Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rock.


All of these honest to goodness tax cuts are great news, regardless of what the motivation is (or who they come from, for that matter).

Looks good on Flaherty. Certainly much better than he looked last year.

Gotta give credit where it's due, or criticisms don't mean a thing.

(In other news, this is the single most hilarious picture of Jim Flaherty that I've ever seen. Props to the Globe for a good laugh.)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What's the difference?

There seems to be a stigma about Conservatives and Liberals - that Conservatives cut taxes and Liberals do not.

Speaking federally, historically this is not the case.

Liberals do cut taxes, but only when it's politically expedient - when taxes are high, budget surpluses are the norm, Canadians are overwhelmingly of the opinion that they're over taxed, and all that fun stuff. Jim Flaherty could aspire to introduce budgets similar to some of Paul Martin's in the 1990s.

I don't think that the Conservative Party is trying to out-Liberal the Liberals so hard that they're going to refuse to cut taxes - in fact I think that there will probably be another GST cut as well as personal and corporate income tax, and at this point, quite frankly I'd be surprised if the income tax cuts weren't substantial.

But at this point, it's politically expedient to cut taxes. We'd get them almost as easily from the Liberals as we are from the Conservatives - maybe even easier, since they wouldn't be fighting the hidden agenda impression that Canadians have of the Conservative Party.

There isn't some kind of higher priority for tax cuts (other than the GST cut, which received high-priority status as a campaign promise, but was coupled with reversing a previous income tax cut) over other government policy because we have a Conservative government, it's simply that Canadians think they're over-taxed, businesses think they're over-taxed and, quite frankly, the fiscally conservative Conservative base is going to be hoppin' mad (if they're not already) if an income tax cut is thrown down the chute soon.

There have been some good steps made by this Conservative government - the proliferation of free trade agreements is going to help people in Canada and in those countries with whom the agreements were made, the limiting of spending power by the feds in provincial jurisdictions, if it's given teeth, is a good step, and these are things we probably wouldn't have gotten as quickly under a Liberal government (though depending on the leader and which voters they were courting, we might have).

There have also been some very bad steps made by this Conservative government. Their intensified drug war does nothing but fund violent criminals and diverts resources from catching them, their targeted spending programs are in no way different in spirit than the subsidizing by Liberals of Liberal-friendly businesses and constituencies, and there are all sorts of silly, petty little fights you'd only expect only from a nanny state concerning everything from light bulbs to ATM fees.

If your main issues are shrinking government, reducing spending and increasing accountability for MPs (the Accountability Act was designed to castrate the Liberals, not to actually improve accountability of politicians in Canada - Conservative MPs are as bad for pork as any other party), there isn't much of a difference between this Conservative minority and what we would have under a Liberal minority.

After the Tom Flanagan/Gerry Nicholls debate on Tuesday night, a friend of mine posed a question: How many years of Conservative majority government would we need before spending and government intervention levels would return to what they were when Harper was elected in 2006?
It's a good question.

cross-posted to The Natural Society

Friday, October 26, 2007

The tragic death of Mr. Dziekanski

This is a really sad story; one that deserves to be told.

great article

Adam Daifallah has a great article today in the National Post about John Tory, his style of Conservative leadership and the fact that it always fails.

I'd post an excerpt to give you a taste, but it's all so good that I can't pick just one - go read it for yourself!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

a guy to watch

Gary Kasparov is running in the Russian Presidential elections and is interviewed here by Bill Maher. He's eloquent, consistent, to the point and obviously cares about freedom and democracy for everyone. Definitely a guy to be watching and cheering on.



h/t: Adventures in Bowling Green

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

immigration and free trade

Here's a fun thought that came up in my econ class tonight:

In many cases, people come to Canada for a better life - higher wages & benefits, better living conditions, etc., and, unfortunately, welfare benefits.

Foreign direct investment and foreign imports allow for people to produce things at home, earning better wages and benefits in developing countries, in some cases making it unnecessary for people to migrate. Everyone wins because companies can provide their workers with much higher living conditions in their country than they otherwise have at a lower cost than providing the average living conditions in Canada.

