Sunday, August 28, 2011

An Appalling Case of Progressivism

This is precisely the reason I am a proponent of socially conservative values (h/t GayPatriot):
Officials in Basel [Switzerland] have agreed to rename the “sex box” after receiving some 3,000 letters of protest from parents angered by the controversial trove ofwooden penises and fabric vaginas set to be used in a new sex education programme for playschool and primary school kids. 
Christoph Eymann, Basel education minister and member of the liberal democrat party (LDP), responded to parent’s protests in an interview with SonntagsBlick. 
It was no doubt stupid to call it a ’sex box’ – we will change that. But we will stick to our goal: to get across to children that sexuality is something natural. Without forcing anything upon them or taking anything away from their parents,“ he said. 
Many parents say they do not understand why sex education needs to be taught to children as young as four.
I can see the point of educating teens about sex, but four year olds?
Eymann said he understood that one line in the programme, “touching can be enjoyed heartily”, could be misconstrued, but insisted: “It is not about ‘touch me, feel me’. We want to tell the children that there is contact that they may find pleasurable, but some that they should say ’no’ to. Kids can unfortunately can become victims of sexual violence already at playschool age." 
Eymann said he would prefer if sex education was taught to children at home but argued that education officials needed to respond to the realities of today. 
We currently live in an oversexualised society. There is uncontrolled distribution of pornographic material that can reach young children. Some primary school children know the TV schedule until 2am. We would like to offer these children firm support, which is often not available in the family. The box is only an aid. I trust the teachers to approach the material with care.”
Yes, we do live in an oversexualized society.  However, making it further oversexualized is not the solution.  And, this is perhaps the worst part:
Some parents have called for their children to be exempted from sex education. Eymann says he is strictly against exemptions, although he is aware this will not make him many friends: 
“Primary school may be the only big audience that our society has. The shared values that it teaches are very important. I would definitely like to keep this. The explanatory lesson can be portrayed in a way that doesn’t offend“, he said.
This is one of those things that would make me check the date if it weren't August (in case it were April 1st).  Still, I have a difficult time thinking any sane person would actually think this is the solution to anything.  While I am opposed to government intervention into the actions of people in private (as long as they are not causing harm to anyone), it is clear to me that children, especially children this young, are not rational, and cannot understand sex and what its significance is.  Sex is a natural thing, but, it has the capability of causing problems when it is not understood rationally.  I would prefer to live in a society where sex is not out in the open, where it is private.

In addition, it is totally unacceptable for parents not to be able to pull their children out of this program.

NOTE: I almost titled this post "Mental Porn for Pedophiles" but I decided not to.

Friday, August 26, 2011

An Evil Corporation

From the Vancouver Sun:
BC Ferries says it is in the process of "discontinuing its sponsorship agreement with the Vancouver Canucks" in a letter accompanying its cagey reply to a Freedom of Information request regarding the amount it spends on tickets, luxury suites and advertising at Rogers Arena. 
BC Ferries has been a sponsor of the Canucks for years, an agreement which includes ads along the boards and access to a corporate box the ferry corporation can use to entertain guests.
But the publicly owned ferry corporation is refusing to tell the public just how much money it spends on the sponsorship and seats.
BC Ferries is the crown corporation that operates the various ferries throughout the province, most of which connect the Lower Mainland (Vancouver Metropolitan Area) to Vancouver Island.

I am glad that their sponsorship of the Canucks is ending, but why does a monopoly need to advertise?  They are spending taxpayer money to advertise something that people have to use if they want to take a ferry to Vancouver Island (or anywhere in the province).  The fact that taxpayer money is spent on tickets and luxury boxes is just outrageous.  Taxes are supposed to benefit taxpayers, not give VIPs a comfortable location from which to watch an NHL game.  These are the kinds of things that can be cut from the budget (instead of increasing fares).

Like many other crown corporations, BC Ferries should be privatized.  The government has no business running a corporation (particularly a monopoly).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Quisling I Am Not

In this recent post of mine, I attempted to refute a common argument I have seen made by the gay left in response to the existence of gay conservatives.  Another common "argument" I have seen made by some members of the gay left is that gay conservatives are "quislings."  Or, in other words, we are traitors (to the gay community).  That is a very offensive slur however, as it implies some loyalty to the gay community in the first place.  I do have other characteristics, some of which I share with some non-gay people.  And, to me, those characteristics happen to be more important than my sexual orientation.  I guess I can understand why some people, who believe they are oppressed (or something), would want to group together, especially if they are trapped in a perpetual victim complex (as most gay leftists appear to be).  As I have said before, I do not have any loyalty to the gay community, nor do I have any intrinsic link to other gay people (and I especially do not have a link to people with "gender identity" issues).

Furthermore, sexuality cannot be compared to race.  Unlike race, sexuality is not hereditary.  My father is not gay.  Nor is my mother.  Most black people have at least one black biological parent.  I wasn't born into the gay community.

I haven't known that I have been gay for my entire life.  Some of my characteristics, however, I have known about, or have become aware of prior to my acknowledgement of my homosexuality.  Such as my conservative political views.

Let's Be Reasonable

I would like to address a topic that I have been meaning to address, but have not done so yet.  And that topic is religion.  Like homosexuals, those lacking a religious belief are generally assumed to be politically left-of-centre.  And, also like homosexuals, there do exist those lacking a religious belief that are conservative.  There even exist conservative homosexuals who lack a religious belief (such as myself).

I consider myself agnostic, because I believe that we cannot know for certain whether or not a deity (or any supernatural entity) exists (unless it were proven that one does exist).  And, just because modern science doesn't prove the existence of some supernatural entity, that doesn't necessarily mean that it never will.

For all practical purposes, I suppose I am atheist, in that I would only accept a supernatural entity/diety if it were scientifically proven.  In accordance with the principal of Occam's razor, that dictates that the hypothesis that depends upon the fewest assumptions is generally favorable, I do not believe that anything supernatural exists.  Most things can be better explained with science.  And, for that which cannot be explained with science, new scientific discoveries have elucidated what has previously been unexplained.  Ergo, it stands to reason that new scientific discoveries may elucidate what currently cannot be explained with science.  Having said that, science is not absolute.  Existence is mysterious, and, in my opinion, we humans cannot be absolutely certain that things are how they seem, regardless of how likely or unlikely they are not how they seem.

