Friday, December 22, 2006

Why Ontario will go broke

In my previous post, I looked at Michigan's economic and fiscal woes, and after a little digging, I found this chart from the Canadian Taxpayer's Federation that shows how the Stalinist single payer model will bankrupt Ontario. If in a mere ten years health spending doubled, and went from consuming 31.5% of provincial expenditures to around 40%, what will happen in the next ten years in light of the baby boomers retiring? Some of this spending is due to population, with the population increasing to over 12.3 million (estimated) in 2006 from 11.4 million in 1991. Also considering that this ten year period was one of low inflation, we can discount that as a major contributing factor as well.

So here are the facts as it stands:
  • Health care spending is the fastest growing part of the provincial expenditures on a per-capita real basis. At current rates, health care will eat up over 50% of government expenditures if the status quo is maintained.
  • With an aging population, and the baby-boomers starting to retire, you'll have additional demands for health care resources. These people will be retired and will not be contributing the much less in taxes as they're not working. So you're looking at lower revenues and increased expenditures going down the road.
  • Since this is a government run system, it automatically makes it a political system. They baby-boomers want all the bells and whistles (costs be dammed), and will not tolerate tax increases to pay for it. They will be become a large voting bloc that politicians ignore at their peril.
  • We haven't mentioned that since it is government run, it is inherently inefficient, and featherbedding for self serving unions and health care bureaucrats takes precedence over patients. This accelerates the problems above.
So what is a politician to do? Especially a politician who treats single payer, government run health care as an article of faith? The options for such a politician are as follows:
  • Start cutting all other expenditures. Education? Kids don't vote and there are more retirees than parents with school age children. Won't get much love from the teacher's unions, but the retirees are more powerful by this point.
  • Ration as much health care as possible. But then there is a tipping point when the voters revolt over this.
  • Raise taxes. Retirees on fixed incomes are really ornery over taxes, and it has to be done where it soaks everyone but retirees. So business taxes and income surtaxes are increased, which leads to;
  • Every major employer moving shop somewhere else. No workers and no business equals no revenues.
The vicious circle of socialism in a nutshell. Demographics + supply & demand + governmental inefficiency + status quo thinking = bankruptcy.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

SCTV - Mel Torme's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner

Michigan's descent into the fiscal abyss

This article from the Detroit News discusses warnings from Michigan governor Granholm that the state could face a budget deficit of $1 billion dollars. Now with the Democrats controlling the state assembly for the first time in a long while, this key quote is of note:
The governor would not say if she was considering a tax increase to keep the
state afloat.
The last thing Michigan needs are tax increases in such dire economic circumstances. One of the reasons why Michigan has lagged all other states is due to its tax system. One of Grahnholm's proposals to exacerbate the Michigan economy was her proposal to replace the state's hated Single Business tax with a more onerous tax regime which is part gross receipts tax, part tax on assets, and part income tax.
The two biggest reasons that businesses are avoiding Michigan like the plague are high taxes and unions. Granholm's refusal to rule out tax increases and her coutnerproductive business tax proposals will make businesses even more leery of investing in the Great Lakes State, which will fuel the exodus of people out of the state in search for better prospects.
As a friend of mine said who still lives in Metro Detroit is, "Thanks to Jennifer Grahnolm's economic policies, the deserted roads make my commute to work that much easier."

Economic Comparisons - Canada versus U.S.

What is seen and not seen. I had a discussion with a somewhat regular reader of this site, and a couple of statements he made piqued my attention. The first was that Canada has outperformed the U.S on many economic measures since 1997, and that the U.S had a higher level of government debt realtive to Canada.

With these two sinppets in mind, I decided to illustrate what I inherenty know, that the Canadian economy and Canadians at an individual level, are lagging their American counterparts and that gap is widening.

This chart (from the Canadian government) shows the relative productivity differences between Canada and the U.S. The paper in question examines the increasing gap in productivity and standard of living between Canadians and Americans.
The key exerpt from this report came at the conclusion of this 2002 report:

Canadian living standards will undoubtedly increase in the next decade, but their average growth rate will probably be less than that of labour productivity due to demographic factors. In all probability, the growth rates in American living standards will continue to outpace Canadian growth rates; this suggests that the widening gap in living standards between Canada and the United States may be expected to continue for some time to come."

This report focues most exclusively on labour productivity and relative standard of living. There are other economic numbers that are related to productivity and standard of living that merit further consideration.
T
here are also several related charts which helps explains the widening gap for the period. First is combined debt-to-GDP ratios. I use combined because Federal debt only is skewed due to the relative sizes of the Federal and state/provincial governments for the two countries. Provincial governments tax and spend more on a realative basis in comparison to U.S. states, while the Canadian Federal Government spends relativelys less than the U.S. Federal Government, thus the reason for using combined numbers. These numbers show the increase in debt for the G-7 countries, but focus on the relative debt conditions of Canada and the U.S. in both 1974 and 1994.

It should be noted that the Canadian and American debt positions were probably at their worst in 1994, and both countries have improved their fiscal conditions. However, it is safe to say that the total government debt to GDP ratio for Canada is still significantly higher than in the U.S.
The final little snippet of information would be exchange rates. The Canadaan dollar from 1976 to 2002 was on a downtrend for the entire period. The high for this period was $1CDN = $1.3890 U.S on June, 24, 1976 and the low for the period was $1 CDN = $0.6179 on January 21, 2002. Since 2002, the Canadian dollar has recovered to nearly ninety cents, primarily due to strong commodity prices and the weakening U.S. dollar (thank you very much congress for lacking fiscal discipline). However, this strengthening of the Canadian dollar has adversely impacted Canada's non-resource based export industries.
For the periods in question, I think the three statistics are interrelated: high government debt, weakening currencies and declining productivity all play a role in the increasing gap in standard of living between your typical Canadian and American. The fiscal and economic indicators can be attributed to government policy. It is not mere coincedence that Canada's fiscal condition (in terms of a strong national balance sheet and currency) was strongest right before Trudeau and his provincial counterparts ramped up the welfare state, and government interference in the economy?
The gap in standards of living can be attributed to higher taxes, more government regulation, and more rigid labour markets in Canada. The weakening of the dollar from 1976 through 2002 has masked a lot of this. A country can have strong economic performance when its currency is weakening because the growth is measured in devalued currency. A better meansurement is to adjust for currency differences with the currencies of it largest trading partners.
All things being equal, there should be no reason fundamentally for this gap, but government policy has led to Canadian's standard of living declining.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Augusto Pinochet, RIP 1915-2006

This much reviled man was a patriot. He stopped a communist takeover of his beloved Chile, brought in free-market reforms, and left a democracy when he left. Much like Franco, he was reviled for the human rights abuses that occurred on his watch. While this is true, and I have sympathy for those who suffered under his rule, it should be noted that the Communist alternative to Pinochet would have been much worse.

People have a selective memory of authoritarian rulers: these same people of condemned Pinochet and Franco keep silent about the abuses in Cuba, Communist China, Vietnam, Nicaragua, and North Korea. This selective moral indignation has not been lost by a large segment of the Chilean population.

General Pinochet was a patriot who loved his country and left it in much better shape than when he took over. He was a controversial figure who did what he felt was necessary to keep Chile free. History will look back at General Pinochet and see him as a great, though controversial figure in the history of his nation.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Liberal leadership thoughts

Saturday's Liberal convention has cemented what I have always thought about leadership contests: in a convention format, you do not want to be the frontrunner unless you can win it on the first ballot. Stephane Dion's up the middle victory was similar to Joe Clark's in 1976, or Dalton McGuinty's in 1997(?). Look at Joe Clark (1983), Murray Elston, Gerald Kennedy, Svend Robinson - all of them were presumptive front-runners going into their respective conventions, only to lose several ballots latter. It seems with a delegate convention, there develops an "any but the frontrunner" momentum as each ballot passes, and the candidates start making deals to get the dropped candidates' support. I also think that front runners don't have the same pressure to make deals during the convention, believing that they can attract delegates in subsequent ballots without all the compromises that the other candidates need to make.

Either way, Stephane Dion played the convention perfectly - he knew where the delegates were, what deals needed to be made, and stuck to his plan. Dion and his team have shown that they are savvy political operators by pulling this victory off.

Stephane Dion seems like a decent, intellectually consistent leader, and is a good change from the Chr├ętien/Martin years. However, it seems at this time that he is the right leader at the wrong time, during one of those periods where the Liberal party lies in fallow after too many years in power, and with the Conservative party in a period of ascendancy.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

First step in the inevitable breakup in Canada

I was in Myrtle Beach, SC and Jacksonville, FL last week, so I just recently found out about Harper's gambit with a House of Commons resolution declaring Quebec a "nation" within Canada. I find this to be sophomoric and sad, as this is another blow to the unity of Canada as it is currently construed.

