Recommended Reading – Thursday, May 10th

May 10, 2012 by

Politicians’ Pension Plans Aren’t The Only Problem (Fraser Institute)

“Pay and pensions are always no-win minefields for politicians but here’s the problem when anyone thinks about that issue in isolation: it misses the massive price tag that exists for the entire public sector, of which political compensation, transition allowances and retirement benefits are only one component.

Politicians are part of a much larger public sector and the debate should always focus on this: what governments should or should not do (and from which the size of the public sector then flows); what is affordable for taxpayers; and private and public sector comparisons.”  (Click here to read more)

The Green Plague (Frontier Centre)

“The production and use of biofuel produces more greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels do when factoring in direct and indirect land-use change and nitrous oxide emissions from the production process.

The agriculture intensification necessary to maintain corn-ethanol feedstock will contaminate water systems with excess nutrients from fertilizer run-off. These nutrients, through a process called eutrophication, create hypoxic zones that are devoid of oxygen such as in the Gulf of Mexico and increasingly in Lake Winnipeg. These zones destroy marine ecosystems and harm local anglers.

Biofuel production is far more water inefficient than fossil fuel is. The irrigation required to grow feedstock on more-marginal land as production expands will put increasing strain on freshwater stocks—a commodity of increasing demand and scarcity.”  (Click  here to read more)

The People Are Entitled To Their Entitlements  (Publius)

“When the welfare state was being set up in the middle decades of the twentieth century its political backers came to an awkward conclusion: It wasn’t that popular. Certainly continental Europeans, accustomed to centuries of paternalism, had little problem with getting free stuff from the government. English speaking peoples are more individualistic. Their initial reaction to the welfare state was revulsion. Getting free stuff was immoral, you should work for what you receive. Anything else was charity, which was something only the desperately needy should ever accept or be given.

Shrewdly the welfare state’s pitchmen sold their ideas as a social contract. Whether it was Social Security in the United States, or CPP in Canada, these were earned benefits. As a citizen you paid into the state and in return the state provided certain benefits. This principle was later expanded to health care and post-secondary education. The math never really added up. People wound up paying either far more into the system than they ever got out, by virtue of a progressive tax system, or they consumed far more than they every paid in.

This new social contract also missed an essential element, it must be voluntary. You cannot consent to a contract at gun point. These were collectivized ponzi schemes which relied upon an ever expanding population and rapidly growing economy. Ironically the welfare state killed both, increasing taxes to a level that discouraged economic growth and larger families.

While the economic madness of the welfare state is now being exposed, it’s psychological damage may take decades to correct. We now have three generations of Canadians who believe that the government owes them something, whether by virtue of their birth or through coerced contribution. Old, young or somewhere it between, it is mindset that will breed statism of one kind or another for much of the foreseeable future.”  (Click here to read more)

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Recommended Reading – Tuesday, May 1st

May 1, 2012 by

When Considering A Familys’ Total Tax Bill, Income taxes Are Just The Tip of The Iceberg (Fraser Instititute)

“ In 2011, a Canadian family with average income of $74,233 paid $9,137 in income taxes. Personal income taxes are the single largest tax Canadians pay, but they represent just about one-third of the total.

Two other significant taxes on our tax returns are contributions to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Employment Insurance (EI). Additionally, residents of British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec pay health care taxes either through direct premiums or payroll taxes. All together, the average Canadian family paid some $6,328 in CPP, EI, and health taxes in 2011. Payroll taxes are second only to income taxes as the single largest government levy.

Next up are sales taxes which many of us hate since they show up every time we make a purchase. Calculating the amount of sales taxes paid by Canadian families is difficult as it requires people to track all their purchases of taxable goods and services. Nonetheless, our estimates suggest the average Canadian family paid about $4,748 in sales taxes last year.

Property taxes are no more popular than sales taxes and add $3,520 to the average family’s tax bill. A common misconception is that only homeowners pay property taxes. But renters also pay these taxes since they are rolled into their monthly rent. In one form or another, we all pay property taxes.

And it doesn’t end there. Most federal and provincial governments are running budget deficits, meaning that current taxes do not cover current government spending. By running substantial budget deficits, Canadian governments of today are putting off tax bills that will inevitably come due. Including deferred taxation (deficits) in the total tax bill raises it an additional $2,663 to $33,455.”  (Click here to read more)

Burying Carbon Storage  (National Post)

“The ditching of TransAlta’s $1.4-billion Pioneer carbon capture and storage (CCS) project represents a victory for economic sanity, but a mixed blessing for Alberta Premier Alison Redford. Ms. Redford indicated after she took over from Ed Stelmach last year that she wasn’t exactly a fan of hefty subsidies for CCS. However, the abandoned project will no doubt provide ammunition for those environmental NGOs lining up to present her with dinosaur awards at next month’s Rio+20 conference on sustainable development, where she will attempt to make the case for the oil sands to a distinctly unsympathetic ­audience.

