Archive for January, 2013

Random Thought

Dave Killion — January 19, 2013

Children who lose their parents are called ‘orphans’. Women who lose their husbands are ‘widows’, and husbands who lose their wives are ‘widowers’. But until recent times (and still, in some places) the loss of one’s child has been so commonplace that there is no special designation for the surviving parents. It is a testimony to the resilience and strength of the human spirit that countless millions have suffered such tremendous losses, yet managed to recover and go on to embrace life again.

A friend and supporter of the Victoria Libertarian Book Club (who shall remain nameless out of respect for his privacy) lost both his wife and his 17-year-old son to a fire in his home yesterday. Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to him in this dark time.

Reaction to Les Miserables

Antony — January 17, 2013

Following on from Dave’s post, I also recently watched the movie version of Les Miserables, and have a few comments. While I agree with Dave’s point that Jean Valjean should not be absolved from guilt for stealing the bread, the legal consequence he suffered were completely disproportionate, and would never occur in a libertarian society. In a libertarian restitution-based justice system, the primary goal of the law would be to seek appropriate compensation for the victim. For such a petty crime, it would not be worth the cost to invest huge resources needed to pursue Valjean over many years, since the damage done was so minimal. It is only by using the resources of the state that Javert’s costly manhunt can be maintained.

The fact that the state has taken over the codification and application of law in our society is what leads to the possibility for these excesses. The criminalization of “victimless crimes” is one example of this phenomenon; in a system of private law focused on restitution, it is unlikely that anyone would devote sufficient resources to banning or regulating acts that hurt no-one. For an excellent analysis of private versus state law, check out this recent talk by Stephan Kinsella.

The principle of restitution-based justice is demonstrated when Jean Valjean’s commits his second act of theft – stealing silver from the monastery. In this case the victim, the bishop, chooses not to seek restitution, in fact he does the opposite and actually gives more silver to Valjean. It is up to him whether to seek compensation, and in this case he exercises his prerogative to give Valjean a second chance, to seek his redemption, thereby setting the stage for the entire rest of the movie.

Stereotypes Aside, This Is Not The Way Libertarians Think

Dave Killion — January 16, 2013

Job Well Done! Now, Get Out.

Dave Killion — January 15, 2013

The six-year term of B.C. Auditor General John Doyle is coming to a close. By all accounts his work has been exemplary, yet  a provincial  legislative committee has voted against re-appointing him. This decision is decried by many members of the public and the media, and of course, the opposition. But as Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation points out, re-appointing Auditors General is a sure way to make them less effective

“No doubt, Doyle is a superb auditor general”….”But that doesn’t mean he should get another six years. In fact, no independent officer of the legislature should ever be reappointed.

Legislative officers must be, first and foremost, independent. Any re-appointment process undermines that independence.

When re-appointment is an option, nearing the end of their first six-year term some independent officers begin to wonder whether the government will reappoint them. They may ease up on the government to help their cause – human nature dictates the difficulty of biting the hand that feeds us. This undermines the office and puts taxpayers at risk. The last thing we want is an officer trying to get a government to renew his or her contract.”

Quite right. And now with the Liberals likely to lose control of the government to the NDP in the spring elections, it’s their job to appoint someone who is going to do to the NDP what Doyle did to them. Declining to re-appoint Doyle will make that a lot easier.

 

Feinstein’s Futile Effort

Dave Killion — January 14, 2013

In the wake of the Newton, Connecticut shooting, U.S. senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) intends to propose a bill further restricting the firearms ownership rights of U.S. citizens –

“The senator said she’ll introduce the bill when Congress reconvenes in January and the same legislation will also be proposed in the House of Representatives.

“We’re crafting this one. It’s being done with care. It’ll be ready on the first day,” she said, adding that she’ll soon announce the House authors.

“It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation, and the possession. Not retroactively, but prospectively. It will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets,” she said. “There will be a bill.” “

Happily, I expect efforts such as this to go nowhere. Gun control in the U.S. and Canada has been loosening steadily, and to no ill-effect. To even halt this advance would require more evidence than gun-control advocates can hope to muster. Furthermore, thanks to new media, citizens are much more able to fight back against dinosaurs like Feinstein. Witness one of the latest pro-gun rights sites on the net – senatorfeinstein.com. Feinstein may command great wealth and power, but any public figure so out of touch with the modern era that she neglects to protect herself from attacks like this is butting her head against a wall.

