August 01, 2008
Humour Break: Lookin' forward to it!
The UN: Inaction in Action....
The U.N. and Comrade Bob
July 14, 2008; Page A16
As with Darfur and Burma, the depredations of Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe have become a target of the world's moral outrage. Also like those two countries, the chances of anyone doing something about Zimbabwe are falling into the diplomatic abyss that is the United Nations.
The Bush Administration has been prodding the Security Council to impose an arms embargo and pass financial and travel sanctions that would pressure the Mugabe regime to sponsor honest elections and stop killing democratic opponents. The U.S. persuaded Burkina Faso, currently an African representative on the Council, to sign on.
But at the moment of truth on Friday, Russia and China vetoed the sanctions on grounds that they amounted to interference in Zimbabwe's internal affairs. Libya and Vietnam joined Russia and China, no doubt as fellow dictatorships that don't want outside attention on their domestic practices. And in a display of bizarre solidarity with Mr. Mugabe, South Africa also voted against the sanctions. (South Africa has long ago forfeited whatever moral authority it had on world affairs from the Nelson Mandela era.)
As in Darfur and Burma, the pattern is the same: The world's media report on a marauding regime terrorizing its neighbors or its own people. The world's foreign policy elite express their dismay, with liberal internationalists and European nations urging President Bush to "show some leadership" and "do something" through the U.N. The Bush Administration does precisely that. Yet in the event, China and Russia veto and nothing happens.
In essence, the U.N. has become a dictator protection racket. Intervention by any country outside U.N. auspices is deemed to be illegitimate, as with the "coalition of the willing" in Iraq. But when a security problem is brought before the Security Council, that committee of the unwilling inevitably fails to act. The exceptions are when Russia, China or Europe wants to use the U.N. as a tool to limit unilateral action by Israel or the U.S.
Barack Obama has been campaigning on the virtues of the U.N. and its collective diplomacy, but we haven't seen any comment from his campaign on this latest U.N. failure. Not that it would matter much if he did say anything. Mr. Mugabe knows that the only action with any chance of challenging his rule in Harare would be a U.S.-led intervention, and Mr. Obama has said he really dislikes that sort of thing.
So the people of Zimbabwe are left to the brutal mercy of Comrade Bob. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband called Russia's veto "incomprehensible" - which only shows that he hasn't been paying attention. At the U.N., it's business as usual.
Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal
Shut up Suzuki!
Kyoto's Long Goodbye
July 11, 2008; Page A14
One of the mysteries of the universe is why President Bush bothers to charge the fixed bayonets of the global warming theocracy. On the other hand, his Administration's supposed "cowboy diplomacy" is succeeding in changing the way the world addresses climate change. Which is to say, he has forced the world to pay at least some attention to reality.
That was the larger meaning of the Group of Eight summit in Japan this week, even if it didn't make the papers. The headline was that the nations pledged to cut global greenhouse emissions by half by 2050. Yet for the first time, the G-8 also agreed that any meaningful climate program would have to involve industrializing nations like China and India. For the first time, too, the G-8 agreed that real progress will depend on technological advancements. And it agreed that the putative benefits had to justify any brakes on economic growth.
In other words, the G-8 signed on to what has been the White House approach since 2002. The U.S. has relied on the arc of domestic energy programs now in place, like fuel-economy standards and efficiency regulations, along with billions in subsidies for low-carbon technology. Europe threw in with the central planning of the Kyoto Protocol - and the contrast is instructive. Between 2000 and 2006, U.S. net greenhouse gas emissions fell 3%. Of the 17 largest world-wide emitters, only France reduced by more.
So despite environmentalist sanctimony about the urgent need for President Bush and the U.S. to "take the lead" on global warming, his program has done better than most everybody else's. That won't make the evening news. But the fact is that the new G-8 document is best understood as a second look at the "leadership" of... you know who.
The G-8 also tends to make grand promises that evaporate as soon as everyone goes home. This year, picking up the "accountability" theme pressed by the U.S., envoys grudgingly accepted a plan that will track - and publicize - how well countries are living up to their word. So when the G-8 endorsed greenhouse reduction "aspirations" that are "ambitious, realistic and achievable," the emphasis fell on the last two attributes.
Put another way, global warming is an economic, not a theological, question. It is not at all clear that huge expenditures today on slowing emissions will yield long-run benefits or even slow emissions. Research and development into sources of low-carbon energy is almost certainly more useful, and the G-8 pledged more funding for "clean tech" programs. This is vastly preferable to whatever reorganization of the American economy that Barack Obama and John McCain currently favor in the name of solving this speculative problem.
The G-8 also conceded that global-warming masochism is futile and painfully expensive. If every rich country drastically cut CO2, those cuts would be wiped out by emissions from China and India. "Carbon leakage" is a major problem too, where cutbacks in some countries lead to increases in others with less strict policies, as manufacturing and the like are outsourced. This whack-a-mole won't stop without including all 17 major economies, which together produce roughly 80% of global emissions.
Much to the ire of Kyotophiles, Mr. Bush started this rethinking last year when he created a parallel track for talks on a post-2012 U.N. program, luring China and India to the table with more practical options. But developing countries, led by that duo, still refused to sign on to the G-8's 2050 goal. They aren't eager to endanger their growth - and lifting people out of poverty - by acquiring the West's climate neuroses.
The irony is that Kyoto has handed them every reason not to participate. Europe knew all along that it couldn't meet its quotas, so it created an out in "offsets." A British factory, say, buys a credit to pay for basic efficiency improvements in a Chinese coal plant, like installing smokestack scrubbers. This is a tax on the Brits to make Chinese industries more competitive. Sweet deal if you can get it.
It gets worse. The offsets are routed through a U.N. bureaucracy that makes them far more valuable in Europe than the cost of the actual efficiency improvements. So far, Kyoto-world has paid more than €4.7 billion to eliminate an obscure greenhouse gas called HFC-23; the necessary incinerators cost less than €100 million. Most of the difference in such schemes goes to the foreign government, such as China's communist regime.
Given these perverse incentives, the magical realism of Kyoto has backfired in a big way. The global warming elite will never admit this, because that would mean giving up their political whip against George Bush. But Kyoto II is already collapsing under its own contradictions. By sticking to a more realistic alternative, this reviled President has handed his green opponents a way to save face.
Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal
No longer a hippie haven....
AWOL in Canada
July 11, 2008; Page A14
If you want to desert from the U.S. military, you will soon have to find a different refuge than Canada. Ottawa's government has decided to send American deserters back to the U.S. for possible court martial and dishonorable discharge, and Americans should be grateful.
The issue has come to a head over the agitation of Corey Glass, a 25-year-old sergeant in the California National Guard. He's lived in Canada since 2006 after serving in Iraq, and he was facing deportation after failing to leave Canada. Activists and veterans gathered Wednesday at 14 Canadian consulates in the U.S. to protest Canada's decision to deport him, though in the end he was granted a stay of deportation pending a court hearing. ABC News has since reported that Mr. Glass was discharged after he went AWOL in 2006, and is not now considered to be a deserter. But in any case he clearly doesn't want to return to his native land.
