Sunday, December 31, 2006

The London Fog wishes you all a prosperous New Year…

…but please note that we accept no responsibility for penalties that may be incurred as a result of our wishes.

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Nietzsche head of Ottawa Heart Institute

"No pussycats playing bridge, dogs playing poker or Elvis on velvet."

Art that blends in is mundane, argued Dr. Robert Roberts.

"We won't always get it right, but if we keep the people engaged, right or wrong or indifferent, that will be our major guiding point," said Roberts.

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

London's dull and expensive future

Jim Chapman again predicts the future of London politics, this time post-OMB, post-Imagine London and post-Dalton McGuinty…

…and if those three are not quite the nightmare stuff of the-banality-of-evil legend, they will have at least contrived the costly unintended consequences of the-dullness-of-dysfunctional-governance mediocrity. The highlights of Chapman's predictions include:

  • full-time and correspondingly higher-paid councillors (get ready for those self-serving "farm-team" canards sometime thereafter),
  • the abolition of the board of control and more "secret deals and 'old-boys networking,'" and
  • voters casting ballots of two members of council instead of the previous seven, leading to more disenchantment and disinterest.
… Anyone who thinks this whole scenario is likely to lead to better government just isn't paying attention. But in the end, isn't that what many politicians want? Voters who aren't paying attention anyway are not likely to vote for much in the way of change.

And that means the gravy train will keep on rolling into the foreseeable future. Thanks for nothing to Imagine London, the OMB and Dalton McGuinty, and happy New Year to the rest of us.
Read the rest here.

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Exit of a politico

The resignation this week of Canada's Chief Electoral Officer, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, brings to mind the high-level bureaucrat's long-time appetite for remaking democracy in his own image… which turns out to be a pretty astonishing ambition for someone legislatively prohibited from voting himself. But in a country where no general interest remains in observing or recalling even statutory limits on power, it is no wonder that Kingsley would have chosen not to interpret a legislated prescription of his duties as anything resembling constraints or limitations on his authority. On the contrary, the lack of specific circumscription is taken to be an invitation to participate in the stage where powers are negotiated and distributed; that is, politics, where to whit Kingsley's 17-year tenure had included at the very least:

  • musing publicly and congenially about introducing compulsory voting,
  • promoting constituency-based voting by targeting particular identifiable groups in society over others for participation initiatives*,
  • haranguing parliament to restrict freedom of speech and, incredibly, acting as an intervenor in the National Citizens Coalition's challenge of Canada's election gag laws, and
  • entertaining the idea of breaking the law he was charged with keeping to share his "confidential federal voters list if he thought it would help public safety or security."
Le Loi, c'est Moi… and on this capricious principle Kingsley had acted consistently at least, inviting suspicions as well that his application of the law had been characteristically inconstant and self-serving.

Whether Kingsley resigned for his own reasons or whether he was somehow pushed out by the Conservatives is a tabloid question deserving of the non-answer that we're likely to get from it. The significant observation is that the subject's very disputability is is indicative of how politicized Kingsley had made his position as an Officer of Parliament. Good riddance to a bad politician… but it would be absurd to suppose that his successor will any more refrain from enjoying the the informal expansion of political authority that Kingsley obtained without much trammels or scrutiny for an office on which there are almost no checks.

*I do note that the House of Commons passed a resolution in 2004 enjoining the Chief Electoral Officer to employ these extra-curricular discriminatory practises… more fools, them.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Trend watch

Could this be the first press appearance of Fenris Badwulf's trademark opprobrium, "heteronormative"?

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Quick links

Alarmist scenarios of "peak oil" and long-term energy shortages have excited the hopes of many academics and civic activists for the mass urban densification and attrition of sprawl of which they have long dreamed. If or when the prospects for high energy prices do come to pass, they will have been more the product of political intervention in a massively government-overseen and -directed commodity than of any physical necessity — the same sort of wished-for control of housing that has eluded the academics and activists so far. But, according to Joel Kotkin, the long-held hopes for a wholesale retreat of suburbanites burdened by high gas and electricity prices into the teeming densities of activist imaginations isn't very likely at all. Kotkin argues that a much more likely outcome is that the development market will respond to resources to build better, more economically diverse suburbs — at least until people's desires for home ownership, detached dwellings and space of their own are regulated out of existence, which will have to remain the holy grail of activism. I would add to Kotkin's analysis that employers will also likely continue to respond to expansive development the way that they have already been doing, by moving jobs out to the suburbs.

On the subject of sprawl, Jesse Walker of Reason Magazine interviews economist William T. Bogart, author of Don't Call It Sprawl: Metropolitan Structure in the Twenty-First Century on "dynamic cities and unaccountable planners." Some highlights:

[A] simple test to apply to any purported definition of sprawl: Apply it to Central Park in Manhattan. In most cases, you will find that it implies that Central Park should be developed. For fun, you can point this out to the definer, who will quickly assure you that he or she didn't mean it that way.

… Zoning is a trade regulation. If you do not allow a certain type of activity to occur within your municipality, you have automatically determined that you will not be exporting it. It can also affect trade indirectly, in that if you allow a particular type of land use but either restrict the way it is engaged in or restrict the total amount of it, you can change the pattern of imports and exports relative to what it otherwise would have been. If a Wal-Mart or some kind of a superstore wants to locate in your town, and you don't allow retail with a large enough footprint or with the type of traffic that a superstore needs, you haven't gotten rid of Wal-Mart. You have made sure that the residents of your town will be importing the services of Wal-Mart from someplace else.

… [I]f you read a lot of planners' critiques of what they refer to as urban sprawl, they're completely focused on the present. You would think a profession called planning would be concerned with the evolution and transition of areas. But they aren't. They'll look at a situation where a few houses have been built, and they'll say that's sprawl. Well, perhaps. Or perhaps over the next 10 or 20 years there's going to be further infill development there — if it's allowed by the local land-use controls — and in fact what they're seeing is a city in construction. As a country, we're growing in population. Those people have to go someplace. And they're not all going to go there at once.

… A lot of the forests that people are bemoaning the loss of, for example, only became forests relatively recently. Before that they were cornfields. But they were inefficient cornfields. Forests were a good way to hold them until they could actually be redeveloped.
Read the rest here…

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"Christ on Crutches"

I subjected my hair to the two second test and I'm now a burn victim.

Ho ho ho!" may become "ouch ouch ouch!" for Santa Claus impersonators seeking to wing it with a fake beard, Swedish experts warned.

Sweden's national testing institute tested six models of beard on sale in the Scandinavian country and found that two of them turned into a raging inferno when coming into contact with a naked flame.

"We placed the beards on a peg in a laboratory. We placed a small flame underneath for two seconds to simulate a situation where Father Christmas gets too near to a candle or match," fire expert Per Thureson said in a statement.
It's easy enough to blame drunken Santas and their dollar store beards, but until matches and candles are banned, such needless infernos will continue to occur.

The holiday season is once again upon us. Best to make it bearable by drinking lots.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Garbage in, garbage out…

Public arts subsidies in…

I oppose arts subsidies not only because arts subsidies are thieving from people who do not want art thank you very much, although it is that of course. I also oppose arts subsidies because I really like art and I think arts subsidies damage art, by separating artists from audiences and by separating nob audiences from yob audiences, the aristocracy from the groundlings. With arts subsidies, you get High Art in one tent - precious, clever, obscure, self-regarding and pretentious, and expensive; and Low Art, brain-dead trash, in the other bigger tent. Without arts subsidies, they all go into the same tent and you get, well: Shakespeare basically. Shakespeare, nineteenth century classical music, the great nineteenth century novelists, twentieth century cinema (before that too got to subsidised into Posh and Trash), twentieth century pop music, all that is artistically vibrant, fun and profound.

