North American “Frustrated Trade” Abomination (NAFTA)

If there is anyone more “Pollyanna-esque” than Foreign Affaìrs Minister Christina Freeland, who has regularly assured the media that trade negotiations are proceeding apace, it would have to be our “celebrity Prime Minister.”

Justin Trudeau apparently said today, according to CTV News Channel, that an agreement could be just “days away.” The Prime Minister admitted that the same prognostication was given last spring.

If there is an “agreement” between these governments it will have nothing to do with free trade among individuals or organizations of individuals, (i.e., corporations and other forms of business organizations).

In order to trade freely, individuals must have property rights protected by their governments. For governments to set any kind of regulation of the exchange of private property is to deny and frustrate trade.

Edward Podritske

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Truth and Nothing More

I’ve suspended comments temporarily.

The reason is that I’ve become so concerned about the deterioration of our western culture I need to think more fundamentally about the underlying causes of the decay.

The latest delusion and madness that has caught my attention is the consequences of official policies of multiculturalism. It is most evident in Canada where I reside.

However, the delusion is widespread. It impacts western societies across the globe, including Europe, the remnants of the British Commonwealth as well as all of North America. Why?

Perhaps the greatest error ever committed by societies was the conceding of the responsibility for education of children to the state. No longer do young minds have much opportunity for a conceptual education, that is in training them to think for themselves. Instead, they are bombarded with out-of-context concrete examples of issues (largely political) or maybe worse, left to create their own programs of study.

The result of such pitiful approaches to education is several generations largely out of touch with the facts of reality (truth), unable to think in principles (to discover the truth)but in many cases full of useless information or at worst being completely neurotic.

What all of this holds for the future of a culture out of touch with reality is self-destruction, In philosophical terms it is nihilism. The only question seems to be how long it will take to fade into some form of chaos and dictatorship.

Violations of Rights

An imbroglio in Canada’s House of Commons developed recently over a “summer jobs program” funded by the government.

Well, not so much the program, which all parties seem to agree is a good thing. In fact, the article refers to it as a “normally feel-good program.”

The trouble started when Mr. Trudeau’s government introduced a condition for funding applications this year. It is the requirement that applicants must sign an attestation that their organization’s “core mandate” respects the notion of “reproductive rights.” Otherwise, their applications would be rejected. Over 1500 have been rejected so far with just over 100 at the same point last year, according to the article.

Things really began to flare up when it was discovered that one application, submitted by something called the “Dogwood” initiative, had the express purpose of paying for an assistant to “help our organizing network stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker project.”

So the current Liberal government of Canada is prepared to financially support “anti-pipeline protestors.” Apparently “Dogwood” has no problem attesting to its “core mandate” of respect for “reproductive rights” if it means getting subsidized for “free speech.” To be fair, there is a connection between the privilege of having others finance your right to protest and the privilege of women to have others pay for their abortions. It’s “others pay.”

“Free expression and advocacy” is a principle his government must defend says Prime Minister Trudeau in defending both the required attestation and approval of the “Dogwood” application. Mr. Trudeau might think it nitpicking, but there is an important derivative distinction between a principle and a right. And free speech is a right.

A principle is a fundamental truth, upon which other truths depend. The principle underlying free speech is the right to your own life. It’s only when you choose to live among other humans that the issue of “rights” comes into relevance. We have government ideally to protect those rights.

In the House of Commons imbroglio and subsequent coverage nobody addresses a proper definition of free speech.

So let’s try to help. Freedom of speech means “freedom from interference, suppression or punitive action by—the government.” What are the implications? Free speech must be judged on its merits by those who choose to listen without being forced to pay for the opportunity. It means no interference in the form of, for example, subsidy by the government, no censorship, which only government can do, and you should not face fines or imprisonment for criticizing the government. It also means that if you have something to say, you do so by your own means and without trespass on the rights of others.

