Friday, July 24, 2009

Nature vs. Nurture: A False Dichotomy

One often encounters in the study of psychology the claim that human actions are the product of two (and only two) competing forces: nature and nurture. On the one hand, proponents of the nature view suggest that human beings are reacting primarily to the contents of their genetic structure. In this perspective, genes tell you everything you need to know about a person. Conversely, the nurture view suggests that human beings cannot operate beyond their upbringing and environment and that it is, in fact, these external forces that are responsible for our actions.

Both perspectives obfuscate the requirement of individual responsibility by ignoring the fact of volition.

Human decision-making is a fundamentally volitional process. Men cannot act on instinct; every action begins in a man’s mind and is deliberately chosen. The genetic structure of an individual provides certain influences – or factors – that must be taken into account in the ultimate decision to act in a certain way. For example, a strong genetic propensity towards diabetes might lead an individual to treat sugars in a way that one without such a propensity would not. However, a propensity towards diabetes does not produce automatic action; it merely provides the individual with an important factor to consider when reaching a decision to act.

Nurture cannot provide us with automatic action either. External stimuli are facts of reality to be perceived, evaluated, and considered in the process of decision-making. And they certainly do exert themselves upon us. But conceptual organisms cannot respond to these stimuli mechanically. In the same way as with genetic predispositions, humans must integrate these environmental factors into the overall structure of their thought process. Consequently, the fact of volition remains essential.

Those who point to individuals with relatively poor brain functioning as examples of the primacy of nature are missing the point. Differences of intelligence among individuals are differences of degree and not of kind. As such, these individuals are still fundamentally volitional organisms who require a process of thought for all their decisions.

The nurture advocates, in my estimation, are slightly closer to the mark. Education, indoctrination, and conditioning in a child’s formative period can affect his psychology and psycho-epistemology in incredibly profound ways. To a certain extent, genetic forces can direct a person’s growth and cognitive processes as well. However, the fundamental fact of volition remains unaltered. All influences in a person’s life are merely that: influences. The responsibility for weighing those factors against the facts of reality and of choosing one possible course of action among all the available alternatives rests solely – and must rest solely – on the individual.

This is the crucial fact that is ignored in the nature vs. nurture literature and is the source of this false dichotomy.

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On Those "Lefty, Liberal, Multicultural Appeasement Monkeys"



"Apologists For Evil" by Pat Condell

H/t Raph

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reason Or Emotionalism: There Is No Middle Ground

A friend recently asked me whether it is possible to be ‘too rational.’ The following is a portion of my response:

Here's my first concern about the question: what could possibly be involved in being too (which I take to mean 'overly') logical? What would that look like? If characteristic 'x' exists in a person to a degree beyond that which is conducive to their happiness, we say that the person is 'too x' (e.g. 'too fat,' 'too aggressive,' or 'too pessimistic'). Happiness is the state of consciousness that arises from the realization of one's values. However, logic is a human being's only means of organizing perceptual data, i.e. our only way of learning about existence. Evidently, then, the pursuit of our own happiness requires learning about all different aspects of the world around us - what are the relevant facts? do these facts tell us anything about how we should act in the future? what does that mean our values should be? how ought we to pursue those values once we've identified them? etc, etc, etc. Consequently, a process of thought (to wit: a chain of reasoning) is a necessary condition for our happiness. And the more efficacious our process of thought, the better able we are to pursue and realize our values!

To put the point differently: the strict application of logic could not possibly endanger our well-being since it exists in a proportional relationship with it. If we think rationally, we can identify the facts of the world, determine our values, pursue those values effectively, and achieve our own good in our own way.


As I suggest above, the question stems from a profound misunderstanding of the role that reason plays in the human cognitive process. It is, indeed, impossible on its face for a human being to be ‘too rational.’

Since I responded to the question nearly a week ago, however, I’ve queried a few acquaintances and have discovered that the mistake is far more common that I had thought. There seems to be a general impression that a bargain can be struck between reason and some other sham faculty of awareness, whether it be intuition, revelation, or a sixth sense.

Dr. Leonard Peikoff formulates the full repercussions of striking such a bargain between reason and emotionalism with characteristic clarity:

If one attempts to combine reason and emotionalism, the principle of reason cannot be his guide, the element that defines the terms of the compromise, because reason does not permit subjective feeling to have any voice in cognitive issues. Subjective feeling, therefore, which permits anyone anything he wants, must set the terms; it must be the element that decides the role and limits of reason. Thus the ruling principle of the epistemological middle-of-the-road’er is: ‘I will consult facts and obey the rules of evidence sometimes – when I feel like it.'


Reason is an absolute. And, when it comes to the pursuit of knowledge, no compromise is possible between rationality and emotionalism.

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The Alleged Gap Between Free Trade & Economic Embargoes

A common libertarian attack on conservative foreign policy in North America consists of opposition to our government’s authority to impose economic sanctions on foreign states. Any restrictions on the potential trade partners of free citizens, advocates of this position contend, contradicts our freedom to trade value for value with other individuals while being guided by our own rational self-interest. Although I find the term to be dangerously imprecise, I will proceed by calling this perspective “libertarian isolationism” in the absence of – or in my ignorance of – a more appropriate label.

The core of libertarian isolationism is the relativistic insistence that countries against which we are not currently fighting a (“legitimate”) war are beyond the scope of our rational judgment or of our government’s mandate to interfere with. Besides implicitly equivocating between moral social structures and tyrannical ones, this perspective is tantamount to denying the existence of threats, and therefore enemies, abroad.

Those international actors whose policies are defined by the use of physical force against individuals – any individuals – of the Canadian state must be considered our enemies. This principle applies equally to threats of physical force (e.g. a state that is allied with an enemy, a state whose policy is war with our ally, or a state whose malevolent intentions regarding our country and its citizens can otherwise be established by valid evidence) as it does to actual instances of the initiation of coercion.

The principal fallacy of the isolationist view is that it drops the context of the purpose of government: the protection of individual rights from criminal infringements thereupon by both internal and external sources. A truly consistent policy of free trade forbids permitting violators or would-be violators of the basic condition required for free trade – individual liberty – to grow stronger and better equipped through trade with domestic entities.

We consider it proper to oppose the establishment of trade relationships between domestic business entities and the mafia. Why ought we to exempt foreign gangs who pose any threat whatsoever to our safety from that same standard?

Trading with enemy states represents a blatant violation of the individual rights of our people. It is of paramount importance that we do not allow isolationists to invoke freedom to criticize embargoes when the protection of liberty is the very reason that economic sanctions are justified.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Letter To Dalton McGuinty re Harmonized Sales Tax

Beginning in 2010, Dalton McGuinty's government is instituting a new tax system in Ontario which involves expanding the Provincial Sales Tax to encompass thousands of new goods and services. The program is disingenuously entitled the "Harmonized Sales Tax." To express my dissent and outrage, I sent Mr. McGuinty the following letter and I encourage everyone of a like mind on this matter to send a message as well. Please feel free to borrow my letter, either in part or in whole, while making your opinion known.

