Archive for August, 2012

Libertarians Outperform U.S. President In Recent Appearances

Dave Killion — August 31, 2012

Reddit? I damn near killed it!

The social news website “Reddit” has a particularly popular feature called IAmA (“I am a…”), in which a user invites visitors to AMA (Ask Me Anything). The site recently got a lot of attention from mainstream media recently when U.S. President Obama posted an AMA. You can visit it here, and enjoy watching Mr. Obama decline to answer questions about decriminalizing marijuana in favour of assuring us that the White House beer recipe will soon be made public.

If, on the other hand, you think ignoring Mr. Obama is a better option, you might still enjoy reading an AMA with Nick Offerman. Mr. Offerman is the actor who plays libertarian Ron Swanson in “Parks and Recreation“, and his appearance was slightly better received. Better still, check out the AMA with US Congressman Ron Paul. Compared to either the President or the actor, Mr. Paul’s appearance was wildly popular. The new media has provided libertarians with a great opportunity to spread our message of peace and prosperity. I hope it takes us far.

Would A Libertarian Society Protect Free Speech That Incites Crime?

Dave Killion — August 30, 2012

In the last Subsidiarity Podcast, Ashley Johnston and I discussed a blog post by Akosua Matthews over at the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s blog “The Justice Report“. The subject was free speech, and I have since had some fleeting thoughts on the topic. To wit;

I think most libertarians would agree that threatening someone with the initiation of aggression is, in itself, an initiation of aggression and therefore criminal. However, determining when such a threat has been made is not always clear (see this discussion). If someone says to me, “Give me your money, or I will kill you”, then that is clearly coercion and I can retaliate. But if some people are caught discussing a plan to rob me, would libertarian philosophy consider that criminal? Further still, since libertarians recognize that taxes are theft, would anyone advocating coercive redistribution be prosecuted for inciting criminal activity?

On that final question, I think not, but I am confident that any such advocates would find themselves struggling to find and keep jobs, homes, and vendors willing to supply them with products. Instead, they would be shunned by the decent and right-thinking people into which most of society would have evolved. And that is yet another one of the beauties of libertarianism; it discourages conduct that is anti-social, even when it is not criminal.

What I Love About Canada

Dave Killion — August 29, 2012

For privacy’s sake, I cannot tell you the actual name of a woman I recently encountered, but it was very much like ‘Carlita Moriones Gonzales Wang’. I also know a ‘Kumiko Van Der Wilt’. Canada, being one of the world’s most libertarian countries, is also one of it’s most diverse and tolerant. As I like to say, a perfectly predictable outcome.

Subsidiary Podcast, Episode 3

Dave Killion — August 28, 2012

In our latest podcast, my co-host Ashley Johnston and I discuss the legitimacy of requiring protesters to obtain permits, part-time participation in the extra-legal market, PEI’s immigration scandal, and more.

Listen here, and subscribe here.

Mea Culpa

Dave Killion — August 27, 2012

Who says you can't have both!

It seems like only yesterday that I was urging all of you to make a habit of listening to CBC’s The Invisible Hand. Well, it wasn’t yesterday, it was two months ago, and I am abashed to confess that I have not listened to a single episode since. Something jogged my memory recently, and I visited the site today to find to my horror that I have missed eight episodes. I can only imagine what you all must think of me…

In an effort to restore your faith, I pledge to listen to one episode each day, until I am all caught up. If you had intended to follow the program, but failed to follow through, I hope you will join me in my campaign. If you care to follow my progress, visit our Facebook page , where you can confirm I have met my daily goal OR berate me for my pathetic failure.