The Pentagon defines a deserter as a member of the Armed Forces who has been away without leave for 30 consecutive days or more, or has sought asylum in a foreign country. Since 2003, there have been 15,718 Army soldiers, 4,957 Marines, 9,037 Navy sailors and 177 Air Force personnel reported as active duty deserters. The number living in Canada is unknown, but earlier this year the New York Times cited the War Resisters Support Campaign estimate of more than 200.
Canada was a popular refuge for deserters during Vietnam, and last month the House of Commons voted 137-110 to allow "conscientious objectors... to apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada." So give Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government credit for ignoring that nonbinding display of anti-Bush Administration sentiment and starting to deport American deserters as early as this month.
Vietnam-era draft dodgers were breaking the law, but at least they could claim to be avoiding conscription. Today's U.S. soldiers and reserves are volunteers, who enlist knowing full well that they could be sent overseas and into combat. Military recruiters don't hide this detail. In return for their service, volunteers often get substantial education and other benefits. Fulfilling their service tour is part of the deal.
War is hell, and no doubt some of these deserters are responding to the trauma of their experience. But a military can't succeed in its mission if soldiers can decide on their own when and whether to obey orders. The Army officially describes desertion or going AWOL as "crimes that not only affect the soldier, but in a time of war, put other soldiers' lives at risk. Not only do these crimes go against Army values, they degrade unit readiness." This is why, in previous eras, deserters were simply shot.
The Harper government's decision to send the Yanks home shows respect for the U.S. military and our rule of law. It also honors those Canadians who are serving, and dying, as part of the NATO force in Afghanistan. American deserters need to return and face their responsibilities.
Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal
Maybe a lesson will be learned from all of this....
Writer was poking his finger in the eyes of Muslims with Maclean's piece
By: Ian Mulgrew - Wednesday, July 2, 2008
The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal should pay attention to the decision by its national counterpart to reject a complaint about Maclean's magazine and initiate a study of the hate-speech section of its enabling legislation.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission rightly concluded that writer Mark Steyn was poking his finger in the eyes of Muslims with the October 2006 piece published in the Toronto-based magazine.
It was "obviously calculated to excite and even offend certain readers," the commission acknowledged, but that didn't make it "hate speech."
Maclean's rejoiced, saying the Steyn article was a "worthy piece of commentary on important geopolitical issues, entirely within the bounds of normal journalistic practice."
That's a bit rich. Still, I defy anyone to read the piece - "The Future Belongs to Islam," an excerpt from the right-wing pundit's book, America Alone - and conclude it's anything more than an acerbic diatribe.
In Ontario, the human rights commission refused to hear this complaint as well, but in that case, the agency also sneered at Steyn's work. (His just desserts, I say; that's what free speech is all about.) But at least the Ontario tribunal made the right call.
The Canadian Islamic Congress alleged Steyn's article discriminated and spread hatred against Muslims.
Faisal Joseph, its lawyer, says the congress was disappointed by the Canadian commission's decision, given "the compelling evidence of hate and expert testimony" presented at the B.C. tribunal hearing in Vancouver.
What a crock. The evidence presented at the expensive quasi-judicial exercise here was anything but compelling. It was tough even for the congress to find anyone to come forward to explain how he or she was hurt by the Steyn piece.
In my opinion, the congress has been hiding behind human rights rhetoric to hurl a criminal accusation against Steyn that, if true, should have been before the court, not some quasi-judicial administrative tribunal.
But leaving that aside, its complaint exposed a flaw in the federal and B.C. human rights legislation that appears to allow this kind of attack on free speech.
The federal agency, in response, has initiated a policy review of the hate-speech section of its governing law with a view to swiftly recommending its amendment.
Leading constitutional law expert Richard Moon of the University of Windsor will provide a report as part of that process. He wrote the seminal book, The Constitutional Protection of Freedom of Expression.
He will conduct legal and policy research and analysis, recommending the most appropriate mechanisms for addressing hate messages on the Internet, with specific emphasis on Sec. 13 of the Canadian act and the role of the commission.
His work will include a review of existing statutory and regulatory mechanisms, an examination of the mandates of human rights commissions and tribunals, and a consideration of Canada's international human rights obligations.
Such a study is long overdue. Most of the legislation we're talking about was crafted before the Internet and was aimed at curbing things like offensive telephone messages.
Laws must evolve to meet the changing times and this is one of those situations where the human rights legislation needs to be tweaked.
For some reason, B.C.'s human rights commission doesn't appear to understand any of that.
The national agency realized there was "no reasonable basis in the evidence to warrant the appointment of a tribunal" to listen to the complaint against Maclean's. British Columbia's tribunal went ahead anyway and was globally ridiculed. Worse, we're still waiting for a ruling.
Word is it could take the three panelists months to decide whether Steyn's a witty, annoying polemicist or a racist - and probably much, much longer for the agency to realize no human rights tribunal or commission should be policing editorial decisions of the nation's media.
At least Moon will have his report done by the fall.
Copyright 2008 - The Vancouver Sun
A lesson for our own "Brain Drain"
Monsieur Obama's Tax Rates
July 1, 2008; Page A16
And speaking of tax rates (see here), celebrity chef Alain Ducasse changed his citizenship this month from high-tax France to no-income-tax Monaco. He says it wasn't a financial decision but an "affair of the heart." Of course. Nonetheless, plenty of other Frenchmen have moved abroad to escape their country's confiscatory taxes.
Americans should be so lucky: Ours is the only industrialized country that taxes its citizens even if they live overseas. That hasn't been a big problem as long as U.S. tax rates have been relatively low. But with Barack Obama promising to raise rates to French-like levels, this taxman-cometh policy could turn Americans into the world's foremost fiscal prisoners.
And make no mistake, taxes under a President Obama would be à la française. The top marginal tax rate on income – including federal, state and local income and payroll levies – could reach 60% for many self-employed New Yorkers and Californians. Not even France's taxes are that high now that President Nicolas Sarkozy has capped the total that high-earning Frenchmen like Mr. Ducasse can pay in income, social and wealth taxes at 50% of earnings.
Mr. Sarkozy set this "fiscal shield" because he knows that tax rates affect behavior. When he visited London this year, he observed that the British capital is now home to so many French bankers and other professionals seeking tax relief that it's the seventh-largest French city. Those expatriates choose not to use their creativity and investment capital to benefit France and its economy.
Senator Obama's plans to raise income, Social Security and capital-gains taxes amount to a belief that people don't react to punitive tax rates. If so, he needn't worry about people leaving the country and could let them pay taxes in whichever part of the globe they choose to live in. Once Americans are paying French-style tax rates, they ought to have the same freedom to move as Alain Ducasse.
Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal
Sigh, sadly true....
EDITORIAL: Obama's America is Canada
Sunday, June 29, 2008
What kind of "change" does Barack Obama want? He seeks to transform America into Canada. Mr. Obama is not proposing "new politics," but is a champion of the well-known, already enacted policies in the Great White North. His proposals are more reflective of Canadian values than American national ideals.
