Monday, December 28, 2015

open borders not foreign aid

In 2012 the Canadian government spent 5.6 billion dollars on foreign aid, and given that our new Prime Minister has already pledged billions more to help third world nations fight climate change we can only expect this number to increase. These funds are mostly directed towards local CIDA employees, businesses and NGOs. There is no question that we have a moral obligation towards those who live in the third world, but is this band-aid solution really the best we can do?

There is another alternative, one which would not simply help a few people living in poverty get through another day, but which has the power to uplift billions out of poverty and benefit our nation at the same time. Canada should adopt a policy of open borders. This would simultaneously allow all of those who moved here enjoy a higher standard of living, which would in turn enable them to bring and support their families and friends. This massive increase in population would be a boon to our economy and these newcomers would be able send money back home to their families. Instead of forcing taxpayers to finance foreign aid schemes, why not simply let individuals who want to come here and send their own wages home, do so?

There really is no limit on how many people our society can absorb. Housing is flexible. No doubt initially, immigrants might have to pile a dozen into an apartment, but as they all found jobs this would normalize and the resultant increased demand would stimulate construction and over time balance things out. By allowing tens of millions of individuals suffering under the yoke of tyrannical governments and the oppressive poverty ubiquitous throughout the developing world we can transform their lives, and all without slipping our hands into the pockets of the working poor. Canada has the second largest land mass of any country in the world with a population of a very large metropolitan area. We have the room and people out there are suffering.  Why not let them in?  Why not turn our entire country into a safe space for those who wish simply to be left alone and to live in peace?

If we couple this program with a liberalizing of the economy, we could also help to transform the third world.  It is no coincidence that some nations are rich and some are poor. The deciding factor in the growth of the wealth of a nation is the degree of economic freedom which exists. By coupling an aggressive program of laissez-faire with a permissive immigration policy we would not only see phenomenal economic growth here at home we would also inspire the future leaders of third world nations to copy us and promote a free society in their homelands.  Ideals ultimately determine the course of history so it is incumbent upon us to advocate for the right ones.

Of course there are risks to immigration, as there are to anything.  Some who come might be criminals, and they would need to be deported and banned from ever re-entering our country. We should screen for disease, and cooperate with foreign governments or other organizations to try to keep out terrorists. But these risks are minor and functioning society need not fear newcomers.

Foreign aid is a stop gap measure. Instead of bailing out the boat, let's fix the damn hole, and bring on the immigrants.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

call off the lynch mob

There is no question that police brutality is a serious problem in North America.  In 2014, Eric Garner was choked to death by cops in New York city.  His crime?  Selling loose smokes.  Just recently in South Carolina people across the world were outraged when a teenage girl was body slammed by a police resource officer for not giving up her phone. The police are militarized, hopped up on steroids and able to literally get away with murder. But the shooting of Sammy Yatim was not an example of such.

Yatim, who masturbated on a street car while threatening to kill young girls met his fatal end as he walked, purposefully, knife extended, towards the officers who were called to deal with him. The threat he posed to the lives of the cops was palpable.  He had a weapon, he was completely out of control and he was moving deliberately towards them.  This is a textbook example of when force is justified in self defense.  Unfortunately social democrats don't like to attribute the blame for criminality to the criminal. Instead, they blame society or capitalism or inequality and they whine about the rights of murderers and rapists while ignoring their victims. And so, instead of focusing on the fact that Sammy Yatim was psychotic and quite likely to kill, they have decided to lynch Const. James Forcillo.  For doing his job. For sticking up for the innocent people on that bus.  For trying to keep us safe from criminals.

This wasn't an ambiguous situation.  There was a lethal threat and the police acted to defend themselves. This wasn't police brutality.  It was self preservation. The fact that Forcillo has gone to trial at all is insane. But to charge him with second degree murder? That is nothing more than a public lynching to appease the mob's distorted opinion of justice. This whole trial is a farce; Yatim committed suicide by cop and has only himself to blame.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

no truce yet in drug war

Despite newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau's promise to legalize marijuana there have been few if any indications that the war on drugs is slowing down.  According to Statistics Canada police have been ramping up efforts to target drug users at the expense of focusing on bringing more heinous criminals to justice. The vast majority of these cases are addicts or low level addict traffickers. To the Canadian legal system's credit, the typical sentence for simple drug possession, even in the case of hard drugs such as heroin or cocaine, is a fine or a very brief gaol sentence. Trafficking in these forbidden substances, on the other hand, will usually (but not always) result in a prison (2+ year) term. Even marijuana cultivation can land you in substantial criminal trouble if the operation is deemed to be commercial in scope.

