Saturday, April 28, 2007

the price of human life

One of the comments on the previous post indignantly pointed out that "If we were to privatize health care for example then the value of someone's life is quantified into a fiscal number!"

Apart from the fact that I'm not sure how people who make this argument think health care is currently paid for (Marshmallow bunnies? Rainbow wishes?), and the fact that we have already established that there is a price we are willing to pay for a human life, whether or not we have given it a specific number (we don't preserve human life at all costs, but accept the fact that it might be lost as a cost... my dad likes to point out that the speed limit is an excellent example of this), but there's a much bigger problem with the argument.

There will always be a price for medical care, whether under a private, two-tiered or socialized system. What I've never figured out is how socialists think that allowing doctors to make a profit is worse or even comparable to the government doing exactly what they're worried about - quantifying human lives as a fiscal number, and further, setting a maximum value for the value of lives.

Our system does this in a way no two-tiered or fully privatized system could because in order to ensure that they stay "on budget," government has to decide which drugs, procedures, tests, etc. we will be allowed to have. This is a purely fiscal concern and has absolutely nothing to do with saving human life.

So, sure, someone might be paying some absolutely insane amount of money for drugs in the states. Someone might lose everything they have to get some cutting-edge treatment. But when they expend that cost, it might be saving their life. At least there isn't some overarching socialist structure telling them that they're not entitled to this life-saving drug or procedure because it costs the system too much money. Whether or not society should be helping to cover these costs is a completely separate issue to privatizing health care delivery.

Luckily for those who can afford it, money and connections can help you escape the price cap the Canadian government has put on human life... but for the less well-off in society - the ones the system is supposed to help (and, to be fair, does help with less catastrophic situations) are trapped with a government-set price cap on their lives because of the socialized nature of the entire system.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if all we want is to ensure that every Canadian has adequate health care coverage, then there's no reason for any more government involvement than health insurance subsidies. For Canadians it would certainly be a step in the right direction.

Friday, April 27, 2007

thought for the day

A government truly interested in reducing its intrusion into the lives of its citizens would have no interest in "restoring faith in our government," because to get people to question the government's role in their lives, we have to stop with the smoke, mirrors and spin and let them see where government is the problem, not the solution, and demand that they surrender control of that area to individual citizens or the private sector.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007

peter kormos is after my kidneys, frank klees wants to bribe me with health care and driving privileges.

You can call libertarians alarmist all you want when we're talking about the encroaching state, but when the government starts talking about having a right to your organs by default, all I'm saying is that maybe you might want to start listening to us.
(Granted, it's just the opposition talking about it now, but I have faith in Smitherman to pick the most freedom-hating option.)

And Frank? What the hell? Didn't this guy want private health care a few short years ago?
Klees says the law would create jobs for bureaucrats promote awareness. So why not just print off a bunch of posters and pamphlets and distribute them to the local library? Because in Ontario, it's acceptable to withhold government monopolized services to force consent.

If the purpose of a driver's license is to ensure that you're a safe driver, then why on Earth would it have anything to do with your organ donation or high school education intentions? And I guess now, if you carry the bill through logically, you have a univeral right to health care... so long as you do what we want.

(Of course, if all the government wanted was for everyone to have access to health care and education, they would have just subsidized insurance and tuition... but I digress.)

Credit for the quote and a hat tip go to The London Fog. If you don't read them, you should.

x-posted to Institute for Liberal Studies

UPDATE: due to a long, drawn out argument with Matt, I am refining the title of my post.

Monday, April 16, 2007

feds charging huge markup on pot



The Canadian Press reports today that Health Canada is charging patients fifteen times what they pay for medicinal marijuana.

...the Access to Information Act show that Health Canada pays $328.75 for each kilogram of bulk medical marijuana produced by Prairie Plant Systems Inc. ... [and] sells the marijuana to a small group of authorized users for $150 – plusGST – for each 30-gram bag of ground-up flowering tops, with a strength of up to 14 per cent THC, the main active ingredient. That works out to $5,000 for each kilogram, or a markup of more than 1,500 per cent.

Sure, it's lower than street prices, but never forget that the only reason street prices are as high as they are in the first place is that the government continues to fight legalisation. Even with the sin taxes that would likely be piled on the base price of legal pot it's unlikely that people would be paying what these pain patients are if pot was sold in an open market.

