Archive for April, 2012

Climate Change Denial

Dave Killion — April 22, 2012

Alberta will be having a provincial election next week, and there is a good chance that Wildrose – the province’s most libertarian party other than the Alberta Libertarian Party – will come out on top. Recently, party leader Danielle Smith made headlines for talking about the weather

“The woman leading a front-running party in Alberta’s provincial election has cast doubt on the widely-accepted scientific theory that human activity is a leading cause of global warming.

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith made the comment in an online leaders debate organized by two Alberta newspapers.

“We have always said the science isn’t settled and we need to continue to monitor the debate,” said Smith in response to a direct question from a reader.

In my experience, the folks concerned about climate change usually have four positions –

1) Climate change is happening

2) People are causing it (or exacerbating it)

3) It is going to have catastrophic consequences

4) It can be prevented (or mitigated) by speedy, robust government action

If you are not a climate scientist, but rather, a fiscal libertarian like Smith (or I), I don’t think you should even enter into discussions concerning the first three items. Science is hard, and very few of us have the time, education, or experience to evaluate all the information on this matter. More importantly, we don’t need to, because no matter the nature or degree of the threat, our response to it should be the same.

Humanity is eternally facing any number of apocalyptic threats; climate, meteor strikes, volcanoes, pandemics, and so on. The real question is whether the state is the proper agent for evaluating and acting against these threats. And the real answer is ‘No’. Not only do state actors lack the knowledge and the incentives to handle such matters optimally, but there is also the immorality of using coercive action through government. When collective action is required in the face of adversity, people do best when we rely on persuasion and voluntary interaction. And that’s the case Smith should be making.

Wonders of the (Education) Market

Dave Killion — April 19, 2012

And by lattes, I mean Whoppers.

Thankfully, public schools aren’t the only (or chief) means of obtaining an education. If that were the case, people would have to wander around in a state of economic ignorance for most of their lives, never fully appreciating even a relatively simple concept such as opportunity cost. Briefly stated, the opportunity cost of something is the sacrifice related to the second best choice available to some individual, or group, who has picked among several mutually exclusive choices. For example, the opportunity cost of a book may be the hour I have to work in order to purchase it. Or it could be the number of lattes I can’t afford if I buy the book. Sometimes, making a cost/benefit analysis along these lines can make the difference in determining whether or not to purchase something. But let’s face it – math is hard. So what’s the solution? Red Ferret points the way

How Many is a cute and free little iPhone app which lets you instantly calculate just how many hours of your work it will cost to pay for that shiny bauble you see in the store window. Not only that, but it will give you a more direct and probably painful comparison via Lattes. If that pen costs you 30 luxury soy Chai lattes with sprinkles, is it really worth it? Really?”

Sadly,the app only calculates lattes or hours of work, but if you enter the price of something else, then you can mentally replace ‘lattes’ with ‘ice cream sandwiches’ or something else you might purchase. Who knew studying economics could be so entertaining?

Not All Fun and Games

Dave Killion — April 18, 2012

More photos of US military troops posing with Afghani corpses have come to light, the soldiers smiling away. I can’t judge them harshly, because I think most of them believe they are doing a good thing by serving, and for the moment they are proud of what they think is a job well done.

Sadly, as evidenced by the above series of photographs of three US Marines before, during, and after Afghanistan, the smiles will fade from their eyes, to be replaced by something much duller and harder. And all for nothing. Such a waste.

We’re #116!

Dave Killion — April 17, 2012

Celebrating like Greek civil servants!

On the list of Most Visited Libertarian Websites, as per The Capital Free Press. Check it out!

Tweetable

Dave Killion — April 17, 2012

Both I AND the Libertarian Book Club have been on Twitter for some time, but had neglected to tweet for well over a year. Well, that’s all changed. We’ve updated our usernames, and have begun tweeting with authority! Follow the blog at @libertybookmeet, and follow me at @libertybookdave. Tweet comments and links to us from the convenience of your cell phone. We’d love to hear from you, so don’t just sit there. Send us a congratulatory tweet now!

