Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tolerance: putting up with other people’s crap

Yesterday Blazing Cat Fur highlighted an article by a prickly anti-Christian academic intolerantly belly-aching about having to put up with all the symbols of Christmas.

Today Lorne Gunter addresses the phenomenon:

Every year at about this time, there is a new batch of news stories detailing how the forces of political correctness and atheism are attempting to stamp out all public references to Christmas.

... The culprits are most often anti-Christians -- people of little or no faith who have grown tired of all the jollity and goodwill this time of year.

... A lot of modern rights advocates have convinced themselves that tolerance means agreement and affirmation, not merely acceptance.

... Tolerance means exactly putting up with all the Christmas crap and Hanukkah crap and Kwanza crap and even atheist crap, so that others will put up with whatever crap is your crap, too.

... The notion that these campaigns are altruistic efforts to shelter sensitive non-Christians from the theological imperialism of the dominant culture around them is just the latest excuse the intolerant minority is using to impose its own secular theology on the rest of us.

The rest.

“Human rights” a Ponzi racket

George Jonas:

... Freedom is the only human right. The rest -- to be housed, hired, admitted to a club -- are human ambitions. In the Ponzi scheme of "human rights" the state feeds A's ambition by trading some of B's freedom for it, then pays for C's ambition in the coin of A's freedom, until the gold of freedom is exchanged for the inflationary paper of ambitions and privileges renamed "rights," printed and doled out by the authorities.

Lip service to liberty, power to the government: That's the deal. Oppression has the bad press; freedom has the rough ride.

... Note to the armed forces of the Canadian-U. S. coalition: After you've liberated Afghanistan, would you consider doing the same for North America?

The rest.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Why the Big 3 should be bankrupted

Bankruptcy is the only effective way to get rid of the UAW/CAW.

Ever wondered what a UAW contract looks like? Here is all 22 pounds of it (in this case, Ford’s 2,215 page 2007 master contract...)

I’ll tell you this much, those 2,215 pages don’t include much regarding efficiency and competitiveness. What you’ll find are hundreds of rules, regulations, and letters of understanding that have hamstrung the auto companies for years.


Update: Some relevant links from Brian in the comments -> Slate and Pajamas Media on Detroit's work rules and a Brazillian exception.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Macro-meddler Mark Carney

This story in yesterday’s Post had Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney putting "politicians, regulators and chief executives on notice ... that he plans to be a more forceful advocate in influencing public policy and market behaviour ...". In a lunch-time address to a Toronto audience last Wednesday, Carney outlined how he planned to expand his role as BoC governor into meddling with how the financial sector does business.

The story had ‘Peter Foster rebuttal’ written all over it:

...What he appears to be advocating is a brand of populist Keynesianism that suggests that banks are "hoarding" money, combined with the much less saleable notion that individuals are doing damage by being similarly prudent.

... Mr. Carney acknowledged the abject failure of central banks, ministries of finance and international financial institutions in predicting current problems, but drew analogies designed to indicate that valuable lessons had been learned.

... said Mr. Carney, "we must develop early-warning systems with precision and with teeth." So much better than aimless gummy gnawing.

... How? By being more macroprudent. Which means? "Put simply," said Mr. Carney, "a macroprudential approach focuses on the forest, not the trees."

... But could it be that the forest-not-the-trees approach is actually a big part of the problem? Could the very Keynesian conceit that policy wonks can work with stratospheric "aggregates" and get above those messy individuals and companies who actually create wealth be a dangerous delusion? Certainly history suggests so.

... the last thing we want is for governments to tell banks where to lend money.

... Keynesian wonks always speak as if they are delivering advice to benevolent despots and philosopher kings, not terminally-expedient and economically-challenged stimulators such as Danny Williams.

... Mr. Carney, typically, wants "more tools." Monetary policy, he admits, is a "blunt instrument," presumably because it has been unsuccessful in promoting imprudent lending and borrowing. So his new tool is … "advocacy!"

... The Bank’s latest Rube Goldberg-ian tool is a Financial Stress Indicator, FSI, which "is now showing record levels of stress." We would never have guessed.

