Dave Killion — May 8, 2013
In keeping with my New Year’s resolutions, I have been making a $50 contribution to a worthy group every month. Because I am particularly upset this month over the recent rhino slaughter in Mozambique, I have selected the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) to be the recipient of my largesse. PERC gets the nod thanks to their recent hire of Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes as a Research Fellow -
“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.
Dave Killion — May 6, 2013
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.
Dave Killion — May 5, 2013
O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!(275) “Julius Caesar”
It is possible, I suppose, to be a libertarian and yet not think rhinos are awesome, but you wouldn’t be the kind of libertarian I could be friends with. But if you love rhinos ( as all good libertarians do), you will be broken- hearted to hear that the last known rhinos in Mozambique have been killed by poachers -
“The 15 threatened animals were shot dead for their horns last month in the Mozambican part of Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which also covers South Africa and Zimbabwe.
They were thought to be the last of an estimated 300 that roamed through the special conservation area when it was established as “the world’s greatest animal kingdom” in a treaty signed by the three countries’ then presidents in 2002.”
And now they’re all gone. Had those rhinos been privately owned, one of them could have been sold to a trophy hunter, and the money used by self-interested businessmen to protect and breed the remainder. Mozambique could have had more rhinos, but instead, they have none. The prohibitionists had their way, and 15 rhinos have been slaughtered to the benefit of poachers, who will likely spend a fair bit on prostitutes, booze, and drugs, and nothing on conservation. Such a waste.
Dave Killion — May 4, 2013
The Victoria Libertarian Book Club has set aside books for awhile, in favour of discussion of pre-selected topics. We’ve had a look at corporate personhood, and technology and liberty, and drones. We’re going to have a movie night in a couple weeks, but if you (like me) enjoy having a book on the go, let me recommend to you the graphic novel ”How an Economy Grows and Why It Doesn’t”. Here’s a sample page -
True fact: author Irwin Schiff (85) is the father of well-known-to-libertarians Peter Schiff, and is also a noted tax protester. Sad to say, he is currently serving a 13-year sentence for ”tax crimes,” and not due for release for another 3-4 years.
Read this work online here, or download a PDF here.
Dave Killion — April 30, 2013
A family member recently informed me that she had once forwarded a post (written by me in the early days of this blog) to some friends and acquaintances. Many of those good people had never even heard the word ‘libertarian’, and one of them found it interesting. So interesting, in fact, that I understand he follows the blog faithfully. If it wasn’t for this family member, I might never have known. I offer this tale as evidence on the importance of resisting the Spiral of Silence -
“The spiral of silence is a political science and mass communication theory propounded by the German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann. Spiral of silence theory describes the process by which one opinion becomes dominant as those who perceive their opinion to be in the minority do not speak up because they fear isolation from society.”
Libertarians, being the light of the world, must be vigilant against this fear. No matter how vigorously we are attacked, we must never forget that we never know who is listening, and never doubt that we are being heard.
Dave Killion — April 29, 2013
Better watch out for the Cheese Police.
At Reason.com, Baylen Linnekin writes about “The Government’s Looming Crackdown on Raw Milk Cheese” -
“Earlier this month reports emerged that the FDA had detained a U.S.-bound shipment of mimolette, a French cheese”… “If this FDA crackdown on a set of rather obscure, mitey artisanal cheeses that conform to traditional standards sounds like a small, targeted regulatory intervention involving cheeses you’ve never heard of, consider that this agency crackdown is but one small part of the FDA’s larger, very concerted international and domestic attack on artisanal cheeses—especially those made with raw milk.”
Although the article refers chiefly to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Linnekin also makes it clear that what is happening in the U.S. is also underway in Canada. Anyone surprised?
Not me. There are a bunch of bureaucrats who have budgets to justify and jobs to protect, so they have to find something to do. So, let’s see… shall we target big, corporate food producers? You know, the ones who have lawyers and make donations to the politicians on whom I depend for employment? Or, how about some defenceless small scale artisanal producers and organic farmers? Yeah, that sounds better. Let’s go after the hippies and the Amish.
Coming soon: Black Market cheese. If you’re making any, let me know, because I want to buy it. In fact, I’ve heard of people using Bitcoin to make anonymous purchases of illicit products over the internet. I don’t know if raw-milk cheeses are amongst those goods, but if not, there’s a market opportunity for somebody.
Dave Killion — April 28, 2013
The Atlantic has an article on open borders that is getting a lot of attention in the libertarian community -
“What if there was a program that would cost nothing, improve the lives of millions of people from poorer nations, and double world GDP? At least one economist says that increased mobility of people is by far the biggest missed opportunity in development. And an informally aligned group of advocates is doing its best to make the world aware of the “open borders” movement, which suggests that individuals should be able to move between countries at will.”