Attacks on her are likely to be more virulent because the pillars of sustainable development — alarmist science, grand schemes of UN-co-ordinated global governance, carbon taxes and government-promoted “technologies of the future” — are all crumbling.”  (Clikc here to read more)

Quebec’s University Students Are In For A Schock  (The Globe And Mail)

“Quebec’s students have good reason to be furious. They should be furious at the professors who tell them that their cause is just, and who have deluded them into thinking that social justice can be achieved if only the greedy corporations are brought to heel. They should be even more furious at all the adults in the government and education establishment who have fooled them into thinking that the education they’re getting will equip them to thrive and prosper in the world.

The truth is, the education they’re getting is overpriced at any cost. The protesters do not include accounting, science and engineering students, who have better things to do than hurl projectiles at police. They’re the sociology, anthropology, philosophy, arts, and victim-studies students, whose degrees are increasingly worthless in a world that increasingly demands hard skills. The world will not be kind to them. They’re the baristas of tomorrow and they don’t even know it, because the adults in their lives have sheltered them and encouraged their mass flight from reality.”  (Click here to read more)

Our World’s Not Coasting On Empty After All (The Globe And Mail)

“Published 40 years ago, the Club of Rome’s cataclysmic environmental bestseller The Limits to Growth heralded the imminent end of human progress. Written by five Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists, the book asserted – with relentlessly Malthusian logic – that the world was heading toward global economic collapse. For many people, the assertion made sense. For many people, it still does. An ever-rising world population must inexorably deplete the world’s finite resources. Doesn’t it?

In a retrospective analysis, U.S. economist Charles Kenny, senior fellow with the Washington-based Center for Global Development, says the world isn’t coasting on empty. Quite the contrary, he says. “The biggest concern isn’t that the planet is running out of resources – it’s having too many for the planet’s own good.”  (Click here to read more)

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Recommended Reading – Thursday, April 26th

Apr 26, 2012 by

Even In Health Care, Incentives Matter  (Fraser Institute)

“As those who have ever endured painful months, or even years, waiting for medically necessary treatment have discovered, all the new cash poured into Canada’s health care system in recent years has made little difference.

Last month the Canadian Institute of Health Information [CIHI] released a report indicating that about 80 per cent of patients received treatment in priority clinical areas (cancer, heart, diagnostic imaging, joint replacement and sight restoration) within targeted benchmarks. But a closer examination suggests that it is certainly no reason for celebration.

First, flip that figure over: it means about 20 per cent of patients do notget access within these target times. That is a troubling proportion, given the length of some of the benchmarks touted as “acceptable.” For example: 182 days (six months) for hip and knee replacement, and 112 days (almost four months) for cataract surgery.

This reality is not entirely lost in the CIHI report, where it was noted that “few improvements were observed compared with previous years” and that “few provinces completed 90 per cent or more of procedures within a clinically appropriate time frame.”

Second, according to CIHI’s previous reports, the surgical procedures included in the priority areas only represent about one-eighth of all surgeries those performed in Canada. That omits the wait Canadians face for the other 88 per cent of surgeries.”   (Click here to read more)

Avoiding The California Nightmare In BC  (Macdonald-Laurier Institute)

“California, more so than almost anywhere on the planet, has all the ingredients to flourish and prosper. Its economy is well-diversified with everything from basic agriculture to high-tech research and development. Its coast provides incredible scenery and shipping access to the fastest growing regions in the world. California has a world-class system of universities and colleges. And its climate and environmental amenities make its lifestyle difficult to compete with. Yet despite all these advantages, California is an economic laggard.

California’s unemployment rate of 11 per cent is the third highest in the U.S. It ranks second worst on a broader measure of unemployment, with 21.1 per cent of workers in the state either unemployed, marginally employed, or only able to work part-time when full-time work is preferred.

Most tellingly, Californians are voting with their feet. Nearly four million more people have left California over the last two decades than have moved to the Golden State from other places in the U.S. Simply put, families are choosing to leave California for better opportunities.”  (Click here to read more)

 How Employment and Economic Growth Are Hindred by Politics (The Daily Reckoning)

“Since 2000, the working age population of the US has grown by 30 million. But the actual number of people with jobs has grown only by 12 million.

And if they reported the unemployment rate today the same way they did during the Great Depression, unemployment would be at 22% — only slightly below the level of the ’30s.

So, what happens to all the people who don’t find work? They go on disability!

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Social Security’s disability trust fund will run out of money in four years — in 2016. It will be amazing if it lasts that long. Because the disability rolls are growing twice as fast as the employment rolls.

Yes, dear reader, since the recession ended, officially, in June ’09, for every new person who has found a job, two supposedly have been disabled. At least, they’ve been added to the list of people receiving SSID benefits.