This ultimately can be seen as an assault on the equality of all Canadians under the law. Some court, or Quebec politician will use this resolution to obtain special benefits at the expense of all other Canadians. But the larger question is, if Quebec is a nation, why stay in Canada? They is no compelling reason for them to ultimately stay. If you are a nation, then independence is logical conclusion. Second, if I'm an Albertan, why am I not a nation? I think they have more of a case to be made that they are just as "distinct" as Quebec, and entitled to the same perks as Quebec.

Bad politics, bad precedence.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The greatness of Milton Friedman

Watch this interview. Beautifully succinct.

Tip of the hat to my friends at The Other Club

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Taxes and Illegal Immigration

One of the easiest solutions for enforcement of immigration law which would discourage illegal immigration:

  1. All employers shall check the social security numbers of all individuals who will be issued 1099s and W-2s against a national database. If they are not on a national database, then the taxpayer shall not be able to claim the deduction. This is no different than the tax code stating that taxpayers cannot deduct bribes or the cost of illicit drugs on their return.
  2. Start doing random audits of employers to determine whether their records are up to date on their efforts to do this. First time offenders get a small fine, second time offenders get a bit fine, and finally the third time is criminal. In addition to this, all such persons not deemed to be U.S. persons will be deemed employees: so the employer will also be on the hook for all back payroll taxes (both employer and employee portions) for the period this person was paid by the taxpayer.
These two elements, is properly enforced, would do a lot to stem illegal immigration by making it much less appealing to employers to hire them. Many illegals would "self-deport" when many of their job prospects dry up.

The bright side of Grhanholm's Victory

A former colleague of mine had this thing to say about Granholm winning re-election and the democrats getting control of the state senate in Michigan: "My commute to work will be a lot easier now with everybody leaving the state to find work elsewhere".

Friday, November 10, 2006

Election Post Mortem: Democrats

Now the Democrats have siezed control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 12 years, and outright control of the Senate to boot. They were more so beneficiaries of a tired and corpulent Republican majority, as well as fatigue with the perceived lack of progress in Iraq. The Democrats were able to win majorities by not offering any real alternatives, but by aggressively putting out the message that Republicans were wasteful, corrupt, and inept.

Credit needs to be given to Rahm Emanuel, who is largely responsible for the Democratic resurgence. Emanuel recruited candidates that would appeal to red-state voters: pro-gun, nominally pro-life, and adverse to tax and spend politics.

This victory is a great opportunity for the Democrats to become the pro-growth, hawkish party they once were. This election can be seen as repudiation of the Kossites, as their messiah, Ned Lamont was thoroughly thrashed by Joe Lieberman. A democratic majority that would run on a pro-growth, economically populist, and militarily robust party could garner a natural constituency. That, coupled with gubernatorial wins in several states which would provide the opportunity to re-draw more Democratically favorable congressional districts after the 2010 census, could start the beginning of the ascendancy of the party for a long time.

However, should the Democrats not heed the lessons of the Republican defeat and their own defeat of just twelve years ago, they can very well be doomed to repeat it. Art Laffer, the famed economist, said at a lecture I attended that the electorate hasn't really changed over the years, but the political parties have. He said there is a natural majority of the electorate that is pro-growth with a strong foreign policy. From the 30s through the 60's, it was the Democrats that embodied this, while the Republicans were isolationists and anti-growth. Roles reversed in the 70s and 80s. The Clintons managed to co-opt a lot of this during the 90s, but lost it when Clinton left office when the Democrats became infused with Bush Derangement Syndrome. They were rebuffed in 2002 and 2004 because they were seen as anti-growth and weak on national defense.

Thus lies the problem, they must eschew their baser tendencies to tax, spend, and incite more partisan rancor with unnecessary investigations and gridlock. So that means that they will end up infuriating the leftists on their base. But if they're willing to buck them (and they have proven that they have not delivered a single winner yet for the party) and grasp building a greater and lasting majority, the opportunity is there.

My take on it is that the opportunity is there, but it will be squandered. The problem is that the Pelosis, the Conyers, the Rangels, the Waxmans, the Waters of the party are socialists and their baser tendencies will override the bigger picture. I don't think that they can necessarily do what it takes to build that majority, but I can see the Republicans blowing it too.

I guess we'll be able to tell by what they do over the next few months. Stuff like John Bolton comes to mind. If they let him come to a vote, they're looking big picture. If they stuff him in committee and use him for partisan grudge settling, then they're not ready for prime time.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Election post mortem: Republicans.

On a macro perspective, it seems that there are variety of reasons the Republicans "lost" the election. I saw they lost the election on a macro perspective rather than the Democrats "winning" on the basis that the Democrats had no platform of substance outside of not being Republicans. in no particular order, here are some key items (and these primarily apply to the house Republicans):

  1. The Republicans became the party of government. Many exit polls were showing that 11% more voters identified the Republicans as the "party of big government" than the Democrats. There is much validity that the house Republicans became a rubber stamp of the President's "conservative welfare state": No Child Left Behind, Medicare prescription drug benefit are the most obvious. This is indicative of the house leadership, particularly Tom DeLay. Tom DeLay is no conservative, and ran his position as house leader in such a manner that would make Tip O'Neil proud - using earmarks and other pork to get legislation passed. From 1998-2006, outside of taxes and welfare reform, it becomes difficult to think of any substantially conservative (in terms of limited government) initiative passed by the House. They were more content to featherbed, bribe constituents with entitlements, rather than reduce the scope of government. This covers one of my basic tenants of nominally conservative parties, they lose their raison d'etre when they stop being conservative. Or to use another analogy, if I want a big government party, I'll vote for the real thing in the Democrats.
  2. Corruption. While in historic terms, the Republicans have not been as bad as some other congresses, the fact that they have an "R" after their name means they are held to a different standard than Democrats. Just look at the difference in the coverage of Foley, DeLay, Ney, etc versus the equally bad acts of Jefferson, Reid, etc. and how the press gave the Dems a pass on their "culture of corruption" accusations. Republicans need to be extra vigilant on these matters, and immediately remove potential problems long before primary/election season. Becoming more proactive on the ethics front would have inoculated them on many of these charges.
  3. Iraq. It was an issue, but not necessarily for the reasons everybody thinks. To some degree, this election reflected the mood on the events in Iraq, but it was not an anti-war vote as many on the left would think. If you look at the breakdown of people of don't think that things are not going well in Iraq, I would wager that 1 in 3 are just plain "anti-war" and the other 2/3rds want a more aggressive resolution to the problem. I think that on a big picture, there needs to be an effort to show a lot of the good things that are happening outside of Baghdad: the reconstruction efforts, the functioning local governments and growing businesses, etc to offset the media's obsession with the carnage in a localized area. The press has been negligent in its lack of balance on this coverage. Republicans should have spent a lot more time constantly educating the public on everything that was going on in Iraq the past 3 years to counteract the Dems/MSM.
  4. A do-nothing congress. This congress would talk a lot about taking on big issues like immigration and entitlement reform and would do nothing. While on many fronts, doing nothing is better than doing something, the perspective of inaction without explanation infuriates many voters and increases the anti-incumbent sentiment.


So, what to do about it? What is obvious is probably what they won't do. Remember that they are the party of limited government and govern on that principle. Elect leaders who believe in limited government who can effectively communicate the need for limited government to the electorate constantly.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Two simple reasons why Jim Webb is unfit for office

I heard exceprts from Tony Mancini's interview with Virginia senatorial candidate James Webb on his morning show on WNIS here in Hampton Roads on Thursday. Mancini has been honest about his support for Webb, but even he is flabbergasted by Webb's answers to two questions:

  1. Webb believes that the constitution is open to whatever interpretation is the flavor of the day. He is against the "absolutist" interpretation of the U.S. constitution and has not qualms about the federal government trampling powers specifically enumerated to the states or the people. His views of the Federal government in education matters is a prime example of this.
  2. He believes that the tax system should be tool of "redistribution of wealth".
Just based solely on these two opinions, James Webb is unfit for office, as he sees his role as part of the government usurping liberty and self-government in the name of Marxism. He would immediately violate his oath of office in terms of upholding the Constitution of the United States.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The corrosive nature of politics

As a rule of thumb, I tend not to watch a lot of MSM reporting on politics and elections. It seems that there are common threads about how base it is, how negative it is, how corrupt, etc. This is not news to me, and historically we're a lot better in a lot of respects than 100 years ago (it is just that this information is more widely disseminated today than then). My own experience in politics would suggest that there are two related phenomenon that makes it a whole lot worse than it needs to be.

