October 21, 2007
Taxes are taxes...
Alberta's Royalty Rise May Chill Oil Boom
By: RUSSELL GOLD
October 26, 2007; Page A14
Alberta will increase its royalties from energy companies in the western Canadian province's oil sands, a move that the industry warns could slow development of an increasingly important source of crude.
Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach said he decided to raise the total government take - including all federal and provincial taxes and royalties - from 47% of revenue to between 56% and 66%, depending on the price of oil. He said he wanted to be "reasonable, not greedy" while making sure that energy investment continues but that residents are fairly reimbursed for the public resources.
The change comes as the oil industry is counting on more barrels of Canadian crude to fill up U.S. refineries, and ultimately American gasoline tanks. A little more than 1.1 million barrels of oil a day are produced from the oil sands, about 1.3% of global production. Output had been expected to rise to three million barrels by 2015, and the industry is spending billions of dollars reconfiguring refineries to handle more Canadian crude.
Despite record oil prices, the government's increased share of overall revenue could stall development of the vast oil sands, the industry has argued. "Anytime you have a fluid fiscal regime, it has a chilling effect on investment," said Vince White, vice president of investor relations for Devon Energy Corp.
Shares of several companies with oil-sands exposure fell in after-hours trading.
The industry tried to hold off higher royalties by pointing out that the oil sands already face severe cost inflation and labor shortages and require significant investment in unproven technology. "These are some of the most expensive and complicated projects in the world to execute," said Ron Brenneman, Petro-Canada's president and chief executive officer, in a conference call earlier this month.
A Canadian oil-industry group estimates that a project to produce 100,000 barrels a day will soon cost more than $9 billion to build, more than three times as much as a similarly sized project in 2001.
The new royalties take effect on Jan. 1, 2009.
Officials from companies involved in developing the oil sands said it was too soon to comment on the new royalties, which differed significantly from a panel recommendation last month. But before the announcement, companies had warned they might rethink future investments. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Canada's second-biggest oil and gas producer, threatened to cancel more than seven billion Canadian dollars (US$7.25 billion) in oil-sands development plans.
Alberta isn't alone in its quest for a bigger slice of oil profits and a bigger stake in existing projects. Kazakhstan's government is seeking to grab a larger slice of the giant Kashagan field. Earlier this month, Ecuador, which is trying to become the 13th member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said it would raise the state's take of oil revenue to 99% when prices soared. OPEC member Nigeria this week said it may seek to rewrite contracts executed when oil prices were lower.
Hyun Young Lee contributed to this article. Write to Russell Gold at email@example.com
Copyright 2007 - The Wall Street Journal
The scene is changing...
As Goes Quebec, so Goes Canada: Conservatism in Canada depends upon the changing politics in Quebec.
By: Christopher Sands
Canadians often grumble about the outsized influence of Quebec in national politics. The province doesn’t even make up a quarter of the country’s population anymore, and yet it seems able to determine the limits of what governments in Ottawa can do on everything, from taxes and spending, to Canadian involvement in Afghanistan, and even Canada’s position on global warming. Americans frequently are told that Canada cannot be more helpful on a particular issue, “...because of Quebec.”
The Conservative minority government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper made several direct appeals to Quebec voters in its Throne Speech that officially opened a new session of parliament on Tuesday, October 16. Twenty years ago, in November 1987, Harper spoke to the founding convention of the Reform party of Canada in Winnipeg as one of the many western Canadian conservatives who resented then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s doting attention to Quebec public opinion.
Today, Harper leads a party that is the result of a merger between the Reform party and Mulroney’s Progressive Conservatives, and he, like Mulroney, is paying close attention to Quebec voters. Why? Because there is growing evidence that Quebec is changing in ways that augur well for Harper - and perhaps for conservatism across Canada.
On September 17 three by-elections took place in Quebec to fill vacant seats in the federal Parliament for Outremont, Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, and Roberval-Lac-Saint-Jean. Each of these seats was won by an opposition party in the 2006 election, and so in a sense the Conservatives had nothing to lose in these races; and yet, in an important way, Harper won big.
The New Democratic party candidate defeated the Liberals in Outremont and a Conservative took Roberval-Lac-Saint-Jean from the Bloc Québécois, displacing the main fédéraliste and indépendentiste parties in Quebec who have dominated the province’s federal representation in the 15 years since the last Conservative to serve as Canada’s Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, was in office. Only in Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot did the Bloc Québécois hold its seat, and there the Conservative challenger made a strong showing and raised hopes that in the next election, the seat might change hands.
