Archive for February, 2013

Punching Above Your Weight

Dave Killion — February 13, 2013

UPe3ZFA

At his school’s presidential debate, a young man represents the libertarian platform. Democrats to his left, Republicans to his right.

Tyranny And Emergencies

Dave Killion — February 12, 2013

I’ve written before about the astonishing powers the British Columbia government allots itself during ’emergencies’, but neglected to point out how common such legislation is. In fact, you can be assured that there is at least one level of government, either local, state/provincial, or federal, that maintains that under certain situations it is authorized to do, quite literally, anything to anyone. The latest storm to strike New England and the Maritimes provides a chilling example

” (Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick) signed an executive order banning traffic on the state’s roads as of 4 p.m. on Friday (February 8). The ban includes all roads, with exceptions for public safety officials, hospitals, utilities and others.

Kurt N. Schwartz, undersecretary for emergency management, said the law allows for penalties for motorists who violate the 4 p.m. ban on traffic, including a $500 fine and up to one year in jail.”

A spokesperson assured the public that enforcement would be flexible, reasonable, and would permit travel for ‘necessary functions’ when it is ‘safe to do so.’ There was no guidance on how that determination would be made.

The number of deaths attributed to the storm stands at nine, and I don’t know that any of those deaths are a result of the travel ban. However, I think it’s safe to conclude that many people went cold, hungry, and in need of aid or comfort because they were too frightened by what the government would do to them to dare exercise their right to travel. Happily, no other governors or premiers felt the need to flex executive muscle, but they most certainly could have. And when an emergency strikes your area, they just might.

Charitable Act Allegedly Glorifies Drug Use

Dave Killion — February 11, 2013

In Wyandotte, Michigan, 15-year-old Kerrigan Brandon lies brain dead from an overdose of xanax, methadone, and cold tablets that she took a month ago. She is expected to die any day, and because her family may need some financial support, some of Kerrigan’s schoolmates are selling custom T-shirts and bracelets to raise funds. If you are a normal person, you will recognize this for the touching gesture that it is.But if you are a state functionary, you might see it as something potentially more sinister

“(Kerrigan’s friends) say school officials told them, they couldn’t sell them (at school) because the attention could glorify drug use.

We tried reaching out to the school principal, a truck was parked in his designated spot, and a school employee went to the office to let him know we wanted to talk-but we were told, he wasn’t available.”

Canadians could be forgiven for dismissing this story as more craziness from the next door neighbours, but I caution against doing so. Public schools in Canada rest on a foundation made of the same incentives as are those in the U.S., so events will differ from each other only in time and degree. If it happens down there, it can happen up here. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Breaking News: Tariffs Make Things More Expensive

Dave Killion — February 10, 2013

The Canadian Senate spent over a year hearing from 53 ‘experts’ (special interests?) before producing a report on price differences between the U.S. and Canada. The results fail to impress

“Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers Association of Canada, roasted the report.

“Consumers are generally disappointed with the report,” said Cran, who’s based in B.C. “There’s no real remedies and there’s no new knowledge there.”

Hey Senators! Here’s a remedy for you: except for enforcing prohibitions against the use of force and fraud, the government should remove itself from every aspect of trade.

As to the report containing no new knowledge, I defer to Mr. Cran’s superior awareness. However, I have to confess that there was an item of which I have been unaware. You see, I have always thought tariffs were in place to protect domestic producers. But in some instances, that is no longer the case

“The senators noted hockey equipment as one area where it doesn’t make sense to have tariffs, including an 18 per cent mark-up on hockey pants imported from China. Americans face only a tariff of 2.9 per cent”….”Maybe we were trying to protect a Canadian manufacturer years ago, but they’re all coming from outside now” ….”The senators said they don’t believe any Canadian company still makes hockey pants.”

Well, isn’t that interesting. All this time, one of my arguments against tariffs has been that they may protect domestic industries, but they do so at the expense of domestic consumers. But now we have evidence that, at least in some cases, they do not even protect domestic industries. Which means they are simply another means of fleecing consumers. I guess I’ll have to add that little tidbit  to the intellectual pantry.

The good news is that a tariff review is under way, and it may turn out that consumers will be permitted to retain a little more of their hides. Won’t that be nice.

Symbols Of Anarchy

Dave Killion — February 9, 2013

anarchist_flags_and_stars.svgI recently stumbled over a blog post some of you might find interesting. Here’s a taste –

“Various schools within the anarchist movement have adopted their own flags, colours and neckerchiefs. These flags are bisected diagonally with the right half in black for anarchy and the left half in a color representing each school’s ideas. These color templates are also extended to five-pointed stars representing the same schools”….”The black-and-yellow or black-and-gold flag is used by anarcho-capitalists and other market anarchists. The yellow is intended to symbolise gold, a commodity of exchange often used in marketplaces unrestricted by state intervention. The flag was first used in public in Colorado in 1963 at an event organised by Robert LeFevre.”

