Monday, January 30, 2012

Is it "Inscription des entreprises" OR "Business Sign?"

Does a legally operating business within a community, have the right to choose what language is preferred on exterior signage? Not in Canada!

Disputes over language issues have a long history in Canada, where the Federal Government is Officially Bilingual French and English, much to the consternation of many citizens. Only one province, New Brunswick, is also officially bilingual. The rest of the provinces and territories have a hodge-podge of rules where English is the de-facto language of government operations (but not officially), and other languages have some status. Only Quebec is officially unilingual French, but that is another story.

Though most of Canada operates in English, there are pockets of French throughout the country (outside of Quebec). Local governments and businesses seem to cater to the language(s) commonly spoken by residents without any need for regulation.

Where I live, there is a growing South Asian community. The local municipalities accommodate the new immigrants in their own language whether it is Urdu, Mandarin, Cantonese or Hindi. Business signs in my town and those neighbouring, are printed in a variety of languages to communicate with customers. This is as it should be, business owners should be free to communicate with their clientele in any way they wish, as long as no one's rights are violated.

But what if a town decides to impose a rule (a bylaw) on its citizens that dictates which language must be used on exterior signage? Such is the case in the Ottawa region. Ottawa, being the Capital, is available to citizens in both French and English since 2004. That might seem reasonable because it is a Federal town but within Ontario. The Ontario government offers French where warranted to its citizens, mostly in government building and services. What about private business in surrounding towns?

In 2008, the town council of Russell, on the South eastern border of Ottawa decided to make it mandatory for signs to be bilingual French and English. Of course this violates the freedoms of business owners and potentially could affect their business. Then there is the question of other languages as occurs in my own town? That issue, arguing the constitutionality of the bylaw, was brought to the Ontario Superior Court. The court found that the bylaw does not violate freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter, the bylaw stands.

In 2011the Ontario Court of Appeal granted permission for the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) to act as a friend of the court and appeal the previous decision of the Superior Court.  The CCF "will argue that the impugned bylaw infringes freedom of expression because it compels and coerces individuals to express themselves in a language not freely chosen, and in only French and English."

I have an interest in this story because one of the appellants is a colleague from the Ontario Libertarian Party, Jean-Serge Brisson.

Jean-Serge has a long history of defending liberty in Canada and is one of the few Canadian Libertarians ever to have held public office. The appeal is this week in Toronto at The Court of Appeal for Ontario located in historic Osgoode Hall, Toronto.

The hearing is open to the public: 130 QUEEN ST W, Toronto, Ontario - Courtroom 10 at 10:30 am Thursday Feb. 2, 2012.
Case Number C52704 Galganov, Howard v. The Corporation of Twp. of Russel et al

Friday, January 27, 2012

Signs of Hope & Change 2

There is trouble ahead on the labour front. Why else would two of Canada's largest Unions consider merging, for efficiencies or added clout? I'm thinking clout. The Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union,  (CEP) have a total of more than 320,000 members, and have been in discussions for weeks. They are circling the wagons, it won't be long before other unions do the same thing. We may be headed back to the era of general strikes in Canada, 91 years after the Winnipeg General Strike.
In Ontario, after eight years of spending like a drunken sailor, Premier Dalton McGuinty, is threatening to implement austerity measures because he has doubled spending and the provincial debt. The Province received a credit rating warning from Moody's, and he noted this week that half of all government spending (about $55 billion a year) goes to wages. His target will be the public sector unions. You can almost see the large chess pieces moving into place for the battle ahead, it will be epic.

