Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Poor people don't need food anyway.


South Los Angeles resident Curtis English acknowledged that fast food is loaded with calories and cholesterol. But since he's unemployed and does not have a car, it serves as a cheap, convenient staple for him.

On Monday, he ate breakfast and lunch — a sausage burrito and double cheeseburger, respectively — at a McDonald's a few blocks from home for just $2.39.

"I don't think there's too many fast food places," he said. "People like it."
With statements like this, it's no wonder the government of LA had to step in and make this decision. With people like Curtis showing such utter disregard for their health by picking something they can afford rather than something that's good for them, we need those who know better to step in. The poor need the rich to help them make good decisions.

Poor people need to slim down by picking something like organic, free range, locally made granola and home made yogurt with local organic clover honey instead of that fatty Egg McMuffin. After all, I'm sure that once we push all the multinational corporations trying to take advantage of the poor by offering cheap, unhealthy food that they can afford too easily, more healthy restaurants will move into poor neighbourhoods. Once we tell people how to budget their (very limited) funds, I'm sure they'll find a way to make it work.

/sarcasm.

It's depressing how common it is to see such condescending, callous and thoughtless decisions being made on behalf of people just trying to live their lives by people who have forgotten what it's like to worry about having enough money to put food on the table and have nothing better to do than tell the rest of us how to spend ours.

For more info check out the full story here. For more on why California really sucks lately, read this.

Cross-posted to Bureaucrash.

Monday, July 21, 2008

One-sided science

Climate change is a touchy issue for a lot of people - and justifiably so. We're talking about the future of the planet and the worldwide economy - it's important stuff.

I don't claim to have any kind of solution - I think claiming to understand or control our climate is even more conceited than thinking we can unilaterally run an economy.

I submitted the following while defending a fellow liberty lover against the claim that to grant any admission that there might be some climate change occurring is anti-freedom on a Western Standard Shotgun blog post:
Any claim that we can know
what the climate is doing one way or another is nonsense - there's no way that meteorologists can't reliably tell me whether or not it's going to rain this afternoon but some politico knows exactly what is or is not influencing the long-term climate patterns of the planet.

As such, it's completely consistent to not have an opinion on whether or not climate changes are man-made, man-influenced, or man-independent but to have an opinion on what the best solution to concern over the issue is. Let the market decide if there is a problem, whether or not anything needs to be done to fix it, and what the best way to go about all of it might be.

The controversy doesn't come from the complexity of the science behind global warming; it comes from meddlers on either side of the issue who are "sure" they're right and agonizing over not being able to impose their decision on the rest of us if it's left to the market.Some people might think that this isn't something that can't be left to "the market" - some faceless body ruthlessly making decisions based on profit without taking into account what's really important to people... but the fact is that the market is (or would be, without government interference) just a mechanism through which people indicate, through prices, what's most important to them. Whether it's buying stock in an environmentally friendly company or simply buying "green" products, people make all sorts of decisions indicating how important the environment is to them without turning it into a zero-sum game by involving the government.

As such, one thing I do think warrants attention is the lack of tolerance for debate on the issue by those agonizing over whether or not they'll be the one to prescribe the solution. I don't normally get too upset about stories of private censorship on this issue, but I find it very hard to ignore when statutory bodies such as Ofcom in the UK start censoring the debate.

Government, which is always trying to catch up to technology, is certainly not a force I want picking and choosing winners any field of scientific study*, especially one as potentially important as the study of climate change.


(*Or any field of anything, for that matter.)

Cross-posted to Bureaucrash

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

i have the explanation.

Prentice wants explanation for text message fees.

I have the explanation!

Not.
Enough.
Competition.

I am in Washington, DC for the summer. My roommate has a cell phone and is able to call Hawaii for the same price that she calls home to Virginia. She has no limits on texting and is confused by the idea that I would pay roaming. She does not have any kind of special plan, and no one seems to think she has an especially good plan.

That is the power of competition.

If only Prentice was in a position to help this happen in Canada!

He can blame the companies all he wants, he can "reluctantly" interfere with the industry - but all he really has to do is allow as many companies as would like to enter the market to enter the market, and let them find the best way to add value for consumers.



On the bright side, I'm with Rogers.

Monday, July 07, 2008

oil profits are good.

There's a common misconception that oil profits are a very, very bad thing.

This is in spite of a general acceptance of the idea that corrupt governments use oil revenues to oppress their people. Nigeria is a great example.

The thing is, if profits from oil went freely to private industry, they would be reinvested in an attempt to maximize wealth further. Sure, some rich people would get richer, but they usually employ an awful lot of people to get there. It's fairly likely that more investment would occur in a great deal of places where development is sorely needed.

When governments control oil and when oil companies need to use their profits to bribe governments to allow them to stay in business or to lobby governments to squash competition, governments can use that money for whatever they want - and all too often what they want is to oppress people. Whether it's through outright war and violence or through laws that restrict the way people and businesses operate in their country, this oppression the stable development that many of these countries need in favour of welfare and aid programs dependent on the whims often unstable regimes - if those living under the government are lucky.

Call me crazy, but I'll take the profits.

(cross-post to Bureaucrash)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

do away with liquor monopolies.

Shannon Kari has an interesting article in the National Post today detailing provincial governments' stubborn dismissal of any attempts to liberalize alcohol sales laws.

"Despite studies that indicate a private retail system would increase government revenue by eliminating the cost of operating retail outlets and does not lead to problems with alcohol consumption, there is very little political will to make changes.
...
The opposition to change is steadfast even when the beliefs about the dangers of a private system are debunked by a government study. The Ontario government rejected the findings of a $600,000 study it commissioned in 2005, the same day the report was issued.

The Beverage Alcohol System Review panel concluded the province could generate an extra $200-million annually, enough to build a new 300-bed hospital each year, if the government allowed private retailers to sell alcohol. A private system would increase choice and lower prices for consumers."


Granted, "it would generate more government revenue" is my least favourite argument for any changes to government policy - just more money for to fund the "idle hands" projects of governments in almost every case... but I'll go with it if it will get the job done.

Life would be more convenient, prices would be better for consumers, and comparisons to other systems suggest there would be no real effect on liquor consumption - Nova Scotia has the highest alcohol consumption in the country... and the most stringent liquor laws. New York state has 8 times the liquor stores and nearly the same alcohol consumption as Ontario.

And is anyone really naive enough to think that the liqour control board of Ontario (sounds a lot less appealing than "LCBO," doesn't it?) stops underage drinking?

What would seem more Canadian than to celebrate July 1st with a trip to the grocery store to pick up some meat for the BBQ and a six pack or some coolers for the fridge? It's time to end this antiquated and draconian practice across Canada. In the words of a Alabaman activists' group, "free the hops!"