I do not view those with religious beliefs as inherently inferior to myself because they are religious, just as I would hope that religious people would not view me as inferior because I am not.  I have a great deal of respect for religion, as I believe it plays a significant role in society.  In this comment I made to a post at GayPatriot, I explained my views on this subject.  So, instead of writing something new, I will just recreate most of that comment because it does the job.
I have a large amount of respect for religion, the role it plays in society, and the people who commit to it. I doubt I would ever be able to understand faith, but I can respect how important it is (as long as I still have freedom to be secular). It provides a valuable structure and a means by which to keep people grounded and restrained, as well as a means by which to keep society moral. As long as the religion is a benevolent force (unlike Islam), I condemn those who mock it. They should have the freedom to mock it, but I cannot understand or appreciate their intolerant motivation.
As a social (or cultural) conservative who favors limited government, I recognize religion as a valuable means by which to propagate a moral structure in society and it does so much better than government ever could. In other words, it keeps people and society “clean” and modest.
I do not have respect for those who, whether conservative or liberal, who [sic] fail to respect another point of view, so long as that point of view allows for dissenting point of views [sic].
While many atheists/agnostics claim to be rational, I will say that many of them have an irrational opposition to religion.  Because I was raised secularly, I have no understanding of the nature of religious faith, so, for that reason, I cannot condemn it as "irrational."  The primary function of most secular organizations seems to be to pass judgement on others, which I find ironic.

As for the nature of the relationship between religious people and secular people, I would hope there could be a mutual respect.  Not all atheists are religion-hating liberals.  Public expressions of faith do not threaten me, just as they shouldn't threaten anyone else.  In addition, religion is not necessary for morality.  Most people are able to tell the difference between right and wrong.  That doesn't mean those people necessarily avoid doing wrong, but many do.  That also doesn't mean that secular people are as moral as religious people; the opposite is probably true.  

There are plenty of secular conservatives.  And, something that also applies to gay conservatives is that much of the incredulity of this apparent oxymoron is based upon misconceptions.  The misconception of the average conservative as being a religious zealot that means to dictate what people are allowed to do in the privacy of their own bedrooms, or something.  While there are those on the right who may fit that description, there are many who do not.  I mentioned this issue in a previous post, in which I also present an argument (someone else's) for cultural conservatism.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Something interesting I just noticed about my blog... the country that produces the fourth most visitors to my blog is Latvia.  My blog doesn't get very many visitors, the vast majority of which are from the United States, and the vast majority of the remainder of which are from Canada.  I am quite surprised, in any event, that I have had so many visits from Latvia.  I am guessing most, or all, of these visits must be from the same person.  Or, while I don't know very much about computers, perhaps this is due to a router located in Latvia or something.  Is that possible?  Anyway, I just thought that was interesting.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Self-Loathing, etc.

One of the most common points made by the gay left as to their argument that gay people cannot be conservative that I have seen is this: liberals are more supportive of gay rights than conservatives.  In general, that is true.  However, their argument is based upon a false premise.  If this is the nature of their argument, that since liberals are more supportive of gay rights than conservatives, that gays should be liberal and conservative gays are self-loathing, then they make a flawed assumption.  And that assumption is that gay people are one-dimensional, or that they have no other qualities, or perhaps their sexual orientation is the most important aspect of them.  While that may be true for some people, it certainly isn't for others.  For them, it seems, gay rights issues trump all others.  So, it follows that, since liberals are better on gay rights issues, it doesn't make any sense for a gay person not to be a liberal.  However, since there exist homosexuals whose sexual orientation is not their defining aspect, other issues may be more important to them.  In my view, homosexual people are basically equal to heterosexuals in terms of what rights they have.  So, for me, gay rights issues are unimportant.  In fact, I will go even further and say that I oppose gay rights as they are generally defined by the left.  That does not hold true for every issue, but it does for most.  If you are wondering how a homosexual can hold that view without hating himself*, then you are clearly unfamiliar with the concept of objectivity.  I should be able to objectively analyze anything in which I am personally invested just as effectively as something in which I am not.  When analyzing anything, I use a set of consistent values or principles, and I do it objectively.  So, what is so self-hating about that?  Yet another common false assumption that is made by those on the gay left is that LGBT people are all a unified bloc.  Of course, this is plain absurd.  For one thing, I am conservative first and gay last.  Another false assumption is that, because I am a homosexual, I can be assumed to have other characteristics that aren't necessarily related to sexual orientation, or that the homosexual population is not diverse to any significant extent.  For example, I would not be surprised if some gay person questioned whether I was, in fact, gay, based on my other characteristics.  Despite the fact that I am unquestionably homosexual, I am prudish, I don't listen to Lady Gaga, and not only do I not know the first thing about fashion, I hold it in contempt.  Those are just a few examples.  

No further assumptions should be drawn about me based on the one piece of knowledge that I am gay.  I consider myself fairly socially (or more accurately, culturally) conservative.  And apparently, social conservatism and homosexuality (not to mention agnosticism, but that is a totally separate issue) are mutually exclusive.  If you accept my previous arguments, however, this is ridiculous.  I may not agree with social conservatives on some issues, but I do agree with them on most.  Most issues have nothing to do with sexuality whatsoever.  

My hypothesis on the gay left's resentment of the gay right is that it is based upon false assumptions, about both homosexuals and conservatives.  If you have an accurate understanding of both, and use logic in your reasoning, it should not be difficult to accept that homosexuals can be conservative.  Furthermore, in my case, it wouldn't make any sense for me to adopt liberalism/progressivism as my political ideology, based on my other characteristics.

*Please note that opposing "gay rights" is not the same as wishing homosexuals less rights than others; I do not believe in granting homosexuals special rights.  I do, in fact, favor equality, I just favor equality in its actual definition, not as it is defined by the left.