Dear Mr. Dalton McGuinty,

As a politically engaged citizen of Ontario, I am pleased to offer my support for any government initiative that aims at lessening the tax and paperwork burden on the people of our province. I find it interesting that the achievement of this rational tax reform is the guise under which Ontarians are being offered the "Harmonized Sales Tax" (HST). Regrettably, the HST plan will, in reality, distend the 8% provincial tax to include innumerable products and services that are presently – and mercifully – beyond the provincial government’s reach. As a result, it is clear that the valid objective of reforming the tax system for the benefit of Ontario’s over-taxed individuals, families, and businesses is no more than a convenient pretext that has been employed by your administration to obscure the true nature of your proposed tax plan.

Like many of your government’s policies, the HST has been initiated under a smoke screen of beneficence while truly aiming at arrogating to the state an even larger portion of the wealth of Ontario’s citizens. In essence, the “harmonization” that your government has advanced is nothing more than a massive tax hike, one that will be keenly felt by Ontarians in their purchase of basic goods and services such as hydro, gasoline, and home heating fuel, as well as in important areas like legal fees, real estate charges, and the sale of used cars. Given our province’s already inordinately high tax burden, this drastic and underhanded cash grab by your government will represent a major financial challenge to Ontario’s producers and consumers alike, especially those in the middle class. Your constituents will not tolerate this state of affairs.

Mr. McGuinty, I implore you to strike down the proposed Harmonized Sales Tax. Furthermore, as the leader of Ontario’s government, I ask that you focus your efforts on what common sense, sound economics, and the lessons of history have demonstrated time and again is most conducive to the real welfare of Canadian citizens: freedom in the economic realm. I assure you that your failure to take positive action on this matter will be reflected in the results of the next provincial election.


Please follow the link to send your own message.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Eulogy For America

The country that once elected leaders whose ideas upheld liberty now elects leaders whose sweet-sounding platitudes and woozy promises are all that is required, and whose actual, dangerous ideas need not be examined until after Election Day.

The country that defended property rights now seizes 40-percent of our income in a myriad of taxes imposed by all levels of government — with even larger levies on incomes, profits, investments, and savings on the horizon.

The country that championed capitalism now vilifies our industries, cripples them with regulations, seizes their profits, then declares that the free market has failed and government must take over.

The country that made possible the great industrial titans—the Henry Fords, Thomas Edisons, and others whose productive genius moved mankind forward—now thinks that government can run things better, and that government should own, operate, and finance our corporations, deciding which will survive and which will die, creating a new kind of soup kitchen where emaciated companies stand in a bread-line waiting for their bailout.

The country that protected the individual now protects polar bears, spotted owls, caribou, and the wilderness at the expense of human life.

The country that fought a revolution to end the abuse of power now elects politicians who wallow in power like hippos in mud, such as members of congressional subcommittees who hold hearings threatening the prosperity or very existence of American business firms, and then let the hearings end with little or no result when the hapless firms make sufficient contributions to the reelection campaigns of the congressmen.(*)


It is the mighty that have the farthest to fall. Most often, that fall is not precipitated by one great clash with the enemy but, as Mark Steyn explains, "by a thousand trivial concessions, until one day you wake up and you don't need to sign a formal instrument of surrender because you did it piecemeal."

Is it too late to slam on the emergency brakes? Observe the altruist-collectivist rhetoric of high-ranking members of the Obama administration. Or witness the moral depth of the government's representatives. Or study the soundness of the state's economic policies.

Americans are up to their necks in the quicksand of statism and the more they struggle - the more they cram their destructive 'stimulus' packages through congress and the closer they crawl to universal health care - the harder they will find it to claw back out of the mire.

Steyn's thousand trivial concessions are upon us. Tomorrow Canadians may wake up next to the world's biggest welfare state, trillions of dollars in debt and begging for the self-esteem it once deserved.

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Plus Ca Change ...

"These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people. Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, human misery, and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity. But, great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades, we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children's future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals. You and I as individuals can, by borrowing, live beyond our means but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively as a nation we are not bound by that same limitation."(*)


Whatever you say, old man.

You call it "tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals". I call it "change we can believe in".

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400,000 Murdered In Darfur ...

... And British academics are boycotting Israel?



This has been a good week for the Islamic Republic of Britain. Making all the right decisions there, boys.

H/t Darcey

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Quick Note About Blogging

Sorry for the brief period of radio silence there. Yesterday was a day spent in transit and today I'm settling in. Posting will pick up again tomorrow.

Until then, amuse yourselves with thoughts about how terribly brave (and deeply screwed) this man is.

Brass balls.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Alannah Myles: Black Velvet

In accordance with the CRTC's soon-to-be-mandated quota for Canadian content on the internet, I've been ordered by the government to submit the following song for your delectation in order to balance out the Clapton video from Thursday.

Enjoy!

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Religious/Social Conservatism As Socialism?

Mike Brock published an interesting article today in which he endeavoured to draw a link between left-wing government interventionist ideology and religious conservatism. This link, his article seemed to imply, was socialism.

While his argument is for the most part well-reasoned, it isn't socialism that links religious conservatism with welfarism - it's statism.

Mike Brock:

Raise your hand if you think social society should have a strong morality attenuated through law.

Socialism: Yes, socialist principles of collectivism.
Ann Coulter: Yes, based on the teachings of the Bible.
Liberalism: No, morality is not the business of the state.

Raise your hand if you think citizenship should be connected to moral systems?

Socialism: Yes, those who do not accept socialism in a socialist society should not be full members therein.
Ann Coulter: Yes, those who conform to the Christian traditions of society are fuller citizens.
Liberalism: No, plurality of belief is not only acceptable, but healthy.

Raise your hand if you think adherence to moral codes are more important than outcome?

Socialism: Yes. It is preferable to have fairness than some with more and others with less.
Ann Coulter: Yes. Traditions like marriage should be maintained irrespective of any outcome.
Liberalism: Perhaps. In so far as the adherence is to the principle of respect of others equal rights.

Is one of the purposes of policing to enforce social moral codes?

Socialism: Yes. The use of police to quell political dissension and anti-social behaviour is important.
Ann Coulter: Yes. More police! More jails! Arrest people who do drugs, and engage in perverse sexual activities!
Liberalism: Absolutely not.

This evaluation of the respective positions of religious conservatives and socialists is accurate.

Taking these areas of similarity to heart, Mr. Brock reaches the following conclusion:

Social conservatives have appropriated love for liberty, but only so far as economics goes. They want lower taxes and less government services, but they want strong laws, stronger police, more jails, and bigger militaries--which ironically, end up costing as much, if not more than the social services they detest. They support the idea of “big government” while pretended to support “small government”, through a redefining of the term “big government”.


The real thread that ties welfarism to social conservatism is the idea that the government is justified in intervening in private matters for reasons other than the prevention of direct physical harm, to wit, the violation of individual rights.

However, I'm confounded by Mr. Brock's derision for strong laws, a strong police force, good jails, and big militaries since these are precisely the institutions that the government is justified for having.

