Friday, November 30, 2007

Proportional representation and (un)Fair Vote Canada

Lawrence Solomon began his ‘Postcolumn today:

Canada needs electoral reform to bring in proportional representation. It is unconscionable that in a modern democracy such as ours, vast swathes of the
electorate should be effectively disenfranchised ...
Aarrggh! Lawrence Solomon is now on the stinking PR bandwagon? Say it ain’t so!

However, reading on we discover that by ‘proportional representation’ he means straightforward rep-by-pop which is currently out of whack with BC, Alberta and Ontario badly under-represented. Mr. Solomon’s problem is with Bill C-22 which brings BC and Alberta up to snuff after the 2011 census but will leave Ontario 11 seats short. He is also unhappy with organizations such as Fair Vote Canada who have been silent on the issue:

The unfairness, affecting almost 12.7 million Ontarians, could not be plainer. Yet rather than take on this dismissal of the principle of one person-one vote – surely a prerequisite for any voting system that pretends to democratic fair play – Fair Vote Canada has other priorities.

The Fair Vote lobbies, its fair to say, are not about fair voting at all. They are not even about proportional representation, the term they have appropriated to describe their electoral preferences. The Fair Vote lobbies are about delivering power to the parties, rather than power to the people.

Right on, Larry! What a relief! The guy who brings such good sense to the global warming debate and who previously denounced Ontario’s MMP proposal just couldn’t have climbed into bed with the Fair Vote PR flacks.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Parliamentary ethics committee gong show

On Mike Duffy Live today, lawyer William Kaplan, author of a book on the Mulroney/Schreiber affair, had this to say about Schreiber’s questioning and testimony before the ethics committee hearings:

I don’t think there was any damage in testimony today to anyone. The only thing that was damaged was the reputation of the House of Commons and the special committee on ethics. They behaved badly as predicted. It was a gong show as predicted. They were undisciplined. They were uninformed. They didn’t put a good face of government out to the people of Canada.
Kaplan described how American legislative committee hearings are run and, comparatively, the Canadian version comes off as an amateur show.

Duffy criticized committee chairman Paul Szabo for coaching Schreiber on how to avoid answering questions.

Video here.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

CBC insists on zero wait times - at the border

Terence Corcoran makes an excellent observation in today’s Financial Post.

This week an ambulance carrying a Windsor patient to a U.S. hospital for an emergency angioplasty was held up for a few minutes by U.S. border security. Apparently (I don’t watch the CBC) the CBC’s The National carried the story, with "a sense of outrage", as part of its on-going border-watch coverage. This led to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day announcing in the House of Commons: "We don’t want to see this continue."

Mr. Corcoran:

But what is it that Mr. Day and the CBC don’t want to see continue. By reporting this as big news, the CBC essentially seemed to be imposing a tough Zero Wait Time policy on U.S. border officials.

Only in Canada would the national media get into a lather over the difficulties of crossing a border to get health care - when the need for an emergency trip across the border is the Canadian "Wait for it" health care system.

Private hospitals are mostly illegal in Canada, certainly in Ontario, thanks to the border and Ontario law that blocks privatized health care. The Henry Ford health care group couldn’t build an angioplasty unit in Canada if it wanted to.

This lack of private facilities is a source of national pride among Canadians, and the border is the enforcement mechanism...

A Globe and Mail headline ... said "Day urges U.S. to reconsider border policies." That's certainly easier to say than "Day urges Conservatives to reconsider health care policies."

This is as close to a cosmic joke as you can get in Canadian affairs.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Healthcare - Canuckistan versus America

As all Canadians are reminded almost daily -‘American-style’ health care is B A D. It’s a given that the Canadian/Cuban/North Korean/Soviet universal healthcare model is the best in the world.

According to a new study by economists at Baruch College in New York - not quite so. William Watson summarizes the results:

The health payoff to higher income ("income-health gradient") is bigger here than in the United States... even though the whole purpose of medicare is to eliminate the effect of income on health. [my bold]

And some small details:

one magnetic resonance imager for every 37,000 Americans, versus one for every 182,000 Canadians.

computed tomography scanners ... one for every 31,000 Americans, versus one for every 87,000 Canadians...

