Recommended Reading – Wednesday, November 30th

Nov 30, 2011 by

Rent Control Violates Property Rights and Due Process (Cato@Liberty)

“Rent control is literally a textbook example of bad economic policy. Economics textbooks often use it as an example of how price ceilings create shortages, poor quality goods, and under-the-table dealings. A 1992 survey revealed that 93 percent of economists believe that rent control laws reduce both the quality and quantity of housing.”

Ending Income Inequality (Walter E. Williams)

“Benefiting from a hint from an article titled “Is Harry Potter Making You Poorer?”, written by my colleague Dr. John Goodman, president of the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis, I’ve come up with an explanation and a way to end income inequality in America, possibly around the world. Joanne Rowling was a welfare mother in Edinburgh, Scotland. All that has changed. As the writer of the “Harry Potter” novels, having a net worth of $1 billion, she is the world’s wealthiest author. More importantly, she’s one of those dastardly 1-percenters condemned by the Occupy Wall Streeters and other leftists.

How did Rowling become so wealthy and unequal to the rest of us? The entire blame for this social injustice lies at the feet of the world’s children and their enabling parents. Rowling’s wealth is a direct result of more than 500 million “Harry Potter” book sales and movie receipts grossing more than $5 billion. In other words, the millions of “99-percenters” who individually plunk down $8 or $9 to attend a “Harry Potter” movie, $15 to buy a “Harry Potter” novel or $30 to buy a “Harry Potter” Blu-ray Disc are directly responsible for contributing to income inequality and wealth concentration that economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman says “is incompatible with real democracy.” In other words, Rowling is not responsible for income inequality; it’s the people who purchase her works.

Happy 7 Billion (The Interim)

“The doomsayers have predicted that with more people comes more war and conflict. Well, just like their predictions that population growth inevitably comes with famine and poverty – just the opposite has occurred over the past five decades, with the UN’s Human Development Report indicating almost universal increases in the standard of living – the warnings about conflict have proven false. As development economist Peter Bauer pointed out in the 1970s, “rapid population growth has not been an obstacle to sustained economic advance either in the Third World or in the West.”

Famines are caused by bad government policies. Democratic and accountable governments can get food to the hungry in emergencies, but corrupt governments do not. Most of the worst famines of the 20th century — Russia, Red China, North Korea, and Ethiopia — occurred in communist countries while other cases of starvations (Zimbabwe) occured as a direct result of agricultural central planning. What most places need is better government, not fewer people.But if having billions of people populate the world doesn’t cause poverty or famine, doesn’t it lead to more conflict? With less room to stretch out before we bump into our neighbours, people are likely to get testy, aren’t they?

According to the Simon Fraser University “Human Security Report” released in 2010, the number of conflicts and wars has actually declined over the past six decades. In 1950s, it noted, the average international conflict killed 21,000 people annually, but today the average conflict causes under 18,000 deaths, and there are fewer conflicts. It finds the “world is getting more peaceful.” That is the thesis of Steven Pinker’s new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, which argues that human beings have never lived through such peaceful times as they do now at the beginning of the 21st century. Since the end of World War II, there have been a growing number of countries amongst which war is unthinkable. Indeed, the greatest violent international threat is Islamic terror which is ideological in nature and has nothing to do with population density or any supposed population-related problems.”

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Recommended Reading – Tuesday, November 29th

Nov 29, 2011 by

Margaret Wente:  Calling Dr. Clavicle (The Globe and Mail)

“Dr. Clavicle has a sister who’s a horse vet. They often discuss the irony that if you are a horse, and not a person, the doctor can see you right away. “The veterinary industry looks for business and caters to a market that wants to be looked after,” he told Maclean’s magazine a while back. “Me? I spend most of my time actively deflecting as much as I can.”

This story has a happy ending – for me, at least. I asked to be put on standby in case a last-minute vacancy came up. Thankfully, one did. Dr. Clavicle’s overworked assistant called me up one day and gave me 30 seconds to decide if I wanted to drop everything and take it. I did. Now my collarbone is bolted back together and I am happy as a clam. After all, I got surgery almost as fast as a horse”

Lorne Gunter: We’re All Addicted to Big Government (National Post)

“…over 80% of us are receiving some form of government benefit and for non-senior families, that benefit amounts to $3,600 a year. For senior families, it’s nearly $25,000.

That has huge political implications. No wonder the federal Tories are as keen to tax and spend as the Liberals who governed before them. It’s too risky promising cuts when so many Canadians are hopelessly addicted to public spending. Ditto for provincial and local governments.

The likelihood that enough voters can be found to support a party promising a drastic decrease in the size of government and the tax burden becomes even more remote when you look at the breakdown of who relies the most on government assistance. According to StatsCan, people in the bottom two quintiles of income in Canada (the people in the bottom 20% and the next-lowest 20%) — so 40% of the population — receive nearly 60% of their income from government of one form or another.”