In the US, Obama gave the State of the Union speech or should I say, the kick-off to his re-election campaign. This President is bankrupt, of both ideas and money. No more will Hope & Change be the mantra, we have moved into the era of envy and resentment. Equality and fairness will be Obama's new slogan. "A return to the American values of fair play and shared responsibility will help us protect our people and our economy." Forget the American dream, tax the rich, the Buffett Rule, that will solve America's problems, and give numerous tax credits to incentivize everyone. Looks like the IRS, will be the arbiter of wealth creation in America. And I loved this line: "I’m a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That Government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more." Right. That's why there are so many laws, and Obama will not hesitate to add to the pile.
All the while Mitt and Newt are duking it out for the GOP nomination, and are nothing to look forward to. I hope Ron Paul sticks it out to the end, and maybe brokers a deal for his support.

Just for fun, and because it would be cool, two 17 year-old boys from a high school where I was once a teacher, sent Lego man into near space and recorded the entire adventure. They even managed to retrieve Lego man, the recording equipment, 1500 photos and two videos from the landing spot 122 km away, without much of a search. They did this with no government help, no incentives but the pure joy of doing and discovering. Check out the video:

The not so dog eat dog world of competition

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Toward a sensible policy on prohibited drugs

"Do we stop fighting the war on death?" that was a quote from one of the three panelists during a seminar I attended this week on Drug Policy sponsored by the Institute for Liberal Studies. The speaker was comparing the struggle in the medical community to stave off disease and death, with the struggle by governments around the world called "the war on drugs." Don't worry if you don't see the analogy, I don't either. The quote was made during the Q & A near the end of the seminar after most in the room accepted that the war on drugs has failed. But the quote gets to the heart of who the first speaker was, a caring and concerned women, not an expert, but someone that has researched and written on the issue of prohibited drugs, and is convinced that legalization or loosening the rules, will increase drug use, addiction and crime. In the Canadian context, this woman espouses typical authoritarian Conservative values, and in fact she was a Conservative partisan for many years.

The second speaker was an expert, who has written on drug policy and is associated with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. While she was no libertarian on drug policy, her views are probably more in line with many Canadians. She admitted that the war on drugs has failed but was convinced "controls" needed to be in place, because of the risks to users. She was willing to consider legal regulation of certain drugs for the purposes of public health. Her goal was harm reduction.

The final speaker did have a libertarian view, again not an expert on drugs per se, but her efforts toward a doctorate in Latin American studies made it impossible for her to ignore the impact of the gang related drug warfare raging in that area. Victoria Henderson thinks that drug policy needs to be approached from a transnational view because that's how various authorities are prosecuting the war on drugs. Ms. Henderson pointed to the "balloon effect" in Latin American, where the US government has, alone or with help from local authorities tried to squelch drug production in say Peru or Bolivia, only to see production pop-up in Columbia like a balloon under pressure. Of course its primarily US drug consumption that funds the black market in drugs and the gang wars in Latin America. The simple fact that prices of illicit drugs have dropped while purity has increased, is testimony to the simple economics of supply and demand. Usage has increased while prices have dropped, meaning supply is plentiful and the restrictions imposed by governments don't work.
Ms. Henderson pointed to the Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy that begins with:
"The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed." It doesn't get much clearer than that, and they don't stop there. Their recommendations are equally blunt, starting with:
"End the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others. Challenge rather than reinforce common misconceptions about drug markets, drug use and drug dependence." 
Practically a libertarian view, if only it were so simple. But as I indicated above, there are well meaning people that have diametrically opposing views.

But things might be changing. In recent weeks, the inappropriately named Liberal Party of Canada, has adopted a policy that involves legalizing marijuana. Not quite what was recommended by the Global Commission, but a move in the right direction. This is what might be called moving the Overton Window on the issue. Putting what was once unthinkable, into the realm of discussion, possibly at the next election. Nothing to get too excited about, but there is evidence from Portugal, here and here, that suggests decriminalization may have positive results, ammunition for future discussion.
Ms. Henderson displayed and described the horrific impact of the war on drugs in Latin America, tens of thousands willfully and accidentally (see video below) dead and she ended with this quote: "If you can't control drugs in a maximum-security prison, how can the government control drugs in a free society?" (Anthony Papa)

Guatemala, victim of the balloon effect in the war on drugs.

