Friday, May 23, 2014

Response to ACORN 2014 Ontario election questions

Remittance Justice - Legislation that will cap the fees of money transfer companies (like Western Union and MoneyGram) at 5% of money transferred. This would be inclusive of all fees. The legislation would also include enforcement and disclosure.

David McGruer, Freedom Party candidate response: No.
The Freedom Party believes that the only proper role of government is the protection of the individual rights of life, liberty and property and logical extensions of these.  As such, government should not interfere in the free decisions of citizens who choose to engage in economic trade. Thus, legislation to force companies to adhere to an arbitrary price determined by someone else's wishes is not a proper function of government. The Freedom Party would gradually withdraw interference in the trade between citizens so they may return to un-coerced exchange of goods and services without a sudden shock to the economy.

Healthy Homes/Landlord Licensing - Call for a policy review of the Residential Tenancy Act for the first time since 2006 in order to re-balance the act between landlords and tenants. To be included in legislation:

  •  Vacancy Decontrol for full rent control.
  • Successor landlords need to comply with Landlord Tenant Board orders placed on predecessor landlords. 
  • Protect tenants from above the guideline rent increases that circumvent rent control laws in Ontario. 
  • Implement a province-wide system of inspections and enforcement for rental housing standards.

David McGruer, Freedom Party candidate response: No.
Since government does not have a moral and proper role in controlling innocent people's lives, landlords and tenants must be left free to negotiate the terms of contracts they choose to enter. In a free society there should be no price controls of any kind and no government dictates about how citizens conduct their peaceful business affairs. The Freedom Party would gradually de-control the housing market so as to allow citizens and their businesses time to adapt to the changes, knowing what change is coming well in advance.

Minimum wage - Raise the Minimum Wage to $14/now (if no, then to what wage level?)
Index the minimum wage to the cost of living

David McGruer, Freedom Party candidate response: No.
Under a political system of freedom, where the individual rights of all citizens are protected equally, there are no rules that coerce citizens into or out of any specific economic contracts. There is no interference in the right of workers and employers to negotiate their wages.  Basic economics demonstrates that one effect of using force against innocent citizens through a minimum wage law is to create a class of unemployed people who are prevented by government from working. This causes damaging ripple effects through the economy and the lives of citizens. In a free society there is full employment for anyone who wishes to work. The Freedom Party would eliminate artificial barriers to employment that contribute to poverty.

Disability Rights - Greater allowance instituted before the claw back is administered for both Disability and OW.  Restore the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit.

David McGruer, Freedom Party candidate response: No.
In a free society the government is responsible for protecting the rights of citizens and disabled citizens have identical rights to all others. The act of taking money through force in order to give it to other people, whether they are disabled or not, is contrary to all the principles of fundamental rights and freedoms.  In a free society such functions are all done voluntarily through benevolent charities. The Freedom Party would work to gradually withdraw government from wealth confiscation and distribution but would work to make sure the most disabled in society are provided for. After decades of crowding charity out of this area, it will take a long time to restore a normal situation and so some existing programs would have to continue for a long time.

Payday Lending - Lower cap on interest to fixed fee of $10 plus interest charged at an annual rate no higher than 60%, plus a fee that is a fixed percentage of the dollar amount of the loan no larger than 5%.
Create a two tiered where people on assistance have access to a lower rate. Enforce the Ban on Roll-Over Loans by creating a real time user database to monitor and avoid roll overs company to company.

David McGruer, Freedom Party candidate response: No.
In a society of rights protection, no business that is making voluntary exchange with customers can be forced to adopt any arbitrary policies. Those who do not like a particular business method are free to shop from competitors or do without the service.  A free society allows all alternative business methods to be tried out and the market of customers determines the business success through their free choices.

Inclusive zoning enabling legislation - Inclusionary housing programs are a way for municipalities to use their development regulation and approval process to have private developers provide some affordable in all (or nearly all) market projects. It increases the amount of housing stock. While inclusionary housing policies are set by local governments it is very much up to the Province to ensure that these municipal approaches can be enforced and are not subject to endless challenges at the Ontario Municipal Board. The Province should ensure that municipalities have the authority to establish inclusionary zoning practices.

