Archive for November, 2012

Give Government Agents The Silent Treatment

Dave Killion — November 28, 2012

I have blogged previously about the wisdom of not talking to the police, and I not only stand by that advice, I recommend increasing that practice to other agents of the state. Those being: school administrators, and Bylaw/Code Enforcement Officers.

In the case of school administrators, parents and students must keep in mind that the media frequently reports incidents in which students have been suspended or expelled for trivial violations of increasingly popular zero-tolerance policies. Worse still, students are sometimes even arrested over matters that were, in a more sensible time, resolved by parents and staff. The time has come for parents and students to recognize that interactions with public school administrators have potentially disastrous consequences. Students should be taught that any attempts by administrators to interrogate them should be met with no response other than, “I’m sorry, but I want to call my parents/guardian right now.”

In the case of Bylaw/Code officers, I bring to your attention this story, in which unfortunate victims of Hurricane Sandy voluntarily enter into contracts with skilled tradesmen able to help relieve some of their distress, only to have the labour of these tradesmen brought to a halt by officious government busybodies who lack the good sense to turn a blind eye to unlicensed operators even in such dire circumstances! Well, the sad truth is that while the ‘authority’ of such officers to enter your property without a warrant often exceeds that of the police, there is likely nothing to stop you from refusing to answer any of their questions and declining to produce any licenses. Should I find myself in just such a situation, I intend to politely, but firmly, advise the officer that I am not going to talk to him, and then say nothing more than, “Please get off my property.”

These might not be the right choices for you, and of course you should make a hobby of learning the laws by which the state constrains you before you take any of my advice. But all in all, I think it is never wise to pass up an opportunity to shut your mouth.


Public Versus Private Action

Dave Killion — November 27, 2012

I found a couple of stories recently in which private-sector actors undertook actions which libertarians would take exception to… but only if those actions had been undertaken by government –

“Dozens of strata members at Vancouver’s tallest all-residential tower hooted and hollered after a motion passed Tuesday outlawing smoking in any of the building’s 237 units.

Roughly 70 strata members of the 42-storey Melville building in the city’s tony Coal Harbour neighbourhood voted to fine residents caught smoking, while about nine opposed the bylaw.” Link

“… rather than taking yummy calorie-laden choices like cheese and chocolate away to help help employees watch their waistlines…  [Google] decided to “nudge” people to make better food choices.

In snack-filled micro-kitchens… Google now puts healthful options like apples and bananas front and center while relegating sugary and starchy foods to opaque containers in less accessible locales.” Link

So we have one case of apparent coercion, and one case of paternalism. Why would a libertarian defend that? Two reasons –

1. The ‘victims’ (tenants and employees) entered into their contracts voluntarily.

2. The ‘enactors’ (fellow-tenants and employers) must bear the cost of their actions. In the case of the condo owners, banning smoking may lower the value of their units by decreasing the number of purchasers interested in buying units that come up for sale. Or, the value of the units might rise because some people will be willing to pay a premium to live in a non-smoking building. In the case of Google, if they have chosen poorly, then they may lose employees or diminish employee productivity. If they have chosen well, productivity will rise, and more people will compete for Google jobs. In all cases, the enactors are incentivized to carefully consider new policy, and to monitor it to confirm it either (A) achieves its intended goals or (B) gets repealed.

Isn’t it amazing how genuine, voluntary cooperation makes all the difference in the world.



Governments Promote Private Sector Mischief

Dave Killion — November 26, 2012

Antony, the article you referenced in your post on Chinese “nail houses” claims that such homes are created either by government projects, or by private development. However, the fact is that each of these homes was almost certainly accessible by some public thoroughfare such as a road or sidewalk. It was the government that turned these public thoroughfares over to developers, knowing full well that the citizens who depend on them for access would be made vulnerable. There is no question that some private sector actors will misbehave, but when misbehaviour occurs on a large scale, or continues for any substantial length of time, you can be sure of government collusion.


Property Rights in China

Antony — November 22, 2012

There’s an interesting article in today’s National Post about so called “nail houses” in China. These are houses where the owners refuse to make way for developments, often holding out for more compensation. Even for government projects, individual landowners are refusing to budge, and the State seems unable to force them to leave. Does this mean that property rights are stronger in China than in the Western world, where the State routinely uses Eminent Domain to force individual landowners from their homes?

