Young People Have No Faith in Notley

We always hear about how young people tend to lean “left” and approve of more “socialistic” policies.

Unfortunately for Notley and her gang, this might not be true in Alberta.

Take a look at this table from a CBC survey. Let me know if you see anything interesting:

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That might be a bit hard to read, so let me just point out what I find interesting here.

The 18-24 year old crowd gives the Alberta NDP a pathetic 18% support on the question of which party will best be able to defend Alberta’s economic interests. That is encouraging even if our other Alberta political parties are quite bad.

Also interesting is that the only group shown here that appears to have more faith in the NDP than the UCP is the “post grad” crowd. Even then, they only beat out the UCP 42% to 38%.

For the NDP, that’s pretty sad because if they can’t count on overwhelming support from the over-educated, underpaid post-grads (who are often losers who work at universities and spend most of their lives whining for more government funding), who can they count on?

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The Equalization Scam: Ontario the “Have” Province Gets $963M

The School for Public Policy published a useful review of the 2018-2019 equalization payments.

Let’s take a look.

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Looks pretty typical in a lot of ways. West (+Newfoundland) pays East.

Also, while Quebec gets a lot of flak for getting the biggest payment, they are far from the biggest recipient on a per capita basis.

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But wait a second, didn’t Ontario just become a “have” province? Why are they getting a big cheque?

And that leads to the most interesting part of this year’s equalization:

This brings us to Ontario. The $963 million it will receive in equalization is entirely composed of adjustment payments. Absent these payments, the total equalization program would cost $17.2 billion and Ontario would receive nothing. But at $70 per person for receiving provinces, the adjustment payments add $1.76 billion, which brings the total cost of the program to the $18.96 billion dollars paid in 2018/19.

A Costly Quirk?

Why should adjustment payments be made at all? And why should they be paid to Ontario, a “have” province prior to this stage of the formula? The limit was put in place by the previous government in 2009 to keep costs under control and limit uncertainty. But why does it also act as a floor? And… must it? The Fiscal-Arrangements Act is somewhat ambiguous on this point.

Nope, this doesn’t appear to be a redistributive scam at all. It’s not like Canada already has the federal health and social transfers, or that the federal government already spends money in provinces at different rates.

central canada equalize

 

Equalization 2018

King Trudeau?

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What if Justin Trudeau became the King of Canada?

I recently reread an old Hans-Hermann Hoppe essay entitled “On Theory and History. Reply to Benegas-Lynch, Jr.”

To summarize briefly, it responds to criticisms leveled against Hoppe’s innovative argument that absolute monarchy should, all things being equal, be less exploitative than democracy. The original paper in which this argument appeared and to which B-L directs his response is quite brilliant and is enough to make most people at least contemplate their long held prejudices (“democracy is bad but everything else is worse”). That paper is available here — it was used as the first chapter of Democracy: The God That Failed. 

Hoppe’s reply is very worth reading as it provides a helpful overview of how one should use economic or ‘praxeologic’ theorems to analyze history — and how one must take care when using history to evaluate such theorems.

It’s a shame this reply was not included as an appendix to Democracy: The God That Failed like Hoppe’s “Four Replies”  in The Economics and Ethics of Private Property.  It is classic Hoppe.

In his original critique, B-L attempts to score a rhetorical headshot against Hoppe by asking, basically, what would happen if Bill Clinton became King of America (remember, this exchange is from the 90s). Clearly, he thinks, that would be much worse than the status quo of America’s democratic system.

Unfazed, Hoppe describes why this would represent a huge improvement.

Just for fun, I thought I would adapt this section of Hoppe’s response to political milieu of the True North. Read on:

What if Justin Trudeau were to become hereditary king of Canada; wouldn’t this make matters worse than they are now with him as prime minister?

The answer is a decisive No.

First off, given Trudeau’s obviously high degree of time preference, by making him owner rather than caretaker of Canada, his effective rate of time preference would fall (as high as it might still be). More profoundly and importantly, however, the transition from a Trudeau prime ministership to Trudeau kingship would require substantial institutional changes (for instance, the abolition of Parliament and parliamentary elections, the elimination of the Supreme Court, and the abandonment of the Constitution), and these changes could not possibly be implemented without King Trudeau losing thereby most of his current power as prime minister.

