Thursday, March 31, 2005

Operation Greenbelt Shakedown update

P.McK. sends this illustrative quote from the perps of Operation Greenbelt Shakedown:

(Thornhill MPP Mario) Racco said the Liberals must be doing something right if developers are so angry with the greenbelt.

"If the developers don't support us, it's a good indication we're doing the right thing because, unfortunately, the development industry, like any other industry, tends to be interested only in themselves and not the general public," he said.
"The general public," as usual, referring to the Party.

The very notions of self-motivation and self-interest, fundamental to life and happiness as a human being on Earth, are suspect to this Party ideologue. Resistance only proves your selfishness.

The best yardstick for the value of his [the National Socialist's] attitude for the sincerity of his conviction, and the force of his will is the hostility he receives from the... enemy.
- Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1945), p. 351

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Apparently, somewhere in the States, the police were actually deployed to starve someone to death. I swear I am not making this up.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Right out

Billy Beck points out a debunking of the undead, omnipresent Soviet post-1941 line that puts fascists on the "right", along with conservatives. It has trickled down to us from Moscow into conventional wisdom such that the less faith one has in marketing claims for socialism and regulation, the closer one supposedly gets to little rectangular mustaches.

National Socialism is often classified as a “right-wing” political philosophy. The reason for this has less to do with an honest and careful analysis of the content of Nazi ideology than with a desire to smear conservatives by associating them with Hitler and company. In fact there was nothing remotely conservative about Nazism, in any usual sense of “conservative.” Hating capitalism and bourgeois civilization as they did, the Nazis were as far as one could possibly be from the Whiggish conservatism of Burke; despising traditional Christianity and desirous of substituting the Führerprinzip for conventional sources of political authority, they were equally far from the Throne and Altar conservatism of de Maistre.

Nor were the Nazis interested in conserving traditional institutions of any sort. Their aim was to impose a radically modern pseudoscientific ideology based on a vulgarized Darwinism. They were, in this respect, as “progressive” as their equally pseudoscientific and vulgar Marxist rivals, two peas on opposite sides of the socialist pod. That the one side preferred crackpot race theory to crackpot economics does not show that it was any less a child of the “Enlightenment.” In both cases we have what are by themselves ordinary and decent human feelings – a sense of fellowship with one’s countrymen, compassion for the poor – warped beyond all recognition and transformed into the sort of thing Burke called “armed doctrines,” cold and inhuman rationalistic abstractions that flatten out the complexity of real human life, implemented by equally cold and inhuman ideologues who are utterly contemptuous of that complexity.

This is why it is no good, in defending the idea that National Socialism was “right-wing” in any interesting sense, to point out that the Nazis were anti-egalitarian and nationalist. Conservatives take inequality of some sort or other to be merely an inevitable part of the human condition; they do not regard it as something we ought or need to impose or strive for, much less as the basis for an ideology. Similarly, conservatives see patriotism as merely one among many normal and healthy human emotions, which in a normal and healthy society is kept in check by other sentiments. When it mutates into the core idea of some rationalistic ideology, as it does in nationalism, it becomes as dangerous, and as unconservative, as any other ideology. That Nazism was nationalist, and that its anti-egalitarianism rested on a pseudo-scientific racist ideology, shows precisely that it was not conservative.
More here. The terms "left" and "right" don't allow for classical liberal ideas that never took root in the France of the terms' origin. Using them to denote sides in specific issues like the war and health care, or to denote the sides in the "culture war", or to contrast the "left"'s Caring Mommy marketing campaign with the (largely bogeyman) "right"'s Wrathful Daddy one can be useful, since the meanings are often clear from context. But using them for something as abstract as comparing the values and ideas of political systems is like doing long division with Roman numerals -- as the "Nazis on the right" short-circuit attests.

A much more useful scale is that between individualism and collectivism, or liberalism and authoritarianism. Here, at least, there are real philosophical differences over the proper role of the state.
It is true, of course, that in Germany before 1932, and in Italy before 1922, communists and Nazis or Fascists clashed more frequently with each other than with other parties. They competed for the support of the same kind of mind and reserved for each other the hatred of the heretic. But their practice showed how closely they are related. To both, the real enemy with whom they had nothing in common and whom they could not hope to convince, is the liberal of the old type. While to the Nazi the communist, and to the communist the Nazi, and to both the socialist, are potential recruits who are made of the right timber, although they have listened to false prophets, they both know that there can be no compromise between them and those who really believe in individual freedom.
F.A. Hayek, Road To Serfdom, pp.29-30, U.Chi. 1992

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Sociology of Deviance

This is Gina Barber,

NDP candidate for London West in the last federal election and also the woman who wrote this letter to the London Free Press in March 2004:
Regarding the article, Vacant retail space sparks call for development freeze (March 15).

According to Controller Russ Monteith, we have to be wary of any attempt to resist the onslaught of big-box stores because "we live in a free-enterprise, free-market society."

Naively believing I live in a democratic society, I voted for Monteith in the last election. I thought the election was about choosing a local government on the basis of one citizen, one vote.

Now I realize the person I voted for thinks it should be one dollar, one vote, and that the role of government and the citizens who elected it is to stay out of the way and let the market dictate.

Perhaps this is the true message of advance polls in the malls: You can vote or you can shop, but your influence goes only as far as your dollars.

Gina Barber
Gina was also spotted by Mike and myself at the recent 'pro-hate' rally in Victoria Park.

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Pleasantville …

Welcome to

Anne Marie DeCicco has announced her intention to run for a third term as mayor of London, Ontario. So much for the rumours that she would seek a nomination as a Liberal party candidate in the next provincial or federal elections. While her credentials as a Liberal are not challenged either by ourselves or her Worship, it is probably much nicer to be a big fish in a little London pond than a little fish in a big sea populated by Pauls and Daltons, even if the little pond resembles stormwater backup.

Apparently our choices in the next municipal election may be other members of the current ruling council apparatchiki. From the London Free Press:
Speculation is flying about opponents DeCicco may face in the November 2006 election. Sources say at least two veteran council members — Controllers Bud Polhill and Gord Hume — might take a stab at the top job.

[…] Other names that have surfaced as possible mayoral contenders include Councillors Joni Baechler, Susan Eagle and Ab Chahbar.
While party affiliations are not a standard calling card of municipal politicians in Canada, I don't doubt that the political inclinations of most London councillors and controllers run toward the Liberal, and occasionally NDP, side. Former city councillors Jack Burghardt and Pat O'Brien eventually ran for office under the Liberal brand and Joe Swan for the NDP brand. And an attempt to recruit Susan Eagle for the NDP in the last federal election was unsuccessful for probably the same reasons DeCicco wants to stay on in London.

A highly informal internal mental poll would identify every member of council as a prototypical Liberal except Sandy White, Susan Eagle, Harold Usher and David Winninger who are either self-identified NDP supporters or else need no further demonstration of their social activism sympathies, and Tom Gosnell who has been identified as a supporter of the old Progressive Conservative party. Although I would give Paul van Meerbergen credit for not likely being a supporter of either the Liberals or NDP.

Interestingly, a search of political donations to all parties by the City of London a few months back returned this:

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The majority rears its ugly head

This study confirms what we already knew: we're doomed:

College faculties, long assumed to be a liberal bastion, lean further to the left than even the most conspiratorial conservatives might have imagined, a new study says.

By their own description, 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative, says the study being published this week. The imbalance is almost as striking in partisan terms, with 50 percent of the faculty members surveyed identifying themselves as Democrats and 11 percent as Republicans.

The disparity is even more pronounced at the most elite schools, where, according to the study, 87 percent of faculty are liberal and 13 percent are conservative [. . .]

When asked about the findings, Jonathan Knight, director of academic freedom and tenure for the American Association of University Professors, said, "The question is how this translates into what happens within the academic community on such issues as curriculum, admission of students, evaluation of students, evaluation of faculty for salary and promotion." Knight said he isn't aware of "any good evidence" that personal views are having an impact on campus policies.