UPDATE:  Please see also this post.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

But They're Obviously Racist

Most business economists favor spending cuts over tax increases (h/t Instapundit).  This is not a surprise to me, but it may inspire a few ad hominems from leftists (seeing as how that seems to be their preferred method of "debate").
The majority of economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics believe that the federal deficit should be reduced only or primarily through spending cuts. 
The survey out Monday found that 56 percent of the NABE members surveyed felt that way, while 37 percent said they favor equal parts spending cuts and tax increases. The remaining 7 percent believe it should be done only or mostly through tax increases. 
As for how to reduce the deficit, nearly 40 percent said the best way would be to contain Medicare and Medicaid costs. Nearly a quarter recommended overhauling the tax system and simplifying tax rates and exemptions. About 15 percent said the government should enact tough spending caps and cut discretionary spending. 
The latest survey by the NABE was conducted in the two weeks ending Aug. 2, the day that the Senate passed and President Obama signed legislation to cut spending by more than $2 trillion and raise the nation's debt ceiling. 
The agreement managed to avert a potential default, but Standard & Poor's downgraded U.S. credit from AAA to AA+, citing the political wrangling over the deal as a reason.

Insurance "Fraud"

If you live, or have lived, in British Columbia, you are likely familiar with the bureaucratic behemoth that is ICBC (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia).  That crown corporation has been responsible for many scandals and controversies throughout my memory.  The most recent is quite egregious.  At least three separate cases in which victims of car accidents have been forced by ICBC to pay for the damage.

This is yet another example of why ICBC needs to be abolished.  There doesn't seem to be any accountability, and British Columbians do not have much choice when buying insurance.  I am sure many people have their own reasons for despising ICBC.  I am sure it would be quite a process to dismantle this behemoth, and it would take time, but it would be worth it.  The government is a cancer.  ICBC is just another cancer-infested appendage that cannot perform its function effectively and needs to be amputated.

Jack Layton, 1950-2011

NDP leader, and the leader of the official opposition, Jack Layton, has died after a battle with cancer.

While I strongly disagreed with his progressive ideology, politics must be put aside during a moment such as this.  It cannot be denied that he accomplished a lot during his life.  He was very popular and very likable.  He contrasted starkly with the stereotypical elitist leftist intellectual.  He connected with voters, and his charisma is a factor in the NDP's surge in support in the most recent federal election.  Common descriptions of him are that he had a positive energy and was very determined.

While we may feel contempt for politicians, their deaths remind us that they are people, and are as every bit human as anyone else.  Sometimes, it may be difficult to look past the politics and see politicians as humans, but that ability is a powerful unifying force.  This is a time of national unity as we see Mr. Layton for his noble qualities, of which he had many, and not for his politics.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

War, French Style

From Yahoo:
We all work hard at the office, right? Of course. But sometimes, you have to take a break and let off some steam. And sometimes, a challenge must be met, and a battle joined. Thus it was that when employees at Ubisoft Montreuil in France decided to blow off some creative steam by decorating their building's windows with animated characters created out of Post-it notes, their neighbors across the street at BNP Bank declared a Post-it War.
How stereotypical.  The French would rather make art than work.  When I first saw this, the first thought I had was "what about all of the lost productivity?"

Sad News Involving Kittens

I love animals.  Not in a PETA sort of way; I also love eating animals.  I have a fondness for snakes.

But my weakness is kittens.  So, I get pretty angry when I hear about people microwaving cats.  And, in the latest infuriating instance of animal cruelty, two people have been arrested after they were caught on camera throwing three kittens in the garbage at a ferry terminal in Nanaimo.  Unfortunately, one of the kittens had to be put down.  What sort of sociopath would throw kittens in the garbage?

Canada's George W. Bush

In a recent poll, Pierre Trudeau, of which I know little, was ranked as the best recent Prime Minister of Canada. According to Wikipedia, Trudeau was a socialist before becoming involved with the Liberal Party and is notable for "preserving national unity against Quebec separatists."  Current Prime Minister Stephen Harper was second in the poll.  He was also ranked as worst prime minister (along with fellow conservative Brian Mulroney).  From Yahoo:
In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,002 Canadian adults, 36 per cent of respondents said Trudeau has been the best prime minister, since 1968, followed by Stephen Harper with 19 per cent of the votes, Jean Chretien with 12 per cent, and Brian Mulroney with 6 per cent.
Mulroney, marred by the Schreiber inquiry, has lost more than half of his supporters since 2007 with most of the gains going to Stephen Harper.
Angus Reid also asked Canadians about who they thought the worst prime minister was.
Both Harper and Mulroney,  were honoured with that distinction, each earning 19 per cent of the vote, respectively.
And to no one's surprise, the anti-Liberal bastion of Alberta was the only province in Canada to choose Trudeau as Canada's worst prime minister. 

The Omniscent Obama Passively Impugns Those Destructive Republicans

What follows are some excerpts from this article detailing President Obama's first day on the campaign trial his bus tour to "flyover country" (h/t GayPatriot).
"If your voices are heard, then sooner or later these guys have to start paying attention," Obama said in Iowa on Monday. "And if they don't start paying attention, then they're not going to be in office and we will have a new Congress in there that will start paying attention to what is going on all across America."

While the White House insisted in the lead up to the tour that the trip was about official business because Obama was talking to Americans, the president was clearly talking to voters. With his sleeves rolled up, tie missing and campaign cadence on full display, Obama appeared to be in total campaign mode.