Episode 2: Gold Vs. Chickens – When the economy fails, which of these commodities will best avail you? Heck, you’re libertarian, you already know the answer! Or do you…

Code Enforcement And Warrantless Entry

Dave Killion — August 26, 2012

The Township of Esquimalt is one of the many local governments that comprise Greater Victoria. Here are a couple interesting items in their Building Bylaw:

7.2 A Building Official:

7.2.1  may enter any land, building, structure, or premises at any reasonable times, for the purpose of ascertaining that the terms of this bylaw are being observed

7.2.2 where any residence or secondary suite is occupied, shall obtain the consent of the occupant or provide written notice to the occupant 24 hours in advance of entry

 

25. PENALTIES AND ENFORCEMENT

25.1 Every person who contravenes any provision of this bylaw commits an offence punishable on summary conviction and shall be liable to a fine of not more than $10,000.00 (Ten Thousand Dollars) or to imprisonment for not more than six months.

 

Every municipality in Greater Victoria, and likely all of British Columbia, has a building bylaw with similar clauses. As you see, the power of a building official to enter your property without your consent is much greater than that of a police officer, and the penalties for resisting or denying entry can be severe. And as can be seen from this post on the Volunteer Blog, this situation exists in provinces all across Canada.

I have worked with building inspectors and bylaw enforcement officers throughout Greater Victoria, and I have never heard of these rules being implemented to their full extent. I have, however, seen several instances where the threat of doing so has been used to attain compliance. Does this mean there really is no reason to worry about the existence of such regulations? No, it doesn’t. Regulations are weapons for the coercive state, and just like weapons, may sit harmlessly for ages. But when the state decides to pull the trigger, the effects will be devastating. Striking these rules is the equivalent of disarming violent criminals, and would best be done sooner, rather than later.

Subsidiarity Podcast, Episode 2

Dave Killion — August 23, 2012

Join Liberty PEI blogger Ashley Johnston and me for our second installment of Subsidiary Podcast, in which we discuss the shocking powers of local government bylaw enforcement officers, the more-than-venial-less-than-mortal sin of failing to recycle, ridesharing in the Maritimes, and more.

Listen, download, and subscribe here.

 

 

Recommended Reading

Dave Killion — August 22, 2012

I used to enjoy science fiction a great deal, but it’s difficult to become libertarian without learning a fair bit about economics, and once you learn a fair bit about economics, most science fiction becomes too implausible to enjoy (Star Trek, I’m looking at you). However, there is some great libertarian sci-fi, and if you like that sort of thing, you will enjoy Eric Frank Russell’s “And Then There Were None”. Four hundred years after faster-than-light drive has enabled Earthlings to populate the galaxy, a spaceship sets out to visit some of the populated planets with en eye towards unifying the galaxy under a new empire. Attempts to subjugate the population of the final planet prove challenging in ways they could hardly have anticipated. Here’s a taste –

Edging ponderously around on his stool, Jeff reached to the wall, removed a small, shiny plaque from its hook and passed it across the counter.

‘You may keep it,’ he said. ‘And much good may it do you.’

Gleed examined it, turning it over and over between his fingers. It was nothing more than an oblong strip of substance resembling ivory. One side was polished and bare. The other bore three letters deeply engraved in bold style:

F.—I.W.

Glancing up at Baines, his features puzzled, he said, ‘You call this a weapon?’

‘Certainly.’

‘Then I don’t get it.’ He passed the plaque to Harrison. ‘Do you?’

‘No.’ Harrison examined it with care. ‘What does this F.—I.W. mean?’

‘Initial-slang,’ informed Baines. ‘Made correct by common usage. It has become a worldwide motto. You’ll see it all over the place if you haven’t noticed it already.’

‘I have seen it here and there but attached no importance to it and thought nothing more about it. I remember now that it was inscribed in several places including Seth’s and the fire depot.’

‘It was on the sides of that bus we couldn’t empty,’ put in Gleed. ‘It didn’t mean anything to me.’

It means plenty,’ said Jeff, ‘Freedom-I won’t!’

‘That kills me,’ Gleed responded. ‘I’m stone dead already. I’ve dropped in my tracks.’ He watched Harrison thoughtfully pocketing the plaque. ‘A piece of abracadabra. What a weapon!’

‘Ignorance is bliss,’ asserted Baines, strangely sure of himself. ‘Especially when you don’t know that what you’re playing with is the safety catch of something that goes bang.’