The outcomes of Monday’s by-elections, added to the results of the April provincial election in Quebec and the January 2006 federal election that brought Harper to power with eight Conservative M.P.s from Quebec, are encouraging signs that Quebec politics may be undergoing a historic shift - one that may change the way that Americans see Canada, and the future politics of U.S.-Canada relations.
A Battle for the Soul of Quebec
The Quebec most Americans have seen since the 1960s has been modern, secular, and French - or French Canadian. But it was not always this way. From the British Conquest in 1763 (achieved with an army recruited from the 13 colonies to the south) until the middle of the 20th century, Quebec was arguably the most conservative part of Canada; socially, economically, and politically. Quebec nationalism was conservative as well, dedicated to preserving the “French fact” across Canada and especially in Quebec.
That started to change with the death of Quebec’s conservative, nationalist premier, Maurice Duplessis in 1959. A young generation of progressives subsequently emerged that hoped to modernize Quebec society - by which they meant, among other things, to loosen the grip of the Catholic Church.
They called it “La Révolution Tranquille” or the “Quiet Revolution”; Quebec’s progressives were successful in peacefully and incrementally replacing the Church with the provincial state.
That success gave way to a split between those modernizers who saw the logical end of their campaign as independence for Quebec (indépendantistes), and those who hope to take the campaign of secular statism to Ottawa, and refashion Canada itself (fédéralistes). As progressives, neither side would join a conservative party. The indépendantistes formed the Parti Québécois in 1968; the fédéralistes mainly joined either the federal or the provincial branch of the Liberal party.
This debate among the self-styled Quiet Revolutionaries was itself a quiet one until a small group of indépendantistes inspired by the anti-colonial movements in Algeria and elsewhere opted for terrorism: the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ) escalated quickly from bombing mailboxes, to kidnapping the provincial Minister of Labor and the British Consul general in Montreal.
Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, a left-wing fédéraliste who joined the Liberals in Ottawa and became prime minister in 1968, responded to the FLQ crisis by declaring martial law in Montreal, and sending in federal troops. The FLQ was crushed, but the moderate indépendantistes regrouped under the banner of the Parti Québécois and won the 1976 provincial election. The new indépendantiste government in Quebec City scheduled a referendum on separation from Canada in 1980 that they lost. Sixty percent of Quebec voters, showing a very conservative suspicion of radical change, chose the status quo, in part because Trudeau promised them reform if they stayed in Canada.
Trudeau launched talks with all ten provinces on revising the British North America Act of 1867, the British legislation that served as Canada’s constitution, and adopting it as Canadian legislation. The result was the 1982 Canadian Constitution which was ratified by the federal parliament and most provincial legislatures - but not Quebec’s, which was still in the hands of the indépendantistes of the Parti Québécois.
A Quebec Conservative in Ottawa
In 1984, Canadians elected a Progressive Conservative federal government led by another Quebecker, Brian Mulroney. Mulroney won the election by linking free market conservatives in the West and conservative nationalists in Quebec - while winning enough Ontario support to hold the two sides together. With strong majorities in parliament behind him, Mulroney embarked on an ambitious program of tax reform (including a national value-added sales tax) and free trade with the United States - both big gambles for a Canadian politician.
Mulroney succeeded on both fronts, guaranteeing himself a place in Canadian history books. But as a conservative who was drawn to support the fédéralistes in the political fight that divided his home province, Mulroney had more difficulty when he tried to amend the constitution to satisfy Quebec concerns. Twice Mulroney tried to fashion a package of amendments that Quebec and the rest of Canada would accept. Trudeau came out of retirement to attack Mulroney’s efforts, known as the Meech Lake Accords and the Charlottetown Accords, and they both went down to defeat.
The collapse of Mulroney’s constitutional reforms caused a conservative crack-up across Canada. Disgruntled western conservative Members of parliament, as angry about the new sales tax as they were about Mulroney’s catering to Quebec, fueled a parliamentary revolt and formed the Reform party, with its MPs sitting in opposition to the government. Then disappointed conservative nationalist MPs from Quebec abandoned the Progressive Conservative caucus as well to form the Bloc Québécois. In 1993, Canadians elected a Liberal government led by one of Trudeau’s loyal allies, Jean Chrétien, as prime minister, and reduced the Progressive Conservative party of Canada from 198 MPs and a majority government to just two seats in parliament.