Tasha Kheiriddin: Canada’s ‘human development plan’ is called ‘the family’ (National Post)

“When you factor in the billions of dollars a year it would cost to implement ECE for all two-to-five year olds, it becomes very clear that there are better things to do with this money, including leaving it in parents’ pockets so that one can choose to work less and parent more for those first few years. “We need to turn our family policy junkyard into a human development system”, says the Early Years 3 report. No, we don’t. We need to turn human development back over to families, where it belongs.”

Why Not Pay Taxes (Victor Davis Hanson)

“The usual liberal complaint against the conservative opposition to higher income taxes is greed and the better-offs’ self-serving reluctance to pay their “fair share.” But while perhaps true in some instances, I don’t think that is an accurate writ against most of those in that now demonized $200,000 and above categories who resent forking over more. Rather, here are a random 12 complaints that I hear from those who become furious about preposed higher income tax rates:”

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Recommended Reading – Friday, November 25th

Nov 25, 2011 by

Wall’s Road Ahead (The Canadian Taxpayer Federation)

Next door in Alberta, they were able to pay off their debt and drop taxes to some of the lowest rates in Canada, but they also increased spending. And boy did they ever.

Over the past decade spending in Alberta has skyrocketed. So much so that when the revenue slowed down, the government couldn’t close the spending taps; they’ve rung up almost $7.5 billion in deficits over the last three years alone.

Learn from the past, continue to close the tax gap and be mindful of Alberta’s mistakes. If Mr. Wall can do that, the road ahead will be smooth for Sask taxpayers. 

Taking Safety to Extremes (Frontier Centre For Public Policy)

Safety first, common sense last. That seems to be the motto when it comes to public schools these days. Earlier this month, the principal of Earl Beatty Public School in Toronto sent a letter to parents informing them that hard balls such as soccer balls, volleyballs, tennis balls, and footballs were now banned from school property.

“Any balls brought will be confiscated and may be retrieved by parents from the office. The only kind of ball allowed with be nerf balls or sponge balls,” explained the letter.

Although the Earl Beatty principal’s decision is extreme, it is typical of the lack of common sense in public schools. Such an overarching emphasis on student safety makes little allowance for any activity that involves some level of risk and results in nonsensical decisions such as the one described above.

Demographic Debt Wall (Financial Post)

“The Minister [Finanace Minister Flaherty] needs to know, however, that as difficult as it will be to get back in the black within five years, he has an even more daunting job that he needs to think about. The inconvenient truth that must be faced by Canadians and their governments is that eisting demographic forces are so large that governments at all levels will soon need to make even larger adjustments to their fiscal frameworks.

The aging and eventual retirement of the Baby Boomers will present Canadian governments with a two-part fiscal challenge. First, the decline in the Boomers’ workforce participation will lead to a slowing of national income and thus a slowing of governments’ tax revenues. Second, key public programs will become more costly as a share of GDP, especially those providing health care and income support for the elderly.

 

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The Freedom to Fail

Nov 25, 2011 by

In the movie ‘Batman Begins’ there is flashback scene where the audience is shown an experience from the childhood of the protagonist, Bruce Wayne (Batman). In this scene, the young Bruce Wayne has fallen into an underground cavern and injured himself. Shortly after the fall he is rescued by his father. As the young Bruce Wayne is carried into the house, his father teaches his son an important lesson through a question, to which the father also provides the answer.

“Why do we fall down, Bruce? So that we can learn to pick ourselves back up again.”

This idea was phrased another way by basketball legend Michael Jordan. When asked what he attributed his success to, he stated:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

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Recommended Reading – Thursday, November 24th

Nov 24, 2011 by

A tale of three islands – The world’s population will reach 7 billion at the end of October. Don’t panic (The Economist)

“Odd though it seems, however, the growth in the world’s population is actually slowing. The peak of population growth was in the late 1960s, when the total was rising by almost 2% a year. Now the rate is half that. The last time it was so low was in 1950, when the death rate was much higher. The result is that the next billion people, according to the UN, will take 14 years to arrive, the first time that a billion milestone has taken longer to reach than the one before. The billion after that will take 18 years.

If you look at the overall size of the world’s population, then, the picture is one of falling fertility, decelerating growth and a gradual return to the flat population level of the 18th century. But below the surface societies are being churned up in ways not seen in the much more static pre-industrial world. The earth’s population may never need a larger island than Maui to stand on. But the way it arranges itself will go on shifting for centuries to come.”

Crushing debt jeopardizes Quebec’s welfare state (Financial Post)

“Quebec’s much-vaunted welfare and family programs are veering towards collapse under a crushing debt load that puts it in the company of financial basket cases like Greece and Italy, says a new study.

It argues that Quebecers’ preference to live common-law instead of marrying will make the pain worse for its citizens when the financial reckoning comes.”