Could you get on disability, dear reader? Maybe. We went to the website to see if we could qualify. You just have to show that you have a condition that will prevent you from working for at least a year. And you must show that you’ve been employed in the past. If you’re 60 years old, for example, you need to show 9-1/2 years of previous employment.

During the Nixon administration, approximately 2% of the labor force was disabled. Now, it’s over 6%.

Disability, not employment, is Obama’s real achievement. Since June 2009, he’s added 4.7 million people who are judged too crippled, too stupid, too fat, or just too lazy and depressed to find work.”  (Click here to read more)

Are Democrats Wrong To Blame Teachers Unions  (Cato Institute)

“[W]hy are teachers unions so much more successful than other unions? The answer is simple: public schools lack both competitors and paying customers, eliminating the checks and balances on union demands that exist in the private sector. A business whose unionized workers drive up costs without raising quality loses customers and may have to lay off workers or even shut down. Union success is thus self-regulating. But if, as a parent, you don’t like the way your local district runs its schools, you have nowhere else to turn — not without moving or paying for a private school. And as a taxpayer, if your local schools mismanage your tax dollars, you can’t send those dollars anywhere else. That’s why public schooling’s inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending has more than doubled in the past four decades despite stagnating or declining academic outcomes: revenues don’t depend on satisfying customers.

That’s not the unions’ fault. It is the natural result of operating K-12 education as a fully state-funded monopoly. That, however, may explain why education-reform Democrats so often blame the unions instead. Acknowledging the real root of the problem — state school monopolies — seems like an attack on government or even on the ideal of universal education.

But it is not an attack on government to observe that government is bad at running schools, anymore than it’s an attack on shovels to note that they make lousy Web browsers. No single tool can do every job. Nor is it an attack on the ideals of public education to say that state monopolies are an ineffective way to pursue them. That’s a confusion of ends and means. Public education is a not a particular pile of bricks or stack of regulations, it is a set of goals: universal access, preparation for participation in public life as well as success in private life, building harmony and understanding among communities.”  (Click here to read more)

Why Moral “Don’ts” Matter Most (The Foundation for Economic Education)

““Moral do’s” are exhortations that tell us what to do if we are to be moral. Since the positive moral action they encourage is often a matter of degree, they tend not to be specific. For example, the moral exhortation “be generous” may induce you to give a beggar money, but it does not tell you how much to give in any given circumstance. Moral exhortations leave unanswered the question of how generous is generous enough to be moral. There are different degrees of generosity, and what you might think is appropriately generous in a given circumstance I might find inadequate.

Since there is no objective basis for determining the proper place to stop on the continuum of positive moral action intensity (people can honestly disagree about how generous is generous enough, for example), moral exhortations are inherently subjective. Moreover, encouraging one to be completely generous or completely kind just trades a specificity problem for a feasibility problem, since in most cases the upper bound (if one even exists) of the intensity of any given positive moral action is above any individual’s ability to pay. This brings us to a key point. Because moral exhortations normally require action, and action normally requires resources, moral exhortations normally force us to choose.

“Moral don’ts” are prohibitions that tell us what we shouldn’t do if we are to be moral. Unlike moral exhortations, moral prohibitions are not inherently matters of degree. Consider the moral prohibition “don’t steal.” One either steals or does not. While it is true that there are degrees of stealing, there are no degrees of not stealing.

Because positive moral action is normally a matter of degree, there is normally no objective basis for concluding that someone has behaved immorally in any given circumstance. But because of the categorical nature of moral prohibitions (one is either in the set “not steal” or one is not), obeying moral prohibitions is inherently objective. With respect to moral prohibitions, then, you either behaved morally because you obeyed or you behaved immorally because you did not.”  (Click here for the rest of the article)

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Recommended Reading – Thursday, April 19th

Apr 19, 2012 by

Students Don’t Know How Good They have It  (Frontier Centre for Public Policy)

“What is it about Quebec university students that, from one cohort to the next, they don’t know how good they have it?

Nearly 175,000 students are currently boycotting classes, for which they pay only about 10 per cent of the cost, in protest against the Charest government’s intention to increase undergraduate tuition fees for Quebec students by $325 a year over the next five years.

In taking to the streets – invading métro stations, disrupting traffic and even sacking the office of Education Minister Line Beauchamp – students have crossed the line from expressing their own freedom of speech and assembly to disrupting the lives of the very citizens and taxpayers who pay their bills.

Beauchamp, for one, isn’t for the turning. “Don’t expect me to give in to intimidation,” she said in a weekend interview.

Good, the government needs to show some steel. This is not Quebec’s Arab Spring; it’s only a step removed from anarchy.

