Archive for March, 2013

Blood Money

Dave Killion — March 31, 2013

If the federal government approves a licence application to open three clinics, willing Canadians may soon be able to make up to $40 a week by selling plasma to Canadian Plasma Resources. Self-interested parties eager to keep market competition out of health care are not supportive

“The chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare said she was shocked by the news that a company in Ontario was planning to pay for plasma.

“The critical issue here is opening up our blood services sector to for-profit companies who have an interest in providing a profit to their shareholders that at times could conflict with the imperative to maintain high quality health standards for Canadians,” Dr. Danielle Martin said in an interview Wednesday at Women’s College Hospital, where she is a family physician.”

Given that about 20,000 Canadians who received tainted blood products from U.S. sources contracted HIV and Hepatitis C, and that those U.S. sources paid for donations, one might think Dr. Martin has a point. One would be mistaken. Although the Canadian system was extensively revamped after the Krever Commission, market forces had already put key players (such as Health Management Associates) out of business. Furthermore, Canada has continued to use products from for-profit companies, to no ill effect –

“…officials distinguish between two uses of plasma. Plasma used for transfusions is always donated as part of an extensive screening and testing system.

Plasma can also processed and purified into therapeutic products using technology that inactivates viruses. For this stream, Canada uses products made from U.S. paid donor plasma.”

In a world where a free market in organ donations is desperately needed, it is depressing that there is even a debate concerning for-profit blood donation. It is doubly depressing that so much of the opposition comes from the medical community, which is bound, by oath, to do no harm. Cross your fingers, and hope the feds do the right thing here.

Face Palm

Dave Killion — March 30, 2013

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It’s one thing to be uninformed, but it’s entirely another to repeatedly avert one’s eyes from the evidence. Whether it’s school choice, private health care, gun rights, drug decriminalization, or any one of dozens of other topics, every libertarian has endured moments like this… moments when confronted with the determinedly close-minded. A great deal of what I read ends with me promising myself to buy more ammo, but these interactions with the invincibly ignorant usually prompt me to prioritize growing and strengthening my relationships with other libertarians. There are certain people, and lots of them, who will never accept that their appetite for dominion over others is immoral and unacceptable. The stronger the ties are amongst the libertarian nation, the less the opposition matters.

Utah Man, 22, Regulated To Death

Dave Killion — March 27, 2013

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“SALT LAKE CITY — A 22-year-old man was killed trying to swing through the opening of a 33-meter-tall sandstone arch in a stunt made so popular on YouTube that state authorities recently banned the daredevil activity by commercial outfitters.” (Emphasis mine, link)

Of course, nobody made this young man jump, but if the state hadn’t made it criminal for him to engage a commercial outfitter, what do you think the chances are that the world would have one less grieving mother?

 

 

Libertarian Fashion Apparel

Dave Killion — March 26, 2013

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In Eugène Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading The People’, Liberty is depicted wearing a Phrygian cap. From Wikipedia –

“The Phrygian cap is a soft conical cap with the top pulled forward, associated in antiquity with the inhabitants of Phrygia, a region of central Anatolia. In the western provinces of the Roman Empire it came to signify freedom and the pursuit of liberty, perhaps through a confusion with the pileus, the felt cap of manumitted (emancipated) slaves of ancient Rome. Accordingly, the Phrygian cap is sometimes called a liberty cap; in artistic representations it signifies freedom and the pursuit of liberty.” 

Reviving the Phrygian cap as a fashion statement may prove a challenge, given its modern depiction as Smurf apparel, however, the truly determined can find patterns here, or buy one ready-made here and here. In any case, should you acquire a liberty cap only to find it doesn’t suit you, simply mount it atop a flagstaff to create a liberty pole. Either way, you have a guaranteed conversation piece, and yet another means by which to spread the libertarian philosophy.

The State Testifies Against Itself

Dave Killion — March 25, 2013

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This photo comes from an article concerning a seizure of ivory from some poachers in Kenya. I imagine that the authorities like to promote pictures like this because they think it demonstrates that the government is effective in catching and punishing poachers. But it doesn’t. I have seen variations on this photo for decades. Piles of horns, piles of tusks, piles of hides. So many, in fact, that I am always surprised when I see another. It is as if traditional conservationists and their government enablers don’t see that these images no longer suggest the state is winning its battle against poaching and smuggling, but rather, have become evidence of the continued failure and devastating consequences of command-and-control wildlife management. The time is long past to place these vulnerable creatures into the hands of entrepreneurs, under whose care they will flourish, as do dogs, cats, horses, and all other animals in which private property can be held.