For example, Mr. Obama's economic plan consists of attempting to redress the disparities of wealth in the United States. He also wants to help the middle class, whom he states has been "squeezed" in the last decade. He rails against overpaid CEOs and an economy that is "out of balance." He will therefore impose higher taxes on those who make more than $250,000 per year, he will increase the capital-gains tax, he will cut taxes for the middle class and ensure that low-income seniors pay no tax. In other words, he will make America a more temperate nation - one in which the lows for those who do not succeed on their merits are not so low, and the highs for those who soar, are not so high. Mr. Obama's policies will result in stifling initiative and rendering America less meritocratic. This economic plan will have detrimental long-term effects, as has occurred in Canada. Canada suffers from a large "brain drain." Every year, many of the most talented, dynamic and enterprising individuals flock to America in order to escape the stagnation and limitations imposed on them by their government.
Mr. Obama is also proposing a host of government programs. He is suggesting increased spending for health insurance, homeowners who might default on their mortgage, the nation's infrastructure, and college tuition in exchange for public service, among others. As a result, he will render America less the land of the brave and the home of the free - and more the land of those who depend on the state. In Canada, government intervention and regulation is rife. This has led to large and unaccountable bureaucracies - and crippling taxation. The Fraser Institute conducted a study in 2001 that demonstrated that the total tax bill of the average Canadian family increased by 1,351 percent since 1961. The report revealed that in 2000, for example, the average Canadian family paid 47.5 percent of their income in federal, provincial and municipal direct and hidden taxes: "The tax bill accounted for more of the average Canadian's budget than shelter, food and clothing combined."
Mr. Obama wants the U.S. government to make health care affordable for every American. He says he opposes mandates, but he nonetheless favors universal health care. Canadians have universal health care; their system is inefficient. The wealthiest Canadians travel to the United States for medical care to avoid long waiting periods for tests and operations. In 2005, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that patients must be allowed the possibility of receiving alternative health care if they are forced to wait so long that they are in fact denied treatment: Hence, a private parallel health care system is now emerging.
Despite Mr. Obama's Christian discourse, his social policies also resemble Canada's liberal policies. He is ardently pro-choice: He even voted against banning partial-birth abortion. Mr. Obama also supports same-sex unions (but not gay marriage, which he says must be decided by each religious denomination). In Canada, both abortion and same-sex marriage are legal. In Quebec, Canada's most liberal province, traditional marriage has been eroded to the point that 65 percent of couples do not marry but simply live together - that is, until it is no longer convenient. Is this the direction America should be heading toward?
Mr. Obama is calling for a multilateral foreign policy and greater respect for international law. He wants to "talk" with America's enemies and he seeks to curtail much of the anti-American sentiment around the world. His suggestions resemble Canadian foreign policy. Canada is a staunch U.S. ally. Canadians are mostly proud of their role as "peacekeepers" in troubled areas. However, Canada is not a superpower. Also, Canadian "peacekeeping" is possible mostly within a larger context in which America bears the brunt of keeping North America safe and free. Canadians can be "doves" because they are protected by American "hawks."
In summary, when pondering Mr. Obama's proposals, voters should examine the Canadian record. Canada is on the whole a gentler, softer and more liberal nation - but there is also less freedom, opportunity, prosperity, competition and dynamism. Canada is well-loved by other nations - but the country has little diplomatic or military clout.
During the 2004 presidential campaign, the Democratic candidate, Sen. John Kerry, was dubbed a "Massachusetts liberal" and was compared to a foreign leader: "He will be an ideal president - of France," mocked his critics. Mr. Kerry lost the election. In a similar manner, Mr. Obama, too, is a great leader - of Canada. But Americans have repeatedly demonstrated that they prefer individualism and freedom rather than the failing Canadian model of collectivism and comfort.
Copyright 2008 - The Washington Times
A History Lesson on modern politics...
Bookshelf: Malevolence and the Mufti
By: DAVID PRYCE-JONES
June 26, 2008; Page A13
Icon of Evil. By: David G. Dalin and John F. Rothmann (Random House, 227 pages, $26)
Time and again the Arab world throws up absolute rulers who do nothing but harm, working their way into power by exploiting and imprisoning and killing as they see fit. There seems no way to stop these ruthless careerists except by deploying superior violence against them. A perfect example of the type is Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem between the world wars.
Haj Amin, the subject of David G. Dalin and John F. Rothmann's "Icon of Evil," was born in about 1895 into the most prominent family of Ottoman Palestine. Authoritarian by nature, he possessed the skills necessary for operating in the culture of absolutism in which he had grown up. When he was still in his early 20s, the British acquired their Mandate in Palestine as a result of World War I and in 1921 made the crucial mistake of contriving Haj Amin's election to be Mufti.
This position – as the country's senior Islamic official – gave Haj Amin unique standing to wield unchecked power over the Palestinians. It also afforded him access to large sums of money. Whether he was a sincere Muslim is doubtful – for one thing, he never finished his religious studies, and for another he seems to have been fond of fine wines.
The situation in which Haj Amin found himself was new, to be sure. In common with many other peoples, Palestinians were caught in the huge political forces released in the recent world war. British intentions for the Mandate were unfathomable. Under the British aegis, moreover, Jews soon began to seek refuge in Palestine from persecution at the hands of Nazis. Still largely tribal and rural and in any case not militant, many – probably most – Palestinians were willing to cooperate with these immigrants.
But Haj Amin was not so amenable; instead, he recruited and commanded a national movement of violence with the aim of forbidding all compromise with Jews. Regular and severe anti-Jewish riots and attacks culminated in the great Arab Revolt of 1936, which aimed simultaneously to end British rule and Jewish immigration but cost thousands of lives, mostly Arabs. In reality, Haj Amin was launching the Palestinians on the impossible task of reversing the course of world events, and that is the origin of the disaster that overwhelms them to this day.
Haj Amin's authoritarian character no doubt dictated his policy, but he was also perpetuating the absolutism of the Muslim world, in which the killing of enemies is the natural end of the political process, integral to the exercise of power, and altogether a matter of culture and custom. Palestinians who opposed him were blackened as collaborators and traitors; they were murdered by his agents in larger numbers than Jews. In the end the British had had enough, and by means of their superior force obliged Haj Amin to flee abroad.
My enemy's enemy is my friend, according to one of the staples of the absolute order. So in his quarrel with the British and the Jews, Haj Amin turned to Hitler. Spending the war in Berlin, he met Hitler in person, as well as Himmler, Ribbentrop, Eichmann and others. Letters of intention were exchanged at these levels, but he did not succeed in extracting promises that Germany would liberate Palestine and hand it over to him. Hitler viewed Arabs and Jews in the same racist perspective. My enemy's enemy, in this case, was also my enemy.
Raising Muslim volunteers for the Nazi SS, visiting concentration camps, endorsing the Final Solution and hoping for a special commando team to exterminate the Jews of Palestine, Haj Amin made himself a very public war criminal. Yet he escaped justice at the end of the war and settled in the Middle East – where he once again urged Palestinians to resort to violence. Morally and politically disgraced, he died in 1974, but many Arabs – Yasser Arafat prominent among them – continued to believe that he had set an example to follow.
"Icon of Evil" relies on sources in English to tell this story, ignoring the extensive literature in German and Arabic, including Haj Amin's own memoirs published a few years ago in Damascus. If the book is short on fresh information, however, it is long on indignation, more a brisk polemic than anything else. More mystifying than illuminating, one chapter gives a counterfactual description of the Nazi conquest of the Middle East. Elsewhere the tell-tale phrases "one can imagine," "there can be little doubt" and "it is not implausible to speculate" all appear on the same page.
