Thursday, July 30, 2015


As far as government spending goes (and it goes way, way too far) the UCCB isn't that horrible. It's not good, of course. The bromide 'the ends doesn't justify the means' is nonsensical in it's literal interpretation, however the essence of the thought, that you cannot do good by doing evil, is true. Good things are done with the money the government obtains through taxation (horrible evils are also manifested with this revenue) but they are overshadowed by the manifest injustice of threatening someone with incarceration in order to get their money. So it's great that parents get a nice check, but what about the people who that money was extorted from? How can we simply ignore them from this analysis?

But as far as government spending goes, this isn't that bad. First of all, the money is for many people a functional tax rebate. These people pay taxes, quite a lot of taxes, and so a grant from the state for being a parent simply makes them slightly less of a net taxpayer. And for the lower income parents who did not pay any tax this year, then this is a not so horrible form of welfare for people who are presumably poor. Plus these people, though low income this year, may very well be net taxpayers throughout some larger time frame, and again it functions for them as a tax rebate.

Then again there is another class of individuals who benefit from this UCCB, namely net tax recipients. Bureaucrats, politicians, police as well as people who spend their life on welfare and anyone who all in all collects more in taxes than they pay. This benefit will function as an increase in their tax consumption. While it is unfortunate that these people are helped by the UCCB they will also be the benefactor of many anti-tax schemes, such as tax credits, so perhaps we must take the bad with the good.

And when it comes to government spending, the bad can be very bad. Not only is dropping bombs on people in Iraq and Syria extremely expensive it also makes them hate us which can have unintended consequences or as the CIA calls it, blowback.  Ironically this politically benefits the hawkish national security elites who dropped the bombs in the first place as the public clamours for the safety of an ever expanding warfare / surveillance state. But even less malicious examples of government spending can be counter productive or deleterious to the economic health of our nation. When money is spent at home on the war on drugs, what is gained? Children from poor families who saw an economic opportunity languish in prisons, our right to protection from unreasonable search and seizure is compromised and billions are wasted with nothing good to show for it. When money is spent on welfare, this provides a disincentive to work and is thus a double injustice, against both the taxpayer forced to subsidize another's idleness, and against the recipient of the dole, who is prevented from being forced by necessity to find work. While those of us acquainted with the dis-utility of labour might scoff at the latter notion, employment is critical to a person's development and helpful in shaping one's worldview and philosophy of life. And as the cliche goes, idle hands are the devils plaything, especially for youth, who's understanding of the world is still being shaped and are prone to fall into crime, drug use or other foolish mistakes. And again, if the money is spent to enforce regulations on the economy, ostensibly in the name of justice, is usually to cause harm. So if the government spends money enforcing a $15 minimum wage, for example, then this causes worse unemployment among low skilled workers (teenagers, for example) and this is terrible for the economy and the affected workers.

So given all the alternatives then certainly it seems attractive to simply give the cash to parents, without wasting it on bureaucracy, or war or counter productive regulation but the best thing to do would have been to not take it from the people who earned it in the first place. The government should not be in the business of wealth redistribution, and it is long past time that Canadians stopped imagining that the state is Santa Claus, because whatever you are given will be taken from you ten fold unless you happen to be an elite member of the political class.

Monday, July 6, 2015


One of the most pathetic things happening right now in this country is the proliferation of snitch lines. These things are everywhere! From natural resource violations for those who have the audacity to build on crown land, to doping allegations of professional athletes it has never been more convenient to rat out your fellow man. There are even snitch websites such as or the temporary foreign worker abuse snitch tool at Service Canada online. There are phone banks where you can call in about immigration fraud and terrorism.  You can even report CRA employees. Okay that last one might be a good idea.

So what's the problem here? Well ever happened to the right to privacy?  What ever happened to minding your own damn business? Do we really want to turn into a Soviet style state, where citizens are encouraged, nay forced, to rat each other out in order to curry favour with the ruling class? Do we really want to emulate 1984?

There is a role for snitching in our society. If someone is going around hurting people or stealing stuff, then absolutely, rat them out. Turn them into the police.  Lock them up and throw away the key. But the problem is there are so many unnecessary, even outright evil laws that it is virtually impossible not to be a criminal. So someone is here illegally or overstayed their visa. So what? The whole notion of borders is absurd anyway. They're just arbitrary lines in the sand drawn by people who want to control us. Someone is illegally pirating movies? Big deal! Torrent websites are a tremendous improvement over the outdated physical distribution of media. Think of all the resources which no longer need to go into the production of dvds, cds, vhs tapes, etc. We can do all it all through the magic of the internet. Those resources can be put to better use making other material goods.

