Friday, November 16, 2012

A farewell from Ron Paul

Here is likely the final address to Congress of Texas Rep. Ron Paul. His final chance to tell them what he really thinks, and he pulls no punches as usual.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Market Power - I, Pencil

There is nothing simple about the science of economics. Worse yet it's very difficult to predict using ordinary mathematical principles commonly used in science.

For example in chemistry it's fairly straightforward to predict the products and their quantity in a particular chemical reaction or even a set of reactions if the starting materials and conditions of the chemical reaction are known beforehand. Using stoichiometry, "the rules of chemical reactions," its simple enough that high school students can do the calculations and make the predictions.

Economics, is very different. There is something called econometrics, the application of math and statistics to economics. It's very useful in showing economic trends and events in the past, but predicting the future, not so much.

In the 19th century, Thomas Carlyle called economics the "dismal science" in response to the grim predictions in the writings of Malthus in the previous century. Malthus was wrong, he could not predict the scientific and agricultural advances that changed the lives and economics of Western civilization, the apocalypse did not happen as Malthus envisioned.

Malthusians in the guise of environmentalists are still around today, predicting doom and gloom. It makes for great news stories because of the hyperbole involved, the books written, movies made, and the creation of an army of charlatan scientists predicting doom and gloom. Malthus would have been proud.

In economics, more often than not, the past does not predict the future because human actions are far too complex. But because humans are incentivized to act for their own well being, what seems chaotic and spontaneous often has wonderful orderly results, and what seems destructive, ends up being very creative.

The following video is a perfect example of a seemingly chaotic and spontaneous interplay, creating order.           

If you didn't understand that, here it is explained.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bastiat Prize for Journalism 2012

John Robson (second from left) of the Ottawa Sun and a frequent contributor to SUN TV NEWS received second place honours, $5,000 and a candlestick from the Reason Foundation's Bastiat Prize for Journalism.

Here are some interesting comments from attendee's of that event.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Caring for the aged, voluntarily

My daughter works for a small local university as a writer and web specialist, promoting the school to the rest of the community. Interestingly the head of the business department in this school is an advocate of the Austrian School of Economics. It turns out other professors are discovering that governments are often not the answer to every social issue. Here from one of her postings is an example:
A low-cost answer to our aging population? We’re already doing it.

Why the Canadian Association on Gerontology is interested in one UofGH Professor’s findings… and why others should be, too

By now, a discussion around the aging population and its impacts needs almost no introduction. Dr. Brenda Elias, Professor in the Family and Community Social Services Program at the University of Guelph-Humber, echoes the sentiment: “We know we are looking forward to amazing numbers of people growing old. We know about the baby boomers.”

The latest population projections, according to Ontario’s Ministry of Finance, show the number of seniors aged 65 and over to more than double – from 1.9 million to 4.2 million – by the year 2036.

Add to this one more absolute: “And we know about the huge concern around healthcare costs,” says Dr. Elias.

While part of the Ontario government’s solution has been, in Dr. Elias’ words, ‘investing billions in big healthcare centres with lots of technology and expensive machines’, she has been investing her time in searching elsewhere for answers.

“In looking at small, rural communities, we find very rich and vibrant centres,” she says. “They may look sleepy, but in fact, they’re good places to grow old because of amazing volunteers leading not-for-profit organizations. Not because of trained professionals.”

She adds that the investments put forth by larger provinces in Canada, such as Ontario, often don’t reach many seniors, as rural communities often boast senior populations of more than 50 per cent. These seniors often don’t have access to family doctors or walk-in clinics – something city dwellers might take for granted.

Dr. Elias’ research took her to Georgetown, a small community in Ontario, home to a not-for-profit-run seniors facility called Bennett Village. What she found was remarkable success amid unremarkable circumstances.

“This not-for profit organization already has two facilities for seniors, but given the needs of their population, they’re being proactive and planning for a third next spring with long-term care beds,” says Dr. Elias.

She continues: “This community doesn’t have any more money than anyone else in Ontario. But what they’re saying is, we have a responsibility to our neighbours; we can take control of this situation; we don’t need government money.”

“They didn’t wait for someone else to come along and offer financial help. They just went out and did it. What they have is strong leadership - and that’s what it’s all about,” she says.

Dr. Elias points to what she calls a newfound caliber of volunteer as the reason behind such strong leadership. As baby boomers now enter retirement, a new pool of trained professionals is forming.

“We’ve never before had trained professionals with the time, resources, energy, and enough pension money [to support such demanding volunteerism]. This is a tremendous resource that Canadians have, that is not necessarily replicated around the world – not even in the United States,” she says.