To these authors, Haj Amin was essentially a wicked man, an anti-Semite of the most ignorant and brutal sort. Stretching the point, they further accuse him of spreading a virulent anti-Semitism common to a clean sweep of contemporary Arabs and Muslims, including the Muslim Brotherhood and its publicist, Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian presidents Gamal Abdul Nasser and Anwar Sadat, the Iranian Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and even the killers in Pakistan of Daniel Pearl.
What these men all have in common is not a connection to Haj Amin but the shared culture and custom of absolute politics. In the case of the Palestinians, the leadership succeeding Haj Amin has repeated exactly his murderous and self-injuring violence. The continuity is tragic and will endure until someone finds a way to break through the iron bands of absolutism.
Mr. Pryce-Jones is the author of "The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs."
Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal
Why Government must get away from "meddling"
From Breadbasket to Basket Case
By: MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
June 23, 2008; Page A15
As the presidential campaign drones on, Barack Obama and the Democrats are fleshing out the promise of "change" with some specific, big-government policy proposals. Many are familiar, perhaps because they already have been tried - in Argentina.
That country has gone from South American breadbasket to world-class basket case. For the long version of how it happened and why Americans might not want to try it, hop on a flight to Buenos Aires. Here's a condensed version:
Although the winding down of Argentina to the status of international deadbeat began a century ago, the latest chapter is instructive. In March, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner seized on rising soybean prices to slap "a windfall tax" on soy exports. Farmers refused to pay, the president wouldn't budge, and a deadlock ensued.
Much of the rest of the country joined sides with the growers. But the uprising is no longer a tax revolt. It has become a rebellion against unfettered executive reach - or, in the view of the opposition, Mrs. Kirchner's authoritarianism. A week ago thousands of Argentines poured into the streets of cities around the country, banging pots and pans to express their dissatisfaction with their president's heavy-handed ways. It was the largest public outcry since the economic crisis in 2001.
Mrs. Kirchner, whose approval rating is down to 20%, responded to the protests in a harshly worded speech on Tuesday. She warned that "the country cannot be governed by casserole dishes, bullhorns and roadblocks." Easy to say now. But it was saucepans in the streets that led to the collapse of the government of President Fernando de la Rua in 2001. Mrs. Kirchner didn't seem to mind that overthrow of democracy, perhaps because her Peronist husband Néstor Kirchner was subsequently elected president.
Nor did Mrs. Kirchner cry foul when her husband used "emergency powers," delegated to him by the Peronist-controlled Congress, to rule by decree for five years. There was no intervention that Mr. Kirchner considered out of bounds. It was, after all, "a crisis." He imposed price controls, raised export taxes, increased populist subsidies, abrogated contracts, stiffed creditors, ended central-bank independence and even manipulated inflation statistics. The private sector and profits were demonized and the press was harassed.
The repression worked well enough to get his wife elected in October, but now the wheels are coming off again. Mrs. Kirchner's recent verbal defense of her beloved "democracy" is hard to square with the fact that she is following in the footsteps of her husband, who had no respect for institutional checks or balances.
This gets us to the root of the problem, which developed long before the Kirchners' abuses of market and legal principles. The constitution once held limited government and private property to be among the highest ideals of the land. But in the 1920s these protections, which had made the country a magnet for immigrants and the seventh-largest economy in the world, began to erode.
An early example of this assault on liberty was when Congress imposed a rent freeze to deal with a housing shortage after World War I. This only exacerbated the problem, and in 1922 a politicized Supreme Court widened state powers to allow the regulation of rents. That decision put property-rights protection on a slippery slope. A decade later the Court gave the legislature the power to regulate interest rates.
The interventions didn't end there, and as state control of the economy expanded and the nation grew poorer, the country could not recover its footing. Economic populism and labor militancy took hold; protectionism blossomed and Argentina became a welfare state. Meanwhile, the informal economy swelled under the high cost of legality.
Fiscal crises have been recurring. According to a paper recently released by researchers at the Buenos Aires business school Eseade, external debt as a percentage of GDP has now climbed to 56% compared to 54% in 2001. If you include the unpaid debt to bondholders, the number is 67%. More than a few analysts are worried that should the economy slow, the government may tap Central Bank reserves, sparking a run against the peso or, fearing that, choose default, for the second time in a decade, as its escape hatch.
Will that mean an end to ballooning entitlements, class warfare, hostility toward producers, capital and private property, protectionism and subsidized central-planning? Unlikely.
Americans reading that laundry list may note that it sounds a lot like the mindset of the left wing that will dominate the Democratic Party's convention and choose Barack Obama as its candidate in August. From nationalized health care and government-owned refineries to punishing taxes on the rich, Argentina has been there, done that. There are good reasons to find the resemblance disturbing.
Write to: O'Grady@wsj.com
Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal
Why McCain matters....
McCain Champions Free Trade in Canada
By: LAURA MECKLER
June 21, 2008; Page A3
Republican presidential contender John McCain emphasized his support for free trade - a key area of dispute with Democrat Barack Obama - with a trip to Canada Friday and plans to visit Colombia next month.
"Demanding unilateral changes and threatening to abrogate an agreement that has increased trade and prosperity is nothing more than retreating behind protectionist walls," Sen. McCain said in a speech at the Economic Club of Toronto. "If I am elected president, have no doubt that America will honor its international commitments."
A strong supporter of free trade in general and Nafta in particular, Sen. McCain regularly pounces on Sen. Obama for his anti-Nafta comments. But on foreign soil, he was careful not to mention Sen. Obama by name, even if there was little doubt the Democrat was his target. "This is not a political campaign trip," Sen. McCain told a news conference after his speech.
The trip came as Sen. Obama, who sharply criticized U.S. trade deals during the Democratic primaries, has been softening his rhetoric. Still, he remains opposed to pending free-trade deals with Colombia and South Korea, and advisers say he is still committed to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has been in effect since 1994.
For Sen. McCain, travel abroad helps project an image as world statesman and amplifies his argument that he is best prepared to represent America to the world. In Ottawa, the Canadian capital, he met with Canadian defense and international-trade officials, and held a closed door roundtable with Canadian chief executives.
Next month, he plans a one-day visit to Colombia. Democrats have blocked ratification of a free-trade agreement with Colombia, citing violence in that country, especially against organized labor.
On his coming visit, Sen. McCain plans to argue that Colombia "deserves to be rewarded as our strongest ally in South America," said Charlie Black, a top McCain adviser.
Sen. McCain also supports free-trade agreements with South Korea and Panama, both opposed by Sen. Obama.
For a decade or more, the debate over free trade has been growing in intensity. As barriers to trade have fallen, new markets have opened abroad for U.S. manufacturers and service companies. But economic integration has also meant job losses at home, and public concern has grown sharply that U.S. workers and businesses aren't getting a fair shake in the global marketplace.
Sen. McCain also pressed his position in support of free trade in an op-ed piece published Friday in the Detroit Free Press. While many in the industrial Midwest blame Nafta for job losses, Sen. McCain said the agreement has been good for the U.S. and for Michigan.
He said Sen. Obama's proposal to "unilaterally" renegotiate or ditch the deal would be "the height of economic and foreign policy irresponsibility."
