Thursday, November 30, 2006

Junk Food Tax in BC?

The nanny-state prepares to strike again!

As predicted a BC legislative panel has recommended that 'junk' food be taxed as part of a proposed war on obesity.

CBC’s Don Newman a declared Liberal!

So, you say, this is a surprise? We all know that the likelihood of any particular CBC employee being a Conservative supporter is vanishingly small. Liberal or NDP or Green or Commie supporter, a near certainty.

But knowing in your gut that Don Newman most likely votes Liberal isn’t the same as having it openly declared. Mr. Newman is, after all, the host of the show ‘Politics’ on a taxpayer funded network. He’s a public servant. We taxpayers are entitled to expect a certain minimum level of objectivity, at least the pretence of it, are we not? If, at the beginning of each edition he began by explicitly disclosing his support for one political party or another it would certainly impact how the audience viewed the show.

Anyway, during yesterday’s show, James Travers of the Toronto Star made the following comment to Don Newman (quoting from memory): "having watched a Liberal like you for years". There it was, no flinching from either Newman or Travers and no denial from Don - it was a matter of fact. Don Newman, host of CBC’s award winning show ‘Politics’ is officially declared a LIBERAL!

Come to think of it, wouldn’t it be a great idea to have the political sympathies of all CBC reporters and commentators presented at the beginning of each program - like a product hazard warning label?

CBC announcer and on-screen text: "In the interests of full disclosure and fairness, CBC viewers should be warned that Don Newman votes Liberal and the rest of the program staff vote either NDP or Green".
Then we conservatives, fairly warned, could view at our own risk of blowing a cork or switch to a more politically acceptable channel. Which, in Canada, would be ....? Fox News and "The O’Reilly Factor".

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Socialist Fantasy vs. Reality

Worth quoting: from Alan Charles Kors, "Can There Be an 'After Socialism'?"

The cognitive behavior of Western intellectuals faced with the accomplishments of their own society, on the one hand, and with the socialist ideal and then the socialist reality, on the other, takes one's breath away. In the midst of unparalleled social mobility in the West, they cry "caste." In a society of munificent goods and services, they cry either "poverty" or "consumerism." In a society of ever richer, more varied, more productive, more self-defined, and more satisfying lives, they cry "alienation." In a society that has liberated women, racial minorities, religious minorities, and gays and lesbians to an extent that no one could have dreamed possible just fifty years ago, they cry "oppression." In a society of boundless private charity, they cry "avarice." In a society in which hundreds of millions have been free riders upon the risk, knowledge, and capital of others, they decry the "exploitation" of the free riders. In a society that broke, on behalf of merit, the seemingly eternal chains of station by birth, they cry "injustice." In the names of fantasy worlds and mystical perfections, they have closed themselves to the Western, liberal miracle of individual rights, individual responsibility, merit, and human satisfaction. Like Marx, they put words like "liberty" in quotation marks when these refer to the West.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Snow Storm!!

Over 20cm fell in Victoria yesterday and overnight. First serious snowfall since The Big One in 1996!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Quebec as a Nation (continued)

This is like picking at scabs - painful but you just can't stop.
Anyway, William Watson's column in today's National Post says it best:
For men not blessed with eloquence, both Stephen Harper and Bill Graham gave surprisingly stirring speeches about Canada on Wednesday. But the speech I liked best was Gilles Duceppe's. "We are what we are, period," echoing the show-stopping "I am what I am," from -- what could be more appropriate? -- La Cage aux Folles.

When our own cage aux folles reconvenes next week, I hope MPs will consider the following philosophically impeccable substitute for Mr. Harper's motion: "Resolved, that this House recognize that Quebecers are what they are, period, and so is everyone else in the Canadian nation."

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Quebec as a Nation

My mail to the Prime Minister today.

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

Re: Quebec as a ’nation’.

I have to agree with
Andrew Coyne’s view of this. I, along with a majority of Canadians, already voted against the idea of special status for Quebec or any other ethnic group. It seems to me that the role of Canada’s ‘federal’ government is to promote what unifies Canada as a nation, not to promote differences that separate us.

You may believe that the ‘nation’ debate is meaningless semantics. But most Québécois certainly do not. The separatists in particular consider this to be their ‘raison d’être’ for Quebec independence. Now they have federal recognition of it.

Can we now look forward to similar declarations for Newfoundland’s, Alberta’s and ...[
your group here] .... status as a ‘nation within a united Canada’? And, what now is the meaning of the ‘Canadian nation’?

Pandering to Quebec nationalism may help secure the vote in Quebec in the short term, but I honestly don’t see how this can be good for the nation in the long run.


On more careful reading of the text of the Liberal, Bloc and Conservative resolutions there are some subtle differences which may or may not make a difference.

