This article is not too recent, but it’s a particularly good reminder of how undependable mass media can be –
“Canada’s blood supply is at its lowest level in five years, according to Canadian Blood Services. The reason is simple: Canadians just aren’t rolling up their sleeves to give. It’s a troubling issue, especially going into a long weekend, when demand typically spikes…
…On some level, we all know there’s a need for more. Ask yourself: When was the last time you gave blood? Maybe back in high school? Maybe never?”
Or, better yet, ask yourself: In an article concerned about the need for blood, why is there nothing about the need for blood? That is, why are they talking about supply, but not demand? Well, maybe because then the story wouldn’t be quite so alarming –
“A recent article in The New York Times has revealed transfusions in the US are down almost one-third. One reason cited for declining demand is that recent studies have found many transfusions unnecessary, so patients are no longer getting expensive services that did them no good.”
Indeed, not only are many transfusions unnecessary, some can be fatal! Happily, technological improvements and advances in technique (spurred, in part, by the refusal by Jehovah’s Witnesses to accept transfusions), mean that there’s a lot less need for blood than there used to be. That being the case, it might be interesting to know what the gap between supply and demand is, relative to five years ago. But since that particular stat might not be so menacing, we only get part of the story.
“Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes is an environmental economist with a focus on the role of markets for biodiversity conservation. He has been active in various private conservation initiatives for 25 years, starting as a financial manager of a private game reserve in South Africa and later conducting research on the role of private markets for wildlife conservation in Africa.”
My first encounter with the work of Mr. ‘t Sas-Rolfes was his website Rhino Economics. He is a great addition to the PERC team, and I am happy to help them out.
Some time ago, Victoria Libertarian Book Club members were discussing the possibilities of a libertarian society. I declared that involuntary poverty would quickly become a thing of the past. This was met with some robust resistance, the argument being that certain handicaps and injuries would render some people unable to care for themselves, through no fault of their own. At the time, this struck me as sound, and I walked my declaration back. I have since reconsidered.
Take, for example, children. Those in poor families are considered impoverished, but those in wealthy families are not. Yet the ‘wealthy’ children do not necessarily have more any property than do the ‘poor’ children. Rather, the status of children is determined by the amount of wealth possessed by their caregivers. This is, I think, the correct way to view the disabled, too. Given that a libertarian society would be a much wealthier society, I am confident that the resources voluntarily made available for the care of the incapacitated would be sufficiently abundant that none of them could rightly be considered impoverished. That being the case, I say again; a libertarian society would be one in which involuntary poverty is non-existent.
One of the local radio stations has been broadcasting advertisements for a group called Canada’s Temperance Foundation (CTF). Although the tone of the ads was very moderate, they set my libertarian alarm bells ringing. Surely, this was a group of religiously motivated neo-Prohibitionists and Drug War advocates. Imagine my surprise when I visited their website to find this –
“CTF is a contemporary temperance organization. We do not advocate or support the prohibition of alcohol. We are a secular organization in that we do not promote any specific religion.”… “Canada’s Temperance Foundation is unique in that it will be privately funded and will operate independently of government.”
Intrigued, I emailed some questions to CTF, and soon received a reply from Vice-President and Community Outreach Co-Ordinator Gray Garten. Enjoy –
1. Why has your group elected to pursue private funding and to operate independently of government?
It is our feeling that government is under the falsehood that they are creating revenue through the taxation of beverage alcohol. The fact of the matter is that if you factor in medical costs, legal enforcement costs, lost productivity costs the revenue raised by alcohol taxation is dwarfed exponentially. It appears they are unable to remove the blinders to the aforementioned facts. It lacks integrity to accept money from any entity whose policies are directly opposed to ours.
2. Why does your group decline to advocate or support prohibition? Will you go so far as to declare your opposition to current prohibition regulations?
A. History has taught us that prohibition does not work. There are roughly 950 organized criminal groups active in Canada and 80% of those derive their revenue from illegal drug sales. Prohibition will only create another product for the black market.
B. At this time CTF is not going to lobby for or against any regulations. It is our mission to educate and that is where our focus is and will remain at this time.
3. Why does your group note that yours is a secular organization?
We are a secular organization because we welcome everyone and exclude no one.