The Obama campaign fired back with a conference call Friday featuring Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat. "He's completely out of touch with the reality of the situation in Michigan," she said of Sen. McCain. "Instead of going to Canada, he should come to Michigan."
During the Democratic primaries, particularly in the days before the Ohio primary, both Sen. Obama and former Democratic contender Sen. Hillary Clinton labored to appear as anti-Nafta as possible. Both said they would pull the U.S. out of the pact if changes aren't agreed to. At one point, Sen. Obama called the agreement "devastating" and "a big mistake."
Asked about those comments by Fortune magazine recently, Sen. Obama backed off. "Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified," he said. He went on to offer a more sober, though still largely critical, assessment of the agreement."
In the Obama conference call, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D. Ohio) said he was certain that, if elected, Sen. Obama would try to renegotiate the agreement. He said it would not be unilateral.
The issue of trade is likely to continue to resonate through this political year, as it did in many states in 2006, when Democrats swept to power on Capitol Hill. It is a key issue in battleground states including Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania. It is also important to the labor community, which is a core constituency of the Democratic Party, and working to help elect Sen. Obama.
Sen. McCain clearly thinks the trade issue is a winner for him. But in a March Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, just one in four voters thought globalization had been good, while 58% thought it was bad.
Greg Hitt contributed to this article. Write to Laura Meckler at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal
An enlightened perspective....
Robert Mundell: An Economist Who Matters
By: KYLE WINGFIELD
June 21, 2008; Page A7
Robert Mundell isn't in the habit of making fruitless policy recommendations, though some take a long time ripening. Nearly four decades passed between his early work on optimal currency areas and the birth of the euro in 1999 – the same year he received the Nobel Prize for economics.
So when Mr. Mundell says that rescinding the Bush tax cuts "would be devastating to the world economy," that oil prices are "not so far off track," that Asia needs its own multilateral currency, or that the ham sandwiches sitting before us could use some mustard, one is inclined to pay attention – and, except in the case of lunch, to think long term.
It's late May, and we are in surprisingly sunny Denmark for a Copenhagen Consensus summit. Mr. Mundell is one of eight economists debating cost-effective solutions to such problems as malnutrition and global warming. Europe is a natural enough place to meet the Ontario native, and not only because of his advocacy for the euro. When Mr. Mundell is not in New York City – where he's a professor at Columbia University and occasionally appears on David Letterman's late-night TV show (reading from Paris Hilton's book, listing the top 10 ways winning the Nobel has changed his life) – he's often in Tuscany at his 500-year-old castle, "Palazzo Mundell," restored in part with his Nobel winnings.
Back in America, there's an election going on. There's also been a spate of financial problems, not the least of which is a weak dollar. But Mr. Mundell says "the big issue economically... is what's going to happen to taxes."
Democratic nominee Barack Obama regularly professes disdain for the Bush tax cuts, suggesting that those growth-spurring measures may be scrapped. "If that happens," Mr. Mundell predicts, "the U.S. will go into a big recession, a nosedive."
One of the original "supply-side" economists, he has long preached the link between tax rates and economic growth. "It's a lethal thing to suddenly raise taxes," he explains. "This would be devastating to the world economy, to the United States, and it would be, I think, political suicide" in a general election.
Should taxes instead be cut again, I ask him, to stimulate the sluggish economy? Mr. Mundell replies that he favors a ceiling of 30% on marginal rates (the current top rate is 35%). He recounts how the past century experienced a titanic struggle over whether tax rates are too high or too low: from a 3% income tax in 1913; up to 60% during World War I; down to 25% before Congress and President Herbert Hoover raised taxes back to 60% in 1932 and "sealed the fate of our economy for a long, long time"; all the way up to 92.5% during World War II before falling in three steps, reaching 28% under President Ronald Reagan; and back to nearly 40% under Bill Clinton before George W. Bush lowered them to their current level.
In light of this fiscal roller coaster, Mr. Mundell says, "the most important thing that could be done with respect to tax rates now is to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. Eliminating that uncertainty would be more important than pushing for a further cut – in the income tax rates, anyway."
One tax that he would cut, to 25%, is the corporate tax rate. "It could be even lower," he says, "but I think it would be a big step to lower it to 25%... I made that proposal back in the 1970s."
A long-haired Mr. Mundell spent that decade not only arguing for the euro, but laying the intellectual groundwork for the Reagan tax-cut revolution. Mr. Mundell says those tax cuts remain "as important to the United States as the creation of the euro was to Europe – a fundamental change." Combined with Paul Volcker's tight-money policy at the Fed, which Mr. Mundell also championed, supply-side economics killed off stagflation.
Or at least it killed it off at the time. With prices again rising as growth slows, some economists are worried that stagflation could be making a comeback. Not Mr. Mundell – not yet.
He draws a comparison with the situation in 1979-1980. Start with the dollar price of oil, which he calls "one of the two most important prices in the world" (the other being the dollar-euro exchange rate, which we'll get to in a moment).
"If you look at the price level since 1980," he begins, "oil prices would naturally double by the year 2000. So from $34 a barrel in 1980 to $68 a barrel. And then... because the inflation rate's about 3.5%, it would double again by 2020. So the natural price... would be something like $136 in 2020.
"Now, we [already] got to $130-something, but... I really think the price is going to settle down, probably below $100, if not below $90. What I'm saying is we're not so far off track."
American motorists still shocked by $4-a-gallon gasoline might think we're rather more off track than Mr. Mundell suggests. Bolstering his case, he immediately moves on to another commodity often invoked to demonstrate inflation: gold.
"The price of gold in 1980 was $850 an ounce. And the price of gold today is about the same. It's astonishing," he says. "It's true, gold did go up" to more than $1,000 an ounce earlier this year, "but the public doesn't believe that there is inflation. If there was big inflation coming, then you'd see the price of gold going up to $1,500 an ounce very quickly, and that hasn't happened."
In any case, don't expect to hear Barack Obama or John McCain talk about the weak dollar's contributions to any problem. "As [journalist] Robert Novak once put it, it's like cleaning ladies who come in and say 'I don't do ironing.' [Politicians] say, 'I don't do exchange rates,'" Mr. Mundell chuckles. "They think they can only lose by talking about exchange rates, because they don't know enough about it, and it's hard to predict anyway, for anyone."
If Mr. Mundell had his way, there wouldn't be anything for politicians to say about exchange rates. They would be fixed – as they were under the Bretton Woods arrangement after World War II until 1971, when President Nixon took the U.S. off the postwar gold standard and effectively launched the era of floating exchange rates.
"It's a very poor and a dangerous system," Mr. Mundell says of the floating regime, "because it creates exaggerated swings in the exchange rate." Case in point is the dollar-euro rate. From a low of about 82 cents in 2000, Europe's common currency has risen fairly steadily and has been valued at more than $1.50 since late February, even breaking the $1.60 barrier once.
"What people have to realize is there's been a fundamental change in the way markets work in the past 20 years," Mr. Mundell says. "Now, exchange rates are driven not so much by trade but by capital accounts and capital movements, and the huge amount of liquidity that's sloshing around the world."
Central banks world-wide, he notes, are trying to reach an equilibrium between dollars and euros in their $6.5 trillion worth of foreign reserves. Roughly two-thirds of these reserves are kept in dollars now, so they have about $1 trillion left to move into euros.