The Liberal resolution refers to the Quebec nation. The Bloc refers to Quebecers. While the Conservative resolution refers to Québécois forming a nation within a united Canada.

From Wikipedia:

"The word Québécois can be politically charged because it combines notions of territory and residence (in the Province of Quebec), ethno-cultural identity (of French-speaking Quebeckers), and ancestry ( Québécois de vielle souche). Government publications generally refer to Quebec territory and residence, while the news media focuses more on issues of ethnocultural identity — especially facing separation or nationalist issues. "

Looks like fodder for endless, useless debate. Bleeeaagh!! Enough of this crapola!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"Stop Spanking kids: UN envoy"

Stephen Lewis gives Canada black eye at world forum.

The above title was the headline that greeted me in this morning's Times-Colonist newspaper.

If there's anything that will get my stomach churning on any given morning it's a photo of Stephen Lewis' hectoring, sanctimoniuos puss ranting in righteous indignation about some earth-shattering issue. Like, for example, the epidemic of abuse being perpetrated on the nation's children. In this case he was speaking to a world forum on child welfare.

According to Stephen Lewis, UN special envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa: Canadian children are subjected to "gratuitous, offensive, and damaging violence" and "there's something wrong with a country like Canada". I'd agree with the latter assertion, mainly on the grounds that it produces too many people like Stephen Lewis.

Mr. Lewis' problem, it seems, is that the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the physical disciplining of children is a discretionary matter (within strict limits) left to the judgement of (gasp) parents. He wants that discretion removed and he'll do anything, including giving Canada an undeserved international black eye, to make it happen.

Now those countries with serious human rights deficits have yet another excuse to avoid reforms. When Canada raises human rights issues they can just point back at us using Stephen Lewis' accusations. This is not just a hypothetical consideration. In fact, just this week, in response to PM Harper's having raised human rights issues with the Chinese president, China's ambassador accused Canada of violating aboriginals' rights. The ambassador's 'ammunition' was thanks to the Canadian branch of Amnesty International who had briefed the UN Human Rights Commission on Canada's treatment of its indigenous people.

Dictatorships just love the old bogus 'moral equivalence' game.

Junk Food? There's NO SUCH THING!

Recently there's been a lot of hype surrounding so-called 'junk food'. Headlines - "Childhood Obesity - Junk Food to Blame"; books and movies - "Fast Food Nation" and "Supersize Me!" Socialist busy-bodies, trial lawyers and opportunists of every other stripe are trying to get a piece of the action.

Well, IMHO, there's no such thing as junk food. All food has a useful place in a healthy diet. Potato chips, chocolate bars, soft drinks as part of any balanced meal are all good for you. And you can wreck your body by eating too much of any food. The problem, if there is one, is junk DIETS, junk eating habits. But with all the media hype and political posturing one thing seems near certain - the nanny state will step in to slap a tax on the latest scapegoat - food.

There are so many ways this seems wrong it’s hard to know where to begin but here's the short list:

One, it’s unlikely to work. Since poor eating habits are the problem, those few who may be deterred by ‘junk’ food taxes will more than likely shift their overeating to other foods. Or, in accordance with the law of unintended consequences, they’ll sacrifice ‘healthy’ food to enable them to afford their ‘junk’ food habit.

Two, it’s a regressive tax that hits the poor the hardest. One more simple pleasure under seige by government.

Three, it’s doubly unfair because while it targets overeaters, a minority, it penalizes everyone. Why should everyone, including the poor, suffer a penalty aimed at deterring people with poor eating habits?

Four, the scientific basis for assumptions about weight and health is murky at best. Mortality is a reasonable measure of health and the results of at least one study showed that "Overweight was not associated with excess mortality." Statistically overweight people live no shorter lives than do those of normal weight. Only for the obese and the underweight is there an effect. Perhaps the 'junk' we need to be most concerned with is the ‘junk science’ being peddled to support ‘junk’ food theory.

Five, but not least, this is nanny-statism taken to a new height. Even assuming it were workable, it’s still an arrogant, totalitarian, one-size-fits-all measure. It’s state interference with one of our most basic personal responsibilities - eating habits. And children’s diets are parents’ responsibility.

People should be outraged by the gall of politicians and government bureaucrats attempting to micro-manage their lives, and with the media for its over-enthusiastic hype. Following this path to its ultimate conclusion will lead to government regulation of every aspect of our lives - everything being decided for us - everyone treated like an errant adolescent or serf - what isn’t forbidden is compulsory. In the broadest sense of the health of the citizenry, this is can hardly be a healthy state of affairs.

