Sunday, April 30, 2006

Crime and Punishment

Stefan Molyneux :

If society literally swarms with evil people, then those evil people will surely overwhelm the state, the police, and the military, and prey upon legally disarmed citizens to their hearts content. If, however, there are very few evil people, then we surely do not need a state to protect us from such a tiny problem. In other words, if there are a lot of evil people, we cannot have a state - and if there are few evil people, then we do not need a state.
Murray Rothbard, from The Ethics of Liberty, an excerpt from chapter 13:
The first point is that the emphasis in punishment must be not on paying one’s debt to “society,” whatever that may mean, but in paying one’s “debt” to the victim. Certainly, the initial part of that debt is restitution. This works clearly in cases of theft. If A has stolen $15,000 from B, then the first, or initial, part of A’s punishment must be to restore that $15,000 to the hands of B (plus damages, judicial and police costs, and interest foregone). Suppose that, as in most cases, the thief has already spent the money. In that case, the first step of proper libertarian punishment is to force the thief to work, and to allocate the ensuing income to the victim until the victim has been repaid. The ideal situation, then, puts the criminal frankly into a state of enslavement to his victim, the criminal continuing in that condition of just slavery until he has redressed the grievance of the man he has wronged.

We must note that the emphasis of restitution-punishment is diametrically opposite to the current practice of punishment. What happens nowadays is the following absurdity: A steals $15,000 from B. The government tracks down, tries, and convicts A, all at the expense of B, as one of the numerous taxpayers victimized in this process. Then, the government, instead of forcing A to repay B or to work at forced labor until that debt is paid, forces B, the victim, to pay taxes to support the criminal in prison for ten or twenty years’ time. Where in the world is the justice here? The victim not only loses his money, but pays more money besides for the dubious thrill of catching, convicting, and then supporting the criminal; and the criminal is still enslaved, but not to the good purpose of recompensing his victim.

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Global Hysteria, Part Two


There IS a problem with global warming... it stopped in 1998

by Bob Carter writing for the Telegraph:
For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco. Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).

[..] Since the early 1990s, the columns of many leading newspapers and magazines, worldwide, have carried an increasing stream of alarmist letters and articles on hypothetical, human-caused climate change. Each such alarmist article is larded with words such as "if", "might", "could", "probably", "perhaps", "expected", "projected" or "modelled" - and many involve such deep dreaming, or ignorance of scientific facts and principles, that they are akin to nonsense.

The problem here is not that of climate change per se, but rather that of the sophisticated scientific brainwashing that has been inflicted on the public, bureaucrats and politicians alike. Governments generally choose not to receive policy advice on climate from independent scientists. Rather, they seek guidance from their own self-interested science bureaucracies and senior advisers, or from the IPCC [UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change] itself.

[..] There are other reasons, too, why the public hears so little in detail from those scientists who approach climate change issues rationally, the so-called climate sceptics. Most are to do with intimidation against speaking out, which operates intensely on several parallel fronts.

First, most government scientists are gagged from making public comment on contentious issues, their employing organisations instead making use of public relations experts to craft carefully tailored, frisbee-science press releases. Second, scientists are under intense pressure to conform with the prevailing paradigm of climate alarmism if they wish to receive funding for their research. Third, members of the Establishment have spoken declamatory words on the issue, and the kingdom's subjects are expected to listen.
HT: Liberty is Good

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

'"Celebrate diversity" with a uniformity of ignorance'

Raskolnikov on the essential failure of structural coherence and meaning in postmodern protests… or something like that. From Co-Dependents of the world unite!

Hate to burst your bubble, but Che was wrong. Revolution will not occur…wherever there is a revolution. The answers to Mohawk problems will not emerge magically from the ether as a result of scattered sign-waving across Canada, nor will they crawl, whole and ready-to-serve, from the gestures of nostalgic academics and Green Party rejects displaying solidarity during the afternoon rush by handing out leaflets from the median. (or, for that matter, blocking traffic on one of the busiest bridges in Canada over in BC)

These are vacant gestures, protest for the sake of protest, that baffling fetish of the rad left that I still cannot understand and still seems to carry an irresistable allure despite the overwhelming evidence of its failure and its overt descent into meaningless pantomime, as empty and banal as an exhausted Catholic still drudging to the altar every Sunday to perform spiritual calasthenics he no longer cares enough to ponder if he still believes in.

You can almost watch the ritual unfold: Inspiration hits; The obligatory IndyMedia klaxon wail goes up; the Xeroxed posters of Jim Prentice eating Mohawk toddlers, Bush bathing in Arab blood, or Cheney giving the Hitler salute while behind him Photoshopped Iranian seniors raise their hands to block out a mushroom cloud, hit the lightposts across town; the fidgity anticipation of a midday campus protest or Legislative rally climaxes and somewhere in Osborne Village a Peace Studies major leaves his body and the wandering ghost of Bakunin finds an ephemeral home, just long enough to put the Rage Against the Machine CD on repeat anyway; the protest organizer sips lemon tea and studies Girabaldi for inspiration as he mentally imagines preaching to a choir so slavishly devoted to his words all they can do is nod their heads in brainless agreement, a crowd of spineless sunflowers moving towards a central heat as if guided by wire……like a caveman who paints a victorious chase on the cave wall in anticipation of the hunt, he understands the metaphysics underlying our most base requirements; and at the site itself, one can sup the multifacted broth of outraged special interests on display, innocent of any incongruity — feminists at a rally for farmer’s rights, anarchists demanding more government funding for schools, Marxists at an Aboriginal Self-Government protest handing out Mao t-shirts and photocopied Chomsky articles between prayers and sweetgrass ceremonies.

Like good postmodernists, linear thought or logical relevancy is cast aside; protest qua protest supercedes any specifics or categories. It’s a free-for-all, or rather a free-to-gall, open to anyone with surplus outrage, excess cardboard and a box of magic markers. In Progville, everything is interpenetrating anyway: feminists can wax farm, Marxists share the drum, and anarchists can join our mini-government committee. “We are all relations” as an Aboriginal aphorism has never seen a better manifestation.
Via Publius, whose essential and very un-postmodern weekly digest is now up at Gods of the Copybook Headings with the revolutionary logo that all the cool kids are wearing…

Steyn-syndrome compels me to put a link up to Mark Steyn's latest column as well: Celebrate tolerance, or you're dead:
Diversity-wise, Europe is a very curious place — and I mean that even by Canadian standards.

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Democracy in action in an aspiring totalitarian community


Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Ontario Liberal government's reaction and "solution" to a violent incident last year when an 18 year old was shot dead on the steps of a Seventh Day Adventist Church in Toronto, on the way to a funeral of a friend who was also killed by gun shots, is a brand new program called "Down with Guns" with a price tag of $3 million and counting.
The Ontario government is supporting a new, community-designed program to offer kids positive alternatives to guns and gangs, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced today.

"Our government is committed to doing its part to stop gun crimes and make our communities safer - but it's going to take all of us, working together," said Premier McGuinty.

"We're pleased to join with faith-based groups because they bring so much to this effort - people with expertise, strong values, a background in the community and a commitment to building a brighter future for our kids and our families."

The "Down With Guns" program is a community-designed initiative led by the Toronto Community Foundation in partnership with the Coalition of Christian Leaders. The strategy has four goals: to strengthen families, focus on education, create employment options and opportunity, and encourage youth to know their civic rights and responsibilities. Four volunteer action committees will make sure these goals are met.

[..] The program builds on government efforts to help keep kids safe and prevent them from making the wrong choices, including:

- Hiring 800 student success teachers to help struggling students

- Introducing legislation to keep kids learning to age 18

- Expanding schools for community use

- Creating a $15-million Youth Challenge Fund and challenging the
private sector to match the government's investment. If the
$15 million is matched, the government will contribute up to an
additional $15 million, for a potential total investment of
$45 million over the next three years

- Investing $28.5 million for the first three years of a Youth
Opportunities Strategy to create more opportunities and improve
outcomes for youth

- Unveiling a $51-million package to give police and prosecutors more
tools to work with neighbourhoods in the fight against guns and
gangs.
Freedom Party Leader Paul McKeever examines the limitations and abuses of our cherished democracy:
"The usefulness, or effectiveness, or righteousness of a religious group's activities is of no relevance to the issue of whether government should take money from Ontarians and give it to religious organizations", says McKeever. "The end does not justify the means, no matter what the end is.