First, one needs to look at political parties and the people who make them what they are. In my 20+ years in party politics, I can pretty well split people who are members into two groups: the true believers and (for a lack of a better term) the self-serving. The true believers are always there; they are a minority of any party, but they are the ones who are there in good times and bad, stuffing the envelopes, volunteering, and keeping things going. The true believers of any party are in a political party for a more altruistic purpose. They sincerely believe that what they believe is just, and strive through the political process to have their beliefs become public policy.

The other group, the self-servers, are more cyclical in their actions. They tend to show up when the party is on a uptrend, using the apparatus as a means for personal gains. They see the party as a means of gaining power and the perks that go with it. They have disdain for the true believers, and are willing to compromise principles for the sake of power. In conservative politics, there are ample examples of this: compare the Republicans in congress in 1994 versus now, or the Mike Harris conservatives in 1995 versus 2000. All start off with conservative agendas and then gradually discard them as they "grow" in office and discard their core values for 'competency'. The same analogies can be seen in parties on the left as well. What ultimately happens is that a party drifts too far from its core principles, alienates the true believers, becomes lethargic as a result, and is swept away by electoral fortunes.

One of the ways that a conservative would argue that this could be addressed is to make the stakes less vital. Because of all the money and power involved, politics tends to gravitate towards the lowest common dominator and attracts the vain and power hungry. A coconservative argument would be if government was more limited, the lure of such power would be less, and would shift the nature of politicians from the power-hungry to the more public service oriented. The problem with this solution, that of returning the role of government to a limited role and maximizing the liberty of the citizenry, runs opposite to those of the left, who see government as the talismanic solution to all problems real and perceived.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A little over two weeks to go

And I'd have to say that my predictions still seem to hold up. I don't think that this will be a repeat of 1994 for several reasons:
  1. The Republicans have known for over a year that this was going to be tough. The Democrats didn't figure this out until there were weeks left in the campaign, and it was too late.
  2. In 1994, there were many more open seats vacated by Democrats in both the house and the senate. Republicans then did not face the obstacle of a Democratic incumbent in those races. There are much fewer open seats contested this time out, which gives the incumbents advantage to Republicans.
  3. Redistricting. One of the big reasons for the Republican takeover in 1994 was that Republicans won the state house of several southern states. When redistricting occurred after the 1990 census, Republican state houses re-drew congressional districts to their advantage. The Democrats would need to win several governorships in prior Republican hands in time for the 2010 census to reverse this trend. Texas is a good example of this, how with Delay's redistricting took a state that had a majority of it's congressional seats held by Democrats to one that is now majority Republican.
  4. Republican GOTV. One of the lessons learned during the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections was that historically speaking, the Republicans had a distinct disadvantage in their GOTV operations versus the Democrats. Starting in 2000 under the direction of now RNC chairman Ken Melhman, the GOP has developed a GOTV operation that is vastly superior to the Democrats, who must now rely on Unions and 527 organizations to do their work. This is the reason why the GOP was able to have strong showings in 2002 and 2004.
  5. Money, with a bit over two weeks to go, the GOP has a huge cash advantage versus the Democrats, who have blown most of their money throughout the campaign (as most challengers need to do). We have just begun to see the final sprint to the finish, where the GOPs cash advantage will allow them to narrow many of these races to the point where they become contests of the respective party's GOTV activities.
These are just the structural differences between 1994 and 2006. I have not delved into the ideological differences, to which I can summarize as such. 1994 was a time of peace and prosperity, with no great issues of the day - a frivolous time where the electorate could take a chance with an opposition party just because the stakes were so low. The worst that happened was a divided government (which, incidentally, wasn't too bad). 2006 is a much more serious time, and alas, one party is not serious about the issues of the day. This type of polarization makes a larger segment of the electorate more risk adverse to electing an opposition party that lacks substance.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Predictions

With a month to go, I thought I'd make some picks and see where everybody stands on these:

PA: Santorum v. Casey. Despite the double digit leads in the polls, Bob Casey Jr. hasn't broken that key 50% threshold. That would suggest that there are a lot of undecided voters out there that haven't broken yet. I think I lot of them will swing to Santorum, but it won't be enough. Democratic pickup.
RI: Whitehorse v. Chaffee. A RINO versus a Democrat. If I'm a voter, I want the real thing. Whitehorse picks it up. Democratic Pickup
MI: Stabenow v. Bouchard.
A pathetic incumbent in a state that has a strong anti-incumbancy streak with a governor fighting for her life and the best you can do for a candidate is Mike Bouchard. Libby Dole is an awful Senate Campaign Chair just for the fact that with such favourable conditions for the GOP, they couldn't get a candidate that could win. It's a shame, because any decent GOP candidate would have knocked her out. The gap will narrow, but it will be a wider margin of victory than the governor will have. Democratic Rentention.
MT: Burns v. Tester. I don't think Tester will pull it off. Though Burns is a buffoon who should have retired years ago (I can think of about 35 Senators I can make that statement about as well), Tester is a poor match for the electorate there and hasn't broken 50%. This race will tighten up, and tie goes to the GOP turnout machine. Republican Retention.
NJ: Menendez v. Kean. Despite the polls, the scandals plauging the Dems in NJ, Kean isn't going to pull it off. Too many Dems, and a passive acceptence of corruption means Menendez squeaks by. Democratic Rentention.
MD: Steele V. Cardin. Cardin is having trouble breaking 50% consistently in the polls, which means a lot more money will need to be sunk into keeping this seat. This is a Democratic state, and Steele will keep it somewhat close, and that's all. Democratic Retention.
MN: Kennedy v. Klouchbar.
Klobuchar has solid double digit poll leads, and is consistently over 50% in the polls. Should cruise to retain Dayton's seat for the Dems. Democratic Retention.
WA: McGavick v. Cantwell
. Same story as Minnesota. Democratic Retention.
MO: Talent v. McCaskill
. Although tied, I think Talent will pull it out. Better have the lawyers ready for "irregularities" in St. Louis though, it will be a long night there. Republican Retention.
OH: Dewine v. Brown
. Similarities between Michigan and Ohio abound, but this time everybody in Ohio is ticked with Republicans, and rightfully so (Mr. tax and spend Bob Taft, thank you!). This has been a tossup so far, but I think turnout decides this, and I say DeWine in a squeaker. Republican Retention.
TN: Corker v. Ford
. Though a tossup right now, Ford has trouble breaking 50%, not good. GOP turnout saves Frist's former seat for Corker, though much closer than originally expected months ago. Republican Retnention.
VA: Webb v. Allen
. Allen has run a terrible campaign, but Webb has a run a worse one. Squandered opportunities and bad judgements have really hurt Jim Webb. Allen has a huge money advantage, and will have a comfortable victory in light of all the problems his campaign had. Republican Retention.

Looking at those reaces, I have two pickups for the Dems, and a possible third (pick one of MO or OH). Figure loss of 9, 10 seats in the House for the GOP. Despite the polls, it is really difficult to win in gerrymandered districts that are GOP friendly in most cases.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Australia gets the big picture

AUSTRALIA'S Muslim leaders have been "read the riot act" over the need to denounce any links between Islam and terrorism.

The Howard Government's multicultural spokesman, Andrew Robb, yesterday told an audience of 100 imams who address Australia's mosques that these were tough times requiring great personal resolve.
Mr Robb also called on them to shun a victim mentality that branded any criticism as discrimination.

"We live in a world of terrorism where evil acts are being regularly perpetrated in the name of your faith," Mr Robb said at the Sydney conference.

"And because it is your faith that is being invoked as justification for these evil acts, it is your problem.

"You can't wish it away, or ignore it, just because it has been caused by others.

"Instead, speak up and condemn terrorism, defend your role in the way of life that we all share here in Australia."

Mr Robb said unless Muslims took responsibility for their destiny and tackled the causes of terrorism, Australia would become divided.

Mr Robb, the parliamentary secretary for immigration and multicultural affairs, said it was important for migrants to learn English.

"I see as critical the need for imams to have effective English language skills -- it is a self-evident truth that a shared language is one of the foundations of national cohesion," he said.

On the eve of Mr Robb's release today of a discussion paper on a new citizenship test, the chairman of the Government's Muslim Reference Group, Dr Ameer Ali, said Opposition Leader Kim Beazley's idea of a values test was silly, as was the need for a universal English test.

He called for an orientation program for new migrants akin to a university student's orientation week.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Worst Onwer in the NHL

After seeing Rick DiPietro getting a 15 year, $60 million contract, I can now unequiocably say that Islander's owner Charles Wang has surpassed Bill Wirtz of the Chicago Blackhawks as the worst owner in the NHL. With this type of stupidity, I know that shorting Wang's company, Computer Associates (CA/NYSE) is a sure money maker.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

They're still Communists

Check out Steven Taylor's site for updates on the NDPs convention. Some of their policy proposals read out of good ol Marx: Collective ownership of the means of production; collective ownership of all natural resourses.