Nail House

Beverage Named After Human Rights Abuser

Dave Killion — November 21, 2012

What’s next? Nazi Cola? Khmer Rouge Beer?

Here’s A Clever Idea

Dave Killion — November 20, 2012


This is alleged to be the bottom of a pizza box in the southern U.S.

Tastes like genius.

Happy Laurier Day!

Antony — November 20, 2012

Today is officially Laurier Day, in honour of Canada’s seventh Prime Minister. It is an excellent opportunity to promote and celebrate of Canada’s libertarian heritage.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier was known for vision of Canada as a land individual liberty and decentralized federalism. Among his notable quotes are: “Canada is free and freedom is its nationality”, and “Nothing will prevent me from continuing my task of preserving at all cost our civil liberty”. He worked to secure autonomy for Canada within the British Empire based on “absolute liberty, political and commercial”.

In many ways Canada has a strong  libertarian heritage, but it has been largely neglected. So let’s take this opportunity to rekindle awareness of Canada’s culture of liberty, and work to move our country towards a land of freedom and prosperity that we can be proud of.

The Economist As Parent

Dave Killion — November 19, 2012

Being a political philosophy, libertarianism doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of guidance regarding parenting. However, libertarianism and economics often go hand-in-hand, and in that spirit economist-and-mother-of-five Gertrude Fremling offers you “An economist’s seven rules for raising kids.” Here’s a taste –

“Rule 1: Limit Their Options – We don’t offer a weekly allowance. If our kids want anything beyond basics, they have to earn the money. Make sure to set firm limits on TV watching and keep just one small-screen TV in the house (which discourages the adults from watching, too). And impose tight restrictions on silly video/computer games.”

“Rule 7: Justice: You Do Bad things, You Suffer in the Pocket Book  – Most families seem to practice “time-out” as punishment. But that requires considerable monitoring and fails to give restitution to the victim. And holding long moral lectures is boring, both for the parent and the child.

Imposing fines instead worked very well. Most cases were trivial and routine. Such a minor offense as saying “bad words” resulted in a quick judgement of a small fine to the household.”

I can only guess how well any of this works. For all we know, Fremling’s offspring are the worst-behaved beasts on the planet. But if my kids were still children, I’d sure like to give this system a try.

(Inter)national Ammo Day

Dave Killion — November 18, 2012

November 19 is National Ammo Day
It is a nationwide BUYcott of ammunition. You buy ammunition. 100 Rounds a person.”

“… The goal of National Ammo Day is to empty the ammunition from the shelves of your local gun store, sporting goods, or hardware store and put that ammunition in the hands of law-abiding citizens.”

As I wrote last November, we in Canada should also take part,and turn this into an international event! And if you can’t find time to pick up ammo on the 19th? Not to worry –

“National Ammo Day is on November 19 and that is the day when you mark your calendar. In the text above you may have noticed that we used the phrase “Ammo Day Week.” That is because it is sometimes impossible for someone to get to the store on that specific day to buy ammunition, so we broaden the time when someone may make a purchase, but still have it count towards an Ammo Day purchase.”

So if you are legally permitted to purchase ammo but can’t make the 19th this year, any day between the 18th and 24th ‘counts’. Net result; over 300 million rounds of ammo in the hands of law-abiding Canadians!

Random Thought

Dave Killion — November 17, 2012

I’ve met vegetarians who say that people who want to eat meat should kill and process the animal themselves. The idea is that we are so removed from the violence and ugliness of the process that most would simply give up meat. Those vegetarians should be prime candidates for conversion to libertarianism!

Say to them, “If you want Peter to pay for Paul’s health care/education/retirement, even if Peter doesn’t want to,then you should personally go Peter’s house and use whatever level of violence you think is necessary to force Peter to hand over the money.” Being so far removed from the savagery inherent in the welfare state, I imagine said vegetarians (indeed, all people) would, in the face of such a daunting prospect, quickly lay aside their appetites for other peoples’ possessions, and embrace more peaceful pursuits.