Quotulatiousness

October 20, 2017

Why the Lights Are Still Off in Puerto Rico

Filed under: Economics, Government, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

ReasonTV
Published on 19 Oct 2017

The government set the stage for a post-hurricane catastrophe.
—–
Puerto Rico was set up for disaster well before Hurricane Maria hit. Revoked tax breaks, needlessly expensive imports, and crippling debt all led to a shoddy infrastructure that’s still without power on most of the island.

On the latest “Mostly Weekly,” Andrew Heaton explores: how did Puerto Rico get screwed over well before the lights went out, and how do we get them back on?

Mostly Weekly is hosted by Andrew Heaton with headwriter Sarah Rose Siskind.
Script by Sarah Rose Siskind with writing assistance from Andrew Heaton, Brian Sack, and Justin Monticello
Edited by Sarah Rose Siskind and Austin Bragg
Produced by Meredith and Austin Bragg.
Theme Song: Frozen by Surfer Blood.

Justin Trudeau’s government at the two-year mark

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Cancon, Government, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Paul Wells nicely lists all the good things the Trudeau government has managed to do during the first two years of its mandate, then gets down to the other side of the balance sheet:

The worse continues to pile up. I see no way the rushed and timid legalization of cannabis will drain the black market and, in hardening more penalties than it relaxes, it seems certain to provide busywork for police who have been asking only to be freed up to tackle more serious problems. (An internal Ontario government memo reaches the same conclusions.)

Since it’s impossible to find anyone in the government who’s conspicuous for saying no to any proposed spending spree, it’s a near dead-lock certainty that Canada will become a nursery for white elephants — and, unless this generation of public administrators is luckier than any previous generation, for corruption, somewhere in the system.

The government’s appointments system is, as one former staffer told me this week, “just a little f–ked,” with backlogs as far as the eye can see. There’s a serious bottleneck for important decisions, with the choke point in the Prime Minister’s Office. Rookie ministers, which is most of them, are held close. Those who don’t perform are sent new staffers from the PMO: career growth comes from the centre, not the bottom.

A cabinet full of political neophytes — and there is nothing Trudeau could have done to avoid that, given how few seats he had before 2015 — has been trained to cling for dear life to talking points. The result is unsettling: most of the cabinet simply ignores any specific question and charges ahead with the day’s message, conveying the unmistakable impression they are not as bright as — given their achievements before politics — they must surely be. Or that they think their audience isn’t. I doubt this is what anyone intends, but by now it’s deeply baked into the learned reflexes of this government.

Then there is this tax mess. I’m agnostic on the policy question: in my own life I’ve been spectacularly unimaginative in organizing my finances for minimal taxation. I put all the book money into RRSPs, called my condo an office for the two years I used it as one, and that was the end of that. But the summer tax adventure has left the Liberals with their hair on fire, for two broad reasons. One is that Bill Morneau’s personal financial arrangements are becoming surreal. The other is the way the project — and especially the life stories of its stewards, Trudeau and Morneau — undermined the Liberals’ claim to be champions of the middle class.

Wells very kindly doesn’t mention the ongoing flustercluck that is our military procurement “system” (which to be fair, the Liberals did inherit from the Harper Conservatives), which has gotten worse rather than better — and only part of that is due to Trudeau’s trumpeted “No F-35s” election pledge. The Royal Canadian Navy seem no closer to getting the new ships they so desperately need (aside from the Project Resolve supply ship, which the government had to be arm-twisted into accepting), and the government hasn’t yet narrowed down the surface combatant requirements enough to select a design.

Operation Albion Concludes – Allied Failures In Belgium I THE GREAT WAR Week 169

Filed under: Europe, Germany, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 19 Oct 2017

100 years ago this week, Operation Albion comes to a successful end for the Germans, as revolution is on the horizon in Russia. The Allies aren’t faring quite so well on the Western Front, where the weather continues to worsen and the death toll climbs ever higher. Haig believes a breakthrough is imminent and German morale is tested. The stalemate continues, but sooner or later the Battle of Passchendaele must come to an end.

Quebec’s niqab ban

Filed under: Cancon, Government, Law, Liberty — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Chris Selley on the Quebec provincial government’s latest anti-Muslim legislation:

It’s mostly about the Quiet Revolution. That’s what we’ve been assured by wise owl pundits about all this intolerant-looking rigmarole in Quebec. When polls show far more Quebecers than other Canadians hesitant to vote for a turban-wearing Sikh like NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, the owls exhort us to contextualize: Quebecers’ rejection of the Catholic Church’s outsized role in their society left them suspicious of all public displays of religiosity (except Catholic ones, weirdly). This explains higher levels of antipathy toward other religious symbols as well, we are told: kippas, kirpans and hijabs. Hijabs specifically are antithetical to a uniquely French brand of feminism, the owls explain. We must understand that French Canadians, like the French, simply do not believe in multiculturalism; other cultures must adapt to and exist within the dominant one. Without understanding all this, we cannot comprehend what’s really happening.

