Monday, March 31, 2008

Why Minimum Wage Increases Don't Help..

"There is only one way that leads to an improvement of the standard of living for the wage-earning masses, viz., the increase in the amount of capital invested. All other methods, however popular they may be, are not only futile, but are actually detrimental to the well-being of those they allegedly want to benefit." - Ludwig Von Mises (Austrian economist) in "Planning for Freedom"

No matter how much the government or unions attempt to raise wages, their efforts will be futile until the market supports such raises. Artificial wage raises (ie. wage raises not supported by actual market value) will always be evened off by layoffs and other factors.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bertrand Russell: A Presuppositionalist?

"All knowledge, we find, must be built up upon our instinctive beliefs. And if these are rejected, nothing is left." - Bertrand Russell in "The Problems of Philosophy"

Here, along with presuppositional Christian apologists, Russell sees that all thinking ultimately leads back to some more basic unproven assumptions. While obviously there is great disagreement about the details (particularly between Russell, and say, a theist), the basic consensus is that all reasoning is circular (for example: you can't successfully rationalize rationality). And hence, everyone can be taken to some unproven leaps of faith. Even rational people. But sometimes we act or pretend otherwise.


Christianity Without The Resurrection Is Useless

You're probably quite familiar with how in I Corinthians 15:17, Apostle Paul shows that the Christian faith would be useless if Christ really didn't rise from the grave.

The Apostles did not mince their words. They brought a strong antithesis to the non-Christian thinking of their day. They didn't take the "safe" route. They staked their claims on a particular event, and laid everything on that one event. And most of them lost their lives because of their uncompromising dedication to the gospel. And in presenting that gospel, they did so even though they were keenly aware that the natural state of the people listening was such that the message would be rejected (even if they had witnessed the resurrection with their own eyes). But they counted on that way that God graciously works in the hearts of the hearers to open their hearts to the truths being proclaimed.

Some modern thinkers who reject the resurrection try to maintain that there still is some usefulness to Christianity even though they are rejecting a central tenant of it. They think it still has some social benefit or is useful for teaching morals. But they are wrong! If the resurrection never happened, then Christianity is useless and all Christians might as well become atheists. There is no benefit to a "resurrection-less" Christianity; it would be worse than worthless. It would be miserable. Apostle Paul essentially said that if we have Christianity without the resurrection, we are of all people most miserable. Without the core of its gospel, Christianity really has nothing to offer.

J. Gresham Machen spoke of this in "What Is Christianity?:

"...if the Christian religion is founded upon historical facts, then there is something in the Christian message which can never possibly change. There is one good thing about facts — they stay put. If a thing really happened, the passage of years can never possibly make it into a thing that did not happen. If the body of Jesus really emerged from the tomb on the first Easter morning, then no possible advance of science can change the fact one whit. The advance of science may conceivably show that the alleged fact was never a fact at all; it may conceivably show that the earliest Christians were wrong when they said that Christ rose from the dead the third day. But to say that that statement of fact was true in the first century, but that because of the advance of science it is no longer true — that is to say what is plainly absurd. The Christian religion is founded squarely upon a message that sets forth facts; if that message is false, then the religion that is founded on it must of course be abandoned; but if it is true, then the Christian Church must still deliver the message faithfully as it did on the morning of the first Easter Day."

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Solzhenitsyn on How Totalitarianism Negotiates

"The Soviet Union and the Communist countries know how to conduct negotiations. For a long time they made no concessions and then they give in just a little bit. Right away there is rejoicing: 'Look, they've made a concession; it's time to sign." For two years the European negotiators of thirty-five countries have painfully been negotiating and their nerves have been stretched to the breaking point; finally the gave in. A few women from the Communist countries may now marry foreigners. A few newspapermen will now be permitted to travel a little more than before. They give one-thousandth of what natural law should provide--things which people should be able to do even before such negotiations are undertaken--and already there is joy. And here in the West we hear many voices that say: 'Look, they're making concessions; it's time to sign.'" - Alexander Solzhenitsyn in Warning to the West (1976)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Mantra of Jabez

Canon Press has some full view books available via Google Books.

Finally, I can check out the intriguing
The Mantra of Jabez: Break on Through to the Other Side
. After having read Right Behind, I still have an itch for good satire/parody.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gravel: Really Libertarian or Not?

