Monday, May 31, 2010

Heretics Unite, you have nothing to lose.....

I wish I could say that this will be my final word on Global Warming.
Frankly, I think that the Copenhagen Conference (Dec. '09) was a turning point for the entire issue as it coincided with the "e-mail debacle" in Britain (true or not). That is one reason, and the other is the realization by everyone lately that not only can banks default and beg for bailouts, but whole countries can default on their bonds (loans) and need to be bailed out too. Obviously the economic ideas that have prevailed in recent times across the governments of the Western world will need to be revised. I hope that happens soon, but I think more severe pain will have to be endured before the poop really hits the propellor.
So I give you The Great Global Warming Swindle, (found on Facebook) a rather lengthy piece of video (get the popcorn) that is a compilation of the other side of Global Warming. Is it true? Well, maybe it is or maybe it's just another point of view.  Some things are for sure, you don't have to watch it, and if you watch it, you don't have to believe it, and if you believe it, you can't force anyone to do something about it; because there is nothing to do. So gather your children........I don't think it's your fault.

Friday, May 28, 2010

TIME looks at Rand and Ron Paul

The recent Senate primary win for Rand Paul in Kentucky is having repercussions throughout American politics. Apparently Kentucky Republicans like what Rand Paul is saying, much the same as Galveston Texas area voters have liked Ron Paul for a dozen years now.

Ron Paul is arguably the world's best know libertarian, and his son shares many but not all his father's views. Is Rand's win significant? Well, TIME magazine thinks so, and so does CATO. Many libertarians dismiss Rand as "libertarian-light" with some statist ideas, but for me close-to-libertarian is better than almost any other option. As the TIME article mentions Ron Paul's views don't seem so wacky now:
"Twenty years later, Paul's views no longer seemed kooky: government spending soared even under a Republican Congress and President, leaving many conservatives fed up. At the same time, the human and financial toll of the Iraq war, which Paul decried as an act of imperialism, left some Republicans angry with the so-called neocon wing of their party."
The CATO-at-Liberty article is worth a read, because coming from a libertarian perspective it places the Paul's in the American context and gives us all a hopeful message for the future.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Obama is responsible for BP oil disaster. Who knew?

Yup that's right: “I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down,” Obama declared at a news conference in the East Room of the White House. Gee I thought it was BP’s fault. When Obama swore to “protect and defend….etc.” I don’t think this is what the framers of the US Constitution meant. In fact this seems to take some responsibility off the shoulders of BP, but Obama went on calling the spill an “unprecedented disaster” and pointed to the “scandalously close relationship” he said has persisted between Big Oil and government regulators. 
Well that does it; I can’t believe that government regulators had anything to do with this. Aren’t US government regulators supposed to be regulating stuff on behalf of the American taxpayer? I thought they worked for the government, the people, by the people and all that shit. I guess I was wrong. Of course NOW Obama is in charge, and yes he is part of that same government he just blamed a couple of lines back. So I guess we can trust them now because it’s a different branch of government. Don’t you feel better?
The good news is that it is oil, and there is lots of sun and heat down there in the Gulf. With the help of “oil eating” microbes the mess gets cleaned up….eventually.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Big Government Canadian style and the right questions

When political parties give up their principles, bad things happen. Of course once in power, the operating principle of almost any political party becomes hold onto power - damn the principles.
In Canada if you belong to the Conservative Party then you know the truth of that last statement.
This morning in the Globe and Mail, Tom Flanagan points to just three issues (I think there are so many, many more) that have created unnecessary debate and discussion, all of them related to the Conservative government's increases in the size and responsibility of the state.
Issue one: the Jaffer-Guergis affair involving alleged lobbying of the federal state to garner subsidies for "green" businesses. Flanagan dismisses the affair then asks the right question: why has a conservative government created a $1-billion Green Infrastructure Fund? Why indeed? Here is a giant plum ripe for the picking by lobbyists and insiders who would scam their own family for financial gain. How is creating this fund being fiscally responsible or conservative?
Issue two: Abortion in the Third World.
First let me say this to those who think abortion should be banned in Canada or anywhere. The only banning that should go on is your power to force anyone to do anything against their will as long as no one's rights are abrogated. If you think a fetus has rights over and above the mother that is carrying it, then you need to take that fetus and bring it to term yourself, good luck. Or should we lock up that pregnant female and force her to carry the fetus? Would you do that to your daughter? The current law in Canada on abortion is the one that is appropriate, that is, no law.
Now that you know my position lets see what Mr. Flanagan said. The Conservative government refuses to fund abortion in the health care part of Canada's foreign aid package. This angers many at home and abroad (including Hilary Clinton) and threatens to become an issue in the G8/G20 summits coming to disrupt your summer plans in Southern Ontario this June. Again Flanagan asks the right question: why is the Conservative government promoting government-to-government foreign aid? He points to scholars that have shown that government-to-government foreign aid (except for immediate disaster relief) actually impedes economic growth and good governance in the Third World. I hope Stephen Lewis reads Flanagan's article.
Issue three: Gay Pride. The Conservatives have decided not to fund this year's Gay Pride Parade in Toronto while continuing to fund a variety of other parades and festivals across the country. Is Harper pandering to the homophobic part of the Conservative Caucus? Probably, but again Tom Flanagan asks the right question: why should the federal state subsidize any parades or festivals anywhere? How is that being fiscally responsible? Well, it isn't and it's too bad that Flanagan stops at three, but it is a start and I recommend the article to you. Flanagan ends by suggesting that today's economic realities will of necessity shrink the size and scope of government, I can't wait.  