And here’s the thing: even when the tuition increases are fully implemented, for a total increase of $1,625 over the five-year period, Quebec will in all likelihood still have the lowest tuition rates in the country. Only Newfoundland and Labrador is even close to Quebec’s rockbottom tuition fees.”   (Click here to read more)

What’s Right  (Gods of the Copybook Headings)

“Right or Left should be understood not as rigid philosophical definitions, something they were never intended to serve, but instead as rough and relative approximations. When someone says that it is cold outside we typically understand their meaning, even though they have not given an exact celsius or Fahrenheit reading. If it is summer and a perhaps they say that it is cold, we understand it to mean colder than average for that time of year. Same would go for saying something is blue or red. It’s a distinction good enough for casual discussion, though not for any kind of rigorous analysis.

Through out the English speaking world the term Right is generally used to describe positions that are skeptical of big government, supportive of private enterprise and respectful of social traditions. This is a broad and sprawling portion of the ideological landscape that includes most people who describe themselves as conservative, libertarian and classical liberal. The Right share common intellectual tendencies, a usual preference for individualism for instance, and typically vote for political parties that describe themselves as “right-wing.”

The modern anglosphere Left is typically supportive of big government, skeptical of private enterprise and regards most social traditions as irrational hold-overs from the receding past. The term covers diverse groups including moderate liberals (and Liberals), social democrats, socialists and even those further afield into the realm of communism. Like the Right the Left share common intellectual tendencies, preference for collectivism over the individual at least in economic matters, and typically vote for parties that describe themselves as “left-wing.”" (Click here to read more)

Flunking Both Moral and Economic Tests (Foundation for Economic Education)

“If compulsory unionism were put to a moral test, it would flunk without debate. Forcing a worker to join and pay dues to an organization he doesn’t want to represent him is a manifest violation of that worker’s free will and right of contract. It so happens that it also fails the economic test.

You don’t have to take my word alone. If you want to read a gripping story of one man’s David-versus-Goliath battle against Big Labor, read the new book by David Bego, The Devil at My Doorstep. It chronicles his company’s lengthy, costly, but ultimately successful effort to prevent the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) from dragooning his employees into its ranks.

Faced with repeated failure to convince Bego’s workers to unionize, the SEIU mounted a vicious campaign of violence, intimidation, and smears. The story reads like a novel of horrors. Because it’s true it ought to raise alarm among all citizens that such a powerful and politically well-connected group can often get away with it.”  (Click here to read more)


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Recommended Reading – Tuesday, April 17th

Apr 17, 2012 by

 Slum Dwellers in India Save for Private Schooling  (Heritage Foundation)

“Since 2009, public education has been both free and required for all children between the ages of six and 14. Yet many families in Mumbai slums, where they lack even toilets and basic sanitation, save up their meager earnings to pay for private school education for their kids.

A recent Economist article states that between a quarter and a third of school children in India attend private schools. In India’s cities, experts estimate as many as 85 percent of children attend private schools. According to another report, 73 percent of families in Hyderabad’s slum areas send their children to private schools.

Additionally, private school enrollment has been rising in most of the country, even as public education was legally required to become free and more accessible. Much of the growth is coming from low-cost private schools that cater to poor families and charge tuition as low as $1 per month.

So if the government is providing free education for all children, why are so many poor parents spending their limited income on schooling?”  (Click here to read more)

Random Thoughts (Thomas Sowell)

“With all the talk about people paying their “fair share” of income taxes, why do nearly half the people in this country pay no income taxes at all? Is that their “fair share”? Or is creating more recipients of government handouts, at no cost to themselves, simply a strategy to gain more votes?

Some people are puzzled by the fact that so much that is said and done by politicians seems remote from reality. But reality is not what gets politicians elected. Appearances, rhetoric and emotions are what get them elected. Reality is what the voters and taxpayers are left to deal with, as a result of electing them.

People who believe in evolution in biology often believe in creationism in government. In other words, they believe that the universe and all the creatures in it could have evolved spontaneously, but that the economy is too complicated to operate without being directed by politicians.”  (Click here to read more)


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Recommended Reading – Thursday, April 14th

Apr 12, 2012 by

A Global Assault on Religious Beliefs (Cato Institute)

“The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has released its latest report with grim news. According to USCIRF: “Across the global landscape, the pivotal human right of religious freedom was under escalating attack. To an alarming extent, freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief was being curtailed, often threatening the safety and survival of innocent persons, including members of religious minorities.”

Religious liberty matters even to people who are not religious. Everyone has a transcendent worldview. Protecting the right to believe also means protecting the right not to believe.

Moreover, religious liberty is an important indicator of political freedom and other human rights. A society and state which refuse to respect the most fundamental right of conscience in religion are unlikely to respect it elsewhere. Religious liberty is the proverbial canary in the mine. If people are oppressed because of their religious faith, they are likely to be victimized for holding other unpopular beliefs.”  (Click here to read more)

The Good News On Health Care  (Whiskey and Gunpowder)

“Some people theorize that progress in medicine is possible only with massive government involvement. You have to force business to provide insurance, for example. But only 3% of pet owners have insurance on their pets, and somehow the system works. You pay for what you need. Prices are posted and openly discussed. Everyone knows what’s what. You can even find out the costs of services by looking on the Internet. Imagine that!