The Japanese ... have even more [CT scanners and MRI’s] than the Americans.

...Americans seem happier with their health care than we are with ours.

...we have better longevity and infant-mortality statistics. But other differences between our societies explain that..

Fifteen percent of older Americans say their health is excellent, versus only 8% of Canadians...

...more Americans than Canadians who have a given condition receive treatment for it.

In several forms of preventive care, we lag the Americans.

Americans have a higher incidence of cancer, we have higher mortality rates...

And, there’s no mention of the fact that "waiting lists" are essentially unheard of in American healthcare.

Now, let’s hear it one more time for Saint Tommy.

Ref also.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Canadian star chambers in action - again

This time professional, self-appointed ‘human rights’ Nazi Richard Warman sic’d the Canadian Human Rights Commission on waitress and racist blog commenter Jessica Beaumont.

A Canadian Human Rights Tribunal recently rendered its decision finding Jessica guilty of communicating hate messages on the internet, fining her $1500 and ordering her to cease posting ‘hate messages’ on the web.

No question - Ms Beaumont has some unsavory views about certain non-white, non-Christian and non-heterosexual groups. She’s clearly racist and homophobic and unrepentantly so.

However, provided she doesn’t advocate violence towards the people she hates (and she didn’t), she should be able to freely express her hateful stupidity. Unfortunately (as noted previously) in spite of the Charter’s fine words about free expression, the Human Rights Act effectively cancels those rights.

The danger here, is not the Jessica Beaumonts, but the Human Rights Act and the ‘Star Chambers’ it mandates. If Jessica Beaumont’s speech can be suppressed anyone’s can. The hate speech section of the Act, if not the entire Act, should be repealed.

[Via SDA where there’s some outstanding debate and discussion.]

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Water ‘conservation’ idiocy


This survey today reminded me of another of my pet gripes - idiotic conservationsim.








A perennial bugaboo of the local Victoria press, politicians and enviro-nuts is the state of the fresh water supply. The Regional water Nazis restrict water usage during the dry months and hector the populace year round to conserve. UVic and the local newspaper recently teamed up to publish a conservation bulletin just chock-full of nifty recommendations for cutting down on water use including: multiple toilet uses before flushing, halving time spent the shower, not running the tap while brushing teeth, etc.

As Glenn Beck would say - this is a load of conservationist bullcrap!

There is no shortage of water! This is the Pacific Northwest for God’s sake! We get 5 feet of rainfall every year. We’re surrounded by rain forests. If there were a shortage of anything (and there isn’t, except for common sense) it would not be water but water storage capacity.

If we don’t use the stuff it collects in the reservoir which overflows in January every year (December last year) and flows into the frickin’ ocean. So instead of flowing out our taps, down the sewer pipes and into the ocean, it just flows over the top of the reservoir dam and straight into the ocean. With the amount of available fresh water it’s not possible to ‘waste’ it. It’s an annually renewable resource.

So why the phony hype about conservation - as if using it today is somehow robbing future generations? I don’t know. It’s hard to figure except that it gives the Regional government ‘authorities’ a chance to yap about what wonderful ‘stewards-of-the-earth’ they are. In my estimation, given all the fresh water that falls out the sky here, the Regional authority’s principal job is to make sure that enough of it is collected in reservoirs and avoid having to hector us with stupid ‘conservation’ suggestions.

Worth repeating

Aussie PM John Howard on multiculturalism:

"Immigrants, not Australians, must adapt. I'm tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to Australia. However there are a few things that those who have come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand. This idea of Australia being a multi-cultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. ...This is our country, our land, and our lifestyle, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But if you complain about our flag, our pledge, our Christian beliefs, or our way of life, I highly encourage you to take advantage of our other great Australian freedom, ‘The Right to Leave'!"

It would be nice if the Canadian political class could be as sensibly direct.

[via, and]

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Engineers - natural born terrorists

Most National Post editorials are well thought out, sensible pieces. But occasionally a clunker gets by the editorial board.