Well, here’s what really happened Wednesday: after years of dithering, the Liberal government in Quebec City made it illegal to provide or receive government services with one’s face covered — which is to say no niqabs on university campuses, no niqabs at the police station, no niqabs on the bus or on the Métro. Not even the Parti Québécois’ much-loathed values charter proposed the latter. So what are we to make of this, owls? Was the Quiet Revolution, this proud rejection of church influence over the state, really about bestowing upon the state the power to tell religious people what they can and cannot wear on buses and trains? Shall we sing Gens du Pays?

How stupid do the Liberals think people are? How stupid do they think Canadian judges are? Stupid enough, apparently, to believe that this isn’t really about niqabs, but about a general outbreak of people riding public transit without their faces showing. Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée said the rule applied equally to niqabs, balaclavas, dark sunglasses and anything else that might obscure all or part of the face. It’s a simple matter of “security, communication and identification.”

How to Make Small Dovetail Boxes | Episode 2 | Paul Sellers

Filed under: Woodworking — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Paul Sellers
Published on 9 Oct 2017

This is one of our very early Woodworking Masterclasses series from 2013. In this second episode Paul continues to show how to cut the dovetail and also shows how to prepare the box for glue-up. This requires a few hand plane tricks that will prove helpful in future projects and are well worth watching! Enjoy!

For more information on these topics, see https://paulsellers.com or https://woodworkingmasterclasses.com

QotD: Culture wars of the 20th century

Filed under: Books, Liberty, Media, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

[Libertarians have] always been strong on analysis and criticism. We have our philosophers and economists and historians, and these are among the best. We aren’t wholly without our novelists and musicians and artists. There’s you. There’s Heinlein. There’s Rand. There are many others.

But we haven’t so far put cultural production at the top of our list of things to do. It’s been treated as barely even secondary to uncovering and explaining the workings of a natural order. So far as this has been the case, however, it’s been a big mistake. There’s little benefit in preaching to an audience that doesn’t understand why your message is important.

The socialist takeover of the English mind during the early 20th century was only in part the achievement of the Webbs and J.A. Hobson and E.H. Carr and Harold Laski and Douglas Jay, and all the others of their kind. They were important, and if they hadn’t written as they did, there would have been no takeover. But for every one who read these, there were tens or hundreds who read and were captured by Shaw and Wells and Galsworthy and Richard Llewellyn, among others. These were men who transmitted the socialist cases to a much wider audience.

Just as importantly, where they did not directly transmit, they helped bring about a change in the climate of opinion so that propositions that were rejected out of hand by most thoughtful men in the 1890s could become the received wisdom of the 1940s. They achieved a similar effect in the United States, and were supplemented there by writers like Howard Fast, and, of course, by the Hollywood film industry.

More recently in England, the effect of television soap operas like Eastenders has been immense and profound. Their writers have taken the dense and often incomprehensible writings of the neo-Marxists and presented them as a set of hidden assumptions that have transformed the English mind since 1980. No one can fully explain the Labour victory of 1997, or the ease with which law and administration were transformed even before them, without reference to popular culture.

Though I’ll say outright that she’s never been one of my favourites, there’s no doubt that Ayn Rand was a great novelist and a great libertarian. And there’s no doubt at all that her novels did more than anything else to revive libertarianism in America — and perhaps even in England. But what I’m talking about at the moment isn’t long didactic novels where characters speak for three pages about the evils of central banking. What I do believe we need is good, popular entertainment of our own creation that is based on our own assumptions.

I think the most significant objective propagandist of my lifetime for the libertarian and conservative cause in England was the historical novelist Patrick O’Brian. I’ve read all his historical novels, some more than once, and I don’t think he ever sets out an explicit case against the modern order of things. What he does instead is to create a world – that may once have existed largely as he describes I – that works on different assumptions from our own. If this world is often unattractive on account of its poverty and brutality, its settled emphasis on tradition and on personal freedom and responsibility has probably done more to spread the truth in England than the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute of Economic Ideas combined.

Sean Gabb, quoted in “Wayne John Sturgeon talks to Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance”, Sean Gabb, 2013-08-26.

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