David McGruer, Freedom Party candidate response: No.
Housing has been made far more expensive than necessary through massive interference in the marketplace. Through zoning regulation, building regulation, labour regulation and other ways, the provision of low cost housing has been made uneconomic and undesirable by government policy.  In a free economy home builders will build homes at a wide range of qualities and prices to meet the wide range of demand and ability to pay.  In a free economy, adequate housing could be provided for a fraction of today's cost and charities would fill in the gap for the tiny fraction of citizens who are truly unable to afford basic aspects of life such as housing. The Freedom Party would gradually de-control the housing market so as to allow citizens and their businesses time to adapt to the changes, knowing what change is coming well in advance.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Environmentalism versus human life

I wrote a short comment below a published article Time to get real about climate change.
I started studying this question a decade ago and immediately found plentiful scientific data that directly contradicts all the major claims of global warming alarmists. From the basic physics of atmospheric CO2 (a diminishing potential warming effect as concentration rises) to the claim that sea levels are rising faster than normal (the change is precisely in line with historical patterns), from the claims of unprecedented warming (easily shown false by historical documents and geological, sedimentary and plant growth records) to the projections of warming to come (every single IPCC climate model is now proven to have overstated projections, some by wide margins, thus all of them proven useless), anyone with the desire to learn about this science can find hard data to contradict the scary claims.
The basic motivation of the alarmists is to gain control of political power to force people to bend to their will and dictate their lives. This corrupt ideology has now spread to almost every corner of the economy and threatens the lives of millions of actual living human beings. No denouncement short of total condemnation of the environmental movement in this subject can be strong enough. Just look for yourself, use your own mind and see what is unsubstantiated claim versus established fact.
This prompted a question from another reader:
Dave, can you explain this in more detail?
The basic motivation of the alarmists is to gain control of political power to force people to bend to their will and dictate their lives. This corrupt ideology has now spread to almost every corner of the economy and threatens the lives of millions of actual living human beings.
If we develop alternative energy sources, esp if we can reduce carbon, we can solve the problem. Plants have been doing this for a billion years or so. How is this going to threaten lives?
I responded in more detail:
Sure I can explain more. I am a dedicated advocate of reason and its application to science and progress. I know that the rediscovery of the power of human reasoning to discern the properties of existence is what led to the enlightenment and the industrial revolution that followed. In just two centuries under a relatively high degree of political and economic freedom humanity advanced many times more by any measure than in all prior history combined. We live far longer, healthier, safer and more comfortable lives than ever and each of these if due to industrial progress rooted in scientific discoveries.
Among the technologies that has contributed (perhaps more than any other) to improvement in human life, is that of fossil fuel energy. A part of the physical environment that has always been here but we had no knowledge of how to use it, oil, gas and the like have enabled us to increase our productivity in every area. Our current state of housing, agriculture, clothing, health care, education, communication, transportation, arts and entertainment and every aspect of society I can think of has been tremendously leveraged upwards through the use of abundant energy released from fossil fuels. We owe our very lives and health and existence to the discoverers and commercial producers of this life-giving energy.
From early on, opponents of progress (and thus of human life) have made arbitrary assertions about flawed concepts such as "shortage" and limited supply. These people do not understand the principles of economics, principles that operate to motivate us to use the most accessible, least expensive sources of energy first and then to move on to discover more and even better sources. People of pre-capitalist mentality cannot understand how both consumption of energy and energy resources can grow at the same time. As one exciting example of this, I refer you to the fusion energy project under development by Lockheed Martin that appears to be quite close to reality. This is just one example of the limitless potential for human production of energy.
I am completely in agreement that humanity must (and totally believe we will) develop additional energy resources - so-called "alternative" sources that do not involve fossil fuels. Where I vehemently disagree with those who do not understand economics and progress is the methods by which progress is achieved. Environmentalists assert their moral right to use force against innocent citizens to prematurely impose non-fossil fuel energy upon us as if progress is to be achieved by dictates and not a gradual process of free experimentation and discovery. Photovoltaic and wind energy are the most prominent examples of this. At this time these methods of energy generation are fantastically more expensive than fossil fuels, so using them requires massive subsidies - that is to say wealth taken from citizens and given to those who build and run these energy systems. This destroys total wealth in society and thus permanently retards our standard of living and progress.
While photovoltaic panels are coming down in price and rising in efficiency, they are still a long way from being commercially viable except in remote areas. It may be 20 years until solar panels are on par with current power generation sources, and in any case they require backups and storage since they are unreliable and intermittent by nature. Meanwhile, sinking lost billions into this pet technology stifles innovation in other areas.
The crusade against fossil fuels makes it harder for pre-capitalist countries to progress, suppressing the lives and goals of their citizens, causing preventable disease to persist, shortening life, reducing technological and economic innovation and depriving the whole world of the opportunity to have millions more human minds functioning at a higher level, with all the potential gains to be achieved for all of us from this. Instead of being highly educated and thinking about production, science, technology and progress, these people's minds remain focused on basic needs such as food, shelter, health and survival. An incalculable waste of the potential of the human mind.
The advocates of so-called green energy are thus the major ideology opposing human life at this time. Since the clear failure of socialism and its variant communism as a means of organizing society, environmentalists have taken over the role once occupied so prominently by overt socialists. Socialists proclaimed they knew the path to heaven on Earth but asserted that much suffering and sacrifice was needed to achieve the egalitarian workers paradise. Since their premises were so patently false and this could be proven in this life and on this planet, outright socialism is now regarded rightly as a flawed ideology.
The environmentalists do not proclaim a future paradise on Earth for humans but rather that mankind is not a part of nature and that human interests must be sacrificed so that snails, bugs, plants and even rocks and the atmosphere can remain untouched by man's influence. Their ultimate goal is nature without man - the annihilation of all human values - known as nihilism. They ignore the fact that man's essential survival method is the modification of his environment to suit the needs of his life. As you will see if you search for quotes, a number of the most prominent and powerful environmentalists have overtly stated that the best thing for the Earth would be the elimination of humanity. A more evil and horrific philosophical position cannot be imagined.
I hope this helps.

