The Anti-Conceptual Mentality

March 28, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

Many of you have no doubt spent hours, days, weeks or years talking with people who seem to be unphased by any argument, no matter how logical. You know the sort:

  • “My party, right or wrong”: this guy will continue to support and vote Progressive Conservative even if it becomes the official Ontario organ of the KGB. There’s no reasoning with him. People wonder if he is mentally challenged, or simply dishonest.

  • “My leader, right or wrong”: this guy killed millions during world war II.

  • “Damned immigrants. They’re ruining this country”: this guy is referring to the simple and irrelevant fact that his next-door neighbour’s skin colour is different from his own.

  • “We’re all libertarians, even if we have different reasons for being libertarians. We all value liberty, but for our own reasons”: this guy will soon be a member of the Liberal or Conservative parties, and will say that he has “grown up” and “learned the importance of compromise”.

  • “It’s our heritage, and I’d fight and die for it god dammit!” – this is the next human rights commission sacrificial lamb.

  • etc.

Well, for those with the intellectual means, and with the desire to make sense of what seems like insanity, the following essay is arguably going to change your life. It is arguably one of Ayn Rand’s finest, and it is probably my favourite. Read it, read it again, and then sit back in wonder at Rand’s brilliance: “The Missing Link”.

P.S., I have no idea what arrangements may or may not have been made to facilitate reproduction of the essay. In any event, the essay is best appreciated when read in the context of the book from which it is drawn, Philosophy: Who Needs It . At $6.95, it’s a must-buy.

John Tory's Bait & Switch for Gullible Right-Wingers

March 28, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Realizing that he’s got problems in his own party – those in it who want smaller government and reduced taxes are looking to leave his party – party leader John Tory has resorted to posing as a Harrisite, without actually proposing anything in particular.

In the Toronto Star’s editorial today – laughably titled “Tory Turns to the Right” – the Star reports that Tory yesterday gave a post-budget speech to the Economic Club of Toronto:

Tory’s solutions are right out of the Mike Harris hymnal: Cut taxes and allow “businesses and families to keep more of their own money.” Shrink regulations. And take a hard look at the number of civil servants who are making big salaries and “breathing each other’s exhaust.

Which taxes exactly? Silence.

How much? Silence.

Which civil servants should be canned? Silence.

How much should spending on the civil service be reduced? Silence.

Thankfully, the Toronto Star was keen enough to notice that Tory’s words on tax cuts and spending cuts are of the “Here I sit, broken hearted, paid and dime and only farted” nature:

Tory didn’t help his case by dodging reporters’ questions about what services he would cut to pay for tax breaks. Instead, he criticized the Liberal government for not looking for unspecified “efficiencies” and “waste.” He also suggested McGuinty could have slowed down “other initiatives” to fund tax cuts, although he did not spell out which ones.

Ah yes, “finding efficiencies”, “reducing waste”, “tightening the belt”, yada yada yada. The same schtick he delivered leading up to the election of 2007…and the same one he’ll continue to deliver, because he is actually a defender of Ontario’s health insurance monopoly, a defender of tax-funded government-owned/operated schools, and a defender of Ontario’s various welfare programs. He’s repeatedly said that keeping those programs well-funded takes priority, even if that means raising taxes.

Tory’s real aim is to make it LOOK as though he’s turned hard right so as to shore up support within his party.

He has absolutely no plan to deliver tax cuts or spending cuts of any significant nature or extent. Mark my words. He’s just desperate.

Burn Your PC Membership Card: PCs Give Up Fighting for Tax Cuts

March 27, 2008 by · 3 Comments 

The Ottawa Citizen’s Lee Greenberg today reports that Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives won’t be fighting for tax cuts. Party leader John Tory lacking a seat in the legislature, acting Opposition leader Bob Runciman had this to say:

The reality of the situation is that most of the stakeholders seemed to have rolled over on this, even the ones who were complaining loudly prior to the budget — whether the Canadian Manufacturers (and Exporters), the (Ontario) Chamber of Commerce…

…What’s the point of continuing on this, especially when the people who are most impacted have sort of waved the white flag?