The split among Canadian conservatives kept Liberal governments in power in Ottawa throughout the 1990s. The Reform party became the largest opposition party, and the Bloc Québécois won a majority of the Quebec seats in the federal parliament. Ontario and Atlantic Canada continued to give modest support to the Progressive Conservatives.
Meanwhile, Quebec voters elected the indépendantistes to govern the province again led by Lucien Bouchard, a former cabinet minister in the federal government under Mulroney. Bouchard called a second referendum on separation in 1995. Prime Minister Chrétien fought to keep Quebec in Canada, as his mentor, Trudeau, once did. Once again, the modernizers of Quebec were joined in battle over the future of the province. The status quo won again this time, but narrowly: 50.4-percent of voters opted to remain in Canada, while 49.6-percent backed Bouchard’s plan for independence.
After the 1995 referendum, the leader of the federal Progressive Conservatives, a Quebecker named Jean Charest who had served in the Mulroney cabinet alongside Bouchard, abandoned Ottawa to lead the provincial Liberals in opposition to the indépendantistes. Bouchard quit politics, and his party was eventually defeated by Charest.
Quebec Premier Charest and the fédéraliste Liberals proved unpopular in their first mandate, and barely hung on for re-election in March of this year. To the surprise of many observers, the largest opposition party in Quebec City was not the indépendentiste Parti Québécois, but a new conservative nationalist party Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ) whose young leader - a generation younger than the modernizers - echoes the positions of Maurice Duplessis, albeit without any desire to restore the Catholic Church to its former prominence.
Harper’s Quebec Strategy
Stephen Harper is Canada’s prime minister today in large part because he was able to successfully reunite the free market conservatives of the old Reform party, with the remnants of Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative Party. Under the banner of the Conservative Party of Canada (having dropped the adjective Progressive from the name), Harper won a narrow victory and formed a minority government with a plurality (but not an outright majority) of seats in the House of Commons in January 2006. In that election, Quebec voters delivered up another surprise that proved decisive: eight new Conservative MPs from Quebec, where the Conservative Party had been virtually shut out since the days of the Mulroney governments in the 1980s.
The Quebec election in March marked a resurgence of conservative nationalism in Quebec; some voted for the ADQ, others voted for Charest’s Liberals, but combined these two parties won 80-percent support for free-market economic programs, conservative social values, and keeping Quebec in Canada. Charest heads the first minority government in Quebec City since 1876, but with ADQ support the rump caucus of the indépendantiste Parti Québécois poses little threat.
Harper, by bringing conservative nationalists in Quebec into the Conservative party of Canada, could heal the split among Canadian conservatives and win the first Conservative majority government since Mulroney’s. And Harper would become the first prime minister from western Canada to win a majority government since John Diefenbaker, who first managed this feat in 1957 - with the help of Maurice Duplessis.
If that happens, Quebeckers and conservatives in Canada will have come full circle. Canada may once again become a majority conservative country, with Quebec and Alberta as conservative bastions in the east and west. This would be good news for the United States, since a conservative Canada will be a more stalwart friend on everything from the War on Terrorism to the future management of North American integration to improve competitiveness while preserving national sovereignty.
The by-elections in Quebec were followed by a Speech from the Throne on October 16 that laid out the Harper government’s plans for the rest of its current mandate. Harper set forth a bold vision, confident that the country may be ready to elect a Conservative majority government.
Americans benefited tremendously from good relations with Canada during the Mulroney years. Today, with the threats of global terrorism and rising economic protectionism looming, many in Washington long for a government in Ottawa that can provide stalwart support in the years, and trials, ahead. Harper has been a good friend to Americans, but his minority position in parliament limits what he can do.
Will Harper improve his position in the next federal election? As goes Quebec, so goes Canada.
Christopher Sands is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
Copyright 2007 - The National Review Online
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Stay the course...
Canada's Cut-and-Run Crowd
By: MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
The vote on a nonbinding resolution to bring the troops home had serious implications for Americans. But it didn't take place on Capitol Hill and it wasn't about Iraq.
This vote, taken last month, was held in Canada's House of Commons. Sponsored by the Liberal Party, the resolution called for the country to pull its soldiers out of Afghanistan in May 2009, when its NATO commitment expires. Though the ayes fell short of victory (134-150), it was only because the hard-left New Democratic Party, which wants the troops out now, refused to support it. Thus despite the loss, the resolution creates a lot of uncertainty about Canada's reliability in the struggle against radical Islam.
