Archive for February, 2011

Keeping Students Safe

Dave Killion — February 27, 2011

Despite a history of mass shootings at Canada’s post-secondary schools, Canadian students remain extremely vulnerable to attack by virtue of being concentrated and defenceless. In the USA, where students are similarly situated, some legislators in Texas and eight other states have decided that ain’t gonna get it

“Texas is one of nine states currently considering campus carry; similar bills are advancing in Arizona, Tennessee, Michigan, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Florida, Nebraska and Mississippi…

… 26 colleges in three states already allow licensed concealed carry on campus, with no resulting problems.”

There is a sensible discussion to be had on this topic, and Canadians are, by and large, sensible people. So why aren’t they discussing this?

Sticks And Stones

Dave Killion — February 26, 2011

When it was recently revealed that “Atlas Shrugged” author Ayn Rand had received both Social Security and Medicare payments, I found the reaction was not only very instructive, but also confirmed some positions and beliefs I already held.

For example, I don’t usually bother calling someone a hypocrite/racist/misogynist/choose-your-pejorative, even when it’s true. Because true or not, it doesn’t matter. Just because individuals are (insert derogative here) doesn’t mean everything they say or do is wrong. If you want to strengthen your convictions, you still need to make a real argument.

As a result, I find that a lot of the name-callers not only don’t have good arguments, but are so reliant on argument-by-smear that they don’t even get the smear right. And that’s just what you see in the crowd giggling and high-fiving over what they desperately want to see as Rand’s hypocrisy. Because it’s not hypocritical to say that people shouldn’t do something that you are doing, it’s hypocritical to prevent people from doing something that you are doing.

So when your pack-a-day father lights one up while telling you that you shouldn’t smoke, he isn’t being a hypocrite. But when presidents who got away with using illegal drugs in the past prosecute people who use illegal drugs now, they ARE being hypocrites. When I say socialized health care is a form of theft, and still take my sick and injured kids to the hospital, that is not hypocrisy. But when a president uses his wealth to keep his children out of dangerous and under performing public schools while dismantling a voucher program that allowed poor people to do the same, that IS hypocrisy.

And when Ayn Rand said charity was evil and destructive of character, but still took social security and medicare, she was not being hypocritical. She was doing what libertarians do when they advocate for the gold standard while spending fiat currency, or eat cheap food while protesting farm subsidies. She was living in the system we have while advocating something better. But don’t feel bad for the anti-Rand crowd. They’ve got lots of genuine hypocrisy to root out right in their own back yard.

Atlas Shrugged – Part 1

Dave Killion — February 26, 2011

I’m excited to see Part 1 of the new “Atlas Shrugged” movie, due out April 15. To help ensure that it plays in Victoria, please visit this site and demand distributors bring it to us. It takes, literally, less than a minute.

On Wisconsin

Dave Killion — February 23, 2011

One of the burdens of being a good libertarian is having to read progressive and conservative thinkers. It’s not that they never say anything right… it’s that they seldom say anything right. Still, it’s important to subject one’s self to other viewpoints, if only to avoid indulging in confirmation bias. It also helps to sharpen one’s arguments, and there is the occasional wheat to be found in the chafe. Which brings me to Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, who seldom produces wheat, but is valuable because he reminds me how difficult it can be to sort through the chafe.

On February 19th, in response to the civil-service uprising in Wisconsin, Klein asked, “Are Wisconsin’s state and local workers overpaid?” In response, he cites an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute to claim that they are not. According to Klein, the study purports to control for “… experience, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship and disability… ” , which seems to me to be pretty thorough. The problem is, that still might not be thorough enough, as the Reason Foundation’s David Godow points out.

My conclusion? Statistical analysis is hard! Furthermore, I don’t think the comparison benefits these particular civil servants. If they are over compensated, the public is right to be upset. If they are under compensated, why are they they working so hard to protect an institution that has served them so badly? Why don’t they move into the private sector? Is it possible that they don’t have to work so hard as their private sector counterparts, or that they’re not as productive? That public sector workers, on the whole, just aren’t as good as private sector workers? I know it’s an ugly thing to say, but it still might be true.

Happily for libertarians, because the moral position is clear, the statistical comparison isn’t relevant. Workers may form associations if they wish, but employers have no obligation to negotiate with them. Workers may strike, and employers may fire them for doing so. And the problem is not that public sector workers are over compensated or under compensated… the problem is  that people shouldn’t be forced to compensate public sector workers provided by coercive monopoly government.

