Archive for the ‘property rights’ Category

Caifornia Leading the Enviro-Whacko Pack

June 1st, 2007
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Now that Governor Schwarzenegger has left the country, spreading easy-going, shucks it’s going to be easy environmentalism, it’s a good time to see what is meant by environmentalism in California. Seeing as BC just signed the Pacific Coast Collaborative to Protect Our Shared Climate and Oceans, it’s worth pondering what that means, and Ontario just signed an emissions deal, and everybody is following the California light bulb ban idea, what else does California have planned for us?

Throwing a few logs on the fire on a nippy evening, or boosting a home’s market appeal by advertising its wood-burning fireplace, could go the way of the coal chute and the ice box for many Southern Californians if newly proposed air quality regulations are adopted.

As part of air pollution plans designed to meet federal deadlines, South Coast Air Quality Management District officials have proposed a ban on wood-burning fireplaces in all new homes in Los Angeles, Orange and portions of Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

In addition, on winter days when pollution spikes, wood-fueled blazes in all fireplaces would be banned in highly affected areas. That could amount to about 20 days a year, district officials said.

Of course, a California winter and a Canadian winter are two different things, but can this idea be far behind? Yes folks, politicians and activists have your fire-places in their sights. Yet reducing our home energy usage is also in the plan, with natural gas prices expected to double, and dirtier energy more so.

Are you really prepared to turn down the thermostat, without the aid of a fireplace or stove, in the middle of February? Will Canadian politicians really try this one? Why not, they have told us we need to buy light bulbs that cost about 4 times more, that require recycling, and that , frankly, work lousy, yet no one raised a peep. Most people shrugged and said “makes sense to me.” Why wouldn’t they try fireplaces? And if you think because you already have a fireplace, your safe, think again:

Another measure that would require closing off wood fireplaces or installing $3,600 pollution control devices before a home could be sold had been dropped as of late Thursday, an AQMD spokesman said.

Yea – for now.

freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy, Going... Going... Gone Nuts For The Environment, Kyoto, pimply minions of bureaucracy, property rights

Define Gouging

May 11th, 2007
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The hard left think tank Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a much trumpeted report Wednesday that said Canadians are being gouged at the gas pumps. Entitled Gas Price Gouge: The Sequel (pdf file here), the report concludes that consumers are being gouged because gas prices are 15c above what they should be. Using historical price analysis, author Hugh Mackenzie determines that gas company profits should never be allowed to increase above the historical.

Early on Mackenzie makes the point that there are “signals to the industry that the price that the market will bear has gone up.” Still on the first page, he concludes, “the precedent was set (after Hurricane Katrina) as the psychological barrier of $1.00 per litre… was broken.” These are both valid and possibly accurate points, but irrelevant to the thesis at hand.

The problem with the report, as others have already noted, is it treats gas company profits as a bad thing. They are, however, neither bad nor good, they are simply part of a market transaction. Gas company’s, as noted in the report, charge what “the market will bear.” The consumer has choices, one of which is to not buy gas. But Mackenzie and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives never acknowledge this report.

The problem in the gas industry isn’t profits, it’s possible collusion. Profits are both legal and moral, as they should be. Gouging, the word used throughout this report, is defined as “pricing above the market,” yet Mackenzie himself acknowledges the market will bear present prices.

The basic thesis, that the profit rates of two years ago are somehow the appropriate profits, rests on the idea that the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives or some other such organization should determine gas prices, not the market as defined by supply and demand.

This report, however, is not a complete throw away. As noted above it’s possible there’s a problem with gas and oil industry: not profit making or price taking, but possible collusion. If this reports numbers are accurate (and Back Off Government questions that), then this report helps provide evidence of that collusion. Collusion, an agreement amongst sellers to act jointly in their common interest, is illegal in Canada, and anti-market behaviour. This is where Mackenzie should have spent his time. Otherwise, all he really proved was that the people running the gas companies are good at their business.

More junk science from the Centre for Policy Alternatives
Road Hammer

Economic Fundamentalism, property rights

David Asper and Private Property Rights

May 1st, 2007
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David Asper has a piece today in the National Post about honouring international law. Entitled Our Hypocrisy on the World Stage, Asper does a nice piece on UN treaties rights ignored by Canada. What set Asper off was a piece in yesterdays post regarding the un-elected Senate’s recent report, Children: The Silenced Citizens.

What interested me was Asper’s part on Private Property Rights:

The granddaddy of them all is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations in 1948. It was followed by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966. Canada has ratified both of these documents…

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for example, confers a right to own property. But property rights are not included in the Canadian Charter of Rights.

I have been on this issue before, back when Paul Martin was blathering on about people who cherry-pick rights”:

If you are talking rights, and things like ‘fundamental human rights’ we need to know what are human rights. Which leads us to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Note, this is from the UN’s Commision on Human Rights and has been in effect for 57 years now. Here’s a little something from the preamble:

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

‘Member States have pledged themselves to achieve…human rights and fundamental freedoms’…

Article 17.

    (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

    (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

… Rights are fundamental and cannot be cherry-picked or they are not. Property rights has been clearly spelled out in international law…

When people like myself, or maybe Gerry Nicholls‘ complain about the Conservatives not acting conservative, here’s what we mean. From the founding principles of the Conservative Party of Canada:

The Conservative Party will be guided in its constitutional framework and its policy basis by the following principles:

… A belief that the best guarantors of the prosperity and well-being of the people of Canada are:

• The freedom of individual Canadians to pursue their enlightened and legitimate self-interest within a competitive economy;

• The freedom of individual Canadians to enjoy the fruits of their labour to the greatest possible extent; and

• The right to own property;

It’s a UN right, it’s a conservative principle and, as Asper points out, it’s our obligation under international law. Further more, we are one of the few jurisdictions in the world that doesn’t guarantee property rights.

Why does nobody ever want to tackle this important issue in this country? Where is Canada’s John Locke?

Gerry Nicholls, human rights, property rights, Stephen Harper, The Media Following My Lead.