Friday, May 14, 2010

In defence of Climate Research; stop the criticism!

It seems that climate scientists are pretty thin skinned when it comes to criticism. They want it to stop; especially the political attacks on the climate change advocates. So they have published an "open letter" basically saying stop the criticism we're right, so there. They invoke names like Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein claiming association with these past scientists and implying that their theory of anthropogenic global warming is on the same level as those past greats. May be, may be not, I don't remember any of those past greats asking for special consideration, their theories spoke eloquently and survived decades (centuries even) of scrutiny and controversy.
Meanwhile Al Gore is doing really well, bought a new house, did you hear?  Yes, just a modest $9 million seaside villa; nothing special really. Back to the scientists, check this column from Libertas Post, I wish I had said this.  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Smart Urban Planning?

Have you ever felt out of step with the majority at a gathering?  Last night I was a town council meeting where I felt like the guy wearing shorts and a tee shirt at a black tie affair.
My town is finally coming to grips with an issue that has been brewing for years. The Province of Ontario has mandated my town as a growth centre - part of the Greater Toronto Area. The town still has a large component of zoned farmland that could be developed to accommodate this new growth. Let's put aside for the moment the issue that the Province can dictate where people should live and how towns should develop, I think that's wrong.
The town's councillors felt compelled to act on the provincial edict. A variety of special interest groups ranging from the David Suzuki Foundation, to all manner of ratepayers, farmers, and developers groups fought (in a civilized way) to convince the town councillors how to plan this future growth. There were public meetings, council meeting, special meetings and on an on for years. The essence of the debate focussed on rezoning the farmland. The developers and the farmers wanted the land rezoned for future development in accord with the provincial edict, the other groups, lets call them the environmental lobby, wanted to preserve 100% of the farmland (some of the best land in the Canada) for future food production (as a Food-belt) and concentrate any future growth within the existing urban developed land. That concentration is euphemistically called "intensification" or I prefer "densification". Councillors were prepared to apportion up to 60% of the future growth within the existing urbanized land and the rest on the rezoned farmland.
So yesterday was decision day and the environmental lobby had there guns out (metaphorically speaking). The mayor, who doesn't know the meaning of brevity, rambled on about the "process" and thanked all present (and those in the past) for the civil conduct displayed. A lot of "back-patting" followed, it is after all an election year.  Then came two hours of deputations beginning with a representative from the Suzuki Foundation who played this video which featured the guru himself. One after another people spoke, mostly on behalf of the environmental lobby, followed by raucous applause. Each repeated how the farmland was essential, even though our growing season is short and farmers are having difficulty competing with farm produce from offshore. Many of the farmers are nearing retirement age with no one willing to purchase their land and keep the farms going. For them selling to a developer may be a profitable out.
The environmental lobby would prevent this, farmers would be forced to continue or sell to anyone but a developer and take far less than the fair market value of the property. One eloquent speaker, the daughter of a farmer, spoke about how her father would like to do nothing else but continue his farm, but his age will make that difficult sooner than later.
Many from the environmental lobby spoke about "smart growth" in towns like Portland Oregon and wanted my town to be a model for smart growth in Canada. The problem is that smart growth has its share of criticisms now, after being around in the States for years. Portland and other cities have many of the problems, that were supposed to be avoided with smart growth. Smart growth is also supposed to be more conducive to beating climate change (if you think that's a problem), but studies have shown the opposite is true. Here is an interesting debate if you have an hour to kill.
All of this debate was going on during our Great Recession, which I fear is still in the early stages. The smart growth approach depends heavily on major governmental transit expenditures. These would need to be financed with increased debt, which could be a problem given the possibility of sovereign defaults in Europe. A default could cause money to stop flowing like those days in the fall of 2008.
Today in the Globe, our friend Neil Reynolds lays out one of the chief problems with Western society. All of this is related to how governments take on responsibilities they should not - smart growth, stupid idea.          

