Partyism: The New Stupidity

Dave Killion — October 29, 2014

According to polling data, one in twenty Republicans and Democrats polled in 1960 said they’d be “displeased” if their child married someone from the other party. By 2010, that spread had changed to 1 in 3 for Democrats, and 1 in 2 for Republicans. This phenomenon (known as ‘partyism’) is claimed to be even more influential than racism. For the New York Times, David Brooks argues this is bad

“The problem is that hyper-moralization destroys politics. Most of the time, politics is a battle between competing interests or an attempt to balance partial truths. But in this fervent state, it turns into a Manichaean struggle of light and darkness. To compromise is to betray your very identity. When schools, community groups and workplaces get defined by political membership, when speakers get disinvited from campus because they are beyond the pale, then every community gets dumber because they can’t reap the benefits of diverging viewpoints and competing thought.”

I think Brooks has it backwards; as people are increasingly able to discriminate and separate into communities built of others with similar values, we will not only be better able to discern which groups have superior values, we will also be better able to reap the benefits of diverging viewpoints and competing thoughts, as we could more readily discern which lead to peace and prosperity, and which lead to violence and poverty. This, however, is not to say that partyism is good!

No, the real trouble with partyism is that it is yet another form of collective discrimination. Sure, it might be that liberals and conservatives are, on the whole, close-minded and/or unintelligent. But it is also possible that any individual liberal or conservative is simply uninformed, and, therefore, a potential libertarian. To indulge in partyism would be to miss the opportunity to bring those individuals to the one true faith… and that’s a mistake libertarians just would not make.

Canada Still Funding Repression

Dave Killion — October 19, 2014

The pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong continue their efforts, despite arrests and a violent police response. Although I think Hong Kongers might find find having democracy not such a wonderful thing as wanting democracy, I certainly would never go so far as to provide support for their opponents. At least, not voluntarily

“Many have persistently questioned why China received bilateral aid from Canada, given its economic superpower status, military muscle and increasing influence on world affairs, including a growing development budget of its own.

“When you go to the eastern part of China, which is where probably where 99 per cent of Canadians, if they go to China, do go, places like Beijing or Shanghai, they would put to shame almost any Canadian city,” said Bruce Muirhead, associate vice-president of external research at the University of Waterloo, who has studied the issue of Canadian aid to China.

“But if you go a little bit into the interior, it’s a completely different situation. … It’s not the urban areas where CIDA puts its money, it’s in the rural areas. Those people really need help.”

Then those people should get it directly from the people who are trying to help them! Because when the Canadian government gives money to the Chinese government, it all goes in to one big pool, no matter how much anyone pretends it gets spent on one thing and not another. So long as the money moves from one government to another, taxpayers are funding mace and truncheons for opression to the same degree as they are funding health care and eduction for liberty.

Small comfort to the protesters currently being clubbed, but aid to China ceases at the end of the year.

Hamstrung By Principle

Dave Killion — October 16, 2014

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Elected leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada in May 2014, Tim Moen has attracted a lot of attention with his well-known campaign ad (above). Not long ago, Moen made his way to Victoria, B.C., where he met with a small group of local liberty lovers. After speaking briefly about his recent campaign efforts, and the importance of freedom, he fielded a wide assortment of questions concerning both his views and the actions he proposes to take if he should ever attain office. It was all very pleasant, and I found the new leader engaging, attractive, and diplomatic without being evasive. He strikes me as sufficiently ‘pure’, and I think he is a worthy representative of Canadian libertarians. But Mr. Moen has a problem.

The problem is that, aside some outliers like Justin Amash and Ron Paul, politicians get elected by log-rolling, compromising, and horse-trading… none of which are libertarian practices. Libertarians (like Tim Moen) are upright, forthright, consistent, and logical. Voters don’t really go for that. So, what does the Party intend to do? Is it going to be pragmatic, compromise, and do what it takes to get people in office? Or is it going to maintain integrity, at the cost of being relegated to an educational body and, likely, irrelevance? I put the question to Moen.

After acknowledging that this dilemma is well understood by party leadership, Mr. Moen explained that without an ideologically pure stance, the Libertarian Party of Canada could wind up as simply another statist tool. Clearly though, he (like many of us) is frustrated by the implications. To my surprise, he asked if I had any thoughts on the matter. Well, it just so happens that I do: I think that Tim Moen is right.

Give the party another name, and it can adapt, compromise, evade… whatever. But a Libertarian Party, well, that’s a different thing. It is a rigid thing, a principled thing; bend it more than a little, and it shatters into nothing. It must remain pure. Even in party politics, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Keep campaigning, run all the candidates you can, and perhaps a black swan event  will put some of us in office. But I’m sorry to say, if you are a libertarian who means to get elected, I don’t think the Libertarian Party is where you should be.

“Grow A Pair”

Dave Killion — October 5, 2014

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If you took the message from Harry Browne’s “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World“, stripped away 1/2 the pages, added a sprinkle of H.L. Mencken, and delivered it in the style and voice of a television pitchman, you’d have something that looks and sounds very much like Larry Winget’s “Grow A Pair“. Here are some choice quotes –

“Growing a pair is a state of mind, an attitude, and a way of thinking. It’s about giving up being a victim and taking control of your life at every level. It is the willingness to do the right thing even when everyone else is doing the wrong thing.”

“Bottom line: People believe they are entitled to compensation for consequences they brought on themselves due to their irresponsible lifestyle and stupid choices.”

“Your thoughts, your words, and your actions created the life you are living. You create your results— no one else.”

“The constant need to make everyone else happy at the cost of your own happiness will destroy you.”

“Make yourself happy and surround yourself with people who are cool with that.”

