Archive for Regulation

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.

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.

Introducing: A Non-Coercive Temperance Organization

Dave Killion — March 12, 2013

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.   

(End)

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.

Another Black Eye For Canada

Dave Killion — March 6, 2013

Over at the website for the Canadian Constitution Foundation, Derek From writes about the recent and terrible outcome of Whatcott v. Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal – 

“The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision is a devastating blow to free speech and the rights of every individual Canadian. In principle, this decision means that the government can silence your speech on issues of public importance if that speech is deemed hateful. It doesn’t matter if what you said was true, that it caused no one any harm, or that you never intended to say anything discriminatory – you can still be dragged into court and lose for committing a victimless crime.”

Keep in mind that it is not only the right to speak freely that has been harmed here. This ruling violates the right of all Canadians to listen and to watch. You are no longer free to seek out or reject certain ideas or influences without government interference or control. This ruling diminishes each and every Canadian far more than does anything said by bigots.

By the way, I have selected the Canadian Constitution Foundation for this month’s $50 contribution. Please consider supporting them.

Anti-Life Boats

Dave Killion — March 3, 2013

Current federal regulations require all lifeboats be stocked with snacks.

Current federal regulations require all lifeboats be stocked with snacks.

A cruise ship near the Canary Islands recently lost five crewmen to drowning, and not long ago, the Costa Concordia grounded off the coast of Italy, with more victims. And in 1915, the SS Eastland rolled over in the Chicago River, killing over 840 people. The most surprising contributor to these losses? Lifeboats

“The 101st anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic arrives on April 14. We will hear a great deal about the importance of government regulations to ensure that every ship has enough boats for its whole company of passengers and crew.

Since the Titanic, this kind of regulation has been in effect. But as with most regulations, the effects have been mixed, to use a conventional kind of understatement. When American total-lifeboat regulations came in, two things happened. One was the ruin of America’s passenger steamship lines to the Orient. The owners couldn’t afford to meet the new standards (which, admittedly, included labor-protectionist provisions only notionally connected with safety). The other was the sinking of the steamship Eastland. The Eastland capsized in the Chicago River, with immense loss of life, because it had been overloaded with lifeboats.”

That government safety regulation would have mixed results will be no surprise to libertarians. But lifeboats? In a million years, it would never have occurred to me that the coercive state would threaten my existence with lifeboats. And I live on an island! I have to ride a ferry three or four times a year. Truly, there is no place where we are safe from government.

Wrong For The Goose, Wrong For The Gander

Dave Killion — February 18, 2013

Bjørn Lomborg (The Skeptical Environmentalist) has an article in Slate, examining the losses humanity has suffered due to regulations that slow or prohibit the adoption of genetically modified (GM) food. Lomborg makes some important arguments that need to be made, but he starts off on the wrong foot

“Finally, after a 12-year delay caused by opponents of genetically modified foods, so-called “golden rice” with vitamin A will be grown in the Philippines. Over those 12 years, about 8 million children worldwide died from vitamin A deficiency. Are anti-GM advocates not partly responsible?”

Tempting as it would be to indulge in vilifying the anti-GM crowd for promoting policies that are fatal to tremendous numbers of vulnerable people, let us keep in mind how the very same approach was taken by gun-control advocates after the Connecticut school massacre. Remember the accusation that those of who have opposed ‘reasonable regulation’ have the blood of school children on our hands? So let’s not indulge ourselves in the same sort of cheap vilification in which our opponents wallow. Rather, let us remember that no anti-GM advocate ever deprived a farmer or consumer of GM seed or food. That was done by governments. They are the party responsible, the guilt is entirely theirs, and they are the bodies which must be held accountable. Lomborg provides cover for them when he suggests otherwise.

