Archive for January, 2012

Inside Iran

Dave Killion — January 21, 2012

The Atlantic’s In Focus site has posted 42 photos from inside Iran. Some samples –

“Iran has appeared in numerous headlines around the world in recent months, usually attached to stories about military exercises and other saber-rattlings, economic sanctions, a suspected nuclear program, and varied political struggles. Iran is a country of more than 75 million people with a diverse history stretching back many thousands of years. While over 90 percent of Iranians belong to the Shia branch of Islam — the official state religion — Iran is also home to nearly 300,000 Christians, and the largest community of Jews in the Middle East outside Israel. At a time when military and political images seem to dominate the news about Iran, I thought it would be interesting to take a recent look inside the country, to see its people through the lenses of agency photographers. Keep in mind that foreign media are still subject to Iranian restrictions on reporting.”

We are supposed to be soiling ourselves over the fact that Iran may be developing a nuclear weapon (like nine other countries in the world already have), and it may well be that the US or Israel will decide to initiate aggression against the Iranians. Canada will doubtless be pressured to join in. Before that happens, I think Canadians should get a better look at these scary people that may be killed, maimed, impoverished, or otherwise made miserable through the use of our tax dollars. As for me, I think it would be better if Canada (AND the US) simply eliminate all trade barriers, and then all immigration barriers, and then normalize the crap out of our relationship with them. Unfortunately, I don’t think there are many votes to be had from that.

Via TYWIKIWDBI

Mises on Money

Antony — January 20, 2012

Interested in money? Want to understand what determines its value, and how money affects the economy? Ludwig von Mises’ book The Theory of Money and Credit was a groundbreaking book in Austrian Economics, and is the definitive treatise on Austrian monetary theory. In this book, Mises develops a fully articulated theory of money that explains the connection between the Austrian concept of subjective value, and how this determines money’s objective exchange value. This book also includes the first development of the Austrian Business Cycle Theory, which is vital in understanding the boom-bust cycles we see ravaging economies around the world.

I will be taking the Mises Academy course Mises on Money and Banking, which covers this book, starting on February 1st. It will be taught by Robert Murphy, who wrote the study guide to the book, so he should be very knowledgeable on the subject matter. Last year, I took three courses with the same professor covering Man, Economy and State. I learned a lot, and was happy with the quality of the those courses, so I feel comfortable recommending this course also.

So if you want to beef up your intellectual firepower on Austrian monetary theory, I’d encourage you to sign up for this course. Especially if you are in the Book Club, then we can discuss it at our meetings!

The Market Is Inclusive

Dave Killion — January 19, 2012

Noah’s Dad brings this ad to our attention, and shares his thoughts

“This wasn’t a “Special Clothing For Special People” catalog.  There wasn’t a call out somewhere on the page proudly proclaiming that “Target’s proud to feature a model with Down syndrome in this week’s ad!”  And they didn’t even ask him to model a shirt with the phrase, “We Aren’t All Angels” printed on the front.

In other words, they didn’t make a big deal out of it.  I like that.”

Of course, if Target had made a big deal out of it, there would likely be ugly things said about cynicism and greed, so they did what the market would most reward them for doing – treat a child with Down Syndrome just the same as they would any other kid. No need for any special acts, regulation, or other government mischief. Just pure self-interest and the profit motive, working together to create a more tolerant, inclusive, and egalitarian world.

 

Thanks to Neatorama for the pointer!

Thank Goodness for Exploitation

Dave Killion — January 18, 2012

It’s been too long since we heard from our friends at Calgary Libertarian, so I was delighted to find a new post. It seems Ross Mann doesn’t want this to escape our attention –

“Edgar the Exploiter” is a crowd-funded follow-up to “George Ought to Help“, about which LBC member G posted some time ago. I’m glad to see it, and hope to see more in the not-too-distant future.

Eye Opener

Dave Killion — January 18, 2012

I don’t know what effect the anti-SOPA protest will have, but I won’t be surprised if it results in an increase in donations to Wikipedia. I really had no idea how many times a day I visited their site. Definitely going to send them some money soon!

Exporting Excellence

Dave Killion — January 17, 2012

Where are the two all-beef patties, the special sauce, the lettuce...?

I have seen many critics alleging that globalization homogenizes culture, but over at Neatorama, Jill Harness provides evidence to the contrary in her article “Fast Food Flavors You Won’t Find in the US” –

“The variety of KFC’s international menus is simply astounding, as the American version exclusively limits itself to fried chicken and a few sides, while the international franchises seem to have no limits on what they serve. On the more standard side, there is the Fillet Tower Burger, which is available throughout Europe and other locations, which is essentially just a chicken sandwich topped with a hashbrown. On the other end of the spectrum is the menu from Thailand, which features stir fries, a tuna and corn salad, fish fingers (like chicken fingers, but fish) and a donut filled with shrimp meat. China offers a similarly strange menu compared to the standard KFC fare, as it includes corn salad, beef wraps, red bean porridge, shrimp burgers and an egg and vegetable soup.”

So if Wendy, Ronald, the Colonel, and the King are adapting cuisine to local tastes, just what are they offering global consumers that they didn’t already have? My guess – consistency in the provision of clean bathrooms, fresh ingredients, fast service,  and low prices. And the flip side? Here in Victoria I can choose from an increasingly wide range of ethnic foods that are either authentic or Westernized, depending on my preferences. And the only thing homogenized is the milk.

Thidwick Shrugged

Dave Killion — January 16, 2012

Who is John Galt?