— Brian Micklethwait, An artistic argument for the Olympic Games, via Quotulatiousness
On the other hand, we must expect great things from the London Cultural Office!

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Budget surpluses are bad news for taxpayers

The London Free Press reports that this year's budget "surplus" is estimated at $8.1 million — at least the third straight year of multi-million dollar surpluses, totaling over $30 million over that time. Although surplus revenue is taxation above and beyond the city required to meet its budgeted obligations over the year, Londoners can expect to see little of that money returned to them. Council Monday voted narrowly to back a staff recommendation to spend most of the money on debt reduction and new spending initiatives — General Manager of Finance and Corporate Services Vic Cote's plan recommends applying only $600,000 of the revenue to reduce the property tax increase for the 2007 budget, projected now at between 3.5 and 4.5 per cent, "enough to lower the hike by a small fraction of a per cent." This promises to be a replay of last year's $8.7 million surplus, of which only $650,000 was used for a reduction of the property tax hike.

But if revenue is not budgeted, the city cannot even begin to pretend that it is a legitimate municipal asset. Nevertheless, council continues to make year after year the same assumption that it is. The "good news" of budget surpluses has not been good news for the taxpayers of London, but instead for its politicians who have accustomed themselves to seeing the additional revenue as a license to spend. There will be additional pressure this year on the surplus as chief administrative officer Jeff Fielding is advising council, in the wake of the city's draft budget, to "focus on service growth" and consider funding requests from programs that exceeded the city's 3.0 per cent growth targets. Why does this continue to happen in London?

Given the range of taxes and fees which the city charges Londoners for being Londoners, nobody could expect that administration could predict with certainty all of its revenues for an upcoming fiscal year, but at least three straight years of large multi-million dollar surpluses suggests that the city has adopted a strategy of systematic under-reporting for its own benefits. As William Robson noted in the Financial Post this past spring, the strategy at the federal level has provided politicians with enormous political benefits, not the least of which the "good news" suggests to taxpayers that the government is managing finances well, as though revenue from taxes and monopolistic services were a direct function of economic well-being. As well, politicians realize two other important benefits: first, fans of fiscal prudence are placated by the fact that much of the surpluses are earmarked for paying down debt without the government having to go to the trouble of making debt repayment a significant line item in the budget — meaning that surplus budgeting is a method of stealth taxation for deficit financing; and, second and perhaps more importantly, the government finds itself with plenty of extra money to throw around to coddle protected special interests — for example, both the Children's Museum and the London Community Players shared in part of last year's surplus. In fact, council was entertaining requests for its projected surplus in April of this year, only two months after its last budget. Whether administration has adopted a policy of systematic and deliberate under-reporting of revenues as a cynical political ploy is only suggested by its recurrence and council's expropriation of the revenue for its own purposes, but one thing is certain: taxpayers will see little of that surplus returned to them until the political benefits of doing so overcome all the others.

Public participation meetings for the budget process are scheduled for 2-4pm and 6-8pm on January 10 in council chambers, and 11-2pm on January 13 at Masonville, Cherryhill, Argyle and White Oaks malls — the schedule can be found on pages 35 and 36 of the city's 2007 Draft Budget, Timetable and Operating Highlights document (pdf). Much more on municipal "surpluses" here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Above the law in Caledonia

Protesters are demanding the release of one of the few natives arrested for assault during the occupation in Caledonia, claiming he is a "political prisoner". Note, the cameraman who set up his camera behind police lines and attempted to protect his property from aggressive seizure was punched in the head several times while police stood by and did nothing.


A group protesting outside the attorney general's office in Toronto on Monday demanded the release of an aboriginal man arrested during the land dispute near Caledonia, Ont., who they claim is a political prisoner.

Trevor Miller, 31, has been in jail since August, accused of assaulting two members of a television crew near the former housing development site near Hamilton on June 9. It was one in a series of violent incidents that occurred on the same day.

About 30 protesters gathered outside Attorney General Michael Bryant's office.

The protesters defended Miller, saying he was standing up for the return of the disputed land.

"He is being held as a hostage, a political prisoner," protester Pat Houlley told the Canadian Press, arguing Miller should never have been charged, because as an aboriginal he shouldn't be subject to Canadian law. "We've never abandoned our traditional government nor been conquered by any war."
Yet they've no problem accepting protection from the Canadian police force, along with handouts and special privileges from the rest of the country. Two-tier justice continues in Dalton McGuinty's Ontario.

C/P: Dust my Broom

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Quick links

If the media doesn't ask, someone else will

Lorrie Goldstein at the Toronto Sun (via SDA) notices the strange congruity between the rationalizations of government programming advocates and the reporting of the media:

"The media are less a window on reality than a stage on which officials and journalists perform self-scripted, self-serving fictions." Paul Weaver wrote that in a New York Times article called "Selling the Story" more than a dozen years ago.

But doesn't it sound like an accurate summation of almost any news conference today, where the advocates are in favour of, say, universal daycare, same-sex marriage, Kyoto, more social spending or greater "rights" for criminals? Indeed, do you sometimes find it hard to separate the lobbyists from the media at such events?

I do. Especially when obvious questions about the claims being made by these advocates are never asked by the media, whom, it appears, either agree with the positions espoused or, worse, seem unaware there could possibly be any other positions.

… Thomas Sowell [author of The Vision of the Anointed] argues there's a natural bias in how news is reported because the media "readily dramatize an individual situation in a way in which the larger relationships and the implicit assumptions behind that situation, cannot be dramatized."

For example: "When the government creates some new program, nothing is easier than to show whatever benefits that program produces. Indeed, those who run the program will be more than co-operative in bringing those benefits to the attention of the media.But it is virtually impossible to trace the taxes that paid for the program back to their sources, and to show the alternative use of that same money that could have been far more beneficial."

In that context, it's easy to report a story featuring a parent being helped by a publicly-funded daycare program to back claims by daycare advocates that more daycare is needed. The problem, notes Sowell, is that the media "have little or no regard (for) what that has cost elsewhere."

For example, establish a national, publicly-funded daycare program and you will exclude the majority of parents who will never use institutional daycare, even though they have all been conscripted into paying for it. Combine that with media who don't or can't think critically about such issues and you get the kind of so-called "unbiased" news coverage that drives people mad.

Think of all the "feel-good" stories you've ever seen about how some government program helped an individual turn his life around. Now think about how many you've seen about how high taxes drove a small businessman into bankruptcy. There's no comparison,is there? But the problem isn't just about the stories that aren't covered by the media. It's about the questions they never think to ask.
Make-it-up-as-you-go law
Parliament and the government of Canada are committed to the principle of making equalization payments…
Section 36(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982
On such flimsy pretexts and vague terms as "principles" are redistribution programs entrenched; desired outcomes of redistribution are internalized as imperatives — a Constitutional imperative, even, in the case of equalization — not only by beneficiaries but also by the lawyers and officials who profit by arbitrating the political and legal processes of redistribution as well as by that portion of academics and the media who are habitually sympathetic to the socialist philosophy of mandatory redistribution. It's no wonder, given the prevalence of these interpretations, that most taxpayers accept the transfers of their wealth as imperatives as well.