Strong laws are necessary to protect individual rights. This idea should be considered in contrast to the existence of unjust laws, the extent of a law's 'justness' to be determined by employing the standard of protecting individual freedom. Violations of this standard can be witnessed in the words of opponents of homosexual marriage and the legalization of drugs. Having strong laws simply means effectively guarding the rights of our citizens and, in this way, is perfectly consonant with liberalism and freedom. Moreover, a strong police force is crucial to the defence of rights in the same way that a strong military is essential to the defence of these rights from threats from abroad.

Accordingly, Mr. Brock's comments reveal what I believe to be a particularly harmful streak in the libertarian movement: the identification of any government as bad government. Evidently, this perspective has roots in anarchism. In reality, limited government is necessary for protecting individuals from coercion. There are three legitimate government functions: protection from domestic rights-abusers through a robust police force, protection from rights-abusers abroad through a strong military, and the administration of just laws through a judiciary. Any actions taken by the government which exceed these legitimate roles can be properly identified as statist.

Before we are able to coherently defend liberty, we must identify what constitutes a violation of our rights. Leftism - the partial or complete state ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange - is a prime example of illegitimate government control. Social conservatism - the substantial centralized control over social affairs - is guilty of the same violation of liberty for the same reasons.

Mike Brock claims that welfarism and social conservatism are two sides of the same coin and, to a certain extent, this is accurate. However, that coin has not been minted with the material of socialism, which is merely another name for the left-wing ideology of intervention in the marketplace. The two sides are connected by the idea of statism and this should be the real enemy for lovers of liberty on the left and on the right.

Identifying the enemy is the first step to conquering him.

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The Crisis of Credit Visualized

The following is a simple and clear explanation of the credit crisis in the shape of a visual guide. Jonathan Jarvis walks you through every step of the problem, from sub-prime mortgages to the economic recession end state.

Says Kalim Kassam:

This attractive video, a thesis project of art student Jonathan Jarvis, provides an impressively clear explanation of the credit crisis, tracing it's origins in low interest rates through interwoven homeowners, mortgage markets, investors, and complex financial instruments.

Though the story it tells is quite accurate, the video doesn't attempt to put forward a full causal explanation linking together all the elements; if you're looking for a hint about the wherefores, keep your eye on the market-distorting effects of easy money and loose credit during the boom period.



The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

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Draft Peter Schiff For Senate

Web-savvy Libertarians in California have launched a nationwide movement to draft a New Haven-born celebrity pundit to take on Connecticut U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd. Their first big test comes Saturday.

The pundit is Peter Schiff. He has been a fixture bashing the federal bank bailout and stimulus efforts on national TV news (FOXNews, CNBC, CNN) panels because of his early predictions of the Wall Street meltdown. He published a prescient book in 2007 called Crash Proof: How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse. “The man who saw it all before everybody saw it,” as Fox anchor Liz Claman introduced him.

Schiff, who now runs a Darien stock brokerage firm, served as an economic adviser to Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul, whose candidacy was elevated by a then-unprecedented grassroots Internet effort. [...]

The campaign has an online “headquarters” and assorted rallying cries, including: “Stop the Bailouts.” “Stop the stimulus!” It has Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter presences, too — even though Schiff insisted in an interview that he has had nothing to do with the effort and would almost definitely not heed a call to actually run. That’s right. Almost definitely.

“Want Peter to run? Pledge! Show him we’ve got his back,” proclaims the home page for an affiliated site coordinating a “Moneybomb” for this Saturday. A “moneybomb” means supporters are hoping to raise an eye-popping pile of pledges in one day to show serious support for a Schiff candidacy — the way a one-day moneybomb propelled Ron Paul’s candidacy a year ago with a record haul.

In some ways the effort mirrors the early drive to find a candidate to challenge Connecticut U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in 2006, only this time from the right, not the left. In 2006, activists from across the country who supported challenger Ned Lamont poured money and cultivated volunteers through left-leaning national websites like Daily Kos and MoveOn.org. The campaign was national from the start, born at the netroots.*


I'm currently in the process of reading Schiff's 2007 book "Crash-Proof: How To Profit From The Coming Economic Collapse" which was mentioned in the above blurb. So far it has been excellent. I recommend picking it up to anybody who has money in the stock market and has taken a hit or simply wants to hear Alan Greenspan get taken apart. Although Schiff's book does focus on the American economy, its implications for Canada are clear and his discussion of the global economy is helpful as well.

Here's the main video that has been enlisted towards the end of earning money for Schiff's "moneybomb".

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Moment of Zen For Dog-Lovers



(*) Got a busy night of family-related obligations and general relaxation ahead of me so posting will be a bit light.

Everybody enjoy their Friday!

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A Word To The Monetary Inflation Skeptics

"Screwed."



Devaluing our money like it's going out of style.

Hey, remember when the value of money was objective? Sweet, sweet memories of a gold standard.

H/t Unambiguously Ambidextrous

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Variations On A Theme Of Witchcraft

Thank God we're living in the Age of Reason, no?

Nigeria:



America:



These are the absurd and terrible roads down which faith makes us travel. Billions upon billions of human beings on Earth prefer to place their whims above the evidence of reality. It is under this flag of whim-worship that the worst atrocities of human history have been perpetrated.

In light of the fuss that was made over the Pastor Wright controversy, I thought I would shed a little light onto the religious influences of the "rising star" of the Republican Party.

Wait a minute. A year ago she was the unheard of Governor of Alaska and this year she is the heir apparent to the throne of the GOP?

Maybe Palin's a witch!

H/t Brasscheck TV

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Eric Clapton: I'm Tore Down

Here's a little insight into what's been spinning around my head this evening.



Does it get any better than that?

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Weekly Round-Up Of Tips & Links

Um. So the "weekly" part of this post's title is a blatant untruth. As it turns out, I'm going to subject you folks to a link dump every damn time that my Firefox browser gets cluttered up with tabs. Mmmkay?

As always, keep those tips coming (canadian.republic@hotmail.com) and my apologies if I don't always respond right away.

This week in the world:

  • YouTube: Video of a shrimp running on a treadmill with the Benny Hill theme playing. No, seriously. Worth your time.
  • George F. Will: Re: stimulus - "Never have so few spent so much so quickly to do so little."
  • Maggie's Farm: "How government legal threats created the sub-prime mortgage market."
  • ShopFlick: Wondering what to get Fort for his birthday?
  • The List Universe: Ten books that screwed up the world.
  • YouTube: Video of Tenacious D's "Tribute". Very funny.

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The Big O Visits Iowa - No, Ottawa

Hopey One Kenobi made the long trek from D.C. to Canada's seat of power today but his visit didn't go quite as planned.

President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper just started their joint news conference, the first such dual podium event for the new president.

The newness is showing - the president began his remarks with, "It's a great pleasure to be here in Iowa - Ottawa."

