Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ontario: Refurbishing its way to prosperity

"Ontario’s plan to pour colossal amounts of money into nuclear, wind and solar could bury the province", so says Lawrence Solomon in the Financial Post (Nov. 27). Ostensibly the McGuinty Liberals in Ontario want cleaner air and greener energy production. McGuinty has bought into the global warming alarmist's view that we must reduce our carbon emissions to save the planet and stop air pollution to eliminate the deaths of Ontarians with respiratory problems. The former is ridiculous and the latter well, lets just say a lot of our pollution comes across our southern border so we would have to persuade our American cousins to do likewise. The fact is our air quality is rather good most of the time, and certainly does not warrant mortgaging the future prosperity of Canada's once richest province.
Mr. Solomon's column describes how McGuinty has decided to refurbish the old and build new nuclear generation facilities even though our previous experience with nuclear power plants has shown them to be extraordinarily uneconomic. 
The temperamental and pricey nukes will be assisted by wind and solar energy "power-plants" (when they are working!). It boggles the mind, but Mr. Solomon offers hope. The final paragraph of the article states: "It isn’t too late to turn things around. Just bury the long-term plan, none of which passes muster, and resurrect the privatization of the power system. Power rates would drop and Ontario’s economy would soar." The emphasis on privatization is mine, and it cannot come soon enough.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cooling on Warming

We are just days away from the next big global warming conference in Mexico. I'm missing the hype that preceded last years Copenhagen debacle. Things are a bit different now, as I predicted in several earlier postings, the economy is beginning to trump the environment. Some of the European countries that went headlong into Green overspending are now on the brink of bankruptcy, Spain most notably.
An opinion piece in today's National Post nicely sums up the recent changes in attitude and opinion regarding anthropogenic global warming. Its worth a read, because it puts the next conference in Cancun into focus, that is of course if you still think global warming is a problem.

Religion a force for good? Not so much.

As a followup to my Oct. 12th posting, the Munk Debate between Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens took place last night (Nov. 26/10) in Toronto.
The online video of the debate is not available as yet, but the results are in.
Apparently two-thirds of those polled believe that religion is NOT a force for good in the world. The NOT group had a 35% lead pre-debate, and a 37% lead post-debate, so not a significant change I would say.
In a debate of this sort I would have expected the atheists to be more numerous attendees than the believers, and that is what the results indicate if I can be that simplistic about the issue.
The CBC calls this a win for Chris Hitchens, looking at the results I'd say that was a stretch.
At some point when the online version is released, I will post it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The rights of smokers etc.....

The other day I was invited to do an interview by a local television broadcaster to be broadcast on their digital service. I was representing the Ontario Libertarian Party (OLP) and I was on together with the president of, a group that OLP had supported financially in a legal challenge.
In May 2006 the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) came into effect which essentially prohibits smoking in all enclosed public areas except your home, your hotel room (if allowed), and your car (if there are no children present).
I have never smoked and I find it a repugnant habit so I don't like to be around smokers, nor does the OLP advocate smoking. That of course does not preclude my support (along with the OLP) of anyone else from smoking if they wish, as long as they do not offend those nearby. In fact my attitude is, that smoking is a voluntary choice as ill advised as it is, and it's a personal preference not an issue that needs to be regulated in law. Certainly enclosed areas, workplaces, public buildings, transit facilities and so on, can and should be designated as non-smoking areas and smokers (if they have any sense) should realize that their habit is obnoxious to many and they should seek permission before lighting up. Voluntary restraint is the best option and that is best done for each local situation. A smokers right to smoke stops where it threatens the right of another to breath clean air, at this point all smokers should be aware of that without the use of coercive force by law.

Unfortunately this law (SFOA) is quite draconian, with very broad implications, which is where the Smokers Choice group gets involved.