As finance ministers across the country quibble about how to "fix" equalization, Burton H. Kellock and Sylvia LeRoy deconstruct the legal "imperative" of the program itself in a study released this month by the Fraser Institute. Noting that the Constitution Act obliges the federal government only to the principle of equalization but not to the practise, the study finds that any interpretation of its practise could not be enforced by a court of law. More importantly, the authors find that the constitutional authority of the federal government to collect taxes and redistribute to provinces to spend on areas of their own exclusive jurisdiction has never been resolved through the constitutional amendments that would be required to supercede the limits placed on that authority by the Constitution Act of 1907 and the British North America Act of 1867. In other words, "the entire equalization program falls beyond the powers of Parliament as defined" by those Acts.

But not beyond the make-it-up-as-you-go powers of politics, self-serving rationalizations and popular hornswoggling. Nice country… shame about the pieces of paper that founded it. Just so we're clear that our governments aren't bound by the law…

Despite these findings, the legality of the equalization program is not likely to be broadly tested in any court, and one may be sure even in the event that inscrutably vague wishes would be allowed by the courts to overcome less ambiguous limitations. This will come as a relief to mayors of municipalities, like our own Anne Marie DeCicco-Best, who are doing their best to entrench yet another equalization program for themselves that's not even loosely articulated anywhere in any Constitution Act.

Welfare subsidy in poetry

Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs annually runs a $4.7 million Arts Promotion Program, both to promote a Canadian "cultural presence" overseas, in part by funding travel expenses for well- and lesser-known authors, artists and musicians, and to
demonstrate at home and abroad that a distinct and vigorous identity has placed Canada firmly in the mainstream of international artistic excellence.
At least by the standards of welfare subsidies to token constituencies, Canada is without doubt firmly in the mainstream, if not ahead of it. But according to Kathleen Harris of Sun Media, some middlemen of government dependency are worried about the future of government dependency:
Douglas Fiske, a spokesman for the Canadian Public Arts Funders [a government-sponsored association of provincial, territorial and federal arts funding agencies] said any cuts could leave artists or organizations scrambling for other funding sources or unable to share their talents with the world. Such a move would be to Canada's detriment, he said.

… "The health of a country is not based just on its physical health. It's also based on its mental health, its creative health, the overall imaginative health," he said.
At least there is no indication of an impending shortage of creativity in the bureaucracy-rationalization industry. As is typical, the defense of an indefensible proposition is difficult to argue with — because it doesn't make any sense. It's impossible to tell how many frivolous government programs there are out there that eat away at tax revenues and go generally unnoticed except by their beneficaries — the only thing that is certain is that a host of small-time grafters will spring up to its defense every time that one is noticed.

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Bono's back in Washington begging for alms

Everyone's favorite hypocrite is back in Washington seeking $1 billion of public money to fight AIDS and malaria in Africa.
Meetings in Washington last Thursday between rock star Bono and Democrats, including Senate leader Harry Reid of Nevada, yielded a nice photo-op but not much else, according to Bono.

Bono, the U2 frontman and anti-poverty activist, was on Capitol Hill to seek assurances that $1 billion in planned U.S. spending to fight AIDS and malaria in Africa would not be lost if Congress freezes agency budgets in the coming year.

Bono said he also was seeking to close a "commitment gap" between what President Bush has requested for anti-poverty efforts and what Congress has agreed to spend in the past.

After meetings with incoming Senate Majority Leader Reid, House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee, Bono said he came away empty-handed.

"I'm alarmed we could not get a commitment from the Democratic leadership to prevent the loss of $1 billion in the continuing resolution," Bono said Thursday in a statement.

"I don't know who to blame. Democrats are blaming Republicans. Republicans are blaming Democrats. But the million people who were expecting (mosquito) bed nets don't know who to blame. They just know that a promise made by the United States to keep their families safe is in danger of being broken next year."
Blame Bono. The cost of Bonehead's airfare and accommodations could have provided a small country with mosquito nets, but Bono is selfish and rather more concerned with his own career. Remember, Bono does all he can to avoid paying taxes in his own country, though he travels around the world begging for the spoils of other countries for his favored causes. Thanks to Bono's selfishness, an African will die tonight of AIDS with complications brought on by malaria.

C/P at The Broom.

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There is no magazine but Time and Ahmadinejad is a controversial figure

LGF points out this jawdropper at the website of archaic fifth column media outlet Time Magazine:

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Multicultural justice

Last week, an Ontario court ruled the insurgents in Caledonia can continue negotiations with the government while remaining on the disputed piece of land. One presumes they will continue to receive free hydro and water at taxpayer expense.


Six Nations protesters embroiled in a contentious land dispute in southwestern Ontario can continue the occupation indefinitely without being in contempt of court, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled Thursday.

In August, a lower court ordered a halt to negotiations with the government until the protesters cleared off the former housing development in Caledonia, Ont., just south of Hamilton.

The Ontario government argued that Justice David Marshall had no jurisdiction to stop negotiations and said talks were the best way of resolving the 10-month dispute.

On Thursday, the appeal court ruled that Marshall "erred" when he said the aboriginals had made a mockery of the rule of law by refusing to vacate the site.

The court sided with the government, saying Six Nations protesters are no longer occupying the land illegally because the province bought the land and doesn't object to the occupation.

"Ontario is content to permit the peaceful occupation of its property," the decision reads. "It has the right to do so. As a property owner it has the right to use its own land as it sees fit."
Not so with private possessions. . . .

Since the beginning of the occupation, the province has been actively supporting and protecting the insurgents with money and property they had no right to redistribute to begin with . The OPP has served as an armed protection agency for the native protesters and the weasels in power in Ontario have spent over $55 million on the "resolution" of the dispute - despite Dalton McGuinty's insistence that such matters are a federal responsibility. It's now "public" land, but not all members of the public are welcome there.

A London realtor was arrested yesterday along with the organizer of a controversial rally at the site of the native occupation of a housing development near Caledonia.

Mark Vandermaas of London and Gary McHale of Richmond Hill were arrested as they approached the disputed land, scene of frequent flashpoints since February, waving Canadian flags.

About 100 protesters attended the rally, quickly dispersing after the arrests.

Police had warned the two about crossing into the "no-go zone," previously set up as a buffer at the site after violent clashes erupted between protesters and non-aboriginal residents of Caledonia.

[..] Vandermaas was forced to the ground by police officers and the flag ripped from his hands as he crossed into the buffer zone. The flag was ripped in two in the scuffle.
Communism is discriminatory.

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Draft budget:
4.3% spending growth is just the beginning

London's $900 million draft budget for 2007 calls for spending growth of between 4.3 and 4.4 per cent — roughly twice the rate of inflation:

The All-items index excluding energy posted a 2.0% increase between October 2005 and October 2006, rising for the second consecutive month. Costs incurred by homeowners, such as replacement cost and mortgage interest cost, were largely responsible for the upswing in this index.

As announced last month, Statistics Canada now produces and disseminates the Core Consumer Price Index as defined by the Bank of Canada. This index, used by the Bank for the purpose of monitoring the inflation-control target, rose by 2.3% between October 2005 and October 2006.
City staff rationalize the "difficulty" of containing spending increases to the rate of inflation by saying that the city's "'basket of goods' is different from the 'basket' used in calculating the general inflation rate" — a pretext that can be used without effort again and again — and refer to a few mandated or downloaded costs but downplaying the city's direct control of discretionary spending that makes up just "a little less than half of the budget."

