Archive for June, 2011

Local Boy Makes Good

Dave Killion — June 29, 2011

Lindy’s “No Knock Raid” has been making the rounds in the libertarian blogosphere, but it wasn’t until I read his interview in Cannabis Culture that I discovered that he is Canadian, and his last name is Vopnfjord. I remembered interviewing a different Vopenfjord about five or six years ago for a geography paper I was writing, and he mentioned that he had a son who was a libertarian and a musician. I did a little digging around, and it turns out Lindy is a 1990 graduate from a local high school right here in Victoria!

Also turns out Lindy is the lead singer for Major Maker, whose tune “Rollercoaster” makes Maynard’s candy even sound good –

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq9Hlw3ZDQ0

Defending the Republic

Dave Killion — June 28, 2011

I have noticed a trend in the US, where some state governments have reacted to increasing federal regulation by proposing or enacting legislation nullifying federal laws concerning items where there is no inter-state exchange. Items like guns

“Eight states have thrown down the gauntlet and denied the federal government’s authority to regulate firearms that never cross state lines. In 2009, Montana became the first to enact a law declaring any gun manufactured and kept within the state’s borders was subject only to state rules. It’s now up to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether Montana – and by extension Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming – must yield to the whims of Uncle Sam.”

Items like light bulbs

“The measure, sent to Gov. Rick Perry for consideration, lets any incandescent light bulb manufactured in Texas – and sold in that state – avoid the authority of the federal government or the repeal of the 2007  act that starts phasing out some  next year.”

Items like horse meat

“Not content to wait for the ban to be lifted at the federal level, New Hampshire legislators have passed a bill—currently awaiting the governor’s signature—to permit intra-state slaughter and consumption of horse.”

If these efforts pay off, it could lead to a mini-boom in manufacturing for several states. That’s not optimal, but it would help alleviate some of the ill consequences of federal intervention in the market.

 

A Libertarian History of Canada

David — June 27, 2011

Michael McConkeyMichael McConkey is an author, educator, and writer for the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada. He has a Masters in Canadian history from Concordia and a Ph.D. from McGill and he currently resides in Vancouver, BC.

Dr. McConkey plans on writing a libertarian history of Canada but needs help funding the project. Such a history has never been written although there was a failed attempt made by George Woodcock. The history would be written in the style of Murray Rothbard. The following is an excerpt taken from Michael’s Prospectus (PDF):

“Free market libertarians who are ethical and consistent do not have access to the popular short cut of simply seizing the reins of state power and imposing their values on others. Consequently, the struggle for free markets and sovereign private property is above all a struggle of ideas. In Canada, where the state’s control over schooling is amplified by a major role by so‐called public broadcasting this challenge is especially acute. Indeed, in both academic and popular scholarship – from Donald Creighton to Pierre Berton – the idea of Canada as country and federal government being indistinguishable is pervasive. From the RCMP and the CBC; through the National Policy and the National Film Board; to the Canada Health Act, the idea of the Canadian state as nation builder has informed the country’s mythology. Amidst all this, there has never been a free market libertarian history of Canada. The closest thing was the work of George Woodcock, but he was a “libertarian socialist” – a fact frequently revealed in his analyses. There’s no evidence that Woodcock was fluent in economics or understood dynamic markets. In the struggle for ideas – hearts and minds – this is a major blind spot in Canada’s scholarly culture. This project to write a Libertarian History of Canada is an effort to fill that woeful gap in Canada’s intellectual culture.”

If you want to support this project please make a pledge.

Stumbling Towards Libertarianism

Dave Killion — June 26, 2011

Libertarians are fond of pointing out that while things are terrible, they have never been better. That is to say, government controls ever-increasing amounts of our lives, yet advances in the private sector enable us to do so much more with our remaining freedoms that the gains likely offset the losses. In that light, I am surprised to find that we are, to my knowledge, the first libertarian web site to post this video –

 

Hat tip: Kyoot, etc.

Another Friend of Freedom

Dave Killion — June 25, 2011

I am happy to share with you a new site that looks very promising; Freedom Forum

“A strictly non-partisan site, Freedomforum.ca is dedicated to promoting, defending and celebrating our economic, political and individual freedoms. Its aim is to offset the anti-market bias so prevalent among the mainstream media, political parties and special interest groups and to raise awareness about the moral underpinnings and principles of democratic capitalism and individual liberty. In short, this site is for Canadians who believe our country needs less government and more freedom.”

I haven’t had much time to delve into the site, but from my cursory review, I don’t find anything about abortions, immigration, marriage, or marijuana, so I think these folks are probably the equivalent of America’s Tea Party conservatives. That is, they are fiscal and social conservatives who are not speaking about their social preferences. I’m wary of a hidden agenda on the part of groups like this, but I’m glad to see another group advocating freedom on at least the economic level.

Supremely Interesting

Dave Killion — June 23, 2011

Over at the Lew Rockwell blog, Walter Block has some fun listing potential Supreme Court nominees (like Judge Andrew Napolitano) from a Ron Paul presidential administration –

“Since I am not a lawyer by profession, I am not as aware as I might be about the libertarian qualifications of all the people I have mentioned. I shall leave this for others to sort out. There are several people I have mentioned who might not consider themselves libertarians.”