“Success comes from what you do, not from what you say you are going to do.”

“You can’t step up to the next level as long as you keep one foot on the lower level.”

“No one ever wrote down a plan to be fat, broke, stupid, lazy, unhappy, and mediocre. Those are the things that happen to you when you don’t have a plan.”

“Do what you said you would do, when you said you would do it, the way you said you would do it.”

I find Winget’s style grating, and there are too many reminiscences in which he (predictably) triumphs in the moment by practicing what he preaches. None the less, his philosophy is sound and his message is clear. If you don’t have six hours to give over to Harry Browne’s book, you might find the couple of hours Winget requires to be a good investment.

Endangered Species Saves Itself

Dave Killion — July 21, 2014

From CBS, comes the happy news “American Wood Stork taken off endangered list” –

The tall, bald wading birds that nest in swamps and coastal marshes from Florida to the Carolinas are now a “threatened” species, a step up that indicates the wood stork is no longer considered at risk of extinction, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced during a visit to Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, home to a large wood stork colony on the Georgia coast.”

The article cites habitat loss as largely responsible for the initial collapse of the Wood Stork population, despite a concurrent boom in the population of zebra finches, turkeys, budgies, and chickens. Worse yet, credit for the save is being given to the Obama administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Endangered Species Act, when in fact, the birds took matters into their own hands –

Researchers say the species has made a remarkable resurgence by expanding its territory from southern Florida – where 70 percent of the population once lived – to establish nesting colonies in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. After nesting season, wood storks also can be found in parts of Alabama and Mississippi.”

Were it not for the initiative shown by these determined creatures, the government would very likely have seen them shot, shoveled, and shut-upped into extinction rather than doing the right thing .

Extinction of the Japanese Imminent

Dave Killion — May 1, 2014

Via Marginal Revolution , we learn that the town of Nagareyama in Chiba Prefecture is currently accepting submissions of koitodoke, or “love declaration forms” –

Now, couples can even have their affection officially recognized, as lovers in Japan can submit government documents certifying their love for each other. “

Given the existing decline in Japanese reproduction, Japan’s federal government might just decide that since state licensing of marriage hasn’t been sufficient, adopting the Nagareyama option is just the ticket! Well, if they do, you can kiss the Japanese sayonara, because it’s just like Milton Friedman said… “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.”

NH Governor Rationalizes Own Drug Use

Dave Killion — March 9, 2014

New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, who has declared that she will veto marijuana-legalization legislation that makes it all the way to her office, has admitted to trying marijuana in her youth

“During an interview on WMUR-TV’s Sunday morning “Close-Up” program, the governor was asked by host Josh McElveen whether she had ever tried marijuana.

“I was in college. I tried it,” she said. “But things have changed. The drug is much more potent now.”

I see… well, then, if that makes it all right, Hassan should have no reason to oppose the use of marijuana, provided it is no more potent than that which she used in college. Thanks for your support, Governor!

Smoking: As Safe As Meat And Cheese

Dave Killion — March 6, 2014

Well, it seems smoking might be no more unhealthy than enjoying a diet rich in meat and cheese. Of course, as I have pointed out recently, researchers and lazy journalists can only say so in a back-handed, inflammatory fashion –

“A diet rich in meat, eggs, milk and cheese could be as harmful to health as smoking, according to a controversial study into the impact of protein consumption on longevity.

High levels of dietary animal protein in people under 65 years of age was linked to a fourfold increase in their risk of death from cancer or diabetes, and almost double the risk of dying from any cause over an 18-year period, researchers found. However, nutrition experts have cautioned that it’s too early to draw firm conclusions from the research.”

Too early to draw firm conclusions? Perhaps… but clearly, not too early to present the research in as alarming a fashion as possible.

Smoking: As Safe As Sitting At Work

Dave Killion — January 22, 2014

A CBS New York article tries to make the case that smoking does no more harm to your health than does sitting at work for hours. Of course, they present the matter somewhat differently –

“A number of studies have shown that prolonged sitting is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and even early death.

“Smoking certainly is a major cardiovascular risk factor, and sitting can be equivalent in many cases,” said Dr. David Coven, a cardiologist at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. “The fact of being sedentary causes factors to happen in the body that are very detrimental.”

I see the mainstream media employ this trope all the time: sitting is as bad as smoking! Oreos are as addictive as heroin! Yelling at your kids is as hurtful as hitting them! But if it’s true that X is as bad as Y, then it follows that Y is no worse than X.

So might you just as well hit your kids as yell at them? Or shoot some smack instead of crunching a cookie?

Only if you’re buying what the media is selling.

Quotation of the Day

Dave Killion — January 5, 2014

“… given that Deirdre McCloskey is correct in noting that the way we talk and what we say matters, at least as strong a case can be made for legislation to forcibly shut the mouths and freeze the keyboards of those who scream about the dangers of income inequality as can be made for legislation to forcibly take from ‘the rich’ in order to give to ‘the poor.’”

Don Boudreaux, Questions About and For Those People Obsessed With Income Inequality

Boudreaux goes on to counsel against any such legislation.

To the extent that the wealthy attain their wealth thanks to coercive state regulation, I object to that inequality on the grounds that it impoverishes the rest of us. But that inequality which results from hard work, innovation, inspiration, or luck doesn’t bother me in the least. As Thomas Jefferson said, it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. To view matters differently is to indulge in envy, and pointlessly so. Bill Gates may be ten thousand times richer than me, but his food doesn’t taste ten thousand times better, his bed isn’t ten thousand times more comfortable, he isn’t ten thousand times healthier and happier, and he isn’t going to live ten thousand times longer.