Archive for October, 2012

Quotation Of The Day

Dave Killion — October 31, 2012

“For all you hipster large and small towns in the northeast who have taken great pride in banning big box stores like Wal-Mart and Home Depot, good luck rebuilding after the storm.  I am sure you are going to be really happy that you banned retail establishments with worldwide logistics resources and that have developed special skills in routing supplies needed for post-storm cleanup.  Good luck getting a generator from that boutique hardware store you have been protecting.”

Coyote Blog – “A Note To The East Coast”

Halloween Down Under

Dave Killion — October 30, 2012

It's a coyote, but if you put a baby in your mouth, you could say you were a dingo.

It is my understanding that Canadians and Americans spend more money on Halloween than any other holiday but Christmas. Considering that my household has already consumed not only the box of 50 full-sized bars that we were supposed to pass out at Halloween, but also the box of 95 fun-sized bars we got to replace the first box (meaning we’ve had to buy more candy), I can believe it. Face it- Halloween is great, and almost everyone loves it. But who, in their right mind, would suggest turning the event into a government holiday? Australians, that’s who

“In all, 17 members of the newly-formed Halloween Institute kicked off a protest march yesterday that stretched from Sydney’s Martin Place to Parliament House.”…. “The Halloween Institute was marching to demand that the fine American tradition of Halloween every October 31 become a public holiday in Australia.”

Suuuuch a bad idea! Naturally, the driving force behind the institute is the owner of a party supply store. The good news? This story is from 2010. Halloween wasn’t made a public holiday, and since the Halloween Institute does not appear to exist anywhere on the internet, I assume their lobbying days are over. The bad news? The Premier of New South Wales in 2010 (Kristina Keneally) lost her position only 5 months later. Coincidence? Perhaps… or perhaps the tentacles of Big Halloween extend further than anyone knows!

Despite the failure of the institute, Halloween continues to increase in popularity amongst the Antipodeans –

“Like our supermarkets selling “scary” lollies, cheap costumes and special carving pumpkins, more Australians are embracing the idea of Halloween. It has become so prevalent that Google spokesman Shane Treeves said company research found that the number of Halloween-related searches had doubled over the past six years.”…. “”The Australian market is very quickly getting used to Halloween, or embracing it.”

Even if the government isn’t.

 

Free The CBC!

Dave Killion — October 29, 2012

... just not enough to "$" for it!

On November 19, 2012, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will begin public hearings on the renewal of radio and television licenses for the CBC

“The CRTC will examine the public broadcaster’s role in light of its powers under the Broadcasting Act. The following are some of the issues that the Commission plans to discuss:

  • CBC/Radio-Canada’s overall strategy
  • equivalent quality of services in French and English
  • representation of official language minority communities
  • regional reflection and the services offered in northern Canada
  • the accessibility of information relating to the Corporation’s management and the effectiveness with which public comments are handled
  • the addition of advertising on Espace Musique and Radio 2, and
  • commercial agreements.        “
I suspect the CBC will be with us as a publicly-funded institution for some time. After all, the cost of the CBC is spread out amongst so many Canadians, that no one really has any incentive to invest much time and effort in getting the government to sever the relationship. However, those ‘public’ funds get concentrated into the hands of a relatively small group, and that small group stands to lose a great deal if funding is withdrawn. In addition, those who enjoy CBC programming get it at a much lower cost than they would have to pay otherwise. Those two groups (Baptists and bootleggers) are highly incentivized to lobby for funding. However, federal funding for the CBC is slated to be around $1 billion. Given the wintery and uncertain economic climate faced even by Canadians, perhaps that is a sufficient amount to rile ever more people to protest. One can only hope.

Fish In The Desert

Dave Killion — October 28, 2012

In the United Arab Emirates, over 150 miles inland of the Persian Sea, something miraculous has been born in the desert: a freshwater lake

“Drive through the desert in the United Arab Emirates, and all you see mile after mile are red, rolling dunes. Maybe some occasional trees or shrubs, but otherwise a dry, red sandscape. And then, suddenly, a bright blue spot comes into view. It must be a mirage, you think. But it’s not. The water’s edge comes right up to the sand, the wet and the dry, kissing. The wind whips across the blue water’s surface, pushing it into a light chop. And wispy reeds in the center of the lake flutter in the breeze.”