Canada is a founding member of NATO and has been the U.S.'s security partner in the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) since 1958. Both NATO and Norad constitute a recognition that solidarity among Western societies plays a key role in the defense of our shared values and way of life.
Thus, when Canadian politicians start agitating to cut and run from the alliance in the middle of a war, it's a worrying development. One also has to ask whether a wavering Canada suggests a more widespread attitude among NATO members. Does the West have the fortitude to go the distance against this determined and lethal enemy?
Our neighbors to the North have been with us in the fight against al Qaeda since the first moments of the 9/11 attacks. On that day the top ranking officer on duty at Norad's command center in Colorado, which scrambled the jets that responded, was a Canadian. Canadian families opened their homes to thousands of stranded air travelers. In the weeks and months that followed there was no doubt about support from Ottawa.
The Liberal Party, led by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, didn't hesitate to commit the nation to the allied response. In 2002 Canada sent 800 troops into the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar and the country also made financial commitments. Between 2001 and 2011, Canada is slated to spend $1.2 billion in development assistance in Afghanistan, making it the single largest recipient of Canadian foreign aid.
Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin took the reins in December 2003 and Canada remained committed. In a Sept. 22, 2005 speech, Defense Minster Bill Graham praised the Canadian military's work in Afghanistan, noting that "this is not the time for Canada or the international community to abandon or even reduce our commitment to a country in which we have invested so much in human and financial resources over the past few years."
Despite all this, by the time Mr. Martin called an election for January 2006, Canadians had to face the fact that years of Liberal rule had gutted the military, and that their country's geopolitical relevance, once on a par with that of Australia, had seriously diminished. Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper won that election in part because he made restoring Canadian pride an issue. As if to seal his commitment to the effort, the new prime minister chose a visit to the troops in Afghanistan as his first trip abroad. "Your work," Mr. Harper told the soldiers, "is about more than just defending Canada's interest. It's also about demonstrating an international leadership role for our country. Not carping from the sidelines but taking a stand on the big issues that matter. You can't lead from the bleachers." Mr. Harper also led and won a vote, despite his party's minority status, to extend Canada's commitment in Afghanistan by two years, out to May 2009.
There are now 2,500 Canadian troops in Afghanistan and they are doing some of the heaviest lifting. Unlike many other NATO partners, which limit their troops' participation to the more pacified north, Canadian soldiers are fighting in the south alongside U.S., British and Afghan units. Last year Canada took command of NATO operations around Kandahar. Violence escalated again this spring as allied forces launched another offensive against the Taliban. This has coincided with an increase in Canadian casualties. Fifty-four Canadian soldiers have been killed since 2002 and nine of those died in a 10-day period in April, commencing on Easter Sunday.
We are now into the sixth year of this war and polls suggest the public is growing tired of it. Public weariness is not surprising, particularly since the enemy is tied up in the heroin trade and is empowered by civilians who make their living off the poppy crop and by robust demand in Europe. Just ask the Colombians how hard it is to fight the organized crime networks that traffic in prohibited - and therefore high-value - substances.
Slow progress is not the only thing working against public confidence. Recent charges that Afghan police abused detainees who were turned over to them by the Canadian military have also played a role and the left is having a field day, as if Canada has its very own "Abu Ghraib." The opposition senses a weakened Mr. Harper, and this explains why it is now attacking the very policy it designed - despite the fact that holding up Canada's NATO commitments and helping secure and build an Afghan democracy were once noble Liberal goals.
The opportunity to make Afghanistan Mr. Harper's Iraq must be tempting to the Liberals. But by following this line of thinking, the party is playing right into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists, who are eager not only to destroy Afghan democracy but more to the point, Canada's.
In his speech in Afghanistan, Mr. Harper reminded the troops that two dozen Canadians lost their lives in the World Trade Center. "Since that time, al Qaeda has singled out Canada as one of the countries targeted for terror," he warned.
Since then it also has become clear that wealthy Saudis are trying to sow radicalism among Canada's significant Muslim population by promoting fundamentalist teaching in local mosques. There has also been an attempt to assert Shariah law in Canada, and at least one significant terror plot has been broken up. None of this is unrelated to what's going on in Afghanistan, and withdrawing from the fight would not reduce the risks to Canada. On the contrary, a Canadian surrender in Afghanistan would be a victory for terrorists and would energize jihad recruitment in Canada. It's easy to see why ambitious Liberals are willing to play the antiwar card so as to return to power. It's harder to understand why the Canadian public would go along with it.
