Friday, September 23, 2005

Ezra update

I'm off to see E. O. Wilson at the University of Michigan later tonight (if we can organize all the rides and so on). I'll post about his talk later.

Courtesy of Matt Bufton, who is putting plans together for a Windsor Liberty Seminar (stay tuned, I'll let you know what happens with that), I now have an image of the Western Standard article mentioned in the post below. You can see the pictures, and see what the article looks like.

Thanks to Matt, and enjoy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Ezra on the Seminar

Ezra Levant's most recent Publisher's Note entitled "A retreat to advance liberty" is all about the Liberty Summer Seminar: "Looking for real liberals?," asks Ezra, "You'll find them every year, standing up for liberty, at Ontario's Liberty Summer Seminar."

Writes Ezra:
The word "liberal" used to be an adjective rooted in the Latin word for freedom, as in Alberta's provincial motto, "Fortis et Liber" (strong and free). Today the word liberal has been corrupted, and is used as a noun to describe people who believe that government should constrain personal freedom. Some true believers in liberty try to reclaim that word, describing themselves as "classical liberals," but that assumes a knowledge of the classic works of liberty that isincreasingly rare amongst graduates of our state-run schools.
That's exactly right!

He continues:
Peter's Liberty Summer Seminar is a weekend summer camp-style conference, and most guests bring tents and pitch them near the large, gorgeous swimming pond on the Jaworski family's bucolic property (I admit I retreated to a hotel in Toronto at night).
Well, eventually we'll have to figure out some way of keeping you on the property.

Ezra goes on to say:
I was delighted to be invited for my second year running, to give an update on our magazine's progress and to chair a media panel featuring the National Post's Marni Soupcoff, the Toronto Sun's Michael Taube and our own Karen Selick. Just as exciting was the presence of liberty-oriented bloggers, including Stephen Taylor, who posts frequently to our own website's blog, The Shotgun.
You can listen to Ezra's talk about the magazine by looking on the right-hand side of this blog, and clicking on Ezra in the "Podcast" section. (Stephen Taylor rocks, by the way. Not only did he come to the Seminar, he also posted an ad for it on the Blogging Tories website, and urged others to come as well. Perhaps next year we'll ask him to be a speaker, hm?)

Ezra has more to say:
It was a serious refresher on the basic principles of liberty for me, and a great chance to reconnect with other journalists and activists from across the country (including loyal readers of the magazine). But what I liked best about it was the fact that Peter is building an institution that is helping to promote the ideas of liberty through a fun annual event--really, a two-day picnic (the food was delicious, by the way). I'd encourage anyone to attend next year. Here are some photos to show you what I mean.
Yup, my mother's and father's cooking is hard to compete with, and the most exciting feedback we've received typically has something to do with the food. De gustibus non est disputandum, I guess.

I'll post an image or PDF file of Ezra's article shortly.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Podcast: Brett Skinner

Brett Skinner's talk (the photo has the lovely Ollivia introducing Brett) is up on, and you can listen to a talk on how liberty might help Canada's health care system by visiting this link, and following the instructions given by Stephen. In a bit, I'll also post this talk on my own little Podcast area down on the right-hand side of this blog.

The talk is really good, and worth a careful listen. Brett addresses not only the fact that you and I should be free to get health care on the market, but the entrepreneurs and business folks' right to offer it (this is occasionally forgotten in the conversations).

At any rate, take a listen.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Uncle x 2!

Uncle x 2!
Originally uploaded by piotrek.
Within a month of each other, my cousins Simon, and now Bart, have managed to both become official parents, making me twice the uncle!

Gosia and Bart became the proud parents of Krysia at exactly 1:05 p.m. on September 12th. At the same time, I became a proud uncle (again).

Gratuluje was, Bartlomiej i Gosiu. Pocaluj zone i corke dla mnie, Bartek.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Podcast: Mark Mullins

Over on, my buddy Stephen (hence the site's url) has posted another in the series of speeches given at this year's Liberty Summer Seminar. This one is with Mark Mullins, the new Executive big boss at the Fraser Institute. Take a listen by following the instructions here.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Silencing CHOI

Kevin Libin, over on the Shotgun, posts about the Court of Appeals ruling that the CRTC is well within their rights to censor CHOI-FM. CHOI, the French-language radio station that had its licence renewal refused by the CRTC on the grounds that what host Jeff Fillion on CHOI's wildly successful morning program said here and there was offensive.

I wrote about this in an article entitled "Big broadcasters get behind CHOI's censorship." At the time, CHOI's competitor radio stations were supportive of the CRTC's decision to keep CHOI's mouths shut. I suppose I should have anticipated just such a reaction when I called them. After all, with CHOI out of the way, the competitors can get a bigger slice of the economic pie. I'm afraid that in this case, as in the case of hot dog regulations in Toronto (story to come shortly... just as soon as the Western Standard website hosts it, I'll post it), I was painfully naive. When drawing up a list of people to contact for interviews and to scower the public record for opinions, I assumed that other broadcasters would be on CHOI's side.

A CRTC powerful enough to stop CHOI is powerful enough to stop anyone. But no one was on side.

Jeff Fillion explained it to me in a conversation (WAV file) I had with him that was the basis of this Western Standard Question Period. The gist? With Fillion out of the way, the other broadcasters get a bigger audience and more advertising revenue. Why support free speech when a CRTC can be part of your market strategy?

This issue has a deeper significance that, I'm afraid, few public commentators seem to recognize. The typical divide is between government and business, between politicians and capitalists. The former, in each case, is seen as the 'check' or 'balance' on the latter. In plenty of cases, however, the latter groups (corporations and capitalists) tend to harness the power of the state to block competition, encourage licence laws and regulations that make start-up costs prohibitively expensive for most of us (and thereby artificially restricts entrants into a market). If you can't compete on the basis of quality products and lower prices, increase costs for the other guys by getting the government to regulate, licence, and tax the activity.

This is a bad outcome for the rest of us.

I often find myself surprised by the number of libertarians or conservatives who have a preference for defending corporations. This is fine, I suppose, especially since the attacks on big corps takes the form of being an attack on the market. And insofar as we defend the market, this is fine. But we should be hesitant to defend corps in general. In case after case, it is corporations and capitalists calling for more state involvement, more laws, more regulations, higher taxes. The case of CHOI is just one example.

And not just calling for these things, they are effective at getting them. They fund political parties, pay for campaigns, and otherwise make getting elected or re-elected more likely. What, exactly, does your local PIRG accomplish? Other than being a silly nuisance and draining your student dollar through mandatory fees for their out-to-lunch campaigns for veganism, or their embarrassing sit-ins or ludicrous deregulation and lying-down-in-the-street tuition protests? Yup, little to nothing.