People, if you don't think they're Commies, I don't know what will change you mind. They are against liberty as we know.

End of the Westphalian age

Earlier this week, I was reading a post on the Corner which revived some thoughts I had during the Israeli incursion into Lebanon last week regarding the Treaty of Westphalia. I had mentioned during that time that based on the conventions of the Treaty of Westphalia, that the Lebanese government is ultimately responsible for the actions of all actors within its borders and must deal with the consequences of such actions.

The Treaty of Westphalia ushered the age of the nation state, whereby governments were ultimately held sovereignty over the actions of those within its borders. This notion helped keep a certain degree of peace within the Western world, and prevented the spread of anarchy. However, it seems that we have started to evolve full circle.

We have a state in Iran which does not recognize international borders (see Mark Steyn's article in the City Journal for more on this). Syria can somewhat be lumped in with Iran on this. Lebanon is incapable of asserting it's sovereignty, allowing Hezbollah to become a state within a state.

Finally, we have the West, being so emasculated from it's knee jerk multi-culturalism and anti-military psychoses, unable to assert the need for these states to behave within this system. We are also seeing Europe unable to deal with unassimilated radical Mohammedan populations within its borders, which pose the possibility of becoming a state within a state unless put in check.

So we could see in the long run the disintegration of many nation states as we know it, in the sense that they are able to assert any control within their own borders.

Monday, September 04, 2006

More Frederic Bastiast

I spent the long weekend re-reading Frederic Bastiat's "Free Markets, Free Men". I grow more impressed with this man every time I read it, and the wisdom his insights hold still today. Passages such as this:

The oppressor no longer acts directly and with his own powers upon his victim. No, our conscience has become too sensitive for that. The tyrant and his victim are still present, but there is an intermediate person between them, which is the State - that is, the Law itself. What can be better calculated to silence our scruples, and, which is perhaps better appreciated, to overcome all resistance? We all therefore, put in our claim, under some pretext or other, and apply to the State. We say to it, "I am dissatisfied at the proportion between my labor and my enjoyments. I should like, for the sake of restoring the desired equilibrium, to take a part of the possessions of others. But this would be dangerous. Could not you facilitate the thing for me? Could you not find me a good place? or obstruct the industry of my competitors? or, perhaps, lend me gratuitously some capital which, you may take from its possessors? Could you not bring up my children at the public expense? or grant me some prizes? or secure me a competence when I have attained my fiftieth year? By this mean I shall reach my end with an easy conscience, for the law will have acted for me, and I shall have all the advantages of plunder, without its risk or its disgrace!"

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Fifth Column in our Midst

I'm not talking about the MSM in this case. Rather, it is the disturbing pattern of home grown Mohammedans (I've decided to take a break from the word "Muslim" for a bit) in Western countries turning to jihad. Based on the arrests in the U.K. the other day, and the events in the U.S. and in Canada with home grown terror cells, perhaps people are waking up to the fact that we do have a fifth column in our midsts. What doesn't help on this matter are Mohammedan groups like CAIR with their lukewarm semi-condemnation of violence. Couple this with the support of Hezbollah by many of these groups, it is hard not to conclude that there is a real fifth column withing the Mohammedan community.

I am starting to think that it will become necessary to put real pressure on them to change their way and help purge their ranks of the jihadists. Some of this behavior can be construed as treason or sedition, and ultimately should treated as such. Our squishy, multi-culti elites don't like the concepts of treason or sedition, but it is the only way to drive the point home that aid, comfort, and active support for the enemy will lead to the gallows pole.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

25 Years ago today - I became Reagan-phile

This is the seminal event that cemented my conservatism and transformed my admiration of Ronald Reagan. Now if only other politicians had this courage, like Mike Harris 10 years ago.

Twenty-Nine Seconds That Changed History

Twenty-five years ago today, Ronald Reagan set aside conventional political wisdom for the betterment of the country. In just 29 seconds, he told federal air traffic controllers to end their strike or find a new job. In so doing, he showed principled leadership, reminding the Washington elite that sound policy is indeed sound politics.

President Reagan took office in the cold of winter in 1981. The country was still reeling from the meltdown of President Nixon and from a weak economy. Though Reagan had enjoyed electoral success, many Americans still simply thought of him as an actor who had been in the right place at the right time. The media-enhanced perception was that Ronald Reagan was a lightweight, and this view came at a time when “news” came almost exclusively from the big three TV broadcast networks or from radio news.

In 1981, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization represented the nation’s 17,000 air traffic controllers. PATCO was familiar to Reagan. During the heat of the campaign, he had offered support to PATCO, arguing that the Carter administration had failed to act responsibly. If elected president, Reagan said, he would “take whatever steps are necessary to provide our air traffic controllers with the most modern equipment available and to adjust staff levels and work days so that they are commensurate with achieving a maximum degree of public safety.”[1] Reagan, like many others, felt the air traffic controllers had some legitimate complaints.

Robert Poli, the president of PATCO, was seemingly in a strong political position to see these complaints addressed and to gain new advantages for his membership. Organized labor was much stronger in 1981 than it is today, and the union’s political power ensured that many members of the U.S. Congress would be sympathetic. So when PATCO and the Federal Aviation Administration were unable to come to terms by August 1981, 13,000 PATCO members chose to strike.

Reagan was not in a good position. He was a new president in heated negotiations with Congress. Crossing organized labor was generally considered to be political suicide. Neither American business nor the public would tolerate a total disruption of the nation’s air transportation system. In fact, the public would sympathize with the controllers; who could argue with making the skies “safer”?

But Reagan saw the big picture.

The air traffic controllers were under an obligation not to strike. It was a condition of their employment, and it was the law. The nation, in the end, would gain little if anything from ignoring this.

On August 3, Reagan took just 29 seconds to explain his argument on national television: “Let me read the solemn oath taken by each of these employees: ‘I am not participating in any strike against the government of the United States or any agency thereof.’ It is for this reason that I must tell those that fail to report for duty this morning that they are in violation of the law and if they do not report for work within 48 hours they have forfeited their rights and will be terminated.”[2]

Then the nation waited — but it didn’t wait long. On August 5, Reagan fired more than 11,000 controllers.

Many Americans admired Reagan’s handling of the situation, but the impact did not stop there. Edwin Meese, Reagan’s attorney general, has noted that this incident “convinced people in other capitals around the world, including Soviet leaders, that they had a person of real substance that they were dealing with here.”[3]

One of Reagan’s greatest gifts was his ability to understand that sound policy is sound politics. He realized that the American people appreciated integrity and that they would support his decision if they knew that the controllers were violating an oath.

August 3, 1981, could have been a very different day. Reagan could have appointed commissions. He could have passed the buck to Congress.

But instead, he did what he knew was right. In the present political world of instant polling, flip-flopping and blame-placing, we need to remember that real leadership comes from deeply embedded principles that can be tapped to tackle the serious issues confronting us as a nation, as a state or as a local community.

H/T The Corner from the Mackinac Institute

Friday, July 28, 2006

Major tax bill delyed by House of Representatives

The house of Representatives pulled H.R. 1956 before going to a vote on Wednesday because of insufficient support to get it passed. This is major tax news that has gone largely unreported. The significance of this bill is it would change the way states can tax out-of-state companies doing business in their jurisdictions. The term that is used to describe whether a company is liabile to pay taxes in a given state is called Nexus.

Under the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, the Federal government essentially sets the rules on how a state can tax an out of state entity doing business. There are different standards for sales taxes and income taxes. For income taxes, the law states that sellers of goods (tangible perdional property) who sell goods in a state, but do not have employees or own property in that state, from being liable for INCOME tax in that state. In the 1950's when this law (P.L. 86-272) was passed, it covered most economic activity. Today, it has less significance because services and intangibles make up a large portion of economic activity, and many states have moved away from income taxes towards gross receipts or franchise taxes, which are not covered by the law.

Congress decided to address this inequity by proposing H.R. 1956, which would have ammended the law that would say all companies would be exempt from income or any other type of entity level tax provided they did not have property or payroll in that state. While this did address the inequity, it rose fierce opposition from state governors, who would lose significant tax revenues. State governments like the status quo because they can tax people who cannot vote in their respective states. This bill, if passed would mean substantial tax savings for many entities that do business in multiple states.

I am of two opinions on this matter. I like the fact that it levels the playing field and it starves state governments of money - which coincides of my 'starve the beast' limited government philosophy. However, the states have a legitimate point regarding tax revenues and fundamental fairness in taxing business directed to the state.