Also, and strikingly, veterinary medicine is relatively unregulated compared with the human health care industry. There are no budget-busting government programs to provide for poor pets or pets in their older years. There are no prescription drug benefits. There are no subsidies, mandates or third-party payment systems, much less threats, bureaucracies or a giant central plan designed to achieve universal access.

Instead, medicine for animals works just like any other normal market. There are standards, rules and private boards to assure quality control. There are strict and highly regrettable regulations on how many universities can offer certification, a fact that undoubtedly raises prices and salaries, but harms availability. But once the certified doctor opens shop, the customer is in charge.”   (Click here to read more)

Poverty Does Not Need To Be Eternal  (Fraser Institute)

“One thousand years ago, the average infant could expect to live about 24 years, with one-third of infants perishing in their first year of life. Among the rest, “hunger and epidemic disease would ravage the survivors,” wrote Maddison in his now decade-old book, The World Economy—A Millennial Perspective. In contrast, by 2000, the average infant, using a worldwide average, could expect to live 66 years.

The spillover effects of massive economic growth have had other beneficial effects in multiple areas that also contribute to decent and desirable lives: money for scientific advancement, education, medicine and health care, the arts and a thousand other desirable goods. But the first and most obvious effect has been on poverty reduction.

In a 2009 paper, Columbia University economists Maxim Pinkovskiy and Xavier Sala-i-Martin found that between 1970 and 2006, poverty rates around the world fell by 80 per cent, albeit unevenly—Africa lags behind Asia and Latin America. Nevertheless, worldwide, the total number of poor “has fallen from 403 million in 1970 to 152 million in 2006,” wrote the researchers, who also found that various measures of global inequality declined substantially.

Poverty is a scourge and there are few other issues as critical to ponder. While some individual choices and rotten luck can put people into poverty, progress is being made in getting many people out of it.”  (Click here to read more)

When Government Safety Nets Break  (Whiskey and Gunpowder)

“The West’s governments are going to default, one way or another. Politicians cannot bring themselves to stop spending money the governments do not have.

The deficits of the major Western governments are now so great as to be irreversible. The governments must now borrow money to be used to pay interest on money already borrowed. In the housing market, this is called a backward-walking mortgage. It invariably spells default. The subprime mortgages were mostly of this type.

The West’s largest governments are therefore subprime borrowers.

Politicians no longer speak about politically viable plans to call a halt to these deficits. They speak as though revenues will come from some unknown sources. They talk of reducing the debt-to-GDP ratios in the distant future. This is subprime mortgage thinking. It always leads to foreclosure and bankruptcy. But this fact did not stop lenders, 2002-2007. It does not stop them today. Lenders lend 90-day money to the U.S. Treasury for eight one-hundredths of a percent. “What could go wrong?” Answer: plenty.”  (Click here to read more)

Green Policy Damaging The Environment (Walter Russell Mead)

“Europe has long prided itself on being greener and more environmentally conscious than the rest of the developed world, with its commitment to a 20 percent reduction in carbon emissions 20 by 2020 being the clearest indication of this consciousness. There’s just one problem with this conceit: Green policies may actually be increasing CO2 emissions in Europe in the medium term.

The Guardian reports that the EU’s new biomass emissions policy has a gaping hole in it. Currently, European countries are encouraged (often via subsidies) to produce 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources. Chief among these “renewables” is biomass (generally trees), which is graded as “carbon neutral.”

Unfortunately, the accounting logic used to arrive at this assessment of carbon neutrality is a bit fuzzy. It doesn’t account for the temporary carbon increases incurred by cutting down trees, which are important carbon sinks:

[B]ecause there is a time lag between the carbon debt that is created when a tree is cut down, transported and combusted – and the carbon credit that occurs when a new tree has grown to absorb as much carbon as the old one – biomass will increase atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the interim.

Critics are now beginning to cry foul:

“We’re paying people to cut their forests down in the name of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and yet we are actually increasing them. No-one is apparently bothering to do any analysis about this,” one Brussels insider told EurActiv.”