"And if they don’t get it done, then we’ll be running against a Congress that’s not doing anything for the American people, and the choice will be very stark and will be very clear," Obama warned.
The president also sought to make peace with his liberal supporters, explaining and defending some of the compromises he has made on healthcare and tax cuts and blasting Republicans in the process.
"Look, the bottom line is we’re moving in the right direction," Obama told one questioner. "But I know it’s frustrating, because the other side is unreasonable.  And you don’t want to reward unreasonableness.  Look, I get that.  But sometimes you’ve got to make choices in order to do what’s best for the country at that particular moment, and that’s what I’ve tried to do."
I wonder if anyone else is made as speechless as I after reading that.  This is the president?  He sounds like a liberal troll commenting on a conservative website.  First, Obama accuses Republican congresspeople of "not paying attention."  Then, he accuses Republican congresspeople of "not doing anything for the American people."  Then, he accuses "the other side" of being "unreasonable."  Do I sense projection going on here?  I mean, replace "Congress" with "President" in the following quote*, 
"And if they don't start paying attention, then they're not going to be in office and we will have a new Congress in there that will start paying attention to what is going on all across America."
and I concur (with it).  I really, really hope Obama will receive a sober awakening on November 6, not only for the schadenfreude I will experience, but also so the economies of the US and the rest of the world will be able to get back to normal.  Obama sure is lucky he has the media to obfuscate his incompetence.  Here is a stunning misrepresentation of reality courtesy of Maureen Dowd (h/t GayPatriot):

Three years ago, Barack Obama’s unlikely presidential dream was given wings by rapturous Iowans — young, old and in-between — who saw in the fresh-faced, silky-voiced black senator a chance to leap past the bellicose, rancorous Bush years [courtesy of liberals] into a modern, competitive future where we once more had luster in the world. 
“We are choosing hope over fear,” Senator Obama told a delirious crowd of 3,000 here the night he won the Iowa caucuses. 
But fear has garroted hope, as America reels from the latest humiliating blows on the economy and in Afghanistan. The politician who came across as a redeemer in 2008 is now in need of redemption himself.

“We just wish he’d be more of a fighter,” said one influential Democrat with a grimace. Another agreed: “You can’t blame him for everything. I just wish he would come across more forceful at times, but that is not the dude’s style. Detached hurts you when things are sour. You need some of Clinton’s ‘I feel your pain’ compassion.”

The president has been so spectacularly unable to fill the leadership void in Washington that the high-spirited Michele Bachmann feels free to purloin Obama’s old mantra.
“The power behind our campaign is hope and a future,” she chirped to a sparse crowd Monday in Atlantic, Iowa [what do you expect in a town of 7,112 people?]. “That’s all I believe in.” That and making America safe for old-fashioned light bulbs and not those weird curly ones.

Obama has spent a lifetime creating his persona — superior, wise, above all parties and interests, all-seeing, calm, unflappable. 
But as Drew Westen, a liberal psychology professor at Emory University wrote in The Times on Sunday, puzzling about what has happened to his former hero’s passion, the president never identifies the villains who cause our epic problems [does he mean Obama himself?]. It’s unclear, Westen wrote, whether that reflects his aversion to conflict or a fear of offending donors, or both. 
Obama’s assumption that you can rise above ascribing villainous motives has caused him to waste huge chunks of his first term seeking bipartisanship from Republicans who were playing him for a dupe. And it has led to Americans regarding the nation’s capital as a place of all villains and no heroes.

(Emphasis added)

Granted, there are a lot of criticisms (of Obama) in that article.  In fact, I was surprised to find this apt summary (of Obama):
His withholding and reactive nature has made him seem strangely irrelevant in Washington, trapped by his own temperament. He doesn’t lead, and he doesn’t understand why we don’t feel led.
There appears to be a disconnect between what Obama says and what these liberal columnists think he says.
My hypothesis is that (some) liberals have constructed this idealized image of Obama (as a brilliant, cerebral, eloquent, post-partisan, pragmatic professor whose only imperfection is being too smart and virtuous), and that is how they see him, regardless of reality.  Similarly, they have constructed an idealized image of Republicans (as idiotic, uneducated, backwards, evil, racist, homophobic, warmongering villains who wish to eat kittens, kill elderly people, and destroy the environment and who wish to enforce their evil Christian morals on everyone and to destroy the economy (i.e. the public sector) so black people in the inner-city are unfairly forced to contribute something to society) and that is how they see them, again, regardless of reality.  That is their perception of reality, and they won't be persuaded otherwise.  And those in the media will obfuscate the facts so as to report reality so it is in accord with their perception of it.  I will say that, if my hypothesis is correct, there surely must be liberals that don't adhere to this lack of reason.  Keep in mind that that is simply a hypothesis.

In summary, methinks Maureen Dowd (and some other people) should pay attention to what the "detached, passive, unflappable" Obama says.  Because he certainly doesn't come off that way.  

*and pronouns and verbs (so they are in agreement with the pronouns)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tolerance of Muslims

I recently received an e-mail requesting me to write a post containing a message of tolerance toward Muslims.  I most recently wrote about this topic in this post, wherein I said this:
It is important to make a distinction between Muslim extremists and everyday Muslims.  The former is likely a tiny fraction of the entire Muslim population.  And, although some people may believe otherwise, I would not judge someone negatively based solely upon their religion, even if it were Islam (however, I may not hold the same attitude toward the Westboro Baptist Church and a few others).  It is, of course, the Muslim extremists that are responsible for all of the terrorism.  However, the same cannot be said for the other things that I mentioned above.  I do realize that there also exists a more liberal version of Islam.  However, that does not erase the evident correlation between Muslims and the above.  Having said that, I would not automatically attatch any of those things to any Muslim without evidence that suggests they may have perpetrated them.  To do so would be, among other things, logically fallacious.  
I am one who opposes labels and stereotypes.  As such, I have no ill will towards Muslims in general.  So, I would be more than happy to mention My Fellow American, which is a project that aims to refute negative stereotypes of Muslims.

Now, let me reiterate my position.  While I do not group all Muslims with terrorists, I recognize that the majority of terrorists are Muslims.  Islamic extremism, and Sharia law, are threats to Western society.  Please note the distinction.