Don't think for a second that typical government bureaucratic stupidity doesn't have a hand in this. Health Canada pays a ludicrous packaging fee of $9.06 for each 30-gram package to the suppliers. No one is going to convince me that I can buy an EggMcMuffin for $2.64 and that pays for the food (with egg market control),
packaging, labour and a profit but Health Canada can't find someone who will package some dried leaves for less than $9.

Thankfully, most medicinal marijuana users can grow their own pot and avoid these
ridiculous fees, but - here's a shocker - the government is planning to phase out all other suppliers but its own "sometime after 2007."

(I'll let you insert your own joke equating the government with the organized crime they think they're fighting via the drug war.)

x-posted to Bureaucrash and the Institute for Liberal Studies.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

transcripts

Anyone interested in reading the transcripts for the decision of the judge in the case I often mention regarding Jeff Watson, my MP, having criminal charges laid against a volunteer for political purposes can find a copy here.

As you can see, it's painfully obvious that the crown wasn't able to offer any solid evidence that this was anything other than a vindictive political stunt from a man willing to use his position of power to manipulate the court system since he can't seem to handle political opposition the way it should be handled - through politics.

(One thing I noticed going over them on the blog last night is that they don't mention that Justice Dean said he was troubled by the evidence of political motivations behind the charge, but Anne Jarvis at the Windsor Star helps me out there.)

Anyway, people are always asking me to see them, so now that someone else is spilling the beans anyway, you might as well go and enjoy.

Monday, April 09, 2007

on tattoos and liberty

I'm considering getting a tattoo of ama-gi, the earliest known writing of the word "freedom" and was trying to find out if the Ontario tattoo industry was regulated or not, since if it was I would go to Michigan, where the industry is unregulated.

I texted my friend, who has a bunch of tattoos, is best friends with the girlfriend of a tattoo artist and worked in a tattoo parlour for a while, to ask her if the industry was regulated. She responded to say that she didn't know, but, being the caring friend that she is, gave me a list of questions I should ask anywhere I go to verify that their equipment is safe.

She asked why I was asking, and I told her that, on principle, I wanted to get my freedom tattoo in an unregulated tattoo parlour. She responded, "So, on principle you want to get hepatitis?"

I couldn't help but laugh, half out of amusement and half out of sadness.

Let's face it: it's a very sad thing that people, even people who have been working in and using an industry that is not regulated by the government, assume that a lack of government regulation implies a lack of safety.

We went back and forth for a while on whether or not government regulation discourages people to ask the questions about safety, whether or not it would cause someone concerned about safety to stop asking those questions, whether or not government regulation stops the (already very rare) infection of hepatitis through dirty tattoo parlour needles, and such.

Finally, I had an epiphany. I texted her: "It's important to me that where I go is being safe because they think it's important to be safe, and not because they're doing the absolute minimum the government says they have to do."

And I think that's at the heart of the libertarian argument against regulation.

Government regulations take away our vigilance for our own well-being and the rewards that should be enjoyed by people who are willing to go the extra mile with their business through a declaration that all businesses are acceptable in their eyes. It's a terrible injustice; in fact the epiphany probably put me one step closer to a pro-tattoo decision.

(x-posted to Bureaucrash and Institute for Liberal Studies.)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

misnomer

Whoever came up with this "targeted tax cut" business really must have had a tasty looking worm, because everyone seems to have bought it hook, line and sinker.

A "targeted tax cut" can't possibly be a tax cut, because tax cuts are a reduction in the money that government takes away from you. If these tax cuts are targeted, the government is taking the money away from you, but, assuming you fulfill the given criteria, the government will give you some amount of money for fulfilling it.

Sounds like a targeted handout to me... but that must not have polled well.

I really wish people would at the very least go with "tax incentives..." we are setting a dangerous precedent if we allow government to call handouts "tax cuts" and pass them off as acts of fiscal responsibility.

ridiculous

I certainly hope my tax dollars aren't going to pay whoever has been changing Jeff Watson's Wikipedia entry from a House of Commons IP address to try to cover up the fact that he had a volunteer charged criminally on charges so frivilous that a judge threw them out (without any witnesses from the defence) on the basis of being politically motivated... and had witnesses at his house two days before the trial to "go over time lines" and their testimony.