Obama says "it's great to be" pretty much anywhere he goes. Iowa was a key battleground state, but also the Jan. 4, 2008 caucus was his first win during the Democratic primary election. It swung his way in November, and a Downtown Des Moines rally on Halloween was one of his last campaign stops before winning the presidency.

Flubbing the name of a location has happened to many politicians, and has happened to the president before.*


Via Gateway Pundit:

"Maybe he thought he was in one of the northern 57 states?"


Combine this flub with his previous shout out to the "President of Canada" and I'm starting to think he doesn't care about us quite as much as our apparent obsession with him merits.

And, at the end of the day, we'll still adore him. There's something very romantic about unrequited love.

Does that answer your question, Jarrett?

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Stephen Harper On Wolf Blitzer's 'The Situation Room'

A very good performance, I think. I was most impressed by his tactfully implicit threat to Obama about the 'Buy American' clause of their porkulus package - a clause that is gone but definitely not forgotten. Also, Harper hit the point about the potential costs of protectionism for the global economy quite well when he said that there is no surer way to turn a recession into a depression than to pursue protectionism given our current state of financial affairs.

All in all, he earned an 'A-' grade. The minus is in there because I'm still a little sore with him over the budget. Only time will heal that wound.



Exit Question: Is it absolutely crucial that he begins every goddamn sentence with "Well, look..."?

H/t Lance

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"Do Not Regulate The Internet. At All."

Big Blue Wave:

The CRTC is having hearings today on the possibility of forcing internet service providers to provide Canadian content on-line.

As far as I'm concerned, this is outrageous.

There should be no CRTC regulation of the internet.

Period.

WRITE THE CRTC.

Now is the time to speak up VERY LOUDLY to make it known that you absolutely, positively oppose this measure.


This is a follow-up to my post a few days ago condemning the CRTC's new foray into the regulation of the internet.

To let your opinion be known, contact the CRTC online. Suzanne recommends the following short and sweet comment: "Do not regulate the internet. At all."

Sounds good to me.

It'll take you less than a minute so please let the CRTC know that Canadian citizens will not permit any regulation of the internet.

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Canadian Public Education At Its Best: Calgary Board of Education Edition

Aims of public education:



The editor of this webpage was as confused as he was illiterate.

If it doesn't demonstrate the aims of public education, then it certainly demonstrates its results.

H/t Alice The Camel (who has changed to a wordpress blog so update your bookmarks accordingly)

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Mathematicians Discover Largest Number Possible: "Stimulus"

An international mathematics research team announced today that they had discovered a new integer that surpasses any previously known value "by a totally mindblowing shitload." Project director Yujin Xiao of Stanford University said the theoretical number, dubbed a "stimulus," could lead to breakthroughs in fields as diverse as astrophysics, quantum mechanics, and Chicago asphalt contracting.

"Unlike previous large numbers like the Googleplex or the Bazillionty, the Stimulus has no static numerical definition," said Xiao. "It keeps growing and growing, compounding factorially, eating up all zeros in its path. It moves freely across Cartesian dimensions and has the power to make any other number irrational."

Jean-Luc Brossard, a researcher with the European consortium CERN, said the number is so staggeringly large that it is difficult for even mathematicians to grasp, let alone lay people.

"The number itself is incomprehensible by human minds, and can only be theoretically understood in a fractional parallel universe which we refer to as the DC dimension," said Brossard. "The best way to understand a stimulus is to imagine a dollar sign followed by a packed string of hexidecimal nanodigits, wound into a triple helix, woven into a dodecahedron, and stacked on top of one another. Now imagine you were a black hole on the far edge of the universe, trying to escape the stimulus at 30 times the speed of light. The stimulus would still catch up to you and ram your black hole with such furious, repeated force that it would cause your entire reality itself to collapse."


President Obama must be proud to have contributed to such an historic discovery.

Via Iowahawk

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"It's Pure F*cking Cowardice"

It has long been understood that one of the stickiest problems for any invasionary effort or regime change is the transition from control by the occupying power to control by domestic forces.

Accordingly, some reasonable concerns have been raised about whether the Iraqi police are prepared for this transition. Reports indicate that many members of their police force are lazy and corrupt. Lazy because they are unwilling to do their jobs by protecting Iraqi citizens and engaging in actual altercations with insurgents and corrupt because, allegedly, many of them have ties to the militia which pits them against American soldiers and raises serious questions about conflicting loyalties.

The following is a video of an American soldier yelling at the members of an Iraqi police battalion, calling them out on their cowardice and duplicity. Cussing, cussing, cussing. Definitely not safe for work. But it's completely satisfying and highly recommended.



Choice moments:

"You want everything from me. You want weapons and ammunition. You want fuel, you want trucks. But you're too f*cking pussy to go three kilometers down the road and go get the people who are tearing this f*cking town apart. It's pure f*cking cowardice."

"You want to fix your image? This group right here - f*ck your stupid checkpoints, they're worthless. Get together, get all your weapons, and start marching south towards the river. I guarantee you'll get into a gun fight and I guarantee you'll f*ck some people up. Get down there and kick some ass."


He does get quite liberal with his use of female rhetoric with the intention of being insulting but it's not too much worse than you'd hear in the average hockey arena. Unfortunately, misogynistic expressions seem to be part and parcel of military-speak (and hockey-speak). I'm sure that the American soldier in this video loves women. And respects them. For their brains.

H/t Jonah Goldberg

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Howlin' Wolf: "Spoonful"

This is becoming something of a tradition but here's what's been playing in my head all day.



This one comes compliments of Maggie's Farm

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Inflation As Theft: Wisdom From A Disgraced Former Man Of Reason

Infinite Unknown:

“In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. … This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists’ tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists’ antagonism toward the gold standard.”

--Alan Greenspan


You can call it "quantitative easing" or you can call it "inflation" but, regardless of its name, it is nothing more than theft.

We're headed for hyperinflation over the next four or five years. This is especially true for the United States although we will hardly be exempt from the repercussions of their government's terrible mismanagement of money in Canada.

Keep that in mind when you're making decisions regarding your stock portfolio and are considering chasing the American dollar. As Peter Schiff says, the United States is the Titanic, financially speaking. All you can do is point survivors to the life boats.


UPDATE: Miserable little traitor

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Vladimir Putin To The US: "No, Seriously, Socialism Doesn't Work"

Via Gateway Pundit:

"We must not revert to isolationism and unrestrained economic egotism... Excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state's omnipotence is another possible mistake. True, the state's increased role in times of crisis is a natural reaction to market setbacks. Instead of streamlining market mechanisms, some are tempted to expand state economic intervention to the greatest possible extent... In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state's role absolute. In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated."

Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin
Opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland
January 28, 2009


Barack Obama: making history's mistakes all over again.

Well, he did promise change, didn't he?


UPDATE: A little relevant wisdom -

"The kind of events that once took place will by reason of human nature take place again."

--Thucydides (~400 BC)



UPDATE II: Reaching just a little farther back into history -

"We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office"

--Aesop (~550 BC)

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America: All Of Your Businesses Will Be Ours

Yes. Let's do this thing.