Estimated growth in revenue from assessment of 2.0 per cent has been much ballyhooed in the Free Press as an antidote to spending growth, potentially reducing property tax increases to as low as 2.6 per cent, but council would have to refuse all service growth requests from the uncommitted 1.7 per cent of the assessment growth for this to happen — an unlikely prospect for politicians who are already looking out for their favourite programs after the news of a single-digit increase. Chief administrative officer Jeff Fielding is advising council not to focus "on areas of the operating budget that achieved target" but instead "to focus on service growth." Specifically, Fielding recommends that council "consider" using 1.3 of the 1.7 per cent uncommitted assessment growth revenue to fund requests for those programs that exceeded the city's 3.0 per cent growth targets:
  • London Middlesex Housing Corporation,
  • Upper Thames River Conservation Authority,
  • Police Services, and
  • Library Services.
Full approval of these requests, in the absence of any unanticipated revenue or additional council-directed spending, would result in a property tax rate hike of 3.9 per cent. Fielding knows quite well that council has a poor record on refusing such "considerations," meaning that the property tax rate increase is likely to be much higher than 3.0 per cent when all is said and done, unless council were to divert its expected multi-million dollar surplus to tax relief — a proposition to which they have been disinclined in the past — or if new bailouts from the province arrive.

Either way, spending will have increased at at least twice the rate of inflation, if not much more by the time council is through with the budget. The city's self-congratulatory posturing as sound and responsible financial managers is an astounding farce, but we can expect to hear it repeated as much in the months to come as it was during the election. From the city's media release, Tom Gosnell, the city's budget chief, has this to say:
"… the City of London is responding to the community's call for affordable taxes and high value for money."
Comedy value, maybe…

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Taking your cake and eating it too

Dalton McGimpy remains unapologetic for helping himself to even more of your money:

When Ontario's integrity commissioner issued a report last week recommending provincial politicians get a raise or risk becoming a "farm team" for the House of Commons, the Liberal government said salary increases were not a priority.

But Tuesday, the government introduced surprise legislation to allow the raise and announced the legislature would extend its sitting until next week to ensure the bill passes before the Christmas break.

"I changed my mind," McGuinty said. "I'll be judged on this by Ontarians as I'll be judged on all the things I do, but I want them to understand that I honestly believe this is the right thing to do."

After complaints from backbenchers and party organizers about losing talent to higher-paying jobs in Ottawa or municipal politics, McGuinty said he decided a raise to three-quarters of a federal MP's base salary was appropriate. It will mean a $22,000 jump for backbenchers to $110,000 and a $39,000 raise for the premier to $198,620 a year.
I was so outraged when I first learned of this pay increase that I could only bang my head against the keyboard; accordingly, my original post looked like this:
Once again, Dalton The Liar has broken his promises, and nothing more should be expected from the spawn of public pencil markings. Of course voting yourself a pay raise seems like the "right thing to do" when the ignorant electorate endows you with the power to take what you have no right to in the first place. The occupation of Caledonia by insurgents has dragged on for over a year, but the thieves are willing to extend the sitting in legislature to ensure their raise is passed with lightening speed.

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Get thee to a slimmery

A professor advises the British government to sew health warning labels on fat peoples' clothes. This is what £7 billion of taxpayers' money spent on consultancy for public health will get you these days. Some of Naveed Sattar's other recommendations:

  • "new urban roads should only be built if they have safe cycle lanes and new housing complexes should be constructed only if they have sports facilities and green park areas"
  • "ads for slimming services without independent evaluation banned"
  • "TV ads for sweets and snacks stopped before 9 pm"
  • "higher tax on high fat and high sugar foods"
  • "tax breaks for genuine corporate social responsibility"
…as opposed to the fake corporate social responsibility. Gosh, who can tell the difference? Except, of course, for government bureaucrats.

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Fool me a million times, shame on…

Being lied to by politicians is par for the course and doesn't shock anyone, but in Ontario we get to pay for the privilege. From CTV News:

Ontario's Liberal government won't apologize for newspaper and TV advertisements boasting of reductions in hospital wait times even though they've been found to be misleading, Health Minister George Smitherman said Thursday.

Advertising Standards Canada said the ads leave the impression that "wait times for all hospital procedures have already been reduced," which they consider misleading and inaccurate.
Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara's case that the province can't afford to cut taxes if it doesn't receive more money from the federal government for health care would cut a little more strongly if it didn't spend $2 million advertising for its own monopoly on services for which it doesn't even legally allow competition.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

The sentimental edifice

The publicness of public projects assumes that everyone is a stakeholder, but politics makes some stakeholders more equal than others. From the London Free Press:

A proposed expansion of London's police station will be an eyesore unless city council spends more than $34 million it has already committed, residents and business owners say.

… [N]eighbours in the Old East Village who support the expansion told a council committee last night they're repulsed by the proposed design, which features a windowless wall to the west, a lot of parking in the front and a facade that fails to hide the boxy structure behind.

"We'd like it rendered less like a modern, suburban mall," said Phil Singeris, who chairs the Old East Village Business Improvement Area.

The city should invest enough in the design to make the police headquarters an attractive gateway to the village, said Annecke Somann, president of the Old East Village Community Association.
If form follows function, what will "an attractive gateway to the village" reveal about the function of a police station? The answer, of course, is whatever we feel like it to be; politics is a competition for sentiment, and sentiment must usually be the guiding principle in public decision-making. But if attractiveness is the criterion in this case, have Singeris and Somann even looked around at the rest of the intersection of Dundas and Adelaide? It begs for demolition, if an attractive gateway is what's wanted. Typically, the "neighbours" are trying to get someone else to pay for something that they're not willing to do for themselves. If that fails, they could try painting some murals of windows on the walls, like the hideous unartistic depictions that grace some of the surrounding structures.

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Trough Logic

So long as "free" health care is considered a right, there will be no end to the number of "sick" people clamoring for their fair share.

From Lfpress:

TORONTO -- Ontario is discriminating against transsexuals by refusing to pay for their sex changes, a coalition of academics and transsexuals said yesterday as they urged the province to join others whose tax dollars already cover the controversial procedure. Martine Stonehouse, who is in the final stages of her sex-change operation, said such procedures are vital to the mental health of transsexuals. The cost of the surgery is nothing compared to the mental anguish suffered by those who can't afford it, she said. The human rights of transsexuals have been violated ever since the former Conservative government cancelled public coverage of sex-change operations in 1998, said Stonehouse.
It's only fair that cancer patients wait in line with people needing a set of boobs or a prosthetic penis. Move over grandpa; the pain you feel in your knees is nothing compared to the mental anguish of people like Ms./Mr. Stonehouse.

C/P: Dust my Broom

Update: Stonehouse, pictured at right and a member of CUPE's pink triangle committee, responds to a Christina Blizzard column in today's Toronto Sun which, incidentally, reminds us that reinstating government funding for sex-change operations was one of health minister George Smitherman's promises in the last election.
I realize that most people in society do not understand transsexuals in general, and when it comes down to our need for surgery they fear us.
In general, no, fear is not the right word, but in Stonehouse's case...

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Sit there and listen to the woman who can't spell talk about social justice, or else

Publius investigates the premises behind the McGuinty government's efforts to keep its young victims inside the ingeniously marketed employment and patronage program that we know as public education. Young people with better things to do than sit in a classroom are to be fined or denied drivers' licenses for reducing employment opportunities for graduates of teachers' colleges.

This might be seen as a confession of weakness on the part of the government, admission that they cannot persuade about a third of each cohort of teenagers that what they provide is of value to them. I think it's probably worse. Given that Liberals are one of the more statist of the mainstream political parties, it seems just as likely that these penalties reveal their deepest understanding of the human mind.
Read on.

The London Fog is proud to beat the provincial 30% average with our mighty 40% dropout rate.

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Nanny State To Police Imagination

Virtual crime , the playing of video games not approved by the benevolent German Government will result in getting a real punishment:

Players and creators of video games could face imprisonment for acts of virtual violence under draft legislation being drawn up by two of Germany's state governments.