(For more info, check out any of the articles referenced on the Wikipedia page.)

If you don't want the world talking or writing about what you've done, then you probably shouldn't do it in the first place. If Mr. Watson doesn't want things like this on the internet or in the news, I suggest he begin by commissioning the construction of a time machine.

I wonder how this fits in with the teachings of Jesus Christ that Watson tries to emulate by keeping a white washbasin in his office? (In memory of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples - see the letter to the editor he's posted on his website... until he pulls it down.)

I'm just sayin'.




As a side note: Yes! As a matter of fact I have read the court transcripts, so I do know what I'm talking about. I strongly suggest that if you are going to accuse me of being wrong that you first read the transcripts yourself.

hm.

I was extremely disappointed yesterday to learn of the National Citizens' Coalition parting ways with Gerry Nicholls. It's a loss for the NCC, and after comments like this, I'm seriously reconsidering my membership:

(from the Toronto Star...)

Coleman at first characterized Nicholls' departure as voluntary, saying the NCC was going in a "different direction," and "Gerry wants to move on and do other things, so that's what he's going to be doing."

But Coleman then said: "It was a decision that he was going to move on, I'm not going to get into any details as far as that."

and in the Globe...

"Gerry's decided that he wants to move on to do different things," said Peter Coleman, the organization's president, who will take over many of Mr. Nicholls's (sic) communications tasks.

But Mr. Nicholls, who was at the NCC for 22 years, takes a different view. "They fired me. I didn't decide to leave and go on to something else. If I did, I would have a job right now," he said.

Either way, I know spin when I see it... and let's face it - you really don't need spin when you're doing something decent. I like Gerry and agree with a lot of his philosophy; regardless of the terms of his departure, the fact that he and the NCC aren't seeing eye-to-eye worries me.

After the election of Harper's government in 2006 the NCC changed a lot of its messaging. The organization's slogan went from "More freedom through less government" to "More freedom through better government," (though it's changed back now... I wonder if it will stay that way after Gerry's departure?) and criticisms of Harper were tame when they did exist.

It was only since the party has veered severely off the tracks that Gerry has started speaking out as strongly as I like to see the NCC speaking out against bad moves by the government... and now he's been cut loose.

I have a hard time believing the two aren't related. Of course, Gerry can't talk about it, but I smell something. Check your shoes, folks...

Monday, April 02, 2007

unusually wise words from a rather extreme animal rights activist.

I have to read Tom Regan for my contemporary moral issues class. While I completely disagree with the extent to which he wants to extend natural and legal rights to animals, he gets a few things right. For instance:

You don't change unjust institutions by tidying them up.
- Tom Regan

So think about that next time you're talking about the Conservative sponsorship program vs. the Liberal sponsorship program. Or the Conservative condonation of the government's involvement in child care vs. the Liberal version. Or Conservative funding of "women's groups," "heritage sports," child care or seniors' tax benefits when compared to Liberal targeted spending.

The fact that spending is introduced by the Liberals instead of the Conservatives does not make it inherently bad - there is something fundamentally wrong with these programs that has nothing to do with to whom they're targeted or by which party they're implemented.

The fact that we're aiming for the right rather than the left doesn't change the fact that we're shooting the country in the foot.

review of the great global warming swindle

I continue to hold that while completely writing off global warming as a problem because it's coming from "the left" or it's associated with Kyoto is not the right course to take, and that we definitely should not be pumping as much crap into the atmosphere as we should.

But at the same time, we definitely need to be looking at opposition to scientists who are proponents of global warming and seriously considering those points of view, if only to make sure that we really understand what's going on before we spend trillions of dollars on something that I really have a hard time believing will solve any environmental problems at all (aka, Kyoto).

The fact that global warming proponents dismiss these results offhand rather than responding with scientific facts in kind have contributed the most to my personal bias towards the global-warming-as-junk-science viewpoint... but I am still open to being convinced, since I don't think anyone really has any idea what's going on.

To that end, this is an interesting article, especially if you're like me and don't have a few hours to sit down and watch the documentary it's talking about:

An Inconvenient Truth meets a few facts

S. Fred Singer
Special to The Windsor Star

Monday, April 02, 2007

Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth has met its match: a devastating documentary recently shown on British television, which has also been viewed by millions of people on the Internet. In spite of its flamboyant title, The Great Global Warming Swindle is based on sound science by recording the statements of real climate scientists, including me. An Inconvenient Truth mainly records a politician.

The scientific arguments presented in The Great Global Warming Swindle can be stated quite briefly.

First, there is no proof at all that the current warming is caused by the rise of greenhouse gases from human activities, such as the generation of energy from the burning of fuels. Observations in ice cores show that temperature increases have preceded -- not resulted from -- increases in CO2 by hundreds of years, suggesting that the warming of the oceans is an important source of the rise in atmospheric CO2.

As the dominant greenhouse gas, water vapour is far, far more important than CO2, yet not well handled by climate models -- and, in any case, not within our control. Greenhouse models also cannot account for the observed cooling of much of the past century (1940-1975), nor for the observed patterns of warming -- what we call the "fingerprints." For example, the Antarctic is cooling while models predict warming. And where the models call for the middle atmosphere to warm faster than the surface, the observations show the exact opposite.

THE BEST EVIDENCE

But the best evidence we have supports natural causes -- changes in cloudiness linked to regular variations in solar activity. Thus the current warming is likely part of a natural cycle of climate warming and cooling that's been traced back almost a million years. It accounts for the Medieval Warm Period around 1100 AD, when the Vikings were able to settle Greenland and grow crops, and the Little Ice Age, from about 1400 to 1850 AD, which brought severe winters and cold summers to Europe, with failed harvests, starvation, disease and general misery.

Attempts have been made to claim that the current warming is "unusual"; a spurious analysis of tree rings and other proxy data tried to deny the existence of these historic climate swings; but this so-called "hockey-stick" result, that earth temperatures have been constant until recent decades, has now been thoroughly discredited.

Second, if the cause of warming is mostly natural, then there is little we can do about it. We can't influence the inconstant Sun, the likely origin of most climate variability. None of the schemes of mitigation currently bandied about will do any good; they are all irrelevant, useless, and wildly expensive:

- Control of CO2 emissions, whether by rationing or by elaborate cap-and-trade schemes

- Uneconomic "alternative" energy, such as ethanol and the impractical "hydrogen economy"

- Massive installations of wind turbines and solar collectors

- Proposed projects for the sequestration of CO2 from smokestacks or even from the atmosphere

Ironically, all of these schemes would be ineffective even if CO2 were responsible for the observed warming trend -- unless we could persuade every nation, including China, to cut fuel use by 80 percent! Finally, no one can show that a warmer climate would produce negative impacts overall. The much-feared rise in sea levels does not seem to depend on short-term temperature changes, as the rate of sea-level increases has been steady since the last ice age, 10,000 years ago. In fact, many economists argue that the opposite is more likely -- that warming produces a net benefit, that it increases incomes and standards of living. All agree that a colder climate would be bad. So why would the present climate be the optimum? Surely, the chances for this must be vanishingly small, and the history of past climate warmings bear this out.

MAIN MESSAGE

But the main message of The Great Global Warming Swindle is much broader. Why should we devote our scarce resources to what is essentially a non-problem, and ignore the real problems the world faces: hunger, disease, denial of human rights -- not to mention the threats of terrorism and nuclear wars? And are we really prepared to deal with natural disasters; pandemics that can wipe out most of the human race, or even the impact of an asteroid, such as the one that wiped out the dinosaurs?

Yet politicians and the elites throughout much of the world prefer to toy with and devote our limited resources to fashionable issues, rather than concentrate on real ones. Just consider the scary predictions emanating from supposedly responsible world figures: The chief scientist of Britain's Labor Party tells us that unless we insulate our houses and use more efficient light bulbs, the Antarctic will be the only habitable continent by 2100, with a few surviving breeding couples propagating the human race. Seriously.

I imagine that in the not-too-distant future, all of the hype will have died down, particularly if the climate should decide to cool -- as it did during much of the past century; we should take note here that it has not warmed since 1998. Future generations will look back on the current madness and wonder what it was all about. They will have movies like An Inconvenient Truth and documentaries like The Great Global Warming Swindle to remind them.

S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and research fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. (www.independent.org). He served as the founding director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service and was vice-chairman of the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere. He is the author of Hot Talk, Cold Science, and his most recent book, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years, is on the New York Times bestseller list.
© The Windsor Star 2007