Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saudi Court: Eight-Year Old Girl Cannot Divorce Until Puberty

Well, sure. We wouldn't want her making any life-changing decisions until she comes of age.

Sky News:

The youngster was married off by her father in exchange for a £4,000 dowry.

Relatives of the girl said the groom had agreed not to consummate the marriage for 10 years and to allow the youngster to live with her mother.

The girl's mother, who is separated from her husband, had filed a petition for divorce with a court in Unayzah, 135 miles north of Riyadh.

But the court ruled that the girl must file the case herself when she reaches puberty, it was reported.

"The judge has dismissed the plea because she does not have the right to file such a case, and ordered that the plea should be filed by the girl herself when she reaches puberty," lawyer Abdullah Jtili told the AFP news agency.

The marriage contract was signed by the father and the groom.

It is understood the father had debt problems and wanted to secure an advance dowry.

Arranged marriages involving pre-adolescents are occasionally reported in the Arabian Peninsula, including in Saudi Arabia where the strict conservative Wahabi version of Sunni Islam holds sway and polygamy is common.

A girl aged eight was granted a divorce in Yemen in April after her unemployed father forced her to marry a man of 28.

H/t Allah

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The Most Corrupt Political City In America But The Media Had Better Things To Investigate

How intimately was Obama involved in Blagojevich's 2002 campaign? Apparently, nobody in the media knows. But ask them about the personal details of Joe the friggin' Plumber's life and they could write you a goddamned thesis. Fair and balanced coverage, my friends.

Choice moments:

"We don't know. We have to wait until Obama tells us!"

"The media failed to investigate the background of a candidate who had only been in national politics for one year before he decided to run for president of the United States and he was born from the most corrupt political city in America. Do we not think that warranted an investigation?"

H/t Kate

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The One Minute Case For Individual Rights

I recently came across an interesting blog entitled "The One Minute Case". The following post from this site, I think, quite helpfully capsulizes the moral case for individual rights. It should help re-affirm the philosophy behind the rights of man for those who have studied the subject and, for those who haven't, perhaps it will help unpack the concept and set forth the metaphysical propositions upon which it rests.

"The One Minute Case For Individual Rights"

Man Is The Rational Animal:

Like all living beings, man requires certain values to survive, but he is unique in that he must choose the values necessary for his life because he has no automatic means of doing so. It is his ability to experience the world around him and comprehend it by the use of reason that gives him the capacity to understand the values his life requires, and then achieve them. Every value we enjoy in our civilized, comfortable, existence is the product of the application of man’s mind to reality.

There Is No "Collective Mind":

All creative effort, every invention in history, was created by the mental effort of individual men and women. When they worked together, their knowledge was increased by the work of predecessors, but each advance they made was their own. The mind cannot be received, shared, or borrowed.

Man Requires Freedom To Live:

To live, man must achieve the values necessary to sustain his live. To achieve his values, man must be free to think and to act on his judgment. Restrictions on freedom force man to focus not on the absolutes of reality, but on the arbitrary ideas of others. In a free society, a man can choose to not associate with those who do not respect his judgment – by finding a new job, new friends, or a new lover. Even if there is no one to share his ideas, every man is still free to present his own vision – by publishing his ideas or becoming an entrepreneur. However, as soon as he faces the threat of physical force, the possibility of any such alternatives becomes irrelevant. The initiation of force renders the mind useless as a means of survival.

Freedom Requires Rights:

Rights are moral principles defining man’s freedom of action in society. The purpose of establishing individual rights is to protect man from man – to define the basic conditions necessary for social existence. All rights derive from a man’s right to his own life, including the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Whether it is by a theft, force, fraud, or government coercion, man’s rights can be violated only by the initiation of force.

Rights Are Inalienable & Non-Conflicting:

Rights are not guarantees to things or obligations placed on others, but only guarantees to freedom from violence (the right to life), freedom of action (the right to liberty), and the results of those actions (the right to property). In a free society, men deal with one another exclusively by trade, voluntarily exchanging value for value to their mutual benefit. The only obligations one’s rights impose on other men is to respect the same and equal rights of others – the freedom to be left alone. A man may have his rights violated by a criminal or a government, but morally he remains, in the right, and the criminal in the wrong.

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Harper Announces Auto Bailout, Sheds A Single Tear For Lost Principles

Gasp. Can it be? Are the rumours true? Has Prime Minister Stephen Harper betrayed his free market convictions for simple political expediency?


Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty have announced a $4-billion aid package for Canada's struggling auto industry.

Shock. Betrayal. Surprise. I feel ... none of these emotions. Harper has made his willingness to cater to whomever demands it of him perfectly clear so long as it prolongs his time in power.

For one, I disagree unreservedly with the popular wisdom that a man must either be principled or practical, the point being that the two spheres are mutually exclusive. In my mind, there is nobody more practical than the person who acts on principle. Evidently, Mr. Harper begs to differ.