The lake appeared only a few years ago, and has risen 35 feet in the past year alone. An increasing variety of birds are found annually, and thanks to heron that have  unknowingly transported eggs on their bodies from other lakes, even fish have begun to populate the lake. The lake is man-made… but not by design –

A desalination plant right on the coast pulls in saltwater from the Persian Gulf and makes that water drinkable and usable. The water is then pumped 150 miles inland to the city of Al Ain. The residents there drink it up, bathe with it and then flush it down their drains.

“It goes to the sewage treatment plant, and they treat it, and they bring it back into town. And they water the parks and the gardens and things like that, and that percolates down into the groundwater,” (U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist DavidClark says.

And then it ends up in the desert, a short distance from Al Ain, by percolating back up from the ground.”

The new bio-system naturally comes at the expense of a portion of the existing system, but there is little of the former and a great deal of the latter, so the benefits of increasing local bio-diversity appear to have come at a low cost. And perhaps in time the lake will grow to such a size that it can replace some (or all) of the water provided by the desalinization plant. This would be a tremendous energy savings. This lake, and others like it, are a testimonial to the creative role humanity plays in the environment.

The Halloween Impulses Of A Libertarian

Dave Killion — October 27, 2012

To strike a blow against political correctness, coercive state regulation, and the nanny state, I considered passing out some very specific treats this Halloween: candy cigarettes and chocolate cigars –

Imagine my surprise when I went to Amazon.com, only to have Amazon say they are unable to ship either item to my default shipping address. My default address is in Canada, so I immediately became suspicious. Wikipedia, to the rescue

“….many critics believe the candy desensitizes children, leading them to become smokers later in life. Because of this, the selling of candy cigarettes has been banned in several countries”….”In Canada federal law prohibits candy cigarette branding that resembles real cigarette branding….”

Just to be certain, I looked around a little more, and I found some items that appear to be exceptions, and some that either disprove my suspicion or suggest such regulations are not being monitored. For example, Amazon would not ship one type of bubble-gum cigar, but appeared willing to ship another. Amazon.ca offers candy cigarettes that appear to violate the regulation cited in Wikipedia. And there exists liquorice cigars that are MADE in Canada. They look familiar, so I presume they are sold here as well. It all gets very confusing, and seems a lot of fuss for very little gain.

And, just to crystallize the lunacy of all this, let me point out that our local shopping centre has a store called Candy Cures –

I suppose the desensitization of children to the abuse of prescription drugs just hasn’t caught nanny’s attention yet.

Random Thought

Dave Killion — October 25, 2012

Canadian libertarians aren’t the kind of Canadians who apologize to people that bump into them.

 

Chinese Cell Phones Manufacturers Are Poised To Make North American Consumers Very Happy

Dave Killion — October 24, 2012

From the desk of the ever-entertaining Red Ferret, happy news for cell phone consumers

“What happens when the people making your products decide they’re going to start doing it for themselves? And what happens when those factories and manufacturers start producing products which are not only equal to your fancy brand name devices, but actually better? …. Market decimation.”

It seems that China’s mobile phone manufacturers are responding to the ongoing economic downturn with a strategy that will see more powerful, less expensive phones entering the international market. And how is that working out? –

“The result is a growing range of products which are proving to be the match of the traditional big brands in just about every way. Chinese brands such as Xiaomi, Oppo, Meizu and CEIEC are producing products which not only hit the traditional cheap handset sweet spot, but can also compete head to head with the best that Apple, Samsung and HTC have to offer.”…. “In some cases these Chinese incumbents are offering high end specification products for literally a fraction of the usual price.”