The group is centred in the Ottawa area, and they attempted to establish an exclusive smokers club, with signed membership who consented to be within an enclosed room for the purpose of socializing, smoking, whatever. The SFOA is written so broadly that forming such a club in any premises is prohibited. The point of law in question is: what constitutes a public place? Is a public place anywhere that members of the public gather? If that is true than even your home filled with invited guests, is considered a public place because once an individual leaves their home they become a member of the public. Your private party isn't private at all, because members of the public are invited.  That was the interpretation applied to the Smokers Choice case, and after one trial and one appeal, the next higher court refused to even hear the case with no reason given.  The broad implication is that police can come to your home if you are having guests over, when there is complaint or for whatever reason, enter without a warrant because they have probable cause, and charge guests for smoking in a public place (if indeed they are smoking, otherwise the police can be embarrassed).  
Canada has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and there are several parts of the Charter that could be used to defend Smokers Choice, but of course the process was halted when the case was refused to be heard.
As it stands that's the end of this issue until someone else raises a challenge.
The second century Roman Senator Tacitus said it best, when he pointed out that "....laws were most numerous when the commonwealth was most corrupt."  Simply put, the more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the state. In Ontario as laws that regulate behaviour have proliferated, those who are normally law abiding citizens are given more opportunity to break laws, making us all criminals and eventually undermining respect for ALL laws.        

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Libertarian? Sorry, you are not welcome!

This posting below is from the blog of my friend Paolo Fabrizio who is currently running in a Federal By-election in the riding of Vaughan north of Toronto. Paolo is running under the flag of the Libertarian Party of Canada. Apparently he will NOT be allowed to take part in the "all-candidates" debate. Here is what he has to say about this: 


Please read the ad from the Vaughan Citizen, dated November 18, 2010, and my comments, below it:

My critical analysis of the composition of this ad comes first. 

There is a red man, a blue, and an orange, for the LIberal, Conservative, and NDP candidates. They are men, due to the green figure being a woman, with a skirt. That's the woman who is running for the Greens. Note the expressive nature of the figures, with open hands, reaching out to each other, the lines coming from each one, indicating speech. The cartoon balloons were added afterward, with Adobe Illustrator, as I can tell, from the gradient on each balloon. It's a cute drawing, showing four candidates from four parties, at a debate. As it is pleasant, it is especially mean to those who are not invited, yet want to join in on the fun.

Everyone wants to be invited. Even if you don't attend, nobody wants to be excluded. When we're kids, we have little kid parties, and people invite their friends, only. When we become adults and have adult functions, like a debate, we are supposed to be fair, and invite all, for a debate is not a party, it's for an election, and those with the means to have a debate, and have it covered with a strong vehicle, such as a newspaper, have a moral duty to be fair, and invite everyone running. The Vaughan Citizen had that drawing commissioned before they invited everyone they wanted to invite, and they had already decided that it was for the four who were invited, and not for anyone else, even if they ask to attend. The Vaughan Citizen also did a front-page story on the NDP and Green candidates, discounting their youth and inexperience, and lobbying for them to be given a chance.

What about me? What about my party, the Libertarians, and the 688 people who voted for me, the last time I ran in Vaughan with a budget of almost $200.00?

The ad says that the Vaughan Citizen, along with Human Endeavour and the Vaughan Social Action Council will host the debate. How can all of them not believe in fairness? It will be moderated by an associate professor from York University. How can he not believe in fairness? There will be five panelists. How can all of them not believe in fairness, as well?

Those invited are referred to as the "four main parties." That's not true. The Greens are Canada's 5th-place party, behind the regrettable Bloc Quebecois, which has elected MPs. The Greens have elected none. There are two INDEPENDENT elected MPs. People with no party affiliation at all are greater than the Greens, and at the least, the independent candidate should have been invited.

What the Vaughan Citizen and the others are indulging in, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. They promote the Green candidate, and ignore the Libertarian. They invite the Green candidate, and exclude the Libertarian. When the election is done, they will all note how well the Green candidate did, and that the Greens are growing.