"I blame the war on drugs in the United States for what is happening here in Guatemala." -- Giancarlo Ibarguen

The graph above left, comes from Wikipedia on Substance Abuse: Legal drugs are not necessarily safer. A study in 2010 asked drug-harm experts to rank various illegal and legal drugs. Alcohol was found to be the most dangerous by far. The data comes from the UK, and may not be entirely transferable to North America. But even in the Global Commission report, alcohol is fourth behind heroin, cocaine and barbiturates, cannabis is tenth. Alcohol is not controlled in the same way, yet causes almost as much harm, more if you believe the UK graph above. On top of everything, there is hypocrisy in harm reduction and the war on drugs.

The Buffett Rule: comparing apples to oranges

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Signs of Hope & Change 1

Three years ago this week Mr. Hope & Change, Barak Obama was installed as POTUS. It was historic, a black President in the White House! For anyone like me that lived through the race riots of the sixties, it was stunning. But I had no illusions that this guy was going to change anything, and here we are three years later and I'm fairly certain that whatever hope there was, has evaporated too.
The cartoon that I snatched really puts an exclamation point to Obama's election promises. I don't really care if Canadian Oil is refined in the US or China or even in Canada (why not?). The Keystone pipeline decision is a perfect example of how governments position themselves in places they do not belong. This decision was entirely political, aided and abetted by misguided environmentalists who protected nothing but their own political turf.
I suspect at some point the pipe will be built - but not until the 2012 US elections are done. Democrats will say this is a good move for Obama and his re-election, it shows how different he is from his GOP counterparts. Sure he is. In Washington its politics as usual, nothing has changed. While free markets enable the economy and wealth production, politics and government disable the economy and wealth production. Obama and all his brilliant advisors have no clue how wealth is created and no idea of how America became he wealthiest country ever.

Unfortunately Obama's slogan of "hope and change" now has the connotation of failure. Obama was given a Nobel Peace Prize just for the "hope," but it should be removed for the reality.

I believe that the slogan "hope and change" should be revived, I think there is plenty of hope that things will change for the better, in the long run, they always have. I'll do this periodically, here is an example of a tiny bit of hope.

SOPA & PIPA: Best explanation of the dangers

Yesterday if you tried to use Wikipedia, you saw that message (photo) on your screen, it was "closed," unless you knew the work around.
These two laws that are before the American Congress and Senate, are designed to stop piracy on the internet, and protect intellectual property. On the surface these appear to be good things, good laws, that help writers and creators etc. I've already heard a talk radio host try to defend them on that basis, and this host is often against government regulations that restrict freedom. So my first inclination was to try and explain to him why these are draconian laws.
My mind works like this: why bother trying to do something if someone else has already done it, AND done a better job of it. Thats why if you come to my blog, you will note that I like to "share" stuff that is already available. That could get me in trouble with these laws, not that I am stealing material, I'm just trying to show people where to find good information. Laws like this in the US may eventually come to Canada, I guess that too is sharing and very worrying.
Let me share with you the best explanation I have seen thus far for these two laws. Its on a site I have mentioned before: The Khan Academy, it's absolutely excellent. Look here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ron Paul on Kudlow Report Jan 13/12

"It is unlikely to see growth derailed by the housing market." --Ben Bernake, 2006

Kudlow: The federal reserve system has hundreds of PhD economists - how is it possible that they completely missed the worst meltdown since the 1930's?

H/T Paul S.

Not on the fringe anymore: the Ron Paul Effect

Persistence has paid off for Ron Paul. That's rare in politics, usually repetitive attempts at election create fatigue of one sort or another.

The fact that Ron Paul is still in the thick of things after his second place finish in New Hampshire, and a strong third in Iowa, is evidence that his message resonates with many Republicans. Why not, of the six candidates remaining in the GOP race, he is the only one that has policy ideas significantly different from those of the incumbent Democratic President Obama. That is an insult to those five other GOP candidates, but welcome to the world of collectivist, mainstream thinking.

