Thursday, September 13, 2012

My final post

It saddens me to say that this is going to be the last post on this blog.

Since August 2007 there has been 1,729 posts, most of which have come from me but some from a few guest posters. It has been a great experience. I feel like my writing abilities have grown through practice, and that my ideas have developed and over the years become more sophisticated. I want to thank all those commenters that have challenged my ideas and have corrected my typos. Not all of you have been nice but all of you have been engaged and ultimately that is what I would want from commenters.

I won’t go into why I am retiring from blogging except to say that it is for professional reasons. I hope to continue to contribute to the debate of ideas through different venues and opportunities.

My stated goal for this blog has always been:  to contribute to the philosophical and political movement towards greater personal responsibility and freedom. I feel like I have, in a small way, accomplished this and I hope that you have found my writing and posts to be interesting and informative.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Obama is a dick

Obama thinks drug use is funny! Also he thinks that a movie that was released 8 years ago would give him street cred among the youth.

Admittedly there is no overt drug references in this clip, but it is pretty clearly there. If you are old enough to remember Harold and Kumar, you will recall that the characters are potheads. Combine that with the copious amount of snack food and the giggling, there can't really be a mistake: the video is about how Obama thinks pot references are funny.

Considering his administration's policies, that makes him more than a bit of a dick.

Reviewing Tim Hudak's op-Ed

As someone who has never shied away from being critical of the PC Party of Ontario or of Tim Hudak, I was satisfied with Mr. Hudak’s op-Ed which appeared in the Sun chain. He explained his reasoning for supporting an imperfect measure for teachers pay and committed himself to putting pressure on the government to reduce spending. Increasingly I am getting the sense that the deficit and debt are trully the PC’s top issue, and they seem to be no longer shy about putting forward conservative policies.

I’m not a big fan of wage freezes. They may make for some temporary savings but eventually the freezes come to an end. Then the unions usually manage to negotiate a pay raise that wipes out or massively reduces the savings of the freeze. By itself a wage freeze is simply not a fix for a structural deficit.

Fortunately Mr. Hudak seems to realize that when he talks about “buying time to get down into fundamental, structural change to the way the government works and spends.” I would add that the “structural change” needs to be deeper and more realistic than what has been previously proposed by people such as Don Drummond.

It is not enough to say, “We are changing the incentive structure of the civil service so that service is better and the cost is less.” That sort of plan falls apart once it encounters real actors with real agendas. At the end of the day Queen’s Park has to change its attitude towards what government should be spending money on not just how it spends money.

I have some hope for the Tim Hudak PC’s, but time will tell if they will be bold enough to present actual real solutions.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The 'Castle Principle' in Canada?

Peter Jaworski of the Institute for Liberal Studies discusses self defence against a home intruder on Sun TV News.

The right to self defence is of fundamental importance to a free society. Without it all law abiding citizens are completely at the mercy of the criminal element. To think that the police will always be on hand to protect you is simply insanely optimistic.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Jimmy Flaherty is mad at Economy

Economy is being a bad boy and Jimmy Flaherty is very upset with it. You see Jimmy had a great plan to balance the budget but it relied heavily on Economy doing what it was told. Sadly Economy is slowing down and that is making Jimmy’s plans not worth the ram space it is stored in. Economy was told to grow and if it knew what was good for it, it would grow.

Of course Jimmy was an idiot for relying on Economy in the first place, because the economy is not a thing; it is millions of interactions and decisions made by millions of people. A plan that is based on the assumption that such a complex system will do exactly what you want is so foolhardy that it could only have come from a government.

A few months ago Jimmy was riding high because the economy was growing faster than he predicted. Now he is crashing down because the economy is slowing. It is his own fault for tethering himself to the waves of economic change. He never really had a plan to balance the budget; he was simply hoping that Economy will come save him.

This government needs to stop the pretense that slowing spending growth and counting on economy growth is enough to balance the budget. Real cuts need to be made if we are ever going to see the federal government back in black.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

RNC tribute to Ron Paul

As someone who has long been sympathetic to Ron Paul, I think that this is a good tribute to his integrity and his success in effecting the national conversation.

Some complain that it doesn't mention his foreign policy, but the point of a tribute dinner isn't a roll call of someone's policy positions. It is about the man and the inspiration that people have taken from him.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Flaherty and Carney should not be interfering

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney have both called upon businesses to stop saving money and to spend it.

It is amazing to me the attitude of Jim Flaherty and Mark Carney. It doesn’t surprise me much from Mr. Flaherty, he has made it a habit of giving what I am sure he thinks is good advice to Canadian businessmen. Nor does it really surprise me coming from Mr. Carney. As unusual as it may be for a Bank of Canada Governor to make public statements like this, interfering is kind of his job.

No it doesn’t surprise me, but it does amaze me. Basic common sense would explain exactly why many corporations are saving (slightly) more than they traditionally have. Allow me to put it into terms that are personal to me:

I have a bit of a financial storm coming up in a few months (getting married is freaking expensive). Traditionally what I have done with extra cash at the end of the month is to either invest it in my retirement savings or use it to pay down my (student) debt. Since I have an idea that I am going to need a great deal of cash on hand in the near future, I have recently shifted my priorities. I am now putting every extra penny I have into the best interest rated short-term savings account that I can find. This way when the storm comes I am fully prepared.

Now if I were the president of a corporation I would also see a financial storm on the horizon for my company. Between the crisis in Europe and the debt of the United States, it seems pretty likely that some rough economic times are just up ahead. It is the responsible thing to do, for my shareholders and for my employees, to prepare for that storm as best as I can.

Of course my situation as a hypothetical corporate executive and a husband-to-be is not perfectly analogous. For the corporate leader it is far worst. I know a lot more about my storm than they know about theirs. I know when it is coming and at least some idea of how bad it will be. Also there are more elements of the storm that are under my control. The business presidents have no real knowledge of when their storm is coming and how bad it will hit them, nor do they have nearly the amount of control that I have.

So if it is rational for me to focus on savings then you would think that it would be even more rational for them to do the same. Especially when you consider how much it sucks to have to emphasize savings over investing. Right now I have a ton (for me anyway) of money that isn’t really doing much for me. I am not getting rid of debt nor am I making more money through investment. I have a decent interest rate but by decent I mean I am not losing too much money through inflation. Basically I am suffering some pretty clear opportunity costs. The reason for me to forgo potential benefits has to be and is a pretty compelling one. The same can be said for Canada’s businesses.

It is pure short term thinking combined with an obsession with consumption that has lead the Finance Minister and the Governor of the Bank of Canada to decry what they should realize is a reasonable and responsible financial strategy. The scary thing is that both of these men have the power, by one means or another, to compel corporate Canada to empty out their reserves. Then when the storm does hit, there will be nothing but government to once again come to the rescue.