After nearly three years and 700 posts (nearly a book’s worth!), I’ve decided to put blogging aside for other efforts. It has been a wonderful opportunity to express myself, and in the process, to improve my writing and the composition of my arguments. However, my audience has always been, and will likely remain, tiny. To the 50 or so people who make up our readership, thank you so much for visiting. I hope you enjoyed yourselves. I will continue to share my opinions, plus items of interest, on our Facebook page. I hope you will visit there, and perhaps join and contribute.
Update – June 11, 2013 If this is your first visit, by all means please find a few hours to read through the blog. I still monitor for comments, and some of the stuff is not half bad.
From your article of March 31 (Canadian warship seizes $100M of heroin in ‘massive’ high seas bust), it’s difficult to appreciate how much is involved in making such success stories possible. Consider all the Canadians sailors who have volunteered to serve on HMCS Toronto, and all the taxpayers working and sacrificing to fund the massive expense of such an endeavor. Add in the activists, bureaucrats, and politicians who have laboured long and hard to prosecute the War on Drugs. This sacrifice of manpower and wealth should not go unappreciated, and I thank all participants on behalf of those who will benefit the most, yet cannot speak for themselves – other drug dealers.
Having no recourse to all the legal mechanisms available to vendors and consumers of candy, tobacco, alcohol, and other such goods, drug dealers must rely on violence to police each other and to take market share. Surely, no one is happier than they that one of their competitors has been dealt a crippling blow at no expense to themselves. Because Canadians have done the dirty work, remaining dealers are saved the trouble, and, even better for them, can now increase the price of their products in response to the reduction in supply relative to demand. More money for less effort. Let us all bask in the warm glow of our accomplishment.
The 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.
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.
During the 2012 U.S. presidential election, voters were faced with a number of measures at the state level, and in some cases they voted in a way that met with the approval of most libertarians . In Colorado and Washington, marijuana is (to some degree) legal for users. Maryland is the first state in which the voters, rather than the judiciary, directed the government to license same-sex marriage. And in Michigan, public-sector unionism was dealt a tremendous blow by voters who put down a measure that would not only have permanently protected the entitlement to collective bargaining, but would also have prohibited Michigan from becoming a right-to-work state. Ironically, the defeat was so decisive that it emboldened legislators to propose right-to-work legislation, and Michigan is now one of 24 right-to-work states in the U.S. So, is this a win for freedom? Well, maybe.
You see, nothing spurs libertarian infighting like success. Although the marijuana initiatives seem the least controversial, the fact is that marijuana is still going to be highly regulated. Licensing gay marriage ends state-based discrimination against homosexuals, but it does so by increasing the number of people gaining access to the public trough. And right-to-work legislation encroaches on freedom of contract. You better believe there have been plenty of libertarians lecturing other libertarians on just how UN-libertarian this all is. The lecturers, in turn, have been reprimanded for making the perfect become the enemy of the good, and for opposing reforms that they should be supporting. I don’t think that’s what they’ve been doing.
Just because I’m not with you, doesn’t mean I’m against you. I don’t go around advocating for licensing of gay marriage, decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, or laws restricting the abilities of employers to dictate their terms of employment. I advocate for the complete withdrawal of the state from marriage, the complete legalization of all drugs, and the complete freedom of contract between workers and employers. But I don’t oppose the reforms. I simply didn’t promote them, and I don’t endorse them. I’m libertarian, and I don’t cheer for any level of slavery. But just between you and me, I’m happy to see the ball moved forward. Things aren’t good, but they are better.
Upcoming U.S. Manual orders soldiers not to criticize Taliban -
“Here is a strong indicator that the Obama Administration’s crusade to appease Islam has gone too far; a new U.S. military handbook for troops deployed to the Middle East orders soldiers not to make derogatory comments about the Taliban or criticize pedophilia, among other outrageous things.
It gets better; the new manual, which is around 75 pages, suggests that Western ignorance of Afghan culture— not Taliban infiltration—is responsible for the increase in deadly attacks by Afghan soldiers against the coalition forces.”
I find this only slightly less staggering than the fact that there are people taking part in this tragedy voluntarily.
Antony, the article you referenced in your post on Chinese “nail houses” claims that such homes are created either by government projects, or by private development. However, the fact is that each of these homes was almost certainly accessible by some public thoroughfare such as a road or sidewalk. It was the government that turned these public thoroughfares over to developers, knowing full well that the citizens who depend on them for access would be made vulnerable. There is no question that some private sector actors will misbehave, but when misbehaviour occurs on a large scale, or continues for any substantial length of time, you can be sure of government collusion.