And, please, let’s not hear the tired argument that this is the government’s business because of the supposed $billions ‘junk’ food consumption costs the health care system. If anything this is one more strike against state monopoly healthcare which is being used to justify ever more interference in our personal lives.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Benjamin Netanyahu Interviewed by Glenn Beck

Iran's extremist agenda is a grave threat to the free world. Israel is the first target.

All this week Glenn Beck has been doing an outstanding expose on radical Islam. Last night he interviewed Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the Israeli Likud party. Amazing interview. Very scary outlook!

Netanyahu's view in a nutshell:

  • With Iran under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad we're seeing a situation closely paralleling the Nazi/Hitler threat of the 1930's.
  • This time the threat combines the insane extremism of radical Islamic religious fervor with nuclear weapons.
  • This threat is doubly dangerous because, unlike the Nazi and Soviet threats, Iran's regime is undeterrable. Ahmadinejad believes that a holocaust is a necessary prelude to world-wide Islamic dominance.
  • It is absolutely essential that Iran be prevented from obtaining nuclear weapons. If the world community or the U.S. cannot guarantee this, then Israel will be forced to act - it will not stand by and be the victim of a second holocaust.

Batten down the hatches!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Harper inept on China file (say Libs, media)

Media pundits and senior Liberals share goofy talking points.

According to Michael Ignatief, John Manley and TorStar’s James Travers (with several other pundits nodding agreement) China’s human rights record is equivalent to the U.S. record in Guantanamo Bay. This was the line they took during interviews on CBC’s ‘Politics’ show on Nov 16th when they were invited to critique Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s performance on the ‘China file’. That they would all conclude Harper was inept is hardly surprising. But to all adopt the same patently goofy (some would say offensive) notion to make their case strongly suggests they had been synchronizing talking points. So, you say - what’s new? Nothing, but here’s the scenario and commentary anyway.

This week the media hyped the ‘story’ about an on-again, off-again meeting between PM Harper and the Chinese President at the APEC meeting in Hanoi. Harper is accused of botching the job by daring to suggest that he would be raising human rights issues with his Chinese counterpart. Since this was thought to be potentially damaging to China/Canada trade Harper had obviously goofed on the world stage - he was not being appropriately subtle. Dealings with China had to be more ‘nuanced’.

But not only was Harper insufficiently ‘nuanced’, Ignatief, Manley and Travers all tried to paint him as a hypocrite. To criticize China on human rights when he hadn’t criticized the Bush administration for its Gitmo operation was clearly inconsistent. Comparing Gitmo with the Chinese record is, of course, ludicrous. There is no equivalence whatever between the two countries’ records on human rights.

On the one hand China is a brutal totalitarian dictatorship with Mao’s many atrocities and Tienamen Square on its record. More recently it stands accused of imprisoning (and worse) Falun Gong adherents for their religious beliefs. China is also strongly suspected of harvesting the organs of executed prisoners for a burgeoning transplant business.

On the other hand the U.S. is democratic, open society with a government subject to the intense scrutiny of a hyper-critical media, a swarm of political opponents, congress and a supreme court. So its handling of enemy combatants captured during a war that is still being fought hardly compares with the Chinese human rights situation. And it bears pointing out that Gitmo prisoners are being treated with kid gloves - handled with ridiculously extreme deference to their supposed Islamic sensibilities. They’re being treated better than any captive enemy in history.

On the general point of the need for subtly in dealing with China, maybe they’re right (the Libs and pundits, that is). What do I know? But it seems to me that China needs our business as much or more than we need theirs - so we're negotiating from a position of strength. Maybe we should be suggesting that trade with Canada is contingent on progress on the human rights front.

This blog begins the day after Milton Friedman died

Milton Friedman (1912 - 2006)

In the never ending battle for freedom Milton Friedman was one of the truly greats. He has been and will continue to be an inspiration for all who value real liberty. He certainly inspired me.

As many are in their youth, I was an idealist with hopes and concerns for the world, the poor, population explosion, the environment, nuclear war ... Vietnam ... All big problems calling for big thinkers and big governments to provide big solutions. This lead, naturally, to youthful utopian dreams of world government, peace and harmony.

Then along comes Milton Friedman to cast doubt on my utopian delusions. It was on reading "Free to Choose" that I began to abandon my fuzzy neo-liberal inclinations. Government power is something to be wary of - it should be strictly limited. Individual liberty, on the other hand, has brought true peace and prosperity to millions. His thinking was clear and practical. Milton Friedman was a very wise man who said many wise things. A tiny sample:
  • "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom."
  • "The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem. "
  • "Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it."
  • "The power to do good is also the power to do harm."
  • "Governments never learn. Only people learn."
  • "History suggests that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition."
  • "Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink and make the combination worthless."
  • "Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself."
  • "The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit."
  • "The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm. Capitalism is that kind of a system."
  • "There's no such thing as a free lunch."

Milton Friedman, rest in peace.