(Click here to read more)

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Recommended Reading – Thursday, April 5th

Apr 5, 2012 by

Dupes for the State  (Walter Williams)

“If we banned or restricted all activities that affect, harm or have the possibility of harming other people, it wouldn’t be a very nice life. Let’s look at what can affect or harm other people. Non-obese people are harmed by obesity, as they have to pay more for health care, through either higher taxes or higher insurance premiums. That harm could be reduced by a national version of a measure introduced in the Mississippi Legislature in 2008 by state Rep. W.T. Mayhall that in part read, “An act to prohibit certain food establishments from serving food to any person who is obese, based on criteria prescribed by the state Department of Health.” The measure would have revoked licenses of food establishments that violated the provisions of the act. Fortunately, the measure never passed, but there’s always a next time.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2010, nearly 33,000 people were killed in auto crashes. That’s a lot of harm that could be reduced by lowering the speed limit to 5 or 10 miles an hour. You say, “Williams, that’s ridiculous!” What you really mean to say but don’t have the courage to is that to save all of those lives by making the speed limit 5 or 10 miles per hour is not worth the inconvenience. Needless to say — or almost so — there are many activities we engage in that either cause harm to others or have the potential for doing so, but we don’t ban all of these activities.”  (Click here to read more)

Market Economies with Churches and Market Economies without Churches (Acton Institute)

“Zhao Xiao, a government economist in China, on the differences between market economies with Churches (like the U.S.) and market economies without churches (like China):

Is it not integrity that you are pursuing? Then you ought to know: places with faith have more integrity. For China’s crawling economic reforms, this ought to be an important inspiration. Market economies with churches are different in another respect from those without: in the former, it is much easier to establish a commonly respected system. The reason is simple: a people that share a faith, compared to people who only believe in themselves, find it easier to establish mutual trust, and through that to conclude agreements. However, where is the cornerstone for the American constitution? In fact, as early as the first group of English Puritans who came over to the New World on the Mayflower, there was the Mayflower Compact, which would become the foundation of autonomous government in the separate states in New England. Its contents comprised civic organizations as well as working out just laws, statutes, regulations, and ordinances, and the first line of the covenant was “In the name of God, Amen.” So shared faith is the foundation for shared law. Otherwise, a legal system, should it arise, will not be respected.”  (Click here to read more)

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Recommended Reading – Tuesday, April 3rd

Apr 3, 2012 by

Public Debt Is The Prince of Policy Problems (National Post)

“Politicians spend money they do not possess and can get only by borrowing, leaving the citizens and their descendants to repay it. And for this we call the politicians warm-hearted, kind, farsighted and generous. Politicians who do not follow this practice are widely condemned as misers.

The Progressive Conservative leader in the Ontario legislature, Tim Hudak, remarked last week that in government “You can only spend what you have.” That’s not true, of course. Governments routinely spend far more than they have — they spend what they have, what they hope to have, and also what they (or their successors) might conceivably have on some happy day in the future. For this they receive thanks.

Hudak also said, “We just can’t keep piling up deficits.” That’s true now, apparently, but most governments in most democracies have, for the last few generations, believed just the opposite. That’s why we’re suffering.”  (Click here for to read more)

Canada’s red-ink budgets: 45 of the last 65 years  (Fraser Institute)

“Ever since the last recession, Canadians have been informed by pundits and the political class that stimulus spending—perhaps better labelled as “binge” spending—was critical to Canada’s economic recovery.

But extra government spending had little to do with Canada’s exit out of the recession. The recession ended in mid-2009; it was only about then that federal and provincial governments started spending extra (borrowed) stimulus cash.

To credit stimulus spending for the end to Canada’s recession, one must argue that extra dollars mostly spent after June 2009 somehow magically rescued the Canadian economy before June 2009. Right. Only if one believes in budgetary time travel.

All the borrowed money did have this effect: it added to the large federal debt mountain already in place. The federal debt will hit $614 billion in 2015, up from $457 billion in 2008. Such debt resulted from the decades-long practice by governments to transfer wealth from future generations—by chronic borrowing—to pay for current needs and wants.  To wit, it is in that context that the 2012 federal budget should be placed and graded.”  (Click here to read more)

The Coming Medical Ethics Crisis  (Cato Institute)

“For the past several years, the medical profession has been undergoing a disturbing transformation. The process was begun by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in an effort to control exploding Medicare costs, and was accelerated by the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. As a surgeon in practice for over 30 years, I have witnessed this transformation firsthand. I fear that my profession will soon abandon its traditional code of ethics and adopt one more suited to veterinarians.

For centuries, my predecessors and I have been inculcated with what has come to be called the “Hippocratic Ethic.” This tradition holds that I am ethically required to use the best of my knowledge to recommend to my patient what I consider to be in my patient’s best interests — without regard to the interests of the third-party payer, or the government, or anyone else.

But gradually the medical profession has been forced to give up this approach for what I like to call a “veterinary ethic,” one that places the interests of the payer (or owner) ahead of the patient. For example, when a pet owner is told by a veterinarian that the pet has a very serious medical condition requiring extremely costly surgery or other therapy, the veterinarian presents the pet’s owner with one or more options — from attempt at cure, to palliation, to euthanasia — with the associated costs, and then follows the wishes of the owner.”   (Click here to read more)

The Biggest Carbon Bomb is Disinformation (Frontier Centre for Public Policy)

“Donna LaFromboise, William Kay and others have exposed environmentalists and the IPCC global warming scam. These “scientists” cited their own unpublished and non-peer reviewed ‘research’, and acted as their own ‘editors.’ It has become clear that the biggest ‘carbon bomb’ is disinformation.

