Friday, December 16, 2005

Moose and Dude

I've been busy posting on the new BG Ethics blog. Entitled "unideal observers," it is a blog run by the graduate students in the Bowling Green State University Philosophy Department. Lots of interesting conversations are up there, especially the one about moral intuitions. Just what role, if any, should they play?

I might post some thoughts about where I sit with respect to ethics some time soon, but some recent readings and conversations are beginning to make me think that I'm a pluralist about ethics. What does that mean? It means I think there's not really one criteria for anything to be ethical. Utilitarian reasons sound good, so they should be part of our standard. Some deontology doesn't sound entirely wrong. It's good that things are "fitting." It's good for their to be more benefit than harm. It's bad when disastrous outcomes occur. It's good when an action meets our intuitions about what is ethical. And so on. All of these things sound pretty good to me, and we shouldn't insist on just one of these as the "ultimate" or "best" or "right" sort of ethics. I think it might depend on circumstance, setting, background conditions, and so on. But that's for another post.

Instead, I want to show you two comic strips from a series done up by David Faraci. I think they're pretty funny, and he promises they will be a regular feature of our blog.

So here they are:


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Are Young Liberals 'Average Canadians'?

Have you seen the various television advertisements for the three major parties? The Tory ones are pretty crappy, and here's why. The NDP one is funny, especially with Martin getting a boot for Christmas. The best ones, by far, are the Liberal ads with their "30 million reasons to vote Liberal. What's yours?" schtick. I love them. They're inspiring, they're high quality, they pull on emotional strings, they're beautiful, and so on. There's just one problem, all the people who look like "average Canadians" aren't--they're affiliated with the Liberal Party.

No. Liberal insider. Peter Yung is riding association president for the Liberal Party in Burnaby-Douglas, B.C.

This 'average Canadian' thing carries over into a letter-writing story. Young Liberals wrote letters to the editor, and passed themselves off as regular Joes ('average Canadians'). They didn't mention the fact that they were Young Grits.

Jason Cherniak is upset that anyone would be upset about this. He thinks this is part of the reason why young Canadians are not interested in politics. And he thinks that being a partisan makes you no less of an "average Canadian."

Jason, I'm afraid, is wrong about everything in his post.

And here's why: For one, he conflates partisanship with interest in politics. Being a member of a Party is one way to be interested in politics, but there are plenty of others. For instance, I wasn't a partisan until I met Wudrick, who convinced me that it makes more sense to try and sway the Tories from the inside, rather than to yell at them from the outside. At any rate, to get involved in politics is not necessarily to help a candidate or join a political party.

For two, being a partisan does change your status as an "average Canadian." You may be an average Canadian in every respect, but with respect to your opinion of the Party you are a member of, you are no longer an "average Canadian." Imagine the same advertisement for McDonald's, with McDonald's employees saying nice things about Big Macs. If the company didn't identify them as McDonald's employees, we would be right to cry foul. This doesn't make them any less "average" in general, but it does make them non-average with respect to McDonald's. Their opinion is tainted by the company that keeps them.

Just like yours is. Of course you're going to say nice things about the Liberals, you have a vested interest in their success. This depends on just how partisan you happen to be, and how affiliated you are with the Party. For instance, you happen to use the Grit logo as part of your header on your blog:

At any rate, Warren Kinsella explains why the letter writing and television ads are problematic in three easy steps: 1. It is dishonest. 2. It is deceptive. And 3. It is dumb. He gives more exegesis on these three points in his post, so you can read that. He's right. And it's obvious that he's right.

Then there's the bit about why young people aren't involved in politics. I guess you think it's because of all the nastiness. But all that nastiness is more likely to entice young people than turn them away. Supporting sports teams is full of nastiness, with Leafs fans yelling at Canadiens fans and vice versa. "Our local area sports team is superior to your local area sports team," says an Onion parody t-shirt. Since nastiness attracts young people to sporting events, why wouldn't it attract young people to politics?

