Archive for August, 2011

Not exactly a paragon of virtue

Dave Killion — August 31, 2011

Here’s a letter to the Victoria News

I was very surprised to see a representative of the Victoria (Quaker) Friends write to endorse your publication of David Suzuki (Suzuki columns appreciated by group, Aug 26). It has been my understanding that the Religious Society of Friends included love and peace amongst their principle values, but either I am mistaken or it has escaped the attention of this particular group that Suzuki is a persistent advocate of coercive government regulation backed by the threat of violence against those who disagree with him concerning either the level or nature of threats to the environment, or his proposed solutions to those threats. He seems to me undeserving of admiration from such a worthy group.

Unreasonable expectations

Dave Killion — August 30, 2011

Having just yesterday mentioned the tremendous contribution made by Steve Jobs to the welfare of humanity, I was horrified to read this

… the lack of public philanthropy by Mr. Jobs — long whispered about, but rarely said aloud — raises some important questions about the way the public views business and business people at a time when some “millionaires and billionaires” are criticized for not giving back enough while others like Mr. Jobs are lionized.”

The only question it should be raising is why anyone thinks Jobs or any other millionaires and billionaires have to ‘give back’ anything! This is very simple – when someone buys something, they are indicating through their actions that they value the acquisition MORE than the money they paid. The immense wealth accumulated by Jobs and others like him is, by definition, worth LESS than the value they have provided. They owe nothing! In fact, it is likely that it is we who are indebted to them.

I could go on about this, but there is nothing I could say that hasn’t been better expressed by Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute, and Mark Perry of the indispensable Carpe Diem. Enjoy!

Compare and contrast

Dave Killion — August 29, 2011

Click on photo to see Macleans' photo gallery of the Layton funeral

Readers from the USA may not be aware that Jack Layton, leader of the New Democrat Party, passed away recently. Canadian news media spoke of very little else until Hurricane Irene threatened to end all that was good and holy in this world, and have broadcast every little bit of grief that could possibly be wrung from Layton’s death. Worse still, flags have been ordered flown at half-mast and taxpayers have had to cough up dough for a state funeral. My annoyance is not with Layton, in particular, but with this wailing and gnashing of teeth, as if we had lost a great hero instead of just another politician who found fame and fortune encouraging people to join with him in sufficient numbers to force others to live their lives as his particular mob thought best.

I shall be very interested to see the extent to which we mourn the passing of a truly great man such as Steve Jobs, who has made life so much richer and so much better for countless of millions. But I hope even more that that day is a long time coming.

Garbage in, garbage out

Dave Killion — August 28, 2011

Here is a letter to the Victoria News

In your article “Organics back on city’s table” (Aug 24), the sub-headline says “Public will vote on preferred waste collection option“.

Politicians love to obscure the truth by presenting matters in this fashion, but the fact is that “the public” does not vote nor does it have a preference. These are the actions and attributes of individuals. Mayor Fortin’s assertion that “… residents will make the choice of which service they would like... ” is another such attempt at euphemism. Residents will not make the choice they like, but rather they will indicate which service they prefer in the hopes that their preference becomes the one-size-fits-all policy that will ultimately be forced on everyone.

There is only one way residents will all be able to get their choice of whatever options are available to them, and that is for the city to withdraw entirely from the provision of waste disposal, and leave it in the capable hands of the private sector. The politicians won’t like that, because it’s one less thing they can manipulate to their electoral advantage, but that should not concern the taxpayer one iota.

 

Our latest book

Dave Killion — August 27, 2011

Nothing's guaranteed to start a conversation with your fellow bus riders like reading a book with a swastika!

The Victoria Libertarian Book Club has begun reading “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45”, in which author Milton Mayer interviews (and over time befriends) ten ordinary, everyday German men in order to examine how they and people like them were drawn into the Nazi machine.

The reviews at Amazon.com have been overwhelmingly positive, and the book is purported to be unsettling in its demonstration that under the right conditions, such atrocities are conceivable amongst almost any culture. I found that our public library has a copy, and the local university has two, so if you would like to read along with us you may not even have to buy a copy. By whatever means you get the book, I hope you will visit our Facebook page and share your thoughts.

Saving consumers from saving money

Dave Killion — August 25, 2011

It's true! Some Americans DO need to be protected from cheap Canadian lumber!

The US government is working hard to protect its citizens bestow favours on one group of voters at the expense of others

“The United States is seeking a $499-million penalty against Interior British Columbia lumber companies US consumers of Canadian lumber in a complaint filed under the Softwood Lumber Agreement.”

What have these consumers done to warrant such a massive penalty? They have purchased goods at lower prices –

“When those producers and exporters then sell lumber made from the cheaply-purchased timber, they recover substantially more money than they could have had pass much of those savings onto customers,” the USTR states in its 93-page complaint. “By its actions, B.C. has provided its lumber industry US consumers, including manufacturers with benefits approaching $500 million.”