Friday, May 16, 2014

"Noble lie" is too kind to climate alarmists

In an article published in The Epoch Times, Tom Harris builds his discussion around the term "noble lie" attributed to Plato: "He believed that most people lacked the intelligence to behave in ways that are in their own and society’s best interest and so lies should be created to keep the public happy and under control. False propaganda to enhance public welfare is completely acceptable, Plato argued."

The approach Tom Harris chose in this article actually is an unearned kindness to the acolytes of the climate disaster faith. The subtitle of the article is "doing the right things for the wrong reasons" but in this case the WRONG things are being done for "NO REASON".  For there to be a reason means that a rational process based on the observed facts of reality has been followed to arrive at non-contradictory conclusions.  This is the philosophy of Aristotle instead of the noble lies of Plato. Plato identified the major categories and questions in philosophy but had incorrect answers that laid the foundation for societies based on mysticism and religion. 

Aristotle laid the foundation for societies based on human reason and reality, of which there have only been two so far: the few hundred years following Aristotle and the enlightenment. The beginning of the destruction of the enlightenment came soon afterwards with the advent of Immanuel Kant and his successors, who denied the efficacy of reason, the validity of the senses and the existence of objective reality.  It is actually Kant's ideology that has provided the ammunition for the environmentalist movement. 

Consider each of the primary branches of Kant's philosophy. In Kant's metaphysics nature is something that exists outside of man and has some inherent value in man's absence (as if man does not represent the most highly evolved aspect of nature). In Kant's epistemology we cannot know anything for certain and so must not make decisions that may affect the future of the non-human environment (the precautionary principle). In Kant's ethics human life is considered as no more, and often less important than animal and plant life and even inanimate rocks and water (sacrifice of human values is the proper morality). In Kant's politics the population can be sacrificed for whatever non-human non-value may be arbitrarily identified, such as a supposedly static climate (something that in non-existent and would not be a valid reference point if it did).

The "noble lying" that Tom Harris refers to is not just a slippery slope but is far worse - it is the deliberate denial of reality to accomplish the immoral goal of achieving political power over the lives of others.  There is not a single noble aspect to it. Using the word noble gives it the appearance of having some positive aspect mixed with the negative, but in truth it represents not only a lie but an attempt to deny the existence of lying - destroying the very definition of the word "lie" in the same way and for the same reasons as enemies of reason and freedom use anti-concepts like "state capitalism" and "social justice" in an attempt to destroy the meaning of the words capitalism and justice.  

Tom, you have been too generous in criticizing the ideology of the warmists.  People who can advocate for policies that are clearly destructive of human values in the face of insufficient, to say nothing of demonstrably false scientific facts, deserve nothing but criticism of the most severe type. Lending them any aspect of the word "noble" does an injustice to the meaning of the word.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Entrepreneurs create child care, not politicians

A recent Toronto Star editorial and article perpetuated a long-standing and pervasive economic myth: that any business sector can be run well by government.  In this case the editorial said the government should "create spaces" and "offer opportunities" because tens of thousands of families are on waiting lists. What the Star did not address is the cause of such waiting lists and the moral and rational solution to such economic problems.

In a free country each individual has the right to make his own choices in life and the right to be free of coercion by other individuals and the government, so long as he recognizes the same right of others.  A free society has an economy driven by individual preferences: choices people make about how they will produce enough to earn their way in the world and how they will spend what they earn.  In such a society you are free to produce to extent of your ability and motivation, free to create wealth greater than you consume, free to trade your time, labour and products of your mind with others. You are not free to force others to pay for your food, housing, transportation, entertainment or anything else.  In a free society the initiation of force against citizens is prohibited by law and enforced by the police and the courts.

Freedom is the freedom to think, act, produce and to own the product of your efforts.  This is the essence of the concept of individual rights.  There can never be such a thing as the right to an outcome or to a product that must be provided by someone else - this would negate the very concept of rights and freedom.  It would make others slaves to your needs and wishes. It is the incorrect and immoral attitude towards rights and the role of government that is at the heart of the daycare problem.