I am in this race, and the Vaughan Citizen promotes the NDP and the Greens, which is poison to the democratic process, and then, they make it seem like I don't care, by not being at the debate! There will be no statement read by the organizers, saying that they did not invite me, nor will there be a statement read for me, saying that I wanted to be invited. 

They won't do that, for it shows the debate to be a sham. Anyone would then ask, "Why can't the others be invited?" And, they would know that the debate is a farce. I ask that all who are registered be invited for all debates, and I am the only one who has made that statement.

Those that organized this debate? Shame on all of them. They are a disgrace to democracy.

Help me, then. I want to beat the Greens. Help me, as that hypocritical party which demanded their leader be permitted to join the tv debates from the 2008 federal election, willingly participates with unfair debates, when it serves them. Help me beat Claudia-Rodriguez-Larrain.

Share this website with at least one other person, and do it fast, as the election is less than a week away. Take a moment and forward this website to all your Twitter, Facebook and email lists and tell them to forward it, as well. Let that be the next thing you do, as you leave this website. Please help me, as the Vaughan Citizen is working against me, and the Greens are no friend of democracy, whatsoever.

Thank you,

Paolo Fabrizio
Pastry chef, gardener, vegetarian

Monday, November 22, 2010

Which one are you?

Here is a rebuttal of  'The 24 Types of Libertarian' cartoon that was in circulation during the summer. I found the rebuttal cartoon The 24 Types of Authoritarian on the Facebook page of the Bastiat Institute. See if you can find yourself among these frames:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

China is ticking.....

The other night I saw a documentary about the final secrets surrounding the WWII Allied escape from the prisoner of war camp called Stalag Luft III. This was supposed to be a final accounting of facts, some of which were used to produce the wonderful movie called The Great Escape back in 1963.
This is a remarkable story of how prisoners assisted the war effort against the NAZI's through subterfuge, guile, courage and determination. The "new" information revealed in the documentary, hinges around how porous this POW camp was, and how the military in Britain (using the BBC) and the United States (using MIS-X) assisted in the Great Escape.
Here is some of what went into the escape  of 76 prisoners right under the noses of their German captors.
Constructing the three tunnels (Tom, Dick and Harry) required massive quantities of wood and other materials: Over 4,000 bed boards, 34 chairs, 52 20-man tables, 90 double tier bunks, 10 single tables, and 76 benches were used to help construct the tunnels. Getting through the tunnels was only part of the escape. The escapees required 50 sets of blue coveralls, 42 German uniforms, 260 civilian jackets, 100 civilian suits, and 300 civilian caps were made for the escapees to wear once they made it outside the camp. The 77th escapee was captured that night outside the camp, and eventually all but three of the 76 escapees were recaptured, and 50 were murdered as retribution by the Germans. But this escape was a success because NAZI records indicate that 1.5 million Germans were involved looking for the 76 escapees and not advancing their cause.

This got me thinking as I read an article about China this week in the National Post. All totalitarian regimes go to great lengths to subjugate and control their population through spies, monitors, etc. This is done at great expense to the regime (as it was to the NAZI's above) and is one reason that these regimes eventually collapse. The Soviet Union took 70 long years to collapse, but that was a different time. When will the Chinese Red Empire collapse?
The Post article, The illusion of China's rise, talks about the capitalist (but not market-driven) miracle of China's growth while at the same time describing China as having:
" independent trade unions, farmers' unions, chambers of commerce or industry associations -- only countless silent workers who have no sense of rights and no channels of complaint. In China, we have no independent media or independent academic research -- only television, radio, newspapers, publishing houses, research institutes and universities which are either mouthpieces of the government or subject to the party's control. In China, we have no independent and registered human rights and environmental NGOs, and no independent foundations. Those public interest researchers and lawyers who try to be watchdogs and uphold the Chinese Constitution are watched themselves and suppressed when they try to contribute to the peaceful transition of China to a country of laws. 
And we have no meaningful protections for the environment. According to the Constitution, China's land, rivers, forests and mineral resources are all state-owned. In practice, this means owned by state officials. Any official who puts his hands on our resources can own them. Land grabs have become the primary means for officials at all levels to get rich."
So how long can such a situation persist? How long will the people "shut their mouths" and accede to the state? In the age of the internet and other communication technologies the Chinese "prison" is very much more porous than Stalag Luft III. I think a change could be sooner than later.
The Chinese leadership takes a risk in allowing travel of some citizens, and allowing them to be exposed to the freer world outside. The thirst for freedom is certainly alive in China, and an uprising of sorts has happened before in the spring of 1989 as evidenced by the iconic photo of "tank-man" above. Back then communism seemed to be in retreat everywhere in the world. Sure the Chinese have it better now than ever before, but freedom is contagious and the deprivation of some freedoms motivates those deprived to have more. A grass roots Chinese freedom uprising would have far reaching economic consequences on the entire planet to say the least.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kristallnacht 72 years ago.......

