Archive for January, 2011

Happy 100th, Mr. Coase

Dave Killion — January 13, 2011

Nobel-prize-winning economist Ronald Coase  recently celebrated his 100th birthday, and author Steve Landsberg responds by rerunning an article on Coase that he wrote last year.  I highly recommend reading it, even if you aren’t much interested in economics.  Landsberg explains the views of Arthur Pigou and Ronald Coase with such brevity and clarity that you will be delighted with your new insight into how things work.  Enjoy!

War Casualties, Continued

Dave Killion — January 12, 2011

Shortly after writing this post, I contacted the lady from Victoria AIDS Resource & Community Service Society who had been quoted in the article, curious to know if her organization had a position on the War on Drugs.  With her permission, I copy her reply –

Hello

Thank you for taking the time to respond and to get in touch!

As an agency, we are quite neutral when it comes to the “politics” as our number one concern is education, prevention and support for those who are active in addictions.  However, the term “War on Drugs” is a term that personally is just not conducive to preventing our youth and others from becoming addicted.  As well, to continually target the “low level” dealers as is the case over 90% of the time, it does nothing to prevent the issue from continuing and even becoming worse and more dangerous.  Our jails are full of addicted individuals, and the research proves over and over that the “war” is not working.

I really liked how you worded that on your blog, it is very true!  By continually “removing” the low level, addicted dealers (who are selling to maintain their own habits) it certainly puts our community and people at risk for others to sweep in and result in more deaths, crime and a mess of other issues

Again, thanks soooo much for your response, if you would ever like to discuss or visit us, just let me know J

Take care,

Sincerely,

Karen

Karen Dennis     Executive Director     Victoria AIDS Resource & Community Service Society

Phone:  250-388-6220     Email:  karendennis@varcs.org Website:  www.varcs.org

So just who are these laws supposed to be protecting?

Plainspeak Vs. Politispeak

Dave Killion — January 9, 2011

Writing blog posts is tough, and because politicians can’t really say what they mean, it is doubly so.  First they must write their posts, and then they must translate them into Politispeak.  Victoria City Councillor John Luton, previously discussed here, has recently posted some thoughts on ‘green’ buildings and transportation.  Since we here at the VLBC are fluent in Politispeak, I have provided you with an example of what an unredacted portion of the post might look like –

We need I want to force other property owners to locate buildings within or near to services and other destinations serving people (recreation, health services, entertainment etc.) so that they can walk or bike more often. We need I want to use taxpayer money to connect residential density, commercial and workplace developments with heavily subsidized transit services so people don’t need to drive everywhere.  We I also need to stop want to criminalize building on “greenfields” – cheap, undeveloped land distant from urban areas where the services and transportation network are already in place people can live in an environment they prefer, but to which I am opposed.”

As you can see, Plainspeak is a little blunt, so the Councillor and other politicians have to pussyfoot around if they want to advance their agendas.  No need to thank me, that’s what we’re here for.

This Is Heartening

Dave Killion — January 7, 2011

Egypt’s Muslims attend Coptic Christmas mass, serving as “human shields”.

War Casualties

Dave Killion — January 7, 2011

The Victoria News reports that some recent deaths may be due to tainted drugs.  What they don’t acknowledge is that if tainted drugs were used, then the deaths are actually due to the war on drugs. From the article –

It’s usually outsiders coming in to make a fast buck because they hear the news (of drug dealers being arrested) to exploit the addicted,” said Karen Dennis, executive director of Victoria AIDS Resource and Community Service Society. She added they may not hesitate to lace their drugs to stretch their sales.”

There are a couple things to take away from that comment.

First of all, observe how government intervention creates unintended and frequently perverse consequences.  In an attempt to protect people from hurting themselves with drugs, arrests of locally established drug dealers creates a market opportunity for other participants to step in with product that increases the chances of people hurting themselves with drugs.

Second, marvel at how market forces regulate vendors and protect consumers, even (especially?) in underground markets.  Drug dealers know that there is no barrier to entry into their business and that they can’t force consumers to purchase from them.  They must therefore strive to maintain their reputations for price, quality, and safety.  Above all, they better not kill their customers.

If only the government was so considerate.

A Common Mistake

Dave Killion — January 5, 2011

I recently read a discussion concerning mandated fuel efficiency for new vehicles in which the pro-mandate participant said that gas would soon rise to $10 a gallon “if we do nothing.”  Ugh… another victim of the false-alternative fallacy.  This is an error perpetuated by people so inured to big government that they believe anyone arguing against solving problems through the use of coercive state intervention is arguing in favour of “doing nothing”.  In this particular case, as in most, the victim mistakes government for society.  If government does nothing, then society does nothing.  If government doesn’t mandate fuel efficiency, there will be no fuel efficiency.

Of course, when fuel prices rise, “society” springs into action, and the higher the rise, the more vigorous the action.  Producers increase investment into production and exploration, financiers invest in technologies that conserve and provide alternatives, and consumers drive less or buy more fuel-efficient vehicles.  Millions and millions of people take direct action to conserve resources, increase their availability, and keep prices low.  Only the most unimaginative could label that “doing nothing”.