The Shotgun Blog
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Hitchens the neo-con
Is the anti-war Left really anti-war? Or have they become something worse -- supporters of Saddam and his Baathist thugs?
Christopher Hitchens makes a powerful case here. Some excerpts, just to pick two:
So that was what was actually happening on that celebrated “Saturday”. A vast crowd of people reiterating the identical mantras of Ba’athism — one of the most depraved and reactionary ideologies of the past century. How on earth, or how the hell, did we arrive at this sordid terminus? How is it that the anti-war movement’s favourite MP, George Galloway, has a warm if not slightly sickly relationship with dictators in Baghdad and Damascus?
How comes it that Ramsey Clark, the equivalent public face in America, is one of Saddam’s legal team and has argued that he was justified in committing the hideous crimes of which he stands accused? Why is the left’s beloved cultural icon, Michael Moore, saying that the “insurgents” in Iraq are the equivalent of the American revolutionaries of 1776?
call me a neo-conservative if you must: anything is preferable to the rotten unprincipled alliance between the former fans of the one-party state and the hysterical zealots of the one-god one.
Cross-posted at Wonkitties.
Stephen Harper: He *is* Spock!
Daisy Chain has reappeared, I guess, out of a desire to compete with my new American source. He tells me that nothing makes our prime minister angrier than bad grammar and incorrect spelling. Writeth Daisy Chain:
If I mix up it's and its, or your and you're, he goes bonkers. Well, his version of bonkers. Sort of like Spock going bonkers. But you know he hates it.
I have to say I'm with Harper on this one. How on earth a grown person could make such mistakes is beyond me. And fyi: When Daisy Chain sent me this email, he spelled grammar with an "er" at the end. Argh! When I saw that, I went bonkers -- and not like Spock.
Cross-posted at Wonkitties.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Iranian Nuclear Issue
Chinese, Russians and Indians are sucking Iranian energy and financial resources as much as they can and they'll definitely block any UN backed resolution on Iran.
It is difficult to predict how Russia and China will act in the next week UN security council meeting on Iran but all I can tell is that it is not going to be easy for the global community to deal with a dangerous regime that threatens the world security.
The way our democratic world is heading reminds me of how scattered and unwilling the world's democracies were in mid 1930s and their unwillingness to react to Hitler resulted in a terrible tragedy that lasted for more than 6 years.
Now, the time is going by faster and our options with respect to Iran is getting lesser and limited and I see three main options left for western countries when dealing with Iran
1- Continuing the appeasement policy as the EU-3 have been doing this for the past few years and meet the consequences of such failed policy in very near future when Iran acquires the nuclear weapons.
2- Another option is military intervention in order to halt the Iranian nuclear weapons program for a short period of time. This option is the most dangerous of the three options. This will definitely set back Iranian nuclear ambition for years but it will also halt the democratic movement of the Iranian people for years to come since it strengthens the regime and may help the mullahs abuse the nationalistic sentiments of the average Iranian people
3- The best and less expensive option, to my opinion, is to accelerate the "Regime Change" efforts! A democratic Iran will not pose any risk to our world, a free and democratic Iran means a secure and safe Israel and a strong and united free Iran will bring peace and stability to the middle east region.
I wonder what option the democratic world would go ahead with, when it comes to the theocratic regime ruling Iran and oppressing its own people.
Friday, April 28, 2006
A thousand words
(via small dead animals)
Jane Jacobs, Bastion of Free Enterprize
[Originally posted by Timothy M. Denton at Tim Denton and Invited Guests]
Jane Jacobs' death yesterday sent me to my bookshelves to find her "Systems of Survival", which I found beside Adam Smith, and with Machiavelli, Darwin, de Toqueville, Locke, Burke, Schumpeter, Thomas Sowell and Malthus - my top shelf, where she belongs.
Jane Jacobs was a profoundly original thinker. The mystery to me was her success with the kind of people who seem to believe in the virtues of planning in every other domain of life. I refer to the political Left. Somehow the Left found Jacob's radical aversion to urban planning deeply congenial. How, I wonder, did she manage to hide the significance of her views in open sight? How did she manage to appeal to people who consider that planning, whether for urban growth, land use, the management of the economy, or global warming, is normal and wise? And by the same token, why has she never had the same high esteem accorded to her by the kind of people who think that Friedrich Hayek was a prophet, when her thinking is so congruent with his? (Hayek was the lonely man in the early 1940s who said that a planned economy would never be possible because planning destroyed the value of prices, which alone are sufficient for the social coordination of work and output).
Her revolt against urban planning was only the beginning of a long exposition of the virtues of the market, though she always referred to the phenomenon of trade and industry as what people did in cities, and spoke little or nothing about the "market" as such. Consider some of her titles since the book that made her famous, The Death and Life of Great American Cities:
The Economy of Cities (1970); Cities and the Wealth of Nations, The Principles of Economic Life (1984); Systems of Survival (1992); The Nature of Economies (2000).
These writings made clear that, for Jacobs, cities were the basis for productivity, growth, exchange, and progress. More specifically, she placed the concentration of people exchanging things, and substituting imports, at the centre of the economy. Rural life improved only insofar as cities needed food, drained the countryside of workers into more agreeable forms of life, and exported its productivity-enhancing machinery to farmers who, thanks to the needs of the city-dwellers, could afford to buy it. She never used the word "markets", but she was talking about them all the time.
As city trade expands, it draws into its reach other cities, and creates new ones in former supply zones, and draws them into volatile trading networks.
Increased quantities and proportions of all goods and services are imported into cities and become available for the process of import-replacing. Import replacing is a consequence of urban trade and a precondition for more of it happening.
For Jacobs, economic activity was as natural to man as dam-building is to beavers.
If there could be growth, there could also be decline. She saw excessive military expenditure as a "transaction of decline". Living off the avails of taxation was another kind of transaction of decline.More interestingly, she saw that national currencies had the effect of distorting the signals needed to tell which cities were doing well and which were in decline. So urban-centred was her view that she supported different currencies for different city-regions. It is instructive to think about how the value of the Montreal dollar would have fared against those of Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver as the separatist threat transformed the Montreal economy into a basket-case from the 1960's onward.
Her thinking about the role of cities in the development of wealth is entirely congruent with the notion that we have left behind the "nation-state" of the industrial age and have moved into the "market state" of the information age. This was one of the many interesting points made in Philip Bobbit's "The Shield of Achilles", discussed in another entry in this blog.
Her views of the nation-state were largely negative, in that states consistently foster "transactions of decline" in order to erase economic differentials between the productive cities and unproductive regions that are to be found in any place (viz. Canadian attempts at "regional economic expansion"). Writing in 1984, she said:
"Today, both the Soviet Union and China demonstrate to us governments that depend to an extreme degree on transactions of decline to hold the political unit together. Whatever wealth Soviet or Chinese cities create is promptly devoted to subsidies for other parts of the nation or purposes of the state. If my analysis of the deadly interplay between nations and cities is correct, then in the Soviet Union and China we are not seeing the dawns of significant new episodes in the history of economic development, but rather the spectacle of old empires still holding together at all costs." [Cities and the Wealth of Nations, Vintage edition, p.218]
The Soviet Union is no more and the Chinese are pursuing a policy of letting capitalists get rich. If Jacobs had been armed with the analysis she later developed in Systems of Survival (1992), she would have seen that communism, rather than being something new, was an extreme manifestation of guardian ideology. It deligitimated the entire concept of trading morality, and sought to physically exterminate the classes associated with trading, production, and private ownership.
Back to my point: how did she manage to appear as a leftie to leftists, while espousing the most comprehensively free-market approach to urban life, economic development, and social order? How did she manage this alchemy? I shall venture a partially satisfactory explanation, which others may improve.
Her understanding of the market was always deeply informed by its cocooning in non-market institutions. She seldom mentioned the word "markets", but always spoke of "cities", "import-shifting", "adding to new work to old work". She seemed less concerned by the legal rights to buy, sell and own, which characterize the legal status of people in a market, than with the tendency of some people in some favoured places (cities) to devise new processes, forms of work and products.
The key to her thinking is in the maintenance of a balanced view of the market as a social institution arising out of the bosom of "guardian" institutions. This idea that human life is profoundly influenced by two different systems of morality is expressed in her "Systems of Survival". The essence of her argument is displayed on one page, the comparison table with "guardian values" down one side, and "market values" down the other. It is worth buying the book for this one page.
Guardian values arise from the hierarchy, the church, the regiment - any place where people are not engaged in buying or selling. In guardian institutions, one "shuns trading". "displays magnificence", "deceives for the sake of the task", "defers and obeys", "conforms to the norms of the organization", "maintains secrecy", and so forth. This list may give the appearance that she considered guardian institutions to be somehow evil. Nothing could be further from the truth. Guardian institutions, she argued, are the original institutions. They start in taking, probably first in the taking of agricultural surplus, then in the regular exactions we call taxes and sacrifices to pay for the guardians' priestly, kingly and military duties.
Trading is older than agriculture, and so is industry, she argued, in an intersting reversal of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and the anthropologists [The Economy of Cities, Vintage edition, pp 46-48]. The demands of human settlements for food develops agriculture, she said, just as human settlements have developed the demand for electricity. Just because you find hydro-electric dams in the wilds does not mean that the demand for electricity started there. Likewise she argued cities, which may have been originally only settlements of a few acres in size, started the process of economic growth.
Trade and the classes that live on trade are as often as not strangled by guardian institutions, which resent the rise of the commercial classes to wealth and influence. The story of China's turning away from oceanic exploration in the 1200s is becoming better known. China's long political,economic, military and technological decline is attributed to the subjection of the commercial classes to the arbitrary pillaging by officials of the guardian classes. We shall see how successful China's latest attempt will be to allow capitalists to get rich without allowing capitalist property relations to prevail.
Guardian institutions are the core of the state. The British formula worked out in the 17th century of the King in Parliament seeks to balance the rights and interests of the Guardians with those who pay the taxes. We are the inheritors of this constitutional balance, and it is no accident that you are reading this and I am writing it in a state where the Guardians are held in check by the power of commercial interests, and both by the voters.
Market values require one to "shun force", "come to voluntary agreements", "collaborate easily with strangers and aliens", "cooperate for the sake of the task", "encourage innovation", "be not proud" and so forth. The cultural contrast is best illustrated by the differing norms of the Klingons and the Ferengi on Star Trek, Next Generation. The Klingons say "it is a good day to die" when things are at their worst, thus "showing fortitude" and "being fatalistic". They "treasure honour"; they "take vengeance". They "adhere to tradition"; they "respect hierarchy".
The Ferengi practice the 147 Laws of Acquisition. They "compete"; "respect contracts", "promote comfort and convenience"; they are industrious,thrifty and optimistic, three major features of the commercial morality. As so often is the case, science fiction efficiently illustrates concepts that would engage sensitivities if one spoke of warrior or trader communities of humans in such stereotypical terms.
Corruption occurs, says Jacobs, when trader/commercial values seep into guardian institutions, and vice versa. Courts are considered corrupt if the judge takes a bribe, policemen likewise. The Church is considered corrupt is it sells indulgences or annulments. The Church, the courts and the police are classic instances of guardian institutions. Similarly, if a commercial institution gets all high and mighty about social purposes, such as extending service to the poor, or being concerned about global warming, one dollar more than they should be for rational profit-making, then the commercial ethos has been corrupted by the guardian one. She cited the nuclear power industry as a case of guardians perverting a commercial idea (power generation) with a technology that would never have been taken up if commercial reasoning had been applied to it.
The one place in society where the institution must be both guardian and commercial is the lawyer's Bar. The lawyers must be officers of the Court for guardian purposes, and commercial agents for their clients. No other institution is accorded this Janus-faced status.
Thus, while Jacobs was constantly arguing for the primacy of cities as zones of wealth creation, when they were working right, she was also arguing for the kinds of legal relations among commerçants or burghers that only the free market allows. The kinds of mobility, of capital, labour, ideas, and social class, required for cities to do their work in Jacobs' vision are predicated on what the economists call the market.
In one sense she disguised her thinking about markets by calling them "the work of cities". In another and more important sense she insisted that the work of cities was the essential engine of economic growth. Her insistence on seeing economic growth as embedded in certain kinds of human institutions and arrangements, and not others, and in seeing the work of cities as often threatened by states, by guardians, and transactions of decline they support, make her an important and interesting thinker, and a champion of the market as novel as Friedrich Hayek.
Jacobs' Systems of Survival permanently changed how I thought about society, and her writings on economics - in the form of the work of cities - will continue to inform thinking people for a very long time.
I hope she will be taken up in death with the same enthusiasm by the market-oriented Right as she has been by the Left. If, for example, I could get away with being a champion of the extremely socially conservative while promulgating socially liberal views to them, it would be no mean feat. I do not for a moment think she was practicing deception of any kind. She simply looked the part of the Jewish frumpy old lady of suitably leftist views for the Toronto-Beaches NDP crowd, but what a magnificent guise in which to subvert their confidence in planning and a planned society!
Jane Jacobs gives people good tools to think with, and policy implications flow naturally from her ways of thinking, as they do from Adam Smith. When someone asks what English Canada has produced in the last fifty years, you can confidently refer your questioner to Jane Jacobs and Marshall McLuhan. They were truly original and interesting thinkers. Time will judge their importance. I expect the judgment of posterity will be favourable.
Timothy M. Denton
The Swedish "Solution"
Ten years ago I first met the American scholar Allan Carlson, who has since been serving as President of The Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, based in Rockford Illinois He is a quiet, genial man and a clear and concise thinker and writer who holds a Ph.D. in Modern European History. He is also one of the world’s experts on Swedish social policy.
This touches us as Canadians, because just about the time Prime Minister Lester Pearson and his Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau were revving up to change Canada forever beyond all recognition of its former self, Sweden was moving onto the radar screen as a model of “progressive” social development. The attraction lay in the fact that none of Canada’s liberal intellectual class could in all conscience continue their qualified affection for communism now that Eastern Europeans trying to escape the socialist paradise were being shot in the back by their own governments. Our own pathetic intellectual fellow-travelers might mutter to friends that they still admired communism “in theory,” even though it had – oops! - failed in practice. But by then it seemed far too risky an ideal to defend in public, even in theory. (Indeed, I remind Canadians that it was not until the mid-1990s that the word “socialism” was used freely in public by journalists to describe Canada’s “system”.)
But Canadians were as resolutely anti-free-market capitalism, and therefore anti-American. And … Canada, suffering as always from various identity crises, needed to define and defend its own personality in contrast to both of these powerful options. So Sweden was considered “the middle way” - between totalitarian communism and unfettered capitalism - to achieve the progressive egalitarian state without violence or materialistic greed. And so the modeling process began. Once Pierre Trudeau became Prime Minister, almost everything we did, at least with respect to family, educational, and social policies slavishly followed the Swedish model.
Canadians who want a brief and trenchant survey of this process in Sweden itself would do well to send for the most recent article by Allan Carlson, entitled “The De-institutionalization of Marriage: the Case of Sweden.” It is the feature article in the most recent issue of The Family in America, Volume 20, Numbers 2&3, February/March 2006 which is the Howard Center’s occasional newsletter. You can call them at 1-800-461-3113 for a copy. There you will see the entire blueprint for the de-institutionalization of the western family in a few crisp pages.
On Monday I will try to summarize this vile process. And below I will suggest some very good reading that will give insight into how undermining the traditional family is the key to socializing any modern nation. Before the Swedes were subjected to this process they were a very family-based traditional society having lots of kids; replacing themselves; even growing rapidly. But in a matter of only two decades a mere handful of radical socialist egalitarians led by Nobel prize-winning economist Gunnar Myrdal and his stridently radical wife, Alva, almost singlehandedly changed the entire Swedish nation. The same process took place here in Canada led by Trudeau and his gang of five. How is it possible? How, exactly, in ostensibly democratic nations such as Sweden and Canada, where it is the people as a whole who are expected to decide whether or not they wish to alter their fundamental way of life, is it possible for just a few determined radicals to uproot them and send them down the radical road to socialism?
It’s easy. The Myrdal’s were as clear as they could be about their objectives. They set about implementing them coolly and dispassionately, and soon Sweden was the model socialist society. Trudeau warned us what he would do just as clearly in his first book, Federalism and the French Canadians. When asked some years later how he conceived of his role in all this, Trudeau answered that he saw himself as a captain of the ship of state. All the citizens, he said, are like passengers sleeping on the deck. I know, he said, that all I have to do is change the course today a little bit, and they will wake up thousands of miles away from here at a different port than the one they thought they were heading for. Both Sweden and Canada were altered radically from the top down, by experienced social engineers, and not through any truly informed discussion by, or decision of the people, to change their traditional way of life from the bottom up.
I am running out of time today, but I’ll just mention the two or three key books that explain this process, and suggest that interested citizens get them and read them. First are two books by Allan Carlson, The Swedish Experiment in Family Politics: the Myrdals and the Inter-War population Crisis (1990), and also his excellent Family Questions: Reflections on the American Social Crisis (1988). Wonderful short essays in there on such as “the Androgyny Hoax,” and “the Depopulation Bomb.” I also recommend as highly, David Popenoe, Disturbing the Nest: Family Change and Decline in Modern Societies (1988), and also his Life Without Father (1996). And of course, a mind-altering classic is George Gilder, Men and Marriage (1986). My own War Against the Family (1993) draws from many of these books, and may also be found worth consulting both as a summary of the Swedish situation and as a fairly complete critique of our Canadian anti-family realities. Better be sitting down!
Should, could, and "wood"
Late yesterday afternoon, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced, here and here, in the House of Commons, a resolution of a 20-plus- years-long trade dispute between U.S. and Canadian "wood" producers and the U.S. and Canadian governments. The details are well-covered,in the links above, and here is the Liberal Leader of the Opposition (I LOVE writing that!) response to the Prime Minister's statement.
Should the Government of Canada have accepted this deal? The value of Canada's forest products exports hovers around $45 billion per year, with Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia producing most of that, by far. "Wood" represents Canada's fourth most valuable export market. About 80% of that amount -- ca. $35 billion -- goes to the U.S.
Could the Government of Canada accept the deal? The deal represents "the art of the possible." It's a political deal -- political in terms of what was possible for the U.S. administration in a Congressional election year -- that represents a positive trade policy outcome for the Govenrment of Canada.
Not perfect (when is any deal?), but positive.
(Cross-posted from Burkean Canuck).
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Pakistan: Death for Mohammed Cartoon Publishers
Pakistan has filed blasphemy cases against publishers and editors in the EU and of course against the famous Danish paper for publishing the Mohammed Cartoon’s. Google and Yahoo have also been included and the crime carries the death penalty:
Cases were registered on Tuesday against Jyllands-Posten, its editor, publisher, a cartoonist, and newspapers in France, Italy, Ireland, Norway and the Netherlands at a police station in Karachi on the court’s orders, said Tariq Malik, an official at the station.
“It is now the government’s job to contact the Interpol and bring the offenders to a court of law in Pakistan,” Haider said on Wednesday.
It was not clear immediately whether or when the government would approach the Interpol but a senior Karachi police officer said that the case would be further probed.
“At this stage we can’t say whether or not Interpol will be contacted in this matter,” said Mushtaq Shah, chief of Karachi police operations.
“We will first investigate and file our report to the government,” he said, adding, “This is for the higher authorities to decide what to do next.”
A government prosecutor, who opposed the petition, says Pakistan’s courts have no jurisdiction over a crime committed abroad.
Sharing the Oil Wealth;
Don't Use Labour Markets To Do It
John Chilton, who writes as The Emirates Economist, has often told us stories of how national workers in the United Arab Emirates quit jobs frequently. In his latest piece, he also points out that children in school have little incentive to work hard because they are virtually guaranteed a high-paying job that requires little effort or ability. As a result, these students are not particularly well-educated and are not the most highly sought-after employees.
The output of government schools for nationals needs improvement, and, in general, it is inferior to the output of private schools. In my judgment, government expenditure per pupil is sufficient. The trouble comes from two major factors.
The first is that schools are mismanaged and/or have imposed on them rules and regulations that many times make the job of management more difficult.
The second factor is weak incentives. Too often a young national's future has little connection to merit, to how well he or she does in school. This is not a problem schools can solve, but it does constrain what schools can achieve with the raw material - students - they are given.
Can Albertans see the handwriting on the wall? The Emirates Economist elucidates the problems here.
The Ruse of Political Apologies
The idea that all cultures are sleepwalking, and that history brings them to their senses after the fact, raises the distinct possibility that people in the present sit in judgement on their past selves as a form of self-absolution
Is there a vague public awareness that we may be engaged in some unspecified evil at the moment, for which we could be taken to task by future generations? And if so, are we trying to alleviate the coming judgement by our children, so to speak, by apologizing now for the actions of those who came before us?
Why else are we judging our predecessors so harshly, and in such boldly self-confident moral terms? Why are present-day politicians so eager to pay off survivors (or their descendants) of actions or events deemed quite normal at the time, but considered sins today, with money that is not theirs? I am thinking of natives who attended residential schools a hundred years ago, or the Chinese head tax, or the Japanese internment during WWII.
It all seems a little bizarre and a reversal of normal morality. The latter is like a universal law that says those who do harm must pay. Instead, we, who did no harm are publicly apologizing for something over which we had no control, and politicians - who stand to gain by appearing morally upright - are extracting money from millions of citizens who were not even alive at the time, and using it to pay off a lot of descendants who have suffered no harm and whose only connection to the deemed sins of the past is their blood.
Let us be honest. It is far too easy – it is in fact exceedingly false and prideful - to judge the actions of our ancestors when we were not there living through their particular experiences. Indeed, something I find intriguing is the thought that in the very same circumstances we would do today pretty much the very same things they did then. If we were still a Christian missionary society in the north of Canada we would probably still think that residential schools were a good idea. Instead, we are now a materialistic secular society and our native population is confined to reserves where they have by far the highest murder, rape, drug, and alcohol abuse rates in Canada. This remains a dire scandal and a waste of human potential on a scale the residential schools could never have approached. As for the Chinese head tax? It all looks harsh from the vantage point of the present. But there is nothing to say a nation cannot charge a head tax on foreigners for any reason it wishes. Indeed, in recent times Canada has charged another head tax in the form of a minimum requirement for personal assets of at least $100,000 to … mostly Asian immigrants to Canada. This was not to build a railroad, but to build “the economy,” a fiscal railroad. As for the Japanese internment? I think if the Japanese suddenly and brutally bombed Pearl Harbour by a cowardly sneak attack this weekend, thus declaring war on America – and especially if any Japanese bombs landed on our shores (as it is rumoured a few eventually did, near Vancouver – but I have to check that) we would do it all over again. So I don’t believe the apologies for any of this, because human nature being what it is, these things, or worse, would happen all over again in the very same circumstances.
So it is interesting to ask for what human actions today our children will be apologizing for and paying for tomorrow? We can only ask, and guess. If I had to guess, I think the native apartheid we are currently operating at some $8 billion dollars annually today, and which makes the residential school stuff look like a tea party, will be a candidate for a lot of tears and public apology. And as my Jewish professor friend states so movingly: the western democracies cannot be rescued from their incipient decline until their intellectuals come clean on their fellow-travelling with the Soviet- and Chinese-communist holocausts. These, he rightly states, were ten or fifteen times as bad as the Nazi affair in terms of numbers liquidated, but western intellectuals and so many sympathizers with socialism, past and present, have never been called to public account or apologized, nor ever admitted for a moment they were dead wrong. You see, there have always been, and will always be lots of things for which our children, and theirs, will be able to apologize.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
"Richard Gwyn doesn't read it"
Thanks to Bob Tarantino (who's been missed terribly round these parts for months) for that great new Western Standard marketing slogan.
The origin of the claim, as Bob notes, comes courtesy of the Ryerson Review of Journalism, whose new issue features a lengthy profile of the Western Standard, by Terry Woo. Everything you wanted to know about the WS—assuming you haven't already heard it all via the weekly mass e-mailings from our publisher. I agree with Bob that it's a good piece, save a couple of small quibbles. The last paragraph comes out of left field, digressing into some kind of lecture about what constitutes "good" political journalism. I'll admit I dropped out of Ryerson's j-school after a year, so I guess this is the stuff I missed.
I also wonder about the wisdom of using Canwest columnist Don Martin as a source. (No, not because he tells Terry that he thinks our Western separatism survey—conducted by a professional pollster—is less accurate than the vibe he picks up from Calgarians when they sing O'Canada at the Flames game). As Shotgun readers know, the Easterner-turned-Westerner-turned-Easterner had a bit of a tantrum after the WS reported a story that seriously jeopardized his relationship with his pals at the PMO mid-election. Things got uglier when we caught him trying to cover his tracks by making up stuff about his interview with us—which we happened to have on tape. You can catch up with the whole sordid tale here. Frankly, I think the writer absolutely owed it to the reader to disclose the history there. But I'll wait for Terry to persuade me otherwise when we next cross paths.
Still, I don't want to be too hard on the guy. I may have only spent a year at Ryerson's j-school, but one thing I did learn while there was how hostile the faculty is to any point-of-view not officially endorsed by the CBC (the only acceptable use of the word "terrorist" was when writing stories about Conrad Black). So I gotta hand it to Terry for resisting what must have been intense pressure to go negative—and instead, produce a fairer and more entertaining profile of the WS than I suspect most publications could muster.
Oil Prices and Oil Futures
I just read Phil Miller's brief posting and graph, showing that US energy expenditures, as a percentage of total US consumption expenditures, while rising recently are well below historical highs and, this ratio is roughly in the same neighbourhood it has been in much of the time over the past fifty years. Instapundit has more on this relationship. However, be careful when you look at the chart he references. Things don't seem as rosy to me as they do to Insta.
Phil's piece prompted me to visit EconBrowser, where there have been two excellent pieces in the past couple of days. The first one asks "Who's Afraid of $3 gasoline?" and has a pretty pessimistic outlook for the US (and world?) economy.
The second addresses the role that speculation might or might not have in driving up the world price of oil. The conclusion is that speculators most likely are driving up the short-term futures prices because of concerns about fundamentals, namely a risk of disruption in supplies.
A comment to that piece links to this graph of short- and long-term oil futures prices (the peak is next February, and then prices drop continuously for oil over the next five years; please click on the graph to see it more clearly):
What is going on here? I realize it isn't much in dollars, but why do longer term oil futures prices drop off like that?
Women and Equality
here is an old French saying to this effect: “Try to shoo Nature out the door, and she will return on all fours.”
Caitlin Flanagan’s new book, To Hell With All That: Fearing and Loathing Our Inner Housewife (which I haven’t read yet) is already making the distinct sound of determined little paws creeping back in the door because she is an educated and financially successful female who dared to speak out in support of so-called stay-at-home mothers.
The French saying is interesting because it is a biological metaphor of human nature as an animal, and not as a mechanical, or theoretical entity. Point being, that human nature, the biological reality of which we are all an expression, has a mind of its own, and despite the efforts of social engineers to re-jig our species, in the end, it will always take its rightful place. Human nature will always take over.
In Greek myth, Procrustes, the wicked son of Poseidon, had the word “ISOTES” (which means “EQUALITY”) carved on his sword belt. He was your typical simple-minded egalitarian (they are all simple-minded) who was convinced that the world’s problems arise from inequality, and so human differences must be eliminated. He wanted to fix this problem all by himself and bring more “justice” to the world. He had a home and a bed. His solution was to subdue all the travelers who came to his home for rest and drink and then either stretch their bodies, or cut exactly the right length off their legs to make them fit his bed.
This is a bizarre, but telling story, so typical of the most insightful Greek myths, because it makes the immediate connection between the yearning for justice-as-equality and the inevitable outcome of extreme egalitarianism, which is always force, violence, and blood. The ancient Greeks knew that the ideological demand for pure equality is insatiable, like a religious conviction, and that believers will use any force, and will unhesitatingly kill people who stand in their way, to make an unequal world look equal. The ancient myth foretold modern totalitarianism.
Fortunately, our social-welfare states are but weak versions of this psychological urge. However, they have done plenty of policy stretching, and cutting, and denying of their own in an attempt shoo human nature out the door. We might say that modern radical feminism has been our version of the myth. Social welfare states always embark on massive tax-funded leveling programs, the indirect objective of which is to eliminate or weaken all social institutions that are deemed to produce inequality. And the traditional family is the first and most obvious target for leveling, because some families are rich, some poor, some smart, some stupid, etc.
Plato asserted this remedy in his Republic where he advocated the destruction of marriage, and proposed state child-rearing from birth, a society in which “no child should know his parent, nor parent his child.” Marx and Engels simply reproduced this unnatural idea in an anti-capitalist form in the nineteenth century, advocating the end of the family altogether. By the 1960s all western democracies were subjected to radical feminist blather about how the traditional family was but a nest for the production of patriarchy, female domestic slavery, and gender discrimination (and yes, of over-eating, cellulite, and chronic depression).
Since then, untold millions of tax dollars have been collected and spent on “status of women” projects everywhere, and most of these projects have been aimed at equalizing if not denying altogether the natural effects of gender. The expressed ideal when this all began was to force absolute equality between women and men in all aspects of life. Get them out of the home and into the work-force, hire them for traditional male jobs; get their kids into daycare; give men pregnancy leave, too; train women to fight in battle; use affirmative action (reverse discrimination) to achieve equality wherever possible; change text-books to brainwash boys and girls to believe they are the same in all ways; give millions of dollars to pro-feminist groups but none to traditional pro-family groups.
But the cat came back. The news is that finally, women are fed up with denying their own natures. A vanishingly small number have ever seen a corner office. Killing and military violence is not something women are good at or like; women in droves are “opting out of the work force.” Slowly, the truth is sinking in that women and their families have been dupes of the welfare state’s tax-hunger masquerading as a call for gender-equality and justice. But most such couples cannot net enough income after daycare and all extra costs associated with a two-income home, to make a difference. And yes, the tears of their children follow them to work. I know, I have seen them come back to work for me after child-bearing, and tearfully announce that they just can't bear it any longer.
I am enough of a libertarian to say that it is none of the state’s business (and none of my business) if a husband and wife both want to join the work force, live as capitalists or communists, put all their kids in non-parental care all day, whatever. I say that is their choice. And there are probably a small number of families whose children would be worse off if their Mom's stayed home with them. But I am trying to make an altogether different point. Namely, that for the state to plunder the people’s hard-earned income and intentionally to lie and deceive an entire population – to stretch and cut human nature in the name of a ridiculous myth about gender equality, is a scandal. The state could as well have promoted the natural family as the first and best choice for rearing children, and the wonderful natural differences and complementarity of the genders as a cause for national celebration. The state could have accepted the truth of human natural differences and also the ancient moral truth that men and women are incomplete beings in themselves and each needs the complement of the other to be complete.
At any rate, I have ventured this prediction before: the western democracies in their deadly embrace of egalitarian ideology are as a direct consequence not reproducing sufficiently to replace themselves. When we see the Great Die Off coming – due to hit in the next couple of decades – these same states will hear those four feet loud and clear, and will roll over. We will witness a massive reversal of political ideology as all population-starved states, panicking mightily, begin rewarding, bonusing, and yes, favouring the traditional family and encouraging all citizens to reproduce.
Letter from a widow
Via Small Dead Animals a letter from a Canadian Forces widow in regards to the media ban on coffins:
Thankfully the media had yet to discover my house when I had to go see my husband for the first time. They found me by 6 AM the following morning. My parents had driven up immediately after my frantic phone call. My father stepped outside to get the papers and he was besieged (to say it lightly) with media camped out in my driveway! They were knocking at my door, putting the cameras on us as we opened it. There was always their cars there, with them sitting in them, waiting for someone to come or go. Phone call after phone call to the house when the lines were needed for more important issues. Our grief was made very public. I was asked if I wanted media at the funeral and I agreed to have them there. I wanted the people of Canada to know that even when Canada's sons and daughters do not go overseas, lives are put on the lone on a daily basis for the safety and security of every Canadian. To show them how the phrase "military cut backs' translates into real life in the forces. I had insisted that there not be a close up on any family member. I was sure Joe Blow watching the news did not need to see my tears, or those of my children to know we were distraught. Yet this rule was broken.
For anyone who still thinks the ChiComs have embraced the free market . . .
. . . George Wehrfritz of Newsweek is an absolute must read.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
We don't like Mondays
The AP's Joe Resnick on the 30th anniversary of Rick Monday rescuing Old Glory from Bic-flicking hippies:
He was the first player chosen in the very first draft back in 1965 after leading Arizona State to a College World Series title. The two-time All-Star put up some impressive numbers during his 19 major league seasons. His ninth-inning home run in the fifth and deciding game of the 1981 NL Championship Series at Montreal catapulted the Dodgers into the World Series, where they beat the Yankees in six games.
But all of that pales in comparison to Monday's most famous achievement in a baseball uniform.
Not around these parts it doesn't!
(Cross-posted to Tart Cider.)
Sujiatun: Why I still believe
Over the last week, the Communists rolled out the big gun in their propaganda campaign against the charges of organ harvesting in Sujiatun: the U.S. State Department. To be accurate, the Department rolled itself out, and to be fair, it merely stated it had not found evidence of Falun Gong organ-harvesting. Still, it was enough to sow some doubt in the Sujiatun accounts throughout the blogosphere (The Korea Liberator, Small Dead Animals).
I, however, continue to believe there were atrocities at Sujiatun.
I say "were" because no cadre in their right mind would let a camp like that continue anywhere in Shenyang (the city of which Sujiatun is a part). They'd move whatever practitioners were left somewhere else, which is what I suspect they did.
So why do I believe I'm right? For the answer to that, let's look at what the Department actually said:
The Department and our Embassy in Beijing, as well as our Consulate General in Shenyang, have actively sought to determine the facts of the matter. Officers and staff from our Embassy in Beijing and Consulate in Shenyang have visited the area and the specific site mentioned in these reports on two separate occasions. In these visits the officers were allowed to tour the entire facility and grounds and found no evidence that the site is being used for any function other than as a normal public hospital.
This raises more questions then it answers. For starters, what exactly was the "entire facility and grounds"? The reports on the Sujiatun camp make clear that the practitioners were moved to an underground facility sometime in 2003 (Epoch Times). Was that included? I don't ask this to imply the Department is hiding anything, but rather to make clear the likelihood that what the Department was told to be "the entire facility and grounds" and what the cadres actually know to be "the entire facility and grounds" are two separate things.
Furthermore, there is the question of when the tours were conducted. The Communists themselves waited nearly three weeks after the first report (March 9) to issue a denial of Sujiatun. Did the American officials see the facility before or after this time? Keep in mind, we're talking up to 6,000 prisoners (add in guards and overseers and maybe you hit 7,000). That may seem like a large number of people to move, but the Virginia Railway Express commuter system (Washington, DC - Fredericksburg and Manassas, VA) has a ridership of over 14,00o a day (Potomac News).
Moreover, the American officials who took the tour probably had minders with them, although the statement doesn't speak on that. Interestingly enough, the statement doesn't actually speak to the main charges either. While all the Communists and "engagement" folks (not to be confused with the two bloggers to which I linked earlier) stopped at the above citation, the Department itself goes on to say: "We have raised these reports with the Chinese government and urged it to investigate these allegations. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson has publicly denied there is any basis for the allegations." Was there a reason this was mentioned after the part stating no evidence was found? Is the State Department of the opinion that further investigation is warranted? Or am I just reading too much into the order of the paragraphs?
Regardless of the contextual issues of the statement, the State Department's examination of the charges, while certainly not affirming them, did little, if anything, to refute them either. Nothing against the Department, one can only see what one is allowed to see in a situation like that, and if the consulate officials had tried to see more, they would have likely been rebuffed. If the supposition I put forward in the paragraph above is correct, even the State Department itself is taking that into account.
It all really comes down to who one believes: the Communists, or the sources who have come forward on Sujiatun. This is where the Communist propaganda comes a-cropper.
If we are to believe the Communists on this, then we must also believe that these two sources - a journalist and a former hospital staffer - are lying. Let's think about that for a moment: a journalist who has already talked to the Epoch Times, Bill Gertz of the Washington Times, and Jay Nordlinger of National Review would willingly risk his own life and the lives of his family members for - a lie? Somehow, I doubt it. Same deal with the hospital staffer. She may have something gain, cynics will say, because her ex-husband was involved, but what would that be? Her ex-husband is already dying of cancer (Epoch Times). Meanwhile, what she could lose (her life, her family, etc.), is far greater.
The Communists, however, have a lot to gain by covering up Sujiatun. There are already reports of other camps out there, including one which may have over 100,000 prisoners (Epoch Times). If more people agree that the sources' accounts of Sujiatun are true, they'll wonder about the claims of other camps, including ones the Communists haven't cleaned up for outside inspection. Even the camps that are merely engaged in the usual "reeducation through labor" would lead outsiders to recoil in horror.
At this point, more than a month after the first reports, I - like many others - sincerely doubt there will be any evidence of the organ harvesting in Sujiatun, but I still believe it happened. It fits the Communist pattern of complete lack of respect for human life. A regime that has killed over 70 million people would hardly be above turning prisoners, especially political prisoners, into biological chop-shop victims. After all, reports of organ harvesting from prisoners in Communist China are more than five years old (Village Voice).
In time, when the Chinese people take their country back from the Communist regime, we will all see and recognize the horrific things this regime has done. Until then, we must remain vigilant, and understand that the Communists will do anything to maintain power, from organ harvesting of prisoners to arming anti-American terrorists. The democratic world will never be secure until China is free.
Cross-posted to the China e-Lobby
You know that it would make me more than sad, Caledonia your everythin I've ever had:
Non-Aboriginal Canadians are thankfully not as gutless as their law enforcement officials and politicians. Someone has to stand up against the Mohawk criminals, and it’s obviously not going to be the local rent-a-cops or pussy-ass politicians
Sing along with Raskolnikov's Caledonia open thread
The Canadian media loves Bush
... because it gives them a stick with which they can beat up on our Prime Minister, of course!
What's the reaction up there (if any)?
I'm curious to see how Canadians are reacting (if at all) to Dr. Wang Wenyi's mini-demonstration at the Bush-Hu press conference last week. Down here, I'm finding a much more positive reaction to it than I expected (see for yourself what I mean here - second item). Even among the more staid media down here (including MSM), whatever criticism there has been is largely muted (fourth item). I'm quite surprised, albeit happily, by this, though perhaps I shouldn't have been, given that "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" were what led us to form our own country in 1776. So let me know, what does the land founded on "Peace, Order, and Good Government" say about all this?
Why are Jews so damned liberal?
Dennis Prager asks and does a pretty good job of answering that question.
I think Prager left out two other reasons:
1. Despite their cultural success, many Jews still feel out of place and thus gravitate to radical utopian causes that would remake the world in a manner that would end their "otherness". I think that's why so many Russian Jews were part of the Communist Revolution -- they thought it would usher in an atheist era where religion would no longer exclude them or subject them to pogroms. I think this also explains self-hating Jews like Noam Chomsky and Norman Finklestein -- Jews who will do anything to obliterate the differences between themselves and others.
2. Of course, we can't forget plain old Jewish masochism, which ranges from the benign -- stereotypical Jewish mothers' guilt and ubiquitous self-deprecating Jewish comedians -- to the more malign Neturei Karta, whose anti-Zionist theology can be summed up as "we deserve to be punished until God says we don't".
Madness in the Streets
I confess, that whenever I pick up the pace to pass a “homeless” man in the streets without giving him some money I feel a twinge of guilt. But that feeling is mixed with some upset, too, and with what might as well be called civic embarrassment. Sometimes the upset lingers as I ask myself why our wealthy modern societies have increasing numbers of people we choose to call “homeless.” I put words in quotes when I think their meanings are loaded with political intent and are public euphemisms meant to divert our attention from some deeper underlying truth. For the truth about the word “homeless” is that most of these people are not so much homeless, as “familyless.” Many of them are people so shiftless, drunk, high, aimless, or irresponsible (or some combination of these things) that their own families want nothing more to do with them, or they have themselves turned their backs on their own families and homes; they got tired of parents telling them to “get a job.” So I refuse to use the word “homeless” because that is to fall into a lazy way of thinking that glosses over a far deeper situation.
Toronto recently spent $90,000 on a survey of the “homeless” the results of which will tell us nothing new. The many socialists already working away at tax-funded jobs will use the study to proclaim the need for more “resources” and more “shelters” and more “housing” for the “homeless.” But what is the true relationship between the increasing numbers of “homeless” and the rest of us? Why, for some four decades now have we been seeing more helpless, needy people sleeping in our streets, splayed dead drunk, or high as kites, out cold over subway grates, pissing themselves in public, panhandling, or worst of all, freezing to death in winter?
It’s a long story. But part of what disturbs me is the idea that a lot of these unfortunate people are ideological victims of a trend that started in the 1960s. That was when as students we got exposed to the “revolutionary” thinking of the “anti-psychiatry” movement. Now it is true that psychiatry is something that bears watching. By the middle of the last century, there were so many citizens shoved into mental institutions against their will under the authority of any number of “writs of involuntary commitment” it began to seem like the whole of society might eventually lock itself up. In 1962 the famous Midtown Manhattan Study had declared that 80% of the population of Manhattan was “psychiatrically impaired,” and 23% so severely as to require immediate treatment. And never mind the abuses by angry people wanting to declare their rich relatives insane and loot their estates, and the like. Well, the 1960s were a time for liberation from all sorts of constraints, and psychiatry and the abuses of involuntary commitment quickly became a target.
In a strange intellectual liaison, libertarian anti-psychiatrists like Dr.Thomas Szasz found themselves allied with leftists and strident Marxists like Herbert Marcuse and R. D. Laing, and the French sociologist Michel Foucault. Books such as Laing’s The Politics of the Family, and Szasz’s book The Myth of Mental Illness, and Foucault’s Madness and Civilization, all sang the same song. “Madness,” they argued, is not something real, It is defined by the powerful and serves as a political instrument to remove weak and undesirable people from public view via incarceration. In fact, they all argued, it is bourgeois capitalist society that is mad, and so-called “madness” in individuals is actually an appropriate reaction, a coping device of sorts in a world that is in fact itself crazy. By the same token, Laing (who later recanted) argued infamously that a lot of madness was a “sane” reaction to the insanity of oppressive family dynamics. All of them denied that madness has any organic basis in body chemistry or the brain (now dramatically disproved by miracle drugs that help normalize life for so many) and they described it as a “social construction” – a mythical condition made up to justify political and social motives such as removing unpleasantness from the streets (or, in the case of the USSR, of removing political enemies), and to justify treatment by mental health experts hungry for more patients. Of course, there was a good deal of truth to it. But then there was overreaction and overcorrection.
The result was that governments that wanted to save costs, and libertarians and Marxists critical of society for different reasons found themselves colluding to end not just some, but all writs of involuntary confinement and so by the 1970s the insane asylums of the Western world began to empty. By the 1980s the very public result was what two incisive critics of this overcorrection, Issac and Armat, in an excellent study, called Madness in the Streets: How Psychiatry and the Law Abandoned the Mentally Ill (New York: Free Press, 1990). These authors, and many since, cite copious evidence that some 35-50% of all “homeless” people are in fact, by any reasonable measure, mentally ill, and they argue that the post-1960s liberation movement that has ejected them from mental hospitals onto the street has been cruel and done them a great disservice. If the public authorities hear of a man in the street with a broken leg you can hear the fire-engine sirens and ambulances coming from miles away. But if they hear there is a man in the street with a broken mind, there will be only silence. In other words, the new freedom for the mentally ill is in fact a new form of punishment, and if the weather is cold enough, it may also be a sentence of execution by an uncaring society.
RememberIt's not on the front page of any newspaper on my desk this morning. It's not in the entire Toronto-area Metro commuter paper. It's not on Google News's front page. But in case it slipped your mind, today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.
As the world becomes more violent, we see many of the same patterns emerging as had done during the 30's, leading up to WWII. Poverty, discontent - all caused by the Jews, so they say. Only this time, "they" are not the Germans. They are Iran, Turkey, Iraq, the Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, and Muslims the world over. Everything is the fault of the Jews. And if you didn't know that, it's because the Jews control the media, the banks, the markets, history, and the government. Don't you see? It's a vast Zionist conspiracy to rule the world!
For those of us with our feet firmly planted on this planet, we know what the above sentiments can lead to. We know it can happen again, and it scares many of us into submission. But submission isn't going to help anyone. Turning a blind eye - like Europe, America, Britain under Chamberlain, and the Vatican did in the years leading up to the extermination of 6 million Jews - is likely to bring an end to civilization as we know it.
So unless you want your daughters in burkhas and your sons fighting Jihad, it's time to learn the lessons of the past, and open your eyes.
Monday, April 24, 2006
WONKITTIES EXCLUSIVE! HARPER POSSIBLY AN EVEN BIGGER NERD THAN WE HAD PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT!!
Oh my Lord. Remember when Daisy Chain told me about Stephen Harper being a Star Trek fan? Well, this weekend in Colorado Springs another secret source, who threatened me with my very life if I reveal his name, more or less told me that our prime minister once competed in a Star Trek Convention Costume Contest!
People: Imagine if someone out there could find a picture! I throw out a challenge to all of you -- find a picture. FIND IT. Find photographic evidence. I don't know exactly when this took place, but I believe it would have been in the late 70s or early 80s. I for one am on a personal mission to see the leader of a teeny, tiny, fraction of the free world dressed up like...well, the obvious guess is Spock, since that would require so small a stretch for Prime Minister Harper. But who knows? I believe the man has humour. Perhaps he dressed up like Uhura -- or even better, like that hideous salt-sucking creature who looked like a beautiful woman and who left suction marks on all its victims.
Cross-posted at Wonkitties.
How Cool is This?
I'm back from Colorado Springs -- the trip was great, and I'll be blogging about it more this week. But the most exciting thing was that I met the Sandmonkey! He was terrific. He was funny, informative, humble and gutsy. I was lucky to have a chance to speak with him a couple of times. He told me, among other things, about how when he first travelled to the States, he was surprised to discover that there were poor Jews (what with them owning all the banks and running the world and all). It simply boggles the mind, the steady diet of hatred and lies that certain people are fed. Thank goodness there are rays of hope out there, like the Sandmonkey and Big Pharaoh. We posed for a picture together, but he asked me not to post it (or reveal his real name) -- something about not wanting to get murdered. Sigh. I imagine he's heartbroken about today's grim news from Egypt.
Cross-posted at Wonkitties.
Cuba si, Castro y Che no!
It's nice to see a Hollywood actor speak out against Communist fetishization.
While I was away . . .
. . . it was a very busy week.
I must admit, didn't expect much in real news. A summit where nothing of substance was accomplished was about all I expected. Nothing like the actions of Dr. Wang Wenyi seemed on the horizon, particularly given this Administration's determination to keep events like that as controlled as possible (and unless a ruthless Communist dictator who arms terrorists is involved, that's usually not a bad thing, no matter how it sounds). Still, that's already been covered; what surprises me is how little focus there has been on the spat between Zhongnanhai and Parliament Hill (thirteenth item).
Canada file: Foreign Minister Peter MacKay went public with his government's "concern" over Communist espionage (CTV, Small Dead Animals), one of the key matters the previous government largely ignored. Meanwhile, the Communist regime ripped the Great White North for taking in Lu Decheng (Boxun, see also seventh item), and Judi McLeod (Canadian Free Press) sees what Canadian Commie-phile Maurice Strong is doing these days.
It's fairly certain the Communists are in relative shock about Harper et al (the U.S., by contrast, takes in dissidents from the PRC all the time, and the Communists hardly utter a peep). They must have expected business-as-Liberal when Peter MacKay got the Foreign Ministry file, and truth be told, I was afraid of the same thing. We were both surprised - although for me it was much more pleasant.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
A Moment of SilenceCanada lost four brave young men yesterday in Afghanistan:
Cpl. Matthew Dinning of Richmond Hill, Ont., a member of 2 Mechanized Brigade Group in Petawawa, Ont.;
Bombardier Myles Mansell, a native of Victoria and a member of the Victoria's 5th Field Regiment;
Lt. William Turner, a native of Toronto. Turner, a reservist and an employee at Canada Post's Edmonton mail sorting plant, recently served on the staff of Edmonton's Land Force Western Headquarters;
Cpl. Randy Payne of CFB Wainwright, Alta.
The usual anti-war complainers will wail and moan, without sparing a thought for the actual individuals fighting in hostile territory to bring peace and democracy to one country while attempting to rid the world of a force beyond evil. Now is not the time for their diatribes. Now is the time to feel honored that these four young men had the guts to do what so many will not, and how they died with faith that they are doing the right thing.
They were riding in a G-Wagon that had a machine gun turret mounted on the roof when a massive explosion lifted the vehicle into the air, shattered its armoured compartment and pitched it on its side, instantly killing three of the four men inside. The fourth the driver was transported by helicopter to the massive Kandahar military base and died following surgery.
May God bless and keep these four beautiful brave boys.
Protesting murder in Venezuela
From Publius Pundit:
What do 70,000 unsolved murders look like? That’s what Venezuelans tried to show today in a unique and passionate protest in Caracas.
The Canadian coverage of the issue as seen on CTV and CBC is almost apologetic and provide more focus on the pro-Chavez demonstrators. Its no wonder we have so many Chavez sympathizers in this country.
Thank heavens for bloggers, see the photo-essay from Venezuela News And Views:
Peace Keeping Missions Killed Our Soldiers
Yep! I believe Peace Keeping missions Canada is famous for, are responsible for the loss of our brave soldiers in Afghanistan yesterday. Lack of real experience, I argue, is mainly to blame for the tragic loss of four brave Canadian troops in Kandahar region of war torn Afghanistan.
While the recent loss is very sad, it is also a reality we should admit to. Although Canadian military is among the best in the world, but the very long reign of liberal mindset in managing the armed forces has hurt Canada's ability to be better in the real combat zone.
As we know, Canada is famous for being a peace keeper nation and our armed forces have been participating in UN backed peace missions all over the globe, from Haiti to Cyprus, Lebanon and even parts of Africa and almost all of these UN sponsored peace keeping missions happened under the watch of many Liberal governments of Pierre Trudeau, Jean Chretien and Paul Martin.
Canada isn't in Afghanistan to keep the peace any more. Canadian Forces are there to combat terrorism and neutralize the threat of radical islamism on spot before it goes beyond the borders of Afghanistan and hunts us here at home.
My point is that yesterday four of our soldiers died at the expense of former liberal governments who kept sending our troops to some useless peace keeping missions around the world and those missions just sucked the Canadian tax payers' money and also left our soldiers with less combat experience compared to those of British or Americans'.
Several consecutive deficit-cutting budgets reduced defense spending by 23% in the 90s, leaving the Canadian military a shadow of its former self. And the liberals' incompetence to properly maintain the Canadian military is showing its affects now in Afghanistan.
Constant military budget cuts in previous governments run by the Liberals is now showing its impact and taking its toll particularly on our military. Yet their anti-military ads during the last election campaign makes me believe that they were anti-military in heart.
It is sad to see how the Liberals have inflicted an awful lot of damage on this great country in every field and they should be held responsible for their deeds.
Watch for more sad/bad news as the effects of long reign of Liberal governments in the past 13 years is showing up gradually!
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Neo-Talibanism Taking Over Iran
Has any one of you been arrested for wearing what you like? Has any one of you been detained for walking or talking to your girl/boy friend in public?
If you are a westerner reading this piece, the answer is very likely "NO", but if you are an Iranian, the answer is likely "YES" and the chances of you having been arrested for these so-called crimes by the basiji thugs are very high.
Now, the neo-talibans running Iran after the revolution of 1979 are enforcing the Islamic dress code. I saw the BBC report about it this morning and I thought it is not really serious until I saw photos of it on state-run Mehr News agency and Fars News. It has been getting worse there!
Excerpted, Read The Rest...
How to Exploit Cheap Foreign Labour
Bill Sjostrom at Atlantic Blog has a wicked expose' of lefty hypocrisy. He politely refers to a piece in The Guardian as a parody (but wonders whether it really is) in which the writer describes how to get the most work for the least pay out of nannies imported from Eastern Europe.
I am still laughing. This is one of the best parodies I have ever seen. Um, it is a parody, right? The alternative is that a Guardian writer is advocating good left wing families do what they would denounce Nike for doing. Nah, the Guardian would never do that.
We Don't Need No Stinking Incentive Programmes!
More Bad Energy Policy
Demand curves are downward sloping. For example, if energy users face the prospect of rising energy prices, they will reduce their use of energy.
Furthermore, aside from some minor theoretical anomalies that appear in textbooks, supply curves are upward sloping, especially at the industry-wide level. In this example, higher prices for energy will induce people to provide more energy, whether by conventional or by alternative, renewable and non-carbon-emitting, means.
Also, when substitution in production is possible, when the price of one input rises, entrepreneurs will shift to using less of that input and more of others. In the case of electrical energy, this means that as the prices of oil and natural gas rise, electricity producers will shift toward making greater use of solar and wind energy, inter alia.
In other words, market forces and changing prices will induce consumers and producers to conserve oil and gas and invest in alternative energy programmes. We don't need no stinking incentive programmes. The market will provide efficient incentives. But, no, in Ontario, politicians and bureaucrats think they can pick the winners better than private investors can [h/t to cmt]. So they have changed the incentive structure:
Ontario is offering to subsidize homeowners and businesses that switch to renewable power sources like solar panels or wind turbines. The government will pay an inflated price for the energy for 20 years to help make the project attractive: 42 cents a kilowatt-hour for solar and 11 cents for wind, biomass, or small hydroelectric projects.
Fortunately, the programme might primarily be posturing:
The program is also being pitched to homeowners, but the upfront costs – as much as $30,000 – are substantial. Experts say it could take 20 years before homeowners pay off their initial investment and turn a profit.
Hooray for Hollywood, eh?
Film buffs will be pleased to know that Canada Post will be releasing a set of four postage stamps on May 26 honouring famous Canadians in Hollywood.
Cardston, Alberta native Fay Wray, who is best known for her role opposite the tallest and darkest co-star available to "act" with her in a certain 1933 film, will be one of those honoured...
Canada Post is keeping the identity of the other three Canadians to be honoured top secret for now.
Fay Wray is a good choice, but not an obvious selection. I would add that Mary Pickford, who was born and spent her early childhood in Toronto, should be an obvious choice for this series, given that "America's Sweetheart" was very influential in the Hollywood of her time. (However, given that Canada Post can be politically correct, I would not be surprised to see a choice like Nell Shipman as one of the four. Mrs. Shipman, recently the subject of an approving feminist biography, is best known for frolicking naked in the outdoors in the silent version of Back to God's Country.)
Keeping in mind that Canada Post has a rule that those honoured by a stamp should be dead, it might be fun to guess who the other three Canadians to be honoured in the stamp series will be.
Who do you think will join Fay Wray on the Canadians in Hollywood stamps?
Who *should be* honoured in this stamp series?
The Spirit Of Man
It is an honor to join you guys in The Shotgun blog.
The Spirit of Man which is my personal blog was initiated to give a new voice to the Iranian bloggosphere, a voice that is never heard before. I am a pro-American individual who is seeking to get his country rid of the mad clerics running it. I'd like to see a peaceful regime change in my home country and it is important to mention that a stabilized Iran makes the rest of the world a safer and more peaceful place to live for all of us. I also appreciate the fact that I live in a democratic country like Canada where gives me a safe opportunity to express my feelings and ideas.
Any ways, I'd like to thank Ezra Levant for recognizing my work and inviting me to join you. I am willing to learn more from you and I am open to your questions, criticism and comments.
Please bear with me as I am just a beginner and learner and I'll try my best to learn more and more.
Thank you every one!
Friday, April 21, 2006
Long may she reign . . .Happy 80th Birthday, Ma'am. God save the Queen!
Why is Harper raising concerns over Alberta's solutions?Why is Harper raising concerns over Alberta's solutions?
At the bottom of a Globe and Mail story on the Liberal leadership race, I saw something that I found fairly ridiculous.
Thunder Bay MP Ken Boshcoff, who was also one of the group, said that the remaining MPs and defeated candidates were reluctant to endorse anyone so soon, and for now will probably concentrate on outlining principles they want to see addressed in the campaign. He said he will not endorse any candidate until they visit his riding.
What a silly thing to say. Now that should sound ridiculous to most readers, but sadly, it probably won't sound ridiculous to most of Ken Boshcoff's own Thunder Bay constituents. The same would be true of any riding in Canada. To base such an important decision (your party's leadership) on something as petty as a leadership candidate visiting or not visiting your riding is completely irrational, but to people living in that riding, it will make them feel valued and respected by their MP. Sadly, such petty politics almost never fails to help an MP in their own re-election. Instead of taking more rational things into account like a party's policies, many voters will vote on something as baseless as thinking that "Boshcoff didn't endorse so and so for leader until they visited our riding, what a great guy!" (even though some other candidate who didn't visit Thunder Bay might've been much better leadership material).
This is why incumbency is such a great help, particularly in the States. Constituents are much more likely to like their own MP or Congressman than they are to like Parliament or Congress in general.
No imminent threat
But possibly there could have been:
A 21-year-old Georgia Tech student and another man traveled to Canada to meet with Islamic extremists to discuss “strategic locations in the United States suitable for a terrorist strike,” according to an affidavit made public Friday.
Syed Haris Ahmed and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, both U.S. citizens who grew up in the Atlanta area, met with at least three other targets of ongoing FBI terrorism investigations during a trip to Canada in March 2005, the FBI agent’s affidavit said.
Ahmed has been in custody for a month. So much more to the story that’s missing. Like where in Canada and who did they meet with? Seeing that they are Pakistani I wonder if this has anything to do with the two taxi-cab drivers (moonlighting as members of the Army of the pure) picked up a couple weeks ago.
No Way, Third Way
The Ralph Klein's Third Way has bit the dust. The editorial from today's Calgary Sun rightly blames the failure of the program on the fact that Albertans simply didn't know what the initiative was to entail:
The aspects of the Third Way that bit the dust yesterday created plenty of anxiety among Albertans and obscured other more-promising aspects of the reforms.
Fears were expressed that the insurance provisions and allowing doctors to straddle the private and public systems would give an unfair advantage to those who could afford to pay.
Concerns were even voiced that it could even create a shortage of doctors in rural areas.
Evans insisted until the very end that "looking at physician partnerships with both public and private can build on the best of both worlds."
The trouble is, she was unable to clearly explain how this new and daring approach would work, how it would benefit all Albertans and how it would save money in an overburdened system.
While it is good the government pulled back on these controversial proposals, we encourage them to press on with plans for reform.
There is still plenty of room for innovation and a greater role for the private sector in our system.
Does this vindicate Lyle Oberg then?
The Herald notes that this should placate worry-warts in the east who feared Stephen Harper would destroy the national fabric:
Importantly, Thursday's move avoids a fight with Ottawa, as threatened in a recent strongly worded letter from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Klein.
The federal government's view was that the some of the more contentious proposals would all-but violate the Canada Health Act. Federal Health Minister Tony Clement told the Herald editorial board this week the only way dual practice would be permitted under the act would be if the province could give the federal government two assurances: that rural doctors won't flock to the cities in search of more opportunities to work in the private system; and, there be proof that doctors won't stream patients from their public practices into their private ones.
Both editorial boards are correct in asserting that health care reforms are in dire need but that they must be done properly and with more of a general consensus. Health care premiums, as an example, should be abolished, and private health facilities should be introduced without the fear-raising spectre of private insurance, as the two can be -- and should be -- mutually exclusive.
Most imporant to note is that health care is not a partisan issue. Any political party (or NGO claiming non-partisan status) who claims victory over the demise of the Third Way must be taken to task for not contributing major reforms in their own right.
We haven't a moment to lose to make the necessary changes to the system. Self-congratulatory attitudes are not welcome.
She is 80 years old now. I was singing in a Canadian boys’ choir in England at the time of her Coronation. We sat on The Mall outside Buckingham Palace in the rain for about eight hours as the long parade proceeded down that very long avenue. There were two big hits: the Queen herself, resplendent inside her gilt carriage pulled by well-mannered steeds all decked out in braid and silver, and the Queen of Tonga, an enormous lady who rolled by in flamboyant purple robes in an open carriage, but who nevertheless was smiling cheerfully and waving at the wet and chilly crowd. We would pop up from time to time when the crowd was bored silly, and sing “Jack the Sailor,” a sea-shanty from Newfoundland, or perhaps something serious, like Mozart’s Ave Verum. Afterward, we did a singing-tour of England and Scotland that went on for two months. And everywhere we could feel the person of the Queen and especially the delight of all the British people in the trappings and ceremony of Monarchy. It impressed a young boy that grown men were climbing very high on lamp-posts, perching on them for hours at a time, and sometimes falling off them just for the chance of catching a glimpse of The Queen passing by. There was a kind of celebratory madness in the streets, a feast of astonishing uniforms, boots, and badges, swirled about by beautiful dresses and coiffures, and there we were, young boys trying to tease a forbidden smile from those stern, scarlet-clad Guardsmen in their huge black bear-hats as they performed the Changing of the Guard, right there in front of us, in the very shadow of the Palace! Why, this was the echo of Empire felt in each sharp boot-crack on those medieval cobblestones, in each bit of chalk-dust that drifted from flat hands slapped against oiled gun-butts in a flawless salute to “Her Majesty.”
Through it all, the meaning of that phrase was obvious in the ever-present and glorious music that tumbled through the streets and the green hills and soft valleys of England, was heard so lofty in every grand cathedral – Westminster, Chichester, Winchester, Edinburgh, Yorkminster – and many more, and also in many small stone village chapels, places my young imagination was certain Shakespeare, or maybe Jude the Obscure had known. It was all wonderful and uplifting song, whether Mozart, or Bach, or “Lake Isle of Innisfree,” and it was an intangible thing felt in every British heart in that special time. We heard again and again that Her Majesty was but the servant of God on earth, but those were just words. It was the devotional music known by all the people that was otherworldly and made us feel as one.
Writing about it like this so many years later brings it all flooding back, and also brings the realization that such powerful feelings of popular unity are not possible in ordinary democratic systems. For political parties in democratic systems divide citizen loyalty in their competition for votes, and so the real structural problem with such polities is: How to unite the whole people psychologically under a leader who may have been chosen by less than half of them? The unity of the people we felt in England as kids is likely only possible under a monarchy or under a totalitarian system, and we all know what disasters the latter brought, and may continue to bring.
Canadians who have had no exposure to this difference are inclined to forget that under our system, the Prime Minister does not represent the people of Canada. He represents the government of Canada, which may govern all but was not elected by all. It is the Monarch who represents the people, and stands above politics. In Canada’s Founding Debates (Stoddart, 1991) there is a ringing recognition of this structural and psychological advantage of Monarchy over republican systems voiced in no uncertain terms by George-Etienne Cartier, a French-Canadian Founding Father who deeply loved the British system of governance and who, on February 7, 1865 while gazing southward said: “In this country of British North America we should have a distinct form of government, the characteristic of which would be to possess the monarchical element …. The great want under the American form – the point they all admitted formed the great defect – was the absence of some respectable executive element. How was the head of the United States government chosen? Candidates came forward, and of course each one was abused and vilified as corrupt, ignorant, incapable, and unworthy by the opposite party. One of them attained the presidential chair; but even while in that position he was not respected by those who had opposed his election, and who tried to make him appear the most corrupt and contemptible being in creation. Such a system could not produce an executive head who would command respect. Under the British system, ministers might be abused and assailed; but that abuse never reaches the sovereign.”
Have people really come around?
Now I don't at all want to get into the debate over whether the Reform Party was worth creating. It might have been; it might not have been. Perhaps the PC Party could have been overtaken from within by more conservative conservatives, perhaps not... but can anyone deny that Brian Mulroney's image, especially amongst movement conservatives, has improved dramatically over the past two years?
Especially among westerners, there are obviously still complaints that he was too focused on Quebec (at the expense of the west), that he didn't cancel the NEP fast enough, that he wasn't swift enough in dealing with the deficit and so on, but on other issues, he seems to have gotten better marks, especially in recent years.
As it relates to the relationship with the United States, Mulroney comes across now as very much a brilliant operator. In a world today where it seems as if many world governments are hesitant to ally themselves closely with a Republican US administration, Mulroney looks all the more impressive. Not only did he ally himself closely with Reagan and Bush, it turns out that he actually wielded a great deal of influence with them, and therefore in effect, he allowed for Canada to wield influence on the global stage as well. Canada's global standing has never been the same since his departure from office (think of Martin and Chretien's incompetence in this regard, even Harper probably doesn't have as strong a personal touch as Mulroney did).
Even if he was misguided and ineffective when it related to constitutional reform, it's tough to argue that he wasn't proceeding with a well-meaning vision to bring Quebec solidly into the federation.
Anyways, I was just wondering whether his image has rebounded on its own due to the passage of time or whether it has very much to do with conservatives (particularly Reform/CA conservatives) being under one tent now and therefore looking upon previous Conservative leaders as once again their own past political leaders?
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Traders in human misery
(Cross-posted from Burkean Canuck).
Every year in Ottawa, the Embassy of the People's Republic of China (PRC) plays the same, petty game. Both the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office representing the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC) and the PRC host receptions to celebrate their respective "national days" for China. The PRC reception is nice, but the ROC reception is far and away "nicer." The PRC has a cash bar. The ROC holds an open bar including the expensive stuff. The PRC event will have one menu with limited supply. The ROC will have several menus with an unlimited supply of food.
And every year, the PRC puts pressure on whatever venue the ROC has engaged for the evening to pull the booking.
But, far worse is what the PRC is doing to persecute Falun Gong practitioners and practicing Christians. The brutality the PRC exacts against Falun Gong is better known. Less well known is how the PRC treats Christians and, especially, Christian leaders who are not part of the so-called "Three Self" church (and here). This is a regime that trades in human misery, let alone its trade in industrial secrets and counterfeit branded goods.
And here's my piece about the doubts attaching to the PRC's counterfeit growth economy.
UPDATE: I know I'm a little behind the eight ball, but here's
the Xinhua press release denying Foreign Minister Peter MacKay's
references to 1000 PRC spies engaging in industrial espionage in
Canada. A CTV story, here,
claims the PRC Ambassador to Canada issued veiled threats that the
allegations could put in jeopardy a $60B trade deal signed by the Martin
Government, last year. In the same story, a CSIS spokesman claimed
that the Martin Government was afraid to say anything because they
didn't want to jeopardize the trade deal. But the spokesman also
claimed that for every $100M in industrial secrets stolen by the PRC,
Canada loses 1000 jobs.
How about focusing our trade efforts on Taiwan? And India? If the PRC economy really is a bubble as Frank Xie of Drexel University claims, Canadian business and investors are being put in jeopardy by pouring money and making contracts in the PRC.
Mr. Bush won’t you please stop the killing
Said a protestor today as George Bush kissed Chinese Dictator and communist asshole Hu Jintao’s ass. I’ve had my suspicions but today I’ve finalized my opinion that George Bush is a liberal. A girly man. No wonder his ratings are like 33%. He has the disease.
There is no greater catastrophe than to understand the enemy. By understanding the enemy, I almost lose what I value. - Lao Tzu
Chinese president Hu Jintao was heckled by a Falun Gong protester today in DC.
Socialism Is the Ultimate Conservatism
In a previous post what I call “the political sandwich” was described as comprised of the State at the top distinguished by its monopoly on power; Society in the middle comprised of the countless voluntary associations into some of which we are born but into most of which we enter voluntarily (and which is distinguished not by power but by various forms of moral authority – familial, religious, corporate, etc.- from all of which we can walk away by choice); and finally, the autonomous Individual at the bottom who, conceived solely as an individual, has control over himself, but who nevertheless exists politically and involuntarily under the power of the State (in the sense that he cannot change or escape this), but who as an adult binds himself voluntarily to the various forms of social and moral authority under which he lives daily.
In a sense we can think of liberalism in its classical form as an anti-statist, but not an anti-social ideology that promoted first and foremost the flourishing of individuals and sees society as a product or sum of the human actions of individuals. In other words, it resists all undue power from the top, but accepts that individuals may choose to submit themselves to various forms of authority from the middle as a means to their flourishing. (This form of original liberalism no longer meaningfully exists. It has run off and re-constituted itself as libertarianism).
Beginning at about mid-twentieth century, original liberalism came to the conclusion that the free-market forces and individual rights it had always espoused were in fact freezing all sorts of people into have and have-not social and economic classes, and so it rapidly morphed into our contemporary form of “social liberalism” by drawing on the power of the state to enforce it social vision. Trudeau pulled this off almost singlehandedly and by force of personality in Canada. Liberalism surrendered its older concept of “formal” equality under which it had expected each free individual to flourish, and substituted for this a socialist-style concept of “substantive” equality according to which, as it deemed all of us to be inherently equal, the powers of the State must now be used to level everyone in concrete, rather than merely formal terms.
Conservatism we may think of as a political philosophy that has existed since ancient times that cherishes the middle of the sandwich. It values freedom, property rights, and a market economy, as did classical liberalism. However, its valuation of these things is not absolute, but rather is qualified by the cost-benefit they provide, not to the individual, but to Society conceived as an organic whole with an importance prior to and greater than that of any single individual. Conservatism sees the individual as a moral agent free to choose between good and evil, but insists that the quality of this freedom is acquired through the process of civilization; freedom is not important in itself, for in itself has no meaning. We need freedom in order that we may freely bind ourselves to what is good, of permanent value, to be cherished, to be conserved. In this sense, the fully-developed individual, rich in manners, generosity, respect for others, vital, and humanly productive is created by the voluntary work of Society, and not the other way around. Where such true conservatives have sought to restrict personal or economic freedoms it has ostensibly been in the name of the greater good of Society (please, leave political conservatives out of this who, like politicians of other stripes, have often hidden behind the idea for personal gain). Society, in this vision, has a character of its own, a tone, and civility, the elevation and protection of which must be of concern to all.
The Socialist we may think of as a person who wants passionately to bring about a good and just society as do the others mentioned here, but at bottom he defines this as an egalitarian condition of substantive (rather than merely formal) equality for all. That is his planted axiom, so to speak. And that is why his focus is on the top, or power-level of the sandwich, rather than on the bottom (he hates individualism) or the middle of it (he sees society as a collection of privileges for the powerful few). This is also why he despises inequities of income, property, and social class, and it is why in its pure form the socialist sees private property as the fundamental evil dividing all men. Although he knows power is coercive, he is ideologically committed to use it as a means to remake and perfect political society. In this sense the socialist and the social-liberal are almost indistinguishable, at least insofar as they each support the modern welfare state (although the doctrinaire socialist sees the welfare state as only a stop along the way to real political perfection via socialism).
Now even though it is true that true conservatives are reluctant to change, prefer time-honoured traditions, respect religion, honour the family as the centerpiece of society, and so on; it is manifestly not true that conservatives are against all change. It is true, however, that a conservative prefers a live cat to a theory about cats, and a live farmer or tradesman to a theory about the working class, and so a living and reasonably functioning and happy society to an intellectual’s cloud-Cuckoo-land social theory. For him, society is like a spider’s web: intricate and delicate in the making, easy to sweep away. So while not against change in principle – society and tradition are always slowly changing – he is against ill-advised change that proposes to destroy what is working reasonably well now, in the name of some egotistical abstract theoretical scheme of possible perfection. For him, the abstract idea of what is best is always the enemy of what is better.
It is normal to hear that the socialist wants “progress,” but the conservative does not. The latter is always accused of wanting Ozzie and Harriet, or of being “a dinosaur.” But this gives us pause. For just as the Muslim jihadist wants democracy: one man, one vote, only once – the true socialist wants “progress,” only once. Hence, his ultimate aim is to destroy the multifarious levels, distinctions, differences, and privileges of ordinary society through progressive policies and replace them with an egalitarian society never before seen in human history. It will be a society in which all material things are owned equally by all; private property is forbidden; all incomes are equal; no social or economic privilege is allowed to arise; the family, but for the needs of breeding, is destroyed as a socially-privileged and protected entity, and all children are raised equally by the State; social classes will cease to exist. And so on. All this will be brought about, not by persuasion but by the use of power. And it will be never-changing. It will be the most “conservative” society that has ever existed.
vancouver needs a giuliani
Soon taxpayers in my fair city of Vancouver are going to ask the question — Why us? Why should it be us who has to have blocks and blocks of government ghettoes? Who gives up entire sections of their city to criminals? Why should it be us who has to use our property taxes to pay for facilities for safe injections, new treatment facilities, etc, etc? Why should it be us who has to put up with the one of the worst property crime rates in Canada?
Who made this drug problem Vancouver’s alone to bear? The answer is that we did. We elect politicians and we continue to elect politicians who care too little about home owners, small business people, and their tax dollars. We continue to elect politicians who use property tax payer money to fund their half-baked (literally) ideas. We continue to elect politicians who have decided that next door to Chinatown should be Canada’s biggest open-drug market (yes, I’ll call it racism).
The drug problem in Vancouver is solveable. Go to Manhattan and walk around the whole island. Do that at night, too. You won’t see anything like Oppenheimer Park, Main and Hastings, or heck, even Granville Mall (try spending time in that urinal after 10 PM). The reason why you don’t see stuff like that in Manhattan is that they cleared it all out. And they did that because Giuliani said “no more”. He called a moratorium on social housing. Much whining and screaming ensued. The “activists” (who typically work in the poverty industry) went nuts, of course.
And you know what happened? Left to its devices, the market pushed the drug-dealers and criminals out of the city. It’s tough to live in Manhattan and pay the $400 grand for the 500 ft appartment on selling crack (while smoking up your profits). The only way you can do that is by living in a government house — well, no more.
Vancouver is not much different. We just need city politicians to stop being bleeding hearts and do the right thing for their constituents. Enabling these drug users and drug dealers is not helping anybody. It’s time to close the needle exchange. We need to put a moratorium on public housing. We should let the market do its work. The Downtown Eastside would be valuable land if it wasn’t full of feces, garbage, needles, used condoms, drug dealers, and prostitutes. If the city rezoned much of the area and let developers have at it, it would be turned around in no time at all. And the drug dealers would be gone.
I can hear the whining now. But where will they go, Peter Jay? Well, maybe back home, for one. Many people out there are from all across Canada. They are here for the high-quality, relatively cheap drugs, the blocks of cheap housing, the free meals from every society you can name, the good climate, etc. The fact is that if somewhere else had cheaper, easier to obtain drugs, they would go there. We don’t owe or own them. Vancouver doesn’t have to be the rest of Canada’s dumping ground for addicts. Other communities will deal with them. And you know what? They will probably do a better job. It’s pretty hard to clean up your life when you live in the Downtown Eastside with temptation everywhere.
In 10 years, Vancouver’s drug problems would be mostly a thing of the past. Just like Manhattan’s. All we need is our own Giuliani.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
The Big Idea
Brian Mulroney won the 1984 election by riding a wave of anti-Liberal sentiment. He won the 1988 election by running on free trade. He probably would not have won that election otherwise. Free trade allowed Mulroney to keep the west on side by keeping Reform at bay. It was also a strong enough policy to polarize the electorate in Central Canada in order to secure a majority mandate.
Stephen Harper won the 2006 election by riding a wave of anti-Liberal sentiment as well. Even though I believe that Stephen Harper is a smarter, more tactical politician than Mulroney ever was, I also still believe that Harper's 5 priorities lack substance. I don't think that they capture anyone's imagination. They're overly cautious and while it could be argued that cautiousness is a hallmark of conservatism, it isn't exactly the case when the status quo tilts liberal. While his priorities are generally positive, none of them are exactly transformational in the same way as free trade.
I've yet to be convinced that his 5 priorities will carry him to victory in the next election. And even if I'm wrong, and if those priorities do propel him to victory, it would have been a rather hollow victory. It would not be a victory that would make the electorate itself any more inclined to adopt conservative positions in the future. And even more sadly, it would not be a victory that would convince Canadians that genuinely conservative government is good government. A Harper victory would still be more positive than the victory of any of the current Liberal contenders, but that shouldn't be enough. Winning elections is sweet, but it'd be even sweeter if those elections were won by running on substantive policy ideas, in order to have a mandate for implementing those policy ideas.
Now I know that big ideas are usually associated with modern liberalism. They're usually associated with the entitlements of the welfare state, and that's why conservative "big ideas" are harder to come up with since they naturally involve the spending of less money, not more. Still, there are many potentially popular and also transformational conservative ideas that Harper can still champion when seeking re-election.
The only one of Harper's ideas that comes remotely close to a big idea is the so-called "fiscal imbalance". And this is absolutely not a conservative idea. It would not lessen the size of government; if anything it would give more money to the provinces in order for them to spend it inefficiently on healthcare and other services. Since Harper plans to redress the fiscal imbalance through equalization, it would also hurt Canada economically, by sending money to the less economically efficient areas of the country.
So which conservative big ideas can Harper possibly champion? Meaningful and innovative healthcare reform? A stronger economic union within Canada (by harmonizing regulatory regimes and other barriers between provinces)? Substantive changes to the tax system? Deeper economic integration with the United States (something that can only be accomplished by first strengthening the economic union within Canada itself)? There's probably other ideas too and hopefully Harper will get his 5 priorities accomplished relatively quickly so he could call another session of the House of Commons in order to champion bigger, better and more conservative policy ideas. Naturally, he would soon thereafter find himself defeated in the House, leading to an election that would allow Harper to argue for some big idea, an idea that would absolutely transform Canada for the better.