Everyone knows that Dr. Seuss is the nom de plume of Theodor Seuss Geisel, but some of our ‘Bedtime for Little Libertarians” posts (here and here) suggest to me that Ayn Rand was actually Geisel’s ghostwriter. Ridiculous? Consider Wikipedia’s entry for “Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose” –

“Thidwick, a moose who lives in a herd “about sixty or more” , accepts abug living on his antlers for free, who tells a spider of the free housing, and both accept a “Zinn-a-zu” bird. The herd rejects Thidwick after the Zinnazu bird’s wife, a woodpecker, and four squirrels move in. After abobcat and turtle settle, winter moves in, and although food is scarce, they refuse to let him travel to the other side of the lake. Thidwick realizes that he has lost his autonomy and that the collective in his antlers has forced him to support them. Pressure hits the poor moose after three mice, a fox, a bear, and 362 bees move in on his antlers, but trouble switches thoughts fast after seeing hunters who “must get his head for the Harvard Club wall”. When Thidwick is trapped after an attempt to escape, he suddenly remembers that antler-shedding season has arrived. He bucks the antlers off, leaves the freeloaders at the mercy of the hunters and swims to the other side of the lake to rejoin his herd. His antlers, and the former squatters, are stuffed and mounted.”

Do you see? It’s the plot of ‘Atlas Shrugged’, condensed into a child’s story!

I know, I know… you’re stunned. But that’s the kind of blinding revelation you have to be prepared for each and every time you you visit the LBC blog. Get used to it, because libertarianism is not for sissies.

Club meeting

Dave Killion — January 15, 2012

Another post courtesy of VLBC member Jason T –

This past Thursday was the latest meeting of the Victoria Libertarian Book Club and the first meeting in which we discussed Contemporary Political Philosophy:  An Introduction. The book is a systematic overview of the political traditions which the author,  Will Kymlicka, considers to be most influential to the current field of political philosophy and discussion. These include: Utilitarianism, Liberal Equality, Libertarianism, Marxism, Communitarianism, Citizenship Theory, Multiculturalism, and Feminism.

In the introduction, the author talks about the difficulty in comparing political philosophies from the perspective that they seem to start from different fundamental principles. He believes that in spite of this apparent lack of common ground that all contemporary political philosophy is based ultimately on the idea of equality, arguing that in a modern democratic context any philosophy that did not hold equality in some sense as its prime value would quickly be excluded from the debate.

Being not strictly Libertarian in content the book sparked a lively debate. Having a self-professed Utilitarian at the discussion led to a lot of back and forth in regards to the various points the author brought up for and against Utilitarianism, the content of our reading. Despite not being convinced of Utilitarianism anyways, I felt that the author did not seem to argue very strongly for, but very strongly against, Utilitarianism in the chapter.  However, this may be related to the point which he makes that most political philosophies tend to take up positions specifically in reference to being against Utilitarianism as their starting point. So it remains to be seen how Mr. Kymlicka is going to present the various arguments in the next two chapters we will be reading on Liberal Equality and Libertarianism

And the noose tightens

Dave Killion — January 13, 2012

Victoria Libertarian Book Club member Jason T posts the following –

It seems that if they can’t get away with it directly and publicly, they will just change the rules right out from under you. The National Post recently reported that the RCMP is using its power to arbitrarily and without oversight reclassify different firearms into one of three categories: non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited. This wouldn’t be an issue if this were simply fixing some obvious oversight. The rifles in question are:

“the Armi Jager AP-80 and the Walther G22, are both unremarkable .22-calibre long guns. While any firearm is potentially dangerous, .22-calibre firearms are among the weakest around – indeed, they’re typically used to train rookie shooters basic firearm safety and operation.”

They have been changed from the non-restricted category to the prohibited. And since “(no) further licences are issued for the (prohibited) category,“ they have been effectively banned. The most insulting part of this is the seeming lack of concern about even having to justify these decisions:

“With the G22 rifle, the RCMP has at least a flimsy excuse for the reclassification: Because the rifle can be shortened by removing the back end, it’s too easily concealable to be a “non-restricted” rifle (although the blame still lies with the government for making the mistake in the first place). The decision to ban the AP-80, however, has no logic behind it at all.”

The article goes on to state that the AP-80 kind of looks like an AK-47…And that is their reason. I’ve seen kid’s toys that look like AK-47s too, should this logic also apply to those items?

The hardest part of all of this to swallow is the the way in which it treats gun owners:

“Any citizen who already owns an AP-80 or G22, and does not already possess a rare prohibited-class licence, has been ordered to turn in their rifles within 30 days. Failure to do so will mean they are unlawfully in possession of a prohibited firearm, and subject to as much as 10 years behind bars. It doesn’t matter if they purchased it legally and have stored it safely ever since. The RCMP has declared that it was a mistake to allow citizens to purchase these firearms, and wants them turned in, pronto…No apology for the error. No mention of monetary compensation. Just an order to hand them over or become a criminal. When a private citizen tries to do what the RCMP is doing, it’s called theft.”

This just strikes me as so brutally unnecessary that the slightly paranoid part of myself wants to suspect that this is actually just the RCMP testing the waters. They want to see how people will react to arbitrarily taking away what are probably not people’s primary or favourite firearms before moving on to other weapons that they think “was a mistake to allow citizens to purchase”. It’s a shame Canadians don’t have anything like the USA’s Second Amendment and instead must rely on the graciousness of our sheep-dogs for access to tools of survival and protection.

Submitted without comment

Dave Killion — January 12, 2012