Regulation Makes Good Things Into Bad

Dave Killion — February 17, 2013

Already challenged by human overpopulation, black-market wildlife trading, global warming, and habitat loss, the Slow Loris makes matters worse for itself… by being too darned cute

“According to the study, wildlife photographers in Thiruvananthapuram – the capital city of Kerala- pay Rs. 500 to 1500 to the indigenous Kani tribes in the areas to capture Slender Lorises and arrange photo shoots. The practice occurs despite the fact that the animal is protected under Schedule I of The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Apart from capturing and keeping it, the Lorises are often tightly held on short branches and prodded so that it won’t move during a photo shoot; to help the ‘professional wildlife photographer’ get enough good pictures. Moreover, the poor animal will be illuminated with torches aimed at it, says the study. It is a known fact that aiming strong light sources like torches and camera flashes at Slender Lorises for longer, will be irritating to the animal since it has very sensitive, large eyes to help their nocturnal life.

The study team has also noted that the animal captured for such photo shoots are not returned to the place from (which) it was collected.”

Sounds rough. But consider the Yorkshire Terrier.

Survival Of The Fittest

Unlike the Slow Loris, there is no habitat in which Yorkies can survive unassisted, under any circumstances. Yet not only does cuteness fail to handicap the Yorkie as it allegedly does the Slow Loris, it is, in fact, a Yorky’s chief asset. Indeed, without cuteness, the Yorkshire Terrier would not exist at all. What explains the difference? It is this – because there is a largely free market for Yorkies, breeders can produce as many of them as the world desires, with no fear of criminal penalty, but the only way to acquire a Slow Loris is to have it stolen from the wild. The former practice increases and sustains a population, while the latter diminishes it. All in all, a pretty good example of how regulation turns assets into liabilities.

 

Hat tip: The dependably ridiculous Boingboing

Tyranny And Emergencies

Dave Killion — February 12, 2013

I’ve written before about the astonishing powers the British Columbia government allots itself during ’emergencies’, but neglected to point out how common such legislation is. In fact, you can be assured that there is at least one level of government, either local, state/provincial, or federal, that maintains that under certain situations it is authorized to do, quite literally, anything to anyone. The latest storm to strike New England and the Maritimes provides a chilling example

” (Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick) signed an executive order banning traffic on the state’s roads as of 4 p.m. on Friday (February 8). The ban includes all roads, with exceptions for public safety officials, hospitals, utilities and others.

Kurt N. Schwartz, undersecretary for emergency management, said the law allows for penalties for motorists who violate the 4 p.m. ban on traffic, including a $500 fine and up to one year in jail.”

A spokesperson assured the public that enforcement would be flexible, reasonable, and would permit travel for ‘necessary functions’ when it is ‘safe to do so.’ There was no guidance on how that determination would be made.

The number of deaths attributed to the storm stands at nine, and I don’t know that any of those deaths are a result of the travel ban. However, I think it’s safe to conclude that many people went cold, hungry, and in need of aid or comfort because they were too frightened by what the government would do to them to dare exercise their right to travel. Happily, no other governors or premiers felt the need to flex executive muscle, but they most certainly could have. And when an emergency strikes your area, they just might.

Building Walls To Promote Freedom

Dave Killion — February 2, 2013

A recent event –

“January 30, 2013

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.

Feinstein’s Futile Effort

Dave Killion — January 14, 2013

In the wake of the Newton, Connecticut shooting, U.S. senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) intends to propose a bill further restricting the firearms ownership rights of U.S. citizens –

“The senator said she’ll introduce the bill when Congress reconvenes in January and the same legislation will also be proposed in the House of Representatives.

“We’re crafting this one. It’s being done with care. It’ll be ready on the first day,” she said, adding that she’ll soon announce the House authors.

“It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation, and the possession. Not retroactively, but prospectively. It will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets,” she said. “There will be a bill.” “

Happily, I expect efforts such as this to go nowhere. Gun control in the U.S. and Canada has been loosening steadily, and to no ill-effect. To even halt this advance would require more evidence than gun-control advocates can hope to muster. Furthermore, thanks to new media, citizens are much more able to fight back against dinosaurs like Feinstein. Witness one of the latest pro-gun rights sites on the net – senatorfeinstein.com. Feinstein may command great wealth and power, but any public figure so out of touch with the modern era that she neglects to protect herself from attacks like this is butting her head against a wall.