... a forecasting tool, a bit like those wooden balls that spotted future murderers in the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report. This will presumably spot upcoming "thriftcrime."

... Call me a macro-denier, but I can’t help thinking that just as looking after the pennies means that the pounds look after themselves, so micro-prudence is the only genuine form of that modest virtue. But then Keynesianism perpetually seeks to turn common sense on its head.

See also Mr. Foster’s The ugly spectre of ‘new Keynsianism’.

Peter Foster for governor of the BoC!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

“Packing” the Senate - academic hyperbole

An article in today’s Post signed by ten constitutional ‘experts’ from Ontario and Quebec law schools criticized Stephen Harper’s plan to fill 18 vacant Senate seats before Christmas. In it they use weasel-worded bafflegab like "illegitimate context", "dangerously close to being unconstitutional" and "in clear violation of the Canadian constitutional ideals of the rule of law and parliamentary democracy".

While it’s obvious that the circumstances are unusual, what’s "illegitimate" about the "context"? OK, so maybe they don’t like the prorogation but it’s not unconstitutional - at worst, in their own over-heated opinions, just "dangerously close" to it. And what is meant by "constitutional ideals"? Where are these "ideals" articulated such that the eggheads can conclude there’s been a "clear violation"?

It comes off like partisan hyperbolic whinging from a bunch of card-carrying-Liberal academics.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


The MSM seems just so thrilled to see Michael Ignatieff crowned as leader of the LPC. And some Libs are bubbling over with praise for that "classy" "statesman", Bob Rae for dropping out of the race to clear the way for his best pal Iggy. ("It was really tough to keep a dry eye," MP Martha Hall Findlay told reporters ...).

Though not everyone is quite as enthusiastic.

Mr. Ignatieff, for his part, in a spirit of cooperation and inclusiveness "... blasts Harper’s ‘divisive politics’" and warns Harper to "Change or I’ll take you down". It’s really very heart warming.

Anyhow, thank God for the National Post:

Editorial "Ignatieff, Navel-gazer-in-chief"
Lorne Gunter: "The divine right to govern party"
George Jonas: "Ignatieff’s misguided dream"

Free markets and morality

Peter Foster points us to a John Templeton Foundation "conversation" where prominent anti-capitalists debate pro-capitalists on the question: Does the free market corrode moral character?

Peter Foster:

The question is front and centre in the avalanche of claims that the ongoing financial crisis is rooted in the greed of fat cat Wall Street bankers, and that Wall Street is typical of capitalism more generally. But markets are far broader and more pervasive than Wall Street...

... Particularly intriguing among the Templeton presentations is how the old left/liberals in the group -- notably Robert Reich, John Gray and Michael Walzer --bristle with righteous condemnation of their demonic enemy, having, like the Bourbon monarchs, apparently "learned nothing and forgotten nothing."

... Fortunately, these three Rorschach inkblots of the left are counterbalanced by the far more balanced and nuanced contributions of the likes of Jagdish Bhagwati, Tyler Cowen, Qinglian He, Garry Kasparov, Michael Novak, Bernard-Henri Levy, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and John Bogle. None of them seeks to whitewash markets, but they make a cast-iron case that free markets promote morality way better than any alternative. Or, as the French philosopher Mr. Levy puts it: "[I]f the market corrupts, the various negations of the market corrupt absolutely."

Excellent stuff.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Taboo terms: “Quebec separatism”, “Islamic terrorism”

All through this week’s "crisis", the Anglo and Quebec media punditry, the Lib/NDP/BQ coalition, the BQ, the PQ and other sensitive souls have been waxing alarmed about the use of the word "separatist" inflaming Quebec separatism. Here are some sensible responses to that loopy line of thinking:

Ezra Levant: Separatists aren't the separatist threat. People who point out they're separatist are

...the new line is that it's "divisive" to point out that the coalition contains 49 avowed Quebec separatists.

...The separatists are divisive by definition -- they literally want to divide Canada.

Robert Fulford: The Normalization Of Separatism

Jeffrey Simpson wrote in The Globe and Mail yesterday that Harper, under threat of defeat, "whipped up anti-Quebec sentiments outside the province."