In a free market there is a price mechanism that integrates the preferences of all citizens into a beautiful, coordinated and ever-adapting system of immense complexity.  The price signal indicates to producers and consumers how much value society places on each good or service when compared to all possible alternative priorities.  Through their spending and producing choices, every citizen has a direct vote on these priorities.  If many people place a high value on widgets and thus bid up the price, this signals to producers of all kinds that widgets are in demand and to increase the supply because it is profitable to do so.  If preferences shift then prices tend to fall and so do profits, so capital and labour is reallocated elsewhere. This is how a proper economy works.

Now imagine a government intercedes at the behest of a group of citizens who lobby for favours.  The group declares that there are not enough widgets or that widgets are too expensive for their liking. Government responds by regulating widget production, forcing widget prices down by subsidizing some suppliers and by opening government owned widget factories. The marketplace responds rationally to the lower price by withdrawing capital from widget production and seeking to reduce the cost of making widgets, even if the quality declines. Thus, the supply and quality of widgets adapts to the forceful intervention by doing less of the activity in question. "How can I compete with subsidized widget-providers?" says one company. "How can I complete when the government takes money from me through taxes in order to open a competing business?" says another.

The widget lobbyists go back to the government and wail that more force is needed because the bad (free) producers are not making enough widgets at a low price.  You can easily see how a vicious cycle of force-begetting-force is created.  It is always thus - the introduction of improper laws and economic interventions breeds more of the same in order to fix the supposedly unexpected consequences - consequences that could actually be predicted using rational economic principles. 

Have you even wondered why there are waiting lists for day care?  What barriers exist that prevent the marketplace from filling this apparently severe consumer need? Who stops people from opening day care businesses? What economic facts cause such a high need for day care?  It can only be the presence of coercion/interference in the marketplace that creates the problem.  There are severe limits on who is allowed to open a day care, where it can be, how many kids can be there, who can be hired, what employees can be paid and onerous regulations that raise the cost of being in the day care business.  On the other hand, parents are forced to pay such high taxes that they must work more than otherwise to afford their target standard of living, so they have less time to do parenting and so they need day care.

The correct solution to the problem of child care supply, as is the case for every economic problem we face, can be answered with one simple statement and all that it implies: laissez-faire (leave it alone). Laissez-faire economics, also known as economic freedom or capitalism, is the optimal political and economic system for mankind because it allows each individual complete freedom to choose and to let the marketplace see those choices.  Anything less than freedom has been called "shackled", "fettered" or words of a similar meaning, and the negative connotation those words carry becomes an actuality whenever government uses force against innocent citizens.  To solve the shortage of child care (and everything else) - laissez-faire!

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Pope is wrong to urge shifting of wealth to the poor

On May 10 Pope Francis was reported to have called for "government to redistribute wealth and benefits to the poor in a new spirit of generosity to help curb "the economy of exclusion" that is happening today." The Editorial Board of the Toronto Star demonstrate they are as economically illiterate as the Pope, when they make positive statements about the Pope's position.  I will make just a few points to illustrate this.

Generosity is the willingness to give to others and as such must be of a voluntary nature. It is not being generous when one is acting under coercion or threat.  Thus, the Pope contradicts himself when he says that government should be redistributing from those who have money to those who do not. His moral implication is that the use of force against innocent citizens is a moral role of government - if they do not voluntarily give enough to others to meet some arbitrary amount deemed as enough, then they must be forced against their will to give until someone else, presumably the Pope in this case, decides it is enough.

This morality is what philosopher Ayn Rand calls the morality of self-sacrifice, known as altruism. In an essay in her book "Philosophy, Who Needs It" Rand states "What is the moral code of altruism? The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value. Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice—which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction—which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good."

In an interview Rand said "But you must remember that religion is an early form of philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man’s life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy. And, as philosophies, some religions have very valuable moral points. They may have a good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory context and, on a very—how should I say it?—dangerous or malevolent base: on the ground of faith."

Another of the Pope's contradictions is clear in his statement that a more equal form of economic progress can be had through " the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state , as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society."  Not only does this statement reiterate the notion that citizens are mere vessels of the will of the state and do not have a right to their own life, liberty and property, but it creates an artificial and improper separation between private individuals and so-called "civil society".  The implication is that when acting alone in furtherance of their own life and goals individuals are not part of "civil society" and that they are only moral when they are acting collectively to coerce others.  This is the recipe for totalitarian dictatorship such as the Church held over citizens for a thousand years during the dark ages.

So an all-out attack on individual rights, human progress and economic freedom (capitalism) is Pope Francis' first formal writing as newly elected Pope. While he has given some signs of relaxing a few of the more severe tenets of the Catholic Church, this Pope is clearly little different from the long line that has come before him and he should be criticized for his denial of basic human rights.