Archive for April, 2013

Bad Advice Can Come From Trusted Sources

Dave Killion — April 16, 2013

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For those who don’t know him, this is Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist. Dr. Tyson spends a lot of time presenting science-related material to laypersons; think Bill Nye the Science Guy, but more serious. As a result of his success and popularity in that pursuit, Dr. Tyson is often treated as an authority on non-science matters, such as government. The result, well, you see above; inane rhetoric treated as serious and profound. Obviously, no one studies science or engineering because they want to run for office, and when voters are evaluating a candidate’s background, I doubt they consider degrees in mathematics or technology to be assets. And from the nonsense I’ve heard from the mouths of scientists who comment on public policy, the less of their statist foolishness, the better.

That said, although those from STEM fields might not make good contenders for congress or parliament, I don’t doubt the political field could be much improved by some diversity. Replace some of those lawyers with historians or economists, and we might be all the better for it. Until then, though, I suggest one consider political advice given by celebrities carefully before embracing it, even when that celebrity is a scientist.

Canadian Perception Of Americans Somewhat Flawed

Dave Killion — April 15, 2013

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The Canadian identity, depending so much as it does on being ‘not-American’, means that any American living in Canada (as I do) will be repeatedly subject to stories intended to demonstrate the overall inferiority of the U.S. and Americans to Canada and Canadians. Having lived about 25 years each in both Canada and the U.S., I can assure anyone who believes otherwise that the difference between the groups is much less than that within the groups. But when people want to believe something, we often will too readily accept whatever feeds our biases.

A good example are anecdotes concerning the practice of some Americans traveling abroad of sewing a Canadian flag to their backpacks, in an effort to elicit better treatment. Canadians like this story, because Canadians like being preferred over Americans. But on another level, it conveys something lovely about America, and that is that although some Americans may feel they need to disguise their identities to evade prejudice in other countries, one never hears of foreigners needing to travel under false flags while in the U.S. If there is such a thing as national character, Americans can certainly claim open-heartedness and tolerance as part of theirs.

Good Intentions Gone Awry

Dave Killion — April 14, 2013

On the 104th day after the winter solstice (April 3,4,5), there is a traditional Chinese holiday; the Qingming Festival. In it’s origins we find a warning against self-sacrifice on behalf of the politically ambitious –

“The festival originated from Hanshi Day (, literally, Day with cold food only), a memorial day for Jie Zitui (). Jie Zitui died in 636 BC in the Spring and Autumn Period. He was one of many followers of Duke Wen of Jin(晉文公) before he became a duke. Once, during Wen’s 19 years of exile, they had no food and Jie prepared some meat soup for Wen. Wen enjoyed it a lot and wondered where Jie had obtained the soup. It turned out Jie had cut a piece of meat from his own thigh to make the soup. Wen was so moved he promised to reward him one day. However, Jie was not the type of person who sought rewards. Instead, he just wanted to help Wen to return to Jin to become king. Once Wen became duke, Jie resigned and stayed away from him. Duke Wen rewarded the people who helped him in the decades, but for some reason he forgot to reward Jie, who by then had moved into the forest with his mother. Duke Wen went to the forest, but could not find Jie. Heeding suggestions from his officials, Duke Wen ordered men to set the forest on fire to force out Jie. However, Jie died in the fire. Feeling remorseful, Duke Wen ordered three days without fire to honour Jie’s memory. The city where Jie died is still calledJiexiu (介休, literally “the place Jie rests forever”).”

Oops! Didn’t mean to kill you in my determination to demonstrate my gratitude to you… my bad.

 

The preceding quote came from Wikipedia, a source to which I turn constantly in my effort to spread . It is a bottomless trove (try starting with libertarian, or liberty), and worthy of support. In keeping with my New Year’s resolutions, I am sending them $50 this month.

 

Surprise! No One Wants A Sewer Plant Built Next Door.

Dave Killion — April 13, 2013

One often hears city planning defended as the means by which citizens are protected from having a slaughterhouse built next door to them. In fact, it is quite the opposite

“The CRD announced last week it had purchased a $17-million industrial property on Viewfield Road, just metres from the Ashes’ home, as a possible site for a sewage processing facility”… “CRD spokesman Andy Orr sympathized with the couple, but said government land deals tend to be done in secret to avoid price speculation”… “While truck traffic is already heavy in the area, (there are) worries about the likelihood of falling property values.”

In situations like this, residents who oppose attempts to force certain projects into their neighbourhoods are frequently derided as NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard), and criticized for defending their narrow self-interests against the greater good. But consider how different matters would be if this conflict was to be resolved by actors regulated by market forces, rather than a coercive state.