Write to: O'Grady@wsj.com.
Copyright 2007 - The Wall Street Journal
By: DAVID KELLEY
October 10, 2007; Page A21
Fifty years ago today Ayn Rand published her magnum opus, "Atlas Shrugged." It's an enduringly popular novel - all 1,168 pages of it - with some 150,000 new copies still sold each year in bookstores alone. And it's always had a special appeal for people in business. The reasons, at least on the surface, are obvious enough.
Businessmen are favorite villains in popular media, routinely featured as polluters, crooks and murderers in network TV dramas and first-run movies, not to mention novels. Oil company CEOs are hauled before congressional committees whenever fuel prices rise, to be harangued and publicly shamed for the sin of high profits. Genuine cases of wrongdoing like Enron set off witch hunts that drag in prominent achievers like Frank Quattrone and Martha Stewart.
By contrast, the heroes in "Atlas Shrugged" are businessmen - and women. Rand imbues them with heroic, larger-than-life stature in the Romantic mold, for their courage, integrity and ability to create wealth. They are not the exploiters but the exploited: victims of parasites and predators who want to wrap the producers in regulatory chains and expropriate their wealth.
Rand's perspective is a welcome relief to people who more often see themselves portrayed as the bad guys, and so it is no wonder it has such enthusiastic fans in the upper echelons of business as Ed Snider (Comcast Spectacor, Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers), Fred Smith (Federal Express), John Mackey (Whole Foods), John A. Allison (BB&T), and Kevin O'Connor (DoubleClick) - not to mention thousands of others who pursue careers at every level in the private sector.
Yet the deeper reasons why the novel has proved so enduringly popular have to do with Rand's moral defense of business and capitalism. Rejecting the centuries-old, and still conventional, piety that production and trade are just "materialistic," she eloquently portrayed the spiritual heart of wealth creation through the lives of the characters now well known to many millions of readers.
Hank Rearden, the innovator resented and opposed by the others in his field, has not created a new type of music, like Mozart; rather he struggled for 10 years to perfect a revolutionary metal alloy that he hoped would make him a great deal of money. Dagny Taggart is a gifted and courageous woman who leads a campaign - not to defend France from England on the battlefield, like Joan of Arc - but to manage a transcontinental railroad and, against impossible odds, to build a new branch line critical for the survival of her corporation. Francisco d'Anconia, the enormously talented heir to an international copper company, poses as an idle, worthless playboy to cover up his secret operations - not to rescue people from the French Revolution, like the Scarlet Pimpernel - but to rescue industrialists from exploitation by ruthless Washington kleptocrats.
Economists have known for a long time that profits are an external measure of the value created by business enterprise. Rand portrayed the process of creating value from the inside, in the heroes' vision and courage, their rational exuberance in meeting the challenges of production. Her point was stated by one of the minor characters of "Atlas," a musical composer: "Whether it's a symphony or a coal mine, all work is an act of creating and comes from the same source: from an inviolate capacity to see through one's own eyes... That shining vision which they talk about as belonging to the authors of symphonies and novels - what do they think is the driving faculty of men who discovered how to use oil, how to run a mine, how to build an electric motor?"
As for the charge, from egalitarian left and religious right alike, that the profit motive is selfish, Rand agreed. She was notorious as the advocate of "the virtue of selfishness," as she titled a later work. Her moral defense of the pursuit of self-interest, and her critique of self-sacrifice as a moral standard, is at the heart of the novel. At the same time, she provides a scathing portrait of what she calls "the aristocracy of pull:" businessmen who scheme, lie and bribe to win favors from government.
Economists have also known for a long time that trade is a positive sum game, yet most defenders of capitalism still wrestle with the "paradox" posed in the 18th century by Adam Ferguson and Adam Smith: how private vice can produce public good, how the pursuit of self-interest yields benefits for all. Rand cut that Gordian knot in the novel by denying that the pursuit of self-interest is a vice. Precisely because trade is not a zero-sum game, Rand challenges the age-old moral view that one must be either a giver or a taker.
The central action of "Atlas" is the strike of the producers, their withdrawal from a society that depends on them to sustain itself and yet denounces them as morally inferior. Very well, says their leader, John Galt, we will not burden you further with what you see as our immoral and exploitative actions. The strike is of course a literary device; Rand herself described it as "a fantastic premise." But it has a real and vital implication.
