Monday, July 14, 2008

It Isn't Just About Lightbulbs

Liberty In Canada:

"It isn't just about light bulbs," Tzeporah Berman exclaimed with all the zeal of a pastor in sermon. "It's about laws."

This is what we are facing. The environmental religion accepts only one solution to the problems they identify with the environment and environmental policy in Canada. She shrugs off lifestyle changes as insufficient and reiterates that the only solution is governmental intervention, Daddy Government stepping in to save the kids from the mess they have got themselves into this time.

"Green" is quickly developing into one of the most popular socialist movements in the world. And, although they have selected the environment as their issue, their goal remains consistent with the goal of socialists from all parties: the erosion of liberty in favour of all-encompassing government control.

Tzeporah Berman. What we need is fewer laws, not more. Fewer restrictions, not less liberty. If the environmental concerns that you highlight are as dire as you claim, persuade people towards your view through reason. Once there is a strong call for corporations to become more environmentally friendly, companies will adapt to new and more efficient technology or they will lose out on business.

The free market has always been and remains today the best mechanism for change known to humankind. And, what's more, this method would save you from the unpleasantness of bludgeoning your fellow citizens into the Green yoke you have us fitted for. Let us decide for ourselves in full possession of our natural liberty what to do about the environment, if anything at all. Any other method is thuggish.

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A Scary Liberal With A Hidden Agenda


[In a recent speech] Harper reiterated Conservative criticisms that the Liberal plan would simply shift tax dollars out of Canadians' pockets back into federal government coffers, boosting the cost of just about everything.

"It will stop the economic progress of the Canadian middle class dead in its tracks and it will make the cost of living unbearable for fixed income seniors and low-income seniors."

Harper said the Liberal plan doesn't even set a target for emissions reductions.

"Why? Because Dion's carbon tax is not an environmental policy. It is just a wealth redistribution program disguised as an environmental policy."

These are the right buttons to be pushing for the election, as I opined in a recent post. Making noise to appease the Greens will produce zero benefits for the Tories in the next election while pressing the economic implications of the so-called "Green Shift" may even convince a few skeptical environmentalists that the path to protecting the environment has nothing to do with a sharp increase in governmental control over the economy.

Dion's carbon tax plan is simply another Liberal program bent on redistributing money from the middle and upper classes into the black hole that is the Canadian welfare state. If Harper keeps attacking the Green Shift from this angle he won't be leaving 24 Sussex when the dust settles after the next election.

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The Myth Of The Morally Neutral State

The Canadian state is a lot of things but morally neutral is not one of them. Surprisingly, however, the idea that modern liberal and democratic governments constitute Impartial Observers enforcing no particular moral code, remaining above the scrum and delivering unprejudiced decisions in all instances, is strangely popular among Liberals and, stranger yet, among Conservatives as well.

David Cameron, leader of the British Columbian Conservative Party presented this view in a recent speech in Glasgow which earned considerable media attention:

I think the time has come for me to speak out about something that has been troubling me for a long time. I have not found the words to say it sensitively. And then I realised, that is the whole point.

We as a society have been far too sensitive. In order to avoid injury to people's feelings, in order to avoid appearing judgemental, we have failed to say what needs to be said. We have seen a decades-long erosion of responsibility, of social virtue, of self-discipline, respect for others, deferring gratification instead of instant gratification.

Instead we prefer moral neutrality, a refusal to make judgments about what is good and bad behaviour, right and wrong behaviour. Bad. Good. Right. Wrong. These are words that our political system and our public sector scarcely dare use any more.

I sympathize with Cameron's position but I dissent from his conclusion. We live under anything but a morally neutral state. What he means, clearly, is that he does not support the kind of morality our state currently endorses and enforces.

Pierre Lemieux explains:

So, we are living under a morally neutral state? Try telling this to individuals who are denormalized because they smoke tobacco or are jailed because they consume drugs or provide them to consumers, who have their children seized by the state because they don’t teach them state-approved morals, who pay taxes to support government programs based on egalitarian ethics or other state activities they disprove of, who are brainwashed by the subsidized environmental religion, or who are prohibited by law (in theory or in practice) from defending themselves against gun- or knife-wielding thugs. All these people and others have moral values imposed on them by the state, that is, by force. Nothing morally neutral about that.

The best example, perhaps, is the recent troubles with free speech and the Canadian Human Rights Commissions. It is impossible to argue that the prosecution of Steyn and Levant for "hate speech" and "Islamophobia" does not assume the morality of the left, to wit, that our freedom of expression can be properly subordinated to a newly-enforceable "right" not to be insulted.

Ultimately, I conclude with Lemieux:

What is needed in Canada as in the U.K. is not a wishy-washy retreat from a neutral morality that doesn’t exist, a substitution of Liberal fantasies for Conservative hang-ups, but a revolution that would abolish the state’s moral authority and let individuals at liberty to make their own moral choices. The solution is to minimize the moral content of public policy and require that the state avoid taking sides between its citizens, except in matters of murder and other violent crimes. Such a true morally neutral state would allow the re-establishment of efficient private morality.