"It's hard to see that these liberal views cut very deeply into the education of students. In fact, a number of studies show the core values that students bring into the university are not very much altered by being in college."
But that's all nonsense of course, which I can attest to personally, having recently been subjected to an overdose of feminism, postmodernism and general socialism at Western. Politics shape the department, also coming into play when the selection of faculty takes place. You won't fit in, which means you won't get the job, unless you think capitalism is evil and you support wide-scale nannying and meddling. If Knight is correct in any sense it's because, for the most part, these students were 'educated' in the liberal public school system. Their sources of news and entertainment are also polluted by the liberal agenda.
The liberal label that a majority of the faculty members attached to themselves is reflected on a variety of issues. The professors and instructors surveyed are, strongly or somewhat, in favor of abortion rights (84 percent); believe homosexuality is acceptable (67 percent); and want more environmental protection "even if it raises prices or costs jobs" (88 percent). What's more, the study found, 65 percent want the government to ensure full employment, a stance to the left of the Democratic Party.
Full employment? Bring in the labour camps.
The study did not attempt to examine whether the political views of faculty members affect the content of their courses [. . . ]

The most liberal faculties are those devoted to the humanities (81 percent) and social sciences (75 percent), according to the study. But liberals outnumbered conservatives even among engineering faculty (51 percent to 19 percent) and business faculty (49 percent to 39 percent).

The most left-leaning departments are English literature, philosophy, political science and religious studies, where at least 80 percent of the faculty say they are liberal and no more than 5 percent call themselves conservative, the study says.
Interesting that the liberals dominate the most subjective subjects on campuses. Nope, won't be any politicizing going on there.

Hat tip:Neale News

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The Red Ensign Standard XVIII

Tipperography, "proud to be an annoying libertarian," has raised the XVIIIth edition of the Red Ensign Standard.

…the Red Ensign bloggers let me know that there are other Canadians (some living in and and some, like me, living outside of Canada) along with a few citizens of other places with ties to Canada who care about this country and who have found a way to give a voice to the viewpoints that don’t come down from on high.

[…] They are the “other Canadians” and they are Canadians making a difference. I hope I have done justice to them with this week’s standard.
Justice done, and interesting stories and opinions from Canada's "other Canadians" are to be found right here

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Monday, March 28, 2005

The complicated calculus of potholes and bumps

Huntsville sounds a lot like London:

A bump on Hwy 60 which has sent more than a few vehicles hurtling into the air, rally-style, was to be temporarily fixed yesterday, according to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO).

For about a month, a large protrusion on the highway near Golden Pheasant Drive has been sending vehicles soaring. According to MTO maintenance superintendent Stan Farnsworth, the bump is the result of a particularly nasty frost heave[...]

The bump first appeared about a month ago, and Farnsworth said the MTO “felt at the time that we had the hump adequately signed.”

“We even put the big portable message sign out there. It is 800 metres ahead of the bump sending a warning. There are also three signs, all with flags and flashing lights on them.”

Regardless of the multiple warning signs, there were people who kept flying over the highway hump.

“We had a person call us the other day who went over [the hump] and then complained that she hadn’t seen any of that signage. What more can you do?” questioned Farnsworth.
Um, how about remove the hump?

The thrill seekers are soon to be disappointed however - 30 days of talks has resulted in the mobilization of the MTO. Boo to the MTO for removing a source of amusement for the generally bored youth who happen to reside in the area:
In fact, the MTO has decided to do more, and according to Farnsworth, it was to be done yesterday.

“The plan is that [Tuesday] we are going to go out and saw cut the pavement and remove the piece that is humped,” said Farnsworth.

“In the spring, once the frost goes out of the ground and the conditions are much better for working, we are going to go out and reconstruct that area. We will remove the drainage problem.”
Thanks to the Hunstville Forester for the hilarity.

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Rethinking the notion of society

Don Boudreaux writing for Cafe Hayek:

The very act of framing issues or describing problems as “social” entails thinking of society (usually in the form of a country) as the relevant unit upon which analysis is to be directed – as the relevant unit upon which corrective action is to be taken. Once this step is taken, it’s easy to stumble into the presumption that action must be taken by government, for government is the only institution that claims for itself the authority and the ability to act on society as a whole.

The idea of society being “the result of human action but not of human design” is extraordinarily difficult to grasp. We humans anthropomorphize so many things, it’s no surprise that we anthropomorphize society – that we think of it as a relevant and distinct unit with clear boundaries, with a life of its own, with purposes of its own – a distinct unit deserving and demanding attention to itself as a whole.

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"I'd like to buy a W…"

Who knew that a game show host who spends years asking "Is there a Q?" with feigned excitement and throwing his chubby Dick van Dyke arms around Vanna White could write so well. Pat Sajak hits the London Fog, beating out Alex Trebek and Bob Barker…

The moral superiority [the Left] bring to the table allows them to alter the playing field and the rules in their favor. They can say and do things the other side can’t because, after all, they have the greater good on their side. If a Conservative — one of the bad guys — complains about the content of music, films or television shows aimed at children, he is being a prude who wants to tell other people what to read or listen to or watch; he is a censor determined to legislate morality. If, however, a Liberal complains about speech and, in fact, supports laws against certain kinds of speech, it is right and good because we must be protected from this “hate speech” or “politically incorrect” speech. (Of course, they — being the good guys — will decide exactly what that is.)

Protests about Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado professor and self-proclaimed Native American, who, among other things, likened some Sept. 11 victims to Adolf Eichmann (there go those pesky Nazis again), were characterized by much of the Left as an effort to stifle academic freedom. But, when Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers’ job is put in jeopardy over a caveat-filled musing about science and gender, it’s okay, because what he said was sooo wrong (even if it has to be mis-characterized to make the point).

When Liberals want to legislate what you’re allowed to drive or what you should eat or how much support you can give to a political candidate or what you can or can’t say, they are doing it for altruistic reasons. The excesses of the Left are to be excused because these folks operate from the higher moral ground and the benefit of the greater wisdom and intelligence gained from that perspective.
Via Neale News

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Memorial cups threatens to empty the wallets of Londoners

I am waiting for the council to suggest they - Opps, I mean we - pay for the parade. Don't want the rest of Canada to think London is full of cheapskates who have a budget to stick to or anything, do we?
The wait is over Basil:
Controller Bud Polhill will be looking for answers about why there won't be a parade during the Memorial Cup when city councillors meet tomorrow. "I'm sure it will get brought up at the meeting," Polhill said yesterday.

Knights governor Trevor Whiffen, a Toronto-based lawyer who heads the local cup committee, said the decision to replace the parade with a paid-admission opening ceremony was made when organizers discovered staging a parade could cost $40,000.

Concern about weather on May 19 -- the day the parade was scheduled -- was another factor, Whiffen said.

He said if the city wants to host a parade, he'd welcome it.

Polhill said city staff would need co-operation from the cup organizers to run a parade.

"They have access to the players. We have access to the roads," Polhill said.

The issue could be referred back to board of control, he said, but time is of the essence.

"Forty thousand dollars is a lot of money. I can't imagine where that number comes from," he said. "The fact is, it would have been nice if we would have known this six months ago. I don't know how we can get it organized now."

The key, he said, is if the community really wants it.
Pass the collection plate then, which is the only real way to determine what the 'community really wants'. For the record, I don't want a damn parade, which is not only expensive, but needlessly obstructs traffic. Remember, these are the people who voted to dump more of our money down the toilet to keep the crumbling relic, better known as Fanshawe Pioneer Village, alive.
Councillors will meet tomorrow to discuss the city's 2006 budget[. . . ]

Hardy said Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco, who is on the cup committee, hadn't expressed any concern about the fact there was no parade.

"There will be enough free activities," he said.

Hardy said if all they did was parade the players down Dundas Street, it wouldn't cost $40,000.

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Send it to the dump - we'll deal with it later

In the latest episode of "Zoning Wars in the City of Doom", we learn that the corporate favorites in London - 3M, Trudell Medical, EllisDon and General Dynamics to name a few - are combining their collective muscle and ganging up on Terry Aarts who wants to build a recycling plant for building materials.

Aarts wants to open the recycling facility on Oxford Street East, the gateway to London International Airport.

City officials and the business community have been struggling to clean up that stretch of road since 1997, when a beautification study was completed.

A rezoning proposal for the property at 2010 Oxford St. E. split the city's planning committee in a 3-3 vote last week, sending the issue to full council April 4 for a decision [. . .]

John Jardine, a former city engineer, is a consultant on the project. He said the facility will be an asset to the Oxford Street corridor and look better than many existing businesses.

Major sponsors of the 1997 study, such as Trudell and Ellis Don, have made substantial improvements, Jardine said.

But other neighbouring properties are still in bad shape, he said. Jardine points out the city has not installed curb gutters and storm sewers along much of the corridor.