4. Are you familiar with any of the research in which participants indicate benefits from, or feel otherwise positively towards, intoxication from alcohol or drugs? If so, how do you reconcile that research with your group’s position that intoxication is irresponsible and unhealthy? If not, can you imagine any circumstances under which such intoxication could be healthy and responsible, or in which an adult may reasonably conclude that the trade-off between the costs and benefits justifies intoxication?
We are not opposed to the medicinal benefits of a very small amount of alcohol for cardiac benefit. (although new research is being conducted that may refute original findings) We are also not opposed to Marijuana use to counteract the nausea of chemotherapy. If you are a non drinker it is unlikely that any doctor would suggest you to begin drinking as it has be linked to a multitude of very serious medical conditions.
Although my views on the potential mental, spiritual, and physical benefits of intoxication differ from those of CTF, I must say that I admire their rejection of state support and intervention in favour of peaceful persuasion. They might be worth a cash donation, and they are certainly worth promoting.
Last week, students at Carleton University hosted the first campus free speech wall event in the Unicentre Galleria on campus, sponsored by JCCF. Within 24 hours of erecting their display, one student, a member of the Carleton Academic Student Government, vandalized the display and removed it from it’s location in the main atrium. The Carleton Students for Liberty, which hosted the wall event, was not long deterred and quickly rebuilt the Carleton free speech wall, prompting national attention and a campus-wide discussion about the importance of free speech at Canadian universities.”
Partly in response to this occurrence, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) is launching a crowdfunding campaign to create The Great Canadian Free Speech Wall –
“Today the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) launched a new campaign to defend campus free speech. The Great Canadian Free Speech Wall is a project that educates students about campus free speech at Canadian public universities by hosting “free speech wall” events at campuses from coast to coast. By erecting a free speech wall on campus, students can educate their friends and classmates about their rights, encouraging them to share their thoughts and ideas on the wall. Students can discuss the state of free speech on campus, highlighting cases of free speech infringement on their own campus and demanding that university and student union leadership reform their policies and practices to uphold campus free speech. Once free speech walls have been erected from coast to coast, we will bring the walls together in Ottawa to create the Great Canadian Free Speech Wall—a national testament to the importance of campus free speech.”
The state of free speech in Canada is atrocious, and university campuses (being chiefly ‘progressive’ institutions) are particularly malign. That being the case, I’m going to follow up on my New Year’s Resolution by sending $50 to this campaign. I hope you will consider doing likewise.
From left to right... Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, Peter Peterson, Leon Black, Jon Bon Jovi, Marc Benioff, David Rubenstein, Steve Case, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, Marc Andreessen.
Here are a dozen of the world’s most wealthy and influential philanthropists. When you consider that every dollar they got came from people who felt they were getting more value in exchange than they gave up, their collective net worth of $120 billion (+/-) is a testament to the contribution they have made to humanity. As if that weren’t enough (and in a decent, rational world, it would be), they have given or pledged tens of billions of dollars to charitable causes.
And yet, I suspect that there is a large class of people for whom this generosity makes no difference. In their eyes, the only money that ‘counts’ is the money that is taken from the wealthy against their will. Because for that certain class of people, it’s not enough that the poor should be elevated, but the rich must also be humbled. The rich must be hurt, so that they suffer. They must be punished for their lives of ease, comfort, and privilege. And worst of all, those who are driven by envy and prejudice to lobby for stripping so much wealth from the rich don’t even recognize their own motivations. They think they are kind and noble, and doing good work. And they will never, never, never stop.
This satirical and anti-liberal game debuted back in 1980, and has gained attention recently as an album of images showing the board, the rules, and some of the game pieces has made its way around the net (see album here). Despite being denounced as callous, sexist, and racist, Public Assistance enjoyed some measure of popularity, and an attempt to ban the game through the courts failed on constitutional grounds. You can find a defense of the game by one of its producers here. From the article –
“Our lampoon was based on street knowledge and common sense. My partner and I saw ourselves more as packaging experts than game inventors. We often told people, “We didn’t invent this game; government liberals did. We just put it in a box.”
I must confess, the album had me laughing from time to time, but the game appears to be more critical of the recipients of public welfare than most libertarians will find fair. After all, poor people respond to incentives just like everyone else, and their conduct is often a rational response to the circumstances they’re in. Our true condemnation is reserved for the coercive government policies that create those incentives. Once we get rid of social welfare, no one will ever have to worry about banning Public Assistance.