What Is Said Is More Important Than Who Says It

Dave Killion — January 13, 2013

This video is a re-edit of one in which celebrities promote an anti-firearms agenda. It has been re-cut with TV and movie scenes in which those selfsame celebrities portray characters engaged in the most horrific gun violence imaginable. The aim is to reveal these celebrities as hypocrites, and in that respect it is entirely successful. To which I say; So what?

To my mind, this video is yet another attempt to say an argument is wrong because of who made it. It attempts to create a sort of guilt-by-association. But being hypocritical is not the same thing as being wrong. There are plenty of people who have encouraged good behaviour, yet appear to act against their own exhortations. Consider your parents, for example. Now, I’m not one to say we have to forgo the evil pleasure of mocking celebrities when they behave foolishly, but let’s be aware of when we are doing so, and of what over-indulging in such behaviour can cost.

We’re Very Good-Looking, Too.

Dave Killion — January 12, 2013

Over at the Murph Report, some news about those people whose IQs comprise the top 0.01% –

“It has been found they are what has been deemed “Ultra-Free Marketeer Libertarians.” They are for privatizing everything pretty much outside of the Courts, Cops, and The Military a consistent Minarchism stance. In fact, some of them are not fans of taxation period either. While none of them are complete Anarchocapitalists they fit the Minarchist definition pretty accurately. Who would have thought I would be amongst the brightest in my outlook on the political/economical world. However, there is more to this story than just a homage to anti-statism it also includes a homage to skepticism and atheism.” 

Looking at the survey itself, I notice the intellectual elite are more statist than the average when it comes to subsidizing basic scientific research, medical research, federal spending on environmental protection, health care and drugs for the poor and elderly, and campaign financing. In addition, they endorse an increase in the use of the death penalty. The remaining responses are quite libertarian, and I can’t explain this inconsistency. It would seem that even the super-geniuses of this world have something to learn from libertarians.

Hat tip: SodaHead

Atlas Snubbed

Dave Killion — January 10, 2013

 

I am shocked that Part II of this epic tale failed to gain an Oscar nomination. I suspect a conspiracy  by pro-government movie reviewers.

Speak Of The Devil

Dave Killion — January 9, 2013

Having just yesterday admonished over-enthusiastic progressives against indulging their hatred of the right to the point of self-delusion, I was please to find this image all over the liberal blogosphere today –

This was allegedly left for restaurant waitstaff in lieu of a tip. In the hundreds of comments I’ve read, and in all the places I’ve seen this posted, there is a lot of outrage against ‘bitter one-percenters’ and ‘greedy Rethuglicans’, all  coupled with recommendations to sully the customer’s food with everything from various body fluids to deadly poison (should he ever return, that is). What I haven’t seen is an attribution, or a source, or any sort of indication that this is a true story. Worse yet, in all those comments, I have yet to find the slightest bit of skepticism. Heed me, progressives! Indulging your preference for stoking the narrative rather than recognizing the truth comes at great cost to your movement. Turn from the darkness!

Progressives Are Tilting At Windmills

Dave Killion — January 8, 2013

Recently, market research group Experian Simmons found that when Republicans watch TV, they prefer things like college football and The Antiques Road Show. The same research found that when Democrats watch TV, they prefer shows that mock Republicans. This is a demonstration of what I believe to be an unfortunate tendency of the left to exaggerate and distort the arguments of the right to to the point of absurdity. Unfortunate, because it causes much of the left to waste time and energy battling phantoms. Case in point

“… San Rafael resident Jonathan Frieman’s creative ticket appeal fell on unsympathetic ears Monday at Marin Traffic Court.

Frieman was contesting his $478 carpool lane violation on the grounds that while driving south through the two-passenger lane in Novato last October, a set of incorporating documents constituted a second person in the vehicle—if the U.S. Supreme Court grants corporations the same free speech rights as citizens, as it seemed to in the 2010 Citizens United ruling, argued Frieman, then he and his corporation papers count as two people in the carpool lane.”

Poor Mr. Frieman, like so many leftists, seems to have convinced himself that the U.S. Supreme Court has recently confirmed that ‘corporations are people‘. But this often-repeated fantasy has been clearly rebutted many times, by many libertarians (some examples). It appears Mr. Frieman has expended an awful lot of effort in attempt to mock a position no one is advocating.

So, progressives, a friendly observation: conservatives are probably not as ignorant, anti-science, racist, or greedy as it pleases you to imagine they are.  It’s true that they present a target-rich environment, but if you cannot bring yourselves to forgo the sweet satisfaction of indulging in stereotyping, you will not make the kind of progress you might otherwise.