In the US, a deep and never ending recession seems to have a grip on "main street" even though government statistics show that weak growth is occurring in some parts of the economy. Jobless rates are still high, many American workers have given up.

The housing market has yet to recover from a collapse that Rep. Paul and other "Austrians" predicted some years ago.

The price of gold has hit new highs as the American dollar continues to lose value, again, as predicted by Ron Paul and other Austrians.

The endless, pointless and expensive wars that Americans are entangled in, has made Ron Paul the darling of soldiers and combat veterans alike because of his anti-war stance.

This time Ron Paul is playing an important role in the election cycle because “he’s giving American voters a choice – for much smaller government, much lower taxes, eliminating government debt, bringing our troops home – choices the Republican and Democratic Party have refused to give them,” says Carla Howell, executive director of the US Libertarian Party.

Most importantly, Ron Paul can no longer be dismissed as 'fringe' by establishment Republicans because of his message of constitutional limited government.

Give a listen to what these two libertarians said about Ron Paul this week after New Hampshire:

Most importantly in the States, Ron Paul has succeeded in uniting some of the disparate factions of libertarianism. This despite recent attempts to discredit his cause by dragging up yet again, the newsletter scandal of years ago.

Because libertarians everywhere focus on principles rather than pragmatism, they have had the tendency to 'shoot themselves in the foot' during US elections. Though most libertarians agree on 95% of the issues, they get hung up on the 5% that they disagree on, and never seem to unite. To get a feel for what I mean, the video below does a pretty good job of describing historical differences in the American conservative and libertarian community, and what Ron Paul has done to unify them. Have a look:
Of course for Canadian libertarians, like me, living beside the American media elephant, Ron Paul is, and has been a blessing, in the non-religious sense of course. Not just here in Canada, in Australia, in Europe, everywhere libertarians exist, a new awareness in the media and the population has taken root. The spillover effect could be considerable and positive for all libertarians everywhere, if we capitalize on it; and we must.

A well know conservative writer even credits Paul with a remarkable achievement. Charles Krauthammer refers to Ron Paul's second place finish as the biggest story coming out of the New Hampshire Primary. He goes on to suggest that if Ron Paul stays in the race until the GOP Convention in August: "Libertarianism will have gone from the fringes — those hopeless, pathetic third-party runs — to a position of prominence in a major party." And, "the Republican convention could conceivably feature a major address by Paul calling for the abolition of the Fed, FEMA and the CIA; American withdrawal from everywhere; acquiescence to the Iranian bomb — and perhaps even Paul’s opposition to a border fence lest it be used to keep Americans in. Not exactly the steady, measured, reassuring message a Republican convention might wish to convey. For libertarianism, however, it would be a historic moment: mainstream recognition at last." 

That could be the legacy of the Ron Paul effect, and 2012 could be a new beginning for libertarians and classical liberalism. I'm reminded of a great line from one of my favourite movies, Inherit the Wind: "An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral!" Ron Paul has been instrumental in exposing the libertarian idea.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Screwing up Education and shafting the poor too

"Our elementary schools really need to focus on the basics, on the foundations of learning for all students…..we need to have high-quality, consistent, inclusive programs." That's the view of a school board trustee for the York Region D. S. B., a large Ontario school board that is considering cutting specialized arts and sports programs because they might be elitist. Another trustee counters with: "How could everybody learn the same way? We don't think that (way) educationally, and here we're trying to do it." At the same time Annie Kidder, the Director of People for Education a non-profit lobby group, says specialty schools attract wealthier students. Ms. Kidder fears "social polarization" in the specialty schools but then goes on to admit that, "Choice is open to those with the capacity to choose." Apparently she has no fear of polarization there, wealthier families can give their children an enriched and varied learning experience, because they are wealthier. 

