Archive for February, 2011

Feeling Good About Accomplishing Nothing.

Dave Killion — February 12, 2011

A family member has taken a job in food service recently, and the store in which he works has a trash receptacle divided into multiple compartments, all labeled to permit separation of paper, plastic, trash, and so on. When I finished eating at this place the other day, I was dutifully sorting the waste and noted that all the containers looked as if an awful lot of people were simply stuffing everything into any old bin. The family member let me know that at the end of the business day, the bags are simply tied shut and placed outside for the shopping centre to remove. We both doubt anyone is sorting those bags out after picking them up.

That’s just fine by me. Devoting resources to recycling would, in this case, consume more resources than it salvages. Unfortunately, retailers have to satisfy those consumers who think recycling is always and everywhere a good thing, so this sort of ‘greenwashing’ is inevitable.

Rewarding Schemers.

Dave Killion — February 10, 2011

The City of Victoria recently received an award from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, given in recognition of the city’s secondary suite program. The program makes it possible for ¬†homeowners to install legal secondary suites, and is intended to ease the affordable housing crunch and permit homeowners to earn some extra income.

This is bizarre. The city used to prohibit homeowners from building badly needed secondary suites, and now it doesn’t. Giving them an award for that is like giving a man an award for no longer beating his wife. Only in government is this considered innovative.

The mayor is reportedly looking for more ways to improve housing affordability. Having been recognized for ending hostilities on one group attempting to provide the solution, perhaps he will be smart enough to eliminate the remaining government-imposed barriers.

Recently Watched

Dave Killion — February 7, 2011

When Pete’s car breaks down, he gets a lift back to the home he shares with four other liberal postgraduate students from a passerby whom he invites to stay for dinner. The passerby turns out to be a racist, misogynist, anti-semitic, evangelical, homophobic, hyper-patriot. That is, a conservative. Naturally, he is also a psychopath who threatens the life of one of the residents, and winds up getting killed. The group decides not only that they will hide the killing, but that killing a conservative was actually a good thing to do. And if killing one conservative is good, then killing even more conservatives… well, I don’t want to spoil it for you.

“The Last Supper” is a fun film, if only to watch the parade of stereotypical conservative victims, but it turns out to be less a liberal fantasy than a study of self-deceipt and rationalization. I recommend it to viewers of all political persuasions.

Incentives Matter.

Dave Killion — February 4, 2011

Over at Victoria Vision, self-described libertarian-lite Bernard von Schulmann has some good suggestions for BC Transit’s bus service, and asks –

“Why does BC Transit not have a bus schedule at each bus stop? ¬† And why does it not have this is on a large and easy to read board?”

The answer? Simple! BC Transit is a monopoly that doesn’t have to rely on happy customers to stay in business, and has no investors who would make a pile of money even if it DID manage to make customers happy. So BC Transit will get easy-to-read schedules, electronic bulletin boards, and larger bust stops when, and only when, political pressure is sufficient to warrant them. And I bet that’ll be no time soon.

Check Your Premises.

Dave Killion — February 2, 2011

Some folks have pretty peculiar notions about morality.

Philip Pullman, author of such works as “The Golden Compass”, recently gave a speech defending public libraries in Oxfordshire, England. The whole thing is an entertaining, frothing-at-the-mouth mess that dismisses voluntarism and frets that ‘market fundamentalists’ are like greedy ghosts who desire to let the market determine value, “never mind the human consequences, never mind the social cost, never mind the terrible damage to the fabric of everything decent and humane.” Mr. Pullman seems to recognize neither the contradiction between railing against greed while defending the practice of snatching other peoples’ money against their will, nor the damage that said practice itself inflicts on the social fabric.

In a similar vein, John Stossel debates the minimum wage with the Economic Policy Institute’s Christian Dorsey, and around the 3:30 mark Stossel jokes that the studies he references are better than the studies Dorsey cites. ¬†Dorsey responds that his (Dorsey’s) VALUES are better. Since Dorsey’s values include using the threat of violence to prohibit poor people from negotiating whatever wage they are willing to take for a job they want, I think his assertion is, to say the least, questionable.