American Politics vs. Canadian Politics

Here is why I am more interested in American politics than I am in Canadian politics:
  1. There is over a year until the next American federal election, and there is already a massive amount of interest.  The Ames straw poll and Rick Perry's presidential bid even made the news in Canada.  Having said that, federal elections in Canada have been frequent during the past decade.  This has provided more excitement, but it has also caused "election fatigue."  
  2. It can be frustrating being as conservative as I am in Canada.  Canadian conservatives tend to be "progressive conservatives," which I assume are so referred to so as to appear more palatable to the general Canadian populace (particularly that back east).  As a result, I find the Conservative Party to be insufficiently far-right, even post-Canadian Alliance-Progressive Conservative Party merger (the Canadian Alliance was a party to the right of the Progressive Conservatives that was popular in the West; prior to the merger, it was the largest centre-right party in Canada, but wasn't large enough to win an election because of a lack of support in the East.  The merger remedied that by uniting the vote on the right.).  Although the US has its problems with socialist policies (as does Canada), I am sure I would feel right at home as a tea-partier in Idaho.  Some day, perhaps.  
  3. Patriotism is quite rare in Canada, and for good reason.  Americans have the constitution, in which the spirit of the founding fathers lives on.  Those noble men admirably severed all ties to Britain, and, by doing so, became the world's largest power, one whose citizens enjoyed freedom envied by the rest of the world.  Although the US has been metaphorically poisoned by socialism, there is hope for a return to the noble spirit embodied by the founding fathers.  Canada, on the other hand, is nothing more than an extension of the British empire, despite posessing sovereignty.  Why should I be proud of Canada's Westminster-style democratic government?  Why should I be proud of Canada's "spirit," that which embodies compassion?  Some things are done right here, but most things are not.  There is a reason for the fleetingness of Canadian patriotism.  
See also, this post, wherein I argue for a reformation of Canada's government.  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Steam, Baby, Steam

Here is a fascinating article (h/t Instapundit) on the scientific process involved in mining oil from sand that occurs in Alberta's oil sands.  And, here is a very salient point (from that article):
Modern capitalism and the technology it engenders has lifted a significant proportion of humanity out of our natural state of abject poverty for the first time in history. 
Indeed, Alberta's oil sands stimulated the economy and caused an economic boom there.  Alberta has, by far, the highest per capita GDP of all provinces.  Its median income, as recorded by the 2006 census, was $70,986 CAD (approx. $63,900 USD in 2006, or $71,631 USD now).  According to Canadian free market think tank the Fraser Institute, Alberta trailed only Delaware and Texas in economic freedom among US States and Canadian Provinces.  

Also, the oil sands tick off environmentalists, which is always a bonus.

subsequent article, by the same author (Ronald Bailey), describes the benefits the US would amass by importing Canadian oil:
TransCanada’s Robert Jones, who is in charge of getting the Keystone XL pipeline approved and completed, pointed out the energy security benefits to the United States of importing oil from Canada. He asked, why would the U.S. want to depend on “conflict oil” imported from countries run by unsavory regimes like those of Venezuela, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia? And whose oil is dirtier? After all, producing oil sands crude in Canada already includes the costs of reclaiming the land and a whole panoply of other environmental regulations.
 The assembled Canadian oil moguls cited studies [PDF] that project the creation of as many as 600,000 jobs and a $775 billion boost to the U.S. gross national product by 2035 as a result of importing Canadian oil. 
To environmentalists concerned about disturbing boreal forest, the percentage of Canada’s total area covered by boreal forest that is disturbed for oil development is about 0.019%.  That article also describes another method of extracting oil from sand that is used for oil 350 feet below the surface, steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) and its environmental impact:
Interestingly, anti-oil sands activists who eagerly highlight photos of the vast oils sands mining pits, don’t tend to show photos of SAGD facilities. Likely this is because such pictures would not do much to scare target audiences—the footprint of SAGD operations typically occupies only 5 percent of the land from which oil is being recovered, leaving most of the forests undisturbed. 
Back to "Dirty Oil Sands," to which I linked earlier in this post, they present a number of beautiful images on their website.  Personally, I have always been awestruck by massive industrial structures and works.  

Worst City Names

Now for a completely irrelevant post...

It seems kind of confusing that there is a Greensboro in North Carolina, a Greenville in South Carolina and a Greenville in North Carolina.  Not to mention 21 other Greenvilles, plus Greeneville in Tennessee, and 7 other Greensboros.  Confusingly, many of these places are named for Nathaniel Greene, but only Greeneville, Tennessee includes the "e."

On the topic of common place names, according to Wikipedia, there are 34 populated places named Springfield in the US, including 4 in Wisconsin.  Strictly speaking about census-recognized locations, Franklin is the most common place name in the US, with 30 census-recognized locations with that name.

Sporadic Posting

I thought I should mention my recent sporadic posting (2 posts in 6 days, eep).  I'm still here... and I'm still comitted to this blog.  However, it is not a big priority for me (compared to other things), so I don't always have the time and/or energy to write (there are times when writing is relatively effortless, other times, not so much).  Posting will remain sporadic indefinitely.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cycling and Socialism

One thing that irritates me immensely is when politicians are obstinate about implementing unpopular programs or initiatives because “they are better for everyone.”  An example is Vancouver’s mayor, Gregor Robertson, and his zeal for cycling.  Among cyclists, Vancouver is known as a cyclist-unfriendly city.  Mayor Robertson is hell-bent on changing that.  He has established numerous cycle paths in Vancouver, despite opposition from motorists and business owners.

Montreal, on the other hand, is known among cyclists as a cyclist-friendly city.  Montreal has sacrificed parking spaces downtown for bicycle paths.  This has created problems such as a shortage of parking and lower profits for businesses.  Because parking spaces at the sides of streets are converted into bicycle lanes, there is less parking available which means less patrons for businesses. 

The motivation of having a cyclist-friendly city is to reduce traffic, thereby reducing congestion, as well as pollution, and offering an alternate commute.  Those are all noble causes, or whatever, but they should not be pursued at the expense of parking, which, especially in Vancouver, is a sparse commodity.  Montreal is having problems, and Vancouver’s nascent bicycle lanes are already causing problems as well.

