Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Power of the Poor

The other night I was watching my local PBS station and was fortunate to stumble on a documentary called The Power of the Poor about the work of economist Hernando de Soto in his native Peru. The documentary describes the work of de Soto’s non-profit organization called The Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD) which he formed almost 30 years ago and continues today as its President. It describes how the ILD through the power of its ideas defeated the Shining Path Guerrillas, a militant Maoist group intent on ruling Peru in the 1990’s. Ultimately the Guerrillas were captured, convicted and jailed by the Peruvian government, and de Soto continues his work in Peru and abroad spreading a form of libertarian capitalism tailored to the poor and intent on lifting them from their poverty.
The video The Power of the Poor is available from Free to Choose Media and is a wonderful explanation of how poverty can be eliminated (as is happening now in Peru) by reducing government red tape and making small changes to the legal status of individuals by granting them property rights.
A great way to start a New Year.

De Soto received The Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty in 2004 from the CATO Institute.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Another victory for Terrorism

It’s worth watching U.S. Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano rationalizing the Christmas Day attack on an Amsterdam to Detroit airliner with these words:
“The system worked, everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within literally an hour to ninety minutes of the incident occurring all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures.”

Who knew that passengers are part of the system, deputized by the situation to act on behalf of American Homeland Security? Too bad the hero was a Dutchman; I hope he receives honorary U.S. citizenship as soon as he passes the security check.

This latest terror attack highlights the gaping holes in airport security that still exists despite a couple of generations of airliner hijackings culminating with the 9/11 attacks, the shoe bomber etc…etc... Has there been a single attack that has been foiled by airport security measures in use today? Not that I could find.

Sure there was the liquid explosive plot that the British foiled, but that did not happen during an airport security check. That incident and all the others have resulted in passengers being subjected to some pretty stupid rules. But removing your shoes will be just a tiny indignity imposed on us compared to the Full-Body Scanners that the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) intends to implement at all major airports. If Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam had this device, maybe this latest incident on Fight 253 would have been foiled, maybe not. Reading the Globe and Mail this morning I came across the story of one passenger on Flight 253, Shama Chopra, who lives in Montréal. Prior to boarding she noticed Adulmutallab the accused on Flight 253 acting strangely.

“I was looking at this guy and his hands were on his forehead,” she recounted to CTV about her encounter with him in the airport. “He was thinking very hard. I was thinking, ‘Why is he standing like this?' They checked him again. He's the last one they let on the plane,” she said. Too bad.

So here we have a Canadian deputy of Homeland Security, who like anyone getting on an airplane these days has a heightened sense of foreboding about the flight, but in this case she was prescient beyond her wildest nightmares.

Almost 40 years ago I took a flight from Tel Aviv back home. Prior to boarding I was questioned by Israeli Security. A young very fit man with a distinctive Israeli accent searched though my luggage and carry-on and asked me series of questions about my business in Israel. Some of the questions were repeated, he was trying to trip me up and I was getting annoyed, I shouldn’t have been. “Open your transistor radio, let me see your watch, let me see your camera”, and on and on. There were no high-tech search devices, just a well trained, persistent questioner. My answers were not recorded; he was not really interested in my personal life, just the way I acted, my body language, speech patterns, ticks, whatever.
No airplane leaving Tel Aviv has ever been hijacked. Ms. Chopra from Montréal points the way to real airline security. Use the Israeli model and just as important let the airlines take care of their own security. They have much to lose if people become more fearful of flying than they already are. Airlines will develop reputations like Israel’s EL AL; safety records can be compared and passengers can be treated with dignity. Water bottles and toothpaste will be allowed again, bathroom breaks prior to landing will be allowed, security, speed and courtesy will be improved under competitive market conditions. As evidenced again, the current model is not working.

Monday, December 21, 2009

You can't take it with you.......

This was posted by The Advocates for Self Government (see links on the left of this page). While the context is American, and the actors are all gone, the message can't be repeated often enough, enjoy.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Democracy is over rated!

My daily copy of FEE—In brief arrived by email as usual today. Normally I wouldn’t mention it, but one of the FEE Timely Classics of the day was called “Democracy Versus Liberty” by James Bovard. I don’t recall ever reading it but I read it today. It’s fairly lengthy; there are no snappy catch phrases, just a long and relentlessly persuasive argument that drives home the point that Democracy is mob rule, and that coercion created by elected members of a government is still coercion and that doesn’t make it right.

Of course the focus of the essay is entirely American, but for those of us that inhabit The Great White North the ideas are easily transferable and all the names a recognizable. If you have read it, then you understand, if you haven’t, then do yourself a favour.

Though Ontario Judge is rebuked he is still correct

The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that Ontario Court Judge J. Elliott Allen overstepped his position when he spoke at length against harsh penalties for marijuana growth and possession as he gave a conditional sentence to a Brampton area marijuana grower. The article appeared in today’s Globe and Mail.

Perhaps Judge Allen should be recruited to run for the Ontario Libertarian Party in the next Provincial election in 2011.