But aren't the schools Ms. Kidder supports, the government public schools, supposed to ensure that education is equally available to all, rich or poor? Shouldn't parents and children of poor families have the opportunity to choose the way they want to learn and have some choices at least? Apparently Ms. Kidder is more interested in homogeneity in the school system rather than catering to the needs of students. Let the children of poor families get the one-size-fits-all education, right Ms. Kidder?
Contrast the YRDSB story above to the stated policy of the largest Ontario School Board, the Toronto D. S. B. Almost two years ago the TDSB proposed the creation of specialized schools to give free market private school opportunities to children within the government public school system. In my view, since we are currently forced to have government public schools, at least provide some choice within them. Who knows, all the remaining TDSB government schools might need to improve in order to compete with their own specialty government schools. It could be win-win for TDSB students.

Meanwhile at the other end of the educational spectrum in Ontario, the McGuinty Liberal government is offering a 30% tuition  reduction to the majority of post-secondary students. I say majority even though there is an income qualification. The student's family must have a gross income of less than $160,000. Since the average personal income in Ontario is less than $38,000, qualifying for this rebate should be dead simple unless your parents are really rich. So, as Ken Coates points out in this column:
"Clearly this social program was targeted, for political reasons, at middle- and upper-middle-class families, whose children already attend university in large numbers. The 2011 Ontario election was vacuous. There were no defining issues, little public interest. All three parties worked extremely hard to avoid controversial positions. The tuition rebate was transparent. Vote Liberal, those of you with university-aged children, and the cheque will be in the mail." Exactly right, buy some votes. McGuinty is spending money that the province must borrow, because there is already a $16 billion deficit, and a debt close to $250 billion. Things are so tight that, Moody's the rating agency, has issued a warning on Ontario's credit rating. Can we afford this rebate? Are you kidding?

Again, poor families with less capacity to choose are being shafted. If you are going to have an income qualification, make the cut off $75,000 and increase the rebate. At least the lower income families will be targeted and maybe helped. 

Having said all of that, I would prefer a competitive system of schools, with as little government interference as possible, but we are in very deep with a system that serves teachers, and administrators, best of all.     

Monday, January 9, 2012

Taking the Red Pill....

Your worldview is shaped by the sum total of the events and people that have impacted your life thus far. By the time you reach adulthood your life rolls along down a rut of your own creation, and its very difficult to dislodge most people from their worldview rut. Because of this, arguing worldview with people is difficult or pointless. It's the reason I don't argue with theists anymore. At some level in their thinking they do not accept reason and evidence in the fundamental things, the way I do. But even these people can be moved if they harbour any doubts at all.
Its true in politics as well. Generally arguments are pointless and only deepen the ruts if beliefs are firmly held.
People that drastically change their views may have been hiding something that allows them to make the change abruptly. Some good advice given in Shakespeare's Hamlet works here, "To thine own self be true." 

In the movie The Matrix the hero, Neo, takes the red pill to affirm his hidden suspicions and finally accept reality as it is. He was true to himself, but he was likely halfway there already.

So it is with the announcement this weekend by a veteran Toronto newspaper writer and editor who came out of the closet, as he put it, and declared himself a libertarian. Like Neo he was finally true to himself as well, it was just a matter of announcing it.
Of course this still takes courage, maybe less so when you are established in your career, but never underestimate how such a declaration seems to make horns sprout from your head in the view of some people.
Over the years, the generally held view of members of my party has been to seek out those people who are already leaning toward libertarianism, and help them screw their courage to the sticking post, to use a Shakespearean metaphor (this time from Macbeth). Literally, to help them take the Red Pill by offering it to them. I think this is a good time to come out, the lines are being drawn and closets tend to be stuffy.       

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Put your books away, its time for a quiz!