Captain Capitalism:

First you have the corporate tax rate. Oh sure, not a big advantage, but a large enough advantage it behooves the question, why havn't American firms been fleeing north to set up corporate HQ's? I mean if they're going to endure constant negative media coverage, an ignorant villianization of their existence, why suffer a 39.5% tax rate when you can suffer a mere 33.5% tax rate.

Oh, and did I mention they have nationalized health care? That may not seem like an advantage to us die hard capitalists, but for a corporation that would cut IMMEASURABLY MUCHO on their labor costs as they no longer have to pay health care insurance. So lower corporate taxes, plus savings of roughly 1/3 on labor, all the while still having the benefits of a modern, English speaking economy geographically close to their market. Please, somebody tell me why corporations haven't fled to Canada yet?

Second, corruption. I opined earlier that the US' corruption index would collapse under all the corruption, sleaze and parasitic scum buckets ranging from everybody like big fish like Bernie Madoff to the millions of smaller scumbucket fish like the investment banking, blue blood, bulge bracket nepotist and cronyists who got their jobs because of daddy and not because of skill, but forget that. Even ignoring that likely collapse, Canada is already significantly less corrupt. 8.7 vs. a 7.2. Why deal with a bunch of criminals in institutions such as the government, corporations, your employer or your educational institution when you can have significantly less crime in the institutions of Canada? It's not like we're Somalia, but give it time.

Third, government deficits as a % of GDP. Never mind that the OECD data I pulled for the US is already outdated as Obama just sign the "F#ck America over" bill which puts the real government deficit closer to 10% GDP. Let's just "hope" it stays at the previously OECD projected 5.2%. Whether it's 5.2% or 10%, it's a many-multiple of the insignificant .5% deficit the Canadians are racking up.

Fourth, and what does the fiscal recklessness that causes deficits culminate into? Why the national debt.

Yes, the national debt!

"Sick and tired of having to pay for what you want to consume? Why then just borrow it from future generations by saddling (and screwing them over) with the national debt. All you have to do is vote for socialists who couldn't balance their check books as mommy and daddy paid for their philosophy degree in college, who inevitably ended up in politics, because, well, that's where true scum bags with no skill end up. Slavery isn't dead! It's just deferred! Vote for the national debt!"

Apparently the Canadians (and I know, this sounds crazy) don't hate their children nor their grandchildren. Apparently they seem to have this thing called "fiscal austerity" or "fiscal discipline." Because they've ran smaller deficits, they naturally have smaller debts. Their national debt is only 22% GDP while ours is 52% (oh, and yeah, that doesn't include the debt the genius "stimulus" package just saddled us with).

So you can either forever serve in servitude to pay for the "Great Society" and social security and medicare (because that form of slavery is OK), or you can move and not be so indebted.

Fifth (or as Dave Chappelle says, "fif") corroborating their fiscal austerity and their remarkable ability to maintain the simple 3rd grade level concept of spending within their means, it is not just the government that seems to balance the books, but the people in general. The current account deficit, though a deficit, is only 1.8% of GDP compared to the US' 4.4% (again, Obama, socialists, stimulus, not adjusted, more like 10% GDP, etc. etc., never mind). Yes, not a surplus, but 1.8% versus what in reality will be closer to 11% in the US, where would you rather be.

And finally, six, that whole thing about "Canadians are taxed WAY more than the US!"

Oh really?

You see the ideal measure of the tax rate is government spending as a percent of GDP. In that revenues don't really matter since spending, not matter if you pay for it with borrowed money or current tax revenues has to be repaid with future taxes. I've mentioned this before, but for all practical purposes, the US and Canada have the same effective tax rates, both roughly 39%. At least in Canada you get "free" health care (and I know how weak that argument is, but just to goad the left).



PLUS: C'Mon, Move To Canada

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Tragic Comedy: Spurned Mistress Loses Contest, Drives Tycoon & Four Other Mistresses Off A Cliff

Daily Mail:

A married Chinese tycoon who could no longer afford to support his five mistresses during the credit crunch held a contest to decide which one to keep.

But when one of the women was eliminated because of her looks, she decided to take revenge - and drove her former lover and her four competitors off a cliff.


Ugh. Some people just don't know how to lose gracefully.

H/t Conservative Grapevine

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Yeah, Because Sharia Law = Peace

Don't you see? Sharia law is the key to prosperity and peace. Hell, I don't understand why we haven't implemented it here yet.

HuffPo:

Today was an historic moment for people in Pakistan's Swat region, and a remarkable achievement by the provincial government of the northwest frontier province (NWFP). After negotiations between the provincial government, its stakeholders and representatives of Tehrik-e-Nifaz Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM), an agreement was finalized to implement Sharia (Islamic Jurisprudence) Law in Swat, provided TNSM and its followers are able to maintain peace.

...

From their early days in provincial government, leaders of ANP acted with diplomatic and political acumen, first releasing Sufi Mohammad and then supporting the moderate elements of the region. Now, by meeting public demand, they are positioned to isolate 'Taliban' elements of Malakand, who have lost their popular leverage.

Hopefully, peace will return to Swat once again.


How could Swat not achieve peace now that they have a legal code that condones slavery, encourages floggings for drinking and gambling, promotes a husband's right to beat his wife for "highhandedness", supports cutting off limbs for stealing, recommends the crucifixion or mutilation of highway robbers, demands the execution of homosexuals, advocates the whipping and stoning of adulterers and those who engage in premarital sex, commands the death of those who would speak against Islam, and directs muslims to wage violent and unjust jihad? (*)

H/t Dinah Lord


UPDATE: "This is really, really bad news, as Pakistan capitulates to Taliban terrorists."


UPDATE II: "Peace, Taliban style. I wonder what Geo TV correspondent Mosa Khankhelhe said that merited "the death penalty, as prescribed by Islamic law" -- as the Taliban like to call their various murders?"


UPDATE III: Pakistan surrenders to Islamists

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Selling Off Our Real Government Assets

The Harper government, under pressure to prevent the federal deficit from ballooning, is pressing ahead with an asset review that could lead to the sale or privatization of several well-known Crown corporations, including Canada Post, Via Rail, the Royal Canadian Mint and the agency that oversees security at Canada's airports.(*)


Sorry, Mr. Prime Minister, but your little government assets bake sale won't even put a dent in that massive debt load that you've recently incurred, especially considering the current market conditions.

We need to start thinking big.

We need to start thinking ... sexy!

Now announcing the biggest government assets sale of all time!!

We're selling off the Conservative Party's real assets (wink, wink).


STEPHEN HARPER!!!(*)


Oh. My. Gawd.

Look at that leather vest.

Such poise. Such flair.

This man is easily worth $4 or $5 billion. Please start your biding now.


RONA AMBROSE!!!(*)


Ah!

Such grace. Such unmatched beauty.

Certainly Ms. Ambrose is worth $20 or $22 billion??

Start shelling out the cash now, boys. This one's going fast!


VIC TOEWS(*) ...


Oh, my.

Um.

