Author Archive

Where Do You Draw the Line?

BHolt — September 22, 2011

A funny thing happened today. Scanning my facebook feed, I found out that many of my Progressive friends think government power should be limited! Now this was shocking. Moreover, it wasn’t just a few of my friends who felt this way. No, Progressives everywhere were calling for a limit on state power! What was happening? Why didn’t anybody tell me it was backwards day? Usually libertarians are the ones saying government authority is harmful, while liberals call those libertarians heartless and crazy.

Actually, I’d like to apologize to my progressive friends for the sarcastic tone of the previous paragraph. I am so accustomed to debate and disagreement that I sometimes can’t help but crow when progressives recognize the danger of unchecked state power.

The story that brought about this situation was the execution by the State of Georgia of Troy Davis, who was convicted of murder. Davis always maintained that he was innocent, and his supporters argued that there were flaws in the testimony that led to his conviction. Many of my progressive friends, and liberals around the internet see this case, and the death penalty in general, as a violation of human rights.

This is not an article about the death penalty, though. Frankly, I don’t know if there is a consensus among libertarians on the death penalty, but I personally oppose it. I originally intended to use this article to prove that even the staunchest progressives understand fundamentally that the individual must, at least at times, be protected from the state. In fact, what I want to argue is that libertarians and liberals should recognize how much they have in common, particularly on social issues. Libertarians and liberals generally agree with each other on subjects such as drug criminalization, LGBT issues, and war. We should cooperate where we can, rather than tear each other down. Why are we spending our time arguing over the issues we can’t agree on, when we could be out there together, defending the ideas we share?

I think there is a tendency among those of us who are politically-inclined to take absolute positions, and I think it’s a harmful habit. Because we are convinced that we are right, we must show our opponents where they are wrong. Although arguing can be satisfying, it may ultimately be counterproductive if it prevents us from finding points of mutual concern, or ruins a friendship. I will keep this in mind the next time I’m sitting and stewing, trying to think of the cleverest and most vindictive retort to post on Facebook.

Old Friends

BHolt — September 6, 2011

A clever internet dweller compiled these pictures:

 

http://imgur.com/O9uiK

 

I suppose this is what people are talking about when they say our political leaders are better informed than the average citizen, and better at making decisions on our behalf. Our leaders’ judgement is clear and consistant, and they are the only defenders of the common good.

/sarcasm

It’s depressing that within one news cycle (if not already,) many will forget that all of these world leaders cozied up to a blood-tainted tyrant until the very last moment it was politically expedient. Look at the smiling faces in these pictures. Why should we use our own judgement, when these superior beings are there to defend us, to know what we ourselves don’t know is good for us.

Equality At Any Cost

BHolt — September 1, 2010

The People’s Commissariat for Post and Telegraph CRTC is at it again. According to an article in the Globe and Mail, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) has taken it upon itself to make sure that No Rural Canadian is Left Behind in terms of internet access. Under the plan, $442 million will be given to telecoms to connect remote communities to the internet. The CRTC has decided that high speed internet is a basic right, and therefore must be offered to every Canadian.

The best part?

“The money came from the CRTC’s deferral account, which collected about $1.6-billion in excess revenue from high prices mandated to subsidize competition.”

In other words, Canadians have been overcharged for internet service, and the CRTC is hoarding the booty. No wonder I don’t have the money to pay the HST on leftover Olympics merchandise!

There’s more, though. Not only has the CRTC snuck in what can only be called an internet tax, they have dictated that the telcoms must proved wired internet access to remote communities. When Bell proposed building a wireless network, the regulator said “the service’s download capacity, speed and price were not equal to those Bell provides in urban areas, and were thus unacceptable.”

By this logic, BC ferries is discriminatory because they use smaller, slower ferries between Nanaimo and Gabriola Island than they do on the busy Victoria-Vancouver route, and they run fewer sailings. BC Ferries should add a surcharge on the busy route to pay for mega-ships for the rest of their destinations. Maybe the CRTC should station some it’s officers in Prince George, just to be fair.

It is worth noting that the rest of the money collected by the CRTC will be returned to consumers. Nonetheless, this decision by the Commission is an excellent illustration of what ails the Canadian telecommunications industry. The government body that regulates telecoms is funneling $442 million to existing companies, and telling them to build an outdated network. If a new company wanted to offer an innovative service to remote communities (i.e. wireless), they would be up against a behemoth like Bell, endowed with half a billion dollars worth of free money. And they say their goal is to create competition and innovation? Oh yeah, these are the same guys that are fighting tooth and nail to prevent foreign companies from offering cell phone service to Canadians.

The CRTC is probably not the worst branch of the Canadian Government, it just tends to demonstrate its incompetence and naiveté in a more outrageous way than its peers. Put differently, the CRTC is not the only group in government that believes it can create magical equality among all Canadians, it’s just better at making it obvious how stupid an idea that is.