It has been a while since I said that. Of course the line students wish for that follows my heading is: "but it doesn't count!"
So relax, this one doesn't count either, but you will learn something.
The questions in this quiz were used some years ago as part of a Zogby International survey to gauge "economic enlightenment" among Americans based on questions of basic economics that were intermixed among other questions.

Other important data was collected data as well, including: each respondent's 2008 presidential vote, party affiliation, voting participation, race or ethnic group, urban vs. rural, religious affiliation, religious participation, union membership, marital status, membership in armed forces, NASCAR fandom!, membership in the “investor class,” patronage at Wal-Mart, household income, and gender. Thorough eh?

For your amusement, I present to you just the eight salient questions involved. Give them a shot and I'll discuss scoring later.

Please indicate whether you agree or disagree with each of the following statements.

1. Minimum wage laws raise unemployment.
  1. Strongly Agree  2. Somewhat Agree     3. Somewhat Disagree 4. Strongly Disagree       5. Not sure

2. Rent-control laws lead to housing shortages.
  1. Strongly Agree  2. Somewhat Agree     3. Somewhat Disagree 4. Strongly Disagree       5. Not sure

3. Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.
  1. Strongly Agree  2. Somewhat Agree     3. Somewhat Disagree 4. Strongly Disagree       5. Not sure

4. A company that has the largest market share is a monopoly.
  1. Strongly Agree  2. Somewhat Agree     3. Somewhat Disagree 4. Strongly Disagree       5. Not sure

5 .Third-world workers working overseas for American companies are being exploited.
  1. Strongly Agree  2. Somewhat Agree     3. Somewhat Disagree 4. Strongly Disagree       5. Not sure

6. Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the price of those services.
  1. Strongly Agree  2. Somewhat Agree     3. Somewhat Disagree 4. Strongly Disagree       5. Not sure

7. Overall, the standard of living is better today than it was 30 years ago.
  1. Strongly Agree  2. Somewhat Agree     3. Somewhat Disagree 4. Strongly Disagree       5. Not sure

8. Free trade leads to unemployment.
  1. Strongly Agree  2. Somewhat Agree     3. Somewhat Disagree 4. Strongly Disagree       5. Not sure 

Remember the Occupy movement, way back last year? One of the criticisms of that group that I supported, was their obvious lack of economic knowledge which was apparent because of their demands. This type of quiz makes that assertion more credible as you will see.

The Zogby researchers Zeljka Buturovic and Daniel B. Klein discovered that of the 4,835 respondents' (all American adults) in their survey, there was a clear association of enlightened answers and self proclaimed political persuasion. The researchers asked the respondents to state their political leanings as either: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; or libertarian. Rather than looking at correct answers, the researchers looked at answers that were clearly "unenlightened."
So, look at the first question above. Minimum wage laws set a floor below which employers are not permitted to pay their employees any less. That means employers either pay that amount to employees, and reduce their own profit, or as often happens, not hire more people and push the extra work onto current employees. So the enlightened answer is to AGREE with question one. When scoring, both "somewhat disagree" and "strongly disagree" were considered unenlightened or incorrect. "Somewhat agree" was accepted as correct in case the respondent thought the question was ambiguous, and "not sure" was not counted.

The researchers discovered that the incorrect responses from 0 to 8 are as follows: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26. The last two groups were the MOST UNENLIGHTENED.

This is a dramatic difference, and it supports my contention that the economic knowledge of so called "leftists" or better "statists," needs to be upgraded. Libertarians, as I would have guessed, are fairly well grounded in fundamental economics. The Occupy movement, that I believe consists largely of people who think government intervention is the solution to economic disparity, likely belongs to the poorly scoring statists.

One of the researchers, Daniel Klein, wrote about his work in the Wall Street Journal, and did an analysis of the questions which is interesting:

"To be sure, none of the eight questions specifically challenge the political sensibilities of conservatives and libertarians. Still, not all of the eight questions are tied directly to left-wing concerns about inequality and redistribution. In particular, the questions about mandatory licensing, the standard of living, the definition of monopoly, and free trade do not specifically challenge leftist sensibilities.
Yet on every question the left did much worse. On the monopoly question, the portion of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly (31%) was more than twice that of conservatives (13%) and more than four times that of libertarians (7%). On the question about living standards, the portion of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly (61%) was more than four times that of conservatives (13%) and almost three times that of libertarians (21%)."