Politicians in Bavaria and Lower Saxony have proposed a new offence that will punish "cruel violence on humans or human-looking characters" inside games. Early drafts suggest that infringers should face fines or up to 12 months' jail for promoting or enacting in-game violence
Apparently one of these school shooter types really liked to play a violent video game. I understand the game was quite popular. I expect there will be a lot more school shooters any day now. The state will abolish virtual violence with the use of real force... you can't make this stuff up. Unfortunately, we too will probably see Ken Dryden, Jason Kenny or some crazy chick from the NDP calling for a similar law any day now. Never mind the last line in the story:
Research has yet to show a link between violence in video games and violent acts in the real world
Why look to research and science when intuitively we know that immediate intuitive based action gives the best political results?

(HT: Instapundit)
(Also at Little Tobacco)

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Draft budget in:
City says, "We'd like some more!"

The modest robber, having already taken the gold and the jewelry, removes the silver and brass and congratulates himself on his moderation. City hall was "mostly smiles" today — or smirks, as the picture goes — according to the London Free Press, as staff presented a $900 million draft budget to council that will raise property taxes and water and sewer charges between 2.8 and 4.5 per cent. The Free Press goes on to say that anticipated tax assessment growth and another installment of municipal welfare from the province are expected to push the hike down to less than 3 per cent. Self-adulations were generously paid up all around city hall in the budget's wake, as much for the auto-suggestion of fiscal responsibility after hikes of 3.9, 5.9 and 6.6 per cent in the three preceding years as for the fact that acceptance of any increase at all will have rendered every previous increase on which it rests irrevocably justified once and for all.

Anne Marie DeCicco presides over the tabling But no one should be confused by the celebration of fiscal responsibility at city hall — the "fig leaf has dropped," to borrow the words of Kimble F. Ainslie, even as the emperors parade their new clothes. The city has long ago lost any pretense of control over the spending that has caused a 25 per cent increase in residential property taxes and a 50 per cent increase in water and sewer charges between 2000 and 2005, and a municipal debt that climbed to $371.1 million in 2006. The draft budget itself represents an additional increase in overall spending of between 4.3 and 4.4 per cent, hardly an example of municipal frugality. Politicians like mayor DeCicco-Best depend on assessment growth and provincial and federal transfers to blunt the appearance of unrestrained spending and to defer some of the burden of the city's tax collection to other jurisdictions, but an imminent deflation of the housing bubble threatens future dependence on the former to mitigate tax increases, and the latter of course only takes from the same pockets as the city does — and as a political strategy is dependent on politics rather than prudence. If — or, far more likely — when these dissembling devices begin to fail, Londoners will have found that both the city's program spending and debt obligations are still entrenched, leading to demands for even higher property tax increases. Council is so drunk on spending that nothing will brake its appetite or cure its delusions of fiscal management until it admits it has a problem.

But not while the party's still going!

City council will spend the next two months debating increases — not decreases — to next year’s budget, if today was any indication.

… “Rather than focusing on areas of the operating budget that achieved target, I would like Council to focus on service growth,” [chief administrative officer Jeff] Fielding wrote in a letter introducing the draft budget. [Emphases added.]

… "There's still a lot of pressure for a lot of other programs from council and the boards," [budget chief Tom Gosnell] said. "So it still could go up. We don't know."
If the budget chief doesn't know, I certainly don't… but here's an indication at least:
Five years after erecting limestone slabs some derided as "Stonehenge," London city hall has suggested spending as much as $335,000 on a second set.

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Jack Layton is invited too

Inspired by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Anti-Jew gathering, the self-styled "Old Codger" of This Canada proposes his own "myth-busting" conference:

Dealing with the age-old question of “Is Allah for Real”, the conference will also address more sexy issues such as, “Are the Promised Virgins Really Worth It?”, and “Would IKEA Reassembly Instructions be Helpful in the AfterLife After a (Brief) Career as a Suicide Bomber?”.

As with President Ahmadinejad’s conference, I plan to invite the world’s leading experts on these subjects, including the head of the Klu Klux Klan, leading torturers at Iran’s prisons, and the most respected female Muslim cleric in Iran … or anywhere, for that matter. Successful suicide bombers have not been located, unfortunately, and so attendees of the conference will be unable to determine if promises of a wonderful time in the afterlife are real, or just an Islamic myth.

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Bend over London

It's that time of year again, and Anne Marietoinett-Best wants to see just how big a dildo she can stick up your ass!

“I want to commend staff,” London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best said, “It’s a very strong starting position.”
As always, feeling the . . . er . . . pressure of another London tax hike, Frank le Fou is singing the Thames Delta blues for you in his 2006 release, "3% & Rising".

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Robert Rabinovitch Rant

This hilarious gem HT Colby Cosh.

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Stealing from the mouths of babes

Dalton McGimpy and his minions aren't likely to renege on the gift of your money promised to Hydro One CEO and President Tom Parkinson, but that shouldn't stop you from going on over to Canadian Taxpayers Federation to record your desolation.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

A national food registry is forthcoming

Via Karen De Coster, turns out at least one advocacy group partly responsible for the New York ban on trans fats was also instrumental in bringing about the popularity of trans fats in the first place.

From the Wall Street Journal:

At the mayor's urging this week, New York's Board of Health voted to ban restaurant use of artificial trans fats, those liquid oils made solid through hydrogenation and found in all manner of fried, baked and processed foods. Many of these products aren't particularly healthy, but then neither are many products people enjoy that contain sugar and caffeine, substances that New York hasn't outlawed. At least not yet.

"We're just trying to make food safer," said Mayor Bloomberg, who nixed smoking in bars a few years back. The city's concern for the health of residents is understandable, but trans fats are not E. coli (or even secondhand smoke), and the federal Food and Drug Administration still considers these chemically modified food ingredients perfectly safe for consumption. Could it be that Mayor Mike has been taken in by activist Gotham health czars and national Naderite "watchdog" outfits like Michael Jacobson's Center for Science in the Public Interest, among others pushing a larger agenda?

[..] Before other cities decide to regulate diets absent a safety issue, they might also consider that some of the same people now pushing for a trans fat ban once recommended the ingredient as a substitute for another health scare: saturated fats. Twenty years ago, Mr. Jacobson's CSPI launched a public relations blitz against fast food joints for using palm oil to cook fries. The group claimed victory when restaurants started using partially hydrogenated oil instead. In 1988, a CSPI newsletter declared that "the charges against trans fat just don't hold up. And by extension, hydrogenated oils seem relatively innocent." Today, Mr. Jacobson is claiming trans fats kill 30,000 people a year. We wonder if he feels guilty.
Not bloody likely because he would be out of a job if people were left to regulate their own lives.

In my home province of Ontario, trans fats are still allowed, but raw milk is not tolerated, and compulsory pasteurization has been in effect since 1938. Ministers elected at the cardboard ballot booth continue to claim they know what is best for The Collective, though their claim to fame is an arts degree combined with the ability to manipulate the facts to gain votes.
Agriculture Minister Leona Dombrowsky said the current law is designed to protect people, and shouldn't be changed just because some people don't like it.

"There are people who drive cars who say that they would prefer to drive a car without a seatbelt, that they wouldn't be as restricted," Dombrowsky said.

"But we know it's in the better interest of the public, particularly our youngest, that we have laws in the province that require someone driving a car to wear a seatbelt. The same with raw milk."
So long as "we" can fine you for failure to take every "reasonable precaution" against death, you snooze, you lose, becomes something akin to a disability though life is bad for the eco-system.

This important public service announcement also appears at Dust My Broom.