[..] "The usefulness, or effectiveness, or righteousness of a religious group's activities is of no relevance to the issue of whether government should take money from Ontarians and give it to religious organizations", says McKeever. "The end does not justify the means, no matter what the end is.

[..] "The problem here is not that money is being provided to a Christian organization, but not to Jewish, Muslim, and other religious organizations. Providing comparable funding to non-Christian religious groups would not somehow remedy the wrong involved in funding a Christian religious organization with tax revenues. This isn't an issue of fairness. As abstract and irrelevant as it might sound to some, the issue here is democracy itself.

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The summer of our discontent

"I don't think it's a fair message to tell our community we didn't do our job … the problem is created by provincial tax policy."
— London mayor Anne Marie DeCicco, quoted in the London Free Press, April 27
Today, the Free Press reports on how London's 2.95-turned-3.9 per cent property tax increase combined with 9.6 and 5 per cent increases in sewer and water rates respectively compare with three other similar-sized Ontario cities operating under the same provincial regulations:
If London council hikes property taxes 3.9 per cent, an owner of a home valued at $173,000 would pay $98 more in taxes and $50 more in water and sewer surcharges.

The total increase of $148 amounts to an overall hike of 5.9 per cent, well above three comparable cities. The percentages include water and sewer surcharges:
  • Windsor: 0.1% decrease (proposed)
  • Kitchener: 2.9% increase
  • Hamilton: 2.9% increase
Some on council want to reduce the tax increase below three per cent, but combined with water and sewer surcharges, the overall increase would still be nearly five per cent.
Reconcile DeCicco's excuse with your bank statement now. The Free Press article notes a bit of unintentional hilarity from controller Russ Monteith:
City hall should also study what's been done in Windsor, Kitchener and Hamilton. It's possible those cities have fewer demands or have neglected them, but it's also possible they have managed their finances better or for a longer period of time, Monteith said. "We should find out how they're doing it."
It has entirely escaped the attention of most councillors in London that their unrestrained spending bears an almost direct relation with increases in levies, with or without provincial regulations. Could it just be that councils in the other three cities have not quite forgotten that yet?

An anonymous commenter on a previous post puts the right snark on this ridiculous cluelessness:
Note to Russ Montieth...How long have you been on council? And it's only occuring to you now to reach out to your mumicipal neighbours and ask how they plan their finances? For FUCKSAKES! And as for working creatively why haven't you been doing that for the ENTIRE TIME you've been on council. What a goddamned charlatan. Same goes for Alder. He's a goddamned second or third termer, why the suddem impulse to "work hard" on controlling tax increases? Rob, you should have said no to some dubious projects and pork barreling of local activist groups in the previous years you've been on council you goddamned nitwit.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

A Raw Deal

Murray Rothbard on the New Deal, quoted by Roderick T. Long in an lecture entitled "Rothbard's "Left and Right": Forty Years Later":

Every element in the New Deal program: central planning, creation of a network of compulsory cartels for industry and agriculture, inflation and credit expansion, artificial raising of wage rates and promotion of unions within the overall monopoly structure, government regulation and ownership, all this had been anticipated and adumbrated during the previous two decades. And this program, with its privileging of various big business interests at the top of the collectivist heap, was in no sense reminiscent of socialism or leftism; there was nothing smacking of the egalitarian or the proletarian here. No, the kinship of this burgeoning collectivism was not at all with socialism-communism but with fascism, or socialism-of-the-right, a kinship which many big businessmen of the twenties expressed openly in their yearning for abandonment of a quasi-laissez-faire system for a collectivism which they could control…. Both left and right have been persistently misled by the notion that intervention by the government is ipso facto leftish and antibusiness.

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Global warming comes to London Ontario

I have found the key to heaven but I cannot find the door.

The Legendary Pink Dots


Get ready to sort your wet tissues from your dry ones Londoners. As expected, the garbage collection situation is soon to get worse and much more expensive besides. So long as municipalities comply with the irrational and unachievable demands of the province in exchange for anticipated funds that are substantially offset by the costs of meeting the demands, the potholes will continue to grow, along with the breadlines.

From our local plea press, a daily forum for Imagine London and their supporters:
London must spend millions of tax dollars, get tougher on recycling, reduce curbside garbage pickup and start collecting table scraps, a new report concludes.

That's what it will take to reach a provincial target to divert 60 per cent of household waste away from landfills, says the city's advisory committee on the environment.

"If we're going to meet that target, we can't continue the way we're going," said committee chairperson Stephen Turner.

"But as long as these changes are made easy and we're careful to explain to residents what we're trying to do, then I think we can have something that's achievable. And there has to be incentives."
Your "incentives" are reduced privacy, forced compliance, and higher property taxes.
Some changes Turner wants the city to implement within the next year or two include:

- A weekly garbage pickup with a three-container limit and tags sold for extra bags.

- Expansion of recyclables to include items such as drink boxes, plastic garbage bags and paint cans.

- Switch to clear garbage bags to ensure residents recycle. Bags containing recyclables would be left behind.

- Sell composters at cost to encourage composting.

As recycling increases, the trash container limit would be cut to one, with a two-week pickup. But that would require the report's most expensive recommendation -- building a $10-million composting facility and starting curbside pickup of organics or table scraps at a cost estimated at $4 million a year.
Gord Hume supports the fermenting wasteland, claiming the ambigious conglomerate supports the proposal because it's a damn good idea! Raccoons in London support Gord Hume and have filed a complaint with the human rights commission demanding their species be granted the same rights as human beings and apes. Their case has yet to be heard in London because the human rights specialist is on stress leave and otherwise occupied with her own human rights compliant. However, it is expected that raccoons worldwide will take their case to the UN. Raccoons in Middlesex County are confident that their rights will be in place before the November election. All living things have the right to clean air and essential nourishment.
Controller Gord Hume, who oversaw adoption of the existing recycling and garbage-collection system, was impressed with some of the ideas.

"I think this kind of a vision is good, useful and exciting," he said. "Obviously, council's job is going to be the costing and practical imple- mentation."

Londoners are ready to "take the next step," Hume said, "but exactly what those steps are will have to be determined.
My next step is to get out of this town boasting among the highest property taxes in the entire country. I'll pass on the splash pads and hockey hair. Living in London is not worth the cost.

The current four containter limit does not really inconvience most Londoners, but this is only the beginning and council is "gently" preparing us for more aggressive measures. Trash collection is one of the few practical services that are paid for through excessive taxation. Of course, Londoners are forced to fund the city waste removal racket through their taxes, even if they happen to realize that good garbage collection service is not one that is managed on the basis of nonsensical bureaucratic calculations concerning the acceptable amount of trash allowed per household.

Soon citizens will be forced by law to recycle all approved materials, to separate their tampons from their moderately dry tissues, and to compost their kitchen scraps at greater cost for less service. When a service provider is assured of business no matter how incompetent the "business" is run, it doesn't matter about the value you get from your dollar, but only that the trough keepers and popular theorizers are kept happy.

The municipal monopoly over garbage collection, in addition to imposed measures by the province, is to be blamed for the current landfill crisis. If people were paying directly for the cost of disposing of their own trash, rather than passing those costs off to their more frugal neighbours, who are nonetheless required to pay the fees no matter their trash yield or choosen service provider, London Ontario would smell a lot better.

And if you arrived here looking for the garbage calendar outlining the complicated calculus of collection dates, go here.

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"Self-made barbarians"

From the beginning, or to be more precise, from the time of Plato until that of Voltaire, human diversity had come before the tribunal of universal values; with Herder the eternal values were condemned by the court of diversity.
— Alain Finkielkraut, The Undoing of Thought

Today we are trying to spread knowledge everywhere. Who knows if in centuries to come there will not be universities for re-establishing our former ignorance?

— Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799)
Via Billy Beck, Roger Kimball's The treason of the intellectuals in The New Criterion is a highly recommended criticism of the intellectual posturing behind multiculturalism and post-modernism.
As the impassioned proponents of “diversity” meet the postmodern apostles of acquiescence, fanaticism mixes with apathy to challenge the commitment required to preserve freedom.
I cannot do the piece justice… it can be read in full here.

Also recommended, Mack Burped, a new blog that is worth keeping an eye on, celebrates the anniversary of Mussolini's death:
During his reign of oppression and media control, Mussolini, and his economic model, fascism, won the accolades of government-protection-seeking businesses, the magazines and newspapers they owned, and other morons in North America. Fascism (today, the politically correct terms include "corporativism", "corporatism", or "public-private partnership") also became the model upon which Franklin Delano Roosevelt would base his "New Deal".
And, as Mack continues, the New Deal keeps on getting newer and bigger…

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Contempt for the taxpayers of London

According to the London Free Press, a long and costly battle that began over one politically-contrived zoning bylaw and devolved into one over what can be debated behind closed doors in council will be accepted as a case by the Supreme Court of Canada. Legal bills for outside lawyers stemming from an Ontario Court of Appeals action that the city lost in November last year have already taxpayers about $220,000 and the city will be represented before the Supreme Court by George Rust D'Eye, the $545 per hour Toronto lawyer who unsuccessfuly argued the city's case to overturn the OMB's ward division order. So what is at stake for London taxpayers?

From November 30:

In January 2004, city council met behind closed doors to discuss a hastily contrived bylaw preventing development along Richmond Street between Huron and Grosvenor streets, a four block stretch, in response to RSJ Holdings Inc's plans to build a four-plex rental unit at the corner of Richmond and Cheapside, prompting complaints by local residents. The purpose of zoning bylaws, rightly or wrongly, is the general management of land use, not the targeting of specific projects for promotion or prevention. Not failing to recognize the litigious potential of an arbitrary decision to subvert this legal purpose for political reasons, council received its staff land use report in a secret session.
When they later resumed in public, there was no debate about the freeze. The bylaw, along with 31 others, passed in eight minutes.
As it was later discovered, a vote on the bylaw had already taken place behind closed doors according to affidavits signed by Coun. Roger Caranci and Controller Bud Polhill, a potential violation of provincial law.
Those circumstances led the appeal court to reject the city claim it had met in-camera to get advice from the city solicitor about potential litigation. Even if the developer was certain to go to court, that didn't justify shielding a report about land use rather than litigation.
From today's Free Press:
"When do we stop the insanity?" Coun. Roger Caranci said. "We're spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to limit public access."

Though there is a cost to proceeding, there's a risk to giving up, an issue Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco plans to raise when council meets Monday.

"What's the cost if we don't do it?" she said.
Why don't you tell us, Ms. Mayor: what is the cost to us?
The mayor and others who support the appeal say a ruling is needed to undo a decision by a lower court that's left council unable to get answers to some questions that used to be provided behind closed doors.

[…] Now, when council members ask staff a question behind doors, city solicitor Jim Barber sometimes intervenes and says the answer can only come in public session.

[…] But DeCicco and Controller Russ Monteith say the change could lead to council making decisions without all necessary information, a result that could put the city at risk.
DeCicco and council should be less reticent about getting information in public. Otherwise, the exercise is contrived to shield the public from either damaging staff reports or potentially litigous behaviour on the part of council. When decisions that affect the public using public resources can only be made without public access to the information, then those are decisions that should not be made in the first place. What principles is council invoking in this case? According to DeCicco, the answer is the right of council to decide public issues in secrecy and the right of taxpayers to be gouged for council's misguided decisions.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

It's going to get more expensive to live in London, version 2006.1

Remember the good old days back in January?

[C]ouncil has approved a 2006 budget that raises residential property taxes by 2.95 per cent. After two years of 5.9 and 6.6 per cent increases, this year's hike may appear to be a relief — such are the reduced expectations of Londoners. Property taxes get the big press, but Londoners will be paying 9.6 and 5 per cent increases in sewer and water rates respectively.
Ah, but the much less ballyhooed caveat was that the relatively less onerous increase for homeowners in an election year owed less to a trifling with the idea of fiscal restraint and mostly on the redistribution of the tax burden to commercial properties and the unguaranteed approval of the provincial government.

Well, in April Londoners still face the 9.6 and 5 per cent increases in sewer and water charges. But while city council is scrambling to stem their political vulnerability before this fall's election by pushing for a pesticide ban to appease a small special interest group that receives disproportionate coverage in the local media, ordinary Londoners are getting a few more inches of the shaft. From the London Free Press:
Only three months ago, council patted itself on the back after passing a budget boosting taxes by 2.95 per cent for 2006. Many expected an even lower hike because Queen's Park had yet to declare an education levy expected to reduce rates further. It has done so since. But the low education levy will only soften the blow to London homeowners, who are already among the most heavily taxed in the country.

A city staff report to be presented to politicians today says this year's tax hike will be at least 3.3 per cent and recommends 3.9 per cent. Throw in big jumps to sewer and water surcharges and the average London homeowner could be paying nearly five per cent more than last year.

Why will homeowners be taxed more? The reason is complicated:
  • In the last two years, homes increased in value twice as much as commercial and industrial properties.
  • The disparity in assessment means homeowners pay more while commerce and industry pay less unless the relative tax rates of those property classes are changed.
  • Ontario regulations permit the city to change rates to shift some -- but not all -- of the tax burden from homeowners to business. Whatever can't be shifted falls on the backs of homeowners.
The rules allow a shift that would leave an average homeowner with a 3.3-per-cent tax hike, but staff want a smaller shift that would hike residential taxes by 3.9 per cent. To do otherwise would make tax rates on commercial and industrial properties higher than the Ontario average, said Jim Logan, the city's manager of revenue and tax collection. "One of the concerns is competitiveness," he said.
Contrary to the suggestion of the Free Press reporter, the reasons for the greater tax increase is simple — it's because council continues to increase spending! Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco, however, is making it quite clear that any suggestion of responsibility on the part of her administration will not be tolerated — also from the Free Press:
London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco and three controllers backed a staff plan yesterday that would hike this year's taxes for homeowners and raise total charges, including water and sewer charges, nearly five per cent.

Their action and their justification for it -- they blamed Ontario regulations -- drew a rebuke from budget chief Tom Gosnell, who said council should stick to a commitment to keep tax increases below the rate of inflation. The inflation target was tagged at three per cent by council, although in the last two years inflation has been lower.

"At some point, we have to make commitments and stick by them without blaming another level of government. We should be sending a message we're sincere about reducing taxes and this doesn't do that," Gosnell said.

His challenge led to a tense exchange with DeCicco, who defended council

"I don't think it's a fair message to tell our community we didn't do our job … the problem is created by provincial tax policy," DeCicco said.
Right… "the province made us do it" has been the refrain of DeCicco's administration for the past several years. How much poorer do Londoners have to be before she stops washing it?
London homeowners are nearly the highest taxed in Canada, according to a recent study by the city of Edmonton.
Indeed.

Update, April 28:From the London Free Press:
Momentum is building on city council to reopen this year's budget to give London property taxpayers more relief. Despite board of control's recommendation on Wednesday to set the property tax hike at 3.9 per cent, several council members said yesterday they won't break their promise to deliver a tax hike of three per cent or less. For the budget to be reopened, two-thirds of London's 19-member council must vote at Monday's meeting in favour of revising the budget.

Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell, the lone board dissenter, will have to find the support of 12 council members. Gosnell wants to put another $3 million in provincial funding on tax relief instead of debt reduction. Yesterday, five council members backed Gosnell, six were undecided and five were opposed. Two couldn't be reached for comment.

"I'm getting a lot of phone calls in support," Gosnell said. "When you have the tools and resources (to cut taxes) and you don't, then you leave the public with the impression you have no commitment to get your financial house in order. To me, it's breaking the faith with taxpayers."