‘All right ’challenged Gleed, taking him up on that. ‘Tell us how it works.’

‘I won’t.’ Baines’ grin reappeared. He seemed to be highly satisfied about something.

‘That’s a fat lot of help.’ Gleed felt let down, especially over that momentary hoped-for reward. ‘You brag and boast about a one-way weapon, toss across a slip of stuff with three letters on it and then go dumb. Any folly will do for braggarts and any braggart can talk through the seat of his pants. How about backing up your talk?’

‘I won’t,’ repeated Baines, his grin broader than ever. He gave the onlooking Harrison a fat, significant wink.

It made something spark vividly within Harrison’s mind. His jaw dropped, he dragged the plaque from his pocket and stared at it as if seeing it for the first time.

‘Give it me back,’ requested Baines, watching him.

Replacing it in his pocket, Harrison said very firmly. ‘I won’t.’

Baines chuckled.’ some people catch on quicker than others.’

Resenting that, Gleed held his hand out to Harrison. ‘Let me have another look at that thing.’

‘I won’t,’ said Harrison, meeting him eye to eye.

‘Hey, don’t start being awkard with me. That’s not the way—’ Gleed’s protesting voice petered out. He stood there a moment, his optics slightly glassy, while his brain performed several loops. Then in hushed tones he said, ‘Good grief!’

‘Precisely,’ approved Baines. ‘Grief and plenty of it.’ “

You can finish the whole thing in less than half an hour, starting right here.

Canadian Currency Design Fiasco Reveals How Government Encourages Conflict

Dave Killion — August 21, 2012

Stereotyping!

When designing Canada’s new (polymer) $100 bill, the Bank of Canada initially used a Photoshopped image of a South Asian woman to decorate the bill. The new design was shown to several focus groups, some of whom ‘expressed concern’ over the image. The bank responded by switching to a Caucasian woman. Word gets out. Hilarity ensues

“Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney apologized Monday for the way the image of an Asian woman was removed from the initial design for new $100 banknotes, promising to review the bank’s internal processes.

“I apologize to those who were offended – the Bank’s handling of the issue did not meet the standards Canadians justifiably expect of us,” Carney said in a statement. “Our banknotes belong to all Canadians, and the work we do at the bank is for all Canadians.”

Because so many government goodies are doled out based on status (and there are only so many goodies to go ’round, even for the state), special interests have to compete fiercely to achieve, maintain, and grow their presence. This means no slight, however insignificant it may be, can be ignored. I don’t know for sure what other concerns were voiced by those focus groups, but I’m pretty confident that not only was the new design considered by some to be too racial, others found to be either sexist, ageist, elitist, or offensive to someone’s delicate sensibilities.

If Canada enjoyed currency competition , some private institution could put out a series of notes decorated all over with Asians, and nobody would whisper a complaint. But in order for that to happen, politicians would have to forego the advantages they derive from manipulating fiat currency at the expense of the taxpayer. And if they have to reduce us all to a bunch of pathetic whiners in order to prevent that from happening, well, I guess it’s pretty obvious that they don’t mind that one bit.

Doing Unto Others

Dave Killion — August 20, 2012

Most people are aware of the Golden Rule ; ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. But did you know there is also;

– A Silver Rule; Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you.

– A Bronze Rule; Do unto others as they have done unto you.

– A Copper Rule; Do unto others as you expect they will do unto you.

and

– A Tin/Iron Rule; Do unto others before they do unto you.

Ask most people what the Golden Rule means, and I expect many of them will have elements of the Silver Rule incorporated into their definitions. This is a problem. By lumping the two notions together, we lose sight of the fact that transgressing one of these rules is much, much worse than transgressing the other. When we fail to follow the Golden Rule, although we may not be as generous and noble as we would like to be, at least we know we didn’t hurt anybody. But if we fail to follow the Silver Rule, we do hurt people. That’s an oversight libertarians might do well to correct.