Politics is slimy, Jason. It always has been, and it always will be. And there are much more interesting things for young people to get involved in than politics. Of course I would like more young people to be interested in Philosophy, that would help justify what I'm busy doing, and it would help me feel good about my choices. Of course I think Philosophy is "important," even vitally so. But I don't complain when others don't feel the same, and I don't complain when young people don't give a rat's ass about politics. And I definitely don't think it's obvious that young people getting involved in politics is a good thing. It's what we say, to be sure, and everyone nods approvingly when someone says that they voted. But it takes a certain amount of ignorance of relevant voting literature and economics to think that higher voting totals are a good thing, or that people should be interested in politics. Especially since you are more likely to be hit by a car on your way to the voting booth than have your vote actually make a difference in the election.

James Bowie also stands with Cherniak on this issue. He writes:
As to any problem anyone might have with the letter writing: these people are Canadian Citizens. They're writing letters about subjects that interest them in anticipation of the election. Their partisan affiliation does not dispel their freedom of expression. Lord knows every other party has their writers.

If we have a problem with youth participation in this country is's because young people think they'll be smeared. Thank you Warren for smearing a bunch of young people who got involved and had their say. You are now a brick in the wall.
The first paragraph changes the subject. No one is questioning their right to write letters, or challenging their freedom of expression. At least, near as I can tell, no one has yet called the police, or threatened to put in place a new law suggesting that only non-partisans can write letters. There's a difference between social norms disapproving of something, and the law saying that you can't do something. The latter would fall under the "possible violation of freedom of expression" category, while the former is part and parcel of the whole "freedom of expression" thing. You write something, someone criticizes the fact that you wrote in the first place, but no one calls the police. Everyone would know that if everyone were to take Philosophy courses, but not everyone does, so I'm not too offended that nonsense like this keeps popping up.

As for the smearing, that is as likely to be the culprit with respect to low young people participation in politics as unstylish campaign buttons. Do you really think young people think to themselves: "Hmmm, I'd like to get involved in politics, really I would. But there's all that smearing and nastiness..." No? I didn't think so. They are more likely to think, "Maybe I'll get involved in politics. The trouble is that all these people take themselves so fucking seriously. You're just a partisan blogger in a sea of partisan bloggers, dude, get over yourself." And then there's all that ass-kissing, glad-handing, and acting as though meeting with politicians is a brush with celebrity (I'm guilty of this myself, but I'm pretty certain that for most people this is a turn-off).

So in conclusion, writing a letter or appearing in a television ad for the Liberals when you are a volunteer/organizer/partisan etc. of the Liberal Party makes you unaverage with respect to that. Even if you're average in every other way that counts.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Banning guns = no more gun crime

"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest."
- Mahatma Gandhi (An Autobiography by M.K. Gandhi, p.238).
“If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”
—The Dalai Lama, (May 15, 2001, The Seattle Times)
The Martin Liberals must be desperate. Having received little positive news, and being unable to trump Harper's policy announcements, they have gone to the drawing board and pulled out a shocking policy announcement geared to feed on fear, and grab the headlines.

BAM. It worked! Banning handguns in Canada has screamed onto the front pages of Canada's newspapers. That's right--banning handguns! With this, they plan on changing the law to double the mandatory minimum sentence for handgun crime, support some community-based initiatives to help stop gangs and drugs, put more border guards at the border, and create a brand new 250-officer strong RCMP unit for gun purposes.