A leading ally will be Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen, who has pushed council to cut taxes. "It's far more important to give ratepayers some tax relief, and we can still pay down some of the debt," Van Meerbergen said. "I'm going to do everything I can to make it happen."

[…] Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco and controllers Gord Hume, Russ Monteith and Bud Polhill backed a staff plan to hike taxes.

"For many years we've lobbied the province for more money to offset some of the downloading and now that we have it, it makes no sense to use that money to pay for another new provincial regulation that's created a new burden for us," DeCicco said.

Hume agreed, saying, "It's bad financial planning and all we'd be doing is deferring the expense and, in the long run, it will cost taxpayers more."
I have no idea what DeCicco is saying, but while she is abdicating responsbility in a wilfully inscrutable manner, Hume is at least direct about it. However, with a municipal debt of $335.4 million at the end of 2004 and increasing taxes despite receiving the lobbied-for handouts from the province, city politicians like Hume are hardly in a position to judge bad financial planning versus good. But council can quite easily manage its debt obligations and reduce taxes next year and after by exercising fiscal restraint — council has hardly been compelled to spend above and beyond what is required for basic services. It is simple — stop spending! If council's debt reduction plan is to rely on provincial windfalls or surplus taxation, they cannot claim to know anything at all about financial planning. Curiously, Hume alludes to this in defense of postponing responsibility:
"There's an election next year, governments change and policies change. There's no guarantee for this money each year."

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David Horowitz/Ward Churchill Debate Video

It took place on April 14 of this year at George Washington University. See David Horowitz of FrontPageMag debate Ward Churchill of, uh, the Endarkenment, on politics and the classroom. Haven't watched it yet since there's South Park in the queue.

RealVideo from C-SPAN, 1.3 hours.

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Imagine London soon to seek dihydrogen monoxide ban

HT: GM

BAN DIHYDROGEN MONOXIDE!

Dihydrogen monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and kills
uncounted thousands of people every year. Most of these deaths are
caused by accidental inhalation of DHMO, but the dangers of dihydrogen
monoxide do not end there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes
severe tissue damage. Symptoms of DHMO ingestion can include excessive
sweating and urination, and possibly a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting
and body electrolyte imbalance. For those who have become dependent,
DHMO withdrawal means certain death.


Dihydrogen monoxide:

is also known as hydroxl acid, and is the major component of acid rain.
contributes to the "greenhouse effect." may cause severe burns.
contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape. accelerates
corrosion and rusting of many metals. may cause electrical failures and
decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes. has been found in excised
tumors of terminal cancer patients. Contamination is reaching epidemic
proportions!

Quantities of dihydrogen monoxide have been found in almost every
stream, lake, and reservoir in America today. But the pollution is
global, and the contaminant has even been found in Antarctic ice. DHMO
has caused millions of dollars of property damage in the midwest, and
recently California.

Despite the danger, dihydrogen monoxide is often used:

as an industrial solvent and coolant. in nuclear power plants. in the
production of styrofoam. as a fire retardant. in many forms of cruel
animal research. in the distribution of pesticides. Even after washing,
produce remains contaminated by this chemical. as an additive in certain
"junk-foods" and other food products. Companies dump waste DHMO into
rivers and the ocean, and nothing can be done to stop them because this
practice is still legal. The impact on wildlife is extreme, and we
cannot afford to ignore it any longer!

The American government has refused to ban the production, distribution,
or use of this damaging chemical due to its "importance to the economic
health of this nation." In fact, the navy and other military
organizations are conducting experiments with DHMO, and designing
multi-billion dollar devices to control and utilize it during warfare
situations. Hundreds of military research facilities receive tons of it
through a highly sophisticated underground distribution network. Many
store large quantities for later use.


Like the official buffoons in Aliso Viejo California, rumour has it that city officials in London Ontario, under pressure from advocacy groups such as Imagine London, are working toward the elimination of this vile substance.

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. - City officials were so concerned about the potentially dangerous properties of dihydrogen monoxide that they considered banning foam cups after they learned the chemical was used in their production.

Then they learned, to their chagrin, that dihydrogen monoxide — H2O for short — is the scientific term for water.

"It's embarrassing," said City Manager David J. Norman. "We had a paralegal who did bad research."

The paralegal apparently fell victim to one of the many official looking Web sites that have been put up by pranksters to describe dihydrogen monoxide as "an odorless, tasteless chemical" that can be deadly if accidentally inhaled.

As a result, the City Council of this Orange County suburb had been scheduled to vote next week on a proposed law that would have banned the use of foam containers at city-sponsored events. Among the reasons given for the ban were that they were made with a substance that could "threaten human health and safety."

The measure has been pulled from the agenda, although Norman said the city may still eventually ban foam cups.

"If you get Styrofoam into the water and it breaks apart, it's virtually impossible to clean up," Norman said.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.

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Same-primate marriages

From the Spain Herald:

The Spanish Socialist Party will introduce a bill in the Congress of Deputies calling for "the immediate inclusion of (simians) in the category of persons, and that they be given the moral and legal protection that currently are only enjoyed by human beings." The PSOE's justification is that humans share 98.4% of our genes with chimpanzees, 97.7% with gorillas, and 96.4% with orangutans.

The party will announce its Great Ape Project at a press conference tomorrow. An organization with the same name is seeking a UN declaration on simian rights which would defend ape interests "the same as those of minors and the mentally handicapped of our species."

According to the Project, "Today only members of the species Homo sapiens are considered part of the community of equals. The chimpanzee, the gorilla, and the orangutan are our species's closest relatives. They possess sufficient mental faculties and emotional life to justify their inclusion in the community of equals."
Membership in the community of equals makes apes eligible for assistance in community training for demanding government handouts and minority rights, in gratitude for which they are expected to exercise their franchise to support their sponsors in the Socialist Party. Typical of socialists, though… it's not that they think apes are as high a life form as humans but that humans are as low as apes.

Via Jeff Goldstein, who asks,
Will the UN go along? Most likely. After all, issuing such a declaration is a lot easier than dealing with, say, African genocides or Iranian nukes. And every official UN declaration—no matter how silly—is followed by brie, bread, and wine. So it’s a win-win!
Update: As usual, Joe Noory of ¡No Pasarán! picks the socialists apart in a satisfactorily snide and hilarious way:
It proves something which is patently obvious about the Socialism’s “vision” - that if man does have all of his basic needs provided for in some impossible deus ex machina fashion, there is no need to be anything other than a beast obsessed with eating, eliminating, sleeping, reproducing, and with power within a clan. Somehow, I suppose this is supposed to justify something about their notion of man, or perhaps just the normalcy of sticking their opposable thumbs up their asses instead of being productive participants in the real human coexistence project that we call civilization.

Fiddlesticks, Green Goofballs. There is this little detail called free will that you’ve always managed to ignore and show contempt for. That lack of free will is the reason for our concern for them in their innocence. Why undermine it?

This notion that the animal world is a good analog of egalitarian society, and picture gay penguins coexisting with feminism-friendly Bonobo monkeys in the same big union local, I say simply –go camping- for once, and stop picking and choosing species to the exclusion of nature the way you do aspects in reality. Real, non-idealized animals fight over resources and do their best to NOT coexist. This behavior is the last thing greenies think about when they have their faked stigmatas and epiphanies on the environment.

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Impoverish London

Leaders of a citizens' group that pushed through London's 14-ward map are focused on backing a single candidate in each ward who would ban pesticides and limit sprawl.

Leaders of Imagine London sat down last week with representatives of like-minded groups to plan, ward-by-ward, how to elect candidates who share their vision.

The London Free Press, April 19, 2006
According to the London Free Press, mayor Anne Marie DeCicco and some members of city council are trying to pre-empt a perceived vulnerability on the subject of pesticides bans with a proposed law of their own before the upcoming November election, in response to Imagine London making it the centerpiece of their latest public incarnation as a municipal power-broker. The perception of vulnerability is a result of the activist group's recent political success with one willingly credulous unelected OMB member and the surfeit of unpaid advertising that sympathetic Free Press reporters have since provided to them. DeCicco and council's political vulnerability is real, but they fail to understand, however, that it does not hinge on the ambitions of a vocal but small activist group — no matter that group's accomplishments in undemocratic political arenas. But onward ho!