The solution to this is to pass H.R. 1956, but also change the rules for sales tax nexus, allowing the states to have out-of-state companies collect sales tax (especially on internet sales) with a more liberal interpretation of substantial nexus that has been used by scholars. This would address another fairness issue, the taxability of internet based companies versus bricks and mortar companies, and allow states to recoup some of their lost revenues. It would also have the benefits of states working to streamline their sales and use tax policies (National Sales Tax Project) and would turn the tax systems of many states from an income base to a consumption base.

Handicapping the Michigan Governor's Race

In the lazy days of August, Republican challenger Dick DeVos has a 4-5 percentage point lead against incumbant governor Jennifer Granholm. Generally, I would be excited about the idea of a Republican challenger defeating a Democratic incumbent for the governorship of the state of the Michigan, but I'm rather ambivalent.

The reason for my ambivalence is my gut feeling that Dick DeVos is an empty suit, or as conservatives would say, a "country-club" Republican. He talks about being a "successful businessman" (heir of AmWay - take that for what it's worth) and a "problem-solver", but he has not given anything on a substantive or a philisophical basis on how he sees the problems ailing Michigan or how he would govern. No talk anywhere about how he would reduce the size of government or even an outline of how he sees the structural issues that have led to Michigan's economy lagging the rest of the country. Based on this, I would have to say DeVos is closer to Bob Taft (current tax and spend governor of OH) than John Engler (former slash and burn governor of MI).

As for Granholm, she hasn't done that bad of a job. With a Republican house tempering her liberal impulses, she has been OK, and her poor poll results are more due to events surrounding the auto industry than anything that the government has done or not done under her stewardship.

I think DeVos has peaked if he continues the campaign on a policy free, persona based image. If he sticks to that, I think Granholm will be able to clobber him on being an empty suit and sqeak in a win.
Here are my "keys to victory" as of today
For DeVos to win, he must:
1. Outline a substantive, conservative based platform to address Michigan's problems.
2. Make the case for change by highlighting the economic record of the state under Granholm.
3. Energize turnout in the Western half of the state.

For Granholm to win, she must:
1. Highlight many of her accomplishments as governor.
2. Show her plan to address the anxieties of the populace.
3. Show Dick DeVos as a silver-spoon "empty suit" who is running for governor as a hobby.
4. Make up with Kwamme Fitzpatrick as the Detroit turnout will be critical for her to win.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

No eating at La Shish for me.

Found this today:

OWNER AND FINANCIAL MANAGER OF “LA SHISH” RESTAURANT ARE CHARGED WITH TAX EVASION

U.S. Department of JusticeStephen J. Murphy United States AttorneyEastern
District of MichiganSuite 2001 211 West Fort Street Detroit, Michigan 48226-3277Fax: (313) 226-3561

Federal charges were unsealed today in Detroit against Talal Khalil Chahine, 51, of Dearborn Heights, Michigan and the owner of the “La Shish” restaurant chain, and Elfat El Aouar, 39 of Plymouth, a “La Shish” financial manager and Chahine’s wife. Chahine and El Aouar are charged by the federal grand jury Indictment with four Counts each of Income Tax Evasion, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7201. Each Count carries a maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Elfat El Aouar was arrested earlier today from her home in Plymouth. A bail hearing and arraignment is scheduled to occur at 1:00 p.m. in federal court. Talal Chahine is presently outside the United States and is believed to be in Lebanon. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.


In announcing the Indictment, United States Attorney Stephen J. Murphy commended the work of the Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Kenneth R. Chadwell and Julie A. Beck.

As set forth in the Indictment, Talal Khalil Chahine is the sole owner of La Shish, Inc., a Middle Eastern restaurant chain located in the Detroit, Michigan metropolitan area. Elfat El Aouar, who is married to Talal Chahine, has an M.B.A. and has worked at La Shish, Inc. in various capacities including as the company’s Vice President of Finance. The Indictment alleges that Talal Chahine and Elfat El Aouar collaborated in a scheme to skim cash proceeds from the restaurants for the tax years 2000 through 2003. During those tax years, it is alleged, La Shish, Inc. maintained a double set of computerized books, records and balance reports, one actual and one altered. The altered records artificially reduced the amount of cash that was actually received by the restaurants. Talal Chahine and Elfat El Aouar oversaw the maintenance of the double set of books, as well as the skimming and concealment of more than $16,000,000 in cash received by the restaurants. To evade government scrutiny, the skimmed cash was not deposited into U.S. bank accounts, but instead, at the direction of Chahine and El Aouar, converted into cashier’s checks and reduced in physical size by changing small denominations into larger ones. These conversions were made for the purpose of transporting the cash outside the United States to Lebanon, away from U.S. government reach and detection. Cash was also skimmed by paying La Shish, Inc. employees all or partly in cash.

United States Attorney Stephen J. Murphy said, “The charges today highlight the importance of enforcing our tax laws fairly and diligently. The transferring of millions of dollars in cash from the United States to the Middle East in the attempt to evade taxes will not be tolerated. I commend the hard work of the IRS Criminal Division and the FBI that lead to these charges being unsealed today.” Special Agent Aouate said, “The Internal Revenue Service spends a great deal of its resources in identifying individuals who earn their income legitimately yet willfully fail to report and pay their fair share in taxes. We will continue to work with the United States Attorney to make sure that there are consequences to one's willful actions.”

An Indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

An there is more to the story:


The U.S. government, in a written proffer of evidence (in U.S.A. v. Elfat El Aouar, Cr. No. 06-20248, EDMI, 5/22/2006), states that Chahine and his wife attended a fundraising event in Lebanon in August 2002 with Hizballah Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, a Specially Designated Terrorist (see page 8), where the two men were the keynote speakers. The proffer also claims that a search of El Aouar’s residence turned up a “thank you letter” for sponsoring 40 “orphans,” as well as images of Chahine and his family in front of a Hizballah outpost. According to the proffer, “[t]he government is aware that the sponsorship of orphans is a euphemism used by Hizballah to refer to the orphans of martyrs. This is a common public relations and recruitment tool used by Hizballah. Hizballah gains favor with the public in Lebanon by supporting ‘orphans,’ while at the same time recruiting others into the terrorist organization willing to sacrifice their lives in terrorist operations based in part on the promise that Hizballah will take care of their families.” The government has yet to charge Chahine or his wife with any terrorism-related offense.

Interesting.
Cross Posted at All Things Moot

Sunday, July 16, 2006

End This Proxy War Once and For All

I am cautiously hopeful that the Israeli raids into Lebanon will be a recognition by the Jewish state that they have been in a state of war with Iran and Syria by proxy (Hezbollah and Hamas) for the past 25 years. Although I am concerned about Israel's incursion into Lebanon, in the sense that going after a weak, fledgling democracy may not be wise in the long run, I understand that Hezbollah has control of the south of that country and it must be eradicated.
I sincerely hope that Israel strikes Hezbollah and Hamas targets in Syria. This proxy war needs to be resolved. Hamas and Hezbollah have sought war with the IDF for a long time now, and now they have it. This war should be waged with the goal of the eradication or unconditional surrender of these forces. This is the only way to destroy the death cult that permeates the Palestinians. No restraint should be shown. Only through utter defeat will the Palestinians understand that the eradication of Israel is a ticket to poverty, misery, and death.
The added benefits would be the crippling of the Syrian regime and a rebuff to Iran. These troublemakers will be halted in their adventuring in the region.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Happy Orangemen's Day!

Today is the anniverary of the battle of the Boyne. A huge holiday in the UK, and used to be a big event in the Anglosphere. For some background, check out the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland for the history. Or you can check out the Grand Orange Lodge of Canada site for fun too.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

More Junk Science Refuted

I found this great editorial on Opinion Journal yesterday, showing how increases in the speed limits have NOT increased traffic fatalities. In fact, they have decreased since Congress let the states decide their own speed limits in a return to proper federalism. This mandated 55 mph speed limit, which is the greatest pock on Ronald Reagan's term as president (btw, Elizabeth Dole who was transportation secretary when this was implemented, and its champion, is in my books deemed a RINO because of this primarily):

Safe at Any Speed
With higher speed limits, our highways have been getting safer.

Friday, July 7, 2006 12:01 a.m.

It's another summer weekend, when millions of families pack up the minivan or SUV and hit the road. So this is also an apt moment to trumpet some good, and underreported, news: Driving on the highways is safer today than ever before.

In 2005, according to new data from the National Highway Safety Administration, the rate of injuries per mile traveled was lower than at any time since the Interstate Highway System was built 50 years ago. The fatality rate was the second lowest ever, just a tick higher than in 2004.