If a foreign government was trying something like this against Americans it would be considered an act of war, but so long as it’s being done by elected officials and their appointees, then it’s no problem.

Ineffective, but expensive

Dave Killion — August 24, 2011

Hell yes he works for cash, and so do his friends from the YMCA!

The Canada Revenue Agency spent almost $1 million on an ad campaign warning Atlantic Canadians against the risks involved in taking part in the underground home renovations market, including a survey to measure the results. Success? Weeeeell, not so much

“Neither the likelihood of participating in the underground economy, nor perceptions of whether the risks are worth it, was significantly affected by the campaign,” says a July 2011 report by Corporate Research Associates Inc.

Which is not to say the campaign had no effect at all –

“The survey report’s only positive finding was that people were better informed about how widespread the underground economy is in the region.”

Way to go CRA! Discourage tax cheats by waking people up to the fact that EVERYONE is doing it!

Of course the government wants all those sweet, sweet taxes it is missing out on, but this effort is also driven by a portion of the construction industry. The larger companies that operate ‘legitimately’ want ‘a level playing field’, and campaign endlessly for more government prosecution. Their goals could also be accomplished by sharp reductions in taxes, regulation, and licensing fees, but that’s not the kind of level playing field they want. They want a field surrounded by regulatory barriers so high that the new guys can’t join in. Too bad for them consumers don’t want to play that game.

Right, but for the wrong reasons

Dave Killion — August 23, 2011

 

Texas Governor and US President wanna-be Rick Perry says that there is a purpose for the economic crisis, and that purpose is to turn people back to biblical principles so that they will not turn themselves over to become slaves of the government.

As I have mentioned previously, I am not a believer in the supernatural. That said, the conclusion at which Perry arrives is very much the same as mine, except that he gets there by a different path. In Perry’s eyes, we are sinners who have strayed from God’s law, and the wages of sin is death. In my view, just as we are bound by the laws of thermodynamics and gravity, we are bound by natural law, the foundation of which is self-ownership. So long as so many of us fail to recognize that law, we will suffer the consequences.

By the way, please don’t anyone take this as support of Perry. As far as I can tell, he is just another big-government Republican, and if he becomes President with a Republican majority in congress we will all yearn for the comparative restraint of both G.W. Bush AND Obama, and the living will envy the dead.

Google Trends Shows Ron Paul Spike

David — August 22, 2011

Ron Paul on Google Trends

Since Ron Paul officially entered the 2012 US Presidential race I have been checking Google Trends to get an idea of his popularity across the internet. I checked it again today and to my delight I found that his popularity has spiked in the last few weeks. By ignoring Ron Paul all the media does is invigorate his supporters. He just received a money bomb on his birthday for $1.82 million dollars. No other candidate receives amounts of that size coming from small donors on a regular basis. This came just after his close second place finish in the Ames Iowa Straw Poll. I look forward to Ron Paul winning the war of ideas and influencing a generation in the ways of peace, sound money and limited government.

Moral confusion

Dave Killion — August 21, 2011

Plenty more where that came from...

In an article that isn’t entirely wrong, Peter Oborne of the Daily Telegraph writes of the recent rioting in England –

“… there was also something very phony and hypocritical about all the shock and outrage expressed in parliament. MPs spoke about the week’s dreadful events as if they were nothing to do with them.

I cannot accept that this is the case. Indeed, I believe that the criminality in our streets cannot be dissociated from the moral disintegration in the highest ranks of modern British society. The last two decades have seen a terrifying decline in standards among the British governing elite. It has become acceptable for our politicians to lie and to cheat. An almost universal culture of selfishness and greed has grown up.”

Now I’m not one much for defending politicians, but the notion that the modern elected official is less honest than his predecessors of twenty years ago makes me giggle. But that’s a minor error on Oborne’s part compared to his effort to present the threats of wealthy businessmen to move their operations to less punitive tax regimes as morally equivalent to the theft and destruction of private property by the rioters –

“I couldn’t help thinking that in a sane and decent world (moving his headquarters to Switzerland) would be a blow to Sir Richard (Branson), not the Chancellor. People would note that a prominent and wealthy businessman was avoiding British tax and think less of him. Instead, he has a knighthood and is widely feted.

…  Sir Philip’s businesses could never survive but for Britain’s famous social and political stability, our transport system to shift his goods and our schools to educate his workers.

Yet Sir Philip, who a few years ago sent an extraordinary £1 billion dividend offshore, seems to have little intention of paying for much of this.”

It seems odd to me that Oborne would cite Britain’s political and social stability in an article about thieving politicians and spontaneous riots, but that doesn’t matter much, because the point is that England has been economically free enough and politically stable enough that people like Branson and Philip can prosper. What Oborne misses entirely is that the wealth these men have has come from people who think they have received in exchange something of at least equivalent value. That is to say, even if people like Branson and Philip paid no taxes whatsoever, they have increased the wealth of Britain far above and beyond any value they have received from government schools and roads. Oborne has a golden egg, and is complaining that there’s no roast goose.