"Most of the places along there haven't done anything. The city has paid lip service to the study, but there has been no money for improvements, other than Stonehenge," said Jardine, referring to the controversial slab sculptures at Oxford and Airport Road that cost the city $270,000.
Let us see what the critics have to say:
The folks next door at Timberfield Roof Truss fear a recycling yard will create dust and debris.

"A lot of industries are trying to improve this corridor and this flies in the face of everything they've done," said company president Murray Dietz. "They think berms will hide big piles of garbage and I don't think it will happen."

Dietz said his company already finds it tough to get insurance. The task will become harder if the recycling yard opens because of the potential fire hazard, he said.

Just west of the proposed recycling yard, TSC Stores maintains corporate headquarters for its 25-store rural supplies chain.

Company president Roy Carter said he understands the need for recycling facilities, but said the proposed yard is a bad fit for the corridor.

"Berms don't stop trash and dust from flying around."

Steve Baker, president of London International Airport, said he's concerned a fire in the recycling yard could force the airport to shut down.

Some materials could attract birds that are a hazard to aviation, he added.

Large London corporations such as 3M, EllisDon and Trojan Technologies say the airport corridor should not be an embarrassment when they bring international clients to the city.

"First impressions are important and if your first impression when flying into London airport is a dump below, that's a problem," said Bob Paterson, vice-president of Trudell Medical.

He said a clean neighbourhood environment is especially important to food and pharmaceutical businesses in the area, including Cargill and McCormick Canada.

Paterson said a bad impression will chase away investment and jobs and tarnish the city's reputation.
I don't suppose it is even necessary for me to point out the pollution and noise caused by airports. That is why airports are usually positioned on the outskirts of cities, with industries building nearby as most people don't like living next to manufacturers or airports. Nor is it necessary for me to point out that a roof truss manufacturer is working with building materials and hence causing dust and a potential fire hazard besides. And those birds, a potential "hazard to aviation", wow! I wasn't aware that such monstrous flocks were attracted to the area. Think maybe he could be talking about vultures?

Here we go again with the 'it might rain', 'it might be cold', 'it might start a fire', justification. In this case the logic is even more absurd, as the industries that are crying foul are 'putting us all at risk' in much the same way that a recycling yard would. What they really mean is that it might make them look bad and they want to control who moves in next door, so let's invoke the sacred zoning laws and argue it out behind closed doors. The city masters will decide what is in their your best interests.

It's all about beautification and entrenching your monopoly.

for Oxford Street East

- A long-term plan to improve the industrial-retail corridor as a gateway for visitors arriving at London airport.

- Spearheaded in 1997 by London industrialist Hank VanderLaan, who was concerned by negative reaction from potential investors.

- A planning study financed by local businesses laid out design details for landscaping and facade improvement. Many businesses have completed improvements.

- The city's major contribution has been a controversial sculpture and gardens erected at the Airport Road intersection.
A city run shuttle bus service should also be implemented to ensure visitors bypass the downtown on the way to the JLC. We wouldn't want visitors to get a bad impression now. Let's build a conveyor belt for visitors coming off the 401 too - of course, all roads lead to the JLC. Why else would anyone want to come to London?

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Sunday, March 27, 2005

Perpetual motion machine to energize downtown?

LONDON city council was pleased to announce that construction on a massive $11 million perpetual motion device will go ahead as planned.

"This is an investment for our community, as well as our city, and I think our commitment to new power sources and the well-being of society illustrates that," said Mayor DeCicco. "What better way to revive downtown and save the environment than with an enormous new source of clean and sustainable energy? Once again, London leads the way into the future."

Leaked blueprints show that the proposed hydraulic perpetual motion device is based on a new technology that harnesses the energy of falling water to produce an endless source of prosperity and community-based awareness.

"It truly is an amazing and novel idea that is sure to revive downtown and bring in needed tourism," said an unnamed City Hall staffer. "I don't know why no one has thought of this before. The momentum of the falling water is continuously used to propel the water back up along the watercourse, until it falls again. The travelling caravan of physicists who sold us the plans for this generator showed Council the most beautiful computer animation. Londoners should be proud of a city government that is able to think outside the box and reach for new horizons."

Some concerns have been raised in the community about the practicality of the controversial project. Environmentalists are concerned about the ecological impact of evaporating dihydrogen oxide fumes, while poverty advocates worry that perpetual motion technology may put the most vulnerable out of work.

City hall science experts assure Londoners that they are setting up a $2,500,000 task force to explore this issue and ensure the safety of the community and the disadvantaged.

Council is still debating the donation of several City properties to attract perpetual motion scientists to London, and whether to begin accepting tenders for perpetual-motion-science-based solutions to the city's snowplowing controversies and issues.

"Londoners have a choice," said Controller Russ Mantooth. "Science is very important to our community and our economy, and our investments as a community have to reflect this prioritization as an issue in order for London to remain a world-class destination."

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It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it

Imagine yourself as one of Canada's over-worked MP's fretting over mind-boggling ethical issues: gay marriage; The Party embezzling millions of dollars for themselves; considering sending pot growers to jail for 14 years while Karla Homoka gets out after 12.

Then suddenly someone says, "we gotta get the low-down on this red light thing." You shake your weary head, pat your aching belly full of filet mignon and stumble forward, nearly spilling your martini, to say, "Mr. Martin, despite what the wife says, I'm willing to take this mission."

What will you need for your mission?

A group of MPs studying Canada's prostitution laws is seeking $200,000 in federal funds to visit European cities with red-light zones and legal brothels. The five-member justice subcommittee plans to visit Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden. Reno, Nev., is also on the list.
There's no messing around here, they're gonna send you to the front lines.
The $143,678 travel budget request for Liverpool, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Stockholm includes $62,840 for transportation, $25,328 for accommodation, $12,000 for food and $43,500 for miscellaneous items such as interpretation, official gifts and fees. The travelling party includes three staff members.

That's right, $43 500 for, ah, miscellaneous items such as "gifts and fees" - no doubt, a very important part of visiting and studying prostitutes - and, of course, interpreters: "Ask her if they call it 'pussy' in Swedish?"
Of course, Sweden takes an approach to the issue which sounds like an inversion of Canada's proposed pot laws:
"We want to go to Sweden because they have a particular model there where they decriminalize the sex worker, or the prostitute, and they still criminalize the customers," NDP MP Libby Davies said.
There, following that logic, they would legalize growing pot but make it a criminal act to buy it. But, unfortunately, Sweden retains some of the most archaic drug laws in western Europe. But don't worry my world weary friend, "Onward to Amsterdam!"

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Go get stuffed London

Ah, sorry to rain on your parade, but, ah, there's to be no parade in London - but thanks for the use of your $42 million arena.

The committee organizing the Memorial Cup is trying to "maximize dollars" by holding a ticketed opening ceremony at the John Labatt Centre instead of a free parade, a prominent downtown business leader argues. "The Memorial Cup is supposed to be a community event. We've lost track of that," Lindsey Elwood, who chairs the downtown Business Improvement Area, said yesterday.

The committee's efforts to boost its profits take away from the community's involvement and "have left the business community out in the cold," he said.

"It looks like the spinoffs are going to disappear," Elwood said. "They should live up to their commitments."
. . .
The BIA, with MainStreet London, paid $37,000 to be a Cup sponsor, based on a plan that's changed, Elwood said -- something he said was "inappropriate."
Get the feeling you've just been fucked? Hope you at least got a kiss first.
. . . The committee organizing the Memorial Cup in London confirmed this week it has pulled back on several promises, including the downtown parade and a "virtual" beer garden at 15 bars.

Bar owners likely will be angry the beer garden will be held in the John Labatt Centre parking lot, Polhill said.
No doubt.

Now there will be even less parking at the venue where this is to take place, forcing an even greater parking crunch downtown, where there is already a shortage anytime the JLC opens its doors. The bar owners (and other businesses who are suppose to benefit from this event) will have to watch from their empty windows as the JLC patrons, who are in town for the JLC's self-contained little party, take all available parking from their regular customers.

"Why have a parade?" Whiffen said. "They can come to the opening ceremonies in the arena and see it. There are 9,090 seats."
"Let them eat cake."

Besides, you don't want the rest of Canada to see all the empty storefronts downtown which suggest "London is crumbling down"? The shame! I guess these guys must have taken a look at potential parade routes and come to their senses.

"The cost of having a parade is about $40,000," he said. "It's easy to say, in theory, 'Let's have a parade,' but the cost is significant and if you have rain, you've done it for nothing."