At some point we have to realize that we're all in this together. Instead of allowing the elites to practice the time tested strategy of divide and conquer maybe we should show a little compassion for each other and be constructive instead of running to the snitch line to rat out your neighbour.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

supply management

The Canadian government intervenes in the market for dairy with a tripartite scheme of price controls, quotas for domestic producers and quotas / tariffs for foreign producers. The net effect of these policies is to screw the Canadian consumer while benefiting domestic producers. There is a very simple alternative to this ridiculous scheme which is to deregulate the dairy (and egg) market and allow for free and unfettered competition.

The price system is beautiful in it's elegance and it's simplicity.  If demand for a particular good increases (and supply stays the same) then the resultant increase in price is a signal to entrepreneurs that scarce resources should be directed towards the production of this product. Likewise, ceteris paribus (all other things being equal) if the demand for a good falls, so will the price, and resources can be directed away from this industry. Through the price system the efforts of billions of individuals globally can be coordinated towards the most efficacious ends. There is simply no other means of rationally allocating scarce resources. When price controls are imposed on a market, however, the price system is prevented from working and either a shortage or a glut will result. Prices must be allowed to rise and fall on the basis of consumer demand.

Quotas serve only to protect established business interests from competition. What possible rationale could there be for insisting that someone not be able to raise cattle for dairy without purchasing a quota for $28,000 a cow? Surely we should be encouraging small competitors to enter any market not using the power of the state to keep them out. The imposition of high fixed costs through regulations is a classic tool by which large firms have smashed smaller competitors but this practice is unfair and should be ended. Anyone who wants to go into the business of farming should be able to, without jumping through unnecessary bureaucratic red tape or paying ridiculous amounts of money to the government. Most people in rural areas do not have a random $250,000 lying around to pay for the privilege of working in addition to the mortgage on a farm, equipment, feed, bills, etc. What we should do is scrap the quota system entirely and look to subsidize farmers by not taxing their income or property. We shouldn't restrict supply, and thus an increase in the price of food. Nor should we make farmers jump through regulatory hoops to operate. What we need is a policy of laissez-faire in our agricultural industry. Live and let live. The 21st is going to be the century of a global renaissance in agricultural and Canada should lead the way by encouraging this industry through tax breaks and deregulation.

Tariffs and import quotas should also be removed. People are struggling as it is to make ends meet, the last thing we need to do is subsidize established business interests by preventing cheaper foreign goods from entering our markets. Competition is healthy.  If a firm cannot compete then it should go out of business. The capital doesn't just disappear; it is purchased by a company which can do a better job and put to more productive use. Canadian consumers need lower prices and eliminating tariffs and quotas is an effective means of accomplishing that goal.

The supply management system needs to go.

Saturday, July 4, 2015


Four consecutive months of negative GDP growth have caused the usual suspects to begin fretting about a possible recession with the all too predictable calls for stimulus spending and interest rate cuts. Certainly the Notley government's tax hikes in the midst of the falling oil price turmoil has put a damper on the previously energetic oil and gas sector but worries about the Canadian economy are unfounded and the cure suggested by establishment economists would certainly be worse than the disease.

GDP doesn't matter. The problem with GDP is that it measures government spending as if it were productive. If the government were to hire ten bureaucrats to sit in a room and play cards then the GDP would go up. If these same bureaucrats were to be fired then GDP would go down. In fact it can be even worse than this because those bureaucrats may not simply be employed at nothing they could be actively employed in creating barriers to the production of wealth. The impetus regulation of industry was large firms seeking to impose high fixed costs on their industry in order to hobble small competitors. An official who is employed in imposing regulatory hurdles on industry not only fails to add to the wealth of a nation but actually retards it's creation, and yet the GDP statistic counts this person's salary as if wealth were being created.

Statistics are only useful to would be central planners overcome with hubris. The only planning that a market economy needs is accomplished by entrepreneurs with the aid of the price system. Through the effortless adjustment of prices on the basis of supply and demand entrepreneurs are able to best allocate scarce resources towards their most efficacious ends. Individuals who advocate for interest rate cuts to combat a fall in GDP do so because they still subscribe to the long discredited Keynesian explanation of the business cycle. Keeping interest rates artificially low creates a false prosperity by encouraging uneconomic investments in capital goods industries. Ideally interest rates would be set by the market, as a function of the degree of consumer savings, instead of through the machinations of central bankers. Most likely interest rates are far below their optimal level and should be raised but the only way to know for sure is to remove state intervention in the money supply entirely (which, incidentally, would put an end to the boom-bust business cycle which has plagued the western world since the advent of central banking).

