Archive for June, 2011

Cleaning Up

Dave Killion — June 17, 2011

Market participants are forced by competition to constantly be on the lookout for ways to operate more efficiently. They are aided in that process by entrepreneurs, and this combination of incentives drives a great deal of environmental preservation. Take this happy example

“That bar of soap you used once or twice during your last hotel stay might now be helping poor children fight disease.

Derreck Kayongo and his Atlanta-based Global Soap Project collect used hotel soap from across the United States. Instead of ending up in landfills, the soaps are cleaned and reprocessed for shipment to impoverished nations such as Haiti, Uganda, Kenya and Swaziland.”

The hotels lower their waste disposal costs, the Global Soap Project gets a low cost supply of materials, and environmental degradation is slowed even further. Win-win-win. All without any state intervention, coercion, or sacrifice. That’s how libertarian ecology works.

The Philosophy of Liberty

Dave Killion — June 16, 2011

 

This is a classic video, well known to many libertarians. It is clear, concise, and entertaining. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re in for a treat. Don’t forget to pass it along!

Big Losers

Dave Killion — June 15, 2011

Lose a hockey game, and there’s rioting in the streets. But implement policies that discourage Canadians from investing in agriculture at a time when global demand for food is rising and what’s the reaction? Meh

“As a result of rising population and wealth, global demand for food is soaring and the world faces a food crisis unlike anything seen since the 1970s if food production does not grow rapidly. Canada is among the very few nations with the capacity to dramatically boost production. But we’re not. In fact, Canadian agriculture is stagnant. And politicians will not even discuss how we can change that.”

I understand there are all kinds of tribal reflexes built in to human nature that make us a little irrational about team sports and all, but couldn’t we channel it into something a little more productive? How about this – Canada vs. New Zealand for global food dominance –

“Look at us,” Larry Martin suggests, “and look at New Zealand, sitting out there in the middle of the ocean, not close to anything.” In the world of food, New Zealand is a “superpower.” And yet, thanks to daring reforms in the 1980s, New Zealand’s farmers owe almost none of their income to government support. “You think, ‘if we could do even half of what they have done wouldn’t we be in great shape?’

Go Team Canada!

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Is Lying Down Still Okay?

Dave Killion — June 14, 2011

If you’re like me, then you’ve seen this infographic so many times that you could recite it from memory, except that since you’re like me you haven’t read it all the way through each time you’ve seen it. Even so, you understand it well enough to know this – if you stop moving, you are going to die. And all this time you thought it was the booze that was going to do you in…

Since average life expectancies are increasing everywhere, I’m not about to get the vapours over this latest threat, except that I know if some politicians can gin up sufficient hysteria`over this issue that they can generate some political capital out of it, they’re going to. And that will cause a whole different kind of pain in your ass.

So let’s not let that happen. If any of the sainted geniuses running our lives start trying to make a fuss over this, ask them this – if they think sitting is so bad, how do they justify forcing us to pay for schools where children are made to sit for hours and hours, day after day? With any luck, that might just get them to go make trouble somewhere else.

Win/Win

Dave Killion — June 13, 2011

The Volokh Conspiracy recently created a stir in the libertarian blogosphere by discussing whether or not Gary Johnson is a better candidate for the Republican Presidential nominee than is Ron Paul.

Realistically, neither Johnson nor Paul has a strong chance of actually winning the GOP nomination. But if his campaign gets off the ground, Johnson will have better odds than Paul does because he’s more appealing to voters and the media, and less hated by the GOP establishment. More importantly, he’s certainly a far superior libertarian protest candidate and public face for the movement. The chance that either candidate can win the presidency in 2012 is remote. But Johnson is the one more likely to serve as an effective spokesman for libertarianism, adding new supporters without unnecessarily alienating people.”

It’s good stuff, and I’m much more optimistic about both candidates chances than are the author. After all, who would have thought 8 years ago we would be arguing over who the best choice was between two libertarian hopefuls?

Bedtime for Little Libertarians

Dave Killion — June 12, 2011

Always on the lookout for ways to communicate libertarian ideas to children, I remembered this Dr.Seuss story –

Watch it. Learn it. And remember it when you get a chance to tell some little freedom fighter a story.

Curious?

Dave Killion — June 11, 2011

Is this what libertarian book club meetings are like?
You’ll never know until you go to one! So what are you waiting for?

Charity or Entitlement

Dave Killion — June 10, 2011

I found out that this letter to the editor was published when a nice retired woman phoned me last night to tell me what she thought of it. That was a first for me, and I can’t understand why she cared what I thought nor why she thought I would be interested in her opinion. That aside, I wasn’t doing anything important, and decided to hear her out. The core of her view was that charity was belittling to the recipient, and that a properly organized society would have no need of it.

I was a little befuddled, but after some discussion I asked if she thought resources given through the private sector were charity, but resources distributed by government were not. She acknowledged that that was what she was saying, but hadn’t realized it until I pointed it out and might have to reconsider her position. We chatted a bit more, and then wished each other goodnight.

Strange as her argument sounded to me at first, I think that many of the people who benefit from the welfare state view what they receive from the state as an entitlement, and would be shocked that anyone thought they were receiving charity.

Postal Strikeout

Dave Killion — June 9, 2011

The BC Iconoclast writes very sensibly about the postal strike;

CUPW is playing with fire. There is no reason the government could not sell Canada Post at the moment. The trend globally is for governments to end the monopolies of postal services. A number of countries are considering selling their post company, the leader of the pack being the United Kingdom. With a majority in Ottawa, there is really no reason the government could not take the plunge and end the monopoly and sell off Canada Post.

No kidding. I know public sector unions don’t have a realistic understanding of how the public feel about them, but this looks to me like a double order of foolish with a side of reckless. If this starts to become a real inconvenience for people, I think CUPW is going to get a hard kick in the private sector. CUPW better wake up to the fact that our tax dollars don’t exist to keep public sector unions happy.

More Bitcoin

Dave Killion — June 8, 2011

Over at Quora, someone asks “Is the cryptocurrency Bitcoin a good idea?” I find the answers have been very helpful for me in firming up my understanding of Bitcoins and their value. Surprisingly, I find many of the arguments posed against Bitcoin to be more relevant to centrally-directed fiat currencies like the dollar. For example, respondent Adam Cohen is concerned that because the algorithms that regulate Bitcoins limit the total amount that will be produced, deflation is inevitable. I think this is correct, but I much prefer Bitcoin deflation to fiat currency inflation, because it would encourage saving, which would encourage investment. To re-word Mr. Cohen –

Question: if your money is getting predictably more less valuable, why would you want to spend save it? Answer: marginally speaking, you wouldn’t.

At this point, although I think heavy investment in Bitcoins is potentially very risky, they provide advantages for certain transactions that make a small investment in them a good idea. And even better, the more people agree with me and elect to wade around in the shallows, the more secure our investments become. Also, because the ‘currency’ is deflationary, early investors will be rewarded for their initiative.

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