Antony already presented some of this information back in July, but I think this is a nice supplement.

Submitted Without Comment

Dave Killion — February 7, 2013

HnOtBmx

Surprised By Mencken

Dave Killion — February 6, 2013

 

tumblr_m4gnkz4rc51qaouh8o1_400

The Victoria LBC is currently reading ‘A Mencken Chresomathy‘, a title we were very excited to select. Mencken is frequently quoted by libertarian scholars, particularly concerning his contempt for democracy, government, and politicians, and I had come to see him as dependably libertarian. Imagine my horror to read this –

“Few professional criminals are able to withstand a really brisk third degree. They may hold out long enough to be somewhat severely mauled, but by the time the ceiling begins to show bloodstains and their bones begin to crack they are eager to betray their friends and get to hospital. Many a time such a session in camera has yielded enough evidence to fill the death-house. Thus, while the third degree is clearly illegal, it is justified by the national pragmatism, for it undoubtedly works.”

This quote can be found about  1/5 the way into the book, and is so at odds with everything that comes before or goes after that I can scarcely believe it comes from the same man. I suppose I’m all the better for having seen it, though. The shock alone reminds me of the foolishness of hero-worship, against which I aim to be more vigilant.

 

Bring Income Tax Repeal To Canada

Dave Killion — February 5, 2013

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy brings to our attention a recent Wall Street Journal article concerning state income taxes in the U.S., and the governors who are looking to eliminate them

“Washington may be a tax reform wasteland, but out in the states the action is hot and heavy. Nine states—including such fast-growing places as Florida, Tennessee and Texas—currently have no income tax, and the race is on to see which will be the tenth, and perhaps the 11th and 12th.”….”Income taxes generally do more economic harm (than sales taxes) because they are a direct penalty on saving, investment and labor that create new wealth. Sales taxes, by contrast, hit consumption, which is the result of that wealth creation. Governors Jindal, McCrory and Heineman cite the growing evidence that states with low or no income taxes have done better economically in recent decades compared to states with income-tax rates of 10% or more.”

Replacing lost income tax revenue with sales tax revenue is frowned on in some circles as regressive, since families who don’t currently pay income taxes will become subject to sales taxes. There are ways to correct this, such as declining to tax certain items such as food and clothing, or issuing tax rebates. But the optimal solution? Cut spending. Government is too big, does too much, and does it all poorly. Roll it back, and enjoy your increased prosperity.

The benefits of eliminating the income tax are well-established. The only questions are these: why is there NO Canadian province or territory without an income tax, and why is there no one in Canada campaigning for repeal? I wish I knew. But if the Free Province Project gets some legs, don’t be surprised if this is one of the first issues they take on.

A ‘Free State Project” For Canada

Dave Killion — February 4, 2013

Free Province

The Free State Project (FSP) is an effort designed to recruit libertarians to move to New Hampshire. Participants agree to move to the state within five years after a total of 20,000 people have pledged to do so, with the intent of creating an environment in which libertarian practices can flourish. Membership has grown slowly, and at the current rate of growth will not meet its goal until 2020. However, New Hampshire already has over 1,000 Free Staters comprised of existing residents and ‘early movers’, enough of whom are sufficiently active and effective that State Representative Cynthia Chase (D) has already labeled them “…the single biggest threat the state is facing…” .  It’s a shame the immigration laws make it difficult for Canadians to participate, but those confined to the Great White North may have a made-in-Canada alternative.

Introducing, the Free Province Project. Currently nothing more than a Facebook community, the FPP seeks to cluster Canadian libertarians in Prince Edward Island. Although there is no pledge system yet in place, I note that PEI has 1/10 the population of New Hampshire, suggesting that a mere 2,000 pledges should be sufficient to trigger the migration. Furthermore, having another libertarian enclave geographically close to New Hampshire could improve the climate for a greater north-east secession movement!

Unfortunately, PEI is a somewhat more hostile environment than New Hampshire in terms of employment opportunities, existing liberties, tax rates, and more. Still, that shouldn’t stop someone from picking up the ball and advancing it down the field. Could this be a job for the Charlottetown Libertarian Book Club? Stay tuned!

 

The Appropriate Answer

Dave Killion — February 3, 2013

“There is no such thing as unregulated businesses. They are either regulated ineffectively by the state, or they are regulated effectively by the market.”

It is widely held that in the absence of state regulation, business could get away with endangering it’s customers and employees, selling shoddy goods, and destroying the environment. Market forces do not permit any of that to happen to any significant degree.