Stimulus spending is an equally ineffective tool for combating a recession. The trough is actually the healthy phase of the business cycle, as malinvestments in capital goods industries are liquidated and resources are reallocated along the basis of consumer demand. There is no need for government intervention and efforts to 'fix' the recession will only lead to it's worsening (hence why the great depression was so great but no one has ever heard of the depression of 1920-21). The problem is not a failure of aggregate demand or a glut of over production; indeed Saye's law disproved the very notion of over production quite some time ago as supply of x constitutes demand for y. Government spending is bad for the economy. When the spending decisions in an area of the economy are determined by bureaucrats, as is the case in any of the industries that the state has monopolized, such as infrastructure or education, then you will necessarily have resources allocated not on the basis of consumer demand but instead the spending will be the consumptive decisions of the bureaucrats in charge. There is simply no rationale for allowing an individual or a team of individuals to make the decision for how much of what should go where when the price system can do a much better job. There is no way for a planner to compete with the elegant and simple solution of the price system and there is also the tremendous benefit that the latter plan of attack can be accomplished in an entirely voluntary fashion free from the use of coercion which characterizes taxation. It is wrong to use force in order to get your way, a basic moral principle which we should all be ever conscious of.

There's really no way to tell under the present system how many roads should be built, and where, or how many teachers should be hired, how large classrooms should be, precisely what methods of education should be used, and so on and so forth. What we are left with is simply guesses made by plodding officials, a pale shadow of what could be accomplished through the use of markets.

Friday, July 3, 2015

trafficking in wildlife

The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

Ayn Rand

It was not so long ago that Canada was nothing but wilderness from coast to coast.  The pioneering experience of our ancestors is one of the reasons why we are still such a free society. The struggle to transform temperate forests into arable land instilled within our forefathers a great respect for property rights. But agriculture isn't the only way to extract a living from the land. Ever since the first settlers walked across the Bering strait men have been feeding themselves and their families by pitting their own ingenuity against that of the savage beast. Unfortunately, like too many other aspects of peaceful behaviour, the ancient tradition of hunting too has been criminalized.

Enter the L’Hirondelles. After being ratted out by an anonymous complainant (isn't there anything more pathetic than the now ubiquitous snitch lines promoted by the state?  hasn't anyone read 1984?) the Province of Alberta decided to waste taxpayer's money on an undercover investigation into black market elk trafficking. While each and every one of Edmonton's 11 homicides this year have gone unsolved, police resources are being directed towards a crack down on unauthorized hunting. There was a time in this country when people actually valued work. Where trafficking in wildlife would have been considered a valuable service to the community, not a crime. Where the L’Hirondelles would enjoy some tasty meals for their efforts instead of the confiscation of their meat and what meager funds they had acquired by fascist authorities and $42,500 in fines. Unfortunately we live in Canada, where the rights of deer trump those of people.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

the southern candidacy

The nature of the liberty movement is that it is iconoclastic. It is impossible to reconcile a belief in liberty with the ideology of social democracy and mob rule; either you are free to do as you please or you must submit to the hegemony. There is and always will be a conflict between those who believe that they can control others and those who wish to be left alone. As libertarians we must not shy away from this conflict but embrace it as a just struggle. Advocating for compromise in this arena is a fools errand. It is both poor strategy and poor tactics. Instead of trying to get along with those who wish us to submit meekly to their rule we should shout them down.

The goal of the libertarian movement must always be to promote liberty. The proper means by which this goal can be achieved are the organizing of like minded people and the conversion of those who have no firm political persuasion (people in college, for example). It is futile to attempt to proselytize to social democrats of any stripe. People do not reexamine their premises; they do not challenge their deeply held beliefs. There is no way to make liberty appeal to those who are committed to state action and state control. Efforts to cater to the social democratic masses are self defeating. These people cannot be drawn into the libertarian fold or rescued from their statism. Selling out our principles in a vain effort to appeal to the social democratic crowd will simply weaken our movement and discredit our arguments.

Libertarianism is a broad tent ideology. Many of the members of this movement are militant atheists and many others are devoutly religious. There are minarchists, anarchists, constitutionalists and many other flavours of libertarian. It should come as no surprise that a movement which trumpets individualism should be attractive to a diverse crowd. Attempting to impose a homogeny of opinion upon libertarians quite obviously runs contrary to the principles of the movement.

The Libertarian Party of Canada is quite simply the political arm of the libertarian movement in Canada. It is incumbent upon this organization and the individuals within it to ensure that their actions are compatible with the philosophy of liberty. With an election in three months the goal is to have as many candidates as possible so it seems like everything possible should be done to encourage more people who wish to run in an election under the party banner to do so instead of forbidding individuals from running. Frankly the Party is not really in a position presently to be rejecting potential candidates with an expected maybe 90 candidates for a total of 308 seats. Nor is it appropriate for a centralized executive to censor the views and opinions of candidates. Certainly if there is an area to demand consensus it is in opposition to the initiation of force or on affirmation of the right to own property.  These are the core ideas of the libertarian philosophy. It is absurd to demand that candidates kowtow to cultural marxism or the social democratic agenda in any form. We are not social democrats. We are libertarians. These ideas have an irreconcilable conflict.