I've made my thoughts regarding the auto industry bailout rather clear so I won't beat a dead horse in this post. I will, however, recruit Publius to summarize the bailout decision as well as my own opinion on the matter to provide a little bit of closure:

This is, we belabour the point because it is not made enough, the economic equivalent of putting four billion dollars on a huge raft, lighting it on fire and then letting it drift to the middle of Lake Ontario to sink.

So for now, the Canadian auto industry will avoid bankruptcy. Financial bankruptcy, that is. They've been bankrupt of integrity for years.

ALSO: The cold hard facts about auto profits and sales (or lack thereof) in the United States. Again, linked by Publius.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Why Conservatives Must Abandon Anti-Intellectualism & Reclaim The Realm Of The Mind

On one level, I can appreciate why so many North American conservatives have chosen to turn up their noses at academics. Having spent the majority of my adult life dealing with the so-called 'intelligentsia,' I can confirm that they are, to generalize, an impossible group of garrulous and anorchid weasels. The few scholars who are able to scramble out of the pit of evil that is modern day pragmatism do so only to embrace some trendy political philosophy, typically Kantian or some idealistic derivative thereof, that is so entirely divorced from reality that one is left to wonder whether they can still be said to live on earth.

That said, it would be unwise for the right to abandon the realm of philosophy in protest. As a post at The New Clarion points out, just look at the influence one blue-collar man who has read Austrian economics had on the American election:

Just think: one plumber who has read Mises rocked the Obama campaign for days. If one educated American can have such an effect, imagine what would happen if just 5% of Americans read good economics and good philosophy. The welfare state would be seriously challenged. It might even be over.

The author's point is well taken. If 1.65 million (or approximately 5%) of Canadian citizens had read any decent economics or philosophy before the last Canadian election or even during the coalition crisis, is there any chance whatever that the Conservatives could have failed to secure a significantly stronger mandate?

I wrote in a recent post that I couldn't understand why Keynesianism has remained so popular in Canada despite its thorough refutation and the existence of profoundly more rational alternative economic models. After giving it some thought, however, I have concluded that at least some portion of the blame must be laid at the feet of those individuals who choose to base their opinions on floating abstractions and refuse to ground themselves in reality. That criticism is meant for both the left and the right. In fact, perhaps it should apply most to the alleged defenders of capitalism, particularly those currently involved with the US Republican Party, whose arguments in favour of laissez faire economics consists largely of religious hokum and half-understood snatches of Adam Smith.

The solution to our problem is to promote the pursuit of philosophy, not to abandon academia to our enemies. The solution is to reclaim the realm of the mind from the pragmatists, postmodernists, and idealists, not to allow them victory by default. As a commenter at The New Clarion puts it, all you have to do to save the world is think.

H/t Thrutch

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Reducing The Burden Of Government

The following is an excellent Center For Freedom & Prosperity video hosted by Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute. Mitchell lucidly explains the theoretical and practical failures of the Keynesian economic model and helpfully delineates some of its greatest negative consequences in the American context, with special reference to the Great Depression and the results of the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations' commitment to statism.

As Mitchell says at the end of the video, your guess is as good as mine as to why Keynesian economics has remained so popular. What's worse, it's no longer merely the crusading socialists who embrace its assumptions and methods. Witness the massive growth in government size in recent years in the United States under an allegedly conservative administration.

Perhaps by continuing to expose the fallacies of Keynesian economics we will succeed in weaning North Americans off their diet of statism and help them develop an appetite for freedom.


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Friday, December 19, 2008

Weekly Round-Up Of Tips & Links

Since the tips and links are beginning to roll in at a decent speed, my Firefox browser has started to look a touch cluttered with the extra tabs I've been forced to keep open. To remedy this situation, I thought I would begin to unload my favourite articles, videos, and miscellaneous items of interest in the form of a weekly round-up post.

Keep the tips coming ( and my apologies if I don't always respond right away.

This week in the world:

Tips For Clueless People Who Get Mugged: A frustrated cop explains to brain dead New Yorkers what to do if they get robbed (Linked at Noodle Food)

Stephen Harper CBC & CTV Interviews (H/t Daryl Wolk)

Fuck You, Penguin. A blog where a man tells cute animals what's what. Probably safe for work but the language tends towards the crude (H/t Susan)

Nature Gets Legal Rights In Ecuador: You have to read this to believe it (Again, linked by Diana at Noodle Food)

Cooling On Global Warming: Europe gets real while US turns up heat on global warming talks.

Video: Abdul The Reluctant Martyr (from Allah at Hot Air)

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Let Them Fail: Auto Industry Bailout Would Reward Irrational Business Behaviour

It has recently been calculated by the Center for Spatial Economics that the failure of the auto industry would immediately result in the loss of 323,000 jobs in Canada. This would be particularly disastrous for the already-devastated Ontario economy since approximately 87% percent of the job loss would occur in that highly industrial province. As a result, Ontario Economic Development Minister Michael Bryant has stated publicly that it would be irresponsible for the government to allow such a collapse to occur and so, joining a chorus of voices all across the North American continent, Bryant called for a bailout of the auto industry.