Martin says they will follow the Australian example to allow for target shooting. We'll be following Australia in more ways than one, since that country has decided to ban handguns as well. Here's what we can expect:
"Drive by shootings, revenge killings, and armed hold-ups. Gun crime has become an almost daily occurrence in Australia."
(7.30 report, Dec. 2003)
We'll also be following the British experience, a country that also chose to ban handguns. There, "crime rose by 40% in the two years after the weapons were banned." That same report further explains that:

"...there was no link between high levels of gun crime and areas where there were still high levels of lawful gun possession.
Of the 20 police areas with the lowest number of legally held firearms, 10 had an above average level of gun crime.
And of the 20 police areas with the highest levels of legally held guns only two had armed crime levels above the average."
(BBC News, July 2001)

Wait... those experiences don't sound so good. Hmmm, why would handgun crime increase after a ban on handguns? I mean, did the politicians not say the guns were banned, not allowed, against the law, and so on? And didn't the right people mark down the right pieces of paper with the appropriate words all to the effect that guns were banned, not allowed, against the law, and so on? What happened?

Everyone must be confused, since drumming up a new law instantly gets rid of the crime the law is supposed to fight. Consider Harper's drug announcement--if he manages to get in, we'll see no more drugs, and everything will be rainbows.

Economics talk of incentives, market rewards, the impossibility of the police being everywhere, and so on, are too 'academic' for policy purposes. Soccer moms want laws on the books that say you can't say mean things to their children, and everyone must hug at the end of the day, and, well, we do live in a democracy so let's put the laws together and avoid talking to the pointy-headed professors.

Not that we care (we have snookums to drive to the mall for an X-Box 360), but economists might say crazy things like: 'a ban on handguns is likely to disarm law-abiding citizens, and make it in the interest of every criminal to have one.' Or 'a ban on handguns lowers the potential costs of engaging in crime to the criminal, making criminality more likely.' Or, 'if banning handguns were a good policy to stop handgun crime, then it would have worked in Australia and England.' Or they might quote a mafioso:

“Gun control? It’s the best thing you can do for crooks and gangsters. I want you to have nothing. If I’m a bad guy, I’m always gonna have a gun. Safety locks? You’ll pull the trigger with a lock on, and I’ll pull the trigger. We’ll see who wins.”
—Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, Mafia hit man.

What these academics are missing is that we are not Australia and England. We are Canada! And apart from the confusing similarity of having three 'A's in our name just like Australia, our country clearly begins with a 'C', which is really different from those other two. In short, we can just pretend that the experiences of other countries will not be our experience. We can create policy as though we were in an empirical vacuum, starting from scratch, the first policy of its kind, and so on.

Besides, we can't let Britain and Australia write our policy--we must be independent. Learning from other countries is like ceding sovereignty or something. Consider the health care debate. Some idiots are comparing Canada's system to other systems like France, Germany, Britain, etc., and concluding that our system is one of the worst (ranked 31st, or thereabouts). Such comparisons ignore important criteria like "was a Canadian in charge?" and "just how was Tommy Douglas involved in the construction of the health care system?" and "what is the opinion of the Canadian Nursing unions?" You will note that Canadians are not in charge in other countries, Douglas only helped construct Canada's system, and nursing unions in Canada love our system the best. Including these important questions will probably yield the outcome that Canadian elite commentators have known instinctively for years: Canada's system is the best in the world (or better than the U.S. system which amounts, of course, to the same thing: We're number 1! We're number 1!)

So it would be rash to conclude that we should have similar outcomes from similar policy enactments in other countries.

The only policy better than this one, would be one that addresses the root causes of gun crime, which is criminals. I anticipate that the Liberals will see this, and propose a new similarly effective policy announcement of banning criminals and criminality. This proposal is probably also the best because we can then get rid of our prisons, our justice system, and so on, since there will be no criminals if we banned them.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Compare the following from CTV News:

"The hot rumour is that the government's decision on the income trust issue is that they are going to make a more level playing field by reducing the degree of double taxation which currently exists on dividends by increasing the dividend tax credit."
(3:59 p.m., up on Stockhouse, a popular internet site for investors)

"We're going to help to level up the playing field as between corporations and trusts and we're going to be doing that by ending double taxation on dividends."
(around 6 p.m., Finance Minister Goodale).