And if you have a major event downtown from which the local businesses are isolated, well then, "you've done it for nothing."

I am waiting for the council to suggest they - Opps, I mean we - pay for the parade. Don't want the rest of Canada to think London is full of cheapskates who have a budget to stick to or anything, do we?
Whiffen said a "climate- controlled" arena is a better option because it guarantees a good event.
Of course, no one will admit to noticing the ever threatening ominous "Black Cloud of London" which hangs over the city - outsiders remain baffled by Londoners who insist they don't know anything about this large mass hovering over our fair city.
He added the organizing committee had never agreed to have a parade.
. . .
If the City of London wants to host a Memorial Cup parade and underwrite the cost of it, we'd be delighted to have their support," he said, noting there will be many free events going on outside the arena.
. . .
Regardless, Miller said, the hockey tournament will be good for downtown businesses because there still will be a lot of traffic, a sentiment echoed by MainStreet London manager Janette MacDonald.

Forgive me for raining on your parade, but it usually follows that "a lot of traffic" means no parking. And that's not good for business. I bet Masonville will be booming that weekend.
"I think the parade will happen on its own when the Knights win," she said. "It'll be a huge success for downtown London. It'll be Christmas in May."
Don't you dare start messing with Christmas, it's fine just where it is.

I seem to recall downtown businesses were to receive spinoffs from having this oversize cooler downtown as well. So why do they continue to close as fast as ever?

For that matter, why do I have to walk further and further into the "Market" in order to buy veggies from fewer and fewer vendors? I didn't think it was intended to be an oversized flower/gift shop/bistro, but by all accounts that is what it is becoming. Is that because hockey fans from the suburbs shop at their own local grocery stores and have no use in one located beside a downtown arena with parking issues? Perhaps even the locals are tired of fighting crowds of hockey moms and Metallica fans in order to buy some spinach?

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Saturday, March 26, 2005

Horde the revenue in the name of protecting the people

Oh oh:

The 2005 London Memorial Cup organizing committee has pulled back on some promised events contained in its successful bid document.
No parade, no awards ceremony and no beer garden. Unfortunately, it looks like the event will still take place, even though the committee has reneged on their promises. They have good reason you see - well, as long as you are using London logic that is:
Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco said the changes came about as organizers translated the concepts contained in the bid into reality.
We're used to that kind of excuse here in London, especially around budget time.
Knights governor Trevor Whiffen, a Toronto-based lawyer who chairs the local committee, said fear of cold weather prompted organizers to cancel the May 19 opening parade through downtown.

It has been replaced with a paid ticket opening ceremony and concert May 19 at the John Labatt Centre.

Kelowna had a parade when it held the Memorial Cup last year, Whiffen said.

"But climactically, Kelowna is quite different than London and we're closer to the Guelph experience and three years ago Guelph was quite cold," Whiffen said.

"We thought we could have a climate-controlled environment for an opening ceremony."
This reeks of a recent decision to move the popular children's festival from Victoria park to the Galleria Mall. It might rain you know.
The CHL awards ceremony was scheduled for the afternoon of May 24, with the commissioners' luncheon May 23 at noon, which is Victoria Day. The two events are now combined on May 24 at the Hilton London.

The awards ceremony and luncheon were combined because organizers thought selling enough tickets to two separate events would be difficult, Whiffen said [...]

In its bid, the Knights outlined plans to create a "virtual" beer garden involving 15 downtown bars.

The beer garden will take place in the parking lot of the John Labatt Centre with nightly entertainment, Whiffen said.

"We want to keep the crowds centralized in the immediate John Labatt Centre area," he said. "We thought it would be better on balance to create the festival area in the immediate vicinity of the JLC and not lose that opportunity."
The fat cats get fatter. But let us not forget about that liquor violation from a while back that might come back to bite the organizers and the city in the ass. Wouldn't that be poetic justice! Needless to say, I won't be supporting centralization through the purchase of a ticket.

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We have to choose between cultural theory and pretextual nationalism.

Finally, the answer for those students confused by Postmodernism. It's the Postmodernism Generator!

If one examines cultural theory, one is faced with a choice: either accept realism or conclude that class has intrinsic meaning. Therefore, the subject is contextualised into a cultural theory that includes narrativity as a paradox. Realism implies that expression must come from communication, given that consciousness is equal to truth.
Hitting refresh give you a brand new essay each time!

Also be sure to read about Professor Alan Sokal, who submitted a parody article to a 'scholarly' journal, Social Text, that was accepted. From what I can gather, they initially rejected, although eventually published, Professor Sokal's afterward, which explains why he submitted his parody in the first place.

Social Text describes their agenda as follows:
Social Text covers a broad spectrum of social and cultural phenomena, applying the latest interpretive methods to the world at large. A daring and controversial leader in the field of cultural studies, the journal consistently focuses attention on questions of gender, sexuality, race, and the environment, publishing key works by the most influential social and cultural theorists.
Thanks to Iowahawk, who provided the link to the postmoderngenerator on his sidebar.

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Friday, March 25, 2005

". . . like she finished her drink and started chewing on my ice"

To take a man's property without his consent, and then to infer his consent because he attempts, by voting, to prevent that property from being used to his injury, is a very insufficient proof of his consent to support the Constitution. It is, in fact, no proof at all
Lysander Spooner

A recent article by Robert Locke on Libertarianism has been the catalyst for an ongoing discussion between Patrick McClarty, Ian, Mike and myself, among others. Patrick has left a comment to my latest defense which has inspired yet another long-winded response on my part. This post is an attempt to elaborate on basic principles, with the help of Lysander Spooner. Besides, it's Easter Friday and I'm bored.

The main objections from Patrick and others against libertarians seem to boil down to the following: People are essentially brutes, who cannot be trusted to make wise decisions; without the state, we would have a lawless society made up of roaming armed hordes. Further, without state charity and services, society would be poorer and the misfortunate neglected. Thus, taxation, checks on the free market and state laws to protect us are desirable and necessary for prosperity and peace. Essentially, a kind of utilitarian, the ends justifies the means approach.

The inherent nature of man that emerges from such reasoning is that people are essentially brutes, at best illogical, who cannot be trusted to make wise decisions, although they can somehow be trusted to elect just governments.

Libertarians do not view people in this way, although they do not deny that there are bad and stupid people in the world. But from the fact that there are bad and stupid people in the world, it does not follow that we need government. Further, from the fact that there is good, it does not follow that it is the result of government.

In fact, the presence of bad people in the world is all the more reason to get rid of governments, which tend to be made up of leeches and nannies, with the apparent sanction of voters. As I have asked before, if most people need 'guidance', then how can they be trusted to make sound decisions on election day? And even if the legislators have the best will in the world, how can they be said to be endowed with the godlike ability to choose for us all, including the ones who did not vote for the popular regime? How can my neighbour's needs or desires be said to justly trump mine? By what standard and by what right?
. . . the act of voting cannot properly be called a voluntary one on the part of any very large number of those who do vote. It is rather a measure of necessity imposed upon them by others, than one of their own choice [. . . .] In truth, in the case of individuals, their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent, even for the time being. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having even been asked a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money, render service, and forego the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practice this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further, that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he use the ballot, he may become a master; if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alternative than these two. In self- defense, he attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man takes the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing.
Lysander Spooner - excerpt from No Treason -
The Constitution of No Authority

Patrick says:
"Lisa, if all people were reasonable beings like yourself, I have no doubt that libertarianism would take off, but you aren't representative of the most deadly members that exist in any society . . . in a libertarian society, there will be ample opportunity to take advantage of a power vacuum that will emerge."
Again, the assumption here is that most people are unreasonable and irrational. Indeed, Patrick seems to be saying that a society of libertarians would be a society of terrorists. Libertarians oppose the use of force except in the act of self-defense. Is it really true that most people get along in society simply because of the presence of the state and its police force? Is it not in people's 'best interest' to get along, which is the only means to a peaceable, just and prosperous society? The real checks and balances in a society come about when people must accept personal responsibility for their actions and thus learn to comport themselves accordingly. Theft and slothfulness should not be encouraged or rewarded. In a libertarian society, peaceful people will have the means available to defend themselves against wrong-doers - i.e. property violators. In a state run society, force is sanctioned by governmental law and the means of defense and the ability to make laws and contracts are concentrated in the hands of a few. Democracy in the form that we know it frightens me for that reason. The will of 'the collective' results in a tyranny. Exactly no one is responsible, for it is not clear who voted for the government in the first place and the government being the abstract entity that it is results in the further diffusion of responsibility and makes it possible for evil-doers to justify their actions behind the curtain of the state - the familiar refrain: 'I was merely following orders and it is in your best interest besides. It is the will of the people.'