Londoners will again get a chance to discuss a ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides May 29 at Centennial Hall. City council's environment and transportation committee approved the meeting date last night, along with a proposed bylaw that includes elements of those approved in Toronto and Peterborough, which allows exemptions for golf courses and farming.
An exemption for golf courses, which spray far more pesticides over more time and a greater area than any homeowner, begs the question of council: are pesticides harmful or not? Arbitary dispensation of the question based not on people but economic interests betrays the political motivations behind the ban — which is as much as can be expected from ban proponents who must resort to substituting emotion and hearsay for objective facts in their defense:
Coun. David Winninger and others gave impassioned arguments supporting a ban. Winninger said the reason there's no scientific proof pesticides pose a health threat is because they may be tested only on animals.

[…] "We don't have all the answers, that's quite clear," Winninger said. "But that hasn't stopped other municipalities from passing bold legislation. If we really care about the people of London and our children and grandchildren, then every one of us ought to be voting against this bylaw." [London Free Press, July 26, 2005, cited here]
Get back to us when you have something substantial to say on the subject of very real and concrete restraints on other people's property and livelihoods.
To those who value the imposition of obligations on others, something that has not yet been done will always remain something to be done. … For the, there will always be another absence of tyranny to incur their outrage — there will always remain something else to be done.
Imagine London is now a celebrated group of disaffected social activists that describe themselves as a "coalition of civic, neighborhood, labor, environmental, and student leaders." As wideranging a collection of special interests such as this will not be satisfied with a pesticide ban, no matter how comprehensive. Having re-dissembled its public objectives once already, it will continue to do so after each success. But it has served at the very least as a bellwether — to distinguish between those who appropriate property rights and those who respect property rights. More from the London Free Press:
A lobbyist for the lawn-care industry announced yesterday a new website and an ad blitz urging voters to get involved or lose control of the city to a "small activist group."

"The battle over (pesticides) is, in reality, a fight over who will control city council and thereby the City of London," said John Matsui.

[…] Matsui said he launched the website (http://www.londonpropertyrights.ca) with the support and funding of a few "like-minded" people, including the lawn-care industry.
Free Press reporter Joe Belanger, who has before arrogated a great deal of editorial license with language to describe positions against pesticide bans, inserts the words "lobbyist" and "industry" to invite the reader to participate in the sophisticated and disabused cognoscenti's debasement of such artless economic activities — abandoning in the pretense the notion that anyone should have a legitimate interest in protecting their legal livelihood. And in any case one could not say, although discouraged already from thinking about it, that the lobbyists' efforts have been successful. So while the terms are technically correct, Belanger has yet to describe ban proponents with the same "lobbyist" crudity. Although an appetite for contempt dissuades one from recognizing it, Matsui is quite correct, and a link to his website now appears on the London Fog.
The site focuses mainly on the issue of pesticides and property rights.

Curiously, that message was echoed last night by Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen, chairperson of council's environment and transportation committee, who opposes a pesticide ban. Van Meerbergen angered committee members when he snidely welcomed Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco to a debate on pesticides.

"Thank you for attending your third committee meeting in two years to lead us toward the trampling of homeowners' property rights," Van Meerbergen said.

Coun. Bill Armstrong quickly demanded an apology, but Van Meerbergen refused.

DeCicco supports a ban and has said she will attend committee meetings to ensure the issue is dealt with. "I would hope you would respect me not only as the mayor, but as a member of the community on this or any other issue," DeCicco said.
As neither has DeCicco ever merited respect, although she may continue to hope — and with a third term approaching uncontested, her vapid conceits will likely continue to succour her through the cursory execution of her office. On rhetorical and moral grounds, Van Meerbergen scored two against none, but on the all-important scoreboard of London's decline DeCicco will probably carry the game.
Matsui said the website's focus on pesticides "will evolve" to include other issues as the election nears.

"What we are doing is highlighting the issues for people, how members of council voted. It's about hypocrisy," he said. "And we're telling people, 'Smarten up, London, or this may not be the London you want.' "

Matsui's announcement clearly refers to the London Coalition Against Pesticides and Imagine London, which was successful in having a new 14-ward electoral map drawn for the November civic election.

"This small activist group and a faction they control on city council have already had the electoral map of London redrawn to their political advantage," Matsui said.

The move was dismissed by Imagine London spokesperson Stephen Turner, a Ward 6 candidate. Turner said the fact Imagine London and the coalition share some of the same membership is "coincidental."
Coincidental? As coincidental as, say, the websites of Imagine London and the London Coalition Against Pesticides having once been hosted on the same domain?

Update, April 28: From the London Free Press:
A campaign launched this week to fight a proposed ban on pesticides is swamping London city hall with hundreds of letters, faxes and phone calls. "It's just unbelievable, I never expected this," said Henry Valkenburg, president of Great Lakes Lawn Care.

Valkenburg's company and several others launched a media advertising campaign Tuesday. They've also contacted customers urging them to sign and send form letters to city councillors. The lawn-care industry's message is simple: London homeowners won't be able to use weed and feed on their lawns if city council passes a bylaw banning cosmetic use of pesticides.

The environment and transportation committee discussed a possible pesticide bylaw Monday. A public meeting will be held May 29 at Centennial Hall before the issue goes to council.

[…] Staff at city hall say they received more than 300 faxes, 100 phone calls and an unknown number of e-mails within 24 hours of the campaign's launch, with more arriving late yesterday. Valkenburg said he has at least another 500 letters and other companies have yet to submit thousands more.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Degeneracy On Display

Banning spray paint for young people, as is being discussed by City Council, is stupid for all the usual reasons that prohibition and collective punishment don't work. It creates forbidden fruit, makes vandalism even cooler, creates a profit opportunity for resale to minors, and it makes life harder for legitimate human beings with legitimate uses for spraypaint.

The best all-round solution to vandalism in our community would be exemplified by, say, "Wade" or "Pile" getting beaten senseless by a spontaneously assembled angry mob, in such a way that they feel it wise to find a new city to pollute. If vigilante justice is too wild and unpredictable for your taste, then I have only a very few reservations about leaving this job up to a dozen or so calm, professional police officers.

Okay, okay, I'm willing to compromise still further with the advocates of damaging private property -- that is, with anyone who has ever used the term "graffiti artist" non-sarcastically.

Instead of my preferred community-based proactive solution, how about we build stocks on the Market Square to hold apprehended vandals? I'd say that one afternoon in the stocks per square foot of damaged wall would be a suitable compromise.

There is no such thing as a "graffiti artist", any more than there are "broken storefront window artists", "shoplifting artists", or "arson artists". In Normal English we call such people vandals.

It should go without saying, but the only time you can scribble on other people's stuff is when they have given you permission.

Such permission can be hard to get, so Londoners wishing to scribble on things should keep an eye out for the uncelebrated work of one Morag Webster-Lesarge. This very confused person considers damage to property to be an "art form":

Artist Morag Webster-Lesarge opposed the ban. "It's an art form that shouldn't be lost or legislated," she said.
Well, OK, if you say so, then I guess Londoners should feel welcome to bring magic markers (purchased on Ebay) to the next Webster-Lesarge show.

Our communications with the Webster-Lesarge team indicate that it isn't really so.

Can the consent of a building owner be secondary, while at the same time the consent of an artist becomes paramount, in comparison to the vision of the next jerk who comes along with a spray can? Let the vision be lost and the law engaged, if one holds to the civilized regard for property that notions of vandalism-as-art-form undermine.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

London City Council display their dirty briefs

The victims in East London continue to pay for the preferences of the victims in North London. The insurgents in East London must band together and lobby council with their special cause. The conflicting reports of city staff, city appointed committees, city council, board of control and city lawyers will be the deciding factor. Let the ward wars begin!

Scraps from the London Free Press:

Optimist centre to reopen

The finishing touches are being put on the North London Optimist Centre, closed since last year, and it will reopen by May 1, city staff said yesterday. Extra reinforcement makes the facility safe until snow arrives next winter, and in the meantime, the city will explore options on how to make the building viable for the long-term.