"If you did a hundred billion dollars" annually, Mr. Mundell points out, "you'd need 10 years to build that up, and that amount of capital movement has a tremendous effect in keeping the euro overvalued. It's not good for Europe and... ultimately it would cause more inflation in the United States."
But this continuing shift doesn't mean that the dollar's status as the world's dominant currency is in danger, at least not in the short run. Countries like Iran may be pushing for the pricing of oil in another currency, "but it wouldn't happen unless Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states moved in that direction, and I don't see any way in which they would do this," Mr. Mundell says. "It would be very damaging to the relations between the United States and the Gulf countries. There's an implicit defense alliance between those, and that's what overrides as a top priority."
Nor is there a macroeconomic argument for demoting the dollar. "Remember, the growth prospects for the United States are probably stronger than that of Europe, because you've got continued and substantial population growth in the United States, and zero population growth in Europe," Mr. Mundell says. "Quite apart from the fact that the U.S. economy is innovating more rapidly, and the population is younger and not getting old as rapidly, so they pick up new technology faster. So I look upon the United States still as the main sparkplug of economic growth in the world."
As for the euro's overvalued status, he forecasts deflation in Europe, along with a slowdown and an end to its housing boom. The answer, he suggests, is for the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank to cooperate in putting a floor and a ceiling on both the euro and the dollar. "You have to grope" to the appropriate range, he maintains, but a good starting point would be to keep the euro between 90 cents and $1.30.
Even better, in his mind – and now we're really talking long term – would be to have a global currency. This could take the form of a new money or a dominant existing one to which all others are fixed – probably the dollar. "As Paul Volcker says," Mr. Mundell relates, "the global economy needs a global currency."
To get there, he proposes holding a new, Bretton Woods-type meeting in 2010 at the Shanghai World's Fair. Mr. Mundell, who has been spending "a lot of time" in China advising the government, says reviving an international system of fixed exchange rates would be a tremendous help to Beijing as it tries to fend off demands from U.S. and European politicians that it appreciate or float its currency.
Here, he recalls Washington's similar "bashing" of the Japanese yen in the 1980s, and its ultimately disastrous effects: "Japan got stuck with an overvalued currency for a decade, and suffered from a perpetual deflation in its housing market from 1990 until just a couple of years ago. And China doesn't want to have the same problem."
Another part of his solution is for Asian countries to form their own currency bloc. If they did so, he says, "it'd be comparable in size to the European and the American bloc. And then it would not be so much the question of... the U.S. and Europe bashing China" or other rising economies.
These three currency blocs, he predicts, would be large enough to weather wide swings in their exchange rates. But the swings would still do economic damage, so "the best thing you could do is to stabilize them, and that's where the global currency comes in."
Could it happen? Mr. Mundell allows that three decades may pass, but predicts that like the euro and the Reagan revolution before it, the global currency's time, too, will come. Any skeptics might want to review the last few decades before betting against him.
Mr. Wingfield is an editorial-page writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe.
Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal
The backlash just keeps getting bigger!
Canadian Kangaroos: Mark Steyn is not alone.
By: John Leo
June 20, 2008
Canada’s human-rights tribunals are best known for penalizing critics of Muslim fundamentalists, but they spend much more time clamping down on those who express a Christian or Biblical view of homosexuality.
In 2002, the Rev. Stephen Bossoin, a Canadian pastor and youth worker, ran afoul of one of these kangaroo courts. He wrote a testy letter about homosexuals to his local newspaper, the Red Deer (Alberta) Advocate, complaining bitterly that Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and other groups were using taxpayer money to propagandize young children in public schools.
Darren Lund, a professor at the University of Calgary, hauled Boissoin before the Alberta Human Rights Commission, which investigated him for holding homosexuals up to hatred and contempt. After nearly six years of hearings, delays, and argument about the letter, the tribunal convicted him and his group, the Concerned Christian Coalition. As punishment, Boissoin was ordered to pay a hefty fine, apologize in writing and never again make any negative remarks about homosexuality in speeches, on the Internet, or anywhere else. He refuses to comply.
The human-rights tribunals are a censor’s dream. Under Canada’s human-rights act, commissioners can convict if they believe any published material is “likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt.” Since they are “remedial” institutions and not real courts, they need not follow strict legal procedures or grant traditional rights of the accused. No one goes to prison, but the panels can fine and silence people at will - and run up the lawyer bills for years. Truth is no defense, and commissioners are authorized to confiscate a computer without a warrant. Evidence can be woefully flimsy.
In Boissoin’s case, the tribunal casually linked him to a gay-bashing said to have been perpetrated by a local man two weeks after the minister’s letter was published. The alleged bashing victim did not testify, has not been publicly identified, and apparently filed no police report. But the case got plenty of publicity, and some who testified before the panel said they thought the letter might have led to the bashing. So the chairwoman of the tribunal somehow found “sufficient nexus to conclude circumstantially that the two matters may be connected” (emphasis added).
The kangaroo courts - a national one, plus one in each province - have been under fire for months, mostly because of the Mark Steyn case. In 2006, Maclean’s magazine ran an excerpt from Steyn’s book, America Alone, warning of Islam’s threat to the West. Steyn predicted that Muslims would become a “successor population” in Europe because of their high birth rate. Three of the human-rights commissions pounced. The British Columbia panel completed a five-day hearing but has not yet released a ruling. The Ontario panel dropped the case, saying it lacked jurisdiction over printed material. The federal human-rights commission is still investigating.
Steyn and Maclean’s have churned up a good deal of controversy. Canada’s largest newspaper, the Toronto Star, ran a June 16 editorial under the headline, “Curb Bigoted Acts Not Free Speech.” It said that calls for reform, including a few in parliament, “reflect growing unease that an unwarranted chill is being cast on free speech.”
Ezra Levant, targeted by the Alberta commission for publishing the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, is a conservative lawyer, blogger, and publisher of the Western Standard. Ordered not to videotape his initial interrogation by the secrecy-minded panel, he taped it anyway and put it on Youtube.com, where it quickly drew 500,000 viewers.
In April, Levant focused on commission investigators who pose as member of hate groups on the Internet, post racist messages, then charge the owners of the site with publishing hate speech. Levant wrote: “Having learned that human rights ‘activists’ use the tactics of planting fake evidence and using fake names to provoke “hate crimes,” I now wonder if the rumored gay-bashing incident in the Boissoin case was itself manufactured...” Levant is fond of referring to kangaroo court members as “the marsupials.”
Christians and conservatives are on the defensive because gays are quick to file charges. After running an ad listing Biblical references to homosexuality, a Saskatoon newspaper and man who placed the ad each had to pay $1,500 to three aggrieved gay complaintants. Another Saskatchewan man, convicted for spreading hatred against gays, had complained about an ad in a gay newspaper seeking boys for activities and specifically mentioning that their age was “not so relevant.” Catholic Insight magazine is also under investigation for commentary protested by gays.
The Boissoin case may be blossoming into the most prominent of the conflicts between Christians and gay activists, partly because Levant has been so successful in harping on the story and spreading it. Having shown little concern about the national anti-free-speech apparatus for years, the Canadian public is beginning to notice.