There can be no compromise when it comes to governments, for no matter the size and degree of power, the state must necessary use force to attain its goals. Unless membership is voluntary, there can be no justification for taking money from another against their will. There is no way to limit government except by refusing to comply completely - and the market will never be truly free until individuals are entrusted to make their own decisions and exchanges. What are the 'proper checks and limitations'? How are these determined? Once again, if the electorate is unfit to make their own decisions free from force, then how can they be trusted to 'choose' just legislators whose very existence depends on the use of force?
All political power, so called, rests practically upon this matter of money. Any number of scoundrels, having money enough to start with, can establish themselves as a "government"; because, with money, they can hire soldiers, and with soldiers, and with soldiers extort more money; and also compel general obedience to their will.
[. . . .]
For this reason, whoever desires liberty, should understand these vital facts, viz.: 1. That every man who puts money into the hands of a "government" (so called), puts into its hands a sword which will be used against him, to extort more money from him, and also to keep him in subjection to its arbitrary will. 2. That those who will take him money, without his consent, in the first place, will use it for his further robbery and enslavement, if he presumes to resist their demands in the future. 3. That it is a perfect absurdity to suppose that any body of men would ever take a man's money without his consent, for any such object as they profess to take it for, viz., that of protecting him; for why should they wish to protect him if he does not wish they to do so? To suppose that they would do so, is just as absurd as it would be to suppose that they would take his money without his consent, for the purpose of buying food or clothing for him, when he did not want it.
Lysander Spooner - excerpt from No Treason
The Constitution of No Authority

Which brings me to another common argument put forth by many that oppose libertarianism: a society without government would be grim, limited and lacking in charity. I see plenty of voluntary charity going on right now - it cannot properly be said that I wouldn't donate to cancer research if it wasn't for government and state education. There is plenty and love and caring too, also not a result of government. Society, far from being poorer without the state, would be more prosperous. Think of the wasted revenue and capital, effected through government spending, with money unjustly appropriated, that could have been spent elsewhere. My neighbour might be better off if I had more money to support his particular endeavour. As it is, in Canada, we have an excess of flags and golf balls and a serious lack of doctors and common sense. Such unjustified waste makes us all poorer. The state would like to create a great big collective family, but the 'will of the collective' is an abstraction that necessarily ends in tyranny, despite the appearance of stability in a given nation. If I wasn't forced to pay for other people's children and health via the monopoly of public health care and the universal day care program, maybe I could afford to have children myself and have some left over for charity besides.

I may want to help my neighbour, as many others might wish to do too, but it is not required of me. The only obligations I have are to respect the property rights of others and the conditions of any contracts freely entered into. Yes, the world can be a sad place, and no matter what kind of society we have, people will always suffer. But believing that governments are the only way to bring about a prosperous society is utopian and indeed just plain illogical.

Taxation is theft. If it isn't' right to steal, than it's not right to take someone's else's money in the name of 'effecting good'. Does this not reek of the Robin Hood Scenario, where the people who are to receive the spoils are determined by the thief? The majority of people wouldn't pay taxes to the state if they weren't staring into the barrel of a gun with an iron cell looming in the background. Sure, I may 'benefit' from services paid for through appropriated funds, but it does not follow that I am acting in a just manner. Instead, it could be said that I have a moral responsibility to avoid paying taxes - through my compliance, I encourage and consent to the plunder of others. I repeat a point I made in my last post: "The burden of labour might be heavier on those that remain in a concentration camp if I escape, but should I thereby remain a prisoner?" I'm not asking for a 'free lunch' as Patrick seems to think, nor do I avoid paying my taxes. Most importantly, I am not allowed the option of hiring private contractors for many goods and services. Dismantling the government monopoly would prevent others from having a 'free lunch' at my expense. I don't ask other people to look after me for free, and I demand the same respect in return.
The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: "Your money, or your life." And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat.
The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful.
The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a "protector," and that he takes men's money against their will, merely to enable him to "protect" those infatuated travelers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful "sovereign," on account of the "protection" he affords you. He does not keep "protecting" you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villainies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.
Lysander Spooner - excerpt from No Treason -
The Constitution of No Authority

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Abu Elieff

[...] The guy was from Savak and he was always on duty at the bus stop, eavesdropping as people waited for the bus and absent-mindedly bantered about this and that. People could discuss only innocuous matters, but even then it was necessary to stay away from subjects in which the police could pick out significant allusions. Savak had a good ear for all allusions. One scorching afternoon an old man with a bad heart turned up at the bus stio and gasped, "It's so oppressive you can't catch your breath." "So it is," the Savak agent replied immediately, edging closer to the winded stranger; "it's getting more and more oppressive and people are fighting for air." "Too true," replied the naive old man, clapping his hand over his heart, "such heavy air, so oppressive." Immediately, the Savak agent barked, "Now you'll have a chance to regain your strength," and marched him off. The other people at the bus stop had been listening in dread, for they had sensed from the beginning that the feeble elderly man was committing an unpardonable error by saying "oppressive" to a stranger. Experience had taught them to avoid uttering such terms as oppressiveness, darkness, burden, abyss, collapse, quagmire, putrefaction, cage, bars, chain, gag, truncheon, boot, claptrap, screw, pocket, paw, madness, and expressions like lie down, lie flat, spread-eagle, fall on your face, wither away, gotten flabby, go blind, go deaf, wallow in it, something's out of kilter, something's wrong, all screwed up, something's got to give -- because all of them, these nouns, verbs, adjectives, and pronouns, could hide allusions to the Shah's regime, and thus formed a connotative minefield where you could get blown to bits with one slip of the tongue...
Ryszard Kapuscinski, Shah of Shahs, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985, pp. 43-44

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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

When mush collides…

A few weeks ago, The Londoner, London's weekly feel-good puddin' paper, was purchased by Bowes Publishers Ltd., a division of Sun Media, that also owns The Free Press, London's daily newspaper of record for cats as they sit in their box. In some cities, the "concentration of ownership" of the two largest newspapers in town would be a call for concern. Phil McLeod, former co-owner of the Londoner, would like us to be at least interested, as he trolls London's other "unrelentingly negative" blog, Alt London, for reaction.

However, the editorial and journalistic content of the two papers has always been virtually indistinguishable in its bland group-think quality, inept and incomplete reporting and writing, and general coherence with the party line coming from the mayor's office. Interventionist local government has always been supported by the editorial staff of both papers, with only token over-the-shoulder nods to minimal spending and regulatory suggestions. For instance, both papers eagerly supported continuing funding to Fanshawe Pioneer Village pausing only slightly to suggest a more proactive spirit of independence for the bureaucrats in charge to lend their opinions a veneer of respectability. So were the Londoner to disappear, which it apparently won't, I would not mourn — I already pay City Hall to tell me to think the same things.

Personally, I admire Gord Hume's capitalist spirit in this particular enterprise. He saw a niche in a market that is actually unregulated in this city, built an enterprise (hopefully without using the pull of his political connections) and presumably made a tidy profit by the sale. There's a lesson here for other enterprising media types — London can support additional media, and who knows what might happen if somebody published a good paper with opinion and reporting that reflects the interests of Londoners of, say, a more conservative or libertarian bent?

Thanks to John Sharpe of Scene Magazine for letting us know.

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Arrested for trying to comfort the condemned


Gabriel Keys (foreground) is arrested by police officers for trespassing in Pinellas Park, Florida, March 23, 2005. The young protester attempted to take a glass of water into the Woodside Hospice for the brain-damaged Terri Schiavo. A federal judge approved the murder of Terri Schiavo by rejecting a request from her parents to order her feeding tube reinserted to save her life.
Reckon he's home-schooled?

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London Ontario - A city of holes and ruts

Sounds like a cash grab to me, but the city's defense, as presented by the Free Press, doesn't spell good news for the sacred trough.

London has been slapped with a $1.6-million lawsuit by a man who shattered his ankle in a tumble to the ice during a hockey game at Glen Cairn arena. A statement of claim filed in the Superior Court of Justice in London claims negligence by the city in the January 2004 incident and seeks damages on behalf of Randall Trineer, his spouse, Heather Cushing, and his children, Michael Cushing, 9, and Thomas Cushing- Trineer, 5.