Movie Night

Dave Killion — February 20, 2011

The documentary “Damage Done: A Drug War Odyssey” will be shown at the Green Party movie night. A representative from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition will introduce the film and answer questions afterwards. Everyone is welcome and a $5 optional donation is requested to help cover expenses. Doors open at 6:30pm and the film starts at 7:00pm.

Thursday, February 24 · 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Martin Batchelor Gallery
712 Cormorant St
Victoria, BC

Facebook page

Different, But Not Better.

Dave Killion — February 19, 2011

The Victoria News reports

“Victoria city staff have recommended charging residents a separate fee for their use of storm drains, much like fees for water and sewer.

Right now, upgrades to the storm drain system are funded through general revenue. Switching to a user-fee system would provide stable funding to a chronically underfunded program.”

As a libertarian, it’s my view that the only thing council should be considering is how best to withdraw from the provision and maintenance of storm drain systems as quickly as possible. With that qualification, I have to acknowledge that properly designed user-fees could produce better conservation outcomes by providing market incentives for residents to keep rainwater on their own property. Too bad governments have trouble properly designing user-fees! From the article:

“… residents can apply for fee reductions if they have rain-catching devices such as rain barrels.”

Rain catching devices can be expensive, require maintenance, and must be disposed of eventually. They are not a slam-dunk, environmentally speaking. Furthermore, they are entirely unnecessary. Since the BC Building Code doesn’t require downspouts be connected to a sewer, residents can simply direct their roof drainage onto the surface of their property. Cheap and easy, but not an option. Perhaps its not sexy and progressive enough.

And don’t imagine this new proposal will save the taxpayer any money. Steady funding for the public storm system means less money for some other department, and that won’t happen without a fight. Furthermore, if there are fee reductions to be had, then there will be applications to process and site inspections needed to insure compliance. Victorians can look forward to throwing more money down the drains than they ever have before.

Private Sector Superiority.

Dave Killion — February 17, 2011

I wanted to renew my US passport, so I had to go to Vancouver. This trip involves a car drive followed by a ferry ride followed by a bus ride followed by a train ride, just so the Consul can look me in the eyes as I swear with my right hand raised that everything I wrote on the application was true. And then I took all those rides again, in reverse.

You would think that going through all that time, trouble, and expense just so the government could keep tabs on me would have caused me to flip my libertarian lid, but I had my laptop to amuse me while on the ferry and my Kindle to entertain me on the bus and train rides, so I arrived at my appointment in good spirits. It was only once I started actually interacting with the bureaucracy that my disposition soured. It turns out that the US government, having behaved so badly for so long that it is always and everywhere under threat of attack, does not allow electronic devices into the consulate. No cameras, no IPods, no cell phones, and definitely no laptops or Kindles. And here comes the best part – security won’t hold them for you! So there you are, a stranger in a strange city, wondering what you’re supposed to do with $2,000 worth of electronics in the 5 minutes you have before your appointment.

Thank goodness for the private sector. It turns out that since everybody that visits the consulate has electronics, and the government couldn’t care less how much they inconvenience you, a couple of the nearby vendors will happily guard your gear for $10. I handed my stuff over to the manager at the Quizno’s across the street, and headed on in to the consulate, where I was shuttled from one service window to another. I noticed each window had a small, handwritten sign that said something like, “We are sorry, but we cannot accept US coins.” I started to get all annoyed again, but then I calmed down. After all, it doesn’t matter if the US Consulate will take US bills but won’t take US coins.

Quizno’s will.

Wrong AND Boring

Dave Killion — February 15, 2011

Thaaaat’s right. Without a Planning Department, people would build whatever they want, whenever they wanted. There would be no planning or community development, and no rules or restrictions on what could be built. Fortunately the poor, stupid masses are just intelligent enough to elect saints and geniuses who are able to accomplish through the threat of violence what cannot be accomplished through peaceful and voluntary cooperation.

Update: Corrected link

A Good Question.

Dave Killion — February 14, 2011

From the Volkstudio Blog.

Sharing on Facebook and Twitter.

Dave Killion — February 13, 2011

I’m pleased to announce that our site manager has enabled sharing. Simply click on the title of the post you wish to share, and when the individual post opens, you will find buttons for both Facebook and Twitter. Enjoy!