One disturbing trend in 2015 has been the rise of fentanyl, an extremely toxic opiod. In Alberta 213 people have overdosed on this drug so far this year.  Overdoses are a byproduct of prohibition. Illegal drugs become extremely high priced on the black market, since the supply is kept artificially limited by police seizures and the fact that prohibition militates against the inclusion of large scale enterprise in production. Demand, on the other hand, is as strong as ever (it helps that the product is highly addictive and thus the demand is inelastic). Since the drug is so expensive, and the type of people who are attracted to the drug trade are often unscrupulous (to put it mildly), almost invariably the drugs are cut with some inexpensive (and potentially toxic) agent. So an addict gets used to using a certain amount of a drug to get the high they desire and when they stumble upon some less cut product they use their typical amount and overdose. Drug addiction is a social and medical problem and should be treated like one.  Were drugs legalized, you would no longer have this issue of uncertain quality. Further, if we eliminate the criminal stigma attached to drug use it would be far easier to get addicts the medical or psychological help they so clearly need. And if the supply of drugs were not artificially reduced by prohibition, the cost would be much lesser as well, meaning that addicts may not resort to anti-social behaviour such as robbery in order to finance their addiction. If a crack habit costs only $5 a day instead of $500, then they won't need to rob or whore to finance it. Probably most crackheads don't want to rob, since it is fairly dangerous and could lead to a prison sentence; they just really want crack.

Police resources are scarce.  Instead of fighting a no win war on drugs they should be focused on protecting property rights and bringing actual criminals to justice. The purpose of law is not to perfect us or save us from ourselves; it is to protect property rights and to address aggression. The war on drugs needs to end.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

on ISIS and the middle east, is there a third way?

The debate over Canada's role in the middle east most specifically with regards to combating ISIS seems to be narrowly defined.  On the one hand, you have the conservative position, which is that Canada should continue fighting ISIS.  On the other hand, you have the social democratic position, as enunciated by Mulcair and Trudeau, which is that Canada should continue fighting ISIS but not quite as directly.  Instead of bombing directly, we'll send money and train troops.  There isn't even a hint among the establishment political parties or their lapdogs in the media that there is a third option, specifically non intervention.

Which is curious, really, when you consider how terribly Western interventions in the middle east have worked out.  It was after all, the coup in Iran in 1953 which Washington carried out at the behest of British Petroleum that led eventually to the Khomeini revolution. And let's not forget that Al-Qaeda before it was Al-Qaeda was called the Muhjadeen and received funding and training from the CIA to fight off the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The invasion of Iraq and the covert actions in Syria produced cumulatively over a million innocent casualties, but also paved the way for the rise of ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Virtually every foreign intervention in the middle east has resulted in blowback and inculcated hatred for the west. So why then is there not even a whisper in the press that perhaps we should consult the history books before rushing headlong once again into disaster?

The phenomenon of imperialism has been too brusquely treated by the social sciences.  One possible explanation advanced by Schumpeter, who conducted a survey of this phenomenon beginning in antiquity 'Imperialism', was simply that the weight of the military class carries the nation to war on it's own account. Whatever the cause it is important to consider the consequences that intervention has had in the past when analyzing the potential fall out from present day policy.

The foreign policy which the Canadian government should adopt is one of non intervention. It is not our role to reshape the world. We should not succumb to the hubris of Wilsonian imperialism; surely enough innocents have died at the hands of Western intervention in the middle east. Instead of bombing Syria and Iraq or funding and training a hated Vichy government we need to adopt a hands off policy and accept the limitations of our power. What hasn't worked in the past is not likely to work in the present.