Archive for March, 2012

Tooting Our Own Horn

Dave Killion — March 31, 2012

You might remember this post –

“That’s right… I’m boycotting the penny.  Join me, and soon the government will get the message and quit wasting our money… the next time you buy something and the clerk is grabbing coins out of the till, I hope you will be like me and say, “No pennies, please.”

Well, it appears that our campaign has been successful –

“Canada’s government on Thursday announced its intention to withdraw the penny from circulation, saying it costs more to produce than its face value.

“Pennies take up too much space on our dressers at home. They take up far too much time for small businesses trying to grow and create jobs. It costs taxpayers a penny-and-a-half every time we make one,” said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

“We will, therefore, stop making them.”

You’re welcome.

Quote of the Day

Dave Killion — March 30, 2012

“I do not doubt that conservatives are, in their heart of hearts, jugheaded buffoons who simply want to will away inconvenient truths by plugging their ears and covering their eyes when faced with cognitive dissonance. I’m confident that they argue from authority when it serves their purpose and then are muy skeptical when confronted with authority they don’t like. I’m metaphysically certain that many are repllent and repulsive and altogether awful and that they tend to love dogs and cats in the abstract more than they do their fellow human beings in the flesh. In all this, I suspect, they are incredibly similar to liberals and, alas, libertarians, and everyone else.”

Nick Gillespie

Taking the Pulse of Canada’s War on Drugs

Dave Killion — March 29, 2012

Over at Hit and Run, Lucy Steigerwald writes about some recent news here in the Great White North

“Portugal gets it; the president of Guatemala gets it; Now some Canadians are noticing that the whole be-like-the-U.S. and declare war on plants and people is not the best policy idea. 

The chief medical officers of three Canadians provinces, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan have written a new paper for Open Medicine called “Improving community health and safety in Canada through evidence-based policies on illegal drugs.” Its conclusions are a cautious version of the above; law and order harshness does nothing to sate appetites for drugs, marijuana in particular is not terribly bad for people, and U.S. policies are just awful so why emulate them?”

I think these physicians are correct in both their diagnosis and their prescription, however, I don’t look to physicians for policy advice anymore than I do movie stars. Of course, every individual is entitled to their opinion, but what am I to make of “International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War“, “Physicians for Social Responsibility“, or “Doctors for the Environment“? Is there something about obtaining an MD that bestows insight and ability concerning public policy? Well, the physicians themselves must think so, because there are an awful lot of ‘Doctors for This’ and ‘Doctors Against That’ in this world.

Mind you, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is a Ob-Gyn, so maybe there is something to all this. Either way, I welcome all allies.

Canada’s Railway Tycoons

Antony — March 28, 2012

After watching the first installment of Atlas Shrugged with some libertarian friends, I was surprised that no-one had been following Canada’s very own corporate battle of railway tycoons, currently in progress.

A hedge fund called “Pershing Square Capital Management” has launched a proxy battle for control of CP Rail. This means that they are attempting to overrule CP’s current management by having their proposal voted on by the owners of the company (ie, the shareholders). Their plan involves turfing the current CEO, Fred Green, and replacing him with Hunter Harrison, former CEO of CP’s main competitor, CN Rail. Hunter Harrison is a legend in the railway industry who transformed CN Rail from one of the least efficient railways in North America following its de-nationalization, into the envy of its peers, with the lowest operating ratio in the industry. Harrison’s gruff, no-nonsense approach, however, is threatening to many.

The railway industry can be very inspiring, as it hearkens back to an era when ambitious capitalists built prosperity in our society through their unrelenting pursuit of profit. Although there is some government interference on the sector, North America’s freight railway network remains a bastion of free market efficiency, adding much-needed value to our economy. Also, for those who doubt the practicality of privatizing roads and highways, our railway network offers a good example of how a privately owned transportation system can easily overcome many oft-cited worries.