And look out if you publicly disagree with AGW!  SLAPP suit coming your way to silence you – Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.

Disinformation and public myth-making has left people believing that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a pollutant. Or that carbon dioxide exists in overwhelming volume.”   (Click here to read more)

Are We Oppressed By Technology  (The Daily Reckoning)

“To really engage life to its fullest today means being willing to embrace the new without fear. It means realizing that we have more mental and emotional resources to take on new challenges. If we can marshal those and face these challenges with courage and conviction, we nearly always find that our lives become more fulfilling and happy.

The biggest canard out there is that the digital age has reduced human contact. It has vastly expanded it. We can keep up with anyone anywhere. We make new friends in a fraction of the time. That sense of isolation that so many feel is evaporating by the day. Just think of it: We can move to a new region or country and find ourselves surrounded by communities of interest in a tiny fraction of the time it used to take us.

As a result, digital media have made the world more social, more engaging, more connected with anything and everything than ever before. This isn’t a scary science fiction world in which the machines are running us; instead, the machines are serving us and permitting us to live better lives than were never before possible. Through technology, millions and billions have been liberated from a static state of existence and been granted a bright outlook and hope.”  (Click here to read more)

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Recommended Reading – Saturday, March 31st

Mar 31, 2012 by

Time To Reform The Canada Health Act  (Fraser Institute)

“The primary problem with our health care system has never been a lack of spending or inappropriate levels of cash transfers from the federal government. Rather, it’s federal legislation that discourages the provinces from experimenting with policies that have been implemented in other developed nations with universal access health care.

This discouragement stems from federal legislation that threatens the provinces with potential reductions in federal transfers for health care if the provinces do not follow the rules, regulations, and federal interpretations of the Canada Health Act. 

While the Canada Health Act requires the provinces to provide universal health coverage and portability across the country, it disallows a variety of policies that are being used in other countries that provide universal health care to deliver better care at lower costs. “  (Click here for the rest of the article)

Who Is Most Likely To Resist Totalitarianism?  (Independent Institute)

“I have devoted much of my scholarship over the years to studies of the state—its nature, its growth, and its relationships with other aspects of social life. I have been struck repeatedly by a certain fact about episodes of sudden or extraordinary expansion of the state: when push came to shove, those who resisted—often to the death—tended to be people of faith. In U.S. history they included primarily Anabaptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other marginalized Protestant sects. In Nazi Germany, many of the regime’s opponents were Roman Catholics, as were the opponents in Poland under Communist rule. Atheists as a class did not distinguish themselves as resisters of tyranny or totalitarianism, although some individual atheists did resist. Of course, some of the most horrible regimes—the USSR, Communist China, Kampuchea, North Korea—rested on atheism as an integral part of the regime’s official line, and in Germany the Nazis virtually nationalized many of the Protestant churches.”  (Click here for the rest of the article)

Elections Are Our Hunger Games (Whiskey and Gunpowder)

“And just as in The Hunger Games, democracy manufactures discord where none would exist in society. People don’t care if the person who sells them a cup of coffee in the morning is Mormon or Catholic, white or black, single or married, gay or straight, young or old, native or immigrant, drinker or teetotaler or anything else.

None of this matters in the course of life’s normal dealings with people. Through trade and cooperation, everyone helps everyone else achieve life aspirations. If someone different from you is your neighbor, you do your best to get along anyway. Whether at church, shopping, at the gym or health club, or just casually on the street, we work to find ways to be civil and cooperate.

But invite these same people into the political ring, and they become enemies. Why? Politics is not cooperative like the market; it is exploitative. The system is set up to threaten the identity and choices of others. Everyone must fight to survive and conquer. They must kill their opponents or be killed. So coalitions form, and constantly shifting alliances take shape. This is the world that the state — through its election machinery — throws us all into. It is our national sport. We cheer our guy and hope for the political death of the other guy.”  (Click here for the rest of the article)

Sugar Taxes Are Unfair and Unhealthy  (Cato Institute)

“If the regulatory discussion about sugar is going to be based on science, rather than science fiction, it needs to move beyond kicking the soda can.

Conventional wisdom says draconian regulation—specifically, a high tax—on sugary drinks and snacks reduces unhealthy consumption, and thereby improves public health. There are many reasons, however, why high sugar taxes are at best unsuccessful, and at worst economically and socially harmful.

Research finds that higher prices don’t reduce soda consumption, for example. No scientific studies demonstrate a difference either in aggregate soda consumption or in child and adolescent Body Mass Index between the two thirds of states with soda taxes and those without such taxes.