So if you're opposed to immigration, but have peoples' best interests at heart, (as everyone claims to) shouldn't you be in favour of freer trade as the alternative? Shouldn't you be buying everything you can that's produced in developing nations to help those nations develop faster and reduce the incentives to come here? It's certainly cheaper than paying welfare state benefits to immigrants.

Obviously this doesn't solve problems of tyrannical governments, but it's definitely an interesting thought.

cross-posted to The Natural Society

poverty and inequality

Apparently it's the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. There are posters all over campus telling me to stand up against POVERTY AND INEQUALITY!

I don't get it, though.

If there's poverty, isn't inequality a good thing? Should we all be poor instead?

And if there isn't poverty - if there's downright prosperity, then who gives two craps about whether or not people are equal? Isn't the most important thing that everyone can afford food and clothes and housing - especially if everyone were able to easily afford it?

Why should we care that some people can get a BMW when others can only afford a Yaris?

cross-posted to The Natural Society

the omnibus crime bill

EDIT: OK, I watched the introduction of the bill in the house today, and it appears the "omnibus" part consists of legislation that's lagging behind from last session: raising the age of consent, tougher penalties for impaired driving, toughening bail provisions for repeat offenders, mandatory minimums (and something about having to prove why you *shouldn't* be detained before your trial if you used a gun) and classifications of dangerous offenders.

Mixed feelings here - while I obviously misinterpreted the articles I read and that sucks for me, it's much better for the country that ALL of the measures outlined below not be passed via one bill. I'd still prefer to see these five measures separated, though, their progress through the House last session notwithstanding.

Luckily, though it doesn't apply to this legislation as one bill, I can still happily stand by what I said about omnibus legislation in general, my mockery of the logical somersaults you have to do apply to the government's agenda on age of consent vs. youth offenders, and my blatant opposition to those ridiculous security certificates.

Below is the original post, lest I be accused of avoiding my mistakes.




OK, I realize that omnibus bills are sometimes a politically smart way of getting stuff you want passed passed, but a look at Ontario will tell you that lying is sometimes a politically smart way to get elected, and we're generally not in favour of lying to get elected, so the fact that something is politically smart obviously doesn't automatically override the fact that something isn't exactly moral.

The contents of the crime bill the government will be putting forward apparently includes:
- raising the age of sexual consent,
- increasing penalties for impaired drivers,
- toughen bail provisions and impose mandatory prison sentences on "gun crimes,"
- reintroducing security certificates*,
- toughen the Youth Criminal Justice Act,
- new initiatives on dealing with elder abuse,
- new initiatives on curbing identity theft,
- awarding police new powers to deal with drug dealers.
- funding the recruitment of 2,500 new officers.
Now there are a lot of VERY different measures in here. For instance, raising the age of sexual consent is a decision that depends on reasoning that more or less contradicts the rationale used when deciding to strengthen the Youth Criminal Justice Act - are youth responsible for their actions or aren't they? If you think someone who is 14 should be treated as an adult when they commit a murder, then why shouldn't they be treated as an adult when they make the decision to sleep with someone much older than them.

If all of the measures in this bill are important to Canadians and meeting their demands, then why not put them through individually and get a real mandate from Canadians, especially since Harper will be claiming a mandate after the bill passes?

The answer is that many of these measures are not popular, but there are enough issues that are very important to different groups that even if the Liberals weren't avoiding an election like the plague it would be fairly likely to pass. By forcing them though together the Conservatives can masquerade as if they've been given a mandate to pursue all of these proposals and pretend it wasn't all just to force through unpopular (and even unconstitutional) legislation via a few strong issues and bad Liberal polling numbers.


*The security certificates are a lapsed anti-terror measure that allows the government to detain non-citizens suspected of terrorist links without too much hassle, which was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, which I guess must not be a problem. I think Scott Reid broke ranks to vote against this last time, now he'll likely be required to vote the line on a confidence motion. Sad.

cross-posted to The Natural Society

mandatory minimums

Since they're in the Throne Speech, why not talk about them?