Subtext: the Progressive Conservative party follows the polls, not principles. And, even then, it really only polls interest groups, not individuals: if the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t want tax cuts, but you do, too bad.

Now, for those wondering what to do with their Progressive Conservative membership card, a helpful hint. For those with more flair, here’s another way. (And, please, if you do either, video it and put it on youtube).

P.S.: Freedom Party memberships are $10. Just sign an application and send it in with your $10 and, voila, you’re a member.

A Capitalist's Guide to Ontario's Budget

March 26, 2008 by · 4 Comments 

REVENUES (Billions)

Income/Property Taxes:

  • Personal Income Tax $25.2
  • Corporations Tax: $12.3
  • Employer Health Tax: $4.8
  • Ontario Health Premium: $2.8
  • TOTAL: $45.1

Retail Sales Tax (8%): $17.2
Gasoline and Fuel Taxes: $3.1
Other Taxes: $3.5

KEY EXPENSES (Billions):

Government Health Insurance Monopoly $40.4
Tax-funded, government-owned/operated schools: $13.1
Post-secondary education/training: $6.2
Welfare of various sorts: $11.8
“Other Programs”: $11.9
…oh yeah, we almost forgot “Justice”: $3.7


It doesn’t take a genius to see that all but about $3.7B of the Ontario budget is spent on wealth redistribution schemes (and that’s all they are: it’s not as though health care or education services would disappear were the government to allow people to pay for them directly from the service providers).

Key considerations: notice the total of revenue that is taken in the form of income taxes ($45.1B). Note that income taxes – unlike retail sales taxes – can be imposed with progressive rates (i.e., with an income tax, the rate can be made to increase with the person’s income). Finally, note that health and post-secondary education are funded by an amount almost equal to the total of all income taxes.

Now ask yourself two questions:

1. Should I be free to purchase whichever health insurance plan suits my wants and budget?

2. Should I be forced to pay for my neighbour’s child’s Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology (minor in Soviet film studies)?

If your answers to these questions are 1. Yes, and 2. No, then it should be obvious to you that Ontario could eliminate income taxes without running a deficit…thus joining Texas, Florida, Alaska, Nevada and 3 other U.S. states that do not tax income.

The Conservatives' Disingenuous Calls For Tax Cuts

March 25, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

A three word phrase best describes the words of Canadian federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, and those of Ontario provincial Progressive Conservative Party leader John Tory, concerning the absence of tax cuts in Ontario’s 2008 budget (released today): Blah blah blah. To say more would be a waste of oxygen, for the simple reason that: neither man means what he has said.

Consider, as exhibit A, today’s Toronto Star editorial, which provided some criticism utterly lacking in papers that boost the federal Tories (notably, today, the National Post and the various SunMedia papers):

Flaherty was free with his advice on the revenue side of the ledger – cut corporate taxes – but not at all forthcoming on how to make up for the lost revenue, which would run in the billions of dollars.

At first, Flaherty retreated to the supply-side mantra that “tax cuts pay for themselves.” When a reporter suggested his recommended tax cuts would lead to lower revenues, Flaherty said: “Of course, that’s not so.” He predicted revenues would rise as the rates were cut.

But in response to a more direct question about where he would reduce spending to offset the tax cuts and keep the budget balanced, Flaherty simply ducked: “I’m not going to substitute my opinion for his (McGuinty’s) opinion,” he said. “That’s why (he’s) premier.”

When a government with a more-or-less balanced budget cuts taxes but does not cut spending, it runs a deficit (i.e., it adds to the debt), which is just another way of saying that it doesn’t cut taxes at all. Instead, it merely shifts them onto the shoulders of future taxpayers. To advocate tax cuts without also advocating spending cuts is tantamount to demanding not a tax cut, but a tax delay (at the cost of increased borrowing).