So, given that bicycle lanes cause problems, and given that there is much opposition to the establishment of bicycle lanes in downtown Vancouver, Mayor Robertson's obstinacy is quite irritating.  Of course, given that he is a leftist, this is unsurprising.  One of the central tenets of leftism (or liberalism, progressivism, socialism, social democracy, or whatever you want to call it) seems to be that (private) business can be sacrificed for anything else.  I suppose this is logical, considering socialists treat the private sector like an ATM.  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I Think Obama is Skipping

Every time President Obama makes a speech, he seems to say the same thing.
We need Democrats and Republicans to work together to help grow this economy.  We’ve got to put politics aside to get some things done.  That’s what the American people expect of us.
Blah, blah, blah.  How many times have I heard this before?  What will telling the public this accomplish?  What Obama is saying seems pretty obvious.  Furthermore, surely Obama has some sort of influence in Washington.  Maybe, instead of making speeches, and telling Americans something they already know, he should being doing something himself.  Why is he just complaining?  Why doesn't he introduce a concrete plan that entails the steps he mentioned in his address, instead of lecturing Congress?

My conclusion is that Obama is campaigning, and that is all he is doing.  I hope the average American isn't dumb enough to buy Obama's rhetoric.  That is all he offers.  He offers no plan, only rhetoric.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Screw Diabetics

Apparently, Vancouver's public health authority believes catering to crack addicts is more important than catering to diabetics.  A new program in Vancouver will provide crack addicts with free crack pipes.  Vancouver is also the location of a controversial program that provides free needles to heroin addicts.  From CTV:
It's part of the city's harm-reduction strategy that seeks to reduce the transmission of disease while ensuring health-care and social workers are able to interact with hard-to-reach drug addicts. Currently, the city distributes clean mouth pieces for crack pipes, but not the pipes themselves.
"We want to do it in a way that we can evaluate this, because there's a couple of questions I hope we can answer by doing this," says Dr. Patricia Daly, the medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health.
"And not just about demand and numbers, but can we use this as an engagement strategy like we do with our other harm-reduction initiatives. If you can deliver them (harm-reduction programs) in a way where you can get people into other services, that's very beneficial."
Unlike needle-exchange programs for injection drugs, programs to ensure users who smoke crack are using the drug safely are uneven across the country and, in some cases, non-existent. That's despite a growing body of evidence that smoking crack cocaine increases the risk of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
In a small handful of cities, including Calgary and Winnipeg, local health authorities pass out crack pipes. Others prefer to only hand out mouth pieces, which users can place on their own pipes to avoid exposing themselves to others' saliva and blood.
And in others still, the job of distributing either mouth pieces or pipes is left to local community groups.
That uneven approach is needlessly putting crack users at risk, say experts and advocacy groups, who argue crack-pipe distribution should be a standard tool in every provincial and municipal drug strategy.
The widespread use of narcotics such as heroin and cocaine leads me to believe either education on the dangers of narcotics use is insufficient or a lot of people are just plain stupid.  Having said that, I am not completely opposed to this program.  Given the way Canada's healthcare system is structured, this makes sense if it reduces the rates of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis, which would therefore reduce the costs associated with treating those diseases.  I am strongly opposed to the program ideologically, but it seems to be the pragmatic thing to do (that is, as long as it saves money).  I think, if money is going to be spent at all, it should be spent on educating children on the dangers of drug abuse (which it already is).

If I were to allow my ideology to dictate my approach to this problem, the solution I would propose would be to allow the crackheads to pay for the consequences of their stupidity on their own.  What responsibility to taxpayers have to pay for other people's mistakes?

Simply put, I am outraged at the prospect of paying for someone else’s terrible choice.  This is one reason I am opposed to universal healthcare; people who make terrible decisions and do not properly care for their health are drains on the system.  That goes for drug addicts, alcoholics, smokers, overweight people, and people who practice unsafe sex, among others.  In an ideal private healthcare system, these people would have to pay for their own mistakes with higher insurance costs, thus proving them with a disincentive to continue their unhealthy lifestyle.  As for the specifics on what to do with crack addicts (and other narcotics users), I will get into that in a subsequent post.  For now, suffice it to say I have an idea that more so conforms to my ideology and, frankly, I don't give an [expletive] about people who are stupid enough to use drugs in the first place, particularly those who are stupid enough to risk contracting HIV by sharing needles or crack pipes, as long as taxpayers do not have to pay for their treatment.  

Furthermore, this program seems to treat crack addicts preferentially over diabetics, who must use their own money to pay for their equipment.  Diabetics' equipment may be more expensive, but, as a matter of principle, it doesn't make any sense to provide drug addicts with equipment they use to use drugs and not provide diabetics, whose condition is often genetic, with equipment they use to live.  

Fundamentalist Mormon Polygamist Found Guilty of Sexual Assault

Polygamist Warren Jeffs was found guilty of sexually assaulting two girls, aged 12 and 15, both of whom he joined in "spiritual marriage."  Warren Jeffs is the president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), which is a fundamentalist Mormon church that practices polygamy.

Jeffs, who is 55, argued that his religious freedom was being infringed upon.  My question is, what is more important?  The right of an ephebophile to rape 12 and 15 year olds under the guise of religion or the right not to be raped and forced into a marriage with some pervert that is 43 years older than you?  I am glad that, in this case, common sense prevailed.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) is the primary denomination of Mormonism.  Polygamy in the LDS Church was ceased in 1890.  About six years later, Utah was admitted to the United States.  The FLDS Church is not affiliated with the LDS Church.  Even when LDS practiced polygamy, it was practiced differently than as is in the FLDS Church:
The way FLDS currently practice polygamy differs in important ways from the way Mormons practiced polygamy in 19th-century Utah. A) Mormons always discouraged divorce, but Utah nevertheless had fairly liberal divorce laws so women could leave polygamous marriages if they so desired. B) Polygamous wives were encouraged to get a good education, and some early Mormon polygamist women became doctors and political activists. C) Polygamous marriages were not typically arranged or reassigned. Women were free to marry whoever they wished. Brigham Young stated the following in 1853: “I am free, and so are you. My advice to the sisters is, 'Never be [married] to any man unless you wish to be.' I say to you High Priests and Elders, 'Never from this time ask a woman to be [married] to you, unless she wants to be; but let the widows and children alone.'” D) Brigham Young came to detest the marriage of men with very young girls. In 1857, he stated, "I shall not [marry] the people as I have done. Old Father Alread brought three young girls 12 & 13 years old. I would not [marry] them to him. They would not be equally yoked together... this is the way that devils are made." E) Only an estimated 5%-30% of 19th-century Mormons were polygamists. The FLDS Church, on the other hand, has no liberal divorce laws, arranges and reassigns marriages, marries old men to young girls, and believes all members of the community should practice polygamy.
On a related note, Utah was the third state to grant women suffrage (after Wyoming and Colorado), which it did in 1895.  In contrast, Saudi Arabia does not allow women to vote.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Love Sweden