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Critical creative city mass

London begins its Creative Cities odyssey with a Cultural Office at city hall.

Like contemporary cargo cultists, many of the development specialists that I know have convinced themselves that if they can only create a groovy, gay-friendly, rock and rolling, Frisbee-throwing environment in Kansas City, where I live now, or Topeka or St. Joe, the high-tech cargo will follow.
Jack Cashill at WorldNetDaily comes up with five bad things that happen when a creative city reaches critical creative mass:
1. the "thought leadership" becomes the "thought police,"
2. the creative class ceases to be procreative,
3. faith in science goes blind,
4. the Creative Class drives out the working class,
and last but not least,
5. The Creative Class kills real diversity.

Wherever the creative class prevails, the whole notion of diversity grows legalistic and oppressive. Citizens are no longer asked to tolerate their neighbors. They are compelled to "celebrate" them, often with consequences if they don't.

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"Media-kissed mayoral Prince Charmings are really just frogs"

Anne Marie DeCicco-BestJoel Kotkin in the San Francisco Chronicle looks at how big city mayoralty is becoming a trendy platform for upward political mobility in America — in part because success and failure in the position is relatively immune from ordinary standards of media scrutiny. This is obviously a trend worth avoiding in Ontario…

[E]ven real-world failures may not be enough to stop the rise of these mayors. In our media age, being telegenic, hip and cool, and on the same cultural wavelength with the reporter class may prove more effective than a mere record of real accomplishment. Cities may not be what they once were in terms of power and influence. But as central players in the media's political theater, the mayors still hold many advantages in ascending the greasy pole.

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Friday, December 8, 2006

The costs of doing public business

Tom Parkinson, ex-CEO of Hydro OneAnother top-level political appointment resigns amid allegations of expense-account improprieties and is immediately awarded severance. Only days after the Ontario auditor general's annual report indicted the Hydro One chief executive officer of fraudulent expense-account practises, Hydro One's board of directors today "decided to honour the severance provisions" in Tom Parkinson's contract, the very same day that he resigned. Not incidentally, this is the same board that appointed Parkinson and was found by the auditor general to be in breach of its obligation to review Parkinson's expenses.

Energy Minister Dwight Duncan, responsible for electing the board as the sole shareholder of the corporation, commented "that it is in all probability the least costly resolution under these circumstances," apparently alluding to the precedent of an expensive wrongful dismissal suit. But Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty earlier disavowed the possibility that Parkinson would be fired for the very same reason, leaving the question: to what other "costly" resolutions is Duncan referring? The cost to taxpayers of a lawsuit brought by Parkinson to retrieve his severance?

As preposterous as that sounds, that — or, for that matter, a successful settlement down the road for Parkinson — wouldn't come as an altogether surprise to very many observers, as unspoken as that observation might be in polite company. Severances or lawsuits… these are just the costs of maintaining the containment of mutual incriminations among a collegiate of arbitrary privileges and exemptions in which only secrecy and exposure are the yardsticks of success and failure. Whether the costs are dispensed the easy way or the hard way is only a matter of political calculation of the momentary disposition of the taxpayers who must bear the financial costs either way; what matters is that must be as little political cost as possible. This is to what Duncan is really referring; the skirt around the truth results in the typically awkward and inscrutable soundbite. Just as with David Dingwall last year, Duncan finds it more politically economical to dampen interest with a quick and readily forgotten conclusion than to strike a potentially hazardous populist pose… especially when he's already spent his populist currency on the subject. From 2004:

Ontario's publicly owned Hydro One utility continues to pick up the high-priced golf tab for its top executives, Sun Media has learned. Documents obtained under Freedom of Information legislation confirm that three of the electricity transmission company's executives have enjoyed the Prestige class of membership from a prominent chain of courses called ClubLink for three years. The memberships required a $50,000 initiation fee, according to a company official. ClubLink's top courses also charge more than $4,000 in annual dues, according to the company website.

The news brought immediate criticism from Energy Minister Dwight Duncan's office, which blamed the former Tory government for allowing such frills. "Our government isn't in the business of supporting these perks," said Duncan spokesperson Vanessa Torrance. "It will be a different story under our watch." [Emphasis added]
Wait, there's more coming and going around:
Hydro One president and CEO Tom Parkinson (whose salary and taxable benefits topped $1 million last year), chief financial officer Ken Hartwick ($760,000) and general counsel Laura Formusa ($346,000) first received the golf memberships in 2002, according to a company report.
Formusa has also been named Hydro One's acting president and chief executive officer after Parkinson's departure.
Duncan acknowledged that he and Premier Dalton McGuinty have discussed "the need for a culture of change."
How likely is that, if the discussion doesn't begin right with the owners?

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Sargon's Vision

Just... ulp.

There is only a year left before Pluto transits into Capricorn. I now know that dark forces are gathering. The silly people who have been ruling us under the Pluto in Sagittaurus transit are now going to meet the forces, powers, and energies that they themselves summoned. Fenris, in his cold and leaden fashion, will find their misfortune funny...

One of the slanders that the left likes to use is 'racist'. The term has lost its meaning. It is thrown around like candy. Now, as I sit and write this, my heart is trembling. The real racists are now among us. I spotted one this very night. This is the first one I have seen in my life.
Read on.

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Crucifying Santa

My heart goes out to Jimmy Wright of Vancouver BC. His attempt to "encourage dialogue" and raise public awareness through art about the rampant consumerism in our society soon to cause the earth to burst into flames, has been criticized by his greedy neighbors.
A Vancouver Island artist has put an effigy of a crucified Santa Claus on his front lawn, causing some neighbours to complain it’s traumatizing their children.

Jimmy Wright said the figure is intended to be a comment on society’s growing appetite for consumer goods.

"I don’t know how it came into my mind but I thought I’m going to take Santa Claus and I’m going to crucify him."

Wright said his latest work is not for sale.

[..] Critics are concerned the effigy will spoil the magic of Christmas for children.

"If that magic is Santa and if that magic is ‘oh boy lots of stuff,’ well then that kid needs the message right away and so does the parent," Wright said.
The parents who have verbally attacked Mr. Wright have since been advised to undergo sensitivity training that will include a mandatory viewing of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth."

This important public service announcement has also been published at Mitchieville.

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Appropriate holiday salutations…

…from the festive folks at StatsCan!

The professionally sensitive in our day are men of less than average sensibility…

Via Dust my Broom, with apologies to Bertrand Russell

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A skeptics guide to global warming

HT: Drudge
Washington D.C. - Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the outgoing Chairman of Environment & Public Works Committee, is pleased to announce the public release of the Senate Committee published booklet entitled “A Skeptic’s Guide to Debunking Global Warming Alarmism. Hot & Cold Media Spin Cycle: A Challenge To Journalists who Cover Global Warming.”

[..] Senator Inhofe has challenged the media in a series of speeches and hearings to stop the unfounded hype.

“The American people are fed up with media for promoting the idea that former Vice President Al Gore represents the scientific “consensus” that SUV’s and the modern American way of life have somehow created a “climate emergency” that only United Nations bureaucrats and wealthy Hollywood liberals can solve.”
The PDF is available here.

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Thursday, December 7, 2006

Aad Caccbddbbddd, Ac Baba Ccbb

Help this quiz rank you in your adherence to four interestingly different economic schools of thought. Sample question:

18. What is the role of equality and inequality?

A - The modern emphasis on equality is the great policy advance of the last century. No longer does the political and economic system exclude women and minorities from participation but rather includes them as a matter of law. These groups tend to be artificially undervalued by the "invisible hand" of the market, which is why there is a role for anti-discrimination and public-accommodations law. The welfare state, too, has benefited society by insuring that the benefits of rising wealth are spread throughout society, so that the rich do not become richer at the expense of the poor. We've come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.