The statement of claim, filed by London lawyer Hamoody Hassan, says Trineer was injured when his skate blade caught in a hole or rut in the arena ice surface. He was playing hockey at the time.

. . . .

The statement says the city was negligent on 21 points, including failing to properly maintain and inspect the arena's ice surface and failing to employ competent employees to maintain, supervise, clear, patch and flood the ice.

In a statement of defence, the city denies negligence.

It says Trineer was negligent in failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to inspect ice conditions before the game and continuing to play when "he was aware or ought to have been aware of the alleged defect in the ice and ought to have avoided the alleged defect or ceased playing hockey." The statement of defence adds Trineer was an incompetent skater and skated in a careless manner.
Okay, and I should know that there are potholes on every street, and we'll never mind for the moment that they pop up like mushrooms everyday, so I guess that means I should leave my car parked in the driveway and avoid the roads. But I'll have to avoid the sidewalks too, for I am prone to fall on ice and snow and knowing London like I do, expect the sidewalks to be treacherous, the sidewalk snow removal budget taking the back burner to arts and entertainment as it does. So, I'll stay at home, until I have to move to a subsidized housing unit.

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Go get lost

You can't force arts and culture - it either happens or it doesn't. Alas, we live in London. The JLC continues to burden taxpayers:

The crowds produced revenue of $12.3 million, a profit of $600,000 to the London Civic Centre Corp., a private-sector partnership that leases the facility from the city.

The city received $150,000, but pays about $4.5 million a year on the debt for the $42-million facility.

"My first reading of it (the city's share of profit) is that it's pretty light," Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell said yesterday.

"But it's difficult for me to determine if it's a good rate of return on our investment. I think it's time for a review. When you're paying out that kind of money, we should be trying to find a way to increase our cash flow."
Should have thought about that before you built the money pit. Surely the city knew, when it arranged the partnerships, what percentage of the profits it would receive. Considering that revenue was greater than expected, the share of the profits must be greater than expected too.
One option being considered is a surtax -- likely $1 -- on tickets, excluding London Knights games, that could produce up to $300,000 a year.

City staff recommend that if a surtax is added, the proceeds should be used to support arts and culture groups. An existing surtax of $1.25 will be put into a reserve fund for future capital expenses.
Living in London, we come to expect this sort of twisted logic. Wouldn't take the sensible route and pay of the debt. Let's build more stuff! I am sure Mr. Creative City Gord Hume supports this recommendation. But it's not their money and when we are all living in cardboard boxes, the councillors can move onto to another city. Let's hope it's not yours.

I got a better idea: short of demolishing it, cut your loses and sell it. And fix the potholes while you are at it.
London Chamber of Commerce general manager Gerry Macartney -- usually an outspoken critic of council spending -- declared the JLC a success, not only in providing world-class entertainment, but in giving London a higher profile in the country.

"On balance, this was a pretty good investment," Macartney said. "If you want to look like the 10th-largest city in the country, you have to have this type of facility."
I wouldn't want this guy handling my investments. London's going to be one of the poorest cities in Ontario if it doesn't stop stealing our money for massive capital projects. If the JLC was such a grand idea, then private investors would have pooled their money together to embark on the project. Of course, such idiotic business decisions would be impossible without the trough money to fund them.
"And we would never have guessed that we would see that kind of world-class entertainment."

Among those who have performed at the JLC are Cher, Rod Stewart, Shania Twain, David Bowie, Bryan Adams and Nickelback.
For the most part, washed up antiques that most of us don't care about. I resent part of my money being used to bring Rod Stewart to London, twice at that! I don't care about any of the venues whatsoever that take place at the JLC. This is my personal preference and I don't begrudge others partaking of these venues, except when I'm helping, against my will, to finance the whole scheme.
Revenue: $12.9 million, compared to original estimate of $6 million.

Expenses: $10.95 million

Profit: $750,000

City's share: $150,000

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Privately owned trash disposal

Almost as cheering as the pictures of shaved Frenchmen after the liberation. I love a happy ending:

Shopkeepers and residents on one of Baghdad's main streets pulled out their own guns yesterday and killed three insurgents when hooded men began shooting at passersby, giving a rare victory to civilians increasingly frustrated by the violence bleeding Iraq.
More, please.

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Hey! Isn't that jumping the queue?

London is raising private funds in an attempt to deal with the doctor shortage:

London business leaders have thrown their collective clout into a program offering financial incentives to lure desperately needed family doctors to the city. The business leaders, all past recipients of London Business Hall of Fame awards, announced the Adopt-A-Doc program yesterday at city hall.

The new effort, offering as much as $20,000 in financial incentives to a family doctor who agrees to practise in London, got a jump-start with a $20,000 corporate donation by David Patchell-Evans, founder of GoodLife Fitness Clubs.

A $20,000 individual donation came from Ellis-Don Construction co-founder Don Smith and wife Joan Smith.

That money, and additional donations the business laureates are confident they'll attract, will go into a fund being set up by the city.

. . . .

Adopt-A-Doc was unveiled the same day city hall's community and protective services committee approved spending $100,000 to hire a doctor recruiter for one year. That money will cover salary, advertising and other expenses.

. . . .

The goal of Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco's health-care task force is to recruit a net 10 new family doctors to London.

The immediate goal for the business leaders is to raise $200,000 to help lure those first 10 doctors.

"They assure me that is just the beginning, that they'll be out there looking for a lot more," she said. "I have no doubts that they will be successful."

To receive the incentive, doctors recruited under the program will be asked to sign a contract committing to stay in London for a fixed period.
Now, if the city can raise private funds to attract doctors, then how come people cannot pay for health care directly from their own pockets? Do I hear the words forced monopoly?

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We're coming for your potluck next

Courtesy of Ian, we learn of this latest bit of nannying from McGimpy and his liberal cronies. Interestingly, the new requirement, that "will force Ontario residents to install anti-scald devices on new and rented water heaters" has received little media coverage. An excerpt from Ian's post:

In another idiotic and ill-conceived move, our Nanna McGuinty administration has regulated that all newly purchased and leased water heaters must come with an anti-scald device.

This device becomes a permanent part of the plumbing, and mixes cold water with the hot water coming out of your hot water tank so that the water reaching the your faucets don’t exceed 48 degrees Celcius.

Oh yeah.. it also costs $200.00.

This is just another moronic regulation from the grannies down at Queen’s Park. First of all, if I wanted my water temperature to not exceed 48 degrees Celcius, I’d freakin’ turn the thermostat down on my water heater.

Second of all, I have my own built in anti-scald device. It’s called plumbing pipes. In my home, the water heater is in the basement. Hot water that might be in the water pipe gets cooled down, so when I take a shower upstairs, there’s a whole lot of cold water in that hot water pipe. Believe me, there ain’t no danger of me getting scalded. There’s more danger of my getting hypothermia or something when I turn on that shower.

OK, so we have to watch out for the babies. You know, babies might get scalded if left unattended.

Yeah, ok. So, what moronic parent lets their baby unattended while the baby takes a shower or bath? So some moronic parent does this, and now I’m unable to get really really hot water when I want it?

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Equality fever grips the land.

I would rather have a country run by arrogant crooks who respected the essential equality of all Canadians than one run by Puritans who don't.
Given that choice, I'll take my chances with the Puritanical standards of three or four minutes ago, from way back before this issue suddenly became so pressing and important. I don't think I'm smart enough to understand the unforeseen consequences of screwing around with the fundamental institution in society, and I haven't been impressed by those who claim to be, or by whatever fiends from the leftist demonology they summon up to label opposition to the great leap forward.

I'm with the Monarchist.

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The Scourge of the Private Member's Bill

This one is put forth by Conservative Anne Jablonski and has passed a second reading.

A bill that could help concerned parents force drug-addicted teens into treatment received approval in principle from MLAs Monday.

If it passes, the private member's legislation – introduced by Red Deer Conservative MLA Mary Anne Jablonski – would be the first of its kind in the country.

Jablonski says Bill 202 is needed because parents aren't otherwise able to get help for youths who won't admit they have a problem. She says parents often hope their child will get arrested, so that something can be mandated.

"I think there's a number of families, parents and youth, out there who are looking to this as a piece of hope for them, for their future," Jablonski said. "I regard it as being very important for the future of all our youth in Alberta, especially the ones that happen to make a wrong decision."

