Archive for January, 2011

Shooting Their Mouths Off.

Dave Killion — January 31, 2011

Although events in Egypt have replaced the recent shooting of a US politician in Arizona as the hottest news topic, gun control plays an important role in both cases. No one will be surprised to know that gun control laws are very strict in Egypt, and as a result the government has acted with impunity for decades. Deprived of the means to more effectively counterbalance the force of government violence, Egyptians are unjustly impoverished and oppressed.

The Arizona shooting has also spurred discussion about gun control, and in this audio clip US gun law expert Alan Korwin is interviewed by CBC journalist Carol Off .

The interview goes from about the 3:00 mark to the 11:00 mark, and although Korwin struck me as too aggressive for his own good, his response is generally sound. I was particularly interested when, at around the 9:30 mark, Off makes her second reference to citizens having shoot outs. In response, I want to point out that so long as people don’t violate the natural rights of others, they have a right to live their lives as they see fit. If a law-abiding citizen wants to acquire a firearm through honest means, they cannot be prevented from doing so without violating their rights, and people should be way less cavalier about such violations than they are.

More to the point, shootouts between law-abiding citizens occur only in the imaginations of those who don’t know any better. In no instance where citizens have stopped a mass killing has a legal firearms owner hurt an innocent bystander, even when multiple citizens were carrying guns. Even in US states where firearms regulation is very light, those who choose to carry have proven to be particularly responsible citizens. and their communities are better for it. But don’t expect to hear that from the CBC.

Blinding Voters. With Science!

Dave Killion — January 29, 2011

Here’s a (published!) letter to the Victoria News:

In your editorial concerning efforts to encourage the use of science in constructing policy, you write that it’s “… harder and harder to separate the hard facts from data that looks like facts – especially when it’s about an issue that affects something as precious as our personal health.” (Our View: Efforts to seek facts applauded, January 28).

Grant that you are correct. Can you explain why anyone should believe that our elected officials, who are presumably neither scientists nor engineers nor intellectually superior to the folks intelligent enough to vote them into office, are any better at making such assessments than every other individual?

Furthermore, having made such an assessment, how does it follow that these same officials, all of whom lack both the knowledge and the incentives each individual has concerning their own precious health, should be deciding what any other person should be allowed to do?

It isn’t the lack of sound science usage by politicians about which we should be concerned. It is the unsound notion that voters are children in need of elected parents to make personal decisions on their behalf.

Sincerely,

David L. Killion

Update: Linked to published letter 7 Feb 2011

Your Tax Dollars Hard at Work.

Dave Killion — January 28, 2011

Naturally, the Canadian government gives money to the Egyptian government, whether you like it or not. The amount hovers around $15 million a year. I’m sure it’s intended for humanitarian uses, but the trouble with government to government transfers is that every dollar the state saves on roads and schools is a dollar it can spend on its police and military. That’s something to think about while watching the Egyptian state kick the crap out of the Egyptian people.

Public Sector Efficiency

Dave Killion — January 27, 2011

The curbs and gutters on my street are about 90% covered with leaves, twigs, and other detritus today, which is a little cleaner than it was before the street sweeper came through a couple of days ago. Considering my property taxes paid for someone to drive the sweeper all the way up and down the road, one might think having only one foot out of ten clean suggests a poor return on my investment, and I’d have to agree. Of course, 10% is about all you could really hope for, because there were a lot of cars parked on the road and the sweeper could hardly get to most of the curb. Two of those cars belonged to my family. I know, I know… why would someone park their car on a street when it is going to be swept?  Because they don’t KNOW when its going to be swept! The city lets us know when the recycling will be picked up, and when the garbage is going to be picked up, but it seems the street sweepers schedule is a little too erratic to pass on to the public.  It probably has something to do with efficiency. And so every six weeks or so, depending on the amount of litter, the government street sweeper very efficiently cleans 90% of the centre of the road TWICE, and very efficiently leaves 90% of the littler right where it is.

Just one more reason to privatize the neighbourhood.

A Pale Kid is a Healthy Kid.