B - Equality is a term that properly relates to mathematics but not to social science. Human beings are unequal in their endowments, opportunities, and will to achieve. Unequal does not mean inferior or superior; it merely means different. Differences are the very source of the division of labor, and, within a market setting, lead not to conflict but cooperation. While differences should be celebrated, property owners have every right to treat people unequally because it is owners that bear responsibility. Legislators, however, should not have any concern for bringing about equality of result or opportunity, either between individuals or groups of individuals classified according to any criterion. The only place for equality concerns the law, which should treat all individuals the same without regard to their station in life.

C - Inequality is an intrinsic feature of a social structure that is mired in a prejudicial overhang from the long and shameful history of the manner in which Western society has treated women and other minorities. The prejudicial impulse, rooted in the spirit of conquest that gave birth to Western capitalism in the first place, is a form of violence and yet part of the corrupt infrastructure of the market economy itself. If the owners of capital were left to their own devices, excluded groups would remain so in perpetuity, so society had to act to restrain them. Full equality will continue to elude us, so long as we have a society that treats people as goods to be bought and sold, and so long as we put private ownership for the few above the common interests of us all.

D - It is a great mistake to make equality of result a policy goal, because egalitarian legislation can kill incentives to improve. Punishing the rich is self defeating, even for the poor striving to make their way. Equality of opportunity, however, is different. It is something everyone merits by their very dignity as a human being. Thus should a nation strive for quality educational institutions, institute a limited inheritance tax, and otherwise assist those who, through no fault of their own, lack the means to gain entry into the division of labor. Once these institutions are in place, we will find that the forces of market competition will achieve egalitarian goals through predominantly voluntary means.
Take the quiz -- and Choose Your Canada!

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Hydro One - Burning up your money while your house burns down

As Hydro One employees max out the government credit cards, taxpayers go into the red though they sit in the dark.

Expensive perks for senior executives and millions of dollars in credit card charges without proper documentation are examples of a culture of entitlement at Hydro One that will no longer be tolerated, Premier Dalton McGuinty warned Thursday.

But McGuinty admitted there's little chance CEO Tom Parkinson will be fired after a scathing auditor's report also found the executive put more than $45,000 in charges on a secretary's corporate card.

"We've got to be careful about what we do,'' McGuinty said. "We've got to be thoughtful.''

"We've got to make sure it's not the kind of thing that backfires on us.''
Like Caledonia for example. Dither long enough, promise more free stuff, and the People will gradually blame the previous government for the perpetual mistakes of tomorrow. As a gatekeeper of stolen public funds, hypocrite McGuinty cries "culture of entitlement" while he assures its continuance by doling out other people's money to those the bureaucrats find most likely to support their regime in need.

And Hydro One keeps on delivering:
They gave away thousands of strings of energy-efficient Christmas lights -- and now Hydro One wants them back.

West Lorne and Mitchell residents were part of the light exchange program in which Hydro One gave new LED lights to people who brought in their old, energy-sucking lights.

But now Hydro One is recalling all of them, saying there are safety concerns with the new lights.

[..] In return, people will receive a gift card.

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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Good news for bureaucrats

Rule by public experts:

A courageous city government armed with strong planning and urban design principles could make London the envy of Ontario cities, an internationally recognized planner said yesterday.
Now this is a novelty… a bureaucrat promoting bureaucratic solutions. Politically immune from economic demand for their services and the consequences of their decisions, civil servants of all stripes are gratuitously protected from the knowledge that there is no genuine demand for them. But plopped for no certain reason in a hierarchy of privilege and exemption, civil servants cannot fathom either that there is no certain use for them. The emperor must have clothes, the demand must be invented and, in proportion to its contrivance, paraded. Nothing to see here, though, folks… these promotions are designed to impress the same clients of central planning pretensions.
[Retired Vancouver director of planning Larry] Beasley said Vancouver was a terribly designed city, one of the worst in Canada, before the 1970s. But political will and public interest created a climate of change that made it possible to put in place policies that led to highly designed development, he said.

The guidelines included high-density land use, compact growth, open space to control sprawl, underground parking and a conscious plan to encourage public transit and discourage use of automobiles.

[…] About 20 per cent of any new residential development in Vancouver must be social housing, he said, adding 25 per cent of new multiple housing units are geared to families.
Insulated from having to abide by supply and demand themselves, it's very much a safe bet that civil servants have nothing useful to add on the subject of economics, so it's best to ignore what they say… at least until they put a lien on your property for unpaid tax bills.

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Ethical Retards

..part of me wonders whether speaking the same language or being the same height guarantees closer families. But it’s not for me to say. In the end, our energy is better spent advocating for a society where those factors won’t matter.

Dr. Darshak M. Sanghavi - the morally challenged creature who wrote this article.
If it's wrong to poke your child's eyes out because you want them to become a member of the blind "community", then it's equally wrong to use preimplantation genetic diagnosis to increase the possibility a child will be born crippled with a disability.
Wanting to have children who follow in one’s footsteps is an understandable desire. But a coming article in the journal Fertility and Sterility offers a fascinating glimpse into how far some parents may go to ensure that their children stay in their world — by intentionally choosing malfunctioning genes that produce disabilities like deafness or dwarfism.

The article reviews the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or P.G.D., a process in which embryos are created in a test tube and their DNA is analyzed before being transferred to a woman’s uterus. In this manner, embryos destined to have, for example, cystic fibrosis or Huntington’s disease can be excluded, and only healthy embryos implanted.

Yet Susannah A. Baruch and colleagues at the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University recently surveyed 190 American P.G.D. clinics, and found that 3 percent reported having intentionally used P.G.D. “to select an embryo for the presence of a disability.”

In other words, some parents had the painful and expensive fertility procedure for the express purpose of having children with a defective gene. It turns out that some mothers and fathers don’t view certain genetic conditions as disabilities but as a way to enter into a rich, shared culture.
Some people should just not breed.

HT: Billy Beck

Cross posted at The Broom

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Here Comes The Big War

Ex-Klansman Democrat Robert Byrd interviews incoming US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who cheerfully invites everyone in the world to pile on hard and take the war to the next level.

BYRD: Do you support — now, we hear all these rumors about the potential for an attack on Iran due to its nuclear weapons program, or on Syria due to its support of terrorism.

Do you support an attack on Iran?

GATES: Senator Byrd, I think that military action against Iran would be an absolute last resort, that any problems that we have with Iran, our first option should be diplomacy and working with our allies to try and deal with the problems that Iran is posing to us.

I think that we have seen, in Iraq, that once war is unleashed, it becomes unpredictable. And I think that the consequences of a military conflict with Iran could be quite dramatic.

And therefore, I would counsel against military action except as a last resort and if we felt our vital interests were threatened.
At least he's not Rumsfeld, eh? Boy, the TV sure convinced me that guy was scary and uncool. For a while there it was like the 60s never even happened. I doubt he even liked rock and roll music.
BYRD: What about an attack on Syria? Would you briefly describe your view of the likely consequences of a US attack on Syria?

GATES: I think the Syrian capacity to do harm to us is far more limited than that of Iran, but I believe that a military attack by US on Syria would have dramatic consequences for us throughout the middle east in terms of our relationships with a wide range of countries in that area. I think that it would give rise to significantly greater anti-Americanism than we have seen to date. I think that it would immensely complicate our relationships with virtually every country in the region.
Lots more suicidally reckless hand-tipping in the exchange; I can't find a full transcript but here's a start.