As a public policy matter, this steady decline is a vindication of the repeal of the 55 miles per hour federal speed limit law in 1995. That 1974 federal speed limit was arguably the most disobeyed and despised law since Prohibition. "Double nickel," as it was often called, was first adopted to save gasoline during the Arab oil embargo, though later the justification became saving lives. But to Westerners with open spaces and low traffic density, the law became a symbol of the heavy hand of the federal nanny state. To top it off, Congress would deny states their own federal highway construction dollars if they failed to comply.

In repealing the law, the newly minted Republican majority in Congress declared that states were free to impose their own limits. Many states immediately took up this nod to federalism by raising their limits to 70 or 75 mph. Texas just raised its speed limit again on rural highways to 80.

This may seem non-controversial now, but at the time the debate was shrill and filled with predictions of doom. Ralph Nader claimed that "history will never forgive Congress for this assault on the sanctity of human life." Judith Stone, president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, predicted to Katie Couric on NBC's "Today Show" that there would be "6,400 added highway fatalities a year and millions of more injuries." Federico Pena, the Clinton Administration's Secretary of Transportation, declared: "Allowing speed limits to rise above 55 simply means that more Americans will die and be injured on our highways."

We now have 10 years of evidence proving that the only "assault" was on the sanctity of the truth. The nearby table shows that the death, injury and crash rates have fallen sharply since 1995. Per mile traveled, there were about 5,000 fewer deaths and almost one million fewer injuries in 2005 than in the mid-1990s. This is all the more remarkable given that a dozen years ago Americans lacked today's distraction of driving while also talking on their cell phones.

Of the 31 states that have raised their speed limits to more than 70 mph, 29 saw a decline in the death and injury rate and only two--the Dakotas--have seen fatalities increase. Two studies, by the National Motorists Association and by the Cato Institute, have compared crash data in states that raised their speed limits with those that didn't and found no increase in deaths in the higher speed states.

Jim Baxter, president of the National Motorists Association, says that by the early 1990s "compliance with the 55 mph law was only about 5%--in other words, about 95% of drivers were exceeding the speed limit." Now motorists can coast at these faster speeds without being on the constant lookout for radar guns, speed traps and state troopers. Americans have also arrived at their destinations sooner, worth an estimated $30 billion a year in time saved, according to the Cato study.

The tragedy is that 43,000 Americans still die on the roads every year, or about 15 times the number of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq. Car accidents remain a leading cause of death among teenagers in particular. The Interstate Highway System is nonetheless one of the greatest public works programs in American history, and the two-thirds decline in road deaths per mile traveled since the mid-1950s has been a spectacular achievement. Tough drunk driving laws, better road technology, and such improving auto safety features as power steering and brakes are all proven life savers. We are often told, by nanny-state advocates, that such public goods as safety require a loss of liberty. In the case of speed limits and traffic deaths, that just isn't so.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

"Da Man" is taxing away my livelihood

Headline:

Senate Finance Committee Approves "Pimp Tax"

H/T. Tax Prof Blog

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Anti-Car City Councils

I read the above linked article from the Weekly Standard about how many anti-car city governments are deliberately making traffic worse in their utopian goal of a classless society whereby everyone lives in high density housing (i.e. government housing) and uses public transportation (save those few priviledged aparachniks). This system, known in central planning business as "traffic calming":
PROPONENTS OF TRAFFIC CALMING--mostly government planners--not only oppose new highway construction and, in some instances, highway maintenance, but want to reduce mobility by installing roadway barriers and traffic-slowing devices that clog up the roads. In other words, rather than alleviate congestion, traffic calming aims to induce it.

Why create congestion? The goal is to make driving as undesirable as possible, thereby discouraging sprawl and encouraging people to live in high-density areas, where they will either ride mass transportation or walk. Since most cities have trouble filling seats on their money-losing transit systems, traffic calming is also another way to try to make these systems more financially justifiable.

So let me understand this, these people has taken it upon themselves to force the people (without consent in most cases) to leave affordable, comfortable housing in the suburbs and coerce them into smaller, more expensive housing in the city by making it near impossible to drive into work. Of course, those fortunate to already have housing in the city (i.e. city councilors and their special interest group friends) will reap the benefits of skyrocketing housing prices. But they will also make sure that zoning laws will protect their properties and prevent "ugly" apartment buildings from being built, thus creating a greater housing shortage exacerbated by the anti-car policies of said government.

Not only is this undemocratic, cynical, corrupt, and reeking of totalitarianism, it will backfire. I'll use Toronto's anti-car campaign for example. With Toronto's sky-high business taxes, crazy congestion and ridiculous parking, modern telecommunications has made the necessity of locating in urban areas less and less relevant. So a lot of these companies can move to more affordable (and car friendly) areas.

The car-haters in these cities will have their 'calmed' traffic. But they will not have the masses traveling happily on the "proletariat chariot" from their high density living complexes to work. The roads will be empty, the buses and subways will be empty, the downtowns will be empty: their dreams for a car-free city will come true when businesses and their employees get so fed up of the deliberately congested traffic that they move to more "car-friendly" jurisdictions.

Remember: car friendly = people friendly as a rule of thumb.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Gotta like the ones Harper has

Stephen Harper has gotten my respect after the opposition in parliament the other day tabled a motion to remove Rona Ambrose from her portfolio as Environment Minister over her skepticism over Kyoto. So what does Harper do in a minority parliament when this motion is successfully tabled - he makes it a confidence motion. Hehehehehe.

I really think he can ram the scrapping of the gun registry this fall and a lot of other good things as confidence motions. The bloc and the libranos definitely do not want a fall election.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Barbarians behind the walls

I found this article on The Corner from the Times regarding the follies of multi-culturalism:

ONE of Britain’s most senior military strategists has warned that western civilisation faces a threat on a par with the barbarian invasions that destroyed the Roman empire.



In an apocalyptic vision of security dangers, Rear Admiral Chris Parry said future migrations would be comparable to the Goths and Vandals while north African "barbary" pirates could be attacking yachts and beaches in the Mediterranean within 10 years.

Europe, including Britain, could be undermined by large immigrant groups with little allegiance to their host countries — a "reverse colonisation" as Parry described it. These groups would stay connected to their homelands by the internet and cheap flights. The idea of assimilation was becoming redundant, he said.

The warnings by Parry of what could threaten Britain over the next 30 years were delivered to senior officers and industry experts at a conference last week. Parry, head of the development, concepts and doctrine centre at the Ministry of Defence, is charged with identifying the greatest challenges that will frame national security policy in the future.

If a security breakdown occurred, he said, it was likely to be brought on by environmental destruction and a population boom, coupled with technology and radical Islam. The result for Britain and Europe, Parry warned, could be "like the 5th century Roman empire facing the Goths and the Vandals".

Parry pointed to the mass migration which disaster in the Third World could unleash. "The diaspora issue is one of my biggest current concerns," he said. "Globalisation makes assimilation seem redundant and old-fashioned . . . [the process] acts as a sort of reverse colonisation, where groups of people are self-contained, going back and forth between their countries, exploiting sophisticated networks and using instant communication on phones and the internet."

Third World instability would lick at the edges of the West as pirates attacked holidaymakers from fast boats. "At some time in the next 10 years it may not be safe to sail a yacht between Gibraltar and Malta," said the admiral.

Parry, 52, an Oxford graduate who was mentioned in dispatches in the Falklands war, is not claiming all the threats will come to fruition. He is warning, however, of what is likely to happen if dangers are not addressed by politicians.

Parry — who used the slogan "old dog, new tricks" when he commanded the assault ship HMS Fearless — foresees wholesale moves by the armed forces to robots, drones, nanotechnology, lasers, microwave weapons, space-based systems and even "customised" nuclear and neutron bombs.

Lord Boyce, the former chief of the defence staff, welcomed Parry’s analysis. "Bringing it together in this way shows we have some very serious challenges ahead," he said. "The real problem is getting them taken seriously at the top of the government."

Ancient Rome has been a subject of serious public discussion this year. Boris Johnson, the Conservative MP and journalist, produced a book and television series drawing parallels between the European Union and the Roman empire. Terry Jones, the former Monty Python star, meanwhile, has spoken up for the barbarians’ technological and social achievements in a television series and has written:

"We actually owe far more to the so-called ‘barbarians’ than we do to the men in togas."

Parry, based in Shrivenham, Wiltshire, presented his vision at the Royal United Services Institute in central London. He identified the most dangerous flashpoints by overlaying maps showing the regions most threatened by factors such as agricultural decline, booming youth populations, water shortages, rising sea levels and radical Islam.



Parry predicts that as flood or starvation strikes, the most dangerous zones will be Africa, particularly the northern half; most of the Middle East and central Asia as far as northern China; a strip from Nepal to Indonesia; and perhaps eastern China.