Like abortion, immigration is an area where libertarians are frequently at odds with one another, one concern being the impact of allowing immigration of people who are very likely to be anti-libertarian. In the early days of my libertarian awakening, I felt that some government restrictions were necessary and appropriate, but my eldest son (whose biases had not been so deeply entrenched as my own) gave me an intellectual backhand by asking, “Where, in libertarianism, do you find any defence of the notion that you have the right to initiate violence against peaceful persons crossing some arbitrary and imaginary line?” In that Zen-like moment, I attained enlightenment, and have been an open-borders man ever since.
As such, I advocate for the immediate and total elimination of all state restrictions on immigration and emigration. Knowing that that is unlikely, I would be happy to see someone in Canada pushing for an international treaty allowing open borders between countries. For reasons I’ve discussed previously, I think such an arrangement between the U.S. and Canada might meet too much resistance, but if Albertans don’t bar Newfoundlanders, and Quebecers don’t bar British Columbians, then what objection could Canadians have to any law-abiding New Zealanders? This is doable, and I’d be happy to see it done.
Dave Killion — April 27, 2013
Cherokee Gothic has a post up about ‘A Singaporean Strategy for Increasing the Fertility Rate‘ -
“So what did the SDU try?
1. “Increased financial incentives to encourage bigger families, amounting to cash gifts of S$3000 (US$1889) for the first child and savings of up to S$18,000 each for the third and fourth child.”
2. Tax rebates
3. Tax cuts on maids plus more childcare and maternity benefits.
4. “Offer graduate women with three children priority in securing places at the top nursery schools, an advantage in helping children get ahead at school, university and in the workplace.”
5. Set up “love cruises” for singles!
6. “Speed-dating and online dating services, along with an agony aunt called Dr Love.”
Somehow all of those awesome ideas didn’t make Singaporean couples want to procreate. So now the government has paired up with Mentos (huh?) to urge citizens to do their patriotic duty and make babies on “National Night.” You truly cannot make this stuff up.”
He concludes by asking the same thing any libertarian would ask -
“I guess just allowing more young people to immigrate there is out of the question?”
All of this reminds me of a previous post in which I listed ways in which an individual libertarian can help make the world a little more libertarian. Now that many advanced countries are seeing declining birth rates, and an easing of immigration restrictions will likely result, I think I will add to that list a recommendation that those of you looking for love cast your eyes abroad for libertarian partners. If you live in Canada or the U.S., you are a more desirable mate to someone living in a less wonderful place, and if the person you’re wooing is libertarian, you are way ahead knowing that he/she is at least as smart, well-informed, and open-minded as you are. And of course, if any of you try this out, please let me know how it works, and make sure to invite me to the wedding.
Dave Killion — April 25, 2013
Thank goodness that for every area where Canada has regulated innovation near to death, there is a country where the market is permitted freedom. If that were not the case, this world might never see $800 heart surgeries -
“Using pre-fabricated buildings, stripping out air-conditioning and even training visitors to help with post-operative care, (the chain of “no-frills” Narayana Hrudayalaya clinics in southern India) believes it can cut the cost of heart surgery”… “Already famous for his “heart factory” in Bangalore, which does the highest number of cardiac operations in the world, the latest Narayana Hrudayalaya (“Temple of the Heart”) projects are ultra low-cost facilities.”
It is a cold fact of nature that your typical Canadian would sooner bleed out and die on the operating table before admitting there are problems with the universal health insurance system. Well, all I can say is ‘Go, India!’ Neither Canada, the U.S. nor any other country is going to see constantly improving health care and perpetually falling prices until governments withdraw entirely from every facet of the health care market. If it weren’t for progress on the margins, we’d have none at all.
Hat Tip: Neatorama
Dave Killion — April 23, 2013
My son and I are going to go see “Oblivion” tonight, so I won’t have time to compose anything original, but here’s a brief-and-interesting review of the film for you -
“What will we do when earth is no longer habitable, either because of environmental pollution or because of an annihilating war? Several films this season imagine a dystopian future in which humans have to leave the earth to survive: Oblivion, with Tom Cruise; After Earth, with Will Smith; and Elysium, with Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. All have seemed promising. The first to be released is Oblivion, and it is satisfying in all the ways you want a film to satisfy — the acting is good, the special effects are thrilling, and the story is meaty enough to maintain the interest of philosophical viewers.”
And Tuesday’s are cheap movie night! The rest of the review is here.