While it is true enough that free production and exchange serve "the public interest" (if that phrase has any real meaning), Rand argues that capitalism cannot be defended primarily on that ground. Capitalism is inherently a system of individualism, a system that regards every individual as an end in himself. That includes the right to live for himself, a right that does not depend on benefits to others, not even the mutual benefits that occur in trade.
This is the lesson that most people in business have yet to learn from "Atlas," no matter how much they may love its portrayal of the passion and the glory possible in business enterprise. At a crucial point in the novel, the industrialist Hank Rearden is on trial for violating an arbitrary economic regulation. Instead of apologizing for his pursuit of profit or seeking mercy on the basis of philanthropy, he says, "I work for nothing but my own profit - which I make by selling a product they need to men who are willing and able to buy it. I do not produce it for their benefit at the expense of mine, and they do not buy it for my benefit at the expense of theirs; I do not sacrifice my interests to them nor do they sacrifice theirs to me; we deal as equals by mutual consent to mutual advantage - and I am proud of every penny that I have earned in this manner..."
We will know the lesson of "Atlas Shrugged" has been learned when business people, facing accusers in Congress or the media, stand up like Rearden for their right to produce and trade freely, when they take pride in their profits and stop apologizing for creating wealth.
Mr. Kelley, author of "A Life of One's Own: Individual Rights and the Welfare State" (Cato Institute, 1998), is the founder of The Atlas Society.
Copyright 2007 - The Wall Street Journal
Sad truth for "higher" education...
Coded on Campus: Ivory-tower decay.
By: Michael Barone
I am old enough to remember when America’s colleges and universities seemed to be the most open-minded and intellectually rigorous institutions in our society. Today, something very much like the opposite is true: America’s colleges and universities have become, and have been for some decades, the most closed-minded and intellectually dishonest institutions in our society.
Colleges and universities today almost universally have speech codes, which prohibit speech deemed hurtful by others, particularly those who are deemed to be minorities (including women, who are a majority on most campuses these days).
They are enforced unequally, so that no one gets punished when students take copies of conservative alternative campus newspapers left for free distribution and dump them in the trash. But should a conservative student call some female students “water buffaloes,” he is sentenced to take sensitivity training - the campus version of communist reeducation camps. The message comes through loud and clear. Some kinds of speech are protected, while others are punished.
Where did speech codes come from? There certainly weren’t many when I was in college or law school. So far as I can tell, they originated after college and university administrators began using racial quotas and preferences to admit students - starting with blacks, now including Hispanics and perhaps others - who did not meet ordinary standards. They were instituted, it seems, to prevent those students from feeling insulted and to free administrators from criticism for preferential treatment - treatment that arguably violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (although Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the swing vote in the 2003 Supreme Court case on the subject, said they could continue another 25 years).
Racial quotas and preferences continue to be employed, as a recent article on UCLA makes clear, in spite of state laws forbidding them, and university administrators seem to derive much of their psychic income from their supposed generosity in employing them. This, even though evidence compiled by UCLA Professor Richard Sander suggests they produce worse educational outcomes for their intended beneficiaries and even though Justice Clarence Thomas makes a persuasive case in his book My Grandfather’s Son that they cast a stigma of inferiority on them.
Of course, college and university administrators insist they aren’t actually using quotas when in fact they are, as O’Connor’s decisive opinion in 2003 invited them to do. The result is that one indispensable requirement for being a college or university administrator is intellectual dishonesty. You have to be willing to lie about what you consider one of your most important duties. So much for open inquiry and intellectual rigor.
This is not the only way the colleges and universities fall far short of what were once their standards. Sometime in the 1960s, they abandoned their role as advocates of American values - critical advocates who tried to advance freedom and equality further than Americans had yet succeeded in doing - and took on the role of adversaries of society.
The students who were exempted from serving their country during the Vietnam War condemned not themselves but their country, and many sought tenured positions in academe to undermine what they considered a militaristic, imperialist, racist, exploitative, sexist, homophobic - the list of complaints grew as the years went on - country.
English departments have been packed by deconstructionists who insist that Shakespeare is no better than rap music, and history departments with multiculturalists who insist that all societies are morally equal except our own, which is morally inferior.