He pinpoints 2012 to 2018 as the time when the current global power structure is likely to crumble. Rising nations such as China, India, Brazil and Iran will challenge America’s sole superpower status.

This will come as "irregular activity" such as terrorism, organised crime and "white companies" of mercenaries burgeon in lawless areas.

The effects will be magnified as borders become more porous and some areas sink beyond effective government control.

Parry expects the world population to grow to about 8.4 billion in 2035, compared with 6.4 billion today. By then some 68% of the population will be urban, with some giant metropolises becoming ungovernable. He warns that Mexico City could be an example.

In an effort to control population growth, some countries may be tempted to copy China’s "one child" policy. This, with the widespread preference for male children, could lead to a ratio of boys to girls of as much as 150 to 100 in some countries. This will produce dangerous surpluses of young men with few economic prospects and no female company.

"When you combine the lower prospects for communal life with macho youth and economic deprivation you tend to get trouble, typified by gangs and organised criminal activity," said Parry. "When one thinks of 20,000 so-called jihadists currently fly-papered in Iraq, one shudders to think where they might go next."

The competition for resources, Parry argues, may lead to a return to "industrial warfare" as countries with large and growing male populations mobilise armies, even including cavalry, while acquiring high-technology weaponry from the West.

The subsequent mass population movements, Parry argues, could lead to the "Rome scenario". The western Roman empire collapsed in the 4th and 5th centuries as groups such as Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Suevi, Huns and Vandals surged over its borders. The process culminated in the sack of Rome in 455 by Geiseric the Lame, king of the Alans and Vandals, in an invasion from north Africa.

Parry estimated at the conference there were already more than 70 diasporas in Britain.

In the future, he believes, large groups that become established in Britain and Europe after mass migration may develop "communities of interest" with unstable or anti-western regions.

Any technological advantage developed to deal with the threats was unlikely to last. "I don’t think we can win in cyberspace — it’s like the weather — but we need to have a raincoat and an umbrella to deal with the effects," said Parry.

Some of the consequences would be beyond human imagination to tackle. The examples he gave, tongue-in-cheek, include: "No wind on land and sea; third of population dies instantly; perpetual darkness; sores; Euphrates dries up ‘to clear way for kings from the east’; earth’s core opens."

TOP STRATEGIST

Rear Admiral Chris Parry is the armed forces’ chief “blue skies” thinker.

Parry, 52, was educated at the independent Portsmouth grammar school and at Jesus College, Oxford. During the Falklands war in 1982, he was mentioned in dispatches while serving with the Fleet Air Arm on the destroyer HMS Antrim.

Parry is one of Britain’s leading specialists on amphibious warfare. He once commanded the assault ship HMS Fearless, was in charge of amphibious warfare training at Portsmouth naval base and headed a joint British-Dutch taskforce before moving to his post at the Ministry of Defence.

The admiral heads the development, concepts and doctrine centre, set up in 1998 and based at Shrivenham, Wiltshire. It has more than 50 staff and is being expanded to include extra analysts.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ronald Reagan - A Time for Choosing

This speech by Ronald Reagan in 1964 is just as relevant today. Great speeches stand the test of time by being as relevant today as it was in the past. Please read all this and understand how history repeats itself because human nature is constant. The revelancy of his points on socialism, social security, appeasment, and freedom still ring true 42 years later.

Thank you very much. Thank you and good evening. The sponsor has been identified, but unlike most television programs, the performer hasn't been provided with a script. As a matter of fact, I have been permitted to choose my own ideas regarding the choice that we face in the next few weeks.

I have spent most of my life as a Democrat. I recently have seen fit to follow another course. I believe that the issues confronting us cross party lines. Now, one side in this campaign has been telling us that the issues of this election are the maintenance of peace and prosperity. The line has been used "We've never had it so good." But I have an uncomfortable feeling that this prosperity isn't something on which we can base our hopes for the future. No nation in history has ever survived a tax burden that reached a third of its national income. Today, 37 cents of every dollar earned in this country is the tax collector's share, and yet our government continues to spend $17 million a day more than the government takes in. We haven't balanced our budget 28 out of the last 34 years. We have raised our debt limit three times in the last twelve months, and now our national debt is one and a half times bigger than all the combined debts of all the nations in the world. We have $15 billion in gold in our treasury--we don't own an ounce. Foreign dollar claims are $27.3 billion, and we have just had announced that the dollar of 1939 will now purchase 45 cents in its total value.


As for the peace that we would preserve, I wonder who among us would like to approach the wife or mother whose husband or son has died in South Vietnam and ask them if they think this is a peace that should be maintained indefinitely. Do they mean peace, or do they mean we just want to be left in peace? There can be no real peace while one American is dying some place in the world for the rest of us. We are at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it has been said if we lose that war, and in doing so lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening.

Well, I think it's time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers. Not too long ago two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, "We don't know how lucky we are." And the Cuban stopped and said, "How lucky you are! I had someplace to escape to." In that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election. Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down--up to a man's age-old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order--or down to the ant heap totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humnitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

In this vote-harvesting time, they use terms like the "Great Society," or as we were told a few days ago by the President, we must accept a "greater government activity in the affairs of the people." But they have been a little more explicit in the past and among themselves--and all of the things that I now will quote have appeared in print. These are not Republican accusations. For example, they have voices that say "the cold war will end through acceptance of a not undemocratic socialism." Another voice says that the profit motive has become outmoded, it must be replaced by the incentives of the welfare state; or our traditional system of individual freedom is incapable of solving the complex problems of the 20th century. Senator Fullbright has said at Stanford University that the Constitution is outmoded. He referred to the
president as our moral teacher and our leader, and he said he is hobbled in his task by the restrictions in power imposed on him by this antiquated document. He must be freed so that he can do for us what he knows is best. And Senator Clark of Pennsylvania, another articulate spokesman, defines liberalism as "meeting the material needs of the masses through the full power of centralized government."

Well, I for one resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me--the free man and woman of this country--as "the masses." This is a term we haven't applied to ourselves in America. But beyond that, "the full power of centralized government"--this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don't control things. A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy.

Now, we have no better example of this than the government's involvement in the farm economy over the last 30 years. Since 1955, the cost of this program has nearly doubled. One-fourth of farming in America is responsible for 85% of the farm surplus. Three-fourths of farming is out on the free market and has known a 21% increase in the per capita consumption of all its produce. You see, that one-fourth of farming is regulated and controlled by the federal government. In the last three years we have spent $43 in feed grain program for every bushel of corn we don't grow. Senator Humphrey last week charged that Barry Goldwater as President would seek to eliminate farmers. He should do his homework a little better, because he will find out that we have had a decline of 5 million in the farm population under these government programs. He will also find that the Democratic administration has sought to get from Congress an extension of the farm program to include that three-fourths that is now free. He will find that they have also asked for the right to imprison farmers who wouldn't keep books as prescribed by the federal government. The Secretary of Agriculture asked for the right to seize farms through condemnation and resell them to other individuals. And contained in that same program was a provision that would have allowed the federal government to remove 2 million farmers from the soil. At the same time, there has been an increase in the Department of Agriculture employees. There is now one for every 30 farms in the United States, and still they can't tell us how 66 shiploads of grain headed for Austria disappeared without a trace and Billie Sol Estes never left shore. Every responsible farmer and farm organization has repeatedly asked the government to free the farm economy, but who are farmers to know what is best for them? The wheat farmers voted against a wheat program. The government passed it anyway. Now the price of bread goes up; the price of wheat to the farmer goes down.

Meanwhile, back in the city, under urban renewal the assault on freedom carries on. Private property rights are so diluted that public interest is almost anything that a few government planners decide it should be. In a program that takes for the needy and gives to the greedy, we see such spectacles as in Cleveland, Ohio, a million-and-a-half-dollar building completed only three years ago must be destroyed to make way for what government officials call a "more compatible use of the land." The President tells us he is now going to start building public housing units in the thousands where heretofore we have only built them in the hundreds. But FHA and the Veterans Administration tell us that they have 120,000 housing units they've taken back through mortgage foreclosures. For three decades, we have sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan. The latest is the Area Redevelopment Agency. They have just declared Rice County, Kansas, a depressed area. Rice County, Kansas, has two hundred oil wells, and the 14,000 people there have over $30 million on deposit in personal savings in their banks. When the government tells
you you're depressed, lie down and be depressed.

We have so many people who can't see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion that the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they are going to solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer and they've had almost 30 years of it, shouldn't we expect government to almost read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn't they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? The reduction in the need for public housing? But the reverse is true. Each year the need grows greater, the program grows greater. We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet. But now we are told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty-stricken on the basis of earning less than $3,000 a year. Welfare spending is 10 times greater than in the dark depths of the Depression. We are spending $45 billion on welfare. Now do a little arithmetic, and you will find that if we divided the $45 billion up equally among those 9 million poor families, we would be able to give each family $4,600 a year, and this added to their present income should eliminate poverty! Direct aid to the poor, however, is running only about $600 per family. It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead.