It is amazing that in the course of a couple decades, market forces have led cell phones from being the size of a boot (and costing an arm and a leg) to a device that not only performs better, but is small enough and inexpensive enough that it is only a matter of time before they will be offered as cereal box prizes.  Thanks to government meddling, fields such as education and health care have been denied similar progress, but never fear. Entrepreneurs are constantly looking for profitable ways to work around government restrictions, and it is likely just a matter of time before even the most impoverished people will enjoy improvements in health care and education equal to that which the Chinese are currently bringing to mobile communications.

Ontario’s Education Minister Earns An “F”

Dave Killion — October 23, 2012

Earlier this month, Ontario’s Minister of Education declared her belief that pro-life education is, literally, a crime

“(Laurel) Broten also said publicly-funded Catholic schools in Ontario should not be teaching students that abortion is wrong because the anti-bullying law prohibits misogyny.

“Taking away a woman’s right to choose could arguably be considered one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take,” she said.”

So, if you happen to be one of those people who believe that abortion is murder, and you teach that to a student, the Honourable (sic) Mrs. Broten thinks you are a criminal. And if teaching that abortion-is-murder is a crime for teachers, then it is most certainly a crime for anyone else. Including Broten’s political opponents. Presumably, she would like to see all such people ‘stopped’. Peacefully, if possible, but violently (I suspect) if necessary.

Well, Mrs. Broten should be careful what she wishes for. One day, the tide may turn, and the law may be that anyone who teaches that women have a right to choose is guilty of advocating murder. And on that day, I suspect Mrs. Broten will cry out for the right to free speech that she is so eager to deny everyone else.

Who Rightfully Owns Mineral Resources?

Dave Killion — October 22, 2012

Advocates of estate/inheritance taxes argue, in part, that the heir has not earned the newly-acquired wealth and is therefore not entitled to keep all of it. But have said advocates considered the ramifications such an argument has for people in poor countries where there are substantial natural resources? Tim Newman asks us to consider

“… a country which sits on a sizeable mineral wealth which it has no idea how to extract.  For hundreds of years this wealth remains unrealised as it sits beneath the ground, whilst the people living above it barely know it exists.  Then some foreigners turn up and spend years (sometimes decades), millions if not billions of dollars, and the lives of thousands of individuals working in pretty dire conditions to figure out how to extract this resource and make it worth something.  Eventually these efforts pay off, and the foreigners start making some money.  Thus far, the locals have contributed next to nothing.  So what share of the proceeds are they entitled to?

According to the likes of Richard Murphy, they are entitled to most of it.  After all, they happened to be born sitting on top of an oilfield.  Yet the same justification is not applied to our fortunate heir in the example I gave above.  He is…. reaping the rewards of unearned wealth, whereas the governments of oil exporting countries are reaping the rewards of what is theirs by right.

The two positions are somewhat inconsistent, aren’t they?”

I don’t think Newman is doing much here to counter the estate-tax proponents. All the same, I’m happy to encounter this argument because I have been worried that when I buy oil, gas, and other mineral resources from countries with corrupt governments, I have essentially been buying stolen goods (because those resources are actually the property of the populace, rather than the state). But Newman’s example reminds me that government claims of ownership over dormant mineral resources are, from a libertarian point of view, very weak. In fact, businesses that extract and distribute those resources establish a much more robust claim of ownership, by dint of their efforts and investments. That certainly goes a long way toward alleviating my anxiety.

Advice For Pot Smokers

Dave Killion — October 21, 2012

If you use marijuana, here is one of seven tips offered at Salon for avoiding arrest –

Step #5: Don’t Smoke in Your Car

Your car is the number-one place you will most likely have an encounter with law enforcement. Looking for people with marijuana in their cars keeps some police departments in business. So smoking in your car, whether it is moving or not, is never a good idea.

At some point, however, you do have to move yourself with some marijuana from point A to point B in a rapid fashion. So if you have to have marijuana in your car, you should keep it in the trunk or locked up in the back somehow. Your center console, your glove compartment, and for pete’s sake, the dashboard, are not storage places for your stash.”

Find the rest here, and avoid falling victim to the state.