Friday, May 7, 2010

Why weddings matter

Last week at this time my family and friends were preparing for the wedding of my son to his fiance and former girlfriend. This event has been long anticipated, and even though they were living together we all knew that the marriage was a big deal.
By coincidence on the morning of the marriage, Margaret Wente (one of my "go-to" columnists) in the Globe and Mail published "Why weddings matter more than ever". I tried reading it to my family at the breakfast table and the emotions were very strong in the context of the day.
After the wedding I read comments about this column in the paper and online. I felt that many people missed one of Ms. Wente's most important points, so I wrote my own letter to the editor. Now that the kids are off on a honeymoon, the relatives have returned safely home, and the dust is settling in my house, I thought I would share with you what I wrote to the Globe and Mail:
Margaret Wente’s column (Why weddings matter… May 1st) was published on the same day my son was married, so it had a special impact in my household that morning.
 Ms. Wente mentioned that wedding rates are in decline and that “No government, no matter how well-heeled or well-intentioned, can offer an effective substitute for the devotion and parental investment of two nurturing adults.” 
I absolutely agree and I believe that our governments in the last 60 years have usurped the position and responsibility of family, church and community. Who needs these institutions when strangers are coerced by government through a myriad of welfare programs, into providing for all our needs from cradle to grave?
It is no coincidence that rates of marriage have declined, and that rates of divorce and single parent families have increased in that span of 60 years.
My son’s wedding was wonderful!
The Globe editor did not publish this letter, frustrating yes, but that is one reason I blog.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Reactions to political words

A recent survey of Americans by the Pew Research Center shows that Libertarians have some work to do in defining what they represent.
The chart shows that among those surveyed the reaction to the word Libertarian is not screamingly positive, on the contrary. Yet the terms "States' rights", "Civil liberties" and "Civil rights" have distinctly positive reactions. All of these might be supported to a large degree in the libertarian idea. The disconnect between these terms and the term libertarian seems larger than is warranted, so maybe those ideas are not part of the libertarian sales pitch. They should be.
The article points out that Republicans take a dim view of libertarians, (so much for the term "right-wing" when applied to libertarians) while Democrats are evenly divided and Independents have a much more favourable view (44% positive/32% negative). The term "right-wing" which I just mentioned, would to me, more closely fit "fascist-authoritarian-socialists" who are Republicans, by and large (of course they would disagree).
Libertarians are in desperate need of better marketing strategies or they will be stuck with this negative view.

Ion Propulsion - The Next Generation

For all you "trekkies" or "trekkers" here is more evidence that Star Trek has changed the world.  A space probe called Dawn is travelling beyond the orbit of Mars and heading into the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn is supposed to achieve "standard orbit" (a Star Trek term - see picture) around the asteroid Vesta, staying and exploring a while then heading off to the asteroid Ceres later. These are two of the largest asteroids in this solar system. Why study asteroids? Well, the standard NASA answer is to gets some insights into how they formed and help scientists understand the formation of the solar system. Of course asteroids may be cholk-full of raw materials, so science may not be the only reason for such a trip.
This is not the first time asteroids or comets have been visited. On July 4th, 2005, NASA's Deep Impact probe intentionally collided with the comet Temple 1. In January 2006, NASA's Stardust probe returned samples of the Comet Wild and is on route to visit Temple 1 in 2011. In September 2008 the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe flew by the asteroid Steins.
But the Dawn visit is unique because it orbits two asteroids and if it had used conventional fuel it would have been too heavy to launch with current vehicles. Instead of conventional fuel Dawn uses Ion propulsion, a concept made popular during the original Star Trek series.  This clip helps explain:


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Vote small, think big - can't agree more!

Pat Condell is one of my favourites. He is British and speaks from the European perspective and his message is mostly anti-religious. That gets a bit tiresome sometimes, but he does such a good job of it, and his delivery is so smooth, that just to watch him is a pleasure. Maybe it's just because of his accent, he sounds so smart - I think he is.
Thursday, May 6th is the British election, an important one not just for the Brits but all of Europe and even us to some extent. In a recent post he spoke about the importance of this election. Condell is no libertarian, but his message is one that should be heard because it can be applied in Canada or the US. Have a listen:

GM (Government Motors) loan pay back explained

Remember "new math"? Neither do I, but I do know when I'm being scammed. The CEO's of GM in the USA and Canada are bragging about their loan repayment in contrived television ads being played in both countries. They are STRETCHING THE TRUTH, and if they can lie without consequences we're all screwed. Here is another more accurate representation of the lie: