring that they refuse to cast any further ballots until these nagging busy-bodies shut the hell up.  This might not be a fantasy enjoyed by many other people, but I cannot express the satisfaction it gives me.

There is no consensus amongst libertarians concerning voting, although I have a sense that most are opposed either on the grounds that the act may be mistaken or misrepresented as approval for the outcome, or because your vote makes literally no difference to the outcome.  Even so, I don’t know of any non-voting libertarian who would insist that any voting libertarian turn in his secret decoder ring.

I’m not opposed to voting, but no one got my vote in today’s election.  If someone had been truly deserving of support, then I would have cast a ballot, even if he or she hadn’t any hope of winning.  Sadly, these candidates are the same spoiled authoritarian apples you find in every political barrel.

Public Vs. Private

Dave Killion — November 18, 2010

The wonderful author Mario Vargas Llosa is the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize for literature.  It is unheard of for an author with his classical liberal outlook to win, and there are plenty of folks on the left unhappy with his victory.  That, to my mind, is reason enough to read him, but even if it wasn’t, he is a powerful and compelling author.  If you are interested in his work, there are a number of his titles available at the Greater Victoria Public Libraries.  I recommend “The Bad Girl”, “The Feast of the Goat”, and “The Green House”.

Of course, the library being a public service, they are not equipped to meet high demand for popular materials, so you will have to place a hold on the title you like, and then wait for it to be read and returned by everyone who placed a hold before you.  That will be five people, seven people, and four people, respectively.  So it will be some months before you get your title, but hey, when government supplies “free” stuff, you gotta expect rationing.

If you’d like something to do while you wait for your book, you can always go Blockbuster and rent a highly demanded, popular movie guaranteed to be in stock.  If it isn’t, you will get it later for free.  Thank you, free enterprise!

Top 10 Libertarian Articles this Week

David — November 15, 2010

  1. Protecting Licensed Counterfeiters

    Gary North looks at three classes of counterfeiters.

  2. A Constant Companion of Liberty

    The lucid exposition of Benjamin Constant: French classical liberal of the 19th century.

  3. The Human Rights Commission’s $167,000 Spin Doctors

    When the Canadian Human Rights Commission isn’t harassing innocent people it uses tax dollars to make itself look good. Shameful.

  4. Thank a Vet?

    Laurence M. Vance takes a look at Remembrance Day.

  5. The Good Life on the Left

    The NDP waists tax payer money even when it isn’t in power.

  6. They’re No Angels

    Stephen Mauzy wonders why the police are considered heroes.

  7. Sell Out

    Potash, Saskatchewan, Free Trade and the Canadian government.

  8. One Piece Of Moderately Good Economic News And 14 Pieces Of Bad Economic News That Are So Horrifying You Might Not Want To Read Them Standing Up

    A summary of the problems the US currently faces.

  9. Boom-Bust in Microcosm

    An analogy for the boom bust cycle.

  10. Bernanke: Wealth for Wall Street, Poverty for the People

    Charles Goyette exposes the Federal Reserve’s inflating ways.

The Cure

Dave Killion — November 9, 2010

I used to think I knew what a good letter-to-the-editor looked like, but then I discovered Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek. He is, to my mind, one of the most powerful antidotes to the sickening nonsense inflicted on us by the mainstream media.