For with everyone except Trudeau and the Trudeaupians barred from politics and political participation, and with Trudeau installed as the personal owner of all formerly public (federal) lands and properties as well as the ultimate judge and legislator for the entire territory of Canada, popular opposition against his and his clan’s excessive wealth and power would bring his kingship to an end before it had even begun.

Thus, if Trudeau really wanted to hold onto his royal position, he would d have to give up most of the current – democratic-republican – government’s property, tax revenue, and legislative powers. Even then, in light of Trudeau’s less than exemplary and shining personal history and family background, his United Kingdom of Canada would almost certainly be faced with an immediate upsurge of secessionist forces all across the country and quickly disintegrate, and Trudeau, at the very best, would end up as King Justin of Ottawa.

 

Why Do We Get Such Bad Leaders?

Why Bad Men Rule
By Hans-Hermann Hoppe

trump-vs-clinton

One of the most widely accepted propositions among political economists is the following: Every monopoly is bad from the viewpoint of consumers. Monopoly is understood in its classical sense to be an exclusive privilege granted to a single producer of a commodity or service, i.e., as the absence of free entry into a particular line of production. In other words, only one agency, A, may produce a given good, x. Any such monopolist is bad for consumers because, shielded from potential new entrants into his area of production, the price of the monopolist’s product x will be higher and the quality of x lower than otherwise.

This elementary truth has frequently been invoked as an argument in favor of democratic government as opposed to classical, monarchical or princely government. This is because under democracy entry into the governmental apparatus is free — anyone can become prime minister or president — whereas under monarchy it is restricted to the king and his heir.

However, this argument in favor of democracy is fatally flawed. Free entry is not always good. Free entry and competition in the production of goods is good, but free competition in the production of bads is not. Free entry into the business of torturing and killing innocents, or free competition in counterfeiting or swindling, for instance, is not good; it is worse than bad. So what sort of “business” is government? Answer: it is not a customary producer of goods sold to voluntary consumers. Rather, it is a “business” engaged in theft and expropriation — by means of taxes and counterfeiting — and the fencing of stolen goods. Hence, free entry into government does not improve something good. Indeed, it makes matters worse than bad, i.e., it improves evil.

Since man is as man is, in every society people who covet others’ property exist. Some people are more afflicted by this sentiment than others, but individuals usually learn not to act on such feelings or even feel ashamed for entertaining them. Generally only a few individuals are unable to successfully suppress their desire for others’ property, and they are treated as criminals by their fellow men and repressed by the threat of physical punishment. Under princely government, only one single person — the prince — can legally act on the desire for another man’s property, and it is this which makes him a potential danger and a “bad.”

However, a prince is restricted in his redistributive desires because all members of society have learned to regard the taking and redistributing of another man’s property as shameful and immoral. Accordingly, they watch a prince’s every action with utmost suspicion. In distinct contrast, by opening entry into government, anyone is permitted to freely express his desire for others’ property. What formerly was regarded as immoral and accordingly was suppressed is now considered a legitimate sentiment. Everyone may openly covet everyone else’s property in the name of democracy; and everyone may act on this desire for another’s property, provided that he finds entrance into government. Hence, under democracy everyone becomes a threat.

Consequently, under democratic conditions the popular though immoral and anti-social desire for another man’s property is systematically strengthened. Every demand is legitimate if it is proclaimed publicly under the special protection of “freedom of speech.” Everything can be said and claimed, and everything is up for grabs. Not even the seemingly most secure private property right is exempt from redistributive demands. Worse, subject to mass elections, those members of society with little or no inhibitions against taking another man’s property, that is, habitual a-moralists who are most talented in assembling majorities from a multitude of morally uninhibited and mutually incompatible popular demands (efficient demagogues) will tend to gain entrance in and rise to the top of government. Hence, a bad situation becomes even worse.