Life Has Risks

Dave Killion — April 16, 2012

Here’s a letter to the Times Colonist –

You report that the B.C. Federation of Labour is upset over new WorkSafe BC regulations (Changes to worker safety rule spark B.C. protests, April 15). The Federation alleges concern over reduced worker safety, but I am skeptical. If I suggested that nightshift workers should be made even safer by requiring them to wear body armour and be protected by an armed guard, people would say that the notion was ridiculous. What they would actually mean (but don’t dare say) is that the small number of preventable deaths that would be avoided by such measures are worth suffering in order to avoid the massive expense and inconvenience of such a regulation.

Safety levels involve trade-offs, and it is the natural right of employers and employees to negotiate the trade-offs between safety levels and levels of compensation. Attempts by the BCFL to use government to violate those rights are worthy of nothing but derision.

Not the Bad Example You Might Think

Dave Killion — April 15, 2012

Over at Liberty PEI, the hits just keep coming. Today’s offering? A pointer toward Benjamin Powell’s lecture “Stateless in Somalia“, complete with notes. Know-nothings love to point to Somalia as an example of why libertarian values cannot succeed, but Powell helps us set them straight!

Bonus link: Peter Leeson explains how anarchy dominates our interactions, and how we are all the better for it.

Good News

Dave Killion — April 13, 2012

Feeding polar bears is expensive!

Polar bears have declined to cooperate with predictions regarding the imminent collapse of their populations –

“The debate about climate change and its impact on polar bears has intensified with the release of a survey that shows the bear population in a key part of northern Canada is far larger than many scientists thought, and might be growing…

…The study shows that “the bear population is not in crisis as people believed,” said Drikus Gissing, Nunavut’s director of wildlife management. “There is no doom and gloom.”

The subpopulation under discussion is over 60% more numerous than had been forecast. Environmental activists and researchers have reacted to the positive news with great delight.

Just kidding. Despite the good news, activists claim things are even worse than we feared! –

“…some details in the survey pointed to a bear population in trouble. For example, the survey identified 50 cubs, which are usually less than 10 months old, and 22 yearlings, roughly 22 months old. That’s nearly one-third the number required for a healthy population, (University of Alberta  professor of biological science Andrew Derocher) said. “This is a clear indication that this population is not sustaining itself in any way, shape, or form.”

Having been exposed to every sort of eco-hysteria since beginning school in the 1960s, and seeing as none of it has materialized, I am confident that it is only a matter of time before these ravenous beasts are so numerous there will be people advocating some sort of polar bear birth control program. Remember you heard it here first.

He’s Got a Point

Dave Killion — April 12, 2012

Over at Liberty PEI, our implacable ally Ashley Johnston lays out “The Problem with Americans” –

“If Canada were to become the 51st state then there would be an extra 309 million people who would have a say over how I manage my life. Of course, this is reciprocal. I would have a say in how the 309 million people get to run their lives but I have no desire to do so. Simply put, I am not an American, politically or culturally. I don’t like guns, their politicians scare me, and their historical mythology is creepy. I don’t want to throw my lot in with theirs.”

I understand having a problem with Americans, but guns? Don’t be a hater, Ashley!

Legal ≠ Acceptable

Dave Killion — April 11, 2012

I am making my way through the final chapter of Contemporary Political Philosophy (the Victoria LBC’s current selection), and came across this passage –

“For libertarians, employers should be free to design their jobs however they see fit, and indeed to engage in old-fashioned discrimination if they want.”

No, no, no, no, no, no, no… no.

Libertarians think discrimination shouldn’t be punished by the state. That is not the same thing as saying employers should be free to indulge in it. Discriminatory businesses should be boycotted, mocked, and shunned by both vendors and consumers. Sadly, author Kymlicka and those like him cannot conceive of society as anything other than the state. Therefore it seems to them that if one is hostile toward government action against something like discrimination, then one must not be opposed to it. And to the real ideologue, it means they must favour it. Lazy and illogical, I know, but for some folks, feeding their confirmation bias is priority one.