Economics departments and the hard sciences have mostly resisted such deterioration. But when Lawrence Summers, first-class economist and president of Harvard, suggested that more men than women may have the capacity to be first-rate scientists - which is what the hard data showed - then, off with his head.
This regnant campus culture helps to explain why Columbia University, which bars ROTC from campus on the ground that the military bars open homosexuals from service, welcomed Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose government publicly executes homosexuals. It explains why Hofstra’s law school invites to speak on legal ethics Lynn Stewart, a lawyer convicted of aiding and abetting a terrorist client and sentenced to 28 months in jail.
What it doesn’t explain is why the rest of society is willing to support such institutions by paying huge tuitions, providing tax exemptions and making generous gifts. Suppression of campus speech has been admirably documented by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The promotion of bogus scholarship and idea-free propagandizing has been admirably documented by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. It’s too bad the rest of America is not paying more attention.
© 2007 - CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.
Censorship on campus...
Most student representatives tend to be leftist morons and resume padders. Most universities and university departments seem set up to feed this bullshit and mediocrity and provide lucrative employment for people who wouldn't normally last ten minutes in the productive sectors of the economy. It really says something that virtually none of the student reps were willing to stand for free speech and that the administrators didn't condemn the decision as a travesty.
Friday, September 28, 2007
PRESS RELEASE: The Death of Free Speech at Memorial University of Newfoundland - MUN Students' Union disallows pro-life group
On Wednesday, September 26, the Memorial University of Newfoundland Students' Union Board of Directors (MUNSU) met for its regularly scheduled meeting. One of the highlights of the agenda was the proposal to ratify, or give official club status to, Memorial University of Newfoundland Students for Life (MUN for LIFE). When it came to this point the meeting, everyone was hesitant to speak. The chair asked for a motion to approve and one was not tabled. A motion to deny was put forth and the flood gates holding back the conversation opened wide. Every speaker, except for one, identified themselves as pro-choice and echoed the comments of the previous speakers. The motion to deny ratification passed nearly unanimous. MUSNU signaled the death of free speech on a university campus.
The dominate arguments brought by MUNSU personalities to deny MUN for LIFE their rights were 1) MUNSU is a local of the pro-choice Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) 2) MUNSU could not ratify a group in opposition to its beliefs.
If MUNSU only ratifies groups that it agrees with, why is it that an assortment groups with competing ideologies are listed on their website. For example, there are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Pagan groups. There are Progressive Conservative, Liberal, and New Democratic groups. Surely, MUNSU can not agree with every one of these groups. If MUNSU can grant ratification to these groups, it should be able to allow MUN for LIFE its democratic and university rights to free speech.
If CFS is an obstacle, why it is that a number of other CFS locals have pro-life groups? A small example of these would be the Universities of British Columbia, Toronto, Dalhousie, Carleton, and Saskatchewan. Once again, MUNSU is grasping at straws for excuses to silence the voice of the pro-life movement. MUN for LIFE members have paid CFS and MUNSU union dues and must now be granted their rights to free speech and association.
In November 2006 the Carleton University Students' Association passed a motion to silence pro-life student groups on their campus. As a result, Carleton Lifeline's ratification was placed in jeopardy. A heated debate, which attracted national media coverage, ended in Carleton Lifeline's membership increasing and work continuing.
Patrick Hanlon, the President of MUN for LIFE, is encouraging his fellow union members and all concerned individuals, regardless of their position on life issues, to demand MUNSU to immediately reverse the decision made at the September 26 meeting. If this decision is not reversed, a dangerous precedent is set in place for MUNSU, and other Student Unions in Canada, which would allow the silencing of any other group that a union wishes not to have democratic and university rights.
MUN for LIFE President
To respectfully contact the MUNSU executive and voice your opposition to the decision:
- James Farrell, External Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bradley Russell, Student Life Director, email@example.com
- Stella Magalios, Campaigns Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Stephanie Power, Advocacy Director, email@example.com
- Nick Eisnor, Finance Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 709-737-7633
- Fax: 709-737-4743
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Some rants on Climate Change fear-mongering...
Money wasted on Kyoto bullshit should go to initiatives, like planting more trees in urban and suburban areas, making some of the beaches along the Great Lakes swimable again, and repopulating fish in lakes, streams, rivers and oceans.
But that's the problem with getting people to understand science. Virtually no one in the press or the public really understands the idea of "climate change," they just assume that the conclusion drawn is infallible when anyone who looks at it with any seriousness will understand that it is a theory, and that climate statistics can be distorted to demonstrate practically anything.
