Archive for May, 2011

What They Believe

Dave Killion — May 31, 2011

Bill Whittle is a conservative pundit probably best known for hosting Afterburner with Bill Whittle over at PJTV. He has put together a series of 7 short videos outlining what they call “the basics of Tea Party Conservatism“. The series is called “What We Believe”, and I have posted the first one here. You can find the remainder on his Youtube channel along with even more of his material.


Most of this material is very libertarian-y, but don’t anybody go mistaking libertarians for Tea Party conservatives. Whittle doesn’t discuss drug legalization, gay rights, prostitution, and a host of other social issues where we likely differ, and his clip on immigration left me wondering if he had used up all his logic and intelligence on the other six videos. All the same, this is a particularly valuable aid to my left-wing acquaintances who aren’t inclined to join their compatriots in dismissing Tea Partiers as a bunch of ignorant racists.

The End of Unfair Fares

Dave Killion — May 30, 2011

Todd Kuipers blogs over at Calgary Libertarian, where he has shared his thoughts on a recent paper concerning the end of taxi regulation.  The paper suggests that the rise of GPS-enabled smartphones is going to dismantle the government-protected taxi monopoly, and Kuipers is just fine with that –

Given how deeply in bed taxi company owners are in bed (sic) with the regulators that are supposed to “serve the market” it might be a while before regulations change.  But, if we can route around them, we might establish a bit more freedom for Calgarians.

Not just a bit more, I think, and not just Calgarians. The same technology that helps destroy the taxi cartel will also enable private sector commuter vans, both of which will put enormous competitive pressure on public sector mass transit in urban areas all over North America. If you have an iPhone, I recommend you head on over to the Avego website, where you can download a free ride share app that works for both passengers and drivers. If you have any sort of smartphone whatsoever, you can use the same app, but only as a passenger. I believe this is the first of many attacks technology will be mounting against government and its cronies, and people are going to make use of it not because they care about liberty, but simply because it’s in their self-interest. Please spread the word.


Dave Killion — May 29, 2011

Monday, May 30th is Memorial Day in the US. Like Remembrance Day in Canada, it is a day ostensibly given over to honouring those who have died during military service. For libertarians, it is also a day to recall that many of those deaths have been pointless, and Roger Young has prepared this excellent video reminding us to remember the many people who make those deaths possible –

This Is Not A Form Of Brainwashing

G — May 28, 2011

A nation is a society united by a delusion about its ancestry and by common hatred of its neighbours.
William Ralph Inge

In this time of hockey fever, I can’t help but see the parallels between ‘the local team’ and nationalism.  The two are obviously different: one is fealty to individuals who claim some sort of authority over you; the other is supporting individuals on their quest to glory.  But when I hear those around town saying things like “we’re going to win this year” and “we are doing great” tied up with “I’ll support any Canadian team” or “Canada is going to kick some ***”, the parallels become fundamentally clear.  Being a fanatic of some sports (in particular, hockey in Canada), like nationalism, is about reward without effort.  It’s about living vicariously through a dream created by someone else (instead of creating your own) and getting caught up in group hysteria.  I’ll admit, it can be fun to watch the game, but when the message is repeated over and over and tied in with a sense of unearned pride, it can give one pause for wonder if ‘the local team’ is all we are cheering for.

The Difficulty of Doing Right

Dave Killion — May 28, 2011

The Canadian government has declined to send even more troops to help flood victims in Quebec. This is a very bold move, and it has upset an awful lot of people who think that when people hurt, government has to make it better. The reasons for the decision were stated very plainly –

As you can appreciate the role of the Canadian Forces is mainly centred on defence activities and therefore they must maintain a capacity in this area to deal with other events should they occur in the country or abroad. Moreover the services you are requesting, if they were authorized, would place the Canadian Forces in competition with the private sector at the local and provincial level which could accomplish this type of reintegration work...”

This is a sound position. Soldiers are for national defence, not for coming to the rescue of people who elect to live in areas subject to disasters. If folks are going to live on a flood plain, or in tornado alley, or (as I do) in an earthquake zone, they shouldn’t do so knowing that the feds are going to use other people’s money to ride to the rescue when things go sideways. Otherwise, there will be more resources spent rescuing people than there would have been had people expected that they would have to rely on their own preparedness, the charity of others, and, yes, the profit-making private sector.