Committee backs ice pads

Over the objection of staff, a city committee recommended seeking enough land in north London to be able to expand a planned-for community centre to include ice pads and sports fields. Staff wanted to nix extra land they said would be costly and not needed. But three members of the community and protective services committee disagreed. The project would involve a collaboration between the city, the public library board and the London YMCA.

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Modern Britain

It's This Bad

… the zeitgeist of the country is now one of sentimental moralizing combined with the utmost cynicism, where the government’s pretended concern for the public welfare coexists with the most elementary dereliction of duty. There is an absence of any kind of idealism that is a necessary precondition of probity, so that bad faith prevails almost everywhere. The government sees itself as an engineer of souls (to use the phrase so eloquently coined by Stalin with regard to writers who, of course, were expected to mold Homo Sovieticus by the power of their words). Government thus concerns itself with what people think, feel, and say—as well as with trying to change their freely chosen habits—rather than with performing its one inescapable duty: that of preserving the peace and ensuring that citizens may go about their lawful business in confidence and safety.
That's Theodore Dalrymple in the City Journal, via Billy Beck who notes that
"No; he's not talking about America, but you can definitely see it from here if you care to look at it."
And from Canada, I'm sorry to say. The Canadian mythology of politeness serves less to sustain civil society than to secure moderate indifference to the same fashion of social engineering that has governed Britain for only slightly longer. One need only spend time in the laboratories of collective virtue remodeling, the public schools, to see the vanguard of Canada's yobocracy.

Owls Aren't Wise elaborates on the same subject:
British society? We are a nation of moral imbeciles, and we have the bastards who hate all life to thank for it.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

"Turn out the lights and let me stare at your ozone"

When values are determined in advance of human action:

Case study #1:

The evils of crystal meth production and use will soon be common knowledge in Perth County, considered Ontario's capital for production of the drug.

All property owners in the county will get educational material about the highly addictive drug with their May and June tax bills as a result of a decision yesterday by the Perth County task force on crystal meth.

Similarly, materials aimed at students and parents are to be circulated through the county's public and Catholic schools before the end of the school year.

"There are roughly 72,000 residents in Perth County and it's our conviction that everyone of them should know the hazards of drug use, particularly this one," Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson, task force co-chairperson, said after the meeting at which the decisions were made.

"The best community solutions, I find, are very multi-faceted and if we're going to be successful, every organization has to play a part."
Case study #2:
Mayor Sam Sullivan says he's willing to risk his political career to bring in a program to provide drugs or drug substitutes for addicts in an effort to protect victimized women in the Downtown Eastside and deal with Vancouver's social-disorder problems by the 2010 Olympics.

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Cause of poverty and crime identified…

…it's that damned English!

English, a world-language with the richest of vocabularies and the advantage of a simple grammar, is a shambles when it comes to spellings. It is overdue for a clean-up. Anglophone societies, with their high rates of prison incarceration and illiteracy, will go on incurring great costs while spelling remains in its dysfunctional state.
— from a letter to the editor by Nigel Hilton in The Independent, via The Sporadic Chronicle

At least now we will no longer need the services of NGOs, community activist groups, unions, Linda McQuaig, the CBC, the United Church, university professors or the NDP… that is, not until after they have installed themselves in spelling reform committees, formed subcommittees, submitted preliminary reports and addenda, consulted with other committees, amended reports, surveyed public opinion, run performance analyses, interviewed experts, submitted final recommendations, approved monitoring and advisory agencies composed of spelling reform committee members, overseen public service ad campaigns, and filed expense reports.

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The Sky is Falling said Chicken Little


I AM (also) Canadian on the upcoming environmental apocalypse:
A government submitting to the rule of experts, can lead to an unelected elite of priviledged technocrats acting as unchallenged mouthpieces that are part of the regime. You need to be careful to renew this elite and bring competition among them to avoid this phenomenon.


"I know a shortcut to the palace," said Foxy woxy sweetly. "Come and follow me."

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Shipshape and Bristol fashion

The social contract has become: your ignorance is our fault, so we will pretend that it is we who have something to learn from your sense of alienation, and if possible we will believe it; furthermore, we apologise profusely for all the derogation that you have suffered at the mouths of the porridge-eating pensioners whom you accost on the streets.
The above is a comment on a post on The Daily Ablution that defies belief — unless of course you reside in a co-op, belong to a union, work in academia or public service, sit on a human rights commission, report for the CBC, or live anywhere in Europe…
Another victory in the centuries-long struggle against bigotry and oppression can be celebrated today, as "community leaders" - led by Simba Tongogara - have forced capitalist land developers in Bristol to abandon an appallingly racist name that had, with incredible insensitivity, been chosen for a local shopping centre.

After much consideration, and fully cognizant of the risk of deeply disturbing readers, the Daily Ablution has decided to reproduce the revolting designation in full - not from a sense of sensationalism, or in order to offend, but to illustrate the extent to which the racism that permeates all levels of today's society continues to fester. While discussion of such matters may be unpleasant at times, it is only in educating ourselves - emancipating ourselves from mental slavery, as it were - that the problem can be overcome.

Unbelievably, the shopping centre was to be called Merchants Quarter.

Understandably shocked, Mr. Tongogara - Black or Minority Ethic Representative - African Descent (Caribbean) of the St. Paul's Unlimited community group, a project funded by the European Regional Development Fund - leapt into action, using his group's resources and voice to reflect the obvious concern of the community, which he expressed as follows (Daily Mail, not online):
"It greatly offended members of Bristol's Afro-Caribbean community. We believe it is culturally inappropriate and offensive.

"We all feel that the name Merchants Quarter was racist and we are glad to see the back of it."
The online results of a survey conducted by Mr. Tongogara's EU-funded organization are not to be missed, available here and here (pdfs) — it claims that "it is the case that nearly everyone we spoke to finds the name offensive," which is less surprising than you might think considering the "diversity" of solicited opinion in the above documents.

Local newspapers reported that the developers, who were no doubt descendants of slave-traders, suggested the name Bland Square in an effort at compromise but were shot down by activists who feared the name would conjure up images of vanilla. Thanks to the brave and subsidized efforts of community groups, the shopping centre in Bristol will finally be renamed Galleria London. But, Bristol having overcome one affront to exclusive inclusionism, I feel I must now apologize for the insensitive language used in the title of this post!
The phrase "shipshape and Bristol fashion" should not be used because it is deemed to be politically incorrect, a group of councillors has been told.

A training firm told them that the phrase originated from the slave trade and described black people being ready for sale.

[…] Fifteen district councillors in Wyre Forest, which covers Kidderminster, Worcs, and about 70 council staff attended a two-day "equalities and diversity" course this month.

[…] Another phrase the training firm considered politically incorrect was "nitty gritty", which it claimed was used to describe slaves in the lowest reaches of ships. But the Oxford Reference Dictionary says its origin is unknown.
From the Daily Telegraph, May 20, 2005, cited by Tim Worstall.

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Insurgent uprising in London Ontario

In the capitalistic society, men become rich … by serving consumers in large numbers…. The capitalistic market economy is a democracy in which every penny constitutes a vote. The wealth of the successful businessman is the result of a consumer plebiscite. Wealth, once acquired, can be preserved only by those who keep on earning it anew by satisfying the wishes of consumers. The capitalistic social order, therefore, is an economic democracy in the strictest sense of the word. In the last analysis, all decisions are dependent on the will of the people as consumers.

Ludwig Von Mises - The Causes Of The Economic Crisis: An Address
Approximately 30 people gathered at a diversity workshop this past weekend to discuss the future of London. Patti Dalton, who has run for the NDP party here in Ontario, was the prime mover behind the event, inspired by Imagine London's successful lobbying of the OMB board. The damage that can be done at the municipal level by politicians and self-proclaimed special interest groups should not be underestimated.

Imagine London even more impoverished than it already is. From Monday's plea press:
Organized labour is looking to change municipal politics in London.