In finding that small, rural Canadian communities are capable of supporting successful aging, Dr. Elias’ work corroborates that of others, including Dr. Norah Keating, a professor in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Alberta, and one of Canada’s pre-eminent social gerontologists.

The key now is to get the right people listening.

She presented her findings this month at the Canadian Association on Gerontology’s Annual Scientific and Educational Meeting, “but if we can discover what makes a successful, supportive community, and how to sustain leadership in the community – then that may be a very low cost option that government may want to take a look at.”

Sustaining strong leadership does add a final twist to this story. If successful communities are those that are taking advantage of their volunteers, then how can we ensure future volunteerism?

Admittedly a concern for Dr. Elias, who shakes her head at a current provincial government policy designed to support the trend: high school students in Ontario must complete a minimum of 40 hours of community involvement activities in order to graduate.

“I’m torn about this policy, because I’m worried that we’re not making sure that younger people understand volunteerism,” she says. “Volunteerism is a very fragile thing, and I’m worried about the future.” 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

They chose the devil they knew....

Unsurprisingly Barack Obama remains POTUS for another term. The US Congress is still divided, and as one of my more learned Facebook friends suggested during the TV count coverage last night:

"It appears we are headed for four more years of divided government and gridlock. The least bad of all possible outcomes."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for what happened, but as positive as could be hoped for. 

Alas, a 5% showing for Gary Johnson the Libertarian candidate, did not happen, not even close. Johnson had his best showing in his home state of New Mexico with just 3.5% of the popular vote, next was Montana with 2.9% then Wyoming with 2.2%. Everywhere else was slightly more or less than 1%. His national total (at this posting) was about 1,140,000 votes, just 1.0% of total votes cast. This graphic from Google is one of the best sources. The graphic above from the Libertarian National Committee neatly compares the three candidates on a variety of issues. Of course most campaigns really are not about issues, are they? 

Another Facebook friend pointed out an article written by a libertarian that stirs up the hornets nest of the third party in a two party system. It's an interesting argument here.

Then there is Jeffrey Tucker's blog that neatly summarizes a libertarian perspective on the entire ordeal that is the American election campaign here.

I've already seen indications that the next campaign has started....Rand Paul anyone?

Occupy vs. Liberty

Liberty Now 2012 - in the foyer UTVic...


I apologize, no postings for almost three weeks. Other work, and family obligations have kept me very busy. Some of you will know that I have been involved with the "liberty weekend" here in the Toronto area, and in all modesty, a  very successful one.
First, there was Liberty Now on Nov. 3, 2012, then my party's Annual General Meeting the very next day, so some things, like blogging, had to go by the wayside.

Liberty Now was a great success; it may even have lived up to it's billing as "Canada's largest Liberty Event." We had two liberty-related themes that day, each one with 3 sessions opposite the other throughout the day, all were well attended, plus a keynote lunchtime address from the host of Freedomain Radio, Stefan Molyneux. There was a liberty-bazzaar of sorts (see picture) in the foyer of the beautiful Victoria College building at the University of Toronto. The whole event was designed to bring people from different parts of the Canadian liberty movement together for discussion and networking purposes, and it worked wonderfully. The only negative about the day for me, the media chose not to attend, I'll have more on that.
The next day, Nov. 4, was my party's AGM, a private affair. Over the course of weeks and months, I've assisted the efforts of our party's Campaign Director, who has put us on the path to a useable, workable, presentable Platform, designed to ready our candidates with a document to carry into the coming Provincial election battle, likely next spring. We'll be ready, and with some hard work, and determination, we will strive for a full slate of candidates across Ontario.


You will recall that it has been about a year since the Occupy Wall Street movement rose up, seemingly spontaneously in cities around the world including Toronto. The local media were all over it, covering every inane chant, every emanation and demand from a besieged neighbourhood park in the heart of Toronto live and direct. I thought of that event while driving home from the event on November third.
Prior to Liberty Now I had notified some local media, radio and TV, about Liberty Now, once I saw that we could have a good crowd. As many as 115 people actually showed up that day to occupy Victoria College, of course they paid us, and we asked permission from the College, rented the space and paid for the day. Everything was done by mutual agreement. We did not squat in a public area, we did not disrupt a neighbourhood or force ourselves on the local citizenry. It was totally peaceful, no demands, no whining, no muddy mess left behind, on the contrary, Liberty Now came replete with solutions and suggestions to improve the lives of Canadians and all people. A positive event, attended by people no less sincere than the Occupiers of last year, but no media. We'll be back, bigger and better.