In the latter case, local residents bear a disproportionate burden from the noise, smell, traffic, unsightly buildings, and reduced property values, while the benefits are widely dispersed to others far removed from the project. It is perfectly rational for them to resist. But if those same residents had control over the land use for their immediate area, they would be in a position to receive direct compensation from the operators of the proposed facility. In a case like that, rather than facing local opposition at every possible location, it is likely several communities would actively encourage service providers to consider their neighbourhood. Get the state out of land-use regulation, and you will replace conflict with cooperation.

Canada Defends American Consumers

Dave Killion — April 10, 2013

Here’s a letter to the Calgary Herald –

Your article concerning the determination of Canadian cattle and hog producers to fight against new U.S. regulations for labelling meat (March 12) fails to note that this is a battle not only on behalf of Canadians, but also for American consumers and American workers whose occupations benefit from lower-priced Canadian meat products. Indeed, aside from a few U.S. politicians and the special interests that support them, it is a battle on behalf of all Americans.

It’s true that some of the least competitive U.S. cattle and hog producers will lose business, and some may even have to close down and lay off their employees. But in Canada, every resource that goes into producing meat is a resource that can’t be used to grow cotton or oranges, build wooden boats or furniture, or cater to Canadian tourists traveling abroad. Likely, Canada will turn to the U.S. for help in acquiring these goods and services, and the market will quickly find mutually profitable use for all the resources recently freed from U.S. meat production. Consumers on both sides of the border will benefit from less-expensive goods and services. This is the nature of trade; that the elimination of any barrier is not a zero-sum game, but rather, a win-win proposition.

Libertarianism – The Plumb Line Of Political Philosophy

Dave Killion — April 9, 2013

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At “The Bright Pink Libertarian”, Chris Murphy shares some of Stephan Kinsella’s opinion concerning ‘Left Libertarianism’

” They want libertarians to stop saying capitalism because they want us to adopt their substantive unlibertarian, Marxian agenda. Yet they pretend it’s just for strategical or lexical concerns–which it’s not. This is yet another reason I think we should dig our heels in and not give in: they will then count it as a substantive victory for unlibertarian, leftist ideas.”

At the risk of gilding the lily, let me add this: if you claim to be either a left libertarian or a right libertarian, and by that claim you mean that you support some level of coercive governance, then you are no libertarian at all. Progressives can lean libertarian. Conservatives can lean libertarian. But libertarians do not lean. We are upright.

Central Planning

Dave Killion — April 8, 2013

 

Mistakes happen to us all, so no sense in making a big fuss when they happen. We should keep in mind, though, who pays for mistakes like this (taxpayers) and who doesn’t (those responsible for the error).

The First Canadian Property Rights Index

Dave Killion — April 7, 2013

The Frontier Centre For Public Policy has produced The First Canadian Property Rights Index. From the Executive Summary

“Property rights are not absolute. In Canada, they are quite precarious and subject to government regulatory whim, especially since our constitution does not formally protect them as is done in other jurisdictions. However, the common law does provide compensation if land is taken”…. “Canadians ought to care about property rights, because they are connected to our economic well-being and our liberal democratic rights.”

Written by the indomitable Joseph Quesnel, the index considers eight indicators: registering and/or transferring property, expropriation, land-use planning and constructive takings doctrine, municipal power of entry, civil forfeiture, endangered species, successions, and heritage property.

Overall, the state of property rights in Canada is deplorable, with top-ranking Nova Scotia scoring an anemic 68.25%, and beleaguered Prince Edward Island rating a near-totalitarian 47%. This sorry state of affairs suggests Canadians, lacking security in their property, will be poorly motivated to pursue the bountiful opportunities our future promises. But not all is lost. Early investors determined to improve the economic environment in lower-rated areas stand to profit significantly if  they are successful in rolling back government regulation and entrenching property rights in their local constitutions. Look to motivated groups (such as participants in the Free Province Project) to dedicate a good portion of their efforts toward enhancing property rights in their regions.

 

Cyprus and Bitcoin

Antony — April 5, 2013

Some social commentary on Cyprus, European politics, banker bailouts, and Bitcoin… in song form:

Quotation Of The Day

Dave Killion — April 2, 2013

“Remember, your pets will be waiting for you in Valhalla to be the fierce protectors of you they always imagined themselves to be.”

Commentator Brett L, in the comments to this thread. It is common for the comments in the A.M. Links and P.M. Links at the Reason Blog to wander far and wide, and one of the other participants had mentioned her grief over the recent loss of her cat. To which commentator Sparky added –

“Or if they’re cats they’ll be waiting to engage you in glorious battle every day.”

 

This is how libertarians support each other. Is it not wonderful?