Protecting The Agonized From Addiction

Dave Killion — March 24, 2013

Many Americans must endure extreme, chronic pain because of their physicians’ caution in prescribing pain-killers (particularly opiates). In some cases, they are driven to violate legislation (‘break the law’) in order to obtain relief, sometimes suffering devastating consequences. It is difficult to blame the physicians, though, threatened as they are by the state. Well, as health care in the U.S. becomes increasingly state-controlled, Americans can look forward to worse –

“In the 23 years since he tried to break up a robbery in central London, Ian Semmons hasn’t spent a day without severe pain”… “Despite a similar standard of living, on a per-person basis, patients in the UK receive less than half the pain medication as their U.S. counterparts, according to the Drug Control and Access to Medicines Consortium, a UK academic research group that studies issues related to medicine and drugs.

And while the approach may anger patients like Semmons, British physicians say it’s helped their country avoid the wave of misuse and overdoses that plagues the United States.”

Perhaps, and perhaps not. But if so, do the benefits outweigh the costs? Can they be achieved without the costs? And as for these British physicians, are they the right people to make such a determination? I think not –

“(Dr. Anthony) Ordman says, “The physician (in the UK) has a salary … that takes away certain influences that the patient may have on the physician’s thinking. I don’t necessarily have to be liked by my patients.”

That is to say, when British physicians consider what the optimal policy is for painkiller prescription, their self-interest extends to protecting themselves from legal action and satisfying their paymaster, the state. Indifference to the patient has no consequences. So how strict will nanny be, once she crosses the Pacific? Well, you might wish to stock up on Tylenol –

“While you can walk into virtually any U.S. drugstore and pick up a bottle of ibuprofen or acetaminophen with 400 or 500 tablets, the largest size on UK shelves contains just 16 pills. If you consult a pharmacist and he or she approves, you can purchase 32 pills.

“We have to protect the patient,” says Howard Silver, a pharmacist at Gateway Chemist in London, who notes that even a moderate overdose of Tylenol can cause liver damage and even death. Shown a typical 400-count bottle of acetaminophen from a U.S. drugstore, Silver shook his head with dismay.

“I’m astonished,” he says. “That’s a bottle of death.”

Faced with such hysteria, I think I would be wise to familiarize myself with some extra-legal means of obtaining drugs I might someday want, but will not be able to get otherwise.

Amalgamation Boosters Blind To Benefits

Dave Killion — March 20, 2013

Those folks who promote amalgamating the thirteen municipalities that comprise Greater Victoria have still not forsworn their foolish ways, despite my efforts to show them their errors. Like most, they base their opinions only on what they see (the costs of decentralized governance), while neglecting to consider those effects that they do not see

“…  about two years after the West Shore community of 16,000 launched Solar Colwood — a $12-million plan to equip 1,000 homes with solar-powered heat and hot water — the program seems to be languishing due to a lack of interest.

The hope was to install 1,000 solar units — hot water heaters and ductless split heat-pumps — over three years. But by the end of 2012, only 34 solar hot water heaters and 75 ductless heat pumps had been installed.” “… total out-of-pocket municipal expenses to date, including in-kind costs, are about $42,000.”

What is it that the pro-amalgamaters do not see? They do not see how much money would have been spent on this unwanted and expensive program, had it been implemented region-wide. As it now stands, the City of Colwood gets to serve as a bad example for the other twelve municipalities, and fewer tax dollars will be expended on something in which taxpayers have no interest. The pro-amalgamaters literally don’t know how lucky they are. Hopefully, they will continue to be unsuccessful in their attempts to cause the rest of us to suffer for their ignorance.

Author Proposes Island Of Liberty

Dave Killion — March 19, 2013

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As libertarians continue to battle statism in what has become a new Cold War, another proposal for a libertarian, free-market enclave has been forwarded.  A new novel suggests a charter city, but with a twist; build it smack-dab in America’s heartland

“…  despite all the efforts of many good people, (Detroit) has lost most of its population and is now the poorest, most dangerous, most run down city in America.