Taking a page from business groups that lobby city government and influence candidates, community activists must field candidates and try to influence politicians to be more responsive to to [sic] the concerns of working people, a community workshop heard this weekend.

"We have to work together to put progressive councillors on council," said Patti Dalton, workshop organizer who sits on the London and District Labour Council executive.

Labour officials and community activists discussed what issues need to be made a priority before the fall civic election at the workshop, held Saturday at Hilton London.
The arrogance of these 30 people claiming to represent the best interests of all Londoners, enjoying the comforts of the Hilton Hotel while the homeless continue to roam the streets of London, is absolutely astonishing. Even more disgusting is the amount of space the plea press daily devotes to emotive, as opposed to rational, argumentation.
The plan includes:

- A "visioning," in which activists work together to develop a platform of key issues.

- Training candidates, staff and volunteers on how to work on election campaigns.

- Endorsing candidates and influencing councillors to be more responsive to community issues.

Workshop participants drafted a list of issues that will be important in the Nov. 13 civic election. They include urban planning, taxation, poverty, environment, homelessness, heritage protection, agriculture, transportation, social justice and affordable housing.

[..] There is also a greater opportunity to influence the process. Because only 35 per cent of Londoners voted in the last municipal election, if labour and community groups can rally their members to a cause or candidate, they stand a chance of getting elected, or at least influencing the vote.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

The eulogy is unheard by the dead

Opponents to the recent sale of the graffiti adorned, long vacant and crumbling Capitol Theatre are shedding a tear and bidding farwell to their cherished memories, which remain, although the space will soon be transformed into a parking lot. If the theatre meant that much to the people wishing to preserve the place, they would have been best to heed age old wisdom and put their money where their mouth is. 'Course, it's more lucrative to demand someone else pay for your preferences.

LFpress:

The owner of Farhi Holdings Corp. said yesterday he desperately needs the 50 or so potential parking spaces at the Capitol site to accommodate his downtown tenants.

"I could take the tenants we have (downtown) and try to relocate them to other parts of town," said Farhi.

"But then the city becomes like a doughnut, (with) everything going to the outskirts and inside we have a hole. That's not what we need."

[..] "Downtown London is like somebody with cancer," he said. "It needs radiation. It doesn't need a Tylenol."

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Toronto Star mental health advisory

For years now it has been observed that reading the Toronto Star on a regular basis induces deleterious effects on the mental hinging of practitioners. For those unaccustomed to examining premises or logical processes, the effect is commonly to convert the stupid into the dangerously stupid. To others, ordinarily stable faculties are overwhelmed by feelings of astonishment, anger and desperation. For example, it has now driven the typically unflappable Publius of Gods of the Copybook Headings to a full-scale fisk assault that concludes:

Whether by demographic suicide or failure to properly assimilate waves of new immigrants we are walking down the same path as the continental European states. Whether by taxation or regulatory strangulation we are going down the road to economic ruin that will consume the EU within a decade or two. That is the choice Canada faces, either we return to the core values of freedom, personal responsibility and the rule of law or join Eurabia on the road to cultural and national oblivion. In this war the journalists have clearly stated their preference and Stephen Harper is, however cautiously, stating his.
Consumption of volatile pathogenic dreck like the Toronto Star should obviously be undertaken only in moderation and with careful monitoring. One risks either passive acceptance or excessive reaction to such idiotic blandishments as this, cited as well by Publius:
Queen's University, one of Canada's most academically elite schools, admits it has allowed a "culture of whiteness" to take root that fails to welcome visible minority students and professors.

And the university vows to be more aggressive in shedding its reputation as a tony enclave of white privilege, says vice-principal Patrick Deane.

Queen's is responding to a critical report prompted by the resignation of six non-white professors several years ago — as well as recent incidents of white students going out to pubs in controversial "blackface" makeup — that suggest the Kingston school has done little to try to reflect the diversity of Canada.

"One student accused us of attracting not the best and the brightest, but the richest and whitest — and that may be not far off," says Prof. Joy Mighty, chair of the university's equity committee, which has proposed sweeping changes to boost diversity at the picturesque campus on the banks of the St. Lawrence.

"Even in Kingston, some parents tell us they worry that sending their children to Queen's won't prepare them for the diversity of the world," said Mighty, a black professor who notes she has not experienced discrimination herself, but knows professors of colour who feel isolated on campus.

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Sesame Street classics

HT to Raskolnikov for this collection of classic "Sesame Street" segments. It's on YouTube, so you'll have to let ancient memories sync the video and audio for you.

Remember the Objectivist anthem "We All Live In A Capital I"?

God Save the King of 8!

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Belated London Fog Earth Day post

Nothing to fear but the climate change alarmists

Do you worry? You look like you do. Worrying is the way the responsible citizen of an advanced society demonstrates his virtue: He feels good by feeling bad.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

George Smitherman's scam

The London Free Press reports in an article by Patrick Maloney that the Ontario Liberal government has green-lighted the construction of a new hospital in Woodstock that is estimated by "some" to cost $90 million. The subline reads: "Built with private funds, new facility will operate as part of public system."

“There’s never been any (doubt) about the ... construction of a new hospital here,” [health minister George] Smitherman told reporters. “Behind the scenes (there was) a furious level of activity to find the fiscal capacity to move this project forward.”

Technically, Smitherman and his Liberal cabinet colleague, infrastructure minister David Caplan, announced no new money today. The cost of the hospital will be borrowed from a private investor and paid back over time, like a homeowner would repay a mortgage.
It would appear that there was never going to any difficulty for this government finding the fiscal capacity to build the hospital because it isn't finding it at all — it's putting it off to taxpayers to find it in the future and to future administrations to levy it. To the Free Press reporter I ask: is all deficit financing to be referred to now as private funds?

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If these are the capitalists, we're all in trouble

"Anyone who thinks we're all Reagan/Thatcherites now should read what our business leaders have to say.

William Watson, We don't work for 'team' Canada:

Most of us go to work in the morning because we like to get out of the house, because we have mortgages, because there are orthodontist's bills and school and summer camp fees to pay, because we'd like to go on a nice vacation now and then, because we're thinking of maybe buying a cottage, because we don't want to be poor in retirement and also, many of us, because we enjoy the work we do and the company of our colleagues.

To read the speeches and articles of leading business executives published in Canadian Business Leaders Speak, the quarterly compendium sent out by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, you'd think it was all about Canada.

One leader says that in order to "race successfully in the global marketplace" we need to be like Lance Armstrong. No, not take drugs, but rather have "goals and a plan to achieve them." We need a "national vision" and "bold decisions." We need to "break out of the pack and win the global economic race." Another says we need to "aggressively [stake] out global positions in value-adding industries" and believes "our manufacturing base is our best platform for Canada's sustained global competitiveness." (No surprise here. His company is a major manufacturer.)

Our CEOs are very impressed with China. Sure, it's authoritarian and denies basic civil liberties, but it has "coherent government technology policies and strong investments in science and engineering education, basic research and other pieces of infrastructure." Another says "China, Brazil and India are engineering strategies today to get [our manufacturing] industries on their own soil." Still another says we ignore "the incredible potential of China, India and other markets at [our] peril." ("China" and "peril" in the same phrase has unfortunate historical precedents.)

And they're very, very communitarian. "We all need to work collaboratively within our areas of expertise to help focus the business community and governments on the issues that can positively affect our productivity." We need "to pull together and do our part to ensure prosperity.... By working as a team ... we can truly build a better world."

Teamwork. Competing against other countries. Improving Canada's international ranking. Taking on Italy, Spain, Germany, China, Brazil, India. These people don't really want to be CEOs. They want to coach our Olympic team.

In a paper that's making a big splash in Canadian history departments these days, a neo-Marxist at Queen's (there's a contradiction in terms!) argues historians have totally missed the main theme of the past century of Canadian history, namely, the emerging hegemony of liberal individualism. Oh, really? Anyone who thinks we're all Reagan/Thatcherites now should read what our business leaders have to say. It's all about national economic performance, teamwork, moving ahead together. One says we shouldn't worry so about Alberta's oil wealth because, in the end, we all share it via equalization. Another does actually spend two paragraphs talking about the importance of profits, but then follows them up with six about how good corporate behaviour trumps profits.