This one ...

Yeah, we're not going to have much luck selling this one, are we?

All right, Mr. Toews. You can stay. But everybody else must go. It's a government-wide clearance sale!

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Weekly Round-Up Of Tips & Links

My damn Firefox browser is getting cluttered up again with tabs of articles and videos that are not quite worthy of a post unto themselves. So please allow me to take this opportunity to subject you fine folks to another link dump.

As always, keep those tips coming (canadian.republic@hotmail.com) and my apologies if I don't always respond right away.

This week in the world:

  • Israeli Aggression: "Despite all the menacing Hopey Change in the air, some things remain the same. This cartoon is from 1956"
  • The Obamateur Hour: Mark Steyn says, "It suggests a perverse kind of genius that the 44th president did not wait for a single “event” to throw him off course. Instead he threw himself off: “Is Obama tanking already?” (Congressional Quarterly); “Has Barack Obama’s presidency already failed?” (the Financial Times)"
  • Roy Jones Jr. Compilation: Amazing video compilation of Roy Jones Jr. for boxing fans out there
  • Right Wing Video: A store clerk and customer beat a would-be robber with a bat
  • F*ck You, Penguin: "What are you, Aardvark, some kind of anarchist Marxist fascist?"
  • Gods of the Copybook Heading: By linking "Scenes From The Imperial Capital," I'm proving that, as a Torontonian, I'm more sensitive and poetic than Canadians from all other provinces and territories combined.

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Bushbama: Change You Can Believe In

What do a non-practicing Jew, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama have in common?

They all love pork!



New president. Same old disastrous financial policies.

Bushbama, anyone?

H/t Infinite Unknown

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Screw You, Taxpayers!



H/t Liberty In Canada

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"A Culture War Has Been Launched Against Free Markets"

The Telegraph:

Iain Martin's observation - "A culture war has been launched against free markets and so far the hostilities have been astonishingly one-sided" - unfortunately applies just as much to America as to Britain. Our capitalists, from think-tank intellectuals to businessmen, are unforgivably timid in the face of an anti-capitalist onslaught of bailouts, handouts, deficit spending, and central planning. Why?


I find myself confounded by this state of affairs as well. It applies just as suitably to Canada as it does to Britain and the United States. Certainly, capitalists ought to be aware of the very real dangers posed by Keynesian economics and yet a popular and principled opposition to government intervention is nowhere to be found. What's more, this conspicuous silence is transpiring in the context of the passing of a stimulus package worth nearly a trillion dollars (once interest is accounted for) in the United States and while Canada's culture of corporate welfare continues to thrive.

Case in point: the Prime Minister of Canada, who has been derided by his political opponents for years as an hard-nosed laissez-faire capitalist, capitulates to the left in the 2009 budget without even so much as a nod of apology to his alienated supporters.

Where is the outcry? Sure, there are those who dissent but their efforts appear to be mostly half-hearted and they tend to steer clear of condemning all efforts to 'stimulate' the economy.

The author's explanation for this silence is as follows:

Because most accept the central argument behind the onslaught: that today's crisis is the result of overly free markets, that laissez-faire philosophy and economics have been discredited, and that the mess they left can only be cleaned up by government intervention.

I think that Martin's observation that a culture war has been launched against free markets is quite accurate. Unfortunately, the battles so far have been rather one-sided. If capitalism is going to survive to see the other side of this financial crisis, advocates need to ramp up their support in a big way and that means not just defending free markets but pointing out the central role that government has played in distorting market forces and in generating our current state of crisis.

So consider this a call to arms to Canadian capitalists:

"Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun. The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms. Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

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The Rolling Stones: You Got The Silver

This little ditty's being gnawing away at me all day.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.



UPDATE: Is this song fit to be the next American national anthem? At least one camel thinks so.

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CRTC Determines Internet Too Much Fun, Must Be Regulated

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has announced this week that they are furious with Canadians who, reports show, are having a great deal of fun on the internet. In accordance with their strict no-fun policy, the CRTC has responded by sending Canadians to their room to think about what they've done. They're also threatened to reconsider their too-lenient hands-off policy.

CTV:

Canadians are watching more and more videos and TV shows that aren't required to have home-grown content via their computers and cellphones, but after a decade of explosive Internet growth the CRTC will review its hands-off approach to the medium.

The federal broadcast regulator will begin hearings on Tuesday in Gatineau, Que., to review its policy of allowing broadcasting content to be unregulated on the Internet and cellphones.


This is actually a real coincidence. You see, I was just thinking that we didn't have enough stupid and illiberal government regulation in Canada and that this would be a perfect way to set things straight against.

Thanks CRTC!

H/t Unambig

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Think You're Having A Bad Day?

Here's a little perspective for you.



Cyanide & Happiness

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Memo To Mohammed Elmasry: Honour Killings Are A Distincly Muslim Problem

Phyllis Chesler:

On February 12, 2009, Muzzammil Hassan informed police that he had beheaded his wife. Hassan had emigrated to the United States 30 years ago and, after a successful banking career, had founded Bridges TV, a Muslim-interest network which aims, according to its website, "to foster a greater understanding among many cultures and diverse populations." Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III told The Buffalo News that "this is the worst form of domestic violence possible," and Khalid Qazi, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York, told the New York Post that Islam forbids such domestic violence. While Muslim advocacy organizations argue that honor killings are a misnomer stigmatizing Muslims for what is simply domestic violence, a problem that has nothing to do with religion, Phyllis Chesler, who just completed a study of more than 50 instances of North American honor killings, says the evidence suggests otherwise.


A muslim man's decision to behead his wife or daughter for reasons of collective honour - also known as an honour killing - is simply categorized as murder in Canada and the United States. As far as the legal system is concerned, a person's motivation for murdering someone is perfectly irrelevant.

This is not only absolutely appropriate, but crucial to a fair and liberal legal system. The law must be confined to delimiting the freedom of action of individuals. One's motivation for the action of murder has no bearing on its permissibility. It is not the state's role to punish socially unacceptable thoughts.

However, the fact that no legal distinction between honour killings and murder is necessary does not exempt the barbaric practice from rational scrutiny, nor does it mean that honour killings are merely another variation of simple domestic violence.

Phyllis Chesler's study analyzes 50 cases of honour killings in North America and determines that, despite the claims of muslim advocacy organizations that honour killings have nothing to do with Islam, they represent a manifestly muslim problem to be considered as distinct from domestic violence.

Chesler's study begins:

Families that kill for honor will threaten girls and women if they refuse to cover their hair, their faces, or their bodies or act as their family's domestic servant; wear makeup or Western clothing; choose friends from another religion; date; seek to obtain an advanced education; refuse an arranged marriage; seek a divorce from a violent husband; marry against their parents' wishes; or behave in ways that are considered too independent, which might mean anything from driving a car to spending time or living away from home or family. Fundamentalists of many religions may expect their women to meet some but not all of these expectations. But when women refuse to do so, Jews, Christians, and Buddhists are far more likely to shun rather than murder them. Muslims, however, do kill for honor, as do, to a lesser extent, Hindus and Sikhs.

