Friday, April 20, 2007

PR - more evidence it's a bad idea

In today's National Post Gerald Owen rebuts Andrew Coyne in an excellent column discussing PR in relation to the German experience:

Though West Germany adopted PR, like the weak Weimar regime, it started with few parties and before long passed a law that parties with less than 5% of the vote would get no seats in parliament. (Our Canadian Greens got less than that in 2006, I note.)


The unification of West and East Germany in 1990 made a more complex nation-state. Federal German politics is now a constellation of five parties, and the FDP has struggled to meet the 5% threshold.


It is hard for ... [Angela Merkel's coalition] government to make strong decisions. Even the mildest measures to make labour markets more flexible, and thus reduce East German unemployment, are a struggle.


Andrew Coyne did not read Tuesday's Post editorial attentively. With inexact reasoning, he claims there is a contradiction between two consequences of PR alleged by the Post: party fragmentation and excessive consensus. If he followed the politics of Continental Europe with active interest, he would see the drift that results when those two factors collaborate.


PR is not good for countries as complex as unified Germany and Canada. It would mean endless and incoherent coalition governments.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Proportional Representation - a bad idea

"The more innocuous the change, the more far reaching the consequences." (Anonymous)

Responding to yesterday’s National Post editorial "PR is a bad idea", Andrew Coyne asks:

What is it about proportional representation (PR) that turns otherwise
sensible individuals into raving loonies?
Good question Andrew! What is it about PR that makes Andrew Coyne such a raving fanatic in favour of changing an electoral system that’s served us so well for well over a century? He calls the Ontario proposal a "minor patch" to the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system. He’s written several columns on the subject recently to convince Ontario voters to ‘go for it’.

We in BC narrowly escaped switching to STV (single transferable vote) in a recent referendum. But the PR pushers are still trying to get their way so we’re not out of the woods yet.

I'm not fond of the idea of switching to a system that institutionalizes back-room dealing to set up governance coalitions between parties. Who do the voters hold accountable for screw-ups and malfeasance? I'm not sold on the screwball notion, advanced by PR enthusiasts, of votes being "wasted" in the FPTP system (a vote for someone who fails to get elected is presumed to have been wasted?)

We were told that voting wasn’t complicated. The ballots were clear and simple - no problem - just show up and tick off the candidates. That's true, but then you try to follow how those ballots are counted to determine winners and losers. Not so simple. There’s a complicated formula cooked up in the back rooms by the experts and a computer spits out the answer. A website set up by the BC Citizen’s Assembly offers an animated simulation of exactly what happens in a typical scenario. That’s what finally convinced me there would be lots of unintended consequences.

And one more little thing. Coyne wrote in a column last week that the Citizen’s Assemblies set up to make recommendations on PR (or otherwise) were "randomly selected". So that’s good and fair and very democratic, right? Wrong. The BC Citizens’ Assembly (and I assume the Ontario CA) may have been randomly chosen - but from a list of self-selected, motivated and activist individuals heavily pre-disposed to changing the system. That a majority of the ‘expert’ witnesses they would hear would be enthusiastic champions of novel voting systems was highly likely. That the Citizens’ Assembly would recommend switching from FPTP to some other system was a foregone conclusion.

I hope the National Post continues to oppose PR. But it might be better if they printed rebuttals to the Andrew Coynes in the form of columns written by identifiable individuals rather than in anonymous editorials.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

VA Tech Massacre - a good question

It's hard to say how much aggressive self defense was possible but John Derbyshire (at The Corner) asks a good question:

Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous
campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy?


As the cliche goes—and like most cliches. It's true—none of us knows what he'd do in a dire situation like that. I hope, however, that if I thought I was going to die anyway, I'd at least take a run at the guy.

Update - last word: Mark Steyn's take.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Massacre - 32 Innocents Dead

Another horrific school shooting incident. And it took about a microsecond before the Libs and Dippers began exploiting it with renewed calls for more gun control here. CTV's Mike Duffy thinks the gun totin' country folks should do the decent thing and support controls to help out their fearful big city cousins. As always, the assumption is that the gun registry is actually a solution.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Then vs Now

This is good:

"...8 (more) reasons the 1950s are unfairly maligned" by Roger Kimball

1. Scenario: Jack pulls into school parking lot with rifle in gun rack.

1956 - Vice Principal comes over, takes a look at Jack's rifle, goes to his
car and gets his to show Jack.

2006 - School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.


2. ...

[via The Corner]

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"Unstoppable Global Warming"

"Every 1500 years."

That's the title and subtitle of the recently published book by Fred Singer and Dennis Avery. From the Amazon book description:
Singer and Avery present in popular language supported by in-depth scientific evidence the compelling concept that global temperatures have been rising mostly or entirely because of a natural cycle. Unstoppable Global Warming explains why we're warming, why it's not very dangerous, and why we can't stop it anyway.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

The hostage situation

"Tony Blair is looking ....alarmingly like Jimmy Carter, the embodiment of the soi-disant ‘superpower’ as a smiling eunuch."
Mark Steyn brings his usual incisive clarity to the Iranian hostage situation.

The hostages are British. So what is Britain doing? Nothing.
The hostages are also European. What is the EU doing? Nothing.
The hostages were on a U.N. sanctioned mission. What is the U.N. doing? Nothing.

Actually they’ve all been yakking and making ‘stern’ pronouncements of ‘grave’ concern, etc.

The Iranians must be quaking in their boots.