The “summer jobs program” itself is an improper action by government and is financed by wealth extorted from the productive sector. What makes it worse is the condition added related to matters of “conscience.” No one should need to swear an oath respecting the legitimate rights of others as they also pertain to all of us. There is a reciprocity principle when it comes to rights.

A violation of rights can be met with retaliatory force. It is one of the reasons for establishing government, to place the use of that force under objective control through a justice system. When government violates rights, as I think it clearly does with the “core mandate” attestation requirement, it degrades our culture and moves us further along the path to despotism.

Guaranteed Basic Poverty

From time to time, some “social planner” will float another trial balloon for the “guaranteed basic income” (GBI).

Most recently, it is Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), also known as the Parliamentary “fiscal watchdog.” I don’t know what master this “watchdog” is really serving but if it’s the individual or Canadian taxpayers, then this “watchdog” is either soundly asleep or barking at the moon.

This “social planner” clothed in “fiscal responsibility” offers up another emotionally appealing (to many) scenario that betrays everyone, including the proposed beneficiaries.

The PBO betrays the Canadian taxpayer to the tune of $43 Billion per year with this proposal, according to the report quoted in the linked news item. That amounts to about $1,200 per year for each man, woman and child based on a population of approximately 37.5 million people. Of course, they’re not all individual taxpayers so the impact on individual taxpayers is even greater.

If you read the article it becomes clear that the $43 Billion is a very optimistic projection based on the following assumptions:

  • the GBI will replace other existing “support” programs,
  • “cost savings” will result from cooperative administration of the GBI between federal and provincial governments.

I ask, how often, once established, any “entitlement” program is ever fully relinquished? More importantly, when has the administration of any program by any government, let alone multiple levels of government “cooperating” together, ever operated in an efficient, “cost-saving” manner?

The PBO also betrays the 7.5 million Canadians (20% of the population) who would allegedly “benefit” from a national GBI program. By the way, I really doubt whether that large a portion of the Canadian population is actually living in what could legitimately be called poverty.

Simply handing each of these beneficiaries about $17 thousand per year as does the Ontario pilot program, upon which the PBO’s work is modelled, robs the recipient of incentive to create value by being productive.

Humans by their nature must produce the values of life in order to survive. They must create value for themselves and to trade with others, value for value. If you are simply given an unearned “income” it is unlikely that it would result in significant motivation to develop the moral ambition to survive and flourish.

I suggest that the most prevalent consequence of a GBI program will be the regrettable creation of a social class that is effectively stunted, institutionalizing a “guaranteed basic poverty.” It will be a poverty of psychology and intellect as well as the assurance of a low standard of living.

The linked article refers to the “Pros and Cons” of basic income programs and the related debate “among academics and policymakers.” The “Pros” are more or less stated as the provision of a minimum income level with “no strings attached.” That’s pretty vapid given there is no possible moral argument that could be made for this madness.

Worse however, are the “Cons” that are cited. “Too expensive,” they say. That’s obvious. The moral point is, by what right does anyone propose looting that kind of wealth from other Canadians in the first place?

“It would discourage people from seeking full-time work,” they say. Of course it would, but the moral and intellectual damage created by destroying the incentive to flourish as a human being is far more fundamental.

“It wouldn’t address some of the root causes of poverty like mental illness and addiction,” they say. This and all the “Cons” share one thing: they are concessions to the nobility of the idea of a GBI or some other form of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” It’s just that the “Cons” don’t seem to like this particular way of going about it.

Nevertheless, this latter point of disagreement is so far off the mark it warrants further discussion. The root cause of poverty is a lack of productivity, that is, not creating value. A very small minority of people are incapable of being productive enough to support their own lives, and they must rely on the productivity of others (friends, family or charity) for that support.

There is a choice to be productive, whether it be the modest endeavour of “minimum wage employment” or the entrepreneurial creation of business empires. The degree does not matter. What matters is that you choose to do it.

As to “mental illness,” I submit this is less of a problem than imagined by “social planners” and there already exist many programs and social services to help such unfortunate individuals. Regardless, this condition alone is not a moral claim on the lives of others to provide an unearned “income” for them and it is wrong, if not disingenuous to suggest it is a “root cause of poverty.”