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Line up for your rations

Patrick McClarty's long-awaited follow up to his post on Shamrocks concerning libertarianism is now up on Renegades. Both Mike and myself responded to his first post, and although both lengthy replies, I felt compelled to take up Patrick's challenge.

With all due respect to Patrick, I ask by what right and sanction are our elected representatives endowed with the ability to garnish our wages and spend our earnings on things not of our own choosing. How can another be said to decide what is in my 'best interest.' Is it not rather 'utopian' to assume that governments, even though elected by the people, will spend our money in such noble ways to protect the poor and unfortunate? Although Patrick agrees that much of the money spent by governments is wasted, at the same time he says that generally people will not be charitable unless forced. Now if that is the case, and if it is believed that people left to their own devices will lapse into barbarianism, then how can they be trusted to make just and wise decisions when it comes to election time.

One might say there are checks and balances in place to limit power, but the nature of power is that those who have it seek more and will continue to do so, with the additional advantage of having the police and the courts to back up their demands. At best, the decisions of the legislators are motivated by special interest groups and promised favours. At worst, these people crush their electors and vassals with laws, taxation and price controls for their own gain. The essential point being that such decisions will always be arbitrary and hence destructive to the general economy, even though the legislators, lawmakers and judges might have the best intentions in the world.

The idea that value can be determined by the market is confused with the idea that all value is monetary. All value is monetary in the sense that time and resources are limited, and certain choices preclude others and money is the means to secure the resources necessary for survival and to improve our standard of living. At the same time, a higher standard of living allows us to engage in other valuable activities and relationships which don't have an obvious price tag attached.

The welfare state may offer protection for a few, but it also enables a whole lot more people to illegitimately live at the expense of others. Many of the problems that exist today are a direct consequence of the state. Public administrators, the bulk of whom are unelected, are given the godlike task of deciding where the money is spent. Politicians and bureaucrats being human beings, they are most likely to spend it on projects that favour their own status and position. Just like the 'greedy' inhabitants of the free market, politicians hope to become prosperous. The obvious difference between honest advocates of the free market and public administrators is that real capitalists don't steal, and must make prudent decisions or they will directly suffer the consequences of their poor decisions. When you spend other people's money, you just don't take the same care.

Lawlessness is not libertarianism. Ethiopia is in shambles because the people were the victims of tyrants which destablized the society. In other words, countries that are subject to socialist regimes, and I include rule by fascists in this category, are the most poor. It is a necessary feature of totalitarian regimes that they are poorer in inverse proportion to the level of free exchange permitted. Hence the countries of the Middle East are vastly poorer. The wealthiest countries are those with the freest markets. Another good example would be postwar East Germany, especially as compared to West Germany. In socialist countries, the wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few and the general populace continues to work for someone else's gain while the general standard of living continues to fall. Take Castro for example, recently listed as one of the richest men in the world by Forbes magazine. He doesn't deny it, but instead 'justifies' it, by saying that "the revenues of Cuban state-run companies are used exclusively for the benefit of the people, to whom they belong."

A country or community of looting and roaming hordes is not a libertarian society. It is hardly libertarian to take what you will because you have numbers behind you. The focal and central issues are that governments are by their nature necessary corrupt as they attempt to run an economy, lacking the omnipotent and objective viewpoint that would be required to do so.

And as I argued earlier in response to Patrick's post about Robert Locke's article, violence is never justified except in instances of self-defense. Libertarianism does not advocate mob rule - such a label is more accurately applied to the state.

I also take issue with Patrick's idea of a 'debt' owed to others. I am afraid I have no idea what that debt might be. How could I be said to owe something to my neighbour if I haven't enlisted his services, nor taken something from him that did not belong to me? Why am I 'owed' something from people just because I happen to exist? Just what is it that we strangers owe each other? Respect for life and property, yes, but that does not entail that we need government to achieve this. We need to work together, but that is evidenced by the free exchanges and contracts that people enter into in the absence of governmental control or sanction. Most of us pay taxes because we are forced to do so and could perhaps face jail time and huge fines if we don't comply. A libertarian does not believe that taxation is just, and so only complies with taxation laws for fear of incarceration. We weren't given a chance to opt out of the services currently provided through taxation and indeed in Canada, when it comes to many essential services, like health care, we have no choice. The burden of labour might be heavier on those that remain in a concentration camp if I escape, but should I thereby remain a prisoner?

The true preferences and needs of the people, along with natural checks and balances, arise through a free market, unhampered by the meddling of ignorant bureaucrats and corrupt politicians. I won't go into the detailed and complex issues of security and national defense here, because although the means to ensure property rights are respected and upheld in libertarian societies are open to discussion, it does not thereby invalidate the position of libertarians.

"Libertarianism counters that charity outside the state is the only way to deliver services to the poor, and that that system would be more effective, the practical application of this theory during the Depression and the resulting social crisis has put that theory down for good. A more pointed response might be `Would you want to trust the care of the invalid and dowtrodden to an ideology that views these people as parasites?` says Patrick.

People are not viewed as parasites by libertarians except in so far as they subsist at the expense of others, against their will. What is considered charitable by the state? A few get money at the expense of others who might be deemed to have a charitable need. There is no scientific calculus to guide the arm of the state. Some people are always going to be worse off than others, no matter what kind of society we live in, but that is no reason to redistribute unearned income in the name of poverty and utilitarianism. As for your example of the Depression, I fail to understand, as the Depression was not the result of a libertarian society.

Patrick says that "the basic purpose of a government or state is to protect its people, defend the collective interests, and improve the standard of living. It might be flawed in many of its attempts, but is it worth dismantling just to marginally increase the freedom of the individual?"

I answer that reason and justice guide the libertarian. True freedom is not a matter of compromise. And as for the concept of the government role being to protect the people and defend their 'collective interests', I say that this is the inherent problem with government in the first place. Such concepts might be clear to those of us who are lawful, but 'collective interests' as determined by the free market are hampered by governments who have no legitimate means to determine what the 'collective interest' might be. Not to mention the standard of living is hardly improved as the incentive to work and produce is reduced in direct relation to the amount a person is taxed. Why bother when you can suck the blood of thy neighbour.

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Monday, March 21, 2005


Cross-Border proposes a revival of the dead-tree pamphlet, to reach out to those who don't yet read blogs.

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Government doesn't solve problems, it nurtures them

Last month's federal budget allocated $56 million to combat intolerance, particularly in the workforce.
What do you think the chances are that they'll be able to stir up $56 million worth of racism? That's hate gold!

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Another $117,000 down the drain annually in London

London's expensive downtown spy-cams do little to prevent crime, but let's keep 'em anyway and reassess the matter next millennium, behind closed doors of course.

London's downtown cameras aren't bringing down the crime rate, a new study has found. And one of the downtown's council champions says it may be time to review the system.

"These cameras are expensive to buy and maintain and, as a city, I think we have to decide if we're getting the best value for our dollar," said Coun. Cheryl Miller.

"I don't like throwing good money after bad."
But that's what council does best, because it is not their money. London gets scummier every year, and council's answer is to hire more police and put up cameras. But as the tax rate skyrockets each year, and the economy continues to crumble, good honest business folk will move elsewhere and London will eventually become a city of squatters. Maybe if the police spent less time busting people for pot 'grow-ops' they would have more time to protect Londoners from real crimes.
The $200,000, 16-camera system, paid for through donations, initially cost about $240,000 a year to run. It now operates on an annual budget of $117,000, using part-time monitors.

Most of the cameras are mounted on light poles in an area bounded by York, Ridout, Dundas and Clarence streets. There are four cameras outside that area.

The cameras are programmed to blackout residential areas to protect privacy.

Miller said a key emerging issue is the push to convert upper floors of core businesses to residences.

"Once people are living in those upper floors, there will be more and more blackout areas," she said. "What's the good of a camera if you can't see anything?"
While a homeowner has the right to monitor their own premises, the city shouldn't be spying on its citizens. Furthermore, the cameras are only monitored on a part-time basis, which means that if we take into consideration that many areas are apparently blacked out from the camera, that most serious criminals are aware of the presence of the cameras, that crime is not at all restricted to the downtown core, and that the original justification for installing the cameras was to prevent crime, we can conclude there is no justification for pouring more money down the toilet. Unless you are Lindsey Elwood, who may recognize the basic worthlessness of the cameras, but takes a position similar to council's when they decided to keep the crumbling relic called Fanshawe Pioneer Village open, and argues the money has been spent, so may as well keep wasting more.
Lindsey Elwood, chairperson of the downtown Business Improvement Area, agreed it may be time to review the initiative.

