Archive for May, 2012


Dave Killion — May 31, 2012


Environmental Graffiti presents an album of desert plants –

“Some plants seem to be capable of enduring in the face of all adversity, carving a niche for themselves where nothing else is able to flourish…

 Apart from being determination personified… these instances of vegetation in arid places are also apt metaphors for learning to live through life’s toughest patches, when one feels prickly, parched and alone in the desert of life.”

Just the sort of thing to inspire libertarians in our struggle to keep alive the ideas of liberty!


A Brief Literary Observation

Dave Killion — May 30, 2012

I’ve been enjoying “Justified“, which just recently got the nod for a fourth season. The series revolves around a character created by Elmore Leonard, who is probably my favourite writer of crime fiction, which is probably my favourite genre along with science fiction. Leonard’s writing is fun because of all the great dialogue, but I sure get annoyed at how willing all the characters are to chat with the police. I guess that’s why there is great libertarian sci-fi, but no libertarian crime fiction. How can you write snappy dialogue when all your characters are libertarian, and therefore would know that talking to law enforcement is very dangerous and best avoided? I imagine it would be very dull indeed.

I Wonder

Dave Killion — May 29, 2012

Quebec students have been protesting for over 100 days , and I have repeatedly heard pundits debating whether or not increased tuition would lower university enrollment. I would think it’s more important to determine whether or not it lowers university graduations.

And if you weren’t being forced to subsidize university students, why would you even care about that?

Quote of the Day

Dave Killion — May 28, 2012

This being Memorial Day in the U.S., David Henderson, is sharing thoughts of appreciation for veterans over at Econlog. He recalls a brief tale he once read –

“General: “Men, we’re surrounded, but the enemy has the same number of soldiers we do. So some man out there is going to try to kill you, and your job is to kill him first.”
Private: “General, could you point to the man you want me to kill? I believe that he and I can make another arrangement.” 


Gary Johnson’s New Ad

Dave Killion — May 26, 2012


If Ron Paul doesn’t get the Republican nomination, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson is probably the best option the US voter has. Here is his first Libertarian Party ad, available only on the internet. Please share.

Quote of the Day

Dave Killion — May 25, 2012

“Think about it this way: Europeans don’t regard the FDA as the best or final arbiter of safety and efficacy so why should we?”

Alex Tabarrok (Marginal Revolution), writing about US Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and language the senator inserted into the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (S.3187). The US Senate today voted to pass the act, and according to a Rand Paul press release “(this) language would force the FDA to accept data from clinical investigations conducted outside the United States, including the European Union, to speed the process of getting life-saving drugs on the market by the FDA.” 

There are some libertarians who maintain that accepting anything short of absolute withdrawal of the state from all exchanges between consenting adults only serves to reinforce state power, and they wouldn’t find any joy in this development. For the rest of us, this will be seen as a step in the right direction for the US, and Canada would benefit from a similar policy. I wouldn’t campaign for it, but if someone else succeeded in bringing it about, I would certainly applaud them.

Taxes and Morality

Dave Killion — May 24, 2012

A small study recently published in the journal Symbolic Interaction examines why many Americans hate paying taxes. DUH! It’s because they are selfish and greedy, right? Well, maybe, but that’s not what the haters think

“In essence, middle-class Americans, the results suggest, see taxes as a means of robbing hardworking citizens of their dignity.

The participants “portray taxation as a threat to the moral order because they believe taxes deprive deserving hardworking middle class people of dignity, while rewarding others who are undeserving (both rich and poor)… “

I haven’t looked at the study in any detail, so for all I know it’s just more of the same old junk science that permeates our lives. But if it’s not accurate, it should be. It should be obvious to all of us, Canadian and American, that it is immoral to seize the possessions of one group  and hand them over to another. The fact that it isn’t suggests we suffer from a massive character deficit, and libertarians might be wise to focus more on making the moral arguments rather than the economic arguments.

Via Neatorama

Guns and Gandhi

Dave Killion — May 23, 2012

Say you're sari.

It is well known that in the US and Canada, many women feel a keen desire to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense. It turns out this desire extends also to women far outside our borders –

“There are so many incidents, especially in Delhi (India). Women who are working or who are travelling should definitely have a gun,” said ( Dr Harveen Kaur Sidhu). She explained that changing lifestyles were making women more vulnerable, particularly single women working or coming home late at night. “Why should I be dependent on someone else, even my husband or the police, for my own safety? I should be independent,” she said. “Imagine all the problems and mishaps which could be avoided if women could defend themselves properly. The females have to be self-armed and protected and should send out a strong message that we are not taking this anymore.”

According to The Guardian, although per capita gun ownership is low in India, the number of firearms in the country (40 million) is second only to that of the United States. This despite the fact that licenses are hard to obtain and many firearms are manufactured in backstreet workshops. The growing number of women acquiring guns for self-defense, along with the appearance of groups organized to promote gun rights, suggest a strengthening firearms culture in India. Good on them!

An Observation

Dave Killion — May 22, 2012

We are now prepared to discuss your libertarian philosophy with you.

It is always a pleasure to discuss libertarianism with someone who knows little or nothing about it, but is open-minded and has a sincere interest in understanding. Conversations like that are rare. More typically, it only takes a few questions before the novice is so shocked or outraged that progress is impossible. As a rule, I find that there will be no headway made with anyone who supplies the suggestion of an answer along with the question. “What do you propose instead of national health insurance? Letting people die on the street?”  “How can you favour ending public schooling? Do you want poor children to grow up without learning how to read or write?”

Recognizing this has made it easier for me to decide how to proceed with a discussion. If I have an audience, I will usually carry on explaining. After all, bystanders are usually less defensive and something I say might reach one of them. On the other hand, if it’s just me and my interlocutor, more often than not I’ll find a way to wrap things up. Most important is that I’ve learned to catch myself if I do the same thing, because it demonstrates to me that I’m becoming close-minded. And if I had been close-minded, I never would have become libertarian… and that would have been a terribly sad thing.

The Tea is Getting Cold

Dave Killion — May 21, 2012

By assuming that the behaviour of politicians is motivated chiefly by self-interest, Public Choice Theory makes a strong case that striving to regain our freedom by electing ‘the right people’ is a strategy unlikely to succeed. Recently, US voters saw strong evidence in support of this –

“This week the Club for Growth released a study of votes cast in 2011 by the 87 Republicans elected to the House in November 2010. The Club found that “In many cases, the rhetoric of the so-called “Tea Party” freshmen simply didn’t match their records.” Particularly disconcerting is the fact that so many GOP newcomers cast votes against spending cuts.

The study comes on the heels of three telling votes taken last week in the House that should have been slam-dunks for members who possess the slightest regard for limited government and free markets. Alas, only 26 of the 87 members of the “Tea Party class” voted to defund both the Economic Development Administration and the president’s new Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia program (see my previous discussion of these votes here) and against reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank (see my colleague Sallie James’s excoriation of that vote here).”

Worse still, of these 87 so-called ‘fiscal conservatives’, a full 30 voted in favour of expansive government and economic intervention. That is, they voted entirely against the platforms on which they were elected. If Tea Party members hope to succeed in achieving their initial goals, they are going to have to punish these frauds with the same vigour they used to put them in office. The lesson for the rest of us? If there is any hope for making a peaceful transition into a freed society, it’s far more likely to come by changing the incentives politicians face than by trying to elect certain people.