In an interesting turn of events, former Alaskan Senator Mike Gravel has left the Democrats to join the Libertarian Party. It appears he will attempt to be the Libertarian Party's nominee for president.

He said:

"Today, I am announcing my plan to join the Libertarian Party, because the Democratic Party no longer represents my vision for our great country. I wanted my supporters to get this news first, because you have been the ones who have kept my campaign alive since I first declared my candidacy on April 17, 2006.

The fact is, the Democratic Party today is no longer the party of FDR. It is a party that continues to sustain war, the military-industrial complex and imperialism -- all of which I find anathema to my views.

By and large, I have been repeatedly marginalized in both national debates and in media exposure by the Democratic leadership, which works in tandem with the corporate interests that control what we read and hear in the media.

I look forward to advancing my presidential candidacy within the Libertarian Party, which is considerably closer to my values, my foreign policy views and my domestic views. "

What kind of makes me wonder is the part where he says that the Democrats are no longer the party of FDR. I say that because the Libertarian Party doesn't really like the legacy of FDR. I wonder if rather than a Libertarian, he's just a frustrated Democrat. But, alas, time will tell.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How To "Trip" A Neo-Liberal In Two Steps

STEP ONE: Ask them whether they feel the government should forbid/regulate voluntary relations between consenting adults. Probable answer: NO.

STEP TWO: Ask them whether the government should impose minimum wage laws. Probable answer: YES.

The only problem is getting them to notice the irony.

(The irony lies in the fact that question #2 is really just an example of the regulation mentioned in question #1. Most neo-liberals are afraid of economic liberty.)

Back to School

Recently, I've applied to the University of Windsor for part-time studies. My goal is to get a B.A. (Liberal and Professional Studies) which will supplement my previous college training in Information Technology. I'm looking to diversify my knowledge and have a University degree to show for it. At this point in my life, I think I'm up to the challenge.

Thankfully, the University has accepted a transfer of courses from my college diploma, so I already have 3rd semester standing. For the first semester, I'm going to try to get into the following courses:

Economics I - An introduction to microeconomics intended to provide students with the tools necessary to begin to understand and evaluate how resources are allocated in a market economy. Specific topics include how markets function, theories of the business firm, of consumer behaviour and of income distribution. The economic roles of labour unions and government are also covered. The theories are applied to contemporary Canadian economic problems.

Reasoning Skills - An explanation of, and practice in, the basic knowledge, skills and attitudes which are essential components of reasoning well.

Once I'm done with those, I'd like to proceed with various courses in Philosophy, Accounting, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, etc. We shall see how it goes! Post-secondary schooling is certainly good at disposing of money and spare time!!

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Recent Links

Here are some links you may like to check out:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Libertarian Syllabus

If you're looking to read up on libertarianism, check out A Libertarian Syllabus by Daniel McCarthy. According to the description, it is a "four-year course of study that will take students from the basics of free-market economics and the Constitution into the deeper waters where theory, history, and policy meet".


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nick Vujicic on 20/20

For those interested, my cousin Nick Vujicic from Australia is scheduled to appear for interview on 20/20 on Friday, March 28th. 20/20 is on the ABC network and I think it airs at 10PM. More info about Nick can be found at


Income Tax and Entrepreneurship in Britian

"Especially in the British context, mention should be made on the subtle but pervasive and harmful effect which high marginal income taxes cannot fail to have on entrepreneurial incentives. There can be little incentive to be alert to opportunities the gain from which will accrue to unknown others decided by the government. Something of a vicious cycle may indeed be noticed. That over one-quarter of British GNP is channelled directly through government is responsible for the high income-tax rates which sap the incentive to notice new opportunities--providing in turn fuel for the critics who point to the failure of the market to achieve prosperity, etc." - S.C. Littlechild in "The Fallacy of the Mixed Economy" (1978)

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Windsor Liberty Seminar Report

Today I attended the Windsor Liberty Seminar for the first time. It was great! Here is a pretty long "summary".