I was invited to a Facebook group against all mandatory minimum sentencing because it doesn't prevent crimes and, the group alleges, is used by governments to play up and encourage peoples' fears of crimes even in the face of decreases in the incidence of crime.

The general idea behind mandatory minimum sentencing is to make the perceived expected cost of a crime greater than the perceived expected benefit of a crime to a potential criminal, and in this way make it seem unprofitable and therefore deter them from committing said crime. Expected costs can be made higher in two ways: higher chance of getting caught (more cops), or higher costs (fines, jail time, insurance premiums, etc.)

Apparently there have been studies done (there have - Google it) and in a lot of cases (though not all) mandatory minimums have had no measurable effect on the occurrence of crimes. (Specifically drug crimes, but some others as well.)

Now, obviously I'm opposed to minimum sentencing for drug charges, because I'm opposed to drugs being illegal and that any jail time, let alone mandatory minimums, does significantly more to ruin someone's life than possession or use.

I'm also opposed to mandatory minimums for an accessory details to a crime, such as the presence of a gun with the criminal... if someone is committing a crime what they're doing it with should not really matter - what matters is that they're doing it and the extent of the harm that they cause.

But let's assume that the studies are right, and that mandatory minimums are unlikely to prevent a crime - what if that crime is very serious? For instance rape, murder, and perhaps theft over a certain amount. In these cases, I think that punishing someone for extensive harm to another person, even if it doesn't necessarily justify mandatory minimums, it certainly makes them understandable.

Maybe I'm missing something, but the only reason I can see for blanket opposition to mandatory minimums is a reaction to their overuse.

cross-posted to The Natural Society

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

divide and shift?

There has been some speculation, in light of the corporate tax cut that Dion is proposing, that there is a shift of the political "center" in this country to the right.

I wonder, though, if this is the case, if it's as pronounced as it seems to be based on this move by Dion, or if it's less pronounced becuase of political ideology distribution in Canada becoming bimodal.

With the surging popularity of the Green Party, votes that used to be up for grabs from the Liberals are being fought over by the Greens and the NDP, leaving the Grits grasping for accessible voters.

Since you'd have to live under a rock to know that there are Conservatives all over this country getting a little bit fed up waiting for their tax cuts, it's no wonder that Liberals would start trying to appeal to them. There's also a libertarian contingent looking for tax cuts and more liberal social policy, which, if the Liberals are going to start promising tax cuts anyway, could be an easy group for them to appeal to.

So could it be a shift of the center to the right, simultaneously caused and tempered by a strengthening of the left? Who knows? But it's a neat idea.

cross-posted to The Natural Society

Sunday, October 14, 2007

How the PCs lost the election, and other just so stories.

Here's my purely political, ideology-free opinion the PCs in the fallout of this election. It has four themes:
1. Faith-based schools did not lose the PCs the election;
2. Right-wing policy isn't necessarily needed for PCs to win, but it helps
3. It wasn't about leadership; and
4. John Tory should step down.

These are four things that, unfortunately, most Tories don't seem to realize.

First of all, let me get this off my chest: No, no, no, the PCs would NOT have a majority if it wasn't for faith-based schools. 26 seats! Wake up, people.

1.

People who hate John Tory are using faith-based school funding to blame him and people who love John Tory are using it to shift the blame from him. But the problem wasn't that policy. Don't get me wrong - obviously it was very unpopular in most of Ontario, but the void of policy proposals surrounding it meant that there was nothing else of substance for the PC Party to talk about and no real message control was the problem - not the policy alone.

This void was partly a result of the party's decision not to release policy until right before the election. Members were told that the party had done research and learned that releasing policy early doesn't increase your polling numbers, but gives the opposition a chance to "steal" your ideas.

When the Common Sense Revolution was released early, Mike Harris' poll numbers didn't jump at the popularity of the ideas, but once they got into the campaign, what the early release did do was make sure that all members and candidates and many non-partisan Ontarians knew what the issues and promises of the PC party were and there was absolutely no room for the Liberals to try to define anything. Message control was achieved before the writ ever dropped.

If faith-based school funding had been released early, it would have done at least one of two things: the messaging would have been more refined to increase support for the proposal and to go after McGuinty for his hypocrisy, and/or it would have given the party a clear idea of how unpopular it was so that a free vote could be proposed before the writ dropped.

Besides, if the Liberals had spent the election stealing PC policy, that would have meant the PCs designed the policy, knew how to frame it, and were the ones putting forward ideas in the election. Ontarians would have recognized these facts and the PCs would probably be in government right now.

Without something substantially different to talk about, the PCs were left in the situation the Liberals would have been in if they'd stolen PC policy. When the Grits took up faith-based school funding as a way to talk about McGuinty's strongest issue, education, during the campaign, all the PC party had to respond with was, essentially, Liberal messaging.

2.

This brings me to my second assertion - that right-wing policy (and/or a right-wing leader) isn't needed for the PCs to form a government.

(I really, really wish that this wasn't the case. I wish for nothing more than to be able to accurately say that if the PC Party promised tax relief, cutting government pork and delisting a few ridiculous government agencies (liquor control board, anyone?) that the PCs could roll right into majority territory, but I can't.

You pick which party to support by donating and volunteering based on policy, but good policy isn't what wins elections. Never forget that with enough spin, you can sell almost anything to the electorate.

All this said, "true blue" policy would have accomplished all of what I'm about to say - it just wasn't necessary.)

What the PCs did need was, as I hinted to above, some sort of policy that was specific to the PCs. When you are attacking a governing party, they have far greater resources to publicize and define policies than opposition parties do. Thus, pushing for substantially different policy that you have designed and defined is important.

Policy should also be complete - what the problem is, what you're going to do to fix it, and why it will fix it should be laid out. Don't give a general statement about something needing to be fixed and then let anyone interpret what it means.

Had the PCs had many policy issues that were different from the Liberals, they would have controlled the messaging of their own issues, they would have had lots more to talk about than faith-based schools, and it would have helped to neutralize the issue, rather than letting it escalate day after day throughout the campaign.

3.

Heard this one yet? "Next time around, leadership won't be the issue."
Well, guys, you're right about that, but if leadership and honesty were the issues this time around, John Tory would be premier right now.

McGuinty is not a great leader, and he lied, point-blank, to Ontarians. Everybody knows that. It wasn't some kind of secret that PCs had to let Ontarians in on - but people don't vote out politicians for lying - that's just what politicians do. (Or, even if you disagree with that, at least it's the perception.)

Relying on leadership and honesty as the main election issue was a bad call, and one that should have been obvious after it went so terribly for Eves.

4.

John Tory needs to step down as leader. This has nothing to do with his personal views on public policy.

Organization counts in politics. While Tory deserves to be commended for his hard work canvassing and eliminating the party's debt, he was at the helm of a party that made key organizational mistakes excusable only to political rookies. His staffing and internal party administration decisions led to all of the problems the PCs encountered in this election. Here's a smattering of examples:

- The party held back ridings from holding their nomination meetings until the very last minute, stopping them from doing the on-the-ground work that needs to be done as early as possible and for as long as possible in non-incumbent ridings.

- John Tory's decision to eliminate all paid positions with the party and rely on volunteers to help eliminate the party's debt was the wrong decision in at least one area, which was database upkeep, management and tech support. This is an area that should have been high priority for the party, but obviously took a back seat to debt elimination which, while positive internally, does nothing to help get more votes in a general election. Because the database was neglected, work that had been done in the past was lost, and the database was even unavailable, at length, immediately before the campaign, delaying the work pushed back by late nomination races even further.