The study that did find taxes might lead to a moderate reduction in soda consumption also found this had no effect on adolescent obesity, as the reduction was completely offset by increases in consumption of other calorific drinks.” (Click here for the rest of the article)

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Recommended Reading – Tuesday, March 27th

Mar 27, 2012 by

Alberta’s Public Sector Unions Versus Alberta Prosperity (Fraser Institute)

“If Albertans employed in the energy sector ever wonder why some people underestimate the vast contributions made by the oil and gas industry to Alberta’s prosperity, a new ad from the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) provides a clue.

In a recent newsletter sent to Alberta’s nurses, the province’s umbrella organization for unions published a one-page ad that portrays a balding energy company executive sitting at a hefty desk with his large whisky carafe beside him. The Dickens-like figure intones, “Your provincial government would rather underfund its own education and health care systems than charge me and my energy company an extra penny in taxes or royalties.”

The ad and its accompanying website are a mishmash of error-prone assertions. Here’s one in particular: that “Albertans are being forced to give up the basics.” Health care and education are mentioned as specifically underfunded.

Time for a fact check: On health care, in 2011, Alberta’s public expenditures amounted to $4,528 per capita, second only to Newfoundland (at $5,077). The national average last year was $3,778. ” (Click here for the rest of the article)

Warming Up to Environmentalism  (Whiskey and Gunpowder)

“I’m starting to rethink the whole environmental craze in the culture, which is about as inescapable as pop music and jeans. It was born some 50 years ago and it has spread like a cancer ever since.

It’s always annoyed me that its most consistent dogma, pushed without evidence or argument, is that commerce, and all that is associated with commerce except on the smallest possible scale, is always and everywhere destructive to animals, plants, earth, air, water and (when they finally get around to this point) human health. So therefore, we should somehow eschew commerce, by hook or crook, in favor of some variant of asceticism.

This is, obviously, rubbish. Commerce is the heartbeat of civilization, the thing that makes possible prosperity, shelter, clothing, long lives, good lives, health, high and low culture, learning and every manner of fun. Without commerce, we lose all that we love and we are ground down to a primitive state of being, gathering and hunting and fighting for survival against the elements.”  (Click here for the rest of the article)

Affluence and Fortune (National Review)

“In his “Economic Scene” column in the New York Times last week, Eduardo Porter wrote, “The United States does less than other rich countries to transfer income from the affluent to the less fortunate.”

Think about that sentence for a moment. It ends oddly. Logic dictates that it should have said, “transfer income from the affluent to the less affluent,” not the less fortunate.

But for Mr. Porter, as for the Left generally, those who are not affluent are not merely “less affluent,” they are “less fortunate.”

Why is this? Why is the leftist division almost always between the “affluent” and the “less fortunate” or between the “more fortunate” and the “less fortunate?”  (Click here for the rest of the article)

On The Watch For Religious Perecutors  (Cato Institute)

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, said Thomas Jefferson, and that includes religious freedom. Religious persecution is tragically common abroad.

While members of all faiths are sometimes at risk somewhere, Christians are constantly victimized almost everywhere. And in many of these cases the threat is violence, imprisonment, and even death. Martyrdom apparently is more common today than during Roman times.

The California-based group Open Doors has released its latestWorld Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians around the globe. A Baker’s Dozen are communist or former communist states, led by North Korea. An incredible 38 are Muslim, including several of Washington’s allies. (Seven are both communist/former communist and Islamic, truly a toxic combination.) The other six are a potpourri — Hindu India, Buddhist Burma and Bhutan, conflict-ridden Colombia, and Eritrea and Ethiopia, which are both repressive and religiously divided.

Topping the World Watch List is the so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which leads any parade of the world’s repressive, impoverished, or just plain awful places. Explains Open Doors: “Defiantly Communist in the Stalinist style, a bizarre quasi-religion was built around the founder of the country, Kim Il Sung. Anyone with ‘another god’ is automatically persecuted, which is why the 200,000-400,000 Christians in this country must remain deeply underground.” At least a quarter of them may be confined to labor camps.”  (Click here for the rest of the article)

Beware of the Mob (Victor Davis Hanson)

“Democracies are in general prone to fits of the mob. Just read the Thucydidean account of the debate of Mytilene. Or watch a 1950s Western as the lynch party heads for the town jail. Fear of democratically sanctioned madness is why the Founders came up not just with classical tripartite government to check and limit power between the judicial, legislative, and executive branches, but also now generally disdained notions of allowing states to impose property qualifications for voting, the Electoral College, two senators guaranteed per state regardless of population, and senators originally selected without direct votes.

They were not concerned that under Athenian-style democracy the proverbial “people” and their populist Rottweilers in government and the press could not check the power of capital and birth, but were worried, as Juvenal later quipped, over who would police the police. So there had to be checks on the mob as well — a fickle and unpredictable force as we saw in the last eight years.”  (Click here for the rest of the article)




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