 Ontario gets closer to an EU-style crisis (National Post)

“While doing his best to seem to be doing nothing, Ontario’s Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan, Wednesday began the messy business of redecorating the province’s fiscal framework. In an economic update that included a reiteration of Ontario’s looming slide into euro-style debt ratios, Mr. Duncan moved ever so slowly to change the McGuinty Liberal colour scheme from pre-election rosy and green to post-election black and blue.

“As all Ontarians know, continuing to borrow without curbing spending is simply not sustainable,” he said, even though his government has raised the provincial debt by more than $100-billion since 2003 without once curbing spending. Total debt is heading toward $300-billion in coming years.”

China to Cancel College Majors That Don’t Pay (Wall Street Journal)

“China’s Ministry of Education announced this week plans to phase out majors producing unemployable graduates, according to state-run media Xinhua. The government will soon start evaluating college majors by their employment rates, downsizing or cutting those studies in which less than 60% of graduates fail for two consecutive years to find work”

 How did Europe get in so much debt trouble? This chart says it all (The American Enterprise Institute)

 

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Recommended Reading – Tuesday, November 22nd

Nov 22, 2011 by

Canada’s dairy cartel vs. consumers (Fraser Instititute)

“Canada’s cartel-like supply management boards should be abolished and for the same reason other cartels are already illegal: they cement an undesirable nexus between politics and money; they promote crony capitalism, lock out competition and in the case of supply management boards, collude to raise prices on an essential human need: food.

Let’s not forget who that hurts most of all: the poorest Canadians whose meagre incomes are overwhelmingly spent on the basic necessities of life. ”

Why the Wheat Board Monopoly is Being Removed (Frontier Centre on Public Policy)

“As Western Canadian farmers have become larger, more educated, and more sophisticated, they placed greater value on autonomy and freedom of choice, as evidenced by the Conservative sweep of the rural Western vote. Changing economics, demographics, technology, and values have left many farmers desiring “marketing choice” instead of monopoly.”

Imagine old age without the state (MercatorNet)

“Governments did not invent social security. They copied it from the oldest social institution in the world.”

Settled? (Walter Russell Mead)

If physicists can control themselves while the most fundamental elements of their worldview are challenged by a handful of researchers with some interesting but quite tricky and potentially flawed results, then the climate world should be able to handle controversy with a little less venom as well.  My guess is that the best climate scientists are more interested by the questions critics are asking rather than infuriated by their temerity in doing so.  The orthodoxy enforcers and the heresy police tend not to be the finest scientific minds; skepticism and curiosity make for good science, not herd thinking and righteous rage.

In any case, as we wait to discover whether some things move faster than light, it’s worth remembering that science is a force that challenges orthodoxies and upends comfortable certainties.  Galileo, not the Inquisition, was the scientist and even when he came up with the wrong answers, he knew that his calling in life was to ask questions.

Center Can’t Hold (The Daily Reckoning)

“Developed countries can’t continue to pay for lifestyle enhancements with debt. Total debt-to-GDP ratios already exceed 250% for almost all of them. Britain and Japan are near 500%. At 5% interest, it would cost 25% of total output just to pay for past spending — hamburgers eaten years ago…salaries paid in 1997…and bridges that already need repair! At Italy’s current yields, nearly a third of GDP would be required. As the cost of this past increases, there is less and less money available for voters in the here and now. The center cannot hold. It doesn’t even want to.”

 

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Greece’s lessons for Saskatchewan

Nov 19, 2011 by

The ongoing discussions on how to solve the financial crises occurring inGreece, and other European countries, are bound to come to naught. The reason for this is that what plagues Greece is much deeper than any of the proposed solutions can offer. Talk of capital infusions, more loans, repudiation of existing debt, and so forth will not address the underlying problem.

And what is the problem that faces Greece? The problem is this – there is large gap between the past financial obligations that the Greek government has made to its citizens and the current ability to pay for these obligations.

And what accounts for this large gap? Greece has failed to produce a new generation of citizens to pay for the financial obligations that past generations have awarded themselves.

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Recommended Reading – Thursday, November 17th

Nov 17, 2011 by

Provinces follow Ottawa’s pattern of rosy revenue forecasts and unrealistic spending projections (Fraser Institute)

To Save the Euro We Must Destroy Germany (Mish Shedlock)

 The Inefficiency of Local Food (Freakonomics)

Five Lesson fro America from the Europena Fiscal Crises (Cato)

 

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Churchill on Free Enterprise

Nov 17, 2011 by

“Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot.

Others look on it as a cow they can milk.

Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.”

- Winston Churchill

source – Oliver DeMille

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Recommended Reading – Tuesday, November 15th

Nov 15, 2011 by

End the Milk Cartel (National Post)

Occupy Vancouver protesters need not worry; young Canadians can and will advance economically (Fraser Institute)

Markets are Messy (FEE)

The Education Change is Coming Faster Than You Think (Walter Russell Mead)

Literature and the Search for Liberty (Independent Institute)

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