Topic #1: Registration was at 9:30, and by around 10:00 we were already into a discussion of "The Effects and Mysteries of Economic Freedom" by Fred McMahon. Fred is the Directory of Trade and Globalization studies at the Fraser Institute. He opened with a perplexing question which could be summarized as this: What motivates anti-market forces to still rail against free markets when they we see the great good produced? He shared how no one can provide one example of a modern stable democracy based on a non-market economy. He showed how we should aim to change the opinions out there by provide a wide audience with good information about the situation. He then spoke of the Economic Freedom of The World project and the Economic Freedom of the World Index. The index is based on the following factors: Size of government and taxation, Private Property & Rule of Law, Trade Regulations & Tarrifs, Regulation of Business, Labor, and Capital Markets

Fred then continued to question why economic liberty is important. His answer was three fold: It is fundamental to political and civil freedoms. It is needful for growth. It is needful to broader human development.

He also shared about their work in the Arabic world and also many helpful charts and figures (though I do regret that he went rather quickly through much of this). He showed the relation between economic freedom and GDP per capita. He also showed how the economic freedom is tied to improvements in democracy, political rights, the human development index, life expectancy, infant mortality, and water sources.

On the question of injustice in free markets, Fred provided some eye-opening evidence. There is no marked difference in equalities present in all societies (whether they be economically free or not). So the logic that free markets breed inequality is bunk. Its just that in economically free countries, people's own choices determine the inequalities, whereas in economically non-free countries, government compulsion determines inequalities. In addition to that, the poorest 10% in the economically free countries are far better off that the poorest 10% elsewhere!

To conclude his talk, Fred opened the podium to audience discussion on his opening question.

Topic #2: Then, at around 11:00, Jan Narveson (professor emeritus of Philosophy at University of Waterloo) had an excellent talk on "Revitalizing Liberalism". To say that Jan's academic credentials are impressive is an understatement. He's studied at Oxford and the University of Chicago, but has his PhD from Harvard, and he earned it in 1961! He discussed how "liberalism" has many meanings and is a very schiziophrenic word nowadays. He noted the sharp divide between what the term meant in the 18th/19th centuries and what it means now. He then discussed how both Conservatism and Liberalism are theories concerned with "good government", which would be government for the benefit of the governed, to promote their interests. This leads to the question of "Good for whom?" What is the "common good"? It is popular nowadays with relativism to deny that this "good" could exist. Jan then showed how Conservatism was rule for the peoples good in the sense that it was to find out what was supposedly good and force them to do it. This is characteristic of Greek thought, particularly Aristotle. But the hallmark of liberalism, classical liberalism and not modern deviations, is a denial of old Conservatism and the statement that the ruled should decide what is good for them. This does not mean, of course, that the people are actually RIGHT in what they think is good for them, but rather that they should just be able to decide for themselves to their advantage or harm.

Jan then discussed Paternalism and explained how there is an Old Paternalism and a New. The basic idea of Old Paternalism is that A takes care of B, as if B were a child. And the government tells the people what's good for them and makes them do it. The New Paternalism is what modern-day liberalism promotes. It determines that the good ends are set by the people, but the means/promotion of these god ends are carried out by the government as a paternal authority figure. And he shared his conclusion that the New Paternalism is no better than the Old. He also brought up some implications this might have in relation to religion, though that was more of a side point.

Jan then asked the question of: "Why liberalism?" He discussed the alternatives: Conservatism/Old Paternalism compel you to do what you don't like to do. On the other hand, neo-liberals/New Paternalists pretend to be "liberal", but aren't really. And the sum of it all is that the premises of both these group don't imply the conclusion. He then proceeded to a very key part of his talk. When we discuss "What is good for you?", there are two aspects to consider:

Passive Liberties: Pleasure, utility, health, well-being
Active Liberties: Freedom, power, skills, direction

Modern liberalism emphasizes Passive Liberties at the expense of Active Liberties. They project what will make you happy but don't consider that your being free to decide for yourself may be what makes you happy. We won't be happy with Passive Liberties if we can't obtain them via Active Liberties. And what is good for us lies both in our Passive and Active Liberties.

Jan then showed how Libertarianism is really the outcome of true classical liberalism is. He spoke of Hobbes and other thinkers and then defined libertarianism, politically speaking, as the view that the purpose of the state, if any, is to keep each other off of each others back. It sees that picking Passive Liberties over Active Liberties doesn't work, but also that picking Active Rights over Passive Liberties doesn't work either.

Another helpful distinction that Jan made was the between Negative Rights and Positive Rights. Negative Rights were defined as those which prevent you from doing what you or others judge to be best (ie. that you NOT do certain things). Positive Rights were defined as those which you or others are required to do to help others. He shared, as an example, the Right to Life. He showed how the Negative Right in the Right to Life is that you have a right not to be killed, and the Positive Right is the right to be saved if you are in danger. He showed how there is much confusion between these two type of rights, and how we can reasonably expect Negative Rights, but not positive Rights.