Detroit needs a game changer.  The 982 acre island of Belle Isle can be that game changer for Detroit.  The book Belle Isle is about that vision.

The setting is Belle Isle, 30 years in the future.  Twenty nine years prior (2014), Belle Isle was sold by the city of Detroit for $1 billion dollars to a group of investors who believed in individual freedom, liberty and free markets.
They formed their own city-state, with innovative systems of government, taxation, labor and money.  People soon came from all over the world to be part of this culture of unlimited opportunity.  Belle Isle became the “Midwest Tiger,” rivaling Singapore as an economic miracle.  Although numbering only 35,000 citizens, it generated billions of dollars in desperately needed economic growth and became a social laboratory for the western world.”

As of this writing, “Belle Isle has an average customer review of 3.5/5 at Amazon.com, with only two negative reviews. Both negative reviews come from people who have not read the book, but rather simply don’t like the idea. Well, Detroit is facing some big problems, and there are a lot of other U.S. cities lining up to follow them down the same path. Under the circumstances, it’s probably wise to consider trying out even those ideas you might not like.

A Tingling Sensation

Dave Killion — March 18, 2013

Up yours, Bloomberg!

Up yours, Bloomberg!

At times, even the most optimistic libertarian can temporarily succumb to hopelessness, brought on by fending off a seemingly endless torrent of tyranny and stupidity. I confess, there were moments when I was so depressed about the future that I would have happily voted for any candidate who promised nothing more than a quick and merciful death for my children. Happily, libertarians are better able to quash such sentiments thanks to our understanding of the difference between what is seen and what is not seen. Take, for example, Judge Milton Tingling’s rejection of New York Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed large-sized soda ban. What is seen? That New Yorkers may continue to decide for themselves whether or not to purchase sugary drinks by the litre. What is not seen? The snuffing of many regulations certain to have followed

“Public health activists were already pursuing plans to use the ban as an entering wedge to get laws passed in other cities and states restricting food and beverage choices. “I think you’re not going to see a lot of push back here,” predicted Bloomberg himself.”

So, this is a bigger victory for freedom than it appears, even for Canadians. In Victoria, in Vancouver, in Charlottetown… in every major city in Canada, there are paternalists disguised as public health specialists, and each of them is eager to conflate medical judgements (tanning beds might raise your risk of cancer) with moral judgements (you should not use tanning beds). For the sake of their jobs and their egos, they look to deny their friends, neighbours, and family members the freedom to decide to trade some health and longevity for other things they might prefer, such as pleasure or convenience. Judge Tingling’s finding will almost certainly chill the enthusiasm of some of these nannies, and bolster the fighting resolve of their opponents. That’s a big win.

A Libertarian Celebrity Joins The Victoria LBC

Dave Killion — March 17, 2013

powellThe Victoria Libertarian Book Club has been boosted by the membership of Cato Institute Senior Fellow Jim Powell. Jim specializes in the history of liberty, and his most recent book is “The Fight for Liberty: Critical Lessons From Liberty’s Greatest Champions Of The Last 2,000 Years“. I have, of course, purchased the Kindle version, and placed near the top of my queue.

Jim used to keep a website called Liberty Story, and a large part of it is archived here. The site has about 20 brief articles concerning people and events critical to the advance of freedom, as well as a few other items. You will see that Jim’s is a very accessible writing style, and the history is both illuminating and motivating. Additionally, from March 8, there is this – “Remembering Harriet Tubman on the Centennial of Her Death” –

“Few freedom fighters were more tenacious than petite Harriet Tubman, the African-American slave-turned-abolitionist who died March 10, 1913 when she was about 92. She escaped to freedom, then was reported to have gone back into the Confederacy 19 times, risking capture as she “conducted” some 300 slaves to freedom. Although she was illiterate, she came to know the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region so well that she could take confusing, zig-zag routes, making it hard for pursuers to figure out where they might be able to intercept her. She was tough, too, enduring brutal conditions and always packing a pistol.”

Jim and I have exchanged a few emails, and he seems to be a gracious and intelligent person. He has been fighting for the cause a long time, and I am flattered that he would bother to join such a humble group so far from his home. I hope that he might one day make his way up here, and see our own little contribution to the history of liberty.