The judge is quoted as saying: "Nobody has been deterred. People have been going to jail for drug offences for a couple of generations now and the drug plague is worse than it ever was....If something doesn't work, do I try doing it again and again to see if it does work? Isn't that the definition of insanity?"

Can you imagine this coming from a Canadian Judge in court? Canada is going to pot.......the sooner the better. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Apocalypse Soon?

While I can't agree with everything in Neil Reynolds' most recent column (the Dawkins and Darwin stuff particularly) the gist of it is eminently sensible and ultimately wise. This column injects a little perspective into an issue that sorely needs it. Have a look: For every age, an apocalyptic delusion

Are there alternatives to complex "fixes" for AGW?

Who understands Cap-and-trade? Are you ready to buy and sell carbon credits, futures in carbon credits? Will these "fixes" to AGW be readily accepted by the Western democracies? These are all questions that need answers before governments spend billions, sacrifice jobs and generally dampen an economic recovery that is currently still on life support. Are there less costly fixes? There are, here is a thought:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Whose Bad?......We're bad.

Gerry Nicholls says we're bad. That's just fine with me.

Monday, December 14, 2009

More Sanity, I can't get enough.....

Lysiane Gagnon writes for La Press in Montreal (and weekly in the Globe) and frequently has opinions that bear repeating. Here from the Globe is her view of the Copenhagen Climate Change debate: A dose of skepticism is healthy.

If We Can Put a Man on The Moon...Then Why Does Government Fail at Just About Everything Else?

This is a posting from Reason TV with an interesting insight.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Petition against Green Protectionism

Would you like to voice your objection to possible arbitrary trade restrictions brought forth in the name of saving the planet? Why not allow the planet to be saved by the only proven method so far in the history of humankind? Click on the link, read the petition, then sign it and pass it on.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The big guy in the sky causes climate change

That's right, the Sun, our neighbourhood star......

The Science is settled on AGW....right?

Wrong. Is it possible that Al Gore is wrong? Is it possible that there are other causes for climate fluctuation? Of course it is. Do yourself a favour and listen to this audio clip from FEE. Last Saturday in a lecture given at FEE HQ in Irvington NY another point of view was voiced. Its worth your while to listen to Dr. Willie Soon.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Are you ready to subsidize pollution?

Yesterday's Globe and Mail Report on Business ran the regular column of Gwyn Morgan. His opinion is always worth reading and frequently puts a different spin on issues of the day. The issue of the day is the potential power and money grab being orchestrated in Copenhagen. How much more are you prepared to pay for fuel? Clink.

SixthSense Technology

Wondering where the world of computing is going in the near future? This video will blow you away. Watch Pranav Mistry (an inventor) explain his ideas. Wow!

Friday, December 4, 2009

ClimateGate on the People's Network

Last night we may have witnessed a turning point in the Canadian discussion of Anthropogenic (human caused) Global Warming (AGW). Readers of the Toronto Globe and Mail have long known that two regular columnists Margaret Wente and Rex Murphy are AGW skeptics and have written courageous columns to that effect on many occasions in the past. Rex Murphy also happens to be an employee of the CBC, and has a regular opinion piece every Thursday on The National led by Pastor Peter Mansbridge. As a regular viewer of The National and a fan of Rex Murphy's way with words, I don't recall a broadcast where Rex has been unleashed and spoken so bluntly about his views on AGW.

CBC and AGW have been like peanut butter and jelly, that close and supportive of one another. To see Rex Murphy let loose finally on one of his pet peeves was jaw dropping. Have a look:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Change you can't believe in!

Canadian and American news media paused last night from speculating about Tiger Woods’ domestic distress as Barak Obama announced that an additional 30 000 US troops will be sent to Afghanistan soon. No surprise really, since that information had been leaked last week. The only surprise was that troop withdrawals would begin in the summer of 2011 just in time for Obama’s run at a second term. This time of course will be different, the US and NATO’s ISAF (including Canada) will expunge the Taliban, train the Afghan army, restore the Afghan government (after getting all the warlords to become democratic) and leave Afghanistan to take care of itself. That should keep us all safe.

The Globe and Mail editorial today called this new surge of troops “a welcome move by Obama”. The editorial said that this surge will take pressure off Canadian troops and Obama’s speech was “a necessary reminder that this remains a necessary war”.

Afghanistan has had a tortured past of war and conquest going back to pre-Islamic times. In the 2500 years for which there are records two things stand out; Afghans don’t like foreign occupation and the place is run by warlords. At no time in its history was there a grassroots democratic movement that sought to bring the rule of law to the entire country. Expecting the puppet government now in Kabul to have full control of that country is wishful thinking. Expecting the future Afghan army to keep order against the Taliban and Al-Qaida is ridiculous. Expecting American troops to leave Afghanistan once the mission is accomplished is equally insane. Afghanistan has been the place where previous empires have died; I fear the US will be no different.

Mr. Obama has disappointed us yet again but this month he will pick up his Nobel Peace Prize. What’s wrong with that picture?