Check your own score - Enlightened answers:

H/T Claude Lesperance

Canadian Healthcare - Waiting Your Turn

There are nights when there is nothing worth watching on television and a few like last night. There were the results from the Iowa Caucuses, disappointing, the Canadian Juniors playing Russia, disappointing, and an interesting spin on Canadian healthcare, all going on at the same time.
Radio talk show host Jerry Agar was doing a substitution stint for Ezra Levant on the SUN NEWS channel, and the entire show was devoted to Canadian healthcare. Mr. Agar elaborated on two myths about healthcare:
  • Government is the only entity caring and efficient enough to offer health care to Canadians.
  • Canada provides the same healthcare service to the poor as to the rich.
He used a report produced by the Fraser Institute recently, titled Waiting Your Turn, and pointed out that monopoly services are controlled by making customers wait. Who can forget the long lines for bread and toilet paper in the former Soviet Union which monopolized the production and distribution of goods? In Canada, healthcare is a monopoly, and too many Canadians suffer from a nationalistic, chauvinistic attitude that somehow our healthcare system makes us better than our American neighbours. Its past time to stop that silliness. 

Watch the video here and then you may want to watch HEALTHCARE HULLABALOO, afterward with Dr. Roy Eappen, familiar to many of us, as he comments on this issue.   

Ron Paul on to New Hampshire

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Funding faith-based schools, good?

Conflicted, that was my initial reaction when I read that the Government of Saskatchewan has decided to fund faith-based schools this year. I have several conflicts about that.
I'm not a fan of religious anything (except maybe foods), let alone education, and governments shouldn't be funding education or even involved in it. Of course when governments do fund education, as they do in most jurisdictions, there is also the conflict that religious teaching should not be something that taxpayers are forced to support - that's the church and state conflict. So you might be surprised with my considered opinion on this issue. I think this new funding is a step in the right direction. Why?

Where I live in Ontario, the provincial government funds the public system and since the mid-1980's it also funds all Roman Catholic Schools. Of course this is controversial, but it's a constitutional issue that goes back to the founding of Canada. That doesn't make it right, thats just the way it is. Why not fund all religions?

In an editorial today the Globe and Mail disagrees with Saskatchewan's decision. Its chief concern is that this new funding emphasizes the "separateness" in the schools, in what is becoming a very diverse population. This is very typical of the statist view in Canada. On the one hand Canadian governments encourage bilingualism, and multiculturalism because diversity brings new ideas, and new viewpoints to the Canadian population - its good. On the other hand the statists, including the major political parties, advocate 'sameness' in education to unify the country. As the Globe suggests: "A diverse population needs strong core institutions. It needs rallying points and meeting places, especially for its young people." So, separate schools are bad....unless of course they're Ontario. Confused yet? I am.

Why wouldn't it be a good thing to have diversity of choice in the schools, with competitive curriculums? Wouldn't that encourage schools to develop best practices that maybe produce better students and maybe give parents more options for their coerced tax dollars? I think it might. Would atheist/secular schools be funded?

It seems to me that if diversity of the population is good, so is diversity of the educational institutions, unless there is an ulterior motive, and of course there is. The state may not want competition of thought in the younger population, it wants unity, sameness of thinking. That is the best way to keep the ship of state from being rocked in the future. Or am I wrong? Why should their be more freedom of choice when the state can arbitrarily create less? That's really the issue isn't it, more freedom or less. The Globe suggests in the final line of its editorial:    "Diverse public schools are a multicultural society’s best way to promote unity, while still preserving difference." That almost sounds like Newspeak