At this point in Jan's talk, my pen stop working, so I had to stop writing notes until I could get another, which was just in time for the next talk. The rest was equally good, and Jan did a fine job making some heavy-duty thoughts describable. I really connected with his thinking and I found this to be the most appealing talk at the seminar.

Topic #3: At around 1:30, Bruce Walker, Communications Manager for Mackinac Centre for Public Policy spoke on "Renting Your Land From The Government: The Property Rights Battle". Bruce showed how though we have some semblence of ownership, the government still ultimately gets to say what we can or can't do with our property. And it can take it from us. This, admittedly, was not my favorite topic. The subject matter was helpful and very practical (moreso than the other two topics), but I still found that the time Bruce took to get to the core of the matter distracting. And perhaps having just had lunch had something to do with it! :) But I must credit Bruce with a presentation that was still very helpful and showed a good deal of what the Mackinac Centre for Public Policy does.

Bruce showed how other rights disappear when you abolish the free market. This is what Karl Marx missed. He thought he was freeing people, but he was really just enslaving them by eliminating the pillars of their liberty. And, no matter how wrong Marx was, he did properly recognize the central importance of property rights.

Bruce then showed a couple of helpful videos. One was about a Michigan family business that was attempting to use land for a horse operation and composting, and how the government has been harassing them with all sorts of unbelievable things, while not even hiding its intent to take over the land for their own purposes (in other words, intimidating them with regulations in order to further their agenda to use the land for future projects). The other was about Hart Enterprises, a medical equipment company whose future parking lot was determined to be wetland and could not be utilized. The only problem is that it became a wetland after (and because of) its official demarcation as industrial property. Both videos were quite interesting and showed interviews with the involved parties and some good insights on the problems faced.

Bruce's talk was pretty good, even though I share a couple negative thoughts to start off my review of it. Property rights is a vital issue and his presentation was excellent in stimulating much needed discussion on this issue. And, without a question, Bruce's talk was an important part of this seminar.

In conclusion: The talks, along with the discussion groups that followed after them, were great. The discussions in small groups were great and allowed more detailed, less formal discussions. I found all participants to be intelligent individuals who contributed much to the discussion. I highly recommend you check out this seminar next year. It was certainly worth going and is a great place for liberty-minded people to meet a share ideas. There was a good mix of people. A free meal was provided. I didn't win the book draw, but I did get a signed copy of Jan Narveson's "The Libertarian Idea". Sweet!

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Saturday Links Fest

Here are a bunch of interesting recent tidbits:

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Thought From Francis Schaeffer

"As time goes on, the Lord has brought so many very unique people here and to the classes. Sitting quietly with them, it has been necessary to place the Word of God face to face with the questions that are hurled without restraint from both Western and Eastern mentalities. More and more it causes me to realize that in reality Christianity is the greatest intellectual system the mind of man has ever touched. It really has been a tremendous experience to sit in classes and in discussions with those who would be considered top flight by the best of the world's standards and to watch the Word of God literally have an answer for every question across the board...Yet if this is indeed all there is, eventually all it will prove is that Christianity is indeed the best system the mind of man has ever touched. In short, something more is needed in addition if the system is to be proven to be Truth--that which the universe truly is.

And I am convinced that this something in addition must be a demonstration of the existence of God--His character and His acting in history--is not merely theoretical, but a reality in history; not only from 1500BC till 100AD, but in every generation."

From "Letters of Francis Schaeffer", page 80

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The Joy of Foreign Policy

The Washington Post ran an article with a quote by George Bush criticizing the Democrat candidates for meeting with foreign tyrants.

I don't like the typical Democrat or Republican foreign policy, but I find Bush's statement to be curious in light of his history. I guess what he really meant was that politicians shouldn't meet with CUBAN tyrants, as it seems Saudi, Pakistani, and Russian tyrants suit him just fine.

I've merely added some explanatory links, for contextualization of course. Check them out..

Sitting down at the table, having your picture taken with a tyrantlends the status of the office and the status of our country to him,” Bush said yesterday. “He gains a lot from it by saying, ‘Look at me, I’m now recognized by the President of the United States.’”