The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 5,000 women are killed each year for dishonoring their families.[2] This may be an underestimate. Aamir Latif, a correspondent for the Islamist website Islam Online who writes frequently on the issue, reported that in 2007 in the Punjab province of Pakistan alone, there were 1,261 honor murders.[3] The Aurat Foundation, a Pakistani nongovernmental organization focusing on women's empowerment, found that the rate of honor killings was on track to be in the hundreds in 2008.


As you may recall, this issue is highly relevant to Canadians in light of the Aqsa Parvez honour killing that occurred in Toronto in 2007, a murder which was dismissed by the infamous Mohammed Elmasry of the Canadian Islamic Congress as a teenager issue and not an Islamic issue.

Chesler identifies the root of the problem as follows:

The problem the West faces is complex. Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus view honor and morality as a collective family matter. Rights are collective, not individual. Family, clan, and tribal rights supplant individual human rights


As this study demonstrates, it is as clear as day that honour killings are a distinctly Islamic problem. This fact must be acknowledged before it can be addressed.

This is a highly salient topic at the moment. I very much encourage you to read the essay in its entirety.

H/t Michael Rubin

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There Is Only One Sure Way To Weather The Storm of This Recession: Shrink The Size of Government

So some conservatives are still demanding that dissenters on the question of Harper's budget draw them a road map to a healthier economic policy?

Been there. Done that.

But if they need a little more help, I'll make this as simple as possible.

Despite a relatively strong showing overall in international rankings of economic freedom, Canada is still unacceptably weak in the areas of government size and freedom to trade internationally. We need to decrease the personal and corporate tax burdens and eliminate all barriers to trade immediately, shrinking the size of government in the process. I can't make it any clearer than that.

In the words of Thucydides, author of the blog Uncommon Sense, writing in the comments section of a previous post of mine, "The ultimate goal should be to make Canada a North American tax haven and attract American investors and skilled workers who will be looking for a safe haven from the high tax, high regulatory and eventually high inflation of 'progressive' America."

The following are some clear ideas put simply, courtesy of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity.

Please take notes, Mr. Prime Minister.



Four Lessons For Growth:

(1) Protect sound money, rule of law, and property rights

(2) Don't make multiple mistakes

(3) There is no single policy for prosperity

(4) Small government is good for the economy


For more information on Canada's relative standing in the world on the issue of economic freedom, please download Chapter 3 of the Fraser Institute's Economic Freedom of the World report at the following link and skip to page 25.

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Which Office Supply Are You?




You Are a Red Pen



You have an eagle eye for detail, and this often means you end up finding mistakes in people's work.

You may seem quick to criticize or correct, but you think accuracy and truth is important.

You like to be involved in every project. You feel like you put the polishing touch on things.

You would make a good editor, detective, or accountant. When facts matter, you're the person to call on.



Hm. I guess that sounds about right, especially that part about being quick to criticize or correct. As Leslie points out, I have been a little grumpy lately.

H/t Rational Jenn

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"A Free Market Could Have Prevented This"

The most disgusting and disheartening aspect of the current financial crisis has been the false accusations lobbied at the innocent free market in efforts to assign political blame. American Democrats especially have been guilty of this misdirection, using it to push for massive intervention in the economy which is precisely what we're seeing in their constantly-expanding pork-laden stimulus package.

Frustratingly, many defenders of capitalism appear to concede the point in their arguments. They argue for limited government and free markets without understanding or explaining what would separate those policies from the ones that got us into this mess. What's worse, these arguments are now frequently heard being spouted by CEOs and business executives. If you can't count on big business to defend capitalism, who is there left?

Luckily, there are still a few rational businessmen remaining, foremost among them John Allison, former CEO of BB&T Corp, which has been one of the few large banks capable of turning a major profit in recent years:

"[A] lot of financial institutions did dumb stuff," says Allison. "[B]ut they did it in the context of a government system that was misleading. I mean, probably all of us were misled." "Once you had this government -- through the Federal Reserve, through the [Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.], through Freddie Mac -- supporting this expansion of housing, it's easy to believe that housing prices won't ever fall," he says. "That was the context in [which] very poor decisions were made."


Allison puts this point quite clearly. Yes, poor business decision were made but they would not have occurred - at least, not for very long - had the state not encouraged short-sighted business policies through government intervention. The free market demands honesty from corporations whereas the government demands only a decent lobby group. In a free market, your decisions are either based in reality and so will prove to be profitable or they are based in self-deception or altruism and so your company will fail. This equation changes, however, once you introduce the element of government. What is sensible is no longer the ultimate standard for earning a profit and this fundamental shift reverberates through every corner of the market. We have witnessed the effects of this distortion since the 1990s.

Unlike many alleged capitalists, Mr. Allison is unwilling to let the free market take the fall for something that should clearly be laid at the feet of the government.

On the TARP bailout:

As the financial crisis takes its toll on both healthy and troubled institutions, Allison is highly critical of what he suggests is an overregulated banking industry. He says mistakes made by the Clinton and Bush administrations led to an inevitable crash in the sector. More recently, the Treasury's bailout efforts though the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, has been misguided in its approach to the problem, he says.

"This is potentially the worst economic correction that I experienced in my career," he says. "What's unique in this correction was the panic created unfortunately by the Treasury, the Fed and [former President Bush] in October."


On the "bailout & pray" approach to the state's business policy:

Allison takes issue with the government's ability to produce -- "out of the blue" -- $700 billion for the bailout package; the "incredible arbitrariness" of saving some banks and letting others fail; and the lack of consistency within the plan so far, he says.

"Markets hate that kind of stuff," Allison says.


On where this recession started:

Allison says the roots of this downturn were laid out by years of easy credit and misguided policies from the Fed and Republican and Democratic administrations.

For one, the aggressively low interest-rate management by former Fed Alan Greenspan created the "illusion of low risk" in the economy that caused consumers and investors to "save less" and "make more risky investments," he says. From the early 1990s through 2007, "we didn't have a meaningful correction," he says.

"Every time there was a bump, the Fed did everything they could to smooth that bump out," he says. "[W]hat they did was defer the problems and create a much bigger problem."

...

Most importantly, he took issue with the Clinton administration's affordable housing policy objectives, which ultimately led to the solidification of government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as major players in the mortgage market.

"Homeownership is a good thing in a broad context, but encouraging people to buy homes they can't afford is not a good thing," he says. "If you want to look at the proximate cause for this mess you got to focus on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They would have never existed in the free market. They drove the mortgage market."


This is a crucial point. As Kevin Gaudet from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation pointed out in a previous video, the government has begun picking and choosing which banks and institutions are worthy of saving and which ones can be allowed to burn. Unsurprisingly, the banks that they are anointing as "Too Big To Fail" are for the most part the profoundly inefficient ones.

Allison has a practical suggestion for the President:

He suggests that the government offer homebuyers a 10% tax credit to encourage consumers to purchase homes that are already built or in the process of being built in order to clear the excessive inventory. The tax credit would "create a floor on the housing market," he says.