Smell a rat?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Buy a vote

Politicians buying votes through social programs and certain policies is an age-old classic, best explained by the Public Choice School of economics. Some Canadians, however, want to give a new twist to the old game--instead of having their vote bought by politicians through electoral promises, they offer their votes on eBay to willing buyers directly.

This happens every year, and this year is no different. Going up to $20 for a single vote, the auction site quickly took the auction off of its site once Elections Canada made them aware of the shenanigans. I didn't have a chance to email the auctioneer this year, but I did last year. Two of them, in fact. It just so happens that I wrote about it in an article entitled "To corrupt democracy, just click here." (PDF)

From the article:
“I don’t need national day care,” West later explained in an e-mail to the Western Standard. “I owned a rifle, I didn’t want to have to ask Allan Rock for permission to use it. I don’t want the government telling me who I can or can’t marry.”

West admits he was pretty certain he was breaking the law, “but is selling a vote openly morally worse than trying to buy a vote through ridiculous promises?” And, though eBay pulled the plug, he says he’s not giving up. “If a candidate comes knocking on my door I will tell him or her that I would be happy to vote for them if they will pay cash. The amount is not important. I just want these people to realize that I want to be kissed before they screw me, that’s all.”

Preach on, brother. Preach on.

Monday, December 05, 2005


I posted about the Maclean's Canada 20/20 panel including "Progressive Conservative" instead of "Conservative" down below. After seeing it, I shot off this letter:
Hi Canada 2020 -

Progressive Conservative?

Uhm, I don't think the Progressive Conservatives are running in this election...

In your survey, do you want me to think back in time to the positioins of the Progressive Conservatives, or do you really mean the Conservative Party?

This was somewhat galling, to tell you honestly.


Peter Jaworski.
They were nice enough to respond. Here's their letter:
Hi there,

Please accept our apologies for this oversight. We have fixed the question in our survey.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

The Canada 20/20 Panel Team
If you take the survey, let me know if they have changed it.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Me on CPAC

Do read the post below this one.

But I was just on CPAC, commenting on which tax cut I prefer--GST or Income. Guess what my response is? Yeah, cut both! (I stutter a bit at the beginning, because I was nervous. I'm not as polished, I guess, as others might be... Still, you can listen to my comments [WAV].)

A compendium of conservatives on drugs

Yesterday I posted on the new Tory policy of getting tough on drugs. On mandatory minimum sentences, and on not moving toward the "Liberal" policy of decriminalization of marijuana, or the "NDP" policy of legalizing it. I complained that legalization should be less associated with the NDP, than with the policy minds that are supposed to influence Conservative policy and opinion. The Fraser Institute, the Senate Committee, and so on.

No policy is more likely to rankle me than this one. To be sure, I support gay marriage, and think that this is a policy worthy of aggressive defence also, but the drug issue is more serious to me, since honest and intelligent policy advice is resoundingly in favour of legalization, and since the lives destroyed by this policy count in the millions. It is a disaster on a scale of massive proportion.

And this is coming from me, a fellow who doesn't smoke pot (tried it about five times), has never done other drugs, and would ground with impunity any son or daughter of mine who dabbled in anything more serious than marijuana and its derivatives (I really believe that marijuana is harmless, and is probably sometimes good for you. But that's another issue, for another time.)

Some time in the not-too-distant future, you will agree with me. Unless your fanaticism borders on the religious, the daily deluge of policy papers, academic scribblings, op-eds, medical journal findings, and public opinion polls which all point in a similar direction is bound to have an effect on you. If not today, then tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, then a week or month from now. And if you still think it a good idea to incarcerate pot smokers and growers twenty years from now, you will change your mind twenty years later. But the longer it takes for you to change your mind, the longer will this disaster of a policy continue. The longer will we have to put up with lives utterly ruined and destroyed by this policy.

This post is aimed at small- and big-c conservatives. At those who are conservative philosophically, and those who support the political party. It is not really intended for anyone else, since the authorities I cite, and the instances I give are tailored to convince conservatives, not liberals, socialists, and so on.