At the Movies

Dave Killion — March 27, 2012

I’m looking forward to seeing ‘The Hunger Games’ in the next little while. I’ve read the whole trilogy, which I enjoyed very much,  and which reminded me of some other stories in a similar vein. If you find children slaughtering each other to be as entertaining as I do, see if you can find ‘Battle Royale‘, a Japanese film in which an entire class of students gets strapped with explosive collars before being placed on an island for three days. If more than one of them survives, the collars will be detonated. Bonsai!

If you prefer your post-apocolyptic fight-to-the-death competitions a little more culturally accessible (some of that Japanese stuff eluded me) consider ‘The Running Man‘. Already seen it? Not to worry! Apparently the movie is only “loosely based” on the book –

The story’s protagonist, Ben Richards, is a citizen of Co-Op City, a suburb of the fictional Harding, which is located somewhere in the Midwest, west of Detroit (not to be confused with the real Co-Op City) in the year 2025. The world’s economy is in a shambles and America has become a totalitarian dystopia. Richards is unable to find work, having been blacklisted from his trade, and needs money to get medicine for his gravely ill daughter Cathy. His wife Sheila has resorted to prostitution to bring in money for the family. In desperation, Richards turns to the Games Network, a government-operated television station that runs violent game shows. After rigorous physical and mental testing, Richards is selected to appear on The Running Man, the Games Network’s most popular, lucrative, and dangerous program. 

These stories all have one common element. In each, the hero not only survives against overwhelming odds, but manages to strike a fatal blow against the tyrannical oppressor. Even if you’re not libertarian, what’s not to love?

Even More Cartoons

Dave Killion — March 26, 2012

It turns out that Harding College helped produce more than the three cartoons that G and I blogged about. Here is a fourth, called “Why Play Leapfrog?” –

Each of these animations were produced by John Sutherland, who worked with Disney in the 1930s and 40s before going on to start John Sutherland Productions. During that time he created several more animations concerning the free market and its workings. Here are a few –

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d267BfgNQHM

 

 

 

I know this is a lot of material, so just remember they’re here for you to come back and enjoy one at a time.

Food For Thought

Dave Killion — March 25, 2012

More Cartoons

Dave Killion — March 24, 2012

G, I don’t if you knew it, but that cartoon you posted yesterday (Make Mine Freedom) was only one of a series of animations produced in part by Harding College (now Harding University). Here are the other two –

“This series… (was) produced by John Southerland Productions as part of a concerted propaganda program to fight against the perceived threats of communism at the beginning of the Cold War using popular media. The animations portray mainstream American values, some of which might now be considered politically “liberal,” yet at the time, they were meant to contrast with the values of Soviet and Maoist socialism. The initiative represented a central concern of Harding president George S. Benson, who believed that fighting socialism was a moral imperative, causing him to abandon the pacifism and political disengagement championed by founding influencesJames A. Harding and David Lipscomb, reversing the university’s course and setting it on its current conservative political trajectory.”

Despite exhorting the value of racial tolerance, there is a stereotypical portrayal of a chinese worker that is unfortunate, but its fun to imagine a “progressive” watching the film and hyperventilating over urban sprawl, pollution, worker exploitation, and so on. Not that those aren’t serious issues, but since the animations are too brief to speak to those subjects, they leave a lot of room for anti-free enterprise types to complain. And as a libertarian, I find the message a little too pro-government for my taste. All the same, they are nice pieces of work. Thanks for reminding me of them.

A warning from the past on isms

G — March 22, 2012

But Nanny, That Hurts!

Dave Killion — March 22, 2012

Sorry buddy, no more gruel. It's too high in trans-fats.

“In a move that combines the mayor’s affinity for overbearing health regulations with his controversial stance on homeless shelters already under fire from advocacy groups and City Council members, a new rule barring food donations to shelters is raising even more concern.

CBS reports on the bizarre rule that turns away food, perhaps the most needed item for any shelter, because according to health officials, it’s impossible to gauge the items’ salt, fiber, and other nutritional stats.”

If you were homeless, wouldn’t you prefer food that was potentially high in fat and salt to no food at all?