On the topic of things left unconsidered, it has been my position that if neither Ron Paul nor Gary Johnson win the Republican nomination, libertarians who choose to vote should probably vote to re-elect Barack Obama. My theory has been that the Republicans will likely increase their control of congress, and if we can’t get a libertarian President then I’d prefer a Democrat in the White House to induce gridlock. What I had forgotten was that there will likely be a couple of Supreme Court openings, and I don’t know if I want any more progressives on the highest court in the US. I’m curious to hear what the book club members have to say about this at our next meetup.

Unhealthy Justice

Dave Killion — June 22, 2011

Have you seen this story? An unemployed North Carolina man suffering from various ailments is trying to acquire health care through novel means. His idea? –

“… commit a crime and get set up with a place to stay, food and doctors.”

It seems James Richard Verone, for reasons not revealed in the article, lost his job three years ago and has been unable to earn a living since. He attempted to file for disability –

“The only thing Verone qualified for was food stamps. The extra money helped, but he felt desperate. He needed to get medical attention, and he refused to be a burden on his sister and brothers.”

“He considered turning to a homeless shelter and seeking medical help through charitable organizations.

Then he had another idea…”

Despite the fact that this guy had private options available to him, this story is supposed to be some sort of indictment against the state of health care availability in the US. In fact, it is an indictment of the penal system. Although I doubt there are many who pursue imprisonment in order to get free food, shelter, clothing, and health care, surely the tax-payers provision of these necessities does nothing to encourage criminals to walk the straight-and-narrow. Surely a libertarian justice system, in which convicts would be required to earn their keep in addition to making restitution for their crimes, would provide superior incentives for right behaviour.

Getting the Point

Dave Killion — June 20, 2011

A recent article in Time magazine has got a lot of people upset over what is actually good news – there appears to be an attempt within China to breed rhinos for the purpose of repeatedly harvesting their horns –

“Harvesting horn from live rhinoceroses is largely unknown territory, although biologists estimate that a rhino’s horn naturally grows around 3.9 in. (10 cm) a year. (Like fingernails or hair, rhino horn regenerates.) In many parts of the world, confining wild animals for their body parts is taboo. But China has a history of harvesting bones from caged tigers and bile from moon bears, all for purported medicinal benefit. Jia, the scientist who has been involved in setting up both of Hawk’s rhino farms, says his research shows that one live rhino can supply 1 kg of powdered horn annually. “Farming rhinos in China for their horns will definitely be allowed eventually,” he says. “It’s just a question of when.”

Unfortunately, opponents continue to support prohibitions against trade in endangered species and their parts, apparently oblivious to the less-than-stellar results such policies have produced over the past decades, and impervious to the lessons imparted by failed prohibitions against trade in drugs and alcohol. The chief concern appears to be that legal trade will only increase demand and hasten the demise of the rhino. Perhaps someone should point out to these ‘conservationists’ that the demand for chicken is pretty strong, but there isn’t much danger we’re going to eat them into extinction. If people can make more money breeding rhinos than poaching them, that’s just what they’re going to do. But don’t take my word for it! Just pop on over to Rhino Economics and get the straight dope from Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes –

“Analysis of the rhino horn market suggests that it shares similar demand characteristics to products such as alcohol and illegal drugs. Bans on such products are unenforceable – they simply result in much higher prices and ensure that all trade is handled by organized crime syndicates. These syndicates typically co-opt corrupt government officials to help them, thereby ensuring that such bans can never succeed.”

Who would have thought we would see the day the Chinese were giving lessons on ecology to the West?

 

Image source

Happy Father’s Day

Dave Killion — June 19, 2011

Cathy Young, who writes a weekly column for RealClearPolitics and is also a contributing editor at Reason magazine, gives us this beautiful article honouring her late father –

“(My) father’s loathing of communism, with its ruthless trampling of individual freedom, thought and conscience in the name of “the collective” and the state, became a lifelong conviction.

It was a conviction he passed on to me. When I came home from school at the age of 7 and started talking about how lucky I was to live in the Soviet Union rather than under the capitalist yoke, my father decided to take matters into his own hands. Plenty of educated Russians in the 1970s were closet dissidents, but not many of them spoke frankly about politics in front of their children. My mother would often remind me to be discreet at school, and I would earnestly answer, “I know — or Daddy will go to jail.”

Would that all fathers passed on to their children such decent and humane values.

Another Fun and Easy Book

Dave Killion — June 18, 2011

I neglected to mention in yesterday’s post that “The Philosophy of Liberty” was originally the preface of Ken Schoolland‘s libertarian book “The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible”. Here is the summary from the book’s website

“The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible tells the story of a boy who becomes shipwrecked on an unfamiliar island after being swept out to sea in a storm. Having previously lived in a relatively free society, in this new strange land he experiences culture shock as he learns learns of bewildering laws and traditions of the islands inhabitants. The story highlights the absurdities of the laws, the controls imposed on people’s lives, and the economic drawbacks of these laws.

The laws highlighted are recognizable as common to many countries throughout the world. As the story unfolds, the part individuals in society play in political decision-making and personal responsibility is introduced for discussion.”

Best of all, even though the book is available for purchase, there is a commentary edition available as a free pdf download. Although the book is aimed at young audiences, adults whom I know to have read it found it very enjoyable and illuminating.