Dave Killion — May 26, 2011

My son, who spends a fair bit of time online, tells me he hasn’t seen this, which suggests to me YOU might also have not seen it. So for today only, here is something that has nothing at all to do with libertarianism –

Previously Deadly, Currently Yummy

Dave Killion — May 25, 2011

I am a man who loves his meals, so one would think that I’d be delighted by this bit of news –

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has announced it’s lowering its cooking recommendations for pork, so that the internal temperature of the meat rise needs to rise only to 63 degrees C (145 F).

Sounds great! If I follow the new USDA guidelines, I won’t have to wait so long to eat! Sadly, after decades of government-induced hysteria on the issue of trichinosis and other pork-ish pathogens, I have become so accustomed to well-done pork that medium-rare pig meat makes me a little squeamish. Ah, government… is there nothing that you can’t ruin?

Of course the US often plays it fast and loose, what with their gun laws and their free speech and now with their pink-in-the-center pork and all, but that’s not the way we do things up north –

“In Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency still advises that all pork be cooked to an internal temperature of 71 C (160 F).”

Perhaps Canadian pigs are just a little more dangerous.


Image source

Samoa Moves Into the Future

Dave Killion — May 24, 2011

The Samoan tourist industry is apparently upset that their Prime Minister has decided to shift the international dateline from the west side of the island nation to the east. The shift will bring an end to Samoa’s status as the last place in the world on which the sun sets, and initiate its new status as the first place in the world on which the sun rises –

“… Samoa will redraw the already wobbly line in December so the Pacific nation lies on the west, jumping a day into the future to be in line with Australia and New Zealand.

The country’s newly re-elected prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has defended the move, saying it will make it much easier for his people to do business with Samoa’s main trading partners.”

This seems like a good idea to me, although I imagine the private sector has never allowed anything as easily ignored as a calendar to get in the way of doing business. If a Samoan has to work on Sunday in order to trade with an Aussie or Kiwi for whom the day is Monday, he’s gonna do it. So, are folks behind this?

“Keni Lesa, editor of Samoa Observer, said most people the national newspaper had contacted were puzzled by the decision.

“To be honest, most people don’t understand why he’s done this and many people really aren’t happy about it.”

Tonga, currently the first country to see the sunrise each day, could not be reached for comment.


Renewable Nonsense

Dave Killion — May 23, 2011

Matt Ridley has an illuminating op-ed up at the Wall Street Journal regarding the dangers of promoting renewable resources,pointing out that we are not likely to run out of hydrocarbons any time soon –

Contrast that with blue whales, cod and passenger pigeons, all of which plainly renew themselves by breeding. But exploiting them caused their populations to collapse or disappear in just a few short decades. It’s a startling fact that such “renewable” resources keep running short, while no non-renewable resource has yet run out: not oil, gold, uranium or phosphate. The stone age did not end for lack of stone…

So if you’re thinking about heating the home with oil extracted from a renewable resource like giant pandas, you might want to reconsider. Renewable does not equal inexhaustible. This is a striking observation, and one of many that I first encountered in Ridley’s wonderful book “The Rational Optimist“.


Image source

Good Riddance

Dave Killion — May 22, 2011

The National Post reports some good news

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government will move quickly to cut public funding to its political opponents by moving to end the pervote party subsidy in its June budget…”

Here in Canada political parties receive $2 each year for every vote they have received in the last federal election. This means that those of us who decline or refuse to support any political party at the ballot box are forced to hand money over for promoting political views to which they may be entirely opposed. It is hard to imagine a more venal practice, and yet some folks will torture logic to try and defend it –

Democracy Watch co-ordinator Duff Conacher said… Canadians have never paid to support a party for which they didn’t vote.

When you vote, that $2 goes to that party and everyone pays more than $2 in taxes a year,” he said.

The logic-challenged Mr. Conacher seems to imagine that if the subsidy is ended, people who vote will get a $2 per year tax refund that non-voters won’t. Sorry Duff, it doesn’t work like that. The Prime Minister has it right –

Taxpayers shouldn’t have to support political parties that they don’t support,” (Stephen Harper) said.

I’m looking forward to seeing this come to fruition, and chalking one up for liberty.