What can happen when citizens become apathetic to the actions of their democratically elected governments?

What can happen when governments take actions for the "good of the country" even though those actions are immoral and unjust?

What can happen when government dictates who may or may not possess firearms?

The National Socialist German Workers Party (NAZI) received a plurality of votes cast in the Weimar Republic election of March 5, 1933. Ostensibly this was a democratic election and the NAZI Party formed a coalition with two other parties to pass the Enabling Act of 1933, "A Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Nation." This law effectively gave the Cabinet (Hitler and his gang) the authority to enact laws without consulting the German Parliament (Reichstag). It was such a law that provoked the Kristallnacht of November 9th and 10th, 1938.   

One of the significant purposes of Kristallnacht was the explicit disarmament of the German Jews. The SA were under orders to confiscate all Jewish-owned firearms. The order was issued "[a]ll Jews are to be disarmed. In the event of resistance they are to be shot immediately."

Kristallnacht is often considered to be to beginning of  The Holocaust.
Does history repeat?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Golden Circle: Why, How, What?

Marketing a message or product is the key to success. How do the most successful do their marketing? How can you best promote your product? How can you get people to vote for you? Simon Sinek thinks he knows, and I think he is worth a listen. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Remember, remember......

It's the month of remembering.
Americans need to remember to vote every other November, they did this week but things really didn't change much according to many.
In this part of Canada we have the 30th Anniversary of Holocaust Education Week, where we remember to educate children and adults about the horrors of the Holocaust and genocide. But things haven't changed that much, we have had genocides since.
November 11th is Veterans Day in the States, they have a lot of veterans with new ones produced almost daily. The day honours Veterans who do the job asked of them even if the job is not worthy of the doing. It would be good if somehow this Veterans Day people reflect on the purpose and cost of war.
In Canada we have Remembrance Day on the 11th, where we remember soldiers lost and wars fought, and we have our own new set of veterans produced because of a purposeless, pointless war. None of this remembering seems to have diminished the possibility of war.
November the fifth is Guy Fawkes Day in Britain, commemorating a treasonous plot in 1605 to overthrow Protestant King James. The famous gunpowder plot failed, but the idea that governments can be fought and overthrown lingers. This idea was popularized in the 2006 movie V for Vendetta about a mythical totalitarian Britain, and a new gunpowder plot to overthrow the oppressive government, and restore freedom. The speech by V that galvanizes the British population and can be seen is here. In some ways the speech and the way it was presented reminds me of the much longer speech by John Galt in Rand's classic Atlas Shrugged.
Happy Fifth!      

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

von Mises Institute of Canada

I'm very pleased to report that a FaceBook group has formed "dedicated to spreading the teachings of the Austrian School of Economics, with special reference to Canada."

The Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada website is supposed to launch in December 2010.
I'm still not sure who is taking the initiative here, but it may be that down at HQ, they are becoming aware that Canadians can contribute to the cause of liberty too, about time.
Here are two recent examples and there may be more I am not aware of: Predrag Rajsic and Rod Rojas. Both of these fine writers have other contributions on file at Mises and its worth it to read their previous contributions.