Even more compelling evidence of the disingenuousness of conservatives’ calls for tax cuts are the words of Mr. Tory. In response to the budget today, he gave a four-page speech in which he concluded, in part:

Ontario has all the right stuff to be on top, to be a leader again. All that’s lacking is a government which gets it. A Premier who understands that you need a strong private sector job creation to pay for public services. (emphasis added)

This isn’t a comment taken out of context. Tory has gone on the record again, and again, and again, making it clear that maintaining Ontario’s “social programs” – i.e., the big three: government monopoly on health care (which represents 46% of program spending), tax-funded government-owned schools, and welfare – is his top priority. Using the socialist conservatives’ favourite weasel-words, “free enterprise” (words carefully chosen not to imply “free markets”), Tory has also explained on TV Ontario’s “The Agenda” program, and elsewhere, that his philosophy – and that of the Progressive Conservative Party – is that the purpose of “free enterprise” is to pay for government’s social programs. Well, look: if his first priority is to preserve spending levels, he cannot possibly want a tax cut. This is just posturing.

If there be any doubt left in your mind, consider this bit of hypocrisy: Tory is on the record as refusing to promise not to raise taxes, especially where raising taxes is necessary to preserve social programs (see, for example, the same episode of “The Agenda”, in which he made these remarks).

None of this has stopped Tory from exhuming this old nut:

…the Liberals are “locked in a tax-and-spend” spiral.

Tory neglected to add that he really has no objection of substance to said spiral.

All of this begs the exhumation of yet another nugget. All together now: “Liberal, Tory, same old story”.

The World's Longest-lasting Smile

March 19, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

The World’s Fastest Indian

Just a quick note to anyone who needs some refueling, or who simply loves to smile (who doesn’t?) while watching a movie that is not a comedy.

I just finished watching the last hour or so of a movie titled “The World’s Fastest Indian“. Having missed the beginning, I can nonetheless tell you that it is based on the true story of New Zealander Burt Munro who, in 1967, set a land speed record on an Indian motorcycle (one initially built in the 20s, which he modified for the task with unparalleled ingenuity and dedication).

The movie’s sense of life is wonderful. Burt (Anthony Hopkins) has little money to his name, he earns his passage to the USA by working as ship’s chef. Spending little, working hard, and relentlessly pursuing his dream of beating 200 MpH on his bike, he eventually makes it to speed week at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, only to learn that – unbeknowst to him – he was supposed to have registered over a month earlier.

I don’t want to spoil the movie because it is just too valuable to waste (don’t go googling for spoilers…this one’s a rare gem: protect its value by remaining as ignorant of it as possible until you watch it). Suffice it to say that I had a smile of intense happiness on my face for almost the entire part of it that I did catch and, at several points, my eyes welled up with tears of joy (ahem: I didn’t let any fall).

If you hunger for a movie that embraces the world and the rational pursuit of ones own happiness in it, this is one movie you will not want to miss. I should add, in this connection: I almost did. The movie, apparently, was released in 2005. I would say “better late than never”, but that would wrongly imply that seeing it earlier would have made the experience better. The truth is that I will be buying this film on DVD, and I’ll be watching it several more times over the remainder of my life. If you truly love your life, I suspect you will too.

Criminals, and Other Anarchists

March 18, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

In response to one of my videos on anarchism, BinaryTasks:

Does the individual not have the right to decide these things? Is it not his property?

Why can a collective decide over the individual’s land? What right does the collective have to impose courts and legal systems on an innocent individual?

Also, if it turns out that having loads of different courts is bad, won’t the market make sure there are few (or a single one, maybe)?

If people are too stupid to decide this for themselves, aren’t they too stupid to decide this collectively?