Being an engineer, yesterday’s editorial entitled "Engineering terror" made me perk up. Drawing from the results of a study by a pair of Oxford sociologists who noted that a high percentage of the violent Muslim jihadis had been trained as engineers it went on to make some very loopy generalizations:

...data to suggest that there is a "mindset" inherent to engineers that may make them attractive candidates for Islamist recruitment.

...[engineers] are known to have the most pronounced tendency to vote conservatively

...anyone who's had engineers as friends knows they can be prone to sneering at "soft" academic disciplines.

...engineering may be the most religion-like of scholarly fields...


Well, I suppose someone had better get busy modifying the iron ring ceremony to include an admonition to kill the infidels.

Anyway, it was inevitable that rebuttals would be forthcoming. And sure enough there were two excellent letters printed today (here and here).

D. Hoffer of Winnipeg:

There is a more logical explanation. Muslim extremists recruit methodically and evaluate their recruits meticulously. The dumb ones get to wear a suicide belt and blow up a restaurant. The bright ones are more useful...

Flies don't cause manure and engineering schools aren't incubators for terrorism recruits. Engineering schools are, however, a useful way for terrorists to learn how to be massively destructive.

Ian B. McLeod, Oakville, Ont:

...this ... sullies the name of all engineers and is truly unbelievable coming from a world renown national newspaper.

The engineering profession has done more good on this planet than all other vocations combined. ... ... ... ... Without engineers, the planet would quickly grind to a halt. The same cannot be said for editorialists.

...that all engineers are conservative (I doubt you will find one in Engineers Without Boarders), and that as a group we are highly religious is grossly false.

... the social scientists that came up with this cockamamie theory ... need a refresher course in engineering cause and effect.

The entire premise of the social scientists theory is backwards. ... I guess it takes an engineer to point out the intuitively obvious.

I would have thought that the National Post editorial board would have figured that out on there own, seeing that you collectively spent all those years studying such nuanced causation in your enlightened social science classes.

Bravo! Messrs Hoffer and McLeod.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

“An Inconvenient Book”

That’s the title of Glenn Beck’s forthcoming (Nov 20) new book. When trying to assess whether or not to buy the book one need only look at the comments listed under the Amazon "Reviews":

"Glenn Beck is CNN's chief corporate-fascism advocate."
-- Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
[Trustfund-wealthy enviro-idiot]

"Finally! A guy who says what people who aren't thinking, are thinking."
-- Jon Stewart
[Look who’s talking - the host of a fake news show.]

"Satan's mentally challenged younger brother."
-- Stephen King
[Famously flaky author of supernatural tales.]

"There's something about him that suggests that, one night, he'll say something that will cost him his career...."
-- Keith Olbermann
[Never heard of him.]

"Glenn Beck shouldn't be on [the air]."
-- Al Franken
[Envious host of a liberal talk radio show with a double digit audience.]

Beck’s book ought to be a winner. My order is in.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Political correctness and communist propaganda

David Thompson revisits an interview with Theodore Dalrymple who explains the commonality between political correctness and communist propaganda:

Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect, and is intended to.

Remembrance


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

[credit]

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Capitalism denigrated by the usual suspects

The alternative to private ownership is state ownership or communism (or socialism as defined by Mises). And you’d think by now it would be obvious to all but the most fanatic socialist that capitalism has a far, far better track record than the alternative in terms of improving peoples’ lives around the world. In fact, using the word ‘better’ in this context is inappropriate - the socialist record is uniformly dismal.