But is a bailout the truly responsible decision for the government to make? Would it serve the interests of the Canadian people and save the economy from the brunt of what promises to be a terrible recession in the long run? The answer is absolutely 'no'.

Canadians are being fed the tired bromide that the fluctuations of the free market are to blame for the current financial crisis and that governmental manipulations of the economy are how we are to best achieve the economic stability and security that we seek. This notion could not be further from the truth. The auto industry is failing because it has been chained by government restrictions for decades and, furthermore, because it has pursued and continues to pursue highly irrational business policies. Rather than being punished for their errors, which would occur naturally in a free market that would force them to adapt or else fail, state representatives are declaring that these businesses are simply 'too big to fail' and that more government involvement is the solution to a problem caused by too much freedom. These businesses cannot be allowed to fail, they say.

But, as Amit Ghate writes, the failure of businesses is not merely a normal occurrence in a capitalist economy, but a crucial phenomenon for the emergence of the highest quality ideas and products. Technological advancements have driven numerous industries completely out of business - Ghate offers typewriters as a relevant example - and these advancements, and the resulting industry failures, are healthy in a free economic system. So why are we hearing so much noise about the necessity of saving the auto industry?

The Big Three are failing because investors have no interest in risking their money on poorly run companies that are already forced to work within the confines of unacceptable governmental restrictions. These restrictions include labour laws that have required companies to submit to short-sighted and financially calamitous union demands as well as fuel economy laws requiring companies to produce small vehicles at extraordinary costs that have no chance of turning a significant profit. A popular mechanics article explains the real cost of these laws:

"It takes money to build more fuel-efficient cars and trucks—lots of it. Want a diesel engine? That’s a $3000-$5000 premium per vehicle. Tack on at least another $5000 for hybrid technology. Plus, new cars and trucks have to meet stringent safety standards, and that adds weight, which in turn lowers fuel economy. Try asking a consumer to forgo the leather interior and rear-seat DVD player in their minivan to save weight. I don’t think so. Not that consumers want pokey cars and trucks anyway: No, Americans like vehicles with good passing power and low-end torque. So automakers struggle to meet all these needs, and it’s still expensive."

Rather than campaign against these governmental intrusions, however, the auto industry has turned to their powerful lobby to attempt to coerce money from taxpayers who weren't willing to give it to them voluntarily. Rather than fighting against the real cause of their trouble, these companies have accepted even greater state involvement as the solution to their current state of crisis. Unsurprisingly, we've seen the entirely predictable consequence of this decision in the United States where the price of the auto industry bailout has been a commitment to produce more small cars that meet high fuel efficiency standards, thus guaranteeing the recurrence of the exact same problems the industry is currently facing. The auto industry is guilty of a complete evasion of the realities of their business. And we believe that this is behaviour worth rewarding?

The loss of Canadian jobs is a terrible thing. However, this wrong will not be righted by prescribing as the solution that which has been the main contributing factor to its current state of crisis. Consequently, the only rational course of action is clear: let them fail. When the government runs the auto industry, the auto industry fails. Let these companies go under and hopefully from their ashes will rise rational profit-seeking businessmen and women who will be able to produce stable long-term jobs for the people of Ontario. The bailout alternative is simply too self-destructive to accept as a viable option.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Chilling Question Of The Day: Is China More Capitalist Than The US?


While China improves its business climate by lowering the burden of state confiscation, the US plans to increase it, and in some cases by a significant amount. Meanwhile, the House last night voted 237-170 to sink $15 billion into the American auto industry, with government officially owning part of three private auto makers in order to dictate to management how to run their businesses. Management welcomed the move, and in fact wanted Congress to buy an even bigger stake in these companies.


When one looks to Beijing for rational tax policies … well, that’s just a sad day for Americans, even if it does portend a brighter future for China.

I recall a day when 'grace under fire' was considered a supreme virtue in business and inviting government into the management of your company an unthinkable ignominy. The American response to the current financial crisis, and particularly the clambering of the corporate community for government handouts, suggests just how far America has strayed from this vision of honourable conduct in business. Is China actually more capitalist than America? Of course not. But when the question can be asked without the intention of provoking laughter, something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Separists Want To Run Our Country, Socialists Want To Run Our Economy ....

... And it all comes down to an unelected Governor General whose claim to fame involves work on public television.

Jonathan Kay:

Since so much of what happens depends on the whim of the Governor-General, our nation's intellectuals have engrossed themselves in history books, arguing about whether Michaelle Jean should properly be guided by this or that ancient precedent from our dimly remembered past. To make sense of it all, one needs to become an expert on the Boer-era minority government of Sir Whatshisname, who fell after being undercut by Lord Dustywig. Will the G-G find that precedent persuasive, we all wonder? Or will she go further back in time, to the great British confrontation between the Whigs and the Whags? And what role will the involvement of separatists play in her thinking -- a scenario that requires recourse to the ancient councils of the Orkneys? Would she accept Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament? If not, why? Dear lord, why?

Just more fuel for the republican fire.

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