Excuse me now, I have to go now and smear honey all over myself so I can go make friends in the bear pit at the Toronto Zoo. One day I hope to run a defence department.

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Coming to a city near you

Jay Jardine notes a Financial Times comment on the German constitutional court's dismissal of "a claim from the country’s debt-ridden capital for an emergency injection of federal money."

For far too long, the city has been a subsidy junkie…
…which also happens to be part of London's strategic financial plan!
Too little economic activity and an overgrown state mean that today Berlin has debt of €60bn and tax revenues that cover barely half its €20bn budget.
It's much less likely that a court in Canada would have the same jurisdiction or inclination to undermine politics as a mechanism for inter-govermental tax redistribution.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2006

South Park and Libertarian Philosophy

Over at Lew Rockwell's site, Paul Cantor examines the philosophical message behind South Park.

HT: Samizdata

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Monday, December 4, 2006

A culture of victims - Part Two

As the two-tier welfare state gains momentum, it becomes more lucrative to cry specialized victim status than to actually get off your ass and prove your abilities are worth as much as the next comrade, regardless of their gender, sexual preference, skin color and ethnicity. True equality can only be achieved if individual group differences are overlooked for the greater good of the community as a whole.

Joanne Hussey says Prime Minister Stephen Harper owes her 29 cents -- the amount of money, for every dollar, that Canadian women earn less than men.

It's the message behind a campaign she and four other Halifax women have started, setting up a website and distributing pins and postcards to argue funding cuts to Status of Women Canada will only maintain that disparity.
Joanne was clearly educated at home during the formative early years and later, at private education institutions as she has failed to cast herself into the role of victimized proletariat. Clearly the capitalist impulse has not been completely purged from this greedy person whose attachment to her genitals discriminates against others in need. For example, according to statistics gathered by Sargon the Magnificent, red-haired alcoholics still earn just .35 for every dollar earned by employed white men and women. Bev Oda is only trying to give some of that money back to the community. Besides, us females will likely get it back anyway because women make up slightly over half of the voting population. And remember, studies of our species will still receive $18 million to gather statistics favoring our group at the expense of the rest of the planet.
"There's been a lot of research," she says. "So when you look at millions of dollars that has gone to studying, we believe that now is the time to start doing something about the facts that we know."

Oda insists her government will instead fund organizations and programs she says more directly affect women. Those could include the YWCA and the Salvation Army, or programs that encourage women to enter professions traditionally dominated by men.
Voting is discriminatory too! Oh, who shall we follow?!

Also appearing at Dust my Broom

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The Ladies' Auxilliary of Sarajevo

Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best boasted during the recent election campaign that she frequently walks downtown at night in response to characterizations of the core as unsafe. But it's a pretty good bet that her perambulations are in the boutique-y parts of the core before the bars get out… 'cause that ain't where the action is. Like a videogame, the Dundas and Richmond area gets hit again:

London police are investigating after early morning gunplay in the core left several buildings damaged. At least 10 shots were fired, likely by two shooters, police said this morning. Police also believe there is a victim out there, but have not yet identified anyone who has been shot.

Witnesses reported people running dowtown as the shots rang out in today’s early hours, about 2:45 a.m. Police arrived and arrested five people, but said early today those arrested are in custody on “unrelated matters.”

Dundas Street between Clarence and Richmond is still closed as police investigate.
Update: DeCicco-Best, commenting on the most recent still-unsolved shootings, demonstrates again the acute perception and problem-solving acumen that has made her a political powerhouse in London:
"To me, this is not about the downtown," she said. "We'll certainly continue our revitalization effort, but there are bigger questions here about community safety.

"This is not because it's downtown. (Crimes) take place in different places for different reasons."
Wow… what is she talking about? If it were anyone else, I'd chalk up the discombobulation to the slapdash anti-context editing practises of the Free Press, but having heard the mayor's double-plus-happy-speak in person I'm inclined to give the newspaper the benefit of the doubt.

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Saturday, December 2, 2006

BC Wins Showdown With Private "Super-Market"

VANCOUVER (CP) - The B.C. government won a showdown with a new, private "food rations super-market", reaching an agreement with the facility that will bar the foodstuffs depot from charging citizens.

But for the first time in Canada, the private rationing centre will also allow community members to get rations for which they would normally have to go to a public food ration distribution node.

The high-tech, American-style "super-market", which opened Friday, will now operate like any other food rations centre. It will charge the government for the rations rather than billing shoppers potentially hundreds of dollars, Food Minister George Abbott said Saturday.

"We did meet for about three hours yesterday for I guess what would be called a frank exchange of views. But it was a good, constructive meeting."

Under the compromise, comrades who don't want to wait in line at the ration distribution centre can instead go to the state-of-the-art Citizens' Food Shoppe and purchase certain vegetables, bread, and canned goods, among other things.

Mark Godley, who runs the so-called super-market, said the hungry have won.

"This is an unprecedented opportunity for ration recipients to have choice," Godley said at a news conference Saturday.

"There will come a time when there will be competition. There will be other rations distribution entrepreneurs who will see this model and who will imitate this model. They will open up in competition to us. I think that's a good thing."

Any person, regardless of ability to pay, can walk into the super-market and present their B.C. Food Rights Card and receive rations for non-luxury nutritional requirements.

The super-market remains privately owned and operated, just like most traditional ration distribution nodes.

The biggest difference is that the False Creek Citizens' Food Shoppe has much more advanced refrigeration equipment than most ration nodes, and can provide foodstuffs normally confined to conventions of public servants, foreign visitors, celebrities, and Party members.

"It certainly is much beyond what one would expect," Abbott said.

Godley said he's confident his supermarket will be able to support the purchase of such expensive equipment by providing more efficient service than food ration nodes, and by allowing community members whose ration books are in good order to also pay for luxury food items such as fresh meat, pure chocolate, and filtered water.

NDP food critic Adrian Dix said the compromise isn't good enough because it was reached in secret and will allow the private rations distribution sector to thrive.

"What the premier and the food minister have done is they've put a big sign here on West Eighth St. saying 'Queue Jumpers Come Here,"' Dix said outside the super-market.

Dix also said he expected rations recipients will be pushed into buying the other services the super-market provides, a charge Godley has denied.

The super-market opened its doors to a throng of media and some protest Friday.

The Citizens' Food Shoppe planned to charge a range of fees for various foodstuffs, including a membership fee of $199, $50 for a month's supply of Power Corp. Brand Powdered Milk, and $70 for two months' supply.

Twenty-four food services union members who work in rations distribution departments around Vancouver are employed by the Citizens' Food Shoppe, which distributes mandatory, optional, and luxury food items.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has condemned so-called dual practice where food service workers work in the public and private systems simultaneously.

Harper told Alberta Premier Ralph Klein earlier this year the practice offers a financial incentive for rations workers to send ration recipients into the private portion of their distribution node, and leads to queue-jumping by those that can afford to pay.

Godley had said he was confident the centre was operating within the terms of the Canada Food Rights Act.

But the B.C. government disagreed.

On Thursday, the government proclaimed legislative amendments giving the Food Services Commission the power to audit the centre and seek an injunction to shut it down. Premier Gordon Campell threatened prosecution.

On Friday, Abbott said the commission met to appoint inspectors to audit the new super-market and look into his concerns about extra billing and food quality "on an urgent basis."

That work was expected to begin Monday.

But after the agreement Friday night, Abbott said his office will be advising the commission of "this sharp departure that has been undertaken at this ration centre in terms of its billing practices.

"That may produce some change in how they (the commission) will move forward."

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