So now we declare "war on poverty," or "you, too, can be a Bobby Baker!" Now, do they honestly expect us to believe that if we add $1 billion to the $45 million we are spending...one more program to the 30-odd we have--and remember, this new program doesn't replace any, it just duplicates existing programs--do they believe that poverty is suddenly going to disappear by magic? Well, in all fairness I should explain that there is one part of the new program that isn't duplicated. This is the youth feature. We are now going to solve the dropout problem, juvenile delinquency, by reinstituting something like the old CCC camps, and we are going to put our young people in camps, but again we do some arithmetic, and we find that we are going to spend each year just on room and board for each young person that we help $4,700 a year! We can send them to Harvard for $2,700! Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that Harvard is the answer to juvenile delinquency. But seriously, what are we doing to those we seek to help?

Not too long ago, a judge called me here in Los Angeles. He told me of a young woman who had come before him for a divorce. She had six children, was pregnant with her seventh. Under his questioning, she revealed her husband was a laborer earning $250 a month. She wanted a divorce so that she could get an $80 raise. She is eligible for $330 a month in the Aid to Dependent Children Program. She got the idea from two women in her neighborhood who had already done that very thing.

Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we are denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we are always "against" things, never "for" anything. Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so. We are for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we have accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem. But we are against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its
fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments to those who depend on them for livelihood. They have called it insurance to us in a hundred million pieces of literature. But then they appeared before the Supreme Court and they testified that it was a welfare program. They only use the term "insurance" to sell it to the people. And they said Social Security dues are a tax for the general use of the government, and the government has used that tax. There is no fund, because Robert Byers, the actuarial head, appeared before a congressional committee and admitted that Social Security as of this moment is $298 billion in the hole. But he said there should be no cause for worry because as long as they have the power to tax, they could always take away from the people whatever they needed to bail them out of trouble! And they are doing just that. A young man, 21 years of age, working at an average salary...his Social Security contribution would, in the open market, buy him an insurance policy that would guarantee $220 a month at age 65. The government promises $127. He could live it up until he is 31 and then take out a policy that would pay more than Social Security. Now, are we so lacking in business sense that we can't put this program on a sound basis so that people who do require those payments will find that they can get them when they are due...that the cupboard isn't bare? Barry Goldwater thinks we can. At the same time, can't we introduce voluntary features that would permit a citizen who can do better on his own to be excused upon presentation of evidence that he had made provisions for the non-earning years? Should we allow a widow with children to work, and not lose the benefits supposedly paid for by her deceased husband? Shouldn't you and I be allowed to declare who our
beneficiaries will be under these programs, which we cannot do? I think we are for telling our senior citizens that no one in this country should be denied medical care because of a lack of funds. But I think we are against forcing all citizens, regardless of need, into a compulsory government program, especially when we have such examples, as announced last week, when France admitted that their Medicare program was now bankrupt. They've come to the end of the road. In addition, was Barry Goldwater so irresponsible when he suggested that our government give up its program of deliberate planned inflation so that when you do get your Social Security pension, a dollar will buy a dollar's worth, and not 45 cents' worth?

I think we are for an international organization, where the nations of the world can seek peace. But I think we are against subordinating American interests to an organization that has become so structurally unsound that today you can muster a two-thirds vote on the floor of the General Assembly among the nations that represent less than 10 percent of the world's population. I think we are against the hypocrisy of assailing our allies because here and there they cling to a colony, while we engage in a conspiracy of silence and never open our mouths about the millions of people enslaved in Soviet colonies in the satellite nation. I think we are for aiding our allies by sharing of our material blessings with those nations which share in our fundamental beliefs, but we are against doling out money government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the world. We set out to help 19 countries. We are helping 107. We spent $146 billion. With that money, we bought a $2 million yacht for Haile Selassie. We bought dress suits for Greek undertakers, extra wives for Kenyan government officials. We bought a thousand TV sets for a place where they have no electricity. In the last six years, 52 nations have bought $7 billion worth of our gold, and all 52 are receiving foreign aid from this country.


No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this Earth. Federal employees number 2.5 million, and federal, state, and local, one out of six of the nation's work force is employed by the government. These proliferating bureaus with their thousands of regulations have cost us many of our constitutional safeguards. How many of us realize that today federal agents can invade a man's property without a warrant? They can impose a fine without a formal hearing, let alone a trial by jury, and they can seize and sell his property in auction to enforce the payment of that fine. In Chico County, Arkansas, James Wier overplanted his rice allotment. The government obtained a $17,000 judgment, and a U.S. marshal sold his 950-acre farm at auction. The government said it was necessary as a warning to others to make the system work. Last February 19 at the University of Minnesota, Norman Thomas, six-time candidate for President on the Socialist Party ticket, said, "If Barry Goldwater became President, he would stop the advance of socialism in the United States." I think that's exactly what he will do.


As a former Democrat, I can tell you Norman Thomas isn't the only man who has drawn this parallel to socialism with the present administration. Back in 1936, Mr. Democrat himself, Al Smith, the great American, came before the American people and charged that the leadership of his party was taking the part of Jefferson, Jackson, and Cleveland down the road under the banners of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. And he walked away from his party, and he never returned to the day he died, because to this day, the leadership of that party has been taking that party, that honorable party, down the road in the image of the labor socialist party of England. Now it doesn't require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? Such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, inalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.

Our Democratic opponents seem unwilling to debate these issues. They want to make you and I believe that this is a contest between two men...that we are to choose just between two personalities. Well, what of this man that they would destroy? And in destroying, they would destroy that which he represents, the ideas that you and I hold dear. Is he the brash and shallow and trigger-happy man they say he is? Well, I have been privileged to know him "when." I knew him long before he ever dreamed of trying for high office, and I can tell you personally I have never known a man in my life I believe so incapable of doing a dishonest or dishonorable thing. This is a man who in his own business, before he entered politics, instituted a profit-sharing plan, before unions had ever thought of it. He put in health and medical insurance for all his employees. He took 50 percent of the profits before taxes and set up a retirement program, a pension plan for all his employees. He sent checks for life to an employee who was ill and couldn't work. He provided nursing care for the children of mothers who work in the stores. When Mexico was ravaged by floods from the Rio Grande, he climbed in his airplane and flew medicine and supplies down there.

An ex-GI told me how he met him. It was the week before Christmas during the Korean War, and he was at the Los Angeles airport trying to get a ride home to Arizona for Christmas, and he said that there were a lot of servicemen there and no seats available on the planes. Then a voice came over the loudspeaker and said, "Any men in uniform wanting a ride to Arizona, go to runway such-and-such," and they went down there, and there was this fellow named Barry Goldwater sitting in his plane. Every day in the weeks before Christmas, all day long, he would load up the plane, fly to Arizona, fly them to their homes, then fly back over to get another load.
During the hectic split-second timing of a campaign, this is a man who took time out to sit beside an old friend who was dying of cancer. His campaign managers were understandably impatient, but he said, "There aren't many left who care what happens to her. I'd like her to know I care." This is a man who said to his 19-year-old son, "There is no foundation like the rock of honesty and fairness, and when you begin to build your life upon that rock, with the cement of the faith in God that you have, then you have a real start." This is not a man who could carelessly send other people's sons to war. And that is the issue of this campaign that makes all of the other problems I have discussed academic, unless we realize that we are in a war that must be won.

Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us that they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy "accommodation." And they say if we only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he will forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers. They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer--not an easy answer--but simple. If you and I have the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based upon what we know in our hearts is morally right. We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion now in slavery behind the Iron Curtain, "Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skin, we are willing to make a deal with your slave masters." Alexander Hamilton said, "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one." Let's set the record straight. There is no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there is only one guaranteed way you can have peace--and you can have it in the next second--surrender.

Admittedly there is a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson in history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face--that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight and surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand--the ultimatum. And what then? When Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we are retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary because by that time we will have weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he has heard voices pleading for "peace at any price" or "better Red than dead," or as one commentator put it, he would rather "live on his knees than die on his feet." And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don't speak for the rest of us. You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin--just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard 'round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain. Where, then, is the road to
peace? Well, it's a simple answer after all.

You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, "There is a price we will not pay." There is a point beyond which they must not advance. T is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater's "peace through strength." Winston Churchill said that "the destiny of man is not measured by material computation. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits--not animals." And he said, "There is something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty."

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on Earth, or we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness. We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.

Thank you very much.

Now you understand my point.