About seven days, two hours, and forty minutes ago, I wrote a post about Norway.  Entitled "What is Wrong With Norway?," I quoted a description of Norway's economic model, called the Nordic Model, from Wikipedia:
This particular adaptation of the mixed market economy is characterised by more generous welfare states (relative to other developed countries), which are aimed specifically at enhancing individual autonomy, ensuring the universal provision of basic human rights and stabilizing the economy. It is distinguished from other welfare states with similar goals by its emphasis on maximising labour force participation, promoting gender equality, egalitarian and extensive benefit levels, large magnitude of redistribution, and liberal use of expansionary fiscal policy.
When I wrote that post, I said this:
I must say that I am disappointed in some of the information I am learning, as I have always been quite fond of Scandinavia...
Since then, I have learned a bit more about Scandinavia (and other Nordic nations).  And this time, I am not disappointed in the least.  Watch the following video.  Not only does it explain my new-found love for Sweden, but it also explains the benefit of a free-market economy. 

(h/t to GayPatriot reader ILoveCapitalism)

That video contains the URL of a CATO Institute policy analysis.  How can you not love a country whose economic model is praised (loosely speaking) by the CATO Institute?
Notwithstanding problems associated with a large welfare state, there is much to applaud in Nordic nations. They have open markets, low levels of regulation, strong property rights, stable currencies, and many other policies associated with growth and prosperity. Indeed, Nordic nations generally rank among the world's most market-oriented nations. 
Nordic nations also have implemented some pro-market reforms. Every Nordic nation has a lower corporate tax rate than the United States, for example, and most of them have low-rate flat tax systems for capital income. Iceland even has a flat tax for labor income. And both Iceland and Sweden have partially privatized their social security retirement systems. 
The Nordic nations offer valuable lessons for policymakers, but they do not fit the traditional stereotype. Conservative critics correctly condemn the large welfare states, but often overlook the positive results generated by laissez-faire policies in other areas. Liberals, meanwhile, exaggerate the economic performance of Nordic nations in an effort to justify welfare-state policies, while failing to acknowledge the role of free market policies in other areas.
Here is a link to the CATO Institute's policy analysis.  What follows are some excerpts from that analysis:
Before drawing conclusions about the desirability of the Nordic model, however, it is important to answer three relevant questions: 
1. Why are Nordic nations relatively rich?
2. Has the welfare state has helped or hindered these countries’ economic performance?
3. Does the Nordic Model create more prosperity than the (relatively speaking) limited-government model in the United States?

The answer to all of those questions is that Nordic nations are reasonably successful in spite of the welfare state. Nordic countries benefit from institutions—such as property rights, stable currencies, and the rule of law—that facilitate economic growth. And although they have large welfare states and concomitantly high levels of taxation, their economic systems in other respects are very market-oriented. Combined with the fact that before the mid-1960s the burden of government in Nordic nations was modest, these factors help explain why those countries today are relatively prosperous.
The two main ways of comparing economic performance are rate of growth and level of output. One measures how fast gross domestic product (or some similar measure of economic output) is expanding. The other compares the absolute level of economic output (or some similar measure of prosperity). By both measures, the Nordic nations generally do not fare well when compared to the United States. ... According to the OECD, the U.S. grew by an average of 3 percent between 1981 and 1991and 3.3 percent between 1992 and 2006 (mean-ing average growth of 3.2 percent for 1981 to2006). The Nordic nations, by contrast, grew by an average of 2.2 percent between 1981 and 1991 and 2.7 percent from 1992 to 2006 (meaning average growth of 2.5 percent over the entire period). The IMF, meanwhile,reports that U.S. growth averaged 3.1 percentfrom 1981–2006 compared to an average of 2.6percent for Nordic nations in the same period.
...the tax burden in Nordic nations and America was remarkably similar until 1960. Not coincidentally, it was during this pre-1960 era that Nordic nations grew rapidly and became rich.  
Beginning in the mid-1960s, and accelerating through the 1970s and into the 1980s, however, the Nordic nations created large welfare states. Indeed, this is the key difference between America and the Nordic nations. The United States has a medium-sized welfare state and the Nordic nations have large welfare states. Otherwise, America and the Nordic nations have many features in common. Both the Nordic nations and America have sound institutions, including stable currencies, rule of law, and property rights. Both the Nordic nations and America have relatively open markets. Indeed, if the “size of government” factor is removed from the Economic Freedom of the World indicators, Nordic nations score an average of 8.35, ranking above the 8.25 score for the United States.
The Nordic nations also have excellent reputations for honest government. According to Transparency International, the five Nordic nations rank among the eight least corrupt nations in the world, with Finland and Iceland tied for first place. The United States also does well, with a ranking of 20 out of 163 nations, but the higher scores for the squeaky-clean Nordic nations presumably help offset the larger burden of government.