"That's very important ... to the capital markets," he says. "... So even if it meant house prices were going to go down another 10%, but you knew that's where they were going to stop, then you could re-price the capital markets and value all this stuff."


If most business executives had Mr. Allison's integrity, the government would have never been allowed to get away with the wholesale distortion of market forces that it did and we would not be looking at one of the worst recessions in the history of the global economy.

As Allison puts it, "A free market could have prevented this."

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Monday, February 16, 2009

A Dog Riding A Bicycle

I don't care how old you are or how many countries you've visited. You ain't never seen a dog riding a bicycle.



I know a few humans who would have trouble looking this coordinated on a bicycle.

H/t Mitchieville

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Regarding The Issue Of Immigration

Thomas Friedman points us towards a unique panacea to our economies woes:

"All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans,” said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. “We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate — no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans."


I'm particularly opposed to what I have identified to be a distinctly anti-immigration strain in the North American conservative movement. The situation is particularly bad in the United States where, under current immigration laws, many of the great "Americans" of the past century would have been turned away at the border before achieving their fortunes or fame.

A truly moral immigration policy must be an open one, which is not to say an unregulated one. A strict screening process is an absolute necessity in order to prevent the enemies of the West, the criminal element, and individuals who have certain contagious diseases from entering the country. This is the only way to consistently apply the idea that every human being is free to act on their own rational judgment so long as they do not violate the individual rights of others.

The choice to immigrate to Canada or the United States does not directly violate anybody's rights. To deny non-criminal individuals access to our country is to employ state coercion for the wrong ends, since there can be no rational justification for the initiation of force against another human being. As a policy, then, restricted immigration violates the rights of both potential immigrants and the citizens who would like to associate with those immigrants, whether through friendship or commerce.

In the comments section of the Friedman article, Maxime Rainville parodies a typical argument against open immigration that we're hearing more and more often in these trying economic times:

Instead of worrying about creating jobs for people from abroad, Senator X should worry about creating jobs for Americans first. Americans are already suffering because of the current crisis and shouldn't have to compete with cheap labor imported from foreign countries. This is the same laissez-faire attitude that got us into this mess. Government must devote its energy to creating millions of new green collar, high paying, unionized jobs. That's what's best for America. Why does Senator X want to destroy America?


We hear this very same tune being sung by certain Canadian conservatives as well. The argument assumes, however, the profoundly statist premise that citizens have a "right" to employment and, what's more, that the government should be permitted to use force to keep competition from foreign countries from crossing the border.

But no such right to employment exists. The basic principles of liberty oblige us to consistently recognize the right of any individual to form a contract with any other individual. As such, an employer is perfectly justified in both hiring foreigners and firing native Canadians.

Another typical argument against open immigration is demonstrated by commenter Glen:

Out of those 2 million immigrants that claim they are going to work 18 hours a day, I wonder where exactly that might be, and how many of these 2 million will just come here to collect welfare or unemployment insurance.


The idea that immigrants come to our country merely to collect welfare cheques - besides being largely untrue - is not an argument against open immigration but an argument against the welfare state. This kind of reasoning is tantamount to the suggestion that, because of the immorality of our welfare state, moral individuals should be barred from entering it. This is both absurd and indefensible.

Regarding Friedman's proposal, however, I cannot claim to be altogether convinced that an open immigration policy holds the key to restoring our financial health. The reason that we are currently experiencing one of the worst recessions in the past century can be summarized in two simple and familiar words: government intervention. Accordingly, the key to our health moving forward will be found only in massive deregulation and a commitment to the principles capitalism. It is crucial to note, however, that these principles of capitalism demand an open immigration policy as well.

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"Lower, Simpler & Flater": More Practical Budgetary Advice For The Prime Minister

Kevin Gaudet of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation:



(1) Reduce the employment insurance business premium from $1.40 to $1.00

(2) Rather than bailing out Big Auto, give that money to businesses to provide payroll relief

(3) Broad-based personal tax relief (increase in the basic personal exemption and a reduction from four down to two tax brackets)


H/t LiC

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Maybe America Could Have Afforded Her Ideas After All ...

Remember when Hillary Clinton let it slip during the Democratic primaries that America couldn't afford all of her ideas?

Little did we know that Clinton may have been a pretty cheap date in comparison.

David Frum:

President Obama and the Democrats have responded [to the economic crisis] by steering the US radically to the left. Since World War II, the federal government has most years spent less than one dollar in five of national income. Once the stimulus gets underway, the federal government will spend more than one dollar in four. The cost of everything the Democrats want to do comes closer to one dollar in three.

We’re facing more regulation of everything from high finance to the ordinary workplace. The Democrats are expanding Medicaid to crowd out private insurance. The federal government wants a huge new role in redirecting private investment in transportation and energy in the name of “green jobs.”


In 1996, Bill Clinton asserted, "We will meet these challenges, but not through big government. The era of big government is over."

Would President Billary have been as intent on sinking so many hundreds of billions of dollars into the black hole that is the porkulus package?

I, for one, think that the damage would have been marginally smaller.

Oh, Bill. If only you had been right about the era of big government being over.

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This One's For My Albertan Readers, Whosoever You May Be

Alberta Bound:



Ontario Sucks:



H/t Liberty In Canada

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A Quick Thought For Kathey Montague

Before today, I wasn't actually aware that it is illegal in Canada for a woman to carry pepper spray for self-defence.

Kathey Montague expresses her concern over the matter in the following video:



"Why do politicians insist they women be defenceless against two-legged predators?"

I can only agree. Pepper spray is a perfectly reasonable weapon to employ for one's self-defence. It is especially helpful to women who are able to carry it in their purse with little difficulty and have quick access to it should a would-be initiator of force present him or herself.

The only thing that I'd like to take issue with in this video is the idea that Miss Montague raises of a "God-given right" to self-defence. Insofar as she intended to convey the idea that human beings have an inalienable right to defend themselves against those who would initiate force against them, she is perfectly correct. However, an individual's right to self-defence is the logical consequence of the right to life and this most basic right is not derived from God's decree or from the words of the Bible but from the very nature of man.

Individual rights are objective and inalienable already. They don't need help from the invocation of God. In fact, such an invocation can only serve to undermine the idea of objective rights to those who are not persuaded by theological arguments.

Miss Montague, I am pleased that you're invested in lobbying the government to stop interference in the life and liberty of Canadian citizens. There is no cause that I'm aware of that is in more dire need of advocacy. But I would encourage you to abandon the safety blanket of religious rhetoric in order to maximize the influence of your message and to deliver a more satisfying and consistent endorsement of the fundamental individual rights of Canadians.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Sony's Brand New Stupid Piece of Sh*t That Doesn't Do The Goddamned Thing It's Supposed To"

Warning: very foul language ahead. Definitely NSFW.

That said, if you enjoy cussing like a sailor and have a love/hate relationship with modern electronic technology, the following video may be for you.

The Onion:

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