Dave Killion — January 25, 2011

Here in the Capitol Regional District, government continues to undermine the family. Most recently, the CRD has banned minors from using commercial tanning beds, parental discretion be damned.  If a kid is going on holiday in Mexico and Hawaii, it doesn’t matter if Mom and Dad agree that a few visits to a tanning booth can prevent a bad burn, he can’t go. If a kid would like to get a little colour before her graduation events, it doesn’t matter if that’s okay with the parents. She can’t.  If a kid gets the winter blahs, he can go to a salon, but if and only if he has a prescription. And if he’s got one, it doesn’t matter if the folks say no. Government is the ultimate parental authority.

Happily, parents can still let their children endanger life and limb at the local ski hill or mountain bike trail, and no matter how old they are, so long as they have a note from their parents, they can still get a tattoo. And of course, Mommy and Daddy can agree to begin his training to defend (and possibly die for) the state. But they cannot be trusted to decide on his commercial tanning regimen.  No sir.

Isn’t Unprocessed Food Supposed to be Good?

Dave Killion — January 23, 2011

A B.C. dairy farmer is launching a constitutional challenge over the consumption and distribution of raw milk. It seems the B.C. provincial government feels that although people are free to kill and die for their country, drink and smoke to their hearts’ content, and take up cliff diving, they are somehow incapable of weighing the risks of consuming unlicensed and unpasteurized dairy products.

Of course, the government predicts all sorts of dire consequences for folks who drink raw milk, but do you ever see any comparisons between regulated and unregulated areas?

No. You never do.

Consequences

Dave Killion — January 21, 2011

About a year ago one of the grocery chains here in Victoria quit giving consumers the option of choosing plastic grocery bags and started selling cloth bags with their logo on them, all in the name of various alleged environmental benefits.  I think it was kind of stupid for them to do that, but hey, it’s their business. I use plastic grocery bags to line my garbage cans, so when I get low, I drive a little further to a competitor’s store. Accordingly, the no-plastic-bag store has not only lost some of my custom, but the net environmental gain is probably negative.

Another benefit of banning plastic bags is supposed to be a decrease in litter, and I can’t deny the possibility that our highways may be cleaner.  But I can say for certain that today was the first time in my life I ever saw a cloth bag with a grocery store logo littering the highway median strip.  The irony is almost too much.

Timely Justice

David — January 19, 2011

According to Andrew Steele of the Globe and Mail in his article Timely Justice (Dec. 7, 2009) the wheels of justice are grinding ever slower in Ontario:

“[In Ontario] the average court charge now takes 205 days to complete, rather than 115 day in 1992. Accused make an average of nine court appearances, compared to just four fifteen years ago. This means more time in remand for those charged and without the resources for bail. It means endless pain for the victims of crime forced to endure endless hearings and stayed motions. On the civil side, court delay basically means a two-tier justice system. The rich can afford to hire lawyers and endure the high costs that come with endless discoveries. Those of modest means are left without recourse because litigation means bankruptcy.”

Yes you heard that right: 205 days. This seems excessive but should anyone be surprised? The court system is a government run institution like any other and thus it is liable to grow stagnant due to lack of competition. It seems that the Ontario Court system has fallen victim to just that.

As worrisome as Ontario’s situation is the only thing worse would be for American style litigation to come to this country.

Recently Read

Dave Killion — January 18, 2011

Having received a Kindle for Christmas, one of the first books I ordered was James Tooley’s “The Beautiful Tree”.  Good move on my part.

Tooley is a professor of education policy at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, and ” The Beautiful Tree” tells the story of his discovery of, and research into, private schools for the poor in India, China, and Africa.  It is a remarkable tale of how many of the poorest people in some of the world’s poorest places reject free government schooling in favour of very inexpensive private schools that consistently provide a superior education.

In the course of his narrative, Tooley also looks at the history of private schooling in the West, and in India, and makes the case that public schooling is no improvement on the private systems that preceded it.  Although libertarian opposition to public schooling is based principally on objections to the initiation of violence inherent in redistribution, “The Beautiful Tree” provides powerful evidence that the utilitarian outcomes for eliminating public schooling will be very good indeed.

Obviously, I highly recommend this book.

Recommendation

Dave Killion — January 15, 2011

Most of my internet time is spent on politics and economics, but a great deal of what I forward to other people comes from Boing Boing.