The Nordic nations also deserve attention for important reforms. Iceland, for instance, has a flat tax (albeit with a 36 percent rate), personal retirement accounts, and quasi-privatized fisheries. Sweden, meanwhile, has an extensive school choice system and personal retirement accounts.
Before the 1960s, Nordic nations had modest levels of taxation and spending. They also enjoyed—and still enjoy—laissez-faire policies and open markets in other areas. These are the policies that enabled Nordic nations to prosper for much of the 20th century. Once their countries became rich, politicians in Nordic nations focused on how to redistribute the wealth that was generated by private-sector activity. This sequence is important. Nordic nations became rich, and then government expanded. This expansion of government has slowed growth, but slow growth for a rich nation is much less of a burden than slow growth in a poor nation.
What I take from this is that the Nordic nations can learn from the United States.  Based on that video, it seems Sweden is slowly returning to its pre-1960 model.  Because I have ancestors from Sweden, I feel a closeness to it.  This is very welcome information indeed.  

It is important to note that that CATO Institute analysis is from 2007, before the worldwide economic crisis.  The Nordic nation of Iceland has since undergone a major financial crisis, and so any reference to Iceland may not be reliable.  I think an analysis of Iceland's current economic situation is required to ascertain exactly how Iceland fits into all of this.  To my knowledge, the other Nordic countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland) were relatively unaffected by that worldwide crisis.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rhetoric, Fear and REAL Hope and Change

I can't get past Obama's rhetoric.  Many, many other people have pointed out what a hypocrite Obama is.  He promised post-partisanship, but it seems like every speech he makes contains some sort of vilification of Republicans (not to mention "millionaires and billionaires," and my personal favorite, "corporate jet owners").  Obama might have his rhetoric and the obsequious media to rely upon, but the reality of reality should hopefully be enough to evict Obama from the White House.  Obama's and the media's rhetoric cannot be enough to obfuscate the facts (low unemployment, high inflation, et cetera) when so many people are well aware of them, and since they are having such a profound effect on peoples' lives.

Any prosperity loving citizen of a Western nation should support the Tea Party Movement, given how inextricably linked the US's economy is to that of the rest of the world.  I really hope Americans nominate the right Republican to challenge Obama.  I do not believe a RINO like Mitt Romney would be able to effectively curtail government spending, and everyone in the Western world should be paying close attention.  It is too early to determine who the right candidate is, in my opinion, however.  At this point, I would probably support Herman Cain.  I think someone with leadership experience in the private sector may be the perfect person to deal with what the next president will inherit from Obama.  Yes, it would be a risk to elect an outsider, but, at this point, it would be a risk that is well worth taking.  Having said that, I would not support Herman Cain completely at this point.  It is too early.  And, if either Paul Ryan or Marco Rubio enters the running, well, they are just too damn good not to support.  But that doesn't look like it will happen.

I am a concerned Canadian.  I am also a university student with a very tight budget.  I don't need a stagnant economy to make things more difficult than they will already be.  I don't have nearly as much at stake as most Americans, but the prospect of another Obama presidency, which will almost inevitably lead to an economic crisis the likes of which Americans haven't seen possibly since the Great Depression (if my amateur reasoning can be relied upon), and hence one the likes of which Westerners haven't seen possibly since the Great Depression, frightens me.

UPDATE: After re-reading this, I realized the last sentence didn't make any sense, so I fixed it.

Does Obama Know What Fair Means?

President Obama has frequently demanded "the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share."  However, I do not believe Obama knows the definition of the word "fair."  According to the Free Dictionary, "fair" means:
a. Having or exhibiting a disposition that is free of favoritism or bias; impartial: a fair mediator.
b. Just to all parties; equitable: a compromise that is fair to both factions.
So, if Obama really wanted "the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share," he would propose a flat income tax or a sales-based tax.  Also, taxes aren't really fair in the first place.  Essentially, when the government collects taxes, it is stealing the hard-earned money of hard-working people.  Isn't that also kind of what labour unions do?  

Monday, August 1, 2011

One Reason I Oppose Gay Marriage

It appears most gays have no respect for the institution of marriage.  In fact, according to a New York Times Op-Ed, the real goal of some gay marriage proponents, called liberationists, is to "knock marriage off its cultural pedestal altogether."  It also describes a mixture of conservatism and liberationism:
This vision embraces the institution of marriage, rather than seeking to overthrow it. But it also hints that the example of same-sex unions might partially transform marriage from within, creating greater institutional flexibility — particularly sexual flexibility — for straight and gay spouses alike.
This idea is most prominently associated with Dan Savage, the prolific author, activist and sex columnist who was profiled in Sunday’s Times Magazine. Savage is strongly pro-marriage, but he thinks the institution is weighed down by unrealistic cultural expectations about monogamy. Better, he suggests, to define marriage simply as a pact of mutual love and care, and leave all the other rules to be negotiated depending on the couple.
In “The Commitment,” his memoir about wedding his longtime boyfriend, Savage described the way his own union has successfully made room for occasional infidelity. “Far from undermining the stable home we’ve built for our child,” he writes, “the controlled way in which we manage our desire for outside sexual contact has made our home more stable.”
One thing curtails my pessimism:
But liberationism has been gradually marginalized in the gay community over the last two decades, and gay conservatism seems to have largely carried the day. The desire to be included in an existing institution has proved stronger than the desire to eliminate every institutional constraint.
That article also provides this:
The trouble is that straight culture already experimented with exactly this kind of model, with disastrous results.
Forty years ago, Savage’s perspective temporarily took upper-middle-class America by storm. In the mid-1970s, only 51 percent of well-educated Americans agreed that adultery was always wrong. But far from being strengthened by this outbreak of realism, their marriages went on to dissolve in record numbers.
This trend eventually reversed itself. Heterosexual marriage has had a tough few decades, but its one success story is the declining divorce rate among the upper middle class. This decline, tellingly, has gone hand in hand with steadily rising disapproval of adultery.
There’s a lesson here. Institutions tend to be strongest when they make significant moral demands, and weaker when they pre-emptively accommodate themselves to human nature.
(h/t GayPatriot)

Homosexuals do not deserve marriage until they demonstrate that they are willing to abide by the moral standards it demands.  I previously talked about the importance of the traditional family to the health of society.