Cameron's article represents a strong and passionate advocacy of the traditional Canadian values of freedom and liberalism. Read the whole thing for a more nuanced analysis of the question of state neutrality.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

On Capital Punishment

People are in nearly universal agreement that criminals must be punished - even the most compassionate left-winger will concede that some form of penalty is necessary - but by what standard of justice should that punishment be meted out? When is the death penalty justifiable, if ever?

The Canadian justice system made its feelings known on the matter on July 14th, 1976. Canada formally abolished the death penalty and cited three principal reasons for doing so:

(1) The possibility of wrongful conviction

(2) Questions regarding the state/government's right to take the life of an individual

(3) Uncertainty regarding the deterring effect of capital punishment

It is my opinion that the first point has the most force. I contend that, in a state of nature, any person would be morally justified in executing an individual who they can irrefutably prove has committed murder (provided, of course, that mens rea and actus rea can be shown). If we accept that every individual has a right to their own life, then the willful and malicious taking of a human life seems to demand the forfeiture of the guilty party's own right to the same. Consequently, it seems clear that capital punishment is morally permissible in a state of nature given complete knowledge regarding the event.

Translating this moral permissibility into public policy, however, is complex to say the least. Juries and judges are far from omniscient and if a single innocent life is taken because of capital punishment then a horrendous injustice has occurred and the policy must be judged wholly unacceptable. This concern was obviously paramount in Canada's elimination of the death penalty since the Steven Truscott case is considered to have been a crucial factor in the decision.

There may, however, be a way of constructing a policy to avoid this trouble. I'm not a legal philosopher but, given a situation in which the standard of absolute certainty (reasonable doubt would not be sufficient) are met, I see no reason why this problem should be damning to capital punishment in all cases. The demand for the highest possible standard of proof would make it very rare that the death penalty be applied, but, theoretically, capital punishment could still be a consistent and moral public policy.

The second point does not hold as much force as the first. The government is not some abstracted entity that can boast its own unique moral code. The government is merely a collection of individuals. Agents acting in its name are morally justified in doing only that which an individual is morally justified in doing with the obvious exception of the use of physical coercion in order to administer the law. Since we have established that an individual has the right to implement capital punishment in a state of nature given absolute proof, and given that we surrender the right to actualize that punishment ourselves by entering into society, the government should be perfectly justified in applying capital punishment as a policy.

To address the final point, I would be best served by quoting H.L. Mencken on the subject:

[This argument's] fundamental error consists in assuming that the whole aim of punishing criminals is to deter other (potential) criminals--that we hang or electrocute A simply in order to so alarm B that he will not kill C. This, I believe, is an assumption which confuses a part with the whole. Deterrence, obviously, is one of the aims of punishment, but it is surely not the only one. On the contrary, there are at least half a dozen, and some are probably quite as important. At least one of them, practically considered, is more important. Commonly, it is described as revenge, but revenge is really not the word for it. I borrow a better term from the late Aristotle: katharsis. Katharsis, so used, means a salubrious discharge of emotions, a healthy letting off of steam. A school-boy, disliking his teacher, deposits a tack upon the pedagogical chair; the teacher jumps and the boy laughs. This is katharsis. What I contend is that one of the prime objects of all judicial punishments is to afford the same grateful relief (a) to the immediate victims of the criminal punished, and (b) to the general body of moral and timorous men.

Considering these points, it seems that capital punishment is perfectly acceptable from a moral perspective but that practical and epistemological considerations are potentially a deal-breaker. Governments are theoretically justified in executing criminals who willfully and maliciously commit homicide while in full possession of their faculties but, unless the problem of wrongful executions as raised in the first point can be persuasively addressed, the current policy in Canada is likely the proper one.

UPDATE: I crossposted this article at Dust My Broom and we had an interesting discussion in the comments section. The debate seemed to boil down to whether or not it is justifiable to sacrifice an innocent individual for the collective good of society. My answer was vehemently to the negative while many others supported the maxim "the ends justify the means." Judge for yourselves.

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So The Zombies Are Communists?

Yes. Yes, they are.

Everything I could hope for in a music video involving heavy metal, the Russian language, gratuitous female licentiousness, and Mikhail Gorbachev.


H/t Dri.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Wham, Bam, Thank You Ma'am

Some of the best rock and roll ever recorded to get us through a slow Friday night.

Bowie: Suffragette City

Lennon & The Stones: Yer Blues

Doesn't get any better than that.

More of the good stuff at Darcey's.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Obama '08: Change When It's Expedient

Strong ad. Hits the right points.

Obama is a lightweight, pure and simple. A few more good attack ads and the polls are going to start reflecting that.

H/t Ace

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Monday, July 7, 2008

You Think Eet Eez Easy To Chew Out Garth Turner?

Liberal MP Garth Turner hasn't apologized on his website for a controversial blog he posted about Quebec sovereigntists -- despite being "chewed out" for the remarks by Liberal Leader Stephane Dion.

Turner came under fire Friday after some readers objected to a blog he posted calling sovereigntists "self-aggrandizing, hostile, me-first, greedy, macho, selfish and balkanizing separatist losers."