I respond as follows:

It is right to seek the restoration of ones values when one has been deprived of them non-consensually. That restoration must be done only after it is objectively proven that one has so been deprived, and only after the nature and extent of the restoration has been objectively determined. The alternative is the non-objective determination of guilt, and the non-objective assessment of restoration. The rightness of objective courts is founded on morality, which is founded on the facts of reality.

Ask the reverse: what right does a mugged person have to non-objectively determine the guilt and non-objectively assess the penalty? Answer: none.

There are “loads of different [non-objective] courts” right now: those are the ones assessing guilt and penalties amongst gangs. To date, the various crime families have not decided, on the basis of market forces, that one court is best for them all. Each prefers to be cop, judge, jury, and executioner; each has their own code of alleged ethics, and their own system of laws. They choose to ignore our laws, police, courts etc. They choose to live in an anarchistic system, which is why it is right to give them the ultimate conclusion of what they want: expel them from civilized society, and let them live amongst their fellow animals.

The fact that we have one legal system, and one system of courts, and one recognized police force is a testament to man’s competency to live on this earth.

"Right Wing" Reality Check

March 17, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who insist on deluding themselves by saying that Ontario’s “Progressive Conservative” party (you know, the one that introduced rent controls, a ban on private health insurance, the provincial income tax, etc.) is “right wing”, “centre right”, “right of the liberals” – or that it is the right party to support if you are pro-free-market/pro-capitalism – here’s more evidence to the contrary straight from the lips of party leader John Tory, as reported in today’s Cornwall Standard Freeholder:

Our party has been steadfast and unanimous in saying that (supply management) is a system that is working for the farmers, it’s working for Canada, and we should just leave it alone.


We should be more concerned with the fact that we’re importing Chinese apples, and who knows what kinds of pesticides have been used to grow them there, when we have perfectly safe gown apples here in Ontario.

The most that can honestly be said about the differences between the Liberals and the PCs is that the PCs use socialism as a justification for handing out grants, loans, market protection, and special status to certain alleged nobles in society…all of whose wealth and privilege depend upon regulation of – not freedom of – the market. The Liberals, in contrast, regard a socialist system as the ideal. In short: PCs view socialism as a means to a dishonest and corrupt end, whereas Liberals view socialism as a means to a dishonest and corrupt end.

[VIDEO] Damned to Repeat It

March 13, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

My most recent installment (#11) in the “In Defence of Ayn Rand” series just finished uploading to my youtube channel. Titled “Damned to Repeat It”, it is a response to an anarcho-capitalist who has been creating a series of videos called “Ayn Rand Missteps” (Damned to Repeat It is a response to his fourth such video, which deals with Ayn Rand’s politics).

“Damned to Repeat It” has been broken into three parts, each relating to one of the three assertions made by the anarcho-capitalist (who goes by the name aaron0883): libertarianism, anarchism, and voting.

Here are the links to each:

IDOAR #11: Damned to Repeat It, Pt. 1 – Libertarianism

IDOAR #11: Damned to Repeat It, Pt. 2 – Anarchism

IDOAR #11: Damned to Repeat It, Pt. 3 – Voting

NOTE: sometimes, it takes a few minutes or hours for the videos to propagate through’s servers…you might get a “file not found” message (or something similar) for a while. If so, just come back to the links a bit later.

He Who Serves Himself is Served Best

March 12, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

The National Post’s John Turley-Ewart today explains how a state government in Germany is demanding from Nokia the repayment of $63 million in state grants that were paid on the assumption that the Nokia plant would not, a while later, close shop and move to Romania. He concludes his column thusly:

If that money had been spent on retraining workers for industries that could thrive and be competitive in the current economic climate Germany finds itself in, taxpayers would have been better served and so would the Nokia workers who now find themselves unemployed. Dalton McGuinty should take note.

…which drew from me this comment, in response:

The last thing of which we should encourage the Premier to take note is how to “better serve” the taxpayer. Taxpayers in Westphalia would have been served best by not seizing their earnings in the first place: the taxpayer – and the economy – is best served by self-service.

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