“Addiction” on the other hand is clearly a condition which is the result of a choice—a very poor one. The consequences of “addiction” may well be in part, “poverty,” but there also are means in place to address this social problem. To the extent they are ineffective does not likewise suggest that a GBI would even begin to be a solution.

Social ills cannot be cured by forcibly taking from the productive in society and giving that loot to the unproductive, minus the costs of administration for the compensation of bureaucrats and “social planners.”

Mealy-mouthed Revisions of History

A recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCOC) may reveal why this country will never develop more significant economic prosperity domestically let alone in world trade.

Global News reports of a decision over Section 121 of the Constitution. A New Brunswick resident had been fined for purchasing beer and spirits in Quebec which he was transporting to his home across Provincial boundaries into New Brunswick.

Gerard Comeau was stopped by RCMP, issued a summons on behalf of the New Brunswick government and his purchases were confiscated. Mr. Comeau challenged the actions under Section 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867 which reads:

All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.

The case found its way to the SCOC and the ruling was in favor of the Crown which prosecuted Mr. Comeau.

Incredibly mealy-mouthed language evident from excerpts in the ruling were reported in the linked article.

For example, the following is a direct passage from the article:

The top court ruled that Section 121 prohibits laws that are mainly meant to prevent the movement of goods across provincial borders. The main purpose of the law Comeau challenged was to manage supply and demand of liquor in New Brunswick — therefore the law is constitutional.

I don’t know about you but “All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces” sounds pretty damn straightforward.

The apparent exception which the unanimous decision of the Court identified was that the laws of any particular Province could override Section 121.

Is not New Brunswick part of the “Union” anymore? So much for Federalism. So much for free trade.

Since I mention free trade I must quote another howler from the linked article.

“Section 121 does not impose absolute free trade across Canada,” the SCOC ruling said. [Emphasis added.]

“Absolute” free trade is redundant. Trade is either freely conducted or it is controlled, in which case it isn’t free trade. That’s why I’ve emphasized the word “impose” in the quote. It’s a curious way of stating the role of trade, the implication being that we require the permission or direction of government to engage in trade.

Trade is something people do. It’s a good thing. Otherwise we people wouldn’t do it. No one, least of all government backed by the SCOC against the people needs to “impose” trade upon us.

And, I disagree that the framers of the Constitution meant anything other than not obstructing the free flow of trade among the Provinces. They didn’t say, “unless a Province passes a law which incidentally affects the free admission of goods across borders.”

The SCOC is engaged in the revision of History and doing so in a mealy-mouthed manner, unbefitting this venerable institution.

The State Media Institute

Many complain about the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which I prefer to describe as “State Media.” Given that the CBC is primarily funded by the Canadian government it can’t be more accurately described otherwise.

Now, even The Globe and Mail has joined the fray to cast a critical eye. John Doyle writes as a television critic in the linked article.

Doyle subjected himself to the personal agony of watching intently an entire edition of the flagship news hour program The National.

He emerged with an understanding of why viewers are fleeing; the program lacks coherence and bears little resemblance to what they’ve come to expect in a news broadcast.

This development comes far in the wake of Peter Mansbridge’s retirement as sole news anchor for what seemed like a career spanning four or five generations of Canadians.

His replacement by a team of four hosts for The National is an ostentatious and no doubt costly alternative to the usual news broadcast program.

That’s not the only evident change however, as John Doyle has just affirmed in his article. It’s the programming structure or format that is leading to increased complaints.

Doyle glosses over the list of program core topics, implying one can’t really quibble about what many regard as obsessive coverage of for example, “Indigenous” stories.

I try not to gloss over important concepts. The “roll call of topics” as discovered by Doyle includes eight: “Top Stories,” “Local,” “The National,” “Opinion,” “World,” “Canada,” “Politics” and “Indigenous.”