I have never been a cat person, mostly because all the dogs I have known could have weighed three hundred pounds and never been anything but the sweet-natured companions they were, while any cat that weighed three hundred pounds would certainly have tortured me to death just for sport. Well, it turns out that people who subsidize these little killing machines by providing food, shelter, and health care, all without confinement, are accountable for a great deal of butchery –
“That mouse carcass Kitty presents you with is just the tip of a very bloody iceberg. When researchers attached kittycams to house cats, they found a secret world of slaughter…
…The carnage cuts across species. Lizards, snakes and frogs made up 41% of the animals killed, Loyd and fellow researcher Sonia Hernandez found. Mammals such as chipmunks and voles were 25%, insects and worms 20% and birds 12%. “
The camera footage indicates that for every one animal a cat brings home, three to four are either eaten or left to rot. Equally disconcerting is the danger to which these beloved pets are exposed. They are equally menacing and menaced. The cats, of course, are hardly to blame for this. It is only their nature that drives their behaviour. But this is as true with human beings as it is with felines. Once you elect to subsidize someone’s education, employment, upkeep, or lifestyle, you must be very careful to consider the consequences of that subsidy. To do otherwise is to cultivate behaviour that is either harmful to the individual, harmful to society, or perhaps even both.
I continue to follow Jody Paterson’s blog, which mostly concerns her new life working with an NGO in Honduras. She recently posted about Angelitos Felices, a foster home where, in addition to the regular volunteer work she does, she does EXTRA volunteer work –
“At first glance, the place is awful. It’s dark and strangely damp, a big empty space stuffed with children and smelling like a mix of musty clothes, garbage and a whiff of excrement. I’ve started dabbing patchouli oil under my nose to help me hang in through a couple hours of being inside the place. The room where the kids sleep would be ridiculously overcrowded even if the bunks were all functional and there were enough mattresses for every bed. But that’s not the case, and I have to presume a lot of them sleep on the floor in the dank and empty space on the second floor adjacent to the bedroom.”
I am full of admiration for the way Paterson puts her money where her mouth is, but I give her a hard time on this blog because I think she typifies a peculiar and all-too-common type of blindness particular to supporters of government aid and the welfare state. In this instance, Angelitos Felices sounds like the kind of place that many folks would like to support, but the amount of money people are willing to voluntarily donate to charity is strictly curtailed by the amount of money they are compelled to donate to charity. So instead of giving voluntarily to provide food, shelter, and medicine to Honduran orphans, we are forced to give involuntarily to provide clean needles to Canadian IV drug addicts, and to subsidize food and shelter to people whose behaviour has exhausted the charitable goodwill of their own friends and family. And this is due in great part to people who, like Paterson, have pressed the government to do more and more and more. They may think that they are doing good deeds, but really, all they are doing is making it harder for us to support the truly needy.
Further to yesterday’s post, let’s consider Jody Paterson’s evaluation of private charity and mutual aid in Honduras –
“The theory behind a Big Society – popular with the B.C. and Canadian governments as well – is that when governments withdraw social supports, communities step up to close the gap. Volunteerism increases. Citizens draw closer to their neighbours as each takes more responsibility for helping the other. Everybody lives happily ever after, and pays fewer taxes to boot.
So let’s consider the example of Honduras, then. It’s a Big Society if ever there was one, seeing as government does almost nothing and communities really are on their own. An outsider might presume a deeply ingrained culture of neighbourly support in a country like this.
But what the absence of social supports has actually created is a culture of survival. People are so used to living with the fear that the bottom could drop out of their lives at any moment – because it so often does – that all their energies go to taking care of their own. From what I’ve seen, Honduran families watch out for their family members in all kinds of ways, but anything outside of the family is somebody else’s problem.”
Because Jody thinks Honduras has a free market, she thinks that what she sees is the Big Society you get with a free market. But being wrong about the former means she is wrong about the latter. A Big Society isn’t simply one in which the needs of the less-well-off are attended to privately, it is one in which the actions of free people also serve to increase wealth and ceaselessly reduce the number of people who are impoverished. The Big Society you get with a free market is one in which the vast majority are well off, and have sufficient resources to aid those who are genuinely in need. And since it is a manifestation of voluntary co-operation between consenting people, it is most certainly morally superior to steal-from-the-rich redistributionism.