Thoughtful and intelligent conservatives agree that the war on drugs is a lost cause, and the source of a massive amount of injustice, crime, and loss of life (in both the literal, and figurative sense).

Milton Friedman, a hero to most conservatives, not only thinks the War on Drugs is a failure, he thinks it is immoral. When I asked him, citing a 1972 Newsweek article where he supported the legalization of drugs, if he still felt this way, his response was an unequivocal "Absolutely!" Hard drugs too?, I asked. "Absolutely." What about ethics?:
PJ: Now you also said in that same article that this was an ethical issue as well.
MF: Absolutely—I've just said it—what right does the government have to tell me what I may put in my mouth? If the government has the right to tell me what I may put in my mouth, why doesn't it have the right to tell me what I may put in my mind? There is, in my opinion, no government policy that is as immoral as drug prohibition...
(Friedman and Freedom, March 15, 2002)
Friedman headlined a list of 500 economists who supported a Marijuana Policy Project report, written by Jeffrey Miron of Harvard, urging American legislators to legalize marijuana. You might recognize some of these as heroes, too. The report says:
"The report shows that marijuana legalization -- replacing prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation -- would save $7.7 billion per year in state and federal expenditures on prohibition enforcement and produce tax revenues of at least $2.4 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like most consumer goods. If, however, marijuana were taxed similarly to alcohol or tobacco, it might generate as much as $6.2 billion annually.

The fact that marijuana prohibition has these budgetary impacts does not by itself mean prohibition is bad policy. Existing evidence, however, suggests prohibition has minimal benefits and may itself cause substantial harm."
(Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition, June, 2005)