Except for that last topic these topics seem to follow the typical categories covered by news organizations appealing to a broad national audience.

Why does that last category rankle, as I think it does with many? One significant type of complaint addressed by Doyle concerned so-called Indigenous-related stories and mini-documentaries.

Doyle points out that these complaints about “Indigenous” stories are not submitted in a “rancorous, dismissive manner.” Rather, it seems viewers find this coverage “relentless” leading most to, as Doyle suggests, “roll their eyes.”

I offer that “Indigenous” is not a valid topic category and the CBC ought to be challenged on this point. Doyle excuses the “relentless” coverage of “Indigenous” stories as “simply part of the list of core topics for CBC News.”

That’s giving State Media a pass. I’ll defer to another time a discussion of why “Indigenous” is an invalid concept in this context and just observe that it need not warrant its own category in a news program.

So far at least, “indigenous” remains an adjective. It refers to things (nouns) which are native to a particular geographic area.

The haste to convert “indigenous” to a noun by the CBC is misguided. A quick review of the seven other topic categories would lead any thinking person to the conclusion that legitimate stories involving “Indigenous” could easily be included under almost any of the other categories used by the CBC. It might eliminate also the apparent compulsion to include such stories in virtually all broadcasts.

So what could be the motivation to establish this unique usage of “indigenous” in news broadcasts? Someone obviously has an agenda.

The CBC cannot pretend to operate independently in its judgment of newsworthy stories. There exists a compulsion, whether overt or in some unearned guilt-ridden psychology of CBC News executives.

The government of Canada appears obsessed with trying to remedy the wrongs of history by imposing obligations on present generations. There is no positive outcome possible by taxing or regulating present actions of Canadians to compensate the descendants of those who have been wronged in the past.

I don’t think it necessary to explain the aforementioned obsession. There is abundant evidence, not the least of which is the so-called Truth and Reconciliation Commission and subsequent initiatives to try to make amends.

The government of Canada finances the CBC. The CBC is regarded by its own executives as a “public service.”

When the government of Canada gives money to the CBC it must do so with conditions, express or implied. It’s ludicrous to suggest that wealth looted from productive Canadians and turned over to the CBC has no strings attached. If it did so it would properly be considered irresponsible.

The CBC is a government-created institution. It is financed by the State. As a media enterprise it is therefore the mouthpiece of the State.

The CBC cannot be trusted as an intermediary acting on behalf of the members of Canadian society, speaking truth to political power. It is the de facto State Media Institute and ought to be regarded suspiciously as such.

Anarchists For “Climate Change”

If you’ve not heard, Kinder Morgan, a pipeline construction company has suspended all but “necessary expenditures” in the construction of a massive project involving an energy pipeline installation from Alberta through British Columbia to the Pacific coast.

The company has taken this action in light of a major political dispute between the governments of the two provinces aforementioned.

Briefly, Alberta wants the project to move forward with haste. The government depends on the energy loot from taxation and needs to be seen as addressing a high unemployment situation in the province.

The government of British Columbia on the other hand has pragmatically sided with the environmentalists and is resisting construction through its jurisdiction.

“Protesters” in British Columbia have defied a Court injunction against them protesting on Kinder Morgan property.

Many of these lawbreakers have been arrested and will find out on Monday, April 16th if they face criminal charges for their recklessness.

From the linked article, one Valerie Langer who has previous experience as a lead organizer of civil disobedience observed that the relevant question is whether or not those charged knew they were violating the injunction, their reasons for doing so being irrelevant.

In simpler recognizable language the protestors arrested were “in contempt of court.”

However, Langer went on to say, as quoted in the article:

We’re talking about climate change, and the risk of an oil spill. Is that a criminal insult to the courts? Or is this our society, in the throes of a social evolution?”

Well Ms. Langer, to answer your questions, your reasons for initiating the use of force remain irrelevant. Such actions are immoral. And, if our society is “in the throes of a social evolution” then it is in the deathly throes of anarchy, which is hardly a mark of progress for civilization.