Doesn't anybody here believe in capitalism?

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Halal flushing

It's one thing for the Islamists to think infidels are unclean, quite another for the infidels to agree with them--and, by doing so, to validate their bigotry. Far from being tortured, the prisoners are being handled literally with kid gloves (or simulated kid-effect gloves). It's not just unbecoming to buy in to Muslim psychoses; in the end, it's self-destructive. It concedes that the "melting pot," either in the Teddy Roosevelt or Blue Mink sense, cannot extend to one of the strongest demographic groups in society, and that they therefore have the right to self-segregate.
— Mark Steyn, If you can't join 'em, beat 'em
BBC News:
Facilities in a prison are being built so Muslim inmates do not have to face Mecca while sitting on the toilet.

The Home Office said two new toilet blocks are being installed as part of a refurbishment at Brixton jail in south London.

Faith leaders had told prison bosses it was unacceptable for Muslim inmates to face Mecca while using the toilet.
HT ¡No Pasarán!

As Mike once said in a previous post about the refurbishment of Britain,
What the hell do they do in Mecca itself? Stand on their heads and defecate towards the sky?

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

"When we are working towards ending homelessness you really can't put a price tag on that."

Perhaps inspired by the upcoming National census, the city of Toronto is spending $90,000 to conduct a never before attempted census of homeless people in the city. The seven page "Street Needs Assessment" survey is expected to help the comrades at city hall end homelessness in their quest to make ALL dependent on the state. Anti-poverty groups are sceptical of the project, fearful that many homeless people will hide from the eager volunteers seeking to bribe them with $5 food vouchers in exchange for information, thus providing a false assessment of the actual number of homeless residing on the public streets. Equality is purchased at the cost of human diversity.

The Red Star spews its agenda:

The critics say officials are sure to under-count the number of homeless. Some will go underground and become inaccessible to social services and become even more vulnerable to diseases and other ills. The "lower than real" number will only embolden anti-homeless politicians and bolster their arguments to stop spending money on homelessness.

[..] Others fuss that the $90,000 could be better spent providing homes for the street people. Look, the city can't hold a meeting without it costing $100,000. That's just how it is. This will be money well-spent.

Toronto is spending more than $1.5 million on outreach workers who try to nudge the homeless off the street. It set aside $1.1 million for a new emergency shelter, including assessment and referral services. And $700,000 to fund a pilot program that assists homeless people discharged from hospitals.

This doesn't sound like a city that's short-changing the homeless crisis.

The city provides free wine to alcoholics in shelters at a cost of $43,000, and $20,000 worth of cigarettes each year. Do the critics of the census wish to find better ways to spend that $63,000?
No, it's not only the homeless that are "short-changed", but rather the individuals who are forced to pay for crack and booze for the designated downtrodden. Lost Budgie exposes the scam further, suggesting the census might lead to an inflated figure favoring the expansion of city hall:
On the night of Wednesday, April 19, 2006, some 1,700 volunteers will fan out across Toronto in an attempt to take a census of homeless people sleeping on the streets, in parks and at City of Toronto homeless shelters...

...and waiting for the volunteer census takers will be a small army of undercover investigators, actors and students posing as homeless people for the night. Students will be paid $110 for the night, while professionals will be paid more.

But although these "undercover homeless" people are designed to act as "controls" to enable auditing of the census, their very presence threatens to skew the data - because few of them will be alone.

"I'm bringing a friend with me" said "Mary" - who contacted Lost Budgie a few minutes ago with the story.

"I need the money, but I'm scared sh*tless to be out alone at night pretending to be homeless with a bunch of genuine stinky homeless people. Some of these people are on the streets because of addictions or because they have a record of violence and aren't allowed into the shelters anymore. I am scared sh*tless but I need the money."

So what will happen when a census taker talks with "Mary" and her friend?

Both the undercover investigator and her friend will be noted as homeless in the census - but only one will be a known control.
It is not clear how these fake homeless people are to act as "controls". Apparently the number of paid participants filling out false surveys will be randomly pulled from the pile of questionaires.

Unlike the national census, participation is voluntary, although volunteers can make up the answers if individuals fitting the stereotype refuse to comply with their demands. Lost Budgie provides a sample of the questions asked:
PART ONE (surveyors begin asking questions here)

1. Can I ask how old you are? _______yrs

IF UNKNOWN OR REFUSED, ESTIMATE BY THESE RANGES:
q 25 years or younger
q 26 to 49 years
q 50 years or older

2. Would you identify as __________ (observe and state gender):
q Male q Transsexual
q Female q Other (specify) _________________
q Transgender q Refused/No answer

3. a) Would you identify yourself as being Aboriginal?
q Yes q No q Refused/No answer

b) If yes, do you identify as: (read each answer)
q First Nation q Other (specify) ________________
q Inuit q Refused/No answer
q Metis

4.a) Are you on a waiting list for housing?
q Yes q Don’t know (go to Q5)
q No (go to Q5) q Refused/No answer (go to Q5)

b)If yes, what waiting list(s) are you on?
q Housing Connections q Don’t know
q Other (specify) _____________ q Refused/No answer
c) If yes, how long have you been on the waiting list?
q __________ days q Don’t know
q __________ weeks q Refused/No answer
q __________ months
q __________ years

d) If yes, when was the last time you updated your application or made sure you were still on the list?
q __________ days ago q Don’t know
q __________ weeks ago q Refused/No answer
q __________ months ago
q __________ years ago


5. a) Do you want to get into permanent housing?
q Yes (go to Q6) q Don’t know (specify)
q No (specify) q Refused/No answer (go to Q6)

b) If No or Don’t know, why? ____________________________________

6. Please describe the place you will stay tonight (check only one – prompt if necessary):
q Sidewalk q Coffee shop
q Ravine q Internet café
q Grate q Bathhouse
q Park q Shelter (terminate survey)
q Abandoned building q Friend’s house (terminate survey)
q Car/van/truck/trailer q Other (specify) _____________
q Transit shelter q Don’t know
q Under a bridge q Refused/No answer
q Parking garage

[..] VOLUNTEER CLOSING SCRIPT (please read):

That concludes our survey. Thank you for participating. Your answers will assist the City of Toronto better plan its programs and services for homeless people (provide gift certificate.)

Here is a card with information about Housing Connections if you want to get on the waiting list for housing or check the status of your application.

Do you need help getting shelter tonight? q Yes q No

(IF “YES”, TEAM LEADER TO CONTACT OUTREACH VAN. TEAM WAITS WITH PERSON FOR VAN TO ARRIVE. FIELD OFFICE CONTACTED TO LET THEM KNOW SOMEONE HAS ACCEPTED SERVICE AND THE TEAM IS ON HOLD WAITING FOR VAN. IF “NO”, CONTINUE WITH NEXT PART OF THE SCRIPT.)

I am leaving you with a card with information about Street Helpline and other services. If you want housing or shelter, call Street Helpline.
Thank you again for your assistance.

PART TWO

Person observed is: q On the street q In a park q On private property
q In another public space (specify)

PART TWO is used when (check which one applies):

The individual is sleeping and you think the individual is homeless
The individual refuses to participate in the survey and you think the individual is homeless
The individual seems to be incapable of participating in the survey and you think the individual is homeless

Demographic questions

1.Presumed Sex
q Male
q Female
q Transgender/Transsexual
q Unclear

2.Presumed Age
q Looks 25 or younger
q Looks 26-49
q Looks 50 or older
q Unclear

3. Reason for Thinking the Individual is Homeless and Unsheltered
q Carrying bags, backpacks, garbage bags, suitcases, blankets, shopping cart, sleeping bag and/or bedrolls
q Sleeping on the street or other public place
q Sign indicating homeless and requesting assistance/money
q Other (specify)

4. Reason for Thinking the Individual is Incapable of Completing the Survey (if that option was chosen above):

q Language barrier
q Behaviour
q Disability
q Sleeping
q No time/Too busy – on the move

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