John Leo is a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and a contributing editor at City Journal
Copyright 2008 - The National Review Online
LEAVE BORIS JOHNSON ALONE!!! I'M SERIOUS!!!
By: Boris Johnson
Last Updated: 17/06/2008
I came out of my house the other week and saw that it was a perfect day for cycling to work. The clouds were high and fleecy, the sky was blue, the road was dry.
I hitched my rucksack, tucked my right trouser leg into my sock and was about to clamber aboard the King of the Road when I realised there was something terribly wrong with my appearance. I clapped my head. My helmet! I'd forgotten to wear the symbol of my new deference to correct thinking.
It was only a month or so since I had decided to capitulate to the pleas of the health and safety lobby. My wife was for it. My old chum Ken Livingstone was always harping on about it. And every day I would meet someone at a traffic light who would say, "Tut-tut, poor show, where's your helmet?" You should be setting an example, they would say. You're a public figure now, they would say.
In other words, they appealed to my sense of self-importance, and of course I started to think they might be right. How could I live with myself if people started to copy my helmetless insouciance and thereby put themselves in danger?
I imagined the bereaved mothers of impressionable children. I foresaw motions of censure. I winced, and got myself down to the bike shop. For £16.99 I was able to coddle my cranium with the latest superlite carbon fibre bonce-protector, raked like the skull of the creature in Alien.
As I cycled around, I felt a surge of bonneted righteousness. I was socialised; I was showing a proper sense of community, and that is why I turned around on my doorstep, and within another three seconds I would have gone back to get my helmet, and I would have fastened the chinstrap of social obedience... except that for some reason I didn't. After weeks of helmeted conformity, I had a spasm of rebellion - and it is hard to say exactly why.
Of course I accept the case for cycle helmets, although the only time I have had a serious prang in almost a decade of cycling in London, a helmet would have made no difference whatever.
I was negotiating Knightsbridge with extreme caution when a French tourist walked across the road without looking (you could tell he was French by the noise he made on impact) and, though I sprained my wrist, I felt the real lesson was about teaching tourists to look the right way. If I'd had a foghorn, it might have come in handy, or possibly a cow-catcher fitted to the front of my bike. But a helmet?
I have also brooded on the results of some study in Australia, which showed that making bike helmets compulsory deterred so many people from cycling that there was a rise in obesity - and more people ended up dying of heart attacks than were saved by the head-gear.
But what clinched it for me that morning, as I havered on the doorstep, was the sheer loveliness of early June. The sun was warm, and whatever the advantages of a helmet, it would make the head hot and scratchy.
Oh, never mind, I said to myself. No one will notice, I said, and just as I was starting to churn the pedals the Evening Standard photographer leapt from his place of ambush and click, my irresponsibility - my shame - was captured for all to see. "Where's your helmet?" he cried, and I confess that I emitted a small internal groan.
Here, then, is the political position. In my efforts to do the right thing, I have ended up giving offence to both opposing factions. As soon as I started to wear a helmet, I was denounced as a wimp, a milquetoast, a sell-out to the elf and safety lobby, a man so cravenly attached to his own survival that he was willing to wear this undignified plastic hat.
As soon as I was pictured not wearing a helmet, I was attacked for "sending out the wrong signal" and generally poisoning the minds of the young with my own reckless behaviour.
The situation, my friends, is a mess. I have been convicted beyond all reasonable doubt of complete incoherence on the question of cycle helmets - and complete incoherence, therefore, is what I propose to defend.
In so far as I am confused between the competing imperatives of safety and liberty, it is a confusion we all share. Look at the polls.
Last week, the public was asked what it thought of the Government's plan to lock people up for 42 days without charge. Yeah! said a stonking 69 per cent of the YouGov sample. Bang 'em up. Better safe than sorry, was the message of the electorate.
This weekend, the public was asked what they thought of my friend David Davis's heroic act of auto-defenestration, and his decision to call a by-election to oppose the 42 days measure. Yeah! said the public - 69 per cent of them, according to ICM. Good on yer, David, they said. You stick up for our liberties!
Now if 69 per cent of the public is in favour of 42 days' detention without charge, and 69 per cent are in favour of David Davis and his opposition to 42 days, it is a mathematical certainty that a large chunk of the electorate is hopelessly muddled.
We want to be protected from terrorists, yet we have a feeling that the state is everywhere eroding our ancient liberties - bossing, bullying, photographing us at every corner.
We need to be clear about the trade-off. The price of liberty is a small but appreciable loss of security; the price of security is a loss of liberty. In the case of the 42 days, the increase in security is obviously too small to justify the loss of a freedom such as habeas corpus.
As for cycle helmets, we should be allowed, in our muddled way, to make up our own minds. Sometimes we will go for hatless, sun-blessed, windswept liberty; sometimes for helmeted security.
The important thing is that we assess the risk, we make the decision, and be it on our own heads - or, in the case of my helmet, sometimes not.
Copyright 2008 - Boris Johnson
July 31, 2008
Stephane Dion ... wanting to tax you since 2007.
Speak the truth, get hauled in front of a Tribunal...
By: Michael Coren
June 7, 2008
I accuse. The various federal and provincial human rights commissions of discrimination. Against me. Because for years now I have spoken out against same-sex marriage, the excesses of the gay community and Muslim extremism in my column as well as on my radio and television shows.
A total of 250,000 people watch the latter and the radio program is on the largest station in Canada. Good Lord, I've even made speeches on these issues, addressing thousands of people.
I know that some people have complained about me to certain commissions, but I also know that the commissions in question have rejected the complaints. Yet as the B.C. Human Rights bunch takes on Maclean's magazine I am ignored. Why? It can only be because I am a Roman Catholic, half-Jewish, heterosexual, bald Conservative immigrant. It's offensive, unfair and horribly un-Canadian.
For years now these kangaroo courts - fear not, Australian marsupials are not yet protected under our hate crimes legislation so I'm okay - have gone after relatively anonymous teachers, tradesmen and church ministers who have few resources and limited connections. Come on guys, you're missing an opportunity here.
So here goes. Marriage is between a man and a woman. If two homosexuals want to live together that is entirely up to them, but it is not and can never be a marriage.
World's still round. The state may say otherwise, but if the state suddenly decides that the world is flat, the world is still round. I will never, while there is breath in my body, regard a same-sex union as a marriage.
Gay couples should not be allowed to adopt children, whether they are part of what they think of as a marriage or not. If at all possible children should be raised by a mother and a father.
While single parent families do obviously exist, a healthy society should aspire to a mother and father raising children. To consciously create families where one gender is not present is irresponsible and dangerous.
Islam may not be reconcilable with a western, pluralistic culture. There is not a single Islamic state that enjoys the liberal multiculturalism or respect for human rights and diversity taken for granted in almost all of the Christian-based world. The right to convert to another faith, the freedom to express unpopular opinions, the equality of women and so many other basic virtues are unusual if not impossible.
If we contrast Hindu India with its immediate neighbour Muslim Pakistan, for example, we see how one celebrates different religions and parliamentary representation while the other has been ruled by dictators and persecutes religious minorities.
Both countries were left by the British empire with equal economic potential, but while India is about to become an economic super power, Pakistan is in decay.