Uh oh, Garth. You've really done it now. You wouldn't like Stephane when he's angry.

"Now see 'ere, Gart. Eet eez not easy to make priorities, je sais, but perhaps one of yours could be not pissing all over de Quebec vote? Like, for serious? If we lose Quebec we're so totally screwed, hokay?"

I can only imagine how irritating it would be to get "chewed-out" by Stephane Dion, the archetypal beta male.

God, am I thankful Garth Turner isn't a Tory anymore.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

You Can't Beat 'Em At Home, Harper, So Stop Trying

As Prime Minister Stephen Harper helped ring in Quebec City's 400th birthday Thursday, a series of opinion surveys suggested his party has lost key support in the province.

The latest Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll finds that a bruising session in Parliament - along with a perceived values gap on the environment - has cost the Tories crucial ground with Quebec voters and urban women.


Harper has been so busy bending over backwards to come off as "serious" about the environment that he's stopped hitting the effective Conservative points that got him this gig in the first place. Bluntly, the Conservatives are not going to win an election on the environment. It's a non-starter. They can't promise enough in the way of government intervention to compete with this Carbon Tax Green Shift nonsense. A successful campaign against an environmentalist will have to focus on good conservative economics.

"All right, Canada. You want a Carbon Tax? Well, here's what it's going to cost you."

I thought Harper had identified this as the strongest point of attack with the series of Tory attack ads that were released after the announcement of Dion's Carbon Tax. But Harper has wasted a lot of time pleading his Green bona fides and, of course, it's sounding perfunctory and half-hearted.

Stick to the economy, Mr. Prime Minister. The Canadian electorate has often been characterized as a fiscally conservative liberal. Know your audience and start fighting with your strong hand again.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

We Hate The Productive & So Can You!

An earth-shattering study was recently conducted by the always-entertaining Canadian Center For Policy Alternatives that finally proved once and for all that there is a direct relationship between the quantity of currency that you possess and the degree to which you are evil.

The Sun:

Size matters, according to a new study on Canada's ecological footprint. The study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows the more we earn, the bigger impact we have on the environment.

It should act as a reminder to governments everywhere that public policies to fight greenhouse gases and save the planet cannot ignore that richer people are bigger polluters and should be treated accordingly.

After all, affluent people drive more cars, heat and cool bigger homes, travel further on vacations, and simply use more land to live...

Emphasis mine.

The anti-industrial sentiments that inspired this sneeringly sanctimonious study are evident. Production and consumption are paramount evils. The virtuous man is the one who eschews the profit motive and lives humbly - producing little, consuming little, and living in harmony with nature. You know. Like an animal. This kind of attitude leaves the environmental movement with only one possible policy: smother the productive.

This hideous brand of environmentalism is in diametric opposition to modernity, capitalism, and liberalism. This is a movement committed to replacing our civilization with the Dark Ages. And, to accomplish their ends, they are perfectly willing to extort, gripe, and bully us into living like animals.

No, thank you. I like modernity just fine.

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True North Strong & Free

I am fiercely proud of our little Dominion and I am particularly proud on Canada Day since it affords me the opportunity to reflect on our great nation and what being a citizen of this country means. Despite the myriad of troubles facing us today, my reflections invariably leave me with the absolute conviction that I live in one of the greatest countries on Earth. Our commitment to the protection of individual rights is indelibly etched into the books of history. Canada’s story is one of fortitude in the defense of liberty and, on this holiest of statutory holidays, I am happy to say without a moment’s hesitation that I am proud to be Canadian.

And so is everybody else, it seems. An Ipsos Reid poll has revealed that a majority of Canadians count themselves proud of our flag and our military, both manifest symbols of our country’s values and history.

So Canadians are proud to be Canadian. But the question remains: What does being Canadian mean?

Certainly not this:

It may soon be time for gun owners to bid their weapons adieu if the federal government takes heed of mounting public opinion that favours a firearms ban.

According to a poll conducted last month by Angus Reid Strategies, half of Ontarians surveyed think gun bans are justified, and 9-in-10 think mandatory jail terms will reduce gun-related crimes.

Though handguns are already banned -- except for police and security officers, target shooters and collectors -- gun clubs like the CNRA Handgun Club and the Scarborough Rifle Club were the target of Mayor David Miller's new bylaw which evicts gun clubs from city property.

For most of us, pride in being Canadian means pride in our place of birth, in our unique nation which is home to a way of life worth defending with our last breath. To many immigrants and refugees, it means a haven of freedom in a world overrun by tyranny. Regardless of your story, however, being Canadian signifies a ruthless commitment to freedom and democracy.

On Canada Day, all Canadian citizens should take the opportunity to reflect on why we love our country. It isn’t an arbitrary love for the geographic region in which we chanced to have been birthed. It isn’t an altruistic love for a nation of people with which we happen to coexist. It’s a perfectly selfish love for the values our country embraces and extols.

David Miller’s crusade against private citizens’ rights to purchase and enjoy the use of firearms has no place in Canada.

Sorry, Mr. Miller. We’re proud to be Canadian and, unfortunately for you, we know what that means.

Happy Canada Day!

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