- The policy process, as I mentioned, was a sham, in spite of a Tory promise to put it back into the hands of members. The party under Tory made the decision to make the policy process so nontransparent that nobody knew what the policy would be, and then made the decision not to release the policy that they did come up with until it was far too late.

- The people John Tory selected to run his headquarters never seemed to get their act together. Locally, we came up with a saying whenever someone expressed frustration when trying to get hold of someone at the party: "It's the Ontario PC Party - nobody's home." Unless you had some personal connection within the party hierarchy the odds of you getting an answer to any question or a solution to any problem were not good.

John Tory touts himself as a man who's been involved with the PCs since he was 14. Everyone who voted in the 2004 leadership heard that line. In the light of this, and taking into account the fact that he ran Kim Campbell's 1993 campaign, which should have given him a heads-up on a lot of these failures, there is no excuse for the rookie mistakes that plagued this entire campaign.

The only explanation I've been able to come up with is that Tory must have surrounded himself with his loudest cheerleaders, and that experience, common sense, leadership and organization skills took a back seat to the loyalty that yes-men seem to emanate. He may not even have been aware of many of these issues - but that's no excuse, as it would be a result of the people he picked to keep closest to himself and their continuing quests to cheer loudest and hide their and Tory's mistakes.

I think that Tory could stay on as leader and be successful doing so if he was willing to bring in outside help to tell him exactly where he went wrong, acknowledge the failures, take responsibility for what he was personally responsible for, cut loose or severely demote incompetents and those who were to blame for various blunders and take the steps to show that he will learn from other successful campaigns what needs to be done to win an election and implementing those measures as soon as possible.

Unfortunately for Tory, I think that the way he ran this election and the way that he has run other elections in the past shows that that's not the kind of man and leader that he is, and even if he was, this course of action would likely cut or severely demote many of his strongest supporters, which would likely leave him without the support he would need to stay on as leader anyway.

If he wants the PC party to win the next election, John Tory needs to step down as soon as possible and make way for someone who is willing to put the organization (and policy) in place to heal and advance the party for the next four years.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

game, set & match

Well, thank god that's done with. Now we can get back to the feds freaking out because every 3 weeks an election is just around the corner!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Practical Man

Coyne today:

Every now and then, I have to remind myself of something that ought to be obvious but seems incomprehensible to me all the same: namely, that a good many people who go into politics --most people, in fact --don't give a fig about policy.

It isn't just that they don't know the first thing about it, and usually get it wrong. It's that they couldn't care less. It doesn't even occur to them that they should care. They do not inhabit a world in which policy matters. To them, politics is strictly about gangs -- only instead of Crips and Bloods, they're called Liberals and Conservatives.

That's your ordinary politician. But of these there is a special breed, who glories in the title of the Practical Man. The Practical Man is not just ignorant of policy. He is hostile to it, at least so far as this involves the careful and systematic study of a subject, the fruits of which he is inclined to dismiss as "ideology." His ideology is to have no ideology, on which point he is as precisely dogmatic as any pharisee.

...

This will come as a surprise to those who think of policy and politics as being somehow related. But they are not -- or if they are related, it is in active opposition to each other. I can say that with some confidence, at least, with regard to economics.

All of economics is devoted to the proposition that there is no such thing as a free lunch. All of politics is devoted to the opposite conviction. All economics teaches that you can't get something for nothing. All politics supposes that you can -- or that you can at least persuade other people that you can. Economics is about scarcity, universal and inescapable. Politics is about limitless plenty.

Spend a little bit of time in politics and you will quickly come to this conclusion, especially if you "give a fig" about policy. Any unfortunate policy wonk who tries to explain why a certain policy will eventually (or not-so-eventually) hurt someone, even if it is popular, will be told that they are not being practical, and being practical is what politics is all about. Popular equals votes. You can't get anything done if you don't get votes, but all you can get done with the votes is something that will hurt. Wonderful.

I actually like to think of the study as economics as a study of practicality, which is a bit ironic in light of the way politicians have twisted the word "practical."

Economics tells us if what politics wants to give us is achievable and if having it using the plan proposed is sustainable. If having what we want is not sustainable, then continuing on with the proposed plan is not practical.

But, heaven help us, even the policy wonks are starting to get caught up in the distorted version of practicality. Just ask a Conservative small-government policy wonk who hasn't abandoned the party until a tax cut comes 'round the bend what he thinks of Harper's spending spree last year. You'll likely hear about how "We can't do anything until we get a majority," but you probably won't hear a comment about promising spending sprees and delivering cuts to government is kind of like some sort of "hidden agenda," or how it seems like you're either a liar or a socialist if this is your plan.



To close it out, here's a bit of blunt economic reality. I don't really have anything to add, nor is it all that related to what I said above... I just enjoy it so much that I couldn't not include it.

Consider that 98% of all bad policy amounts to nothing more than ignoring opportunity costs: the simple axiom that the cost of something is measured not just by the actual sum of money used to produce it, but what the same funds might have purchased, diverted to another end-- the profits forgone, the jobs not created, because that money was spent in one way and not another.

This has nothing to with that mythical media beast, "conservative economics." It isn't conservative or liberal. It isn't even economics, come right down to it. It's physics. More in one place means less in another.


Cross-posted to The Natural Society

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

optimism?

This would be long past due, and great for everyone... assuming it turns out to be tax cuts and not another spending program.

kyoto? let's fight global warming instead.

Bjorn Lomborg is one of the very best folks to read when it comes to environmental issues and how to save the world.

I just came across this link at Bureaucrash, and I've decided it's my new favourite article on global warming and the policies to fight it.

Kyoto proponents should do their best to last past the first few paragraphs - Lomborg doesn't deny that global warming is happening or that humans caused it, but is frustrated by the stubbornness of politicians and scientists who refuse to look at policies other than direct carbon-reduction and Kyoto, which have been ineffective thus far, to fight global warming and the problems it would cause.

Wherever you look, the inescapable conclusion is the same: Reducing carbon emissions is not the best way to help the world. I don't point this out merely to be contrarian. We do need to fix global warming in the long run. But I'm frustrated at our blinkered focus on policies that won't achieve it.

It is the fact that this frustration, which I think should be very uncontroversial, is instead written off without a thought or scoffed at by so many policy-makers and Kyoto advocates *cough*DavidSuzuki*cough* that puts me at odds with environmentalists when it comes to global warming and what we need to do to fight it.

Do give the article a read, and pass it along. This is the kind of thinking that we need to be doing if we want to make sure that the fallout of global warming is minimized and we help as many people and as much as nature through the process as we possibly can.

cross-posted to: The Natural Society

Monday, October 08, 2007

on October 10th, vote...

... Libertarian. Vote Freedom Party. Vote Green. Hell, vote Family Coalition or NDP if that's what you really want. Vote for ideas and principles. Vote for anything but the same old, same old being tossed around by the mainstream parties.

In a province where people are so disenfranchised by the broken promises and political rhetoric that they voted for a citizen's assembly to study changing the electoral process, the last thing that we should be doing is voting for more of the same.

If you've stayed away from the Kool-Aid, you know exactly why no one in this province seems to give a damn which way the election is going - because it doesn't really matter.

The Progressive Conservatives and the NDP both claim to oppose the kind of promise-breaking that we've seen in this province in the last four years, but neither has proposed a solution. No "Honesty in Politics" act, no recall legislation - no tangible way to show their commitment to their word.

The Progressive Conservatives claim that the Liberals are ruining the economy, but propose more spending and the phasing out of only one tax, even if it one of the largest ever introduced. There is no talk of shrinking government, and no talk of lower income or business taxes, in spite of claims of irresponsible expansion and bloated government.

In a province where everybody has a story, about a friend or family member, or about themselves having absolutely abhorrent medical care, where a court challenge against the ban on private health insurance is brewing, nobody is proposing a real solution to make sure Ontarians can get the health care they need.

And the Liberals... well, even Dalton McGuinty acknowledges he's a liar these days, because he knows he has nothing to worry about.

A vote for the main parties seems to amount to a vote for different angles from which we can pass the buck, ignore our problems and hope everyone forgets about it by 2012 - not for any kind of leadership or change for this province.

When Dalton McGuinty can run the province the way he has for the past four years and end up with another majority, if people can look at all their choices and decide Dalton is the best option, we know that the system is broken.

So if you just want lower taxes and smaller government, send a message by voting for what you think this province needs, and not just a party banner.

If you just wants to be able to own your pit bull responsibly and in peace, vote for a party who would leave your dogs alone and hold irresponsible owners responsible rather than punishing you.

If you want to be able to have a cigarette at your favourite bar, or run your business the way you see fit, vote for the candidate you think would fight for you.

If you want a cleaner environment, vote for the party that you think has the plan to make it happen.

But whatever you do, don't vote for more of the same. Your vote doesn't have to be meaningless if you don't want the Liberals, even under first past the post.

Let's send politicians a message in the one language they understand - lost votes.

Let's tell them that we want real solutions proposed if they see problems in our province, not more of the same old, same old.

Let's change the way things will be done next time around; show them that no vote should be taken for granted.

We want a choice between different sets of ideas, because we know that's how the problems of this province should be solved.

Anyone who hasn't drunk that Kool-Aid knows the way this election is going, so let's make a difference in the one way that we still can.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Gunter gets it

Lorne Gunter is totally (well, nearly) on side with me with his column on the government's new drug policy:
Rather than declare that there are "no safe drugs," as Health Minister Tony Clement is expected to do when the anti-drug campaign is launched, the government should consider accepting that -- for good or bad -- drug use is a personal choice. As such, there is little it can do to prevent it. But given that it is a personal choice, society has little obligation to pay for the consequences of misuse. Legalize most drugs, but also declare no welfare for addicts. Let private charities supply relief and health care for those who abuse drugs. That would at least compel some users to confront the economic costs of their choices and might -- might -- discourage more Canadians from taking drugs than any preachy government advertising campaign or assault on casual drug use.

I would personally legalize all drugs, but Gunter gets it - legalize drug use, which doesn't hurt anyone but the user, and, if your social spending policies are in conflict with this, then change your social policy before you quash peoples' freedoms like bugs. With the resources that you free up, fight real, violent crimes. Catch rapists. Put more murderers in prison. Etc, etc.

Mainstream journalism and common sense drug policy. Together at last!

an honest question regarding refugees...

... because maybe I just have a wonky idea of peoples' levels of compassion.

If World War II was happening right now, and people escaping the holocaust had made it to the US - illegally - and were being turned away after successfully hiding there for a while, would you really be in favour of denying them entry to Canada?

And what about people who escaped communism? Should they have been sent back to be shot or starved or both, simply because they hadn't found their way to a part of the world where they were accepted right off the bat, or because they hadn't jumped through the appropriate legal hoops?

Would you really rather have sent people and their families back to Hitler or Stalin or such extreme poverty that otherwise healthy individuals (as opposed to the mentally ill, who are the only people in this situation in Canada) were freezing in their homes or starving in the streets than screw the paperwork, let them in and cut our refugee-related and social spending?

Neither of these examples are on par with the situation with Mexican immigrants, I know. They're not going to be gassed or shot (at least I certainly hope not), but it's the same principle, and if World Vision will let me sponsor little starving children in Mexico (or send them an alpaca!) I'm guessing that I'm not alone in knowing that the situation down there can be pretty dire for a lot of folks.

Monday, October 01, 2007

well so much for that.

CTV reports today (and so does the Ontario PC Party, with 4 copies of its press release in my inbox so far...) that Tory will allow a free vote on his religious school funding policy.

I'm actually in favour of free votes on everything and less party line shoved down everyone's throat, but this is clearly just back peddling. They're desperate.

Oh well. So much for this. I tried to play nice, I really did.

Hope none of you voted for Tory in the advance polls based on this one.