But Elwood said there's no need to abandon the camera program, especially since the cameras are paid for and in place.

"I think it has an impact and there's no question it's helping police," Elwood said. "But I do think it could be more effective. Whether it's helping people feel safer downtown, I'm not sure. We should probably step back and see what we can do to make it more effective."


Like the police, Elwood isn't convinced that crime downtown is any different than elsewhere in the city.

"I think it's more of a perception about safety," Elwood said. "Sometimes perception is not reality and I don't think it's an accurate perception. If I go downtown at 3 a.m., I don't feel threatened. I feel safe."

The report going to council tonight backs him up.

"The London downtown core is, and continues to be, a safe place day or night," concluded the report, authored by David O'Brien, the city's manager of corporate security.
Then why should Londoner's be forced to pay for an apparently useless device? While the cameras have apparently helped the police solve a few crimes, the expense is not justified. Surely if we installed cameras on every street in the whole city, police would have not only an easier time solving cases, but maybe there would even be a reduction in crime to some small degree. Should we fork out the cash?

A question for Mr. Elwood: if you feel safe downtown at 3 am, maybe your "perception is not reality." Do you think maybe your own perception is not an "accurate" one.

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Lying and stealing, can't fight the feeling

Has anyone else noticed the word "steal" and "lie" creeping in for "take" and "be mistaken" in people's speech?

"I'll steal those from you," says the server waiting on my beloved J. and I in one of London's finest restaurants, taking our plates and reminding us to count our change carefully.

"Oops, I lied, it's actually on the other side of the street, sorry." says the Southwestern Ontarian direction-giver, making me wonder if he's lying now or was lying then.

Is this just a London slang thing, or do you hear it where you live?

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Sunday, March 20, 2005

Crowd Rage fails to promote rationality and peace

Mike's excellent coverage of yesterday's anti-peace rally in Victoria Park leaves little left to be said, so I will content myself with including a few more images from yesterday's slam dancing "two minute hate" session. I would like to extend a special thanks to my parents for consenting to enter a crowd of crazed socialists and thugs.

Thankfully, most people decided to stay home:

The hippies and the punks find something to agree on: Americans are Evil.

Solidarity and Peace or Else!

The United Banner is raised! Bono would be proud:

During the charming and peace promoting rendition of "Kill Bush" by 'The Suits', I had an irresistible urge to light a cigarette, which I did, but interestingly, wondered if I would be attacked by nearby protesters for reducing their lifespan by .0000000000099999 milliseconds. Instead, "the monkey see, monkey do effect" kicked in, and a few nearby spectators followed suit. Clearly the rage caused us to engage in the evil smoke.

"It was a refrain that was often heard in moments of overwhelming emotion. Partly it was a sort of hymn to the wisdom and majesty of Big Brother, but still more it was an act of self-hypnosis, a deliberate drowning of consciousness by means of rhythmic noise."

George Orwell, 1984

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Just what do they plan on doing with all these empty storefronts?

Never at a loss to find ways to drive businesses out of downtown, the City of London has directed the fire inspectors to clamp down on violators.

Some businesses are feeling the sting of increased fire inspections, which are forcing at least one Dundas Street cafe to close. At 2 p.m. tomorrow, the Ugly Mug Cafe will close its doors because, the owner said, he does not have the $15,000 needed for a hooded vent.
. . .
Dennett [owner of the Ugly Mug] said he's not against fire inspections, but questions why the department started on Dundas instead of an area with upper scale businesses.

His cafe uses a butane burner and two electric skillets to cook menu features such as pancakes and bacon and eggs.

Dennett said the appliances are ones found in any household kitchen.
. . .
Since November, firefighters have been "up and down Dundas Street from Ridout to Waterloo and so far no one has been in compliance (with fire codes)," said fire department spokesperson Rick Jefferson.
Sounds like there should be some cheap real estate on the market soon. And the reasoning behind this sudden crack down?
The city's fire inspectors are cracking down on fire code violations because an Ontario Fire Marshal's report late last year said the city's inspection practices were inadequate and too soft on violators.
Yeah, that's what they say.
At least two other downtown businesses have been told they'll need to add fire safety features that could cost thousands.

Marvin Post of Attic Books said the business has to do about $5,000 worth of work, including installing an interconnected fire alarm system of 12 smoke detectors and 210 metres of cable.
. . .
At To Wheels, a Dundas Street staple for 19 years, building owner Andy Laidlaw said the cost of some fire inspections may make business not economically viable for some.

"Any ordinary business down here can't afford it. It's not like we're Wal-Mart," he said.

"The timing of the whole thing seems to be out of place. We need all the help we can get in making downtown a viable shopping area."

Get out of the way all you coffee drinkin', book reading, bike ridin' bohemians - Anne Marie wants you to know that your businesses don't fit in to the Master Plan! There are just too many grandiose 'creative cities' ideas which need implementing, and such businesses stand in the way on prime real estate. If you need a coffee go to Starbucks. If you need a book go to Chapters (besides, books have been known to cause people to think - and, oh my God, Attic books sells used books! Definately not the sort of business London wants to attract next to the $100 million JLC and Central Library). Hell, you won't want a bike anymore 'cause you'll have to ride all the way to Hyde Park to get to Wal-Mart to buy accessories for it (remember, they went to the trouble of giving those guys a break in service fees to attract them just for you - so hop into your SUV and drive there!). And if you can't afford these alternatives get the hell out town 'cause city council don't want you around.
Post also took issue with one fire inspector who visited the business several times, saying he was rude. "They have a job to do, but they could've done it with a lot more people skills," he said.
That way you know for sure he's been sent by city hall.

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The company they keep…

Yesterday's NO TO TEH OCUPATION, YES TO COMUNISM peace rally in London, visited on by Lisa and Mike, featured a large banner promoting the Council of Canadians among other professional accoutrements of the protest class like the Hammer & SickleTM and NDP signs.

With an agenda that predictably conforms to every knee-jerk anti-American and anti-capitalist reflex imaginable, the Council of Canadians is a mainstay of every sparsely attended protest in this country, dutifully reported by a sympathetic media. Dooney's Dictionary nicely summarizes the Council as a large
non-party political organisation, founded in the 1980s by nationalist Mel Hurtig to fight for values white Volvo-driving Anglophones considered 'Canadian'. In the great tradition of officially non-partisan Canadian institutions, it supports the NDP in every possible way short of formal endorsement. The Council has evolved into a mailing list, bombarding its reputed 100,000 membership with constant appeals help the Council to save water resources, public mail delivery, public health care, public education, and other things that keep this country civilized. The appeals always exhort members to send money to the Council as the last line of defense against corporate globalization and the Canadian Alliance. The Council's real world strategy generally revolves around raising money to send their sugar-sweet Volunteer Chairperson Maude Barlow on yet another 30-city speaking tour.
Jayant Bhandari, an unreconstructed and relentless free marketer, digs a little deeper for Quebecois Libre:
Through its research, educational work and campaigns, the Council is committed to building a stronger civil society. Its Citizens' Agenda, launched in 1994, is a long-term project outlining a vision and action plan to bring our economy and society under real public control while protecting the environment.
—"Our History," the Council of Canadians
Is it not the job of a research organization to provide decent verifiable information, with sources, to its audience? Is it not their job to provide a logical stream of arguments to educate people about why a certain action or belief needs to be adopted? Is it not their job to provide true information even if it might not sound good to the ears of the audience?

Or is it their job to draw certain knee-jerk conclusions, and then look for information to support those pre-determined conclusions, working backwards; or worse, to manipulate the information, and if required, confuse the flow of logic to reach those conclusions? This is what the Council of Canadians, an activist Canadian organization, does.

[…] Activist organizations like the Council of Canadians skew the truth and exaggerate the problems so much to support their agendas that it is difficult to know what is true, and what is not. Why not challenge instead all of these areas on the merits of their cases, by analyzing the issues in detail? We need environmentalist and social organizations that can provide well-analyzed, well-researched, well-balanced work so that we know where we stand and can take actions to improve our society, our world, and our environment. But lost in exaggerations and lies, the Council and many similar organizations have lost track of their declared objectives.
Further and more detailed degradation of the Council's political environment is available in Democracy of pressure groups, an essay by the same author.

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