But Friedman, strictly speaking, is a libertarian, not a conservative. Although he's a hero to both, you might think of him as being only conservative by overlap. Would you say the same of the National Review? You probably have the magazine bookmarked, if you're a Canadian Tory. Here is the hallmark publication of the conservative movement proper. No chance of finding many libertarians sympathetic to this magazine, which is more likely to spit on libertarians as make common cause with them. But they don't spit so much when it comes to drugs. Instead, they support legalization:
" is our judgment that the war on drugs has failed, that it is diverting intelligent energy away from how to deal with the problem of addiction, that it is wasting our resources, and that it is encouraging civil, judicial, and penal procedures associated with police states. We all agree on movement toward legalization, even though we may differ on just how far."
(War on drugs is lost, Feb. 12, 1996)
Was the good ship S.S. NR rudderless? Was William F. Buckley, the founder and steerer, in the background pulling his hair as his editorial board veers away from his considered judgment? Was Buckley outvoted on the issue, and the magazine presented an opinion vastly different from his? Not so. Here's Buckley himself:
"I leave it at this, that it is outrageous to live in a society whose laws tolerate sending young people to life in prison because they grew, or distributed, a dozen ounces of marijuana. I would hope that the good offices of your vital profession would mobilize at least to protest such excesses of wartime zeal, the legal equivalent of a My Lai massacre. And perhaps proceed to recommend the legalization of the sale of most drugs, except to minors."
(Ibid, a speech before the NY Bar Association)
The Economist doesn't flinch from the subject. The magazine most likely to be found on the shelves of intelligent conservatives and libertarians (amongst a host of others who are serious about economics) agrees: The War on Drugs is a bad idea.
"The best answer is to move slowly but firmly to dismantle the edifice of enforcement. Start with the possession and sale of cannabis and amphetamines, and experiment with different strategies... Move on to hard drugs, sold through licensed outlets. These might be pharmacies or, suggests Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Centre, mail-order distributors...
"John Stuart Mill was right. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. Trade in drugs may be immoral or irresponsible, but it should no longer be illegal."
(Set it free, July 26, 2001)
Meanwhile, here in Canada, the newspapers conservatives are most likely to subscribe to urge legalization. The National Post has issued at least two editorials in favour of legalization. One, simply titled "Time to Legalize Pot," says:
"Marijuana legalization has long been the subject of academic debate. The time has come to turn conjecture into law. Canada's police, judges and prosecutors have better things to do with their time than track down those who produce and consume a substance no more dangerous than alcohol and tobacco. We should begin the decriminalization of marijuana by immediately reducing the punishments that can be imposed for its possession to modest fines -- and start thinking about how to regulate its use."
(Time to Legalize Pot, April 1, 2000)
And here's a snippet from "Pointless Prohibition":
"The only sensible course of action is to end the pointless prohibition of a substance that is neither more dangerous nor more addictive than alcohol or tobacco, and one that has reportedly been smoked by more than 10 million Canadians at some point in their lives... It's time to make official what Vancouver's authorities have evidently already accepted, and legalize marijuana." (Pointless Prohibition, Sep. 7, 2004)
The Ottawa Citizen, another staple in the conservative newspaper diet, ran a series of four editorials urging an end to the war on drugs. Here are some excerpts:
"Too often, our political culture equates legalizing drugs with being soft on criminals. But it is criminalization, not legalization, that guarantees wealth and power for gangs and pushers. We will argue Monday that it need not be this way."
(Decriminalizing Drugs, April 12, 1997)
How appropriate is this first line in light of the recent Tory announcement about drugs?... Here's more:
"The recent history of drug enforcement, both in Canada and the United States, is largely a record of failure. Tax dollars are lavished on enforcement. Police powers are expanded at the expense of civil liberties. Criminal gangs grow richer. And drug use goes on regardless."
(Decriminalizing Drugs II, April 14, 1997)
"But people constantly engage in any number of activities that, like drug use, physically endanger only themselves but risk inflicting emotional trauma on others should something go wrong: scuba diving, skiing, driving Highway 401. Others may be traumatized when sons marry outside the family religion, daughters form sexual relationships with other women, or parents divorce. With harm stretched beyond its original, liberal meaning, almost any activity that attracted a vociferous lobby group and applause-seeking politicians could be outlawed. If we are to have a free society in any meaningful sense, J.S. Mill's great liberal maxim must be re-invigorated, but with the original, narrow definition of harm intact. And Canada, secure in the knowledge of what is right in a free society, should allow its citizens to make their own decisions about whether or not to use drugs."
(Decriminalizing Drugs III, April 15, 1997)
And in the conclusion of the 4-part series, the Ottawa Citizen puts nails in what should have been a coffin:

"The history of drug use confirms that we will never live in a drug-free society: Too many people inevitably just say yes. But we can have a society in which the worst effects of drug addiction are minimized, and those who are addicted are helped. We can have a society where mafia and biker gangs are not made rich and powerful by the ban on drugs.

Most importantly, we can have a society where the criminal law reflects not expediency and prejudice but principle. We can work toward a society clearly and consistently founded on the great liberal maxim of John Stuart Mill, that: "The individual is not accountable to society for his actions, insofar as these concern the interests of no person but himself.""
(Decriminalizing Drugs IV, April 16, 1997)

Stephen Easton, writing a Fraser Institute policy paper, thinks the enemy (drugs) has won. That's right, the Fraser Institute, Canada's most important free market think tank, the place most likely to draw the smartest and best conservatives (and libertarians) in this country.
“If we treat marijuana like any other commodity we can tax it, regulate it, and use the resources the industry generates rather than continue a war against consumption and production that has long since been lost... It is apparent that we are reliving the experience of alcohol prohibition of the early years of the last century.”
(BC's marijuana crop worth over 7 billion annually, June 9, 2004)
The Cato Institute has many friends in conservative circles. But they have been fierce on the issue. They support the legalization of all drugs. They've issued plenty of policy documents, but I will cite just one:
"By now, there can be little doubt that most, if not all, "drug-related murders" are the result of drug prohibition. The same type of violence came with the Eighteenth Amendment's ban of alcohol in 1920. The murder rate rose with the start of Prohibition, remained high during Prohibition, and then declined for 11 consecutive years when Prohibition ended.[2] The rate of assaults with a firearm rose with Prohibition and declined for 10 consecutive years after Prohibition. In the last year of Prohibition--1933--there were 12,124 homicides and 7,863 assaults with firearms; by 1941 these figures had declined to 8,048 and 4,525, respectively...