Yet, unfortunately, many people who ought to know better, since their own lucrative incomes derive from the capitalist system, routinely denigrate capitalism by equating it with greed, crime, corruption and worse. In his column yesterday William Watson quipped:
Peter Foster’s column today pursues a similar theme, this time using the new Denzel Washington flick "American Gangster" as a case in point. While the movie itself makes odious equations between gangster criminality and capitalism the reviewers are just as bad or worse. Mr. Foster reviews the reviews from more than dozen mainstream newspapers and journals in the USA and UK including the New Yorker, Guardian, Chicago Sun-Times, People, etc. All of them draw the same offensive comparisons - criminality = capitalism.
My own two cents: These film-makers and critics seem not to notice that American gangsters carry out their criminal operations in much the same way that Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Saddam and every other statist totalitarian gangster did/does. They control their turf ruthlessly, brook no dissent, no opposition and demand the absolute loyalty of their underlings on penalty of murder or worse. In a socialist totalitarian system, private criminality cannot readily compete with the state because it is ruthlessly put down - no competition allowed. The baddest ass in town is the state. The fact that American criminals operate within a capitalist system and so adopt its trappings and use it to their benefit is not an indictment of capitalism but of criminality. As Mr. Foster put it:
Western media twits ought to know better but, sadly, they don’t. This is yet one more instance of ongoing western"liberal" reflexive self-loathing - attacking western civilization as the root of all modern evil. The opposite is far closer to the truth.
That criminals might use business methods is no more an indictment of capitalism than the experiments of Joseph Mengele were an indictment of science.
Capitalism is not a perfect system, but ... if it is sloppily considered the bedmate of crime, what chance does it have against the Naomi bin Ladens of this dangerous world?

This insult to the Invisible Hand is served up with a liberal helping of Black History Month-style condescension.
What is more disturbing is that so many reviewers have accepted the notion that ... capitalism and gangster-ism are pretty much joined at the hip.

"Two words bring roughly equal discomfort in polite Canadian conversation:
pedophile and capitalist."

capitalism: economic system characterized by private ownership of property,
production of goods for private profit, and the institution of bank credit. (The
Columbia Encyclopedia). See
also.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Those goofy “Foreigners Around the World”

In the May 1976 edition of National Lampoon, P.J. O’Rourke wrote an incredibly un-pc (pinc?), occasionally gross but hilarious description of the world’s "foreigners".

[via]

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The profound power of free markets

In today’s ‘Post’ Terence Corcoran, in an 'editor's note', highlights the classic essay "I, Pencil". Leonard Read’s 1958 essay clearly and simply illustrates the power of free markets to spontaneously bring about the peaceful co-operation of thousands of different people around the world in the course of efficiently producing the humble pencil. All this, Mr. Corcoran reminds us, is in the absence of (or, more likely, in spite of) politicians and government bureaucrats.

Milton Friedman’s abbreviated version of the essay from his television series "Free To Choose" is on this YouTube video.

The "I, Pencil" essay, along with Friedman’s complete television series, should be a mandatory part of every school's curriculum, repeated at every level. Fat chance. Instead, the kids will get "social justice" studies and AlGore's "An Inconvenient Truth".

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Tax cuts, dopey jingoism, etc

Tax cuts are good.

But, predictably, not everyone is happy with the ones just announced by the Tories. Naturally the socialists see no good in them at all - it’s all lost revenue and breaks for the rich and their evil corporations. St├ęphane (the idiot) Dion muses about reversing the GST cuts. Though some economists do think that GST cuts are a mistake. Other, more sensible ones, like William Watson are more upbeat, concluding: "Keep it coming, Mr. Flaherty."

Not being an economist I don’t really follow the anti-GST-cut arguments. And even though he’s for the cut William Watson says: "cutting the GST may tilt people unproductively toward consumption". That’s one of the things I don’t get. If people tilt towards consumption don’t the producers have to ramp up production accordingly. Won’t increased production mean more jobs in the manufacturing, distribution and retailing sectors. Won’t increased production mean more profits to be re-invested in production or elsewhere. So, just how is more consumption "unproductive"?

Whatever. Mr. Watson’s column also hits on one of my pet peeves - the Canadian propensity for self-congratulation: "...the Economic Statement: Page 1: "Canada is the greatest country in the world." They said this in the Throne Speech too." It’s meaningless jingoism that reminds me of the new BC license plate motto: "The Best Place on Earth", which is embarrassingly meaningless jingoism. It ought to play really well on trips outside the province. As Watson observes everybody thinks they live in the best place, for one reason or another, otherwise they’d move.