No, he didn't. He whipped up anti-separatist sentiments, a quite different matter -- though for some people, the new eminence of the Bloc has made the distinction hard to remember.

This is reminiscent of media "sensitivity" to Mohammedan hyper-sensitivities to references to "Islamic terrorism" and the consequent p-c sanitizing of the term by the media - as in Mark Steyn’s "Jews get killed, but Muslims feel vulnerable" in yesterday’s OC Register.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Talking to Americans - Part II

In this interview on the Hugh Hewitt Show Mark Steyn continues his efforts to explain the intricacies of Canadian politics to Americans - a monumental task. I liked these bits:

On Quebec:

...the secessionist party in Quebec is essentially a giant shakedown operation just to empty English Canada’s wallet and dump it in the socialist basket case province of Quebec...
On the Governor General:

This woman, by the way, is an affirmative action appointment. She’s a very attractive woman, who used to host pro-Castro documentaries on the CBC. ... And it’s because she’s an attractive black woman, as she herself said shortly after her appointment, let’s face it, I’m hot.
On Steyn for GG:

Hugh Hewitt: ... when is the current governor general’s term up, because I wish to begin a Steyn for Governor General movement?
Steyn: ...when she was appointed, she’s a very pleasant woman, a Montreal journalist, and somebody said if we have to have a mediocre hack, mediocre Montreal hack as acting head of state, why can’t we have Mark Steyn? ... And I was rather hurt. That was one reason, you know, because I thought why is the idea of me as governor general so self-evidently risible, the idea of this affirmative action, Castro documentary maker apparently perfectly routine. I think that tells you a lot about Canada.
Hugh Hewitt: Should we really care what happens up there?
Steyn: Oh, yes you should, because every single bad Canadian idea, socialized health care, confiscatory taxation, eventually works its way south of the border. That’s why you should, you look at Canada and that’s what’s going to be happening here in twenty year’s time.

Hillier and Bolton win the Munk Debate

Rick Hillier and John Bolton won the Dec 1st Munk Debate on humanitarian interventions. This was Bolton's article on the subject a month ago.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

An Australian precedent?

Mark Steyn is keeping his American colleagues up to speed on what's happening here in the wilds of Canuckistan. He cites an interesting example from Australia back in 1975 where the Aussie PM considered having the Queen fire the GG before the GG could fire him. The PM was too late - the GG got to the Queen first.

I doubt that Harper is seriously contemplating anything along those lines - the people and media would go ballistic. Nevertheless, Steyn's concerns about the potential for lasting damage to the Canadian system seem real.

Harper’s stupid blunder? I don’t think so.

There seems to be near universal acceptance by media pundits that the Harper/Flaherty economic update was pure blundering folly. The inclusion of cuts to party financing was, supposedly, a stupid error, a "toxic gambit" that precipitated the present crisis. This view has been repeated endlessly in MSM commentary and news and is taken pretty much as incontrovertible truth by nearly everyone including many loyal Tories who are supposedly angry with Harper. But is it true?

Stephen Harper has been called a master political strategist and tactician. He doesn’t do anything without thinking it through. Would he make such an apparently careless blunder? I don’t think so.

Consider the possibility, if not strong likelihood, that the opposition had planned to make their takeover bid no matter what was in the economic update. Based on what we heard in Layton’s conference call this hardly seems unlikely. Consider further that the Conservatives, professionals that they are, had their ears to the ground and knew or strongly suspected what was coming. This is not unlikely either.

So, assuming this scenario, what could the Conservatives have done to protect themselves? They could have sought consensus with the opposition before tabling their update. The Tories claim to have done so. But with a takeover plot in the works, the opposition would certainly not co-operate in helping the Tories create their economic plan. They’d do the opposite, if anything. So, given the Tory expectation of an opposition bid to defeat them following their economic update, no matter what, would it not make sense for them to try to poison the opposition’s apparent motives? One way to do that would be to make them appear to be the lazy, grasping incompetents that they are - that they are motivated by their addiction to the public trough for party financing.

I don’t find this scenario at all far fetched. Is it provable? Not directly. Would the Tories admit to it sans proof. Not likely.

I rest my case, your honour.