In spite of the greatest anti-drug enforcement effort in U.S. history, the drug problem is worse than ever. What should be done now?... The status quo is intolerable--everyone agrees on that. But there are only two alternatives: further escalate the war on drugs, or legalize them. Once the public grasps the consequences of escalation, legalization may win out by default."
(Thinking about drug legalization, May 25, 1989)

There's plenty more where that came from.

In a subsequent post, I will expand on the second sense of the title of this post (yup, it's a double entendre).

Still think the war on drugs is a good idea? You swim against the tide of considered conservative opinion, my friend.

Soon, you'll be swimming alone.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

What are the Tories smoking?

I'm not happy with the free vote in Parliament on the issue of gay marriage. And I'm not happy with the health care policy unveiled by the Tories. Here was an opportunity to put forward a policy--that of a private parallel tier for health care--that would significantly and immediately improve Canada's health care system. And now, today, another policy plank is presented which I think will really help to boost Canada's prison population. Mandatory minimum sentences for pot growers. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

He said that crack dealers, marijuana grow operators and crystal meth manufacturers "have to know that if they are caught, they will not get a slap on the wrist."

"They will go to prison," Harper told a crowd in Burnaby, B.C.

"It is a serious crime, and they will do serious time."

No, Harper, growing marijuana is not a "serious crime." Not according to most Canadians who view the "dangers" of marijuana on a par with the dangers of stray golf balls.

"A Conservative government will not reintroduce the Liberal plan to decriminalize the possession of marijuana, and we will never endorse the NDP idea of legalizing it outright," the Conservative leader said.
In other words, a Conservative government is not really interested in individual liberty. Instead, it is interested in producing more criminals, and pursuing an archaic and barbaric policy of throwing people with artificially induced munchies into the clink.

It's disingenuous of the Tories to call the idea of legalization an NDP idea, especially in light of the Fraser Institute's support of legalization, and the Senate Report that also urged legalization (not decriminalization), of marijuana.

This is such a backwards and horrendous idea. I thought Harper was a classical liberal (that's what he told me, anyway, I guess a long time ago now). I guess not.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Progressive Conservative?

This is really dumb. I'm part of the Maclean's Canada 20/20 panel, and they ask the following set of questions:

Notice the first Party? Progressive Conservative...

Do they want me to think back to the policies of the PC Party? Or what? A charitable view would have this as just a simple oversight. A less charitable interpretation is that this is some subtle statement. Either way, who's editing these surveys? And just how useful will they be if they ask about the Progressive Conservative Party?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Tax cuts

Paul Martin responded to Harper's pledge of cutting the GST by two percentage points (to 5 per cent) by saying that it's better to cut income taxes. I agree, of course, that income tax cuts are better than consumption tax cuts. Income taxes have the stench of slavery about them, and you can take a peek at Nozick's Anarchy, State & Utopia for a clever argument on why that is so.

Nevertheless, what Martin said struck me as being funny. He said: "I want to see Canadians keep more of their pay cheques."

Great. But to do what with, exactly?

I like both ideas. We should cut the GST, and abolish the income tax. I suppose that idea is out, though, unless we take seriously the Fair Tax proposal pushed by Neal Boortz in the U.S. I think I like this idea most of all. In general, the idea is to raise consumption taxes to about 23 per cent, and abolish the income tax, property tax, capital gains tax, corporate tax, and so on. Yup, that would mean taking the IRS apart. Which would be sweet.

I'd like to see a proposal like that in Canada. But I'm not holding my breath.