Only a bigot would argue that all terrorism is committed by Muslims. But only a fool would deny that Islam is the only religion that directly produces so much international terror, from Russia and Palestine to Britain and Spain and from the United States and Jordan to Indonesia and Egypt.
When sadistic brutes scream out verses from the Koran before cutting the head off a bound and screaming victim, who am I to deny that Islam is a factor? When terrorist leaders tell us time and time again that their Muslim faith inspires them, how dare we not take their word?
Dear human rights commission types, surely this is enough.
Copyright 2008 - Michael Coren
Here's the actual quiz itself:
Oh, and if you want to see the real motivations of these people, play around with your answers to #10 and #11. Apparently if you consume over $70,000 per year, you're a fat, drooling, Satanic-looking boar with a runny nose. Congratulations, Australia, your public broadcaster is officially more offensive than Britain's and Canada's.
From: The Register
Oz TV advises CO2-emitting children to die early
By: Andrew Orlowski
Published: Tuesday 3rd June 2008
Carbon Cult sickos are under fire for an interactive website that tells children they should die because they emit CO2.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's "Planet Slayer" site invites young children to take a "greenhouse gas quiz," asking them "how big a pig are you?". At the end of the quiz, the pig explodes, and ABC tells children at "what age you should die at so you don’t use more than your fair share of Earth’s resources!"
It's one of a number of interactive features that "Get the dirt on greenhouse without the guilt trips. No lectures. No multinational-bashing (well, maybe a little...). Just fun and games and the answers to all your enviro-dilemas," ABC claims.
The site is aimed at 9-year olds. However even a "virtuous" rating (e.g. not owning a car and recycling) is outweighed by eating meat, or spending an average Aussie income - with the result that many 9-year olds are being told they've already outstayed their environmentally-compliant stay on the planet.
"Do you think it's appropriate that the ABC... depict people who are average Australians as massive overweight ugly pigs, oozing slime from their mouths, and then to have these pigs blow up in a mass of blood and guts?" asked Senator Mitch Fifield in the Herald-Sun.
The state-sponsored broadcaster (why is that not a surprise?) defended the morbid quiz, with ABC managing director Mark Scott insisting "the site was not designed to offend certain quarters of the community but to engage children in environmental issues."
Which is eco-speak for frighten them witless. However, as the excellent science blog Watts Up With That points out, the site clearly breaches Australian broadcasting guidelines on "harmful or disturbing" content.
Meanwhile, the site's designers are revelling in the controversy:
"Thank God for outraged senators - you can't buy publicity like that," PlanetSlayer's "creative director" Bernie Hobbs crowed to the New York Post.
So how, according to ABC, does one appease the vengeful Death God, Gaia?
Your reporter doesn't own a car, lives in an apartment, and discovered he should have died aged 3.9 years. After a couple of run-throughs, it appears that eating meat is a major factor. But this is overshadowed by claiming a) very low earnings and b) spending what remains of one's pittance on organic food and "ethical investments."
Whether that's a life worth living is another question entirely. But the message from the Carbon Cult seems pretty clear: humans are a stain on the planet and should die; yet should they be permitted to live, they should live a life that's as miserable as possible.
...and eternal life is attained. (Where presumably you're surrounded by 72 naked George Monbiots. A Guardian-reader's idea of paradise?)
So when should you have died, dear reader? Take the quiz and let me know - and we'll try and think of some creative way of illustrating it. (Suggestions welcome).
® The Register - 2008
A lesson on Dion's Carbon plans...
We Don't Need a Climate Tax on the Poor
By: JAMES INHOFE
June 3, 2008; Page A21
With average gas prices across the country approaching $4 a gallon, it may be hard to believe, but the U.S. Senate is considering legislation this week that will further drive up the cost at the pump.
The Senate is debating a global warming bill that will create the largest expansion of the federal government since FDR's New Deal, complete with a brand new, unelected bureaucracy. The Lieberman-Warner bill (America's Climate Security Act) represents the largest tax increase in U.S. history and the biggest pork bill ever contemplated with trillions of dollars in giveaways. Well-heeled lobbyists are already plotting how to divide up the federal largesse. The handouts offered by the sponsors of this bill come straight from the pockets of families and workers in the form of lost jobs, higher gas, power and heating bills, and more expensive consumer goods.
Various analyses show that Lieberman-Warner would result in higher prices at the gas pump, between 41 cents and $1 per gallon by 2030. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says Lieberman-Warner would effectively raise taxes on Americans by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years. The federal Energy Information Administration says the bill would result in a 9.5% drop in manufacturing output and higher energy costs.
Carbon caps will have an especially harmful impact on low-income Americans and those with fixed incomes. A recent CBO report found: "Most of the cost of meeting a cap on CO2 emissions would be borne by consumers, who would face persistently higher prices for products such as electricity and gasoline. Those price increases would be regressive in that poorer households would bear a larger burden relative to their income than wealthier households."
The poor already face energy costs as a much higher percentage of their income than wealthier Americans. While most Americans spend about 4% of their monthly budget on heating their homes or other energy needs, the poorest fifth of Americans spend 19%. A 2006 survey of Colorado homeless families with children found that high energy bills were cited as one of the two main reasons they became homeless.
Lieberman-Warner will also hinder U.S. competitiveness, transferring American jobs overseas to places where environmental regulations are much more lenient. Instead of working to eliminate trade barriers on clean energy and lower emitting technologies, the bill imposes a "green," tariff-style tax on imported goods. This could provoke international retaliatory actions by our trade partners, threatening our own export markets and further driving up the costs of consumer goods.
My colleague, Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio), warned last week that Lieberman-Warner "could result in the most massive bureaucratic intrusion into the lives of Americans since the creation of the Internal Revenue Service." Mandating burdensome new layers of federal bureaucracy is not the solution to America's energy challenges.
This bill is ultimately about certainty. We are certain of the huge negative impact on the economy as detailed by numerous government and private analyses. We are certain of the massive expansion of the federal bureaucracy.
And we are certain the bill will not have a detectable impact on the climate. According to the Environmental Protection Agency's own analysis, by 2050 Lieberman-Warner would only lower global CO2 concentrations by less than 1.4% without additional international action. In fact, this bill, often touted as an "insurance policy" against global warming, is instead all economic pain for no climate gain.
Why are many in Washington proposing a bill that will do so much economic harm? The answer is simple. The American people are being asked to pay significantly more for energy merely so some lawmakers in Washington can say they did something about global warming.
I have been battling global warming alarmism since 2003, when I became chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. It has been a lonely battle at times, but it now appears that many of my colleagues are waking up to the reality of cap-and-trade legislation.
The better way forward is an energy policy that emphasizes technology and includes developing nations such as China and India. Tomorrow's energy mix must include more natural gas, wind and geothermal, but it must also include oil, coal and nuclear power, which is the world's largest source of emission-free energy. Developing and expanding domestic energy sources will translate into energy security and ensure stable supplies and well-paying jobs for Americans.
Let me end with a challenge to my colleagues. Will you dare stand on the Senate floor in these uncertain economic times and vote in favor of significantly increasing the price of gas at the pump, losing millions of American jobs, creating a huge new bureaucracy and raising taxes by record amounts? The American people deserve and expect a full debate on this legislation.
Mr. Inhofe, a Republican senator from Oklahoma, is ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal