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Thursday, January 31, 2008

None of the Above?

Who do you think would make the best U.S. president from Canada's point of view?

That's the question the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies is asking on its online poll.

So far, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are neck and neck.

Posted by Gerry Nicholls on January 31, 2008 | Permalink


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Yeah, thanks for bringing that up, Kalim. I didn't really want to bring uncle Milty to bear on this discussion, since I already pulled him out to defend a libertarian position on drugs. But it's true--Friedman thought the draft was slavery. And said so. Many times.

According to epsi, that apparently makes him a closet socialist. Who knew? I was under the impression that not letting the government run your life, or tell you what to do was part of what it means to defend freedom. But this, it turns out, is only true when it comes to economic regulations and taxes. When it comes to military affairs, having the government tell you what to do is "freedom," and insisting that the government can't force you to join the army is "socialism."

What a topsy-turvy mixed up world we live in.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-01-31 11:20:24 PM

P.M. wrote: “For one, it looks like you're conflating democracy with freedom. They are not the same thing.”

Good for you! Too many fail to draw that distinction. They also fail to see the difference between democracy and protesting, however.

P.M. wrote: “For two, conscription is tantamount to slavery (I hope that doesn't sound too radical, and I mean it analytically, not emotionally).”

No, it isn’t. Slavery is where one human being is owned by another. Conscripts are not slaves and receive the same pay volunteer soldiers receive.

P.M. wrote: “I also don't believe it's ever a necessary evil (not in practice), although I can see hypothetical scenarios where, in theory, I would think it might be better than the alternative.”

You weren’t around during World War II, were you?

P.M. wrote: “For three, agreed that (income and property) taxation is just as you describe it. Which is why I oppose it. Sales taxes are a more complicated matter.”

It does make more sense to tax consumption than to tax property and earnings. This being Canada, however, the government happily taxes them all.

P.M. wrote: “For four, the question isn't whether or not we should "fight evil," the question is about strategy. What strategy will best limit or eradicate evil. We agree on goals, and disagree on means. That is all.”

And what is your strategy?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-01-31 11:27:13 PM


"P.M. wrote: “For two, conscription is tantamount to slavery (I hope that doesn't sound too radical, and I mean it analytically, not emotionally).”

"No, it isn’t. Slavery is where one human being is owned by another. Conscripts are not slaves and receive the same pay volunteer soldiers receive."

I agree that the slavery claim requires much more work on my part. Let me take a rain-check on it for now, though. I just want to point out that whether or not you pay people is beside the point. If plantation owners paid their slaves the same amount they paid those who worked for them by contract, it wouldn't convert the first into non-slaves. Just paid slaves.

"You weren’t around during World War II, were you?"

No, I wasn't. Was conscription necessary then?

"And what is your strategy?"

Well, since there is a bias towards centralized government activity, it's going to be difficult to explain this. But let me just say that I agree with the "blowback" concept. There's more to be said, but you can just call me a "Ron Paul" guy (or RuPaul, if you prefer) on this issue.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-02-01 12:05:13 AM

The Montreal Gazette is going to be running a Canadian Super Tuesday poll on Feb 5th. The polls will be available at montrealgazette.com. For now, you can leave your input in the comments section here: http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/story.html?id=825fa1fa-80d5-4d27-bb6e-25053f66cfc0

In the few comments posted so far, Obama has the most support.

Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2008-02-01 12:17:05 AM

Marc and Epsi - I was answering the question that was asked. United States is the most generous country in the world and very few recipients of the generosity of the American people have the grace to say Thank-you. If the citizens of the United States kept all of assets of their country for themselves - they would be better off and Canada would be less well off, as would the rest of the world. Hence my comment that the policies of Ron Paul would be good for the American people (exclusively).

Canadians do not vote in this election but it is wise of Canadians to consider the consequences of the American people's choice so we can make adjustments here.

Canada is a very generous nation too, we have vast wealth and few people but we are over taxed, over regulated and we have lost many of the Freedoms and Rights that we once took for granted. Right now we have the best Prime Minister Canada has ever elected but he is governing with a minority government - we have become quite sassy since the dictatorial, vindictive Liberals were replaced but some people would still vote Liberal or Dipper. It is not an impossibility that Deyawn and Hillery could be running Northern North America next year. That scenario sends chills down my spine!

Consider this list of taxes that we pay: Accounts Receivable Tax, Building Permit Tax, CDL license Tax, Cigarette Tax, Corporate Income Tax, Dog License Tax, Excise Taxes, Federal Income Tax, Federal Unemployment Tax, Fishing License Tax, Food License Tax, Fuel Permit Tax, Gasoline Tax, Gross Receipts Tax, Hunting License Tax, Inheritance Tax, Inventory Tax, Liquor Tax, Luxury Taxes, Marriage License Tax, Medicare Tax, Personal Property Tax, Property Tax, Real Estate Tax, Service Charge Tax, Social Security Tax, Road Usage Tax , Sales Tax, Recreational Vehicle Tax, School Tax, Income Tax, Unemployment Tax, Telephone Federal Excise Tax, Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax, Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes, Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax, Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax, Telephone Provincial and Local tax, Telephone Usage Charge Tax, Utility Taxes, Vehicle License Registration Tax, Vehicle Sales Tax, Watercraft Registration Tax, Well Permit Tax, Workers Compensation Tax....

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

Things that make a person go humm.

Posted by: jema54j | 2008-02-01 12:51:24 AM

Things that make a person go humm...

100 years ago, jema, there were no vehicle, no needs for gasoline, no telephones, no need for permits of all sorts and no roads.

I agree with the rest of the list.

Posted by: Marc | 2008-02-01 1:34:32 AM

When do you believe telephones and automobiles were invented Marc? Do you think that in 1908 there were no roads and no motors? Did you study the industrial revolution in school?

Posted by: jema54j | 2008-02-01 2:37:41 AM

Shane wrote: "You weren’t around during World War II, were you?"

P.M. wrote: "No, I wasn't. Was conscription necessary then?"

Ahem...the greatest conflict in world history, with whole countries being murdered wholesale, a situation of total war that has not been repeated since. It was fight or let whole nations go extinct and freedom be forever extinguished. You better believe conscription was necessary. The freedom you now enjoy to question it is one of the many fruits of it.

You're not a student of history, are you?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-02-01 7:06:18 AM

Excuse me, Marc, there WERE roads 100 years ago. There were roads THOUSANDS of years ago--some Roman roads and aqueducts were so well constructed that they are still in use today. None of those are in Canada, of course. :-)

I agree the government has the right--nay, the duty--to tax road use so much as is necessary for their construction and upkeep. Why then do the taxes collected go into general revenue?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-02-01 7:11:26 AM

P.M. wrote: "I just want to point out that whether or not you pay people is beside the point. If plantation owners paid their slaves the same amount they paid those who worked for them by contract, it wouldn't convert the first into non-slaves. Just paid slaves."

Yes, whether you pay people is indeed beside the point. The point is whether the individual in question is a legal piece of property, to be bought and sold. The "involuntary servitude" angle with regards to the draft has never been successfully applied to military service in any court. A couple chumps tried it during the Vietnam era and were pretty much laughed out of the courtroom and into the ranks.

The biggest slavers today are arguably women. In defending an abortion, the woman insists that her body and everything in it is her personal property and not the government's. Babies, and the embryos thereof, have also been bought and sold. And even though the father can be held financially liable for the child's upkeep if she does decide to keep it, he has no say in whether she actually keeps it or not. So as you can see, slavery does not have to include an "involuntary servitude" component at all.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-02-01 7:27:23 AM

P.M. wrote: "So we need authoritarianism to fight for freedom?"

No, we need resolve and steadfastness, which is most likely the idea Epsi was trying to impart. People see the U.S. as a bully flexing its muscle, but let's not forget that to a large part it is necessary, because the U.N. will just not do the job it was created to. How can it, when so many of its members are fascist or communist dictatorships with such awful human-rights records?

Until the U.N. steps up to the plate, the choice is a world run by Washington, or run by Moscow. If demographics continue to shift at the current rate, you may soon be able to add Mecca to that list. To be fair, none of these three is really the blood-mad jackal that the other two portray it as. All honestly believe to some extent that their way would be best for everyone all round. The question is, which one do YOU agree with? I remind you that, under two of them, your option to even PICK an option would be rather limited by Western Standards.


Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-02-01 7:35:21 AM

Kalim Kassam: "Towards the end of his life Professor Friedman frequently cited as his proudest achievement his critical role in getting rid of the draft in the USA."

Towards the end of his life Matthew Hopkins, the famous witch-finder, said that his greatest regret was in not burning more witch-children. And towards the end of his life, Benjamin Spock said that his proudest achievement was in getting the younger generation to rebel against their parents.

I, for one, have become intensely distrustful of elitists and self-proclaimed prophets who give deathbed sound bites about their "achievements." It just goes to show you the real motivation behind much activism: Not the greater good of all, but personal fulfillment.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-02-01 7:47:56 AM

I am amazed that some readers had felt the need to precise those things existed before 1908 when the point was that those things were not important enough in those days to put taxes on it. But hey, this happening on the same blog where the people who pretend to be conservatives vomit on the only real US Republican presenting himself for the nomination.

Posted by: Marc | 2008-02-01 12:38:41 PM

Roads (which includes railroads) were not important before 1908?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-02-01 4:46:36 PM

Ron Paul is a supporter of tax cuts. If I were an American I would have voted FOR Mr. Thompson, now I would vote for Ron Paul.

A sense of the time-lines in history is important Marc because those who forget History are doomed to repeat the mistakes made in the Past. We study History so we can learn from it. Human nature never changes but the world we live in is in constant flux.

The haters of people are constantly on the lookout to thwart the efforts of mankind to be Free and Independent from government. I was not being redundant when I asked you if you knew when the automobile and the telephone were invented; I was curious given your comments. There is no shame in admitting you don't know something, we all don't know many things and if we are a bit humble we can learn a great deal from others. Is this why the media will not give Ron Paul any airtime?

Posted by: jema54j | 2008-02-01 4:55:44 PM

Tell me Shane,
In your mind, does the numbers of cars and truck in 1908 was important enough so that the roads needed to get rebuilt or patched constantly ?
Come on man, are we seriously arguing on that...?

Posted by: Marc | 2008-02-01 5:02:03 PM

Think about that last question for a second Marc. How long have bridges been around? Are roads attched to bridges? What did horses and carriages use when they moved? Some Roman roads are still used in Europe. Some Inca roads in South America are still used.

Posted by: jema54j | 2008-02-01 5:20:22 PM

Dear jema,
The usual attitude on the Shotgun is to change the subject or going after technicalities when the converstation start to become interesting and hit the core of a problem. That's what I've tried to prevent in my last post and I also wished to highlight something you might have missed while posting your list.

I'm not a man of bad will. I think only my attemps to post my humble opinion here and exchanging with blogers is a good proof of that. I invite you to correct me anytime you wish if you feel the need to as long as it's not done inna condescending way or when you don't do so to get far from the main point.

I thank you for your last post and agree that the health of US medias and establishment would win in looking back at history. Especially the parts talking about American democracy, the work done by their ancestors for freedom and liberty and what happen when establishment lie and try to control the people. You know that Ron Paul is advocating for the same principles you have regarding the importance of learning from past history and I'm so amazed we all see Ron Paul's warings coming to reality DURING his campaign and no one to covers him.
It's own party works against him.

What's scares me the most from the US right now in not WHY the medias are acting as they do, it's the fact that they keep on doing so and that virtually no one react. This means that their citizens have completly forgot the warnings from the past and the essence of the American's way.

You and I both knowing that our own condition would benefit like never before from a Ron Paul in the White House. Why is it that your fellow conservatives refuse to see it ?

I'm not affraid of people trying to attack our freedom. What's scares me the most is to see that people have give up on fighting for this idea; Freedom. I'm mad as hell to live in this era and, beleive it or not, I see "islamofacism" or "terrorists" to be only technicalities.

Posted by: Marc | 2008-02-01 5:52:46 PM

Ron Paul "might" be a good president for the U.S. but, that big slug of Canadians who opined, in the poll, that he would be good for Canada are nuts! If he was in charge and stuck to the principles that he has been laying on the table, there'd be no more NAFTA, the border would be tight a a bull's ass in fly season, and Canada would spin into an economic depression of monumental proportions. Jeez

Posted by: Zog | 2008-02-01 6:21:44 PM

Marc wrote: "Tell me Shane, In your mind, does the numbers of cars and truck in 1908 was important enough so that the roads needed to get rebuilt or patched constantly? Come on man, are we seriously arguing on that...?"

I was thinking more of the numbers of horses and carriages. Most people didn't have a car, but most everybody had a horse and/or buggy, or used one. Oh, and the government functioned without collecting income taxes, too.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-02-01 6:27:46 PM

Ever came to Old Montreal Shane ?
The "streets" are the original ones. There's still horses and cars crusing on it.

No constant need to rebuilt or patch them ?
...No need to motivate huge taxes.

That's my whole point since my first fuckin allusion to the fuckin year 1908. Oh and I'm not rude towards you, I'm rude so I expect to make it clear to you once and for all.

Posted by: Marc | 2008-02-01 6:45:35 PM

Give the man a try at adressing those questions: http://youtube.com/watch?v=_ccxQRaLIOM

Posted by: Marc | 2008-02-01 6:56:44 PM

Marc wrote: "Ever came to Old Montreal Shane ?
The "streets" are the original ones. There's still horses and cars crusing on it."

Yes, I keep forgetting Montreal is the world. It certainly seems to be where most of the Prime Ministers come from. And it costs a lot more to build roads in the first place than it does to maintain them.

Roads have been built and been used heavily for thousands of years. But then, you knew that. You're just being obstinate because you've been caught saying something stupid and would rather mouth off than do the sensible thing, admit that your brain was in neutral when you said that, and move on.

"It is better to keep one's mouth shut, and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt."

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-02-01 7:57:43 PM

I love it when arguments continue vigourously beyond the point of absurdity!

As for roads in Montreal, I just wish Montrealers could learn to drive on them.

And Marc, given the time and flavour of your post on a Friday evening in Montreal, I expect you are totally soused by now on crappy Niagara wine.


Posted by: epsilon | 2008-02-01 8:07:50 PM

hahahaha ! Ur funny !
"And it costs a lot more to build roads in the first place than it does to maintain them."

Who cares osti

As long as you and I are mandated by our government to pay for each roads, is my remark to the fact that the total cost all the roads is certainly more important today than what it was in those years ? I beleive it does. Sincerly.

My reference to the old Montreal's streets was to open your eyes on the fact that the streets built in those years where cheapest in quality, but solid as...welll...old Montreal's streets. Having to pay for the kind of streets we were builting in those years would surly cost us less, but would not fit in today's reality.

"Yes, I keep forgetting Montreal is the world. It certainly seems to be where most of the Prime Ministers come from."

You forgot the Habs and Hockey superstars, Shane.


Fascist woman,
I'm a former chef and I live in french: I don't drink cheap wine.
...at least, not as long as my closet aint empty and the SAQ aint closed.

Posted by: Marc | 2008-02-01 8:52:27 PM

"Give the man a try..."

He reinforces my point, Marc. He's a patriotic American whose policies might or might not benefit the U.S. but, with him in the oval office, Canada would be flat out fucked.

Posted by: Zog | 2008-02-01 8:54:19 PM

Can You develop, Zog ?

Posted by: Marc | 2008-02-01 8:58:14 PM

Thanks for that response Marc - I think we are singing from the same songbook on the taxation issue. Do you believe that Canadians would also be better off if we took aim at our over taxed, over governed policies?

We have ample wealth in this country to keep all Canadian citizens fat and happy. We have a fine Prime Minister who believes in less taxation and less government (like Mr. Klaus, our Prime Minister IS NOT a ban freak - that would be the power hungry Premiers and mayors who are now whining to the Feds for more money because they have bankrupt businesses with their small ideas, lack of respect for Private Property and punitive taxes) we have this incredible opportunity to do something GOOD for the next generation. Let us not squander it.

BTW, Marc how has the smoking ban affected the bottom line in your restaurant? Many bars and restaurants have gone under here in Whitehorse.

Posted by: jema54j | 2008-02-02 1:54:38 AM

Do you need to have government build and maintain the roads? I have been to countries where the bulk of the roads were built, run and maintained privately as toll roads. The tolls were affordable and the roads were kept in excellent condition. Interestingly, in Canada the road taxes go into general revenues and are not specifically earmarked for roads. Marc, the costs of 100 years ago are relative so if you want to compare you have to use constant dollars. You also have to look at where a road is located if you want to compare maintenance costs.

Posted by: DML | 2008-02-02 11:46:26 PM

*Do you believe that Canadians would also be better off if we took aim at our over taxed, over governed policies?*

Never met one who don't, jema.
In fact, I'm looking so much in that direction that what I aim at is to get rid of the federal control over the lives of you and me.
Nothing less.


DML, even if we use constant dollars to compare the costs for roads of then and now, you still have to admit that the roads today are deteriorating much more rapidly than 50 or 1000 years ago. Since you and me have to pay for roads, who cares about where it is located.

Posted by: Marc | 2008-02-03 12:11:43 PM

100 years ago*.

Posted by: Marc | 2008-02-03 12:13:13 PM

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