The theory also conveniently ignores things like the fact that the earth was warmer in the year 1000 AD than it is now, that much of the melting ice on Greenland is only a few hundred years old, that the temperature has been going down since 1998 and is at the same level as the "dustbowl" years of the 1930's, etc. The politicians don't understand, or really care to understand the issue. They've latched on to it because it is a perfect issue for them, no one really understands climate change, or has any reliable way of measuring it, politicians can threaten all kinds of horrors while boasting that insignificant initiatives have made enormous progress.
If we focused on problems like smog and water pollution that are visible and progress could actually be measured, politicians would have a great deal of difficulty, because failures would be apparent to everyone and once they are finally solved, the problems wouldn't continue to serve as bottomless pits for government cash and interference.
Michael Moore is a Sicko...
The Michael Moore Challenge
By: JOHN STOSSEL
September 14, 2007
Cuba has great socialized medicine - much better than the half-socialized system America has, according to Michael Moore and his documentary "Sicko."
"They believe in preventative medicine," Mr. Moore says in his movie. "And it seems like there's a doctor on every block."
To prove his point, Mr. Moore took some sick 9/11 rescue workers to Cuba. The group, with a camera crew tagging along, was treated at a showcase Havana hospital.
"I asked them to give us the same exact care they give their fellow Cuban citizens. No more, no less. And that's what they did," Mr. Moore insists in the movie.
I asked him if he really believes that.
"Oh, I know that's what they did," he told me. "One of the 9/11 rescue workers sneaks out of her hospital room, goes downstairs, and pretends to be sick. She said the same exact process took place." I suggested that was because Cuban authorities send tourists and dignitaries to special clinics.
"They didn't send us there. We went to a number of clinics," he said.
It's an average hospital?
"Yes, they have a clinic in every neighborhood in Cuba. This isn't just me saying this, you know. All the world health organizations have confirmed that if there's one thing they do right in Cuba, it's health care. There's very little debate about that."
Oh, there's plenty of debate.
Cuban-born Dr. Jose Carro, who interviews Cuban doctors who have moved to America, says Mr. Moore's movie lies.
Dr. Darsi Ferrer, a human-rights advocate in Cuba, told us that Americans should not believe the claims being made. He describes the Cuban people as "crazy with desperation" because of poor-quality care.
George Utset, who writes the Real Cuba Web site (therealcuba.com), says Mr. Moore and his group were ushered to the upper floors of the hospital, to rooms reserved for the privileged. "They don't go to the hospital for regular Cubans. They go to hospital for the elite. And it's a very different condition," Mr. Utset says.
For ordinary Cubans, health care is different. A YouTube video (http://tinyurl.com/3c4pzg) posted by a woman from Venezuela purports to show the two forms of health care, one for the privileged who pay in dollars and a far inferior one for regular Cubans.
Mr. Moore claims Cubans live longer than Americans. It's true that a U.N. report claims that. But the United Nations didn't gather any data. "The United Nations simply reports whatever the government in Cuba reports, so we have no objective way to know what the real statistics are," Dr. Carro says.
Exactly. Communist countries are famous for hiding the truth. Twenty years ago, when I reported from the Soviet Union, officials insisted there were no poor people in Russia, but they refused to let me look for myself.
Why would we believe the Cuban government's health statistics?
Cuba claims it has low infant mortality, but doctors tell us that Cuban obstetricians abort a fetus when they think there might be a problem. Dr. Julio Alfonso told us he used to do 70-80 abortions a day. And here's an even more devious way of distorting infant-mortality data: Some doctors tell us that if a baby dies within a few hours of birth, Cuban doctors don't count him or her as ever having lived.
Mr. Moore told me: "All the independent health organizations in the world, and even our own CIA, believe that the Cubans have a pretty good health system. And they do, in fact, live longer than we do."
But the CIA does not claim that Cubans live longer than Americans. In fact, the CIA says Americans live longer.
When I pressed Mr. Moore, he backed away from the claims his movie makes about Cuba. "Let's stick to Canada and Britain," he said, "because I think these are legitimate arguments that are made against the film and against the so-called idea of socialized medicine. And I think you should challenge me on these things, and I'll give you my answer."
Next week in this column, and this Friday on "20/20," I'll take him up on that challenge.
Mr. Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20" and the author of "Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel - Why Everything You Know Is Wrong," which is now out in paperback.
Copyright 2007 - The New York Sun