Historically, the selection of a prince was through the accident of his noble birth, and his only personal qualification was typically his upbringing as a future prince and preserver of the dynasty, its status, and its possessions. This did not assure that a prince would not be bad and dangerous, of course. However, it is worth remembering that any prince who failed in his primary duty of preserving the dynasty — who ruined the country, caused civil unrest, turmoil and strife, or otherwise endangered the position of the dynasty — faced the immediate risk either of being neutralized or assassinated by another member of his own family. In any case, however, even if the accident of birth and his upbringing did not preclude that a prince might be bad and dangerous, at the same time the accident of a noble birth and a princely education also did not preclude that he might be a harmless dilettante or even a good and moral person.

In contrast, the selection of government rulers by means of popular elections makes it nearly impossible that a good or harmless person could ever rise to the top. Prime ministers and presidents are selected for their proven efficiency as morally uninhibited demagogues. Thus, democracy virtually assures that only bad and dangerous men will ever rise to the top of government. Indeed, as a result of free political competition and selection, those who rise will become increasingly bad and dangerous individuals, yet as temporary and interchangeable caretakers they will only rarely be assassinated.

One can do no better than quote H.L. Mencken in this connection. “Politicians,” he notes with his characteristic wit, “seldom if ever get [into public office] by merit alone, at least in democratic states. Sometimes, to be sure, it happens, but only by a kind of miracle. They are chosen normally for quite different reasons, the chief of which is simply their power to impress and enchant the intellectually underprivileged….Will any of them venture to tell the plain truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the situation of the country, foreign or domestic? Will any of them refrain from promises that he knows he can’t fulfill — that no human being could fulfill? Will any of them utter a word, however obvious, that will alarm or alienate any of the huge pack of morons who cluster at the public trough, wallowing in the pap that grows thinner and thinner, hoping against hope? Answer: may be for a few weeks at the start…. But not after the issue is fairly joined, and the struggle is on in earnest…. They will all promise every man, woman and child in the country whatever he, she or it wants. They’ll all be roving the land looking for chances to make the rich poor, to remedy the irremediable, to succor the unsuccorable, to unscramble the unscrambleable, to dephlogisticate the undephlogisticable. They will all be curing warts by saying words over them, and paying off the national debt with money no one will have to earn. When one of them demonstrates that twice two is five, another will prove that it is six, six and a half, ten, twenty, n. In brief, they will divest themselves from their character as sensible, candid and truthful men, and simply become candidates for office, bent only on collaring votes. They will all know by then, even supposing that some of them don’t know it now, that votes are collared under democracy, not by talking sense but by talking nonsense, and they will apply themselves to the job with a hearty yo-heave-ho. Most of them, before the uproar is over, will actually convince themselves. The winner will be whoever promises the most with the least probability of delivering anything.”

— Thanks to LRC — 

Is Canadian Politics About to Get a Dose of Austrian Economics?

The Facebook page of Conservative Party leadership aspirant Maxime Bernier posted the following image with the question “Which of these economists do you prefer?”:
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WHOA, wait a minute.

What is going on here? Have we entered the Bizarro World? Does Spock have a beard?

The four economists in the picture are amongst the hardest of the hardcore free market economists in history.

The mere fact that this multiple choice question was posed with these four options makes us kind of like Maxime Bernier’s style. The fact that Murray Rothbard is in this list at all is frankly shocking. In a good way.

So here’s what you need to know:

Someone who seems to like the Austrian School of Economics is running for leadership of a major Canadian political party. This is almost too wonderfully weird to believe.

Bernier has already proposed abolishing the CRTC, ending monopolistic supply chain management, having a more laissez-faire approach to air travel, privatizing Canada Post, and replacing corporate welfare with lower taxes for all corporations. Bernier is showing that he will attack sacred cows in Canada’s reflexively progressive political discourse.

Now comes this Facebook post, intimating that underlying these consumer-friendly proposals is at least some solid classical liberal economic foundations.

Honestly, as far as Canadian politics goes, that might be the best we’ve seen in the last century. Maybe we will see someone approximating a real classical liberal leading one of Canada’s main political parties.

 

Does Progressivism Have a Future?

Probably not. So-called “progressivism” has no guiding principle at all. It is driven by fickle emotions and a worldview that thinks you can have your cake and eat it too. There is no hard limiting factor with which progressives can judge if their frivolous proposals have gone too far. That’s why reasonable people think progressive demands and proposals are getting… progressively more laughable and absurd.

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